Brazier

Brazier walked through the Midway of Fantastik Fun Forall. It was the first week of summer vacation and the amusement park teamed with people. The promotion the park used coincided with Pride week, and Brazier volunteered immediately.

Brazier kept his private life private. At the same time, he managed to be a public figure for the LGBT community.

Several people took his picture as he walked by. More than one person approached and asked to pose with them for pictures. Brazier was more than willing to do this. He enjoyed interacting with the public.

“Figures he would be here,” a loud voice shouted. “Mister Flaming himself.”

Several people turned their attention to the voice. A tall, solid build man with a shaved head was attached to the voice. The bald man stood with a hip cocked. He held a tattoo covered arm with a limp wrist. He even batted his eyes lashes for effect.

“Give me a break,” the man said as he walked through the parting crowd. “You aren’t even a top list hero.”

Brazier snorted and smirked. “I choose to be my own person and not live up to other’s unreasonable expectations.”

“Whatever, queer,” the bald man said. “You got your ass handed to you by Widget. The dwarf that makes dumb-ass machines and robs banks.” He made a rude noise and dismissive gesture.

Brazier flushed and shifted his stance. “Widget got the best of me when I stepped in on his latest robbery attempt.” Brazier shook his head and stepped forward. “I trapped him under his own equipment by melting it. That means I got him in the end.”

“In the end,” the bald man laughed. “I bet you did, cupcake.”

Brazier’s lip twitched as he caught the double entendre he let slip.

A loud cheer went up in the distance. The crowd turned to look. Paragon lowered from the air amidst the throng of people near the autograph tables.

“That is a man’s man,” the bald headed man said, while tossing a thumb over his shoulder. “Ladies fawn over him. Paragon defeats top shelf villains. Plus, he dishes out beatings on a regular basis.”

“You forget that Paragon has a secret identity,” Brazier said. “No one really knows what he’s like out of uniform.”

“Shit,” the bald man said, dragging out the word. “I bet he has women throwing themselves at him.” The bald headed man put both hands on his hips. “Have you seen the way Silverwing behaves around him? I bet they bump uglies daily.” The bald man pulled both his fists back as he thrust his hips forward. He laughed and stuck out his tongue.

“That’s sexist, pervert,” a woman shouted from the crowd. “Just leave. There’s no room for bigotry like that anymore.”

Pointing at the woman, the bald man showed a greasy smile. “You sound like someone that needs a good one-night stand.” The bald man winked at the woman.

“What seems to be the problem over here, Brazier?” Paragon walked into the opening.

Another man pointed at the bald man. “This asshat is spouting off,” the man said.

“Be polite,” Paragon said, wagging a finger at the man. His rich baritone carried over the crowd. “We are entitled to free speech here. Even if it is mean and spiteful.”

“That’s right,” the bald man said. “I can say what I want about you fairies and there’s nothing you can do about it. Paragon is here to protect my rights.”

“No,” Paragon said. “That is for the cops. I came over here for this.”

Reaching a hand up to Brazier’s head, Paragon leaned in and locked his lips with Brazier’s.

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Lavender

Lavender walked up the steps. She held the three bottles of water, two hotdogs, and her game program. She stopped at row 304. Checking her ticket, she saw seat 14. “Excuse me,” she said, raising her voice and showing a beaming smile.

Two large men looked up at her, smiled, and then stood. She now had enough room to inch past the two men. Stepping into the row, she worked passed four other people, and a drink vendor.

Lavender sat on the bench with the faded 14 painted on it. She put two bottles under her seat and began munching on one of the hotdogs.

Six minutes of match play expired since she purchased her food. Lavender watched as her favorite soccer team, the Smashers, ran over the field. To her, they seemed to be better equipped than the Titans.

The fan clubs started with their chants, each one taunting the other team. A few single fans dished out friendly ribbing as they passed each other on the steps and even in the seats.

A few more minutes ticked by and the Smashers scored a goal. With it being a home game, the bleachers erupted with cheers and thunderous noise.

A few minutes after the tumult died down, the Titans landed on the scoreboard. The cheering, though not as prevalent, was just as loud.

“That was an excellent play,” Lavender said to herself around the last half of her second hotdog.

The game resumed. “Oh, that was a bad call by the ref,” Lavender said with a grimace. Titan fans agreed and let others know with cat calls and name calling.

Williams, a player on the Smahsers acquired a yellow card a few minutes before the half. Again the Smashers fans in the stands erupted. A few individual fans scuffled and were escorted from their seat by security.

The fan clubs kicked their chants into high gear. Each club worked at outdoing the other club and then pushed it up a notch.

Lavender moved for the stairs before half time started. Her nose twitched as she landed on the walkway. A shiver danced over her spine, and her arms turned to goose-flesh.

“This can’t be good,” she whispered. Her head turned and her eyes scanned the crowd. Frustration, anger, and even resentment flashed across several spectator’s faces. “Oh, dear,” Lavender said and moved into the tunnel under the seats.

She hustled across the open space, past a concession stand, and dashed into the women’s restroom. Slamming a stall door closed, she focused on calm feelings and simple happiness. Lavender’s clothes shifted and morphed into something entirely different. Her shorts extended past her knees and hugged her legs. The peasant top shrunk and covered her arms to the wrists. An emblem of a dove appeared just below her collar bones. A swath of purple appeared over her eyes and around her head, holding her hair in place.

Lavender entered the restroom but her alter ego, Solace, exited.

A loud noise came from the seating area. Solace dashed through the same tunnel and found chaos ruling. Several people wearing Titans colors were beating a single individual wearing a Smashers jersey. Security guards were being pummeled by other people that didn’t wear any affiliation clothing.

Taking a large breath and exhaling, Solace took flight. Once in the air she reassessed the crowd. The two fan clubs had cleared the distance separating them and were in an all-out brawl with each other. Adults everywhere were fighting. A few teenagers were even involved.

The sight of two young children pulled Solace’s attention. They were in the way of two large men and about to be trampled. Solace hurried over to the younglings and stood in the path. “Peace and gentleness,” she said, letting the smile spread across her lips and lighting her eyes.

The two burly men paused, looked at Solace, blinked twice, and then looked around. Both men looked at each other then back to Solace.

“What’s done is done,” the petite hero said. “Let it go. Please see these children to safety.” Solace turned to show the two kids behind her.

“Oh, crap!” One man leaned forward and scooped up a kid, the other man ushered the second child in front of him. “We got this lady. Thanks.”

“You are welcome, good sir,” Solace smiled and scanned the crowd again.

“Ahhhh,” the high pitched voice said from over the soccer pitch. “My lovely sister has graced us with her presence.”

Solace turned to see her identical twin hovering out of reach. Aside from their costumes, they matched in every visible way. Their powers were even identical. The difference was how they chose to use them.

“Conflict,” Solace called out. “You’re the cause of this?”

“Sort of,” the slender black clad woman said. “I just enhanced what was already there. You already know this.”

Solace stepped from the steps and into the air. “Connie, stop this. People are going to kill each other.” In answer to her statement, two people were thrown over the railing to land in the grass of the pitch.

“That doesn’t matter,” Conflict laughed. “They want to do this any way. Otherwise, they would just stop.”

Solace turned, looking at the crowd. In just the few moments of conversation, it seemed as if the violence increased.

“If you won’t stop this, then I will,” Solace grimaced at her sister.

“Right.” Conflict let out a belly laugh. “You go into that and stop it. That’s hilarious, Ms. Pacifist.”

A loud banging noise sounded overhead. Solace looked up and saw the speaker. Her head darted to the wall of glass indicating the announcer’s booth.

Solace turned back and humphed at her sister.

Throwing her arms back and leaning into her path, Solace zoomed to the announcer’s booth. The door was already broken and four people were knocked out, laying strewn over the floor. Going inside, she saw two more people struggle with each other.

Solace reached up and touched both of their shoulders. “Calm down. I need help. Make it so I can talk over this.” Holding a microphone, Solace’s eyes bored into the two women.

Without even bothering to straighten themselves up, both women reached over and flipped switches.

A quick squeal of feedback sounded, but people kept fighting. Conflict looked at the booth.

“Excuse me,” Solace’s clam, quiet voice came over the sound system.

The people didn’t even acknowledge that someone even spoke. Conflict laughed louder.

Solace’s voice warbled, “Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky.” Her voice picked up in volume and tone. A handful of people stopped and looked at the nearest speaker.

“Imagine all the people, living for today – aha-ah.” Solace’s words flowed and fit the familiar melody. More people stopped fighting. Three began mouthing the words.

Conflict looked at the crowd. “Come on! Get to it!” Conflict flew into the crowd. “You two,” she pointed at two men. “Fight!”

Both men looked at Conflict, then shook their heads. One made a dismissive gesture.

Conflict’s eyes turned into saucers. She clinched and unclenched her fists. “Stop it!”

“Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do,” Solace’s voice filled the stadium. “Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too.”

Everyone stopped fighting. Several picked up the song and added their voices.

“NO!” Conflict smacked someone. She grabbed another person and locked eyes with them. “Kill Solace!”

The young man broke from Conflict and shook his head. “Get lost, creep!”

“Imagine all the people, living life in peace…You…”

The entire stadium picked up the song. Bodies swayed and smiles were passed along. People slowly straightened themselves up and cleaned up messes. They continued singing.

With a growl, Conflict flew from the stadium.

Half time was extended so the players and spectators could finish cleaning up. Lavender found her seat in time for the second half. “This is the life.” Lavender reached under her seat and pulled out a bottle of water. She took the first sip as the whistle blew starting the half.


“Imagine” Words and Music by John Lennon

©1971

Special Delivery – Anders

Anders Brady switched from his large gorilla form to his human appearance. Once in the locker room, he stripped his uniform off and covered himself with a towel. After grabbing his shower kit, he picked up his bottle of body wash. The feel and heft of the bottle was off, and he looked at it. A very different label read Homer’s flea & tick shampoo.

“Hilarious. Just so funny,” Anders said while rolling his eyes. Shaking his head, he tossed the bottle into the nearby garbage can, then reached for the real body wash.

Twenty-five minutes later, Anders walked out of the locker room.

Amanda Charles waved him over. With a heavy sigh, Anders detoured in her direction. “Good job on the Fisticuffs call, earlier. He said you were fast and thorough.”

A corner of Anders mouth twitched. “Yeah, well, I am a professional.”

Amanda cocked a hip, lowered her clipboard, and tilted her head. “Look. You know-”

“Drop it,” Anders held up a hand. “I get it. My report needs to be filed and my shift isn’t complete.” Without waiting for a response, he turned on his heels and headed to his workstation.

Anders took several deep breaths before sitting down.

Logging in, his monitor flashed three names. Boulder, Xanx, and Damsel. Each name associated with a series of vitals, all within normal range. Following his normal routine he checked their locations and plotted potential paths to them.

While munching on his lunch, Anders read his email then filed his report for the Fisticuffs call. Checking on the vitals, he saw Boulder’s change, but not enough to warrant him paying a visit. Xanx’s vitals changed and stayed at the new level for over ten minutes, then lowered to normal.

Damsel’s vitals spiked. At the first beep, Anders had the map up and plotted the route. On the second beep, he switched over to his wrist panel and headed for the flyer’s launch area. At the long steady tone Anders called out, “EMT First Class Anders Brady responding to Damsel call.”

The tingle started in his gut then spread out. Hair sprouted over his body and his uniform stretched to fit his adjusted form. Anders’ arms became the size of tree trunks, his legs doubled that of his arms, and his face morphed to that of a large gorilla. He planted his two shovel sized hands on the pavement and pushed off.

With two loping strides, Anders leaped the distance to the next building. With this motion he cleared the four lane road fifteen stories below. His hands gripped the bar placed there for him and spun around it once before launching over to another building. Bounding off the side of the third building, Anders cleared a block and kept going.

Through his ape-like movements, Anders cleared the distance to Damsel’s last known location in a few minutes. A glance at his wrist panel showed the next building over to be his target. The next vault put him two floors below the roof of the building. His toes gripped the window ledge and his legs pushed him higher. Thick-fingered hands curled around the edge of the roof, then pulled him up to stand on it.

Anders’ head swiveled until he found the set of double doors leading to the maintenance area. A sudden yank, and the doors went wide. Lunging in, he bounded to the next landing. His wrist panel showed he needed to travel seven floors down to Damsel’s location.

Anders also noted that her vitals were declining. “This isn’t good,” his voice rumbled low in his throat. He gripped the hand rail and vaulted to the next landing. Next, he repeated this process until he was level with the blue dot that represented Damsel.

The door opened with an easy push and Anders went into the hallway. His wrist panel didn’t show a map of the building, but it showed how far away Damsel was. Dashing down the hallway, Anders approached an intersection. He turned to the right while checking his wrist panel. The blue dot moved closer as he strode the length of the hallway.

Several people darted for open doors or side halls as Anders stormed through. More than one called out “EMT coming through, clear the way!” Anders picked up the pace after hearing this.

Eventually, Anders stood next to the dot on his wrist panel. He found himself in a dead-end of a hall. He turned around,  didn’t see a door.

His wrist panel beeped, and he saw that Damsel’s vitals indicated she was asleep. “Or passed out,” he muttered. Anders placed a hand on a wall. Moving his fingers over the surface, he squinted as he slid his thick fingers over the dull grey paint.

An audible click sounded and a black line formed on the wall. A panel receded, then slid into the wall.

A man wearing a dark costume with various colored lines stood in the secret doorway. Six palm-sized flying devices wreathed his head. “What the..?”

“Out of the way,” Anders’ simian features growled. “I’m an EMT sent to get Damsel and take her to a hospital.” One of Anders tree trunk arms pushed the costumed man aside. He squeezed his bulk into the tiny walk way and advanced into a room the size of two closets.

Damsel slumped forward. The only thing keeping her in the seat were her hands tied behind it.

“Damsel,” Anders said with a loud stern voice. “I’m  your EMT. I need to transport you.”

A groan exited her rosebud shaped lips and her eyes fluttered open, then closed again.

“You aren’t going anywhere,” the nasal sounding voice said. Anders looked at the costumed man from before. “Damsel, and now you are my prisoner.”

The man flicked a hand. The small flying devices converged on Anders’ location. One sent an orange beam at Anders’ head.

“Owww!” Anders clutched his cheek. “I’m an EMT doing my job. She’s in critical condition and needs medical attention.” The sausage like finger extended at the blond haired hero.

“Possibly,” the costumed man said. “But I’m not letting her or you go. You’ll tell the Society. Then I’ll have to shut down my entire operation.” The man spread his hands wide. “I’ve worked too hard to get here, and no one is going to stop me.” The costumed man’s teeth clench and his nostrils flared as he pointed at Anders. “Put that monkey down!”

The machines encircling Anders zoomed in, each one letting out a beam.

Anders moved as best as the constricting room allowed. Several beams hit him, causing pain and making him flinch.

“Control. This is EMT Anders-”

“We’re aware EMT. Help is on the way,” the panicked voice over the earbud cut Anders’ words off.

Anders swatted at the small machines. His large flat hand batted two, making a hole for him to step through. In a single motion, he scooped Damsel, chair and all, and shouldered towards the door.

The devices targeted Anders expansive back as he squeezed into the three-step corridor. Their random bursts sent a steady stream of pain into his body, making him wince.

Anders pushed through the hall, then out the concealed door. The jam, plaster, and two potted plants crumbled as he muscled into the hallway.

The whir of the devices increased. The nasally sounding voice screamed behind Anders, “No! You’re not getting away. Theta-Epsilon!”

Several devices detached from wall, out of offices, and various other places. They converged behind and over Anders, making a dark machine-cloud. The machines morphed and merged into four basketball-sized devices.

Anders made a turn by bouncing off a corner and planting a hand on the floor. Two green beams pelted the walls, leaving softball-sized holes in their wake.

The machines made the turn, keeping close on Anders backside. Another shot a beam. Anders shifted, and the beam went over his shoulder. The window in front of him exploded.

“Control, this is Anders,” Anders shouted. “I’m transporting hero Damsel. My location will be the outside of the building I am presently located.”

The voice in the earbud responded. “Understood, EMT. Be safe.”

Anders paused at the open window and turned to face the machines. He reached an arm out the window and pulled himself out and up.

“NO!” The costumed man chasing Anders screamed. “Don’t let them get away!”

The devices zoomed after Anders.

Climbing the outside of the building was difficult. Anders managed to keep Damsel in the crook of his arm and rested her head in his palm. Using his free hand and both feet, he worked his way to the top of the building.

The devices zoomed around Anders. He couldn’t swat them away, instead he moved to the sides as best as he could. On more than one occasion, his handhold was shot out before he could take it. When this happened, he leaped to the side and repositioned.

Clearing the last floor, Anders reached the roof ledge. A blast rocketed through him and he bellowed at the top of his lungs. Damsel squirmed in his hand and her eyes flew open.

“Where am I,” she screamed. “Who are you? What are you doing?”

“I’m EMT Anders from Special Delivery,” Anders puffed out. “I’m trying to take you to a hospital.”

“What happened to Technix,” Damsel asked her head looking around. “Oh my God!” She pointed to one of the basketball-sized devices careening towards them.

Anders turned in a smooth fashion, jumped into the air, and volleyball spiked the device into the roof. It broke into several parts, each one sparking and two igniting on fire.

The maintenance doors burst open and Technix ran through. He extended a hand and the three remaining flying items merged into one larger item.

Anders’ eyes went wide, and he sucked in air. His uniform was torn and there were scorch marks. He spun his head around, looking for an escape route.

“We need to go,” Damsel shouted. “He’s going to kill us.”

“No shit, lady,” Anders growled.

Anders’ eyes went wide, and he grunted. Using both legs and his free hand, he bolted across the open space of the roof in a simian trot. “Hang on. I found one.”

Damsel rolled her head over and saw the tiny gap between the two buildings across the way. “You can’t be serious.”

“Unless you know something I don’t,” Anders retorted.

The large flying device shot out several electronic blasts in rapid succession. Each blast bit into the roof, scattering debris. More than once, a few blasts were close enough to singe Anders’ fur.

Damsel sat up as best as she could, grunting with pain. She pulled a device from her belt and tossed it over Anders’ shoulder. The arc the handheld device traveled carried it in front of Technix. Biting into the roof, the device erupted and spewed gelatinous fluid. Technix stepped back, but it wasn’t enough to keep him from getting covered. In the next second the fluid hardened, encasing Technix’s arms, one leg, and the front of his torso.

Anders planted both feet on the ledge, feeling his toes curl over the corner of the building. Compressing both legs, he leaned into the open air. He caught a glimpse of the traffic below. Six lanes of morning commute traffic. Gravity pulled on his heavy frame and he went past the point of no return. Extending his free hand, he pushed his legs straight.

Anders and his patient took to the air. Bestial roars coming from both mouths. The power of the jump carried them past one lane, then the next. Damsel’s hair fluttered behind her as the wind blew by. Spit flew from Anders’ open mouth.

With the third lane cleared, the duo also descended four floors of the building.

Anders’ body extended to it’s fullest when they cleared lanes four and five.

Halfway over six, Damsel saw what Anders aimed for. A cross bar set between the buildings. At the moment they were several stories above it, but they were falling faster.

The cement of the sidewalk and faces of the pedestrians blinked into focus. Damsel felt her ears pop.

Several people screamed and pointed up.

The sudden jerk forced Damsel flat on the furry arm of Anders.

Anders released the bar at the apex of his swing and pushed off a building. “Made it!”

Damsel stared at Anders. Her lips moved, but nothing came out. The fingers of one hand twined into his fur.

Bouncing off several more buildings and a few acrobatic turns, and Anders landed at the emergency room entrance. He placed Damsel on the gurney and smiled. “One Damsel in distress, rescued. I can check that one off the bucket list.”

Damsel blushed as she waved. The people in white coats wheeled her off.

Anders turned to leave. Two black boots and a fluttering cape caught his eye, and he waited.

“Are you Anders Brady?” The voice came from the well muscled form wearing the cape and midnight blue costume. Paladin landed.

“Uh..Yeah,” Anders said, his face flashing fear, happiness, confusion, and several more emotions.

“I’m here to give you this,” Paladin held out a gold plastic card. The laser hologram emblem of the Society on one side sparkled.

“Whoa!” Anders wide eyes turned back towards Paladin. “What is this for?”

“It’s an access key,” Paladin answered. “I’m pretty sure you know to what building.”

“Yeah,” Anders answered, running a large hand over his monkey head.

“Be there tomorrow at eight. Orientation for new highers begin at 8:30.” Paladin hovered then flew away.

Super Paranoid

“Oh, no,” Gina quietly gasped, as her hand hovered over her open mouth. Ronald leaned in close with a questioning look. “Uncle Howard actually showed up.” She nodded across the lawn towards the solidly build older man.

“So,” Ronald turned, looking at the man. “He was on the list your mother gave me.”

“There should have been a pink star next to his name,” Gina rolled her eyes and let out a heavy sigh.

“He might have,” Ronald swallowed a sip of his punch. “What does that mean?”

“It’s the organization thing my mom does,” Gina’s narrowed eyes darted to Ronald then back to her Uncle Howard. “It means invite to the important events like funerals, or weddings.” She clenched her teeth, “Not to ordinary things like the once a decade family reunion picnic.”

Ronald ran a hand through his hair, and hooked his neck, “Uh…I’m not following.”

“Uncle Howard is special,” Gina said with a tilt to her head. “He’s retired now, but he continues to find problems everywhere.”

Ronald blinked at her.

“Uncle Howard used to be called Cobblestone,” Gina whispered then sighed.

Ronald froze with his cup midway to his mouth, his eyes unblinking. “Wait! THE Cobblestone?” His head jerked towards Uncle Howard, then back. Ronald’s cheeks flushed and his eyes sparkled. “Wow!”

Gina let out an “Oh boy,” under her breath. “Yes. THE Cobblestone.” She shook her head with her eyes closed. “Now, it’s just sad.”

“What do you mean,” Ronald asked, shifting to stand closer.

“In his last few days of super hero duty, he defeated Brood,” Gina answered. Ronald nodded. “Brood threatened to get even, like all the villains do.”

“Yeah, so what?” Ronald’s face contorted into annoyance. “Tell me something I didn’t see on the news.”

“Well, Brood is a telepath,” Gina tapped a finger on her temple. “He uses his brain powers to affect things and attack.”

Ronald arched an eyebrow and sighed. “OK.” He drew the word out.

“If something happens to Uncle Howard, he thinks it’s Brood getting even,” Gina said, looking at her feet.

Ronald shook his head, “I’m still not following.”

“Here we go,” Gina nodded towards Uncle Howard.

Ronald turned to see a football roll away from Uncle Howard. Howard stood stiff, with his eyes darting around the lawn. He moved his head to the right, eyes scanning.

Everyone at the picnic went quiet. Several people stepped away from Howard.

Howard’s head turned the other direction.

The kids that threw the football stopped in their approach to their toy.

“I know you’re here,” Howard shouted. He crunched the plastic cup in his hand, spilling the contents to the grass. “Show yourself, you base coward.” Howard’s skin turned red. Dark outlines in random patterns formed over his skin. His shirt ripped, followed by his pants and shoes.

“Oh,” Ronald drew this word out. “I see.”

Howard dashed to the side, smashing through the picnic table that held the food. “Brood! I’ll find you!”

“Quick,” Gina said to Ronald. “Call Denise.” She stepped away from Ronald with her head turning this way and that. “She’ll come and help calm him down.” Gina bolted towards the kids. “Vince, code puppy-dog. Code puppy-dog.”

Battle

Jayhawk walked the dark aisle way towards the entrance of the arena. The scent of alcohol, sweat, and perfume permeated the air, making his head swim. The blaring cacophony made it hard to hear over his earbud.

While he waited, Jayhawk clenched and unclenched both fists, checked his equipment belt, and ensured his helmet was secured. Staring across the arena at the other entrance, he saw his opponent, the Golden Sentinel.

“Ladies and gentlemen. Distinguished judges.” The disembodied voice of the announcer sounded over unseen speakers. “Tonight, we are down to the final two candidates. They are battling for the title of City Defender.” The word Defender reverberated around the arena and surrounding spectator areas.

The crowd erupted with cheers and shouts.

“So far, these two have been equally matched in each of the previous contests. They are also well known in the city and surrounding area. I present to you, the Golden Sentinel and Jayhawk.” Again, the last words bounced around unseen areas of the arena and the crowd noise swelled.

The gate in front of Jayhawk sprung open. Taking the cue, he dashed in. A rolling dive let him dodge the weapon the Golden Sentinel threw. As Jayhawk sprung to his feet, he spotted the Golden Sentinel shaking his head.

PONG!

Stars burst into Jayhawks vision and he collapsed to the surface of the arena.

The crowd gasped, then belted out a cheer with applause.

Jayhawk forced himself to his feet and scrambled for a nearby obstacle, using it for cover. He felt the back of his helmet. It was covered in spider web cracks and flexed when he put pressure on it.

The hairs on the back of Jayhawk’s neck stood up. A quick glance and he saw the shadow pressing down on him. Darting a hand to his belt he pressed a secret button.

The Golden Sentinel vaulted over the large cement obstacle and reached for Jayhawk. His entire body tensed and he fell to the ground with a loud thump and a loud scream.

“You’re not the only one that has surprises,” Jayhawk chuckled. “Electric counter-measures.”

Jayhawk looked at his target, the green flag flapping in the imitation breeze of the arena.

Scampering over several low obstacles, Jayhawk took the path of least resistance for the flag. Being the easier path, made it longer.

The Golden Sentinel moaned as he stood. He shook his cowl-masked head to clear the cobwebs. After a quick check of his opponent’s progress, the Golden Sentinel fired a grapnel line. The small wench on this belt pulled the Golden Sentinel towards his destination.

Jayhawk watched as the Golden Sentinel zipped into the air. A quick flick and a small disk shot from Jayhawk, severing the line Golden Sentinel had. The Sentinel plummeted to the arena floor amidst other obstacles.

Cheers and jeers rose from the crowd, and Jayhawk moved faster with his opponent out of commission.

The Golden Sentinel scrambled to his feet and dashed for the flag. As he climbed an obstacle, he aimed his grapnel gun again. Firing, the dart penetrated the lower leg of Jayhawk.

“Aahhhhhh,” Jayhawk screamed, clutching his leg, then collapsed on the platform.

The crowd gasped as they watched the expanded view on the jumb-o-trons placed high above their seating areas. Several booed, but a few cheered.

The Golden Sentinel activated the wench on his grapnel gun again and climbed to where Jayhawk lay sprawled. “Tough break.”

Several low sounding boo’s wafted over the arena as the Golden Sentinel advanced closer to the flapping flag.

Staggering to his feet, Jayhawk pulled a small item from his belt. With a hard flick of his arm, the device connected with the knee of the Golden Sentinel. A splat of blood hit the surface of the obstacle, and the Golden Sentinel dropped to keep from falling over the edge.

Again, the crowd expressed their amazement at what the possible heroes were doing to each other.

Jayhawk limped after the Golden Sentinel, passing the prone hero and advancing to the next platform.

Both heroes slowly worked their way closer to the flag. They both landed on the large, raised platform opposite each other.

“You’re not going to make it,” Jayhawk said and tossed a handful of pellets at the Golden Sentinel.

The Golden Sentinel rolled to the side to avoid the small projectiles, but wasn’t fast enough. The pellets exploded with little pops and a foam advanced over the form of the Golden Sentinel.

At the same time, the Golden Sentinel tossed a single disk at Jayhawk. Kicking the device, it exploded in a puff of smoke encasing Jayhawk. Within seconds he was coughing like a 30-year smoker.

Still both struggled to reach the flag.

The Golden Sentinel extended a hand, but it was covered in the foam, halting all advancement. It even covered his face.

Jayhawk felt his entire body go limp, and he fell to all fours, then to his belly, and lastly stopped. His arm, much like the Golden Sentinel, was extended, but not touching the flag.