Welcome to Chapter 1 of Sojourner: Forsaken. My Hero’s Choice adventure. Please ensure you vote for the next action after you read this week’s chapter! Good luck, Observer!
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You can’t stop thinking about the letter from Jackie. War? Everything’s in chaos? It just doesn’t make any sense. You’ve read it a half-dozen times but can only speculate and guess. You sent a response back, but have yet to hear from her.
You snap back to the present and move your chair to an upright position in your seat. You fumble for the transmitter.
“Here, Sir,” you say as you look at your surroundings. Commander Z’el always knows how to get you out of a mood. You’re at your favorite spot, hovering just over the Potomac River just south of Washington, DC where you had been looking skyward watching the planes pass overhead as they take off and land. Earth’s technology is primitive, but they have created beautiful beasts.
“You didn’t file a report today. What’s going on?”
“Nothing really to report today, Sir,” you say as you pull back and up on your control lifting your pod up into the air. “No superhuman activity in the region that I can see.”
“What about the tests?” You can hear the frustration building though he’s planets away. “Today’s mission was to gather water, earth, and air samples.”
“Done. I’m running analysis on them now. They’ll be ready for upload in—”
There’s an explosion of blue light about a mile away from the river bank. You immediately bank your pod in the direction.
“Incoming Earth traffic. Compensating” the onboard computer warns as the pod drops about forty feet. You watch a small passenger jet fly overhead. “Continuing trajectory on an alternate path.”
“What are you doing, Sojourner?” Z’el says. “What’s going on?”
“Sir, I’ve spotted an out-of-bounds energy pulse. Could be superhuman activity.”
“Understood. Approach with caution and keep your distance. Report back immediately.”
“Got it.” You flick off your connection with the home-ship and make your way towards the area.
But you’re not the only one who noticed.
You spot the familiar green contrail of Cornelius Bartholomew, also known as The Enforcer, as he flies through the air moving towards the southeast from his Washington, DC headquarters. He’s considered the most powerful registered super on Earth. He’s been bad news for any unregistered super for the last couple of years. Especially if they align themselves with The Resistance.
You slow your approach even though your pod is completely invisible to anyone from the outside. You don’t even show up on their radar.
“C’mon, Cornelius,” you say. “Lead the way.”
He slows as well until he is hovering over a group of office buildings looking for the source. Then he turns his head and looks at you.
For a moment you wonder if he can see you, but when your pod automatically begins to descend you understand. You look behind you to see a military transport helicopter.
“Incoming call,” the computer says. You flick on the receiver.
“Sojourner! You have to—” a voice says before the transmission ends.
You’ve never heard fear in Commander Z’el’s voice, and you’re sure that’s what you heard.
You attempt to open a connection to the home-ship, but it doesn’t go through. You close and open it again. Nothing.
“Computer, comms diagnosis.”
“Pod communication fully operational. Pod to home-ship communication fully operational.”
You hear a pop and a rush of wind as everything goes black. In a split second, you find yourself out of the pod and on solid ground.
“By gods,” you attempt to say, but breathing is labor. The air on Earth is thicker than your home world. It’s as if you can feel every molecule as it moves into your lungs. There’s a grittiness to it.
You look up and see your pod floating just above the rooftops. Then it hits you. You can see it. If you can see it then…
In a second, Cornelius is there hovering ten feet away from it. Looking at it. Then he looks down and sees you.
You try to run, but gravity here is different, too. You’re lighter on Earth, so pushing off on your stride make you jump awkwardly. You crash into the side of the building knocking bricks loose. You look up to see Cornelius following you.
You begin to run again, but this time remembering your training at ProtoTerra. You focus on your goal of controlling your environment rather than the danger coming for you. You turn a corner and run into someone knocking them backward.
“Hey!” a man twice your size and weight crashes into a garbage can sending it rolling into the street. A dozen other people stop to look at you. You look back to the alley you came out of expecting to see Cornelius, but he is not there. You only hear the helicopter in the distance. Is it moving away from you?
“Lady, what is wrong with you?” The man has gotten up now and is walking towards you. Your heart is beating faster than you can ever recall and you tentatively step backward. You’ve never spoken to an Earthling before. Everything is wrong.
“I…please…I’m not from around here.”
He stops in his tracks with a look a confusion is on his face.
“What kind of accent is that? You from Africa or somethin’?”
There’s a chuckle from those around you. Some step closer while others back away.
He looks you up and down and you realize your Observer uniform is unlike anything they’ve ever seen.
You’ve broken the most important rule of being an Observer. Don’t be seen. Tears fill your eyes as you realize the consequences. You run back in the direction you came from.
“Hey!” you hear the man say. “Where can I get an outfit like that?” The people around him are laughing.
You press twice on the communicator on your chest.
“Home-ship, this is Sojourner.” You dread saying the next words, but you have no choice. “I’m out of my pod. I’m on the surface.” Your voice cracks on the next word.
You pull up behind a large trash bin as you wait for a reply. The smell of decay almost causes you to vomit. You’re out of breath and feeling lightheaded. After a few seconds, you try again. You reach into your distress pocket and pull out your emergency tracker, a rectangular piece of thin, black glass. You give it a twist to power it on.
“Searching…” displays on the screen. You tap your communicator.
“Computer, location status.”
Your heart leaps as it returns an audible ping signifying message receipt.
“Currently performing evasive maneuvers. Initiating Survival Mode One.”
“Survival Mode One?” you say to yourself as you mentally go through your training lessons. “Oh no.”
“Computer, send location once secure. Status of emergency notification to home-ship?”
“Primary and secondary communication channels down.”
You’re cut off from everyone. Survival Mode One is invoked in the unlikely event that an Observer is separated from their pod and one or both are compromised. In this case, you’ve both been revealed. The ship is designed to go to a nearby secure location and await your return. You are trained to blend in with the public and make your way to the pod without being detected.
You have three days.
After three days, the ship considers you lost and automatically returns to home-ship unless a signal is sent from Command to stay longer. That can only happen if positive communication is made with the Observer. But communications are down.
Nearby voices shake you back to the present. You slip your tracker back into your pocket.
“Do you think that ship has anything to do with The Resistance?”’
“What? No. They’re just a bunch of wannabe heroes. They have superpowers, not super tech. Either way, Cornelius went after it. He’ll knock it out of the sky if he has to.”
The voices seem to be moving away from you, so you peek around the edge of the garbage bin for a look. There are two youngish men in enforcer uniforms—gray camouflage with a hint of blue.
Suddenly they stop and look at each other. One places a hand on his ear, and in an instant, they’re off in a sprint. After a moment, you follow.
You tap your communicator again. “Computer, status update.”
“Evasion maneuver complete. Finalizing rendezvous coordinates. Will send once locked-in.”
There’s an explosion from the direction the enforcers came from. You hear someone running towards you. You duck behind a stack of boxes just before they run past you.
“Stop or I’ll shoot!” someone yells. “Hands up!”
Footsteps of at least three people walk past you. You look up over the boxes after they do.
“Hey. What’s up guys?” a girl says near the alley’s exit. She’s facing your direction. Her small frame and bright eyes make her look no older than fourteen Earth years old. She’s dressed in all black from her t-shirt to her jeans to her leather boots. She’s wearing a black bandanna over her mouth and nose.
“Is that her? Kid Sensation?” the younger of the three says. He sounds nervous.
You take a peek. It could be her. You haven’t been able to get a look at her from a close distance. She’s always in her costume. But she does have the frame. She’s been at or near the top of The Enforcer’s list of renegade supers for the last few months. But why would she be using her powers out of disguise?
“Remove your mask. Slowly,” the man closest to her says.
“I can’t do that. It being allergy season and all.” She feigns a cough and sneeze. “Whew. So bad.”
“Remove the mask or I shoot.”
The other men look at him and then at each other, but say nothing.
“You’re going to shoot me for no reason?”
“Someone with superpowers took out four of my men back there. Almost killed them. If I shoot you, I’m justified. If you somehow deflect my bullets, then you’re a super, and you’re committing a crime under the Super Powers Stability Act.”
He steps forward.
“I’m only going to say this once more. Take off your mask.”
There’s panic in her eyes. You see them flick to the left towards the alleyway exit.
Bang—the shot causes you to jump, and you see brick explode to the left of the girl’s head.
“Ok! Ok!” she says hands shaking. “I’ll take it off.”
She reaches up to her face and pulls down the mask. She is young. Maybe fourteen was too generous.
The men lower their weapons.
“Can I go now? Sheesh.” She wipes a tear from her cheek.
“Sure,” the lead says. “After we teach you a lesson.” He looks to his men and beckons them with a nod of the head.
“Wait! What?” She raises her hands in surrender.
They run up to her and slam her against the wall.
“Stop! You’re hurting me!”
They don’t, and while one holds her, the other begins punching her. You hear the thud of every hit.
Earthlings are animals.
“Do not interfere,” you tell yourself. “This is not your fight. You are here only to observe.”
“Help! Please!” she cries out before a punch to the mouth silences her.
A tone sounds in your ear-piece. “Sojourner. Position locked and secured. Transmitting coordinates.”
You feel your tracker vibrate in your pocket signifying the data has been received.
“You know what?” the lead says. “I think I’m just going to put you out of your misery.” He steps forward and pulls a pistol out of his holster.
“She’s just a kid,” you say to yourself. “She’s just a kid.”
You weigh your options.
You can let this play out and make your way to the rendezvous point. You are here only to observe. You’ve witnessed much worse.
You can use your own superpowers to cause a distraction while staying hidden. You’d have to hope it works.
Or, you can reveal yourself and just take them out. They don’t appear to be powered. You can easily overtake them. But, that isn’t what you’re here for.
You have chosen!
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