by Toni Jackson
We landed in the old stadium in the middle of the night. The intent was to come in cloaked and avoid detection, but somehow Connor forgot to turn it on as we passed over the mountains. He turned it on over the city, but by then it was too late. Probably when he was busy teaching his nephew to pilot his ship. It wasn’t until after we landed that I learned his ship was picked up by one of the DOD’s cameras. And pictures were released to the public. Luckily, an alien ship sighting was much lower on the list than everything else going on here. But still, he would catch hell for that.
It was bittersweet being back on Earth.
A rush of memories bombarded me from every direction the moment I stepped from the ship, freezing my body in place. Chase and Kara stepped out and stood on either side of me, each one resting a hand on the shoulder nearest to them. Their touch strengthened me, giving me the courage to move forward. At 15, Chase stood a few inches under six feet, while Kara, at 18, was my height. They both sported my deep brown skin tone and a head full of curls. The biggest difference between the two was their eye color. Chase had my green eyes and Kara’s were hazel.
After Leroy’s funeral, I took Kara and Chase back home for a while. My father was happy to have us all home. No, happy is too mild a word. If he could have, he would have locked me in a room and kept me from leaving. With his help, Chase learned to control his powers. I glanced over at my son, his features reminding me so much of his father, Vaidan. Kara’s teen years coincided with a manifestation of powers. Seems she’s a chip off the old block. At least partially. She wasn’t completely like me - no tentacles - but her ability to control any living plant life was almost as strong as mine. It felt good to make the kids my first priority and stay away from anything that might put them in danger, at least until they could begin to fend for themselves.
That definitely wasn’t an issue now. Chase’s powers were strong before, but now…
I pulled out the smartphone Connor brought back for me that last time he patrolled Earth. It was one of the latest models. I powered it on and began checking my accounts. Everything was still there, I would just need new cards. I could take care of that later on. We left the stadium to find an Urber waiting at the curb. The driver rolled down the window as we approached.
“I’m James. I’ve been hired to take care of your driving needs for the next couple of days.”
I nodded. “Thanks. I’m guessing you’ve been given our hotel information?”
“Yeah, it’s been programmed in as the first stop.” He reached into the center of the console and retrieved a business card. “This is my information. I live on the North side, so just give me a little bit of a head start when you call me.”
“No problem,” I replied, sticking the card in my backpack. Chase loaded the bags in the trunk, then slid in beside Kara. James attempted to start up a conversation a few times, but gave up. We were all tired and could use a few hours of sleep. James pulled up in front of an upscale long term rental. Chase unloaded the bags and I let James know that we would need him later.
Everything had been taken care of at the hotel, which was good, because I didn’t even have a valid driver’s license right now. We stepped into the room and sighed. It was a three bedroom suite, more like a small apartment. Everyone chose a room and settled in.
A few hours later, after a deep nap and a hot shower, we made our way over to Hitman’s. I stared in amazement when he opened the door. One little boy had a grip on his leg and another one peaked over his shoulder with his arms wrapped around Hitman’s neck. If someone had suggested that Hitman - of all people - would settle down with someone and have children, I would have believed they had been brainwashed by Grimm. Instead, I had a first-person view of the impossible.
He managed to rid himself of his extra growths and welcomed us in. I could tell Morningstar loved being a mother because she glowed - literally glowed - everytime she looked at Hitman and the kids. He stood in a corner, his usual stoic self, arms crossed over his chest as his sons, who he introduced as Ashton and Xander, took turns trying to crawl up his legs. Whenever one got past his waist, he would pry them off and put them back on the floor, aiming them towards Morningstar. You could tell that he watched over them closely. I can’t imagine him doing ordinary stuff around the house. Knowing Hitman, he probably packs three guns just to take out the trash.
His wife joined the U30 not long before I left Earth and evidently they hit it off. The dynamics of their relationship were strange. A man who walks in shadow falls in love with a woman of light. In an odd way, they balance each other.
I raised an eyebrow at Chase and Kara where they sat on the couch. They both stood and walked over to the boys.
“Hey Xander, I bet you guys have some great toys. Would you mind showing us?” Kara smiled and held her hand out.
“Sure!” The boys jumped up and down and Chase leaned over to pick up Ashton before following Kara and Xander to the boys room. Before leaving the hotel, I already discussed them taking the kids from the room so that I could talk with Hitman and Morningstar.
“Do you guys have any idea of what’s going on? I received a message through Connor that I needed to ‘Come Home’”. I stood and began pacing. “Everything was arranged when I arrived. Transportation and a long term suite with three bedrooms. I mean, Connor’s been monitoring things here, but he said that so far, aside from the normal crazy, everything seemed rather quiet.”
“Everything has been quiet,” Hitman said quietly. “Too quiet, to be honest.”
“Not that I’m complaining,” chimed in Morningstar, “because at least we’ve been able to raise the kids in reasonable peace, without having to do the whole ‘fight of the week’ thing.”
Hitman now was the one pacing. “If you got the message through Connor, and we also received the message here, it stands to reason that others of us also got it. Which means...”
Morningstar straightened up. “Which means something big is happening. Big enough that we all had to be reached, no matter where in the galaxy we were,” she said flatly.
“We all know there’s only one person with that kind of reach,” I muttered.