The Messenger: Supernatural (Chapter One)
Presenting original in-universe fiction from The Line. This series focuses on the team's resident fanboy The Messenger, and is set slightly before he is invited to join the team.
MAKING A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
A fairly large crowd had gathered at the end of the Santa Monica Pier, and Mayor Herb Katz looked nervously at his watch while his subordinates fluttered around and the bright sunshine reflected off of his receding hairline. A light breeze blew in off the brackish grey-brown water of the Pacific Ocean, and the voluminous throngs of onlookers buzzed with anticipation.
It's hard to say who was the first to point a finger towards the sky. Maybe it was the cherubic overall-clad toddler perched on the shoulders of his father's worn brown leather jacket. Maybe it was one of the teenaged girls, their long straight hair whipping in the wind as the glint from their oversized sunglasses mirrored the sunlight. In any case, within seconds, hundreds of hands pointed skywards towards a solitary black dot, moving towards them from the horizon. From perhaps that same indistinct place, the chant began, and was deafening by the time that dot resolved itself into the shape of a cape-wearing man, floating closer and closer still.
"MESS-EN-GER! MESS-EN-GER! MESS-EN-GER! MESS-EN-GER! MESS-EN-GER!"
Within moments, the black and white clad figure floated above the stage, placed above the now-emptied fishing balcony. The cape flapped congruent to the flow of gusty air from the sea, and thickly gloved hands were held out in a gesture of calm. The assembled mass applauded with enthusiasm, cheering him on.
Just remember, smiling doesn't matter under your helmet, a voice in his ear said, and that you've gotta stay focused with your magnetism or you'll screw up every cell phone and media card around.
I know, I know already, Messenger said in his mind. Shut up and let me enjoy this!
Says the guy who wanted to wear khakis, the voice continued. Just keep your telepathy attuned for ill intent, and don't let anybody get too close to that motorcycle jumpsuit. Any show of skin or hair and you could be history!
Waiting near the podium was Lieutenant Dana O'Leary, a gorgeous but lethal bit of police work in a smartly tailored pantsuit, the jacket hitched back to showcase the badge and sidearm on her belt. Supernatural came to rest near her and she held out her hand grudgingly, brushing her short red hair out of her eyes with the other. Shaking off the warning he'd just gotten, he returned the gesture and shook her hand with enthusiasm.
"Good to see you again, Lieutenant O'Leary!" Messenger said pleasantly.
"I hate you," she said, smiling. "Come on, the commissioner and the mayor are waiting."
The policeman and the gaudily dressed man walked over to the two politicians, who also shook hands as camera flashes popped around them. Messenger glanced around, watching the crowd and sensing nothing more than interest and adulation. Happily, he raised a hand and waved, and the crowd roared with great vigor.
Mayor Katz led the flying man over to the podium, and spoke into the microphone. "Citizens of Santa Monica," Katz said as he gripped the sides of the podium. "thank you for your patience!" Messenger noted the index cards laid out there and held in place by transparent tape. "In the last few weeks, we've seen a streak of extraordinary crime strike our city and endanger both citizens and visitors alike. But today, people once again feel safe walking along our world famous promenade, they're returning to our historic pier and they're patronizing our shops and restaurants. On one hand, we have the heroic work of the Santa Monica Police Department, ably administered by Commissioner Charles Ramsey. We also have another man to thank, today. The man who saved the life of Officer Kurtis Calhoun by stopping a dangerous gunfight and getting Officer Calhoun to medical care faster than anyone could expect. That's why today, we're here to present the key to the city to The Messenger, and convey upon him the status as an official special officer of the Santa Monica Police Department!"
The audience had started cheering at "key" and only got louder until he finished, a solid wall of sound applauding him. Again Messenger shook the mayor's hand and approached the microphone.
Can you see this? Are you TiVoing it? he asked in his mind.
I told you, it's live on Channel Nine, the voice in his head returned. You could probably stream it live on your phone.
"Thank you, Mayor Katz, Commissioner Ramsey, and thank you Santa Monica," Messenger said calmly into the mic. More cheers greeted him, and he waved his hand humbly. "I was not always the best person for this job, and I made some mistakes along the way. I appreciate the forgiveness of the Apple Store, and I hope that I've done something to make amends, as I love their products ..."
Free ad ... the voice said in Messenger's mind.
Shut up! he thought back hard before continuing.
"Anyway, I appreciate the support I've gotten from the city of Santa Monica -- my city -- and I'm gonna keep doing my best to protect its citizens. Uh, I guess that's it, thank you!"
Uh, smooth, the voice in his head said.
Waving pleasantly and holding the key and the badge he'd been given, Messenger rose from the podium and flew slowly east over the multitude, while the mayor raised his hands in protest. Within moments he'd made his way down Colorado before hovering at Lincoln Boulevard and rocketing straight up into the sky.
BACK AT STATELY NEWHAUS MANOR ...
Some miles away, Rasul Justice sat on a roof top patio and pulled a headphone mic off of his close cropped head. Rasul was a tall man of African extraction, once muscular but graying and rounding with age, a loose fitting black t-shirt and jeans hanging off his frame. He glanced around at the makeshift screens -- tarps pulled over nine-foot-tall chain link fence segments -- and sipped at a glass of chilled cranberry lemonade. Moments later, Messenger dropped suddenly on to the roof, moving so quickly that he couldn't be seen until he was behind the screens, stopping mere inches above the rooftop before gently settling down.
"You've finally improved your landings," Justice said with a smirk.
"Did you have to f*** with me so much while I was trying to be all newsworthy?" Messenger asked, taking off his motorcycle helmet to reveal a receding hairline, grizzled beard and eyepatch on his pale face. His shoulders slumped a bit and Messenger was gone, leaving Nate Newhaus in his place.
"Ah, you can take a hit better than Robin Givens," Justice chuckled, passing Newhaus a frosty Heineken from a nearby cooler. Newhaus chuckled and sipped on the beer. "Too soon?" Justice asked.
"Thanks for waiting for me, 'Alfred,'" Newhaus joked.
"One more butler crack and I'm gonna 'butle' my foot off in yo' a**, I know that ..." Justice said, putting the radio equipment in his messenger bag. "Just because I found a frequency where I could transmit and you can hear doesn't make me your Oracle!
"Only because you'd never settle for a wheelchair, you'd want an exoskeleton." Newhaus said. "So now I'm a cop! How cool is that?"
"Given that you were a criminal vigilante a week ago and a shlumpy Hollywood dandy a few months before, that's pretty hilarious," Justice responded.
"Well, I feel like you should keep the key," Newhaus said, handing over the metal gift, "since I wouldn't know anything about how to control my powers without you."
"Yeah, I'm a regular freakin' Yoda," Justice smirked. "But no thanks, I'll avoid any evidence of a connection between us, just in case you ever get any actually competent arch enemies."
"Oh, good point," Newhaus conceded, now out of the costume and sliding on a black mock turtleneck. "I guess I gotta hide that thing."
Justice nodded. "I suggest a buried stash somewhere deep in the forest. Anyhoo, while you were shmucking it up with the powers that be, an old lady got raped over off of Wilshire and 15th and there was a hit and run on Cloverfield and 26th. The life of a hero ..."
"Are you ever gonna be positive about what I'm doing?" Newhaus sighed.
"I agreed to help keep you from getting killed ... immediately, anyway," Justice answered, ticking a list off on his fingers. "I helped you get into the gym and working out so you could deal with the metal I put in that costume of yours. I helped you figure out how to use your telepathy and your magnetism. However, I've always said that this whole thing was stupid and you'd be better off getting paid."
"Something happened to me, Rasul, and I got these powers for a reason," Newhaus said defiantly. "Then I just happened to have a karaoke buddy who happens to have grown up in a family of magicians who knew something about what I was going through? That's fate!"
Justice laughed at him. "If it's fate, then why didn't we stick with the other 'superhero name' you wanted?"
"I told you already," Newhaus protested, "'Seraph' was a member of the Global Guardians, remember?"
"Yeah, I read the Giffen-era JLI stuff, I remember," Justice said fondly. "At least the news media has been pretty forgiving to you, given how much stuff you've broken. They really are desperate to stop the body counts. In any case, I gotta go finish this Black Enterprise article before my editor starts nagging me. We singin' at Britannia tonight?"
Newhaus nodded. "Sure. Norm's afterwards?"
"Maybe -- I'd rather we all get some GTA 5 multiplayer on, but that fool McGallagher doesn't have a PS4. All right, see you later."
Justice made his way down off the roof, leaving Newhaus alone to consider his newfound life.