By JD Jackson
First thing first, yes we are all fine.
That being said, you are all probably wondering the reason behind my recent online activities. Well, it all started about two AM when Dan was out helping investigate some weird gas thing.
It started for me when he barged into my room at 2:45 looking like a truck ran him over, minus the injury part.
“What’s wrong?” Was the first thing out of my mouth before my instincts finally kicked in. “Don’t answer that.” I ran from my computer (yes I was still up, sue me) to my bed, where I brushed off the papers I had all over it. I grabbed my weighted blanket, ordered Dan to lie down, and told him to relax.
“You need music – no you don’t,” I said, running through what Dan usually needs while in shutdown mode. I turned off my writing playlist, dimmed the lights, and fetched him a bottle of water.
Aaliyah called me just as I was about to call her.
“Is Dan at your place?” Aaliyah asked. She sounded half-asleep.
“Yes,” I replied, balancing the phone with my computer as I walked out to the living room. “He’s completely zoned. Do you know what happened?”
“Someone attacked him.”
My parents were already in the living room, both on the phone. I plopped on the floor and opened up a window on my laptop.
“Let me find a picture,” I said. “See what I can find out.”
I put the phone down, already switching to research mode.
I found a video of the attack in half a minute. My mom handed me a notebook as I wrote and sketched what I saw.
Young. Our age? Design on shirt. One-way fight. Obvious training. Wasn’t seeking to kill, only hurt.
Questions began to form, and that’s when I started with the weird posting on social media.
Does anyone recognize his style of fighting?
Any idea on his symbol?
Anyone recognize him?
Another video came up, this one with a clear picture of the other person’s face. I snapped a screenshot and did a reverse image search just as a few responses came back in.
His fighting is very mixed. Can’t identify any one style.
If I had to guess, he had some jujutsu training mixed in with it.
I found his Facebook page, but it only listed what was definitely a false age and location, and a friends list. So I started searching for his friends.
That logo reminds me of Divinity White’s logo when she was Savage Serpent.
More googling, and I started connecting the dots. A photo on a friend’s timeline here, a jujutsu studio website from his hometown here.
After about thirty minutes, two police officers came to check on Dan. After some convincing from my parents, Dan came out to meet them.
“Any idea who attacked me?” Dan asked. His voice sounded flat, uninterested, but to me that just meant he was still in shutdown.
Police officers don’t know how to deal with him. And they haven’t had to yet, I realized. Not with his device. Which was still on his arm, shattered.
“Not yet,” one of the police officers responded.
“I know,” I offered. “His name is Jason White. He is sixteen years old, trained at an old rundown jujutsu studio in his hometown. He’s the son of Divinity White AKA Savage Serpent. Ms White was a member of the FOCOPI, back twenty years ago. She quit after a bad injury, and eventually married and became a lawyer. Her old secret identity was found at two years ago, shortly after which she and her husband were murdered by someone orphaned by the FOCOPI, which then left Jason orphaned. He moved in with his aunt, who still lives near the FOCOPI headquarters. And there’s an ongoing investigation to see if his aunt is the person behind the new FOCOPI member Avidizer.”
“FOCOPI may be evil, but they don’t involve kids,” one of the police officers said.
“Unless,” I replied. “The kid takes it upon himself to be involved. Jason has had two amber alerts since moving in with his aunt, but resolved quickly. One of the kids in his school with a less secure account seems to think he ran away.”
The other police officer raised an eyebrow. “So what you’re saying is the kid has a role model whose in FOCOPI, which is motive. And he likely tried more dangerous initiation tactics by himself.”
“Until FOCOPI gave in and gave him a safer mission,” I concluded. “Taking on Ghostmind, a superhero with no physical skill.”
“I’ll admit, it makes sense,” the first police officer said. She looked at my parents. “Your child is a good researcher.”
My dad chuckled. “It’s probably all that time they spend researching for that novel.”
“We’ll look deeper into what you’ve found, but we’ll still stay open to other explanations- though this one sounds solid.” The police officer looked at me. “Ever think of getting a job in criminal investigations?”
I made a face and shook my head. “Not creative enough for me.”
The next hour or so, police came and went from my house. I showed them how I did my research and the photos I’d found. Those who had time to react were impressed.
Dan’s parents came over, and the whole Davis Family stayed the night. Then, just a little after sunrise, it was time to start the next day.
Dan was already excused from school, and his mom called in with a family emergency, but the rest of us had to trot on to work and school. Not that I didn’t try to stay with him, but I was close to failing in two classes (like that mattered in the moment) and neither Dan nor my dad wanted me to stay.
So I went to school, despite having no sleep. And slept through most of my classes. When I got home, Dan and his mother were passed out in my room, so I took a nap on the couch.
The rest of the day was spent recovering from that morning. My mom forced us all to eat, even with no appetite. I spent the evening scrolling Tumblr while Dan played video games on his phone and his mother conversed with my parents.
She wanted to head home, but Dan was feeling sick from anxiety and was wary of riding in a car. Neither of them like the house (we are a messy family), and Dan complained once or twice that he should’ve walked the extra ten minutes back to his place initially. I did the best to keep the area clean, but it felt hopeless. Claudia and Aaliyah both showed up after dinner, and Aaliyah brought a tool kit to work on Dan’s device.
That night I didn’t stay up until 2 AM, but I still found myself woken up with a crash around the same time. I was sleeping on the couch, Claudia in one of the recliners, and Aaliyah had moved downstairs to work.
“What was that?” Claudia asked, sitting up.
“I don’t know,” I replied.
My parents creeped out of their room, my mom with a flashlight and my dad with a bat.
“Did you hear that?” My mom asked.
Claudia and I both nodded.
“Get Dan and go downstairs,” my dad barked.
“Why?” Claudia asked. “There’s police officers-“
Dan was already awake, and he barely complained about the woody smell as we descended the stairs. I led them to a corner, and Aaliyah and Claudia moved a table to cover us.
Dan sighed and leaned his head against the cold wall, his breath speeding up. I could feel my heart hammering in my chest.
“It’s just a precaution,” Claudia whispered. “There’s no reason to panic.”
“I know,” I answered. “Doesn’t mean I can stop.”
“Shhh,” Dan hissed. “Stop talking so loud.”
Something thumped, startling me and Claudia.
“Aaliyah, how long is the repair going to take?” I asked, keeping my voice low.
“Too long,” Aaliyah said.
“That’s not an answer!”
“I don’t know what you’re thinking, but it’s not a good idea.”
I sighed. “It would make me feel better if we had a plan.”
“It’s four to one,” Claudia stated. “We could take him.”
“This is a horrible idea!” Aaliyah said.
Dan shook his head. “He’s too good of a fighter.”
“It’s four to one,” I repeated.
“I’m sure he’s trained for that,” Dan replied. “And none of us has.”
“I know a thing or two about strategy.” I looked around the room. “Now if I could only think clearly…” Closing my eyes, I did my best to concentrate. Just pretend it’s a scene in a novel.
“We have only one entrance,” I reasoned. “Umm, let’s see – we could take him by surprise – maybe, uh, nevermind, that wouldn’t work.” I continued to ramble, but slowly an idea began forming. “I think I have a plan. We need a net.”
It wasn’t hard. Claudia and I were able to sew a few stronger pieces of cloth together, and then I found small bolts in my dad’s work box that we tied to the end. Claudia took the net as we moved into position.
Claudia and I pressed our bodies against the wall next to the stairs just as the door creaked open. My heart was pounding even harder, but I forced myself to breathe slowly and softly. I listened as an unfamiliar gate walked down the stairs, ignoring the shaky feeling through my limbs.
Then Jason White stepped into the room, and me and Claudia tackled him with the net.
The good news is that we caught him by surprise. But, as Aaliyah expected, it didn’t take long for him to react. He landed an elbow into my stomach, and I stumbled backwards as pain flared. I hit the wall and collapsed, muttering a few of my favorite curse words under my breath.
Claudia recovered. Apparently, cheerleaders have high pain tolerance (which I do not, hence me lying on the floor in pain at this moment in time). She threw herself onto White and managed to wrap the net around his face in a smooth motion. It wasn’t enough to bring him down, but Claudia grabbed the edges and yanked, bringing White’s head down and making him stumble. Claudia elbowed him in the side of the head, knocking him into the wall, while he still struggled to get the net off. She kneed him in the stomach, and he punched her in the face in defense, making her stumble backwards.
White managed to toss the net off. Aaliyah had yet to finish her repairs.
I took a deep breath in, going through a quick grounding exercise. It made the pain worse, but I found I could focus. Now, all I needed was a stroke of genius.
And, impossibly, I had one.
I pushed myself up and forced myself to move to the other side of the room. White, who was still focusing on Claudia, turned my way just as I reached my target – a basket of spray paint. I grabbed a bottle, popped the lid, and sprayed it right into White’s eyes. It didn’t blind him as I’d hoped, but he did stumble backwards with a nasty wince.
Sometime during that sequence of events, Aaliyah managed to fix Dan’s device. Which was good, because a second later White punched me in the face and I went down.
“He has some type of device on his waist!” Dan called.
“What?” White asked, spinning around. He nervously patted his belt. “No I don’t!”
“A little protective of your doodad?” I asked, forcing myself up onto my knees despite the massive face ache (is that a thing?) spreading from my jaw.
Claudia, who, despite a bloody nose and a black eye, was sneaking around the side of White, took the hint. She launched forward, grabbing the device with amazing reflexes, and tossed it at Aaliyah. Aaliyah caught it, and held her wrench up to it like a knife to a throat.
“You like this, don’t you?” Aaliyah asked. “It would be a shame if something… happened to it. But I figure if I’m smart enough to invent, I’m probably smart enough to destroy. After all, it’s supposed to be easier, right?”
White scowled. “What do you want?”
“For one, stop punching my friends. In fact, if you leave now, in the morning I’ll leave this somewhere for you to find.”
“Why would I trust you?”
“You don’t have much choice, do you?”
White huffed. “If you don’t return it, you’ll pay.” Then he turned on his heels and left.
Later that day, someone informed us that White used that device frequently to sneak pass police officers and guards. None of us know what happened to the device, since Aaliyah turned it over to the SGU.
And honestly, none of us care.
All I know is that two days later and Dan is still in panic mode and my cheek still hurts.
Cross posted on Patreon