Rogue Telekinetic – Crotch Rocketeers

A high pitched whine sounded from behind Jack Davis as he drove to the beach on a Saturday afternoon. The whine increased in volume as he progressed further down the highway. With the low traffic, Jack was making good time, and so was the sound. Glancing in his rearview mirrors, Jack saw only a few cars behind him.

The whine reached the highest volume and a motorcycle darted by his window. Jack made out the dark form Another passed him on the passenger side. Three more appeared and zipped by him and the other drivers on the road. Four more spiderwebbed over the lanes, narrowly missing cars and each other. The last rider darted past another driver and disappeared from view, taking their high pitched whine with them.

“Out for a Saturday joy ride,” Jack said. He looked at the driver next to him, who was shaking his head. The car in front of Jack slowed, and he noticed the driver was looking around. “Yeah, that was full of joy.”

Jack continued driving for the next three miles, and took the exit for the beach. As he pulled to the intersection, the light turned red and he stopped. The familiar whine sounded again, and Jack looked for the source. He didn’t see it in his rearview mirror this time. Instead it was off to his right. The group of seven motorcycles zoomed to a screeching stop at the same traffic light holding him up. “Well now, what are the chances of that?” He took a deep breath and stilled his mind, lowering the urge to do something rash inside him.

Jack’s signal turned green and he turned left. Maneuvering to the outside lane, he continued on his journey to the beach. Several blocks away, another traffic light halted his progress. The whine, though not as high pitched, came up on him from behind. All seven motorcycles occupied three car lengths of the left hand lane. In random turns, the each revved their engines, making it hard to think, let alone hear.

A check of the cross walk signal showed a count down from five. Jack focused on the left lane across the intersection. In his mind, he put a fluffy ball of clay exactly where the lane across the way began. On his next exhale, the power released and put the invisible device across the intersection and in the path of the motorcyclists.

The the light turned green.

Jack didn’t bother with taking his foot off the brake.

Every motorcyclist revved their engine. The leader’s front wheel zipped into the air as his motorcycle darted into the intersection. Six motorcycles followed in his wake. As the last two entered the intersection, Jack applied pressure to his accelerator. When Jack’s car crossed the white line, the leader of the motorcycle gang passed the intersection.

First the leader’s bike collided with the fluffy ball. It hovered, then rotated as if it were rolled forward. The next two stuck at an available empty spot side by side. Again the invisible ball of clay rolled, this time to the side. With the leader upside down and facing the other way, the next two stuck into the unseen force. With five of there compatriots floating in the air, the remaining two motorcyclists slid and dumped their bikes. Their momentum carried them into the flailing mass to be stuck as well.

Jack continued to focus on the clay contraption he made as he dove by. With a flick of his fingers, the ball rolled further down the road, bringing the bikers with it. The traffic behind the floating motorcyclists, as well as Jack, slowed to a crawl. When the invisible ball approached a side street, Jack darted his eyes towards it. The ball followed his gaze, dragging the screaming motorcyclists.

As Jack passed the road, he envisioned the ball of clay disappearing. With a blink of his eye, it did.

The motorcyclists landed in a heap of bodies and machines. There were several pieces of plastic laying to the side. Two of the motorcycle gang members had arms bent at awkward angles.

“The group that causes chaos together,” Jack muttered to himself as he drove on to his appointment.

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.

Part-Time Job

“Anderson,” Jack Abernathy’s rough voice called. “How’s the Stein project coming?”
“I can finish my part by the end of the week,” David Anderson said looking up from his laptop. “The numbers are entered and the scripts are in place. Waiting on the graphics to finish loading.”

“What’s left after that?” Jack moved into David’s cube.

Touching the button on his cellphone to silent the buzzing, David pointed to his screen. “The check-list says link checking, then stress testing on the server. We’re a little behind on the configuration, but it should only be a day or two.”

“We’re gonna meet that deadline.” Jack’s hand clamped down on David’s shoulder, making the youn man flinch. “You have my permission for over-time. Get to here by tomorrow evening.” Jack tapped a sausage finger on the checklist on the screen, leaving a smear over updating all machines remotely. The task’s original planned date was the day after tomorrow.

“Uh…” David turned his head to look at Jack.

“No excuses.” Jack pivoted on his heels and left David’s cube. It didn’t take him long to be around the corner and out of David’s sight.

“Crap,” David muttered under his breath. He flipped his phone over and entered his passcode. The number 8 appeared next to his text icon. David touched the icon. Scrolling to the last message he touched reply. A few finger taps and he sent the response stating he would be late. His eyes darted to the time in the top corner of his phone. It blinked to 7:18pm.

11:30 rolled around and David dashed from his car into the building. He touched the secret spot, sliding the door open and walked in. David’s uniform fit perfectly. The bright yellow crescent moon contrasted with the midnight blue of the rest of his outfit.

“You’re late!” Graves voice growled across the small room. “Again!”

“Yeah, I know,” David sighed. “It’s just that-”

“You know.” Graves pounded on the table top. “You realize I had to call for help from Wave Rider. Wave Rider. He’s barely a hero. So what he can talk to fish and breathe underwater.”

“Wow.” David stopped walking and looked at the grey clad superhero in front of him. “Wave Rider. Doesn’t he also have super strength?”

“That’s besides the point.” Graves spun and faced David. “I expect my sidekick to be here on time and not full of excuses.” A stiff finger poked David in the chest on his emblem. “You’re fired.”

“What?” David stepped back. “You can’t fire me. You don’t even pay me. This isn’t a job.” David held his hands, palms up and spread. “What about keeping my secret identity? You always stress that. I was doing that.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Graves said. “I can’t rely on you. You should have worked something out.”

“I have to pay my rent some how.” David’s voice picked up in pitch and speed. “I also need to buy food, repair my uniform, and the gym. Plus, there’s the martial art lessons you insisted I take. You don’t even reimburse me for that, but it’s required.”

“This again?” Graves made a rude noise. “By the time I was your age I had earning a million dollars.”

David clenched his jaws and fist. “Yeah. But you inherited five billion just by being born. What a cheapskate.”

“And this one, too.” Graves put both hands on his hips and cocked his head to the side.
“If you paid me forty-five grand a year,” David said pointing a finger at Graves. “I could quit my day job and be the perfect sidekick.”

“They only pay you forty-five?” Graves’ eyebrows shot up. “That’s a pittance.”
“Yeah,” David answered. “Ironically, I work for a subsidiary of Sampson Industries. In other words, you pay me that pittance.”

Graves looked at David and shook his head. “I have to stand by my word or it means nothing. Clean out your desk and leave your keys.”

“I don’t have a desk,” David said, walking to the door he came in. “I never had keys.” As he passed the hidden door, he banged his fist on the jamb.

“I’ll give you a great reference,” Graves shouted as the door slid shut.

“Fuck this,” David said as he slammed his car door closed. “I’ll at least get some sleep and be ready for tomorrow.” He drove off.

When the weekend hit, David was ready for it. Having spent well over fifty hours a week he wanted to relax. He slept in on Saturday. During the afternoon, he wandered the mall and other places. Normally, he would be training or some other activity that Graves would have him do. Since he was fired, he made the best of it.

When the evening kicked off, David went to a movie. It had been awhile since he had seen a first run, so he treated himself. After a few hours, he left and walked through the dark parking lot to his car. A sound pulled his attention, and he watched as two people descended from the sky. One with a rope, the other flying.

“I’ve beaten you Graves,” the flying man said.

“Not…,” Graves groaned out. “Yet.” The form of Graves clutched his midsection and spit a glob of something from his mouth. “You hit like a girl.”

“Your funeral.” the flying man darted straight for Graves, a clenched fist leading the way.

“Holy shit,” muttered David. “I better do something.” He looked for his car and found it two spots away. “Wait. I don’t have my uniform in there.” Standing there he watched the fist connect with Graves. “Plus I was fired.” Graves trajectory carried him over several cars and crashing into a light pole. “Plus, that guys a dick.”

“That wasn’t so hard.” The flying man hovered over to where Graves lay on the cement. “Let’s see who you really are.” He reached down and pulled the mask off, ripping the cowl off the cape. Staring at the prone figure, the flying man pocket his trophy. “Huh. I don’t recognize you. But someone will.” The flying man jumped into the sky and disappeared.

Standing over Graves, David looked at the unconscious body. “Yeah. He’s a dick.” David got in his car and dove off.

Special Delivery – Edie

Edwina Gibson walked through the cube farm. Her blond hair floating just above the five foot walls that separated desks. She diverted her eyes whenever she passed someone and would only lift a hand to wave if anyone said “hi Edie” to her. A sigh escaped her lips as she stepped into her cube.

“I keep leaving a sticky for him.” Edie pulled the chair out, spinning it so she could sit. Flexing her knees, she hopped onto the chair. Her feet didn’t touch the floor. Next, she pulled the lever to adjust the height. The chair didn’t move. Keeping the lever up, she bounced in place until her feet were flat. “Karl, please just lower the seat.”

Pulling herself to the desk, she pressed the button to lower the entire surface. The process took all of ten-seconds. Edie unlocked her set of drawers and pulled out a canister of wipes. Plucking one, she started with the keyboard. Once she finished, she tapped the keyboard and logged in.

During the few minutes it took for her email to load, Edie pulled another wipe and ran it over the desk surface. She moved to the drawers, the shelf, and finally the monitors. As she tossed the wipe into the trash, her email finished and three clients appeared on her monitor. “Garbage, Predestinate, and Valor. Not a shabby group.”

She took a few moments to put each client in their own quadrant of her monitor, leaving one blank. Turning her attention to her email, she read yesterday’s messages and ended with today’s. Clicking on a few different folders, she did the same thing.

Valor fell off her monitor first. Edie acknowledged the message when Valor left his mission. Predestinate exited her mission a few moments later. Again, Edie acknowledged the message.

Folding her hands on the desk, she stared at the health monitor. Garbage’s vitals took up the entire screen. Edie moved her mouse pointer and clicked on the picture.

The unmasked face needed a shave and buck-teeth stuck out over his bottom lip. Edie stared at the scar that ran over an eye on the screen. Stifling a shutter, she pulled up the basic sheet of Garbage.

“Strength, high rated toughness, and decent speed.” Edie looked at the face again. Her face wrinkled. “He should be able to get through whatever he’s into.”

BEEP BEEP BEEP!

Edie locked eyes on the picture on her screen. A message blinked below it. GARBAGE BELOW THRESHOLD.

“Oh, man!” Edie stood and tapped her mouse. “EMT first class Edwina Gibson retrieving Garbage.” She tapped her wrist panel and the vital screen transferred. Taking rapid steps she exited her cube, the row, and turned on the main walkway.

“Uh, EMT Gibson,” the voice in her earbud said. “You are cleared to transfer client.”

“That’s a negative, Control.” Edie moved to the open double doors and stepped on the flight deck. “I got this.” Under her breath, she said, “Even if his name is Garbage.”

Edie jogged the last few steps then strode over the ledge. Instead of falling she stepped onto an orange ball the size of an oven. Hovering in place for a split second, Edie faced the direction she needed.  The ball moved then picked up speed. It moved out of the way of taller buildings and other objects.

As the fifth minute ticked by, the ball shrank carrying Edie to the concrete surface. She stepped from the ball and it disappeared. A glance at her wrist panel gave her the next direction. Following it, she found a large dumpster. “He better not be in there.”

BEEP!

Edie looked at her panel again. Garbage’s vitals dropped. Edie pulled her leather gloves from her pouch and put them on. She used the makeshift ladder welded into the dumpster’s frame. Reaching for the edge, she worked her way to the top of the dumpster, dangling her feet inside.

“Garbage?” Her head poked over the ledge. “Oh, God it’s disgusting.” She felt her stomach churn and her throat tighten. “No.” Edie hoisted herself over the ledge and into the refuse below. “They don’t pay me enough for this.”

A moan sounded. She turned her head in the direction. “Garbage?”

“You’re in a dumpster,” a voice outside said. “Where else does garbage belong.” The voice sounded metallic, and muffled. “This appears to be a two-for-one special.” A high-pitched giggle followed.

“Wait!” Edie jumped, but the refuse below her feet didn’t allow for much height. “I’m an EMT.”

“What?” The voice went louder. “I can’t hear you. The lid is closed.” The high-pitched giggle sounded again, then the lid crashed down.

“NO!” Edie pounded on the sides.

A loud metallic clang echoed inside the dumpster.

“Ta-ta,” the strange voice said. Fading running footsteps came next, then quiet.

“Great!” Edie turned on the flashlight at her belt. Reaching one foot forward, she moved aside various boxes and other gunk. She repeated this process and made her way across the width of the dumpster.

Taking a finger, she poked at her earbud. “Control,” she said, her voice bouncing in the metal box. “Control, this is EMT Gibson. Please respond.” Static answered. “Now, I am trapped.”

“Flix likes to do that.” A mound of trash moved. “Ugh.”

Edie spun in place and pointed her light at the moving junk. “Garbage?”

“Yeah,” the costumed man said, wincing at the light in his face. “You must be one of them EMT people that I pay for.”

“EMT First Class Gibson.” Edie straightened her posture and smoothed her uniform. “You’re conscious, so this shouldn’t be too difficult. How hurt are you?”

“Near a long, slow, and agonizing death,” Garbage said, pushing off the rubbish to his knees.

Edie’s eyes went wide. Scanning the man in front of her, she said, “I don’t see any wounds.”

“Carbon fiber.” Garbage pivoted to face her. He pointed to a large clump of black on his chest. “It’s like an allergic reaction, with the side effect of making me weaker than a baby.”

Edie moved closer to Garbage. She reached her hands for the clump and worked her fingers behind it.

“Unless you’re stronger than you look, that ain’t gonna cut it.” Garbage stuck an arm out and braced himself against the side of the dumpster. “Do you have a cutting device? Laser or something?”

“Yes,” Edie said. Her hand flew to her belt and found the pen shaped device. “It should cut through most things. The charge is limited to twenty-seconds.”

“Twenty-seconds?” Garbage took the offered device. “I guess to keep it from being used a weapon.”

“That’s what they said during orientation.” Edie moved closer to Garbage and watched.

“This is gonna hurt.” Pointing the device at his chest, Garbage touched the button. A bright blue beam shot out and cut into the black hunk. Smoke floated up and the smell of burning chemicals mixed with meat followed.

“AHHHHHHH!”

“It’s grafted to you.” Edie examined the area. There wasn’t any blood, but she saw the burn marks on both the item and Garbage. “If we could get the lid off, we could get you out of here.”

“Well, I’m useless in that area.” The big man stood and his shoulders touched the lid. Flexing his knees, he put his hands on the lid and pushed. Nothing. Sweat poured down his face and his breathing rasped. “I haven’t been this week since before I was exposed.”

“You weren’t born this way?” Edie looked at the hulking figure. “What happened?”

“I worked for sanitation,” Garbage said. “A company dumped some type of stuff in the landfill. I was sent to clear it up and call in the correct team to clear it out. An hour after I arrived on the scene, I was knocked out. A month later and I woke up in the hospital, looking like this.”

“So that’s why you call yourself Garbage.” Edie looked at the man before him. “I thought it was because-”

“My face and attire?” Garbage let out a coughing laugh. “No sweetheart. The teeth and scar are mine. My abilities are enhanced when I run through sewers, landfills, and other junk. That’s why I smell this way. Plus, my body burns up waste and turns it into power that I use to beat bad guys.”

“Well, use this stuff.” Edie kicked at the junk around her legs and knees.

Garbage poked at the chunk on his chest. “Can’t.”

Edie sighed. “I can do something, but it might not work.”

“Anything is better than nothing,” Garbage plopped down on his rump, and leaned on the wall. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

“We get crushed.” Edie said into her chest.

“Faster than suffocating.”

Edie’s eyes cut to Garbage. His eyes were closed and his breathing slowed.

“Here goes everything.” Edie shuffled to the center of the box. She extended both arms to the unoccupied side. After a deep breath, she straightened her fingers.

Colorful, softball-sized spheres appeared. They filled the wall and cascaded down like an avalanche. More spheres came into existence, these bigger by half. Again, they flowed down the mountain of color they made. More and more spheres appeared. A minute flew by and the sphere pile reached the lid.

“What can they do?” Garbage lifted his head and watched the balls take up space.

“I can fly and carry with them.” Edie stepped back.

“They don’t explode or anything?”

“Nope.” Screwing up her eyes, the balls appeared at a faster rate. Edie stepped further and further back. Then her back touched the wall. “Oh, man. I’m going smell like garbage for a month.”

“Huh.” Garbage looked at the petite woman.

“Sorry.”

Garbage waved it off.

The balls passed the halfway mark and would soon be on top of them. Edie grunted when the balls forced her hands back.

“Keep going,” Garbage sat with his back to the wall and the spheres piled on his lap.

Edie produced more spheres. Soon she stood with her hands by her side and the balls pressing in on her.

A muffled, “more” came from Garbage. “More. Something’ll break.”

“Yeah, us.” Edie kept bringing the spheres.

A loud metallic creak echoed in the dumpster.

Edie screamed as more balls appeared.

Another creak followed by a loud pop.

Then a boom.

Light poured in through the translucent spheres, bathing the dark in different colored lights.

“You did it!” Garbage pushed some of the balls off him. “We’re gonna make it.”

“Better than that.” Edie waved a hand, and the spheres dispersed, faster than they appeared. “We’re out of here.” She pointed at Garbage and a dark blue light encased him. Edie pointed at the ground and an orange ball appeared. Next, it enlarged under her feet. Both spheres lifted out of the dumpster and carried them to the cement outside.

“NO!” The strange voice from before said. “You’re supposed to be dead and take this EMT with you.” Flix slinked forward. He moved to grab Edie.

“Get away from me, you creep!” Without conscious though, Edie extended a hand. A black sphere exited her palm. No light flowed through the ball as it cleared the short distance between the two people. It connected with the chin of Flix and knocked him on his back.

Scrambling to get to his feet, Flix fidgeted with something on his belt.

“Watch out!” Garbage reached a hand out.

Edie brought both hands together and a grey sphere encased the projectile Flix threw. A loud, high-pitched, beep sounded. Then the it accelerated. Edie directed the sphere up.

BOOM!

Several feet up it exploded. The people below safe.

“Damn!” Flix lunged for Edie.

With a flick of her wrist, Edie sent a large sphere at Flix. His body fit inside and held him in place. Banging came from inside, but Edie turned the skin of the sphere opaque.

Touching her earbud, Edie said, “EMT First Class Gibson requesting emergency transport for Garbage and some trash.”

Garbage’s face broke into a loud laugh.

“Come again, EMT,” the voice in her ear said. “You need emergency transport for trash?”

“Send the cops. They need to restrain Flix. I have him detained.” Edie moved to Garbage. She touched the sphere that carried him out of the dumpster. It disappeared. “An ambulance should be here shortly.”

“Yeah, I’m not going anywhere.” Garbage looked up at her. “For a small chick, you pack a punch.”

“You’re not so bad for Garbage,” she smiled at him.

Edie walked from the elevator and towards her workstation. “Karl, you could have at least wiped the keyboard down when you spill on it.” She shook the plastic keyboard over the trash can. Bits and pieces of discarded something or other fell to the receptacale. Next, she pulled a moistened wipe and cleaned it. The rest of her routine was abandoned as she logged in. The desk lowered as she held the button and she bounced to put the chair at her height.

Edie watched her monitor and scanned emails. Occasionally a client’s vitals appeared, and she tracked them, but mostly it was a quiet shift. The dinner break message appeared on her screen. With a flick of the mouse she dismissed it and logged out of her station. Retracing her steps from the beginning of her shift, she made her way to the elevator. Inside, she pressed the L button.

When the doors opened before her stood a tall man with a broad chest and big shoulders. “Perfect timing.” She stepped from the metal box with a wide smile on her face.

“Yup,” the man said. “Never keep a lady waiting.” The man extended a large hand.

Edie put her small hand in it and both walked to the door.

The Breakthrough

Brad moved through the series of maneuvers. Concentration and focus plain on his face. With a loud yell and tensing every muscle he completed the last move.

“Excellent!” Howard Franks clapped his hand on Brad’s shoulder. “You have it down. Your test should be a breeze.”

“I hope so, Mr. Franks,” Brad said as he relaxed his posture. He walked to his bag, untying the long black belt around his waist. It showed small signs of wear and a few white threads poked out at an edge. Taking a few seconds to fold it up, Brad placed the belt in his bag. He pulled a towel out and wiped the sweat from his face, neck and arms.

“So,” Howard said, approaching Brad. “As your instructor, I have to ask. What is your biggest dream? If you could change one thing about you, what would it be?” Howard grinned at the last question. It always got a few standard answers.

Brad paused, put his hands on his hips, then locked eyes with his teacher. “Superpowers.”

“What?” This was not what Howard had expected. Especially from someone as well put together as Brad Michaels.

“I know,” Brad smiled and grabbed his bag. “I would like to have, or gain superpowers.”

“You have those.” Howard followed Brad to the large double doors. “You are a martial artist in every sense of the word.”

“I know,” Brad said. “With superpowers, I could be more. Do more. I don’t fear knives or clubs. Guns I respect and know that the wielder is the most vulnerable point. Being outnumbered would only slow me down.” Brad pushed through the doors. “Being strong enough to lift a car would let me chop through burning buildings that had people trapped. If I could fly, I could be in places fast. With superpowers, I would change the world.”

Howard paused a beat. “Heroes and villains have that same goal. It’s not the goal that is the problem, it is the means.”

Brad chuckled. “I know that, Mr. Franks. I wouldn’t be a villain.” Brad bowed to his teacher, shook his hand and walked to the parking lot.

“Villains don’t seem themselves as bad guys,” Howard muttered to the departing figure.

As he drove home, Brad reflected over his teachings and training. Mr. Franks, along with others, taught him not just martial arts, but life. He learned to persevere, be honest, and help others. Brad worked hard at the beginning to incorporate these things, along with other things, into his life. The last few years his life improved. He landed a great job, found a fantastic apartment, and had a date in three nights time.

The loud boom snatched his focus back to driving. A tanker jackknifed a few yards ahead. The two cars in front of him had glowing tail lights. He turned, avoiding a crash with the second car. His choice kept him from the collision. The other two cars weren’t so lucky.

Slamming his car into park, Brad scrambled from his car. He opened the driver’s door and helped the woman there out. She had a cut on her forehead, so he walked her to the curb. Once she was settled, Brad turned back to the accident.

The remaining car had a woman behind the wheel, a kid in the back seat, and an infant in a carrier. Brad pulled on the doors, but they didn’t give. He saw the collision had damaged the car enough that the doors were sealed. Looking in, he saw the kid was screaming, and the woman was groggy, but looking around.

“Cover your head!” He stepped back and clenched both fists at his waist. Inhaling, Brad flushed his mind of everything. With a fluid motion, he lunged forward and shoved both bullet-fists to the windows. His knuckles connected and penetrated the safety glass of the windows.

Both panes of glass spiderwebbed, then fell out of their frames. He reached in, unbuckled the kid. “Get over there. By that lady.” The screaming kid ran to the woman who held out a hand.

Next, Brad repeated that for the driver.

“My baby!”

“I got him.” Brad didn’t hesitate and climbed into the back seat. He had never dealt with a child seat before. The big red button stood out to him, and he pushed it. A loud thunk sounded and he pulled on the handle. The heavy plastic carrier separated. He looked in and saw the sleeping infant, peace covering his face. Brad move to the window and handed the cradle to the woman. “Over there.” He pointed to where the people were gathering.

Brad shimmied out of the window and dashed over to the big rig. A dark green liquid spewed from a gash in the tank. The cab and surrounding road were covered in the thick film. Without thinking, Brad flexed his knees and moved over the near slick surface.

Reaching the door, he yanked on the handle. The door flew open and the driver, a heavyset man, fell on him. Brad collapsed with the excessive weight to the goo covered road.

“Mister!” Brad jostled the dazed man laying on top of him. “Mister. I need you to get out of here and off me.”

“Uhhh..” The heavy man blinked a few times. “Oh shit. Sorry.” The driver pushed off Brad and stood. In a lazy staggering step, he moved to where the others were standing.

Brad got to his feet and moved to the huddling people. They all expressed their thanks, and the women went in for hugs. He held them at bay as he was covered in the thick green goo.

Ambulances and a firetruck arrived several moments later, followed by three police cars. In a hours time the scene was cleared. EMTs checked everyone out and informed them to check in with a doctor within twenty-four hours. They all agreed they would.

At home, Brad ravaged his refrigerator and pantry. After eating three dinners, he felt satiated. Soon after, he felt drowsy. Taking the hint, he showered, then went to sleep.

“The light is coming,” a voice whispered.

“Yes, the light is coming,” another voice whispered.

“Shelter is here. Come.” This was a third voice.

“Who’s there?” Brad sat up, throwing the blankets and pillows off him. His head turned different directions looking for the source of the voices. Sliding from the bed, he landed cat-like and even distributing his weight. Both hands floated in front of him, fingers light and ready for anything.

“The human is moving,” a deeper voice from a different direction said. “It will come in here and turn on the brightness. Find shelter.”

“I will defend myself and my home.” Brad curled his fingers into fists and moved for the deeper voice. Approaching the bathroom door, he nudged it open with a foot. When it spread to an arm’s width, Brad darted a hand inside, flicked on the light, and shouldered into the small room.

“Run! Scatter!” The deeper voice screamed in panic.

Spinning in place, Brad looked around. He only saw his reflection in the mirror. The shower curtain hung open, and there wasn’t anybody there.

“Hurry! Go faster!” The panic in the voice reached a newer height.

From the corner of his eye, Brad picked up movement. He jerked his head and arms in the direction, then stomped into a favored stance.

Two cockroaches scampered for the toilet.

“Here it comes,” the deeper voice said. It came from the direction of the roaches.

Brad gritted his teeth and raised a foot. With deadly accuracy and a loud thump, he stepped on the trailing roach.

“Hruthergha!” The lead roach stopped moving and turned. The antennae twitched, then lifted. “Human, you killed my mate. I will avenge you with my family.” The antennae twitched again, then the roach darted for the cover the toilet.

Brad moved to follow the roach, but it squeezed through the smallest of gaps between the floor and wall.

“Did I hear that right,” Brad said rubbing his ears. “Did that roach just threaten to avenge it’s mate? Against me?” Brad shook his head.

Reaching into the shower, Brad turned on the cold water, then the hot. He dropped his sleeping shorts and t-shirt, then climbed into the cool water. Letting it run over him, he woke to the briskness. The water slowly heated, and he showered. Once he cleaned his body, he dried himself, then continued on his normal routine.

An hour later, Brad headed outside towards his car.

“No! The winged demon dives.” This high-pitched voice came from the trees next to his apartment building.

Brad moved to check the area. He only saw a bird land and peck at the ground. Squinting into the shade, he didn’t see anything.

“Bigger jump, Lughrty,” a bright voice said.

“Like this papa,” a similar bright voice said, only a different pitch.

“Yes.” The first voice sounded proud and happier. “Excellent. Longer instead of higher now.”

Brad watched two grasshoppers bound over the sidewalk in front of him. One smaller than the other.

“No,” Brad said. “No, no, no, no, no.” He remembered the accident. Then he remembered how Crush, a highly respected superhero, developed his powers. Exposure to radioactive chemicals had turned a simple bike messenger into the powerhouse known as Crush. Crush worked as the strong man of the Vindicators.

“This isn’t what I meant,” Brad screamed at the sky.

Special Delivery – The Newbie

Kurt Jeffries leaned over his keyboard. He entered in the username and password form the paper HR gave him. Next, he followed several prompts. Finally, the left screen filled with the email program and the right showed the client-monitoring tool. A face with name tag showed. Lancer’s vitals showed next to the picture.

“Cool.” A smile splashed across Kurt’s face.

“Are you Kurt?” A middle-aged woman pushed a cart into the opening of the cube.

“Yeah,” Kurt stood, looking at the cart.

“Here’s your wrist panel and forcefield belt,” the woman tapped the items. “You need to sync the panel up first.”

Kurt put the panel on his arm and tapped the screen. Text flew across the surface then flashed the same vitals on his monitor.

“Good.” The woman picked up the belt. Her nasal tone picked up in volume. “The tech guys said they couldn’t get it to stretch, so be careful using it.”

Kurt nodded once, placing the belt around his waist.

“Good luck.” The woman waved and pushed her cart through the maze of cubes.

“So far, so good.” Kurt lowered himself to the chair and stared at the monitors. Email chimed and he read the message.

BE-DEEP!

The vitals monitor showed another client.

BATTALION ON MISSION

An ugly face with dark glasses appeared next to the name Battalion. Vitals beeped and scrolled across.

“Oh, man!” Kurt shifted closer to the big screen. “How cool is that? Battalion! I need to get a pic.” Kurt pulled his cellphone out and aimed the camera at the screen.

“I would not do that,” a voice said over the cube wall.

Kurt turned his head. A dark face with pointed ears and lavender eyes looking at him over his cube wall.

“Oh my God!” Kurt’s eyes went wide and his mouth opened. “You’re-”

“Raphael Collins.” A spiky toothed smile showed on the dark face. The dark face disappeared. It reappeared attached to a body a second later in the opening of Kurt’s cube. “I am a teleporter.” He extended a hand towards the slack jawed Kurt.

One of Kurt’s hands drifted up and connected with Raphael’s. Their clasped hands bobbed a few times.

“What is your name?” Raphael let Kurt’s hand go.

“Umm.” Kurt tilted his head. A thin black line flipped back and forth behind Raphael. “Kurt. My name is Kurt Jeffries. Is that a tail?”

“Yes,” Raphael turned his head, looking where Kurt pointed. “I am human. My ability altered my appearance, but I am human.”

“Oh,” Kurt blurted. Color creeped across his cheeks and he swallowed hard. Standing Kurt smiled and looked Raphael in the eyes. “I’m sorry. I’ve never seen anyone that looked like you.”

“I figured,” Raphael smiled. “Maybe we can do lunch and get to know each other better.”

“Yeah,” Kurt nodded. “I would like that.”

BEEP BEEP BEEP!

“Transfer patient procedure.” The sound came from Kurt’s computer. “Priority alert. EMT Jeffries respond.”

“Whoa!” Raphael backed out of the cube. “You should respond to that. Click the button and talk.”

“Right!” Kurt leaned over the mouse and clicked the big red button. “This is EMT Jeffereies. I acknowledge the alert.” He clicked the next button to transfer the display to his wrist panel. “Raphael, where is the launch pad?”

Raphael stepped out of the way and pointed towards a set of double doors with his tail. Kurt paused in the cube door. He nodded then dashed away.

Stepping through the double doors, Kurt let the wind wash over him. Closing his eyes, he centered his thoughts.

Kurt’s torso flattened, then his arms and legs and finally his head. Leaning forward he fell over the edge, riding the wind currents.

“EMT Jeffries enroute.” He flexed his arms and torso to drift in the desired direction. More than once, he dived to gain speed. Kurt aimed for the ground when his wrist panel sounded indicating he was closer.

Shifting to normal, Kurt landed and checked the map on this panel. According to the numbers he was a hundred yards away. Looking around the storage area, he spotted several cement barriers. On the other side, a collection of orange barrels. In one corner were three rows of large green dumpsters. The fence containing everything had circles of razors on top.

Kurt Glanced at his wrist panel. A quick double tap, and it zoomed in. The red indicators appeared next to the dumpsters. He moved towards them and his blue indicator followed. Decrementing number appeared on one corner.

“Almost,” Kurt moved his head as he walked behind a dumpster. The first prone form showed as he stepped into the gap between the dumpsters. “Bronze. I’m EMT Jeffries.” Kurt glanced at the panel on his arm. Bronze’s vitals displayed. “Oh, man. You’re unconscious. It says you’re breathing, but you might have internal damage.”

A heavy, raspy whisper said, “Shit.”

Kurt jumped, then turned to the sound. Another prone form lay around the corner.

“They sent a newbie,” the face of the body turned to the side.

A new red dot appeared on Kurt’s display. It read EMT Davis. His vitals also appeared on the screen.

“You’re wounded, too.” Kurt moved closer to Davis. “What happened?”

“They were caught off guard.”

Kurt turned towards the new voice. A man clad in dark with a motorcycle helmet stood there. The costume looked like police style armor, only scarier. Knee high boots with spikes on the toes added to the menacing sight. The two pistols with muzzles like twin pit bulls pointed at Kurt, and completed the vision.

“Ambush. My specialty,” the dark man said.

A scream exited Kurt’s trembling mouth at the sight. One hand smacked into the belt at his waist and the other extended in the direction of the scary man. A snap hiss sounded and the translucent grey haze of the forcefield covered Kurt. It stopped at the elbow of his extended arm. The warning from earlier rang in his ears.

At the end of the extended arm, Kurt’s hand expanded to the size of refrigerator door. His skin pressed against the dumpster on either side, sealing the bad man on the other side.

“The forcefield doesn’t cover my-”

The rapid staccato sound of gun fire sounded. Kurt’s over-sized hand relayed the sensation of a million needle pricks. It also told him the bullets bounced.

“What the fuck,” the rough, filtered voice of Ambush followed on the tail of last gun shot.

“I’m bullet proof!” Kurt pulled in his hand and arm. The forcefield encased the appendage with a buzz. Balling his other fist, he sent a punch in the direction of the confused villain. When his arm reached full extension, the forcefield halted further progression of his attack.

Ambush leaned back, then straightened. “Forcefields contain, too.” His metallic chuckle sent a shiver over Kurt. Pushing off hard, Ambush lurched through narrow gap.

Kurt flinched back. One hand tapped at his belt while the other flung forward. His softball sized fist connected with the hard helmet and rocked Ambush’s head back. Kurt’s second hand followed suit and Ambush’s advance was halted.

EMT Davis raised his head. “Damn.”

Bronze moaned and moved his head. “Whasshapning..eng?”

“Newb’s winning,” EMT Davis chuckled.

Kurt flailed his arms, sending his fists at different angles that Ambush struggled to block.

It started with one, then two. The next five landed on his torso, helmet, shoulder, and hips. One of Ambush’s arms feebly intercepted the next attack. The one after that, however, nailed him in the chest. Ambush staggered back a step. The next eight fists forced the dark clad man several more paces. He found himself a step past the dumpsters after three blows landed in quick succession. He fell where he stood.

Kurt pulled both his arms back. He draped them over the ends of the dumpsters on either side. His shoulders heaved and he hung his head, gulping air.

Ambush staggered to his feet. In a wide stance, he aimed one of the pistols down the alley of dumpsters. The armor he wore moved as the breathed. “Nothing personal kid. Just a job.” His head tilted to one side and he lined the pistol with his target.

Kurt’s fingers clamped onto the corners of the dumpsters. He extended a leg behind him. It zipped the distance of the dumpsters and past the gap and connected with the fence.

“Whoa!” EMT Davis said, eyeing the leg.

“Isatafoot?” Bronze muttered.

“FORE!” Kurt shifted his hip, sending his extended leg forward. His leg darted over the distance. It looped-de-looped. On the completion of the first loop, Ambush shifted his head up. Kurt’s leg complete four more loops before connecting with the apex of Ambush’s legs.

Both pistols fell to the ground. Ambush’s knees slammed together with a clattering of armor plate and his gloved hands darted to his groin. His head hung and a high-pitched coughing howl escaped the helmeted head.

The form of Ambush jerked into the air, sailing in a perfect arc. It landed with a thump on the other side of the fence and slid several yards before stopping.

“This is EMT Jeffries,” Kurt huffed as he touched his earbud. “I have Bronze and EMT Davis. Ready for transport.”

“Understood, EMT,” the voice said over the earbud. “Your path is cleared for Ladies of Mercy.”

“Acknowledged.” Kurt turned and looked at the two prone bodies. “Gentlemen, here we go.”

Kurt fished two items out of his belt. Placing one on the chest of each person, he then pressed the single button. “I’m not all that strong. This is an anti-gravity field generator.” He extended his arms and flattened his enlarged hands. Scoopping both patients at the same time, Kurt lengthened his legs. His firs step cleared the fence and onto the road. After several steps he sped up his pace and extended each leg a few more yards.

Kurt reached Ladies of Mercy hospital. In the emergency entrance, he laid both on a gurney and processed the paperwork.

“Jeffries,” EMT Davis called. Kurt looked at his co-worker. “Thanks.” Davis lifted a thumb as medical staff wheeled him away.

Kurt Jeffries walked into Special Delivery the next day. He moved to his desk and typed his username and password. Different supers appeared on his screen, but none required him to transport them to a medical facility.

The lunch warning alarm displayed on his monitor. Kurt tapped with the mouse, then stood.

“Excuse me,” a woman’s voice said as he left his cube. “Are you Kurt Jeffries?” The woman held an envelope in one hand.

“Uh, yes.” Kurt shifted to face the woman. “What can I do for you?”

“Take this,” the woman’s pearly white smile flashed. Her emerald eyes sparkled as she handed the envelope to Kurt.

Kurt opened the proffered envelope. Inside he saw a check for $200,000. In the memo field was typed, FOR THE CAPTURE OF AMBUSH.

Kurt’s eyes went to the size of dinner plates and he leaned forward as his mouth fell open.

“Oh, call me,” the woman gave a finger wave as she turned to leave.

Turning the envelope over, Kurt saw a phone number with Melanie under it.

Micro Dot

“What is your power?” Greg’s plate-like eyes reflected the florescent lights of the hall. His wide grin showed plenty of teeth. Greg’s extended hand touched Chase’s shoulder.

Chase dropped his face and his shoulders hunched. With a heavy sigh, he answered, “I don’t wanna talk about it.”

“Come on!” Greg forced eye contact. “You’ve worked hard. That cleansing of your system made you a blank slate. There is no way it didn’t work.”

“Oh, it worked.” Chase pressed his lips tight. His hands fidgeted as he sat in a chair.

“Then what are they?” Greg sat next to his best friend.

“I,” Chase looked at Greg and mumbled the last part.

“What? I didn’t hear that.” Greg cocked an eyebrow. “I’m your bro. I won’t laugh.” Greg sat back on the chair. “Unless you got the ability to change colors. I mean, you can use that, but it is useless without something else.”

“No, I don’t change colors,” Chase said. “I shrink.”

“What?” Greg shook his head. “Did you say shrink?”

“Yeah,” Chase hung his head again. “I shrink.”

“OK.” Greg said and put his chin in his hand. “You’ll be hard to see.”

“Yeah.” Chase looked at his brother. “So then I can hide and call for help.”

Greg grimaced then nodded.

“Great!” Chase tossed his hands as he stood. “What team is gonna want that?”

Greg stood next to him. “I don’t know, but you’ll work something out.” He patted Chase on the back, then walked a few steps away. “Hey. So you know.” Greg turned around to face Chase. “I’m on reserve status with Unity. You can still call me.” He grinned as he left.

“Great.” Chase looked at the ceiling and put his hands on his hips.

“You that kid that just finished up?”

Chase turned and saw a woman wearing black and gray costume. The number eight emblazoned in the middle of her chest.

“Yeah,” Chase answered. “But you should probably know that my-”

“You shrink.” The woman took a step forward. Extending a hand towards Chase, she said, “I’m Calamitous.”

Chase extended his hand out of reaction and then paused when she told her name. “Calamitous? You’re the leader of Baleful. You cause bad luck and other things to happen.”

The woman kept her hand extended. “I am the leader of Baleful. As for the other thing that’s a matter of viewpoint.”

“What do you mean?” Chase shifted stance and looked his eyes on her masked face. “You destroyed Gillian Square and caused the Hamilton Building to collapse.”

“Those things happened,” Calamitous said. “However, there were no casualties and no fatalities.”

Chase’s mouth opened, and he blinked twice.

“Do your research.” Calamitous put her hands on the hips and tilted her head. “You’ll see we’ve never killed anyone. Nor have any innocents ever been hurt when we were involved.”

Chase shook the proffered hand. “What can I do for you?”

“We want you.” Calamitous answered as she steered Chase down the hall. “We need a specialist like you. You fill a need on our team.”

“So like, I hang out and wait for a phone call?” Chase looked at Calamitous as he walked. “Reserve status.”

“We don’t have reserves or second strings.” Calamitous continued walking as she explained. “You are either on the team or you are not.”

“I see.” Chase nodded as they approached the elevator.

“There’s one more thing,” Calamitous said holding out a plastic access card. “We’ve never been defeated. We win. All the time.”

Chase took the card and stepped into the elevator. He looked at it and saw an address with a phone number. Then the doors closed.

The next day, Chase went to the address on the card. Swiping the card allowed him access to the run-down building on the wrong-side of town. Inside the door, he spotted a group of people walking towards him.

“You made it,” Calamitous said, leading the group. “We have a situation and you’re coming.”

“What?” Chase shifted his feet. “I just got here. I’m not ready for it yet.”

“Trial by fire, kid,” an elderly man with a full cowl mask said. “You gotta get yer feet wet sometime.” He poked the ground with two canes as he tottered past Chase.

“Hurrrr.” A middle aged man staggered into view. He held his arms at odd angles with his fingers curled at the end of bent hands. Drool dangled from his chin and it looked like orthopedic shoes on his feet.

“That’s Speeder and Aim.” Calamitous pulled Chase’s arm. “We gotta go. Sponge! Get moving.”

Chase turned to see who she yelled at. A large man covered in pockmarks waddled closer. His costume consisted of spandex short, an ill-fitting mask, and mismatched boots. In a heavy wheezing breath he said, “I’m coming. Sheesh.”

“Hey, kid,” Calamitous said to Chase. “You gotta driver’s license?”

“Uh, yeah.” Chase looked at Calamitous, then at the group exiting the door.

“Good,” Calamitous tossed him a set of keys. “You’re driving. Mine’s been revoked for a year now.”

Chase made his way to the van and buckled in. “Where are we going?”

“Downtown,” Calamitous. “We want Pike and High Street.”

Chase turned the key, and the engine made the starting noise but didn’t turn over.

“Dammit.” Calamitous yanked her door open and got out. She walked several feet and turned around.

“Start it now, kid.” The old man, Speeder said. “That happens.”

Chase started the van, and it roared to life. Calamitous dashed back in and they took off.

The wheezing voice of Sponge came from the back. “What do we call you, kid?”

Calamitous, Speeder, and Aim turned and looked at him.

“Uh, Chase,” Chase said.

“Hurrr hurr.” Aim tapped Chase on the shoulder with an oddly held hand.

“Code name, son,” Speeder said. “Not yer real one. Amateurs.”

“Oh,” Chase turned at the traffic light and merged with traffic on the highway. “I haven’t picked one.”

“Micro-dot.” Calamitous looked at the group. “He shrinks. Can get into tight spaces and what not.”

Chase blushed.

“Your exit’s here,” Calamitous said, pointing to the large green sign. “Stay left, but turn right.”

Chase nodded. He followed the directions and zoomed through the yellow, almost red traffic light.

“Good timing,” Sponge said in a moist voice. “Not tickets on your first day.”

“Hurt,” Aim added.

“Yeah,” Speeder said. “That’s how Calamitous lost her license.”

Chase glanced at the woman in the co-pilot’s chair. A scowl darkened her face, and she fidgeted with her seatbelt. She turned her head and looked out the window.

“I see a spot,” Chase pulled the van into an empty area. It was a two hour zone.

The wall of glass exploded on the building across the street. Rubble spilled into the empty road and three bodies came after it.

“That looks like Fuego, Steadfast, and Racket.” Chase darted out the door.

“It is,” Calamitous called. “Wait for your orders.” She turned to the group in the van. “This is the Dark Knights. Heavily armored and armed to the teeth. Speeder leads, followed by Sponge. I’ll run interference. Aim, you take Micro-dot and work your way to Leader.”

“Who’s the leader?” Chase looked at the destroyed wall. The three previous heroes were prone and unmoving.

“Big armor and a pansy feather sticking out of his helmet,” Speeder said. He poked the ground with his canes as he moved. “You can’t miss him.”

Chase watched the old man limp-walk. Speeder picked up his pace, then Chase noticed it. Speeders feet and canes turned into a blur. The silver-white blur moved over the rubble. One by one, the heroes disappeared form the ruble. They reappeared on the safety of the sidewalk.

“Whoa!”

“Hurrrr,” Aim stood next to Chase and waited.

The van shifted, and Sponge shambled across the street.

Four dark leather clad men bounded out of the building. Two moved for Sponge. They threw punches and kicks. Sponge didn’t even bother to block. He just stepped in the way of each attack. The loud smacks carried over the empty street and Chase winced from several loud blows. One of the men pulled a baton from somewhere. Holding it like a baseball bat, he swung. Sponge’s body rippled, and the waves rolled over his body. Chase saw them flow over shoulders, and across Sponge’s back.

Sponge didn’t fall.

The baton wielder and his partner, dropped to knees, then to their faces.

“What?” Chase stared dumbfounded at what happened.

“Hurrrrr.” Aim nodded and waved crooked arm in the direction of the other two.

Calamitous moved and intercepted them.

“Gentlemen,” she held her arms out, palms facing the sky. “Where do you think you are going?”

“Move it, bitch!” One of the men cocked back a fist. As his hips pivoted, he screamed. Falling forward, he clutched his abdomen and one leg. Calamitous hadn’t laid a hand on him. The man rolled on the road and screamed louder.

The other man looked from his fallen comrade to Calamitous. He glanced over her shoulder at the Chase and Aim.

“You’re not going to make it.” Calamitous shook her head. “I wouldn’t even bother if I were you.”

“You are going to let a female deter you?”

The loud hollow voice came from an armored clad person stepping from the destroyed wall. “Knight, you will carry out your duty.”

The guy looked exactly like Speeder described. The armor enlarged shoulders and arms. Around the torso, the articulated metal slid as the Leader spoke or moved. A large, red, puffy feather extended from the top of the helmet. A black visor with slits covered the face of the Leader.

The sound of metal on metal sounded and the Leader held a long silver sword in his hand.

“Baleful. How interesting.” The Leader moved over the road in long strides. “It seems all the other teams just couldn’t deal with me and my knights.” An amplified laugh sounded from the metal clad person. “You’re not even third rate. How do you expect to defeat me?”

The downed minions moved and struggled to their feet. Each too a cane to the head from Speeder. The one screaming, got to his feet. Tears were streaming down his face.

“Go!” Calamity screamed, moving to engage the unhurt minion.

Chase felt two gentle taps on his arm. He turned, seeing Aim looking at him.

“Hurrrrrr.”

Looking around, Chase scrambled to figure out what Aim meant. Then a flapping hand showed him what.

“Go it!” Chase took a breath and jumped. At the same time, his body reduced in size. He hit the size of a tennis ball and landed in Aim’s hand.

Aim staggered forward. His arms swung in jerks, forcing Chase to dig his fingers into Aim’s gloves. Chase looked between oddly crooked fingers. Taking another breath, Chase closed his eyes. He shrank even further, stopping at the size of a marble.

The Leader saw Aim approaching and moved closer, raising his sword overhead.

Aim flung his arm forward, splaying his fingers. Chase zoomed into the air and rotated to a feet first position.

Gritting his teeth, Chase closed his eyes and focused again. The tingle told him it was happening. He shrunk to the size of BB. Opening his eyes, Chase saw the large metal sword swing. He maintained his position.

A loud clank sounded, and then everything went dark. Chase felt connection with something soft and it gave, then he felt everything move.

“Crap!” He focused again, but instead of getting smaller, he grew in size. He went past marble, past pool ball, past softball. His arms pressed against something metal and he still kept growing. The metal gave way and Chase saw daylight. Looking at his feet, he saw he was standing on the Leader’s face and chest.

The four minions of the Leader saw their fallen commander and immediately gave up. Police cars peeled around the corner and the cops arrested the villains.

Steadfast came over and approached Chase. “That was a nice bit of work. You might want to change teams.” Steadfast nodded towards Calamitous. “This team isn’t all that good.”

Chase looked at Baleful as they assembled. “What are you talking about?”

“They destroy things and cause people to get hurt.”

A microphone appeared and Chase turned, seeing a news crew capturing sound bites.

“Well, from our dashboard cam,” Chase tossed the reporter the memory card. “It looks like the Black Knights used you to take out the wall.” Chase faced the camera. “Plus, if you do your research, no one ever dies when Baleful is involved. And they always win.”

“Hey,” the reporter said. “Did you and Team Supreme take a beating two months ago from the Ministry of Mayhem?” The reporter put the microphone into the face of Steadfast. “Also, didn’t three civilians end up in a coma?”

“Well,” Steadfast held up his hands and backed a step.

“I’m good where I am.” Chase walked over to his new team.