Special Delivery – Karl

Karl Roberts tossed his head back, then sucked in a large mouthful of his beverage. The three pills went down. “Blah!” Karl flicked his tongue across his teeth. He then took several swallows of his beverage, stopping when the last bit went through the nozzle of his large sports water bottle.

At his workstation, he signed into the computer, opened his mini-fridge, and pulled out an apple. The largest of his three monitors filled with blank squares and a message in the center.

In queue. Waiting.

His eyes darted over to the laptop screen. The email on Karl’s screen updated him on various things over night. After reading each message, he deleted or kept it. Several emails disappeared from his inbox. He leaned back and waited.

The first shift is always the quietest. I see why Vivian, Anders, and Lloyd take it. Well, I know why they put Lloyd on it.

Karl munched on his apple while his eyes picked up scanning all of his monitors. It wasn’t long before he stood and paced in the small confines of his workstation. The thigh tapping soon followed. Several seconds later, mindless humming and other mouth noises began.

“Yup. The first shift is the quietest,” Karl said.

“It used to be, until you started working it.” Anders looked over his monitors and shook his head. “You should do something about that A.D.D. of yours, Momentum.”

Karl stopped all movement. With pinched lips and narrowed eyes, he stared at Anders. “Roly-poly, I’m sure you remember reading the memo on made up code names. If I am not mistaken, you have a few strikes against you in that area.”

“Fine, Karl.” Anders turned his head back to his monitors. “Just please try to keep the noise to a minimum.”

“Fair enough, Anders.”

Volt & Daedalus is on mission.

This flashed on Karl’s larger monitor. Finally, some action. Or at least something to monitor.

Karl turned and watched as two of the four squares populated with a headshot of both heroes and their initial vitals. He noted their names in a bolded font and gold in color.

Karl took a box of cookies out of a drawer. He munched on a handful. Reaching into the mini-fridge, Karl pulled out another large sports water bottle. He took a long pull from the liquid.

Fisticuffs is on mission.

Karl acknowledged the message and a third box filled on his monitor. Unlike the others, the third was in a normal sized font and white.

Three hours passed. All three clients’ vitals had spiked, but they didn’t stay there long. As the fourth hour crested, Volt & Daedalus’ boxes cleared from the screen.

Karl called up the GPS coordinates for Fisticuffs. According to the map, the coordinates weren’t too far away.

BEEP! BEEP!

Karl’s head jerked to the monitor. Fisticuffs’ vitals spiked and remained for a minute.

Karl checked his uniform and put his utility belt on. Last, he checked his shoes. Being a runner, he needed specialized foot gear. Everything was set and secured.

Fisticuffs vitals jumped higher, then an unconscious indicator showed across the box. Pulling the last of his drink into his mouth, Karl darted out the launch bay and down the stairs.

A quick glance at his wrist panel showed Karl he was only seven miles from Fisticuffs last location. Karl put his head down and leaned into his sprint.

A left, three blocks, right, five blocks, a diagonal to the left, then one block. He is in an alley.

A mere ten-seconds passed and Karl turned into the alley. There was an odd sound, and Karl felt a tug on his left foot. He looked down and saw smoke wisps rising from his foot. Losing his running rhythm he fell, rolling to a stop against a prone form.

Scrambling to a seated position, Karl scanned the body. “Fisticuffs? My name is EMT Second Class Roberts. I am your transport. Are you conscious?”

There was no response. Karl probed for a pulse and found one. He confirmed his location with his wrist panel. A blue dot appeared three blocks from where his red dot blinked on the display.

Karl stood and felt off balance. He looked at his feet. The left foot, the one that was shorter than the right by two inches, didn’t have the extended sole anymore. Being born this way, he was used to the shoes, but since his powers kicked in, no one noticed it when he hauled ass.

Karl leaned down to pick up the unconscious super hero.

“No. No. Don’t do that.”

Karl jerked upright.

“You see, we did that to the indomitable Fisticuffs. And, we are going to take your belt. The one with the drugs in it.”

The two figures came into view from the shadows. Both were solid and well-built and both had on masks. The familiar voice spoke again. “My name is Vapor, and this is my companion, Two-Step.” Vapor extended a hand, but Karl flinched back. The hand kept coming though. The arm, hand, and body it was attached to turned to smoke, and a tendril darted behind Karl.

“You see. I can move like that and it will be hard for you to stop me.”

Karl felt Vapor touch his belt. A snap-hiss sounded and the grey forcefield popped into place around Karl.

“Ahhhh!!” Vapor pulled his hand back, shaking it. “I see you are well equipped. Let’s see how you deal with physical confrontation.”

Karl knew the regulations on dealing with robbers. He was to defend himself, the client if possible, and get the hell out of there. “I don’t want trouble. I just want to take Fisticuffs and be on my way. Let me do that and I won’t report you.”

The robber named Two-Step shuffled forward with fists up. He led with a simple one-two combination. Karl pivoted one direction, then another, letting the punches go by him.

Karl spoke out loud, placing a hand on his ear. “Control,thisisEMTRobertsontheFisticuffs’call.IambeingrobbedbytwoindividualsthatcallthemselvesTwo-StepandVapor.”

“Say again, EMT. You are speaking too fast.” The voice sounded in his ear.

Karl stopped moving. “I said. This is EMT Roberts. I am on the Fisticuffs’ call.” BSSSRRKKK!

Karl felt his body move in the air for a second, then the motion stopped. Looking up from his seated position, he noticed Two-Step shaking a hand. Karl’s forcefield held and kept him from feeling the punch and the collision with the wall.

Getting to his feet, Karl spat, “Fuck this shit.” He clenched his fists, then set his feet to run.

“Forget it kid. Two-Step has your rhythm.” Vapor pointed to his partner. “Aside from enhanced strength, that is what he does. He sees your rhythm and predicts what you are going to do, then he punches you.”

“I just want to get my client.” Karl pointed to the slumped form as it moaned. “He’s still alive and I have a reputation of keeping them that way.”

“Well, that may be. But for now, give us the drugs and we will be on our marry way.”

“No deal.”

Karl darted forward with a limping stride. Two-Step focused in on the speedster. His head flinched back, and his eyebrows squished together. Two-Step brought up loose fists and stepped back a pace.

The narrow alley didn’t allow for Karl to get to full speed, but it was enough to clear the distance to his target in a second. With his limited velocity adding to his force, Karl landed three punches in a row.

The blood showed on Two-Step’s lips, followed by the red mark on his cheek. Two-Step’s hands opened. He took several steps back from both Karl and the prone form of Fisticuff.

Vapor transformed into mist and floated toward the melee.

Karl turned on a dime, and bent to pick up his client. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the misted form descend over him.

Raising up, Karl extended both of his arms. From there, he spun both arms in tight circles. This sent a wind blast, though not a large one, at the villain. Mist tendrils peeled off and dissipated. In a few seconds enough of the mist had thinned that, Karl stopped and picked up Fisticuffs.

In a fluid motion, Karl bolted towards the medical facility. Inside he deposited his client, then filled out the forms.

“Fisticuffs would like to speak to you.” The doctor took the clipboard from Karl.

“Sure.” Karl limped back to the triage area. On the table, he saw the hero sitting up. Both of Fisticuff’s eyes had black and blue rings under them. His nose didn’t look straight, and there were contusions on his body.

“Are you the kid that brought me in?”

“Yes, sir.” Karl stood inside the door.

“How the hell did you get me out of there?” Fisticuff tilted his head as he lifted an arm letting someone stitch a wound.

“Well, I ran into a trip trap and it took the bottom of my shoe off.”

“What?” Fisticuff looked at the runner’s feet.

“One of my legs is shorter than the other by two inches.” Karl stood with both feet side by side. His right knee flexed to show the difference.

“What does that have to do with anything?” Fisticuffs rubbed his head.

“Well, Two-Step reads rhythm and can predict your next action.”

“Yeah, I know that.” Fisticuff sucked a sharp breath over his teeth. “I take him out fast, but for some reason he was faster than I was.”

“I don’t know about that.” Karl limped forward. “When I ran at him, limping like this, he looked confused. Like he couldn’t read me. So, while his mind was processing it, I tagged him.”

“No shit!” Fisticuffs smiled. “That right there is some good info. Thanks.”

“Sure thing.” Karl turned and left. He took off at full speed, clearing the distance to his workstation in under three minutes.

#

“How’s that A.D.D. working for you?” Anders walked into his workstation as Karl got back.

“Not too bad. How about you? Eat any small children?” Karl smirked back at Anders.

An email indicator flashed on Karl’s screen. He tapped the email and read it.

Karl,

Thanks for the assist and added information. I need to work that into my training.

That leg issue has to be some form of problem for a runner like yourself. I hope you don’t have to pay for that out of your pay. Just in case, you have a present coming.

Fisticuffs (Karl Jenkins).

Mr. Danforth walked across the room towards Karl. “Roberts. The next time you use the radio, you need to slow down. You and that A.D.D. speak makes it hard for control to understand you.”

Anders made a rude noise, then turned back to his monitors.

“We had to slow down your recording to get that you were attacked.” Mr. Danforth stared at Anders. “You could’ve been killed. You know my three rules. If you need a refresher, talk to Anders there. Don’t do that shit again.”

Anders turned red at this, locked his station, then hurriedly walked off.

Mr. Danforth placed a box on Karl’s desk. “This came, special delivery.”

Karl took the box and opened it. He pulled a metallic alloy shoe extension out of it. A small note was attached.

This thing is lite and durable. Should keep that limp at bay. – F

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