- Unwanted Heroes
- Games People Play
- Murphy's Run- Part I
- Murphy's Run- Part II
- Nevermind Over Matter
- Phantom Fiction
- Pray Predator
- Riders of the Storm- Excerpt
- The Secret Life of God
- The Unknown
- The Deadpool Solution
- Ghost Rider II
- Jerale C Presents: Death Race
- April 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- November 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- October 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
Diamond Dog tore out the front door of Guru’s house, rushing recklessly into the busy streets of Future City. His anger propelled him forward like emotional jet fuel. He ran into the street and stopped, barely aware of the two friends that had followed him out the door and into the street.
DD whipped his head back and forth, looking for something to get them to Yesterday Town before it was too late. Before the Hell Spawns could get away.
Cars honked and drivers screamed obscenities at the teenagers standing in the middle of the street. DD ignored them as he looked around. A thought clicked in his head, and he hurried to the other side of the street. He stopped next to an electric compact car parked on the side of the road. A quartz covered fist shattered the driver side widow, spraying busted glass all over the seats.
DD hopped into the driver’s seat while Blue and Crash looked on in shock.
“What are you doing?” Blue asked.
“I’m hotwiring this car.” DD answered. “It’s the only way we can get there in time.”
“Dude,” cried Crash. “You know how to hotwire a care?”
DD ripped the covering off the bottom of the steering column and pulled the wires free. He examined them for a while before selecting two to rub together. He pulled the red and blue wires from their casing and struck them against each other. Nothing happened.
He tried again. Nothing.
The older teen jumped out of the car and slammed a hard angry fist on top of the roof bending the door frame.
“Blue. It’s electric.” Crash blurted. Can you juice it?”
“I don’t know.” Blue said hesitant. Her voiced waivered. “I’ve never done anything like that. I might blow it up.”
“Shit!” screamed Diamond Dog. The adrenaline continued to flow; keeping his mind clouded and his heart jack hammering.
His head began to swivel around again, owl like in its movements. He couldn’t give up. The Hell Spawns had to pay.
DD wanted redemption. He wanted retribution. They took everything from him; his house, his friends, his chance with Blue. He refused to let them get away unscathed. To him, this was his only chance to take back what they stole.
“What now?” Crashed asked of his two friends. He was starting to feel the rage that Diamond Dog radiated. His heart was beginning to race and his vision blurred. He hadn’t felt this way since that fateful day at Heroes Hoagies.
DD’s eyes fixated on something a few blocks away. He started running in its direction, leaving the others to catch up.
“There.” he said, already several feet ahead of them.
Scarlett Hensley tapped her toe impatiently as she waited for Walter “Gibraltar” Morrison to open the van door.
“Gibby, will you hurry your giant ass up? We’re gonna miss all the action. I want to be the first reporter on the scene.”
“It’s in Yesterday Town. Trust me, you’re going to be the only reporter on the scene.”
“Not if you don’t hurry your slow ass up.”
“I’m coming.” Walter spat. He switched the camera to his right hand so that he could fish the news van keys out of his pocket. The van chirped three times, and the side door slid open.
“Finally.” Scarlett said as she open the passenger door and climbed inside. Scarlett was WFTC channel 14’s field reporter. In her seven years she had reported on over a hundred fights and aftermaths of hero battles. None of them had even gotten her the attention she felt she deserved. Being a reported for Future City would have been enough for most every other reporter, but not her. She needed that big story, the one she had the inside scoop on, the exclusive story to send her national.
Naive upon her arrival from Florida’s WKST, she thought her good looks and phony charm would be enough. It took four years on one of the smaller ratings channels doing personal interest stories and hosting a Saturday morning show before she could even get the attention of the WFTC. Not to say that her beauty was wasted on them. Her honey colored hair was perfectly coifed at all times. The best plastic surgeon in Future City had slowly “tinkered” with her face so that hardly anyone noticed the transition from another pretty face to news goddess. The reconstruction gave her that sexy all American look that was warm enough so women didn’t mind letting her digitally enter their homes, and seductive enough that men couldn’t help but look, and wonder, and hope.
She had been working with Gibby for the past two years. Though he had gotten used to her diva/prima donna attitude and greater than thou behavior, he sometimes wished he were teamed with another reporter. Now was one of those times.
Nicknamed Gibraltar for his impressive size and the legendary story of him filming hurricane footage while standing unmoved in the face of Category 2 winds; he was one of the best in the field. Walter studied film in college and worked as a cinematographer on several low budget Hollywood movies. A disagreement over a shot during the filming of one movie led to a fight, and the director having his arm broken in four places and his jaw cracked. He had been lugging a camera for WFTC ever since.
Walter stowed the camera in the back of the van and went to shut the door from the outside when Scarlett started barking again.
“What are you doing? Will you get in here?”
“Hold on.” Walter answered with a sigh. He knew one of the reasons he had been teamed with Scarlett was because the studio knew no matter how much abuse she dished out, he wouldn’t break her arm and her jaw. At times though, he seriously considered it.
“I’m just going to run back inside and grab my gun.”
“Your gun?” Scarlett said, rolling her eyes. “The Hell Spawns are fighting the Aggressor, surrounded by police officers with plenty of guns. Trust me, your gun isn’t going to make a difference.”
Scarlett’s loud obnoxious cries prevented either of them from noticing the three teenagers approaching them until it was too late.
Diamond Dog formed the quartz on his right fist into a foot long multi edged spike. He walked up on the bickering reporter and her cameraman and shoved the crystal spike between them. Their eyes stared at the deadly object before their faces before following it backwards to the arm and body that it was attached to.
“We need a ride.” DD said with a disturbing smile.
“We?” Scarlett questioned. Her eyes were still focused on the pointed end of the spiked that she hadn’t noticed Crash and Blue standing behind DD.
Walter looked down at the powered teen who was about a foot and a half shorter than him. His eyes roamed from him to his two companions and then over to Scarlett.
“Bet you wish I had my gun now.”
Blue stepped forward before the cameraman made a move that would make the situation get any worse.
“We don’t want any trouble, we just need a ride.”
“A ride where?” inquired Walter.
“Where you were already going…” Diamond Dog replied. “Yesterday Town.”
Killzone’s fist rose and fell with the power and timing of a rock crusher. He drove his fist repeatedly into the Aggressor’s face, taking pleasure in each blow he delivered. The fight, though one sided, was a long time in coming. The Aggressor had both anxiously awaited and dreaded this day. He knew that when the day came it would have to be a stop to the Hell Spawn’s reign of Yesterday Town. He had never confronted the Hell Spawns directly, with the exception of the two wannabe bank robbers – Pyroclast and Black Death – that he had stopped several years prior, and wondered if he would have what it took to bring them down alone. His current situation seemed to answer the question definitively.
Unknown to the other members of the gang, Killzone didn’t care much for their fallen comrades, Pyroclast and Black Death. They were a threat to him and his control of the Hell Spawns and Yesterday Town. He sent the two of them into Future City knowing that they wouldn’t stand a chance. The Aggressor showed no mercy in their apprehension. In fact, he was more hostile with them then he needed to be. The beating he gave them on live TV wasn’t for the reporters or the people of Future City, it was a message to Killzone and the other Hell Spawns – stay out of Future City.
Even though the mayor had split the city into two separate halves, Future City and Yesterday Town, to the rest of the world and the Aggressor, it was still Argo City. As the city’s protector he had a duty to protect them all. Future City didn’t require as much, but being the larger part of Argo, it wasn’t any less taxing. The bigger heroes still tended to shy away from street level crime even there, which only left him, some of the smaller – and less powerful – heroes, and the police to patrol the gleaming technological metropolis. But, Future City had the benefit of the police to handle the day to day crimes. Yesterday Town wasn’t as lucky. Sometimes it seemed like a losing battle to the Aggressor. He tried to give the residents there hope, but it seemed as though the more he tried, the more he failed them.
Take tonight for example…
As the Hell Spawn’s leader continued his assault, the Aggressor contemplated his next move. As it were, he didn’t have a play to make. Heartless used her telekinetic abilities to pin his arms and legs to the asphalt, holding him in place. If he were stronger, he could resist and try to break her hold over him. Telekinesis literally is mind over matter. The power to move objects was dependent on the user’s willpower and mental strength. Fighting against the telekinetic force could cause a psychic backlash against a weak user. A psychic backlash could result in anything from a severe headache, to unconsciousness, or death. At the moment, the Aggressor would take any that he could get.
In addition to Killzone and Heartless, he also had to contend with Negative Death and Napalm. The two of them were fairly useless against his invulnerability and they stayed out of the fight. Negative Death took as much pleasure from the onslaught as Killzone, and urged the powerhouse on with cries and excited screams.
Napalm turned her back to the assault, occasionally glancing over her shoulder at the fallen hero. The Aggressor couldn’t tell if she was jaded to the violence and found it boring, or if she was sickened by it. Not, that it mattered. If he broke free then he would take her down, too.
“Step on it, Gibby. I don’t want to miss the story.” Scarlett said, side seat driving as always.
“Lady,” Diamond Dog began, his anger rising the closer they got to the old train station. “There won’t be a story until we get there.”
“I could go faster if David Blaine back there would stop levitating the van!”
“Sorry.” Crash said grinning like a freshly carved jack-o-lantern. His hands shook as his hormones raced around within him. He was excited and couldn’t wait to fight the Hell Spawns again. The excitement mixed with the nervous feeling that flipped his stomach repeatedly, as he was reminded how scared he had been during their first encounter.
Scarlett unfastened her seatbelt and pushed past the teens to get to the back of the news van. The heavy van rocked as it lifted off the ground again and dropped back down. The reporter bumped her head against the ceiling and let out a thirty second long string of profanities that made them all chuckle. She quickly composed herself as she grabbed one of the small digital cameras off the shelf and turned it on. She aimed it at the teens and began her pre-battle interview.
“So.” Scarlett began. “Who are you guys? Another gang looking to rule Yesterday Town?”
“We’re no gang.” DD said indignantly. “We’re just some kids that were looking for a place to belong. We found it, and then the Hell Spawns came and destroyed everything.”
“So, first things first – what are your names?”
The group looked among each other before answering.
“I’m Diamond Dog. That’s Crash. And she’s Electric Blue.”
“Diamond Dog, are you the leader?”
“No. I mean, I try and take care of them, but we don’t really have a leader. Look lady, we’re not a gang. We were just some runaways. Guru took us in and helped us out.”
“Who’s Guru?” Scarlett asked with dripping enthusiasm. She could practically feel the weight of the Peabody award in her hand.
“He’s kinda like our mentor.” Crash piped in. “He found us and took us in. He’s been teaching us how to use our powers.”
“Where’s Guru now, while you guys are out jacking news vans?”
“He’s taking care of the others.” Crash answered again.
“Others? There are more like you?”
“If you mean more young kids looking for a place to go when their world stops making sense? Then yeah, there are more of us.” DD snapped.
“You three are the next waves of super heroes, huh?”
“No!” Blue interjected. “We don’t want to be heroes. We just want to be normal. We want to go back to our families without worrying that we might hurt someone. We don’t want these abilities. We just want them to go away.”
Her words changed the mood in the van. Suddenly the angst and rage seemed to quiet down and give way to rational thought and reasoning. That was until Walter screeched the news van to a halt and said those two words.
The group piled out of the van with DD leading the charge. The police were focused on the news van and the tower of light that slowly erected from the top like a thousand watt Tower of Babel that the three teens slipped right by them.
“Hurry, Gibby.” Scarlett called to the hulking cameraman.
“This is going to be big. I don’t want to miss a single shot.” Scarlett said as she did one more check on her makeup and lipstick. She ran her fingers through her hairs, fluffing it out, before striking her rigid reporters’ stance.
“Make sure to get the action, but try to keep me in the shot.”
“I know my job.” huffed Gibby as he hefted the camera onto his shoulder and flipped up the light.
“This is going to be big.” Scarlett repeated. “Bigger than the Washington Square disaster.”
Electric Blue caught the last words of the reporter as she followed Diamond Dog and Crash into the fray. Had the words registered in her brain she might have turned and fried the camera and all their equipment, but they didn’t. The words couldn’t penetrate the battle drum sound of her heart beating in her ears. The thumping drowned out the world and sucked her into the emotional gravity well that revolved around DD and had already drawn Crash into its destructive orbit.
All she could hear was the blood pumping chant that screamed: Kill! Kill!
“Hold it!” cried officer Westerman. He rushed over to the reporter and her cameraman, waiving his hands in an attempt to block their view.
“No cameras! This area’s off limit! You’re gonna hafta pack your stuff up and leave the area!”
“What’s wrong, Westerman?” Scarlett grinned, backlit by the lights from the camera and the news van. “You afraid I’ll show the public you not doing your job again?”
Westerman shielded his eyes from the light with his left hand and looked into the face of his misery from two years back. “Jesus! Not you!”
“Yes me, and from here, it looks like the police have drawn the line at the border between Future City and Yesterday Town, am I right? Last I checked, you were still Argo City policy officers. That’s what it says on those shiny well polished cars over there, right? Don’t you have a civic duty to protect everyone in the city?”
“Don’t give me this crap, Hensley. We’ve got orders to stay put unless the Hell Spawns cross over into Future City.”
“Awfully convenient isn’t it, considering they’ll never do that. In the meantime, one of our heroes is in their getting beaten to death.”
“I have my orders. They say we stand here, and that you have to leave.”
“Let me get this straight… You and your men are going to sit back and watch a man get beaten to death, while at the same time denying me my First Amendment right to be here, on live TV?”
Scarlett was bluffing, and hoped that Westerman didn’t call her on it. She didn’t even know if Walter had turned the camera on.
A forced plastic smile appeared on Westerman’s face, believing that everything that had just transpired was being broadcast to two thirds of the televisions in Future City. “I’m not denying your right to free speech. I’m trying to protect you and your cameraman from harm. It’s too dangerous for you to be this close.”
“Really? If I were you, I’d be more concerned about them.” Scarlett said with a bigger genuine smile, while pointing into Yesterday town.
Westerman snapped around to catch Diamond Dog, Crash, and Blue cross the tracks and move in on the Hell Spawns.
“!@#$!” Westerman spat.
“If you’ll excuse me.” Scarlett shoved Westerman out of the way and made her way towards the line of police cars.
“I wonder if your parents named you Scarlett cause you were a red hot pain in their asses, too.”
“You know I’m still recording, right?”
The Aggressor gritted his teeth and spat blood at the grinning man-child that knelt on his chest. The repeated blows to the face had broken his nose, and he could feel his right eye starting to swell. He ran a tongue along his teeth and found one in the front staring to loosen. He suddenly started to rethink his objection to killing them before an audience of police officers. All he needed was an opening. If he could break Heartless’ hold, then he’d show them. He’d show them.
The rushing sound of churned water took Killzone’s attention off of the Aggressor. He glanced over his shoulder just in time to see Mack the Ripper speeding in. The wasted speed freak slipped on the water logged grass. He tumbled head over feet, his speed propelling him forward like a human cannonball until he slammed against the wreckage of the burning police car.
Ripper slowly rose to his feet, unaware that he was resting against a burning car until the flames singed his hand.
Napalm rolled her eyes and turned her attention to Killzone. Negative Death howled with laughter and shadowed his way over to the obviously stoned gang member.
Ripper stumbled forward, barely able to stay on his feet. His topsy-turvy entrance, combined with the drug he had taken was too much for his weak stomach, and he vomited on the ground.
“Watch him.” Killzone said to Heartless as he climbed off the Aggressor’s chest. The gang leader marched over to his teammate.
“Where have you been?” he growled. His fist clenched tighter, knuckles cracking, as he waited for an answer.
“Huh? What’d ju say?” The speedster babbled while wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “I was jus’ scorin’ some stuff before the big g’bye. Mus’f fallen ‘sleep. ‘S cool. Ah’m cool.”
Ripper staggered towards Killzone. His legs wobbled like a marionette with every step.
“No you’re not!” Killzone bellowed. He swung a right cross at the drugged gang member. Ripper tried to dodge, but couldn’t get his body to respond faster enough. The powerhouse’s fist clipped the side of his head and sent him spiraling to the ground.
Negative Death laughed as his friend’s body made like a human top, spinning seven hundred and twenty degrees before falling down. The glancing blow ripped a large gash across his forehead. Blood poured from the wound and mixed with the shallow water at their feet.
“Pick him up!” Killzone demanded.
Corporeal hands emerged from the shadow body of Negative Death. They lifted Mack the Ripper up by his underarms and held him in the air.
“Wazzat fer?” the disturbed speedster asked.
“For almost !@#$-ing up our big night.” Killzone barked. He drove his fist into Ripper’s stomach, breaking nearly all of his ribs, and busting something soft inside him. Maroon colored blood flew from his mouth and onto Killzone’s bare chest.
The little titan looked down at the blood on his skin. He backhanded the unconscious gang member, wrenching him out of Negative Death’s grip and across the yard. There was little doubt among the group that he was dead.
Killzone intertwined his fingers and stretched his arms out in front of him, cracking his knuckles.
“Now, let’s get back to work.”
The remaining members of the Factory gathered around the police band radio listening for news about their friends. Collectively they shared the dread and guilt for staying behind. None of them could make sense of the thoughts that ran unrestrained through their heads.
They hoped that their friends would be okay and would survive.
They felt guilty for not going with them.
And, they prayed that they would get revenge and kill them all.
Neither of them spoke, they just sat and stared at the radio, waiting for it to give them some sign. Tell them something. Give them hope.
Without warning, the radio squawked and gave them the first bit of news since the three had left ten minutes earlier.
“Two fifty seven to dispatch. We have reporters on the scene.”
Big Time bounded across the sofa, enlarging body parts at random in an attempt to reach the TV remote faster. His haste caused his normal size leg to trip over an enlarged one, and he fell off the sofa and onto the floor. A normal sized hand reached up from underneath the coffee table and grabbed the television remote off its surface. He pushed the button without even looking, turning the TV on.
Headwires snatched the remote from Big Time as he tried to stand, and started flipping through channels. It wasn’t too hard for them to find the right station. There was only one channel covering the fight, and the fire and commotion in the background told them immediately they had the right one.
Renegade sat down in the chair and drew his knees up to his chest.
The three were so engrossed that they neglected to hear the whine of the elevator, or the grating sound of metal on metal as the gate opened.
Guru walked over to the sofa and turned his attention to the movie that had the three so enraptured. On the screen he saw heroes fighting adversaries in a battle that reminded him of his old life.
Suddenly, Guru realized that they weren’t watching a movie. What was on TV was real life. He then recognized the people on the screen.
“Oh no.” he whispered.
Guru looked down at the three remaining teens. They were still too focused on the news show to take notice of him.
“I have to go.” Guru said. Neither of them moved, nor did they catch his last words. “I’m sorry.”
Killzone rolled his shoulders and sauntered back over to the Aggressor. The vigilante had hoped to take advantage of the reprieve, but couldn’t break Heartless’ hold. He could see the strain on her face, and had he more time, he might have succeeded, but that time wasn’t afforded him.
Or so he thought.
“Killzone!” The cry echoed across the courtyard and buildings. The gang leader stopped in his tracks and turned towards the train tracks. He knew the police wouldn’t be foolish enough to cross the line, and was curious as to who was calling him out. He hoped that it wasn’t Number 5. He wasn’t prepared for what he saw coming at him, neither was he intimidated.
Diamond Dog sprinted across the courtyard towards the Hell Spawns with Crash and Blue on his heels. He slowed his pace as he got closer to the group and widened his path, bringing him directly into the spray of one of the busted hydrants. The water cascaded down over his body, soaking into his clothes and skin.
As DD came out from under the water, his quartz began to from around his body. He layered it on thick, piling faceted faces on top of one another, giving his exo-skin hundreds of razor sharp edges.
Crash took a straight forward path that brought him face to face with Negative Death. He had no idea what he would do, or what he could do, but he knew what he wanted to do. He wanted them to bleed. Bleed like they bled. And then he wanted them to die.
The police car headlights dimmed and flickered as Blue got closer to the gang. Her fingers clenched in a tight fist. She fought back against pull of the electricity that called to her. She couldn’t take hold of them yet. She had to stay in control. At least for now.
Killzone smiled as he saw the three Factory escapees coming his way. His eyes gleamed in the flood of police headlights.
“This just gets better. We get to close everything out all at once.” Killzone sneered. “What do you want, boy?”
DD’s chest heaved beneath the six inches of crystal. He didn’t answer Killzone’s question. He marched forward, his gait quickening. His march became a trot, which quickly turned in a full blown charge. DD rushed the stocky leader, head down and shoulder forward, like he had done hundreds of times on the football field.
Killzone stood his ground, and let the younger man crash into him. His encounter with the police car earlier that evening had made him overconfident. DD drove his shoulder into the gang leader’s sternum and pushed up. Killzone was taken off his feet and knocked to the ground. The sharp faceted sides of DD’s quartz sliced into the misguided titan’s skin. Dozens of razor blade like cuts appeared along his chest and the insides of his arms.
Killzone used DD’s momentum to flip him backwards off the top of him. Other than the minor cuts and having the wind knocked out of him, Killzone hadn’t suffered any damage from the attack. He quickly rolled over onto his stomach and hopped to his feet. Diamond Dog wasn’t as quick, and was just getting to his knees when Killzone attacked. He swung a high arcing kick into the young man’s chest. Chunks of broken quartz shot out from the impact of the kick. The pieces flew high into the air before raining down like ragged hail.
Diamond Dog tumbled backwards, and tried to roll with the blow. He came up on his knees and rose to his feet. His chest ached, and his vision crossed. He refused to give the miscreant the satisfaction, and stood up tall, driving his heels into the ground.
The shattered section of crystal on DD’s chest reformed itself and looked as though it had never been cracked. He grinned under the translucent covering. “That the best you’ve got?”
“I’m just getting warmed up.” Killzone retorted.
Crash raced towards Negative Death, his fist drawn, telegraphing his every move. Not that it mattered. Negative Death turned his body into its shadow form, and let the young teen pass right trough him. Once Crash passed through, he solidified his right leg and kicked the boy in his back, sending him sprawling along the wet ground.
Negative Death slunk over to him and lowered his shadow body over the top of Crash. He glided across his body, coming up in front of him. Crash quickly climbed to his feet and began to back away from the shadow man.
“Aww!” cried Negative Death in mock offense. “Don’t run.”
Blue’s legs shook as she approached the two female Hell Spawns, and the costumed man that lay on the ground. Her feet felt like two helium balloons attached to wooden poles. The girl closest to her pushed the short black hair out of her eyes and stared. Her eyes looked through Blue as if she didn’t care. Not just about Blue, but about any of it. The other girl moved closer to the man on the ground and scowled.
The other female Hell Spawn seemed to be about Bue’s age, with dirty blonde hair and black circles around her eyes. In the over saturation of light she looked malnourished. Blue couldn’t tell if it was from not eating, or drug use; neither mattered to her. Every thirty seconds, or so, the girl would make a loud snoring noise as she took a deep breath through her mouth. Her nose was swollen and disjointed, and Blue recognized her as the one Renegade fought in the Factory that night.
The man on the ground strained against invisible bonds. Blue could see the intensity on his face, but wasn’t immediately sure what was going on.
“If you’re here to help…” the Aggressor grunted. “Now would be the time.”
Blue shifted her gaze from him to the girl with the scowl and broken nose.
“Let him go.” Blue said in a voice that came out stronger than she expected.
The girl made a wet choking sound and answered back in the best voice she could. “Make me.”
Blue glanced over at the Hell Spawn with the short black hair to see what she was going to do. Her disinterested eyes trailed from Blue to her friend and back again. She put her hands in her pockets and took several steps back.
She didn’t say another word. Blue raised her hand and allow the electricity around to fill her body. She open the gates slowly, not wanting be inundated with the power and lose control. Opening herself just enough to do what she needed to do and make the Hell Spawns sorry for what they did to her. Make them feel her pain and her loss.
The currents filled her body in less than a second, and the teen girl’s skin became luminescent. Her body a bright white at its center, with a sky blue aura at the fringe. Electricity whipped and snapped from her finger tips. Electric cords moved around her head like Medusa’s snakes, taking on a life of their own and crackling a warning at anyone who dared to come near. Blue’s soft eyes turned into white ovals that masked her emotions.
Three seconds had passed since Heartless had challenged Blue’s demand. Now, the unassuming young girl had turned into dynamo of electricity. She pointed a finger at Heartless and fired a bolt of electricity that ripped through the sky and set the girl’s nervous systems on fire.
Heartless stumbled backwards and fell to the wet street. Her body convulsed for several seconds, splashing in the shallow pool of water. A low level boom sounded in the area she had been standing a heartbeat after her body hit the ground. The thrashing quickly stopped, and her body was still.
The Aggressor sat up sharply and turned his battered face to the fallen girl. He watched her quiet body, looking for any movement or sign of life. Nearly a minute passed before her chest rose, and her open mouth drew a ragged breath.
The vigilante turned his attention to Blue as he got to his feet. He was unsure what to think of the glowing teenager. He took a quick look around, assessing the battlefront. From his prostrated position on the ground, he could hear more than he saw. Now, he was able to take in the fight and all its participants.
A few yards away from him Diamond Dog was doing his best to go toe to toe with Killzone. The gang leader had the upper hand, but he was still holding his own. Not too far from their position Negative Death toyed with Crash, hitting him with phantom punches. The only Hell Spawn that wasn’t engaged in battle was Napalm.
The Aggressor still couldn’t get a read on her. His impulse was to walk over and deliver a haymaker that would send her to her knees, but he fought against that. She stood with the Hell Spawns, but hadn’t done anything. She just watched.
He narrowed his good eye, the other now completely swollen shut, and glowered at her. Napalm saw his look and turned away. The Aggressor determined she wasn’t an immediate threat and switched his attention to someone who potentially was – Electric Blue.
“These guys are with you I take it?” He said referring to DD and Crash.
“Yes.” Blue answered. Her voice was high pitched like radio static, but hollow. He words travelled on the air in waves, and the Aggressor heard her answer multiple times like an echo.
“The little one needs help.” The Aggressor fished a hand into the pouch at the small of his back and pulled out a small black egg. “And I’ve got just the thing. A magnesium flash grenade.”
The urban protector dashed across the street to where Negative Death and Crash were fighting. “Follow my lead, and try not to kill anyone.”
“I’ll try.” Blue’s hollow words turned her honest reply into a snide retort. The Aggressor swallowed hard and hoped that once things were all over he wouldn’t have to try and take her down, too.
Crash swung wildly at the air trying, hoping, to connect with some solid part of the shadowy Hell Spawn. Negative Death stayed in his immaterial ebon form, only solidifying his fist or feet before an attack. He swarmed all over the younger teen boy, hitting him from various unprotected sides. Each punch and kick made Crash angrier and his attempts to retaliate more unfocused and reckless.
Crash tried to reach out with his ability and pick him up. He just needed to get the ghost man off of him long enough to think. It didn’t work. Droplets of water, rocks and piece of trash floated briefly before his eyes, before a punch or kick would cause him to lose his concentration, and they would fall back to ground. With every punch Crash would blackout for a few seconds. He didn’t know how much more he could take.
“Cover your eyes!” came a cry from across the street.
Crash turned to see the Aggressor and Blue racing towards him. He closed his eyes and covered them with his arm.
The Aggressor threw the black egg at Crash’s feet and turned his head away. The small oblong orb splashed in the half inch puddle and rested against the ground.
The miniature flashbang grenade had been designed to explode on impact; the two part compound mixing and producing a blinding light to temporarily incapacitate its target. The pool of water absorbed the force of the throw and kept the egg from hitting with enough force to break it open.
“Dammit!” snapped the Aggressor. It really was his only weapon against the ethereal gang member.
Cold hollow words echoed from behind him. “Let me try. Keep your eyes closed.”
Blue glided beside the Aggressor and lifted her hands. Palms facing each other, she held her hands apart and sent currents of electricity back and forth between the two of them. The electric tendrils bounced between her hands, gaining speed and intensity as they moved. She slowly spread her hands apart and fed more electricity between them. The currents moved at a speed too fast for the human eyes to follow and looked more like a glowing ball of light that hovered between her hands. The light grew in intensity to where it was blinding to everyone but her.
Blue took her outstretched hands and slapped them together, forcing the threads of electricity to collide into each other and break away. The light in her hands blasted out like a beacon into space; the brilliance was too much for anyone to behold. A thunderous pop sounded instantly and made everyone’s heart beat.
In the heart of Future City, heads turned and people were awakened from deep sleeps at the sound and radiance of the localized thunderbolt.
Negative Death was unprepared for the Electric Blue made flashbang and was caught in its disorienting sound and visual. The shadow man unconsciously reverted to return to his material form, leaving him vulnerable to the Aggressor’s attack. The attack was a combination of moves he had used on many occasions designed to keep the opponent off balance and incapacitated.
The vigilante moved in with a hook shot to the stomach, forcing the air out of Negative Death’s lungs. If he couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t fight. His next move was a strike across the bridge of the nose with the flat of his hand. Breaking his nose would continue to hamper his breathing, as well as making his eyes water. He boxed the teens ears with flat palms, throwing off his equilibrium and dropping him to his knees. The coup de grace was the “Hand of Judgment.”
The Aggressor grabbed Negative Death by the hair on the back of his head and pulled down, tilting his face up. He raised his right hand above his shoulder so the defeated youth could see the reflective palm.
“Judgment time!” the Aggressor cried.
Negative Death dropped to the ground, unable to do anything but void his bowels.
Crash looked down at the fallen thug and sneered. He gave his motionless body two rough kicks to the stomach.
As one Hell Spawn was losing a fight, another was triumphing. DD fought hard, but was unable to overcome the strength of the older youth. The water logged streets and spewing hydrants kept him hydrated and allowed him to keep his quartz formed, but he wasn’t able to deliver blows powerful enough to do any damage. He had abandoned the crystal layered fists, and had changed the design of the exo-sheath around his hands to pointed claws. Even still, the quartz wasn’t strong or sharp enough to do more than scratch Killzone’s invulnerable hide.
Unfortunately, Diamond Dog’s anger and head strong nature prevented him from retreating, even a little, and he continued to try and match the little titan blow for blow. A tactic he had sadly lost several punches ago.
DD swung a clawed hand at Killzone, only to have it batted away like a buzzing gnat. Killzone moved in on his open guard and drove his fingers into the crystal on his chest. He dug his fingers in deep and gripped the covering like he was palming a basketball.
Killzone yanked his arms down, ripping the quartz off DD’s chest, arms and thighs. The splintered pieces of crystal rained down on the flooding streets. DD stumbled back and looked at his opponent in amazement. The remaining pieces of his crystal shell began to crack and break away.
The Hell Spawn leader took two quick, short steps forward, closing the gap, and swung his right leg high into the air. Diamond Dog saw the kick coming and tried to block. He raised his left arm for protection, and tried to plant his right foot for support. The kick broke the fracturing pieces of quartz off his arm and knocked him to the ground.
DD tried to push himself, but couldn’t find the strength. The throbbing in his left forearm had him convinced it was broken. He lifted his torso up with his right hand, and tried to get his feet underneath him.
Killzone did a quarter turn, overcompensating for the momentum of the kick, and staggered next to DD. He sneered, and raised his leg to stomp the younger man.
“You remember this dance, right?” the sadistic man said.
The Aggressor rammed into the street menace before he could stomp the struggling hero. The vigilante forced his shoulder into the smaller man’s ribs and grabbed him by the back of his legs, lifting him into the air. He dropped himself to the asphalt, using the young punk under him to break his fall. The bodyslam knocked the wind out of Killzone, but didn’t take the fight out of him. He grabbed the street hero by the back of the head and slammed his forehead into the man’s already broken nose. The Aggressor recoil and rolled off of the smaller man.
Killzone scrambled to his feet and dove at the vigilante. The Aggressor stopped him in mid-air with a upward kick to the stomach. The little powerhouse fell to the ground and laughed.
“I can do this all night.” Killzone climbed to his knees and swatted at his saturated pants legs, pretending to knock the dust off them. “You can hit me, but you can’t hurt me. How long do you think you can keep this up?”
A large quartz javelin shattered against Killzone’s bare ribs as Diamond Dog rammed him in the side.
“We ain’t tired yet.” DD retorted. Despite his statement, he was obviously tired, but refused to give up. The Aggressor was impressed with his spirit and strategic thinking. After each failed attack DD would try a new tactic. This time, he had made his quartz skin thinner, but with large spikes protruding from the chest, shoulders, elbows, fists, and knees.
“You know how to do this?” The Aggressor asked the refracting teen next to him.
“We keep hitting him until he stops moving.”
On the other side of the railroad tracks the spectators stood in awe. The news broadcast had brought dozens upon dozens of people to the scene to witness the fight in person. Hero battles were nothing new to the citizens of Future City, and to most of the world – many having been broadcasted live and repeated on anniversaries and in documentaries – but this was something different. With the exception of the Aggressor, the people fighting weren’t heroes. They weren’t adversaries. They were people. Bad people doing bad things, and good people doing what they could to stop them.
For those watching, this didn’t seem extraordinary. It didn’t have that same movie theater feel as all the other battles. This one seemed real. This was them.
Scarlett looked at the people gathering around her and the police officers and her jaw dropped. She stepped out of the camera frame for a moment and whispered to Walter.
“Tell me you’re getting all this.”
“I got it. I got it.” He replied in exuberance.
Across the street Devilish stirred from this police baton induced sleep. He shook his head and tried to shake the haze from his mind. The rapid movement made his head hurt even more, and he almost passed out again. He grabbed a hold of a parking sign and pulled himself to his feet. As he steadied his wobbly legs his eyes scanned the streets. He wasn’t entirely sure what he expected to see, but what he saw wasn’t it.
Half a block away Killzone was fighting against two men. Devilish recognized one of them, the Aggressor, immediately. The one that looked like a giant piece of rock candy was a mystery, at first, but slowly came back to him. He remembered trying to bite down on an arm covered in crystals back at the Factory and his jaw started to ache.
Not too far away from them were a young teenage boy, and a person that looked as if they were made of pure white light. Outside of them, the only other person he saw standing was Napalm, who like the boy and white person watched the fight with Killzone.
Devilish glanced around the watery streets for his other friends. Down the block he could see the body of Mack the Ripper. There was something about the way his body was crumpled up on the curb that told him he wasn’t alive. A few feet behind the boy and the glowing person were an unconscious Negative Death. And, just past Napalm, Heartless lay on the ground.
The demonic looking teen sped across the street. He wasn’t sure who was alive and who was dead, but he was determined to even the score by taking one of them out. Crash seemed the easiest target.
Crash heard the splashing of feet rushing across the wet street and turned to see Devilish coming towards him. He arched his eyebrows, took a deep breath, and spit on the ground. He had come there to fight, and so far all he had down was play punching bag for Negative Death. With the exception of Killzone, all the other Hell Spawns had been dealt with. As the tattooed teen charged at him, he decided that this was his last chance to prove himself. His chance for revenge.
Devilish trampled at Crash, his freak arms outstretched. The younger teenager stood his ground, and pulled on his lower lip with his teeth. His brow furrowed as he reached out with his ability and thrust Devilish into the air.
Devilish tried to fight against the force drawing him upwards. When he realized that it was hopeless he stopped, reverted back to his normal self, and began taunting the young boy.
“That’s it? That’s all you can do is lift me up?” Devilish screamed. “Is this supposed to hurt?”
Crash craned his neck back as he continued to raise the older boy higher and higher into the air. He judged the height by that of the building closest to him, stopping the ascent at four stories.
“Can you fly?” Crash called back with a delightful sneer.
“No, I just grow long claws that I use to hack little boys to death.”
“Then yeah, this is supposed to hurt.” Crash said as he stopped lifting the gang member in the air and let him fall to the ground.
Devilish cried out as he plummeted to the ground below. His body slammed against the ground, raising slightly, but not enough to be considered a bounce.
Crash didn’t know if he were alive or not. He didn’t care. The only thing he knew for sure was that he wasn’t in a position to hurt anyone anymore.
“That was for Little Ghost.”
The two heroes began circling the gang leader. Killzone spun slowly, trying to keep an eye on both of them. He lifted his hands and waved them in.
Diamond Dog moved first, swinging at him from too far away to actually connect. The tiny titan instinctively tried to catch his arm and took an extended crystal spike to the palm of his hand. DD grew out the spike from the back of his hand, trying to spear the powered thug.
Killzone drew his hand back and examined his palm. The spike hadn’t gone deep, but it did break the skin. It drew blood.
“Aarrghhhh!” screamed the injured gang leader. The wound made him focus all his attention on DD and he forgot about the Aggressor.
The vigilante came up from behind and delivered a flurry of punches to the back of his head. The attacks sent him reeling forward and into a follow up attack from DD. The two realized that the best way to maintain the advantage and possibly win the fight was to keep the older teen off balance.
Diamond Dog hit Killzone with an uppercut that took him off his feet. The two heroes continued with a barrage of punches as he fell. The turning tide didn’t last long. On his back, Killzone drove a heel into DD’s knee, fracturing the quartz and bringing him down. A second kick knocked him backwards, and he skimmed along the wet street.
The twisted gang member brought his legs up and wrapped them around the Aggressor’s upper body. He flung him over and pounded him into the ground. With a deft twist and grab, he caught the night vigilante in an armbar. He tugged backwards on the arm, threatening to pull it out of socket.
“Weren’t expecting that, were you?” he taunted. “See, that’s your problem. You don’t know how to fight someone who is invulnerable.”
Killzone pulled back again, making the Aggressor grimace. He wanted to make him scream, make him howl in pain, but he wouldn’t do it. The Aggressor would let his arm be yanked out of socket, even ripped clean off, before he would ever give him the satisfaction.
“Being invulnerable just means that you have a thicker denser skin. It takes more for something to damage it, or penetrate it. But, on the other side of that, are a lot of soft organs, which are tougher, but they’re not that tough. You may not bleed, but you still bruise. It also doesn’t stop something like this.”
Diamond Dog stood and started to jump back into the fight, but was stopped before he could.
“So you did learn something from me, Terrence. It’s a shame it was all the wrong things.” Came a familiar voice.
All eyes turned to greet the stranger behind the voice. From across the tracks came an older man dressed in all black leather. The suit was well made and looked like something one of the heroes would wear. Its design wasn’t noticeable from a distance, but as the man got closer they could all see the faint outline of black on black patterns. Had the stranger wore the mask that was certain to have been made for it, his presence would have been intimidating. Instead, those gathered gasped and stared in bewilderment. The stranger’s long grey hair, pulled back into a single braided ponytail, and his wise countenance didn’t match the fearsome costume.
Diamond Dog, Electric Blue, and Crash couldn’t believe their eyes. What was Guru doing there, and why was he dressed like that?
“No, I learned all the right things from you.” Killzone replied. “I learned how not to be weak, and how to take what I want. Power rules this world. You can have anything you want as long as you got the power to take it. Money. Women. Anything. It’s all yours if you’ve got the power to take it.”
“I wish you knew just how wrong you are.”
Killzone released the Aggressor’s arm and shoved him away with his feet. He stood slowly.
“Is that Halloween costume supposed to scare me?”
“No. It’s to show you and everyone else that true power means the opposite of what you just said.” Guru walked slowly towards Killzone. The younger man held his ground. He kept his arms down and cocked his chin up.
“You tryin’ ta teach me another lesson?”
“Not this time I’m afraid.”
Guru held his hand out, a few inches from Killzone’s chest and hit him with a blast of kinetic force that picked the small man up and flung him across the street. The gang leader crashed into the building across the street, crushing the brick and mortar exterior.
Killzone jumped to his feet and charged at the older man. He drew his fist back preparing to hit him with the most powerful punch he had. Guru didn’t change his stance, and continued to stand with his hand outstretched. The powerhouse propelled his fist forward, putting everything he had into the punch. The attack hit the invisible kinetic force barrier that Guru extended, robbing it of all its inertia.
Guru returned the stolen inertia with a downward slap the knocked the gang leader to the ground, forcing the water away from them like a small circular tidal wave. The force cracked the blacktop and drove Killzone’s knees into the street.
The intensity of the blow was more than the titan had ever felt before. It was as if the entire Earth had been dropped on his head and shoulders. The crushing weight rolled down his body in waves of immense pain. He could feel his bones cracking and his muscles tearing. The pain was indescribable.
He sat on his knees and waited, hoping that the pain would subside. Killzone’s face started to swell and blood ran from his crushed nose and busted lips. He used his tongue to push the loose teeth from his mouth and over his stinging lips.
“I’m sorry, Terrence.” Guru said to his former student. His failure. Guru felt responsible for everything that had happened. Had he been able to find a way to get through to him, to connect, maybe none of this would have happened. There would be no Hell Spawns, and Caroline would still be alive.
“I’m so sorry I failed you, but it’s over now.”
The beaten punk laughed and tried to spit blood at them with swelling lips. “Over? It’s not over. We still win.” He beat the wet ground with the flat of his hands, splashing water on them.
“Napalm! Do it! Do it!” Killzone screamed through busted bloody lips. He gargled a wet laugh.
“Do you know who she is? You know what she does?” Killzone asked the victors around him. “She turns water to flame. Water to flame! Look around you!”
Guru and the others survey the immediate area. The busted hydrants continued to spray water all over the streets. The water had begun to run down along the train tracks and into Future City. Not only were they soaked to the skin and standing in an inch of water, but so were the buildings surrounding them. On the other side of the tracks, the police, their cars, the reporters, and bystanders were standing in a shallow pool.
Napalm heard Killzone scream her name and cut her eyes over at him. She wondered if she could do it.
Could she set the entire town ablaze? Could she kill all these people? Would she do it? Would she do it for him?
Napalm saw Blue approaching her and backed away. In her head, the vision of Brutal being electrocuted played over and over again. Watching the young boy cook from the inside out turned her stomach. The memory of the scent of burnt hair and burning flesh made her gag. Napalm turned away and tried to get the image out of her head.
Napalm continued to back away. Blue continued to move forward. Ropes of pure electricity reached out from the tension wires above her head and took hold of her. The power flowed into her body, warm and inviting. It was different from any other time Blue had used her abilities. This time, she wasn’t afraid. She welcomed the deadly element and let it become a part of her.
The Hell Spawn member could barely look at the glowing teenager that glided towards her. Her feet were only a few inches above the puddles on the ground. She had never in her life seen something so beautiful and so frightening at the same time. Napalm tore herself away from the glowing death that moved towards her and looked at Killzone.
The Hell Spawns fallen leader was on his knees cackling. Thick strands of blood ran from pummeled mouth, down his chest, and along his chest.
Blue stopped a few feet away from Napalm and hovered. The brilliance that radiated from her was near blinding. She wasn’t aware. Her mind was being torn between the joyous sensations of millions of sparking and popping electrons, and stopping the Hell Spawns.
Napalm squinted against the light. The hairs on her arm stood up, and she could feel the metal in her clothing pulling away from her. The hair on her head lifted and tugged at the root.
She looked down at the overflow of water soaking into her canvas shoes. Across from her, the water popped and fizzled with the proximity of electricity. Napalm kept her hands by her sides, not wanting to make any movement.
“Did you know that electricity moves at near the speed of light? That’s over a hundred and eighty thousand miles per second. I could fry you in less time than it takes to blink your eye.” Blue said in a matter of fact tone.
Napalm turned her head again to look at Killzone. Her eyes drifted up to the heroes that stood over him, and then over to Ripper’s lifeless body. She turned her head back towards Electric Blue, her head slightly down to avoid being blinded.
“!@#$ this. I quit!” she said in a calm firm voice before turning and walking away.
From across the tracks the crowd cheered the heroes’ victory. For a moment, everyone just stared at each. They couldn’t believe the events that had just transpired. It wasn’t until the people in Yesterday Town started to applaud and come out of their houses did it seem real. The police drove their cars across the tracks and began arresting the defeated Hell Spawn members.
The assemblage of people swarmed the streets of Yesterday Town, some steeping foot in that part of Argo City for the first time. All of them wanting a piece of the new heroes.
The Aggressor smiled and slinked away into the shadows.
Blue slowly powered down, relaxing and letting the electricity flow harmlessly back to where it came from. Diamond Dog watched in awe.
“You did it.” He said with a grin that practically stretched around his head.
“Yeah.” Blue said sheepishly. “Yeah, I did.”
“We did it!” Crash interrupted. “We won.”
“Yeah.” Blue replied, barely acknowledging him. She stared into DD’s eyes.
The older boy took her in his arms and held her tight.
“I can’t believe Guru showed up.” Crash said. Blue and Diamond Dog pulled away from each other and looked out among the cheering crowds that rushed the streets.
“Where did he go?” DD asked. He scanned the maddening crowd. He could see him pushing against the swell of the crowd, like a salmon moving upstream. He was headed towards the reporter.
“Guru!” DD called after their mentor. The three sprinted after him. “Guru, wait!”
Scarlett stared at the Guru as he approached her. Her eyes focused on the black leather suit he wore. Her mind clicked, rolling through thousands of images, trying to find a match. She knew that costume. It belonged to someone from long ago. Someone no longer in the game.
“I need to speak with you and those watching. For several years, I have found children with abilities who have run away from their homes; scared of who they are. I took them in, gave them food and shelter, and taught them how to control their abilities. I did this to try and make up for my past indiscretions. I wanted to give something back to make amends for all the hurt that I caused.”
Tears rolled down Guru’s face as he confessed his sins to millions of viewers.
“At first I tried to hide away from the world. I hoped that time would heal the injuries I had caused, but I was wrong. Time doesn’t forget or forgive. Only redemption can free a darkened soul.”
“Who are you?”
“My name is Xander Atwell. The children I have been protecting and training know me as Guru. Before that, I was known by another name. Years ago, I went by the name…”
“Oh my God.” Scarlett blurted as the memory recalled and the realization struck.
I don’t know? Do I even sleep anymore? “To die. To sleep. To sleep perchance to dream.” Well, I know that I’m not dreaming ‘cause my spinning top keeps falling over.
Where was I? Oh yeah…
So, I haven’t posted in awhile. Sorry. I’ve had so many things going on at one time; it feels like I’m trying to travel to the moon by slingshot. But, I have found a way, after a long period of time, to make some headway. With the Charlotte Heroes Con quickly approaching, June 3rd through the 5th, I’ve been busting my brain to get some stories cranked out. Unfortunately, time has a way of catching up on you like Jason Voorhees in a dense forest. You think you have a sizable lead and can stay ahead of it because it’s moving so slow, then – BAM! You’re out of time. Well, I fell for time’s trick again, this time with a more serious ramification.
There will be no stand alone Unwanted Heroes story for the con. Yes, Terror IX From Outer Space will not be finished in time. “Oh no!” “I know.” And, as it’s looking right now, *sigh* the collected volumes, II &III, won’t be printed in time. So, with all the stuff that’s not getting done, and a chapter that’s two weeks over due, what have I been doing? Trying to push them all to make the deadline. There has to come a time when you need to abandon one project or risk them all falling behind. Yeah, I didn’t recognize that time when the alarm went off. Well, to try and make up, of sorts, here’s what I do have –
Unwanted Heroes chapter XXX will go online Friday night. Not only that, but it’s a double sized chapter. We’re talking 11-12 pages. This chapter carries us into the next stage and begins the conclusion of our first story arc. It’s good. Some people finally get what’s coming to them.
In addition to that, I’ve officially finished the script to Fairy Tale Knights book 2, and Wolly has started the preliminary breakdowns for it. We’re shooting to have all five issues done and printed before the end of this year. After that, we are going to take a small break and come back to it with issue 6 and see the world after the events in issue 5. It’s going to be good. So, speaking about Fairy Tale Knights, issue one is being printed now, and will be on sale at the Heroes Con.
I encourage everyone to come and check it out. The talent pool keeps growing with amazing guests. Some of the people set to attend are:
Ethan Van Sciver
Tommy Lee Edwards
Tim Sales, and so many others.
This is going to be an amazing year with an incredible turn out.
So, I hope this helps to explain everything, and assuage the anger for falling behind. As a reminder, Friday, chapter XXX. Not to be missed.
“With insomnia nothing’s real. Everything’s a copy, of a copy, of a copy.”