The Minutemen
    

            Dazzling red, brilliant white and electric blue burst over and around the 555 foot obelisk bringing gasps or wonder from thousands of upturned faces.  All but drowned out by the noise of the crowd, the thumping mortars fired their charges out over the Reflecting Pool in perfect sequence to create a spectacular display of pyrotechnic glory.  With the sun’s setting, the day’s heat drained away slowly providing slight relief.  The length of the Mall the air seemed suspended, trapping the smoke of the rockets and aroma of hamburgers sizzling on grills.

            The Capital Police were out in force, mounted on horses or bicycles or old fashion shoe leather but the day had been quiet.  Well, as quiet as tens of thousands of partying people can be.  Other than the occasional pick pocket or drunken altercation, it was turning out to be a great Fourth of July.

            Officer Raymond Handel rested on the seat of his bicycle sucking on the water bottle when a sound he hadn’t heard in five years caught his attention.  Looking up at the display he cocked an ear, it wasn’t coming from the direction of the fireworks.  Dropping the bottle he pushed off toward the Washington Monument.

            “Hey, where ya goin’?” he partner called but Handel ignored him.

            He pulled the small mic clipped to his shirt collar free and thumbed the transmit button.

            “This is one-eight, I think we’ve got an incoming artillery shell.”

            “Yeah, like a hundred of them …”

            A third of the way up the structure, just where the color changed, the ‘artillery shell’ struck.  Officer Handel nearly vaulted over the front tire as he clamped on the brakes to stare in horror as three hundred feet of marble toppled onto the crowded lawn between the Monument and 15th Street.  Through the chaos of catastrophe, when everyone else had gone into panic mode, Ray Handel slipped into combat mode.

            Just before the Monument hit the ground, Ray saw a figure riding the structure down like a surfer on the chest of a wave.  At the last possible instant, that figure had leapt from the marble to land in a crouch amongst the devastation.  Dressed in a black body suit that reminded Ray of a wet suit, the man, of that he had no doubt, appeared to evaluate the scene for a long moment before sighting an approaching patrol car.

            As if triggered, he began to move, not away from the car but straight for it.  The driver jammed on the brakes as the figure closed the distance at an incredible rate.  There was no hope for it and the man lowered a shoulder just as the car hit him, or rather he hit it.  The man caught the patrol car by the reinforced bumper and heaved the front end into the air high enough that it complete over 180 degrees of rotation before the top of the hood smashed into the ground.

            Ray was rolling even as the windshield burst and the car rocked back on its top.  Without conscious thought his service-issued Glock 22 was in his hand and it was only the silence of his bicycle that allowed him to close the distance without being perceived.  Even as he opened his mouth to issue the standard challenge, the man in black stepped up to the patrol car and ripped the driver’s door off without effort and yanked out the officer.  He drew back his fist and Ray had no doubt what he had to do.

            Two rounds struck the man in the back, right between the shoulder blades.  He should have gone down … he should have been dead.  Instead he whirled and threw the man he held by the throat at Ray.  The impact bowled him over and the pair landed in a tangle with the bike.  By the time Officer Handel extracted himself, the man in black was gone.

            Raymond Handel was the only police officer that day that could definitely say he had hit the mark.

  

             Nine hours later at the White House.

             “Tell me why, Don,” the  President said, his slight Texas accent more pronounced with by his anger. “We are the most powerful nation on Earth and yet we don’t have a single Government sponsored meta-human in the field?”

            The Secretary of Defense opened his mouth to speak but his boss cut him off.

            “I want a program instituted immediately!” George W. Bush commanded.  “Have a plan on my desk by the end of next week!”

            “Yes, sir,” Secretary Rumfeld said.  He turned on his toe and stalked out of the Oval Office determined to keep the anger from his face.  “Next week, sir!”

 

            The following week the Commander-in-Chief stood staring out across the Rose Garden as his Secretary of Defense outlined plans to form a cadre of meta-human.“Our studies have concluded the best course would be to recruit young meta-humans and provide them with training in a boarding school type environment,” the Secretary offered.  “We have already located a site and begun investigations into possible members.”

            “What are you going to call this group,” the Man asked without turning around.
           “Minutemen has been suggested.”

            The President turned.  “I like it,” he said.  “How soon can we expect to field our first team?”

            “Based on our target age group, we cannot expect a fully active team for at least two years.”

            “And the number of teams proposed?”

            “The target figure is four within ten years,” the Secretary replied.  "We are aiming to teams of six to ten."

            “I assume you want them to fall under your Department?” The Man said.

            “Yes, sir,” the Secretary nodded.

            “No,” the Man turned back to the window.  “I don't want another bitching because we are using the military on home turf.  ”Get Ashcroft in here, we need to put them under the Marshal Service.  Give us more freedom to operate."

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