The light of day was quietly dying and the lights of the city were winking on to greet the night.
Wosniak was growing impatient, waiting in the sunken parking garage of one of his legitimate holdings beside a small fleet of vans whose markings indicated that they belonged to a carpet cleaning service. They were a loner from the holdings of a late ally in the organization. One of many late allies.
He hated to admit it, but the brash young man had been right: they were losing this war, and he wasn’t sure that even the next step in military technology would pull them back from the brink.
It was an idea that haunted him on a nearly constant basis in recent days. This wasn’t the first time that proper organized crime had been in danger, crowded out and outperformed by less nuanced gangs or infiltrated and crumbled to dust by police forces.
The mafia no longer existed, if only because they no longer used that word. But the organization was in just as much danger now as its predecessors were. Suggestions had been made that allying with criminal syndicates in other cities could save the fifty … Continue reading
Vincent tightened his one handed grip on the wheel as the other fumbled to get a cigarette out of its pack and into his mouth. That task done, he dropped the pack off to the side and pulled out his lighter.
As smoke started to waft into the cabin, Callahan cleared his throat and fidgeted futilely in the close confines between Vincent and Roland. “Do you have to smoke that in here?” He grimaced.
“Helps me think.” came the clipped reply.
“I thought we got all the thinking done before we left campus.” Callahan scowled. “If we’re still thinking now, we’re in serious trouble, Vince. More trouble than we are already.”
“We’re not in trouble yet.” Vincent took a long drag off his cigarette and returned his eyes to the road. “There’s no law against stealing your own property.”
“It’s your father’s property.” Callahan corrected.
“Same difference. You think my daddy’s gonna press charges?”
“I’m thinking the U.S. Army is going to once we take all those guns.” Callahan chewed his lip and glanced around the cramped cabin like a caged animal.
“Well we haven’t taken them yet. Besides, if all goes according to plan, none of this … Continue reading
She at alone at a lab table, eyes flitting between three monitors and her own portable computer as the results of a battery of microscopic scans were broadcast to her from apparatus in other areas of the lab.
All of her focus was directed on her task; analyzing, documenting and evaluating the performance of surgically implanted devices in frogs, designed to boost the efficiency and strength of their leg muscles. It was a focus not simply born out of a desire to do good work, but out of a passion for her field.
It was a boundless and overflowing passion that drove her to pontificate on it the finer points of neuromuscular interfacing, nano-matrices, and nerve splicing to anyone that would listen.
He didn’t understand any of it, but Vincent loved to listen to her for hours. For a few long minutes, he just leaned in the doorway and watched her work. But this wasn’t the time for dawdling, he needed to move quickly if he was going to get everything done that needed it.
“Ya know, you’re even more beautiful when you’re being intense, darlin’.”
Isabelle Cummings reluctantly tore her gaze away from her work. A hint … Continue reading
Rain was coming down in sheets that made everything further out than a few feet run together into vague, looming blobs. It collected on the brick walks of the Dayspring campus and gathered into fast moving runnels wherever a slope led downhill even in the slightest.
From the porch of Hathaway House, the world was an ice blue moving curtain with only the hedges planted along the railing visible beyond the rain eschewing protection of the roof. The rain was coming straight down, barely spattering through the three open walls.
Two dark shapes suddenly loomed out of the obscuring rain and in a few steps resolved into young men carrying umbrellas. They surged over the threshold between the deluge and the dry haven and stood a moment shaking themselves and their umbrellas dry.
Vincent Liedecker glared out at the downpour as if he resented it for daring to get him wet. “You know another reason I’m gonna be glad to tour the Mid-East?” He asked rhetorically, “It’s dry.”
“You’ll miss this water when you get over there.” Callahan scowled, “All the water they got, it’s all being tilled into the ground. My Ecology professor’s one of the guys … Continue reading
The Cysko-Flores Hotel Ballroom’s glass dome shone like a diamond on the Mayfield skyline.
Beneath it, soft music was being played; the kind of music quiet enough to talk over, but loud enough to aid in keeping conversations private. The kind of music played at society parties where the agendas present were more important than the event.
The event was the celebration of the John Liedecker’s son’s twentieth birthday.
Standing outside on the balcony, watching the wait staff in the ridiculous crimson and silver suits that were supposed to be his family colors, the aforementioned son was well aware that it was strictly not a birthday party for Vincent Liedecker.
It had been that way his entire life; he attended one birthday party where he was ‘John’s boy’, and later in the week, his father would make amends, somehow absolving himself of his sin in the process.
He was too smart to feel as if his father was putting him last. That wasn’t true and he’d as soon break his own arm as consider it. What he did feel was bored with the tedium of trotting around greeting people he didn’t know or care about who were only … Continue reading
John C. Liedecker wasn’t one of the founders of Dayspring College. The place had been a small friendly four year college that fit its name and not much up for twenty years before John Liedecker moved from Memphis to Mayfield to be near his holdings.
It was Liedecker, however, that jumpstarted the tidal wave of funding that made Dayspring into a large, serious college with nationally competitive programs and transformed Mayfield from a town with a college to a college town.
A favorite anecdote was that Liedecker’s first donation, the one that paid for the construction and furnishing of the D. Hong Center for Robotics in full, was made on the same day his first child was born.
Another favorite was that despite donating an average of a residence building a year, not a single building on campus was named for him because he didn’t stand on such things.
Both were true. What it boiled down to was that when John Liedecker talked about investing in his children’s future, he meant it in the most literal sense. The only favor he received for his generosity was a significant reduction in cost when his first born decided to attend … Continue reading
Chapter the Fifth; In Which Our Hero… Is Awesome
I was pissed. Sorry, kids at home, but ‘upset’, ‘unhappy’, ‘angry’? These were not strong enough words for my feelings toward this current situation and my current villain du jour. It is all I can do to avoid using more colorful adverbs to describe how very pissed I was.
In the past night alone, I have been pounded, thrown, electrocuted, insulted, meddled with, mocked, and had my thumb dislocated. All of these because of some producer for some kind of reality show? And then the guy threatens my girlfriend, my FAMILY? He was going to pay.
Stunner was griping about something as I blew past her on my way to the door out of the cell block. It only took two kicks to twist the door out of its frame and send it crashing onto the floor. The hallway it led to ran straight until it hit a large room filled with monitors and other equipment. Cruel TV’s black little heart, I presume.
The second I came through the door, a blast caught me in the chest. The armor plates hidden in my coat caught the buckshot and my own strength … Continue reading
Chapter the Fourth; In Which Our Hero Learns the Dastardly Plot
Pursuit. If tooling around the city by leaps and bounds is my way of relaxing, chasing down some low life in the same way is my daily recommended exercise. The thing is, it’s not just exercise for my body (which, thanks to the nanites probably doesn’t need it), but for my mind as well; calculating distances and angles over scant seconds, judging the stability of a landing point, or whether my static grips will adhere to a given surface.
Of course, I don’t think of all that in the heat of the moment, I mostly think things like ‘god, I hope he doesn’t cross any wide streets I can’t jump across’ or ‘huh, they really do look like ants from up here’. As I chased Tank’s red jeep, trying to keep an eye on Barn Owl above and Stunner’s ridiculous custom painted black and blue coup, I could only think that there was no way Tank couldn’t tell we were following him.
While he’ll never win a Nobel Prize in the sciences, Tank is no fool; he’d notice the blue tinted headlights from Stunner’s car or catch either Barn … Continue reading
Chapter the Third; In Which Our Hero Engages in Fisticuffs with a Ruffian
Being a superhero generally doesn’t pay unless you’re willing to shill for a private security company or a city. No one pays for your costume and gear repairs, your self defense classes, the sick days you have to take when you’re waiting for your broken ribs to heal, or the pizzas you have to pay Nermal in.
More idealistic people would go on and on at this point about the good vibrations they get from helping people and I’m not going to deny that that’s nice. But sometimes, simpler pleasures abound. Like for example, the very act of being ‘super’ itself.
I have to remind myself sometimes that even with the grip boots and gloves I built, a normal person would shatter their legs running sideways across buildings and making those street spanning leaps. After the first few months of it, I can’t imagine how I’d live without it.
It was all the better that night after leaving Nermal’s place though. After days of waiting and worrying that the city would go straight to a computer chip instigated hell, I had a destination; a recently vacated United … Continue reading
Chapter the Second; In Which Our Hero Seeks Assistance and Explains Superhero Sociology
“Comes at a cost?” Janine asked, pausing in what she was doing. Specifically, she was holding my head in her lap and braiding my hair. No, I don’t know why she was doing it. I’ve learned not to question it on top of putting away any hope of actually being able to cut my long, girlie man hair. Hey, if a beautiful woman likes your girlie man hair, you keep that hair, or else you’re an even bigger girlie man. “You’re exaggerating, aren’t you?”
“Hey, thirty bucks in a great cost with my income.” I defended. “Not to mention leapfrogging all over town trying to keep a pizza warm.”
“You had to deliver pizza for information?” She gave me a confused look and went back to molesting my hair.
“Well, a pizza. The best pizza in the city – probably the world. Mama Cecily’s King Kong special.”
“The one you and Slush are always talking about? The one that’s basically a meat and cheese casserole?”
Slush is my best friend since middle school. Other friends may come and go, but our exploits are legendary. He’s also the … Continue reading