“So you’re shipping out tomorrow?” Nicodemus Cashew, or Nic for short, asked. He was a police detective in Terminaburg, a long lived half-demon who dealt exclusively with the supernatural and occult incidents in the city. Naturally, this brought him into contact with a good deal of the city’s superheroes. Some were more willing to accept his help than others—being an official member of the police meant that the more violent vigilantes had to stay clear unless absolutely necessary—but he was an integral resource for the more legitimate superhero community.
“That I am, straight to the front. They need the morale boost.” Chaim sipped the cheap bourbon that the barman had generously offered on the house. “The fighting is fierce, and there are rumblings of something worse on the horizon. We’ve been dispatched to perform recon and possibly stop it.”
“I don’t envy you. The stuff going on here is crazy enough. Did you hear about the werewolf pack that the Nazis recruited? It was a mess.” Nic slumped at the bar, rubbing his forehead with his hands. His tattoos looked freshly healed, which meant he had “gone demon” recently. “Blood and guts everywhere. I mean, from the floor to the ceiling, and this was at a warehouse that didn’t have anything to do with meat. The new kid didn’t pull any punches.”
“And how is he faring?”
“Better than some, worse than others.” Terminaburg’s social elite had a chosen hereditary protector, a line unbroken since the city’s founding in 1699. They were called the Drifters. They were always a subject of fascination for the city. Chaim himself found the assertion that it was a family line suspect, but Nic said time and again that it was true, and he just had to believe.
In addition to his police work, Nic was the appointed mentor and partner of the individual who held the name Drifter. He had seen over a dozen in his time, and after the previous Drifter perished in World War I, he vowed that they would never again leave the city for such a cause. This had caused friction with the Federal Legion, who had obviously eyed Drifter as a man who well suited to the rigors of war.
“There’s too much risk involved. The bloodline is tenuous enough as it is. We don’t want to throw it into jeopardy because of some war on Earth.”
“I wouldn’t let other people hear you say that out loud, friend.”
“Let them. There are wars to be fought all over the damn place, including here. A city without its protector is just waiting to be overrun.” Nic finished his glass and signaled the bartender to pour another. As he did, Nic said, “Just leave the bottle.” The bartender did as he was asked.
They sat quietly for a few moments. Neither of them wanted to make eye contact with the other. Something felt uncertain.
Nic spoke up first. “I don’t want you to go. I know what’s happening over there.”
“I’m needed, Nic.”
“Is that it? Or are you looking for something else?”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s certainly a way to get away from this dump.”
Chaim placed his hand on Nic’s as discreetly as he could. “That’s not it at all.” He pulled away.
Nic slammed back another glass, and poured another. “I worry about you. You’re not super like those other guys. You’re just…you’re just a guy, Berk.”
“No one who takes on the mantle of hero is ‘just a guy’, Nic. You know that. You’ve seen me fight alongside you.”
Nic smiled weakly. “Yeah. I get it. There’s just, there’s just you and all of those super folks there. They’re aren’t small timers. These are the heavy hitters.”
“I was chosen for the whole of my abilities, and I would be a boost to morale.” Chaim spread his arms in a dramatic manner. “See? Even an ordinary man can make a difference and take the fight to the front lines!” He shouted in his best announcer voice.
The levity didn’t help Nic’s mood. “I don’t want to lose you.”