My name is Scott Yi. One day, I was bitten by a radioactive spider, at least I think so? And for the past two years or so, I’ve been the world’s one and only super hero, Strand. New York’s my home, and I’d like to think it’s safer because of me. The fact that I can ‘see’ danger coming an almost literal mile away doesn’t hurt. And you may have heard the rest, if you’ve got your ear to the wind.
So, there I was, a pretty full plate, all things considered, with family, school, knocking mugger’s heads, and trying to not do too well in wrestling. While I felt like I was doing the right thing, it was pretty lonely. I couldn’t tell anyone about it- both because I didn’t want anyone worrying (like, how can you explain that you know where a stray bullet’s going to come and go for like, a minute in advance some times?) and, well, who knows if some mob boss might get some ideas. There were times I thought about hanging up the suit, but, well, there are people that need what I do. So I keep swinging. In more ways than one.
But recently, there’s been a bit of a wrinkle. Someone released some sort of gas at ESU. I was there, and thankfully, I didn’t get the worst of it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad for the people who did, and their families. Now there’s a slew of signals I can’t quite place, and, well, now I feel like, at least in some small way, this might be my fault. So, before I can find who did this, I need to know where these signals are coming from, and what happened to the other survivors.
September 7th 20XX
Scott was half holding his breath as he walked up the steps towards Marcus’s place. Every step saw him shuffling his thoughts over and over. The moments that could have possibly lead up to the gas being released on ESU grounds playing and replaying in his mind. Interspersed between his thoughts were intense flashes of... something. They weren't really images, more like some odd sensation that he wasn't even going to begin to describe, like some sort of web. Along with this, a dull version of the feeling he got when danger was around, only... not threatening. This had only been happening since the gas was released. Had it messed with his powers somehow?
Before he even realized what he was doing, he was standing in front of the door to Marcus’s apartment. As he came back to his sense, he realized that he didn't remember when he had stopped walking. Had he been there for a few seconds? Five minutes? Thirty-five? He couldn't. A slow breath was let out, before drawing another back in. Pap pap pap, his knuckles rung against the door. As he drew his hand back, Scott sensed, more than saw or felt, the tension of a thin thread in his hands. Scott stared in a bit of confusion, continuing to grip the intangible thread.
There was barely a pause before a voice rang out from inside the apartment, ”Be right there!”
Some rummaging sounded, along with some clinking noises for a second or two, before the door opened, revealing a haggard-looking and slightly ruffled Marcus. As his eyes locked on to Scott, his expression went quizzical, as his gaze drifted to Scott's outstretched hand. Despite how exhausted he looked, he smiled warmly, stepping forward and giving Scott a big hug.
”Thank God you’re alright. When those bombs went off, the whole time in the hospital, I was worried… uhh, never mind, come in.”
"Dude, I... are you okay? I mean, I know you're not, that's why I came by... sorta," Scott began, before trailing off.
He turned and walked back into the modest living room, a pair of mismatched glasses sitting on the coffee table; one in front of the couch, the other closer to the chair in the corner. Both were empty. Marcus looked at the glasses, then to Scott.
”I, uh… did you want anything? I left ‘em empty, ‘cause I didn’t know what you wanted. If you wanted anything. I’ve got water, milk… some cold brew. Maybe. If… y’know,” rather than continue to ramble, Marcus decided to walk over to the chair, but didn’t sit down just yet.
He cleared his throat, ”You… you said you needed to talk to me.”
Scott allowed Marcus his nervous rambling. Sometimes people just needed to let it out. He put a hand on Marcus’s shoulder, making eye-contact for a firm moment. He meant to tell him it was okay. He should have said that. But the words didn’t come. Probably because it was technically a lie. Scott felt a wash of fibrous sensations which seemed to crackle and resolve, consolidating the threads he saw, and bringing them firmly against Marcus. His eyebrow quirked for half a second, before he let out a deep, steadying breath.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I didn’t get sick like anyone else did. Which… is kind of exactly what I wanted to talk about,” Scott moved to a seat, and gestured to another nearby, “I really think you should sit for this.”
Marcus paused for a moment, before nodding slightly. ”Yeah. Okay.”
He sat, unnerved by how serious Scott was acting. And whatever weird buzzing was currently humming in his head periodically. Whatever, he could ignore it.
”So… talk. What did you need to say?”
“So, I wasn’t affected by… whatever that stuff was, because I...” his voice lowered a touch, “already have super-powers; and now I think you have super powers too. And they’re basically mine.”
Whatever Marcus had been expecting, it wasn’t this, clearly. He blinked, his expression becoming one of mild concern as he stood back up.
”Uhh… Scott. Mate. I get that this whole thing has been troubling an’ all, but… you sure you’re feeling okay? Maybe we should see a doc, just in case?”
“Okay, you’re taking this better than I thought… I mean, all things considered. But I’m… well. I’m not fine, per se. Some things are bothering me, a lot to do with, well, what happened. And what’s going on now. It’s complicated, and I know- I know I should have told you before, but things are… complicated now. More than they were.”
”I mean, a chemical attack on a university would shake anyone up, but… come on, Scott. You’re not serious? Superpowers… they’re not real, are they? This isn’t…” it was getting hard to concentrate on his words, with the periodic buzzing pressure in his skull. Fucking sickness must’ve taken more out of me than I thought.
Scott figured that since Marcus was doubting him, but not panicking, than for as well as he knew him, he may as well drop it like a palette of wet bricks, “I’m Strand.”
Once again, Marcus was at a loss for words. Strand? The Strand? That vigilante that the Bugle harped on about every so often?
Scott simply nodded, reaching into his pocket and producing the bandana-mask he wore as Strand, holding it out in an open palm. Marcus stared, shocked for a moment, before turning it into a skeptical frown.
”Prove it. Do… something Strand-like.” He pointed at a particularly blank wall in the living room.
”Climb up the wall.”
Well, it's not like he hadn't expected to have to show something off. With what could only be described as a preternatural grace, Scott back-flipped over the chair on which he sat, and sprang onto the wall, in the process removing his shoes. His fingers pressed firmly against it, holding him there by some incredible method. Instead of turning around to face Marcus, he shuffled about to be facing down the wall, and leaned his head what would normally be back, so at least his eye level wasn’t up-side-down.
Marcus was glad that he hadn’t been holding anything. He’d have dropped it. And it would probably be something fragile, given his luck.
It took him about a minute to find his voice, ”...Alright. You… have my attention, but… but this still doesn’t make any sense. What makes you think I got powers at all? Much less… yours?”
“Catch,” Scott prompted, before flinging his phone at Marcus in a fluid motion.
Marcus started to flinch as the phone rocketed toward him, before the strangest sort of reflex kicked in. Time went… liquid, somehow. Thicker. Slower. The phone went from baseball pitch to lazy drift through the air in a heartbeat. In a second heartbeat, Marcus found himself reaching out, plucking the phone out of the air as easily as he’d pick up a jar of pickles out of the fridge.
And then time went back to normal, and Marcus blinked, almost losing his grip on the phone in shock. What…
”...the HELL WAS THAT??” he exclaimed, standing bolt upright.
Scott removed himself from the wall, which involved him rolling down and planting his feet on the ground before letting go, then unwinding his arms like a gymnast. Even without the amazing wall crawling powers, it would have been an impressive display of bodily control.
“That, my friend, is my real super-power. Also, it’s how I can tell you have the same power to begin with. ”
Marcus stared at Scott in shock, feeling his eye twitch start to come on. And now that he mentioned it, the buzzing still hadn’t stopped. And it felt… strangely familiar. And similar to how time went liquid before, at the same time? Which was weird, that it could feel like so many things at once, but… there it was. He walked over, slightly shaky, handing Scott back his phone, still trying to keep things straight as his head continued to buzz and pulse periodically.
”This… this isn’t… this doesn’t—”
And then, suddenly, a connection was made. Marcus paled.
”The university. The gas, the attack. Th-they… you don’t think…?” He left his sentence trailing, hoping his friend wouldn’t pick up the thread he’d left lingering.
“That’s the other thing we need to talk about. There are more of us now. I can feel them, like how you felt the phone coming. You can probably feel them too. It’s like… you ever get a directional headache? Well, it’s like that, but like, a pull, like some sort of string in the air. Except...” Scott's cleared his throat, returning to his seat and picking up an empty cup casually, more as an attempt to calm Marcus's nerves than anything, "I don't think I can find them alone. I was only able to tell you had powers after I got close. It's... I don't know how to explain it. I know they're out there, but..."
Marcus thinks to himself for a moment. He understood the directional headache part. The reaction, the warning. But… a pull? Threads?
”I kinda get what you’re saying, but… I don’t think mine is working quite the same way as yours. Mine is kinda… spotty, I guess? I don’t see any threads, or feel any pulls. Except when you threw that phone, but that was more just, like, some kind of alarm. A warning- something’s gonna hurt you, from this direction. Nothing more.”
“Okay, so… maybe your… that-power is weaker than mine, which means maybe your wall-crawling is stronger? Yeah, I don’t have a name for that feeling. I never had to talk to anyone else about it, so I never felt the need,” Scott admitted, "But hey, maybe that's a blessing in disguise? Like, if mine's like an observatory, maybe yours is more like... a scalpel? You know, smaller, but more accurate."
"So, you want me to... cut people?"
"You know that's not what I meant," Scott replied with a slight laugh in his voice.
"You could have at least said 'magnifying glass' or something. Made it sound less threatening."
Another laugh, but with less mirth as Scott shifted in his seat, "Yeah, I know..."
Pocketing his phone, as well as the mask, Scott leaned forward against the table. It was only then that it became obvious how tired he was. Not only to Marcus, but to himself. Scott felt the wave of exhaustion come over him like crumbling debris, allowing his face to sink into his hands as Marcus took the time to process what was going on. It was like saying it all out loud made him feel how crushingly real it all was.
“Yeah, they got a sample. Of me, Marcus. I don’t know how, or when… but, like, since I was there? It seems it was very, very deliberate.”
Marcus’ heart fell at Scott’s current despair, though it was understandable; he’d feel pretty trashy too, if a terrorist had gotten a hold of his DNA. But, then…
”Now… now we don’t know for sure, that they got some of… you. Maybe they had it from before. Like, when you got your powers. Which, speaking of, how did you get your powers, anyway?”
“I’m going to be real with you, I don’t have a clue. I felt some kind of sting on my hand, went to sleep thinking I was going to puke to death. Then I woke up on the wall, and I could like, tell where anything was coming from, where it could go, and where not to be. Still feels like a dream some times.”
Shit. There went that lead. Marcus turned and sat back down in his chair, suddenly exhausted, ”So. What now? What do we do with…” he gestured between the two of them, ”...This?”
“Find the others?” he offered, sounding rather exhausted, “Make sure they’re not doing anything stupid? I mean, I know this isn’t my fault, but I kinda feel a little responsible for, well, them. Like, I already know you. You’re not going to try and like, rob banks or anything. Other people? I’m not so sure. That’s sort of why I do the whole, you know, Strand thing.”
Marcus nodded, ”Makes sense, I guess. It is what you do. Just… be careful, okay? These people have powers, like you— er, us now. If they don’t want to be convinced… might be better to stand down for now?”
“Catch more flies, er- spiders, with honey than the big-house,” Scott replied, “But yeah, I get what you mean. But if I get close enough, I’ll have to take the shot before something goes bad… Also, please, don’t worry about me doing my thing now. Even if you’re faster than me now, somehow, I don’t think you could land a hit on me if you tried. Probably the same with anyone else with powers like ours.”
Marcus still didn’t look convinced, but he really didn’t have it in him to argue, ”If you’re sure. Still, just be careful. Even if you’re already careful, just… be more careful. With all the shit we’ve gone through already, there’s no telling what else is out there waiting for us. For you.
“...I don’t want to lose you.”
“Yeah, I… I’m sorry that I didn’t get to you sooner. I just… I could feel a lot of what was going down.”
”N-no, I get it. You’ve had a lot to deal with. Based on how things work with you, and your…” he raised a finger to his temple and tapped on it- he still didn’t have a word for the buzzing, yet- he’d have to brainstorm, ”Anyway, you’re welcome to stay for a bit, if you want. Hector should be back in a little while. We could all go get a bite to eat, or something.”
“Yeah, that sounds… honestly, I need a break,” Scott remarked.