Martin hung up and called for a cab. Ten minutes later he was sitting in a car heading for “Musslers Inn”, the usual hangout for the police officers at Martin’s old precinct. He had spent countless evenings and weekends there in the company of good friends before being chosen by the sentinel project. He thought back on his police days with a nostalgic feeling. When he had gotten the proposal from the sentinel project it had taken him several weeks to decide and he still wasn’t sure if he’d done the right thing. He had sacrificed most of his social life when he accepted, Daniel was just about the only friend that he had spent time frequently during his slow transformation at the sentinel research facility and the busy months afterwards.
“Hey! That’ll be 44 dollars and fifty-five cents!” Yelled the cabdriver and Martin noticed that the car was standing outside Musslers Inn. He paid the driver and walked into the pub. He saw Daniel sitting at a table with two beers in front of him. Martin sat down and tried to ignore the looks he got from several police officers in the pub that’d heard rumors about his new job. Some of them looked rather impressed but he still didn’t like it and Daniel noticed it.
“Umh, maybe we should go somewhere else? Where you’re… less famous.”
“It’s okay, being a mutant-fighting sentinel is kinda’ like being a movie star, you’ve got to take the groupies that come with the job.”
Daniel laughed and drank some beer before he answered.
“I thought your job was supposed to be secret?”
“Yeah… officially I’m working as a bodyguard for some of the officers but since a couple of newspapers got their hands on some secret papers my cover is pretty much blown.”
“Can’t argue with that… is that why you got this vacation?”
“I don’t know, it’s possible.”
“Well” Said Daniel with a smile “I’m sure you can use some rest after a couple of months in the saving-the-world business.”
“Perhaps…” Said Martin but looked away from his friend.
“Why do you doubt it? It’s only a few days.”
“I know, it’s not that. I’ve started to question my entire decision to join the sentinel program.”
“I can’t blame you for that, you gave up pretty much all of your previous life…”
“It’s not about that!” Martin yelled but continued with a lower voice “I mean, of course it’s that too but it’s not my main concern. Being a mutant fighting sentinel isn’t exactly what I imagined it to be. All I do is go around and beat minor mutants that the government considers a threat of some sort. It’s like patrolling the streets in a tank. I actually miss being in a gunfight where the bullets can actually hurt you.”
“No you don’t.” Implied Daniel “I can understand if you miss the excitement but you seem to have forgotten just how dangerous a gunfight can be.”
“You’re right, Daniel. I’m sorry about that but I hope you get my point. I imagined this job was going to be like being a superhero or something.”
“With the right missions, I’m sure it could be.”
“Yeah, but I don’t get the right missions. I get minor task that an ordinary human could have handled most of the time. I don’t fight epic battles like the Avengers! I don’t travel to space or the negative zone like the Fantastic Four! Heck, I don’t even crack as witty jokes as Spider-man!”
“Neither do I but I don’t complain about it.” Said Daniel who started to seem mildly irritated.
“I know I’m being silly, but it’s just…” Martin drank some beer before continuing “It’s just that it’s not like I thought it would be. I don’t know if I should have isolated myself totally just for this.”
“You don’t have to be isolated. These days off could be an opportunity to reclaim your social life.”
“Guess you’re right, Daniel. I think I’ll start right away by visiting mom and dad. They wrote me a letter the other day and complained about me never visiting.”
“Great, then go visit them. I’ve got to go back to work anyway.”
Martin said goodbye to his friend and rushed out to the street and to the nearest bus stop. While waiting for the right bus he sat down and tried to think about what he was going to say. He’d seen them only once since he entered the sentinel project and never after going into action. His father Howard was an old military officer who understood Martin’s need for excitement and was actually proud of him because he helped protect America against a foe even more dangerous then the communists that Howard had fought against; mutant terrorists.
Howard had tried to comfort his wife Patricia but she hated the thought of her son exposing himself to even more danger than he did as a police officer.
When the bus arrived Martin stepped aboard it but still didn’t know what to say to his parents. Although he kept thinking he still didn’t knew when he got of the bus half an hour later and walked the short distance to the Coleman’s estate. He knocked on the door and his father opened.
“Hi dad.” Said Martin hoping that his father would take the initiative.
“Hello Martin, come on in. We’ve missed you.”
Howard’s voice sounded honest and heartily so Martin entered and saw his mother standing next to Howard. He was much more concerned about what she would say since he knew what she felt about his job. She had already been a soldier’s wife for too long and didn’t like being soldier’s mother instead.
“Hi dear.” She started and seemed unsecure about how she would continue. Luckily Howard sensed the tension between his wife and son and tried to help them.
“We were just about to eat, Martin. Why don’t you join us?”
“Great.” answered Martin. “I’m starving!”
They all sat down by the wooden table and started eating the soup Patricia had made. She and Martin sat quite but Howard over and over again tried to get them to talk by talking himself about issues he knew they were both interested in. But when the meal was over and his wife and son still hadn’t said much to each other he frustrated walked away.
“I…” Martin started “I should probably go.”
Patricia just nodded and looked away as Martin quickly left the building and just when he was about to call for a cab his cellphone ringed.
“Coleman.” Said Martin and wasn’t especially surprised when he heard the voice of Mr. Blackberry. Had he really thought that they would let him have a couple of days off?
“It’s Blackberry. I need you back at the facility as soon as possible.”
“I’ll be there in around forty-five minutes, what’s it about?”
“Just get here, Coleman!” Yelled Blackberry and ended the conversation by hanging up.
Four minutes later, when he was sitting in a cab he thought back on Blackberry’s behavior during their short conversation. He seemed nervous from the start and seemed to get upset by a normal question. Something was definitely going on. Was that the reason they sent him away? Or the reason for now calling him back? Or perhaps both, he tried not to speculate too much until he knew but by the time he reached Blackberry’s office he still had plenty ideas of might be happening although none of them seemed very likely.
“Good you could came this quickly, Coleman.” Said Blackberry who still sounded rather nervous and somehow distanced, this time Martin discovered the probable cause of Blackberry’s condition. Behind him stood two men that Martin recognized as government agent Henry Gyrich and his associate was Fredrick Crown, a mutant teleporter that seemed to cooperate with Gyrich from time to time.
“I hope you can tell me what’s up now.” Said Martin looking first at Blackberry and then at Gyrich.
“I will try to explain, agent Coleman.” Said Gyrich and stepped forward. “The reason for you being called back from your vacation is the loss of subject eight.”
“Subject eight?” Asked Martin surprised “I thought he was cancelled because of nano-failure?”
The only information Martin had about his predecessors in the project was that number one and three had died, number two was disfigured and hospitalized by his transformation and all subjects four to eight were supposed to have had nano-failures.
“He was.” Said Gyrich “But since his nanos weren’t as badly damaged as the others, Goldman was able to restore him a few weeks after you was activated.”
“Why wasn’t I told of this?”
“Security reasons, since myself and Goldman were the only ones that knew of his restoration we sent him undercover in a mutant organization called Superiority. As you can understand, with powers like yours, playing a mutant ain’t so hard.”
“But now you’ve lost him?”
“Yes. He was somehow detected and his dead body was left at the American Embassy in Peru.”
“What do you want me for? You can’t possibly expect me to replace him, right?”
“Of course not, agent” Said Gyrich “Before his death, subject eight provided us with the identities of the organizations leaders. We want you to capture them.”
“How many members does the organization has?” Said Martin trying to be calm despite of the dangerous mission he had received.
“Our latest number is twenty-nine but since they are constantly recruiting new members they are probably more. You obviously can’t rely on pure force during this mission.”
And to think I longed for more action a couple of hours ago… well, looks like I’ve got it, he thought to himself.
To Be Continued…