Sherri Caldwell grunted as she struggled with the cooler filled with ice and drinks, blowing a curly lock out of her face as she trudged towards the picnic tables. The youths of the Lighthouse Agency raced about, busy filling their plates or otherwise tossing about Frisbees, softballs, or whatever forms of amusement the group had provided. Manning the grill and occasionally scolding the overenthusiastic children was Dwight Cadon, a burly agent with silvery white hair despite his youth. In his younger years, he had been one of the first to attend the program created by the Agency and had grown into one of their top operatives. He had recently returned from Australia, where he had been assisting in developing a branch of the Agency, and his young daughter clutched at his leg, staring curiously at the other children as she gnawed upon a lock of the hair that matched her father's coloration.
The redhead's burden was suddenly lifted and she glanced up in surprise to the towering teenager who slung the heavy container onto his shoulder with ease. His soft brown hair was cut in a low fade and several, scraggly hairs along his chin and cheeks tried to protest his relative youth. He was attired in a long, grass green muscle shirt, orange swim trunks, but had abandoned his shoes to trample the grass beneath his bared feet. Sighing, she leaned into him and looped an arm with his free limb, resting her head against his arm, his shoulder too high an aspiration for her.
"Thanks, sweetie," she said. "Wasn't sure that I was gonna make it."
"No problem. Happy to help a frail, lil' human like yourself," he grinned.
"Mm-hmm. Just remember, dear, who's the one carrying the cooler," she chided as he set it at the end of the table. Sherri settled into a seat as children flocked about the boy she had watched grow from a squalling youth to the sturdy teen before her. Hector Ward smiled as he passed out the aluminum cans to the children and other members of the Agency. After they were done gathering drinks, he scooped a cluster into his large hands and nodded towards the beach.
"We're gonna be right down there by the shore," he nodded.
"Who's we? And what are you doing down by the shore?" Sherri asked, her eyes narrowing in suspicion.
"Myself, Patel, Curt. Henry and Alyx might come wandering by," he answered, ticking off the names on his fingers. There was a sudden gust and the young Moana Cadon appeared clutching the tall teenager's powerful leg, still chewing on her hair. Golden-green eyes looked up to Sherri and then to Hector as her tiny fingers curled in his cargo pants. The young man nodded and amended, "And Mo, course."
"Of course," Sherri nodded with a grin. "All right. Well, have fun. Behave yourselves."
"No promises," he chimed as he treaded along the emerald grass towards the beachfront where his friends waited. Moana clutched his pant leg as she seemed to glue herself to his side, following him to the small cove where Patel Badesha sat on a log beside Curtis Chang, a lean boy with feathery black hair that reached to his neck. Hector gently lobbed a drink at each of them, but still produced enough force to nearly knock them from their perch. They recovered and he winced as he sat against the embankment, Moana crawling into his lap as she continued to chew on her lock of hair.
"Sorry," grumbled the tall boy as he opened a can and offered it to the white-haired girl. She shook her head and he shrugged before gulping it down.
"No, no. It's fine. I always wanted to get my sternum crushed by a soda can," Curtis said as he righted himself, rubbing his chest.
"Oh, stop acting like a human," Hector responded as he rolled his eyes.
"You know, humans are anxious enough about Prometheans as it is. You might wanna think about a new phrase," Patel suggested.
"S'fine," he assured her. "'Sides, humans should be worried 'bout us. We're the new top of the food chain. Ain't that right, Mo?"
She nodded sagely and the elder boy laughed as he ruffled her white hair, which she responded to by clamping down harder upon the strand in her mouth. Curtis popped the top of the can and took a sip before requesting, "Could we avoid your whole Promethean propaganda spiel? I mean it's not like we don't get it -"
There was no sound as Curtis suddenly disappeared and Patel reacted with familiarity as she grabbed his soda can from the air, the teenagers accepting his sudden absence stoically while Moana blinked in surprise and looked up towards Hector. He assured her, "Don't worry. He'll be right back. 'Less he ported into a volcano."
"Please stop suggesting that," Patel said as she set the can upon the log. "I'd prefer that we don't tempt fate."
"Who knows?" Hector grinned. "Maybe he'll discover some sorta immunity to extreme heat or something."
A small gust of wind brought Curtis back to the log, looking faintly bewildered as Patel mused and handed his soda to him, "Oh, good. You're back. You get me anything?"
"No. Oh, so very much, no," he shuddered and shook his head before taking a long drink from his can.
"Where'd you go, anyway?" asked the tall youth.
"Nowhere. And that is the entirety of what I have to say on the subject," he muttered.
Hector chuckled while Moana crawled from his lap, creeping towards a crab that had scuttled from its sanctuary. She crawled along the embankment only for it to crawl back towards its hovel. There was a plume of dust and Moana was suddenly blocking its path, crouching as the lock finally dropped from her mouth. Her skin rippled, turning a greyish-blue hue and rugged as her eyes became dull and obsidian. With a hiss, she opened her mouth, revealing several rows of jagged teeth as she darted forward, too fast to follow to crush the unfortunate creature between her teeth. Curtis gave a slight jolt at the sight while Hector sighed and reached over to gingerly collect up the girl who was busily shoving the tumbling pieces of the crab back into her mouth.
"Mo, you're s'posed to cook stuff 'fore you eat it," he chided as he began to pluck and toss away the pieces of shell ringing her mouth. She grinned broadly, showcasing the jagged fangs, and giggled as he delicately fussed over her.
"She must've been a nightmare when she was teething," chuckled the dark-haired girl.
"Forget teething. How'd her mother even nurse her?" Curt asked.
"Mo was outta her nursing stage by the time her powers started developing," explained the tall boy as he finally used his baggy shirt to clean about her smiling mouth. He explained, "I can usually distract Mr. Cadon from class if I get'im talking about his kids."
There was a sudden stirring of unease and Moana suddenly frowned, whimpered, and tucked herself against Hector's shirt as Curt abruptly disappeared again, his soda disappearing with him. The tall boy hesitatingly stroked Moana's hair, seemingly scared to touch her, and looked up to the nervous dark-haired girl who had approached their group. A silvery spike jutted from her lower lip and several studs were arrayed in her ears, purposely asymmetrical in their arrangement. Pale, platform boots with skull buckles boosted her rather underwhelming stature. Superfluous straps with buckles dangled from her white pants and were held in place by a wide leather belt with spikes that sat crooked about her slender hips. Her snowy shirt featured a rather crimson snowflake that contained a skull upon closer inspection. Black sleeves disconnected from her shirt covered her forearms and her fingernails were painted a pearly white. As she stood there, a small pink tongue flickered across her pale lips, and her olive green eyes met Hector's gaze for a second before she looked away.
"What's up, Alyx?" Hector asked.
"Hector, you might – you might wanna come check this out," she muttered.
"What's wrong?" he frowned.
"Some of the guys ran into some humans and they're kinda, you know, messing with them," she said. With a sigh, Hector lifted Moana off of his lap and handed her across to Patel who pulled the white-haired girl into her lap, shushing her tiny whimpers that Alyx winced at. Pushing himself up, Hector followed after the dark-haired girl, treading down the beach as he maintained a straight face. As he heard the shouts and jeers, his mouth pulled into a frown, and he curled his fingers, cracking his knuckles. They voice grew louder when they were approached by a spry boy whose head had been shaved bald. Hector balked his approach, grimacing as he wrenched his eyelids shut and growled.
"Alyx, you need to calm'im down. He's throwing off too much."
She nodded and put a hand on the boy's skinny shoulder to urge, "Henry, settle. Everything's going to be all right."
"Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no. It's bad. Very bad. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad," he muttered, jittering slightly. He was long-limbed and gangly, but short, and his thin fingers wrung each other ceaselessly. His breathing was rapid and anxious, on the verge of hyperventilation, but he seemed to be getting better as Alyx squeezed his shoulder. Mismatched eyes, one a pale blue and the other a forest green, flickered about, but never seemed to focus on anything solid, always gazing past the world. When his gaze swung towards Alyx, it sharpened for a moment and he scratched at his ear before his vision turned cloudy again and he followed something floating beyond her. With a small whine, he bit down on his knuckle though Alyx sighed and pulled it from his mouth as she stroked his head.
"All right, all right. Everything's going to be all right. Hector's going to fix everything," she assured him. Grunting, the brown-haired boy straightened and peeled open his eyes, a hand pressed to his head.
"Yeah, just, you know, keep your distance. Could do without my head trying to tear itself open," he grumbled. Dropping his hand, he strode towards the raucous shouts and guffaws and he was instantaneously disappointed by how stereotypical the scene was. Two groups of teenagers faced off upon the beach, attired in their swimsuits, and he quickly deduced the humans from the Prometheans who lounged upon the expanse of sand. Sneers decorated their visages and they eagerly displayed their powers to the huddling humans. Smoke coiled from a point in the ground near them, the point converted to jagged glass. Heading the Promethean group was a monstrous boy covered in a craggy hide that sported clusters of bone spurs.
"Like I was saying, y'all are probably going to be wanting to find another place to hang. Wouldn't want'cha getting yourselves hurt," sneered the representative.
"It's a big beach. No reason we can't share it," retorted one of the boys though his friends clearly did not share his courage.
"Yeah, see, that just doesn't work for us," he said with mock regret. He lifted his thick arms as though helpless in the situation and continued, "How abou-"
"How 'bout you settle down 'fore I put you down, Bartleby?" Hector said as he approached. Several of the Prometheans jumped and as he folded his arms over his chest and studied them, they had the good graces to look guilty. Bartleby recovered quickly and scowled at his fellow Promethean.
"Aren't y'all the one always preaching about Promethean superiority?" he pointed out.
"Sure," he shrugged. "But I'm also the one who always says we have to prove that superiority. Earn it. Can't just assume it. 'Cause then we start looking like asses – you know, kinda like you."
"Careful, Hector," Bartleby scowled, "Get yourself all riled up, y'all might hurt yourself . . . again."
With a soft growl, Hector subconsciously touched the scars along his forearm before realizing what he was doing and dropped his hand that he balled into a fist. Taking a deep breath, he tapped his foot and it unleashed a plume of sand as he fired forward, closing the distance between him and Bartleby faster than the spiked boy could react. Giving no sign of effort, he lifted the snarling boy into the air and smirked, "Really want to start testing for being an astronaut already, Barty? Gotta say, pretty bold doing it in just your trunks."
"Put me down!" he wailed as he tried to pry away the fingers about his neck.
"You ready to behave?"
"Screw y'all," he spat.
Releasing a tired sigh, Hector made a small movement with his hand and Bartleby went soaring into the air, his scream following after him. Chuckling as the other Prometheans from the group began edging away, Hector used his hand to shield his eyes as he watched the monstrous figure sail through the crowds. He glanced towards the shocked squad of humans who looked somewhat horrified, and he assured them, "Oh, he'll be fine . . . Long as I catch'im, course. Mean, he's still got some pretty ridiculous durability, but if I miss'im . . . it could be a bit messy."
Hector nodded and looked back up, searching the skies before looking at the group again to assure, "Any minute now. Just wait."
After several more seconds had passed, his expression was not as easy-going and he repeated, "Any minute now."
The humans exchanged worried glances before finally noting a dark blot tumbling back towards Earth, and Hector grinned, "See? Told'ja."
A second later, his smug expression was replaced with a frown as he realized that Bartleby was hurtling not back to them, but was returning at an angle. Hector's eyes widened and he dropped his nonchalant attitude.
His feet twitched and he rocketed into the air, aimed at the airborne Promethean. As he rose higher, he could hear the bully's terrified wails and he grimaced, stricken by a flash of guilt and regret at possibly traumatizing him before focusing on his task. In his haste to take off, he had not fired properly and needed to readjust to intersect Bartleby. Twisting about, he spread his arms wide before clapping his hands with enough force to produce shockwaves that threw him towards his target. He grinned at his genius before wincing and rubbing his chest from the impact. Leaning his head back, he regarded Bartleby and frowned before performing another clap that sent him directly into the path of the spiked boy, pushing past him slightly. Yelping and blubbering, the repentant instigator scrabbled towards the brown-haired youth, scrabbling at the air and causing Hector to scowl.
"Have some respect. You're a Promethean, for chirssake," he said disapprovingly as he snapped his fingers, edging next to Bartleby who seized him and wrapped his limbs about him. Hector grunted at the tight grip before studying the rapidly approaching ground and trying to judge where they would be landing.
"We're going to die!" shrieked his passenger and Hector winced, wishing he could slap his hands over his ears.
"Right, seriously, what did I just say? Now chill 'fore I decide that spikes aside, you make a nice landing pad," he growled as he drew back his hands and clapped once again, directing it downwards to slow their descent. He grinned, "I'm getting the hang of this."
"OhGodohGodohGodohGod . . ." Bartleby murmured, clenching his lids shut. As they neared the ground, Hector smiled broadly and clapped his hands a final time, causing a ripple to spread across the sand before he landed roughly in its epicenter, crashing to the ground. Rolling Bartleby off, he stumbled to his feet and placed his fists on his hips as he looked about proudly.
"Think that went rather well."
"You are absolutely insane," Bartleby yelled.
"It's pronounced 'genius,'" he corrected with a smirk.
"Hector Aloysius Ward!"
He froze and wildly looked about, searching for a means of escape before Sherri crested the grassy ridge, but was too slow in his departure. She appeared, hands on her broads hips and a scowl on her face, flanked by Dwight and Curt. Patel's race up the beach as she cradled Moana was halted by their appearance, and she quickly slinked away before she could be caught in the stare that would have put Medusa to shame. Sherri took every advantage she could of her superior positioning and Bartelby attempted to crawl away before he was pinned to the ground by the stern glare. Attempting to remove all signs of guilt from his features and mostly failing, Hector hooked his thumbs in his pockets and smiled, his voice breaking once.
"Hey, Sherri, how's – mhmm – howzzit, uh, going?"
"It was going pretty well. At least until I was interrupted by you putting on an airshow," she frowned.
"That-that was, um . . . you know, Bartleby here, well, he really wanted to try flying, and see, there wasn't anybody with that particular ability around, so I figured I'd give it a go, but then he was up there, and I hadn't really thought about the landing, so I tried to catch'im -"
"Wait, y'all are blaming me?!" hissed the prone boy.
"You started it!" Hector snapped in return under his breath.
"But you -"
"This is not up for discussion!"
"Are you two quite finished?" Sherri demanded, arms folded over her chest.
"Um, yeah. Think so," the tall boy chuckled.
"Right," she said, her tone icy. She turned towards her silvery-haired comrade and decreed, "Dwight, take a break. The boys are going to be manning the grill for now."
"Got it," he grinned.
"Oh, come o-"
Their unified protests were cut short by the stout woman's fierce glare and the both bowed their heads as they trudged up the sandy embankment and sulked after the short woman who led them towards the picnic tables. As they passed, Curt fell into step alongside them and smirked up at Hector.
"So, I would like mine medium rare with just -"
With a laugh, Curtis flickered away, leaving Hector to grasp at empty air and continue towards his punishment.
We're probably going to have one more chapter for Trash and that shall be the end of his origin. In this chapter, we met some of his future allies and enemies - however, they may not necessarily be the ones you think they are.
These are our characters. Do not touch them, or Ira will enact horrors we usually reserve for our stories - ones that largely involve razor wire, tourniquets, and drills.