(Written with Chase).
A black cadillac sedan turned onto a road which wound up a lonely hill speckled with rocks and grass. The engulfing fog smothered the sound of the ties as they rolled along the damp pavement. On a clear day, the great city of San Francisco could be seen sprawling like an ocean into the distance, but the visibility was less than a mile on this particular morning.
An occasional drop of rain splattered onto the window of the sedan as it reached the crest of the hill where it came to a halt. After a few minutes, a man clad in a dark grey overcoat emerged from the car. He was tall and a dark cloud over his face indicated that he hadn't slept for days. He stood still for a few seconds and studied his surroundings. Some cars were parked along the roadway; apparently they belonged to tourists who had come to enjoy the vista. The man then walked across the road to where a railing was placed to ensure no one tumbled down the cliff that formed the side of the hill facing the city. Grabbing it with both hands, he peered down the steep slope. It was covered with dagger shaped rocks in between which patches of grass disguised the danger below. The man froze in that position; his face grim and his mind contemplating something. A few silent minutes passed before he finally left the railing, slowly walking towards the very top of the hill.
Not long ago, Chase Devineaux received a call from one of his former recruiters. A possible ally, selected nearly 7 years ago, has finally decided to join the agency. After reviewing this man's file and deciding that recent events meant ACME needed more hands, the Field Director of Special Operations came to see Bran Brychanson for himself.
Devineaux, in a heavy calfskin coat stood contemplating at the hilltop. He liked the rain, he didn't so much enjoy the wait, but rain calmed him. To pass time, he studied the hazed cityscape and imagined the kind of people that lived here. Hearing footsteps, Chase turned, and gauged the approaching figure systematically. The man looked like he came from wealth, but he hasn't been well. His hair indicated a lack of sleep, lack of self worth, or maybe both. Each step he mustered looked forced in a pair of worn leather loafers.
The Director second guessed the recruiter's recommendation and almost walked away, when he noted a sense of determination on the man's brows.
Bran reached the top of the hill and surveyed the small group of people. There were a few couples and one family, but a man, standing near the edge of the hill, immediately caught his attention. Chase Devineaux. The Field Director's willingness to meet surprised Bran. Bran's request, wishing to accept a seven year old offer presented by a now retired agent, had certainly been a unique one. But his appeal had been answered, and the Field Director had agreed to this meeting. Still, Bran wondered whether Devineaux understood who he really was or what his past contained.
Casting these questions from his mind, he strode over to where the Field Director stood. "Mr. Devineaux". He extended his hand in greeting. "Thank you for taking the time to see me".
With confidence, Chase took the man's offered hand with a smile, "Chase," he prompted to create a more informal air, "It's my pleasure, I've heard a decent amount about you."
Devineaux's handshake was strong and firm. It conveyed a sense of power and leadership.
Straightening, Bran gazed out into the mist for a quick moment before turning his attention back to the other man."Then, of course, you know where I've been and where I hope to find myself. Please call me Bran".
"Our mutual friend tells me you're interested in helping us," Devineaux referred to the retired Michael Feller.
"I do wish to join you, if you'll have me. My past is checkered, to say the least. When Feller offered me a chance, I soundly rejected it. I left this world to find solace deep within my own thoughts. I did not leave the grounds of Min y Coed for seven years after that day". A slight, haggard smile came to Bran's face. "But hiding from oneself is never a sound strategy. I wish to do good for the world, but this time I will do it the right way".
Listening to Bran and the way he moved when he spoke gave Chase insight into this man's intentions. Like the slight smile that came to his face, something was inside him waiting to be accepted, or maybe; forgiven. People usually gravitated to ACME because it was, in its own way, a group of vigilantes. Unregulated by a government, the agency established a good standing worldwide that it was a new, uncorrupted standard in law enforcement. Ironically, its popularity rose along with the notoriety of a certain international thief.
In Brychanson's case, the idea of ACME was granted a while ago by an insightful recruiter. It looked, to the Field Director, that Bran might have spent the past several years preparing himself for this.
In reply, Chase nodded, agreeing with Bran's statement on wanting to do good for the world 'the right way', "Michael also said you were an inventor?"
Reaching into his overcoat, Bran pulled out a small box. "I didn't entirely waste my time those seven years." He handed the box to Chase. "You might find this useful someday. It's just an example of my work. A glimpse of what could be".
Two rings were in the box along with handwritten notes on their functions. They looked like prototypes, almost directly out of science fiction.
Bran watched Chase closely as he opened the box. "You place the black one on your ring finger and the silver one on your thumb. The science behind this is all very complex and ambiguous, but, to force twenty pages of notes into a few sentences, the molecules in the rings interact with molecules in your hand and the muscles in your forearm creating a localized energy field akin to a magnetic field. This energy field attracts any type of object to your hand, and the field's focus is fine enough, within eight meters, to allow the wearer to control what is attracted. Open your hand to initiate the energy field; close your hand to terminate it. The attraction is also powerful enough to allow the wearer to scale objects, such as buildings and cliffs". Bran smiled slightly as Chase picked up the rings. "It has many uses. And, in the future, I hope to expand on its capabilities".
Chase placed the rings as instructed on his fourth finger and thumb. They didn't quite fit, but he felt a slight vibration signalling that they were ready for operation. Looking for a small object, he picked a nearby stone and opened his palms to 'pull it' towards him. The stone moved with little protest, and as it gained momentum, ACME's Field Director closed his hand into a fist. The stone, still affected by the energy field, flew to Devineaux's right and ended its arc near his foot.
The American chuckled, as he often did when he was impressed, "That's... something," he commented as he twisted the rings off and placed them back into the box.
"You'd be an invaluable consultant for ACME labs in San Francisco," Chase knew where to place people, and a consulting position was suitable for a man who would need to come and go as he pleased, "How soon can you start?"
The corners of Bran's lips raised in a pleased smile as he viewed the Field Director's reaction. "I would be honored to begin as soon as possible".
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