Juniper was pretty sure she should have been tired, having awoken at the crack of dawn to fly from Arizona to Virginia, riding up the Freeland House just to immediately board a private shuttle out to Dayspring College’s private airfield just to catch another flight back west to Detroit.
Should have been.
But the truth was, she was bursting with excitement.
Bursting, and bouncing in her seat. “Looking forward to seeing the world, Jun?” Cyn gave her a toothy grin, “Or just Detroit?”
“Or maybe she had too much syrup on her… everything at breakfast today,” Melissa said dryly.
Juniper was sitting between the two of them in the back of the shuttle. “Can’t all three be true?” asked Juniper with a small smile of her own. “I need high caloric density to help fuel my powers and sugar is a common source of it. And I love to travel. And Detroit… how can you not be excited? I hope we have time to see the sights.”
“I made sure the team at least gets a photo op and tour at the big ones: Motown, The … Continue reading
Kareem raised an eyebrow as Warrick fidgeted on the barstool at the kitchen counter of the apartment they shared with JC. Warrick had come a long way with his usual social awkwardness over the years, so it was never a good thing when he started behaving oddly with his friends—and that took zero mind reading.
Warrick caught the raised brow and its meaning just as easily and looked away, scratching his head with the hand that wasn’t fiddling with a bottle of soda. He’d been caught out and was trying to formulate what he’d been carrying around in his head. After a beat, he took a drink in a last ditch effort to buy time.
Letting him stall as long as he needed, Kareem closed the door to the apartment and made his way to the loveseat in their living/dining area.
“So Lily talked you into coming with us,” Warrick eventually said, trying hard to sound conversational.
“Indeed,” Kareem replied lightly. “She took me to brunch and everything to convince me. She was quite adamant.”
The soda bottle clinked on the counter top. “Yeah, about that… dude Lily’s … Continue reading
Kareem looked around the table and—not for the first time that day—wondered how he got there.
Earlier that morning, he’d met Lily at the gym in his building. She’d been joining him in his morning exercise routine for the past month or so, offering surprisingly amiable company considering how he remembered her from high school.
Today, when they normally would have gone their separate ways, she’d invited him to bunch and he’d accepted.
Simple, really, but he still felt distinctly out of place sitting in the dining room of Boar and Spear, an upscale restaurant in City Central with Lily, Callie and their two friends Alice and Kim. People were trying to be discreet, but he saw them taking pictures on their palmtops. Soon the internet would be abuzz about the local superhero spotted dining with four beautiful women, one of whom was his teammate in a high class establishment. And then the rumors would take flight.
Normally rumors and nocturnes didn’t bother Kareem. He’d been through high school, he’d seen fanfiction. People would think and make up what they would. Only recently he’d been feeling a lot more introspective, … Continue reading
The cool, night air blowing in from Lake Standish caused Cyn’s short, white locks to tickle her forehead and ears as she sat, cross-legged atop the roof of Freeland House. Her eyes were closed and she breathed slowly, listening to the Friday-night parties going on along the lakeshore; a blend of different songs playing; all but the heaviest base making its way across the water.
A soft thump added itself to the noise. Completely expected, though she’d expected his arrival to come a bit later.
“Hey, War.” she didn’t open her eyes.
“Hey.” He replied, taking a seat next to her. “Figured you’d be up here. We used to do this a lot back in the day.”
Cyn nodded. “Yeah. Used to be your thing. Guess I got it from you.” Without looking, she could tell he nodded at that. From the rasp of metal on roofing, the twins were out as well, trying to make themselves comfortable. After a beat, she added. “You were right back then: helps me think.”
“What’re you thinking about?”
At this, she smirked. “Feels weird not to know doesn’t it?”
“Kind of. But just from that, … Continue reading
Gallium’s inattention was brought to a swift end by the boom of a shotgun. A single deer slug sank into the small of her back, it’s momentum making her stumble forward, almost tripping over the sprawled Partlowe.
“Oh, you are very much asking for a beat-down,” she muttered, turning to face a man dual-wielding sawed off shotguns. He hadn’t fired again, favoring his shoulder from where his gun’s kickback had likely done some real, lasting damage. Still, he tried leveling the weapon in his good hand.
Annoyance crossed Gallium’s face. “And any other time, I’d give it to you. Sadly, I’ve got a hard time limit and way more important things to do.” With a roll of her eyes, she raised her hands. “I surrender.”
Predictably, the racist goon started to pull the trigger. The training room’s magic was faster however, and he and the world he inhabited folded in on themselves, reduced in an instant to a sparse white broom closet.
“Next time,” Gallium muttered as she exited back into the Tower’s main room.
She was greeted by the sight of the mirror portal set up once more, but currently inactive. For a moment, she stood transfixed by its … Continue reading
The ‘training room’ Lisa had created in the Tower was a cramped, five by five broom closet colored such a bright, pervasive white that it was impossible to make out the corners. It might as well have been infinite, especially with the sourceless, just-as-white light that filled the space.
Warrick and Cyn nodded as one, aware that even though Lisa was elsewhere in the building, the training room allowed her full awareness of what they were doing. After a three day wait for her to bring the space into being, they’d spent an inordinate amount of time playing with its settings and capabilities and no longer had any doubts about the room.
Almost as quickly as they confirmed their readiness, their awareness expanded. The room was no longer five by five, but the size of a regulation basketball court. In fact, as colors and shapes began to take form out of the pristine blankness, the place came to resemble the court from their old high school—extendable bleachers and all.
Five strange beings stood arrayed in a rough ‘V’ before them. All were a bland shade of grey with large black eyes, small mouths and … Continue reading
Shortly, Laurel returned to let the pair know that she had the Kaines and Tink on video chat and would be transferring them over momentarily.
Warrick and Cyn waited in agonizing silence for what could have only been a minute or less, but which felt like a week. Back straight, hands clasped behind them, they looked as if they were facing a firing squad.
The chat screen appeared, split between the Kaine family including Warrick’s sister, Tammy on the left all sitting on the couch in their living room; and Tink, sitting ramrod straight in one of the office chairs found in the LSI headquarters.
“H-hey everyone.” Warrick gave a small wave.
“Whoa,” said Tammy, “Warrick?”
They waves again, “and Cyn. I’m here too.”
Mrs. Kaine leaned forward. “Oh my goodness… are you two okay? Does that hurt? A-are you okay?”
To this, they shrugged. “I’m… we’re okay, Ma. It didn’t hurt and it’s not like we’re crammed in here together. It’s just kinda… awkward?”
“To be fair, I’ve been making it awkward,” Cyn smirked. “Also the telepathy. The telepathy is super-awkward because we can’t reliably turn it on or off. … Continue reading
Cyn’s declaration was undercut by a laugh from the doorway.
They glanced over to find Lisa standing there. Her staff was still held firm in one hand, but her expression had lost some of the intensity from earlier. “A cartoon?” She asked.
“What would you call it?” Cyn asked with a shrug. “Our arms and legs are all rubbery-like and we’ve got the semi-solid thing going on I use sometimes. We can do anything old-timey cartoon characters can do.” For emphasis, she started bouncing their body, silvery limbs flexing slightly in a Fleischer-esque manner. “Now all we have to do is figure out how to use that to do the superhero thing.”
The mirth from Lisa’s expression dropped. “Guys… I don’t think that’s going to happen for a while.”
“So…” you’ve got bad news then,” said Warrick as Cyn stopped their cartoonish bobbing.
With a sight, Lisa made her way over to an arm chair and collapsed into it, laying her staff across her knees. “More like no news. Not yet at least. From our tests, your body has a yellow-world energy signature. The artifact or whatever is merged into you or in a … Continue reading
The Witch’s Tower had been created from the ‘tower seed’ Morganna had once attempted to plant in the leyline in Fredricksburg, Virginia. Drawing from that deep source of dormant magic, it would have been capable of focusing and manifesting untold power and becoming a fortress of arcane might.
No such leyline existed in the remote area of Alaska where Lisa, Laurel, Kay and the small group of neophyte wizards called the Magi Club planted it instead.
As such, they had to actively feed magic into the artifact, guiding its growth like a gardener sculpted a hedge maze. If hedge mazes had to be functional rooms that were completely self-sufficient.
Then end result was that the Tower mimicked having electricity, heating and plumbing so well that one couldn’t tell the difference and all the appliances worked as expected. But it was still—in magical constructed building terms—and infant.
So instead of the big, multi-room rec center Lifesavers, Inc Headquarters sported, the Tower’s facilities were actually smaller than the common rooms at the Liedecker Institute dorms. There was a couch with black microfiber upholstery facing a big screen OLED television flanked by two matching loveseats alongside a big, … Continue reading
A few moments ago, all he’d felt was pride. After almost two weeks of junior detective work; identifying the two older teens who dealt street chemist drugs a few blocks from his school; tailing them to where they dropped their money and picked up their supply not much farther away behind a restaurant, and from there matching pictures he’d taken of their suppliers to NYC’s public mugshot database; he’d finally gotten video of the dealers picking up a fresh supply and send it off to the NYPD’s public tip site.
He’d tracked down the bad guys and done what he was pretty sure was his civic duty. Never mind that the information attached to those mug shots alleged connections to the Morello crime family—actual factual Italian Mafia. Never mind that he probably should have expected there to be lookouts outside of a mafia front business.
In retrospect, he probably should have minded all that.
But past was past and the present was that said lookout had spotted him and gave a shout that brought two big guys with guns running.
Now here he was: rabbiting down an alley, praying it wasn’t a dead end, and practically feeling his hammering heart … Continue reading