"Ace," said a distant voice. "Ace."
My head was full of fluff and cotton. I felt drugged and dragged.
"Ace," the voice repeated.
"Leave me alone, John." I slapped at the voice like I was trying to turn off an alarm clock.
Sighing with surrender, I forced open my eyes. "You...are not him."
The man before me looked like a slightly older version of me. He had the same black hair as me, but some gray around the temples. His face sported a couple scars but the medium length beard covered most of that up. His smile seemed to light up the room. "That seems obvious, Son."
"Son?" I said in a daze. "Dad?"
"That's my name." He put a hand on his hip and used his other to stroke his beard. "Technically it's Samuel, but let's not get hooked up on technicalities."
"Dad!" I sat up faster than a bolt of lightning and embraced him a great, big hug. All my fears and worries melted away in that hug. I felt like a little kid again.
He laughed, a jolly almost Santa Claus-like, laugh. "Nice to see you too." I hugged him tighter. "Teenagers are so weird," he groaned in response to the "death-hug." After a couple more seconds, he said, "I'm running out of air."
I finally let go, but it wasn't easy. I feared that he would vanish like a dream if I let go. "But-but what are you doig here?" A quick glance around the room told me I was no longer in the cabin Glen and I shared. I was in my room. I was home.
Could Watermark have finally kept his word and found my father?
"You overslept and today is an important day." He stood taller and his eyes shined with pride. "Today's the day you and the other heroes of tomorrow graduate from Trans-High and join the International League of Super-Transbeings." His smile got bigger. "I'm so glad you decided to follow in my footsteps and use your powers to protect the innocent."
"What about E Ops?"
His face bunched up in confusion. "That old agency?" His expression, for a moment, changed to concern. "How'd you find out about them?" He then shifted back to his jolly self. "Thanks to the work Emil and I did, E Ops was repurposed as PAWS. A lot of house cleaning was done back in those days." He sighed for a moment. "Some of the agents were corrupt. They tortured or imprisoned transbeings. The worst was John Watermark."
Dad's head shook slowly. (Kind of odd that he didn't connect me calling him "John" and then him talking about John Watermark.) Dad seemed frozen for a moment like he was searching through files of acceptable responses. He then became excited again. "In the 18 years since Emil and I uncovered the mystery of Neo-Geo, humanity has changed greatly. Now we don't have to fear the Prophecy of 2012. Or even the Xacians."
"The Prophecy? The Xacians?" Those aliens responsible for creating the transbeing race?
"We destroyed their empire. Dingo and his followers have been vanquished." I half expected trumpets to play as Dad put his hands on his hips and striked a pose. After another awkward pause, he placed his hand on my face. "All you need to worry about is becoming the best hero you can." He raised a fist into the air. Now I was sure I heard some kind of cheesy, heroic music playing. "One day, you will join me. And together we will protect the galaxy as father and son." He turned back to me. "But first, you better get downstairs for breakfast." Dad then dashed out of the room with a "love ya, son."
Aside from the creepy Star Wars reference, things seemed pretty great. I went to the window and swooshed open the curtains. A bright and sunny day beamed into my room. My clothes were clean and wrinkle free, unlike the normal dirt-caked clothes from Neo-Geo. And even though the day was sunny, it didn't have the oppressive heat that Neo-Geo provides.
Our street was busy with the movings and socializing of the neighborhood. People waved, cars passed, kids headed for the bus and tried to exchanged carrots or candy, and Mr. Watson mowed his lawn. I opened the window and let the sounds of birds drift in. I took a deep breath and exhaled sweet bliss. It seemed like ages since I'd last listened to the birds or watched the lazy, puffy clouds drift by.
"Ace," came the soft voice of my mother. "Your eggs are getting cold."
I could almost taste her fluffy scrambled eggs as I practically hopped down the stairs.
What happens next? You'll have to wait and see when "Homecooked" continues...
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Until the next wormhole...
End of Transmission.
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Side Quests (The Life of Ace Journeyman)Adventure
Ace Journeyman arrives at Neo-Geo thinking his internship is going to be boring. Instead of rocks, he uncovers a mystery involving the disappearance of his father and a secret agency that polices those with supernatural powers. He learns that he has...