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.


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