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[Vignette 2/2011] Love At First Sight (Midnight)

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Travis Hunter opened the glass door of the grandfather clock with a sureness of hand that belied his advanced years, and pushed the hands counter clockwise to both point directly upward. Conversely, the serious expression of rapt attention worn by his young grandson suggested maturity beyond his years. As Trevor watched, the tall antique timepiece slid into the wall with a soft click before the entire corner of the room moved out of the way to reveal a downward staircase.

The passage down into the earth below the estate was cool and dark, smooth surfaces that had clearly gone unused for years cut into the rock. At the bottom, the elder Hunter flipped a series of switches, illuminating the massive cavern secreted underneath the mansion. "Welcome to the Midnight Manor."

Stepping forward, Trevor walked in a broad arc, craning his neck to try to take everything in at once. The closest wall was almost entirely taken up with massive monitors and computers the size of a small room, diodes blinking to life as the Manor’s systems came back on line after decades of slumber. A row of utilitarian lockers held pitch black uniforms and specialised equipment, with nearby workbenches for repairs. A chemistry lab beyond even the scope of the one his grandfather kept upstairs sat in one corner, rows of beakers and glass tubing glinting as the overhead lights turned on bank by bank.

What captured the youth's interest most, however, sat at the back of the manor. Row upon row of oh objects covered in white tarps sat lined up nearby a a tunnel further into the distance. Walking slowly over to the closest of them he paused, looking back over his shoulder at Travis.

The old man chuckled quietly and followed his grandson over. "Thought those might get your attention," he admitted, pulling the tarp back in a single smooth pull. "Always were mechanically inclined. This... is the Night Cruiser." The classic car was an inky black that seemed to swallow light rather than reflect it, still in pristine condition despite the years. Dark red glass covered the headlights while subtle openings and flush compartments suggested all manner of hidden gadgetry.

Trevor moved in a tentative circle around the vehicle, awe in his expression, when a smaller, tarp covered object caught his eye. Pulling the sheet to the stone floor revealed what had at one point been a motorcycle in the same sleek, pitch black style of the car. The years had been less kind to it, pieces of its inner working sitting partially disassembled next to the frame, dents marring its metallic surfaces. "And this?" he asked without looking away.

Travis quirked a thick eyebrow and brought a hand up to stroke his greying goatee. "That would be the Night Cycle," he replied.

The younger Hunter ran his hand over the damaged arc of the bike's fuel tank, the faintest ghost of a smile touching his reserved expression, as he murmured, "The Night Cycle..."

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