This is something I started writing on a whim, so it feels like a pretty good thing to stick into a Sunday filler slot. I’m probably posting it to someplace like Royal Road at some point, but for now I’m holding off in case I decide to tweak details about setting or character in the future, which means there may be differences between this version and the final version. Not just line-by-line editing for clarity and pace (for example, this entire first chapter might get cut if this story makes it to a final release to Amazon, but not for Royal Road), but significant overhauls in character personality and the time and location of the setting. The year given has shifted by several decades in several directions from 2039 to 2099 since I started writing, and may continue to do so. Basic setting assumptions about the source and nature of the crime problem and the geographic location of the setting have been altered, and may be altered again.
When you sorted the namus.gov list by date, April 24th took up eight pages. It was nearly as much as the rest of the database put together. And this was after there’d been nearly a month to sort through all the stray children found in the rubble and shepherded into refugee camps. And to identify bodies.
“Matthew Habashy?” he asked.
“Yes, who is this?” came the voice on the other end of the Tracfone. Before picking one up from Wal-Mart today, Ophiuchus hadn’t even known that cell phones came as cheap as $25.
“I’m calling about the FBSA,” Ophiuchus said.
“I think there’s been a mix-up, this isn’t my work number,” Matthew said.
“I know,” Ophiuchus said. At fbsa.gov, the only numbers listed were general contact numbers, not specific agents. At whitepages.com, you could reliably find the address and phone number of anyone over 30 years old with a name and a city of residence. Now he’d confirmed he worked for the FBSA, Ophiuchus knew he had the right Matthew Habashy.
“Who is this?” Matthew asked.
“I’m looking for missing persons abducted out of Galaxy City by the Hellions,” Ophiuchus said.
“Why didn’t you go through the FBSA?” Matthew asked.
“I’m not a hero,” Ophiuchus said.
Matthew was silent a while. “You still haven’t told me who you are.”
“My name is Ophiuchus,” he said, “and I have an interest in the people the Hellions have been abducting.”
“What kind of an interest?” Matthew asked, “are you with Arachnos?”
“No,” Ophiuchus said, “I’m working independently. I can’t give you any more details than that.”
“I don’t work with, ah, independents,” Matthew said, “you’ll have to get in touch-”
“Do you think Dana will still be there when the FBSA gets around to assigning you a super?” Ophiuchus asked.
Matthew was silent again. Finally he asked “how do you know all this?”
Facebook. “That’s not important,” Ophiuchus said, “what matters is what I don’t know. I don’t know why the Hellions are kidnapping people, and I don’t know where they’re taking them. Until I do, I can’t get any of them back. Do you want Dana back?”
“I do,” Matthew said, “what do you need from me?”
One thing I’d considered using to fill in my Sunday slot was bits of my draft of the ongoing novel I’m working on. The problem with this is that I don’t want first draft material from the novel making it in, when it could see heavy revision or even be cut completely by the time it actually appears in the story. Plus, while first drafting, it’s important to just get to the story’s end even if some of the chapters aren’t very good, because you can clean up the bad stuff in editing just so long as you actually finish a story and reach the editing stage. Dumping bad bits of the first draft that need to be cleaned up before publication will only serve to convince people that they’ve already given the story a chance and didn’t like it when that isn’t necessarily true.
Fan fiction for MMORPGs that went offline seven years ago doesn’t have this problem. I can dump first drafts directly into the blog and if people don’t like it, that’s because they actually don’t like my fan fiction. This stuff can’t be sold, is written purely for fun, and as such receives only as-I-write editing. The only outline is that I am loosely following the plot structure of City of Heroes except and until I think of something better. If I decide to write more of these at all, I may jump multiple “issues” into the future whenever I feel like shaking up the status quo but don’t feel like explaining how we got here, and the interim issues may or may not ever get written.
I have no idea whether or not this is going to be a regular thing (I made a category for it just in case, but a lot of categories are speculative, don’t pan out, and end up with like four total posts in them). Maybe this will be my Sunday slot going forward. Maybe this will just be something I do for this specific Sunday and I figure something else out later. We’ll see. The “#1” designation is less a promise that this will be a series and more meant to invoke comic books in general. I’d have started us at, like, #7 or something, but this is too clearly an origin story.