Disclaimer: I own everything, inlcuding the colour yellow, but not the Incredibles.
N.B: This is the second (possibly third) posting of this story. I review it periodically to make sure I've caught any glaring grammar or spelling mistakes. If you do spot one, it'll be one of the few I've missed, so drop me a line and I'll fix it. Thanks to all the eagle-eyed reviewers who have so far kept me on my toes!
I need to seek my innervision
Innervision: System Of A Down
It had been a simple but effective plan, really.
Violet Parr, twenty years of age, sat idly on the sandy white beach and let the cool water of the Caribbean wander around her toes. Her time was nearly up on St. Lucia, but it had been a good experience. She didn't regret moving on; it was easy to get settled, but she wanted to complete this one task ahead of her before heading back to the USA and using her university qualifications to get a good job. She wanted this one last taste of true, true freedom.
Today Violet wore loose, dark blue cotton shorts - practical for the tropical weather, durable for her purpose. Her thin shoulders were hunched up as she rested all of her weight on the palms of her hands, fingers pointed at right angles from her body. A khaki green vest top rested loosely on her slim form - something that she'd picked up cheaply at an army surplus store. It was tough and breathable, a must for what she wanted it for. Violet's hair wasn't as long as it used to be but it was as straight as ever. She'd had it cut about a year back, up toward her shoulders, more for practical reasons than anything else. When you were fighting the bad guys the last thing you needed was grabbable or trappable hair. Now Violet wore it back in a deep blue hairband to keep it out of her face.
Her face... now that had changed a little as well. It had lost some of its childhood roundness and assumed a more delicate chiaroscuro of features. Due to the tropical sun her eyes had lost some of the circles that ringed them and had bronzed her skin very, very slightly; Violet did not tan well.
A lot had changed for Violet's last five years; the child that had trembled before so many supervillains had faded a little... but was not entirely gone. Her eyes were as big as ever in her small face and her shyness had never vanished - her timidity was still a large part of her.
But this... the whole idea was marvellously simplistic. Violet had worked for a few months, enough to buy some equipment and a cheap plane ticket to Antigua, the Caribbean. Her idea was to do the eight islands from Antigua in a row (island-hopping, so to speak) and get a taste of life on each island. Once she had arrived on a new island she got a job doing whatever was nearest... picking fruits, working in tourist attractions, working in hotels. The money wasn't very good, but the plane fare was considerably cheaper in the Caribbean. It was fortunate that most of the inhabitants of the islands spoke English reasonably fluently.
She was on her sixth island: St. Lucia. She had gone inland as far as possible, to Mount Grand Magazin and the Edmond Forest Reserve where there were popular tourist hiking attractions, and thus rest stops to be serviced... and where money could be made. Violet had college Spanish, French and German, and due to the variety of tourists from these more wealthy countries she found her services well-used there.
But now she was sat on the shore a little way from Hewarorra International Airport and biding her time until her flight was due to go. She didn't travel commercially; that was way too expensive. Instead, she paid a bit of money to travel with an export of whatever was heading her way... bananas, medical supplies, hotel supplies... it wasn't comfortable but it was cheap, and that's what Violet wanted.
When Violet had declared her intentions to her family they had been uncertain, but supportive. They had offered to help pay her way, but Violet had insisted that they hadn't. She needed this to be independent; to break away from those sorts of ties and use her time to become an adult.
At least, that's what she told them... it was true, but there was also more to it.
The truth was that she'd felt increasingly uncomfortable in her role as a superhero. Something didn't fit quite right. Yes, it was a noble profession, and she'd saved more lives than she could care to count, but the sheer in-your-face black/white morality of it made her unhappy. She was Good. They were Bad. Where exactly, she found herself wondering, was the dividing line between the two camps? Where was the grey area? Was a supervillain who robbed three banks to pay for a loved one's surgery still evil? Was a superhero who engaged in the occasional petty theft still good? What, when you got right down to it, was the difference (morally speaking)? So she was running away from it all for a while. One week per island, and six weeks so far.
But Violet had had Doubts.
She was due to hit the next island: Saint Vincent. But she looked to the East and she knew that Barbados was out there, calling to her. I'll kick myself later if I don't at least visit was her reasoning, and so she'd extended her holiday by a week or so to go there.
The guy who ran the supply freights said he was dropping some supplies off at an island near Barbados - a new industrial base or something. Within the last couple of years there had been some grumpy volcanic activity around the Caribbean plate and a few more islands had popped into existence a couple of years ago, and due to the fertility and ferocity of volcanic soil they were lush with vegetation within a year and worth several million US$ each to rich buyers. The pilot said he could give her a pass to get to the mainland via a shipping boat, because he said he knew what it was like, trying to see the world on a dollar a day.
It was a good deal, better than she'd hoped for. Violet had accepted immediately.
Violet brought herself back to the present as she reluctantly dragged her feet from the warm waters. She towelled them dry and slipped on her hiking trainers. Technically, she wasn't allowed onto the beach this close to the airport, but her invisibility had taken care of that. Stuffing her towel into her rucksack and sighing, she headed off to the airport.
When Violet arrived at the airport, the whole shenanigan was in full swing. Tourists were being spewed from terminals, and slightly less were being sucked into them.
Violet sat down on a bench. She was way early and the guy at the planes had warned her to be only fifteen minutes early, lest the loading crew get grumpy with someone in the way. '10:41 am' was blinking on and off above the information kiosk at the other end of the hallway. Violet took the chance too look around.
The airport was gleaming of the space age: all chrome and white and sterile, but with a curiously used look. It wasn't welcoming but it didn't exactly throw you out onto the pavement, either. It was simply functional. Violet was sitting in some seats that backed into a wall, which artfully hid the steps leading down to the public conveniences; a long corridor yawned left and right. To the right, the entrance, exists and information kiosk; to the left were shops and suchlike. Straight ahead was check-in. Violet's eyes located the sign for 'air freight' and she prepared to get up.
A resounding explosion rocked the ground. Violet started in fright, as did everyone else.
"Behold... the Maelstrom!"
The crowds of people turned to witness a man in a ridiculously gold costume floating into the building through a hole in the ceiling, and Violet slipped down the steps which marked the entrances to the bathrooms.
Okay, Vi. You know the drill...
The loose, green cotton vest top came off to expose a tighter red vest top with a large black omega symbol on it. Her knee-length blue shorts joined the discarded pile of clothing to show a shorter pair of tighter black shorts. She slipped on the light black gloves, flung her rucksack down, and prepared for the off.
Before leaving for the trip, Violet had made an appointment with dearest Edna Mode, and explained her needs to her... hot tropical environment, temporary costume, etc. Edna had risen to the challenge quite magnificently, along with an order to return as soon as she got back for the designing of her new, full-time adult costume, dahling, you will die for it. Violet didn't want to be known as a baby Incredible forever.
Lastly, the mask was placed delicately over the eyes.
Violet took a moment to take a deep breath, trying to ignore the collapse of masonry and distant screams. She was always nervous before a fight. She bounced anxiously on the balls of her feet, shaking her hands slightly, limbering up her wrists. Her mouth turned upwards slightly in a predatory smile.
She turned, switched on her invisibility field, ran up the steps, rounded the corner with neat precision and headed toward the source of the chaos.
Now Violet was actually headed toward him she got a good look at her foe.
The first thing that she noticed didn't catch her eye but slapped her full in the face, proverbially speaking. The guy was wearing a costume fashioned from gold and yellow material. Violet filed this under 'pretentious ass' - handle with care. Arrogant and fiery. His mask was black, a striking contrast, and covered most of his head. It flowed over his shoulders into a magnificent black cape that had interesting amber designs on it. Violet was forcibly reminded of another supervillain she'd encountered a few years ago... small mask, flashy costume, thought a lot of himself... he'd passed a few wolf-whistles her way as he wrecked the city zoo, and Violet had taken the liberty of flirting with him a little before taking him down. That was back in the days of the Ye Olde Incredible Outfitte, and she'd been what? Sixteen, seventeen?
Violet pulled herself to a stop to survey the golden-clothed dimwit gesturing wildly about himself and giving some inane speech about how his secret base would start here. Violet brought up her hands to conjure a shield around him -
Someone screamed -
Violet dived sideways and the arm that was going to attack Maelstrom flew to point elsewhere. Instantly, a faint purple shield popped into existence around a woman and a child, which made the large chunk of ceiling bounce off of them harmlessly. This brought a side-effect Violet could have really not used. The entire ceiling caved in.
Violet shook her head slightly to clear the dust from her vision, arms extended above her head. The entire ceiling for the terminal rested two meters above the floor as Violet's shield-platform protected everyone who hadn't managed to get out already. Her mouth set into a grim line, Violet manoeuvred the ceiling a little to the left, bent her arms, and pushed.
It had been a long time since she was that young teenager, and in that time her powers had grown considerably. She was now fully proficient in the uses of her shields... and there were now more than one. She could erect a skintight layer of shield around her, to save energy. She could hold shields outside of her concentration for up to four hours... she'd practised this one. She could wrap herself in a shield and force her way through a wall. She could extend parts of her shield - if she was underwater, she could send a thin tube up for air.
And if an enemy was trapped inside one she could cut off his or her air until loss consciousness... or death. It was narrow window. So far, there had been no slip-ups.
The rubble slid down the makeshift slide to pile at one end of the terminal, leaving the entrance clear. The people didn't need her to tell them - they ran. The ground beneath her had begun to ripple. Violet did not like this at all.
Thankfully, the terminal was now emptied. The terminal was no longer... well, terminal.
There was dust everywhere. Violet cursed silently; invisibility would be well-nigh pointless now. It was using up energy. She reappeared to find Maelstrom staring at her in irritation.
"Look, I'm trying to take over an island. Could you come back later?"
A shield shimmered into existence around him, and Maelstrom's expression degenerated into panic. Violet stood her ground, waiting.
The ground below her exploded in a fury of lava and red-hot anger.
Her attention was ripped away from Maelstrom to bring up a shell of power underneath herself before she became kentucky-fried Violet. Running in the shield like a hamster in a ball, Violet manoeuvred her way from a pond of lava to more stable ground, but felt the telltale drain in her powers: not much, but a little. To protect herself from the lava she had needed a constantly renewing shield, and this had taken its toll.
She coughed and tried to peer through the dust in front of her. A growing silhouette marked the slow and bored approach of her foe.
Instantly, the ground around Violet erupted in a growing, spreading doughnut-ring of lava, leaving her unscathed at the centre. Maelstrom walked over this lava with what seemed like no ill-effects.
"Well, well... what have we here?"
Violet didn't answer. Inside her head, she was praying. Please... monologue, monologue...
"Who are you, anyway?" he asked delicately, a sneer not quite leaving his covered face.
"Well, I don't have name yet... I don't want to be saddled with Incredigirl forever, you know."
The floor beneath her was rippling again. Violet tried to keep an eye on her surroundings and on 'Maelstrom' at the same time.
"Incredigirl? You were the one who defeated... Zaphead, right?"
"Second cousin of mine. Not very bright."
"Terminally stupid, I would venture. Appears to run in the family."
Maelstrom's face creased slightly in irritation. "Watch your mouth," he said darkly, eyes glittering strangely. Then that expression was gone... but it was enough to prove to Violet that she was dealing with a run-of-the-mill bad guy with big ideas here, not a genuine supervillain. Supervillains were usually quite efficient at their tasks, and this one was way too emotional and flamboyant.
"Say, how would you like to be my beautiful princess? I need one for the base, you know."
Violet's mind was thrown off track. She straightened up from her fighter's crouch and rubbed her head in disbelief.
Now that she was this close to him, she could make out a few more details. His eyes were black of iris, which gave her the startlingly unnerving impression that his eyes were too big and too small at the same time. His cape stopped short at the waist, possibly for the sake of practicality. And he bore a very, very slight resemblance to that fool who had made passes at her right before she had ground his face into the dirt. Her eyes widened in recognition.
"Zaphead... Zaphead? Oh, now I remember him..." Zoo boy. The flirt. "What a Godawful twerp. Put it this way: if my dad had found out what he was trying to do, he'd have been a small sticky patch on the floor."
"Hmmm... yes, it was his style. He was related to Gamma Jack, you know, that might be why... superhero from a while back."
"He's dead." Keep talking, keep talking... let me build up a layer of shield over the magma thick enough to support my running away...
"Syndrome got him... five, six years back."
"But I digress. You, little Incredigirl, are going to die, because you stand in my way. How would you like to die?"
That's more like it.
"Very funny. But you know how I'm going to kill you? I think I'm going to drown you slowly in lava. And I can do that because this here island is located on a plate boundary... which means I can call this lava whenever I need to. It'll be fun to see you slowly -"
Violet turned and she ran. She ran as fast as it was humanly possible, phasing out as she did so now that the dust had settled. Now Maelstrom couldn't see her or how she was getting away. And as she ran, she dissolved her shields behind her.
Maelstrom's cry of fury cut through the air. Violet turned, when she judged she was a suitable distance away, and raised her hands. Fighting from a distance... this was her speciality. Up close, things got complicated.
A shield flowed into the air near Maelstrom. A flow of lava smashed into it, and Violet let it dissolve. The whole idea was to confuse him...
Another shield popped into existence a little further away, and Maelstrom swore. His hand extended to the shield and it was swamped with glowing molten rock, which instantly hardened into a thick rock shell. Violet let the shield phase out, and the rock fell into the surrounding lake of magma.
Slowly, Violet began to approach Maelstrom, using her shields as platforms. Due to the fact that the lava glowed, Maelstrom had not noticed any purple shimmers.
Violet conjured a shield behind Maelstrom, forcing him to turn his back to her. She quietly got close to him. Maelstrom was angrily attacking this shield, which held strong -
Violet tapped him on the shoulder, surrendering her invisibility. His expression was classic, right up 'till she punched him. Hard.
The lake of magma began to cool as he collapsed, darkening and hardening into rock. Maelstrom bit the dust just as police ran into the entrance.
"Freeze!" they yelled in heavily accented English. Violet held up her hands.
"I got him," she offered. The police lowered their weapons slightly, sending each other confused looks. Violet slung Maelstrom's unconscious form over her shoulder, and hard feat for such a slim girl, and dragged him toward the entrance. The lava had cooled completely now, forming a rippling surface of igneous rock instead of a floor. The blue tropical sky shone down on them.
Violet felt marginally better, but knew she would make up the following morning with a very mild headache. She had expended more power than she thought she might have. She dumped Maelstrom on the floor.
"Lock him up someplace cold," she advised, and then set off at a run for her clothes.
She had a plane to catch, and it left in less than five minutes.
Gasping for breath, Violet sat back in the secondary pilot's seat. The pilot was grinning at her.
"That was impressive, the way you caught the plane just as I was taxiing out," he said wryly. "Thinking of running for the Olympics?"
Violet shook her head. She was still too tired to speak.
"Well... what happened to the airport? I heard crashes and screams, but I think the best way to stay out of trouble is not to investigate it."
The pilot had introduced himself as Snug. He had an open, ruddy face with a grin that stretched from ear to ear. His brown eyes twinkled beneath his blue baseball cap, where a couple of tufts of brown-streaked-grey hair poked out. He had a weather-beaten face and seemed entirely too casual to be flying this plane, but Violet knew from watching her mother that this man was completely in control of the craft.
Finally, Violet got some air into her lungs that wasn't immediately demanded by some part of her body.
"I thought so."
Violet shot him an incredulous look. "What do you mean?"
He nodded towards the pocket of her shorts, where a corner of her mask peeped out. Turning red with embarrassment, Violet shoved it back in.
"Don't worry about it," said Snug, grinning in the silence. "I've had to keep a few secret identities of superheroes quiet before. Hey... aren't you a little young for this kind of work?"
"You can't be what... sixteen?"
"Twenty, actually," said Violet, riled. Snug had the decency to look chastised.
"Sorry about that. It must be the tan."
Violet sat back, slightly appeased.
"I taught a superhero to fly once," said Snug conversationally. Violet arched an eyebrow. "When?"
"About twenty, twenty-five years back... must have been. Back in the days when I was a lad in his mid-twenties. I was still young enough to think that flying goggles looked good."
Snug grinned, not taking his eyes from the windscreen. Violet's mouth twitched at the corners.
"Yeah, she was pretty famous, back then, before the whole 'superhero rights movement' thing started. Elastigirl, she was called -"
"Mom?" said Violet, startled, before she could stop herself. "You taught my mom how to fly planes?"
Snug looked at her sharply, grin vanishing, and Violet saw a harsh intelligence in those eyes that she hadn't seen before. His look pierced her to the bone.
"So that would make you..."
Snug nodded to himself, eyes back to the clouds, still deadly serious.
"Ayuh," he said softly. "It would. It's been a while since I talked to your mom... few months, I think? We talk every now and then. Reminisce about life before the politics, you know, when I'd fly her to her missions... then she had to learn for when I wasn't there. She was a quick learner, and she had a knack for flying - quite a show-off, when it came to it."
Violet remembered the antics of Syndrome's missiles and said nothing.
Then Snug's grin was back, as if it had never gone away.
"Then she got married to Mr. Incredible, right before the whole thing started, and there was no need for me any more. For a while, she'd come down for a quick practise every now and then... until she caught pregnant with you, Vi."
Violet offered him a sheepish smile.
"It's not your fault, and she needed to settle down... when she was younger your mother was quite the heartbreaker."
Violet offered Snug a pointed look. Snug caught its meaning.
"Oh, no, Helen and I were never that kind of friends," he said, and his grin widened, if that were possible. "I ain't married and I intended to stay that way. A pilot's life ain't good for the family. Speaking of family, don't you go by a different last name to the passport authorities after that business with Syndrome?"
"Yeah. Loads of his computer data was missing, specifically about supers, specifically about us, when the cops busted in. Whoever has it has our last names, so we had to alter it for the official records. On my passport I'm Violet Dee. For school and stuff, we're still Parr. The Agency wangled that one."
Snug nodded absently. "When was the last time you talked to your mom?"
"About six weeks ago... a write postcards every few days though."
"Ayuh," he repeated softly. "Thought so. There's a phone just around there. Tell her I say hi."
Violet stared at him.
"You mean it?" she asked at last.
Snug threw her a mock-irritated look. "Of course. Now scram."
Violet scrambled out of her seat and into the cargo hold. There was indeed a black phone on a hook on the wall. It was labelled 'for emergency use only'.
Violet picked it up, dialled the USA international code number, and then her house number.
It began to ring.
Violet twisted the cord around her finger, biting her lower lip.
"It's me, mom," she said.
They talked backwards and forwards for a while. Violet filled her parents in on how she was doing, and in return she heard about what had happened in their lives. It was refreshing. Eventually, they said their goodbyes, and Violet hung up. She made her way slowly to the cockpit.
"Good chat?" asked Snug amicably, his rough accent breaking the silence.
"Yeah. Mom says sorry about that jet a few years back."
"She never did tell me what she did with it."
"It got blown up."
"Sweet Lord above..."
"We were in it."
"About two thousand feet above the sea, as it happened, and fifty miles from land."
Violet found she didn't enjoy telling the story. She leant back in her seat and stared out of the windscreen. Snug, glancing at her, decided not to push the issue. The flew on in silence for a little while.
Violet's memories of Syndrome were so... hazy. It was a long time ago, but she'd done her best to block out some of the memories... the ones that hurt. It had not been a pleasant experience, fighting for her life, and so far, it had been her nastiest.
But she remembered Syndrome's personality.
Cocky, arrogant, convinced of his victory, until the Incredibles had chopped him off at the knees (proverbially speaking) and thrown a sports car at him. They never did find out what had happened to him, although shreds of cloak were found in the engine of the jet he'd been using.
Violet's attention was refocused when Snug sat up straight, his mouth a grim line.
"What? What is it? Violet asked urgently, alarmed. Snug shook his head, but his mouth was still ruler-edged.
"I don't like this," he said quietly. "I got bad vibes from this island. There's something down there and I don't want to know what it is."
Violet glanced down at the island appearing over the horizon as Snug began to descend. The journey had taken about ten minutes if you excluded the time it took to set off.
"What do you mean?"
"Kid, I've flown into nasty places before and always got some kind of vibes. Good vibes, bad vibes, normal vibes."
It was then Violet noticed Snug was deeply unsettled, and the hairs of the back of her neck stood up. Someone so sure of himself becoming uncomfortable? Never a good sign.
"But I don't like these ones. Not at all."
The plane touched down and decelerated to a stop. Snug took his hands off of the controls and looked at her, hard.
"You promise me, kid, that you get off of this island as soon as you can," he said in a low voice. "I wish I could give you a ride out but I'm going to the Dominican Republic and I don't have permission to stop long at Barbados. Here."
He handed her a rectangular square of plastic. It told Violet that she was entitled to free travel aboard the shipping routes.
"Won't you need this?"
"No. I've lost it." Snug tapped his nose and grinned, although it wasn't his sunshine of a beam up in the air. Violet grabbed her rucksack and made to stand up, but Snug had leaned over and put his hand on her shoulder. "I mean it," he said carefully. "I really do. You have no idea how bad I feel leaving you here."
Violet offered him a grin of her own.
"I'm a superhero. What could happen?"
To be continued...