The hinges creaked under the lazy swing of the door. The sergeant stepped inside with steps as heavy as his grimace. From his hand he dropped a file and let it slap the table. In his other hand was a styrofoam cup, contents still steaming, which he placed in front of the other man.
“Thought you might fancy a cuppa,” the cop muttered.
True Blue reached with hands cuffed and brought the contents to his lips. “Cheers,” he said. The old hero eased back in the loose fitting tee he’d been given; a temporary replacement for the shirt shredded by buckshot.
A younger officer sat to one side as the senior perused the file. His lips smacked as though he were tasting the words as he read them, until he stopped and lowered his glasses to the man across him.
“Couldn’t help yourself, could you, Dunc?”
True Blue chuckled. “I’m guessing this isn’t a formal interview, Col.”
“We’ll have time for that once you’ve given a statement,” the copper said; “but as things stand we’ve got a truck full of blokes saying that a drunk superhuman put them through the ringer.”
“That’s a stretch,” Blue told him. “Two beers in the late afternoon, bloody hours ago. I was sobre by the time it all went down.”
“All the same their lawyer is going to argue you were under the influence at the time of the incident.”
The hero said nothing.
“Do you know who these blokes were?” the senior sergeant pressed.
“Yeah, I do-”
“Miners,” the cop continued; “and not just any miners. These fellas work for Regina Stone. Independent contractors, non-union.”
True Blue huffed. “It doesn’t matter, Col-”
“They work out west, Dunc. You know how it is; she’s old money, hands in the pocket of every politician, and away from the city the more she and her people become the law. You picked a hell of a battle.”
“I don’t care who it is,” the hero said. “You’ve got a bunch of drongos come into my town thinking they can put some blokes down because they’re poor or they have a different colour of skin. It’s not on; not if I have anything to say about it.”
“Yeah, Duncan, I know. Trust me, I know.”
Suddenly there was a knock at the door. A younger woman poked her head inside; she appeared flushed and out of her depth. “Excuse me, sergeant, there are some people here to see you. They say it’s important.”
The old cop glanced between True Blue and his subordinate, sighing as he stood. “I’m sure it is. You stay here,” he said to the hero, “and don’t break those cuffs. They’re titanium and cost a pretty penny.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Blue grinned.
The officers left, leaving the hero was alone with the table, his tea, and his reflection in the one way mirror. He considered himself; hair a mess, beard in need of another trim, and fingers like dry bark scraping against everything he touched. When did he get so old?
After several minutes the door opened again, though it wasn’t the sergeant who stepped through it. Instead there was a younger man dressed in black; his tight garb was padded with body armor save for his arms, and his hair was clipped short. He looked to the old man and grinned from ear to ear.
“It’s really you,” he said.
“Well I’m not the Queen,” the hero replied. “Can I help you, son?”
Another voice chimed from the hall. “Cut the kid a break, Blue. It’s not every day you meet a living legend.”
True Blue leaned back in his chair. “Stone the bloody crows…”
The woman closed the door and sat in the sergeant’s chair. She leaned forward and pulled the creases in her face tight as she smiled. Salt and pepper hair hung over her brow, and she wore a similar uniform to her partner.
“This fella here is Michael Banjory,” she lamented. “Former SAS turned independent, doing contract work for ASIO, the Federal Police and the Ministry of Defence. Kids call him ‘Boomerang’, and I’ve got to tell you, you’ve never seen anyone throw like him.”
Michael blushed and buried his thumbs in his belt. “Yeah, I’m pretty good at my job.”
True Blue lowered his gaze. “You superhuman?”
The young man shook his head. “No, sir.”
“Then you’ve got skill,” he observed. His attention immediately fell back to the senior of the pair. “What do you want, Tracy?”
She tossed a key onto the table and hummed. “We’ve got a job for you. Something to which you’re especially suited.”
“Can’t you see I’m busy?” the hero huffed. “Call me when I get out of lock up.”
Her expression turned. “Lock up can wait, Blue. You’re being drafted. National security is at stake. Nothing grey about this one. If we don’t get your help people are going to die.”
The hero paused. “You better not just be talking about soldiers.”
Tracy shook her head. “No.”
“Because if we were talking about soldiers taking over which-whatever-stan we’re scapegoating this year you know I’m not interested,” he continued. “I need you to tell me we’re talking about bystanders who didn’t sign up for any of this, or else you can get stuffed, the lot of you.”
“That’s pretty much the heads and tails of it,” she said. “Innocent people need you, Blue. We need you.”
True Blue stood and flexed his arms. With a tug his shackles snapped and fell to the floor, giving the old man room to rotate his arms. He grimaced at the agents across from him and huffed.
“Well what the bloody hell are we waiting for?”
To be continued…