Archive for June, 2014

He could see his mother.  Her hungry face, covered in fluids.  Vomit.  Blood.  Pus.  He saw her sink her teeth into his sister’s flesh.  He struggled, and a binding broke.  Daisuke could move a single leg.  He struggled again and used it to leverage another leg free, then a third.

After enough struggling, five of his legs were free, and he snapped the webbing holding him up.  Toumei ran for his life.

After seconds that seemed like an eternity, he could hear his mother’s screeching.  “I’m still hungry! I can’t stop it!”

He panicked, tripping over a rock.  Not a single sound left the forest, nor did a single whimper or cry reach any animal.  There was nothing in his mother’s lair.

“Fuck,”  said Daisuke, picking himself up and running again.  He knew that he was going to be next.  He was the only one who was left.

The trees were a bit denser as he pressed on, his mother gaining speed as she thundered through the forest like a wave.  He needed help, he needed something, something that would save him.  Daisuke looked up and saw the canopy.  I could climb up to there,  he thought.

Aoi was behind him, her face still covered in her children.  Daisuke’s siblings.  The sisters and brothers he failed to protect.

 

***

 

“I think we should leave,”  said Hanako.  Daisuke had to admit that she was right;  it’s been a week and their mother was looking ill.  She hadn’t eaten in days.

“Sister,”  said Daisuke with a soothing tone.  “It’s all okay, we are just making sure mom is okay.  We will leave soon, I just want her to be okay.”

“But there is barely any food anywh-”

“I promise you,”  Daisuke put one of his legs to his sister’s mouth.  “We’ll go together.  You, me, Toshiro… everyone.”

Hanako paused, not speaking for what seemed like an eternity.  Then she spoke.  “Okay.”

 

***

 

Daisuke reached the top of the canopy, glancing down to see Aoi behind him.  He jumped from one tree to the other, nearly falling as a crashing sound occurred from below as branches tore away.  Aoi was right behind him.

“I’M STARVING, I HAVEN’T EATEN IN DAYS!”

Daisuke climbed along the canopy.  He had to live.  For Hanako.  For everyone.

Aoi rumbled through the canopy behind Daisuke, knocking branches and what not into the ground below.  She was catching up.

Daisuke continued to scramble through the canopy, approaching a thick line of branches.  There was a small opening, a hint of webbing surrounding it.  It must have been made by one of his brethren.  He had no choice;  Daisuke crawled into the space, hoping it was a tunnel.

“Dammit,”  he said to himself.  His abdomen was too large.  “Fuck!”

Aoi was right behind him.  She stopped moving.  Daisuke knew what was coming.

A pain shot through his heart as his own mother’s fangs sunk through his abdomen.  I don’t want to die,  he thought.  I don’t want to die, not like this.  Tears welled up as the pain pulsed through him.  Another stab to his abdomen, this time dragging Daisuke as his mother pulled him out of the tunnel, away from safety.

“I must eat!  I’m so hungry I must eat, I’m sorry!”

 

***

“Dai?”  asked Hanako.

“Yes?”

“It’s been a month.  She’s been getting worse and she’s started talking in her sleep.  Most of the family is gone.”

“I know. We’ll leave tomorrow.”  said Daisuke, comforting his sister.

 

***

 

Daisuke struggled to crawl away, pain throbbing through him, venom dripping from the hole in his back.

He struggled to speak.  “I… don’t want…”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry but I’m starving and you look so good!”

Aoi was crying.  She was crying as she ate her own child alive.  Crying as she stuck her fangs into his back, chewing on the remains of his abdomen.  Crying as she crunched his chitinous shell between her jaws, pneumatic fluid and silk proteins spraying everywhere.

Everything suddenly turned to an abrupt darkness.  Daisuke was floating within the void, or what could only be approximated as ‘floating’ by Daisuke himself.

“I don’t want to die, not now,”

Daisuke struggled to look where the voice came from.  Was that from behind me?  he guessed.

“Not like this, not like this,”

Another voice, quiet, closer.  He could nearly tell whom the voice belonged to, it was so familiar.

“Let the bitch starve then, she fucking ate them all!”

The voice was Daisuke himself.

His body erupted in pain and white, and he woke up from his unconsciousness.  His mother, dead.  The trees, decayed.  Himself, healed.  The branches couldn’t take his weight and he fell to the earth.

 

***

 

“Awake, Kumo?”  asked Bloodwitch, smiling.

Kumo took a cursory glance then began to move his legs, testing the fluids which gave him locomotion.

“I am now,”  he said, raising his body slowly from the ground.

“You talk in your sleep too often, Kumo.”

“Well I have an excuse to do so, really.”  replied Kumo, pointing a leg at Trauma, who was sleeping soundly.  He began to walk towards the door.

“Where is the boss?”  he asked Bloodwitch.

She only smiled.  “Don’t know where she is, but she’s hanging with the others, Kumo.  Funny how they don’t seem to trust us three as much as the others,”  she said, gesturing to the three inhabitants of the abandoned living room.

“To be fair,”  retorted Kumo,  “Trauma joined us way too easily.”

“Her powers have heavy influence over her.”

“How’d you figure?”  asked Kumo in a quizzical tone.

“I could feel it in her blood.”  said Bloodwitch, pricking her own index finger with a needle.  Kumo watched as the blood slowly moulded into a shape that resembled Bloodwitch in her costume, and then slowly and visibly congealed to a solid mass.  Bloodwitch broke off the blood sculpture and placed it on the couch where Trauma lay sleeping soundly.

“That is always creepy,”  remarked Kumo.

He turned to leave for good.

“It doesn’t matter how many times you ask, he’ll never take those memories away,”  muttered Bloodwitch, looking down on the sleeping trauma.

Kumo couldn’t tell who that advice was truly for.

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3 | 4 : Press

Posted: 06/23/2014 in Press
Tags: , , , ,

“What the fuck,”  said Derek.  “What the fuck was that about?”

I had no patience.

“What happened was Ellen joined that fucking bitch and her fucking posse, D!”  I snapped back at him.  Ellen joined the Hunting Party. Why?  Why the fuck would she do that?  My head was racing.

“Ryan, calm down,”  said Derek, interrupting my thoughts.  “I get it, I know how you feel.  Please think before you act.”

“Why?  Why the fuck should I?”

“You’ll get yourself killed, or worse.”

I took a moment to think.  Derek was right, there was nothing I could do.  It would take a month to heal my arm properly, and even then my powers are useless in certain situations.  I haven’t even one a single fight.

“Fine,”  I said, still bitter.  I took a second to exhale.  “Fuck.”

The door opened slowly after what felt like an eternal silence.  It wasn’t Maxine and any medical staff, but Event Horizon.  She stood there, looking as concerned as she could.

“I heard about the news,”  she said.  “I know you two and the other one were close.”

“Yeah,”  sighed Derek.  He got up to leave.

“I was going to visit today to see about your arm, Ry.  I guess these things happen.”

I looked at her, much calmer than before.  I took a moment to realize she was still in costume.  A pink mask over her head, with a green triangle on the center of it, covering her nose and her top lip.  Odd choice.  Derek closed the door behind him.

“I’m actually not good at this, and I feel I’ve come too early, but I’m there for you and your friends.  Maxwell is there too,”  she said.  “Don’t let this be about yourselves, Ry.   You, Unpe- Maxine and Derek are pert of the team now.  You are part of my team.  I want to see you at your best or at least make sure you feel better than before you joined.”

It was awkward, slow, she tripped up once and there was a hint of selfishness to it, but I needed it.

“Thanks.  I’ll tell the others when I see them.”

She got up to leave and ran into Maxine.  There was a nurse with her.

“He broke his arm again,”  the nurse said to Event Horizon.

“I see.  I’ll talk to you later, ”  she said to Maxine, walking out the room.

 

***

 

It’s been a week since my accident.  I’m healing faster than usual, and I’m up and about now.

“Hey you three, what’s up?”

It was Pivot.  Event Horizon was behind her.  She was relatively normal as far as most brain type supers went.  Her specialty was on making machines with a central component, that both allowed for easy rebuilding but also left her creations with a glowing weakness;  everything is built around a single, central component.

She wore a slightly modified labcoat.  A single steel wire held it together, and allowed it to provide maneuverability and protection.

“Not much,”  replied Maxine, eating a sandwich from the cafeteria.  Derek was already finished and I was busy enjoying a surprisingly not terrible soup.

“We need to talk,”  Pivot said, pausing for a moment.  “Not about what happened, it’s more about the actives thing before the bank heist incident.”

“Oh, that,”  I said.  “What was it about again?”

“Druggie’s formula and powers.”

“Really?”  I said.  I wasn’t in the mood for it.

“You’ll need to hear this, so listen up,”  said Event Horizon, reading my expression.  She and Pivot sat down next to either side of Derek.

“I figure you know the gist of what Druggie does, right?”  asked Pivot.

“Chemical based hero, creates tons of powerful formulas and drugs,”  said Maxine.

“Yeah.  Anyway, you all got injected with his ‘Awakening’ formula.  This is different, and it works off of regular awakenings.”

Derek shifted to slightly, a little worried.  I’d be concerned about this too if I was in his shoes.  Or Maxine’s.

“Awakenings are caused moments of extremity.  Winning a Drag Race, being in a fight, surviving a disaster… all of those can cause a power to erupt,”  lectured Pivot.  “Druggie’s formula forces this, causing a random ambient power.  There is a passive effect and an active.  You guys need to know about your ‘actives’ and how to use them.”

This actually isn’t as bad as I thought.  Derek relaxed a little.

“It’s easier if we learn about these powers and stuff in a controlled environment than in the middle of a fight or something, right?”  asked Maxine.

“Yeah,”  replied Event Horizon.  “That’s why we are telling you now.  You know us, there isn’t much going on at this very moment and you guys may be out of action for a while anyway.”

“Figures,”  Derek said, looking up at Event Horizon as she walked over to Pivot.

“We’ll do this in the training room,”  said Event Horizon, standing from her seat.  “Gunsmith has to watch over us, for supervision purposes.”

Pivot got up from her seat.  “You all coming?  No time like right now.”

We all looked at each other and got up at the same time.  We all finished our meals anyway.

“Okay,”  I said.  “I think it’s unanimous.”

Event Horizon walked off.  “I’ll go get Gunsmith, you guys follow Pivot.”

Pivot led the way as Maxine walked next to her, with me and Derek close behind them.  I noticed that Pivot’s labcoat was a little larger than she was, reaching down to her ankles.

“Hey Pivot,”  said Maxine.

“Yeah?”  Pivot continued walking down the hall.

“So why were there only four of you guys before we joined?”

Pivot took a moment to think.

“One guy moved to another group, the other guy cou-”  she began, before stopping abruptly.  “yeah, sometimes people leave the team.”

“Oh,”  said Maxine, trying to segway the bitter feeling in the air.  “let’s talk about something else.  What’s up with the guys we fought a week ago?”

“The North side Rioters?”

“Yeah, them!”  Maxine exclaimed.

“They all sorta awakened during a riot that happened last year.  We didn’t catch up to them and by the time we knew about them they’d already been causing crimes.”

“I see,”  I said.

“It’s a combination of bad luck and opportunity for them, really.”  Pivot stated.  “They were mostly poor kids before the riot, then they got hit by the worst of it and became looters, then muggers, then…  well, this,”  she gestured to the air.

“Oh, we’re here.  let’s wait for Gunsmith and Event Horizon.”

 

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Today, I learned two horrific facts; I’ve never broken my arm before and it hurts when you do.  I nearly passed out, looking as the tire rolled away, smeared with blood.  I took one look at my arm and threw up onto the pavement instantly.  I could see bone.  White, broken shards of bone.

“I shall pick up this car,”  said Tiny Tyrant, lifting a car in a way that ignored all laws of torque and stress.  “And beat this plebeian to death!”

I learned that pulling myself out of the roughly me shaped indentation of the side of a car is also painful.  Not as painful as being thrown into it with a flying tire, but still painful.  Tiny Tyrant charged at me, swinging.  I dodged the car as she suddenly lost her balance.  I guess she couldn’t wield her car anymore due to my aura.  The car landed, bouncing a little once it his the ground as Tiny Tyrant stumbled forwards, bringing her face into the rear end.  I heard a satisfying clunk as she dented the car and fell over unconscious with a broken nose.

I took a second to get my strength and look around.  Plasmic was tagged.  Maxwell was out of the running.  Servant and Tiny Tyrant were down.  That leaves the person Event Horizon was chasing.

He ran over to where I was.  I remembered that I had a stun baton, and Tiny Tyrant must have knocked it out of my hands when she threw the tire at me.  He grabbed the Baton and turned to Event Horizon, shocking her stomach with a well timed strike.  She fell down, clutching her stomach.

I slowly stumbled over to her, stumbling in my own pain.  She was more hurt than Servant was when I struck him.  Stun batons shouldn’t do that kind of damage.

“Hey, are you okay?”  I managed to ask, the adrenaline in my body beginning to fade.

She was still shaking.  I took a few steps closer and was floored with pain as an arc of electricity lashed out from Event Horizon and struck me.

 

***

I woke up in a stretcher an hour later, and got the jist of the result of the fight from Stacker.  Apparently only Plasmic was arrested, as their leader – or what was closest to a leader for them – managed to free Servant and escape with Tiny Tyrant.  I’ll be out of the running for a while, due to the fact my arm was nearly torn clean off.  It wouldn’t be that much of a problem, but no healer can really help me due to the nature of my incontinence.

The medical bed in the NHN building was rather relaxing, with its dull, sterile colouring and the mind dulling droning coming from machines everywhere.  But that peace was only before Derek came in with Maxine behind him.  She still wore the goggles given to her.

“Hey Ryan,”  he began, showing a basket of fruits and chocolates.  “Maxine got this from the gift shop.”

“Thanks,”  I said to the both of them.

Maxine had a somewhat smug look on her face.  This’ll be terrible, I thought.  She looked around and saw the television, and walked over for the remote laying on top of it.

“You should see the news,”  she said turning the television on.

“Derek, get that damn thing off her!”  I quickly roared.

Maxine giggled, holding the remote high above her as Derek jumped, trying to reach for the remote.  He gave up quickly and shrugged.

“No use, just hope it isn’t as embarrassing as you think,”  he joked, sitting on the bed.

The TV turned on.  Oklahoma City News Network.  OCNN, as it’s abbreviation was called.  Breaking News blared up before a petite blonde presenter showed up.

“Footage of the recent skirmish between the National Heroes Network’s Oklahoma City junior group and the North Side Rioters has recently been released.  Be advised;  what you will see may shock you,”  she said.

The screen cut to a clip of Tiny Tyrant tearing a tire off a car and throwing it, taken from a helicopter.  All three of us flinched as it hit me with a crunch.

“Recent controversy has hit the Oklahoma Juniors Group as they have nearly doubled their active roster, inviting three new capes into their group,”

Footage of the mall.  Me, Derek, Maxine and Micheal all huddled up.  Ellen.

“Unperson, Latency, Beacon, Plural, Trauma and Blocker are the newest recorded Incontinent metahumans created by the string of attacks caused by the Hunting Party,”

Her statement floored me.  Blocker?  Trauma?  What the fuck did Ellen do?  I looked over and it floored Maxine a little too.  She didn’t expect this to be our introduction into the world of metahumans, if you could call it that.  It was more of a public condemnation.

The news piece continued.

“Nearly all of these young uncontrolled capes have joined the NHN.  However, the public has shown disapproval,”

The screen cut to interviews, fast paced, they all nearly said the same thing.

“Why should we be allowing people like Biohazard run about!?”  asked the fat man with glasses.

“I’m scared.  Those people are scary.  Not like Undertow and Vector,”  the nervous girl spat out.

“It’s not much of a choice, ain’t it?  Like, you got them and you got those mean dudes, right?  I’d choose them though.  They seem good,”  endorsed the thin man with a beard.

“Their names creep me out, man.  Unperson?  Who the fuck names themselves after a book on fascism?”  ranted another man.  Derek choked on a chortle.

The screen turned back to the reporter.

“Critics say that these new capes could all be villainous citing the recent events where Trauma, AKA Ellen White killed her parents, and later escaped from NHN custody with the assistance of The Hunting Party.  She was last seen in Malcolmtown, Missouri.”

The screen cut to Ellen.  People where around Ellen.  I knew them.  Fractal.  Druggie.  Sacrifice.  Pain uddenly shot through my broken arm and I screamed out.  Maxine and Derek turned as I grabbed my cast with my free hand, holding it.

“I’ll get help, stay here,”  said Maxine, running out the room.

Derek helped hold my cast in place before he flinched back, his palm covered in blood.  We both took a second and figured out what happened;  I broke my own arm in anger.

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Event Horizon, as far as I could tell, was the leader of the whole team for the Oklahoma City Group.  We were driving to the bank being robbed by the North Side Rioters, and everyone apart from Pivot was being debriefed by Event Horizon.

“Normally, we’d have Maxwell and one of Pivot’s toys run in and wreck face,”  she began.  “However we got three newbies who can actually take out fighters easy.”

She wrote down a small sentence on her arm;  Unperson is hiding Latency.

“Unperson, do your thing to Latency.  Latency, tag as many people as you can.  Ryan, you’ll be in the front.  How far does your field go?”  Her orders were quickfire.  She knew what to do.

“Three meters I think.”  I replied.

“Stay ten meters away from us, try and get in the midst of them.  Also, choose a callsign for god’s sake.  Pivot’s going easy this time because of that fight with Killstreak last week.  I’ll be in the front with Maxwell.  Stacker, stack Latency.”

“Hey, what’s that do?”  asked Latency.

“It’s a luck thing,”  said Stacker.  “If you do well, it like carries over… bu-”

“If you fuck up it’ll get bad quickly,”  shot Maxwell.  “I’ve been stacked plenty of times. You’ll feel it on you.”

“Speaking of which,”  interjected Pivot from the driver’s seat,  “You guys know what your actives are right?”

“Actives?”  Unperson asked.

“I see,”  said Pivot coyly.  “We’ll talk about this later.”

We got out the van with Maxwell, Event Horizon and myself standing in the front, everyone else at the back.  We were facing the bank, a few blocks away.  It was go time.

Maxwell and Event horizon ran ahead, meeting two of the robbers who had come out of the bank.  They both wore hockey masks and paint smeared clothes.  One of them, wearing a red painted mask and blue denim dungarees shot out a glowing something, knocking Maxwell back into the road.  I walked up to the group from the side.  He turned to me and shot another ball.  It disappeared five meters away from me.

“The fuck?”  he said.

“Plasmic, I’ll deal with this bitch,”  said the other, hopping and jumping away from Event Horizon with finesse.  He muttered something unintelligible as she chased him with relentless fury, closing the distance more and more each second.  Deep down I felt as though there was no esc-

Suddenly, I was on fire.  I panicked and put out the flames as hard as I can, tossing my shield and performing a stop drop and roll.  Awareness based power nullification.  How annoying.

I got up and saw the next fireball.  It vanished right before my eyes.  I picked up my riot shield and held it before me.  Maxwell was charging who I think was called Plasmic and Event Horizon had gotten deathly close.  As much as she was able to close the gap, he was way to tricky to catch.  What the hell was his power?

I heard screaming from within the bank.  It looped.  Somebody stood out, a cape in a morph suit.  He surrendered.  Unperson suddenly tapped me on the shoulder from behind and I remembered it was Latency as I turned around in surprise.  She gave a thumbs up and Latency ran to where Plasmic and Maxwell were, tagging them both.  Maxwell was freezing the air around Plasmic. Plasmic was charging a shot.  Plasmic was charging a shot.  Plasmic was charging a shot.

The last remaining robber ducked from under one of Event Horizon’s grabs and ran for Latency.  I charged after him.

“Latency, look out!”  I yelled.  He reached him and…

He did a backflip over Latency.  I reached Latency too quickly to stop and everyone went back to normal.  Shit, I thought to myself, turning to face Plasmic as he fired another shot that dissipated in my aura.  Latency ran back into the building as Maxwell struck Plasmic in the back of the head, knocking him out and onto the ground.

The second robber struck my in the gut from nowhere.  I felt all the wind in me leave and I nearly threw up.  Then I saw more of the North Side Rioters.

A young girl stood in a finely laced dress, wearing a mask normally worn in a masquerade ball.  Beside her, a taller man wearing a formless mask and a formal suit.

“Servant, throw Maxwell into that building over there.”  the young girl spoke.

the young man dashed over to Maxwell with insane speed and grabbed Maxwell’s arm.  Maxwell instinctively froze his formal suit and arm with his powers as the Servant threw Maxwell across the street.  His frostbitten fingers and frozen sleeves still clung to Maxwell as he crashed through the window panes of a bakery.

“Servant, your lack of clothing and fingers are disgusting.  How will you serve me with no hands?”

The servant boy kneeled in front of the girl.  “Yes, my lady.  Forgive me, my lady.”

“Grow your fingers and clothing back, now!”  she fumed theatrically, like a small child throwing a tantrum.  His fingers and bones popped and cracked disgustingly as his hands regrew, the frostbitten flesh disappearing slowly.

She pointed at me.  “Blast that man in the riot gear with your eye lasers!”

He turned and his eyes began glowing.  I charged him, closing the distance as he fired of a shot that did nothing.  I eventually reached him and tackled him to the ground with a bask of my shield.

“Fight back! Fight back!”

The servant boy scrambled to get back up on his feet as I remembered about my stun baton.  I unsheathed it, kicking the assailant in the stomach.  He didn’t even scream as the shock pulsed through his back, knocking him out with spasms.

I turned around and Event Horizon had caught the villain she’d been chasing the whole fight.  He was already in cuffs.  She looked over to me and her face turned white.

“Ryan, Servant isn’t the one with the powers!  You have to stop Tiny Tyrant!”

I pondered exactly what sort of name Tiny Tyrant was, when the flying car tire smacked me into the parked car next to me.

 

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I stood there side by side with Latency and Unperson.  They are still known to me as Derek and Maxine.  Ricky – or Plural as he is now calling himself – is in the New York Juniors team along with Micheal, who rechristened himself Beacon.  Ellen was taken from us, the only casualty of the attack on Norfolk.

We were waiting, overhearing Gunsmith talk into the camera.

“…e here at the NHN will finally introduce the three new members to the Oklahoma City’s very own National Heroes Network Junior Group!  Unperson, Latency and Ryan!”

We walked onto the stage from the left.  Both I and Unperson were heavily armored.  Unperson’s mask was a face-plate covering her eyes but still giving her sight.  The Goggles she wore earlier worked by making her see through an instant camera feed.  It wasn’t efficient, but the technical guy behind it made an improved version for her.

I wore clothing suspiciously similar to riot gear.  It was painted white, to my approval.  The facemask was clear as I didn’t feel the need to hide my face.  They all knew who I was anyway.

Derek was the only one of us not adorned with bullet proofing of any sort.  I guess he felt he didn’t need it, due to his ability to not get shot.  As much as his bravery entertained me, watching him go out in a silver morph suit was rather embarrassing.  Seriously, what the fuck.

It was a small press release, mainly to justify the sudden growth of the Oklahoma City Juniors.  They are now seven members on this team, making out group the fifth largest NHN Junior Group in the USA.  Unperson and I waved.

The crowd was justifiably nervous.  When people are asked about Incontinents, they don’t think about potential superheroes.

They think of Biohazard, who turned his hometown into a desolate wasteland where even rocks are rotting away.  They think of Japan, a country that was turned into a jungle state where every animal has sentience.  President Inugami is currently trying to reapply Japan for the UN at the moment, but he’s having issues. Apparently there is new legislation about UN memberships, and ‘nations who have undergone severe demographic, military and/or governmental restructuring due to the influence of superpowers are no longer allowed access to the UN’.  I can see why, with all the Kingmaker states and the one or two islands run my maniacs with hypnotism and god knows what else.  They think about Nightmare.

I decided to finally break the silence.  “Hello, I’m Ryan.  The girl to my left is Unperson,”  I said, gesturing.  “And the person to my right is Latency.”

“We’ll ask any questions the best we can as members of the NHN Junior Group first, and as individuals second,” I finished, stepping back.

The first hand shot up, a petite girl.  I pointed to her and she immediately looked at her question on the notepad.  “Why are you called Ryan?”

“It’s my name,”  I said.  “You know me anyway,”  A second person raised their hand once I was done with her, and I pointed at them.

“Do you think you’ll be a good addition to the Oklahoma team?”

This was a question we were all prepared for.  A big thing that recently has been making the rounds is the idea of team synergy.  We’d been told about our companions from Gunsmith;  Pivot, Event Horizon, Stacker and Maxwell.  We also were told about the current Oklahoma situation.

Unperson answered this question.  “Yes.  Both us and the NHN believe we are capable and suited to working in Oklahoma city with the current team situated there.”

Gunsmith walked up and gestured us off before any more questions occurred. It was time to meet the Oklahoma Juniors.

 

***

 

“So you three are the new guys, huh?”  asked a green hooded figure in the Junior Group living quarters.  It looked less like a dormitory and more like a storage closet, with boxes everywhere.  Me, Unperson and Latency were standing at the door with our luggage;  some clothes and toiletries.

A blue skinned figure  walked out from where I assumed the toilets were, wearing a bathrobe.  “Quiet, Stacker,”  he said.

“I’m Maxwell, nice to meet you.”  he stuck out a hand and it tuned to normal, surprising him slightly.  He took a step back, reeling his hand away.

“Sorry,”  I shrugged.  “Can’t really turn it off.”

“It’s okay, I’m almost in the same boat.”

Latency walked out of my radius and turned to his glitchy, lagging self.  Stacker raised an eyebrow.

“Shit, you guys really are Incontinents,”  he smirked.

“And?” asked Unperson.  Latency Blinked into a glare at Stacker.

“Never seen one apart from Maxwell, but he’s not like you guys.”

“Not ‘like us’ how?”  I asked.  I was having my patience wear thin and having my curiosity piqued at the same time.

“Well, for a start, Maxwell is a hero along the lines of ‘Internally Incontinent’ which means his powers don’t really affect others.  His skin tuns blue, but he has other powers,”  began Stacker.  “Most thinking types are also like that, Powers are always working, but they don’t affect others like yours do unless they act on it.”

“I see,”  I said.  I’ve been cursing my lack of knowledge in super-culture for a while.  Hell, I feel like I’m going to be cursing a lack of knowledge in everything for years to come.

“Well, looks like the newbies are here,”  said a young girl as she walked in from behind.  She held out a hand to me.  “I’m Pivot.”

“Ryan,” I responded.

“Huh?  No alias?”  she cocked her head.

“It’s not like I can hide my identity,”  I smiled at her, shaking her hand.

“I see.”

She sat down on one of the several couches scattered around the room.  Maxwell had already went to his room to dry off.  Latency and Unperson both looked for their rooms to change.

The alarms blared just as Unperson found her room.

“A metahuman robbery at West Bank is being conducted by the north side rioters. NHN Juniors Group has been assigned to deal with the threat.”

Pivot ran to her room to get her stuff.  Maxwell walked out of his, and whom I could only guess was Event Horizon walked out of hers.

“Okay newbies,”  said Event Horizon.  “Time to shine.”

 

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Quiet.  Silent.  Everything was Nothing and she was alone with her thoughts.  Who would want to talk to you?  It’s all your fault.  You’re going to cause nothing but misery, forever.  It’s all your fault.  You deserve this.

Ellen’s mind raced, and it could only hurt her.  She was not allowed to talk to anyone, not after what she did.  The guards were blocked from even seeing her, she was that horrific.  Confined to a nearly impossible degree, with gags, blindfolds, chains, cuffs and straight-jackets all supported with a complex metal contraption suspending her in place.  All that was was all her thoughts; all her thoughts were all that was.  She waited and hoped for the occasional jolt of the van as it took her to the city kept her awake. Anything to make the Ellen in her mind go away, or be distracted for a moment.

You don’t deserve to live. You killed them.

Ellen couldn’t escape her own thoughts for even a single second.  It hurt.

Did it feel good?  Having her die because you didn’t want to hear me for just a little longer?

A thousand accusations, a thousand spiteful words pierced her with precision that proved to her it was her own mind doing this.  Her very soul was trying to drive her insane.

She loved you, and you said those filthy, evil words.

It was working.

And guess what?  You get to go free.  I’m sure Uncle Jonathon will be proud.

A violent jolt of the van changed her mind for a second.

Oh my.  It appears you’ve caused even more death.

Metal tearing, shouting, screaming, gunshots.  Nothing.

They had kids.  Both of them.

More metal being torn, louder, more pronounced.

And now it’s your turn.  You’ll spread misery forever, without fail.  You disgust me.

“This her?”  a ragged voice asked.

“Yeah, this is the one,”  answered what sounded like a young girl’s.  “Taker, take out the bits we don’t need once I’ve tapped her.”

Pain.

 

***

 

Ellen woke up to find herself alone.

No voice.  It was gone.  She got up and realized he was free.  She was free, and there wasn’t that constant voice in her head telling her how horrible she was every second she wasn’t near Ryan, and she could move and walk and speak and-

“So you took out her will to die?”

Ellen shot around and saw them. Seven Humanoid figures and a giant spider.  She’s seen weirder teams of capes before.  Unlike Ryan she actually bothered with reading cape news and gossip, rather than instinctively sneering and going for the remote.  She recognized them already.  The Hunting Party.  She was back in the clutches of the hunting party.

Sacrifice, Druggie, Fractal, Glutton and Jawbreaker stood in a group.  They were finished off by three of their other members whom the news reported as visiting Asia at the time they attacked Norfolk.  Taker, Bloodwitch and Kumo.

 

“Why are you here?”  she asked.  Or more correctly, that is what she meant to ask.  What she actually said was “Ahh, Munroe.  You think you can save this little girl, too?”

A brief moment of horror crossed Ellen’s face as Bloodwitch slapped her across the face, sending her across the room.

“Taker, she told you to take out all the bits we don’t need,”  Bloodwitch snarled at Taker, her veins visibly popping from her powers.

“Now now, I was only having a joke.  It’s not like you’d kill yourself anyway,”  replied Taker, adjusting his glasses.  “Though if you let me take something of similar value, I’d give you back your death…”

“Back off, you fucking creep,”  Bloodwitch replied, a spear of blood shooting out of her arm and touching Taker’s neck.

Glutton suddenly jumped and bit down on the blood spear, breaking it.  He shot a look at both of them and resumed eating his burger.

“Enough,”  ordered Sacrifice calmly.  “We have many experiments to run in the future.  Taker?  Take these things,” she handed Taker a note of paper.  He smiled while looking at the list and walked over to Ellen, who just managed to stand up.  Ellen turned to run and began to look for a door or a window.

“It’s no use, dear.”  said Taker, slowly walking towards her.  “I took away the exits.”

“Clara, help me!”  Ellen cried.  Bloodwitch clenched her fist and looked away.  “Don’t let it happen!  Don’t just stand there watching again!”

Taker got even closer.  Ellen tried to make another run for it but she froze.  She suddenly fell to her knees and put her hands behind her head.  Bloodwitch was using her powers on her.

Ellen panicked, struggling to speak.  “Clara, please!  I didn’t mean it! You said you’d prote-”

“You aren’t her!”  shouted Bloodwitch, visibly angered.  Ellen shut up, reduced to sobbing.

Taker reached her, and placed his and on her head.

“Loyalty to your friends, family and everyone else bar us.”

A surge of blood rushed through Ellen’s head.

“Please, Danny… It wasn’t their fault,”  she whispered to Taker.

“Your ability to use your power on us.”

Another surge of blood.

Ellen could actually say what she wanted to.  “Please, stop this.”

“Your ability to betray us or rebel against us in any form.”

Another surge of blood, heavier than the last.

“And finally, your will to leave us.”

It was done.  As the last pulses of blood ran through her head and she heard the tinnitus slowly pass by.  Even her thoughts changed.  Ellen was still scared, still frightened, but now she feels no need to escape, to try and run away.  She looked up at Taker as he took his hand away.

“Why?”

“We always take a new member from each experiment,”  smiled Sacrifice.  Ellen remembered a small detail about her; she used to be a well known metahuman researcher.  Her experiments have come to this?  Awful.

“It’s a way to keep on having fun.”

“I see.”  Ellen wasn’t disagreeing.  Only loyalty to the Hunting Party remained.  It pained her to admit so, just a little.

Sacrifice walked closer to her, wearing a bull’s head instead of the goat she last saw.  She placed her hand on Ellen’s shoulder.

“You are now Trauma,”  she said gently.  Ellen got up, allowed to move again.  Sacrifice turned to the rest of the Hunting Party. She clapped her hands and spun around in a mischievous manner.

“Who wants to see the current situation of Texas?” she asked.

Kumo was the first to reply.

“Why go Texas?”   the spider hissed.

“Because, Kumo, I want to study the Effects of Druggie’s formula on a Kingmaker victim.  The King of Texas is conveniently nearby, and he’s going to open up soon anyway.  Kingmakers need to wage wars and Texas hasn’t had one in 15 years,”  she replied.

Kumo didn’t respond.

 

2 | 4 : Road Trip

Posted: 06/03/2014 in Road Trip
Tags: , ,

We won’t be seeing Ellen again;  she won’t be seeing her family.  It was hard to let sink in.  I was standing outside the room where we just had our final meeting before being assigned as Juniors and having to deal with PR.  I wasn’t looking forwards to it.  Sure, I might see Ricky – or Plural, as he calls himself – but my thoughts were firmly with Ellen.  Maxine couldn’t have gotten anything higher than 3.  That was the criteria.  Seven.  What the fuck did she do?

Micheal was the last to leave the conference room, his lawyer covering his eyes behind him.  He walked up to me and the dim yet persistent glow faded away to nothingness.

“You ok Ryan?”  he asked, taking a seat on the bench next to me.

“I guess so,”  I lied.

We didn’t say a single thing for what felt like an eternity.  I eventually got up and walked off to the toilets.  Maxine and Derek were already called down to PR over the intercom, and Micheal really didn’t have anything to say.  I still remembered Agent Williams hesitating when Maxine asked him about Ellen, his reaction when I asked him to tell us something.

His fear when he mentioned that she was classified Risk Level 7.

“Ryan Anderson, Report to Room 207.”  the intercom buzzed.  I got up to leave, not even saying goodbye to Micheal.  He was too deep in thought like I was.

The hallways in the NHN HQ were surprisingly homely, albeit still fulled with office-like buzz.  Armed guards filled every hallway along with clerks, researchers and other people hired for everything under the sun from secretarial duties to cleaning toilets, as the halls were filled with idle chatter from videogames to who is going out with whom.  I was rather surprised at how easily they’d let us walk through the building.

Room 207 was evidently on the second floor, after a little guesswork and a quick moment to pause and ask for directions.  I was about to knock when the man at the other end when the balding skinny man at the other end opened the door and I nearly tapped him on the head.

“Ah, come in!”  he said with surprise.  I entered the room.  Costumes and newspaper snippets lined the walls, with three desks in the middle of the room.  Two were absolutely a total mess and the last was unspeakably neat.  There was a swivel chair at both ends of the neat desk, one of which I sat on.

“I’m Donald Darling. Call me Donald,”  he said as he sat behind his desk.  He wore a coat, stained with inks and paints.  He didn’t look like a person who was hired to deal with people at all.

“Sure thing, Donald,”  I said casually.

“Well, like I said to your buddies, you’ll be a doozy.  It’s not every day four Incontinents are given probationary contracts with the Junior Group.  Hell, it’s not every day the Hunting Party doesn’t cause a massacre with their formula!”

I clenched my teeth.  The Hunting Party.  Hate was to weak a word to convey my feelings.

“You’ll probably be under stress from the media, so I was thinking of breaking you up.”

“Si-”

“Buuut…”  he interrupted me. “You are the only thing that can reverse Derek and Maxine’s powers on the fly.  Or, as they are called now, Latency and Unperson.”

Wait, what?  I shot a confused stare.

“Here,”  he said, handing a bracelet from under his drawer.  “put this bad boy on.”

I snapped it around my right wrist. If glowed and shrunk, squeezing tightly for a moment.  I almost panicked and it stopped.

“That’s a Hudlet, according to Interface.”  said Donald, pointing at the shiny silver bracelet. A small bunch of screens appeared all over it, similar to a touchscreen phone.

“Interface?”

“Some Genius type guy in the East coast.  He’s good with designing CLI’s, GUI’s and whatever else.  Made this little ditty.  It’s powered by body heat and gives us a reading to your teammates and the main server back here.  All nifty in my opinion,”  he explained.

It dawned on me that my ignorance of the world of capes is going to become a real problem for me.  I looked at the screen shown and noticed a prompt.

Enter your callsign: _

I sighed deeply and harshly with disappointment.  I’m not a kid.  I don’t want to do this.

“Can I put my own name in this thing?”  I asked Donald.

“Why’d you ask?”

“Because everyone will know my name anyway.  I’m on youtube for fuck’s sake,”  I responded.  Donald smiled coyly at me in response.

“And?  Many capes have been outed and still go by callsigns, it’ll happen eventually,”  he said, waving his right hand like a magic wand.  “It’s better to choose a callsign you like or get one labeled by the people.  They are pretty awful.  Hell, most of the ones people choose are still awful, but that’s my opinion.”

“I don’t want my armband calling me anything other than my name,”  I replied, punching my name into the prompter on my Hudlet.

“So I’m going to assign you, Derek and Maxine to Oklahoma City,”  said Donald once I finished.

I shot a look up from my Hudlet.  It was a nifty little thing with all the features of a phone, and a few small status indicators measuring stuff like my blood pressure and heart rate.  “Oklahoma?  Why?”

“King of Texas.  He’s started acting up after an attack by Conquest and we can’t fight him normally without his powers going off on our regular armies, so we need some capes around the border.  Also, we need beefing up on our junior unit in the south after a few gangs popped up.  There are a few other reasons but those are the main ones,”  he explained casually.

I nodded at every point he made.  He eventually waved me off after giving me a card for a tailor.  I initially refused but he told me that it’s more for utility than cape culture.  I took it before he finished the story about Hammerhead’s bikini and the shotgun.  It sounded painful, and I saw the images.

 

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I was woken up at roughly 7:00 AM.  Not the time I’d normally get up, but I had no real complaints.  I needed every second to think.  Breakfast was served at 8:00.  Sorta okay-ish factory food.  Light and fluffy.

At 10:00 AM, everything changed.

The intercom in my cell buzzed.  “There is a visitor for you, Ryan,”  said Alliance.

I could only guess as to whom it was.  My parents.  I’d only given them a brief thought when I’d been caught in Norfolk.  I guess I didn’t want to have them see me.

The cell door clicked and a pair of guards led me to an interrogation room.  I couldn’t hear or tell if any of the others were in their cells as I was walked by.  In the Interrogation room was my Mother, Father, Alliance and two others.  One was wearing a NHN badge woven into his blazer.  The other was a bald, fat man seated next to my mom, wearing a suit and holding several folders next to a briefcase.

“Mr. Anderson,”  said the man whom I guessed was a lawyer,  “It is a pleasure to meet you.  I’m Sterling Washington, your lawyer for now.”  He offered a hand to shake.  I did so.

My mom stood up from her seat from between dad and Mr Washington and grabbed me in a tight hug.  “I missed you, I thought you were…”  She trailed off and squeezed tighter.  I couldn’t breathe.

“Mom,”  I tried weakly.

“Susan Anderson, your son is turning blue.”  said Sterling.  She let me go and grabbed my head, giving me one last kiss on the forehead.

She nearly broke down.  “I’m sorry, it’s just…”

“I understand, I just didn’t want the boy to faint,”  the lawyer joked.  Mom smiled as she sat back down.  I noticed that my father had been tapping his fingers on the table the whole time, impatiently.

I found a seat at the table and sat down and the NHN agent began to speak.

“Good morning,”  he began,  “I’m Agent Williams of the National Heroes Network.  I’m sure you all have an understanding how serious this situation is for the young Ryan Anderson here.  He is not only going to have to be held for Analysis and Risk Assessment according to the Incontinent Powers Detainment and Analysis Act, but he may also be charged with one account of vandalism, one account of hijacking and five accounts of complicity with Indefinite detainment with a Power.”  Dad looked at me.

“Um,” I stuttered, interrupting Williams. “Can I ask a question?”  I was asking my lawyer more than the NHN Agent across the table.  Washington gave me the go ahead.

“Yes, you may.”  said Agent Williams.

“Does indefinite mean it’s forever?  Like you can’t end it?”  I asked.  Agent Williams looked at me funny.

“Yes, why do you ask that?”

Alliance jumped into our conversation.  “Sources tell me young Ryan here has a form of neutralization that can free the five victims.”  Williams shot a surprised glance at Alliance and then at me, before clearing his throat to bring the discussion back to what he was saying.

“Well, I guess those circumstances may have to be considered.”

My lawyer broke into the discussion this time.  “I do suspect that if you already know about his powers, you’ll have no need to do any analysis,”

“We are actually considering a compromise for Ryan and his friends.  It is the same we offer to every metahuman under 18 we have encounters with; a probationary contract with the NHN Junior Group,”  replied the Agent.

I cocked my eyebrow.  “Was Ri- Plural offered this?”

“Yes, he was.”

“And if my son does?”  my father finally spoke.  “What then?”

“As I said, it’s merely a probat-”  my father interrupted the Agent.

“Not that.  What about the fact that he’s known, that Micheal is known, that all of his friends are currently on the internet and on WANTV?  You do know that one of their classmates was talking about them.  Personal details about my son.”

The agent took a second to compose himself.  Most people did, my father was very threatening when he spoke, and the idea that me and my friends had become famous overnight was actually daunting.

“Nothing can be done, I’m afraid.  Sorry about that, Thomas.”

Dad was stunned, a little.  Reputation wasn’t much for him, but he liked to preserve what little he had gained.  becoming one of the parents of  ‘those kids who became incontinents from a supervillain’ wouldn’t bode well for him.  It wouldn’t bode well for anyone’s family.  Revenge was still in my heart.  I didn’t know why, but hearing dad reinvigorated it.  For the worst reason possible, I wanted to do something.

“I’ll do it.”  I said.

Agent Williams tried to hide his smile.  He nearly failed.

 

***

 

After a discussion with both my lawyer and my parents I’d agreed to join the NHN Junior Group if my results from the Risk Assessment test came back with a number lower than 4.  From my interview and the few tests I’d received I’d only gotten a 2. They also asked me to explain what I knew of my friend’s powers. Maxine and Derek in particular.  I’d stated a little about them, like how Derek’s loops stopped nearby me and Maxine’s power fails when I go near her, and they did a lot of comparing and discussion in some committee while I waited back in my cell.  I was still unsure of where everyone was, but after two days I was brought back for the second test and saw them.

I’d ended up wearing the issued clothing put in our cells.  Shirt, trousers, boxers, and socks.

The Powers Analysis test was mainly a feedback discussion.  I’d been brought to a large round table with chairs along with Mr. Washington.  Micheal was here, I could tell by the glowing.  He was wearing something that made it dimmer, but I still couldn’t look at him.  I sat down on a seat that had a piece of paper with my name on it.  Ellen was nowhere to be seen.

“Hey,”  I said to everyone.  “I missed you guys.”

Maxine looked in my direction.  I noticed her and Derek wore the same grey clothing as me, but Maxine wore a pair of goggles over her eyes.  They probably did something to help her with her powers.

“Good to see you again,”  said Micheal.  He was still loud, regardless of how his new clothes dulled down is piercing glow.

“Good evening,”  Agent Washington began,  “Again, I’m Agent Washington, the Proctor for this discussion.  Your lawyers are here with you because of the nature of what we are about to talk about.  As you already know, we have taken and assembled notes and summaries of your powers and placed a copy of the penultimate revision on the folders in front of your chairs.  These files are the subject of discussion for today.  You all may each ask as many questions as you like.”

“Where the hell is Ellen?”  asked Maxine.  She looked cross, or I thought she did.  The goggles hid her eyes too effectively for me to tell.

“I can not legally tell you.  I’m sorry.”

“What can you tell us?”

“Ellen… failed to meet the qualifications we asked for you all to meet.  On the Risk Assessment test, she scored a 7.”

A seven.

“What?”  I blurted out in surprise.  “How could she get a seven, she had no powers at all!”

Sterling gave me an odd look and put his hand on his chin.  Agent Washington sighed deeply, his head held firmly in his hands.

“I understand your concerns, Ryan.  It’s just that she did manifest powers and those powers did have a dangerous effect.”

Maxine slammed her hands on the table, causing her lawyer to jump slightly.  “I can fucking erase people from memory when I look at them and Derek freezes people in time! What the fuck could Ellen do that’s worse!?”  She was angry.  I would be too.  Alliance tensed up slightly.

“I can’t tell you right now.  I apologize.”

Maxine’s lawyer put her hand on her shoulder, calming her down.  She begrudgingly sat back down, looking at her folder.  My lawyer had spent the meantime ignoring the commotion and reading mine.  He offered it to me.

I looked at the file.

PROFILE OF NATIONAL HEROES NETWORK JUNIORS PROBATIONARY MEMBER

I looked further down, skipping personal details like my age and name.  They were all correct.

Power(s): DETECTION BASED POWER NULLIFICATION.

Activation Classification: INCONTINENT PASSIVE.

Detection based?  I decided to ask.

“Um, Agent Williams, Why does it state my powers are Detection based?”

The agent was relieved to see people actually discuss something other than Ellen’s unsure fate.

“It appears that you can only nullify aspects of powers you are aware of or have been told about.”

“I see.”  The discussion went back and forth several times, with no real changes made.  None of us had made a mention to the fact our powers had grown stronger, or that we were unsure if they’d stop.  I had a feeling they already knew.  I also had a feeling we were too afraid to say it out aloud.

five minutes had passed.

“I see we have a unanimous agreement on the penultimate iterations of the profile folders given, am I correct?”

The lawyers and us all nodded and gave murmurs of agreement.

“Well then,”  he said.  “Congratulations to everyone present.  You are all official members of the NHN Junior Group under probationary contract.  Tomorrow you’ll all be given your assignments and meet with Public Relations.  You can leave now.”

I got up first.  I needed time to think.  To think about Ellen.

 

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