When Mystic Man revealed himself to be one of the universes most powerful beings, everything changed. Many were inspired by this man. They were inspired by his bravery, his gravitas, and his idealism. Others weren’t. Others contemplated their existence. How could they matter so little? How could the universe produce a being capable of so much power? This is the story of a man who refused to accept his place in the universe. Refused to die a simple, insignificant human. He simply refused.
When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a doctor. But not for the normal reasons that most people do. I never cared about money, and helping people was alright. Nope, I wanted to be a doctor, so I could be the smartest, most resourceful guy in the room. I wanted to be a doctor, so I could be the guy you go to for a weird answer about anything. And somehow, in my weird and messed up brain, being a doctor would give me that title. So, I dedicated my life to medicine. Dedicated myself to something more than just me. Trained, studied, and prepared to be the best I could be in my field. What formal education didn’t teach me, I took upon myself to master. I was obsessed. I entered medical school filled with determination and passion.
And then I flunked out.
Resourcefulness was an ideal I believe in. Still do. But I tell you what, alcohol is one hell of a drug. All that proactive education took its toll. As you can imagine, I was tired every second of every day. I fucking hated it. Energy drinks, pills, you name it, I tried it. Staying awake seemed more impossible than solving cancer, which I think I can still do by the way. Then one day, I discovered alcohol.
I swore off the stuff in undergrad. Walked around campus with a stick in my ass, thinking I was better than everyone. And maybe I was at the time. But they all caught up. On my first day of medical school I realized that maybe I wasn’t everything I thought I was. Nope, nope. I told myself (or rather my group told me) I shouldn’t keep lying to myself.
I’m a goddamn genius. My intelligence and work ethic are unmatched. I just got addicted to alcohol. That’s it. But hey, that was a long time ago. Five years to be exact. Been sober the entire time. Now, whenever I think about drinking, I simply think about Thales. Asshole thought people came from fish. I’ve been working on a way to give humans gills. Probably won’t ever work, but it pisses me off enough that I stop thinking about drinking. You have Rubik’s cubes, I have Thales.
Now, I’m in New York City. The Big Apple. Never been here before. Everything and everybody here have a cool energy. Something I’ve never experienced before. Why am I here? Well, I don’t say this a lot, but I really don’t know. Got a call from a government number. Requested that I be part of some sort experiment. I didn’t want to go but they started talking about money. I’d be crazy not to go, right?
This building is weird. Since it was the government who called, I thought I’d be going to some state-of-the-art loft or something. Not this hole in the wall. Oh well, they said the money would be serious, so what do I have to lose?
“Hello, Mr. Lowe, please come in.”
“Hello, Mr. Lowe, please come in. You sound like Geoffrey from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, you know that?”
“This way, sir.”
The weird butler/bodyguard man just looks at me with disgust. Probably the same look he gave his son when he told his father he wanted to do ballet for a living. Guy’s probably a racist too. You be the best ballet dancer you can be, Timmy!
I know I’m an egotistical, former alcoholic, but I understand the importance of respect. And the way I’m being treated right now? This ain’t it. The second I enter the room, the weird butler, along with another butler who looks exactly like him, start patting me down. And not in the nice “We’re just doing our job” way. After they finish, they just stand there for a second. I don’t have the slightest clue where I’m going or what I’m supposed to do. All that hope and excitement I felt flying here is gone now. I start to think about Thales.
“We just going to stand here all day?” I ask.
Geoffrey points me to a door at the end of a tight hallway.
As I’m walking down the hallway, I notice just how disgusting this place is. There’s nothing on the walls, except for bugs and mold that is. And the receptionist desk has spider cobwebs on it. I knock on the door at the end of the hallway. Someone says come in, so I open the door. As I enter the room, all of that nastiness completely went away.
This room is unbelievable. Unlike anything I’ve ever seen. There’s like four computers, some lab equipment and a desk that looks like it was made for a king. And sitting at it, is the king himself. A black man. Darker than me. Bald too. He stands up and smiles the phoniest, laziest smile I’ve ever seen in my life. He has government written all over him. Still, what an office.
We shake hands.
“You like it?” the phony man asks.
I shake my head yes.
“I figured you’d enjoy it. I don’t have the slightest clue what any of this stuff is or what it does. But I wanted you to feel at home. Do you feel at home?”
This guy’s a moron. I shake my head slowly, still pretending to be in awe. Only halfway pretending though. This place is pretty awesome.
The phony man gestures for me to sit down. So I do. I notice how nice his chair is. A big, luxurious leather one. I can literally hear the air let out of it when his ass hits. My chair? A small, metal one they give to students in detention or some shit. Don’t know why phony man intends on playing this game, but I’ll play along.
“Travis Lowe. Born in Queens, raised in San Diego. Mother is African-American. Father is Caucasian. Graduated from Stanford at the top of your class. But, left medical school for what you cited as health reasons. While in undergrad, you were an exceptional student. Said you would cure cancer, build robots, and said that you’d prove humans come from fish,” the man says.
What the hell?
“I never said that last part.”
“That’s right, you didn’t. We know everything about you,” the phony man says.
‘You don’t know shit about me, you just hacked my personal files.”
The phony man laughs loud for no reason. Then, he starts walking towards the lab equipment he set up to impress me. Picks up a syringe. Looks at it like it’s a ghost or something.
“Like I said, I don’t have the slightest clue about this stuff. But you do.”
I stand up out of the uncomfortable chair. This man might kill me if I don’t do what he wants. But why hack my files? Why try to blackmail me two minutes into this meeting? Other than being a drunk loser, I haven’t done much in my life. This guy doesn’t scare me.
I let that last thought slip out of my mouth.
“You don’t scare me. You can’t use anything in my files against me. Clearly, you need me. I don’t need you.”
I start to leave expecting for him to apologize. But he doesn’t. He just stands there, in his expensive suit and plays with the syringe.
“Leave,” he says. “I’m not going to keep you. I just figured a man in your position would like a chance to redeem himself.”
“I’m not going back to medical school. Nor do I want to.”
“And I’m not asking you to, Travis. Your mind doesn’t work the way they wanted it to. I know why you turned to alcohol during your time at medical school.”
Watch it, man.
“The pressure. And not just to succeed, you could’ve done that in your sleep. But it was the pressure to diminish your greatness that drove you to drink. You knew that medical school would halt your genius in its tracks,” he says.
“That’s one way to look at it.”
“I believe it’s the only way to look at it, Travis. You see, I think you are brilliant. Which is why I set up this equipment. I want to you to build me something. I don’t care what it is, I just want it to be useful. You do that, and I will wire ten million dollars into your account,” the man walks back to his desk and begins tapping it. Right in front of me, a hologram of my bank account log in information is floating. He selected okay and my balance appeared.
“You have three hours,” he says. He leaves the room, the hologram still floating in the air, and locks the door on his way out.
Three hours. Three whole hours. I don’t know who this guy thinks he is. I walk over to the station with the lab equipment. Pretty cool stuff here. Some interesting chemicals, power tools, and even a few odd strains of bacteria. This guy went all out.
I spend the first hour just looking over the materials. I spend the next writing down what I could do with them. And the last hour I just sit there, in that uncomfortable chair, thinking about Thales, and this time, Heraclitus. The phony man comes back with a bag in his hand. Smells like Chinese food. He looks at me for a moment, then looks at the equipment. I’m expecting him to frown or something, but he doesn’t. He just walks to the desk and unpacks his food.
“This should be good,” he says.
“You know everything about me. But I don’t know anything about you. Care to enlighten me?”
The phony man looks at me for a second.
“Hold on, you’re Eli Little? Head of that fancy tech company?”
“Why all of this, then? Why the government ruse?”
“I am government, Mr. Lowe. You see, once I was a man employed by the Pinnacle.”
Now I get it.
“And no, it’s not what you think. I worked at the Pinnacle to do what most black men do in corporate settings,” he says.
“No. Infiltrate. Except I lost my way. Forgot my purpose. Kind of like you did with alcohol. I’m putting together a team, Travis. And I want you to be the leader. I want you at the front of this thing, publicly.”
“Team? You mean like superheroes or something?”
“Exactly like that.”
And with that, I forget where I’m at. Forget that the CEO of the world’s biggest tech company just revealed himself to me. No one, and I mean no one has a picture of Eli Little. That doesn’t even sound like a real name. Maybe this guy is lying to me. Maybe he is going to kill me because he’s some sort of sick psycho. But, this whole thing, this whole charade has eccentric billionaire written all over it. He probably bought this entire building just to set this all up.
Just how powerful is he? Connections to the Pinnacle and CEO of Meri-Tech? How has no one stopped this guy or at least exposed who he is. He’s clearly dangerous. But he’s also smart. Smart enough to hide who he is for long enough. And he wants me to be a superhero. I’ve heard crazier stories.
“Why didn’t you make anything?” he asks.
“Didn’t want to. Everything in here can only amount to one thing. A weapon. I figured if I built that, you’d murder millions. Or poison them, or whatever it is you villainous billionaires like to do.”
“That’s the thing, Mr. Lowe. I don’t want you to harm anyone. I want you to save them.”
He shakes his head. For the first time since meeting him, his phoniness evaporates. He means it.
“I don’t want fame. I don’t even want money. I just want a chance to be the best.”
“Resourcefulness,” he says.
“I can work with that.”
And just like that, I’m a superhero now. No training, no tragic origin story, none of that. Just my genius IQ and a billionaire who believes in me. That’s all I need, right? Right?
INTRODUCING: TRAVIS “GILL” LOWE
The first and founding member of Project Element. Travis’ life was riddled with success from an early age. His parents loved him, girls wanted him, and he was smarter than everybody he knew. Then he found alcohol. It ruined his life, but now, he has a chance to make amends. Acting as team leader and medic, Travis packs a punch. He has a bevy of supplies and has shown promise with close range weapons. Travis’ biggest weapon however is his ability to breathe underwater. It makes him a valuable asset and somewhat an ironic one. He always wanted to be a fish.
END PART 1.
Whoo, what an opening. Project Element is underway, and you’ve met Travis. I hope you enjoyed this story and I promise it’s only going to get crazier from here. More members, more stories, and more reveals to come. Once again, if you enjoyed this part and want to check out more of the Mystic Man Universe, please read God Killer and Sector 43 which you can find links to below. And maybe the Mystic Man book as well to read the origin of Mystic Man and who he is, as a hero, and as a person. Excited to share Project Element Part 2 which will be up on Sunday!