Chapter 1: Harbinger
Matthew Murdock – blind vigilante with super-senses and martial arts training, also a lawyer. don’t ask how he rationalizes that kind of double life, or when he sleeps. dumpster child.
Foggy Nelson – Matt’s best friend and also a lawyer. high-key disapproves and worries about Matt’s activities.
Karen Page - ready to help, ready to fight, best friend of Matt and Foggy.
Henry Morgan – poor sap who is immortal and has no clue why or how or what’s up with him at all, really. he dies and pops up in the closest body of water on a regular basis.
Abe Morgan – Henry’s adopted son, Holocaust survivor, snarky old cinnamon roll, too good for this world, too pure.
Jo Martinez – Henry’s friend, police detective, part of the team it takes to keep Henry from tripping on a brick and dying at literally any given moment.
Percy Jackson – demigod, son of Poseidon, got offered the chance to become a full god but said ‘nah’ to Zeus’ face, legendary. a dork in love.
Annabeth Chase - demigod, daughter of Athena, got offered the chance to rebuild a wrecked Mount Olympus for the gods themselves and said 'hell yeah'. also a dork in love.
Matthew Swift – urban sorcerer from London, unhappily resurrected, kind of also possessed/soul-bonded by chaos beings of lightning and pure life. has a bad habit of not explaining anything ever. the other dumpster child of the squad here.
Penny Ngwenya - sorcerer's apprentice, can and will tell people to get fucked, is the most fucking awesome sorceress.
Anakin Skywalker – human disaster, Snippy Snarks-a-lot the First, turns into Darth Vader later but let’s not worry about that right now.
Ahsoka Tano - Jedi padawan, Snippy Snarks-a-lot the Second.
Obi-wan Kenobi – a man who knows he’s dramatic.
We be light, we be life, we be fire!
We sing electric flame, we rumble underground wind, we dance heaven!
Come be we and be free!
We be blue electric angels.
Foggy squinted at the blue underlined text on his screen, and sighed. “Great. Now I need to up our virus protection software.”
People called him Foggy, and he let them. In the back room of his family’s butcher shop, Franklin Nelson, former respected lawyer in a shiny-windowed, shiny-shoed firm, was getting back to his roots in Hell’s Kitchen.
“Hey, Matt, tell me that British guy emailed you back. All I’ve gotten is spam.”
Across the room, his best friend and law partner frowned and ran the pads of his fingers over his Braille screen reader. “Nothing,” he said quietly. “And I think I got the same spam.”
“Shit, I knew we couldn’t trust Windows Defender.”
“Brett still has that kid in holding, right?”
Foggy snorted. “I keep telling you, Matt, I am not taking another pro bono case right now. Dad’s serious about us paying him rent this time.”
“And we’ll be taking your case pro bono,” Foggy said.
Their new client was an older teenager - lanky, light brown olive skin, scruffy black hair, deep green eyes. His name was Percy Jackson, and he had somehow managed to break three water mains all by himself.
“Thanks, but I’d rather you didn’t bother.”
“It’s important to us that you know your rights, Mr. Jackson,” Matt said softly. “You’re entitled to have someone defend you.”
“Really just need to get out of here as fast as possible,” Percy snapped back. “And please don’t call me ‘Mr. Jackson.’”
“Percy, then,” Matt amended. Foggy kept quiet, watching his friend out of the corner of his eye. He’d furrowed his brow when they entered the room, which meant it was likely Matt thought there was something strange about the situation. “Do you have a parent we can call at least, to let them know where you are and that you’re safe?”
“Mom’s at work,” Percy said tightly. “Don’t call her.”
“Since you’re over the age of 16, you understand you can be tried as an adult in the state of New York.”
“Yeah, got that memo from the cops.”
“Hey, Percy,” Foggy cut in. “I know you’re probably not in the mood to sit through lawyer talks, but they,” he gestured vaguely at the door to the interview room, “will talk you in circles until you incriminate yourself. We can help you navigate that, and honestly we’ll all likely be out of here much sooner if you let us.”
Percy sighed. His leg bounced under the table, sending a light tremor through the surface which Foggy had to assume was driving Matt’s super-senses mad. “Fair enough,” the kid said after a moment of silence.
“Plus,” Foggy added, “I’m not sure how much of a case they even have to charge you, since no one can figure out how you did it.”
A small smile crossed Percy’s face at that. “Uh, I bet they can’t.”
Foggy glanced down at his notes. “The police said a witness told them they saw you ‘maybe pulling a piece of pipe out of the ground or something’ but admitted the heat was getting to him and everything looked shimmery and wavy. Can you tell us in your own words what happened?”
Percy squinted at the closed window blinds, fiddling with a pen in his hands. “Um. I got attacked by a – well it was er – so some lady nearly ran me over with her car and then got out and sicced her dog on me? The water main thing just kind of happened. As I was standing right above it. It just, y’know.” He made jazz hands. “Exploded out of the ground.”
Foggy stared at him. It made sense; the only people he knew who typically broke water mains were construction crews digging in the wrong place, or they just broke on their own due to poor conditions. So how come the police were convinced that it was the fault of a kid? Teenagers could be crafty delinquents when it came to stealing street signs, but a water main?
“How were you arrested, then?” Matt asked, giving rise to Foggy’s train of thought.
Percy groaned and slumped forward. “The – the lady started screaming about how I’d broken the water main, and she got the cops to arrest me. Here I am. And here she is, too, which is why I really need to leave as soon as possible.”
It was at about that time that alarms began blaring in the police station.
“I didn’t do it,” Percy said instantly, his hands shooting up defensively.
“Stay here,” Matt ordered, and damn, Foggy could hear the shift in his voice from empathetic lawyer to simply – dangerous. “I’ll be right back.”
Foggy belatedly realized that he was being included in the “stay here” squad, and looked at the kid once the door swung shut. The kid looked back, and he was clearly calculating his odds. One hand was curled defensively around his ballpoint pen.
Matt was back inside almost immediately after he had left. “Get up, both of you, we have to go.”
In answer, the ground shook beneath their feet. Foggy stumbled, half out of the chair, and scrambled into a full standing position. He grabbed Matt’s arm and held a hand out to Percy. The teen hesitated, then uncapped his pen.
His pen, which turned into a sword. “That’s a sword,” Foggy said numbly.
“Yep,” Percy said, grabbed his hand with the one not holding a sword, and Matt lead them out the door.
The police station was in chaos. Phones were either ringing or people were shouting down the lines at voices on the other end. An officer was speaking into a mic to try and get attention and call for order. Tremors were still rocking the ground. Foggy could feel the vibrations of the earth grating against itself all the way up his legs.
The three of them ducked through the crowded building and out the front door. Despite Percy’s sword and status as an arrested citizen, no one stopped them. No one even looked their way.
In the daylight, pounding hot sun immediately attacking them, Foggy tugged hard enough on Matt’s arm to yank him around to face them. “What is going on?” he demanded.
“There’s a disaster happening,” his friend said. “Brett said we just lost contact with the entire eastern half of the world. Something’s coming, I can – I can hear it, I just can’t quite make out what it is. But it’s big.”
Percy groaned, doubling over like someone had punched him in the stomach. The sword clattered to the sidewalk. “Ugh, I just felt something too.”
Foggy looked around wildly. People weren’t exactly running and screaming, but there was even more shouting and honking than was the norm for New York. He hauled Percy to his feet, seized Matt’s arm again, and took them at a brisk walk down the street, heading for the butcher shop. Percy grabbed the sword off the ground with a quick swiping movement and lurched along beside him.
The ground was still shaking. Realistically, Foggy knew that closing the door of the shop behind them wouldn’t muffle it or keep whatever was happening at bay, but he felt safer for doing it.
Matt’s head was making tiny micro adjustments of position, in that almost unsettling, inhuman way he had when he was listening for something, pinpointing direction like a fox finding a mouse under the snow.
“What is it now?”
“A…dial tone. Did you leave the landline off the hook?”
“No?” Foggy glanced at the phone on the wall, just in time to catch a tiny blue spark snap out from under the receiver. “Oh, shit.”
“There’s voices in it. I can’t—make out what it’s—I think it might be saying ‘come be we…?’”
…and be free…
and we are me
And the phone exploded in blue static. Matt went into a fighting stance instantly, sniffing the air and tilting his head, using every sense but sight on high alert. Foggy scrambled for cover, trying to pull Percy with him, but the kid had adopted the same fighting stance as Matt, the sword held before him in a ready position. Electricity arced out of the phone, bright neon blue, shooting up the walls and skittering across the floor. Foggy did a frantic tap-dance on the spot to avoid the crackling worms of light.
Where the blue lightning first touched, it congealed, changing shape and substance. It was electricity, then blue fire, jello, until it wasn’t any of those and it was a man, feet and legs and waist and torso and fingers, arms, neck, head, all snapping and growing out of the phone lines. He was naked, and gasped for breath, and struggled drunkenly to his feet.
“Where are we?” he said, and frantically made a motion for the door, which he missed, slamming straight into the wall instead and sliding down it to the ground as if his body wasn’t quite finished with whatever the hell kind of process had just un-dissolved it from lightning.
When it became apparent that the man was not going to rise any time soon, Foggy hesitantly moved towards him across the room. Thoughts whirred by—alien? Mutant? Whatever he was, he looked like he needed help. Foggy could do help.
As he reached out his hand, however, Matt said, “Don’t touch him. He smells like ozone.”
Foggy thought of all the blue lightning, crackling out of the phone lines and into a human shape, and reconsidered his approach with a quick retraction of his arm.
Slowly, the tremors beneath their feet faded. Whatever was happening to the world, it chose this moment to pause. Matt drew in a deep breath, and the tension in his shoulders eased, but Foggy noted that the way he paced could still classify as a prowl. Foggy looked back over at their would-be client Percy. The teen’s sword had disappeared, and he was twirling a cheap ballpoint pen in his hand instead.
“Okay,” Percy said with a certain amount of authority, “let’s figure out what’s going on.”
One glance at the messages on his phone and the notifications from live news, and Foggy quickly realized that the naked man who had teleported himself into the butcher shop was not a top priority.
Shakily, he gestured Percy over and they sat around an old card table their absent secretary and friend Karen usually used for her work. Matt found a blanket and tossed it over their KO’d guest. A snap-crackle-pop of blue lightning later, followed by a faint smell of burned wool but no apparent flame, and he left the stranger alone to join them.
Foggy held up his phone for Percy’s benefit. “So, emergency sirens went off all over the city—all over the country, looks like—because we no longer have contact with anything from Greenland east to Japan. News feeds, radio, air traffic control, internet sites—it’s like it all just shut down.”
“Just tech malfunctions?” Matt frowned. “That can’t be right. I heard—I felt—”
“I did too,” Percy said quickly, shooting Matt a look that Foggy thought was way too calculating for a sixteen-year-old. “Like rushing water, right?”
Matt blinked. “That’s…exactly what it was. How—are you—?”
Even in this day and age, Foggy figured, asking someone if they had superpowers was still awkward.
Percy shrugged, an uneasy slouch to his shoulders. “I can control water,” he said, eyes flickering to Foggy uncertainly. “You?”
“Heightened senses,” Matt said, with a calm face but his voice belying that he was stunned. Then, not missing a detail even in that state, “Wait, you did break the water mains.”
“Not important now!”
Percy had opened his mouth, but the voice wasn’t his. It wasn’t Matt’s. And it wasn’t Foggy’s. The voice had an English accent. The three looked at each other, and then as one turned around slowly in their chairs. Staggering into the room, one hand on the wall for support, was a man clutching close to his chest a woolen blanket with a red and black tartan pattern. He was of fairly average height and build, with messy brown hair in a state of static electric shock, and eyes that were such a bright and piercing shade of electric blue that they didn’t look quite human.
The man said, all in one breath, “So yeah I need clothes and someone to point me in the direction of an ATM, outdoor sports supplies, tinned goods, and somewhere I can pick up spray paint and stamps, and if you happen to see anything vaguely mystical slightly fucked up, you should probably get to high ground as soon as possible and I’m Matthew, by the way.” A pause. “Also, we want chips.”
Their mystery guest had awoken.
Chapter 2: Doomsday Prepper
Me? Updating twice in one week? It's more likely than you think.
Matthew Swift’s perspective is the only one I will be writing in first person, for the sake of clarity. Mainly because his inner monologue offers a unique perspective and opportunity for a different writing style.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
This had only happened to us once before, and we didn’t like it the first time either. There was exhilaration, the thrill and speed of being everywhere, life, light, fire, in a cacophony of spoken tongues and a million emotions poured like prayer upon us. Then, agony, the condensation of us into my mortal flesh.
We held our tongue, because this time it was by our choice.
Consciousness flickered back to me like an ancient computer being fed compressed air to convince it that its fan still worked, and I opened my eyes. There was a blanket, and voices discussing signs of the nearing doom.
I stumbled across the hall, legs still shaky from the journey, blood roaring in my ears because I was hyper-aware of my own heartbeat. Whatever these people were talking about, it wasn’t that important, and we told them so.
A pause to collect ourself, and I said, “So yeah I need clothes and someone to point me in the direction of an ATM, outdoor sports supplies, tinned goods, and somewhere I can pick up spray paint and stamps, and if you happen to see anything vaguely mystical slightly fucked up, you should probably get to high ground as soon as possible and I’m Matthew, by the way.” My stomach rumbled, and we gave this due consideration for a moment before adding, “Also, we want chips.”
Two men, and a young urban demigod. They stared at me, mouths gaping. The first to recover was the dark-haired man with several days’ growth of stubble on his chin and a well-fitting, if fairly cheap, suit. “Who are you?”
“Matthew,” I said, regaining steadiness in my legs enough to move forward into the room. “Now where do you keep your clothes?”
“What do you know about what’s going on in this city?” The man moved from his chair to block my path, and I huffed, annoyed. His voice was low, darkly authoritative.
“Jesus, Matt, we can let him put clothes on first,” said the other one, a pudgier fellow with a puppy face and golden retriever hair. “Sorry about him, uh, Matthew. Shit, that’s gonna get confusing.”
“My name’s Matthew. Matt,” said the dark-haired man, by way of answer to my raised eyebrow at the comment.
“Ah. Well. Don’t mind me, I don’t do nicknames.”
“I’m Foggy, and this is Percy,” the blond continued, gesturing at the kid. He got up to show me to a coat closet and yanked out a spare suit, shaking it off the hanger. We caught it without conscious thought when he threw it to me. I dressed clumsily beneath the curtain of the blanket.
“And a coat, please.”
“It’s summer. Trust me, you don’t want to go outside in too many layers.”
“And a coat.”
“Your funeral, buddy.”
A good, solid New Yorker raincoat, built for warmth and weather, with deep pockets. Yes, this would do.
There were, however, no extra shoes, so we did without for the time being. I stalked purposefully back over to the card table. The other Matthew was lying in wait.
“So. What do you know?”
“A fair bit, where it counts. I know that there is a rising tide sweeping across the world, and this half is next. I know London is gone, and there’s someone I need to save from it. I know that if you want to live, you’ll need at least one canoe and enough food and water to last as long as possible. And I know we’re cranky. Does that satisfy?”
“What do you mean, London’s gone?” Foggy asked.
I pointed at him, then Matt, then Percy, the kid. The demigod. “You. You. And you. Walk and talk. ATM?”
“Bank of America couple blocks over. I mean there is one outside the bodega closer, but it usually has a skimmer on it.”
“Doesn’t matter. Business card?”
That, Foggy had readily on hand, drawing one from his suit pocket. I glanced at it—
Nelson, Murdock, and Page
Attorneys at Law
Hells Kitchen, NY
—and nabbed a pen off the table, scribbling a series of numbers over it in blue ink. I walked out the front door, the others following hurriedly. My feet hit the concrete. We promptly yelped in pain. The sidewalk burnt, scalding our tender soles, and I set off at a run, hopping and skipping along the way.
The bodega ATM was good enough for me, given the circumstances. I fed the written-over business card into the slot with great confidence and maybe only one or two pleas to the city. The machine didn’t like it. It whirred and clicked and hissed at me, before finally giving up and accepting the mystical runes I had inscribed on the card with a reluctant clunk.
“What the—” Foggy began, catching his breath beside me on the street.
I ignored him and selected the option to withdraw a custom amount. Here I paused, thinking. Money was about to become obsolete, so I felt less guilty about plugging four digits and letting the machine scream about the injustice.
A massive stack of $100 bills neatly deposited itself into my waiting hand, each one crisp and perfect from lack of use. A receipt shot out of the dispenser, the paper soaked black with ink. The business card itself, however, did not resurface. Fine by me.
We made the executive decision to focus on the most important task first. “Chips,” we said.
“So when you say a flood, you mean like. Biblical proportions,” Foggy said.
We were sitting at a booth in a McDonald’s, scarfing down a Big Mac and large fries. My three new companions had not ordered anything, instead seizing the opportunity of my temporary rest to interrogate. Matt, we learned, was blind—a mortal possibility that still sent a shudder through our flesh to imagine happening to us—and had retrieved a collapsible red-and-white cane from an inside pocket of his suit.
“I didn’t stick around to see the worst of the damage,” I replied, “but yes. That’s why I emailed you my…I guess you could call it our own personal transport spell. Had to get away, warn someone else, start planning.”
“You emailed us?” Matt asked. “Were you sending those ones signed Sinclair? We reached out to a British lawyer about a client’s visa question.”
We snorted. “No, but we know the man. Not sure if he’s still alive now, though. We sent our message, the one we always send—we be life.”
“Who’s this ‘we’?” There was a hard note in Matt’s voice, his eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Do you work for someone?”
“Who do you—”
“Oh. No, it’s just us. Me. We are me.”
My answer stumped the two lawyers, but it wasn’t our fault no one seemed to understand that explanation. Besides, I didn’t feel like getting into my situation with a couple blokes who hadn’t picked up on the sorcerer part yet. The demigod was quiet, and very careful about avoiding eye contact. We didn’t try to push it. It was likely that if he looked, he would see us, and that was always risky.
I downed the last of the fries and leaped to my feet. Running out of time. “If I buy two canoes, can you three carry it back to your butcher shop place and put them on the roof?”
We had never been to New York, and I hadn’t been since my old teacher had sent me on a world tour to get a feel for the magic of different cities. We had also never been inside a Bass Pro Shop, but our first impression was: holy fuck the Americans like their weapons. I picked up a heavy duty multitool and a hunting knife, ignoring the locked cases of guns on display. Foggy, Matt, and Percy ran around the store collecting items on the list I rattled off to them. Matt, for a blind guy, had an uncannily sensitive nose for the best choices of rope and duct tape.
Percy swung around the corner of a taxidermy coyote pack display with fishing equipment. I wasn’t surprised. Magic infused his being, bringing with it a sense of
roar of waves on a stormy sea, like white noise on a television
creaking of a ship in harbor
earth rumbling at the bottom of the sea
horses whinnying in sea foam
and besides, there was the faint smell of the Thames at low tide whenever he came within range of our nose.
Eventually, all our supplies collected in bags, and a significant dent made in the money I had cajoled out of the ATM, I looked at the two canoes on the sidewalk. There was a great deal of swearing from the strangers having to part their tide around us, and no less honking from drivers stuck in traffic who thought it great entertainment.
“Well, good luck getting all that back. I’m going to stock up on food and water.”
“Wait, you can’t just—”
Afternoon was wearing on, sunset creeping closer. Almost out of time for the world. We breathed in the city’s magic, the magic of life churning, unstoppable. In the streets the endless beat of footsteps, to work to class to home never straying side-step around the beggar on the corner and pretend you didn’t see. The pigeons fluttering in nervous groups to avoid the eye of the peregrine falcon that makes her nest on the edge of a skyscraper where a thousand busy workers are sat at computers, and the electricity racing with all that power down into homes and stoplights and pulsing in our heart.
We breathed this in deeply, because we knew what it was like for so much life, so much magic, to disappear so fast it was like being thrown into arctic water. Almost out of time for the world. We walked, and listened closely for the telltale signs. In London, we had woken up because we nearly drowned.
In a different part of New York, Henry Morgan woke up because he actually drowned. Ordinarily, this should be impossible, but instead Henry found himself naked and afraid in the middle of the ocean, alive again as usual. It was quiet, and he was surrounded by dark water and a stunning quality to the night sky that he hadn’t seen in centuries, before smokestacks and electric light choked the stars out of the Milky Way.
Then he heard a noise behind him and turned to see one Detective Jo Martinez, heart-shaped face dazzling in the sun and hair pulled back into a ponytail, paddling a bright yellow canoe towards him across the ocean. It had a price tag dangling off the bow.
Ah. This was a dream, then.
She held up a duffel bag and slowed, turning the canoe sideways to help him in. “I brought clothes. They’re mostly dry. Before you ask, Abe made it out alive. He’s in his own canoe, but there was a big swell and we lost sight of each other.”
Henry heaved himself into the canoe with as much dignity as he could. He wasn’t as embarrassed as he would normally be. It was just a dream version of Jo, after all. She was even talking nonsense that made sense in the dream world. He dressed unhurriedly, pulling on a set of sweatpants and an old sweatshirt that Henry feared once belonged to Jo’s late husband.
“You should eat.”
The bottom of the canoe was weighed down with plastic water bottles and sealed bags and cans of food. “I think I shall decline. I’ll eat when I wake up,” Henry said politely.
Jo stared at him. Why did she keep making that pitying face with her eyes? “Henry. This isn’t a dream. This is real.”
Bear with me y'all the gang's almost all here, now we just have to land the space wizard monks.