Speakeasy #137-I Wish I Could Fly

Some just stick with you.

I don’t know why. I’ve seen death…so much death, in too many of its gruesome permutations. Burned, electrocuted, drowned; you name it, I’ve probably seen it.

People, normal people, seem to think we fly above it all.

I can’t fly.

No, I’m right there on the ground, covered in the blood and waste, dealing with the aftermath.

Emergency lights flashed, painting the world in red and blue. EMT’s scurried about setting up a triage area, desperately giving aid to those they could, ruthlessly moving on from those that can’t be saved. Police barked orders at onlookers, holding the line against the rubberneckers, gawkers, and vultures with their cell phones looking to become internet famous.

Firefighters blasted water at the inferno started by Flamestar during the battle. Armor-clad Feds bustled the members of The Anarchy into specially reinforced paddy-wagons designed for Powereds. Everyone not involved in something else climbed, dug, and searched for survivors buried among the tons of rubble stacked in mini-mountains along the street. The cloud-darkened skies dumped buckets of snow, whitewashing the area and hindering rescue efforts because Mother Nature cares not for our petty squabbles.

We always try to take the fights out of the city, but the bad guys don’t always accommodate us. The Anarchy decided to cause chaos, in some protest against the ” increasing commercialism of false holidays” or something similarly stupid, and cause it they did. They hit Woodfield Mall, O’Hare, and The Magnificent Mile, causing us to split up, decreasing our effectiveness.

We put them down, but not nearly fast enough.

It’s never fast enough.

My head jerked over to stare at the corner of North Michigan and Delaware where a Presbyterian church used to stand. When we soared in, Apkallu carrying me by my arms, I remembered seeing a brunette wearing a black jacket and red stocking cap. The guy with her pointed a Polaroid in her face and snapped a picture of her horrified expression as Flamestar and Jackhammer rampaged down the street.

I watched as Flamestar unleashed a fiery hell on the church, unable to do anything but rage. I didn’t see what happened to the woman and the man with her.

I started to jog over to the corner, three blocks away. My feet picked up speed and I barreled through the crowds, unheeding of their complaints and threats of lawsuits. Smoke rose as the building hissed from water and heat colliding. My nose picked up the sickening sweet smell of cooked meat. I aimed for a mound topped by two cars crumpled beyond recognition, and tore through it.

I kept enough presence of mind to throw the cars away from any populated area, but beyond that I don’t remember much, until…

Until…

“Go on,” Dr. Allen said.

I found the picture, her face twisted in a scream. That didn’t…bother me. No, the fear and resignation in her eyes, as if every hope she carried died at once.

That bothered me.

I looked around, and I swear I saw that same look in every bystander, every first responder.

In the mirror.

“And what do you think that means?” Dr. Allen said.

It means we lost. It doesn’t matter that we beat the bad guys; they stole their hope. I mean, that’s why we do this. We dress up in primary-color costumes, help out with disasters, and “save the world” to give people hope.

When that gets taken away…

“And how does that make you feel?”

News channels excoriate us, politicians praise us with one breath and call for us to be sent to camps with the other, while generals and spies cry “National Security!” as they lobby for creating a Powered-draft. I won’t even get into how the evangelicals treat us.

But none of that bothers me. The accusations that I don’t care; that somehow I don’t feel pain because my body’s strong and resilient. That bothers me.

I do hurt. I sleep very little, afraid of the faces that swirl in my subconscious.

“You said some stick with you. What did you mean?”

That brunette I mentioned. She’s haunted my dreams, and from that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.

Speakeasy #137. This week’s prompt(s): “From that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.” Used as the last line and:

My entry is a little different, mostly because I’m weird like that 😉

But on a more serious note, while studies show that suicides during the holidays do NOT rise, they actually peak in the spring and fall, it is a problem that occurs year-round. I chose to use “superheroes” to put a little distance to the subject, not to make fun of it in anyway. I could just have easily used any type of uniformed civil servant and not changed a great portion of the story.

I hold no illusion that some random blog post will change someone’s mind, but on the off-chance that it does, then please seek out some form of help if you are having thoughts and feelings of hurting yourself. I’ve had those feelings, and it can get better. I would have missed out on a lot of great things if I hadn’t received help.

Peace, Love, and I hope everyone enjoys their holiday season, no matter what you celebrate.

Head on over to Speakeasy and check out some great writers. The challenge is open to everyone, so feel free to join in the fun.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

Trifecta Week 104: Bad Help is Hard to Find

The Crimson Doctor sighed as he dropped another application on the rejected pile. His wife, Silver Slayer, stalked up behind him and dug her fingers deep into his shoulders. The Doctor moaned in relief. “Thank you, dear. Who knew finding a nanny would be so damnably difficult?”

Slayer chuckled, a rich, throaty rumble. “Well, Jenny does have special needs.” She leaned down and brushed her lips across his cheek. “Our little hellion needs guidance. Our battles with The Legendary take up so much time.”

“What’s wrong with robotic servitors? My father built me a mechanical nanny, and turned out fine.”

A knock on the door killed the quip on Slayer’s lips. “That must be your 2:00.”

The door opened before The Doctor could muster his usual, curt, “Enter!” A young woman, wearing a sundress and bright yellow heels, sauntered into his office and sat down without invitation. “I’m Panacea. When do I start?”

Slayer’s skin tinted into her namesake, while The Doctor arched an eyebrow. “Presumptuous. Tell me, why shouldn’t I just vaporize you now and use your ashes for my coffee?”

She flashed perfect teeth. “Because you need a companion for the household, a confidante that knows how to keep a secret…” She reached forward, her hand glowing a sickly black, grabbed a folder and it disintegrated.

Panacea smirked and the glow changed to white. The paper molecules swirled and reconstituted back into form. “…and you need someone not afraid to get their hands dirty.”

The Doctor leaned back in his chair and glanced at his wife. She nodded, her face a metal mask. “Very well,” he said. “Carrot and stick all in one, I like it. I assume you have references?”

“I worked as an au pair for the SteelJaws during college. Feel free to call them.”

The Doctor’s lips tugged upward. “A good , solid villain family. Very well, provided Jenny accepts you, we’ll give you a try.”

“If she doesn’t accept me?”

“You won’t live long enough to realize it.”

Word Count: 333

Trifecta Time again! This week’s offering is another snippet in the life of everyone’s favorite villain family they’ve never heard of: The Hershels! If you’d like to see the first installment, please click here.

To make it fun, leave a name for a villain group in the comments. I’ll use the one I like the best in their continuing saga. Hope you enjoy!

Trifecta is open to everyone, so follow the link and join in the fun!

This week’s word (3rd definition):

1
:  one that accompanies another :  comrade, associate; also:  one that keeps company with another
2
obsolete :  rascal

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Solo Mission Gets An Addition

After unceremoniously being told to basically eat smurf and die, I scrambled to find someone with a space-capable vehicle. Maria had given me her home number, just in case, so I rang her up first.

Strike one.

As I swerved through traffic on the way to Jules’ house, Maria told me neither Boost or the Keepers take space-based cases. There are so few of them, usually rescue, that investment in that type of ship proved fiscally unwise.

Especially considering the way teams end up going through vehicles like some people go through tissues.

I thanked her and hung up just as I arrived at Jules’. George eyed me curiously, but didn’t hesitate to let me in when I explained matters. I headed straight for the house. She created in her workshop; she planned in her drawing-room.

Maybe that says something about the type of life powereds lead. The room ostensibly for entertaining friends serves too often as a place where battles are planned. Of course, depending on your type of friends, your drawing-room may be used for the same purpose.

I popped in her house, striding right by Clara, Jules’ head of house-staff, with nary a grunt of acknowledgement. I dialed up Quickstep, the retired powered that, along with me, taught Jules hand-to-hand.

“What?” Quickstep’s voice sounded like it came from the bottom of a well.

I sighed and opened the door to Jules’ drawing room. Various maps and star-charts papered the walls. The couch and chairs sat along the walls, making way for a cube about 3-feet tall and wide. “Put the phone to your ear, Quickstep.”

“What?”

“I’m not in the mood for the doddering old man who doesn’t understand technology shtick today, Roger! Put the phone to your ear!”

“Ok, go.” His voice came through clear and business-like.

“Do you have any contacts that have access to a space-capable vehicle?” Quickstep was a bit of a legend back in his prime, and many heroes still admired him.

“Give me five.” Click.

I inched toward the cube. Rationally I knew Jules wouldn’t put something dangerous (read: explosive) in what was essentially her war-room, but machinists have a reputation for unexpected booms. As I neared, I saw a small black dome on top of the cube. I waved my hand over it.

It started whirring, and I’m not too proud to say I scurried back. The chandelier dimmed and a galaxy burst into life in front of me. It was magnificent, it was beautiful, it was…

My comm beeped and I realized my mouth gaped open. I could feel my face turn red. Luckily, no one saw me gaping like a teen looking at his first naked woman. “Go.”

Quickstep’s voice rang in my ears. “I got a lead on a vehicle. Problem is you’re going to have to make your case in person.”

“Can do. Who am I begging?” I looked at the stars circling my head. One shone a bright pink. I reached up and caressed it with my finger. A string of numbers and the name “Tol Star” sprang into view. I memorized the coordinates.

“You’ll have to go to The Legendary.”

Crud.

Of course, it would have to be the premiere powered-team in the world. One I had no ties to.

“I assume you need this because Jules is in some sort of trouble,” Quickstep said.

“Yup.” I waved my hand over the cube and shut down the hologram.

“I’m coming with you.” I recognized that voice, as would countless mooks, flunkies, and powered-villains. It was the voice that said, “You can try to stop me, but you’re going to fail. So why bother trying?”

I didn’t bother trying. “Welcome aboard. Meet me at Jules’ hous…”

“I’m here.” Show-off. The old man could still motor when he wanted to. It may be short bursts, but he could cover some ground.

I clicked off my comm. “You can take the phone away from your ear now, Roger.”

Maybe I, along with Quickstep, could convince The Legendary to lend us a spacecraft.

If not…well, I could always steal it, I guess.

Until next time,

Douzeper

Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs: Power Profile #006-Ice Diamond

Beatrix Kalte aka Ice Diamond

Gender: Female

Power Classification: Machinist/Enhanced

Sub-Category: Elemental Gadgeteer

Power Level: C-Class

Location: Operates in the Midwest. Currently at-large.

Affiliations: Solo Operator

Powers: Various devices that allow for the creation of various cold-related phenomenon. Her main weapon is her “Ice Gun”.

Synopsis:

Ice Diamond (hereafter referred to as I.D.) is a 30-year-old former weapons researcher for BranTech Industries. Her area of expertise lay in using cold-based phenomena as a means to shape and control future battlefields. On her 26th birthday, her family surprised her in her lab. It is unclear exactly what happened, but footage shows that her youngest son, Jakob, went unsupervised long enough to mix some volatile chemicals.

Ten people died in the ensuing explosion, and I.D. fell into a coma. She awoke two months later with a marked shift in personality and physiology. The chemicals leached all pigment from her skin and left her with enhanced strength. When informed of her family’s and co-worker’s demise, she went on a rampage in the hospital, injuring several doctors, nurses and security before making her escape.

She appeared five months later with her current nom de guerre in an attack on a BranTech research facility. She attacked at night, as her skin is now pained by sunlight, and murdered whomever she found, mostly security and janitorial services. After that attack, she fashioned a suit that would protect her from the sun’s harmful effect.

I.D. directed her next attack BranTech corporate headquarters, located in Chicago. She was foiled in her attempt by the hero, Boost (see Power Profile: Boost). During her trial I.D. was found mentally incompetent and was sentenced to The Ravenswood Institution for the Criminally Insane, the maximum security mental institution for powereds.

I.D. recently escaped and her whereabouts are unknown. It is believed she is heading back to Chicago for a second attempt on BranTech Industries or a confrontation with Boost. Possibly both.

Relationships: Johann Kalte-husband (deceased), Katrina Kalte-daughter (deceased), Jakob Kalte-son (deceased), Karl Astor-father (not believed to be in contact), Hilda Astor-mother (not believed to be in contact)

Threat Level: Orange

I.D. is an active threat targeting research and industry vital to our military infrastructure. Her strength is formidable, but it is her engineering genius that serves as the biggest threat. All due caution should be exercised when trying to apprehend her. Powered backup is advised when possible.

Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs: Power Profile #005-Boost

Tara Jean (TJ) Acevedo-Torres aka Boost

Gender:  Female

Power Classification: Innate

Sub-category: Speedster

Power Level: B-Class

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Affiliations: The Keepers of the Gateway (affiliate membership), Equality NOW

Powers: Super-speed. Boost has been clocked at speeds of up to 500 m.p.h.

Synopsis:

An 24-year-old Innate, Boost is one of the rare true speedsters in the world (speedster being defined as self-propelled movement of 250 m.p.h. or greater). She originally comes from Los Angeles, but her family moved to Chicago when Boost turned 12. Her powers manifested at age 14 during a robbery of a store she was shopping in.

Boost’s parents immediately enrolled her in the Academy, where she joined with the TeenTeam (see Power Profile: TeenTeam). She served with that team for three years and graduated from the Academy with Honors. She moved back to Chicago, where she acts as a solo hero.

With her speed she also serves with The Keepers of the Gateway (see Power Profile: K.O.G.), based out of St. Louis, as an affiliate member.

Boost also actively works with Equality NOW, an non-profit organization that deals with a variety of civil rights issues, but focuses mainly on LGBT issues.

Boost has made many contacts in her 10 years as a hero and is a respected member of the Powered community.

Relationships: Maria Acevedo-Wife, Reyna Acevedo-Daughter, Professor Quark-Leader of K.O.G., Rockslide-Member of K.O.G., FastTrack-Member of K.O.G., StormCell-Member of K.O.G., Flora-Member of K.O.G., Fauna-Member of K.O.G., numerous contacts with various heroes (see various Power Profiles for more analysis).

Threat Level: Yellow

Boost’s speed makes her a tactical planning nightmare. Her reflexes, heightened to a level able to deal with super-speed, make her almost impossible to hit. Her speed makes her almost impossible to defend against. Add in her activism and her contacts in the powered community, and her potential to cause trouble for the government is high.