Jump to content
Avenger Assembled

(IC) You May Not Believe In Me

Recommended Posts

August 2, 2017

Freedom Medical Center 

 

Keeping things low-profile, as was the plan, meant that any image Mark had had of landing on the rooftop were quickly stifled by the reality of the need to look like any typical expectant family and friends arriving at the hospital late at night. Redbird dropped them off at the front doors and they headed inside, where the front desk attendant quickly directed them towards the secure elevator to the maternity ward. 

 

On the sixth floor. As the elevator ascended, an ominous rumble came from somewhere in the shaft - but Mark looked up and declared out loud, “No!” And with that, they continued to their destination, where as parents in labor but not particularly active labor, Mark and Nina were immediately handed a large pile of forms. Ready to walk around instead of wait, Nina handed them quickly to Mark. By the time they were about to head for their secure room, two visitors arrived. 

 

Iyar al-Iryani was the first of the extra guests to arrive, sweeping Nina up in a careful hug briefly stymied by another contraction. But Nina seemed to appreciate the company, and Iyar took her other hand. “Just think, Nina,” said Iyar with animation on her face. “Someday this day will be a holiday.” 

 

You’re right,” said Nina, smiling at the thought. “This will be a good day - no, a great one.” 

 

“Thank you so much for all this,” Iyar said to Trevor and Erin, her accent notably thicker than her friend’s. “You will be remembered on this day.” She knew the Liberty League well enough to know who had planned all this. 

 

Exchanging a glance with Erin Trevor suggested, “Best left out of history books, maybe.” Having a commemorative plaque in their honor in some Socotran municipal park might be tough to explain down the line. Something reminiscent of a smile pulled at the corners of his mouth all the same. “Will settle for favourite American uncle.

 

Erin had stationed herself at the entrance to the elevator lobby, keeping an eye on the stairs and the banks of elevators all at once. She was close enough to hear the conversation, but far enough away from the action for comfort. Part of her job in the grand scheme of things had been screening content to show to Mark to keep him grounded in the reality of normal childbirth, and it had been… educational. Now that she was married and in her twenties, the idea of wanting children wasn’t nearly as foreign to Erin as it would’ve been even five years ago, but the getting of them was still a daunting proposition. “Yeah, aunt and uncle should work just fine.” 

 

Oh, you guys…” Mark was close to tears, maybe because the moment was so emotional, maybe from fatigue, but Nina, still walking around, was articulate enough to say, “Thank you both so much. We owe you our lives, and so does our son, as soon as he makes his way out here…” 

 

Things got a little more complicated with the arrival of Martha Lucas, carrying a grandmother’s big bag of goodies over her shoulder and looking a little out of breath. Things weren’t exactly frosty between Mark’s mother and the rest of the Liberty League, but they weren’t quite friendly either - not with the lingering memories of what she’d done to Mark when he’d been in high school just before the barely-prevented end of the multiverse. But Mark had put those memories aside and obviously wanted his friends to do the same - especially today! 

 

Luckily they had this small suite of rooms and waiting room to themselves tonight - even in Freedom City, the metahuman wing of the hospital wasn’t so crowded in the dead of night when there wasn’t a major super-battle going on. Hot on Martha’s heels came Dr. Hussein, the Iraqi-born physician who was working as Nina’s primary ob-gyn. The hijab-wearing woman was no-nonsense and intimately familiar with all sorts of metahuman health issues, particularly maternal ones - she was exactly the kind of person Mark and Nina had been hoping to find. “All right, it’s time to go to work,” she said briskly. “Mother, let’s get you in your room - Father, we’re going to need you in just a few minutes…” 

 

Mark had been sitting his mother down and making sure she had her books and her sketchpad, now with Nina heading off to the delivery room, he found another moment for Erin and Trevor. “Okay, guys - I’ll keep you updated as much as I can. In another couple of hours, you’re going to meet my son!” He hugged Erin, and he hugged Trevor, and seemed to take a moment to gather himself, pushing aside his own nerves and jangling emotions for the support role he was going to play. “I’m gonna be a dad!” And with that, he headed off to join his wife in their hospital room! 

 

Nina and Mark had discussed their birth plan with Trevor and Erin ahead of time, just to make sure everyone knew what was what. Nina had intended to use an epidural and take her chances with a possible C-section, but strong painkillers and other sorts of sedatives usually made her powers unstable. That meant a natural birth, albeit one spent mostly in the tub full of warm water that Mark had practiced making until he could practically do it in his sleep. Since this was Nina’s first pregnancy, what that really meant for the people outside the delivery room was a lot of waiting as the hours of the late morning crept by into dawn, punctuated by occasional sounds from inside the room (mostly of Nina’s music, an Eritrean pop star she found soothing) and texted updates from Mark. 

 

Hours ticked by - not enough for it to actually be light outside but it was definitely thinking about it out there . Martha Lucas set aside the drawing of Mark and Nina she was working on and immediately dozed off in her chair. Iyar talked with Trevor and Erin about the refugee resettlement service where she volunteered - and then the lights flickered, just slightly, then again. Though they came back on, the effect was unsettling, especially when Erin and Trevor’s communicators both chimed with the fuzzy, static-heavy sound of Redbird’s voice. 

 

<empora> <ncursio> <ospita>. <eav> <nterferenc>.”
 

Share this post


Link to post

Erin had been making regular patrols of the hospital, as much to pass the time as anything. The villains around here tended to understand that Freedom City's heroes were vigilant in protecting their own on special occasions, and she doubted any of them would be eager to have a go at the first child born to the new Liberty League, even if they didn't understand exactly how powerful and dangerous Mark Lucas was. She'd stopped back in at the waiting room to get a bottle of soda and an update when Redbird's report came in. In an instant she was on full alert, her collapsed bat in hand. "Did she say temporal incursion at the hospital?" That was one kind of interference she hadn't anticipated, though in hindsight... 

Share this post


Link to post

Time travel was a possibility Trevor had considered while planning for Nina's pregnancy but one he'd been careful not to mention out loud. He'd carefully gone over the manor's footage from the a half dozen offspring from potential future timelines had arrived more than once and if one took the offhand mention one of them had made to an acquaintance name Gail to instead be Gale it wasn't much a leap infer a connection to a certain tradition of storm related codenames.

 

It was that lineage that fed the pit of worry sitting deep in the back of Trevor's gut as he slipped unseen into a dimly lit corner of hospital corridor. Nina and Iyar had not doubt that the child would one day lead Socotra and if that were true there were two very different reasons someone might wish to travel back and strangle him in his crib. The masked, black clad figure that stepped back out of the shadows didn't care much about the motivations of anyone from a future that hadn't happened, however. Anyone who tried to lay a hand on his friend's family was going to answer to Midnight.

 

"Get back to room," he responded to Wander, hoping their communications equipment could manage through whatever interference was garbling the autonomic machine intelligence's warning. He rolled up one sleeve to reveal the wearable computer wrapped around his forearm while moving to follow his own suggestion. "Accessing cameras." 

Share this post


Link to post

Erin's first impulse was to run outside and find Redbird, try and get a bead on where the threat was so she could face it head-on. But in this case, with such a vulnerable target to protect, she had to agree with Trevor's tactical decision. Nodding fractionally, she raced back to the birthing suite, moving so quickly that she blurred a little around the edges. She didn't bother to knock before entering, though she did carefully open the door rather than bursting through. It was not a good idea to startle people with superpowers any more than necessary, especially ones who were probably already kind of busy and distracted. "Redbird detected a possible temporal incursion," she announced. "Trevor's checking it out." 

Share this post


Link to post

Midnight's electronics scan benefited from the hospital's infrastructure. There was definitely an electronics-scrambling field in the air that smacked of high technology, but no one was scrambling the hard-wired feed coming from the cameras directly into the hospital's security system. His scan quickly found three targets in advanced full-body armor, a trio roughly in red, green, and gold, who had materialized in the corridor outside the waiting room. They were slow and methodical as they went, obviously not expecting to be interrupted - and no wonder, given that the hospital staff outside seemed to be walking right past them. The three moved up and down the corridor, tapping the cameras outside with poles extruded from their suits, shutting the signals down entirely. When they'd shut down their cameras, Red and Green joined each other in the middle of the corridor - just before Gold shut down the last feed to which Midnight had access. 

 

-

 

Inside the birthing room, Wander was too well-trained not to take in what was going on. In addition to Dr. Hussein and a nurse who were carefully giving the couple their needed distance, Mark had stripped off his shirt and had joined Nina by her birthing tub. The water of said tub was churning ominously, with a weird liquid motion that seemed like a small storm in slow motion, but it wasn't hard to guess why, as Nina was currently in the middle of a contraction to which she was giving her full attention. Mark's head automatically snapped Erin's way as she spoke, but had to settle for giving her a thumbs up to show he understood. The noise of soothing Eritrean pop music still filled the air, and it seemed like everything in here was all right. 

 

"Damn you and your magic sperm!" Nina was hissing at Mark as Erin stepped all the way inside, "should have shoved it up your arse!" 

Share this post


Link to post

Midnight gritted his teeth behind his mask as the video feed cut out. It couldn't have just been rebellious future teens photobombing their friend's birth. "Three. Armoured," he radioed to Wander while he ran quickly and silently to head the figures off before they could get to the suite. "Concealed somehow. Appear on camera, staff ignored them." They might have been using a psionic ability; Eve could similarly edit herself out of people's perceptions and if she hadn't been currently enjoying her wedding night he might have been tempted to 'call' her for help. Instead he was going to have to hope the interlopers hadn't done their research well enough to expect his uncommonly high resistance to that sort of ability. Rather than take any chances he tapped the side of his mask and activated the broad spectrum sensors in its lenses, wishing he had his full costume with him rather than the backup equipment from Redbird's glove compartment.

Share this post


Link to post

"Understood," Wander murmured, trying to keep her voice low in deference to the Important Business happening on the other side of the room. She'd have given a great deal to be able to just step back outside and forget everything she'd seen, but people with time travel pretty much always had teleportation as well, so there was no way she was going to get out of arm's reach of Mark and Nina so long as there was a threat. "I'm in the birthing room now, things are proceeding... I guess the way they should. Seems okay." She winced at an especially loud noise from Nina. "Christ, I have no idea," Erin admitted. "But if they pop in here, I'm hoping to hear them before I see them." 

Share this post


Link to post

Midnight opened the door of the waiting room and was almost immediately confronted by the three trespassers from the future. They stared at him,  bodies almost eerily still, in a triangular arrangement with the gold in front and the other two behind. Just as Trevor had predicted, he could see them clearly enough through the sensors in his mask, but otherwise they were shadowy blurs at best. Blurs he might have seen and dismissed in the semi-darkness of the waiting room, after a full day and night awake and active. They stood there, frozen, and Trevor realized that there was only one door into the waiting room and he was standing directly in front of it. 

 

 

Inside the birthing room, Nina either hadn't noticed Erin or didn't care. Her hand clutching Mark's so tight, she was grunting her way through another contraction, looking tired and sweaty after six hours of labor. When she was done, Mark patted her face with a towel. "You're doing great," he told her. "You're doing great, and this is going great." He said with such authority, even having seen Erin there in the room, that it was hard to disbelieve her.

 

"No complications yet," Dr. Hussein was saying, also having accepted the arrival of the superheroine with equanimity, given the circumstances, "I'm going to check your dilation..." For this, the doctor pulled around a privacy screen, partially blocking the view of the two parents in the tub from Erin's eyes. 

Share this post


Link to post

Taking a step forward Midnight closed the door behind him with a soft click, never taking his eyes off of the three armoured figures. In a single fluid motion he drew a pair of segmented batons from lengthwise compartments in his belt, snapping them into rigid alignment with a flick of his wrists. Being outnumbered wasn't ideal and having to restrict his movement to remain in front of the door was worse but nothing in the masked man's stance betrayed those concerns. "Missed visiting hours," he grated, breaking the tense silence. Anything that wanted to step foot into that waiting room was going to have to go through him first.

Share this post


Link to post

There was a long beat - and then Gold cursed. "Kess Ikhtak!" Midnight had heard that before in his time around Socotrans - though it technically was a rude reference to his sister's genitals, its colloquial meaning was more along the lines of "Damn it!" The trio suddenly divided - Red and Green running off to the right and left respectively, Gold's staff snapping out and dividing to mirror Midnight's tonfas. "...There was a party." Gold's English was accented in the sort of Received Pronunciation that Trevor associated with the Socotran aristocracy. "Seventy-nine years ago. The thieves came dressed as Martians - but Midnight knew better." 

 

-

 

In the other room, Erin was learning some Arabic swear words too - before suddenly, in the midst of a contraction, the air around the birthing tub rippled violently with the unmistakeable effects of Monsoon's hydrokinesis. Mark reflexively shielded Dr. Hussein from the burst of power, but Mark himself was lifted off his feet and smashed into the wall opposite Erin with force enough to make the whole room shake. "Crap!" Mark had been put through impervium and been fine, but the air around the tub was still rippling and moving with barely suppressed energy for several seconds. 

 

"Baby, are you okay?" Mark called. Dr. Hussein, mindful of the dangers of metahuman medicine, wasn't running, but she was keeping a safe distance for the moment. 

 

"Oh, your son is fine!" called Nina, her voice raw. "I am pushing a baby out of my vagina, and so that is difficult!" She didn't sound angry or frightened as such (both tones Erin had heard from Nina), just tired and very, very intent. 

 

"Erin," said Mark, turning to his friend as he headed back to his wife's side. "Dr. Hussein just has normal veins and arteries and stuff. We...need your help with this." 

Share this post


Link to post

A simple invasion of the hospital by malign time-traveling forces had not been enough to break Erin's veneer of calm, but Mark's announcement had her eyes widening perceptibly. "I really don't think that's something I can help with," she began, lifting her hands as though to ward off the very idea. "I don't know anything about medicine, and I definitely can't help with the whole, you know, pushing... thing." Even so, she took a few steps towards the alarmingly heaving tank with its dangerous and distraught occupant. "Have you, I mean, are you doing your breathing exercises?" she suggested halfheartedly. "That's supposed to help." 

Share this post


Link to post

"Of course I've been doing my breathing exercises!" The air around the birthing pool rippled again, giving Mark and Erin slight but distinct feelings of vertigo for a moment. Erin had seen births on television with women in distress and pain in the moment of delivery, lashing out in fear and rage. The look in Nina's eyes wasn't quite like that, though - the other woman seemed to be focusing herself through the burning light in her eyes. The water rippled too, and she reached out and grabbed Erin's hand. "I prepare for everything! But I can't make my plans work, because my husband just walks around and gets whatever he wants!" She broke off and gritted her teeth through another contraction.  

 

For his part, Mark had secured some sort of mirrored contraption and had lowered it into the water, never minding how the warm water seemed to actually be boiling briefly despite its temperature never actually increasing. A quick glance told Erin that he seemed to be checking dilation under the direction of the doctor. From her position safely away from the waves of hydrokinetic power, Dr. Hussein declared, "10 centimeters, excellent. You are in the transition phase - so the next step is your son!" 

 

Mark, tired though he looked, lit up at that, squeezing Nina's other hand. "You're doing great! I love you so much - I know how hard this is, but you're almost done." For her part, Nina responded with a suggestion that if Mark had any idea how hard this was, he'd grow himself lady parts and do it himself! 

Share this post


Link to post

As if a decision had been made, Gold suddenly moved - it wasn't quite teleportation and it wasn't quite super-speed, rather the effect was as if Midnight had simply stood there and let Gold smash the end of his staff against his jaw, knocking him backwards against the frame of the waiting room door with a sickening thud that sent the fedora-wearing sleuth's head spinning. "History says Midnight fights past today," said Gold shortly, his Socotran accent thickening, "but it doesn't say anything about his teeth..." There was no sign of energy discharges around the staff Gold was using, just a long, solid pole of saffron metal the size and heft of a quarterstaff - but with Gold's speed, it didn't look like he needed more. The other two in the trio had disappeared down the hall on opposite sides, but at least for now they weren't trying to bust in.

Share this post


Link to post

Erin withstood the pressure of Nina's hand without wincing, though a normal woman might've had a sprained wrist already. "Nina, are you sure you want to give him any ideas?" she asked, keeping her voice as calm and businesslike as she knew how. Having a lot of training in life or death situations helped a lot. "I've seen Mark as a woman, and although she's very pretty, she's even more highhanded and overbearing. Now you're almost done," she reminded Nina, "and this is as bad as it's gonna get. This is one time Mark's not going to be interfering with your plans at all, it's just you and your body and your exquisite control. You've got it in the bag." 

 

She looked over at Mark, whose fingers were starting to turn an alarming shade of purple. "Just to be on the safe side, Mark, you wanna step back for a second and check the door?" she asked reasonably. "Nobody needs any surprises right now." 

 

Share this post


Link to post

With smooth, almost languid movement Midnight replanted his feet in front of the door and squared his shoulder, silently exhaling to refocus his swimming vision. Having to remain in one place in plain view put him at a distinct disadvantage given his skillset and yet his body language remained undeterred. The mystery man cracked his neck once and snorted derisively, having taken the time traveler's measure and finding himself unimpressed. "Not the one biting off more than he can chew." In a blur of movement that owed nothing to a power suit or temporal tampering he shoved one escrima stick forward like a cattle prod into Gold's stomach and brought the other cracking down on his opponent's wrist. "Go. Home."

Share this post


Link to post

At that moment, the red time-traveler raised its pike and shot the green time traveler in the chest with a flash of crimson energy. Green went down, hard, its costume sparking and smoking, and suddenly vanished in a flicker of light like a bad special effect. Distracted from his scrap with Midnight, Gold took a step back and seemed to have briefly lost track of who he was fighting. "Traitor!" he declared - earning a response from Red in a tone that was familiar to Midnight but not quite possible to place thanks to the helmet over his head. 

 

"Inaccurate." he said, even as Gold swung his pike at Midnight's head, a near-miss that from the way it made the air around his mask sizzle had just missed taking it off entirely. 

 

-


Mark disappeared for just a moment, shooting a glance back at Nina, and headed for the waiting room door. Patting his sleeping mother on the shoulder, he put his ear to the door, then came back to the room with a look of confidence. "I think Midnight's got this," he said warmly as he came back to join Erin and Nina. For all that Erin and Nina didn't actually know each other that well, the presence of the other woman seemed to focus Nina's efforts - or perhaps it was simply the further progression of her labor. Nina settled into a wordless labor, giving herself over to the process amid grunts and moans that she'd have never shown to anyone else under other circumstances. 


And if the air occasionally rippled around them, and if she occasionally caught Nina cursing between clenched teeth, well, Erin had seen people pushed to the ultimate extremity before. With encouraging sounds coming from the doctor and from Mark, everything seemed to be progressing naturally. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...