"Its almost a surreal moment in the lives of those around me. Something that almost seemed too much like one of those summer blockbuster movies. The ones with all the explosions and violence and the hero we all cheer for till the very end. Sometimes you hate to see the credits roll because you want to see just one more scene, one more moment of pure action only a movie like that can deliver. But he credits roll anyway, you get up from your seat, and walk back out into the sunlight and get on with your life."
"What's happened to all of us wasn't a movie. It wasn't something fake that Hollywood created for us to watch over and over again. There aren't any credits to let us know itís all over with and we can move with our lives. No. We sit here wanting to know when its all going to end."
"When will we be safe again?"
"I've been in this game far too long to know that it never ends. That doesn't mean you don't get on with your life. You have to. Not because you want to, but because there are people out there that depend on you to get on with your life. They're looking at you and you need to let them know things are ok and they can move on and you can wallow through the pain with them. Its going to be hard, but you know that. If you don't... you're only kidding yourself."
Dwayne Taylor leaned forward in the chair he has been occupying for the last half hour and takes a breath. He's said a lot of things in the last thirty minutes and finally thinks he's said his fill. He looks up at Dr. Richard Michaels, his therapist.
"Dwayne, we've been meeting every two weeks for almost a year and this is the first time you've really opened up about that day. Why now? What has made you decide now is the time to open up?"
Dwayne leaned back in his chair and cracked a smile. "Isn't that why I pay you, Doctor? To figure out why I do the things I do?"
"Dwayne, you know that's not why you're here."
"I know that. Can't take a little joke can you?"
"What's going through your mind isn't a joke, Dwayne. From the things you've said today, there's a lot of anger and a need to act upon it holding up inside you."
Dwayne just shook his head; "You really aren't listening to me today are you? I've said its time to pick up the pieces and move forward. I saw a lot of good people lose family and friends in that carnage, and for some reason I had to take their grief on my own shoulders and help carry them. I'm exhausted and I finally want to move forward and be productive again. I want to go back and begin making a difference in people's lives in a pro-active way."
Dr. Michaels writes down a few things in his note pad and then looks up at Dwayne, "Dwayne, you've been doing something for people, but what you want is something for you. You want someone to help you now. That's what you're telling me. You've helped friends and family and now you finally want someone help to help you."
Dwayne stood from his chair and walked to the large window looking over the city, "Doctor, maybe I do. Maybe its time I look for help in the things I want to do. Maybe I've been working alone for too long. Maybe its time to find some old friends and work together again."
Later that night, on the rooftop of the Taylor Foundation Building, Dwayne stands near the edge looking over the city. He hears a set of footsteps coming up behind him and he let's out a small smile. "Its good that you could come see me on such short notice, Rich. Itís been a while."
Richard Ryder, known as Nova, the Human Rocket to most, walks up and stands beside Dwayne looking out over the roof edge. "Yeah, it has been. I had given up on you calling on any of us a long time ago, Taylor. We've all moved on, and now you want to start calling on us?"
"No, I'm not calling on everyone. Just those I trust the most."
Rich shook his head, "You don't get it do you? We're not here at your beck and call. You left us behind, remember? You're the one that got cold feet in the midst of the attacks and decided to be Dwayne Taylor, millionaire businessman. You're the one that let us go and dissolved the team. We could have done some good, Taylor. We could have helped a lot of people, but you did the one thing I never thought you'd do. You hid behind your money."
Dwayne quickly turned around and grabbed Rich by the collar, "Don't you dare speak of me like that, Ryder. I did what I thought was the right thing. I helped people who needed the help. This wasn't about me, it was about them. It always has been."
Rich clinched his fists, "Has it? Has it been about them, or has it been about how you and your money came to the rescue? Was all that media attention and recognition just a bonus for you and your precious Taylor Foundation? Don't give me that crap, Taylor. You know the spotlight would be on you and you milked it for all its worth. So don't tell me about sacrifice and how much you did it for the people. I don't buy it and neither does anyone else who really knows your self-absorbed ass."
Dwayne's grip got tighter and he spun around dragging Rich's body over the edge of the roof so that he was hanging in the air. "You don't get it do you, Rich. I don't 'want' the team back together; I 'need' the team together to help me. I need you people, but I'm going to do things differently now. I'm going to make a difference and I need your help. I need more help than I think I've ever realized. Now, you're either with me or not. I need you to help me, Rich. Help me."
Rich, still being held over the edge of the building just stared directly into Dwayne's eyes, "No."
Dwayne grinned, "I figured it would be you that would say 'no' to me. That's why I talked to you first. Get the problem ones out of the way first so that the others would leap at helping me. That's fine, Rich. Let's hope this time your powers haven't left you as before." And with that, Dwayne releases his grip from Rich's collar and Rich falls toward the street below. Dwayne smiles, and turns back to the roof and walks toward the stair tower in the center of the roof.
"You know, Taylor, you've got a lot of balls to pull that stunt again after all this time."
Dwayne opened the door to the stair tower and spoke, "So, does that mean that you will help me then?" He turned around to see Rich being held by his armpits by Namorita. "What?!"
"Dwayne, if you had done your homework before you called on me, you would have heard that the Nova Corps have removed me from my position of Centurion and removed my powers from me. I'm not Nova anymore, probably never again. That's why I asked Rita to hang out below us. I figured you'd pull a stunt like that again and had to be ready for anything."
"Rich, I'm... I'm sorry."
"This is why I don't think you're really needing our help, Taylor. You want to make a big scene with everyone you talk to, and this scene could have gotten me killed if I didn't consider who I was meeting. You're still all about you and you forget about everyone else involved. Sure, I'm going to help you because you need somebody looking out after you."
Namorita smiled, "And I'm here to look out for Rich and make sure you two don't kill one another." The three friends began to smile and then laugh with one another. Despite all that they have been through, each of them were aware of the task at hand and the need to do something about it.
The next day Dwayne, Rich, and Namorita entered into the Crash Pad, which has been sealed tight for more nearly twelve months. As they walk the halls the memories of that last meeting still seem to echo the empty halls.
Dwayne reflects back to the point where Rich stormed out of the room after Dwayne said that he was taking some time off to head up the Taylor Foundation's relief effort to the victims of the 9-11 attacks. Dwayne has always thought of the team as effective as their leader, and without him, there wasn't a leader. Without a leader, there was no reason to have the team. Rich saw things differently.
Rich was ready to assume the role of leadership when Dwayne announced he was leaving the team. He had assumed leadership at different times when the team needed someone to lead them into battle. Why would this be any different than before? This was different because Dwayne made it different. Announcing that he was leaving and the team was dissolved, he sealed the Crash Pad from everyone, including the New Warriors. Many saw this as his final betrayal, but Dwayne just saw it as the proper thing to do. They were no longer the teenagers they once were when the team was brought together. He was growing up and assuming new roles and responsibilities. Dwayne thought the others should follow his lead and move on and find their own way away from the New Warriors.
That was then.
"Have you thought about the others?" Namorita asked Dwayne as the came to the monitor room. "I mean, you didn't leave any of us with a real good picture of you and the others were a little more impressionable than Rich or me."
Dwayne nodded, "I've considered that. I know that many of them would rather that I were out of their lives forever. None of them have really done much with their lives as heroes since the team disbanded, so I don't know if I even want their help. They haven't helped others in the meanwhile, what would change their minds?"
"Vance and Angelica have been active members of the Avengers for a while. I think asking them would really bring some respect to the team as far as the Avengers go." Rich said more reluctantly than anything.
Dwayne shook his head, "No. Vance and Angelica are more public figures now than before. Both have gone on inactive status for while, anyway. They have a life they want to live. I will respect that.. for now."
Later in the evening Dwayne, Rich, and Namorita sit around one of the tables in the monitor room eating Chinese take out and looking over a large number of files.
"Dwayne, I'm amazed at how many files you have on so many young heroes. How long have you been accumulating these files?" Namorita asked.
"Yeah, Taylor, how long have you been spying on these kids?"
"Rich, its nothing like that. I am constantly keeping tabs on more people than you could ever realize mainly for business means, but in the case of these kids, I've managed to tap into the Avengers database using some 'extracted' codes I've obtained recently."
"I thought the Avengers rotated access codes on a random cycle. There's no way to know if the codes are current or being tracked."
"I considered that, Rich, but I have it on some rather high authority that these codes are considered skeleton codes. They never change because no one knows them minus those Avengers that are deemed unwavering by the founding members of the Avengers, and are only access by those with top security clearance in the Avengers."
"But still," Namorita exclaimed, "What's from keeping them from knowing who has accessed the database. Seriously, this is something I didn't think you were even capable of doing. I mean, its the Avengers!"
"We're taking a new role in the world, Rita. We're not playing by a rule book anymore. We're going to make a difference in this world by using all resources open to us. We tried playing by the Avengers' rules and look what happened. I'm not sitting around anymore waiting for Captain America's approval on our tactics."
Rich smiles, "So, this is the new Dwayne Taylor, huh? You're serious about this?"
"Have you just been ignoring me all day, Rider? Yes, I'm serious. We need to build a strong core team that will be able to react at a moments notice, and I'm not concerned about being looked at by the media as the 'good guys'. Things need to be done and they need to be done by those who are willing to lay it all on the line to get it done. I take it that you two, by being here with me tonight, are willing to do that."
Namorita nodded, "I said it before, Dwayne, you've got me on board. Anything I can do for the team, let me know."
"Good because I need you to be field leader of one of the teams, Rita."
Rich slams his fist on the table knocking over his box of rice, "What the hell? What about me, you damn nut? I thought we had already gone over the need for me in the field."
"We did, Rich, and you are going to be in the field. I need you to develop a black ops team in order to infiltrate some of our possible enemies."
"And who might be some of our 'possible' enemies, Dwayne?"
About that same time, a flashing light goes off on one of the monitors surveying the security of the Crash Pad. Dwayne gets up from his chair and sits in front of the monitor and begins punching a few keys allowing the screen to split into four quadrants. One screen zooms in to the location where the Crash Pad's security was breached. Another switches to infrared and begins panning through each level of the Crash Pad looking for unregistered entities. A third screen flashes through the cameras in different rooms looking for the intruder. The fourth screen displays an overview of the entire Crash Pad and sections the Pad into grids and begins initiating other security measures.
"Well, it looks like some of those possible enemies have made a move on you, Dwayne, before you could get to them."
Dwayne concentrates on the screens in front of him and ignores Rich's snide comment. His fingers cross across the keyboard and various other buttons with determination. "There! Our intruder is moving through the main level's lead corridor and moving toward the kitchen."
Rich runs for the vertical transport lift, I'll take this upstairs and meet who ever this is in the kitchen. Rita, I need you to follow up from behind this creep and we'll box him in." The vertical lift shoots Rich up several levels before Dwayne can tell him otherwise.
"Rita, let him go it alone. He needs to deal with this particular intruder alone."
Rita shakes her head, "He doesn't have his powers anymore, Dwayne. If itís someone hostile, he could get hurt or worse."
Dwayne nods, "That's true, but I don't think our intruder will allow that."
"What? Do you know who it is?"
Dwayne grins, "This will be good for Rich. Trust me."
Upstairs, Rich makes his way to the kitchen shrouded in darkness because of the lights being turned off. "Damn", he whispers, "Should have brought something to swing at this freak."
"Oh, that won't be necessary my young friend." A voice says from the darkness.
Rich spins around trying to locate the body that the voice came from but can't see more than a few inches in front of him. "Who's there? Where are you?"
"I'm right here," the voice says as Rich is tapped softly on the back of his head. "I'm behind you."
Rich turns and throws a couple of punches in the air but connects with the air only.
"You're suppose to be Nova, right?" the voice says. "Can't imagine what the Nova Corps ever saw in you, boy."
Rich begins walking toward the voice with his arms stretched out. Beginning to get frustrated, "Hell, why didn't I think of this before? LIGHTS, 200% BRIGHT!"
Rich, thinking he can get the drop on his opponent, closes his eyes just as the kitchen's lights turn on at a blinding intensity. As Rich opens his eyes slightly he manages to see a fist coming straight at him. The next thing he sees is a bright fuzzy light and an intense pain shooting from his forehead.
Dwayne and Rita walk in from the hall, "Lights. Normal." Dwayne says. "Rich, you've got to be more careful."
Rich stands up with his hand on his forehead. "What the hell is going on here? Who is this clow... All, hell. Figures."
"Rich. Rita. Please let me introduce you to a good friend and business partner in our upcoming war against evil. This is his royal highness, King T'Challa of Wakanda. The Black Panther."
Well, if you know me you know I'm a huge New Warriors fan. Hands down, this was one of the best titles in the 90s when Fabian Nicieza was on board. After that it just seemed to be going nowhere fast except for cancellation. Oh, well.
A lot of time has past since we've last seen the Warriors in action and I'm hoping to do something a little new with a little old in it too in order to make this series true to its original design. I'm not looking to dwell on the past, but more focus on the future of these characters. There's a lot going on. And there are a lot of characters that will be coming in and out of this series.
I'm not known for the timeliest person in fan fiction, but I am going to try my best to keep this stories coming out. The first major arc deals with Dwayne, Rich, and Namorita building a variety of teams with known, and some unknown heroes throughout the Marvel Universe. I'm a huge fan of using obscure characters because I think they need the screen time as well as the problem most fan fiction groups have... everyone wanting to use the same characters. So, hopefully we'll have some familiar faces and some ones you'll have to do some homework on in order to figure out who they are.
Please don't hesitate to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) about this issue, or upcoming storylines, or even a suggestion for a new team member. I'm always open to suggestions.