“Dave and Val Watch Soap Operas” – Part 5

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Moreen clenched shut her eyes as the Illusionist made a flash bomb.

It was a handy trick, and one Moreen had told her beforehand to use the instant they entered the house if things turned hostile. Yuna’s powers were an ability to manipulate light. Most often, she bent it to create her illusions, but she could also remove it to create pitch darkness like she had earlier. Or she could do the opposite and create a quick, blinding burst of it. Moreen’s eyelids couldn’t completely block the brightness, and when she opened them, a red afterimage swam across her vision.

Men were scattered around a cozy-looking living room, covering their eyes and swearing. Moreen’s team moved in. They tackled the blinded Kurodas, knocking away weapons and wrenching arms back into handcuffs. Moreen stayed near the wall, gun out but trained on the floor as she surveyed the chaotic room. Where was Yasunaga? She scanned the wrestling bodies, aware Yuna was doing the same thing.

A figure came in through the sliding glass door on the opposite side of the room. Moreen took one look at his stylized headphones and green costume and raised her gun.

The supervillain, Howl, attacked faster. Continue reading “Dave and Val Watch Soap Operas” – Part 5

“Dave and Val Watch Soap Operas” – Part 4

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Val was having a surprisingly good time. Nobody ever associated hospitals with fun, but for a telepath like her, they could be particularly unpleasant. (Try blocking out the thoughts and sensations of the patient in the next room having a colonoscopy sometime. Not fun.) She had the exatrin in her system to thank for a peaceful headspace, but the main reason for her good mood was Dave.

He’d gotten her popcorn. Just a small bag of white cheddar popcorn from the vending machine outside, but it gave the room a movie theater atmosphere as they watched the soap opera. He kept up a running commentary for her, explaining backstory from previous episodes and translating dialogue she didn’t understand. (Spanish was close enough to Italian that she could get the gist of it most of the time, but she’d never studied the language.) The show was ridiculous but strangely enthralling—or maybe that was the company. She doubted it would be as much fun watching by herself. In any case, the credits rolled far too soon.

“You didn’t tell me it ended on a cliffhanger,” Val accused. “What happens next? Do they prove Maricruz is innocent?”

“Eventually. I think she spends the next three or four episodes in prison, though. Concha ends up in there, too.”

“What? No. Concha was my favorite.”

He gave her a strange look. “She just tried to poison her own husband.”

Val laughed. “I know. She’s so ambitious. I love her.” She turned down the volume as the TV went to commercial. “So who’s your favorite character? Don’t tell me it’s whatshisname the billionaire superhero love interest.” Continue reading “Dave and Val Watch Soap Operas” – Part 4

“Dave and Val Watch Soap Operas” – Part 2

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Dave realized he’d lost his mind the moment he considered buying her flowers.

He blamed it on sleep-deprivation. The time difference meant he’d woken up at four in the morning, and it had been a long day of non-stop meetings, murder investigations, and fights. Then it was straight to the hospital to make sure the Black Valentine didn’t try anything funny like stealing all the drugs in the building while the doctors treated her. Her bullet wound wasn’t serious. Dave had seen friends and colleagues with worse, but that didn’t mean surgery wouldn’t hurt like hell, especially since she couldn’t take any anesthesia. The way she’d clenched shut her eyes as they stitched her up gave Dave an idiotic urge to punch the doctors for hurting her.

Now, Val rested in bed, and Dave stood guard—or sat guard, rather. He sat near her bed, drinking a cup of coffee a nurse had brought him, and as he gazed around the bland, private room, the thought crossed his mind that it could use some flowers.

It was a stupid idea for so many reasons. First, he didn’t exactly carry his wallet around when he was in costume. Second, even if he did have money, he’d have to leave Val unguarded to go downstairs to the gift shop. Third, he was in costume, and the moment someone spotted White Knight holding a bouquet, the tabloids would explode with speculation. And why would he even consider buying a supervillain flowers? If this was Pretty Boy Jeffries, the idea would be ridiculous. Was he only feeling sorry for Val because she was a woman? He pictured Madam Guillotine lying in bed instead, and the urge disappeared. So it was just Val, then.

“There’s nothing on,” Val groaned. She held the remote to the small, cheap TV on the counter across from her bed and was flipping through the channels. Continue reading “Dave and Val Watch Soap Operas” – Part 2

“Two Eyeballs and a Gun” – Part 8

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Dave barreled down the stairs. Lightblade’s footsteps pounded ahead of him, but the man himself was just out of view. Dave had to catch him soon, before he got outside and into a car and vanished like Death. There. He caught a glimpse of the man’s gaudy uniform on the next flight down. Dave pushed himself to go faster. He was younger, stronger. There was no reason he couldn’t catch him.

The stairwell vanished, replaced by something…well, Dave had never done drugs, but he imagined this was what an acid trip looked like. The sky above was a pulsing swirl of neon colors, and he stood in a hilly grove of twelve-foot tall mushrooms. Everything was hazy and swayed in a way that was going to make him nauseous.

He tripped, missing the next step because he couldn’t see it. When he finished falling and hit the wall hidden by the illusion, he found himself lying in a field of flowers with cartoon smiley faces in their centers. Dave focused on the feeling of the hard floor under his hand, even though it looked like he was lying on green grass.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

The Illusionist must have been walking down the stairs in real life, but it looked as if she walked down a rainbow. The girl got an A plus for creativity.

“He’s getting away!” Dave got unsteadily to his feet.

“Leave him alone. What’s wrong with you? Are you brainwashed or something?” Continue reading “Two Eyeballs and a Gun” – Part 8

“Two Eyeballs and a Gun” – Part 4

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“You’re not going to suit up?” Dave asked as the car pulled up behind the cafe.

He wore his White Knight suit, the mask not completely covering the bandage on his nose, unfortunately. Lightblade had changed out of his flannel shirt and into his costume, which Dave didn’t envy. The spandex was a weird mix of camouflage green and bright orange, plus brown combat boots and a matching jacket. The Illusionist, though, was still wearing the same jeans and Seattle Seahawks T-shirt that she’d had on in the meeting.

“Have you seen my suit?” She made a face like a kid who’d been forced to eat Brussels sprouts. “If I’m not tripping over the three-inch heels, I’m tripping over the cape. But you can’t take away the cape, because it’s the only thing that hides how far the stupid leotard rides up my ass.”

A DSA agent opened the cafe’s back door, waving them inside.

“Besides,” the Illusionist went on, “there’s no point in actually wearing the thing when I can do this.”

She held out her hands, and the illusion of a black and gold leotard and impractical crimson cape suddenly replaced her jeans and T-shirt. She’d even made it look like her hair had been curled and styled instead of being in a messy ponytail.

“I’m impressed,” Dave said, “And jealous. So very, very jealous.”

The Illusionist grinned. Continue reading “Two Eyeballs and a Gun” – Part 4

“Tick, Tick, Boom!” – Part 8

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The back of Dave’s skull felt like a cash register that had been smashed open with a crowbar. He put a hand to his head, groaning, and tried to get his bearings. His eyes were closed. Why were his eyes closed? Well, that was easy enough to fix. He opened them and saw a hole in the ceiling, sparks jumping from torn electrical wires. When had that gotten there?

Jeffries spat a curse.

Oh, right.

Dave pushed himself up so fast that dizziness nearly took him back down again. But it wasn’t fast enough. Jeffries was already on his feet. His massive fist swung at Dave’s head, and Dave knew instantly that he wouldn’t be able to dodge in time. He flinched back on instinct, but Jeffries’ fist never made contact.

The bulky man screamed, clutching his head as if someone had set his brain on fire. Movement caught Dave’s eye near the hole in the ceiling, and he saw the Black Valentine glaring down at Jeffries like a vengeful goddess. Either she’d just saved Dave, or he’d hit his head so hard that he was hallucinating.

Jeffries’ eyes widened as he saw her, too, and he jumped a good four feet into the air. His meaty hand grasped for her feet, but she scrambled back just in time. Instead, Jeffries grabbed the edge of the hole and tore off a chunk of ceiling as he came down. The same chunk that the Black Valentine was standing on. She fell with a startled cry. Continue reading “Tick, Tick, Boom!” – Part 8

“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 “Tick, Tick, Boom!” – Part 4