Sibling Rivalry

Janice stood by the food vendor’s open door. “One deep-fried candy bar for the lovely lady.” The vendor leaned out with a smile on her face. With a deft hand, he swapped the food for the five dollar bill in Janice’s hand.

“That stuff is gonna be the death of you,” a man said approaching Janice. “Not to mention destroy all those workouts you do.”

Janice turned with a scowl on her face to face the voice. The grimace turned to a smile as she connected eyes with the man. “Harold! You made it.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for anything,” Harold said. “One of four times we get together without fighting.”

“Yeah,” Janice said around a mouth full of melted candy bar. “Plus it’s public, so plenty of witnesses.”

“You’re my sister,” Harold affected a stunned look. “I would never dream of hurting you.”

“Putting me in the ICU is another matter.” Janice rolled her eyes as she tilted her head, still munching on the candy bar.

“I’ve apologized for that.” Harold leaned in close. “And I made sure Shox paid for it.”

“It’s good to see my big brother still looks after me.” Janice pulled in the last of the candy bar and tossed the stick in a garbage can. “Does he still not like midway rides?” She glanced in the direction of a large sign pointing to the rides.

“You know they make me sick.” Harold moved for the sign, following Janice’s lead. “But you are welcome to ride them all you want.”

“Let me get this straight,” Janice said walking towards the midway. “You fly at high rates of speed. Perform complex maneuvers in fights. Free fall from great heights and pull off fantastic feats at the drop of a hat without practice. But a little hurky jerk on a rollercoaster and up comes lunch.”

“What can I say,” Harold said with a smile. “I’m just born this way.” He continued to walk with his sister.

“Speaking of being born this way,” Janice said, moving closer to her brother. “Have you heard about the bill that Senator Carlton is pushing?”

“Yup,” Harold answered. “My team is working on a rebuttal as we speak.”

“The last time you rebutted something like this, six people died.” Janice by ring toss booth.

Harold handed the attendant a five dollar bill and took three rings. He tossed the first ring and it landed on the neck of a bottle. “Correction. Six bigots died.”

“They were still people.” Janice looked around. No one was really paying their conversation any attention.

“They even whined when you and your team saved the rest.” Harold tossed the next two rings in rapid succession. Both sunk onto a bottleneck. The barker handed him a large stuffed dog. Janice gave a mock golf clap.

“You didn’t have to fill their lungs with gas.” Janice reached for the dog. “They didn’t even have filters or masks.” She continued on her previous path.

“It was self defense.” Harold walked next to Janice. “They shot and killed Lariat. Even the news had that one on video.”

“OK,” Janice said. “I’ll give you that. But being violent doesn’t help.”

“Passive is too slow and the results are flakey at best.” Harold pointed to another game of chance. This one the milk bottles.

Janice put down a ten and demanded six balls. The attendant handed over seven. “Good luck lady.”

“You’ve barely managed to stop legislature and deter riots over civil liberties off Meta-Humans.” Harold, holding the large dog, watched Janice’s technique.

“Well,” Janice said, flinging a side armed pitch that knocked over all three metal milk bottles. “At least no one get hurt.”

“Are you kidding?” Harold laughed. “You’ve put people in the hospital. Even dished out a few permanent limps.”

The attendant stepped back from setting up the bottles. Janice flung her next ball. “OK, so people get hurt. On both sides.” All three bottles crashed again. “It seems that both of us are gaining ground, but just very slowly.” The attendant moved to set the bottles up again.

“True.” Harold nodded. “But I don’t have to keep reminding people. I say something once, and they get it.”

In a quick fire motion, Janice sent the next three balls at three other pyramids of milk bottles. The attendant looked at the mess of bottles, then back to Janice. She waved the last ball. Letting out a heavy sigh, the attendant set one set of bottles. No sooner had he stepped back, then Janice let the last ball fly, once again knocking them over. The attendant looked at Janice and she pointed to an extra large stuffed panda bear. The attendant handed the bear to Janice, who handed it to Harold.

“How’s the intimidation thing working for you?” Janice held the prize Harold had won for her. “You are a wanted felon and murderer.”

“I’m not a wanted felon, Smoke is.” Shifting the large panda under an arm, Harold added, “And I never killed anyone without provocation. All of them are pure selfdefense, provable in any court of law.”

“Harold,” Janice said, walking down the midway. “We both want the same thing, I get it.” She moved to allow a young couple to walk by. “It is our approach that separates us.”

“Which makes you the hero and me the villain.” Harold stepped next to his sister. “I love these outings. Peaceful and they remind me what an endearing sap you are.” He smiled and kissed her cheek.

“You’re not a villain,” Janice said. “You’re my brother.” She smiled as Harold walked through the exit and into the dark of the field beyond.

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Anti Villain

Lincoln walked to the bank and opened the door. His newly finished costume still had the new leather smell, and it carried to the guys he hired as muscle. Stepping inside Lincoln raised a hand and made it glow dark red.

In a loud voice, but not at the shouting level, Lincoln said, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention.” All heads and eyes turned towards him. “My associates and I are here to make a withdrawal. I assure you, the bank is covered by insurance you will recover the funds. That is why you pay the high fees and interest rates.” The smile below his mask widened and showed plenty of white teeth.

Lincoln walked over to the counter, depositing a bag at each teller. “Please fill these and don’t be that person. You know, the one that puts the exploding dye pack in the bag.” Looking at the last teller he pointed. “Yes. That one. Don’t put that in my bag. It really doesn’t work. I will just wash the money and most of it will come out. No one will really notice it.”

Lincoln nodded to his two companions, and they vaulted the low wall. They grabbed a man and punched a guard that moved for his gun. With quick precision, they opened the door to the vault area.

“Thug One,” Lincoln called to a partner. “Keep the violence down. Just the barest of necessities, please.”

Thug One stared at Lincoln for a beat, then shrugged his shoulders. He turned back to the short hallway and disappeared.

“Good, good.” Lincoln walked the teller line again. He pulled a bag from the counter and weighed it in his hand. “Did you put one of them dye packs in here when I wasn’t looking?” He tilted his head at the man behind the counter and made one of his hands glow dark red. The man nodded, sending the sweat running down his face off the end of his nose. “Excellent! See? Cooperation is its own reward.” Lincoln smiled like a kindergarten teacher.

In turn, Lincoln pulled the bags from the counter and held them in his fist. As he walked towards the door, he checked the clock on the wall. “So far, so good. Right on time.” He stopped and rocked back and forth on his heels, a mild tune whistled from his lips.

When the clock on the wall ticked two minutes later, Lincoln touched his ear. “Thugs, you need to be wrapping up.”

“Almost done,” the voice said over the communication device. A moment later and the two thugs, along with the man they took, exited the vault area. Both men carried bags that looked heavy.

“Excellent!” Lincoln moved to the door and held it open for his companions. “It has been a pleasure robbing you and I appreciate your cooperation. Don’t forget to file that insurance claim right away. The sooner the better.” He pointed to the man in a tailored suit. Next he waved and smiled to the customers then left.

In the van, Lincoln jumped into the driver’s seat. “Please divide the loot up according to the agreement. I am swinging by Quinn’s Place to get the items in the boxes fenced.”

The two thugs did as requested.

Thug One looked at Thug Two. “We actually pulled it off. No cops, no heroes, nothing.”

“Yeah,” said Thug Two. “This is the best so far. We have money and are going to get more.”

“Gentlemen,” Lincoln said. “If you just follow the rules, and don’t hurt anyone, they let you rob them.”

“Who woulda thought,” Thug Two said.

“That and don’t get greedy.” Lincoln smiled at his assistants. “We can’t get greedy.”

The Villain

“I’m proud of you son,” Mr. Walls said as he hugged Ronald. “Graduating MIT with a Masters in Engineering.” Mr. Walls glowed as he broke the hug.

“Thanks, dad.” Ronald stepped back. “You too, mom.” Ronald leaned in and wrapped his arms around his mother. “You’re the best parents I could ever want.”

“Well, now,” Mrs. Walls sobbed. “There were times you didn’t always say that.”

“Water under the bridge.” Ronald broke the hug from his mother. “Trust me. I couldn’t have done it without your support. That and Danielle’s.” He turned and extended an arm to a blond woman standing nearby. “The best girlfriend a man could ever want, and I’m glad she’s with me.”

Several months later…

“Welcome to Baxter Technology.” Mr. Stewart extended his hand to Ronald. “We hope you’ll like it here.”

“Thank you Mr. Stewart,” Ronald said, his voice breaking from the vigorous shaking of his arm. “I’m sure I will. The work you’ve done with deep sea exploration and even the space program will be plenty challenging. I want to get my feet wet as soon as I can.”

“Good,” Mr. Stewart said. “You start Monday. Take this weekend and do something selfish.” He walked Ronald through the glass doors and down the steps. “See you Monday.”

Ronald drove to his one-bedroom apartment. His legs took the stair three at a time. He jingled his keys in front of the knob, but the door was yanked open.

“Well,” said the blue-eyed blond standing in the door. “How’d it go?” She left her mouth opened and held her breath.

“I start Monday!” Ronald threw his hands up in the air, then dashed forward. He embraced Danielle and locked his lips onto hers. “But first, there is something I have to do. Get changed, we’re going out.”

“R-R-Ronny!” Danielle stepped back then moved for the bedroom.

When the door closed, Ronald went to kitchen and grabbed the cookie jar on the top of the refrigerator. Sticking his hand in, he pulled out the small box he stashed in there when they moved in. He shoved the box into his jacket pocket and waited.

A few minute later and Danielle stepped out of the bedroom. She wore her nice dress, a strand of pearls, and fresh make-up. “I’m ready.”

Ronald smiled as he held her hand towards the car. He opened her door and then drove to a nice restaurant. They ordered steak and wine. It would be some time before they could afford this again.

At the lull in the conversation, Ronald pulled the box out of his pocket. He opened it towards Danielle and proposed marriage to her. In standard fair, she said yes. Danielle trembled through the desert, and out to the car. She was to be married.

On the drive home, Ronald said he was the luckiest man in the world.

Three years later…

“Ronald,” Mr. Stewart said as approached the desk. “This is a standard form. We give it to all our employees that help us get a patent.”

“Really?” Ronald turned away from his keyboard and monitor. “A patent?”

“Yes,” Mr. Stewart answered with a smile. “You did most of the work and your names goes on it. Plus,” he pulled out another form. “Because it a high seller, you get profit sharing. It isn’t much, but few people get that right away.”

“Profit sharing?” Ronald gaped at Mr. Stewart. “It was just a simple valve for better flow of oxygen.”

“We have used it for more than just oxygen,” Mr. Stewart said. “So far, it has worked for all our other gaseous delivery systems as well.” Mr. Stewart leaned forward. “It exceeded safety standards across the board. Great job! Keep it up.”

“I will.” Ronald signed the forms where indicated then gave them back to Mr. Stewart.

When Ronald got home, his good news was overshadowed by more good news. “I’m pregnant,” Danielle shared her news.

Five years after that…

“It is an honor to promote you, Ronald.” Mr. Stewart finished signing the paperwork. “I remember your first day here. You’ve done nothing but excel.”

“I like my job and the people I work with.” Ronald shrugged and smiled. “It’s fun to invent crazy gadgets and other things. Especially when people have a use for them.”

“Yes, that is rewarding.” Mr. Stewart looked up from the last piece of paper. “We also like it when you save lives and enhance the world around us.”

“Yeah,” Ronald smiled. “I like saving lives, too.” His face flushed and his eyes watered.

Seven years beyond…

“Hello?” Danielle held her cellphone up to her ear.

“Dani! Excellent.” Ronald’s voice was muffled by the background noise around him. “I need you to go into the emergency fund and empty it.”

“What?” Danielle walked to the bedroom, then the closet. “That’s supposed to be for emergencies. Life or death.”

“I know,” Ronald said, his voice sounding breathy. “This is that. Or will be.”

“What happened?” Danielle put the plastic card into her wallet and grabbed her car keys. “Are you hurt?”

“No. Just don’t believe what you see on TV.” There was some other noises that muffled Ronald’s voice. “At least not all of it is true.”

“TV. Ronny-” The line went dead.

Danielle grabbed the remote from the nightstand and tapped the power button. The large flat screen television glowed, then displayed the news.

The reporter read from the prompter off camera. “Mechanaton’s terror spree for the last three years has come to an end.” He paused as he touched his ear piece. “Oh, ladies and gentlemen, it seems that we have exclusive footage of the police taking him in. Stockade and Umber of the Valiant Squad were able to bring him down. There. Right there.”

The video paused on an image of a man in a dark green costume. His wild hair sticking out at different angles. The eyes were wide, and the mouth clenched shut.

“We have a name. The police have finished booking him and have run his finger prints. It came back with-”

“Ronny!”

Special Delivery – Anders

Anders Brady walked into the control room. Logging into his workstation, he sat back and watched as his monitors populated with his assignments for the overnight shift. A quick perusal of his email didn’t reveal anything out of the ordinary. He enjoyed the overnight shift for this reason. There was rarely any group celebrating anything. The six other workers on the overnight shift with him all had the same disposition, put your head down and get your work done. Make your numbers and the boss was happy.

The four quadrants of Anders’ medical monitor populated and the list of clients appeared center screen. For that evening he had Mechanoid, Fisticuffs, Lilliputian, and one labeled Client 48.

“That’s odd.”

Anders clicked on the name and generic bust that represented Client 48. He read the list of vitals, the allergy to peanuts, and other medical stats. Everything was populated with standard information, like any other client. This one had no picture or name.

“Perhaps a new client and is going through the importing process.”

Anders clicked on the additional information tab. Client 48 was a gold level client and had been such for the past seven years.

“That answers that one, he isn’t new.”

Most of Anders’ teammates were on a different floor, except Charles Zawisk. Anders’ tapped a few controls on his screen and his wrist panel lit up. He walked over to the darkened corner where Charles sat.

“Chuckles, I have an unusual client name.”

“Yeah?” Charles stared at his monitor, the light making him appear haunted and sunken eyed. “Weirder than Octopus-Lad?”

“Probably.” Anders stopped walking and leaned on the low wall. “Mine is called Client 48.”

Charles grunted. “Maybe they’re new and still getting imported.”

“No, I checked,” Anders answered. “He has been a gold client for seven years.”

“Gold you say?” Charles shifted his eyes from the monitor to Anders. “Maybe he paid to keep his name super secret. There have been a few clients that have that privilege.”

“That doesn’t make sense.” Anders shifted to an upright posture. “We are medical professionals and need to know his name. At least his hero name.”

“Wait, that is his hero name?” Charles looked Anders in the face. “That is odd. You win.”

Charles handed a small three inch trophy over to Anders. The shape was of a cup and said weird on the side of it.

“Uh..Thanks.” Anders took the small token. “But that doesn’t help me. Who is it?”

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

Charles jerked his head to his monitors. “Not me.”

“Mine.” Anders looked wide eyed at his wrist panel. “And I am about to find out who this guy is.”

“It’s him? Sweet.” Charles chuckled then straightened his face. “I don’t mean sweet, cause he is hurt…Oh you know what I mean.”

Anders smiled back and waved as he moved to the launch pad.

“EMT Two Anders Brady exiting to retrieve Client 48.”

The doors open as he approached and the exterior lights blazed to life as he crested the door. Anders took one step, and his body grew. Arm and leg muscles enlarged. On Anders’ next step his torso grew in proportion to his appendages, and hair began to poke out of his uniform neck, sleeves, and waist band. As his third step completed, Anders’ face morphed into that of a large ape. On his fourth step, Anders jumped.

Anders cleared the street to the next building. He gripped the horizontal bar the EMT company put there for him. A quick spin and Anders launched, clearing three buildings. From there, Anders built up momentum and tracked to where his client was located.

The wrist panel indicated that Client 48 was conscious and still moving, but heavily wounded and would need medical attention.

As he approached closer to his destination, Anders shifted to bounce off one building, then another, and finally on the ground. He followed the map his wrist panel laid out for him and turned into the parking garage.

A quick vault over the booth and Anders craned his head to find his client. The bright red light was probably the best location.

Anders gripped the support structure and veered around the corner. He spotted Rampart and slid to a stop. “Rampart, I am EMT Brady? I am here to retrieve a client. Are you injured?”

Rampart pointed his hand at the direction he fired earlier. “Nope. Murk never laid a hand on me. If he did, you might be picking me up.”

Anders looked at his wrist panel. The red dot blinked and was off to the side, in the direction that Rampart fired.

“No way.” Anders looked in the direction and slowly shook his head.

“What?” Rampart approached Anders and glanced at the wrist panel. “Don’t tell me you’re here to pick up Murk.”

“Well, I don’t know his name. He is listed as Client 48.”

Rampart moved between the downed form and Anders, “I can’t let you go over there. Not until the cops arrive.”

Anders held up his wrist panel. “I have him in critical condition. He will die unless I do something.”

Rampart looked at Anders, then over his shoulder at the lump, then back at Anders. “Fine. You can keep him from dying. But you can’t take him anywhere.”

Anders approached the downed form. A quick glance at his wrist panel confirmed what he suspected. The number four killer in the super community was his Client 48. Anders licked his ape-like lips and reached for a pulse. Murk still had one.

Turning on his belt light, Anders saw numerous contusions and some blood on the outside of Murk’s costume. He also noted that Murk’s left arm had a compound fracture. Anders ran his highly skilled though very large hands over other parts of Murk’s body. He felt broken ribs and spotted the blood coming from Murk’s ears.

“This is EMT Brady on location with Client 48. Client is unresponsive and has massive internal injuries that will require medical attention.”

Anders heard the response come back into his earbud, “Understood, EMT. We have telemetry with your readouts. It is advised you transport Client 48 to the ICU at the nearest facility indicated on your map.”

Anders turned his head and looked at Rampart, “I hear you. However, that might not be a possibility. Client 48 is -”

“We understand who Client 48 is. Get your patient to the hospital. NOW!”

Anders’ throat tightened. He looked at his patient, then back at Rampart.

“I said you ain’t takin’ him.” Rampart advanced and raised both glowing hands towards Anders.

Moving with speed not expected from his sized Anders snatched Murk in a scoop grab, tapped a button on his belt making the forcefield snap into place, and bolted through the small opening to the side of Rampart.

Rampart demonstrated his experience by splaying his arms to their fullest, moved to cover the gap and let loose with blasts from both hands.

The bolts from Rampart’s hands pelted Anders’ forcefield. The gap closed and Anders was forced to swat at the hero to keep from getting blasted into a wall.

Rampart was sent sprawling across the pavement colliding into three parked cars, leaving them dented.

Anders took advantage of the made opportunity and galloped down the open ramp with his ward safely tucked like a football in the crook of his arm. Clearing the parking garage, Anders grabbed the large threshold and hoisted himself into a back flip and across the road. Planting both feet on a balcony, he pushed to the roof and somersaulted the distance to the other side.

Rampart, scrambled to his feet, shaking the cobwebs from his head. After two quick steps, he took to the air and exited the parking garage through an opening on this level. Looking around, he saw the hairy form of the EMT clear the balcony and land on the roof across the street. A quick arc of his back sent Rampart in that direction.

After clearing the next building Anders took a quick peek at this wrist panel. The map showed the closest hospital three blocks away. “I just got to get there.” He checked his patient’s readouts and felt a thready pulse. “Hang on Murk.”

The roof he leaped from ricocheted a blast. Jerking his head around, Anders saw Rampart flying for him, both arms extended with ruby red glowing fists at the ends.

Rampart flexed his elbows as he blasted the loping ape.

Anders shifted mid flight and twisted around the blood-red bolt as it sped by.

“This is EMT Brady. I need help. Rampart is firing at me and my patient.”

“Help is on the way. Hold it together.”

“What ever you say.”

Anders snagged a ledge and changed directions.

Rampart let his power build in his hands.

A shadow passed over Anders and descended between Rampart and himself.

“It’s over Frank! Stop.”

Rampart pulled to a hovering stop and let his power dissipate.

“Damn it Dave! Murk is getting away!” Rampart pointed past the hero everyone knew on sight. Paladin hovered in place between Rampart and Anders, arms crossed, cape fluttering and a scowl chiseled on his face.

“I don’t care.” Paladin gave no indication he moved, but he appeared within arms reach of Rampart during that black part of an eye blink. “Murk is next to dying, and you put him there. That’s not why I am here. I am here because you are hindering an EMT from doing his job. Then there is the property damage you caused on your way here, not to mention during your battle. Let it go. Now!”

***

Anders landed at the ambulance entrance. He was greeted by medical staff with a gurney. After placing his patient on the bed, he turned to leave. A person in a suit with a clipboard out called, “Wait! We need your name.”

“I would rather not.” Anders said as he transformed to his human appearance.

“But it is procedure and required by law.”

A heavy sigh exited Anders mouth. “Anders Brady. EMT for Special Delivery.” The suited individual scribbled the information down. “If that is all.”

The suit nodded and Anders walked away, holding his head low.

***

Back at the office, Anders walked into the main lobby. Three people were there waiting for him. One he recognized right away, Amanda Charles, the overnight supervisor. “Anders, we need a moment,” Amanda waved him over.

“Fine,” Anders sighed as he walked over.

“I understand that you are not happy at what happened.”

“Understand? I don’t think you do.” Anders visibly restrained his rage.

“I have had to transport some unsavory clients before.”

“Neat. I understand it is part of the job, I get that.”

“Besides, you get the bounty on his head for capture. It is a nice chunk of change.”

“You have no idea who that was do you?”

“Yes I do. Client 48 is Murk. He is a killer and is responsible for numerous murders and other random deaths of normals as well as supers the world over.”

“Nope. I figured you didn’t. He also killed my parents. Strode into their lab and just blasted them because they didn’t move fast enough.” Tears fell from Anders eyes. His whole body trembled with fear, anger, and frustration. “And I had to save him.”

Special Deliver – Malcolm (Final)

Part 1 & Part 2

“Mom ain’t here now, is she?” Malcolm stared up at the man.

“That’s not funny and you know it.” Green clad man’s chest moved in and out as he breathed. “I did what I could.”

“Which was lacking, as always.” Malcolm sneered as he slid his hands back on his arm rests.

“Just like when we were kids. You had to be the best.”

“Didn’t have to be, just was.” Malcolm leaned forward. “I worked at it. It wasn’t easy.”

“Well, ladeedah. Poor little crippled man had a hard life.”

“You put me in this chair when you did what you did.”

The green costumed man cleared the distance between them in half an eye-blink.

A blur of green punches rained down on Malcolm, as he met each one with an arm. His other hand moving to unbuckle him from the seat. The opening was but a thought, but Malcolm took it and nailed a punch to green costume’s mid section. Green clad man doubled over and staggered back several  paces.

Malcolm yanked on his arm rests. The devices extended with one end encircling his forearms, and a grip in each hand. Malcolm poked at the ground as he tottered a few steps.

“Well now,” the green man said. “You aren’t relegated strictly to that chair.”

“Never have been,” Malcolm replied. “You would know this if you hung around.” Malcolm shifted so that he had one crutch forward and one back. He splayed his legs, as best as he could.

“Do they work?” The green man pointed at Malcolm’s legs.

“I can move them, but not walk on them.” Malcolm looked at the green man in the goggles. “Everything else still functions. Thanks for not taking that from me.”

“I take it the gymnastics helped with the moving?” The green man looked at the ground around both of them and hunched his shoulders.

“You bet. In more ways then one.”

“Good.” The green man dashed to get around Malcolm.

Malcolm manipulated to intercede.

The green man juked the other direction, but Malcolm cut him off.

“I gotta get Vanguard Malcolm.”

“I gotta get Vanguard out of here Mitchell.”

“Don’t make me do this.”

“Like before? Did I make you do that, too?”

“Fuck you.”

Mitchell kicked at Malcolm. Malcolm intercepted with a crutch. Mitchell adjusted his target and swept both crutches out.

Malcolm dove for the ground, and rolled with the impact and erected himself with his crutches again.

“You’ve gotten faster,” Mitchell said. “Impressive.”

“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” Malcolm tottered forward and splayed his legs.

Mitchell sent out a punch that was nothing more than a blur.

Malcolm windmilled a leg, deflecting the punch. His other leg followed and clipped Mitchell on the side of the head. A quick flick of his crutch and Malcolm tagged Mitchell in the lower leg. Mitchell attempted a counter, but was blocked by Malcolm’s other crutch. Malcolm followed through with three more hits, two with legs and one with a crutch.

“Shit!” Mitchell staggered back, spitting blood from his mouth. “What the hell was that?”

“Thomas Flair.” Malcolm winked and smirked. “I did warn you.”

Mitchell darted forward, leading with his head.

Malcolm planted both crutches and swung both feet up.

The crack of the connection resonated in the warehouse.

Malcolm continued with his flip, pulling one crutch around with him. Mitchell went over backwards as well, completing three revolutions and landed on his face.

Malcolm leaned down and checked on his brother. He found a pulse and rolled the man over. Mitchell had a fat lip and a broken nose.

“Sorry, bro. But, duty calls.”

Malcolm moved back to his wheelchair and put his crutches back to the armrests.

A quick check on Vanguard showed he was still in the same condition. Malcolm turned for the stairs he used to get to the second floor. A few slow pumps and he was moving steady.

“Not so fast, Malcolm.”

Dam it! I forgot about the metabolism.

Malcolm turned to see Mitchell get to his feet.

“I can’t out fight you, but I can make it so you can’t get out.” Mitchell tossed a small device past Malcolm. It bounced once, then exploded. The stairs disappeared in the blink of an eye.

“Dam it, Mitchell!” Malcolm turned again and put more into his wheels. Heading for a wall, Malcolm pushed one of the side levers down five clicks and the other side to one click. Malcolm put three more pumps into his wheels, gaining speed quickly. He then slammed the release for the skids. Both hit the floor at the same time. Instead of launching directly into the air, the wheelchair canted as it left the floor. Malcolm leaned, adding to the torque to turn his wheelchair sideways, and pumped the wheels.

Both tires bit into the wall and Malcolm careened into an arc towards the first floor.

“That is impressive, Malcolm.” Mitchell kept his voice so that only he could hear. “You always did think faster than anyone I knew.”

Malcolm slammed his back into the seat, causing it to lurch to the floor and horizontal. A steady flow of arm circles  and Malcolm pushed for the opening he made earlier.

The wheelchair flew over the dock and towards the gap.

The thap-thaps were the only noise that gave Mitchell’s location away.

“I told you Malcolm, I need to get Vanguard.” Mitchell’s legs and arms were a green blur as he ran beside Malcolm.

“And I told you Mitchell, I am taking him to a hospital.” Malcolm moved a hand to grab something in the seat area.

“You are going to have to stop me, Mac.”

“I know, Mitch.” Malcolm pumped his wheels and leaned forward. “I am sorry, but this is going to hurt. A lot.”

Malcolm pushed the levers on both sides of his chair to the fullest, twelve clicks. He then slammed both hands on the release buttons. The wheelchair launched into the air. Malcolm twisted and flung his left hand out. The device he had zoomed towards Mitchell.

The device expanded into two small spheres with a thin cable connecting them. It entwined first one leg then the other. Mitchell legs stopped moving, his arms shot out behind him, and his torso crashed into the dock. The force was enough that Mitchell bounced, first over the gap, then again, and finally slid to a stop.

Malcolm’s wheelchair slammed into the ground and bounced a few times, but didn’t overturn.

“Note to self, never do that again with a patient on board.” Malcolm turned to check on his passenger. Aside from some jostling, Vanguard was still stable.

The journey to the hospital wasn’t far. Malcolm skidded to a stop in the ambulance area where attendants and doctors scrambled to get Vanguard into the ER.

***

Malcolm rolled into the deployment pad. A few technicians checked in on him and he let them know he did not need assistance.

In the elevator, Malcolm pressed the seven button and rode it in silence. At his desk, Malcolm filled out his report, leaving the interaction with Mitchell out of it.

I can’t keep doing this Mitch.

Submitting the report, Malcolm went to the break room to eat his lunch. As he finished eating, his cellphone chirped.

Mac,

Thanks for not ratting me out to the cops. I was hired to deal with Vanguard today, it wasn’t personal. I know this is something you don’t understand, or at least condone. I also hope you understand why I am how I am. Living in your shadow and all that.

Thanks again, and I hope to see you on Thanksgiving.

Mitchell.

Malcolm shook his head.

You idiot. There never was a shadow. We are twins. You are the older one by seven minutes. Dumb ass.

Special Delivery – Malcolm (Part 2)

Part 1

Malcolm zigged and zagged around the slower vehicles and through four intersections, gaining speed as he went. His gloves let out wisps of smoke as he made a ninety degree turn and zeroed on the ship yards.

Malcom’s wheelchair shifted to a compressed position as he cleared the first mile, making it easier for him to maneuver and giving him more speed. The security shack at the dock had their traffic arm down, and Malcolm leaned his head to his knees as he zipped under the arm, startling the guard.

It took Malcolm a few turns to line up with the dock where Vanguard was located. A slippery grip and Malcolm’s chair slowed to thirty miles per hour. Squinting in the distance, he made out a section of missing dock. Malcolm pressed the levers on both sides of his chair two clicks, then waited until he was closer.

Just has he saw the leading edge of the gap, he pressed the release on his arm rest. Two skids below his wheelchair catapulted Malcolm into the air and his momentum carried him forward, over the sizable gap.

With a heavy slam, Malcolm and chair landed and kept rolling. A quick stroke of the wheels kept his speed.

Malcolm gritted his teeth and put his chin down an instant before he smashed through the double doors blocking his path.

Malcolm slowed to a stop and checked his wrist panel. “Hmmm…Almost there. On the second floor. Where is that ramp?”

Turning his head Malcolm found something close. He pushed at a good clip and aimed for the stairs. They were a straight run and tight. Tapping a button his an arm rest, Malcolm’s chair adjusted to an upright position. Moving with precision, the EMT pressed the levers again this time, seven clicks, and activated them just inches away from the first stair.

The skids sent Malcolm up and nearly to the top stair. With his arms a red blur, making his spokes a silver platter, Malcolm leaned back and let his tires do the work. They gripped the wooden surface of the steps and kept him moving the last four bumps to the landing.

“Made it!” Malcolm checked his wrist panel and saw the indicator for Vanguard. “Over there.” The speedy EMT rolled to a shape on the ground.

“Vanguard. I am EMT Forsyth and I am here to take you to a medical facility. Are you conscious?” A moan escaped the prone form as it rolled over.

Vanguard had bruises over his lower face, a gash across his chest, and his leg was bent at an odd angle.

Malcolm tapped the button on the side of his helmet. “This is EMT Forsyth. I am at Vanguard’s location. He has abrasion and an open wound along with a possible compound fracture of the leg. Beginning transport.”

Malcolm wheeled closer to the form. He turned around in his chair and opened several straps. He pulled two rigid boards and connected them. Next he unbuckled from his chair and flopped to the ground where he slid the board under his patient.

Malcolm crawled to his wheelchair and pulled three straps from the back and ran them under the board and connected them back to the chair. Squirming back into his seat, Malcolm tapped a button and the straps pulled Vanguard in closer, then vertical. Next Vanguard was attached to the wheelchair and secured in a standing position.

“Well, isn’t that a nice invention Mag Wheels?”

Malcolm’s head jerked in the direction of the voice. He spotted the dark green clad person easily.

“I’m an EMT doing my job. I don’t want trouble.” Malcolm clenched his teeth and gripped his arm rests causing his leather gloves to make a noise.

“Ahhh…Poor Mag Wheels doesn’t want trouble.” The green costumed man stepped closer. His dark goggles stared at Malcolm. “Too bad Mag Wheels. Trouble has found you.” The approaching man cracked his knuckles.

“You ain’t trouble Sprints. Never were, never will be.” Malcolm smirked and made a dismissive noise.

The green wearing man stomped a foot forward, put a deep frown on his face, and thrust a finger at the sitting EMT. “Mom said you aren’t supposed to call me that anymore!”

Switch Sides

“Get the lead out Shield Bearer. There isn’t much time.” Aegis slid down the line he anchored in place. His sidekick, Shield Bearer, followed.

Both executed identical, and perfect, landing rolls on the roof of Quentin Tech rising to their feet with running strides.

The double doors from the maintenance area exploded open. Aegis and Shield Bearer skidded to a halt, then shifted to ready stances and put one hand on their equipment belt. Aegis peered one way and Shield Bearer the other.

Boom! The roof under their feet shook. Boom! The roof shook again, this time with more force.

“Well, well, well. The information I received was accurate.” The metallic, electric, amplified voice rolled over the roof. “Perhaps the other information will be, too.” The metal form leaned into the silver moonlight. Aegis extended a hand with a jerk. The small sphere cleared the distance between the metal man and the two heroes.

A flat black fist encompassed the bullet causing it to pop. Brilliant light escaped between thick fingers, dulling the effect of the sudden light.

“Typical.” The electronic voice chuckled. “You are so predictable. Aegis does not kill and does not even carry a lethal weapon.” The electronic voice snorted. “This is why you have never taken over Quentin Tech, Richard Grant.”

Aegis shifted again from a defensive posture to that of surprise. “Once again, it seems that my information is accurate. I have you outclassed and outmatched, Richard. Just give it up. Make it easier on yourself for once.”

The armored man pointed a hand at the feet of Aegis and let the constraint foam cover the hero from floor to waist.

Both Aegises’ hands went to his belt. A sharp instrument sliced into the foam at the same instant a device connected to the chest of the metal man. The device emitted a single beep, and then the metal flashed with spider-webs of lightning.

Shield Bearer moved away from Aegis and closer to the sparkling armored man that was now prone. Like his partner, his hand went for his equipment belt pulling a device from it. The item expanded in his hand and he placed it over his mouth and nose.

The foam encasing Aegis spewed smoke, filling the area with a noxious, thick cloud. Aegis moved a well-practiced hand to his belt. However, the tremor set in as soon as he touched his device. It spread from his face, down his neck, and then to his arms. After his body twitched, he slumped forward at the waist and stopped all movement.

“What did he hit me with?” The voice was muffled, but audible. “You didn’t mention he made a way to disable my equipment.”

“I didn’t say a lot of things.” Shield Bearer leaned over the metal man while removing his breathing. “Besides, he didn’t make it. I did.”

“What?”

“I made it. Why is that so hard to understand?”

Shield Bearer moved over to Aegis. A quick movement and a red light ignited on Aegis’ belt. “You see Quentin, I have been a sidekick for several years.” Shield Bearer moved back to the metal encased man. “I have learned many things directly from Rich, here. I learned a lot more by just watching and keeping my mouth shut. For example, you are powerless at the moment and can not open that tin can.”

Shield Bearer pulled at a metal plate, making a gap the width of a little finger. “I have also learned, like you have, that you have to make your destiny.” Shield Bearer pulled a device similar to what Aegis pulled to cut the foam. With a rapid thrust, the armored man jerked. “The last thing I learned is make sure your secret is a secret.”