Sky Raider X/Reveille

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A darkened bedroom, the first light of morning just beginning to peek through the drawn blinds. Instead of a rooster's crow or the sound of a bugle, a cellphone on the nightstand begins to trill insistently. A hand reaches out and grabs it, flicking it open.

"Yeah. ... Yes, sir. I am now, sir. ... Who's back? ... I understand. Yes. Thank you, General."

The phone's owner does not close it again, allowing its small screen to illuminate half his face. It is a face few in Paragon City know - ruggedly handsome, thirty-ish, too young for the eyes that look out of it, eyes that have seen too much already. Those eyes squeeze shut for a moment.


[ John Carpenter - Pork Chop Express ]

The uniform goes on first, not too different from the one he wore years ago; the changes are mostly cosmetic, to help distinguish him from his former comrades. Bulletproof, fireproof, with trauma plates over vital areas and an energy-dispersing matrix woven into the material. Hot as hell, especially on summer days like this, but it's kept him alive too many times to count.

Next are the combat boots, which he still polishes every day out of a mix of habit and tradition. Tall and black they are, rising to just under the knees; he tucks the trouser legs into them, blousing the cloth a bit, and laces them up tight.

The gauntlets go on next, armored to protect his hands while still allowing fine work. The knuckle plates are reinforced in case he has to mix it up. They don't have the flared elbow guards of the ones he used to wear, but he's come to prefer these. For one thing, they aren't as dirty.

Then it's time for the jet pack, the one thing that marks him even more than the dark green uniform. Every night he strips, cleans, and refuels it so that it's ready to go in the morning. That comes in handy at times like this. He straps it on, pulling the harness across his chest and buckling it firmly in place, fastening the belt with the starter and other controls around his waist.

Finally, the helmet with its silvery one-way faceplate - not quite the same as the old one, but close enough. It fulfills all the same functions: protection from impacts and glare, HUD, comms, and (perhaps most importantly for him now) anonymity. After over a year on the side of the heroes, he still does not feel he's earned the right to show his face again. Let this be his face until then: the blank mirror, the uniform he has twice dishonored.

He puts it on, and Sky Raider X goes out to meet the Rikti in battle, as he did five years before.

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