Archive for the ‘Problems’ Category

Waiting was boring.  Screw that, waiting is boring.  I’ve been waiting for hours, tense as all hell.  War is going on out there, and we are supposed to just sit?  I groaned in frustration audibly.

“Christ, this is awful,”  said Stacker, still watching the news broadcasts as helicopters filmed the fights and newscasters pointed at diagrams of how the war is going.  The invasion was actually going nowhere, and Mexico was losing territory, fast.  “I don’t think there was a kingmaker war this bad before.”

“The first few were the worst,”  said Pivot, tinkering with a small thing made of metal, held together with a single metal wire.  “Especially Asia.”

I heard about it in World Politics. From the upper half of Australia to the southern Mongolian border was the largest, most dangerous Kingmaker nation ever.  When the Emperor of Asia was finally killed, many nations were irreparably altered.  Japan got it the worst.

“Ugh,”  said Unperson, figiting in her seat.  “Not a good thing to think about.”

Alliance was knocked off a Tower in the middle of nowhere.  A large wall constructed itself, leading to another tower that was being built nearby.

“Looks like the Texan capes are powerful,”  said Maxwell.  “What is that, it looks like that guy can make buildings out of nothing.”

Event Horizon sighed deeply.  The camera cut to another helicopter over the coastline.  A single Texan cape was holding back many others.  Jesus, these guys were stronger than I thought.

“So why are we even dressed up anyway,”  I finally asked, leaning back in my seat.

“The Seniors for the Oklahoma team are busy with the war effort,”  explained Event Horizon.  “Most capes are.”

“Doesn’t answer my question.”

“You think crime stops when the big guns go away? We are waiting for the first case of looting or whatever.”

“Shouldn’t we be patrolling at least?”  asked Unperson, mirroring my thoughts.

“It’s not just that. We are also reserves.  If too many capes die initially th-”

“They send us in as fodder, right?”  Latency said bluntly.

“Shit.  Yes,”  sighed Event Horizon, getting up.  “It’s fucking boring, but that’s the thing; we are too young and weak to be on the front lines.  Fuck, we are too weak to even be in this damn building.”

She paced across the room.  “God dammit, this is the worst.”

Pivot got up.  “If it’s about,”  she paused.  “Well, she’s okay.  Look.”  She showed Event Horizon the thing she was tinkering with.  It was a monitor, for a camera.  I thought about getting up to see what she was on about.

“She’s nowhere near the fight, see?”

“Family?”  asked Latency, getting up to see what they were crowding around.

“Yeah, I’m worried about her,”  replied Event Horizon, weaving her hands through her hair.  She quickly took a look at Pivot.  “Where is she, anyway?”

“She’s in the city, setting up barricades.”

“Why?”  asked Unperson.

“One of the Texan capes is coming towards us.”

Latency was shocked.  “And we are still dicking around in here? How the fuck would you know?”

“Cameras and news,” she replied, pointing at the screen.  A large bridge formed itself bit by bit as a single man ran across, carrying a metal spear in one hand.

The alerts turned on yet again.  “Attention all capable Junior Group members,”  the announcement began,  “The front-lines now cover Oklahoma City. You must aid in the evacuation and protection of the citizens of Oklahoma City at all costs.”

“Time to go,”  said Event Horizon.

 

***

 

We spread out throughout the town, directing civilians away from the fighting as it drew nearer.  The sound of rumbling was faint, but audible from the suburbs I stood in.

“Everyone head up north to the southwest expressway, then keep going.  There will be buses and other vehicles to help if you do not own a car,” I said, speaking into a megaphone.  A child tugged on my trousers.  “Who left the blonde haired boy with the green T-shirt and blue jeans?”

His mother ran across the street and picked him up in a single swoop, before apologizing and backing away slowly.   I felt a buzz in my ear from the earpieces Pivot gave us.

“Yeah?”  I asked, pressing it on.

“It’s me, E-H.  How’s the progress?”

“Not bad, a few more families to go.  This place is run down badly,”  I said, making sure the megaphone is off.

“Don’t whine about that.  Good luck, we’ll be done in an hour with the police helping us.”

“Ok, see ya.”  I said, letting the earpiece go.

I walked to the next area, a few streets away.  Run down buildings were guarded by unmown lawns.  A bike cassi lay in the middle of the street.  I couldn’t see many families, but so-

Ellen crossed the street in front of me.  Why was she here?  I walked up to her, reaching out instinctively.

“E-Ellen?”

She gave an aside glance, turning away and speeding up.  I followed her, my pace matching hers.  She quickly broke into a run and darted down an alley, myself following.

“Ellen, wait!”  I yelled.  She hopped over a garden fence, and another.  I ran round the other side of the alley.  There was a front door open in a nearby house, I charged into it hoping to cut Ellen off.  I burst through the door and saw Ellen perched on the fence.  She looked terrified.

“El-”

“Don’t follow me!”  she yelled.  I didn’t listen, reaching out to pull her down.  She jumped into the alley at the other side of the fence and broke into a run.  I climbed the fence, falling over into the alley before picking myself up.  I lost the earpiece, but it didn’t matter.  I could see Ellen again.

I ran in her direction, looking around.  The streets were all abandoned, the rumbling from the combat with Texas even louder than it was before.  A front door swung.  I ran into the house.  The back door was locked.

“Ellen!?”

A crashing sound upstairs.  I charged into the hallway, tripping over a wire for a plugged in lamp.

“Fuck,”  I muttered, picking myself up quickly and racing up the stairs.  I entered the main bedroom and began pulling open the cupboards.  She wasn’t there.  Why was she hiding?  I could help.  I could help her easy.  I wouldn’t let her go into the Cit-

The pitter patter of feet racing down the stairs.  I looked out the window and saw her running onto the road.

“Ellen!”  I screamed out the window.  “I can help!”

 

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Honestly, I found today the most relaxing in recent weeks.  I guess that’s the irony in this whole situation, with everyone tense enough as it is.

“One ham and cheese toastie, one 5 peice breakfast and one soup of the day,”  said the waiter.  I thanked him with a nod as he placed the food on the table where I, Maxine and Derek sat.

“Kinda miffed we can’t eat with the others outside,”  said Derek, blowing his spoonful of soup.  “I like Maxwell, he’s a cool dude.”

“It’s to be expected, seeing as how well we are known,”  Maxine replied.  I made a small glance and saw that attention was slightly directed towards us from a few random tables.  “I mean, all of the people like us are.  You know, people who were caught by the Hu-”

“Anyway let’s change the subject,”  I interrupted a little louder than I should.  Maxine gave me a glance and I noticed I put too much pressure on my toastie, crushing it a little.  I wiped my hands on a napkin that wrapped my cutlery.  “We should maybe try and call Micheal and Ricky.  They’d like that, and they haven’t talked to us at all yet.”

Maxine and Derek relaxed a little.  I stopped tensing up.

“I mean,”  I continued,  “I’m pretty curious to as how they are doing right now, aren’t you?”

Derek swallowed a spoonful of soup and put the spoon down, before pointing at me.  “You know, you are right about this.  I’m actually missing Ricky.”

“They might get homesick, or we might get homesick,”  said Maxine, interjecting as she cut a fried egg open.  “I’d check up on the news, first.”

“You know where they are stationed?”  I asked.

“They fucking told us you moron,”  said Derek, kicking my shin from under the table.  “They are in New York, how’d you forget that?”

I thought for a moment in between chews of ham and cheese.  “Fuck me,”  I said.  “I actually forgot.”

We continued talking about irrelevant things, both to distract ourselves and because we hadn’t done so properly in a long time.

“So, about what happens soon,”  said Maxine, interrupting my daze.  “I mean, The Holidays ends in a week, what do you think?”

“Maybe we have a deal cut in with a nearby school?”  Suggested Derek with a little too much optimism for my tastes.

“I don’t think so,”  said Maxine.  “I’m thinking private tutoring, if we are lucky.”

“I don’t think we will stay here actually,”  I said.  “I mean, Pivot said to me we were only here because of the kingmaker thing. Once this blows over, We’ll all go home.”

Derek took a last spoonful of soup.  It was cold by now.  “Most of us.”

Right.  I forgot.  Ellen.

“Let’s check up on Ricky and Micheal,” said Maxine.  We paid, tipped and left.

 

***

 

“Bullshit,”  I said to everyone.  “This is bullshit.”

“Relax Ryan, you are too stressed lat-”

I interjected, louder.  “That’s total fucking BS, what the fuck!”

“Don’t swear so much, you sound like a thug,”  said Maxine.

“Yeah, but it’s totally unfair!”  I said again, pointing at the screen.

“That’s how things go,”  said Derek, trying to keep a grin hidden away behind his hand.

“Fuck that! Gimmie a phone or something!”  I looked around the desk for a mobile, tossing papers aside from the desk.  They looked like blueprints from Pivot.

“Hey!”  called out Maxine, bending over to pick them up.

I walked into my room, remembering my old cellphone.  I found it in a drawer, untouched.  I rummaged through the contacts list and put it on speakerphone.  Ricky answered as I walked back to Maxine and Derek, who has keeled over laughing by the time I got back.

“Hey there, Captain Cockblock!”  said Ricky in a rehearsed deadpan.

“Fuck you man,”  I replied, trying to hold in my own laughter.  “I could have lost an arm, and all you do is give me a shit name!”

Laughing occurred in the background.  Micheal was there.

“And fuck Micheal too.  Take turns, go fuck each other.”

“Dammit Ryan, let me speak,”  said Derek, taking the cellphone and placing it down.  “Sup, Maxine’s here too by the way.”

“Hey there!”  Maxine said.

“Sup Maxie.  How are you all anyway?”

“Blocker is mad cause he tried to block a car last month, Maxine’s alright and I’m fine.”  replied Derek, before grunting as I jabbed him in the side with an elbow.

“How are you guys doing?”  interrupted Maxine, pushing in between me and Derek.

“Hey darlings!”  yelled Micheal over the phone.  “I’m fantastic!  They have this amazing Pizza place three blocks away, and a cinema!”

I was great to hear them, I was right.  “We miss you all,”  said Ricky, quieter than before.  “Visit us soon.”

“We will.”

“Goodby,”  said Micheal.  “Thing came up.  Some cape thing.”

“See ya,”  replied Derek.

“Visit soon,”  I said.

The phone turned off.  I picked it up and turned it off, turning to Maxine and Derek.

“That was great,”  I said, smiling while shaking my head.  “Remind me to punch that asshole.”

“Remind me to give him a hi-five,”  replied Maxine.

A siren interrupted our fun.

“God damn it,”  I said, heading to my room to put the phone away.  I tossed it in the drawer, opening my closet and taking my costume out.  It was new, the old one was ripped when my arm broke.  After putting it on, returned to see Unperson and Latency sitting in chairs, already dressed.  Pivot and Stacker had entered in the meantime while I and the others changed.  Maxwell walked out of his room, fully geared.  Event Horizon entered last of all.

“It’s Texas.  The borders have opened,”  she said grimly.  “We are at war.”

“So we do what?”  asked Stacker, before Unperson could raise her hand.

Event Horizon pointed at one of the walls in the room.  It was actually a screen, embedded and hidden away so that it did not distract people, I assumed.  The contents were more important than what was used to create and embed a screen behind the wall.  We saw the view of the Texan army, descending on Mexico.  Capes and soldiers clashed on the battlefield in a flurry of fire and many other colours and shapes.

“We do nothing, Mexico is the country in trouble,”  said Event Horizon.

“What about them?”  asked Unperson.

“The NHN is already en-route.  They’ll attack from behind with the aid of a few other factions in an attempt to assist Mexico.”

And take whatever technology they can find, I thought to myself.

 

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4 | 2 : Problems

Posted: 07/20/2014 in Problems
Tags: , , , ,

I sat down next to pivot and watched as Gunsmith continued his lecture with Maxine and Derek.  I wasn’t really invested in what they were doing, as I knew they’d be fine.  I’m the one who finds it hard to learn, not them.

“So, Pivot,” I began, passing time.

“Yeah?”

“We still actually don’t know much about this whole Oklahoma thing.  I mean, there’s us, the rioters, there is that issue with Texas and that’s it.  What else is there?”

Pivot thought for a second, glancing at Gunsmith and Maxine.  They were busy talking about Actives.

“There isn’t much,”

I looked dumbfounded.  “Not much? Like just us and the rioters?”

“Yeah.  There are three more minor gangs laying around that’s it for the big groups.  Most people moved out since there are more capes working for companies and such here, and a few UN capes too, because of Texas,”  she said, shifting in her seat.

“Why?”

“Kingmaker’s powers have a weird timer for each war.  Three weeks from now, and the borders open.  We’ve basically been conscripted for a war against the king of Texas,”  she looked down while saying it, avoiding eye contact.  There was no doubt in my mind that this was the reason as to why there were recent openings in the junior group roster.

“Damn,”  I said to myself.  “Are we the front lines or is it not that bad?”

Pivot looked up at me.  “If the borders open, they’ll open everywhere. Mexico, USA, plenty of companies and whoelse will probably be involved.  It’s not like a real war in that regard,”  she explained.

“Not like a real war?”

“Well, the Kingmaker nations that have opened up and got ‘conquered’ for lack of a better term had a lot of interesting technology and other things inside.  It seems to be a passive effect of the borders, because everything gets mucked up like ecology, and stuff like special strains of crops and such are made to fix those issues,”  she took a pause, calmer now.  “They say a Kingmaker war could end world hunger, if it wasn’t for all the politics with the EU, UN and other groups trying to take it all for themselves.  It’s sad, really.  There is a lot of good that could happen but politicians still want everything the can get.”

She looked a little tense.  I decided to interrupt and cut the conversation down before anything happens.  That and she was beginning to distract Derek, who was glancing at us with Event Horizon.

“So it’s a scramble, then?”  I asked.

“Yeah, it is.”

I got up.  “I’m going to get a drink, Maxine and Derek can handle themselves better than me to be honest,”  I said.  Pivot relaxed even more.

“Yeah, whatever.  Do what you want.”  she said.

Honestly, Oklahoma seemed boring.  I wondered how Micheal and Ricky were doing.  I also wondered about Ellen.

 

***

 

“Ryan,”  said a voice.

“Yeah?”  I replied.

What was this dream again?

“You didn’t have to give me your jacket,”  said Ellen, standing beside me.

Oh, now I remember.

“It’s raining though, You’d not want to catch a cold.”

Ha ha, how stupid of me to forget this.  This was a year ago.  My stupid mistake.  Honestly, I couldn’t remember what I said at the time, mostly out of sheer embarrassment.  At least it didn’t ruin my friendship with her, I think.

There was a pause, a long heart rendering pause in time between us.

“You like me, don’t you?”  she said.

I looked at her and saw Sacrifice, wearing my jacket.  She was naked, smiling up at me through the mask she had made of Ellen’s face.  Blood trickled down her neck and over her breasts. I took a step back and she approached me at the same pace.

“Don’t lie, Ryan.  I like you too.”  she said.

I woke up in a sweat, wiping my forehead with my arm while contemplating seeing a shrink.  It was 6 AM.  Too early.  I looked around and the room I was given was bare as it was the day I got here.  I’m starting to hate Oklahoma.

I got up and walked over to the desk next to my bed, picking up my toothbrush and toothpaste.  I walked over to the bathroom in a sleep deprived daze.  Three knocks, no response.  I opened the door and walked over to the sink, splashing my face in cold water and beginning to brush my teeth.

God, I really hate mornings.

Once I was done, I put everything back in my room and looked about for a towel of some sort, and walked to the male shower room once I found one.  Stacker was busy in there.

“Hey, Blocker,”  he joked, massaging his golden, curly hair.

“Don’t call me that, I have enough problems as it is,”  I replied with a yawn.

“Yeah, but still.  I’m sure people warned you.”

I smiled at that.  I hadn’t smiled in a while at anything, really.

“Yeah, they did.  Better than what I could ever come up with,”  I said, starting to wash my hair.

“What would you have chosen?”

“I don’t know, Equalizer?  I’m sure most of the good names are taken anyway.”

“Yeah, that was taken.  Us poor newbies have to deal with legacy names or shit,”  Stacker said, turning off his shower.  “See you later.”

I think I forgot that guy’s actual name.

 

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I’d only been with the Oklahoma City Nation Heroes Network and I’d already noticed that there were glaring issues with the entire team, from the juniors to the seniors.  Me, Derek and Maxine had been thrown into the juniors to recuperate the numbers they had lost and all we did was get our asses whooped and cause property damage.

I guess another cause was the fact that not only is the Junior group lacking, but so is the Senior group.

My evidence?  It was Gunsmith.

He lacked in every quality a leader required, let alone the leader of a team of superheroes.

He wasn’t charismatic, he wasn’t confident and worst of all;  he wasn’t strong.

I felt a pang of pity for they guy as I saw him in his suit, his stringbean arms polishing a rifle far too complex a fragile for use in a fight.

“I see,”  he said to Event Horizon who had just finished explaining the situation.  “You do know risks are involved.  I wouldn’t want to have to deal with anything too troubling.”

Event Horizon was firm in her response.  “I understand, sir.”

“Very well then,”  he said.  “Let’s start with this.  Okay?”

The three of us nodded.

“Good.  You should know that your powers fit the same state.  They are incontinent.  There is however, a second effect.  You should be able to leave a space where your power will have its effects linger,”  said Gunsmith, gesturing as his rifle sat on his lap and he held a greased up cloth in his left hand.  “This is your ‘active’.”

Nobody said a thing as gunsmith took a small pause, a resumed his lecture.

“I’ll give you one important detail you must not forget;  wherever you crate a space with your active will be permanent.  Only you can dispel your own active space.  Otherwise, it’ll be there even after you die.”

“Really?  How would my power work?”  asked Maxine.

Gunsmith gave it some thought.  “You are probably thinking about how your powers don’t work via proximity, right?”

“Yeah,”  replied Maxine.  “I’m not sure if I can do what you are asking.”

Gunsmith looked at me.  “How about we have Ryan try first, then?  He won’t do too much damage if he messes up, and his ability has easily observable effects.”

I shrugged.  “Okay. I’ll go first,”  I said.

Gunsmith stood up, placing his rifle and polishing cloth on the chair.  “Good,”  he said, smiling.  He took several small steps towards me.

“Event Horizon, use your power on my gun.”

She complied.  Event Horizon placed out a hand and stood still. then she took a step back, and Gunsmith’s rifle flew off the chair in the direction she stepped.  Telekinesis?  No, it still obeyed gravity.

“You should explain for the new recruits,”  said Gunsmith when she was finished with her display.

“It’s not telekinesis,”  began Event Horizon.  “It’s more accurate to call it telestasis.  Anything or anyone I focus on will no longer be able to gain any distance from me.  I’ve also got a few minor enhancements to my balance and stuff so I don’t get dragged around instead.”

“I see.”  said Derek.

Gunsmith looked at me.  “Reach your arms out.”

I did so, slowly.

“Think about your powers.  What do you feel when they are working?”

I thought about it.  I thought about being with everyone at the mall, I thought about how ignorant I am of the world of superheroes.  I thought about when the Hunting Party came.  I felt safe with my power.  Not truly safe, but safe as I could be.  I imagined myself as something that supported Maxine when her powers affected Ricky.  I imagined being with Derek, and how he rarely leaves my side now.  I thought about Ellen.

I could feel it.

“I feel it.  I feel like everyone is safer,”  I said.  “Everyone but me.  I don’t feel safe at all. I feel angry.”

Gunsmith waited a few seconds.  “Good,”  he said.  “Focus it on the space between your hands.”

I did so, and after several seconds, I could feel it.  My power.  I stooped and it stayed there, completely invisible and intangible, but there all the same.  I waved an arm through it.  It stayed.

“I did it, sir.”

“Good,”  he said.  “Can you move it?  Try thinking about your power and tugging at it, or something.”

He wasn’t working off a script.  This was him mostly bullshitting me from what he does know, and trying to see what works.  Whatever, as long as it helps.  I stuck my hand in and moved it about, thinking about the mall, thinking about Ellen.  I could feel it move between my fingers, like floating imaginary jelly.

I pulled on it and I could sense it’s form change.  Letting go, it stayed as I left it.  I tried again with a quick, simple sweep through it, moving it to the movements of my arm.  It felt like I left claw marks on reality.

“Yeah, I can move it.”

“Now try getting rid of it, Ryan.”

No hints this time.  He doesn’t know how.  I guess that means that anyone who can create spaces like this haven’t removed them, but claim they can?  Or maybe they haven’t documented it well?  I’m unsure.

“I don’t thi-”  I stopped.  This wasn’t about me.  This was about Maxine and Derek.  Maybe I should think of taking it all back?

I put my hand in my space.  I thought about my powers, but this time I thought about not having them. I thought about where I would be right now.  Today, I’d be with Derek, Micheal, Ellen, Maxine and Ricky.  We’d all have fun, not having a single worry about this world we’ve been dragged into.

The space I created was gone.  I looked around, Derek was still normal, behind me at the edge of my range.  I did it, I did it easily.

“Yeah, it’s gone now.”

Gunsmith smiled.  “Okay, I guess that was a good demonstration,”  he said.  I glanced at Derek and she looked nervously at him. Maxine was the same.

“Honestly, I’m not sure how your powers would work. maybe you’d create an area where people are forgotten, or everyone has your powers.  Maybe your space has it’s own memories separated from outside the space, giving anyone amnesia while inside.  You’ll figure it out sooner or later.  The important thing is that Ryan can help fix anything you or Derek do, be it accidental or not.  Your mistakes aren’t unsolvable, so don’t panic or worry.  I’m sure you’ll help each other.”

If it wasn’t for Ellen, I’d agree with his speech.

 

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