My name is Captain Noble. I am a superhero, working for the US Government. This is an excerpt from my journal.
YEAR 11, DAY 72
It’s been a about a week since I returned from my second trip to Sir Vellichor’s Grand Library. And honestly, I’m still recovering from my adventures there. However, it’s imperative I return to full strength as soon as possible as we have recently received some intel that a known associate of Ramses Hondo, one of my primary targets, has surfaced. She has a base of operations in the Middle East and furthermore, we learned, one of Hondo’s top lieutenants, Shafaf Ottah was running her security detail. If he was there, then whatever deal going down had to be big. Ottah isn’t dispatched for run-of-the-mill operations. Along with his mercenary training, he also has the ability to make himself invisible…
But in the time leading up to my encounter with Shafaf and Ramses’ associate, there was another pressing matter that I had to attend to. Upon returning from Sir Vellichor’s realm I had successfully kidnapped his beloved pet, Chuck Chapter, and trapped him in a CIA containment unit. Additionally, Vellichor’s top operative, Cliché was the one who, unknowingly, teleported us there. She was unaware that the coordinates I gave her would lead to a unit designed to nullify hyper-abilities and thus she was unable to teleport away. She was trapped!
Alien DNA splicing has given Shafaf the ability to turn his body transparent. He is also a trained tactician with expertise in several weapons and combat techniques.
The look on her face when she realized her predicament was amazing! I found myself relishing in her frustration, for after all this time, I finally had the upper hand on the book ninja. She screamed and banged on the walls. I just shook my head and waited for her to calm down before speaking on the intercom system. I told her if she wanted out, she needed to take me back to negotiate the creature’s release with Sir Vellichor. She refused and so I left her in the box with very little food and water, promising her she would be better accommodated once she agreed to my terms. For more than three days she refused to cooperate. This was a blessing in disguise as it allowed me to recuperate from my battle against Lady Paige, while prepping for what was sure to be another intense battle with Shafaf Ottah.
Our files had extensive details on the mercenary. He, like the other members of Ramses’s crew, was recruited for his impeccable military prowess. He specialized in all aspects of warfare, having been the youngest son of a warlord himself. He hailed from Thebes, Egypt, and grew up in a military regime run by his father. When he was 20, his father was killed, along with the rest of his family in an explosion. He was the only survivor. After that, he became a marked man, so he left Egypt altogether and hid. Ramses found him, and asked him to join his team. Shafaf did not hesitate. He underwent the alien DNA splicing procedure that Ramses’s other team members went through and subsequently gained his invisibility hyper-abilities. Luckily I had recently encountered that particular ability while battling Lady Paige, so I had gained a little insight on how to counter it.
For the next couple of days I trained by body extensively in the techniques I would need to defeat Shafaf Ottah, while continuing to oversee the surveillance on the base he was protecting. Finally after several seemingly uneventful days, we received word from our spies that within the next twelve hours we would have our chance to strike! At the same time, however, I received word that Cliché was ready to cooperate. I told my superiors that I would need to handle the Sir Vellichor situation first because his strange and mystical powers currently posed a more immediate threat than Ramses. I promised them that I would be back to hit the Middle East stronghold before the window of opportunity closed.
They agreed, but only if I took Lt. Rashard Bonds with me. It’s not that they didn’t believe what I had told them about this place; it’s just that they thought a second set of eyes to corroborate the Library’s existence was a prudent move. Plus a little backup never hurt. And Bonds was not just your average soldier; he’s a heavily decorated Black Ops Marine who is part of the Alpha Initiative – a warrior training program that uses nano technology infused into the bloodstream to help boost the body’s ability to heal and function. The tech also grafted the subject’s bones and muscle tissue with a substance that increases durability and overall physical performance. They aren’t as strong or gifted as those with natural hyper-abilities, but they are the absolute peak of the human species.
Along with being my backup, he would also hold on to a small device that controlled Cliché’s specialized cuffs. After teleporting to the Library, it was imperative that we’d be able to escape at the first sign of trouble. Cliché’s cuffs would force her to activate her power and bring us back to the CIA facility if Bonds felt we were in any way compromised. And his final job was to keep track of the time, as the clock was ticking on the Shafaf Ottah front. Upon hearing this plan, Cliché expressed how angry Sir Vellichor would be that she’d brought anyone but myself to the Library. But I reminded her that the fate of Chuck Chapter hung in the balance. And so she agreed.
I attached an energy-powered leash to the creature, Bonds attached the cuffs to Cliché and the book ninja proceeded to teleport us away. We landed in Sir Vellichor’s main reading room and just as Cliché predicted, the Master of the Library was furious – his most prized possession had been missing for several days, the woman he relied on for bringing him the people that would be forced to entertain him had been detained, and now there was an unwelcome guest in his Grand Library. The week was not going well for Sir Vellichor.
He ranted and raved for several moments and threatened to end my existence right then and there. But I was patient and calm, because I knew having Chuck Chapter in my possession gave me all the leverage I needed.
After his screaming fit was done, I told him in order to get his pet back, he needed to cease kidnapping people for his twisted amusement. He refused, saying doing so would negate the Grand Library’s entire existence. We negotiated for what felt like hours and at first our talks were going nowhere.
With our time running short, Lt. Bonds finally stepped forward and put the biggest bargaining chip on the table. The Lt. informed Sir Vellichor he had an interstellar tracking device inside of him, capable of surviving in the center of a black hole. Furthermore, the CIA had their own teleportation experts analyzing the path we took back, in order to pinpoint the Grand Library’s location. I was shocked as I had no idea! And I was even more shocked that this info was enough to bring Sir Vellichor to his senses.
We finally came to a settlement. It was not one I was fully comfortable with but I did not have the final say; Bonds did, with the authority of my supervisors. The deal is, Sir Vellichor can no longer kidnap me, any US government assets, US citizens, globally influential people (politicians/royalty/military/religious leaders/wealthy), innocents, and he cannot recruit any hyper-beings to join him. He could take all the foreign scum or villains – hyper-beings included – he wanted to, as long as he followed those guidelines. If the US government found out he broke their agreement, they would be sending a cache of supercharged nuclear bombs through a portal to annihilate him and the Library. Sir Vellichor agreed, allowing him to reunite with his pet. Next, Lt. Bonds removed Cliché’s cuffs. She and I exchanged a couple sharp insults and then the book ninja whisked us back to our home world.
Upon returning to the CIA facility, I immediately joined the ops team in the situation room. The Shafaf Ottah Middle East Mission was still in motion, but had not reached its breaking point just yet. We would have to exhibit patience, for if I approached the site too soon, we risked losing our chance to apprehend our subject, and learn more about Ramses’s plans. As we waited, my superiors asked Lt. Bonds and I about Sir Vellichor’s Library. I also took the opportunity to quickly debrief them on Sarcophagus’s zombie attack in Platinum City, which, thankfully, had been resolved while I was away solving Lexicon’s riddles and battling Lady Paige.
I stressed to them again the need to recruit more hyper-beings to assist me in my efforts to handle the multitude of super-powered threats facing humanity, not to mention the potential otherworldly threats we may not even yet know about. To my surprise, they were more receptive this time. It appeared the recent events softened their stance. Obviously, they insisted on implementing red tape throughout the entire decision making process, but at least they were considering expanding on the small squad comprised of me and Shuttershock at this point. I mentioned names like Black Jag, Liberty Star and Brass Eagle of Platinum City; Kharma Lucky and Girl Six of The Sista Clique; and most enthusiastically, Musashi, who I’d personally had the pleasure of fighting alongside. One of my superiors let it slip that they had actually been tracking Brass Eagle for quite some time. After all, he fit the profile of the kind of hero the American people could get behind. The other names I mentioned were quickly and summarily rejected.
I nearly flipped a table after hearing what was clearly a discriminatory line of thinking. I couldn’t believe what they were suggesting. One of them then pulled up some polling data on a tablet and showed me a number of statistics that showed the kind of heroes the general US population were “comfortable” with. I told them that just because our country was still struggling with undertones of racism, sexism and bigotry, it shouldn’t dictate the creation of a GLOBAL force built to protect EVERYONE on the entire planet. I then informed them that if they wanted me to continue on as their top operative, they would have to equally consider all potential candidates, regardless of who they were and what they looked like.
It was at that point Lt. Rashard Bonds, an African-American, made the point that my very presence as “America’s Top Hero” had contributed to the poll numbers I found so repulsive. He reminded me that for the last ten years, despite the heroism of several other individuals, it was my adventures and victories that were advertised and presented to the American public in the most flattering ways. Even this very mission, if it was to be a success, would inevitably end in a widely circulated news report about a white male, me, Shane Williamson, hunting down and apprehending a brown-skinned terrorist, Shafaf Ottah.
As devastating as this revelation was, it served to strengthen my resolve to demand fair consideration of all worthy candidates. Reluctantly, my superiors agreed to do so, and I agreed to continue with the current mission at hand. Moments later we received the green light from our spies and it was time for me and Shuttershock to jump into action. We took off for the Middle East, and joined the ground troops who were already in position, then we got in formation and hit the enemy stronghold hard.
As suspected, Shafaf Ottah was there to greet us. The troops engaged the insurgents, as me and Shuttershock went after the alien DNA enhanced super soldier. I used my speed and strength to try and overwhelm him, but Shafaf was surprisingly quick. He blocked and parried with his knives drawn and held against his forearms; a technique that caught me by surprise and cut me several times. Shuttershock charged up using the Northern African sun, and blasted at our enemy, but Shafaf merely turned himself transparent, causing all of our attacks to pass through his body. He would, however, have to solidify his form before he could counterattack, which meant we were all dealing with awkward hiccups in the flow of the fight.
I recalled the experience I gained during my battle with Lady Paige and signaled to Shuttershock to follow my lead. My partner and I timed our attacks to stagger them, causing Shafaf to remain on the defensive. But even with our adjusted approach, his hyper-ability made it extremely difficult to synchronize our attacks effectively, and thus, he was still landing several successful strikes. The attacks were powerful and even stunned me for a moment, but they paled in comparison to the strength I’d experienced in my Lady Paige encounter.
And then it came to me… my most recent battle in Sir Vellichor’s realm had forced me to tap into power reserves I had never used before. And while Shafaf’s abilities did not require the same outburst of power I’d displayed against the Lady of the Library, it was clear I was holding back. I turned to see that Shafaf was taking it to my partner, and realized it was time to take things up a notch. I increased my power level, then flew in and landed a crushing blow to our adversary. He fell to the ground, unconscious.
Meanwhile, our troops had successfully nullified the band of mercenaries guarding the compound, leaving a clear path inside. We entered in and came face to face with the notorious warlord known as Attrition.