“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

“Everybody Fights” – Part 4

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HQ was in chaos.

As the police car pulled up to the security gate, Dave could see a crowd of people in the parking lot and hear the faint sound of an alarm. The security guard was gesturing frantically in his booth as he spoke on the phone, and there were three cars in front of them waiting for entry. Dave couldn’t wait that long.

“Thank you for the ride,” he told the officer in the driver’s seat. Then he got out and jogged towards the building. Yuna followed him, and when the security guard caught sight of them, he waved them forward with a look of relief.

When they reached the crowd, Dave had to slow down and say “excuse me” loudly. He couldn’t push his way through. Exhaustion and nerves left him manic, and he was bound to accidentally hurt someone. As people noticed him and Yuna, they nudged their neighbors, and the crowd began to part for them. Dave searched faces for Moreen or Walter or someone else who could tell him what the heck was going on. Then he caught sight of the building’s entrance and stopped short. Continue reading “Everybody Fights” – Part 4

“Everybody Fights” – Part 3

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The fire alarm screwed with Val’s focus. The grating siren was so overpoweringly loud that it made it hard to pay attention to anything else. One of the security guards had set it off to evacuate everyone from the building, and Val wanted to murder him for the assault on her eardrums. She didn’t have time, though. She rushed down the hallway after Blueblood, scanning telepathically for threats. The alarm’s wailing couldn’t quite cover the sound of Blueblood cussing out Leo, and Val caught the words “dumbass” and “—get himself killed.”

Leo had run off to deal with some DSA agents they’d come across, which hadn’t been part of the plan. He was supposed to stick close to her and Blueblood. Blueblood’s plan to use him as a puppet to control the Tsubaki Syndicate wouldn’t work if he got himself killed. But Leo didn’t know that. When he’d dashed off, his thoughts had been of how much he’d impress everyone with his badassery, and his heart had pounded in anticipation. Val could have used mind-control to stop him right then, but she hadn’t bothered. Blueblood might need him alive, but whether he lived or died made no difference to her plan.

“Stop!” she shouted, before one of Blueblood’s men opened the door to the stairwell. Continue reading “Everybody Fights” – Part 3

“Everybody Fights” – Part 2

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The worst part was not knowing what the hell was going on. Moreen had heard an almighty crash a few minutes ago. Everyone in the office had. It had shaken her desk, jostling the pens and pencils in their holder. Harris had taken one look at Moreen, said “I’ll check it out,” and dashed off.

She hadn’t seen him since.

Moreen couldn’t sit. She stood by her desk, watching the office doorway intently for Harris to run back through it. Around her, everyone was talking in hushed, nervous tones. She’d put the room on lockdown until they knew what had happened. There were trained agents here, yes, but there were also people from admin, the IT department, and PR, none of them qualified to deal with an attack—if this was, in fact, an attack. Moreen wanted to evacuate them right away, but without knowing the situation, that could lead them straight into danger rather than away from it.

She tried to think of a reasonable, non-emergency explanation for what could have caused that sound. Fireworks from the parade? Not likely. They wouldn’t light fireworks during daylight, and with the Illusionist attending, they didn’t need to light them at all. She was a one-woman pyrotechnics show without the noise, cost, or risk of accidentally setting something on fire. Moreen tried to remember if there were any construction sites nearby, any big equipment that could rattle the ground. She came up blank.

“Rocha, Hewitt,” she called. “Do some recon and—” Continue reading “Everybody Fights” – Part 2

“Everybody Fights” – Part 1

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They would have died within minutes if Val hadn’t gone with them.

The lobby was full of broken glass, the wrecked cars they’d abandoned, and people who were either cowering or scrambling to counterattack. It was a big open space, where those on the second floor could look down over the first from behind glass railing. Nice from a design standpoint, but it meant potential snipers could take them out from practically anywhere. Blueblood led them up the stairs—not an enclosed stairwell in the side of the building, but the one in the middle of the lobby where they were completely exposed.

“I’m counting on you, Val,” he said, barely audible over the screams and gunfire.

Val glared at his back. If he was paying her, she would have insisted on a raise.

She didn’t mind-control anyone deeply or for any longer than a few seconds. She spread out her telepathic senses as far as they would go, jumping from head to head in descending order of threat. When a DSA agent aimed a gun at them from the second floor, she made him think someone was sneaking up behind him. He turned around and wasted his bullets on nothing. A group of security guards rushed towards them, so she gave one hallucinations of monsters all around him, making him scream and flail and force his companions to restrain him. She made a man reaching for a phone to call for backup feel like his throat was closing up so he couldn’t speak. She could barely focus on her own feet going up the steps. Her concentration needed to be everywhere at once.

Then Supersonic showed up. Continue reading “Everybody Fights” – Part 1

“Parade of Fools” – Part 9

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The sirens were soft and distant at first, changing pitch as they got closer. An army of police cars and ambulances swarmed the deserted city street, coming from all directions. The stillness and silence that had descended after Dave took down Tidal Wave lasted for maybe a minute before everything turned hectic again. The police went straight to Tidal Wave, but the paramedics barely knew where to start. There were so many injured.

Dave’s job at a time like this was to get out of the way and let the professionals do their thing. He assured the medics he wasn’t hurt so they could help the people who really needed it, and he told the police what they already knew: they needed to get Tidal Wave drugged or away from water before he regained his senses. Then he walked pointedly off to the side to wait for DSA backup. A downside of the costume was that people saw Dave as an authority. He could give them terrible advice, and they’d follow it to the letter, assuming White Knight knew something they didn’t. He had to watch what he said.

Yuna joined him on the sidewalk. Her arm was in a sling, and the paramedics had given her something for the pain. Her soggy cape flopped behind her, and her wet hair clung tightly to her skull. Dave was equally soaked, and in the chilly air, he had to struggle to keep his teeth from chattering.

“So your costume’s not an illusion this time,” Dave commented, figuring she would have made it look dry if it was. Continue reading “Parade of Fools” – Part 9

“Parade of Fools” – Part 7

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Mr. Glenn Sherman had a pretty nice car. It was an SUV with genuine leather seats, high tech climate control, and a spacious interior that was spotless. But the most important feature was the tinted windows. Val sat in the middle seat next to Blueblood, Joey and two of Blueblood’s men crammed into the back. The SUV stopped at the guard booth outside DSA headquarters, and Val focused on the thoughts of both Sherman and the guard, making sure neither of them noticed there were passengers in the car.

She couldn’t fool the security camera perched over the booth, hence the need for tinted windows. She and the others waited in silence as the guard said good morning and scanned Sherman’s ID card. The proper information came up on the computer, and Val didn’t have to work hard to pull the mental wool over guard’s eyes. Mr. Sherman was a well-known bigwig here. The guard didn’t give him much scrutiny.

The guard handed the ID card back, and the orange and white striped bar in front of the car rose, letting Sherman drive into the parking lot.

Too easy. Continue reading “Parade of Fools” – Part 7

“Parade of Fools” – Part 6

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Dave’s cheeks were starting to hurt from smiling so much. The parade float continued its slow progress down the street with him on top, a chilly wind whipping past him. The high school marching band was on their fourth cycle of the same three songs they’d been playing all morning, and their steps were starting to drag. Dave should be grateful; at least he didn’t have to walk the whole way. But he just wanted to climb down from this damn thing and sit alone somewhere quiet.

The noise was the worst. The screams and cheers of the crowd packed onto the sidewalks merged into one never-ending roar. He wouldn’t be able to escape it even if he covered his hands with his ears. He waved steadily, keeping his smile in place and hoping everyone was far enough away not to notice that it was actually a grimace. The countless faces stared up at him, shouting his name. They held up hand-made signs proclaiming, “White Knight = Invincible” or “We ♥ You!” in marker and glitter, shaking them in a bid for his attention. They jumped up and down and waved their hands wildly, stomping and shouting until the movement all blurred together into one writhing mass.

Dave gripped the railing with his free hand as his waving slowed. Vertigo hit him, making him sway. The air had felt so chill before, but now he was roasting. He would have tugged at his collar if he had a hand to spare. He kept waving, but the movement had turned jerky, and he struggled to keep his head held high and the smile tight across his face. The street was swimming out of focus, and he wanted to squeeze shut his eyes. Continue reading “Parade of Fools” – Part 6

“Parade of Fools” – Part 5

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“So when are you going to tell me the plan?” Val asked.

She was sitting with her feet propped up on a table in a penthouse apartment in Washington DC. A large TV showed news coverage of the parade—not that they needed it; they were sitting a few blocks away from the actual event. Still, it had been nice to see the interview with White Knight. Blueblood had glared murderously at the screen throughout the whole two minutes of it, making Val work hard to hide her smile. Dave looked good. It was all an act for the public, of course, but at least he’d recovered enough to fake it. That was a big difference from the last time she’d seen him, when his trauma had been raw.

She savored seeing him on TV, knowing it was the closest she’d get to him for a long time. She almost wished Blueblood would send her to attack him today. Not that she wanted to attack him, but it would be an excuse to get close it him. A small thrill shot through her at the thought, but it wasn’t meant to be. She was stuck with Blueblood today.

“I’ve told you the plan,” Blueblood answered, delicately cleaning a pistol.

“You’ve told me what we’re doing, not why.” Continue reading “Parade of Fools” – Part 5