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.

Rogue Telekinetic – Red Sports Car

The small red sports car darted from one lane to the next. With the top down the driver and passenger were visible. Their heads tossed back and laughter on their face. With the heavy traffic, the car did the impossible, it sped up. The small red sports car drove over the line splitting two lanes.

Two kids dove back to the sidewalk, ditching their soda cups. The small red sports car dashed through the intersection and under the red traffic light. It swerved into the oncoming traffic lane, even though no traffic was on the original side.

“This will not end well,” Jack Davis said stepping out of the restaurant. He was in time to see the small red sports car careen through a turn and slow to a stop behind the semi-truck tuning onto the Interstate.

The small red sports car let out several exasperated high-pitched beeps. The driver shouted and waved his fist. Twice the driver looked behind him to see another car coming alongside him, blocking a lane change.

Jack walked passed his car, out of the parking lot, and down the sidewalk towards the small red sports car. In his mind he pictured the car a mere inch off the ground. He felt the power build, then released it.

Approaching the passenger side of the car, Jack said in a loud voice, “Nice car.” The passenger and driver turned to look at him. “It seems fast.”

“It is,” said the big shouldered driver. “At least when I can get on the Interstate.”

“Aren’t you worried about tickets?” Jack looked at the driver. “I mean the insurance on this thing has to be high to begin with.”

“Never been caught,” the large man said with a nod and a grin. “Never will.” He knocked the car out of gear and revved the car.

“I see,” Jack said. “What about you, young lady? Someone as beautiful as you must be worried about an accident. The damage it would cause?”

Worry flashed across the pretty young woman’s face. A hand waved it away, but her eyes never changed. She did a double take towards the driver.

The large truck cleared the corner and proceeded up the entrance ramp.

“About damn time.” The driver shifted the lever and stomped on the gas pedal. The car revved as before only at a higher pitch. And it didn’t go anywhere.

“Hmmm,” Jack said looking at the car. “Seems something is wrong.”

“I just got this hunk a junk,” the man shouted over the roar of his engine. “What the-“ The driver looked at his feet. “The gas is stuck.”

Shouting, Jack said, “Fortunate for you. Imagine if it stuck while you nearly killed those kids back there.” Jack tossed a hand in the direction. The woman and man turned to see the kids crossing the street.

“They look fine to me,” the man said.

“Except for the scrapes and cuts,” Jack added. “And they ditched their drinks.”

“So what.” The driver pounded on the steering wheel. “Go, you piece of sh-“

“Do you kiss your Mother with that potty mouth?” Jack turned to the woman. “Does he kiss you with that potty mouth?” The woman turned a deep red and turned to the driver.

“Shut up!” The man swore. “I’ll get it fixed.” He pulled on a lever and pop sounded from the hood and it lifted an inch. Next he pulled on the door, but it didn’t budge. “No! The door’s stuck.”

The engine revved louder, and the hood slammed shut.

“Personally, I would recommend you use manners and class over false bravado and insecurity.” Jack pulled on the passenger side door, holding it open for the woman. “As for you, make better choices.” A shout exited the driver, and he squirmed in his seat. He pulled his hands, but they were stuck to the steering wheel.

The woman stood from the car and walked away from the small red sports car.

“You know how you said you’ve never been caught?” Jack said, closing the door.

“Yeah.” The driver clenched his hands on the steering wheel.

“First time for everything.” The sounds of sirens sounded. Jack let the car drop to the pavement.

The tires on the small sports car squealed as the driver was thrown back into his seat. A loud scream and the car turned onto the entrance ramp. Two police cars blocked his escape.

Jack shook his head and walked back to his car.

Bad Kid

Vic dashed into his living room and scooped up his crying son. “Bart, it’s ok. You’re not hurt. Daddy’s here.” The words flowed soft and easy. Vic cradled his child and showed affection.

Marsha entered the room watching the scene in front of her. “You’re an excellent father, Victor Gaines. And I love you for it.” Marsha joined in the hug-fest of their son.

***

A bright sunshiny Saturday on the playground, Vic sat on a bench watching Bart play with other children.

“Is that your kid there,” another man asks. “The one with the Champion cape?”

“Yup,” Vic smiled. “He likes to pretend he’s the hero. Swoops in and saves the day.”

“That’s cool,” the other man nodded. “Mine likes Badger or Chance. He says they’re awesome.”

“They give me the impression of media hounds and pretty violent.” Vic said as he looked at the man.

“Yeah, but I don’t want to push them too hard,” the man said. “Then they automatically go the opposite direction.”

“Good point,” Vic responded. Checking his watch, Vic said, “Ohh. Lunch time. Nice talking with you.” He stood and called Bart over.

“Dad! I want to be like Champion. A hero!” Bart bounced as he walked next to Vic.

“Son,” Vic said rubbing Bart’s head. “You can be anything you want.”

***

Vic turned into the parking lot and found a spot at the back. Getting out of the car, he dashed to the auditorium of Brownstone Middle School. Vic yanked his work ID off his shirt and shoved it into his pocket.

“Dad! You made it,” Bart ran up to Vic on the sidewalk.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Vic smiled at his son.

“You are a great father, Victor.” Marsha smiled at her husband. “Let’s get in and find a good seat.”

“Right up front,” Vic said. “Do your best.” He grinned at Bart.

“I will,” Bart said and waved as he moved with the other students into the auditorium.

Vic and Marsha took seats up front and watched as the Brownstone Middle School Orchestra walked on the stage. Using his phone, Vic took videos and pictures of his son.

After the hour long performance, Vic drove his son and met his wife at the local ice-cream shop to celebrate.

“You were fantastic, Bart,” Vic said. “Musics a great way to relax. Plus you learn timing and re-inforce your math.”

“Thanks, Dad,” Bart beamed up at his father.

***

“Dad,” Bart walked over to his father. “I need this permission slip signed.” Bart held out a piece of paper.

“What’s this for,” Vic read the paper while he sipped his morning coffee. “Football, huh? You want to play?”

“Yeah,” Bart answered. “You know to help with controlling the powers I inherited from you.”

“I think that’s a wonderful idea,” Vic said. “But be ready and be careful. You have some of my abilities, but you also have some of your mom’s. Her’s will be better for you.”

“I know,” Bart said, rolling his eyes with a big sigh. “Mom’s healing is good. Just don’t use it unless absolutely necessary.”

“Good.” Vic pulled a pen from his jacket pocket. He leaned over the table, pulled his tie out of the way, and signed the permission slip. “Keep up on practice and keep your grades up. No slacking.”

“Got it, dad,” Bart smiled as he bounced on his toes.

“I love you, Vic,” Marsha said as she encircled her arms around her husband. “We did right with Bart.”

“Yup.” Vic moved to grab his wife. “We did.” He kissed her.

***

Bart came into the living room. His mother sat on the couch watching the late news.

“We won!” Bart jumped up and put his palm on the ceiling.

“Excellent honey,” Marsha said as she patted a spot on the couch next to her. “Sit down and keep me company.”

“Where’s Dad,” Bart asked. “I know he said something about working late, but I never saw him at the game.”

“I don’t know,” Marsha said as she slipped an arm over Bart’s shoulders. “But you know your Dad. He can be a work-a-holic sometimes.”

“Yeah,” Bart smiled. “Still, it would have been nice to see him.”

The television flashed a large graphic across the screen. The words Happening Right Now in large fonts with a red background took the entire screen.

“This is Paula Anderson. It seems that Champion has taken down the archvillain Strong Arm.” A clip showed a dark clad man dragged behind the brightly clad Champion.

“Alright! Champion!” Bart shouted. “He’s the bes-”

The camera zoomed in on the man being dragged.

“Isn’t that dad’s super suit,” Bart asked, pointing at the television. “Why is he being dragged?”

“Yes, Bart,” Marsha answered. “That is your father.”

“But dad isn’t evil,” Bart shot to his feet. “Why is Champion doing this? He’s got the wrong man!”

On the screen, Champion hefted Strong Arm to his feet. A microphone appeared in Strong Arms face.

“Strong Arm. Do you have any comment,” the reporter off camera asked.

Strong Arm lifted his head. A spot of blood showed on his lip, and an eye was swollen shut. “Bart. Never forget. I love you.”

Champion jerked on Strong Arm’s arms and moved him to the van with open doors.

The camera panned back to the reporter. “There you have it, people. Strong Arm’s terror campaign is now at an end. We can all sleep peaceful tonight, thanks to Champion.”

The screen went blank.

“Champion!” Bart shouted through gritted teeth. “I’m gonna kill you.” He ran from the room and cleared the stairs to his room. Loud bashing and crashing noises followed seconds later.

“Vic, I love you,” Marsha whispered. “We did it. Bart is ready.”

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!”

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.

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.

Special Delivery – Karl

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

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

In queue. Waiting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fair enough, Anders.”

Volt & Daedalus is on mission.

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

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

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

Fisticuffs is on mission.

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

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

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

BEEP! BEEP!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karl leaned down to pick up the unconscious super hero.

“No. No. Don’t do that.”

Karl jerked upright.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No deal.”

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

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

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

Vapor transformed into mist and floated toward the melee.

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you the kid that brought me in?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#

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

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

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

Karl,

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

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

Fisticuffs (Karl Jenkins).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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