Something I Really Didn’t Want To Do

Ice Diamond had disappeared into thin air. Boost looked terrified. “Go home,” I told her. “Make sure your family’s all right. We’ll meet you at the FBSA office. I swear to Utu.”

Swearing to the gods is a “big deal” for Empowereds, so Boost had no problem taking me at my word. Her eyes thanked me and she disappeared in a blur. If I had a psycho after me and such a public profile, I wouldn’t have stuck around either.

“What the flit was that about?” Stephanie asked me.

“Your guess is as good as mine.”

“Are you guessing that this has something to do with what happened to Lisa and Torrie?” she asked.

I crunched my out of the shop; thank goodness the government insured registered Powereds. Shards of glass dripped from various crevices and folds of my clothes. “Yes.” I was too tired and sore for a pithy reply. I’d used up my healing for the day against the Preservers, so healing au natural  was the order of the day.

My Diavel hovered where I’d flown from it. I limped over and heaved myself on. Stephanie (I’ve decided I’m not using that name she chose) climbed on behind me and snaked her arms around my waist. She raised herself up a bit and whispered in my ear, “You okay?”

I upped us to 500 feet. “Not in the least,” I answered. I kicked in the burner and headed toward the FBSA office. Chicago streamed by beside and below us. It can be a beautiful city.

Of course, I’ve found that most cities can be beautiful when there aren’t a bunch of people around to screw it up.

I spotted a familiar building and a light on in specific apartment. I sighed and changed course.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Stephanie shouted.

I hit autopilot and fished out a small earpiece and mike comm stashed in a goody compartment Jules built in. I handed it back to her. I really dislike shouting directed at my ear.

“What are you doing?” she asked again after putting activating the comm. I should have given it to her sooner.

“We’re…I’m going to see Torrie’s mother. You can stay on the roof and wait.”

I landed on the roof again and went down the stairwell. It felt…cold.

Too cold for a climate-controlled building.

I pulled by blaster with one hand and my sword with the other, placing my shield on verbal standby. The hallway leading to the apartment was dark, but a sliver of light spilled from the cracked door. I extinguished my blade and crept down the hallway. I leaned against the wall beside the door and sharpened my hearing.

I heard nothing.

I took a deep breath and kicked in the door. My blade flared into life and I swept the blaster from side-to-side, searching for a target.

I didn’t see anything…except for Torrie’s mother laying in a pool of water, her skin blackened by severe frostbite. My feet squished as I crossed the formerly lush carpet. I knelt and felt for a pulse, knowing full well I wouldn’t find one.

I hate it when I’m right about those sorts of things.

I called the FBSA office to report the murder. I turned back toward the door and saw the message on the wall.

Sears Tower. Tomorrow night. Midnight. 

I’m being jerked around. The suck part about it is don’t really have a choice.

I hate this job sometimes.

Until next time,

Douzeper

On The Way To The Office…

Ugh. Whoever scripts my life is a sadistic smurf.

So, Lady Aether (she really should have consulted someone on name choice) and I are cruising beside Boost on our way to the FBSA office.

Everything was going great. I managed to avoid a fight with one of the few powereds I admire, she actually believed our story (it helps when you’re the Empowered of a truth God), and I got to know one of my idols as a person.

Guess what happened.

Go on, guess. I’ll wait.

Give the man/woman/other a prize. Of course we were attacked by a powered-villain because originality sucks. I swear there must be a handbook called So You’re a Megalomaniac-12 Steps to Bringing Out the Supervillain in You.

Step 1: Have some kind of tragic origin. This particular 12-stepper is a villain called Ice Diamond (and who comes up with these names?). Her whole family died in an explosion at her cryo-research lab. Check.

Step 2: Murder various innocents in some misguided revenge plot. She destroyed an almost empty lab. Notice I said almost. Check.

Step 3: Up your game and attack a major target. She went after some corporate headquarters bigwigs during the middle of the day. Check.

Step 4: Get beat by a powered hero; swear eternal revenge while being sent to prison. Boost beat her and sent her off to Ravenswood Institute. Check.

She was at Step 5, apparently. Break out of prison and surprise attack your nemesis.

The first warning sign came when my wheels started spinning on the road. If I have to explain what was causing it, you haven’t been paying attention to any of the clues. Velma would be so disappointed in you.

Boost slid on the ice, the change in traction throwing her off-balance. Ice shards shaped like, you guessed it, hailed down on her. She managed to avoid many of them, but here and there rents in her uniform and thin red lines showed.

So I did what any right-thinking person would do. I switched my Diavel to hover-mode, blasted some Hail the Villain “Runaway“, activated my shield and placed us between the storm of shards and Boost.

Okay, I was showing off for my crush. Sue me.

A woman dressed like a bondagist’s wet dream stepped out of an alleyway. She raised some future-rifle and the intensity of the shards increased. The tinkling sound as they shattered reminded me of  wind-chimes during a tornado.

Over the noise I heard Steph-I mean Lady Aether-chanting. A fireball flew past me toward Ice. Who promptly flipped a switch and fired a sphere of pure cryogenic energy. The two opposing forces met and a cloud of steam obscured the field.

A shadow that looked suspiciously like a fire hydrant zoomed through the cloud toward us. And what do you know, it was a fire hydrant. It crashed into my shield at a velocity that sent me flying off my bike and through some store’s plate-glass window. You know, after I broke through the iron gate supposedly protecting it.

Boost took the distraction we provided and managed to get back on non-ice covered ground. She picked her angle and went barreling toward Ice.

Almost instantly an ice wall appeared along her trajectory and she had to shift to avoid slamming into it. Right into another patch of ice. Down she went again.

Then it was over.

As the kids would say: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Ice Diamond cackled and disappeared.

She’s not supposed to be able to do that.

And I’m sure I don’t like the implications.

Until next time,

Douzeper

Stephanie

Stephanie’s grabbing some regeants and assorted paraphenalia for out trip back to Chi-town.

I’m swaddling Torrie’s body in some blankets. I’ve already called for her body to be collected and taken to the Medical Examiner.

I’m not looking forward to going back and telling Torrie’s mother I failed. I could call her and tell her, but that is the coward’s way…

Stephanie: “What are you doing?”

“I’m running a blog. My headset converts speech into text.”

Stephanie: “Huh, an online diary. Neat. Did you make all of that?”

“No. My friend, Stargazer, gave it to me.”

Stephanie: “So that’s how you knew about me.”

“Nope. Well, sort of. You were in my bracer’s database.”

Stephanie: “She never mentioned me?”

“Don’t look so hurt. To be honest, she’s been busy. And when I did get to see her, we had other things to discuss.”

“Besides, if she told me about everyone  she’s met, we would never talk about anything else.”

Stephanie: “Oh. Well, feel free to talk to yourself all you want. You should see what weird habits some wizards have.”

“Some?”

Stephanie: “Fine. All.”

“By the way, when you speak the mike catches it and puts it down as well.”

Stephanie: “Wonderful. I always wanted to be semi-famous.”

She bows and gestures me ahead. I find if I murmur my words it just looks like I’m a homeless person off his meds.

We hop on my Diavel and she is actually squealing…

Stephanie: “I AM NOT SQUEALING!”

“You know when you yell like that it shows up in all caps, right?”

Stephanie: “How would I know that? And anyway, don’t lie and I won’t yell.”

“Hate to tell you this, but I can’t lie.”

Stephanie: “Crap.”

I switch over to flight-mode, and the higher we ascend the tighter her grip becomes. Not an unpleasant feeling.

And with her having normal human strength, I can barely feel the punches when I say something she doesn’t like.

We’re heading back to Chicago, and I hope…

Stephanie: “What is this design on the back of your jacket?”

“It’s a unit patch of a World War II fighter squadron called the Hellcats.”

Stephanie: “Cool. You a history buff?”

“Not exactly. And definitely not a first-date story.”

Stephanie: “You do realize I can do horrible things to you, right?”

“Sarcasm doesn’t become you. Plus, we’re currently about “oh, smurf” feet above the ground.”

Stephanie: “You have to land sometime.”

“Ignoring that. What’s your specialty anyway. The database is kind of light on info for you.”

Stephanie: “I’m an elementalist.”

“Sweet. How good are you with the air element?”

Stephanie: “Not great. Why?”

“Because we’re about to have company. A particularly idiotic piece of work called Aeromancer. And it looks like he brought friends.”

I take the Diavel down and try to reach ground level. I’m going to be busy, so I’ll let you know what happens.

If I’m alive.

Until next time,

Douzeper

 

Recap

Stupid Magus with his stupid hex on my gear.

Oh, finally working again.

So that was interesting.

The Magus took about five pounds of my posterior chewing me out, but gave me more than that back in questions (and beer-mostly beer).

My assumption about there being a new power-player seems to be accurate. Unfortunately, that seems to be all anyone knows.

And I didn’t get much more in the whole day my equipment was down.

I took off from the roof after finishing with the Magus (or, more accurately, he finished with me). I was heading back to Chez Unspeakable-Stain when the wind picked up unexpectedly.

That’s not usually a good sign.

A dark blur shot past me and stopped right in my flight path, causing me to throw my Diavel into emergency hover-mode.

He wore a storm-cloud gray bodysuit (and let me digress for just a moment and say Lycra is a privilege not a right) with a white tornado symbol on his chest. A blue cape billowed out behind him, even though there was no wind to speak of.

You know him as Aeromancer, an Innate with aerokinetic powers. For those not up on the technical jargon of the power trade, he can control air.

Which, when you think about how many bad ways you can die from air-related causes, is really terrifying.

Luckily, he’s not the type of guy that will rip all the air out of your lungs and let you die.

No, he seems to be a more slow suffocation type.

He held up an imperious hand. “Stop!”

“I’m already stopped.” That threw him off for a bit. His scowl deepend into his jowls.

He looked a bit like a pit bull. I almost wanted to pet him.

“Uh…um…”

I took pity on him. This guy was obviously not the sharpest knife in the barn, or however that expression goes.

“I’m Douzeper,” I said as I flipped out my official FBSA private investigators license. “I’m here on a missing child case.”

Most powers are licensed by the government to work. You have to go through an abbreviated academy where you learn the basics of forensics, criminology, civil rights and the judicial process.

Then we get our shiny card and off we go to fight crime. Why they don’t save time and money and just have us send in the required amount of cereal-box tops I’ m afraid I’ll never understand.

Aeromancer floated closer until he hovered right beside me. I resisted the urge to punch him.

“How do I know you’re telling the truth?”

My resistance lowered, but held. I’m really not looking for the played out hero vs. hero fight then make-up.

“You’re flying around illegally, how do I know you didn’t take her. You look like a criminal. Maybe I should just make you confess and take you in.” He actually licked his lips.

I had heard rumors, but didn’t put much stock in them since it was mostly guys Aeromancer had helped convict.

You see, not every power is in it to help people. Just like in the military, police force, or any agency that holds authority over others, there are those who join the “hero” side because they enjoy the power their position affords them. It goes to their head. Some come to be disillusioned, others come to be cruel.

Unfortunately, great responsibility does not come with great power. Usually it comes with heaping helping of great ego and a side-order of God-complex. It stops being about using that great power for the greater good, and more about maintaining, or increasing, it.

I happen to believe that powers need to be more self-policing and take out the bad eggs in our group. Maybe it comes from being a former criminal myself.

I took out my blaster, flipped it to max stun and gave him a face-full of nuero-synaptic disruption.

He dropped like a stone.

I admit it: schadenfreude was in full effect.

He hit hard enough to create a small crater. I landed and waited for him to wake up. He stirred and I knelt by him.

In a perfect spot to beat the living smurf out of him.

Smurf? Oh, I’m going to kill Jules. I guess she likes my files PG (or at least PG-13).

Where was I?

Oh, yes.

Aeromancer’s eyes opened and I let them focus for a second before my fist crashed into his jaw.

“Listen, motherflitter.”

Punch.

“I’m going to say this once.”

Punch.

“Retire.”

Punch.

“Because if I see you again…”

Punch.

“I’m going to blow a hole through your flitting chest.”

Crack.

I broke his jaw. Oops.

I kicked him as hard as I could in a place where it will hopefully prevent this flit-faced moron from procreating.

The best time to kick a man is when he’s down since you don’t have to lift your leg so high.

More later.

Until next time,

Douzeper

 

Wrigleyville

I’m tooling through the streets of Wrigleyville, and by tooling I mean puttering through the mass of humanity that comes out for Cubs games like I’m 90 and on a mobility aid.

Ugh. I’m more than half-tempted to hit flight mode and buzz a few people. Just because I can.

And why are you in Wrigleyville, Douzeper?

Well, voice in my head, I’m here to hopefully find the Magus.

If he’s in town and it is a gameday, he can usually be found on one of the “Wrigley Rooftops”, scarfing down sliders and beer.

The man whose job it is to protect the world from invasion from magical dimensions is an alcoholic Cubs fan.

Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. How about you?

The Magus comes is a native Bahstaner wit’ a tick Southie accent, who happened to grow up a die-hard Cubs fan.

How he survived his childhood, I’ll never know, but it probably has to do with magic.

AW, C’MON, BUDDY! THE LIGHTS GREEN ALREADY!

Sorry, but I am about one middle-finger away from full-blown homicidal road rage.

Screw it. Activate flight mode.

My wheels pivot to a horizontal plane and the anti-grav coils kick in. Short wings extend from the side, and my exhaust becomes my thruster.

I should have done this an hour ago.

I’m going to rise above the buildings and dial up my vision a bit. Hang on.

There he is. I’m moving in closer now. The Magus is roughly 5’8 and weighs about 350. His face his broad, usually flushed red (although his face is more red than usual due to his screaming at…whoever, I don’t know baseball), and lined from a life of stress and booze. It also sports the only ZZTop beard I’ve ever seen in real life. Must be to make up for the fact he is bald.

Today, he has dispensed with the normal robes most wizards wear and is decked out in a Cubs hat, with Cubs shirt, Cubs Jacket, a big foam “Cubs are #1” finger, and Cubs pins from different eras placed in various places. 

I’m swooping in for a landing. The owner may not like my bike on the roof, but my give-a-damn is broken.

Uh-oh, the Magus is giving me the stink-eye.

Now he’s yelling something about the Umbral Umbrage of Utu or something.

He’s gesturing to my comm mike and making a throat cutting sign.

I think he wants me to turn my mike off.

Until next time, hopefully,

Douzeper