It started out as a small, grey speck in the otherwise clear, blue sky. The speck quickly grew larger as it approached, and within moments it was clear that the object was falling to Earth. It was equally clear that the object was manmade of metallic materials.
Its shape took form as it entered the range of perception of the human eye. It was some kind of aircraft in the shape of a mollusk.
A Galactor mecha.
It was now apparent that the mecha was damaged, explaining its rapid and uncontrolled descent. The citizens of New Jork were transfixed in horror as they witnessed its approach, each of them praying that when the Galactor craft hit the ground, it would be nowhere near their current position.
Yet the mecha was hurtling toward the exact center of New Jork. Traffic had stopped everyone was looking up, tracking the incoming aircraft with their eyes.
When it became clear that the mecha was going to crash in the middle of Central Park, civilians screamed and ran for cover, diving behind trees, benches, hot dog carts… anything that might help to soften the explosive blast that was about to inundate the area.
A blast that never came.
Apparently, this particular mecha didn't use any kind of flammable fuels as part of its propulsion system, because it didn't explode on impact with the ground. Instead, it crumpled, then bounced twice, before finally coming to rest upon its side.
The craft wasn't large at all, as these kinds of mecha went. It looked like it would barely hold a dozen passengers. Since everyone had run upon seeing it approach, none of the civilians in the area had been hurt. As it became clear that the danger of explosion had passed, New Jork citizens began to emerge from their hiding places, staring curiously at the aircraft that had come into their midst in such an unorthodox fashion.
Smoke began to pour out of a hole in the side of the craft: a jagged tear that had been created as the mecha had crashed into the ground. Human forms began to take shape within the blackish haze, and one stepped out into the open air, blinking in the bright sunlight.
His green uniform proclaimed him to be a Galactor soldier, as did his actions immediately following his comprehension of the situation in which he now found himself. The goon raised his rifle, shouting at the surrounding civilians in a threatening manner, even as two more green-uniformed men emerged from the damaged craft.
Someone screamed again, and one of the goons fired his rifle into the air, causing the civilians to drop to the ground, their hands over their heads.
"You are now all hostages of Galactor!" sneered the one who had first emerged. "Your lives will ensure us safe passage out of the city."
A flash of white shot out of the crashed mecha. Something flew toward one of the goons, bashing him on the side of the head and sending him into unconsciousness. A white boot kicked a second goon in the groin, causing him to fall into the dirt. The last Galactor soldier, the one who had verbally threatened the citizens of New Jork, now had a thin cord looped about his neck, the ends held in the hands of his attacker behind him. Without any warning, the cord tightened, garroting the man even as the amazed hostages watched.
The dead goon dropped to the ground, and the person responsible was clearly visible.
She held herself proudly, retracting her yo-yo cord and pocketing the weapon, kicking the dead body at her feet disdainfully. She appeared calm and collected, despite the rather large crack in her otherwise pristine white helmet.
The former hostages cheered themselves hoarse as the Swan stood quietly, her head tilted slightly downward in demure fashion.
The goon who had been kicked dragged himself to his feet, behind the Swan's back. The horrified citizens attempted to shout out a warning to their rescuer, but before they could do so the Galactor soldier had his hands around the Swan's neck.
With a movement so fast those present only witnessed a blur, the Swan bent down, grabbing the man's arm and tossing him forward, over her body. He crashed to the ground, a sickening crack announcing that his skull had been crushed. As blood pooled around his head, something round and white rolled out of his hands.
The Swan's helmet.
The helmet had split nearly in two, and its visor had been smashed. The amazed citizens stared in astonishment at the woman before them.
The Swan had been unmasked.
Quickly she turned, her long, blonde hair flying as she moved to shield herself from the hundreds of onlookers. But there was nowhere for her to turn.
It was too late.
A swarm of reporters ran up to her, holding out their microphones, juggling their cameras in their best attempt to glimpse her face. She was completely surrounded.
Sensing the futility of her situation, the Swan smiled graciously, lifting her head to face the members of the media who encircled her.
"I am glad to see that you are all safe." she murmured softly. "But now I must be going."
The Swan leapt into the air, her blonde hair flowing behind her as she somersaulted backward onto the damaged mecha. She then jumped lightly off of the Galactor craft and over the onlookers, flying off into the distance beyond.
"And there you have it!" the newscaster's voice announced brightly as the image faded from the television screen, his artificially handsome face replacing the previous video. "An ANC/Amerisian News Channel exclusive: the Swan of the Science Ninja Team unmasked. This footage was taken only an hour ago from our rooftop camera, at our offices near Central Park…"
I grabbed blindly for the counter, my knees trembling as my mind attempted to comprehend what I had just seen. The newscaster's voice droned on, cheerfully relating details that pounded into my brain like bullets from a gun. The images I had just witnessed were repeated over and over on the screen, my disbelief blurring the video as it flashed across my television set. I collapsed onto a barstool, my fingers clutching at the red and white fabric of my pants, feeling the round shape of my weapon in my pocket.
I wanted to take out my yo-yo, to touch it directly, to have it reassure me that I was still who I thought I was. But a small, irrational part of me began to wonder. I felt as if I were living in the Twilight Zone, and watching someone else take over my life.
The woman was an imposter. Of course she was an imposter! I was the true Swan, and I was in Utoland, thousands of miles away from New Jork. Normally I would have scoffed at the mere idea of someone attempting to impersonate me.
But this had been so real. The woman had played her part perfectly: fighting like the Swan, acting like the Swan, and speaking like the Swan, even down to her polite-but-distant response to the media reporters. I had felt as if I were looking in a mirror, despite the imposter's blonde hair. This 'Swan', whoever she was, had done her homework.
The bracelet on my left wrist beeped, and I responded automatically.
"Jun, I need you to come to my office right away." Dr. Nambu's voice ordered. "There's been a disturbing development on the international news circuits."
"I'm aware of the development." I said, my strength returning to me as the Doctor requested my presence. "I'm on my way."