Corporal Cameron Holden moonlights as Liberty, a costumed vigilante.
|“Sir, Corporal Holden reporting for duty.” Cameron saluted smartly as the Lieutenant at the desk looked up at him, flicking the stub of his cigarette into a nearby coffee mug.
“At ease, Corporal,” the Lieutenant said, lazily returning the salute. The Lieutenant was of a similar age to Cameron. His dark hair was swept to one side and a pair of thick rimmed glasses framed a pair of dark blue eyes. If it wasn’t for his attitude, Cameron would have considered him attractive. His nametag identified him as Stein. He waited as the Lieutenant tapped idly at his keyboard. “Holden...Holden...Ah, there you are. Corporal Cameron Holden. MTO, right?”
“Yessir,” Cameron replied.
“New in town?”
“Yessir,” Cameron repeated. He had long ago found out that the easiest way to deal with junior officer’s was to nod along and agree until they left you alone. In truth, he had arrived in Hopefield almost a fortnight before, intending to take the time to settle in before he had to report for duty.
Despite what he had previously told himself, Cameron had quickly become acquainted with the town after dark. It had an ugly side beneath its pleasant veneer that Cameron wasted little time getting stuck into.
After more than six months the notion that he dressed himself up in costume every night in order to bash on some bad guys was still ridiculous but yet, he was still doing it. The ‘accident’ had been a blessing. His rate of recovery had confounded ever the most senior Doctors at the secret site. The rest; the unnatural strength, the unending stamina, the sudden increase in speed, he had kept hidden.
The smart thing to do would have been to hide it altogether. Discovery almost certainly meant he would be spending the rest of his life in a government lab, a prisoner in all but name as they ran tests on the freak. Hiding was what he had intended to do, until the night he chased down a purse snatcher. The night after that he caught a would-be rapist and a car thief.
Almost anyone else would have considered their good deeds done but Cameron found out he couldn’t stop. The idea that someone out there needed his help was something he could not walk away from.
The costume had been a natural follow-up. Deeds quickly brought notoriety. The mask was the logical step as his infamy increased. Within two weeks, the first internet article featuring some grainy camera footage of him in action surfaced. Armchair experts theorised he was a spec ops soldier and soon he was handed the moniker of ‘Liberty’. He had played up to the name, switching his black hoodie and jeans for a star and stripes patterned costume.
When his orders had come through with his re-assignment, Cameron had assumed his days as a vigilante were over. One night in Hopefield had convinced him otherwise.
He glanced at the mirror behind Stein. It was hard enough for Cameron himself to imagine that the man looking back at him was the vigilante in the blue mask Most people would pass him in the street without comment. He was a bland everyman. Standing at five foot ten, Cameron was toned but enjoyed little muscle definition. The accident had given him the powers but not the look.
“Not much to see,” Stein said. Belatedly Cameron realised he was talking about Hopefield and not him. “Few bars and not much else,” he continued, lifting his coffee mug to his mouth before realising there was a soggy cigarette inside. He sighed, setting the mug back down. “Some people like to get out into the country, hiking and fishing, if that’s your thing.”
“It is, Sir.”
The Lieutenant’s grunt made it clear they did not share a mutual love for the outdoors. He turned back to his computer and began to scroll down the screen before stopping, laughing quietly to himself. Cameron waited patiently for him to share the joke. “They tell you what you’re here for?”
“No Sir,” Cameron replied evenly. “I was told to report to Fort Wooding after discharge from the hospital.”
He watched Stein’s smile fade at the mention of the hospital. The man leaned back into his chair. “Personal driver,” he said after a few seconds.
Cameron done his best to mask his annoyance. “I...Are you sure, Sir?”
Stein’s nod was almost sympathetic. “I’m afraid so. Maybe someone pulled a few strings for you?” he offered. “It’s a plum job if nothing else.”
“Someone else can have it,” Cameron thought to himself sourly. “A dog robber, then, Sir”
The Lieutenant’s expression lost its brief bout of warmth. “You think you can pick any job you please, Corporal?”
“No, Sir,” Cameron replied, straightening himself up automatically. “Sorry, Sir.”
Seemingly satisfied at Cameron’s contrite apology, Stein settled himself back into his seat. “It’s not all bad,” he said. “You’ve been assigned to Colonel Haverson. As senior officer’s go, he actually has some personality.”
“Yes Sir,” Cameron replied, already resigned to his fate. “Just my luck,” he thought, “Six months off-duty only to get reassigned to some old greybeard. Some old fart marking the days to his retirement.”
Still, Cameron wasn’t the type of solider to question an order. He dutifully followed as Stein led him through a maze of corridors and up a flight of stairs before arriving at Colonel Haverson’s office. The officer nodded a goodbye before turning on his heel. Cameron wondered how telling it was that the Lieutenant had not stuck around.
Cameron sighed to himself, mentally building up the will to knock on the door. He read the lettering on the frosted glass, Col. John Haverson, Intelligence Div.
Slowly, Cameron raised his hand to the door only for it to fly open. “Are you going to knock, or are you just going to stand in the corridor all day?” the man on the other side of the threshold demanded.
Cameron wanted to speak but found himself suddenly struck dumb. The Colonel had probably close to twenty years on Cameron but he was no greybeard. Tall, tanned and flint jawed, Haverson was effortlessly handsome.
He was dressed in casual olive green fatigues. The short sleeved shirt was worn tight to his muscular frame clinging tight to a broad chest and bulging biceps. In spite of himself, Cameron’s eye wandered to find the pants were also pleasingly snug around the crotch.
Haverson's thick, dark hair had greyed at the temples and laughter lines furrowed his brow and tugged at the corner of each eye but neither feature could be considered a blemish, rather they added to the Colonel's distinguished good looks.
Cameron caught himself suddenly and began to fumble for an introduction. “I...Sir...Corporal Cameron…”
Haverson chuckled softly, revealing of row of perfect white teeth. “At ease, Corporal,” he said gently. “I should apologise, I was just having a bit of fun at your expense.”
Cameron managed a laugh of his own, completely disarmed by Haverson’s looks and charms. He took a breath to steady himself. “Corporal Holden, reporting for duty, Sir.”
Haverson nodded his approval. “Good to have you, Corporal. Not sure who you pissed off to get landed with an old man but for now it looks like you’re stuck with me.”
“I think I’ll manage, Sir.”
“Good, good.” He waved Cameron into his plush office and moved to sit at his desk. Cameron couldn’t keep his eye from drifting to the firm ass held in the tight confines of Haverson’s pants.
“Your timing is excellent. I’m on manoeuvres today, acting as an observer so I’m glad to have someone who knows what they’re doing.” He reached across to tap a manilla folder laying on his desk.
“My folder,” Cameron suddenly realised.
“Your service record is exemplary; two combat tours, a medal for bravery and then returning so quickly after…Well, after the incident.”
“I’m just a soldier, Sir. Same as any other. Maybe luckier than some.”
Haverson's eyes drifted over Cameron as if properly sizing him up for the first time. He gave a slow nod before lifting the folder and setting it in the top drawer of his desk. There was nothing more to be said. Six people were in the room when the mutagen had been released. Five of them were now dead.
The Colonel looked at his watch, a two tone Rolex Submariner clasped tightly onto his left wrist. “We need to be at the first checkpoint in an hour,” he said, tapping the face of the beautiful timepiece. “I prefer to dress in fatigues but I understand if you prefer to keep your current uniform. Although it is going to be a scorcher of a day, I’m led to believe.”
“I’m comfortable as I am, Sir.” In truth, Cameron wasn’t all that comfortable. In an impulse he had decided to put his costume on beneath his uniform before reporting to Fort Wooding. Even in Haverson’s air conditioned office he was already beginning to regret his decision.
“Alright then,” Haverson nodded. “I’ll see you down at the motor pool in ten minutes.”
“Yes Sir,” Cameron said, just about able to hide his smile. He saluted smartly and turned on his heel. His day had just taken a sudden upturn.