I will remember my first sight of him until the day I die. He gleamed as though he was lit by sunshine wherever he stood, as if he stood in a slightly brighter world than the rest of us. His hands glowed with that same summer light, but even stronger; when he fights, sometimes it's hard to actually see his fists beneath the aura they project. His costume was a mix of bright, vivid red and rich blue, with the scales of justice emblazoned in pure white on his chest. (And okay, not that I'm really into him because he's way older than me and it'd be creepy if he actually wanted to date a sixteen year-old girl, but he's a total hottie.) And somehow that silver headband with the sculpted wings looked just right on his head.
I should stress, for the benefit of everyone who might be forgetting that I was dreaming about that day, that the Groucho Marx glasses and big fake cigar are not part of his actual ensemble. (Adam, on the other hand...)
The two of us stared at each other for what felt like forever. Probably more for me than for him. Finally, he spoke. "Hi," he said. "I'm Captain Light."
"I know," I said. "Um, I mean, I saw the picture of you in the Herald. The one where you stopped the bank robbery. It was kind of blurry, but um...not hard to miss." I paused, wondering what to say to the hero who'd inspired me. "Oh, right. I'm Hummingbird." I waved a little. "Hi."
"Hi," he said again. He smiled shyly. I suddenly realized that he wasn't sure what to say either. It kind of crashed in on me in that moment that the big famous superhero that inspired me to fight crime, the man whose name was synonymous in the newspapers with "heroic", hadn't even been doing this for a full year yet. He didn't really know much more about what he was doing than I did. It was a little like going up in a plane for your first flying lesson and finding out that your teacher had just gotten his pilot's license last week.
"I, um...I followed one of their planes here," he continued. "Normally I can't keep up with them, but this one had suffered some engine damage. Slowed it down just enough that I could stick with them. What about you?"
"I stowed away," I said. I tried to make it sound like an actual plan. "I was looking for their communications center, figured maybe I could bring the army down on them."
He nodded. "That's a really good idea," he said. "Better than mine. I was just figuring that if I found Lord Raptor himself and brought him in, then maybe the group would lose direction. Or something. I'm, um...I'm actually still figuring this whole thing out as I go." His eyes widened, painfully blue and earnest beneath his mask. "I just feel like if I have these powers, I should do something good with them, you know? Something to help people."
I nodded so fast my head blurred. "Yeah!" I said. "I mean, there are people out there getting powers practically every week, it seems like, and what do most of them do? They go out and rob banks, or beat up people who ticked them off, or just wreck stuff for fun. I don't get it."
"Not all of them," he said. "I've met a couple of people like you, really nice people who want to do something to make the world a better place. Like--" His fists suddenly surged with light. "Oh, right," he said. "Um, we should probably save this for later."
I turned around to see another dozen or so of Raptor's goons. They were all hugging the walls, probably because if they didn't they'd get stomped on. And looking at the thing that would do the hypothetical stomping, it would probably leave them pretty permanently unable to get up.
It stretched maybe twenty feet down the hallway, and looked like a giant mechanical lizard with eight legs. The "head" was actually a shielded canopy, with a human pilot in the cockpit. Twin shoulder-mounted cannons looked like they were a lot more lethal than the stun guns that the infantry was packing, and the "chest" had racks of missile launchers that I didn't want to think about. It's hard to dodge things like clouds of toxic gas or walls of expanding flame.
Captain Light didn't hesitate. He flew right past me and charged, hammering his fist straight into the cockpit of the mecha. (Oh, yeah. Anime as well as D&D.) There was a coruscating sunburst of light, and a sound like a jackhammer striking a gong...but the metal barely even dented. The mechanical beast wasn't even rocked backwards.
Loudspeakers clicked into life as the man in the cockpit spoke. "Lord Raptor requests the pleasure of your company for dinner," he said. The cannons swiveled to target us both. "Formal dress is not required."
TO BE CONTINUED...