The sky used to be blue. It just turned dark one day and everything turned into shades of grey wherever they went. No one knew what colour looked like now. Julie always wondered about it but the thoughts often disappeared as soon as her brother appeared. He was like a ray of light and everything seemed to have colour whenever he was around.
Justin was no longer there. Her world never saw any colours again. They had been together that day when he just disappeared. Julie searched for him using her connections and nothing turned up. Not a hint of him anywhere. There were rumours. They were useless since they were just distractions for her to run a fool’s errand. Eventually, she ignored the rumours.
Justin came to her mind that day. She missed him terribly. It had been nearly a year now. “Julia.”
She snapped her head towards the voice. The passersby milled around, minding their own business. “Julia.”
The voice sounded familiar. Justin. She wasn’t sure if it was him. He was dead. Surely. But they never found his body, a voice whispered. She wanted to believe that he was alive. It had been difficult.
“Go straight.” For some reason, she heeded the voice. The twists and turns and finally, she stopped. Justin was there. Damn him, she cursed. She spewed curses at her brother whom she thought was dead and gone for good. He took it all in. Even letting her hammer his chest.
When she finally spent her anger, they hugged each other.
“I miss you,” he said.
“I hate you,” she replied without malice. “Why didn’t you call?”
“It was dangerous. You are now in danger. Let’s get out of here now.” Without another word, they scurried down the alley and entered a tunnel. It was dark but Justin knew his way as he maneuvered his sister through it and they entered a door. The sudden change in lighting stunned Julia for a moment. When her eyes adjusted, she saw the room or rather, warehouse. It used to be one and was now converted into a technology room of sorts.
The walls were covered with displays of various places. Places that she dreamt of going but never had the chance.
“Yo! Justin!” Justin ducked a fireball.
“Blaze!” The voice boomed through the warehouse. Everyone stared at the troublemaker as his fireball spluttered and died. He cringed as he was dragged away by an invisible hand. Justin sighed.
“Come on, ignore that clown. He’s a hot head.” Julia followed her brother through a corridor and he opened a door. “Here’s your bedroom. I’ll explain everything soon. Stay here. I’ll bring you to the dining area later.”
Julia sank into the bed and enjoyed the soft mattress for the first time. It had been so long that she nearly forgot how it felt like to lie down on a soft mattress. Soon she was asleep.
“How many times have I told you, no fireballs in here!”
“You said here,” Blaze stared at the ground. He was testing his guardian, he could sense the room getting warmer by seconds. “Okay! Okay! Sorry!” He felt cooler. His guardian appeared before him. She could bore a hole into his head if she wanted to.
“Get out. Now,” she said in a low voice. He could not get out of the room fast enough. She was the one who taught him how to control his powers. Namely using fireballs since it was his only ability. He was grateful that she saved him from setting fire to a dustbin.
“It was an accident!” he had thrown a fireball at the bully who dodged it. The nearby dustbin caught fire instead. She had spoken to the headmaster who decided to continue letting Blaze finish his last year in school. The bully never got anything but a warning letter.
Blaze snorted at the memory. He had discovered that he could create fireballs by combining the elements in the air. It had been fun and games. He was learning how to create them on will instead of anger. Ayra had rescued him from Hydro Man before he got into trouble with the school. She had brought him into Vigilante League after his graduation. She was also the one who taught him self-control amongst other things.
It was probably a bad idea to throw a fireball at the newbie. He had not seen her and wanted to shock Justin. Ayra didn’t like him scaring off the newbies. He had been careful. Until he felt the urge to disturb Justin.
He heard the door knock and opened it to Justin who avoided looking at him. “Hey, man. Sorry about…” he got cut off when Justin stormed into his room, “Right, com’on right in.”
“That was a d*ck move, dude,” Justin grabbed Blaze’s collar tightly. “You know what Ayra said and you still did it. You’re sick, dude. Sick!”
“Sorry, man. Can you please let go?” Blaze looked down at Justin’s hand until he was freed.
“Sorry? If you had missed, I would have lost my sister!”
Blaze froze. Sister? That newbie was his sister? He wanted to dig a hole now. He had a policy. He would never hurt any family member of Vigilante League. That fireball had landed real close to the newbie, he recalled. He had not meant for it to hit anything but the target that he had intended. The dustbin.
Justin contemplated punching Blaze but thought better of it. He stewed in the room and watched his best friend wriggle and fiddled uncomfortably before leaving with a curt “See you later.” Satisfied that he had tortured him enough, he returned to his sister’s room.
“Hey, miss me?”
“No,” she had woken up to his knocking and would have preferred waking up at her own time. Stifling a yawn, she sat on the chair and stared at her brother. It felt surreal that he was still alive after all this time.
Justin waited until her posture slumped a little. She was resigned to her fate. “I’m sorry that I waited so long to get to you. I have to make sure that nobody is looking for you.” He went on to explain his sudden disappearance and apparent death.
“But I still don’t get it. Why?” Julia frowned. The PA system chimed.
“Let’s go for dinner. Everything will be explained,” he guided her through a series of corridors and they entered the dining area. Some had already taken their seats and the duo sat down side by side. Once the table was filled, Ayra stood up to welcome everyone. She introduced everyone to the leader, Amin.
“Welcome, everyone. I know that we have newcomers every now and then. Today, I believe we have gathered everyone. Each of us have powers that nobody has. Our unique abilities define us in some way and some of us have been hunted because of that. Today, we are gathered here because of that. Vigilante League is here to help people.”
No one moved. They looked around the table wondering what abilities the others had.
Amin continued after sipping his drink. “With our abilities combined, we can help others. There is a group of people who are abusing their abilities for their benefits. We are here to limit that. As much as I like to stop them, we have our limitations. They will find someone to replace their lost members. It is much better to know our enemies than to make unknown ones. This group is led by someone who likes to be known as Dark Lord,” he sounded sad at this point, Julia thought.
“We are here because I found you to be suitable for our team. We may be small but we can limit Dark Lord’s minions and his plans from moving forward. I’m still gathering information on what his plans are. Meanwhile, some of you have been sent on missions and those missions have helped us with the information. Let’s feast while we get to know one another.” Amin sat down as the food was being served.
Justin passed some food to Julia while introducing some of the people who nodded at him. Julia was curious in how her ability would help the League. She had never thought much about her ability except it helped her escape from rooms. She made small talk with the few who sat near them. Walter was able to finish reading books in minutes depending on the number of pages.
Suzy had the powers to make herself invisible and anyone who was touching her. She could control the parts that she wanted to make invisible too. Plato could make an illusion by enclosing one in a globe filled with the person’s deepest desires. The feelings and objects were so real that the person who was trapped in it would think it was real.
Julia was fascinated with his powers. She wanted to experience it for herself and asked for a demonstration. Justin warned her against it but she insisted. Plato agreed only if Justin was around.
Julia stepped into circle that Plato had drawn. He would control only a small area to let her have a taste of what it was like. She closed her eyes as instructed. Justin stood nearby nervously. Plato began tapping into Julia’s subconscious thoughts. She opened her eyes and saw that the world was filled with brightness. She was in a field of flowers. She had never seen such beauty before. She wanted to lie on the field and tried it. It was so real that she thought she was really in the field.
Plato was good with his illusions. She could almost hear the birds chirping. The warmth of the sun was so soothing that she almost didn’t want it to end. Eventually, she stopped. She had to get back to reality. Plato stopped and the illusions disappeared.
“I have not seen the clear sky for a long time,” she said softly. Everyone agreed. They sky had turned dark the day Justin left. For Plato, it was when he lost his family to a robbery gone wrong. He was not home that day. His family had been home waiting for him. They had been planning to go for a trip and he had gone out to buy some supplies for the trip.
The robbers had broken the window to enter the house when they discovered that the family was still inside. Plato didn’t know the details but the house burned down. Including the robbers. He wasn’t sure if he felt anything since his family was avenged in some sort of weird karma. He had been moving from motel to motel until Ayra found him and brought him into Vigilante League.
For months, he had been training with his guardian. Each one had a guardian who would give them tips on how to utilise their abilities better. Minghao, his guardian would push him at times to test his limits. His illusions for Julia was nothing compared to his training. He had given her only a hint of what he could do.
Julia was still thinking about the illusion that Plato had given her a taste of. The feeling was wonderful and she felt that he was able to give her more. It was addictive. His ability was not just illusions, the more she thought about it. He was able to make it real and if she were to indulge herself in his illusions longer, she might need him more than anything else. The thought scared her.
Justin had gone for his training session. She had not been assigned a guardian yet. A knock on her door shook her out of her reverie. “Amin?”
“Hello, Julia. I have found someone who would be your guardian,” he motioned to his left and a man stepped into view. “Kenji will be training you now.” Kenji arranged for a session the next day.
Julia took some time to get used to the trainings. She was learning how to to control and use her ability to stages where she had never known before. The team of Vigilante League was learning everyday while some were sent out for information gathering.
Julia had not attended any mission in the months that she was there but she did appreciate the training sessions given. It was the day that Amin disappeared that Ayra announced that Vigilante League was ready to take on the Dark Lord. When the team stepped out of the warehouse, the sky was dark.