This character is Emmerson Whitte aka TK-O, a mutant with the ability to project kinetic energy in close range bursts. At this point in the story, his abilities haven't manifested and sort of the depressing bit of the story. I was talking to a friend and describing this bit and that bit about the character's background when it struck me. He's Batman, of sorts. Not rich or nearly as messed up in the head, but many of the same traits: orphan, self reliant, smart, strong willed.
Feedback is always welcome.
Praetoria – Imperial City
Emmerson sparred with the speed bag. Left. Right. Left. Left. Left. Right. Kick. Sweat dripped off his body as he went through the routine. Around him others worked out, chatted, and socialized in the gym, ignoring the youth in their midst. His face was flush and mouth drawn tightly as he poured his frustration into the object. They are late. Where are they? Why haven't they come for me? It had been almost a week since his parents had dropped him off at the creche. There had been no response from the emails and calls he had placed. Silence.
He paused and looked up, realizing that the workout room had gone silent. People stared at the newcomer in his gold and black armor plated uniform, heavy shoulder pads, and visored riot-helmet which he held on his side. The man was handsome, military style haircut, beard and goatee which were not regulation, and sad brown eyes. “Yes?”
“Hello son. I'm Officer Smith with Power Division. Could you come with me, we need to talk.”
“What's this about?”
“Not here son, somewhere private.” The officer glanced around the room.
Smith turned to the rest of the room. “Please leave, this is official Power Division business.” The crowd moved towards the door, ushered along by a pair of Clockwork automations. One of the man complained loudly about the interruption, but quieted at a glance from the officer.
Emmerson watched the others leave, then looked up at the man.
The officer squatted down and sat his helmet down on the floor. “Son, I have some bad news.” He hesitated. “Son, your parents... were killed in action. They died heroes, saving thousands of others from an attack by Hamidon. I'm sorry, son.”
“No.” His mouth twitched around the word.
“Never damn easy,” Smith muttered softly. “I'm truly sorry, Emmerson. They were good people and are going to be missed.”
“No. They promised they were coming back. They promised.” His jaw tightened as tears formed in the corner of his eyes. “It's a trick.”
Officer Smith reached out and pulled the boy close. “I know it's hard, but you have to understand, they are gone.”
On his eleventh birthday, Emmerson cried.
Praetoria – Nova Pratoria
Emperor Cole stood on the platform. Alone. Aloof. A god in the form of a man. White suit. Black shoes. Black hair, cut short, not a strand out of place. Chiseled features, betraying just a touch of weariness. Regret. Sorrow. The white marble wall behind him stood against the artificial green grass of the park as a reminder to those walking past. People filled the park, even in the rain to catch a glimpse of humanity's savior. To see living proof that mankind would thrive and survive even in the darkest of hours. A light rain fell from sky, pattering on the sidewalks and the monument.
God spoke. “We are gathered here to mourn the loss of our comrades. Men and women of Power Division that gave their lives in the fight against the Devouring Earth menace. People who sacrificed themselves to ensure thousands of others would see the next day. This is the ideal of Praetoria. Give all you can. Be the best you can. Become an example. A beacon of hope in the darkness, shining the way to a better future. We must look to the departed for inspiration, hold out memories of them close, and remember that they gave us a chance to go on.”
God gestured to the wall. “Each one is here. Names of the fallen. Their spirits with us. Respect their gift, use it wisely, and make them proud.” He opened up a small book. “I will read the names and commit them to memory. Our memory.”
Emmerson stood stiffly in the black suit. In the front of the crowd. Alone. No umbrella or hat to prevent the rain from soaking his head, the fabric, or running down his neck. He looked at the living God, half aware of the words and the memorial wall behind him. He heard the names, but they meant nothing, The wall was his world. His focus.
“...Daniel Whitte. Gail Whitte...” God spoke their names. Sealing their fate. One final remembrance.
Tears ran down his face, indistinguishable from the rain. They're really gone. Their faces danced in his memory again. The trip to the top of the Keyes building. Working in the shop with his dad, building sound systems for people. School lessons from his mom on biology, chemistry, and physics. It was all gone. Everything was locked up in a trust. He was left with clothing, a few gadgets, and his memories. It's not fair. Why did they have to die? Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. He shut his eyes to stop the tears.
God had finished the list of names. “For those of us who are left, we will carry on in their names. To complete the work they have left unfinished, to make sure that their children have a future free of worry. Free from strife. To live in peace. Thank you for coming.” The crowd clapped politely as God walked off the stage. He glanced across the crowd. Eye contact for a moment. God's eyes softened and he whispered something to an aide, a balding man with dark shades.
People drifted away. Returning home. Taking pictures of the living God. Pictures of the wall. A few read the names. Mourners looking for their loved one. A final closure before moving on. Emmerson found himself walking towards the wall, ignoring the man in shades. I have to see. Make it real. The wall reached into the sky, a monolithic structure. His eyes scanned the names. That was mom's friend. She was nice lady. A pang of hurt and sorrow struck his heart. There. In the middle. He reached out and ran his fingers over the names. Tears streamed down his cheeks. I miss you both. I'll make you proud of me.
“Emmerson?” A metal hand rested on his shoulder.
He looked up at the silver and blue Clockwork. Its impassive face looked down at him.
“Do you need more time?”
“No.” He sniffed and drew a deep breath. “I'm ready to go.”
“Excellent. I have received new instructions. You will be transferred to the Imperial School for the Gifted. All expenses covered by imperial decree.”
“Why? What about the boarding school?”
“A directive from Power Division. It is a highly competitive school. Most applicants are rejected. This is an honor.” The voice was flat. Emotionless. Reciting facts. “All your belongings are being transferred as we speak and a room prepared.”
“Please follow me, the car is waiting.”
Emmerson trailed after the clockwork. Only a few people remained at the wall. Crying. Comforting each other. There was nothing for him. The man in the shades stood by the car, holding the door open. He nodded as the boy climbed in and closed it afterward.