“Everybody Fights” – Part 11

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Dave broke down the process of standing up into steps. First, he got onto his hands and knees. The small movement ignited the pain in his back. It felt like he’d gotten lashed by a bullwhip that had been soaked in gasoline and set on fire. Except that metaphor didn’t work, because it was less extreme than what had actually happened. He should probably just stick to the truth: he felt like he’d gotten mauled by spinning helicopter blades.

He lifted himself into a kneeling position, pausing to give himself a rest. In case he’d forgotten his fight with Giordano, his cheek and ribs throbbed in reminder. He put his right foot flat on the floor, and by the time he’d finally managed to stand, Val was walking back from the crashed helicopter. Strands of black hair had come undone from her ponytail, and her eyes were red-rimmed from the tear gas, but her smile shone like the sun.

“You okay?” she asked.

“Fine. You finished your chat?” Continue reading “Everybody Fights” – Part 11

“Everybody Fights” – Part 10

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Less than a week earlier, Val had left Blueblood in the lake house with the excuse that she had errands to run. She’d driven about a mile through rural Illinois, past farm fields that had recently been harvested and woods with picturesque autumn foliage. Her hands had gripped the steering wheel at the ten and two o’clock positions, one of them gloved and one bare. She didn’t like looking at her right hand. Even with the glove covering it, she could picture the bulging blue veins visible on frostbite-black skin. It nauseated her.

She’d pulled up to a wooden house in the middle of nowhere. It had a long, winding dirt driveway and was surrounded by trees that blocked it from view of the road. The closest neighbor was about six miles away, which was closer than Val would have liked, but far enough that any screams wouldn’t carry. She walked up the creaky steps to the front porch, which was full of dead leaves and spider webs, and knocked on the door.

Irma opened it, her gaunt face breaking into a smile. “Val.” The older woman ushered her inside. “Can I get you anything? Would you like some tea?”

“I’d rather see our guest first.” Val shrugged out of her coat. Continue reading “Everybody Fights” – Part 10

“Everybody Fights” – Part 9

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A gargantuan green dragon appeared out of thin air in front of the helicopter. Val dropped her gun, staring with an open mouth. What the hell? Just how hard had Blueblood hit her over the head? That was a dragon. An actual dragon. Its scales glittered in the sunlight, and sinuous muscles moved beneath them as it flapped its massive leathery wings. It opened its gaping, fang-filled mouth, and the pilot did the only sensible thing and panicked. The helicopter swerved.

Its tail passed right through the dragon’s head as if it were made of smoke. An illusion.

The Illusionist had been scheduled to appear in the parade, hadn’t she? She must have conjured the dragon from somewhere nearby. Val put a hand to her forehead, glad she hadn’t lost her mind. Her relief lasted until the helicopter jerked and careened. It wasn’t supposed to move at that angle. The pilot must have lost control. The helicopter was falling—right on top of her. Continue reading “Everybody Fights” – Part 9

“Everybody Fights” – Part 8

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Val’s leg muscles burned as if the tear gas had soaked through her skin. She pushed herself to climb the stairs faster, coughing as she sucked in air. She’d lost sight of Blueblood. He had the disc containing the List in his jacket pocket, so he didn’t need her anymore. Now would be the perfect time to cut her loose.

She would know, since she’d been planning to do the same thing to him.

She reached the top floor. To her left was the door to the hallway, but across from it was a smaller door labelled “Roof Access.” Val shoved it open and kept running. The stairs here were narrower and dirtier, but Val didn’t have far to go now. She’d catch up to him. Then she’d slide into the back of the helicopter right behind him with a serene smile on her face, and his face would twitch as he tried to hide how frustrated he was that she’d made it.

Val flung open the door to the roof and squinted in the sunlight. The helicopter was already there, the steady thwup-thwup-thwup of its spinning blades too loud to miss. But where was Blueblood? Continue reading “Everybody Fights” – Part 8

“Everybody Fights” – Part 7

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Yuna Kwon stood in the parking lot with her arms crossed, shivering. Her damp leotard clung even tighter than usual, and she could feel the water that had worked its way inside her tall leather boots. She’d wrung out her cape twice already, and it was still soaked, heavier than usual as it hung from her shoulders. She’d be able to ignore it all if she had something to do, but she was just standing there, waiting.

At least she’d managed to get the crowd to retreat to a safe distance. Trying to get their attention had been like trying to corral a class of kindergartners, but Yuna had finally conjured the image of a fifty-foot billboard that read “BACK UP!” in flashing red letters, and that had done the trick. And it was just in time, because the emergency vehicles had arrived less than a minute later. Paramedics had reached the injured people in the lobby, and the whole building was surrounded by police cars and fire trucks, their sirens flashing. Unless the supervillains could turn invisible, they had no chance of making it past all of this.

She heard the unmistakable sound of a helicopter and looked up. Had the news already found out about the attack and sent a chopper? She squinted but didn’t see a channel logo. When the helicopter was directly over the building, it started to descend. It was landing on the roof! Had someone ordered a medevac? No, that didn’t make sense either. It was too soon. Besides, it didn’t look like a medevac copter. It didn’t have a red cross or any kind of designation on the side. It was plain gray and looked vaguely military.

Yuna got a very bad feeling. Continue reading “Everybody Fights” – Part 7

“Everybody Fights” – Part 6

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Dave looked helplessly around the room as if hoping he’d spot the supervillains if he just checked one more time. He had to go. He had to do something. If Blueblood and Black Valentine got away with the List…. It wasn’t Dave’s identity becoming public that he was worried about. He could deal with the media scrutiny and move to a different apartment or something, but that list would expose his and his coworkers’ families. Harris’s wife Benita would become a target for Supersonic’s enemies. The Gold Guardian just had a new baby last month who’d be at risk. And Dave’s own mother….

He dashed back to empty, gas-filled hallway. Even if Blueblood and the Black Valentine had gotten away from the tear gas quickly, exposure to it would slow them down. They couldn’t have gotten far. Dave would check the rest of the seventh floor and the other staircases, and if he still couldn’t find them, he’d report back to Walter. They had to put everyone on high alert.

He crisscrossed the hallway, pushing open doors so hard that he knocked a few off their hinges. Nothing. Nobody. This was taking too much time. If they were hiding in the one of the offices, he could come back and find them later. He decided to check the stairs first and raced to the end of the hall. His gas mask was still working, but the exposed skin on his hands and neck stung in irritation. Blueblood and the Black Valentine would be in a lot more pain. He could catch them if he could only figure out which way they’d gone. Continue reading “Everybody Fights” – Part 6

“Everybody Fights” – Part 5

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Moreen crouched next to Allen, a burnt smell reaching her nose. Taking cover in the alcove by the restroom entrance, she could only see the small section of hallway directly in front of her. She had no idea what the supervillain was doing, or if the other agents had survived his attack. She waited, her legs cramping beneath her, unwilling to risk making a sound by adjusting her position.

The supervillain walked into her line of sight. He noticed them and turned, the odd animal face of his mask grinning disconcertingly. Moreen didn’t move or even dare to breathe loudly. Her gaze went to his hands, watching them for any sign that he would conjure that strange white fire again. Beside her, Allen whimpered.

The two of them couldn’t possibly look threatening. They were a short woman with a broken arm and an overweight man bleeding from the gut. The supervillain should dismiss them and move on, unless he was the type who liked to toy with his victims. Moreen didn’t recognize him, so she didn’t know. She debated attacking him, but that couldn’t possibly end well. He would blast her with that fiery energy, and she would…what? Hit him with her one functional arm? She wouldn’t stand a chance even if she wasn’t injured. No, her best strategy was to look as pathetic as possible and hope he passed them by. Continue reading “Everybody Fights” – Part 5