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Mutants & Masterminds: Future Imperfect - Fiction: Hanging By A Hair [Complete]


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"Today marks a new sad end of an era as the last member of the famous New-York self proclaimed vigilante-group known as “The Supremacy” died..."

"Hey guys, knock it off for a second, I wanna hear this."

Habeeb and Feelies looked around from the old pinball machine they were trying to bang back into shape. Spread out over a good half of a previously abandoned sofa they'd reclaimed was Juno. Habeeb, who's real name was Rashid Hadim, shrugged at Marcus 'Feelies' Polk and put his screwdriver down. The two boys, both fifteen, turned from their interrupted work and watched their boss watch the news report.

Juno wasn't some street nickname. It was on her birth certificate and everything. She was the daughter of Hector Reyes, and was visibly Hispanic despite her mixed heritage. Her mom had been white as Wonder bread. Juno was good looking...but it was hard to say 'pretty.' Pretty was too effeminate, somehow. Even at seventeen she was beautiful, even gorgeous at her best, but never seemed particularly girly. Her physique was best described as 'sleek,' perhaps...muscles under just enough fat to give her some curves and not much to spare. She dressed casually, as often as not in a t-shirt or even tank top, jeans and either flipflops or steel-toed boots, depending on if she was looking for trouble that day. And yeah, sometimes the jeans were tight or low riding...and sometimes the tank top was a bit tight, but no one put the moves on Juno. There was a distance between her and the others. A difference. No one talked about it, but it was always there.

So when the news talked about a famous mutant dying of the 'Mutant Virus,' the other two kids in the room were quiet and uncomfortable as if Juno had been watching the wake of her grandmother.

When Six came sauntering in and gave Habeeb and Feelies a glare, the two quickly found other places to be. Six was the second in command of their little gang...though in truth, the 48th St Regulars were more like an anti-gang. Juno'd assembled them and led them to do what the cops were unable or unwilling to do; keep order in this little 2 block neighborhood deep in the low-rent slums of Las Vegas.

"Hey boss," was Six's greeting. He didn't sit down though. Always on the move, Six.

"Check this out," Juno replied without looking away from the fuzzy image of the newscast on the thirdhand (at best) 14" TV screen. Broadcast, no less. Even getting power to this address had been a pain. Cable would be ridiculous. "That guy from the superhero team died."

Six shrugged. "Sucks. You know him?"

Now Juno glanced over at him. Her eyes were dark brown, nearly black, deep and mysterious. Her expression was unreadable, but she leaned over and turned the TV off. "No," was her answer. "What's up?"

Now Six sat down. He was a black kid, sixteen, tall and slim and wiry; built for speed. His hair was an unruly shock of curls teased out into something that was probably supposed to be dreadlocks, but didn't quite make it. He wore a baggy knit cap most of the time. He had long fingers, pianist hands, and was crazily good with his hands.

"So what's the deal with the new kids?" he asked without preamble.

Juno turned to lean back against the sofa's armrest and half shifted her legs up onto the couch. From that position she could watch Six easily, and did so with a cagey smile.

"New kids? You mean Adrian and Becca? They're older than me, man."

Six shrugged, not wanting to split hairs. "Whatever. How long's he staying?"

"Why? He's working for his..."

"I know! I just..." Six scowled when Juno spread her arms in a shrug. "Me and some of the guys...we just think he's trouble."

Now Juno frowned. "Why? Has he done anything? Said anything?"

"No! But come on...some guy and a girl, all by themselves out in this part of town, moving around? You ask me, he's on the run. And as long as he's here, he's bringing whatever that is down on us."

Juno looked back at the TV for a moment. The thought had occurred to her too, but...

"Look...I'm not saying there's no risk, but...alright, look at it this way. How long's it been since we sent the Westsiders packing? Six months? Seven?"

Six shrugged. "Yeah, something like that."

"Let me tell you something about them. They've got something like two hundred people, and control pretty much everything from Fiftieth Street on down to the power plant. They've got cars...guns...and people. The only reason we're pulling this off is because they've also got the warehouses, and the Brotherhood wants them...so there's a war going on and they can't spare anyone to come get us when they stand to lose turf they actually care about. All right? With me?"

Six nodded, a touch sullenly. He liked to think the eviction of the Westsiders from the neighborhood had been a real David and Goliath thing. But he was too smart to really believe it.

"We've got maybe a year or two," Juno pressed, "before that war is over. And whoever wins it...either one...is going to take a few months to lick their wounds and finish the other one off...and then they will come for us." She tapped the seam on the inside of her thigh. "We have to be ready. And part of getting ready is getting more people."

Six got back up, off the couch, full of nervous energy. "Yeah, okay, but what if he's from the MIC? What if he's got the bug and gives it..." He caught himself and looked around before finishing more quietly, "gives it to you."

Juno hesitated, and he rushed into the gap by pointing at the TV and asking, "You want to wind up like captain superhero on the news there?"

"If he's from the MIC," Juno said quietly, "Then he's exactly the kind we need. Bug or no bug."


"I've already GOT it," she flared abruptly. "Okay? I don't have it bad yet, but...sometimes after I change, I feel...bad. It clears up. Most of the time I'm fine. And it doesn't even happen every time."

Six took a startled step back from Juno at that news. He even swayed for a second. It was like hearing she had AIDS. Or seeing her with a noose around her neck. "H...how long?" he whispered.

Juno was quiet for a moment. "I don't know," she finally said. "If I ask anyone official, they'll wonder why I'm asking...dad goes to jail for not registering me, and you can visit me at the Mutant Internment Center whenever you want."

"Shit, Juno."

"I know. So you see...we've gotta start getting more people, more shit...getting you guys ready to fight. Even if it's without me."

Six swallowed, but his throat was dry. Realizing how hard he'd been hit, Juno gave him a smile and got to her feet to deliver a hug. "Relax man. It's not bad. You'll have to deal with me for awhile yet, okay?"

His return hug was fierce, but brief. Once he disengaged he skipped back a step and asked, "So we're recruiting this Adrian guy?"

Juno shrugged. "We'll give him a place to rest and get food and water for him and his sister...a place to protect...and see what he does. In fact...where is he?"

Six shook his head. "Think he was outside."

"That narrows it down," Juno replies sarcastically, but with a smile. "Thanks."

Her lieutenant gave her a little bow. "Live to serve."

Juno brushed past him, intentionally bumping against his shoulder as she passed and muttering, good naturedly, "Asshole."

Six watched her go, grinning. The grin faded when he looked back at the TV and heard again in his head what he'd heard before Juno had turned it off...

Humanity has lost its last ‘true’ hero in a fight that seems to be futile. To this day science has failed to find anything that could stop the disease from spreading and eventually killing anyone with the mutant-gene.

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