Sarah was shaking hands with the mayor and introducing Katherine when the robed figure walked in. Jane was pushing Frost into Shield’s arms for a dance. Lily was remarking on how good the little quiches were while Orpheus stared at the half eaten one in his hand with a look that could only be described apprehension. Sword was laughing as she took Copper by the hand and lead him to where a few couples had started slow dancing. Tank was moving the empty drink glasses from the table to a tray one of the waiters had brought. Cloak was informing the members of her team about the theory she had been told. They were all grim faced and serious as they took in the implications. Silver was leaning back in her chair just a little too far and had begun to fall. An angry starlet was slapping the newest person to wield Thunder over him not calling. Dissolve was showing off his talents by carefully carving a cube of ice with his power. Champion was cleaning the blade his predecessor had gifted him, away from prying eyes. Light was helping himself to a glass of champagne offered to him by a waitress, who was blushing due to meeting her celebrity crush. Assassin was moving for the submachine gun he had stashed in the drink cart as he realized what was going to happen. He wasn’t fast enough as the robed figure snapped his fingers and everyone in the room collapsed.
Lily rubbed her head as she sat up. Her surroundings were familiar to her as was the person standing across from her. “Not this again.” She griped and stood up in the ruins of the place she had been calling home. “Can we just get this over with? Yes, I get it. I’m afraid I’ll hurt everyone with my powers while I’m asleep.”
The other her blinked from where it was sitting and shook its head in laughter “That’s not what this is silly.” She got up from the piece of rubble she had been sitting on and took Lily’s hand. It wasn’t warm and soft like Lily’s hands were. Instead it felt like cold stone that had been made smooth by time. “This time I have something to show you. Oh, and call me Earth.” Earth gestured and the rubble fell away to reveal a man wiping blood from his hands. For a moment Lily thought it was going to be Orpheus but when the man turned around he revealed himself to be someone she hadn’t expected to see again.
“Da…Dad, I thought you were…” Lily remembered where she was and started to put the pieces together. She knew this moment. She had been six and had woken up in the middle of the night and seen her dad in the backyard. He had been wiping his hands off with the water from the hose and had jumped when she had asked what he was doing. He had said something about doing late night yard work and cutting himself and she had believed him. “What am I supposed to get from this? He’s dead now so it’s not like I can ask him about it.”
“Is he?” Earth gestured and the scene changed to the day she had leveled her hometown. The details were crisp and clear and for the first time she saw the carnage as it was before they had removed the bodies. As she looked through the rubble of her house to prove to Earth that her father was dead she found no traces of his body. “He wasn’t there that day.” Earth said quietly. “He said he would be working late but he wasn’t found at his work.”
“Why are you showing me this?” Lily was able to keep her emotions from showing but revisiting old wounds was wearing her down.
“That is something you have to figure out.” Earth dissolved away and Lily felt her eyes grow heavy.
Sarah came to in a sitting room her father had prepared at home. The haze around the outside of her vision and the unusual silence of the mansion clued her in to the fact that it wasn’t the real place but the final piece of evidence was the other version of her sitting across from her. “Greetings, you can call me Air.”
“Let me guess, you are going to show me something from my past that I would rather forget.” Sarah let the contempt drip from her voice and glared at Air.
“Heavens no. I’m going to ask you a question.” Air straightened her back and spoke in the manner of a boss to an employee “What are you doing?” she asked.
“Currently I’m sitting in a mind room talking to my power.”
“Not what I mean and you know it.”
“Fine, I’m doing a fundraiser to honor Laser’s memory.” Sarah sighed.
“Because I want to be a hero and help people.”
Air’s tone was mocking. “Really because from where I am sitting it looks like you are playing politics.”
“Sadly, politics do more good than heroics at the end of the day.” Sarah sighed.
Air clicked her tongue “I guess it’s my fault. I wasn’t clear enough. Why are you bothering playing someone else’s game? We control the very air people breathe. Force their hand behind the scenes and make them do what you want.”
“That would work but then I would be no better than the criminals and villains I face.”
“You would be more successful.” Air pointed out.
Sarah shook her head and chuckled “But it wouldn’t be me doing it my way and in the end that matters. I need to do these things my way or they aren’t worth doing.”
Air thought about it for a minute and smiled “I like it.”
Katherine stepped into the pool house and found the other her already sipping a martini. “What’s the occasion?” She asked with a grin as she sat down in the chair next to the other her and picked up a similar drink that appeared on the table.
Water’s tone was distracted as though she were barely there “I’m trying to figure something out.”
“I thought I was the one who had to do all the thinking?” Katherine asked.
“Technically you are.” Water pointed out. She sighed and took a long drink from her martini, which instantly refilled. “You are growing too fast.” If Katherine had been less refined she might have spit up her drink at that revelation but instead she managed to cough out a request for clarification. “The last Water didn’t get this level of control for several years and he was completely dedicated to training.”
“Eh, I’ll figure it out.” Katherine patted Water on the head and took a drink.
“You’re a lot more of a go with the flow person than he was. Maybe that has something to do with it.”
“Did you know your hair is on fire?” Jane asked the other her. The area around them cleared of the smoke she hadn’t realized was there as the other her turned and looked at her. With the smoke gone she could see that all around her were the burning remains of Metro City. “Oh, look the city is on fire.”
“It’s one of your old fears. I come here from time to time because it’s so pretty.” Fire stated.
“So, are we going to do something or talk about something?” Jane asked.
“No. I know you too well to bother asking.” Fire pulled an unburnt chair from a café and threw it at Jane. “Let’s spar until this all blows over.” She said excitedly. Jane grinned and took her up on her offer.
Orpheus punched the other him as soon as his vision cleared. The other him slammed a foot into his chest as he went down. “We have the best greetings.” Orpheus coughed as he felt for broken ribs.
“We really do.” The other Orpheus laughed as he rubbed his jaw. “So, what do you want to talk about?”
Orpheus sighed “Nothing, I already figured the one thing out and I’m doing pretty well now.”
“Works for me.” The other Orpheus stood. “I do need to tell you something though. Can you guess who put you under?”
Orpheus’s head began to hurt and he became aware of another presence in his head “My guess is that this is them.”
“Indeed, I am known as Ordo and I represent a group that has become interested in your companions.” The robed man spoke with a voice that seemed to be coming from several miles away but was still perfectly audible. “To put it simply we want their power for ourselves.” The next sound he made was a gurgling noise as the other Orpheus began crushing his neck.
Orpheus sucked in some air “Ooh, bad choice of words. See I’ll just fight you tooth and nail to protect my friends but he is a different beast entirely.” Orpheus pointed at the other Orpheus “You see I don’t think he took the whole someone breaking him well and then you go and say you are going to take power from the people it belongs to.”
The other Orpheus let out a primal snarl and his face contorted in rage and his grip tightened. In a blink, the robed man was gone and the dreamlike landscape began to fade away. “Kill him” Orpheus’s power spat out through clenched teeth.