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z-Sean "Loki" McCline

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March 25, 2010

There was a hint of winter’s coming chill in the night air as Sean darted across the DeVries Campus. He was grinning despite his low evaluation this morning; it was hard not to be upbeat when he was going to see Anna. The gorgeous head of the Elite agency didn’t summon him often, despite being his legal ward. Sean understood that; she was busy and there were plenty of instructors and trainers to look after Sean. She called him in for the occasional updates but Sean rather hoped that this would be a little different.

The main office building gleamed with both lights and the full moon. Sean dropped out of the sky and landed on the white concrete steps in front of the skyscraper, looking up. Unlike most buildings, the Central Building remained staffed day and night. Requests for missions came in twenty-four, seven; it was bad business to send them to voice mail. Something like that could send them to Argus, God forbid.

Sean started into the building only to pause and glance down at his outfit. The flannel shirt and faded jeans were comfortable, but not suitable for meeting with Anna. They were also dusty from his martial training this afternoon. With a self-conscious grin, Sean caused the eufiber to flap wildly, dislodging all the dust. Then it settled into a nice pair of khakis and a spring green shirt. Satisfied that he looked presentable, Sean sauntered into the building.

“Hi, Carrie,” he said to the cute brunette behind the front desk. “The boss wants to see me – is she ready for me?”

“Sean… you wicked boy,” Carrie giggled. “Is she ready for you, indeed. She said to send you up.”

“Thanks, Carrie,” Sean replied, giving her a wink that caused another flurry of giggles. Carrie was happily married but she loved to flirt with the friendlier novas; she was pretty enough that they loved to flirt back with her. It had made Sean feel weird to flirt with such an old woman – she was like thirty – at first, but he’d loosened up, in time.

Instead of heading for the elevators, Sean stepped into the open area in the center of the building. It was ringed with girders to provide support but the designers had purposefully left a corridor. A brief exertion of quantum propelled Sean up into this passage, all the way to the top floor. Sean arced over the railing in front of the door to The Office.

That wasn’t its official name, but that was what he thought of it. It was Anna’a Sanctum Sanctorum and it didn’t deserve to have as mundane a name as “Anna’s office”. It was The Office, the Alpha and Omega of rooms for business-related matters. Sean wanted to have one like it when he was a grown up.

Anna’s personal assistant nodded him through and Sean walked up and tapped on the door nervously. He didn’t know why he was here, but he hoped he knew why. The heavy, thick doors opened via hidden mechanisms and Sean walked in, his eyes latching onto the beautiful woman behind the desk. “Sean,” she said, rising and coming to meet him.

He offered his hand with a soft, “Hello, Anna.” He’d tried to call Ms. DeVries but she’d insisted that he not be so formal. “How are you?”

“I’m fine, thank you, Sean,” she replied, turning and directing him to her couch to the side. This was nothing new; she always talked with him off to the side. He’d heard that was a good thing; she handled business and reprimands at the desk so the couch was good. “Did you have a good day?”

“Eh, mostly,” Sean said, sheepishly running his fingers through his long hair. He eased onto the couch, all too aware that this leather was easily marred. “I had a low evaluation today on Sam’s firearms drill.”

Anna looked sympathetic as she poured something from her bar. “You’re still having trouble with that?”

Sean looked away, immediately uneasy with the subject. “I’m a nova, what do I need firearms training for?” he sighed, staring out the windows. The city of Pretoria stretched out before the DeVries Complex, its lights shining like jewels in defiance of the moon which hung bright and full over them.

Anna walked back with two glasses and handed him one. Sean lifted it to his lips, but stopped as the smell of it hit his nose. He blinked up at her and she smirked. “Happy Birthday, Sean,” she said softly. “Eighteen is the legal drinking age in South Africa.”

“Thanks,” he said, taking a careful sip of the alcohol. “I was starting to think everyone had forgotten,” he added as he felt the burn of the liquid. It wasn’t that bad and he wondered if her alcohol was that good or if his nova nature was protecting him from an unmanly choke.

Anna’s smirk deepened further. “That’s my fault – I told everyone to let me say it first, but I had some urgent business earlier and I missed my window to speak with you this morning. The advantages of being the boss.” She pulled a lean box out of her jacket pocket and handed that to him with her free hand. “As is this.”

Sean grinned at the black velvet with the red bow before he set down his glass on the end table. Carefully, he opened the box, his smile becoming a stare of awe. “Wow,” he murmured, lifting the chain out carefully. It wasn’t girly at all; the individual links were heavy. Sean didn’t wear much jewelry but that was going to change. He put it on and smiled at her. “Thanks!”

“I hoped you’d like it,” Anna said. “Enrique designed it.”

Sean’s jaw dropped at the name. “Enrique?” he repeated dumbly, stunned that she’d given him something designed by the world’s premier nova goldsmith. This necklace had probably cost more than most sportscars.

“Just say thank you again,” the beautiful and powerful woman advised him softly.

“Thank you! This is… wow!” He sounded stupid, but his mouth was incapable of saying anything else.

“I hope you didn’t have any plans, because we have planned a party for you,” Anna added. “It’s over at the Rec Facility and I think everyone who’s been waiting to wish you a good birthday is there.”

“Cool!” Sean said hopping to his feet. He tried to curb his enthusiasm, but failed. He’d been wondering how everyone could forget his birthday. “Uh, are you coming?”

“I’m still tied up in work but I’ll make an appearance,” Anna said. “I’ll meet you there.”

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April 3, 2010

Sean paused as he walked into the room, blinking at the various images staring back at him. The manikins had a familiar body shape, and Sean found himself trying to remember when a full-body mold had been taken of him. I don’t think I got that drunk at my party, he thought to himself, taking a closer look at the first form. The outfit on it was vaguely armor-like; a blue-silver breastplate covered a dark-red body tunic. There were further touches of the same azure-tinted metal at the collar and cuffs.

“Sean, there you are.” The melodious voice didn’t belong to the scarred visage of the nova entering the room. Victoria’s face was a mess of scars and half-healed flesh. Her quantum backlash had manifested itself in a particularly cruel way; her healing factor didn’t neatly close her wounds. It healed them instantly exactly as they were. She’d looked like that since her regeneration had started in response to nearly dying. It had saved her life but the Elite had withdrawn from public view since then, working for DeVries Imaging Division. Victoria was one of the novas responsible for building an Elite’s image.

“Now that you’re eighteen, you’re old enough to have a nova identity,” Victoria said. “I’ve asked you here to show you some of my ideas, and to get your input. We try to theme things off of your powers, and given your entropy alteration, I thought something with a chaotic theme would work. Sadly, Chaos is already registered, so we’ll have to take another angle. Coyote is all wrong for you, but I thought that Loki was an appropriate name.”

“Low-key? What’s that mean?” Sean asked.

Victoria looked pained. “And here is the result of the American education system,” she muttered. Before Sean could retort, she continued. “Loki. L-O-K-I. He’s a Norse god who was a trickster. Given your command of chaos, I thought it appropriate.”

“Sure, though how many people will know that?” Sean asked, raising a gold-red eyebrow.

“Those who are educated will,” Victoria said haughtily, “and we’ll put up a link to Wikipedia for your fangirls.” She smirked as Sean’s eyes predictably lit up at that statement. “Alright, this first uniform idea has a very Nordic feel to it. Your mask is… yes?”

Sean lowered his hand. “I wasn’t thinking about wearing a mask.”

“I know that Einherjar foregoes the usual mask, but you understand that it’s customary, particularly for the purpose of counting coup.” Victoria chose her next words carefully. “Its for your protection, Sean. Protecting your good name.”

Anger twisted the young man’s face. “What good name?” he snapped. “I’m the baby-killer.”

Victoria put a hand on his shoulder. “You’ve been acquitted, Sean,” she said gently. “And the mask protects you from criminal liability should you do something wrong. I know Einherjar doesn’t care about that, but he’s also given up his civilian identity totally. If you’re ready to follow in his footsteps, you should think about that. For now, let’s look at these costume options, hmm?”

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June 1, 2010

Sean was nervous. His hands were sweating and he rubbed his fingers against his palms to try to massage the moisture away. He only produced more though and he gave up – for a few seconds. It became compulsive.

“This is stupid,” he muttered. “It isn’t even-”

The missile came out of nowhere, slamming into his chest. It was like having a bowling ball hit him in the sternum, even with his enhanced skin. The air rushed out of his lungs at impact and when he hit the ground that knocked out the feeble breath he’d managed to reclaim. He lay there limply, trying to breath, trying to move, before they found him. He couldn’t be on the ground.

He managed to roll over and get his hands and knees and stagger upright. He barely got his feet off the ground before Steamroll appeared in front of him. The speedster slammed to a halt and grinned at him. “Almost had you,” the handsome Thai man said before he disappeared again.

Sean stabilized himself and shot into the air. He rose quickly, in a slow spin, his sharp eyes watching for missiles. He was all too aware of the homing device attached to the back of his uniform – it was serving as the target for the missiles. So long as he was in the air, the non-explosive projectiles would focus on him. He was supposed to be able to see them coming; his trainer, Ellison, had said he could-

Sean cut his spin as he caught sight of a tail of white smoke. After a second, it oriented on him, and the young man grinned crookedly as it came at him. “Gotcha,” he muttered as he extended his hand and shot a wave of pure energy at it. Victoria had dubbed this attack as the ‘Chaos Hammer’, a name which Sean loved.

The missile rippled as pure entropy tore through it; the shielding peeled back and wires tore away. Sean’s smirk became victorious as the missile lost altitude and angled downward. “That’s one,” he said – suddenly he instinctively twisted away from where he had been standing. The second missile tore through the air he’d just been standing in, and Sean shot it from behind. “Two!” he crowed, starting to move again.

The third one caught him in the back, just below the transmitter. For a second, Sean couldn’t think – or breathe again. The ground was rushing at him; Sean saw Tremor waiting eagerly below, prepared to deliver some pain. Sean managed to get his flight turned on; just before landing in Tremor’s waiting arms. “Aw, shucks,” the Elite said, his smile malicious.

Sean was suddenly angry. Why did these assholes take such delight in hurting him? These were training exercises! With a surge of power, Sean pushed his strength higher. “I was thinking the same,” Sean replied before throwing himself into a backspin, his foot lashing out and connecting with the Elite’s chest. He caught a gratifying glimpse of shock on Tremor’s face; then the man was a rapidly disappearing dot on the horizon.

The missile sensed that he wasn’t falling anymore and it homed in on him again. Cursing, Sean shot up into the air, trying to out-fly it. The cold winter air bit at him as Sean dragged its course up into the bright sky again. He kept going up, needing some space for his plan. It was probably stupid, but why didn’t the missile keep hitting him when he was falling? It was faster than him and it was supposed to be relentless. Sean wondered if it didn’t try to hit him when he was in free fall.

As a test, he shot down a sharp angle. The missile turned and followed him. The red-headed youth nodded to himself; time to get some height and try his plan. He rocketed upward again, grinning when the smart-bomb followed him. Straining, he rose through the air, defying gravity with ease. Yards fell behind him with the blink of an eye; the air was thinning and turning a sickly purple before he slowed and released his flight.

As he started to fall, he realized that he might be wrong; it might be timed to not hit him again for a certain time. About to find out,he thought to himself as he gathered speed on his downward plummet. To his delight, the missile didn’t hit him; instead it followed him down, pacing him just a dozen yards away. “Awesome,” he muttered and powered up to deliver a Chaos Hammer.

The missile shrieked forward and Sean realized it was able to sense his quantum expenditures. “Shit!” he yelped as he extended both hands and caught the rocket by its head. The lean machine swung around and slammed into him; instinctively he wrapped a toughened leg around it. It was already starting to weave and duck, trying to be away from him, but Sean got all four limbs around it and violently twisted. The machine shattered into two pieces and Sean dropped them.

“Whoo hoo!” he crowed and shot off for the Training Center. Even in his buoyant spirits, he kept an eye out for a fourth missile; it wouldn’t be the first time they’d given him inaccurate information.


The man with sandy blonde hair was in the Trainer Center, his arms crossed as the high-quality long-range cameras tracked the flying blur that was the new-dubbed Loki. “Well?” Ellison asked the woman watching the same footage from her office.

“I agree with you. That attack on Tremor was a violation of the rules of the engagement but shows a willingness to be aggressive. He’s ready,” Anna said. “I’ll have Missions find something for him.”

Ellison nodded. “Thank you, ma’am. I’ll keep working with him until you have his first Contract.”

“Our little boy is growing up,” Anna said with a wry smile.

Ellison snorted but his smile was genuine. “Yeah, we knew this was coming. Where did the time go?”

“Where it always does,” Anna replied. “Keep me updated.” She shut off the screen and sat back, opening up a fiscal file. She did a few estimates, smiling at the result. Yes, they had paid a lot of money out to Sean for his housing, training and legal defense, but the return promised to be more than profitable. Smiling, she closed her files and returned to her previous project.

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