Monthly Archives: July 2016

“Tick, Tick, Boom!” – Part 5

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Dave’s gaze darted from the hostages to the exit and the gunmen in the space of a second. He had to get these people out of here.

“Shit,” Moreen said, indicating she’d gotten the message, too.

The jerk with the mohawk thinks his boss won’t set them off now that they’ve gotten the Prophet Kid, the Black Valentine said telepathically. The other guy—the one who should’ve been a juggler—thinks he’ll blow the place just for kicks. He strikes me as the smarter of the two.

“Their boss,” said Moreen, “Pretty Boy Jeffries. He’s here?”

According to these two, he’s on the top floor, but he’s out of my range. I can’t sense him. The other gunman is bringing the Prophet Kid to him now. Once he checks that the kid doesn’t have any visions of their getaway plan failing, he’ll signal the others, and they’ll make their escape. They have a helicopter, by the way.

Moreen pinched the bridge of her nose. “Of course they do.”

“We don’t have much time,” Dave said in a low voice. “Do they have any other men left besides the two down here and the one who took the Prophet Kid?”

The Black Valentine closed her eyes again, her eyebrows scrunching together. If they do, the ones down here don’t know about it.           

“Okay,” Dave said, “Then our biggest problem is that walkie-talkie. We don’t want Four-Arms over there to warn Jeffries when we make our move.”

“Agreed,” Moreen said. “Valentine, I’m guessing you can do something about that?”

She raised her eyebrows theatrically. “Is a DSA agent suggesting I use mind-control on an unwilling victim?”

“I’m asking if you can stop him from using his walkie-talkie. How you interpret that is up to you.”

The Black Valentine smirked. “Oh, I can stop him. But I won’t be able to focus on anything else while I’m doing it.”

“Then I’ll handle the one with the mohawk,” Dave said.

Moreen glanced at him. “He’s pretty far away. You sure you can get him before he starts shooting?”

“I can get him.”

“Fine, I’ll watch your back.”

Dave looked at the Black Valentine. “Tell me when you’re ready.” Continue reading

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“Tick, Tick, Boom!” – Part 4

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Dave sat cross-legged on the floor next to Moreen with the rest of the hostages. Muffled sobbing came from someone behind him, along with soothing whispers and a murmured Hail Mary. “Everything’s going to be okay,” Dave had told everyone when the gunmen had first corralled them. He fervently hoped he hadn’t lied.

Out of the six gunmen who’d stormed the lobby, only the last three were still conscious and on their feet. The one with four arms stood watch over the hostages, two arms crossed, one holding a pistol, and the last carrying a walkie-talkie that he checked into every three minutes. Another gunman with a scarlet mohawk kept his gaze on the front entrance. The crowd outside had dispersed, replaced by police, red and blue lights splashing rhythmically across the glass doors.

The final gunman would regularly disappear for several minutes, returning with anywhere from two to six more hostages to add to the growing group on the floor. Janitors, clerks, lawyers—there were a lot of people who must have hidden themselves when the gunfire started. The courthouse was ten stories tall, but the third gunman seemed to be searching every nook and cranny.

When the Prophet Kid had been arrested, the DSA had captured five out of the estimated dozen members of the Monstro Gang. But they hadn’t caught the leader. Bradley “Pretty Boy” Jeffries was the brains of the operation—and the brawn. He could rip apart a car like wrapping paper when he was in his monster form. He was the whole reason the DSA had sent Dave after the gang; they were hoping White Knight would be strong enough to stop him. But he’d gotten away.

Four-Arms was talking to someone on that walkie-talkie, and whoever it was couldn’t be too far away….

Dave shifted his weight atop the hard tile floor, moving his legs so they wouldn’t cramp. The Monstro Gang had given their demands to the police negotiator who’d come in, but with the Prophet Kid spirited away by some mysterious third-party, this could only end in violence. He had to be ready to act at the first sign of trouble.

“Heads up,” said Mohawk Guy.

And trouble strode right through the front door. Continue reading

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“Tick, Tick, Boom!” – Part 3

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Arm linked with the Prophet Kid, Val escorted him to where Eddy waited in a parked car behind the warehouse. Val opened the back door and nudged the kid inside.

“Eddy, meet the Prophet Kid. Prophet Kid, Eddy.”

Eddy Capello was a big, barrel-chested man who’d worked for Val’s family since before she’d been born. Despite having sat in the comfy air-conditioning all this time, he’d taken off his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves, revealing a huge tattoo of a skull on his forearm. (Val had always thought it was tacky but didn’t have the heart to tell him.) Oh, and without his jacket, you could see his shoulder holster with two Brownings. That was probably more noticeable than the tattoo.

“Hey, Kid,” he said, putting the car into drive.

“My name is Jean-Baptiste Dupree,” the kid muttered.

“You sure you’d rather go by that?” Val asked. “It’s kind of a mouthful. And that’s coming from Valentina Mariangela Belmonte.”

“Whatever.”

“Can you believe this kid, Eddy?” Val asked. “The Black Valentine breaks him out of police custody—something that I’m sure is the start of a fantasy for lots of teenage boys—and all he can say is ‘whatever.’ Not even a thank you.”

“Kids these days.” Eddy shook his head as he drove five miles under the speed limit. “No manners at all.”

Val watched the Prophet Kid’s reaction. He was slouched over and scowling, ignoring their banter. Oh, well. She would have preferred a thank you and a profession of undying devotion, but she didn’t strictly need it. This was a job, after all.

“So do you really go by Jean-Baptiste, or do you have a nickname?” she asked.

He didn’t answer, so she read his mind.

“JB, huh? I like that better.”

“Only my friends call me that.”

“And we’re not friends? After I risked life and limb to keep you out of prison? JB, I’m hurt.”

“Did you ever think that maybe I didn’t want to get broken out?” Continue reading

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“Tick, Tick, Boom!” – Part 2

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David Del Toro saw the crowd in front of the courthouse the moment the car turned onto 6th Street. His head thumped against the back of his seat, and he resisted the urge to groan.

“I don’t suppose you know a back way in?” he asked the driver.

“No, sir. Sorry. I’ll get you as close to the front door as I can.”

“I appreciate it,” Dave sighed more than spoke. He looked out the side window and pointedly ignored the glare of the woman next to him.

“Thanks a lot, White Knight,” she said, her tone half-joking. No, make that only a quarter joking.

He turned to face Agent Moreen Lee. At five-foot-five, with chin-length brown hair and a drab brown business suit, she was more intimidating than most supervillains he knew.

“Please don’t blame this on me,” he said.

“They’re not waiting out there to see me.”

Dave glanced back at the crowd. They were close enough for him to see details now, like the woman in a full wedding dress holding a sign that said, “Marry Me, White Knight!”

“You’d think it was a rock concert,” he muttered, “Not a trial that’s going to determine the outcome of a boy’s life.”

“Yeah, well, they must not get to see very many superheroes here.”

“But Ft. Lauderdale has its own superhero.”

Moreen drummed her fingers on the door handle. “Who can talk to birds. It’s not a very impressive power.”

“Those birds are one of the best surveillance networks in the country.”

“I’m not saying he’s not a good hero. I’m just saying you can see why his fan club might not be as big as yours.”

The car reached the courthouse before Dave could argue any further. The sidewalk was swamped with people. Men and women with cameras stood on top of benches to get shots over the heads of the crowd, and parents carried children on their shoulders to give them a better look. Fortunately, uniformed police officers had managed to keep a clear path to the front entrance.

Dave wished he wasn’t in costume. Without his mask, he’d be just an ordinary brown-haired man who could blend into the crowd—or blend in as much as was possible for someone who stood at six feet four inches. But he was testifying officially as White Knight, so he’d just have to deal with the mob.

The driver pulled up to the open path and wished them luck. Continue reading

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