I Put A Spell On You, Part Two: New York

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“Hey, Jack, what are you looking at?” Roland leaned over in his seat, looking at his companion. Jack was solemnly staring out the window of the team's jet.

“History,” Jack said softly. “We're just passing over the Manhatten reef.”

There was a moment of silence, and then Roland shifted to look out the window. “Jesus,” he said after a moment. “I mean, I've seen the pictures, of course, but still. Hard to believe there used to be a whole island down there.”

Jack nodded slowly. “It's funny, the way that memory comes back to you. I was only seven when it happened, but I still remember that day. What about you? Where were you when you heard?”

“Uh… in school? Years later?” Roland raised an eyebrow. “The New York Disaster was thirty-one years ago, man. I wasn't born yet.”

Jack blinked at him a moment, and turned towards Catherine. Immediately, she raised a hand. “Sorry, Jack. I'm not much older than Roland.”

“Is there a single person on this plane old enough to remember that day?” Jack asked.

“Don't look at me,” Blossom piped up.

“Sorry, I was just a baby,” Alice said from the cockpit, glancing over her shoulder. “We'll be touching down at JFK in a few minutes, just so you know. Strap yourselves in, okay?”

“Even me?” Roland said with a slender smile.

“Yes, even you. I don't want you falling into the cockpit and knocking me out,” Alice answered.

Catherine pulled her seat belt across, looking into the choppy waves of Manhatten. “Down there are a million and a half graves,” she said quietly, “and someone's digging them up.”

“Not really,” Roland pointed out, resignedly pulling his own belt on. “I mean, it's not like there was enough left to find bodies, for the most part. Even the buildings got vaporized down to below sea level.”

Catherine glared at him. “It's a metaphor, Roland. Look it up.” She looked back out the window, grumbling under her breath, as Manhatten passed behind them and they flew to the edge of Long Island.

A few minutes later, the jet was landing without incident in the private area of JFK International Airport, a safe distance away from where commercial flights were roaring in for a landing. As the team disembarked, they found someone already waiting – a young man with sandy-blond hair and a wide smile, wearing long white robes that caught the dust of the tarmac and swirled around them. He smiled, offering his hand to Catherine. “Good afternoon, Ms. Becker. Or should I call you Piper? I'm not sure what you would prefer.”

“Ms. Becker will do fine.” Catherine gave his hand a firm shake, noting the slim gold bands that adorned each finger. “And should I call you Solomon?”

“Sam Friedman. You can call me Sam in private, but I'd appreciate Solomon in public.” Solomon turned to the rest of the team, taking their hands one at a time. “I'm the leader of the Veterans, New York's superhero team – but then, I expect you already know that. We don't have a lot of activity, but there are always people who want to bask in the reflected glory of the heroes of yesterday. My partners are back at Veteran Tower, if you'll follow me?” He spoke as he walked. “I appreciate you coming, but I don't know if we really need your help. There isn't any evidence that this is a major issue, yet. I suspect that one of our old foes has just found a more profitable use for her powers.” He paused, considering, and then admitted, “I'm not even sure where it falls on the legality scale, to be honest. We might be able to get the culprit for grave robbing, except that the goods he's robbing are supposed to be destroyed.”

“We can get the culprit for illegally profiting on the deaths of others, and for spreading superhuman devices without permission. Those are both fairly serious crimes, Mr. Friedman, and I'm surprised that you aren't more concerned.”

Solomon smiled easily. “When you possess the wisdom of Solomon, Ms. Becker, you learn to take the long view on this sort of thing.”

Catherine nodded, acknowledging the point. “So, you said you had a suspect?”

“Possibly. There's a small-time villain by the name of Chronovore, real name Jasmine Shale. She can take small steps into alternate realities, places where slightly different choices were made, and then step back into the Prime reality a moment later. Lets her avoid people by sliding into places where they went a different direction, dodge a punch by stepping into a world where you kicked instead, that sort of thing. She spends some time in New York trying to mess with us every year. Fully registered supervillain, you understand, everything above-board and all according to the Accords. But this business, objects appearing that shouldn't exist any more, that sounds pretty close to her abilities.”

Jack frowned. “How far can she project a change?”

“To the best of my knowledge, only an hour or two. I've certainly never seen her do more. Usually, she settles for a minute or even a few seconds, to keep from wearing herself out,” Solomon replied. “I know, thirty-one years seems like a bit of a jump, but it's the best lead we have. I've sent her a message and explained that it's SEA business, so hopefully she'll get back to us soon.”

“Hmm…” Catherine considered thoughtfully. “What about the possibility that someone is building fakes?”

“Well, that would widen the field,” Solomon said after a moment. “But I don't know of anyone with that kind of ability in town. The closest you would get would be me, and my alchemical powers are more of the sort of reproduce effects and materials, not objects.”

“How does that work, anyway?” Roland asked. “I read a few interviews with you, but I didn't quite get it. I mean, can you turn lead into gold?”

Solomon's smile slipped. “That is always the first question anyone asks me,” he muttered. “Yes. I possess the Key of Solomon, which means that I can turn lead into gold. The ingredients required are rare, magical, and expensive. It wouldn't be worth it, and frankly it's rather a boring approach to wealth in any case. If I wanted to be rich, I would have become a supervillain, and made invisibility potions and perfect solvents to rob banks. I wouldn't even have had to give up my civilian life to do it, thanks to the Accords.”

“That sounded a bit… bitter,” Blossom observed.

Solomon nodded, with a second sigh. “I'm no Antihero, Miss Blossom, but I have to confess that I've never been a supporter of the Accords. It's disgusting the things that supervillains can get away with, while the rest of us just try to make do.” Reaching his car, a sparkling white minivan, he gestured. “Alright, everyone in. Next stop, Veteran Tower.”

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