Graduation Ceremony at Syracuse University, New York
The spring cherry blossoms filled the air as the gathered graduating studentsof Syracuse University were a buzzed with excitement and anticipation of the days events. There faces filled with wide eye glee and optimism as the invocation speech by the current Vice President of the Nation, Teddy Whitmore spurred them on to take up the mantle of excellence and dedication in charting there course in the outside world.
In particular among these students was Toni Anderson, and like the rest of her student body she was both thrilled and energized at the pomp and pageantry of the days proceeding. In her mind this day more than made up for the trials and tribulation she had had to endure during her fours years at this prestigious university.
As the dean took to the podium and the roll call and issue of degrees began, Toni reminisced over the past four years of her life. It had not being easy being a woman or even a black woman. They both had there challenges, but being a metahumanwoman made those challenges far more difficult. It was like walking around with a bulls eye on your back for every purist or bigot to take a shot at, and society didnt give a dam thinking you were just another crazy freak.
Still Toni was always a headstrong person and was determine to do her best in any situation in which she was in, and she did scoring a respectable 3.7 GPA to earn her degree in Psychology and Law.
As she walked to the podium, to accept her degree in hand she smiled and waved to the crowd. Her eyes keen to find the one person amongst the throng of people who meant the world to her, her Dad.
For some people at this stage in there life they might not be hundred percent sure of what it is that they may want to do after school. But not Toni Anderson she knew exactly what it is that she wanted to be and that was a cop. As far back as she could recall the need to protect and serve and to uphold the laws of the land were very important almost sacred to her. Growing up in DC and Northern Virginia while other girls joined the Girl Scout Toni preferred to the police youth program. While her friends were into the heartthrob teen trendy television shows her preferences were Law and Order and CSI. A great deal of this was in fact due to the tall stout grey haired African American smiling at her as she made her way towards him. Tonis father Malik Anderson was a career cop; a veteran of 9 years on the DC police department and 8 years with The FBI. For most of that time he had raised little Toni as a single parent as best as he could which often times included carrying her to school in the squad car, or carrying her to the precinct with him when he couldnt find a sitter for her at the last moment. It wasnt difficult to see how a child would be fascinated by a world in which her father worked and she often times get see and experienced first hand.
Pumpkin Im so proud of you, smiled Malik, as he came forward to congratulate his daughter.
Thank you daddy, I couldnt have gotten through this without you having my back.
Thats what parents do sweetie, its all part of the whole unconditional love package, he smiled and slightly winced as his daughter hugged him.
Malik considered himself a fairly large and physically able person. Standing in at over 6ft 4 inches and still built like a line backer from his brief days in the NFL, coupled with a healthy lifestyle and rigorous exercise many others would think so as well.
But it still struck him how his daughter at 5ft 11 looking so much like a combination of himself and her dearly departed mother could be so deceptively strong. Her embrace while no doubt trying to be gentle still squeezed his ribcage painfully and forcibly pushed the air from his lungs.
It was not that Tonis appearance showed anything unusual or in any way belied that she was any different from anyone else. In fact while being somewhat tall for a girl her body more resembled that of an athlete such as a 100 or 200 meter sprinter might possess. She was lean with long legs and statuesque with little or no body fat and gracefully sculptured with a firm but muscled physique.She gave the hint of being incredible ripped if one took the time to look closely but other than her unusual golden amber eyes seemed none the different from the other students and parents and well wishers around them.
Appearances though can be deceiving as Toni Andersons metagenehad expressed itself in a rather unique skeletal and bone structure which made it strong but incredible flexible like that of a contortionist body. But that underlying aspect of hermanifestation had laid the foundation for dense high impact kinetic absorbing muscles and skin making an otherwise normal girl weigh in at a little over 220 lbs. This granted her great strength and endurance and the ability to absorb kinetic energy making her impervious to cuts, laceration or blunt trauma. What was amazing was that her body stored this energy in the muscle tissues of her body as potential energy. This stored energy increased her strength and greatly exaggerated the size and shape of her muscle tissues, temporary ballooning them to impossible proportions that would make a championship bodybuilder truly envious. This had led to her father affectionately calling her Flex or Flexi, though it was not a nickname that Toni was too fond of.
Over the years Malik had watched his daughter grow and mature and do many amazing and often times scary things. There was the time he saw her disjoint her arms from her shoulder socket to pulling her pinkie finger back to touch the back of her hand without any pain. He remembered the shock of seeing her jump from a 4 story building land and walk away without a worry to easily dead lifting there old Ford 350 truck.
To him it seems Toni was always challenging herself trying to see her limits or the things she was capable of. It was never boring in the Andersons household and to say that often times this made life difficult trying to raise a headstrong determined mutant teenager and that it didnt have it challenges would have been the understatement of the year, in fact more like the decade he mused. But to see his little angel today so happy with her degree in hand and zeal to face whatever the future may hold made him the proudest dad in the world.
**2 hours later Tonis Room**
**Brewsters Dorm, Syracuse University**
Are you sure about this Toni? Malik said as he held the pamphlet for the NYPD Police Academy in his hand.
Yeah Dad Im almost a 100% sure, she chided more to herself than anyone else, as she paced the length of her room thinking.
It was now late evening and the graduation ceremony had been over for a while. Rather than spending too much time after the ceremony meeting and greeting other graduates and there family, the Andersons had both elected to go back to Tonis dorm room for some quality family time catching up.
You know, Im not trying to put any additional pressure on you Toni but you could always apply to join a police force back home, or you could even consider looking at a federal organization, like say the FBI for instance! Itll be nice to have you close by so your old man could see you once in a while, he said with a little smile on his face.
With a sigh, she flopped onto the bed. It was not that she didnt miss home or her friends or not being able to hang out more with her dad, she did more so at times than she could bear.
Her decision on leaving DC and coming to New York was not an easy choice. There were many good schools she could have picked from that were in easy access back home. And living here was a challenge within itself cut off from the love and support of those who truly cared about her. Her home, Washington DC, capital of the nation was a hotbed for out of the box liberal thinkers, who were far more tolerant of differences in people. And many viewed mutants as just another minority not much different from anyone, though that was often a case for debate. Toni often wonder if it wouldnt be so bad to head back home, life would definitely be easier. She would have the love and support of her father and friends. It wouldnt be so bad, she could still make a difference there just as well as here could she?But there were things that she wanted to do; No not do but to accomplish that going back to DC wouldnt allow her to do. Yet for a while now she was fearful of truly coming clean with her Dad for her real motives in moving to New York.
Staring up at the ceiling in thought she happened to notice a little spider off to the corner busily weaving its web. Absentmindedly she noted how the webbings spiraled out from the center core of the spiders web. Each thread so tiny and weak by itself, that they could be barely seen in the partially dark corner. Yet each threading interweaved amongst each other became so sturdy and serve to form a section. And each section serve to form and complete the whole; all this spanning from a single thread.
In retrospect this simply scene being played out by Mother Nature served to crystallize and give courage to voice her thoughts and opinions without fear or disappointment. Just like the webbing any friendship or relationship like the little thread needs to be interdependent on each other if the whole is to be sturdy. She had never liked the idea of hiding in half truths and trying to deceive her Dad and now was the time to come clean.
Sitting up she looked at her father nibbling her lower lip as she summed up the nerve to say what was on her mind.
Dad did I ever tell you why I really wanted to come to school in New York?
Malik looked at his daughter feigning ignorance as he shook his head. He had always tried to assess scenarios and prepare himself accordingly. He had a very good idea of her reasons. In fact he could say that he was probably dead on point. But a part of being a parent is knowing how and when to pick your battles. Trying to force the truth from her before she was ready to tell it, would have been like trying to pull a tooth. An experience that wouldnt have been enjoyed by either party.
So he bided his time, remembering how she pleaded that she wanted to experience living in a new city on her own and had made a good argument for how good a school Syracuse U was. He always knew there were unsaid reasons and motives that she wasnt comfortable speaking about. He gathered that now was the moment when she would bear her true feelings.
You know Dad I guess I never really said it out loud before but growing up I realize I had life pretty good. Even after the change things never really changed all that drastically. Our neighbors were still our neighbors and except for one or two people my friends were still my friends.
I never realize that some kids who manifested were not fortunate enough to have an understanding accepting parent like you, nor grew up in a town with liberal and accepting views and standards.
I truly never realize that some kids had to leave home with there family for fear of persecution by there neighbors. Or some kids had to run away from home because there parents or guardians disowned them for being a meta. I truly thought everyone pretty much had it good like me.
Like a train picking up speed she mustered on. Choosing to stand at the foot of the bed and beganspeaking rapidly.
As a kid I wanted to be just like you dad, a cop. I wanted to be a law enforcement officer. I thought it was a noble and honorable profession. Then everything changed when my metagene kicked in. The first few years I spent so much time just trying to cope and understand the changes that for a while I never really gave being a cop or anything else much thought; I was just so wrapped up in my own little world. But all of that changed the day I saw the news cast of the Metahunters attack in Toronto and all the carnage and devastation that they caused. I saw the indiscriminate hunting and killing of a meta without cause or due process, and realize for some metas this is an everyday fact of life for them. What made it worse for me is that no one seems to care or to even consider those that were being ruthlessly hunted were in fact no different from anyone else. They werent killers or felons, they were people like you and I who had families and friends; and they loved and lost like everyone else.
Those machines even attacked and took the StormStrike base and supposedly killed one of its founding members. For a while if you were a Metayou never knew if tomorrow could be the day that would be your last.
Malik nodded in affirmation of her statement. Those were especially dark times in which he didnt care to re-live anytime soon.
Staring off into space realizing she had been reminiscing as well she continued on.
After that my eyes were opened then like never before and I started to realize that the world is not fair or evenly balanced and that the rights and privileges put down by our forefathers were denied to some people based on a genetic difference and no one seems to care.
That was when I wanted to be in law enforcement again, not just to uphold the law and the rights of the everyday man but to make sure justice is done right bymetas as well. I know I could go back home and champion the cause there but New York has one of the largest concentrations ofmetahuman population in the entire country.
This city seems to draw metas here who wish for a better life and the opportunities offered by one of the largest urban metropolis on the continent. Yet here they are the most misrepresented and ill treated of any group or minority on this side of the east coast.
The crime rate and violence in the section of the city where they most reside are the highest in the nation. Its like a literal wild west where anything goes, even the cops dont enter certain areas. They just leave them to fend for themselves.
Here is where I can do the most good. Here I can make the most impact by trying my best to uphold the law for everyone and to make sure metas get a fair shake like everybody else. So thats the reason why I want to stay in New York.
Malik smiled with heartfelt acceptance at his daughter disclosure. He was glad that she had opened up and decided to include him in her decision and the reasons behind it. Granted it made it some what easier that he had also had a fair idea of where her goals lied. Still he was also profoundly proud and grateful for the strong positive values and beliefs that she now exhibited.
Smoothly switching gears and keeping a level tone he asked, So Flexi how do you plan on getting into the academy?
Toni feeling somewhat exhausted from her emotional disclosure was unprepared for the direction in which the conversation went and mildly annoyed at his use of his pet peeve. She gently lowered herself sitting to the edge of the bed facing her father with her eye brow raised in a questioning look.
I was planning on applying for the academy training course starting in the next 3 weeks, she said still not sure of the point her Dad was trying to bring across.
Malik assessed his daughter demeanor. She was fidgeting on the bed like a 5 year old trying to figure out what his point was. Making a split second decision he went with bluntness.
Toni if you were supposed to fill out this academy form right now and submit it, he said waving it in front of her face and indicated with his finger the section that stipulated gender, and race, with a subsection for metahuman. I can guarantee you that you will never be willingly allowed into the academy program. He quickly continued preferring to get his thoughts out into the open.
Dont get me wrong sweetheart but you must understand that politics and bureaucracy are foes best fought with a heavy and persuasive hand. Regardless of the fact that you are more than academically and physically qualified to join the police academy. As you yourself said the metahuman population is heavily discriminated against. If you dont have someone of importance or an organization of influence to pry open those doors and level the playing field then the academy officers will deny your acceptance with everything from quota requirements already filled to misfiling and misplaced documents.
Feeling suddenly deflated by her fathers words, Toni flopped down on the bed. The coils in the mattress giving off an audible moan as the springs fought to compensate for the sudden mass of weight placed on it.
Well I have to try dad, she said trying to sound convincing though doing a poor job of it. If they dont accept me Ill keep re-applying till they let me in.
Dont worry Toni Im sure we can put our heads together and come up with a solution. Malik had silently gotten out of his chair and placed himself half standing half leaning against Tonis little desk which was against the wall.
Choosing yet again to stare the conversation in another direction he said, "Say did you know that District Attorney for the city was a former student of this school? I think his name is Mathew Emerson or something like that."
Yeah thats nice dad, she mumbled barely registering much of what he said.
Malik had left a lot more unsaid such as the fact that one month ago before his daughter graduation he had contacted the district attorney through the FBIs Washington bureau to discuss with him his daughters then unexpressed desires to join the police force.
As it turns out Mathew Emerson was a rather forward thinking attorney who like Malik himself had a child that hadmanifested several years ago. Being one who still recognized that his son was still his child and a active metagene did nothing to change thathad come to realize over time how many metas faceinjustices just for being different.
Still directing the conversation he continued. Well it would appear that the District Attorney believes in equal opportunity empowerment as you do. In fact he had campaigned for the district attorneys office on a ticket of more equal opportunity employment for all and greater transparency in city politics with a zero tolerance on incidental and negative job profiling.
"Ya know if you knew a person like that it could make a world of difference when you apply for the academy, dont you think Flexi?"
"Yeah I suppose itwould. Too bad it never occurred to me to get someone like that on my side", she snorted.
"Hmm I dont know about that," he smirked.
"Huhare you hiding something Dad!!" She said sitting up on the bed and leveling her gaze onto her father.
"Well I suppose I may have gotten into contact with said attorney say a few weeks ago. And maybe we discussed among other things about a certain meta graduating from his former Alma Mater with a desire to join the police force as well."
"Huh!! Whazat? You did what?" she said leaning forward now scarcely believing her own ears.
"Yes it seems he was all for the idea of new blood joining the force, and will be paying close attention to the screening and application process for any irregularities", he quipped.
Malik had always prided himself on being able to prepare for contingencies before hand. It served him well out in the field and it would seem it also served him well in his personal life. Just as well even though earlier he had discretely moved himself from a seated to a half standing position with his back braced against the sturdy desk. There was only so much one could do as to alleviate the pain he was surely going to feel in the morning as the 200 plus pound girl bounded off the bed and rushed cross the room to envelope her father in all encompassing hug. Once again squeezing the air from his lungs and severely bruising his back.
I love you daddy, thanks for always having my back.
Thats what parents do dear, he groaned, thats what parents do.

Here endeth part one.

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