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The Adventures of "Fish Guy" (Superhero fiction)

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(Here we go, from Scratch for this last part. I'm sure I'm leaving a pot hole or two, but better a few holes than nothing at all written)

 


As the meaty hands of the crazed killer lifted me up, up, and away thirty feet into the air, his eyes seething something akin to electricity while he screamed a heavy metal refrain from some 80s band, I had to ask myself a question.


How do I keep ending up in these weird-ass situations? 

 

The answer, of course, is that I'm a superhero. One has to deal with the consequences of one's lifestyle choices. You put on the colorful jammies, weird stuff will happen and you will be there; whether you go to it, or it comes to you.


The guy lifting me into the air was a convict, a former prisoner who had just broken out, empowered by alien chemicals or gene therapy or lord knows what. Instant origin in a can, brought to you by Fumian tech. Results varied, but there were twenty-four more out there like him.

 

It turned out, everyone's guess had been right. Slime, for example, predicted a good source of fodder would be a prison. Of course, we hadn't guessed that the Fumians had given Mr. Brute and crew a few more toys. Or maybe Mr. Brute had snitched something off them and just took a chance? I couldn't be sure, I only had what I knew. And all I knew  was two dozen hard core criminals, the sort reckless and gutsy enough to rob, mug, rape and murder in a city with superheroes, had been empowered and broke loose to spread chaos.

 

Damn it, our advantage in firepower and numbers had been, at least temporarily, curtailed to put it mildly. To put it less mildly, it was FUBAR.

 

The others had their own dance partners , like the guy with huge dragon wings that was duking it out with Tornado. Honestly though, it wasn't much of a fight, it was kind of like handing a guy the keys to a semi when he'd only learned to drive, while the professional stunt driver did literal circles around him.  Sure, Dragon wing man seemed stronger and tougher, but Tornado lived up to his name. Dragonwing would streak towards him trying to smash, only to find his own momenteum used against him with a throw into something hard, or another empowered escapee.

 

Pinprick was having a blast. Whatever had changed these folks, it didn't seem to slow down his arrows, so one screamed (his pitch going from a manly enough baritone to a helium wail which I admit, I found funny) another gasped as his own hyperspeed did him no good, for vines burst impossibly from nowhere and held him fast. While Pinprick's diminutive size made him a hard to hit target, it did mean you didn't see how fast and polished his own moves were. The bow and arrows might be faerie magic, but the skill with them? That was all his.

 

Valorosa was ground level trading blows with a guy who had morphed his hands into sledge hammer like shapes. If he was surprised when she took a blow that could break rocks with a mere grunt, he was positively stunned when she turned intangible, stepped through him, and back kicked hard.  I admit, there are times protective urges kick in, but at this point all I could think was how incredibly bad-ass she was. And yes, sexy. What can I say, I have a pulse, and I'm male and I am so proud to be tapping that. Not that I would ever word things that way where anyone could hear it. 

 

Arctic Fox was in no mood to play. She weaved and darted as she skipped and ran across the ice of her own construction. She hit fast, and she hit hard with bursts of cold to varying effect. Some of the newly empowered actually shrugged it off, but most found their muscles stiffening  and their response time slowing right away. They were being set up for the others.


Lady Obsidian slammed two foes at the same time in colliding forcefields that held them in a position not unlike pinned butterflies. One sputtered with flame, nothing as powerful as Firebug, of course, but still, it was promising to see his fires weaken and then snuff. It was a sign of what might work against Firebug...
if only we could face the villains we meant to instead of the 'Attack of the Evil Rookies'. As it was, it was closing on my meeting time with Mister Brute.

 

Which was the whole point. IT wasn't that we New Samaratins couldn't handle these guys, even as powerful as a few proved to be, or as out numbered as we were, we had the edge. It was that Apocoptyic Inc would be waiting for me at that predetermined spot after alll, but they hoped without the back up I had planned.

I had no time for this.

 

I headbutted my foe hard enough to change the course of his flight path then followed that plan by shoving him at the shoulders, "First floor, the lobby." 

 

He took the brunt of the landing's impact, but darn it, he took it a little too well as we broke apart and he righted himself almost instantly, "You smart assed ass****!" 

 

"You seem a tad belligerent," I opined as I rolled to my own feet. "Look, you need to surrender. What you've all been hit with? We don't know the full effects. It could be toxic, even kill you. Don't you see that you're being used?"

 

"See this!" He slammed into me. He wasn't subtle, so I had time to grab him, and flip him over into a body slam. 

 

"I don't have time for this" I snarled my previously unspoken thought, "We're trying to save the people of the city you morons, and that includes you. Is it really that hard to believe that if I were lying I'd make up a better story than this?" 

 

There was an intense buzzing sound, like a freight train rattling building as it raced on rails that had been put way to close. The ground shook, particularly where the guy I had just flipped was. It nearly knocked me off his feet, but him? It knocked him out cold. I twisted my head to see the source of the energy. Was whoever aiming for me? for us both? 

 

"I believe you," A voice said, again buzzing...and there was a figure I didn't recognize, in fact, I couldn't recognize him. I was sure it was a man, and the color I saw of his garment indicated the ugly orange suit of a guest of our fair city's prison. But his features were blurred as it seemed a thousand tiny tremors were rippling all over his body "You got somewhere to be, best be going."

 

"Thanks," I said "Whoever you are."

 

"We didn't actually introduce ourselves," The vibrating figure said, "When you saved our asses."

 

I guess my raised brow translated to a sign of continued cluelessness "our?" I turned in time to punch another super powered convict, some guy with knives for fingers, in the face. Edward Stabbyhands was kind enough to go down and stay that way.

 

"You saved me and my brother then," The man replied, "From Bloodwatch, on the docks. Rest of our gang too. Go, I help your crew with the rest." He tossed another wave of tremors into the air where it struck a guy whose tongue was lashing about like a barbed whip. His accuracy was improving with every burst of vibrational energy, it was more like lobbing an invisible grenade than firing a gun, but he was adapting. "After this? We're even."

 

"I didn't do it to keep score, but thanks, and you might want to hang around. I wasn't kidding, what's been done to you might kill you. It's Fumian bio-tech."

 

He cursed a blue streak, "You mean that funky alien stuff that shrinks your @##$?" 

 

Our commercials, it seemed, had worked. Even the televisions in the jails were showing them.

 

"That's the one," I said, then spoke on the team communication line, "I'm on my way to a very important date. The buzzing guy is... he's on our side for now. Please don't shoot him."

 

"Geez, Mailmen, now convicts? " Pinpricks' voice retorted on the line back, "I save plenty of lives, morons, bums and jerks, and not once has karma made those pathetic losers grateful enough to rescue me back."

 

It occurred to me that calling them pathetic losers might not be the way to earn their gratitude, but I didn't have time to give a sermon on the golden rule.

 

"Go! We'll send you what back up we can when we can," Lady Obsidian said, "Try to talk to them, delay them, because if they come out fighting you're probably in a bad way."

 

"Dead" I translated grimly "I'll probably be dead." I whistled for the hovercycle and leaped onto the back of it. It was time for my meeting with Apocalyptic Inc and one Mister Brute.


I patted the protected satchel at my side. I had one thing to offer the villain who had once nearly killed me, and I wanted to make sure he saw it.
 


 

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(Rough draft, but except for touch ups and the epilogue... mmm we might be done)

 

At one time, the majority of my team went off without me to fight an army while I hung back to aid in a magical ceremony. It turned out to be pretty important that I do so, and it sure as heck helped save the day; but at the time it ate at me for both leaving them when I might have been most useful to them, and missing my time to shine. 

I suppose it was a matter of growth that I wasn't feeling bad for the others at having left them this time. No, they'd wipe the floor with some suddenly super-powered amateurs with little chance of facing permanent harm themselves. They'd have to worry more about protecting innocents, reducing property damage, and making sure no one got away than anything else. Nope, not worried about them.

 

I was, however, more than a bit spooked for how this was going to go down for yours truly though. Apocalyptic Inc had given me the worst beating of my life years ago, and nearly had a repeat performance recently. I had nearly died.  More than one of their members might be able to kill me in a straight one on one fight, though I flattered myself to think they'd have to work at it. 

 

Now I was facing all of them alone again. Doctor Salem's magical do-dad to help me out against dice aside, I wasn't brimming with confidence. My biggest edges were audacity, the fact Mister Brute might believe I had the cure he needed for his son, and the fact that some of the villains were not going to be in top shape. In our repeated scuffles, we had injured some of them. No doubt a few of them were quick healers, like Tornado or myself; but others? They'd be sore still and I could exploit that.

 

Not sure what it says about a heroic code of honor when part of my plan was aiming for previously broken bones and the like, but I like breathing, water or air, I'm partial to both.

 

Which I suppose should make me Amphibian-Guy, but let's not give the press yet more ideas for bad branding.

 

Going to the scene of the crime is rarely smart for crooks, and it sunk into me that it might apply for heroes. I had picked the time, I had picked the place, but nothing was keeping Apocalyptic from waiting for me before I showed. 

 

Of course, I wasn't as alone as I appeared in some ways. Two mystics had helped me out in a sort of preparation, and unlike the villains, my whole team knew this city. Unless Mister Brute had looked into this very carefully indeed, and there was no guarantee he didn't, I should still have something of a homefield advantage in ways he wouldn't expect.

As much as I enjoyed the roar of the hovercycle, I put in silent mode as I approached the meeting point. The damage from the earlier fight still hadn't been completely patched up. As bad as I felt about the cost to the taxpayers, in this case it did work in my and their advantage. The hour and the cones around the area both meant traffic was nonexistent and pedestrians were absent. 

 

The flaming sight of Firebug was all I really needed to confirm they were waiting for me. I spoke into the Com, "I'll walk the rest of the way, Mabel.  You know what to do."

 

"Operation Live Hard with a Vengeance?" she asked.

 

"Yup," I told her.

 

"Roger that, but as a side note; we've got to stop letting you and Tornado name things," She opined.

 

"Yup," I nodded and leaped off to the ledge of a building, "Thanks for this, Mabel. I owe you."

 

"Lady Obsidian would inform you team mates look after each other as a default. Me? Mmmm I'm shallow enough to keep that in mind. Go get me, Tigershark," She encouraged me with a new nickname.

And as I closed on the feelings, a new thought popped into my head, one with absolutely no real practical use at this time.

I could have called myself Tigershark, dammit.

 

Below in the designated meeting place, was Mister Brute. Not far away, as expected, Slice and Dice waited in the proverbial wings, the latter looking rather smug while the former ran back and forth in a large pattern in the area that always returned her. Firebug, of course, was still up high.

"Parley," I called out, and dropped down hoping the audacity of this whole set up would amuse them enough to buy me a little time.

 

It didn't, Dice smirked and put his powers to work on me. What should have been a simple thirty foot drop on super strong legs turned out to be an embarrassing misstep and slam on my face that made me grunt. 

 

But I was smiling, because  the neckware I'd been given by Dr. Salem and Mayo changed color, which was the sign it was working. The two had told me they had a plan for countering Dice, and that was the green for go.

 

Slice shot forward, weapons drawn, and moved forward at fantastic speed ready to carve me in half only to find the ground under her, cracked from earlier damage, trip her up in return. And let me tell you something, as durable as I am, I looked a lot less hurt by my faceplant than she did by her superspeed tumble and slam.

"What the hell?" Dice said, "Sis are you okay?"

 

She groaned. Part of me was tempted to slam my elbow so hard into her back that she'd spend the next week regenerating her spine. 

Instead I announced, "For the next hour, any jinx you put on me goes to your sister as well," and I rose up to my feet carefully. Bad luck might cause me to strain something, "So if I pull a muscle, or happen to get hit by a hotwire, she gets it just as bad. Oh, and reminder you jackwagon- Out of her and I, I'm the one who can eat tank shells for breakfast. She's fast but squishy, you decide who can survive your worst."

 

Slice rolled to her feet, not nearly as carefully as I had gotten to mine. Big mistake, bad luck can be at least somewhat circumvented by caution and judgment. Haste on the other hand can complicate it. No sooner had she risen to reach for her knives when the belt loop holding them came loose and clattered both to the ground.

She was the quiet one, and yet I had to smile as I heard her cursing.

"How?" Dice said "how the hell?"

 

"I know some magicians, and Karma, hexes, and destiny are their bread and butter. They weren't sure they could reflect your own hex on you, you might be immune to it, but they could pass it onto the nearest person you cared about. Ergo, sister. Ergo, I'm betting she's the only person you care about. The mystics called it a Karmic fortune Echo Conduit. Me? I just went with 'I'm Rubber, your sister is glue, any thing you hit me with, gets her too'."

In truth , I was really leaving a lot out. Even Dr. Salem wasn't sure how long it would last, and Mayo worried that his powers might burn out the talisman. It had worked, but that didn't mean it would work every time all the time.
 
"You son of a..." He snarled.

"Watch what you say about mama, or I will go play with heavy machinery while your sister and I are still linked," I narrowed my eyes.

 

Dice looked shaken. That's the problem when everything just comes to you, you're really not used to dealing when suddenly you have to work for it. 

 

"Well, you're wising up," Mr.. Brute said, actually sounding impressed, "Trying to neutralize the numbers on my team and willing to use one of them as a body shield to do it. Bravo."

 

Well, that took all the fun out of this. Suddenly there was a sour taste in my mouth. Nothing like having a murderous sociopath give you a hardy thumbsup to make you question your recent ethical choices.

 

"Yeah yeah," I said "Save the 'we are not so different you and I' speech and let me know right now, are you willing to hear me out?" I asked. I could see my own shadow before me elongate, "Or are you going to have Firebug burn me and as a consequence destroy the cancer cure I've got locked into my belt?" I tapped a cylinder at the belt I had on, "And let me tell you, there is no more cancer cure to be had after this. Not on Earth."

 

He held out a hand, palm first in a motion, "Firebug, hold off."

 

"But I want to keeeeeeel hiiiiim" she whined, "Nobody does that to me and lives."

 

"Oh, right," I said, "Your broken leg. I could lie and say I felt bad about that, but Christ forgive me I'd love to give you a matching set." 

 

"Eel, if you want me to call her off, please," Mister Brute said with irritation at me, "Maybe be a bit LESS honest. Now, I neutralized your whole team, and you've managed to take mine out of the fight... Interesting. I think I know where this is going but let's hear your idea."

 

"The canister is locked, the belt is locked, neither is getting taken off at super speed...and As you can see, the whole belt is canisters so you're not even sure which one it is. Material is strong though, my strongest punches would have trouble denting this, and I bet it won't likely break by accident for you either" I glanced towards Dice, "Unless some idiot keeps mucking with luck."

 

"Turn it off," Mister Brute said to Dice.

 

Dice had moved to his sister's side, didn't protest, but confessed, "Already did. But he can't walk away from this. It'll ruin our reps."

 

"Maybe," Mister Brute said, "Maybe not. So what is it, hero," He said the word testily, "You hold my son's life in your hands and use it as collateral so I agree to take it, and my group, and walk away after we administer it?"

 

"Oh to hell with that," I said, "You're a muderer a dozen times over as is each and every member of your psychopathic book club. I'm not letting you walk away knowing you'll kill again. Here's how it's going to be," I started, knowing it wouldn't be. Mister Brute's ego was too big to allow me to have final say, "You and I are going to fight,  just you and me, Brute. Man against man. A duel of honor if you like... winner gets the cancer prize. And, obviously, you'll kill me if I lose to you..." 

 

"Obviously," He nodded.

 

"And I'll throw your ass in jail if you lose to me," I continued, "The rest of your team will, under the orders you give here and now, leave Costa Sagrado for at least a year. No setting fire to anything, no killing random people, yadda yadda. While you spend your time counting how many times meatloaf is being served every week in super prison."

Mister Brute laughed, "Just when I thought you were getting the edge you needed to survive, you had to try this? I'm stronger than you, I'm faster than you, and I'm more skilled than you. We're not in the ocean, and I don't intend to let you get close to it. You've got no chance to win. And I'm betting you don't have the stones to destroy the last sample. No, soft heart like you? You'd give it to someone."

 

"Yeah, the 'anyone but Billy' plan" I said as coldly and as ruthlessly as I could.

 

That caused him to stop chortling but good, "Point is. You have to know you can't win this. I kill you, we heal my son and tear this town up on our way out while your team is still dealing with fall out. You take me out, the others on my team kill you and don't give a damn about my orders if I'm not up to enforce them. So here is how it's going to go," He said taking command of the situation, "You and I are going to fight. While I'm breaking your spine though, Firebug is going to go out and just set random blocks ablaze. It's what she does. The longer it takes me to kill you, the more people burn. I'm the bad guy, remember."
"Not for one moment did I forget," I assure him, "Fine. You're calling the shots there, let's fight."

 

"Or you could hand it over right now," He moved towards me hand out stretched, "I'm betting that belt has some biometric unlock bit. So you take whichever canister it's in off, hand it to me, and we still kill you... But you die knowing that we just healed my boy and left this stupid city and you saved dozens, maybe hundreds of lives from death by fire."

I lowered my head, reached for a canister, knowing without seeing that under his mask, Mister Brute was smiling  triumphantly.

 

Then I pressed the button on  said canister, and the false knife Slice was carrying exploded in a wave of sound. Sonics! SO useful, and if calibrated right, relatively non lethal. Though both siblings might have to learn sign language if we hadn't gauged it just so. 
It's a bit shameful that part of me almost hoped it did just that. Maiming your foes isn't supposed to be a hero thing to do. 

 

Dice and Slice slammed into the side of a building and went limp like ragdolls. I sure as hoped they stayed out cold.

"That's a no, by the way," I told Mister Brute.

 

But Mister Brute was already moving, grabbing me by the neck and slamming me to the ground! If I had been a normal human being, my trachea wouldn't have just been crushed, it would have been reduced to paste!
"You wanted a fight, you miserable little nobody? YOU'VE GOT IT! WHICH CANISTER HAS MY SON'S CURE?!!!"

 

I arched my legs up, hooked my feet around HIS neck, and yanked him loose by hurling him about ten feet away, I staggered up and saw Firebug above me. If she joined in, I was dead. Heck, if she didn't join in, I was probably dead, but I had to hope that even if she had forgotten, Mister Brute hadn't.
"Firebug, don't! He's got the damn cure!" Mister Brute said, then declared, "Go set a block on fire, now!"

 

"Yeah" she flared up, and turned to unleash a fiery death on the nearest neighborhood.

 

"To win a battle, you can beat the odds, boy," Mister Brute came at me picking up speed, "But a war? A war takes numbers. That's why I took that edge out for you." 
I tried to catch his arm, use it to throw him off his charge and into a wall, but his experience and faster reflexes meant he was ready for it. I snagged the arm sure, but his knee hit my thigh in a snap up ,and he pulled his arm back throwing me instead of the other way around.
"Did you?" I asked, "Did you really?"  I jerked my head up where Firebug had begun her flight.

And instead of white hotflames with blue tinges, Firebug was smothering in a obsidian hued force field. For a moment, just a moment, I think I saw panic in his eyes, because if Lady Obsidian was here, then it was over. He was a dangerous man, but against her? Even Mister Brute would be outclassed. That's why he had tried at every turn to avoid certain members of our team, and certainly the entire team at once.

"Wait, that's not your leader, it's some sort of ..." 

 

"Hovercycle," I punched him from the side while he was even slightly distracted; it was an incredibly cheap shot and I hit him square in the solar plexus, knocking some of the wind out of him, "And she's a member of the team too and insisted on a little pay back for a lost car. With Dice out, she's in play... and she's not happy with any of you."

He got un-winded a lot faster than I thought possible, and slammed me with a left hook that nearly knocked me off my feet, "Anyone tell you you talk too much when you fight?"

Actually, I thought yeah, I've even seen online commentary about it. They're right, of course. I do sometimes talk too much when I should be kicking ass.

Instead of proving his point, I grunted, blocked his next punch and tried a jab of my own. He must have still been thrown off, because that one got through and his head rocked back. 

It was gratifying, but I didn't have time to enjoy it.

 

He let loose a flurry of blows forcing me to block and weave as best I could, but even that was so forceful I felt myself being pushed back. Finally, he found the hole in my defenses he was looking for, feinted, I fell for it, and he nailed me with a kidney shot.
I heard a gasp of intense pain, and then realized it was probably me. The shot to my throat followed but for that I moved in time and instead caught it on the side of my jaw. I was driven to my knees.
"You miserable cocky little snot, you'd think you'd have learned a few new tricks before you tangled with a man who nearly killed you before," He brought both hands together to double smash me. Normally, this breaks your knuckles, but for supers who are as tough as we are? It's actually a good finishing move.
Or would have been, as I spun with leg extended and knocked him on his ass, "I did learn a leg sweep trom Tornado," I said hoarsely, "You would not believe how many Karate Kid jokes I had to endure, but... have to say, worth it."
How the hell does such a big man move so quickly? By the time I had recovered, he was already upright again. 
"You're looking tired, Eel," He says "You've earned my respect, but you're out of edges."


I popped another canister this one with a mystic seal on it, and the unshrinking of roughly 1.25 megalitters of ocean water burst out. That's about half the volume of an Olympic sized Swimming pool by the way.

 

Fish Guy Fact.

 

"Guess again," I grinned and it wasn't bravado. I felt refreshed, like I'd gotten my second and third wind at the same time. Sure the water was already flooding the alleyway and going down the cracks made from earlier battles, but it had caught him off guard and large puddles you could bury a truck through were here and there.

"You thought I was without my team? That's because you don't know my team," I closed on him and punched him in the throat. He'd been sputtering, now he was having trouble breathing for another reason, "Lady Obsidian's power isn't pew pew, it's IQ and a life time of science skills that make us both look like mental midgets. Pinprick shrinks ANYTHING just about, yourself a rare exception, and because you were immune to that you discounted him, but who else could help me put a flood in my reach? Mind you,  those mystics helped.  Point is, I have help that supports, that builds. You have a psychotic flame thrower, a garbage disposal on fast legs, and her cheat coding bro and the only reason they 'help' you is because they think you're the strongest and you encourage them to kill. My team is always with me, your team?" I grabbed his head with one hand and bent him over, bringing my leg up again for another smash to his Solar plexus and lower ribs.


 "Your team is a group of mad dogs even you can barely control. One day they'd turn on you. Maybe when some B list guy with Fish powers kicks your ass? Who knows. Better now than later." 

Mister Brute tried once more to take in a large amount of breath. I shoved his head into that car sized puddle and let him suck liquid instead.

 

"Oh, and I think we've established  two things. One, I don't have to be smarter than you when I've got a whole team improving on my clumsy plans. And TWO- I can talk  and fight at the same time just fine," He thrashed trying to get free, but even for a bad ass like him, drowning is just not something most are prepared for, it throws them off their game.

That's when the one remaining knife nearly cut the arm I was holding him down with in half. Blood spewed and I let him go  but not before I threw him to the side. I was fighting mean, but I didn't want even this monster dead.. and if I'd left him there he might have been too out to get out. I  couldn't chance it.  
His coughing resumed and he spat up water.

 

I used my good left hand to hold my right arm together and plunged it in the water to help it out. For most, that's the reverse of what you need to do, for me? Water kickstarts my fast healing. Mind you, fast is relative.

Slice was coming around for another swing.  She had obviously revived from the sonic burst and she was pissed.

 

Maybe if I took her out fast before Mister Brute did I could pull this off... I just needed to...watch as a ghostly figure rose out of the street and turned as dense as diamonds. I didn't even really have time to express the panic I felt. If she had materialized In the speedster instead of in front of her, it might have killed them both. Instead, my girlfriend cut it just under the wire and the results were like an angry mosquito discovering  a windshield.

 

I think I heard bones break, and I winced.

 

Yes, I'm a hypocrite. I was going full blown George town on these guys, but when the woman I love does it, I wince. I'm pretty sure some of my upbringing and ancestry has translated to just a smidge of benign chauvinism. I'll see a therapist and work on it sometime.
"Hey, are you okay?" I blurted at her.

 

She looked at me and said those words every guy needs to hear from the lady of his life now and then, "Behind you, look out!"

 

I kicked backwards, catching the advancing Mister Brute right in the knee cap before he could finish his attempt to put me in a full nelson or whatever it was he had on his mind. I followed it up with another shot, and his nose exploded satisfactorily.


"Stay down, it's over," I said, "Give up, or I will beat you like a drum so help me god until the skin is no longer attached."

 

Mister Brute looked up at me with hatred. He still thought he could take me. I grit my teeth and readied. Then, his expression turned to a flash of fear, and resignation, and surrender.
At last, a little respect from my nemesis!

 

That's when Lady Obsidian spoke up, "Smart man."

 

I turned to realize it wasn't really me Mister Brute had seen and given up for.
"Bit of a blow to the ego," I muttered.

 

Valorosa moved to my side looked at my many bruises and wounds and whispered in my ear with tender concern "I love you but if you say anything like 'I had em' or 'I didn't need your help' I will SO kick your ass, deny you sex, and make your life a living hell for weeks."
I blinked in a daze then said "No sex for weeks?" To my credit, I didn't say it loudly.

 

She responded by slapping one of the lighter bruises on a shoulder, "ow."

"That's the one you... " she broke off into a stream of mumbling Spanish. 

 

I smiled and turned to Lady Obsidian, "Thank you both." And left it at that.

 

"Looks like you might have had them all on your lonesome."

 

"Nope, Mabel got Firebug," I said.

 

"THANK you," Mabel chimed in our ears.

 

Project Tank showed up right on time,  suppressors at the ready.

 

"You should go to base and heal up," Lady Obsidian says "We can take it from here."

"If it's all the same to you," I said not daring to look at Valorosa while I said this, "I'd like to see this through."

"I get that, " She nodded, "But you will take the next two days off after this. Got it?"

"Got it,"I said. The adrenaline was wearing off.  Every wound, every ache was hurting more, not less. But yeah , stupid as it was, I wanted to see this guy into the transport. 
I watched them like a hawk, but the one I watched closest was Mister Brute.

 

As they slapped the power suppressors on him, I watched as the strength almost visibly leaked out of him. The cuffs that had seen so clunky before almost looked small around his massive wrists.
"You won," MIster Brute said, "Congratulations. Now, save my son! He served his purpose to you."

"Give me a sec?"I Said to the guard. 

 

The guy nodded and tended to the other members of Apocalyptic. There were two vehicles. They wanted to decease the chance of all of them coordinating. Smart if costly for taxpayers.
Now alone, I bent down and whispered in his ear, "Brute, I'm not some anti-hero from the nineties. Do you seriously think I'd let innocents die or use them in a hostage style situation even if the threat was cancer even to get a killer captured?" I stressed, "I was bluffing. We gave them the cure an hour ago."


"You used my desperation against me," His eyes looked me over with an odd mix of admiration that made me feel wrong, and rage that I enjoyed a little- and that was wrong too, "Well played. You saved my son when you didn't have to. You also used him to play me. I think the best compromise I can find between revenge and gratitude is that when I get out- And I will get out," he added ominously, "I will kill you quick and clean. Count on it."

 

"See, this is why no one likes you jackasses," I pushed him along towards the vehicle that would transport him to prison, "Villains I mean. You act like you want a medal for toning down the threats and slaughter. Screw yourself, ass-hat, no gold star for you. By the time you get out, we'll both be so old the only thing you'll be beating me in is chess, and you know what? I'll improve my game there too just in case you get out at all as an old man. Checkmate, Mister Brute. You're not an honorable adversary, you're a monster, and that fact you love your son doesn't make you redeemable, it puts you up with there with 99.9% of all fathers out there. I've faced muggers I respect more than you, you hypocrite."

Immature? Maybe. But it felt good.

 

The transport doors sealed, and he was gone from my sight, hopefully for good.

 

"Little petty there," Lady Obsidian said.
"Yup," I admitted.
"Felt good though," It wasn't really a question.
"Oh, hell to the yes," I replied.

 

And then, it began to rain. I looked up and laughed, "Where the hell was this an hour ago when I could have used it?"
I raised my fist into the air triumphantly, trying to fist bump God. I immediately regretted it as something in my much abused right popped and I got dizzy from a new rush of pain.
And I passed out as my girlfriend used the Spanish word for idiot.

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It's a pity I can't like something more than once. 

 

Well done.  Very well done. 

 

Eel does talk a lot, though, especially during a fight.  Might want to consider maybe adding a mention before the solar plexus shot that of course he's been punching Mister Brute repeatedly while lecturing him.

 

But I loved that lecture. 

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Unfortunately, life happens.

 

I've got a couple of things sitting unfinished in files myself, and they're nowhere near as long or involved.

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(At this rate, the trilogy will be done by 2030)

 


At this point, I suppose anyone who would know me would know the routine. I had cleverly timed my passing out and needing to heal in immersion so that my team mates were stuck doing a lot of the clean up with the city. I'd like to say I woke up pretty quickly, but exhaustion as much as injury had taken a hell of a toll.


I slept for roughly two days.


Mind you,  I had suspicions that someone might have put me on a wee bit more sedative than was needful, but I can't prove it, and I didn't have that cottonball taste in my mouth to confirm. I ran a mental list of the possible suspects. My girlfriend had the lead, but Mabel sure wasn't far behind. Neither for that matter was 'the boss lady'; Lady Obsidian had been making snarky remarks about young people just making her tired.

 

Of course, Ariana had gotten into the habit of waking me with a kiss now and then, and that? That really made it hard to hold a grudge against anyone. Not that I didn't at least whine about it.

 

"Two days?" I said as she started to fill me in, "Wait, I missed the news reports on this one. You guys already threw the popcorn at the screen and everything." Okay, maybe I over did the pout, because she rolled her eyes.


"After all the scares you've given me? You don't deserve popcorn, but to fill you in, Channel 3 still hates us. We rounded up the fumian enhanced convicts and... a few have not reacted to the changes, a few reverted after a few hours. Only one guy got away..."


"Tell me it was the one who did good?" I said, not that that was an indicator that a former gang member would go full blown hero or anything.


"It was," Ariana's expression looked a bit worried. Probably our friend Buzz or whatever he'd call himself got the minimal help he needed before making his exit, "We knew who he was and I can get you the file but to be honest I was so worried about you? I don't remember the name."

 

"Dawwww," I said with a pleased smile.


"Jackass," but she said it affectionately, "From now on, how about you start fights with me by your side instead of waiting for me to come save your ass in the last moment?"

 

"I'll think about it. There might just be a reason the fights end sooner when you're saving my butt," I conceded, then added, "Thanks by the way."

 

"You're welcome, though, actually, Caleb, you were," she ran fingers over my chest looking up into my eyes, "You were amazing."


"I was a hero with prep time and goodies provided by other heroes," I pointed out, "Kept me alive."


"You did better than just live and you know it," She said suddenly defending me from my own modesty, "Where's the cocky guy who did a needless yet impressive three point landing out of the pool just to show off?"


"Well, he's gotten his ass kicked and nearly put into a coma himself more than once, that can humble a man," I said then smiled, "But you know if you want me to mix the third person talk and arrogance I can."


I cleared my throat, "Eel is not as other men. Eel is one with the water and the wave. Eel has the strength of a hundred pickups, and the swimming powers of a hundred speedboats. Many have tried to conquer Eel, but it avails the many not."


From seemingly out of nowhere, a snowball smacked into the side of my head and then rain down my cheek.


"I'm sorry," Said Arctic Fox from the room's entry way, "Third person speech triggers me. I suffer from Moronic Monologue Intolerance Syndrome," then she looked at Ariana, "Filling him in?"


"I was just about to assure him we created a cover story for his room mate regarding his absence," She said, "But Aaron seemed amazingly nonchalant about it."


"That's why he's a great room  mate," I admitted.


"He did mention you had some important mail," She raised a brow, curious and surprised.


I was surprised too, and it might have showed. Barring letters from my family and the occasional bank statement, I don't get much in the way of snail mail. Not that I use that term where the fine folks of the US postal department can hear me. As one recently saved my ass, however 'odd' he seemed to be, I figure I owe them that much.


Then it hit me, "Oh, the college application. Hope I made it."


"You applied to college?" Ariana's eyes lit up with an emotion I couldn't quite place.


I shrugged, "Costa Sagrado University isn't Ivy league or anything, but it's got a solid engineering department. I thought I might pursue an interest, see if I had the knack for it. Make something of my life. Who knows? Caleb Lambert, Civil Engineer, has a nice ring to it."


And it did. In a world with tidal waves, earthquakes, and building fires? A good superhero could save dozens if he was lucky. A civil engineer? One who made buildings for a modern age meant to hold against nature's worse and give people a fighting chance to survive? He could save hundreds, maybe thousands. Caleb Lambert might get less credit for it than Eel did, but it's not really the glory I do it for is it? I want to help people, and it was, after several not so subtle hard knocks from others in my life, finally sinking in that I could do that as well as if not better in my secret Identity as I could in my heroic one.


"It sounds wonderful and I know you can do it," my girlfriend was in my corner on this with an intensity that confirmed a few things  Arctic Fox had told me. I hadn't done it just for that reason, but yeah, felt good to see her looking so proud of Caleb and not just Eel, "Did you take advantage of financial and academic help from Pinprick and Lady O?"

 

I faux snorted, "I'm my own man, like to stand on my own two feet."


Ariana's expression again shifted, this time to that 'oh god, I'm in love with an idiot' look women can't always hide.


I let the other shoe drop, "But then I saw what a student loan would do to me, and I swallowed my pride and sucked down a huge bowl of charity. UNfortunately, Pinprick insists on calling it the Redneck Renovation Scholarship fund so I'm gonna have to live with THAT over my..."
A truly ardent kiss makes it very hard to talk. If one is blessed in life, one learns this little factoid as he grows up. I was certainly experiencing it now. Ariana had rewarded me with a truly dynamite liplock that threatened to take my breath away.
At the risk of hurting her feelings, I whispered in her ear, "I love you so much but I have to tell you I didn't do this for you. I'm sorry..."


She put a finger against my lips, "Do not apologize. Ever, for going off and making yourself the man I see in you every day." Then she raised her own voice beyond a whisper, "Maybe I'll do something special for you for every A you make?"
Well, if she was trying to appeal to my sense of enlightened self interest it was working.


"Yeah?" I grinned.


"Yeah," She smiled.


"Ugh," Arctic Fox said.


Ariana and I both blushed a bit. We kind of forgot she was here.


"Don't worry about it," the queen of cold said before we could apologize, or even decide whether an apology was called for, "I think it's great. But you might want to make sure you got accepted before you start celebrating."


"Oh Geez!" Well, that certainly was cold water on the whole thing, "Okay yeah. I gotta go."


"Lady Obsidian wants you to report before you leave," Arctic Fox said, "Main area."


"Right, right" I said. I didn't realize it, but Ariana's hand had claimed mine, or maybe it was the other way around, so when I begin to move towards the monitor room, she came along. Not that she complained.


We were both baffled at the weird curtain of smoke hued force blocking most of the main entry area. Lady Obsidian's work, obviously. I couldn't see what was going on. I braced myself and prepared for a fight just in case I'd only woken up to find another more local invasion.


"Everything okay?" I called out.


I could feel Valorosa's hand gain firmness as she shifted her density as a precaution.


And then the barrier vanished, no longer blurring our vision.


"SURPRISE! " A burst of voices said all at once. One of them Mabel on a speaker, another behind me from Arctic Fox. Well, it was pretty much the whole team, except Ariana who looked as taken off guard as I was.
Every screen in the monitor room, large and small, was displaying my acceptance letter from Costa Sagrado University with full scholarship no less. The team, in  mix of costumes and street clothes, were also outfited in party hats, with twirlers and blowouts, and yes, confetti, which was falling down on us all now- mostly me. They also had drinks, of course.


A large banner had been put above the monitors that said "Congratulations, Caleb-Future Graduate!"


"About time you got here," Pinprick called out, "What the heck took you so long, Fox?"


"I got them here, didn't I?" She said back.


I turned to Ariana, "You didn't know about this?"


"No" She laughed, and shook her head.


"That was my suggestion," Tornado grinned, "Figured why not surprise my favorite niece while we were at it."


"Hope you both don't mind," Lady Obsidian said so kindly that, honestly, we would have felt like jerks if we said we DID mind. Which might have been the point. Team leaders and old women can both be tricky. Meaning Lady Obsidian had a double dose.


"It's wonderful," And Ariana gave her Uncle a side hug.


"I think it's great to..." another aspect of this whole thing sunk in, "Wait, you opened my mail?"


"Like sneaking into your place is hard for any one of us," Pinprick snorted.


"You know how hard I worked to light this fire under you?" Lady Obsidian said, "Darn straight we opened it."


"I have to tell you guys, that's a federal crime," I opened a beer can, "I'm going to have to take you all in." I smiled as I said it, of course.


"You and what army?" Pinprick demanded.


I grinned and held up my beer can in a toast to them all, "I don't need an army, you see, I have this great team..."
(The End)

 

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As I've said before, it's a shame you can only Like something once.

 

Well done, Hermit.  No pressure, but I'm going to hold you to that trilogy.  (Maybe finish lining Eel up to be leader of his own team.  After all, Pogo needs a team to belong to...)

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13 hours ago, BoloOfEarth said:

As I've said before, it's a shame you can only Like something once.

 

Well done, Hermit.  No pressure, but I'm going to hold you to that trilogy.  (Maybe finish lining Eel up to be leader of his own team.  After all, Pogo needs a team to belong to...)

 

Thanks. You guys have all been angels.

 

I actually had another alternative ending for this, but may save it for "The Third book"

 

 

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The Adventures of Fish Guy 3:  
Less than two years ago, I had decided to focus on who I, Caleb Lambert, was, is, and, most importantly am going to be.  This isn't atypical, right? Guy in his twenties seeks direction in life is hardly a headline anyone would bother to click on. But in my case, I already had direction before and I wasn't exactly abandoning that part of my life either. 

I'm Eel. Sometimes called, to my frequent minor irritation, 'Fish Guy'. I'm superstrong, I'm supertough, I breath water, I swim fast, and I save people; it's what I do. 

But with a little soul searching, some good advice, the love of a good woman, and a kick in the pants; I realized that I had things to offer the world, and myself, besides those powers. Late to the game, I decided to try my hand at a college education after all.

Because I want my work to save lives, in and out of costume, I decided to become an engineer, one of those guys who designs buildings that could withstand Earthquakes or hurricanes. What can I say? Maybe I have a savior complex, but it's what gives me purpose, and I figured it would motivate me.

Had to be easier than facing down the Miscreants for a living right?

 

Only, it turns out Sophomore year for Engineering students goes by the fun name "The Gauntlet". This is where they throw everything, and I mean everything at you, to really hammer home whether you can cut it as a future engineer or not. They give you the tools of knowledge you'll need later to build no matter what specialization you have going. Fall apart in your Sophomore year, and your chances of going any further in an Engineering major were mighty slim.

 

All in all? I'd rather beat up on the Miscreants. Heck, I'd rather be beat up by the Miscreants. 

 

I was sweating here.

 

I am not, despite what some might think when they hear my Carolina accent, stupid. I'm not always the smartest person in the room, but when your team leader is a power armor making super-genius; that's to be expected. The Freshmen science courses had been a breeze, the math courses? I handled them. But we'd moved beyond that.

And I had not studied like I had hoped to last night.

 

In my defense, Shellshock was a tougher opponent than I thought he'd be. And he was the first supervillain we had in over a month so, maybe I kept him to myself when I should have called for backup at the start of it. 

Hey, I was responsible. I lured him away from innocents, and kept the property damage to a minimum. I knew his blasts would spread hard. What I didn't expect was that I'd have to use full strength to really take him down. So what I thought was going to be a quick fight turned into a long superbrawl, and after that, some clean up and talk to the press.

The reporters around here know to call me Eel now. I just don't answer to Fish Guy and they growl or grumble as I give interviews to those that use my superhero name while ignoring those that use Fish Guy. Some of the best advice Pinprick ever gave me led to that policy, and while I'll never be free of the Fish Guy moniker completely, at least I can reduce it a little.

 

Where was I? Oh right.

 

So I didn't study as much as I should have.

 

And now this test was threatening to kick my ass as few supervillains could.

 

I went through what I knew I knew first, backtracked to what I thought I knew, and saved the coin flip answers for last in the hope some spark of a neuron would trigger after all. 

 

"And Time" Proffessor Kendrig said. Professor Kendrig is not an evil man, but he had this perpetual look on his face that seemed to suggest that he was glad, nay, grateful, to be heading towards his twilight years, for surely in the impending apocalypse, this current crop of youth would just have to make way for mutated pigs and cockroaches on New Earth on the intellectual battlefield.

 

Frankly, as both one of his students AND a superhero who was in the business of fighting impending apocalypses? I was a bit insulted.

 

My fingers ached to tap in one more answer.

 

"TIME," he repeated. To my relief, he was not looking at me when he said it.  More than one student was thinking the same thing.

 

Is that Political Science Major still an option?

 

Escape from the classroom was a mixed blessing. On one hand, win or lose, it was over and done. On the other hand, we didn't know if we had won or lost? It occurred to me that life as a superhero and a sports fan had me thinking in terms of 'win lose' more than grades, but what the heck, Kendrig didn't grade on a curve anyway. 

"The man's out to destroy me," I heard Leslie chime. 

 

"Now now, " I tried to reassure, "it's not personal, he's trying to destroy every student, not just you."


She laughed, "Way to cheer me up, Caleb."  She was a pretty girl, not yet twenty one, golden haired and blue eyed. I suspected she was kind of into me, despite, or perhaps because, I was a bit older than her. Maybe it was vanity, but she laughed at all my jokes.

 

And I have heard, from numerous friends I trust ,that I'm not that funny. 

 

"Maybe we should study some this weekend just in case we get a chance at a make up?" Leslie suggested, "You never know."

 

"Hey, Lover," A familiar and very welcome voice chimed in. Ariana, aka Valerosa, came forward wearing tight jeans, and a scalloped blouse of turquoise blue. In one of her hands was an honest to gosh picnic basket. Her chocolate eyes shined as always, but there was something else there today, a look not meant for me, but Leslie?

 

It was a brief eye to eye contact between the girls. Whatever was going on, Leslie blinked first and looked away as my girlfriend took my hand with her free one.

 

"I thought we'd have lunch together," Ariana said.

 

"That," I looked at the basket, "I had deduced. I'm bright and all."

 

"That you are," She smiled.

 

"Ah, see you later, Leslie," I waved with my free hand.

 

"Right right," And Leslie scampered away struggling to keep her smile up.

 

"Just keep walking, Blondie," Ariana said low under her breath. She said it in Spanish.

 

Sometimes she forgets I've actually become more or less fluent. Heck, I even watch some Telenovelas. That's how I learned the Spanish words for twins, amnesia, and 'not the father'.

 

I grinned, "Are you ...jealous?" An immense mix of emotions. Surprise, and a very petty sort of pleasure, combined inside me. She was jealous.  Ariana is a smoking hot babe, and she is not the neurotic type. I've seen her keep her poise when all hell was breaking loose. And yet she was acting a wee bit possessive. It was wrong of me, but it was a bit of an ego boost.

 

"I think I liked it better when you couldn't speak Spanish," She blushed lightly.

 

"If you ask your Uncle, I still can't," I reminded her, "He says my accent sounds like I started the evening after two bottles of Jack Daniels. Do I slur that badly?"

"Pffft, you do fine" She waved it off. Technically, Tino was her Uncle, but he was the baby of his generation and she was among the oldest of hers so they really came across more like cousins. As a Southerner, I was used to large families like that- whatever language they used.

Ariana pulled me further along the quad, "And I don't know if Jealous is right word. Just, letting her understand claim jumping is frowned on here in California. I invested a lot of time in arranging this relationship."

I raised a brow, "As I recall, I'm the one who asked you out and did most of the chasing."

 

"All according to my plan," She assured.

 

"You really should steeple your fingers when you talk like that," I told her. We'd come to a spot between two trees, nice shade from the sun, bit of privacy. She had opened up the basket, undone a thin towel, and was using it as a blanket for us to dine on. The food smelled heavenly.

"You cooked this," I said a bit surprised.

 

"Yes I did," Arina says "Aren't you glad my mother insisted I learn how?"

 

My mouth was watering a bit, "Your mother is wise," Then I added, "Too bad she hates me."

 

"She does not hate you," Ariana insisted, "The demonic possession embarrassed her, that's all."


"I nearly died, and she holds a grudge," I reminded.

 

"It was her best china," Arina shrugged, "And by now she's not nearly as touchy. The family wants you over again."

 

I grabbed some of the food being served before she could put some condition requiring me to agree before I had some. It tasted even better than it smelled.

 

"The family? Ariana, last time I was invited, you had over a dozen folks there. And each one wanted to look me over.  I felt like an exotic new zoo exhibit."

 

"Wouldn't that be an Aquarium?"  She dimpled having a bit of her own food.

 

I smirked, "You know what I mean. Please tell me it will be a..smaller group?"

 

"I'll try, but no promises," She said, "I'll at least spare you Aunt Rosa-Maria if I can."

 

"Okay," I said, "now she really hates me."

 

"Yes, by my grandmother thinks you're sweet, and trust me, that is a major inroad in my family," She assured me.

 

"Ha," I grinned, "Well, I like her too."

 

"So you agree?" She said.

 

"Well, I may have just flubbed a test" I frowned, "But unless study comes up, lord knows the heroing has been slow in town lately."

 

"Yes well, someone, not naming names, hogged a the first real supervillain in months to himself last night," She arched a brow.

 

I blushed a bit, "I read his file. Thought I had his power level down. Besides, you were at that Charity Event. I saw the reports on it. " I threw in, "Those kids lit up for you."

 

She demurely cast her eyes down but I could see she was pleased, "Just happy to help."

 

Ariana had always been heroic, but superheroic  was, for most of her life, out of her reach-she was what was known as a partial. A simplistic term but essentially it meant while you had powers beyond mortal men, if you'd tried to go up against the fully powered, you'd get crushed. 


Thanks to some, shall we say, acquired tech that allowed Partials to achieve greater levels of power, instead of shifting density so she was a light as a soap bubble or as hard as a rock, she could now walk through walls like a ghost or turn diamond hard. In a world where supervillains often break concrete walls without a sweat, it makes all the difference.

Her martial arts training doesn't hurt. She's not as good as her Uncle, but even if she had no powers, she'd be able to defend herself. And she's a short little lady.

 

Pardon, my girlfriend is not short, she's vertically petite.

 

"So is the rest of the team also grousing about my 'hogging' the last villain?" I asked.

 

"Oh, just about everyone at least snarked about it," Ariana assured me, "I think the whole team is itching for action. It's amazing, our reputation has actually become a deterrent so effective that more villains just head elsewhere," She spoke very softly and kept her gaze about to make sure our privacy was maintained. And wisely so, in the hero life- blabbing maskless is rather dangerous. 

 

Then she whispered something else that stunned me.

 

"Lady Obsidian's been muttering something about the team getting too big, Pinprick is wondering if she's going to ask some of us if we want to retire or leave the team? I mean, he could be joking but..." She let it hang in the air.

 

I gaped at her, stunned, "No way."

 

"It's been awhile. And our membership has swelled. Remember? Slime has joined the team, despite how he kind of finds us revolting still."

 

That was true, Slime may have been a disgusting blob from outer-space that smelled every time he popped, but he was no less heroic for all that and from his point of view were just as gross. In fact, he still tended to skip team meals.  Actually, that worked better for everyone.

 

"Hold on," I did a verbal count, "We've got Lady Obsidian, Pinprick, Tornado, Arctic Fox, you, me, and now Slime.  That's seven members, that's hardly too much."

 

"You're forgetting about two people," She reminded, "Viewpoint's been working with us, and he's matured to say the least. Remember?"

 

She was right. Viewpoint's near death at the hands of supervillains had sobered him. I had felt responsible for that, after all, Mister Brute was my nemesis. As soon as it was safe, we had used our own medical tech to help him recover faster, but it was still a long painful process. He didn't regenerate after all. 

 

The man who had come out of physical therapy was a more somber and thoughtful guy. Before he had seen his powers as only a way to making it rich. He'd done commercials from everything to fast food to floor wax. Most superheroes found this kind of tawdry but couldn't cast too many stones as even the New Samaritans had T shirts and action figure contracts to support base upkeep and more. However, he also protected homes and businesses that paid him over the city in general. If the choice was the empty manorhouse of one of his sponsors or a city block of poor folks he barely knew? He went to help the manorhouse because he knew which side his bread was buttered on.

 

At least, the old Viewpoint had been that way. During his recovery, he lost most of his contracts who weren't willing to wait for him to heal up. We figured as soon as he got out he'd go racing back to them ready to go back to making cash like the profit driven gloryhound we knew him to be.


He'd proven us wrong. Not only did he not go running back to being the posterboy for anyone and everyone that would have him, he informed those who paid him for 'security' that even though he was now able to protect their property, he would no longer be giving it priority. He wouldn't take their money.

One well to do family promptly tried to sue him claiming they had him for a three year contract. They were quite willing to take him for hundreds of thousands of dollars if they could. Viewpoint stood his ground and took his plight to the public. Rather than claiming to be a victim of this, he instead apologized for being a sell out, and for putting "green money over red blood".  Turning over a new leaf did not diminish what acting skills he had learned, and I have to confess it was a damn good speech of apology he gave even as he explained why he would have to fight this lawsuit rather than just pay them off.

 

The media backlash against the family was intense.  Seriously, it was scary good. Folks who loved Viewpoint before, they still loved him. Folks who thought he was a scam artist? Well, who doesn't love a redemption story? 

 

Said family dropped their lawsuit like a hot coal.

 

And then he came to us, thanked us for our help in his recovery, and for advice how to be a better hero.

I hadn't really thought about it, but he'd been pretty much an acting team member ever since.

 

"And then there's Pogo," Ariana continued.

 

I had gotten lost in thought about Viewpoint and how I had taken for granted that his reform had more than earned a place on the team. At the word 'Pogo' my head whipped around. "What? Pogo's a kid."

 

"A kid who has been using her super powers to protect this city longer than you have," She pointed out, "Caleb, she's turning eighteen soon. She's in."

 

"So we have nine members?" Albeit two of them I hadn't really thought of as members.

 

"Right, in a city that is surprisingly low on even regular crime right now," Ariana explained, "Heck, Pinprick has taken to shrinking cars that are parked illegally in handicap spaces."

 

"Yeah, lot of hatemail about that," I couldn't help but smile.

 

"It's hilarious, but the point is, with the big meeting tonight, she could be reducing the team."

"That's nuts, you don't disband a sports team because it's become a dynasty, and if the team broke up it would just encourage a return of supervillains and neerdowells. It would endanger  the lives of citizens. Pinprick has to be wrong. I can't believe she'd be irresponsible enough even to consider," That's when I noticed she was staring at me, an almost finished taco in her hand, "What?"

 

"Did you just say 'neerdowell'?" She ate the last bit of the taco while waiting for my answer.


"Maybe," I said, then coughed lightly in the hand, "You're not going to tell the team I did that did you?"

 

"It was adorable," She beamed, her chocolate eyes sparkling.

 

"It's manly hero talk," I corrected her. I too, had matured, but I could already envision the hazing I was going to get if this got out.

"Adorable manly hero talk," Ariana nodded, stressing the first word.

 

"You're going to tell Mabel, aren't you?" I groaned.

 

"I'm gonna tell Mabel" She agreed. She and our resident Artificial Intelligence had long been good friends. Of course she'd tell Mabel.

 

And Mabel? Mabel would tell everyone. I did not look forward to the meeting that night, no matter what it was about.

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About time. Greywind and I can't be the only ones writing hero stuff on the board.

 

Snap. That's what you should have run for the september draft, Hermit. Another build your comic verse draft with different conditions

CES  

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42 minutes ago, pinecone said:

Pogo, Eel, Ariana, and Viewpoint...not to shabby, Pogo, and Ariana can let Eel think he is in charge, and Viewpoint can handle the media ...nice

 

Maybe Slime too.  After all, that's a team on the low end of both the experience and power spectrums.  Presumably they'd be starting out in another city, so there wouldn't necessarily be a lack of villains there.  Having another member and a little extra "oompfh" wouldn't hurt.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing what Hermit does with this.  Should be fun.

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On 9/5/2019 at 1:29 PM, BoloOfEarth said:

(Doing happy dance)  I can guess what's coming!

 

So, is the new team going to be named Pogo and Her Super Friends?  :winkgrin:  Though if Eel's the leader of the new team, Pogo will certainly keep him on his toes.

 

 

 

I suspect it would be if Lawnmower Boy had his way.

:)

I have actually consider two short stories collections. One of them "The Twelve Tasks of Fish Guy" would be Eel's adventures while he was doing grunt work for Dr. Salem (Between book one and two). The other would be short stories from the POV and focusing on others in the New Samaritans. Perhaps doing things like Pinprick going up against Dark Prince Charming and so on. And yes, I suppose there would have to be a Pogo story but I worry it would look like one run on sentence.

 

On 9/5/2019 at 2:09 PM, pinecone said:

Pogo, Eel, Ariana, and Viewpoint...not to shabby, Pogo, and Ariana can let Eel think he is in charge, and Viewpoint can handle the media ...nice

 

Some of you might be disappointed. Either that or you're dead on accurate and I'm trying to pretend your not. mmm

 

On 9/5/2019 at 2:57 PM, BoloOfEarth said:

 

Maybe Slime too.  After all, that's a team on the low end of both the experience and power spectrums.  Presumably they'd be starting out in another city, so there wouldn't necessarily be a lack of villains there.  Having another member and a little extra "oompfh" wouldn't hurt.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing what Hermit does with this.  Should be fun.

 

Hope you all enjoy however it goes.

 

 

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I have actually consider two short stories collections. One of them "The Twelve Tasks of Fish Guy" would be Eel's adventures while he was doing grunt work for Dr. Salem (Between book one and two). The other would be short stories from the POV and focusing on others in the New Samaritans. Perhaps doing things like Pinprick going up against Dark Prince Charming and so on. And yes, I suppose there would have to be a Pogo story but I worry it would look like one run on sentence.
 

I really like this idea (though don't let it hinder Fish Guy Part 3).  For the New Samaritans one, I suggest you start with a short story that introduces all the characters (perhaps from Mabel's POV?) so an uninitiated reader understands how they're all linked.

 

 

Quote

Some of you might be disappointed. Either that or you're dead on accurate and I'm trying to pretend your not. mmm

 

 

Are you steepling your fingers during the "mmm" part?

 

Quote

Hope you all enjoy however it goes.

 

 

If past performance is a predictor of future performance, I'm not terribly worried about not enjoying it.

 

 

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"Hey guys,"I said as I entered the main area of the mall turned base that had become a second home to me.  There was enough room, I thought, for a team twice our size, right? I mean, she wouldn't really close us up or send some of us out? This team was almost a family, or at the very least a tight knit group of friends by now. You don't 'rightsize' stuff like that.


What can I say? An idea gets in my head, sometimes I gnaw on it for a bit.


Like all day.


Tornado looked up, "Hey Pinprick, it is Eel, basher of Neerdowells."  Valentino is a good friend, not my best friend, but a good friend. He was getting less good the more he smiled though.


"At last we are saved, for I have lived in fear of Neerdowells, but now am secure," Pinprick nodded. Well, the permanently shrunk archer? He'd always been a jerk, but yes, he was a friend too. 


Which meant I had to suck it up and roll with it, "Mabel, you're a narc."


To my surprise, there was no response. At first I thought Mabel might be trying to dodge the accusation, but that would be pretty out of character for her. The fun loving and sultry voiced Artificial Intelligence that was plugged into our base wasn't exactly afraid of any of us. She had too much dirt. This was where she was supposed to express a complete lack of repentance, flatter me, tease me, and then move on.


Instead? Nada.


"Mabel?" I tried again.


"She's offline," Arctic Fox said, "Duh."


The queen of cold, the mean girl for justice; Arctic Fox and I had not started off on the best foot. Mostly because she had hoped her then boyfriend would be taking the 'strong guy' spot for the team. Of course, he had turned out to be a government agent involved in an illegal black operation who was using her affections as an in. So, I couldn't really be mad at her. Besides, push come to shove, she and I were actually very complimentary in a fight. I couldn't count the number of times her cold and ice powers had saved my bacon from fire or heat, and she knew that if some bruiser came for her that she couldn't handle that I would have her back.
Not that there wasn't she couldn't handle.


Each of my team mates was a powerhouse. None more than Lady Obsidian herself.


"Relax, people, it's my doing and she's good with it. I'll explain later," Lady Obsidian came out wearing her full armor, which surprised me a bit. Lately she had been saving that for the field. Yet the power armor she wore did seem to send a message that tonight's meeting would not just be a casual check in. 


"Still feels weird not hearing her," Viewpoint spoke my very thoughts from the corner. I turned, remembering what Ariana and I had discussed. Viewpoint had changed his costume, some of the glitz was still there, as were the 'shades for show' but he looked less like a male runway model and more like a superhero in design. 


It occurred to me I might suffer from some snobby tendencies.


The point, however, was that Viewpoint was here. A team meeting and he had shown.

He wasn't the only "newcomer".

Stuck to the wall, Slime really did look like some azure booger a giant smeared there. 


Greetings all! scrolled along his surface. Slime used his body to 'text us' more or less, as he didn't quite have the right body for regular speech. Then again, his form of communication worked fine on others of his species. No doubt we seemed rather odd in our own limitations to them. But Earth was Slime's home now, and he had become rather expert at chatting folks up as long as they focused on reading him.


"Hey, Slime" I waved and smiled as a sort of pseudopod waved back.


Lady Obsidian nodded, "Is everyone here? Where is Pogo?"


"I'm here, I'm here," Pogo bounced in, but then she always did. She was a kinetic reactive, any impact could set her bouncing. It was more useful and powerful than most folks realize. 


She had changed her costume again. Over the last  few months, Pogo had gone through  numerous costume changes. A few weeks ago, she had decided to sex it up, only to report later  to the other ladies on the team that they were right and maybe when your powers include bipping and bopping around at immense speeds maybe you'd want a costume that was a bit more 'secure' up top. The men of the team pretended, for our own good and for her dignity, not to have heard a word.


Pogo was back to green and yellow, but no shades were present allowing her lovely eyes to peek through the stylish half mask along with a costume that resembled something like an Olympic gymnast might wear. It occurred to me that she didn't look like a kid anymore. Nature, Time, and plenty of exercise ala crimefighting had been kind. She was turning into a rather pretty young woman.


How had I missed that?


Then again, she wasn't eighteen yet, and to top it off, my girlfriend was in costume nearby too. Maybe I should just keep missing that.


"Sorry, I'm late," Pogo rattled on, "I wanted to decide slippers or no slippers because I totally could have gone barefoot for my new costume but then I thought wait, barefoot like in all women should be barefoot and pregnant? And me a role model for young Asian American girls everywhere? well, not everywhere, but at least two folks online think I am and they're watching so nope nope, I went with the slippers even though my powers make it redundant mostly. Let me tell you it is no easy feet finding the right foot wear for maximum crime fighting efficiency. I mean, sneakers are great as sneakers, but it just looks so unheroic right?" She took a breath.
That was our chance. See, Pogo's greatest power is verbosity. If you don't dive in quick in the few gaps she gives you (because even she has to breathe) then you lose any chance of getting a word in edge wise. That much had not changed.


Lady Obsidian knew this, and she had things to do so she spoke up then, "That's fine, Pogo. It looks very nice. Folks, I need the floor if you please. I have some big announcements explaining the new loss to the city's superhero population..."
It wasn't just Pogo who cut in on that, it was all of us.


"Wait, the rumors are true?" Arctic Fox said in the same tone of disbelief I felt.


"Oh my god I'm never going to be a member, but I've worked so hard," Pogo began to protest.


"Come on, Viv," Pinprick wasn't supposed to use our non-super names and frankly was the only one who could get away with using that nickname for our team leader, but no one was going to call him on it as he was speaking for all of us, "I know things have been dull lately, but ending the team, or even kicking some of them to the curb? You don't want to do that."


"Seriously," Tornado agreed, "I mean, I like this team better than I do my family," There was that silent beat of a moment and he added, "Sorry, Valerosa."
Ariana shook her head, "Don't apologize. I feel the same way, not that I'd tell them."


Viewpoint frowned but said nothing. 


I took a breath and made up my mind about something, "Lady Obsidian, Costa Sagrado is doing well, but the New Samaritans are the reason why it's doing well. If you take away this team and leave the place undefended, or even just disorganized; it'll be chaos. Word will get out. It always does. Without a deterrent, the criminal element will flood back into the area with a vengeance. And without a support net work, without coordination, we might have lives lost. We can't risk that. I'm begging you, please, don't break us up. Don't kick a lot of us out. But if you do, then...well, Maybe we'll have to pick a new name or something, find a new place, but we'll have to keep the team going in one form or another. And I bet the others would be with me on that."


Some of the others were already nodding. Tornado even threw in a "damn straight" for which I was grateful.


Well, there it was. I had just put my foot down against the team leader; not quite an act of rebellion, but certainly conviction. She was a woman I had admired since I was a boy. Heck, I did a report on her in MIddle school for Black History Month. I could only hope that, even if she was now going to eject me first, that I had earned her respect in so doing.


"What in God's name are you all talking about?" Lady Obsidian said, "Do I look like an idiot? I know the city would get swarmed if we left it undefended. My mother, rest her soul, did not raise an idiot. I've only been doing this for longer than any of you were born. You think I haven't seen what happens when cities lose their super teams?"


"Ahhhh," I said intelligently.


Valerosa looked at her feet.


"Sorry, Boss," Pinprick winced.


"We got it all wrong?" Pogo said in a way that made it sound like she still wasn't sure but would agree to anything that would get her out of trouble.


"Damn straight," Tornado said throwing an arm around Lady Obsidian's armored shoulders and waving a finger at us, "The rest of you should be ashamed of yourselves. Where's the trust?"


"Tornado," Lady O said in a flat tone, "Remove the arm, you are not fooling anyone."


"Roger that," He put his arms to his sides.


"Okay, what is going on then?" Arctic Fox said, "I'm sorry, we all are, but you were heard saying earlier that the base would feel the absence and..."


"If you folks would let me finish?" Lady Obsidian said putting one hand on her hip, "First, let's get some things settled. Viewpoint, welcome to the team, if you want to make it official."


Viewpoint's eyebrows shot up, then he smiled "Thanks. Was a time I'd ask about royalties and insist on Tuesdays off, but you know, I had my eyes opened a bit since then," Then he added, "No pun intended."
A few chuckles.
"Well, you'll get a stipend and some royalties from a few merchandise sales just like the rest of us, but you've been busting your ass by our side and it has not gone unnoticed," Lady Obsidian said.
Then she turned, "Pogo. Might as well make it official even though you're not quite eighteen yet. Welcome to the team. You are, at long last, a New Samaritan."


Pogo's jaw dropped open and nothing.
"I think she's broken," Pinprick observed.
"She's speechless," Artic Fox commented.
"Like I said," Pinprick nodded.


"Pogo, honey? You have to say yes for it to count, I don't draft people against their," Unlike Tornado, Pogo threw BOTH arms around our team leader, "oof, will." Lady O finished.


"YES, Affirmative, Absolutely, Positive, Surely, eagerly, Yes yes yes!" Pogo said!


"So that's a maybe then," Tornado commented dryly.


"I know how she feels," Viewpoint said, "Go easy on her."


Congratulations to you both! Slime declared in his way.


"What the blob said," Arctic Fox said.


"We have one more person to let into the field," Lady Obsidian said, "Though I hesitate to call her a new member."


A thought occurred to me as I remembered the only person I had expected to be here who wasn't.


"Despite my suggestions not to, she has, as her supername, chosen to call herself Brazen," The good scientist finished.


The door opened, and there was the most gorgeous brass colored robot I'd ever seen. Okay, that would arguably be a category with little competition. What I mean is, a brass hued robot who looked like she had stepped out of the cover of a 1980s Sci Fi magazine was in front of us. Her hair was copper, and , of course, not hair at all but rather wires meant to simulate it. The phrase "a body built for sin" gains new legitimacy when it really was built. 


There was nothing blatantly pornographic about her, I mean, the skin had a sort of faux costume pattern, really more like a one piece; but despite that I could tell that a lot of young men who saw her would be developing a new appreciation for technology their mothers would not approve of. 
"Ta-daaa!" Brazen struck a pose while still in the door frame.


Her voice confirmed my suspicions.


"Looking good, Mabel" I said. It was an understatement but I said it in what I hoped was a supportive drooling free tone.
"Wait, that's Mabel?" Viewpoint said.
"Oh my god," Arctic Fox said.


"His wonders to behold," Tornado said reverently as he oggled the she-bot.


"Well, that's not going to lead to impossible body image expectations for my peers at all" Pogo muttered as she surveyed the bust to waist to hip ratio of the robotic body.


Valerosa simply hugged the mechanical form for a moment, then parted (Just in time too, a fantasy was forming, one that would get me killed if a telepath ever squealed) to say "Congratulations, Mabel. I mean Brazen. You finally got a body that.. I mean, you can feel it right? It's not a remote thing?"


"My hardware is now in this body, and this body is functional," Brazen winked in the general direction of the men of the team "Fully functional."


"Stop that," Arctic Fox told Mabel/Brazen, "Or we won't get anything productive done."


"She's got a point" Lady Obsidian agreed with Fox.


"Where's the trust?" Pinprick said looking hurt.


None of the women on the team dignified that with a response.


"Seriously, congratulations, Bonita," Tornado said.


"This been a dream of yours long?" Viewpoint asked.


"Sure feels like it, " Mabel said, "and it's not just for looks. Superstrong, super durable and a few other goodies besides."


Valerosa and I exchanged looks. Super strength with accompanying durability and resilience was amg the cornerstone power set. I'd been invited to join the New Samaritans in large part because I filled that crucial niche, that and because they thought I was Atlantean and talked to fish, but that's neither here nor there. When Velrosa went super dense, she came close to matching me. Now there were three of us? 


I don't know about Ariana but a part of me wondered if I was now more than a little redundant. Another part of me couldn't wait to figure out if Brazen or I was stronger. Yes, it's a bit of a jock thing, but there's a competitive streak among superheroes of similar abilities. Mostly good natured. Mostly.
Brazen's sultry tones took on an apologetic twinge, "I'm afraid there is a downside to this  body walking around as my new home base."


"An increase in traffic accidents?" Tornado opined.


Mabel gave a dazzling smile, "That too, but no. I mean while I can still run things remotely for the vehicles and the base if I concentrate; and hooking up the coms is little trouble- From now on a lot of things are going to be on a default standard programming level. That is, just as artificial, but not as intelligent."
"That'll slow response time of some protocols," I said aloud, earning a look from Valerosa. She was right, I realized, now was not the time to induce guilt in someone for living a dream, even if I didn't mean to. I threw in "But it's nothing we can't adapt for."
The robotic woman cheered at that, "Thanks for understanding, everyone. Maybe eventually I'll be able to handle this body and all that with greater ease but there's an integration period. And the other thing." She gave a look to Lady Obsidian.
"The other thing?" Pinprick said it first, I swear.


"Some of you may have noticed we have had a bit of a slow down in Costa Sagrado's crime rate, from super-crime to purse snatching, is down a tick," She stated.
We all stared at her.


"Fine, from that weird mix of loyalty and near mutiny I got just a few minutes ago, it's obvious you are all aware this city's crime rate is lower, but there is a price to our success," She gestured to the monitor screens. I wasn't sure but I swore they lit up just half second slower than they did when Mabel's hard drive was in the base, an unfamiliar city skyline came up  then zoomed in focus, "This is Port Cascade.  Hundreds of miles away from us, you probably heard of it more than seen it but it does have a pretty nice alternative music scene. It doesn't get as much sunlight as Costa Sagrado, and likes to boast it's greener, probably because of all that rain. Despite that, it's got many of the same things to offer, fusion foods, hipsters aging inelegantly, and a thriving tech industry. Guess where all the supervillains have been going in the last year?"


The question was rhetorical, but Pinprick the bait enough to say "Des Moines?"


"No, man, that's election time, and the villains aren't super, just political," Tornado corrected.


"Laugh it up," Lady Obsidian said and gestured to the monitors again. The display was not just one screen after all, and images flashed all over. Images of supervillains we'd fought before and some we'd never seen danced on those screens. Looting openly, pillaging like modern day vikings, and having a grand time doing it. 
Tornado's eyes locked on one figure, in an orange and black costume, the style of which reminded me of certain martial arts movies, "That's Devil Tiger. He's not there just for fun or easy money."


The name rung a bell, "Isn't he one of your oldest foes?" I asked, "You two used to spar all the time?"


"Yeah, with mixed results each time," Tornado scowled, "And he's not your typical payroll raider or even jewelry store bandit. He's a member of a group of assassins who call themselves the Children of the Dread Star. They seek to release him so he may rule all the world with them as his beloved and favored generals. Frankly, I despised the guy long before I knew what a lunatic he was. If he's in Port Cascade, something big is going on."


"And I recognize at least three monsters on my usual dance card," Arctic Fox said, "When can I go?"


And there it was, out in the open. 


"Wait," I said staring at Lady Obsidian, "You're branching us out? Aren't you? Some stay here, others go there, and we're big enough to roll." 


I couldn't go. Could not go. Sure, a break was coming up, but even that break was going to require study, and I had commitments. I hated to bring her the bad news but I readied myself to make my case.


"You can't go, Eel," Lady Obsidian said as she saw me preparing to say something.

 

"Why the hell not?" came out of my mouth, a testament to the contrariness of the Lambert line.


"Because I worked too hard to get you to go to college and I don't trust a two week break not to stretch out into something else," She said.


"Great, a month or whatever taking orders from Pinprick" I sighed.


"Pinprick's not staying here," Lady Obsidian said.


"Why not?" my girlfriend's warning pinch did not get to me in time, "How come he gets to be not bored?" I demanded.


"Because I'm her indispensable ace-in-the-hole, you're her highly dispensable acehole," Pinprick smirked.


I flashed the diminutive archer the gesture of the high hand, never let it be said I won't abandon silver age sensibilities under pressure.


"Pretty much that, I've grown to rely on him and he backs my plays very well, most of the time," She eyed Pinprick as she gave the qualifier.


Viewpoint cut through this to ask his own question, "Just who is being left behind? Me? I don't much care.  But we got to leave some folks behind. Even if there's just a one in hundred chance some seriously bad threat arises this city needs some heroes."
"Very true, Viewpoint," Lady Obsidian nodded, "And as Eel surmised, I am splitting the team. Pinprick, Arctic Fox, Tornado, Mabel and myself will be going with me. Mabel because I'll need muscle  and her body is new and I want to make sure the transition to her new robotic form sticks. Viewpoint, Pogo, Slime, this is an excellent time for you to coordinate a little bit more with each other as a team.  Eel and Valorasa will be team co captains while I'm gone."


I must have looked surprised.


"Eel, you've shown leadership moments before, and Valorasa knows this city almost as well as Tornado does, plus, as a Partial she can help empathize with the new trainees who are partials themselves when you teach them," Lady Obsidian said, "You two will be great co-captains."
Valorasa beamed at me, "This could be exciting."


Pogo clearly agreed, "Guys, guys, you know what this means? I mean wow while the old pros are out, the young talent is getting room to show off and folks won't see us and say hey there's those tagalongs, no they're goinna see us and go 'Look, it's the NEW New Samaritans!' Yay!"
Me? I felt Ariana's smile getting contagious, and looked to the old school crew, "Thanks guys. I..We're proud you trust us with the city and we won't let you down." 
"I knew you won't," Lady Obsidian said.


"Wait, trainees?" I blinked.


"Well, of course. " Lady Obsidian said, "Look, crime is low and you've got a two week break where you can teach some basics to the partials who I gave the gear too. I said I would do it, did you think I was lying to the government official? There are laws against that sort of thing." She said with a bit of satisfaction.
"Mozel Tov, Fish Guy," Pinprick said hoisting a thimble sized mug and taking a drink, "To the youngbloods, may they not screw this up!"
"Hey!" Pogo said offended on our behalves.


Slime bubbled with what I guessed to be amusement.


And I felt a strong need for a hard drink. Leading the team I could do? But teaching?


I Looked at Tornado, one of my best friends and whispered, "She expects me to teach a group of young partials how to use their full powers?"
"If it helps," He said kindly, "We'll get your head shaved before we go."


Ah, team mates, always there when you need them; usually with a punch line.

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