Mesmer ruled as a supervillain, but must exchange cowl for cape to avoid execution. Conscripted by a superhero team whose virtuous personas shine on Federal News, she learns the disturbing secrets hidden behind their masks. As Mesmer struggles against her villainous impulses and the heroes’ dark motives for recruiting her, she realizes: good is relative. But leaving the world to her deceitful keepers? That’s evil.
Most people ignored the subtle piercings in civilization’s skin: manhole covers and fire escapes, catacombs and air vents. Their oversight made these illicit entryways easier to penetrate. After all, Mesmer wasn’t welcome through the front. She wasn’t welcome at all.
In a night-darkened alley, air stagnant despite spring’s last gasps, a manhole cover rose from its inset. One hand, then another, pressed to the pavement, and Mesmer pulled herself up through the puncture. Straightening to her considerable height, she flicked something slimy and unspeakable from her zipper-heavy ensemble and smiled, inhaling the pungent scent from the refuse of the restaurant bordering the alley.
A trio of Secret Service agents burst predictably from the kitchen door, guns leveled. Her kick that sent the weapon spinning from the nearest man’s grasp was practically a love tap, albeit one delivered with panache. Mesmer recovered smoothly, using momentum to snap her arm forward and wrap long fingers around the man’s throat.
He gurgled. Struggled.
Stopped at her command.
She spun the enthralled man to present a shield against his cohorts, her fingers still pressed against his skin, savoring the fragile pulse beneath his stubbled jawline. Mesmer smiled as the second agent, a square-jawed monolith of a man, averted his weapon and not his eyes. Agents were trained to look away from her, but they never did. Hired muscle was unreliable; her mind ruled their matter. Her mind ruled everything.