Side Story: Henry 2

That last beer he drank before passing out saved Henry's life. If not for that final brew his bladder wouldn't have been quite full enough to rouse him from slumber and demand he give nature it's due. Had Henry not been in the bathroom he would have still been asleep, and thus would not have heard the sound of footsteps rapidly running down the hall away from his door. Without that warning it is certain that Henry Anders would have been blown to bits in his sleep, just one more corpse in the sudden wave of deaths that struck teleporters all associated with a similar company that night. Henry did have that beer though, and when the explosion outside his door gutted the entry and plowed forward Henry had the presences of mind to use the one thing that made him special and get the hell out of there.

"What the shit," Henry mumbled as he pulled himself to his feet then pulled up his pants. There were lingering effects of sleep and inebriation in his blood, however the adrenaline from narrowing surviving death was scrubbing his system of those hindrances with exceptional speed. Letting his eyes adjust to the darkness, Henry finally began to clue in to where he'd teleported to on reflex. It was Mr. Tavish's office building.

As Henry began walking the carpeted halls he rationalized that it made certain amount of sense for him to come here, this was the place outside of his home he spent the most time. With the initial shock from seeing a fiery inferno bearing down from him beginning to fade, Henry noticed his body was showing symptoms of shock. His hands were growing shakey and his breathing was becoming more labored. He needed to calm down, to find a place to regroup and figure out what his next move was. Someone had tried to kill him in his home. Maybe figuring out why was the first conundrum he should tackle. Henry teleported himself to the boardroom, hoping the controlled atmosphere would help him get a handle on himself. Plus that's where the best chairs were located.

The instant Henry appeared in the boardroom, he knew he wasn't alone.The blinds were half open, letting the moonlight shine in to illuminate a single other figure sitting at the head of the conference table. It was a familiar shape in that seat, one that had occupied it for as long as Henry could remember being at the company.

"Mr. Tavish?" Henry asked hesitantly.

There was a pause before a weak, almost watery voice responded. "Henry?"

"Yeah boss. You won't believe the night I'm having," Henry said, a strange sense of relief beginning to flow through him. Mr. Tavish would know what to do. No matter how bad things got, Mr. Tavish always kept his head and had a plan. He would help. He would fix things.

"I just might," the same weak voice replied. A car drove by outside despite the late hour, it's passing headlights momentarily throwing more light into the room. It allowed Henry to really see Mr. Tavish, though he immediately wished it hadn't.

Mr. Tavish looked like hell, and that's being polite. His face was punched and sunken, blood smeared across it as well as coating his suit thickly. There were cuts and burns at intervals across the skin he had showing, and his right eye was completely gone leaving only a bare socket in its place. Mr. Tavish was chained in his chair, a square device diligently secured to his chest.

"Mr...what..." Henry's jaw opened and closed uselessly, random words tumbling out with no bonds of cohesion to bind them.

"We transported something someone else wanted," Mr Tavish replied. He paused to spit a wad of very dark material on his floor. It looked suspiciously like blood. "I don't know what. They didn't tell me. They just demanded our records."

"And then they did this?"

"They did this when I said no," Mr. Tavish explained, an unmistakable hint of pride reverberating is his wavering voice.

"Why? Why did you say no?"

"Because that information would have told them where all of you were in addition to where you'd been," Mr. Tavish replied.

"So what!" Henry exclaimed his emotions of the night rolling together into a confused but fierce blob. "We're Supers! We'd be fine. You didn't have to do...this."

"I don't know what they would have done if they'd gotten that information. They might have tortured the one who transported the package for details, or they might have killed you all so that no one else could trace the it's path. A teleporter sleeps like the rest of us," Mr. Tavish said, breaking into a coughing fit at the end of his sentence.

Henry felt his blood grow cold as things began snapping into place. He'd wondered who would want to bother killing him. The most likely option would be the people who had brutalized Mr. Tavish. They'd been so impersonall about it, just going up to his door and attaching a...

"That's a bomb," Henry said with sudden clarity.

"I figured as much," Mr. Tavish wheezed out. His voice was getting worse and his breathing growing harder.

"We have to get you out of here, we have to get you away to a hospital," Henry said, growing frantic.

"Henry," Mr. Tavish said calmly. "No. There are wires running from this box to my chair. I'm guessing if I get up it goes off."

"Then I'll teleport you off!"

"You're a good kid," Mr. Tavish said reassuringly. "But you have to learn that being Super doesn't mean you can solve every problem. If I get off it blows up. Neither of us knows anything about bomb disposal and the smart money says they didn't go to all this trouble so I could be rescued. It's just a matter of time. You need to leave before that time is up."

"I won't leave you here." Henry noticed he was crying. He touched his face delicately to notice it was dripping in tears. He had been weeping for some time it seemed.

"Yes you will," Mr. Tavish said, a bit of his old force creeping back into the tone. "I never told them where our records are, so they can't hurt any of you. I'm the only one they got. If you stay here, you take that victory away from me."

Idly, somewhere in the back of his head Henry wondered how those men had found him anyway. They had clearly found the records, but there was no doubt at all in his mind that they hadn't pried that secret from the lips of Mr. Tavish.

"What did they look like," Henry began.

"Enough," Mr. Tavish cut him off before another fit of coughing cut him off as well. He recovered after spitting more blood on the carpet. "They wore masks, it was dark, you don't have the time and I don't have the energy. This bites, but it happened. You have to let it go and you have to leave."

"But you're, you're alone."

"We all die alone Henry. The only company you can hope for is the satisfaction of a life well lived," Mr. Tavish told him.

"You were a great boss," Henry croaked out, his voice breaking. "You were a good man."

"You will be too," Mr. Tavish said. "Once you find your path."

"Goodbye Mr. Tavish."

"Good luck Henry."

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Henry teleported to a rooftop across the street. He knew it wasn't safe, because whoever had done this to Mr. Tavish might still be looking for him. He couldn't go farther though. He felt like someone had to stay until the end. It wasn't a long wait at all.

Henry had been on the rooftop for less than three minutes when several explosions rocked the night. They all came from the same floor of a familiar office building. It was the building where Henry had shown up over four years ago to speak with a short, kind man about a job offer. It held the office where he had reported in multiple times a week, where he'd learned his destinations and sparred with that same man constantly. It had housed others of his kind, making it a place where for the first time Henry was like everyone else. More than the lifeless apartment he'd slept and drank in, that office building had been his home. And now it was burning before his eyes.

"Henry Anders." The voice came from a man only a few inches shorter than Henry himself. His wide shouldered frame was wrapped up in a nicely tailored black suit. He wasn't quite old, but his hair was beginning to go silver at the sides. The man moved with surety and confidence that radiated outward, making him seem at ease even in the bright glow of a flaming office building. A trail of footsteps in the roof gravel showed he had come via the fire escape, which made Henry feel at least a few degrees safer. A fellow teleporter wouldn't have needed a ladder.

"I'm he," Henry answered. There seemed very little sense in lying right now.

"I know," the man said simply crossing the gap between them and gazing up at the growing inferno across the street.

"Your name is Henry Anders, and as of now you are the sole remaining survivor of the Tavish & Sons courier Service," the man continued.

"No, the others are-"

"Dead. Your boss's secretary didn't share his willingness to suffer for a noble cause. These people were precise and experienced. You're all that's left."

"I, I see," Henry said, not so much as absorbing the emotional blow as earmarking it to be dealt with later. Things were piling up too fast to be sorted out as they occurred. "I guess you're here to finish things off?"

"Not at all," the man said, shaking his head. "I'm here to offer you a sort of protection from those that would though."

"Why would someone want to kill me?" Henry said, the question forcing it's way out of his mouth even though he knew this stranger couldn't answer it anymore than he could. On that account though, he was wrong.

"Because you're the one who carried something they want. The others were killed arbitrarily, no one wants to deal with a bunch of pissed of Supers with a murdered boss and coworker to unite them. Better to wipe them out at once than deal with that potential powder keg. You have to die though. You could retrace your deliveries, maybe put some things together. They don't want that," the man explained.

"So they'll keep coming," Henry surmised.

"Until the job is done," the man confirmed.

"But you can protect me from that?"

"Everything functional has a system, and within every system there is a hierchy. I work for a company higher up the food chain than the people who want you dead," the man said simply.

"How much higher?"

"The idea of trifling with one my company's employees would reduce a moderately sensible man into a distressed ball of pants shitting terror."

"I take it that's pretty high," Henry concluded. "So you're here to offer me what exactly? Sanctuary?"

"Employment," the man corrected him. "The higher ups have uses for a Super of your level. Uses that would make you a valued member of our team, and would leave those same higher ups very unreceptive to the idea of another organization killing you."

"I see," Henry said. "It doesn't seem like there is much of a choice."

"There's always a choice. It's important you remember that. It might be a bad one, but it's still there."

"Fine, then I choose to hear you out and see what you're offering. So what do I call you?" Henry asked, turning away from the fire at last, unable to bear it any longer.

"My name is Mr. Volt," the man said, extending his hand. "And it's a pleasure to have you on board Henry."

Henry Anders took it and shook away his life.