With a muffled beep from its electronic lock, the rooftop access to the fifty-second floor of the Sentinel Insurance building swung open.
Anyone standing among the HAVACsystems and solar panels up there would have seen an overweight, red-faced man with cauliflower ear and a Breeze-E Heating and Cooling uniform on stepping through it, but the reality was quite different.
Instead, the intruder was a woman, standing around five-foot-nothing wearing a maroon motorcycle helmet and matching long, leather coat, split into tails at the bottom. Beneath it, she wore a black armored shirt, black military-style BDUs, and combat boots with a trim to match the coat alongside equally matching fingerless gloves.
Over one shoulder, she carried a duffel bag sagging with weight, and a green glass marble slowly orbited her head, emitting glittering particles colored to match the white and blue uniform of her disguise.
Inside the helmet, Violence Museum’s Battle Battle was playing loudly while a map of the city overlaid part of her vision. Three GPS markers lit the screen; two stationary, one in transit on Welker Boulevard.
“It’d really suck if they took a detour now,” … Continue reading
The front windows of the Jiffy-mart had been blown out, scattering glass and metal across the parking lot. Two of the cars that had been in the path of whatever had done so had been push back several feet, their front ends crumpled as if they had been in head-on collisions.
Between them and the gas pumps, a police car looks as it it had been sideswiped itself, both front and rear passenger doors crushed in so far in that it looked to be nearly bent in half. Its former occupants had pulled back to the sidewalk, trying to keep the gawking crowd from going any closer.
“No!” a strained voice shrilled from inside the store, raw from screaming. “Just back off! Back off! Gimmie a minute! I didn’t mean it! You’ve gotta believe me!”
Chaos hovered over the scene, cape billowing in the localized tornado that held him aloft, hands extended outward with fingers spread. “We are. I’m staying right here. Just tell us what’s going on and maybe we can help.”
There was a crash inside the store and a frightened yelp in the same voice. “I-I don’t … Continue reading
Metal screamed, accompanied by pops like gunshots that resounded through the cockpit of the rapidly disintegrating Junker mecha. The entire structure quaked as the forces of nature and laws of physics once more took hold as the magic retreated from it’s superstructure.
The look of smug satisfaction on Bill Trembley’s face dissolved into terror as his brain caught up to the fact that his victory of the super-heroine was predicated on the principle that he would be alongside her as they were both crushed into a pulpy red slush under several tons of machinery.
Whatever smugness he’d lost however was recovered by Facsimile who looked him dead in the eye and grinned.
She knew that a lack of magic in the metal meant that more than just nature and physics could act on the hulk of the Junker now.
Something changed in the tenor of the cacophony around them. The shaking slowed and the clatter became a slump as metal that was previously shearing and scraping to pieces began to metal and slough apart instead. Within moments, daylight flooded in as the cockpit split open like a rotten melon.
“You know,” Facsimile began, alighting on a convertible lying on its side, “I usually mock the bad guys who bring robots or guns to a super-fight in Mayfield… but I guess we’re not in Mayfield, so I’ll let it slip this time.” She smirked, “Oh wait—you just straight up planned to attack the team with a metal-bender in a giant robot. I have zero sympathy for what’s about to happen to you.”
Osp lowered Alloy to the pavement just in front of where she was standing. He craned his neck to look the mecha up and down. “Fax?”
“There’s gonna be a problem with that.”
The speakers mounted to the machine crackled. “What?” Hydraulics hissed as Junker pivoted and brought its excavator claw to bear. There was a boom and suddenly the claw rocketed forward, trailing a chain behind it.
The car Facsimile was standing on melted under her feet, the metal its body was composed of whipping up and around Alloy like a wave to form a quarter dome just in time to intercept the claw with a resounding clang. Facsimile barely caught herself from falling, … Continue reading
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