Northern Might/The Origins of a Stalwart Soul

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It is said that the events in one's history will help to shape how that person acts later in life. The following pieces of Alexandra Sommer's history are the foundations to the hero Northern Might.

This story was originally posted on the Silver Guard Silver Storybook forum.


The Origins of a Stalwart Soul

Responsible (March 1988)

“Why is it that ordinary families have the worst things happen to them?” the man murmurs, glancing up the street at the neat row of houses.

The residential area was quiet, which wasn’t surprising considering it was dinnertime. Students had fled the elementary school at the end of the block hours ago, seemingly mere minutes after the final bell of the day had rung. The sidewalks were kept clean in this part of town and the displaced snow formed larger mounds on the front lawns and curbsides.

“I wish I could tell ya, Mac,” the man’s sandy-haired partner replies. “I really wish I could. Breaks your heart when kids are involved too. Just another day for ‘em until a pair of cops show up on the doorstep.” A wry grimace passes over his features as he pulls into the driveway and turns off the engine. “Who do ya think’s goin’ farther this year, Sens or Leafs?” He asks, nodding at the rear windshield of the Windstar where the two hockey team decals are pasted on in opposing corners. “But we can save that for later. No point in dragging this out any more than we have to.”

With a soft sigh, Mac nods his agreement and gets out of the car. Both his and his partner’s breaths plume out in the brisk winter air as they approach the front door. Mac raises his hand to knock on the stormdoor but moves to press the doorbell when he notices it.

Moments later a man’s muffled voice can be heard outside. “Alex! Could you answer the door please?”

“Yeah! Gimme a sec!” This voice is higher pitched and accompanied by the heavy thud-thud-thud of feet going down the stairs. A final heavier thump is heard near the entrance before interior door is opened. “Can I help you?” the young girl asks. Her brown eyes take in the pair of police officers standing on the front stoop and her eyebrows draw together.

“Is your dad available?” Mac inquires, knowing that his partner was uncomfortable around kids. He, on the other hand, had a rather large family with what seemed like dozens of cousins of all ages. Being one of the oldest also meant that he got tagged to watch the younger kids at family get-togethers.

“Can I ask what it’s about? He didn’t break the speed limit last week getting to my game, did he?” Alex replies as she hooks a loosened strand of hair behind her ear.

“Nothing of the sort, young lady,” Jack, Mac’s partner, gruffly responds. “But we really do need to speak to your father. Could we come inside? It’s a bit of a serious matter.”

The young girl nods, nudging the large blue and white hockey bag, emblazoned with a faded ‘Timbits Hockey’, out of the way before stepping back. “I’ll go get him.” She disappears down the hall towards the kitchen.

“Alex, who is it? We don’t have a lot of time before we need to head out to meet Mom at the arena. We need to eat and load up the van. Your equipment’s ready, right?” Alex’s father steps out of the kitchen, wiping his hands with a tea towel, before the girl gets to the room. “Officers? What’s this about?”

“Mr. Lucas Sommers?” Jack asks with a respectful nod. “I have some bad news, sir. Your wife was in an accident on her way home from the office.”

At the mention of ‘accident’ and ‘wife’ in the same sentence, Lucas slowly starts to lose colour in his face. “She… she’s at the hospital, right? In surgery?” He starts to tap his thigh with the towel.

“No, sir,” Mac answers, his blue eyes sad and giving a silent apology for the words he’s about to say. “Samantha Rebecca Sommers died as a result of a three-car crash on the Gardiner Expressway. A tractor-trailer jack-knifed three hours ago. The response teams were able to extract her from her vehicle using the Jaws of Life, but she passed away en route to the hospital.”

Jack moved down the hall to catch Lucas’ elbow as his knees slowly gave way. “Come on, son, let’s get you a chair.” The senior officer nudged the devastated man back into the kitchen, his voice fading away to murmurs as they moved farther from the door.

Mac glanced at Alex, who had pressed herself against the wall at the news. “Alexandra, right? Want to sit on the stairs and talk for a bit? I think your father is going to be speaking with my partner for a while.”

“No one calls me Alexandra, ‘cept my parents when I’m in trouble,” the girl answers distractedly, shaking her head slowly as her eyes misted with unshed tears. “Let me call Coach. Tell him I can’t get to the game tonight. Gotta be responsible right?” The last word is said with a broken hiccup as the girl turns into the room to reach for the phone.

Mac helps himself to a stair to sit on, pulling off his gloves to stare broodingly at the bulging hockey bag while he waited for Alex to return. His job definitely sucked some days.

Friendship (December 2002)

Fourteen years later

“Aaaargh! I can’t string two thoughts together anymore!” the frustrated young woman vents as she tosses a ball of paper to the floor. Considering the small mountain that is forming as a result, she has been at her task for a while. “I swear, it’s a freakin’ conspiracy, Alex. Remind me why I got into Poli Sci again?”

“Couldn’t tell ya,” Alexandra cheerfully replies as she enters the common area of the apartment and flops into an armchair. “But let me guess -- hit another roadblock? You need to take breaks every once in a while, Col.” She props her stocking feet on the table, just ‘happening’ to rest her heels in the middle of a textbook.

Colleen scowls at the snowflake pattern on the soles of her roommate’s socks. “I paced myself throughout the entire semester to avoid this entirely. Yet I still have three essay-style exams coming up in a few days and the crap I’m churning out isn’t helping any.” The phone begins to ring, which earns it a green-eyed glare as well.

Alex simply chuckles as she reaches for the phone. “What you need, my friend, is a something that doesn’t involve fancy English or politics. Hello?” The latter is said into the handset. The speaker on the other end of the line doesn’t speak for long before the conversation comes to a close. “We’ll be there. See you in an hour, Grace.”

“Grace? From the hockey team?” Colleen stretches out to flick a few textbooks shut. “Don’t tell me someone broke a leg tobogganing. We can’t afford even another sniffle if we want to keep our varsity points up.”

“Relax, Captain. More like she was calling everyone on the team for a pick-up game at the campus rink. She claims she’s going stir-crazy with all her studying and needs a solid workout to air out her brain,” Alex answers, standing to nudge Colleen’s thigh with a toe. “C’mon and get changed into something you can play hockey in. I’ll load the car with our bags.”

“Yeah, yeah,” the green-eyed petite woman grumbles as she hauls herself upright. “Hey, do we have enough food for three tonight? Jason wanted to swing by and hang out later on.”

The taller woman shrugs into her coat and hefts one of the two equipment bags. “I don’t see why not. What’s a little more pasta in the water? Unless you wanted to do something more ooh-ahh to show off for him. ‘Cause if that’s the case, you can play chef tonight. Right now my brain starts processing the BOD and COD if I look at tap water, so I’m not much for eating tonight. Reviewing wastewater treatments does that to an appetite,” Alex comments dryly. “But look on the bright side. In six months you’ll be waltzing down the hallways of Queen’s Park while I’m freezing my ass off on the coast of Hudson Bay. The best part? No more exams, only the applied stuff. But back to the here and now, so suit up and let’s burn up the ice.”

Decisions (June 2003)

Eighteen months later

“Hey, Sommers! Phone is free for ya,” a male voice shouts out to the darkening night.

“Thanks, Jake,” Alex responds in a normal voice, her boots crunching over the frosted ground as she approaches the low building. “Have you had enough, now? You better be on good behaviour while I’m talking to Colleen or you’re going to regret it.”

A faint whine is the response to the young woman’s question.

Alex sighs, shrugging off her coat and adding it to the row of jackets by the door. “I swear I’m a sucker. You’ll give me that soulful look and I’ll be putty in your hands. When did mind reading become part of a dog’s life skills? Now sit. And behave.”

The mostly-Husky-with-a-hint-of-mutt flops down with a pleased wuff and curls himself into a decent imitation of an oval rug.

“King of beggars is what you are,” Alex says to her canine companion with a chuckle. She dials a long series of numbers to start the call to her best friend before taking a seat on the nearby stool. “The only reason you’re still around is to help keep me warm at night.”

“Let me write this day down in history,” Colleen’s amused voice comes over the phone lines. “Alexandra Sommers is sharing a bed. Spill the details, Alex. Is he – or she, who knows? – at least good looking? I figure the pickings are slim up there but minor miracles have been known to happen.”

“Oh, ha ha. I was talking to King and you know it, Col. Toronto must be pretty dull if the topic of my love life has come up,” Alex replies with a roll of her eyes. “I would’ve thought the elections would still keep you hopping, or have you whipped the politicians into shape for the new session?” She manages to hear a faint groan from that line of questioning.

“Please, don’t remind me. I turned off my brain when I got on the TTC and it’s not going active again until tomorrow morning at the earliest. Speaking of jobs, what’s happening with the internship? Are you staying on for another six months or heading home?”

The brown-haired woman stretches her legs out in front of her, lightly propping a single foot on King’s rump. “Actually I volunteered for some testing through a minor branch of the military. We got word of it up here during a supply run. While I’m sure your reaction will be similar to my Dad’s, it gives me something to do and feel like I’m contributing to something. I like what I’ve been doing since graduating but it seems like... I’m spinning my wheels in the dirt. At any rate, I report to the bunker down the road tomorrow afternoon.”

Something Colleen mutters has Alex grinning. “Yeah, yeah, Mom. Geez, you need to let your hair down once in a while. But I’ll let you go for now so you can get some beauty sleep and regenerate some brain cells for work tomorrow. Talk to you next week, Col, and don’t forget to take care of yourself too.”

She hangs up the phone and gives her dog a thoughtful look. “Why does everyone think I’ve lost my marbles? Sheesh. C’mon, you, we better turn in as well. And could you stop stealing the covers by daybreak? You’re the one with fur – I happen to like not freezing, thanks.” With that companionable grumbling, the Husky gives himself a shake before trailing after his mistress.

Realization (June 2004)

One year later

King whines at the door, giving Alex a pathetic look over his shoulder -- even for him, it was impressively pitiable.

“All right, all right, I’m coming,” the young woman grumbles good naturedly to the dog. “Give me five minutes to check if Kevin needs anything from the town. Fetch my backpack will you?” The Husky woofs in agreement and trots down the hallway, presumably to Alex’s personal area.

“I heard my name. Should I be worried?” A gangly young man pokes his head out of a nearby room. “Oh, heading out already. I could use some tea and hard candies from the store if you’re heading right into town. If not, don’t worry about it. I’m not into desperate withdrawal quite yet.”

“You’re a sugar addict, Kev. I don’t know where you store all that energy without bouncing off the walls,” Alex replies with a shake of her head. “I’m going stir-crazy from two days of being stuck inside. I’ll be gone for a number of hours though, so don’t get too worried unless it’s past sundown and I haven’t returned. I need a good long hike to get all these kinks out. Add to that clearing my mind from the tests as well as the poking and prodding you and the others insist on doing.”

“Whine, whine, whine. You’re starting to sound like your dog, Alex. You’re the one that volunteered for these experiments. How else can we tell if the trials are having any effect on you?”

The woman sighs, shaking her head as she pulls her long hair back into a braid. “I know. But if I don’t bitch and complain, you might think something happened to my brain as well.” The last is said with a definite teasing tone and a faint sneer. She turns towards the door as King trots back with the backpack’s short handle clamped between his jaws. “Anyhow, later.”

Alex shrugs on the red backpack, gives her dog a sharp whistle, and pulls the door closed behind her. “Want to run, King?”


“Another year and we’ll be wandering around again, King,” Alex muses, sitting against a broad tree trunk and stares at the toes of her scruffy hiking boots. “I’m not entirely sure what’s down the road. If Kevin’s work does produce results, do you think the military is really going to let me just walk away? And don’t look at me like that. Sure, it’s my body, but I can’t exactly tell what’s going on at a cellular level. Is my skin getting tougher? It seems like it. I haven’t thought about tapping into the more physical aspect.”

King sneezes to dislodge a particularly pesky deer fly. With a huff of annoyance, he gets to his feet to nose about the nearby vegetation. The sound of the occasional snapping twig can be heard farther down the trail from where the pair are taking a rest break.

“You’re a big help. Can you just imagine this at full-strength? Oops, there goes another dozen glasses. So sorry, you mean you didn’t want an open airway to the outdoors?” the young woman sighs, shaking her head. “And there’s the reason I went and got myself metal plates and cups. What’s another ding or dent in those suckers.”

The sudden cacophony of breaking branches, pounding hooves, and revving diesel engines breaks the silence of the forest. “King, hide. Now,” Alex orders as she gets to her feet herself to watch whatever’s coming. She knew moose wandered the area at this time of year. Hunters were practically non-existent as it was too early for the hunting season.

Moments later a moose calf came stumbling down the wide path. It was being chased by a man on an ATV, who was waving a gun around like a maniac. The roar of a second engine indicated there was another poacher nearby as well.

“Bunch of goddamned idiots that need to prove they have a dick,” Alex snarls as she stoops down to pick up a fallen branch. “Why the hell do males need to hunt down the helpless to prove their manliness?”

The calf runs by, its eyes wheeling in fear and snorting like the hounds of Hades were on its tail. Or in this case, a four-wheeled menace on its tail.

“Whut the fuhhhh—“ is all the poacher is able to say before he’s sent head over handlebars. The large fallen branch was jammed directly into the path of the off-road bike, causing it to fall to its side from the sudden obstruction.

“First Law of Motion, asshole,” Alex growls as she reaches over the flipped ATV to turn the ignition off. “Second statement: ’an object will remain in motion unless acted upon by an external and unbalanced force’. Isn’t it your lucky day that I’m that force?”

“Uhhh...” is the only response the stunned man is able to make.

“Yuh really shouldn’t’ve done that, lady.” The sound of a second male voice has Alex cursing under her breath as she turns towards him. She had tuned out the sounds of the other vehicle after focusing on the first poacher.

“I dun know how yuh did that neither, but Jack better be okay or yer gonna regret it,” the other man continues, gesturing at the replanted trunk with his own rifle. “Or mebbe I’ll just git it over with now an’ t’ hell with th’ consequences. Whut’s one more body, ‘cept it’s got two legs t’ start? Yuh know how bigga hole I kin put in yuh with this gun at this range?” He continues to stare at the six-inch diameter sapling. Other than being stripped bare and leaning a slight angle, the small tree looked like it was there all along.

“No, I don’t,” Alex replies almost sweetly. “You’re welcome to try if you’d like.” She watches as a line of sweat dribbles down the side of his face and he raises a forearm to swipe it away, all the while moving closer to his position.

“Git that wolf away from Jack!” the poacher suddenly exclaims as he shifts to get a line of sight on King before firing his weapon.

“King, down!” Alex shouts as she moves into the path of the bullet. Not feeling any sudden, searing pain, the woman figures the man is too nervous to take proper aim as she moves in to get a hold of him.

“Whut in th’ hell are yuh?” he says, attempting to scramble free from the machine. He’s only able to escape a few feet before he’s thrown up against a tree. The poacher couldn’t get another word out edgewise – he’s too busy trying to draw a full breath as his fingers scuttle against the hand pinning him in place.

“I’m your bad day,” Alex replies with a fierce grin. “King, fetch the backpack. Time to practice those sailing knots from years ago.”


“You say he overshot, miss?” the RCMP constable questioned Alex as his partner took photographs of the scene two hours later. “And you’re certain of that.”

“That’s right. He somehow mistook King, my dog, for a wolf. Obviously he didn’t have many brain cells left upstairs if he thought that. King might be the right colour, but the patterning is all wrong and so is his size,” Alex answered with a shrug. She was leaning against one of the many trees with her hands between the trunk and her hips.

“These are experienced poachers. There’s a corpse of a cow moose in the trailer of the second ATV,” the constable remarks, nodding his head at her abdomen. “Could you explain the bullet hole in your shirt then, please?”

“The what?” she cries out, looking down at her stomach. “Well crap. I guess he didn’t miss then.” The young woman reaches down to pull the damaged shirt up to expose her abdomen. A faint red spot is the only mark there.

“And you say you’re with the group out over the hill, yes? I’ll need to speak to your team’s leader for my records. I’ve heard some whispers ‘bout what’s going on over there. Some of ‘em are bizarre, but if you took a belly shot and are still standing alive hours later, I’ll take ‘em a little more seriously and thank the heavens above that you’re okay.”

“Huh,” Alex remarks pensively. “Guess I can’t razz Kevin any more. Here’s real-world proof that his stuff works.” The events of the last few hours fall into place like matching puzzle pieces. “Oh, dammit, more tests. I’m really starting to hate those rooms.”

Strength (January 2005)

Six months later

“Time to hook you up to the sled, King,” Alex comments as she pulls on a heavy winter boot, stomping her foot to get the footwear to fit snugly. “If you keep eating like a horse, you’re going to end up weighing more than one. And for a dog, that’s just not right.”

The husky woofs as he watches his mistress’ movements while laying in front of the fireplace. He doesn’t plan on expending any energy until he really has to.

“C’mon, go fetch your harness,” she says, finally glancing up to have a mini staring contest with the canine. “You really are a lazybutt. I should make you drag me back from the town’s limi—ah ha, that got you moving. It’s only some groceries anyway. Well, that and another bag of food for you. Where in the world do you pack it all?” Alex shakes her head and stands up. “Maybe we should get Kevin to analyze your blood and then add that to his little regimen.”

By now the dog has returned with his sled harness and drops it on the ground. He inspects it for a few moments before finally nosing it up over his head and finally giving himself a good shake to settle it into place. With a short bark, King pads over to Alex and sits at her feet.

“Yeah, yeah, showoff. You also want a treat too while you’re at it, eh?” the woman grins as she leans down to tighten the harness buckles. She tugs on the leather straps as well, and lifts the Husky off the ground by a few inches. “There.”

Alex doesn’t get a chance to say anything else as frantic pounding starts on the cabin’s front door. She strides over to the door and pulls it open quickly, blinking in surprise at the sight of one of the permanent residents. “Mr. Hutchings? What’s wrong? Did you need a glass of water or something?” Her last question is prompted by the fact that the gentleman’s exposed face is reddened and he’s breathing heavily.

“Drew... friends... ‘mobile... lake... minute...” the elderly man pants. King wanders over to nose Hutchings’ gloved hands.

“Little Drew? Well, not so little anymore I suppose... he’s what, seventeen?” Alex asks as she motions the man inside. “Wait, you said lake. What in the world is he doing out by the lake at this time of the year? It’s been cold but I doubt the ice is all that frozen...”

She trails off as she strings the panted words together. “Hell. Round up as many people as you can. I know the Robinsons aren’t here and the Frasers went out on a daytrip. Who’s already there?” The question is asked as Alex pulls the door shut behind her. A quick hop over the railing lands her next to the sledding equipment. She ignores most of it, except for the coil of rope. “Either way, I’ll be at the lake. Might want to send in another call to the OPP too.”


It was obvious that the Sommers cabin was one of Mr. Hutchings’ first stops. Two other would-be rescuers were standing on the snowy bank and looking out at the black shape sticking out of the ice. The men appeared to be having a small argument, as there was a fair amount of hand waving going on. A second snowmobile is at the lake’s edge with a second teen wrapped in a bright blanket. Alex recognized both of the men though the other teen didn’t look at all familiar.

“How long as he been trapped?” Alex asks as she arrives. The coil of rope is dropped to the ground with one end remaining in her hands.

“Thirty minutes, maybe forty-five,” one man replies. “The longer he’s in there, the worse it gets. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse that the snowmobile is keeping him pinned like that. I also don’t know how he managed to get caught in that position either.”

“It’ll get figured out later. King and I are heading out on the ice. You two are going to keep an eye out for the other incoming rescuers and get ready to help Drew when he gets to the shore,” the tall woman says as she makes a large loop at the end of the rope and knots it securely. “And don’t waste your breath with trying to stop me. You’d already have a plan if you were going to do it yourselves. That, and I’ve had training for this sort of thing. Living up in way-north Ontario nets you a few weird skills.”

The second man, Drew’s uncle, decides to change his question. “He’s got a leg pinned by the machine. How’re you going to move five hundred pounds of metal?”

“Don’t ask now, and don’t ask later,” Alex mutters before she carefully begins to make her way towards the teen and the snowmobile. “Drew? You still with us?” She makes a few hand motions to King and the Husky turns back to face the shore. Alex ties the free end securely to the dog’s harness and signals him to lie in wait.

“Yeah,” comes the boy’s faint reply. “Alex? Cold.”

“Can’t say I’m surprised with that one. Isn’t it a little early to get the swimming lessons started? Most people wait until the water’s back to being a liquid before getting right in,” Alex remarks with a hint of amusement in her voice. She’s moving slower as she nears Drew, stretching out to her full length. “I want you to hold this rope tightly, okay? Wrap it around your wrist and King will pull you when I tell him to. Next thing you know, you’ll have oodles of nurses fawning over you for the next couple of days while you’re in the hospital.”

Satisfied with the slow movements Drew makes while doing what she asked, Alex shimmies back to examine the snowmobile. She closes her eyes to mentally picture her next few actions and to tap her inner resources. “Two steps forward to not crush things to bits accidentally, one step back when I have to use this strength beyond my self-control,” she murmurs to herself and gets back to her feet. “Ready Drew?”

The young woman doesn’t give the teen any more forewarning than that. With an indrawn breath, Alex leans down and grips the exposed undercarriage of the snowmobile. A clenching of her hands guarantees a solid grip with an accompanied screech of metal. She shifts her centre of gravity back to draw the machine out of the ice, thereby releasing Drew from his icy prison.

“King, now!” Alex shouts as she spins on a heel to swing the snowmobile back towards the shore. The dog barks and takes off in the opposite direction, pulling Drew behind him in a slow but sure manner.

The black snowmobile lands on the ground with a solid thud and a small flurry of snow. “That should do for now,” the tall woman says to herself as she walks back to where the increasing group of rescuers are gathered. “Time to call Kev again to have this one explained. ‘Honestly, officer, I don’t know where I got the strength to do that!’ Yeah, that’ll fly real well.” Alex sighs, rubbing her face with her hands and avoiding any direct gazes. “I’m a sucker for helping people.”


Three days later

“Hey, look at that, a piece of real mail,” Alex comments to King as they walk back up the driveway to the cabin. “And before you give me that look, I mean not from Dad, Colleen, or Kevin. Besides, why would they send me something when we talk on the phone?”

“I hope it isn’t something from Drew’s family. I think I’ll have a perpetual blush if his mother gushes at me any more. Maybe I should go hide in the community hall with Mr. Hutchings and his friends. Wait, no, that’s a bad idea too.” King prances through one of the drifts snaking across the roadway, ignoring his mistress’ mutterings.

Alex notes the few details on the exterior of the envelope as she turns it over in her hands. “Embossed snow flake... blue font... who do I know in Ottawa? Why would a G. Symm be sending me anything, much less in a fancy envelope? The mystery of the day,” the woman says to her canine companion as they return to the cabin. “But first, a cup of hot chocolate and back to that novel. There’s a mystery with an easier answer to find.”

Endurance (June 2005)

Four months later

“Hey, Alex. Are you ready for the endurance tests today?” asks a decidedly perky young voice from across the dorm room.

“Hmm?” Alex responds, obviously distracted as she reclines on the summerweight coverlet. The sun shines through the window beside her bed and turns the paper held in her hands almost transparent.

January 10, 2005

Ms. Sommers,

I recently had the opportunity to review reports in which you had displayed some supernatural ability. After obtaining Dr. Kevin Hendon’s records, in addition to these reports, I suspect your abilities fall into the realm of enhanced strength and extreme physical defense. I would like to extend you an invitation to join our training facility, ICE FIELD, located in the Ottawa region.

ICE FIELD is fully equipped and staffed by certified instructors, many of which have been heroes themselves. You may be familiar with the hero group of the same name from a few years ago. The grounds cover 100 acres of land and are located outside of the small town of Embrun, Ontario. A full tour, including that of our dormitories, training fields, and classrooms, is available at your convenience.

The training regimen for an adult is somewhat malleable. You will have the opportunity to select which courses you wish to attend; a full class list is included with this letter of invitation. Our students within your age bracket focus on self-defense, combat tactics, and group tactics, in addition to the more traditional post-secondary courses. Modifications to the standard course schedule are also made according to the needs of the student.

Upon graduation from ICE FIELD, we can assist you with our Hero Exchange program should you pursue a career as a registered hero. If you wish to speak to any of our qualified trainers or myself, please do not hesitate to use our toll-free number at 888-423-4353.


Gavin Symm, BKin, MSc
Program Director

A hand waves directly above the letter. “Hel-looooooooo, Alex? Earth to Alex, can you hear me? It’s almost time for the tests and you know how the master sergeant hates anyone being late. I for one do not want to run six laps around the campus. The entire campus no less! It’s so mean!”

“Technically it isn’t the entire campus, Jen, as it spans a pretty large chunk of land. The master sergeant might be strict, but I don’t think he’s outright cruel,” Alex responds as she refolds the letter and puts it back into its envelope. “But you’re right, we should head out anyhow.”

“I’m just glad it’s nice out. Better than wet mud or a scorching sun or a strong wind. Blech,” Jennifer Fraser says as the pair head out of the dorm rooms.

Alex has the sense of mind to make sure the room is locked behind them while the younger girl heads down the hall. “You do realize that the outside weather is moot, right? Some of the instructors are expert manipulators of the elements. Wind, fire, stone, ice… no matter how you cut it, everyone that’s getting tested today will be miserable by the end of it.”

“Aw, man! I’ll probably get glares for chilling the mess hall down later,” the teen complains. “It’s not like I can totally control it yet! ‘Least it’s warm outside so people aren’t freezing their butts off twenty-four seven. Before you came, I thought I’d have the entire double to myself. No one could stand the cold for all that long. How come you don’t feel it?”

“Don’t be deceived, Jen. I feel it a bit,” Alex answers. “But it doesn’t bother me. Same with extreme heat – I feel that too, but it’s peripheral. I think it’s a side effect of my invulnerability.”

“Oh. I suppose that makes sense, sorta,” Jen replies, turning on her heel to walk backwards as they cross the open field. “What do you think of the name Icee Cool? I thought it up for my hero name for when I graduate. I could even go by the letters IC, like ‘icy’. Whatcha think?”

The tall woman tilts her head in acknowledgment. “That would work if you were a sidekick – it sounds cute. But do you want to be part of a duo for your entire hero career, or do you want to maybe do some solo work? And keep in mind that you want to be taken seriously. What about Winter’s Chill? It relates to the cold as well, if that’s your theme. If you were to make ice into colours, I’d peg ‘em as white and cyan.”

“Hey, that’s pretty nice too. Yeah, I think I like that,” the younger girl says, rolling the name around in her head. “Oh, and guess what I heard! Mr Mountie’s here to help with the tests today. Have you ever seen him? He’s sooooo cute! Too bad he’s too old.”

“Mr Mountie? The hero from the ICE FIELD team a few years back?” Alex asks, faintly surprised. “I thought he retired from the team and the facility. Huh. I know he isn’t on my group’s test board this time around. We drew Wild Vane, Sand Scorch, and Cosmic Chain for our endurance run. And what do you mean, he’s too old? If I remember my dates and newspaper clippings, we’re the same age or pretty close to it. Actually I might be slightly older. Does this mean I’m getting a granny sweater for Christmas?”

“Ha ha, Alex,” Jen says as she wrinkles her nose. “You’re not old. Or you don’t act it. Anyway, I need to head to that section. I’ll see you back at the room!”

Alex simply chuckles as her younger roommate dashes off and turns towards her own testing area. “Time for the fun to begin.”


“Excellent job, Miss Sommers,” Sand Scorch remarks as he tallies up the scores. “You are doing remarkably well for being at ICE FIELD for such a short period of time. I will have to mention to the other instructors to be decidedly creative for your future endurance tests. You have a quick mind and a determined attitude. Two qualities that will help you be a successful hero when the time comes.”

“Thank you, sir,” Alex manages to reply without panting outright. Jen wasn’t kidding when she said endurance test. Between the hidden patches of slick ice, gouts of flame, and the constant drain on her strength and energy, she had a difficult time navigating the unstable ground to reach her goals.

“The physical exhaustion is quite temporary. Cosmic is very careful to not overdo it on any of the students, but even so, he cannot predict the internal stores each trainee has,” Sand Scorch continues. He pauses for a moment and cocks his head to the side. “Ah, Miss Sommers. You are hereby excused from the rest of your tests and courses for the day. Instead you are to report to the director’s office immediately. There is an emergency phone call from one Lieutenant Ian MacDonald.”

The brown-haired woman’s eyebrows furrow as she thinks of the name, offering the examiner a polite nod. “Mac? I haven’t spoken to him in years,” Alex murmurs to herself as she turns towards the administration buildings. The exact message begins to filter through her thoughts.

A number of heads turned that afternoon to watch the mud splattered, fire scorched woman suddenly run full-out towards the director’s office.

Support (August 2005)

Two months later

Alex is walking down one of the hallways of the Lyndhurst Centre. While she’s become known as a regular visitor to the wing, none of the staff call out to her in greeting as the young woman appears to be deep in thought. Her hands are shoved into her jeans pockets and a faint frown crosses her features.

“Alex? Hey, Alex!” a male voice calls out. “I thought that was you. Seen Colleen for the day?” The staff in the rehabilitation clinic also know the well-dressed young man, although he does not receive any greetings either.

The salutation, or perhaps the sudden animosity going in the air, garners Alex’s attention and she looks up. “Richard,” the tall woman replies bluntly. “Just the guy I wanted to see. Can I talk to you for a minute, before you see Colleen?”

“Yeah, sure,” the black-haired man replies as he looks around for a quiet area. Spotting a linen storage nook nearby, he waves towards it with his soft briefcase. “What’s up? Col having a bad day or something?”

Alex waits for the preppy junior lawyer to enter the offshoot room before standing in the doorway. “How long has it been going on? And before you open your mouth, think hard before you answer me because I am not in the mood to be jerked around. For a lawyer, you can be exceedingly stupid in some respects.”

Richard turns around with a confused expression on his face. “What are you talking ab—“

“Cheating on Colleen, you jerk,” Alex grits out between her teeth. “You took her to the club where she got shot in June. No, you didn’t have the gun in your hand and no, you couldn’t’ve possibly known that a deprived drug addict was going to go after his supplier. But a snake has more compassion for its next meal than you do you for your long-time girlfriend.” She slowly approaches the target of her rage, appearing to tower over him although the difference in their heights was only a couple of inches.

“Clearly you’ve been listening to conspiracy theories from a bedridden patient,” Richard replies, his blue gaze not meeting that of his accuser’s. “Who can’t understand how busy I am with my caseload—“

“Your caseload amounts to pushing piles of paper around your desk and goosing some of the less morally inclined interns. Oh, and let’s not forget the dinners with a different woman each week for the past three weeks,” Alex continues as she railroads over his excuses. “How do I know these things? It’s called a network of friends and relatives. I realize this concept may be foreign to a lowlife like you. Let’s also not forget that you currently smell like an entire bottle of Euphoria.”

“Fine, fine! What do you expect, Alex? For me to become a monk while she heals?” Richard scowls. His back is against a wall, both literally and figuratively speaking, and he figures he’s got nothing to lose at this point. “It’s been months since the shooting and it could be years before she can do anything. She’s half a woman. How can I help it if other women are attracted to me? Hell, I would’ve tried putting the moves on you, except you’re about as responsive as a glacier up in the Arctic.”

He flinches at the sound of shattering concrete right next to his left ear. Alex leans in towards his right ear as the dust and paint chips lightly land on the shoulder of his suit. “I’m going to say this only once, so listen very, very carefully to the words coming out of my mouth,” the taller woman says softly. “When you leave the Lyndhurst in ten minutes, you are going to call John and Steve to help you move your things out of Colleen’s apartment. If you destroy any of her belongings, I will find you. If you try to smear her name through the mud and I hear about it, I will also find you. In fact, you should be so lucky that I don’t reach down and crush your pride and joy into ground meat right now, and give to my dog as a treat later tonight. I will let Colleen know that you’ve had a change of heart in regards to your performance in your relationship with her. Any questions?”

There’s a definite look of fear deep within Richard’s eyes. It takes him a few tries to get the answer out of his mouth. “N-none.”

“Good,” Alex whispers into his ear as she leans back, leaving him momentarily trapped between her body and the wall. “You might want to stop by the restroom before the guys see you. Others will also notice the stench of urine if you don’t clean up soon. Now get lost. I hope to never see you again.” She pulls her fist out of the broken concrete block as she takes a step back.

“F-f-freak,” the man accuses before fleeing down the hall towards the elevator.

“Ah... Miss Sommers? Do you need anything for your hand?”

The question from one of the senior nurses has Alex closing her eyes to hide the smouldering anger. “No, thank you,” she replies and holds up her hand for the nurse to see. Fingers flex easily and the skin doesn’t even show a scratch. “If you could please call my father and ask him to come to the rehab centre with some comfort food, it would be great. And maintenance for the wall… and whoever’s in charge of the building right now. I owe you a new cinderblock and the cost of repairs.”

“Certainly,” the matronly nurse replies without question as she bustles off to make the phonecalls.

“Way to go, Alex,” she mutters at herself as she slides down to crouch against the damaged wall. “Don’t use your enhanced abilities in a selfish manner. This is going to go over really well… wonder how ICE FIELD’s going to explain this one. Dad’ll give you The Look and Kevin will shake his head. Great way to top off a shitty day.”


One week later

“So the head coach is more than willing to have me back once I’ve been cleared by my doctors,” Colleen comments as Alex wheels her around the Hockey Hall of Fame. “Heck, I can’t decide who’s more excited: me or the local Timbits. I don’t know how you managed to get that rampaging horde to behave for a sneaky visit at Lyndhurst.”

“Easy enough. I bribed them with seeing you,” Alex responds with a small chuckle. “They just want their coach back, wheelchair or not. Besides, there’s a group of them at the house with Dad waiting for us to get back.”

“Your dad is a treasure,” the green-eyed woman says as she turns in her chair to look back and up at her best friend. “And so are you, Alex. I just wanted to say thanks for all you’ve done.”

“Don’t worry about it. And I mean that,” the brown-haired woman replies. “Though I feel as though I’m abandoning you when I head south in a few weeks.” Alex frowns at the self-reminder.

“And I do mean everything, you know,” Colleen adds with a faint nod. “I know about all of it. Though I wish I could’ve seen his face that day, even as a fly on the wall if not an imp on your shoulder. But onto brighter things, I’ve read some good stuff about Paragon City. It’s nickname is even the ‘City of Heroes’, which seems appropriate for its number of super-powered denizens. Plus ICE FIELD has its finger in that pie too, right? You won’t be that far from home either, with Rhode Island being a hop, skip, and a jump away from Toronto.”

“They want me to continue my training in a real-life environment without the sims,” Alex says as the pair head back outside into the humid air of August in the city. “Except I can’t shake the feeling that I’m abandoning you. Does that make me crazy?”

“No. It makes you a caring person and the best friend a girl could ask for,” the petite woman states. “Besides, you can give me the latest scoop from the hero-front and the details of some of the guys down there. Heroes tend to be sexy, right?”

Alex simply groans, though a smile does tug at the corners of her mouth. “You’re incorrigible, Col.”

Acceptance (February 2007)

Eighteen months later

Alex sprawls on the large couch in her apartment and watches the sun peek over the forest of Perez Park. An empty mug and the open newspaper on the coffee table attest to the fact that she remains an early riser.

She’s frowning at her red thigh-high boots, noting that they could use a polish, when the phone rings beside her. She reaches over to snag the phone off of its hook and grins at the number displayed.

“Hey, Dad. Did you lose track of time with your marking?” the young woman teases as she stretches out again. “Meanwhile my morning has consisted of waking up, having a cup of hot chocolate, and leisurely reading the paper for the past hour.”

“Quiet, you,” Lucas Sommers growls back at his daughter. The tone of amusement removes all the bite from his short order. “Though to be truthful, this June is starting to look really good. Then when you call me, I can comment on how well my last fishing trip was, or how the garden’s looking.”

“Hmmm, I know what I’ll be getting for your retirement gift,” Alex muses. “A pair of those Muskoka chairs: one for the house and the other for the cabin.”

“You sure you want a place to come home to on your next visit? Quit torturing an old man,” Lucas grumbles. “How have things been out on the East Coast?”

“Not too bad,” Alex replies easily. “Well, for this city at any rate. There’s always the little gang wars, the megalomaniacal plots, and the regular attempts at global conquest. We’ve been getting a few more rumours about a group of islands farther off the coast. The Rogue Isles are becoming known for being villain central… almost like an anti-Paragon.”

“Are the villains an actual threat? I was under the impression – albeit a stereotypical one – that bad guys don’t like to work together,” her father remarks. “Must be something about wanting all that limelight or somesuch nonsense.”

“Honestly? If they ever learned to actually cooperate, the heroes in the city might have a bit more of a challenge. So far the biggest moves have been by the bigshots: Lord Recluse and his cronies of Arachnos. But for the moment, the good guys are getting the best of the bad guys with a bit of sweat and determination.”

“Speaking of determination, Colleen has her two men wound around her finger,” Lucas comments. “Kevin has his moments of worshipping the ground she walks on, while King doesn’t even give a whimper of protest after being in his service dog harness all day. That girl is keeping her life hopping. At the rate she’s clearing her caseloads, she’ll be up for a promotion by year’s end. It really is good to see her in such high spirits.”

“I should razz her about having a date in her calendar for when Kev’s going to propose to her. And don’t scoff, I’m probably right!” Alex chuckles as she crosses her legs at the ankle. “Hmmm... I wonder how she’d react if she had an engagement party like the one I went to the other week. Two of the Guard members had a formal engagement party. I use formal very loosely, though, more like a specific date. There was a radio DJ, dancing, and the most insane contests I’d ever seen. I don’t think Mountie is going to look at Watchwoman quite the same for a bit, if his blush was any indication. Then again, O’Malley had a few shocked looks herself from what the guys pulled off. And I do mean ‘pulled off’!”

A small flurry of knocks announce the presence of a visitor at the apartment’s main door. “Alex? Alex, dear, are you home?” an elderly voice asks.

“Oops. Sorry to chat and run, Dad, but I promised Mrs. Berenski I’d help her out today. She wanted get some help moving things around her apartment,” Alex explains before calling out an answer to her neighbour. “And getting ‘paid’ in homemade cookies is such a difficult thing to accept, y’know?”

Lucas Sommers simply laughs, knowing his daughter too well. “I understand, Alex. Keep yourself safe and give me a call if anything comes up. You know I’m here for you.”

“I know, Dad,” the young woman replies softly. “And thank you. I’ll give you a call next Sunday, regardless if I call you during the week. Don’t forget to give your eyes a break from all that marking. Love you.”

Alex replaces the handset back in the cradle and snags her keys before heading for the door. “All set, Mrs. Berenski,” she says as she pulls the door closed behind her. “What does the new layout look like this month?”

A good home, good friends, and a good job. Perhaps after years of searching, Alex has finally found what she was looking for.

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