Shiny New Penny

They say we are identical, my sisters and I. How wrong they are. I speak in a correct manner while they use uneducated slang. They make elaborate plans to sneak out of the house while I do not even bother because I have homework to finish. My grade point average has me in the top three of our class, and they barely qualify for the top ten percent. We are not identical, triplets or not.

When the alarm on our computer chimes it is Kelly who answers it, like always, “Yes, sir.” The same cheeriness, even when she is hung-over. That is another thing underage drinking is unacceptable.

“Ladies, the gem repository is being robbed right now,” says the same voice we have heard a hundred times before this one. It betrays no emotion and only speaks the facts. There is no face, no real name, just the low, electro-distorted vocal sound over the speakers. “It is the Jacks. Their equipment has been upgraded, so be careful. Let me know when you are on scene.”

“Yes, sir,” Kelly answers, flinching an arm, then stops herself from saluting. The screen goes blank, and she turns around, standing.

“You heard Sovereign,” Kelly taps her bracelet activating her instant change. “The Jacks are stealing diamonds.” It never dawns on her that more than diamonds are being stolen. There are the guards that die from a robbery this violent, for example.

“I already started to change when the signal came in,” Leslie says. Her costume is in place as she heads for the secret door. The costume is identical to all of Kelly’s and mine except for the emblem, a shield, and the trim, violet.

“Right behind you two,” I say, then mutter, “like always.” I have altered my costume, not that anyone noticed. My boots have a higher heel by two centimeters, and my belt hangs lower on my hips. Since I began a more vigorous workout routine and diet, I have adjusted my costume to fit better over my physique. My emblem remains, a jagged lightning bolt, and my trim is still white.

Kelly’s emblem is a flame, because she uses her eyebeams more than Leslie and I. I do not care, but since she attacks more, people have assumed she is the leader. Most of the time, I make a suggestion and she repeats it claiming credit. She steals my ideas and my boyfriends. How is that possible? We are identical, right?

We step onto the hidden balcony and launch into the air. Instead of following in a single file, I move to one side and Leslie follows suit on the other side of Kelly. Kelly inches forward just a smidge, to make it look like she is leading. She does not know I know this, but her flying takes a lot out of her since she does not practice much anymore. She does no cardio, lifts no weights, and goes on a ton of dates eating restaurant food. I will just say this, muffin top.

When we land at the repository, we see a blur moving back and forth between the large hole in the destroyed wall and a pickup truck. This is Jackrabbit, the Jack’s speedster. He is fast, but I can take him solo, so I move over to the truck to wait for a return trip.

“I got the runner, Penny,” Leslie calls out as she hovers over Jackrabbit’s path when he comes out with another haul. When she arcs her hand back for the clothesline, Jackrabbit jumps and comes down with a metal pipe on her head. On most missions Leslie uses her force fields the most, hence the shield emblem, but for some dumb reason she did not activate it. Serves her right for horning in on my capture. Leslie crashes into the ground, and Jackrabbit zooms at me.

My emblem is lightning, so I know he assumes I am going to hit him with my molecular blasts. He is right, but I also use my eyebeams. The molecular blasts connect and he screams, but that could be from the hole I bored through his abdomen with my eyebeams. Jackrabbit drops his pipe along with a bag of gems, and falls facedown on the sidewalk. He is not screaming claptrap about revenge. He is not moving at all.

I look over at Leslie. Like Jackrabbit, she is not moving either. Her head is misshapen and I do not see her chest moving. The loss of my sister is added to the rest of the stuff I have to deal with. A few quick breathes and I stifle the sobs that want to come out. Dealing with Jackhammer is more pressing at the moment. I guess I am a twin now.

Kelly did not wait for us, typical. She already went inside to start a fight. Well, I lost one sister today; I should keep a close eye on the second.

Running over the rubble is harder in the taller heels. I should have thought of that.

I hear the loud bang that Jack Hammer makes when he uses his power punch. He can only use that so often, as it takes a few seconds to charge. This is how I deduced we could take him six months ago. In fact, I was the one who did, since Kelly and Leslie were knocked out.

The inside of this building is dark since the Jacks cut it when they destroyed the wall. The dim emergency lighting forces me to strain my eyes.

These two are stupid criminals, yet they always manage to stay out of jail, or are incarcerated for a short time before they make an escape. Perhaps I should find their agent, or contact, or boss, or whatever they have.

Jack Hammer makes the punching noise again. It was too soon for him to recharge.
“Crap,” I say. “Sovereign did say they had upgraded equipment.” Kelly’s overconfidence will be the death of her.

The scream gets louder when I see the shape fly towards me. The grey and orange trimmed outfit of Kelly slams into the floor and then slides to a stop ten feet in front of me. She moans as I kneel next to her.

“Penny, he is stronger and tougher,” she says with a soft voice. One of her eyes is swollen shut. Blood pools in her mouth, and I can see several teeth missing. Her left arm bends at an awkward angle. She has a broken finger lying on the back of her hand. She lets out a soft breath and her head turns to one side. She stops breathing and does not start again. Our healing ability is better than a normal human. We heal faster, but not instantly.

“The last one,” the bulking figure hollers as he approaches. His metal fist flashes up and down in the metal arm. “Looks like I get the hat trick.” I see his greasy grin from here.

“Nope,” I shake my head as I stand. “We used to be triplets, but we are not identical.” I run at him, fists ready and legs pumping. He bends his head down and charges forward.

Before we collide, he darts his fist at me. I duck and chop it with mazer blasts covering my hand. It cuts through the hydraulic pipe at the wrist of Jack Hammer, severing the fist. The balled up hunk of metal sails past me and lodges in a cluster of destroyed display cases.

“You girls aren’t supposed to do that.” The look on his face is worth the price of admission to a European Theme Park. His eyes go wide; his mouth hangs open showing several rotten teeth.

“Things are about to change.” I smile at the large man. “How is your life insurance?” My eyebeams bite into his neck and the heat burns the skin. I turn them off when I see the spurt of blood. Jack Hammer staggers back, clutching his wound with his free hand.
“You bitch. Heroes aren’t supposed to kill,” he says as blood pours over his shoulder.
“Jack, may I call you Jack?” I question, not waiting for a response, “You are correct on that mark.” I hit him on the other side of the neck with my eyebeams. Jack Hammer now has two fountains. One slowed by a hand, the other not.

I hear a moan, “Penny.” It is Kelly. Good. She did not die. Relief flows over me.

I hover over her, “Yes.”

“What are you doing?” Her question is faint and strained through the pain on her face.

Tightening my fists, I activate my mazer blasts, “I am disbanding the group.” Her head makes a satisfying crunch as I drive my fist through it. I will miss Kelly, though less than Leslie. I take a deep breath then let it out blinking away the tears.

Now all that remains is picking up the gems and getting out of here.


Her body trembled as she fought to slow her breathing. Uncoiling from her squatting position, she focused on Drudge’s shoulder blades, his hands still smoking from blasting the guard station. She hoped any noise she made would not carry in the grand lobby of the Klein building.

“Ladies and gentlemen, do not fret,” Drudge’s voice boomed and carried a hint of theatrical drama. “I am not after your meager earnings. I am after the items in the vault. No more interference and I will be on my way.”

The large figure took his time stepping over the prone forms of the people that were caught unaware during his attack. Tinkerbelle, with her mechanical creations, fought Drudge’s henchmen. The henchmen were now unconscious, and her robots were destroyed. Drudge had ended the fight by demolishing the guard station, taking the robots with it and wounding Tinkerbelle.

Now that Tinkerbelle was upright, her bruised and masked face darted to the random technology lying about the cavernous room. There were tablets of various sizes, cellphones, a hearing aid, three electric scooters, a coffee maker, and a combination fax-printer-scanner device within five steps of her location. That was the range of her control, she figured.

Extending her fingers of one hand she focused on all the technology within range. Her hand glowed a faint purple hue and her focus shifted to Drudge’s back, who high-stepped over a toppled stroller. The hearing aid hovered then slapped into the palm of her extended hand. A momentary glance at the coffee maker caused the encasement to separate and splay wires, tubes, and other inner workings. The hearing aid zoomed for the coffee maker, and then both merged their components and circuitry. Two tablets, three smart phones, and a solitary flip phone also joined with the coffee maker-hearing-aid device. A scooter righted itself and moved to the table where the newly merged devices floated. The seat shifted and the handlebars bent in an odd shape. Wires, power supplies, and gages shifted or melded together to become one new device.

Drudge stopped his advancement. Tinkerbelle froze, her breath caught, and she shivered. Her costume had rips and tears along the arms, legs and torso. A trickle of blood ran from her nose, over her lips, then dropped off her chin. Several feet past Drudge, something shifted, and he continued on his trek.

Tinkerbelle’s eyelids sealed over, her lips peeled back exposing grinding teeth, two red in color. The color around her hand spread to the other hand and darkened. The devices within range jerked to the air and waited to be used.

“So, you think you have what it takes to defeat me,” Drudge’s voice reverberated throughout the vaulted marble room. She grunted as a response. This pulled a deep, dark and powerful laugh from Drudge producing goose bumps on Tinkerbelle’s arms and neck. She grunted again to refocus.

Several cellphones and tablets melded into a second device. The two remaining scooters, along with the office equipment, merged and trundled to the first amalgamation. The second digital array followed suit, causing an equipment cyclone around the table three feet from Tinkerbelle. One by one, each device or piece of equipment, added itself to the base device, making it larger and more robust. Tinkerbelle’s eyes were shut against anything that Drudge might do.

Drudge turned in place, showing his flat smile and shook his head.  He took a step towards the young woman and her swirling devices. “Young heroes are so predictable.  Especially offspring of established heroes.” Drudge shrugged and pursed his lips while maintaining his current pace and direction. “They never measure up.  Fall short.  Can’t cut the mustard.” Again, he laughed.

Tinkerbelle’s eyes snapped open, showing a bright orange glow. The cobbled equipment, as one unit now, shambled towards the advancing Drudge and halted out of striking range of the well-muscled killer. Sparks emitted from the waist high automaton, and a tangle of wires fell to one side with the end lost in the rubble. Drudge spat forth a guffaw reminiscent of a schoolyard bully. He held his stomach and bent forward, wiping his eyes as he straightened.  Several people moaned in unison and a whispered prayer could be heard.

“Droid. Alpha one. Engage.” Tinkerbelle spat the command through tight lips and clenched teeth. A snap hiss and a grey, translucent sphere encased Drudge.  Taking a slow staggering step forward Tinkerbelle uttered, “I don’t have to defeat you.” She dared one more step. “I have to stall you.”

Drudge’s eyes bored through the field separating him from the young female hero, digging into hers. He threw an eyebrow up when he saw it and the smile drained from his face, chiseling his features in hate.

Cocking a basketball-sized fist back and slamming it forward, it met resistance in the grey field, causing the entire container to darken for an eye blink. It held without so much as a crack appearing. Drudge sneered with trembling lip, scrunched nose, and narrowed eyes. Igniting his fists with his destructive power, he swung twice more.  There was no visible effect to the field.

Tinkerbelle inhaled and let it out.  Repeating this, she stopped shaking.

Her flat tone belied the cheerful gleam in her eyes, “Droid. Alpha two. Engage.” A digital readout of a percent lit up. It counted backwards from one hundred. It blinked ninety-nine then jumped to ninety. Tinkerbelle tilted her head and gazed at Drudge, “You still have to breathe, don’t you?”

The percent readout jumped again. First to eighty, next came seventy-five, then to sixty.
Drudge’s eyes went wide as did his mouth. Spittle left his lips and collided with the surrounding field. The veins on his neck bulged and his back arched.  There was no noise on the outside of the field.

The display changed to fifty and flashed to forty.

One of Drudge’s knees flexed, then they both folded, putting the villain on all fours. Drudge’s mouth was still open and his shoulders heaved.  Sweat poured off his nose. Ramming his head into the field produced a bruise between his eyebrows and nothing more.

The display flashed thirty-five, thirty, twenty-five.

Drudge fell flat on his face, only his chest moved.

Tinkerbelle looked beyond the prone villain, smiled and waved the entering costumed people towards her.  The Sound Guard, Seattle’s premier hero group, stood around the sphere, some had mouths agape and others were wide eyed.

The display read twenty, ten, then zero.

Tinkerbelle chuckled, “Droid. Disengage.”

With a snap hiss, the grey barrier disappeared.  The Sound Guard snatched at Drudge’s appendages and one of them clamped on manacles that were made from a mysterious component.

“So,” Tinkerbelle said to Mach, the team speedster and leader. “About that position that ISN’T a sidekick.”


The blond haired youth sat on the edge of his seat, moving with erratic jerks and wild hand motions. The steady clicking sound penetrated the air and repetitive flashes on the screen filling his vision. The sound of an explosion followed by the metallic sound of a man screaming in agony dominated all other.

The clenched lips spat forth, “Son of a bi…”

“Randall,” the shouted, high-pitched voice cut through the length of the kitchen, the hall, and the deafening noise in the living room, bitting off the youth’s expletive. “Don’t use that language around the baby. I don’t want his first words to be swear words.” The youth turned his head and glared at the baby strapped into the bouncing seat. Randall twisted his lips and grumbled in a low voice. “And don’t you break another game controller. Those things don’t grow on trees,” the female voice said again. The baby let out a bubbling gurgle noise, smiled, tossed his arms and legs which set the chair to bouncing.

Randall glared at the baby again, shaking his head.

The TV emitted more video game combat noises and Randall jerked around while controlling his avatar on the screen. More violent noises escaped the speaker system. The explosion sound rattled the glass next to Randall. 

The female voice was just ahead of the body it was emanating from, “Turn that down. You’ll go deaf listening to noises that loud.” The woman stood with hands on hips, a smirk on her lips, and an eyebrow cocked high. “Imagine what it would be like if you were deaf and had to wear a hearing aid.”

Randal fiddled with the controller and let out a heavy, low breath,”I’m dead anyway.” The game system shut off followed by the TV.

Smiling the woman picked up the glass and other dishes near Randall, “Good. Old Ms. Fitspatrick has some work she needs done. You should go and see if you can help her.”

Randall dragged himself to his feet and stretched, “She needs to pay more than five bucks.” The tone of his voice moved with his stretch.

Stopping in mid stride, the woman tilted her head forward and looked through her widened eyes, “She is on a fixed income and you be nice.” While gently poking the boy on the nose, “And no powers.” The woman whirled around and continued on her path to the kitchen.

The boy’s pitch went higher as his hands spread out, “What!  She always wants something big and heavy moved. How’em I supposed to do that without powers?”

Before cresting the archway into the hall, the woman pursed her lips and glanced down her nose at the boy, “You know the rules. You’re in middle school and you need to act like it.”

Randall grimaced and turned to look away from the woman, “Yeah, middle school again. I used to punch strongholds open and fling heavy vehicles for miles. Not to mention I’m bullet-proof.”

The woman, returning form the kitchen with empty hands, pointed at Randall, “You are still able to do all of those things, but you need to keep your cover for now. Plus you are almost thirteen, not forty-eight. No more beer and cigars.” Randall looked at the ceiling as the woman moved through the living room picking up a jacket and some shoes. “Don’t let me catch you peeking into Gina Kyle’s bedroom again. She is old enough to be your mother.”

A grin passed over Randall’s lips as he looked down and muttered, “Fine.” Randall let his arms flop to his sides as the woman left the room. “The last three months haven’t been all that bad. At least I reset to twelve.” He beamed down at the baby held tight in the seat. “From forty-eight to twelve years beats fifty-one to eight months.” He laughed at his own joke. “Still an arch nemeses, though. I stopped your ray from spreading out, but you managed to kludge it back together in a few seconds. That was impressive. It only affected the two of us.” Bending down he tickled the infant’s chin. In a sing-song voice Randall said, “Isn’t dat wight, iddle doctor entropy. Isn’t dat wight.” The baby giggled, kicked his feet, and flailed his hands.

The smell hit him like a smack in the face. “Whoa!  Gladys – I mean Mom. Doctor Entropy – I mean Davey needs a diaper change.” Randall moved for the door and closed it shut behind him.