Posts Tagged ‘Event Horizon’

Samantha stood next to me and Margaret.  She shivered, looking at the great red forcefield that separated us from the world.  The wall that held New Austin back.

“I’m scared,”  she murmured, rubbing her arms.  The single piece cloaks and sandals were not suited for such cool weather.  “I mean, what if he lied about the Exile?”

I looked at her, and smiled.  “He promised her.  Even if he lied, would you want to go back?”

Samantha flinched at the thought, before turning back to the forcefield, her blue eyes scanning the wall.

The Exile.  A gift that allows us to pass through the borders of New Austin once.  A chance to leave.  We all took it without hesitation.  Margaret made a run for the borders, laughing.  She phased through with ease collapsing to her knees at the other side still happy.  Samantha followed, nearly tripping over in the dirt.  Her cloak hood blew down and her long black hair flew behind her as she regained her balance and made a beeline for it.

I walked to the border, placing my hand against it.  It was soft, kinder than whom it contained.

“Hurry, let’s go!”  yelled Samantha, bringing me out of my distracted daze.

I pressed my hand through first, and began my trek to the greater world as I slowly felt the softness crash through me in a single step, like a wave.

***

Less Than Three Years Ago: Kingdom of New Austin.

Taker sat there, telling me the tale of why he did this.  I wasn’t listening to him.  I didn’t want to.

“So I just altered her mind and made her think she was a maid!”  he laughed, sitting in his chair.  He pointed at a jar of water and a glass on the table in the middle.

“Help yourself.”

I shifted in my chair uncomfortably, the chains giving little leeway and rattling.  Taker smiled to himself, his own little joke amusing him.

“So it has only been a single week so far, you know,”  Taker said, leaning over to drink from his own glass as my eyes followed his movements.  “I’m glad we could chat.  See your progress so far.”

“You bastard,”  I countered.

“Well, that’s enough speaking from you.  Quiet.”

I shut up, unable to defy the King.

“So how are things anyway?  Are the cracks already showing?  Are you still angry at Sacrifice?”

I was, but…

“I should check up on her progress.  She should be further along, after all.”

…I couldn’t help but feel a pang of sympathy.  I’m glad I don’t have any super-healing or super-durability at all.  If I did; if Event Horizon did, I’m positive Taker would go all out on us, too.

“I must admit, the medical technology in here is pretty good anyway.  I was actually surprised when they said that you wouldn’t die from shock!”

He laughed, wiping a tear from his eye.

“You know, that’s a pretty fun face you made there.  You are still so angry at the world.”

***

I didn’t need to walk far before my first encounter with the world I was taken from happened.  New Austin was small enough that a perimeter was easily built around it, thanks to the efforts of my companion and I, over three years ago.  Chain-link fences formed a wall in the distance, and there was an occasional station with guards and turrets of all shapes and sizes lingering about.  A gate with sand bag fortifications stood before me, Samantha and Margaret.

Samantha hesitated, seeing so many people.  I caught up with her and Margaret as they stopped at the gates.

“Halt,”  boomed a soldier holding a megaphone from the other side.  I figured we’d have to deal with this sort of problem at some point.

I raised a hand, a gesture.  Seconds passed.

“Somebody will be sent to see you,”  said the soldier.

Somebody did.

Maxwell.  He was still blue, cold and frigid as the air around me began to chill.  I huffed out a visible breath as he approached, towering over me, still.

“Greetings,”  he said.  “I am Maxwell.  I’ll be the emba-“

“I know that,”  I said, impatient.  I had too few clothes to deal with the cold, and any more reminders for Samantha that she was separated from people by only two layers of cloth hiding away her body would do no good for having her help me at all.

Maxwell raised an eyebrow, looking at me as I stood there, my hood still covering my head.

“We’ll start by asking you to remove your hood,”  Maxwell said.  “It’s suspicious when three hooded figures show up by leaving the border of a country run by a known…  Well, I’ll let you imagine.”

Those pronoun changes were enough to convince me.

I took off the hood slowly.  “Hello, Unperson.  Can you stop?”

Unperson walked into my view, surprised.  She’d changed.  Her hair was longer, her costume was different.  She was wearing body armour, evidently enhanced by something, as the glow lines indicated.  Her eyes were still covered, but the goggles were newer.

“Ryan?  I thought you died!?”  she exclaimed, a little too unprofessional for my liking.

I smiled back at her an Maxwell.  “Not exactly wrong.”

Samantha moved behind me, peering over my left shoulder, staring at Maxwell and Unperson with suspicious eyes.  I turned to look at her as she tugged on my hood.

“D-Do I know them?”  She asked, figiting in perceived safety.

I smiled and patted Samantha gently on the head in response.  “Yes, but not like how I did.”

Maxwell looked at me, her and Margaret.

“So, Ryan and…”  he prompted me to finish.

“Margaret is your old leader.  Sorry,”  I said, looking and pointing at Margaret as she smiled and waved, finally taking her hood off.

Maxwell looked at Margaret, surprised.  Three years change people.  Three terrible years change people even more.

“And the big softie behind you?”  asked Unperson, looking at Samantha.

Samantha whimpered slightly.

Dammit.

“I don’t want to say,”  I replied.  “It’s a long story.”

“I’m okay with stories, Ryan,”  said Unperson, crossing her arms.  “You’ll need to tell us one anyway.  It’s not often that you see peo-“

“I told you I don’t want to say,”  I emphasised, harsher.  Unperson didn’t react.  She took a step closer, making Samantha pull me by the hood as she took a step backwards, still clinging tightly to me.

“Ryan, things have changed,”  she said.  “I don’t know how you enjoyed the last three years but out here it’s been hell.  We’ve had worse things than a fucking wa-“

Margaret cut Unperson’s ranting off with a wave of her hand.  A cage of energy, holding her down with a mask covering her eyes, binding her to the spot with chains.

“Hey,”  Unperson exclaimed, surprised.  I was shocked too.

I gave Margaret a look.  “Stop.”

She let Unperson go, allowing her to feel her face for the mask that disappeared and the bindings that left.  Maxwell looked shocked most of all.

“What the hell happened for her to get to the second stage, Ryan?”  He asked, the air becoming deathly chill.  Samantha rubbed herself, her clothes too thin to help with the cold.

Margaret answered first.  “I’m not at the second stage, dumbass.”

“I’m at the seventh.”

That statement did nothing to calm Maxwell down.  He looked at me, blamed me.  I did too.

“Ryan, what the fuck happened?”  asked Unperson, serious.

“I fucked up,”  I replied.  “I fucked up and got everyone hurt.”

Prev                                                                                                                                      Next

7 | 4 : Ambush

Posted: 08/06/2014 in Ambush
Tags: , , , ,

“It feels good to be king,”  said Taker, sitting there like he was a king.  He was a king.  “Doesn’t it, Sacrifice?”

Sacrifice clenched her fit and got up, standing.  She was shivering noticeably from where I stood.  Anger.  Resentment.  Disgust.

“Taker,”  she said slowly.  “Why?”

Taker looked at her, pretending to be offended.

“For fun,”  he said, exaggerating his mock offence with gestures and faces as he stood up.  “Isn’t that my only motiv-”

He stopped, standing normally but not quite.  “I can’t do this pretend stuff anymore,”  he sighed.

Taker took several strides towards us quickly and lifted Sacrifice’s chin as soon as he had reach, making her look at him with level eyes.  “Bet you didn’t know I could fuck with your head.”

Sacrifice slapped his arm away, scowling.  “What the fuck do you mean by that?”

Taker smiled, backing off with his arms stretched wide and a massive shit eating grin painted onto his face.  “Who’s the daddy?”

Sacrifice leapt for Taker, reeling her fist back for a punch.

Taker was unimpressed.  “Stop, peasant.”

Sacrifice froze.  She froze in the air, immobile.  I took a double take.

“Wow, this king thing is great!”  said Taker, surprised and happy at his newly found power.  “Ryan, come over to your king.”

My legs moved on their own.  I couldn’t struggle or control myself as I walked over to Taker.

“H-Hey!”  I said, approaching Taker while dragging the cocoon behind me still.  “What the hell!”

“Stand right here,”  he ordered pointed just in front of where Sacrifice was.  I saw her looking at me, still in the air.  “Facing her.  Don’t move from there or speak.”

Everything felt slow as I slowly walked to where Sacrifice was aiming for before she paused.

Event Horizon stirred.  “Mmm,”  she mumbled, mouth covered.

Taker untied her from the impromptu harness I made with the silk and pulled her away.

“So Ryan,”  he began as Event Horizon began to realize where she was, struggling with futility against the cocoon.  “You wanted to kill Sacrifice, right?”

I said nothing.  Couldn’t.  My eyes darted between Taker and Sacrifice, as did hers.

“Changed your mind?  She has a habit of doing that.  She did it pretty well back in the day,”  he said, gesturing to Fractal.

He held the cocoon up, forcing Event Horizon to face us.

“Anyway, you know exactly how strong she is, right?  You think she’s telling the truth?  Do you trust her?”

He smiled.

“You could die.  You could be smashed like a melon if you are wrong and I say the magic words.”

She wouldn’t lie to m-

She already did.  She has, several times before.  That was irrelevant.

“You know, that little girl you were after was really fun to talk to.  She offered me a bet, or a deal.  I keep you for three years.  Three years.  You, Sacrifice and this little dear here,”  he revealed, stroking Event Horizon’s chin,  “Are all mine to play with.  Have fun with.  She’ll be busy bringing her own plans to fruition, and I get a free pass after three years.”

Free pass?

“You see, she wants to give me a gift after I gave her a chance to move freely, without that human side interfering.  I break you three down; she gives me the gift I seek,”  Taker walked over to Sacrifice.  “Sacrifice dear, will you tell Ryan every lie you’ve told him that don’t relate to how your powers work?”

Sacrifice looked at me, her face horrified.

“I-” she choked.  “I lied about my past.  I was good, once.  I changed after a while, and things progressed.  Most of my teammates stayed with me.  Glutton. Fractal.  Jawbreaker.  Taker was a villain.  It sorta happened when Druggie came by, we were just teens looking for thrills.  I-”

I knew that.  I did the research and found a summary of your back story.

“I lied about what I was doing with Kingmaker.  I didn’t want to be queen.  I wanted some medicines, and surgery equipment.  M-”  Sacrifice paused, her face was miserable, spilling out her secrets like this.  “I had a father who was sick.  H-He was going to die.  I uh, somebody came by and I tried to get help.  I did the things you know trying to figure out how powers work.  It was sort of relevant when I-”

She looked terrible, telling me this.  It was if she was exposing her true self, exposing her body for all to see.

“It’s why I was so wanted, I think.  Knowing stuff.”

I don’t care.  That wasn’t important.

“I lied about the promise.  I wouldn’t hold it up when we were done.  I’d have killed you or run away or something.”

She didn’t elaborate on why.  She didn’t need to.  I trusted her based solely on the fact I’d have a chance to avenge the hell I was being put through and she crushed it, if I wanted to go through with it.  Our whole relationship, the reason I was okay at the back of my mind with her eating my fucking flesh, it was ruined in an instant.  The promise was a lie.

I wanted to scream.  Scream in anguish, hate, pain, betrayal.  I wanted to cry.

“That’s it,”  Sacrifice finished, exhausted.  “I’ve finished.”

“Good job, not shut up,”  said Taker, turning away from Sacrifice and looking at me from.  “Well, Ryan?  You ready to take the hit?  If you want to live, just say three magic words;  ‘I give up’.  Say them and you’ll get a reward.  One that will make the next three years bearable.”

I could move my lips.  Sacrifice’s reaction said it all, as she saw my face contorted into pure unfiltered contempt.

“I give up,”  I said, staring her down, still immobile.  Taker smiled.

“Good, good,”  he cheered, patting me on the back as I stood there, unmoving.  Unable to.  “I think you’ll like this reward.”

He walked off, slowly, still in my sight.  “You see, I looked into Sacrifice’s mind.  It was easy, really.  Hell, she even thought that I couldn’t, because of all the little false memories I made.”

For the next three years, I regretted this decision every day.

 

Prev                                                                                                                                      Next

 

 

 

 

 

 

I dragged Event Horizon along with me, making sure not to wake her.  The softness and lightness of the cocoon Kumo made meant I could easily drag her along without waking her up at all.  I actually tied some around myself, freeing up my hands as I dragged her along the multiple hallways that were separated by doors.

The trip was quiet this time.  Sacrifice was concentrated, and so was I.  Taker had to die; this was an unspoken agreement.  Anything after that was not meaningful at all.  I didn’t care about the promise right now.  We might not live through this.

My thoughts were interrupted by a familiar face.  A face I saw many times, smiling behind the surgeon’s mask as he jabbed me with the needle.

“Druggie!”  yelled Sacrifice, serene.

This was unusual, seeing her so calm, so concentrated.  The current look she gave made every action she took before look exaggerated, as if every act was part of a theatrical play.  Druggie looked at her, his eyes declaring nothing but fury.  Four syringes, one between each finger of his right hand, each a different colour.  I gulped a little.

He took the green one between his pinky and his ring finger, and stuck it into his neck, walking towards us.  I moved back and Sacrifice walked a little forwards.

Druggie forced it into his veins, taking the red one that was between his ring and middle fingers as he discarded the now empty syringe he used to the side.  Sacrifice sped up to a sprint, and so did Druggie.  They met in the middle of the hallway.

The sound of the impact was intense.  Wind blew me off my feet.

Sacrifice was lucky to be partially in blood from her frequent skirmishes.  She was red and bloodied, standing there as dust blew past her.

Druggie injected both the yellow and blue formulae that remained into his neck at the same time.

“Sacrifice,”  he said.  “You’ll pay.”

Sacrifice looked almost confused as she suddenly shot down the hallway at blinding speed, missing me by inches.

The crashing noise confirmed that she was smashed through a wall somewhere behind me.  I turned around to see Druggie there already, moving faster than I could see.  He was holding Sacrifice by the ankles, hammering her body against the pillars.  One by one, each broke with the force of the impact as her flesh connected with stone.

“I figured cutting and stabbing and drugging you wouldn’t work at all, you bitch.”

He used her limp body to crater the marble floor with a downward swing, still holding her by the ankles.  The pillars and floor were ruined.

“The fact you killed her disgusts me,”  he said, tossing her into the ceiling.  She fell down after a few seconds with no grace.

Druggie dashed to Sacrifice as she fell, punching her with incredible force.

“I’ll just fucking pummel you till you can’t get up, then I’ll take you to Dad.”

I was horrified, watching this.  The whole time I was with Sacrifice she was more competent and anyone I knew, she was fast, powerful, intelligent.  Right now, she’s being beaten half to death before my very eyes.  She’s being overwhelmed.

Druggie grabbed the back of her head and brought it for a knee to the face.  It sounded painful from where I was.

The beating continued, her body covered in bruises.  Druggie avoided attacking the bruises, as they seemed to form an impromptu armour on her body.

After one minute, Sacrifice got the first decent hit in.  Druggie mistimed a kick and sacrifice was able to strike his leg with her right arm.  I noticed that her wrist was broken.  She must be in complete agony.

Druggie lost balance and hopped back, but sacrifice followed up with another hit, this time to the temple.  He tumbled to his side as he dashed an impossible distance for any human.

“What? Going into withdrawal?”  chuckled Sacrifice, her body visibly beaten.  She’d die if her powers weren’t active, clearly.

Druggie was sweating.  He charged again, a relentless assault, unending and unreadable to me.  Punches, kicks, elbows, knees.  The only moves I was able to see were the grabs and throws, and just barely.

Finally, he stopped.  He tossed her hard into the cracked and broken marble floor from a decent height.  His clothes were worn out, frayed at the ends.  His face mask was gone, his hair a mess.

He grabbed Sacrifice by the ankles and looked at me.  I was too terrified to refuse.

I followed him down the hallway, keeping back to make sure I didn’t let Sacrifice into my range.  If I shut her powers off, I’d kill her.

Her hand twitched.

“Boy. You take her,”  he said, pointing at me as Sacrifice slowly moved her arm to his right leg.

“I have Event Horizon, I can’t take her,”  I stalled, glancing as she moved her arm to his ankle.  He stared at me intensely, making me look back at him, holding my hands in the air in submission.

Sacrifice crushed his ankle as I stared him in the eyes.  His scream was blood-curdling.

She got up, showing me that her bones had healed. Unfortunately, nearly every bone broke,  and many healed while they were in the wrong place.  Her legs were bow shaped, her ribs and hands has stray bones sticking out, her jaw was misplaced.  She was black and blue and yellow from head to toe, and her left foot was bent into a fist.

She stood, twisted and malformed, almost grinning as three teeth fell out.

“I eedig,”  she said, unable to speak properly. “You ose.”

Blood sprayed me and Event Horizon as Druggie was beaten to a pulp against the marble floor of the hallway.

 

***

 

 

Sacrifice spent an hour breaking herself, putting everything back to where it should be.  I took the time to vomit behind one of the few remaining pillars as she did so, somewhat horrified at the sound.

I finally looked at her when she was done, and she looked human again.

“So,”  I began,  “Why the wait?”

“Waiting for his drugs to wear off,”  she said, holding a bit of foot in the air.  “He nearly knocked me out, I just came back at the right time.”

She got up and we continued out trek to the throne room.

The doors to the throne room were large and wooden in texture, but solid metal from how they felt.  Sacrifice pushed them with all her might, and fell over to her knees as the doors finally gave way.

I checked to see if she was okay, and I saw the worst situation possible as I glanced into the room.

Taker sat at a round table before the throne.  The King sat at his throne, a spear protruding from his head, a flow of blood dripped off the end of the spear and his wide eyes stared at nothing.  The crown was in Fractal’s hands as he stood behind Taker.

“Good to see you could make it,”  said Taker softly as the crown was placed on his head.  “Long live the king.”

I turned to look at Sacrifice, and I saw it.

I saw despair.

 

Prev                                                                                                                                      Next

Kumo’s legs regrew, twitching occasionally as I stared at him.  Sacrifice wasn’t interested; he was dealt with in her eyes and wasn’t a problem anymore.

“We have to get to the throne room,”  she said, grabbing my de-thumbed hand and walking down a street briskly, dragging me along.  “The King needs to declare his victory while he can, and the fact we killed three of his personal guards already means he’s going to have to downsize instead of taking Brazil.”

Apparently we saved Brazil.  Who knew?

“Wait, we can beat the King?”

“That was part of the original plan.  Beat him, take throne, abuse the Immigration and Exile powers to move allies about, have a small nation at your control with supertech built by geniuses.”

I was in awe.  “Is that why you kept your knowledge secret?  To avoid anyone getting the same idea?”

“Not exactly.  Think about it, Ryan.  If everyone knew there was a way to become an absolute, undisputed ruler with no way of being stopped or killed that doesn’t come down to being a complete moron and waging war or some shit, do you think there would be a non-kingmaker nation left?”

I paused to think, putting the knife in the back of my belt due to the lack of pockets I had.

She continued with an amendment.  “Do you think there wouldn’t be a world war three?  Or some other disaster?”

I didn’t need to think hard.

“No,”  I said.  The castle was up ahead, large and imposing.  How did sh-

I was launched into the air, almost taking Sacrifice with me.

Another one of the King’s men.  Sacrifice Didn’t waste any time.  I fell down, getting my bearings.  She already killed whoever attacked in seconds.

We made it to the castle where the king should be; where Taker lay waiting.  All were gone in the city but the occasional pedestrian, hiding away but trying to get a glimpse of us.

We were winning so far.  Bloodwitch; dead.  Jawbreaker; dead.  Glutton; dead.  Trauma was stuck in a maze.  Kumo was pinned down.

That left Fractal, Druggie and Taker.  I’d assume Druggie was killed already.  He was a chemical-oriented super-genius, and Jawbreaker was killed easily by the king.  No, We don’t know how many men the king has.  We counted three killed, maybe Taker’s group killed one too?  Also, Event Horizon.  She’s still alive.

Sacrifice opened the door, peering in.

Nothing.  The hall was empty.

We walked in, anxious.  Itching for the next fight.

 

***

 

The castle was big.  Bigger on the inside?  No, don’t be silly.  The insides of the castle cheated, though.  It was larger than you’d think.

“Ryan,”  said Sacrifice quietly as we walked down another empty corridor,  “Do you want to hear the plan now?”

“Yes,”  I replied, happier than I should have been.

“Good, because we are going to have to break everything inside.”

“Break stuff?”  I asked, confused.  “Why not kill the king?”

“Kingmaker is an enchantment type metahuman.  Anyone can be a king if you have an item he enchanted.  That’s the big secret; the big problem.”

I took a moment to digest that.  I could be a king, if my powers didn’t interfere.  Anyone could.  That’s a scary thought, suddenly having yourself lorded over my a complete stranger because they got lucky.

“I know you lied,”  I said, not thinking.  Sacrifice stopped.

“I don’t like talking about my past,”  she said, a little taken aback.  “That’s another thumb when we’ve finished.”

I deserved it.

“I understand,”  I said, starting to walk with her again.  I stopped, Sacrifice walked ahead and paused.

“Ryan?”

“I’m stuck,”  I replied.  “It’s Event Horizon.”

Sacrifice looked around.  Nothing in sight, as far as her reaction gave.  She gave me a little push here and there to gauge what she was holding.

“She’s gotten stronger,”  said Sacrifice, both impressed and annoyed.  “Taker’s work, I presume.”

“Don’t kill her,”  I begged softly.  “She’s weak, you ca-”

“I’ll kill her because she’s weak,”  she shot back at me. “I’ll kill her and save her the trouble of wishing she was dead when she gets caught by another group of villains who have guys who can’t handle their urges, unlike my former teammates.”

Cold.  I felt a chill as she said it.

“Not that I can trust them when they have Taker fucking about in there, anyway,”  she muttered, looking harder.

She checked everywhere.  She nearly checked behind every pillar when it hit me.

I looked up, and was disgusted.  Webbing covered the ceiling above me, barely noticeable with the architecture above.  A web ensnared Event Horizon.  She was cacooned; a human booby trap.

I had to get help somehow.  Sacrifice would kill her.  I couldn’t move.  King wouldn’t help.  Taker was the enemy.  I was alone.

“Sacrifice, above me!”  I cried.  She came over and saw the webs in the ceiling, smirking at the trap Taker made for us.

“Good boy,” she said, walking over.  She looked about my clothing for something, anything.  I still had the bloody knife.  She took it from me, practicing her throw a few times.

“Close your eyes, Ryan.”

No.  Don’t do this.  Don’t kill her.

“Sacrifice, you shouldn’t.  You can knock her out, like you do to me, or something!”  My panicked voice told no lies.  I didn’t want to see her die.  She was innocent.  A victim.

“I don’t know what tricks Taker has up his slee-”

“You can take as many fingers as you want,”I interrupted, shouting. “Just please don’t kill her! Please!”

Sacrifice gave a large grin.  Wait, was she tric-

She ran up the pillar at lightning speed, ignoring all conventions of gravity.  She tore Event Horizon out of the web and fell back to earth, cratering the ground beneath her.  Marble cracked like it was merely glass.

“It’s a promise,”  she said, holding her hand out for me to shake.  Event Horizon was okay. I could deal with that.

I could deal with Sacrifice’s acts, as long as she helped me.  As long as she was there.  I held out my good hand, shaking hers.

“Deal,”  I said, smiling in relief.  “I’m glad you saved her for me.”

 

 

Prev                                                                                                                                      Next

“What’s this all about?”  I had to ask.  It was confusing, seeing what felt like the Hunting Party play a game right in front of me.  Sacrifice and Taker had no concept of tension, apparently.  Event Horizon struggled to get up.

Taker turned to me, explaining away.

“Well, I thought we weren’t having any fun.  So I thought that maybe we should just deal with whatever powered capes we encounter one by one, starting with our dear leader, Sacrifice.”

He smiled a little, placing an arm on Event Horizon’s shoulder.  She looked dazed, like her energy was drained from holding Merly’s ball bearings while he struggled to move them.

“Make no mistake, You and her will not be involved in this game, right Sacrifice?”

Sacrifice was staring down Merly as he listened, curious.

“Yes.  I,”  She began, hesitating.  “Yes.  That’s what I decided.”

Merly cocked his head.  “A duel? in the middle of a war?”

“There are more of us than there are of you,”  replied Sacrifice, tense.

She was right.  Even if he attacked us, there was Bloodwitch, Fractal, Glutton and Ellen to deal with.  If it comes down to it, Even me and Event Horizon would end up fighting.  He can’t beat us all.

“Very well, a duel it is,”  said Merly, revving up his bike.

An instant later, he vanished, replaced by several floating ball bearings.  Sacrifice leapt backwards as they smashed into the ground around where she stood, nearly throwing her off balance.  the Rest of the Hunting party quickly backed away, with Bloodwitch grabbing me and Taker pulling on Event Horizon.

“Seems he has a lot of strength in his telekinesis,”  mumbled Bloodwitch, staring on.  “What do you think?”

I couldn’t care about this.  “Don’t treat me like a friend,”  I whispered harshly.

Merly came back into view behind Sacrifice, charging at her on his bike.  She dived out the way into the pot hole Merly created in the road.

“Dammit,”  Sacrifice, muttered, picking herself up.

Several ball bearings had removed and lifted one of the back doors for the van.  They floated along the sky, carrying the door in the air.  Sacrifice didn’t notice, She was busy avoiding falling over as more ball bearings burrowed and destroyed the ground below.

“How many do you think he’s using? I counted twenty balls,”  said Bloodwitch, again.

“I don’t want to talk,”  I said again, sternly.

“Hey, that’s unfair.  All I have for company are old coots and Trauma,”  she joked, acting as if everything was normal.

“Her name is Ellen,”  I growled, baring my teeth.

Sacrifice struggled to get a decent hit in, being led around with the ground breaking up constantly.  Merly had stopped using his motorbike or the cloaking ability he had.

“Don’t think I didn’t read up on you.  I know what you can do.  I’ll notice if you use your powers on me,”  I said, continuing my quiet rant.

Bloodwitch giggled, holding the red scarf around her neck to her mouth.

“I’d tell you the truth, but I’d have to kill you,”  she smiled.

The door fell.  Sacrifice didn’t even notice it as she dived backwards into its trajectory.  A satisfying thud and crunching filled the air.  I had a moment of joy, distracted by Bloodwitch’s threat.

“Yes!”  I shouted on instinct.  “You killed her, thank you!”

Merly looked at me, confused.  “You are not with her?”

“No, fuck her,”  I replied, smiling.  “Sh-”

She was alive.  Sacrifice got up, smiling deeply, clothed only in dirt, her own blood and the dried blood of the sheep’s head she wore.  She wore a deep cut from her chest to her pelvis, Rib bones showing and intestines clearly severed.

“There was a reason I hunted Bloodwitch down for three years,”  she said deeply, staring at me.  She was angry at me.  She was angry that I thought she’d die so easily, that I’d be free of her.  She was livid.  Bloodwitch squeezed my arm hard as her name was said, and I quickly glanced at her.

She was crying tears of pride.

“Do you want to see why, Ryan?  I’ll show you my secrets.”  she said, almost smiling.  Blood continued to pour from the gash in her body.

She raised her arm, and buried it in her chest.  I nearly threw up at the sight.  She mover her hand about, then took it out, forcing the other inside.  “Now then,”  she said, taking out her blood soaked hands.  “Let’s get fully prepared.”

She washed her feet in blood.  Even Merly was appalled.

“Dear God woman, what are you doing?”  he asked in horror.

“Setting the stage,”  Sacrifice responded.

She placed her feet down after ensuring they were totally caked in blood, and she leapt from my focus to about a foot away from Merly in a single bound.  Merly panicked and tried to accelerate on his bike, but Sacrifice was quicker.

“Not so fast.”

She grabbed the rear of it and squeezed, bending and crushing the seating with her bare hands.

“Don’t damage it,”  interrupted Bloodwitch.

“I’m trying,”  Sacrifice replied, frustrated.

Merly got off his bike and made a run for it, ball bearings tearing up the ground behind him.  Sacrifice seemed to ignore them, closing the distance in seconds.

Merly became invisible again.

“Dammit, I hate doing this,”  Said sacrifice, sticking her hand into her wounds yet again.  She poured the blood she cupped onto her face.  Her eyes, her nose, her mouth was all covered.  She removed her mask to make sure her ears were covered too.  I noticed she had short black hair.

“If you can’t tell, this is the reason she calls herself Sacrifice,”  said Bloodwitch.  “Any blood empowers her.  Drinking blood cures poisons, bathing in it restores youth and heals wounds.  Her legs move faster, her arms get stronger,”  she described, smiling with pride.  “She chose me because I can help her.  I’m not like the others, I’m necessary.”

This bitch is crazier than Sacrifice is, and she’s fondling her guts in public.

“I think that’s enough,”  said Sacrifice, rubbing her stomach and chest along her scars.  The gash appeared to begin healing, visibly dissapearing.

Sacrifice took a few seconds to look at the members of the Hunting Party.  Event Horizon was pale.  Her powers; my powers were nothing compared to that.

She turned around and grabbed the air, Holding it with both hands.  It took me a second to realize what happened.  She caught Merly while he was invisible.

“I win,”  she said, as blood gushed onto her chest and the sound of Merly’s skull being crushed filled the air.

Merly was still invisible, a silhouette of red.  She let go and he fell down, limp.  She did a small stretch, and knelt down, rummaging through his clothes.  She suddenly appeared as normal, but still dead.

“Anyone want the thing he was using for invisibility?”  she asked.  “Our guests exempt.”

Glutton raised his hand.  “I’ll take it.”

She tossed to Glutton while walking back to us, who caught it easily enough.

Sacrifice killed Merly easily.  How could I kill her?

“My boss,”  said Taker, rubbing his hands.  “I think that’s one for one, right?”

“One for One?”  repeated Sacrifice.

“Well, isn’t Jawbreaker down for the count?”

Sacrifice righted the overturned van.

“He’ll be okay,”  she said, pointing at the unconscious villain laying in his seat.

“Glutton, you drive.  I’ll put Jawbreaker with you, right Taker?”

Taker smiled.  “I’m thinking of having the young boy with us.  You can have Jawbreaker and Glutton.”

Sacrifice paused.  “I’m the leader of this group,”  she said quietly, almost to herself.  “We can’t have the two hostages working together.”

Taker smiled again, licked his lips and turned away.  “Right,”  he said, walking to the other van.  “I’m just a subordinate.”

The silence was apparent.

“Taker, take your group and go ahead.  I’ll need to do some repairs.”

Taker walked off, with Glutton following him, carrying Jawbreaker over his shoulder.  Druggie dragged Event Horizon behind him.  She didn’t resist, much.

The van drove off as Sacrifice knelt down, leaving only me, her, Ellen, Bloodwitch and Glutton in the road.

“Ryan,”  she said calmly.  “I’m going to have to have a private conversation.”

“I’m not tal-”

“You’ll fucking do it,”  she fumed.  “You’ll fucking listen to me and do as I say or I’ll swear I’ll turn your fucking friend here into a human fucking Pretzel and I’ll make you watch it.  Do you understand?”

I said nothing.  She got up and grabbed my arm, still wet with blood.  “Everyone else, keep watch,”  she barked.  Everyone but us moved away from the van, away from earshot.

In one swift motion she tossed me into the back of the van, and pinned me down, her hands tightly squeezing my arms.

“Stop struggling,”  she murmured.

“Get off me,”  I snapped back, writhing as hard as I can.  She squeezed so tight on me I was afraid she would break my arms.

“Listen to me,”  she said, harsher.  Sacrifice still dripped with blood.  Some dropped from her nose onto my face.  I turned away.

“If you wanted me to do what you say,”  I said, calmer now,  “You shouldn’t have kidnapped me.”

“You walked into that trap easy,”  she nearly laughed.  “you honestly deserve-”

“I meant the first time,”  I cut in, with a harsher tone.  “You ruined everything.”

I hate her.  Get off me and die.  Stop threatening Ellen, stop ruining lives, stop nearly dying and getting my hopes up.  Just stop.

“I don’t care,”  she said.  “This is more important.”

I tried to adjust myself, but she held me down with all her weight.

“Did you notice anything with Taker?”  she asked, after a lengthy pause.

“What?”  I said, shocked.

“Did Taker look suspicious to yo-”

I cut her off, laughing.

“Let me fin-”

I laughed harder, facing her.

“Taker usurped you, right?”  I said, stating what I realized all too late.  “The big bad wolf got her pack stolen from her?”

She slapped me across the face, hard.

“You and I are in real danger here,”  she whispered.  “That girl of yours in the van with him is in even more.”

That got my attention.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Sacrifice eased up.

“Taker, myself and many others lie about our powers.  It’s a common thing.”

“Cut to the chase.”  I said, impatient.  I earned another slap, harder.  I nearly started crying.

“I’m still in control, kid,”  she said, pausing.

Glutton opened the back door.

“You done with him? We need to catch up, boss.”

Sacrifice turned back to me.  “We’ll continue this later.”

 

Prev                                                                                                                                      Next

The trip made me feel miserable.  The drugs took their sweet time wearing off, and during the whole time they did I had to sit there, looking at the Hunting Party.  Bloodwitch, Sacrifice, Jawbreaker and Ellen were the only ones in the van with me.

Bloodwitch was in the back, leaning over into the passenger seat.  Sacrifice was busy reading a book, occasionally glancing at me, to see If I was trying anything funny.  Jawbreaker was driving, and Ellen sat in the passenger seat, looking out the window.

I had to do something.  I thought about my powers.  I took my sweet time and read up on their powers whenever I could.  I read everything I could about them.  The NHN Database, fan forums, Wikis and everywhere else.  I was convinced I could beat them.

Honestly, I was a fool.  I was younger and weaker than all of them except Bloodwitch and Ellen, and I didn’t want to fight Ellen at all.

The bleeding stopped a while ago, and I’d wiped everything off my face with the sleeve of my suit.  My helmet and my Shield lay next to me, freely sliding along the floor of the van as it took turn after turn.

A faint whizzing sound filled the air, distracting us all.

“Everyone get down!”  yelled Jawbreaker, Swerving the van.

A bullet penetrated the front window explosively.  Sacrifice toppled over, the shot just missing her.  When the van landed on its side and skidded uncomfortably along the road, stopping after several long seconds.

Sacrifice picked herself up first, along with Ellen.

“Wow, you look great up there,”  she laughed at me as I dangled from the side of the van in my bindings.  “A chandelier.”

“Let me down,”  I said sternly.  She gave a look and I added “Please.”

“One second.  Friends before foes,”  she replied.  “Jawbreaker, Bloodwitch!”

“JB is KO’d,”  replied Bloodwitch, checking up on Jawbreaker.  The airbags were deflating, slowly.

“Good, take this one down from here,”  said Sacrifice as Ellen opened the door.

“Truama, dearie?  You stay as a hostage.  I’ll need you.”

Bloodwitch roughly unbound me and let me fall too the floor.

“Up,”  she ordered.  I got up quickly, grabbing my helmet and shield.

I looked around and the sun hurt.  Another van was on the road, parked perfectly.  The rest of the Hunting Party was here, I assumed.

Sacrifice was quick to action.  “We have company, Guys! Get out!”

Fractal had already teleported Kumo, Glutton, Taker and Druggie out of the van, along with Event Horizon, who was in handcuffs.  She caught a glimpse of me, and her face told me what I didn’t want to know.

She followed me and got caught.  I turned away.

“Well, now we are all here,”  began Sacrifice,  “We should be taking cover, although it may not help at all.”

She turned to the tipped over van as another thud rumbled through it.  A ball bearing less than a centimetre in diameter stopped inches away from her mask.

“Ryan, use your powers,”  she ordered me.  I didn’t comply.

“No,” I murmured, “I don’t ne-”

“Your friends will die here,”  She interrupted as she turned her head.

She looked at me.  She looked deep into me.  The Ball bearing was so close.  If only it started moving again.

“Start thinking, now!”

I hate her.  I hate her so much it hurts.  I hate how she’s using them; using me.  Still, I have to do this.

“Fine,”  I said.  “It only attacked the van, and isn’t going for you.”

The ball bearing quickly darted towards me, striking my facemask that is attached to me helmet.  I fell backwards, stumbling.

“Ryan, no!”  shouted Event Horizon.  Nobody else moved, not even Ellen.

“Sounds like its owner was mad at hearing that,”  said Sacrifice.  “You think its owner is hiding or nearby?”

I didn’t care, blood dripped from a shard of plastic in my cheek.

“Fuck, don’t as-”

Sacrifice ran over and kicked me in the stomach.  “Answer me!”  she shouted.

This was a game to her.  Another way for her to assert her dominance.  She knew exactly what was going on.  I hate her so much.

“I think they are hiding or something!”  I shouted in response to her interrogations.

“Good, good,”  she replied, smiling.

I got up as she walked over to Event Horizon.  The ball bearing floated aggressively between her and Sacrifice.

“You were the team leader for the Juniors, weren’t you,”  she smiled, stroking EH’s hair back gently.

“I still am,”  she replied.  “Don’t touch me.”

“Lock that ball down.”

“Why should I?”  asked Event Horizon with a smug but scared look.

“Well, if you don’t I’ll just give a pledge to Texas here and now, and in about two hour-”

Event Horizon reacted before she could finish.

“Okay!”  she said, panicked at the thought of Sacrifice’s threat.  “I’ll do it!”

The ball bearing stopped moving.  Event Horizon winced a little.  Sacrifice walked away, into the open.

“It’s pulling hard,”  she complained.

“Suck it up, dearie,”  smiled Sacrifice.  She turned around to face us and yelled directly into the sky, arms outstretched and her body showing.

“Show yourself!  You can do it!”

No response.

“We’ll fight honestly!  Come on!”

Still no response.  Event Horizon’s foot dragged a little along the ground, prompting Bloodwitch to snigger.

“Fractal, get everyone but the leader in the van and dri-”  She was cut short with a loud fizzing sound behind her.

A young man with long, flowing golden hair stood right behind her, holding a motorcycle helmet in one hand with hos bike between his legs.

“I figured you’d have to show yourself if Event Horizon held onto your toy,”  gloated Sacrifice.  “Get lost or I’ll kill you.”

The young man smiled.  Event Horizon dropped to her knees in exhaustion as the ball bearing she held with her power fell to the ground.

“Don’t expect the King’s guard to be so pathetic,”  he smirked, sticking one hand into his pocket and placing his helmet on with the other.

Sacrifice was about to move, but Taker took control of the situation, much to my surprise.

“Sacrifice, don’t do that,”  he pleaded gently.  “It’s not fun that way.”

I looked at them and noticed that everyone was staring at Sacrifice, waiting.  Were they judging her?

Even Ellen did so.  I looked at Event Horizon as she groaned.  Our assailant huffed.

“War is not fun.  Protecting our King is a privilege.”  he stated with pride.

“Fine,”  said Sacrifice, after such a long stare down against what was the entirety of the Hunting Party.  “We’ll do it the fun way.”

She turned around, bowing.  “I bid you welcome, I am Sac-”

“Dear god woman! Put on some clothes!”  Interrupted the man, shocked.

“Who the fuck are you anyway?”  I finally asked, annoyed.  Just fucking kill her, or get out the way and let somebody else kill her.

He gave pause and looked at me, glad to be distracted from Sacrifice’s bosom.  Sacrifice gave me a nasty look.

“Why,”  said the man in full theatrics.  “I am a member of the king’s guard, Merly.”

 

Prev                                                                                                                                      Next

“Ellen! Ellen!”

Ellen turned around, giving one last look before running down the street.  I ran out the bedroom and bounded down the stairs after her.  She was faint in the distance but I was closing in as she ran away.  I can still catch her, I thought.

Ellen was nearly running out of breath as I finally caught up to her, grabbing her arm tightly and pulling to make her face me.  I caught Ellen.

“Ellen, it’s me,”  I said, barely audible as the rumbling increased around us.  “I can help, lis-”

Pain suddenly struck my neck both sharp and quick.  Ellen looked at me without a single flicker or any tell as I felt the metal of something pierce deeper into me.  I turned my eyes to look at what happened with care not to move my head too much, and I saw her slowly push the last few inches of a golden liquid into my veins via a syringe.  I knew exactly what happened.  Druggie’s formula pulsed through my veins yet again.  I looked on in horror as its effects hit me all at once, making me collapse to my knees with weakness.

Ellen caught me by the armpits, holding me up as I raised my head to face her.  I felt my vision blur slightly, with each heartbeat pounding in my chest painfully.

“-ot to follo-”

I couldn’t make out her words as the sounds became faded, distorted.  She looked nice from this angle.  I bet she was staying healthy.

“-at the he-”

Another voice.  Event Horizon.  I tried to raise my hand in an attempt to communicate, but it was no use.  I looked up at Ellen.  What was she saying?

“-ive this- -out he-”

More words, faint, barely audible.  Rumbling faded away with the finer details of Ellen’s face.  Ellen moved to my side, still holding me up.  I was nearly blind at this stage, the outside world was almost entirely gone.  The rumbling was a whisper, along with the faint sound of crying behind me.  I took a hesitant step into the blurry darkness, nearly falling over.  Ellen helped pick me up.

Wait, wasn’t Ellen kidnapped?  I soon took a turn somewhere, I think it was a left turn.  Was I still even on the pavement?  I hope Event Horizon if following me, I might need help.  Ellen needs help.

“Ellen,”  I murmured, dazed and confused.  “I missed you.  Derek missed you.”

Ellen continued walking me to somewhere.  Who was it that took her?  Did she leave?  My legs felt heavy, sluggish.  Everything seemed unreal as sounds came out heavily muffled and my vision distorted with each passing step.  A quick glance showed everything looking the same as I could only make out the sky due to the colours, and even that was difficult.

“I want to return, I hate this.”

I nearly tripped over rubble.  Ellen picked me back up, slowly.  She was gentle.  Our pace picked up.  More muffled talking.

“I want to go home, don’t you?”

A finger against my mouth silenced me.  I didn’t know if the words reached her.  I don’t know if I was even speaking, my body was numb.  My movements were rehearsed, less walking and more remembering how I would walk if this stuff wasn’t in me.  I need to ask her what that was.  I bumped against a wall as Ellen led me on.  Where was I?  I’ll find out later.

I finally stopped after a timeframe I can’t comprehend, and the weight of my body and my exhaustion made me fall over into softness.  I was unable to move.

What was I doing?

***

Still dazed, still weak.  I was moved to somewhere different from where I landed when Ellen let me go.  I took a moment to gather my bearings.  There were sounds, and it was dark.  Was I blindfolded?

“-kill her-”

“-fun tha-”

More muffled voices.  I could tell them apart.  The rumbling faded consistently.  I was being taken somewhere, quickly.  A car?  A train?  I tried to move my fingers.  No response.  I tried to speak.  No response.  Fuck.

“-ello, Ry-,”  said a familiar voice.  “-at’s your na-”

I let out a groan.

“Wow, -at stu- -as quite a – D-  -ook at -”  I could almost pin it down.

“Sacrifice?” I asked, dragging the ‘a’ and drooling over my chin.  I could feel my fingers, and move them.

“-ats out o- -ag now,”  she said, pulling my hood off.  I could smell the rancid stench of rotting meat.  My vision showed splotches of brown, red, peach, yellow and green, with red and black around me.  I assumed I was in a van, and the brown and peach was Sacrifice.

“Whats that phrase?  Fool me once? Fool me twice?”

Shame on me.

I tried to move my fingers.  Sacrifice grabbed both of my hands and brought them together in her lap.

“Listen here,”  she began.  I moved my head a little.  “you are going to help me and all my little buddies here, you understand?  Now, I’m not going to te-”

I spat on her face, straight through the mouth of the sheep’s head she was wearing.  It was hard not to smirk with my accuracy.

“That’s pretty dirty,”  she said, her tone changed.

“Fuck you,”  I replied.  “You ruined ev-”

I was struck in the face before I could finish.

“That’s dirty,”  she said again.

“Go fu-”

Another punch, harder, twice.  Blood trickled down my nose.  The softness of where I sat softened the blows.  Sacrifice got up, leaving me to realize I’m on the floor of a delivery truck.  I moved my arm to feel my face, but she stood on my hand as I raised it, twisting my fingers into the floor.

“Say that you are sorry,”  She said slowly and sternly.

“Fuck you, bi-”

This time she kicked me in the face.  My head hit the wall harder.  I spat out blood, and thankfully no teeth.  She walked across the van, away from me.

“Bloodwitch, over here,”  she said.  Bloodwitch stood up.

“Fuck you!”  I yelled, blood stopping me from articulating without spraying it everywhere.  “Fuck you, you fucking fuck!”

“When I give the order, kill Trauma.  Make is painful.”  Sacrifice ordered.

“Just when I was getting along, too.”  Bloodwitch remarked, sighing.

My heart sank.  I tugged at the belts tying my torso down.

“What!?  You can’t!”  I yelled in shock.

“Exactly. Say that you are sorry or I will kill her.”  Sacrifice hissed.

I paused, staring into her eyes.  They were a deep blue.

“Ten,”  she began.  “Nine, Eig-”

“Fine,”  I shouted, looking away.  “I-I am”  I hesitated.  Fuck this woman.

“I am what?”

“I’m Sorry.  There, I said it!”

“Not good enough,”  she replied.  “Seven, Si-”

“I’m sorry I spat in your face!”  I yelled, interrupting her.  I’m not losing a friend for this.  Not for her.

“Good,”  she said, smiling.  She brought my face up to look at hers.  “You now understand what your relationship truly is.”

She spat in my face and laughed, turning back to the others.

Prev                                                                                                                                      Next

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!”

 

Prev                                                                                                                                      Next

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.

 

Prev                                                                                                                                      Next

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.

 

Prev                                                                                                                                      Next