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The blue-skinned, blue-haired woman known by the callsign “Belladonna Blue” leaned into the oval hatch of the captain’s cubby. She was already suited up in her white, full-body nanoarmor, with only her head exposed. Her helmet was under her arm. “You’ve got about two hours, Vic. Make the most of it.”

Victoria Victrix nodded. She hoped someone was going to be around to read the file when all this was over.

She began to type, hesitantly at first, but picked up speed as she went to make the most of what little time there was left.

* * *

Whoever you are that’s reading this, you might not know that the real genesis of where we are now was back in 1935.

That was when the first metahumans first started showing up in Nazi Germany, paraded before screaming crowds at Hitler’s rallies. The very first to appear were Vaterland, and his sidekick, Hitlerjungend. Then came the one the rest were named for—Ubermensch. And honestly, nobody thought they were anything but propaganda blow-ups using stage magic and fakery until the Blitzkrieg started pounding across Europe. But there were more of these Ubermenschen, and all by themselves they were the equivalent of entire battalions and tank corps. For a while they had it all their own way, too.

That changed during the Battle of Britain; the waves of fighter-bombers were being led by a Nazi who had reflexes like nobody’s business and hardly needed a plane at all.

The Black Baron.

Bullets literally bounced off him. His “plane” was a frame with eight machine guns and an armored engine. He could pull maneuvers that would easily have sent anyone else into full blackout. He was an unstoppable one-man fighter squadron. And he was cutting the RAF down at the coastline.

One of those RAF pilots was Lieutenant Commander Nigel Patterson, whose plane burst into flames and disintegrated around him under the Baron’s guns.

Except “Nige” didn’t die, because something happened to him in that instant. Out of the explosion burst a fireball that was a man, who proceeded to punch holes with his body in every Nazi fighter-bomber in that formation. Then he landed on the frame of the Black Baron’s craft, ripped the control cables and fuel lines out, and punched the Baron square in the nose for good measure, knocking him out. The Baron’s “plane” folded up and plummeted. Maybe the Baron could survive bullets, but he couldn’t survive a terminal-velocity fall with an armored V-16 engine crushing him. He turned into a red smear on the ground.

Spitfire, the first of the Allied supers, was born.

Time after time, again and again, it happened during the War. Nazi, Italian Fascist and Japanese metas would show up and kick butt for a while, and then something bizarre would happen on the battlefield. Suddenly they were facing someone that could take them. That changed the way the war was fought. The metas battled it out one on one, gladiator style, leaving conventional forces to win or lose the battles. And after the war was over, the metas that didn’t much cotton to law and order just moved on to crime. Which was where Echo came in, funded by the eccentric but charismatic nephew of Nikola Tesla who had a boatload of his uncle’s inventions and the savvy to make them pay off handsomely. Echo organized the old metas from former WWII vets and recruited new ones, bundling them all into a single organization. And for a while, well, things in the world looked a lot like the comic-book writers from before the war used to picture them. Every city had its Echo HQ, and you’d see the occasional metavillain pulling off something extreme and your local Echo OpTwo or Three would take him out, either alone or with a team. People got used to it, and couldn’t remember a time without metas, actually. They collected trading cards and action figures, and wore buttons with their favorites on them, like they did with ball players. Metas got legislated, with the Extreme Force laws and the Control Officer mandate. Echo built special containment prisons for metavillains. It was a lot less scary than the threat of the A-bomb, and then the H-bomb. And a lot more marketable.

Echo’s main HQ was in Atlanta, because Yankee Doodle and Dixie Belle got married right after the end of WWII and settled there, and they were the pride of the US Metahuman Corps. Atlanta was pretty central, fairly modern, and had access to about anything, but was not Washington, DC, or NYC. Andro Tesla wanted to keep Echo away from the US centers of politics.

Then came the day that everything changed. My friends and I were right in the middle of it.

Who am I? I’m Victoria Victrix Nagy, magician, metahuman, romance writer, and hacker, at your service. I’ll try to chronicle what happened. I’m not a reporter—I’m trying to pull together notes and stories, write this all down as best I can and I hope I don’t screw it up. I’ll give you the truth, as far as we know it. You’ll know the mistakes we made, and hopefully someone will have a record of who was a hero, who gave all, and just how much we lost. And for us, for me, this is how it began.

Welcome to our nightmare.

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