Yes, interesting title, I know.
But yeah, a slightly unexplored corner of the Blank Mastermind/The Powers That Be universe that I wanted to poke at and here we are.
What became of at least one of the rats that got tested with the superpowers later to be injected into Charles Fernsby and many other model citizens.
Enjoy the show, folks.
It took barely any time to officially shut down Silverwing to keep it from operating anymore. After the trial was over, it probably took less than a day to accomplish.
But to officially clean everything up and arrest who needed to be arrested? That was another matter entirely.
Even having the members list from Mr. Tumbler, it wasn’t going to be any easy task. We’d been working on it for two straight months already, and by the looks of things, an optimistic outlook would say we had at least three months left.
It was certainly worth it to be able to take down such a corrupt organization and bring people to justice who needed it. It was just that being the resident Silverwing SPI expert, and therefore heading up the task force, was getting to be a little exhausting. I would be very happy when all of this was finally over.
At the time, we were busy taking in a few members from northern Nevada. Higher level in the organization as well, so they had quite a few charges to answer for. One of them had even been one of the few to get superpowers.
Police had detained the business partners for a few days before we got there, as they’d tried to make an escape. Having them already contained made that part easy. We put them in our transport and went about cleaning up the business itself. Finding any important documents to the Silverwing case and… well… other files that would be important as well to keep safe. This business wouldn’t be up and running under these people again for quite a long while.
Even if they did deserve it, it still made me feel a little bad.
I blew out my breath and stopped shuffling through one of the file boxes for a few seconds, rubbing my hands together. All the band-aids from different paper cuts caught against each other as I did.
“Found this file back there,” came the voice of Mr. Robinson, one of the agents on my team. He walked across the room, lugging a medium-sized box. He set it down next to the one I was already going through and blew out his breath. He swiped a hand across his forehead, pushing his hair to one side. “Just about through the last of the things in there.”
I nodded, quickly going back to sorting the other files. “Thank you, sir.”
He nodded back and left.
More hours passed as more files were unloaded. All the papers sorted out and more evidence was figured into the Silverwing case. Slowly but surely. And finally, when the sun was low in the sky, we finally finished with our cleanout of the building.
I lugged my last box into our plane, stacking it on top of the others, then stopped, putting my hands on my knees to catch my breath for a few seconds.
A few of the other agents loaded things beside my boxes, then started getting inside.
I straightened up, rubbing on my sore lower back, then started to get in myself. Then a voice came from behind, stopping me.
I stepped back, turning and shielding my eyes against the low sun to see Mr. Gunhold, another agent on my team, jogging towards me. He gave a wave.
I frowned a little. “Yes sir?”
He came to a stop just a little ways away from me and gestured back towards the building. “We just have something in there I think you might want to see.” He started walking back again and I followed him.
“Does this pertain to Silverwing?”
Mr. Gunhold gave a small gesture. “Well it’s…” he shook his head and gave a small, bewildered sounding chuckle. He rubbed at a spot on his jaw where I noticed there was some fresh bruising. “I really think you’d better just see for yourself.”
“A… rat?” I blinked, looking in the large, glass terrarium the rat was in.
It looked like a plain enough white rat. Just sitting there in the box and sniffing around. So this man had a pet in his office. Odd.
I frowned, opening and closing my mouth a couple of times to try and form my question. “Why… would a rat…?”
I wondered if I was missing some sort of pun joke here. But Mr. Gunhold seemed entirely serious.
He gave a single nod towards the glass. “Look closer around. Look at the glass and what’s in the container.”
I did. And that was when I started noticing what was particularly odd about how this rat was contained.
The glass, I’d noticed before was just slightly distorted and different from regular glass. Now I saw why. It was bulletproof glass.
And inside the container, along with what you’d consider more normal toys and items for a rat cage… there were small metal pipes. Metal pipes that were twisted around into different shapes like they were wire instead of metal. And some of the toys and terrain were battered and smashed beyond what any normal rat could be capable of.
A rat that could…
Then realization dawned on me.
Back when I was first getting my powers. When Mr. Fernsby was getting his. And Director Mansley was telling us about the process, he said that the original powers had their first testings on rats.
Rats like these.
I leaned in closer, observing it for another few seconds before slowly turning back to Mr. Gunhold.
“Is this one of the…?”
Mr. Gunhold nodded. “I believe it was one of the first test subjects. Different ones of the superpowered rats were auctioned out as pets to a few rich people and… it checks out that this one was purchased here.” He gestured towards the glass case again. “That’s why I got you. I mean obviously this isn’t something very necessary in our Silverwing takedown, but it’s… sorta connected. And I’m not sure if we should just leave it here or put it down or what…”
I looked back at the rat.
It continued sniffing around the container quietly before looking up at me for a few seconds, its nose twitching.
I swallowed a little, pressing my lips together.
So just because the owners were going to jail did that mean the rat had to die? It didn’t ask for the superpowers just like for the most part I hadn’t. Just a test subject before they’d figured out how to turn off the powers.
Not to mention that the owners were going to jail because of… well… because of the work I was doing, mainly. So I was at least partly responsible for the fact that it had no home now. I couldn’t just let a special rat like that just die because it wasn’t convenient to the SPI.
Mr. Gunhold cleared his throat a little. “Agent Knight?”
I blinked a couple of times, realizing I’d just been staring down at the case. I straightened back up and rubbed my hands together. “We’ll bring it on the plane. I can take it from there and figure out what to do with it.”
He just looked at me for a few seconds, uncomprehending.
I felt my face get a little red.
“So you’re going to…” Mr. Gunhold tilted his head slightly, frowning.
I’m saving an innocent animal from death, this is nothing to be ashamed of.
I kept my back straight and nodded like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Bring it back to my house, yes. Now sir, if you could help me get this box on the plane…”
Mr. Fernsby was really more the expert. But somehow… probably because I was the one that hooked the two of them up… Kaity had come under the impression that I was the expert in all things pertaining to Dallas Knight.
Hence I was the one that got texts at all hours when she was worried about some fact that she couldn’t figure out about her boyfriend over the months they were dating.
He kept apologizing about everything, was he okay?
– “He does that. Get used to it.”
She was worried something else was wrong but she couldn’t put her finger on it.
– “Kaity, for crying out loud, talk to him.”
Three a.m. and a worried text that she thought Dallas wasn’t eating anything.
– “Kaity, just tell him to eat and he will.”
Eleven in the morning and she was concerned he was sick.
– “Ask him if he’s sick. Throw a coughdrop at him if he won’t answer you.”
But then this particular text I got when News and I were heading into town to get some stuff had me a little more concerned than usual.
– “Dallas isn’t answering any of my texts or calls and he didn’t come to work this morning.”
I frowned at my phone as I put News’s truck in park next to the grocery store. I picked it up and texted back.
When was the last time you heard from him?
The bubble of response popped up almost immediately.
– “Early yesterday. I’m worried.”
Only a few seconds later, another followed.
– “I can’t get out of work right now. Could you please go check on him for me?”
I frowned and gave a small grunt, tugging at my hair. Okay that…. was kind of worrying…
News looked over at me from the passenger seat, raising his eyebrows. “What’s up? We gonna go into the store or what?” His dog, Ugly, poked up from his spot at News’s feet and gave a small “woof.”
I blew out my breath and shifted the truck back into reverse. “Gotta stop and check on Dallas first.”
News frowned, tugging on his tie. “He okay?”
“We’ll find out.”
“Well, his house isn’t blown up at least,” I remarked as we pulled into a parking space next to Dallas’s small apartment building.
News shrugged. “I’m still putting my money that he’s sick.”
“And lost his phone charger?” I added, raising an eyebrow. I popped my door open at the same time News did.
I mean, I knew as well as anyone else that Dallas didn’t love talking on the phone. But knowing Kaity, she’d probably been absolutely blowing up his voicemail box, and any dislike of phone conversations Dallas had could probably be put aside to reassure Kaity.
To be honest… from Kaity’s report, I was more than a little concerned here.
News got out and got a good hold on Ugly’s leash and together, the three of us (News, me and the dog) headed up the steps to Dallas’s apartment.
I bit my tongue as we moved up the stairs, trying to cycle through more possibilities. Of what on God’s green earth would ever keep Dallas away from work. I didn’t think there was such a thing beyond… well… death. And I seriously hoped he hadn’t just keeled over dead.
But then what could have…?
News and I both stopped on the steps where we were. Ugly’s wrinkled ears perked forward and he gave a small “ruff” in the back of his throat.
That noise came from Dallas’s apartment.
“What the frosting…?” News muttered.
I frowned, narrowing my eyes up towards the door. There was another, smaller thump. Then a dog barking wildly for a few seconds.
I put my hand on the gun at my waistband and took the rest of the steps two at a time. The noises inside had stopped from what I could hear by that time. I rapped my knuckles against the door.
Another noise from inside. A small, dismayed sounding noise.
More likely to be who we were looking for.
“Dallas?” I called. “Hey, you in there, bud?”
“C’mon, what’s going on in there? Dall?”
News reached my side and stopped, tilting his head like he was listening. He stood there for a few seconds and obviously didn’t hear anything more than I was hearing.
I shrugged helplessly. “I thought I heard him…”
News twisted his mouth to one side. “Well, I can probably break down the door if we need to.”
He’d barely finished his sentence before we heard very obvious footsteps coming towards the door. The click of a lock. And then the door opened.
The worry clenching in my stomach eased for a fraction of a second. “Dallas…!”
And then I actually took in the figure that the open door revealed and I… wasn’t sure what to think.
Dallas’s normally neat hair was left to stick up whichever way his curls sprung and to droop partly into his slightly haunted looking eyes. He wore a too-big t-shirt and pajama pants. There were dark circles under his eyes… more so than normal.
My relieved smile shifted back into a frown. “What happened to…?” I looked behind him into the apartment.
If I thought Dallaswas a mess… his house was even worse.
There was a plate broken on the floor. His table was over sideways. The few chairs around were pushed around out of their spots, the rug was crooked and wrinkled and a puzzle was spilled across the floor. There were dents at various spots in the walls.
Mushroom had his tail straight up in the air and was sniffing along the floor, growling quietly.
Either his place was broken into by a really clumsy, stupid thief… or he’d invented some sort of Hulk serum and had totally gone berserk.
“Hey, so you’re okay!” News grinned, blissfully unable to see what was right in front of him. “Man, your girlfriend is worried about you, bucko. You should give her a call.”
“News, it’s not…” I still couldn’t quite find the words to even ask what had happened to Dallas’s apartment, just staring.
“Hmm?” News’s brow furrowed.
Dallas still just stood there, looking shell shocked.
I took a breath, blinking a couple of times. “It’s… well… the apartment’s a major wreck. And Dallas…”
Dallas shook his head, raking a hand up through his already wild hair. “I-I can’t find her…” he muttered.
“Her?” I leaned over, trying to lock onto his gaze. “Who? Kaity? She’s been trying to call you, Dall.”
Mushroom gave a small bark and Dallas jumped, looking back into his apartment again.
I put a hand on his shoulder. “Hey, man. Are you sick? You… know who we are, right?” I pointed between me and News, keeping my voice gentle and low.
Dallas looked back to me, his expression shifting to look slightly insulted. “I know who both of you are and I’m not sick. I simply…” he trailed off, the pained expression coming back. “…have a bit of a problem at the moment.”
News pushed his hat back on his head and spoke before I could. “What sort of problem?”
As if in response to his question, there was suddenly another, louder thump from inside the apartment. Mushroom started barking again and Dallas stiffened like a soldier at the sound of gunfire, spinning around and picking up a frying pan from the counter.
The sounds of scurrying came from one corner and I frowned in confusion. A… rat?
Sure enough, out from underneath an overturned chair, came a small, white rat. Sniffing and twitching its little pink nose.
I raised my eyebrows, letting out a partial laugh. “Dallas, I didn’t know you were so terrified of mice.”
“A mouse?” News asked incredulously. “Dude, you have a mouse problem?’
“Wolfgang, shut the door,” he hissed, advancing slowly on the rat.
I elbowed News and we both stepped inside. Ugly looked distinctly interested the rodent across the room, but kept still and quiet except for a slight whimper.
Mushroom growled deep in his throat. Both dog and owner moved towards the rat at the same steady pace.
I watched in amusement and pulled the door shut behind us.
At the clicking sound, the rat went up on its hind legs suddenly. It sniffed at the air for a second and then it jumped.
And when I say it jumped, I mean… it didn’t quite jump like I was expecting.
It didn’t come back down.
The rat was… flying.
My jaw dropped.
It squeaked loudly as it zipped around the room, just a white streak in my vision. It whacked into the walls, made a few laps around Dallas and Mushroom. And then I started wondering if I’d actually gone crazy and was seeing things because that tiny little flying rat picked up a chair and threw it over towards Dallas.
Dallas dove out of the way, still shielding himself with his frying pan and ducking into a roll as he hit the ground. The chair hit the wall next to me instead.
I jumped back, swearing. “Dallas, what the…?”
The white streak came for me next. I had under a second to react before I was slammed back against the wall, my breath knocked out of my lungs. It zipped away and I slid down the wall, clutching my middle and trying unsuccessfully to pull in a breath.
The wind knocked out of me. By a flying rat.
Not what I saw on the schedule when I got up this morning.
The rat ricocheted around the room a few more times, squeaking all the way.
Ugly was barking along with Mushroom now. News looked utterly bewildered, tilting his head. This was a pretty hard situation to figure out from just the sounds, I’d admit that.
“Guys, what’s going on?” he asked, pulling up his sunglasses for a second, even though he couldn’t see anything better like that.
Then the evil rat went for him.
I always knew he had good reflexes, but what happened next bumped them up to legendary in my mind.
He dropped his sunglasses back on his nose and put one hand up in front of his chest.
Just as the rat streaked towards that exact spot.
There was a loud “thwack” as the furry demon landed smack in the middle of News’s big hand, and the squeaking stopped, the little tail going limp.
There was dead silence for a good five seconds. Even the dogs stopped barking.
News frowned in confusion, putting his hand down and squishing the unconscious little rodent he was holding.
I finally had a little bit of air back and wheezed out a: “Holy smoke, News.”
Dallas’s jaw dropped.
News pointed to his hand and looked up towards my voice. “Is this a rat?”
“There.” I clunked the mini gun safe I’d gotten from News’s truck down on the counter, making sure the side was securely closed. “That should hold him for a bit, right?”
“Her,” Dallas corrected weakly as he picked up broken glass pieces from off his floor. “The rat’s a she.”
“Right.” News sat on the lopsided couch with one arm over the back. Completely unperturbed by the supernatural rat attack he’d just ended. “Well I gotta admit, that’s a new sort of infestation you have going on here. That’s one loco rat you got there. When’d it move in?”
Dallas stood to throw the glass in the garbage, dropped it in, and just stood over the trash bin for a few seconds quietly like he was questioning his existence.
“Hmm?” News tilted his head.
I brushed my hands off on my pants and blew out my breath, then leaned back against the counter. “Wanna tell us why you haven’t been calling Kaity back? And more importantly how you got Mighty Mouse-tress living in your apartment?”
Dallas’s head snapped up and he stared at me. “Kaity’s been. . . ?” he trailed off and closed his eyes, groaning softly. “Oh, I am so, so sorry . . . “
“Well that’s why we stopped by, anyway.” I folded my arms. “Something happen to your phone?”
Dallas nodded miserably, sitting on one of the crooked chairs. “The rat smashed the screen.” Mushroom moved over to him, nosing under one of his limp hands.
“Yeah, I believe that . . . “ News laughed, shaking out the hand that had caught it just a few minutes earlier.
“Okay so . . . “ I squinted one eye as Dallas looked up again. “But how exactly did you . . . come into possession of a flying rat? That’s the real question here for me.”
“A flying rat with super strength,” News added.
“Yeah, that too. How do those even exist?” I kept my gaze on Dallas.
He still sat in the partly broken chair, looking deflated, humiliated and still just as messy. He let out a shaky sigh and ran a hand over his face. “It was . . . it’s something that was part of the superhero program. When they were first testing out the powers like Mr. Fernsby has and before they’d figured out the switches, they had these rats that they were testing the nanites on to see if they worked like they were supposed to and . . .” he gestured towards the small gun safe. “That was one of the first batch that actually worked. But that they couldn’t turn the powers off at that point. So they . . . did what they could and just sold off the rats for the most part.”
Dallas leaned back against the chair back, staring up at the ceiling for a few seconds in silence. “And the last place we were cleaning out from one of the Silverwing members . . . well . . . this rat was there and one of my agents suggested that we simply but her down since it was of no use to us and I . . .”
The puzzle pieces were clicking together more for me now.
“You just couldn’t leave an innocent animal to die,” I finished, watching him.
Dallas shook his head miserably.
“So you adopted a rat with super strength and flight into your house.”
He nodded, then gave a small, helpless shrug. “I really . . . I thought she would be . . . nice? But then I got it home and out of the box and Mushroom started barking at her and . . . oh dear . . .” he put his head in his hands like he couldn’t bear to recount the nightmare that followed.
I think the apartment told that story well enough.
Just looking around at all the damage that the rat had done over the past forty-eight hours. Everything this tiny little rodent had put Dallas through after all his trouble to keep it alive . . .
“So you went through all that hullaballoo for a rat?” News asked.
There came a dull “thud” from inside the safe and an angry squeak.
I barely managed to clap a hand over my mouth and muffle the snort of a laugh that came out.
Dallas’s face reddened a little and he looked down at his bare feet.
“Dall, I just . . .” I took a couple seconds before I was absolutely sure I could speak without starting to laugh again. “Just . . . do you really even know what you’re doing with that rat from here? What was the extended plan beyond saving its life?”
“Maybe . . . keep it,” Dallas pressed his lips together. “But after the past day, that is absolutely out of the question. She doesn’t trust me now.”
I knew there was going to come the day when Dallas’s altruism came back to kick him in the pants somehow. But I never, ever imagined the day to look this ridiculous.
Dallas spread his hands wide, “But what am I supposed to do with her now? I can’t just give her to the SPI, they obviously have no use for her. I can’t keep her here. And I can’t just let her loose in the wild . . .”
The thumping and squeaking inside the safe intensified and it rocked on the counter, a small dent appearing in the side.
News looked thoughtful for a few seconds. “You know, I could maybe have something. Someone with . . . rat experience, y’know?” He looked towards Dallas’s voice, giving a shrug. “If you wanna come back to the Den with us.”
I got what he was saying and couldn’t hold back another laugh. “Oh, News you wouldn’t mean . . .”
Dallas looked between the two of us in confusion. “Liza?”
“Oh no, not Liza. You’ll see.”
The squeal of tires outside the Den entrance let us know that our target had arrived.
I grinned at the still doubtful looking Dallas. “Don’t worry, bud. This is perfect.”
“I’m still just . . . unsure if it’s safe to have this rat even out in the general public . . .” Dallas replied, his expression still wincing.
“It’ll be fine,” News assured, taking a bite out of the ice cream carton he had.
Liza squinted at all of us, drumming her metal fingers on top of the small safe. “I’m still confused how and why you even gotthis thing.”
The rat squeaked again, another thump sounding from the inside of the little safe. Liza had unscrewed one small panel on the back since the rat actually breathingwas an issue. But it still couldn’t get out, even though it was obviously trying.
Liza peeked in the hole for a second. “But no matter how, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before. Of course they tested it on something . . .”
The sound of the door opening squeaked across the room, followed by the sound of two sets of footsteps. One walking in a sort of skipping stride and the other scampering.
And sure enough, in just a few seconds, Roy and Cardboard came walking around the corner.
A wide grin broke across Cardboard’s dark face and she waved enthusiastically. “Hiya!”
Roy gave his own wave and grin to everyone present and came to a stop once he’d reached us, his sneakers squeaking on the cement of the floor. “Hey, guys. What’s the party about?”
“Hey,” I stood up, giving him a quick salute. “Just something Dallas picked up and I thought . . . well . . .” I shrugged a little, smiling. I looked over at Cardboard and went down on my heels to be more at her level. “Do you remember that pet rat you had a while ago?”
“Peachy?” Roy asked, frowning slightly.
Cardboard blinked. “Yeah . . .”
“Did you like that rat?”
She nodded enthusiastically.
“Well,” I pushed back up, nodding back towards Liza. “How’d you like another one? That flies?”
Roy put up his hands, staring at me. “Whoa, say whatnow?”
“Flying rat,” News repeated, like it was just the most obvious thing in the world. “Dallas found one.”
Dallas slightly raised one hand. “Actually, I . . .”
News waved a hand and shook his head. “Shhh . . . just let it happen.”
Cardboard was still staring at me in awe. “Can I?”
“Sure can.” Liza got up, coming over closer to Cardboard. She set the box on the ground and slowly started to open it up.
Dallas flinched back visibly as the rat’s nose poked out.
But she didn’t start violently flying around like last time. She cautiously stepped out, sniffing the air. We’d put Ugly away as insurance against another dog freakout and it seemed to by working.
The rat stopped just out of the safe, trembling a little as she looked up at the dark skinned little girl bending over her.
Cardboard’s eyes were wide with joy and she seemed to be holding her breath. “Hi, little mousy,” she whispered, reaching out and gently petting the rat with two fingers.
The rat didn’t move, its nose still twitching. As soon as Cardboard’s fingers were off of its back, it slowly rose up in the air and flew a circle around her.
Roy’s jaw dropped. “What the . . .?”
Cardboard squeaked in delight, clasping her hands. “New Peachy flies!”
News was grinning wide, even though he couldn’t see the scene in front of him. He tipped his head back towards the ceiling, just listening. “Yeeaaah, thought you’d like that, kiddie.”
Peachy II came to rest on Cardboard’s shoulder, looking content. Cardboard took in a gasp. “I loveher.” She looked up at Roy. “Can I keep her?”
Roy still looked shocked beyond words and it took him a few seconds to respond. He blinked and swallowed. “I . . . yeah, sure. Why not? Flying rat. Cool, dude.”
I laughed, clapping Dallas on the shoulder. “See? There was a home for it. Just not yours.”
Dallas just stared before slowly nodding. “I . . . guess so.”
Hope you all enjoyed that wacky story and are enjoying your Sunday so far!
Also… on a different note. You all may notice that I’ve redecorated around the place. WordPress was having a sale on site upgrades so I am now writefury.com. -polishes nails and looks distinguished- And I also found out that the theme I was using was a discontinued one and there was basically nothing I could do to make it look any more professional.
Soooo I changed themes as well and here we are. I’m open to any suggestions you guys would like to make on what would look cool around here/what works/ what doesn’t.
Anyway. Have an awesome day, everyone!