May 25, 2000, 9:28 pm. West Ucluelet, the apartment of Sara Mclintock and Joshua Blackburn.
Sara Mclintock closed the door to her darkroom and headed for the bedroom. It had been a long day and she would spend tomorrow restocking the chemicals she had used in the last couple of days. Fanning herself with the restock list, she stepped in the doorway of the bedroom and shook her head. Joshua's work clothes lay scattered around the room and the closet door ajar.
At least he managed to get his socks in laundry basket, Sara thought with a weary sigh. Picking the suit jacket and dress pants off the floor, she tossed them over the back of the chair. Nudging the rest of Joshua's clothing with her toes into a pile around the bottom of the laundry basket, Sara placed the list in her purse.
At that moment, Sara's stomach notified her that it needed food, by growling distinctively. Glancing over at the clock which was blinking 9:30 pm, Sara quickly changed into an oversized scarlet T-shirt and black leggings, tossing her coveralls into the hamper she used for her lab clothes. Tying back her hair, Sara glided into the kitchen and rummaged through the fridge, pulling out two slices of pizza. Pouring herself a glass of orange juice, she smiled to herself thinking of all the times Joshua has razzed her about eating cold pizza, especially cold triple cheese pizza. A dip into the cookie jar for four Oreos, and popping one into her mouth, she headed into the living room.
"What are you watching?" she asked, plopping herself down beside her boyfriend.
Joshua Blackburn was slouched on the chesterfield, wearing only a pair of white jogging pants. A bowl of half eaten ice cream was balanced on his well-toned stomach. His dark hair was tousled from running his hands through it.
"Will you look at this garbage?" he scowled, gesturing at the TV.
Sara glanced at the object of her lover' pique. She instantly recognized channel 9's talk and information show, "In the City with Dave Kemninco." Tonight's show seemed to be—"The Mutant Question." Besides Kemninco, there were four other gentlemen, with their names below them in white for those just joining.
The TV screen showed the three of the guests to Kemninco's left. On the far left was Lt. Rico Taglienetti, leader of New London's Special Crimes Unit (SCU). The officer was casually dressed with a seemingly constant scowl on his face. He was emphatically gesturing with an unlit cigarette, browbeating the man sitting on the right of Kemninco.
He's got a gun, Sara mused to herself as the officer went on with his anti-mutant speech.
A snow-haired man beside Taglienetti was wearing a Judge's robe and was nodding in agreement with the officer's statements. Judge Carmen Blanchard of the Court of Queen's Bench. Sara frowned. This judge was known for his hard-nosed attitude towards mutants and other metahumans. It didn't seem to matter if the super was on the side of good or not. He was also partly responsible for the Vigilante City Bylaw being passed a year or so ago.
Turning her attention to the third man on the row, Sara's trained photographer's eye noted the hair piece the man was sporting. Also, his jacket seemed a little too small in the shoulders and chest. Strange, she mused and glanced down at the tag line. Robert Cory, author of the best-selling book, Us and Them – The Mutant Question. Why does that name sound familiar? Sara wondered.
The last man on the panel was in his mid-twenties, black and sharply dressed. His tag line indicated that he was one Dr. Edward Jackson, MD, renowned doctor of Metahuman and Mutant Research and Medicine. He sat giving no appearance of being angered or upset by the rhetoric that the officer was now shouting at him.
Sara looked over at her better half and took in how still the young man had become, the slight hooding of the eyes, as if he was about to go to sleep, the crease between his eyebrows. All sure indications that his anger had almost reached the explosion stage.
"The whole goddamn show has been like this." His words were soft and clipped, and Sara found herself holding her breath, waiting for Josh to drop into his native Spanish, a sure sign that he was about to blow.
"What the hell were the producers thinking, Sara," he gestured at the TV, "putting only one pro-meta/mutant guy on the panel?"
"It's sensationalism, pure and simple. You know how people react – fear what's different from themselves, and it's even more frightening when what they fear can look just like they do," Sara turned toward Josh. "Remember McCarthy? Besides, do you really think there are a lot of pro-meta/mutant experts out there who would put themselves in such a public forum?"
"Remember the man I helped last month, the one who was getting beaten up by those punks because they thought he was a mutant?"
Sara stroked his arm and said softly, "People are afraid Josh, afraid of the metas and mutants that run around committing crimes. Afraid of the mutants and metas who run around stopping the criminals. All the public really sees is the fighting and the damage that's a result of clashes between metas, mutants and normal humans. It's human nature to suspect that anyone with power or extraordinary abilities will abuse it."
Josh reached over and placed an arm around the young mutant. Drawing her close, he gave her a hug. "I know, love, but it doesn't make me any less angry at those in the media who will use this sensationalism."
Suddenly there was a loud crash off camera. The camera jerked and then steadied, focusing on a large man-like beast with the head of an elephant complete with ears, tusks and functional trunk, who was charging the panel.
Taglienetti reacted first. Reaching under his sport coat, his gun almost cleared the jacket before the elephant man was upon him. The trunk snaked out and wrapped around the officer. Sara admired the man's control as the sudden pressure didn't cause the gun to go off. The officer brought his gun around in an attempt to bring the mutant down.
Tusk tossed Taglienetti into the nearest bookcase, the camera faithfully following the now flying officer. Taglienetti slammed heavily into the bookcase causing shelves to break, hung there for a half a second and then fell to the floor unmoving amongst a rain of hardcover books.
"Damn," Sara swore as she recognized a landmark, putting the incident only blocks from her place.
"Gotta go", she planted a quick heavy kiss on Josh's lips, "there's no way the TV studio can handle what's happening without help."
"Duty calls. And speaking of duty, I don't want to see you wearing those when I get back, mister." Giving Josh a saucy wink, she stuffed another Oreo into her mouth. She quickly headed for the door.
"Mutant. Attacking unarmed normals on live television," she called back in answer to Josh's dumbfounded look. "Bad press for us good guys, especially if we don't try and stop it."
"And tidy up the bedroom," she yelled back as she closed the door.
Sara dashed out the building, turning sharply she darted down an alleyway. As she ran, she began to change. Slowly her skin began to change, tightening as the molecules shifted, mutated into pure diamond. A faint popping sound accompanied the change. Her stomach tightened in a spasm that almost cost her her footing. And with a crackling sound that Josh had assured her countless times that only she could hear, it was done. Sara Mclintock was gone, and Diamond hit the street running.
A hundred yards ahead her, a city bus began to pull away from its stop. Diamond made a quick decision. Running flat out, she surged forward and leaped for the back of the bus. Landing gracefully, she carefully gripped the edge of the window sill and billboard. Waiting until the bus turned off into the street she needed, Diamond then dived off the back of the bus and came gracefully to her feet in front of the steps of a two story brownstone. Noting a channel 9 TV van parked a little ways done the street, Diamond nodded to herself.
Good. No cops yet. Maybe I'll be able to get in and out fast, Diamond thought to herself. Listening carefully she looked around the house, no elephant cries, gunshots, screams of pain or forced entry. In fact, it was very quiet.
Diamond then moved around the house. As she paused below a lighted second story window, a TV camera came crashing through the second story window. It sailed over her head and shattered against the house beside it.
"Help! You morons, I need help here!"
"Are you crazy, you're going to get us all killed!"
"That's it! Taglienetti and the hanging judge or not, they need help," Diamond said as she sped towards the nearest door.
She rushed up the stairs taking them two at a time, pushing herself to move as fast as she can. "Hang on, Taglienetti! Help's on the way!" Diamond yelled.
She hit the stop step. Thankfully, the door was open. That solves one problem. The judge won't be charging me with breaking his door, Diamond thought to herself.
As she entered the study, she saw Cory standing in front of the camera, Dr. Jackson was kneeling over Taglienetti's body, and a groggy camera man was working the camera.
"…and furthermore, we at Genocide will not stand for this type of terrorism!"
"For God's sake, man, can't you stop your fear slinging for one moment. These men are injured," the doctor then raised his voice for the camera and started listing off vital signs.
"At least I did something to fight back against the evil."
"I find wisdom in not standing in front of a charging elephant," Dr. Jackson replied dryly, "and certainly not in firing a gun into a room full of people."
Just then Cory spotted Diamond, "Look another one, come to finish the job!"
Dr. Jackson put his body between the downed officer and Diamond. For a brief second something seemed to flash in his eyes. The camera man fainted, and Cory raised his gun.
"That's Diamond, you fool." Dr. Jackson snorted and relaxed. "I don't know if you will be of any help here, Diamond. Tusk, that's the elephant man, arrived here with Veiled Threat, a known teleporter. They could be anywhere."
"I am sure the public would be interested in how you knew who the assailants were, Doctor," Cory smirked.
"It's my job, Mr. Cory," Dr. Jackson replied dryly.
As the two continued their verbal debate Diamond noticed a shimmering in the air off camera to her right. Slowly a black pulsing vortex opened up. It opened to the size of a tire. The tail extended for about a foot on the opposite side. In the aperture Tusk could be seen running through trees, the Judge on his shoulder.
"Damn," Diamond muttered softly. "Nice meeting you, Doc, but if you don't need me, I've gotta run. Tusk has taken off with our host. I'll try and bring him back in one piece."
"It's good to know who your friends are," Diamond then gave Dr. Jackson a quick salute and dived through the opening, her last thought before hitting the vortex - I sure hope this works.
The last thing she heard was Dr. Jackson yelling, "Diamond, wait!"
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