Philip unlocked the door to the flat and went in. He dropped his bag in the living room and his sister ran in.
"Phily! Phily!" she cried, jumping up and down.
"How many times, Sasha? Don't call me that!" he sighed.
She smiled like only an eleven year old could. "That's why I call you it." she laughed.
Philip was about to respond when his mother rushed in. She held Philip's face in her hands and her eyes dug into his. "Are you okay? You're not hurt are you?" she fussed.
"Why would he be hurt?" Sasha asked from the sofa where she was now watching something on the TV.
"I'm fine." Philip said at the same time.
"Sasha, can you go to your room for a minute?" Philip's mother, Violet, said, looking at his sister.
"Mum!" Sasha wailed.
"Go." Violet said forcefully, pointing out of the room.
Sasha grumbled but, reluctantly, left the room.
"Mum, why did-" Philip began.
"This is dangerous, Philip." his mum interrupted him, her face more stern than he had ever seen it before. "Are you sure you want to get involved in this?" she asked, pacing the room.
"Do I really have a choice now? And why didn't you tell me Dad was involved?" Violet stopped pacing.
"No, I guess you don't have the choice any more." she sighed. "And I didn't tell you about you father because he died doing this and I didn't want to lose you too." she said, looking away from him.
"This Shade guy?" Philip asked.
His mother nodded.
"Dad could fly too, couldn't he?"
She nodded again.
"You could have told me all along, you know." he said.
"I know that now." she sniffed and Philip saw tears rimming her eyes. "Beam said you're meeting the League tomorrow so I want you in bed early. From what your father said, they're an... Odd bunch." she said, wiped her eyes and left the room.
Philip looked out of the small window as the silence flooded in. He could see the tops of other blocks of flats and the cold, grey sky above them. "Superheroes..." he muttered, thinking.
Philip's mother left at half past seven the next morning, taking Sasha to school and then going to her new day job.
Philip dressed simply, as it was sunny - jeans, a T-shirt and trainers - then went and waited outside. He had been waiting for only a few minutes when Pixel walked up, despite the sun, she was wearing a long coat that was fastened all the way up. Her hands were gloved in what looked like lycra and he could see black boots underneath the coat.
She saw his odd look at the coat. "It's covering up my suit." she explained.
"Uh, suit?" he asked.
"Suit, supersuit." she said as if talking to a six year old.
"Oh, right, but couldn't you get changed when you're there?" he asked.
"The meeting starts at about the time we'll get there and my suit has plastic in it. Plastic! It takes me about an hour to get it on while everyone else's are just lycra and slip on." she grumbled whilst looking at her gloved hand with slight hate. "Anyway, we better get going." she said and started walking again, Philip falling into step beside her.
They walked into the station a few minutes later where they boarded the train amid numerous odd looks that were thrown at Pixel. Philip could tell she was close to snapping and the next person to give her a funny look would get God-knows-what thrown at them. She sat down, muttering darkly about the suit.
Philip decided it would be best not to speak.
They looked at the blurs that were trees, bushes and houses as they went passed. They slowed down as they pulled into the Redbrook station and more passengers piled on, only one of whom did not give Pixel an odd look. Philip tried to see their face but it was covered by a flap of black hair, he could just make out one, grey eye.
The train carried on and quickly arrived at the high-rise station. Pixel all but ran from the train and they got into the elevator with seven other people.
The elevator went down first where seven people left, then up to the top floor where two people left, down to the ninth floor where the last two left and finally up to ten where Pixel and Philip climbed out.
"Alleluia. Pixel muttered and removed the coat and placed it on a coat stand by the lift that was otherwise empty. Pixel grumbled something that sounded like 'Lucky sods' then closed her eyes and Philip noticed the design on her suit.
It was pitch black and tight fitting. Green light pulsed from the fingertips of the gloves now. The design was the same as on her console - parallel lines and circles. The luminous green energy finished flooding the design and Philip saw that a 'P' had been made on the chest with two lines and a circle, these shapes pulsed white. Philip started in amazing.
"Oh my God." Philip managed.
Pixel sighed and opened her eyes. "It's too flashy, I hate it's start up."
"Won't someone see your suit though?" he asked.
"Yeah, but all this floor belongs to HATE so nobody will care." she said, leading the way to the windowless corridor.
"Has everyone gotta wear their suits?" Philip wondered aloud.
"Yeah, the suits with no plastic!" she grumbled, flicking part of her suit that echoed with a dull thud. "Hang on." she said and placed her hand on the wood panel. "Authorisation code: Alpha-two-three-oh-four. Clearance number: Seven-two-nine-oh-two-three. Name: Pixel." she said into the speaker. The panel slid away and they went into the hidden elevator beyond, Philip pressed the black button and the started to descend.
When it opened onto the NASA-like control room, a man in a lab coat stepped over and handed Philip a burgundy package. "Beam said to give you this." he said and walked away.
"What?! Really?!! I had to wait three weeks to get my suit and you get yours on your second day?!!?" she said.
"M-My suit?" Philip said and shook out the material. It was burgundy in colour with a deep red line running down the sides on the arms, legs and sides. There was a triangle on the chest which was outline but was the shades of fire. In the centre of the triangle was a gold, lightning shaped 'F'. A pair of dark red boots to match the stripes fell from the bundle.
"That's nice." Pixel admitted. "Oh, and look - no plastic!" she added bitterly.
Philip was speechless.
"Come on, there's a toilet near the conference room, you can get changed there." she said and went through the door by the stairs and turned left. Philip followed her down the corridor as she turned right. He made a mental note of the corners taken. Right again, straight ahead, then left and finally right again. Pixel pointed at a metal door marked '94A'. "There you go." she said.
Philip went in and quickly changed, swapping his jeans, trainers and T-shirt for the for the light weight suit. He bundled up his normal clothes and carried them under his arm as he left the toilet.
He walked out, inspecting the lycra and how it moved freely.
Pixel arched an eyebrow. "I have to admit, you look good." she said.
Philip looked up and smiled.
"Don't get cocky." she warned and knocked on a set of dark wood double doors at the end of the corridor.
"Who is it?" called a sing-song voice on the other side.
"It's a-me, a-Mario." Pixel said as she went in and Philip followed.
"Mario! You've lost weight!" a boy with light brown hair and pale blue eyes exclaimed.
"You're so funny, Morph." Pixel said sarcastically, sitting opposite but one to the boy. Philip stood by the door, not quite sure what to do.
"I am, aren't I." Morph said, smiling.
"It's called sarcasm but maybe you're tiny brain can't understand anything over one syllable." Pixel replied.
"Oh, get a room you two." a boy said who looked like Morph but younger and with light, gingery hair from next to him.
Two thing happened then. Crackling, green lightning arced from Pixel's fingers and bounced across the long, oval table and hit the boy in the chest, shocking him, and Morph hit him with a hand shaped like a spade, sending him flying from his chair. The other people in the room laughed (one of them silently), except Shimmer, Beam and Philip. Beam sighed, Shimmer rolled her eyes and Philip stepped back in horror as the boy climbed back into his seat.
"Take a seat, Falcon." Beam said from the head of the table. Philip took the only available chair, between Jess and a young man dressed all in white.
"Before we begin, I think we should all get acquainted. You clearly know I'm Beam with the ability to control light." he continued, gesturing to himself.He was wearing the yellow jumpsuit, without the lab coat, and on the chest, a black and white circle enclosed an orange 'B'. He nodded to the woman on his right to carry on.
"My name is Chameleon. I can turn invisible." she said. She wore a short sleeved suit, unlike everyone else, and it was different shades of green and had different plates like scales. A selection of about seven tiles on her chest were all different, bright colours. Chameleon's hair was chestnut brown and her eyes were dark and seemed to change colour.
Next to her sat a woman with very pale, blonde hair that was almost white. Her skin was also pale and her eyes were a quiet, calm grey, yet they still seemed to stare into you. Her suit was a light grey with a large, pale blue 'V' stretching out along most of her torso. "I am Void." she said in an accent that identified her as have gone to Oxford. "I can teleport." she finished. She looked at the teenage boy sitting next to her.
Kyle smiled. "Haze, control of fire." he said. He wore a simple red jumpsuit with black gloves and a large flame design on his chest.
Next to him was Pixel who nodded. "Pixel, I have control of electricity and technology." she said.
Sitting on Pixel's right, and closest to the door on that side, was Shimmer. She was dressed in blue with white cloves and what looked like white lightning spreading over her suit. On her chest was a white circle with a pale purple edge and a rounded 'S' in the middle of the same colour. "I'm Shimmer, as you know, and I have the power to create force fields." she spoke in a level, calm voice and her look passed on the introductions to Morph.
"I'm Morph," he said.
Pixel faked a coughing fit and said 'prick' in the middle of it.
Morph glared and carried on. "I can change into anything I want."
"The boy sitting next to Morph spoke up. "I am, unfortunately, Morph's younger brother by around two years and my name is Focus. I can make you believe anything I want, like did you know, this table is made from cake?" he said soothingly. Philip looked at the table, why hadn't he noticed it before? He was about to pull some off when Focus said "You don't wanna do that, it's not really cake." he said and Philip snapped out of it. Both Focus and Morph wore dark blue suits with black arms and boots with no gloves. The only difference was Morph's suit had a large white 'M' while Focus' had a large white 'F'. They also had the same eyes and tanned skin.
Next to Focus was Jess who smiled at him. "Vines, control over plants." she said simply. She wore a light green jumpsuit with yellow vine shapes weaving up the arms and formed a 'V' on her chest.
Everyone looked at Philip. They already knew each other, they had just been waiting to get to him.
"I'm Falcon and I can fly." he said. A few eyes widened and he heard Morph whisper 'Dragonfly's son' to Focus.
Beam coughed and everyone stopped looking at Philip as he looked at the young man next to him.
The man nodded and Philip heard a voice in his head. "Hello, I'm Probe. A telepath and I also have a few telekinetic powers." it said. Philip realised it must be the man next to him 'talking'. The man saw Philip's look and smiled while the voice laughed. "Yes, I must speak like this as I'm a mute. My tongue was cut out, it was the shock that forged my powers." he said, shrugging.
"I-I'm sorry." Philip said.
"It's alright, I get used to it." he said. The man had longish black hair that almost framed his handsome face, he also had black eyes that matched his hair while his suit was completely white (with no gloves) except for a black, four pointed star on his chest.
Beam stood up from his chair. "Excellent, now we're all acquainted we can get on."