Hi-Five

Tag: fiction

Season 1:3 ‘We Can be Heroes’

 

  In a few minutes the bullets will be shredding through both sides of the structure.  Through his vantage point I can stop the thieves and save Jason.  Hopefully.

Mom and dad left early the next morning.  Jason was asleep, but I heard the front door click shut.  Most people would think it’s heartless to leave without waking us.  But we said goodbye the night before, and our family was never big on goodbyes.  I’m kind of glad they left like they were just going on another ordinary mission; it makes their return feel feasible.

After breakfast, Jason and I head to The Hive.  We take the subway. It’s less crowded than I thought it would be this early in the morning, though it doesn’t smell like cherry blossoms. I’m always hesitant to grab onto one of the poles but it’s more inviting than the only open seat on the train. The orange plastic is covered with a sticky film of some substance.

“It doesn’t really feel like we’re a team,” I say. The train lurches forward after the doors attempt to close three times.

“I guess it just takes time,” he replies.  I shrug.

It’d be better not to talk about it when others can hear.

Are you nervous?

No.  I doubt anything will even happen.

Something will have to happen eventually.

Dragonette and Ingot are already inside. “Typical, the boys are late,” Ingot says.  She’s sitting on the couch; her voice echoes through the room. It’s unclear if Dragonette is staring at me or Jason.

“You’re just early,” Jason says.  He takes a seat near her.

I walk over to the window and peer outside.  From this height I might be able to see Mach approaching, but I doubt he’d run here.  Pine Ridge is a big city, second only to New York.  Watching everyone bustle down below gives perspective on just how many people we have to protect.

“So, what do we do, how does this all work?” Dragonette asks.

“Well we’re not short of money, that’s for sure,” Ingot says.

Before they left, The Guardians Society revealed their main source of funding.  They all set aside money in an investment account one of them managed before the crime fighting began.  No one was ever able to guess who the finance wizard was on the team.  It’s strange to imagine a vigilante stockbroker.  They gave us two hundred million dollars to work with.

“Can’t we just get the computer to tell us where there’s crime?” Jason says.

“I think The Guardians Society made their own missions.  There were only a handful of them, so they had to pick out what they thought was the most important,” I say.

Dragonette clicks around on the main console.  A few of the window panes shimmer and transition to computer monitors.  Three different mission scenarios play out on different hexagons.

“So it looks like there’s been a series of robberies in Europe, some suspicious technology smuggling on the west coast here, and sabotaged oil fields in Nigeria.  No real villain activity,” Dragonette says.  Jason and Ingot rise from the couch to inspect the footage.

I walk away from the window and Mach whizzes through the door over to the monitors, nearly knocking me over.  I clench my fists and contemplate giving him a wicked headache.  It wouldn’t help if one of our teammates was incapacitated before the mission started.

“Can you get more on the second scenario?” Ingot asks.  Dragonette pulls up the full brief on the technology heists and movements.  “Weird, they’re moving around crates of next-next-generation processors, and some huge power cells.”

“I think INTERPOL should handle the first one,” says Mach.

“I say we take number two,” Jason says.

We catch the next flight to northern California.  I’m not sure if The Guardians Society had an official means of transportation.  It could be worth the investment.  With the time difference, we land at eight that night.  Our rental car is waiting in the lot.

California is a new destination for us. I’d always envisioned a place full of sunshine and salty air. This is a little different. It’s much greener and the air hangs heavy with a dampness. We’re going to work up a sweat in no time out here. I’m already feeling hot after crossing the parking lot to get our car: a blue sedan.

Ingot boots up her laptop and goes over the mission files again.  If me or Jason drove it would raise the price of rental insurance, so Mach drives.  We should have opted for something with a little more room; I’m crammed between Jason and Dragonette.

“Who exactly are we dealing with?” Jason asks.

“Looks like small time thugs, nobodies really.  The only reason anything came up was a few firms in Silicon Valley reported thefts,” Ingot replies.

“Punch buggy,” Mach exclaims before reaching over to hit Ingot on the shoulder.

“I can crush you where you sit,” she says.

“What exactly are your powers?” Mach asks.

“Ferrokinesis.”

“Must’ve been useful in art class.”

Ingot raises a hand and the roof starts to warp.

You’ll kill us.

“Ow, I was only trying to prove a point.  Who says you can jump into my head?”

“Seemed like more than proving a point to me,” I say.

“Can you guys shut up until we get there?” Jason says.  The rest of the ride is quiet.

We roll up to a warehouse under the cover of darkness.  Warehouse is an overstatement. This place could pass for a house with a tin roof. The forested area we hand departed from has given way to an expanse of sand and low shrubs. Each of us gets out and changes into costume.  It would have been awkward to see a sedan full of metakids.

Is it alright if we communicate over telepathy?

Ingot glares at me, Count me out.

Mach’s thoughts, and body, move too fast for me to transmit them.  So it’s just me, Jason, and Dragonette.

This is the last location some of the stolen technology was tracked.  One of the firms was smart enough to install a beacon in a few of their chipsets.  Ingot managed to find it on the command console back at the base.

Why don’t we charge in there, take them out, and recover the parts?

Jay, I’m not sure if that’s the best idea.

None of them are metas.  Dragonette’s thoughts flow like the lava I’ve seen in nature videos.

Exactly, let’s just go.

It was too late to stop Jason.  His super strength allows him to cover a lot of ground by jumping.  Mom wasn’t happy the first time he left a crater in our yard.  He jumps ahead and lands on the roof of the warehouse causing the metal to buckle.  Ingot manages to warp the structure and keep it from collapsing.  Jason rips a hole in the roof and drops inside.

“We’ll have to practice a few teamwork exercises,” Mach says before racing inside.

You guys coming?

I can’t believe you just did that.  We had the element of surprise on our side.

How many are inside?

I don’t know, like twenty or something.  They’ve got some big guns.

Dragonette, Ingot, and I enter to the sound of gunfire.  Jason is pinned down behind a few shipping containers, and Mach is nowhere to be seen.  The concrete floor is cold even through my boots.  We duck into a small office just off the side entrance.

“Got any ideas?” Dragonette asks.

“Why don’t you just mind wipe them or have them shoot each other?” Ingot asks me.

“I don’t want to kill anyone, but maybe I can try putting them to sleep,” I say.

I focus my thoughts and reconnect with Jay.  The guards are still firing at the shipping container.  In a few minutes the bullets will be shredding through both sides of the structure.  Through his vantage point I can stop the thieves and save Jason.  Hopefully.

You guys distract them and I’ll finish them off.

Jason, no, just wait a few seconds and I’ll take them out.

Building a bridge into their minds is impossible.  I know it’s harder to jump from one person to another, I could never connect to Kevin Bacon, but there’s just no chance here.  Jumping across is like changing the channel on a TV, and in this case I keep getting static.

Stay put, we’re coming over to help.

“Guys, I can’t control the guards.  We need to get out there and help,” I say.

It’s too late.  Jason launches himself over the container into the shower of bullets.  I scream out his name while Ingot and Dragonette watch in confusion.  The guns turn and open fire at him after he lands.  I burst through the door and shout his name again, and try in vain to stop the guards.  Bullets smash into his chest and torso.  None of them penetrate his skin.

I’m bulletproof?

The shock freezes my thoughts.  Jason grabs one of the guards by his neck and hoists him into the air.

You can’t get into their heads?  I’ll do you one better.

He plants his other hand on the guy’s head.  I’m left to watch, powerless, as Jay rips the head clean off his shoulders.  Where I expect to see blood, there’s none.  He lets the body drop to the floor and it starts sparking.

“Robots,” Ingot says.

“Can’t you warp their metal?” Dragonette says.  Ingot nods.

I regain my composure now that I know Jason isn’t dead and he didn’t just murder someone.  It’s still scary to think he would be so willing to take a life.  Ingot bends her knees and focuses on the robots.  Two of them fall apart into a pile of scraps.

“Nice going,” Dragonette says.

“Uh, I didn’t do that,” Ingot replies.

Mach materializes next to Jason to fend off the remaining guards.  He had been moving fast enough to disassemble the other two.  Within a minute the gunfire ceases and the robots lay in a heap of destroyed parts.

 

Next Chapter.

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Season 1:1 ‘New Metakids on the Block’

 

 And so, we’ve decided to entrust these heroes with our regular responsibilities.

We’ll never be normal. My brother and I are identical twins, and some people already think that’s strange. There’s a three percent chance to conceive twins. There’s almost no chance those twins have powers; unless the parents do. Our parents are Orion and Lady M, but we just call them dad and mom.

Twenty years ago, ninety-four normal people developed extraordinary abilities. 2003 saw the most powerful solar flare ever recorded. Almost every theoretical paper centered on the newly minted metahumans concluded the radiation from this event triggered something within the genetic structure of each person. I’ve never been good at biology. Our parents and thirteen of their friends were the only ones to shed their old lives and become heroes. They formed The Guardians Society as a promise to protect the public.

“Boys, hurry up or we’ll be late,” dad says from downstairs.

Today is the official press conference about The Guardians Society’s mission and who will be filling their shoes. The public is in the dark about our powers, and that we’ll be the ones watching over the planet. The whole planet.

“Can’t believe mom just expects us to stay quiet through the whole thing,” says Jason. He’s my brother.

“She meant it too. You’re lucky she didn’t say what she was thinking,” I say.

I stand by the door to our room and wait. I’ve always liked looking at the bedroom from this angle. Two windows face east and another pair face south; from our door I have a clear view of the block. The curtains are a little too thin to keep the sun out in the morning, but I’ve never minded. Jason was always the late sleeper. Mornings are when my mind is clearest. Jason strips down to his underwear to change into his costume.

None of our costumes have capes. Everyone agreed those served no purpose. Most outfits are simple and functional; complements to the wearer’s powers. Mine consists of a short-sleeve shirt, form-fitting pants, and a hooded cowl. My brother has a vest and mask in place of the shirt and cowl. He likes to show off his muscles. Not that we get out much aside from media appearances. Together, we’re Gemini. We’ve never been formally introduced as a “package deal”, but mom and dad told us we’re supposed to work as a pair. Dad will keep our relationship a secret from the press. If Jason keeps moving like a slug no one will ever know about us.

“Stay out of my head, Des,” he says, “I’m going as fast as I can.” He glares at me before returning to slipping his legs into the outfit.

Most people claim twins have a telepathic link. Jay and I have a legitimate connection. Well, my telepathy works the strongest between the two of us, and I have a bad habit of planting suggestions in his head.

“Sorry, I’m just nervous,” I say.

“It’ll be fine. We’ll just try and stay out of trouble.”

“Not about the press conference. About, everything.”

If the two of us survived high school without using our powers, we should make it through the next couple of years. Mom and dad kept close watch over us when they weren’t out on a mission. Usually, it was a call about Jay getting in a fight at school that brought them back home. He really had to be careful if I wasn’t around to stop him. Super strength isn’t something anyone can just turn off.

Our parents tried to maintain an illusion of mediocrity to keep us safe. I guess they knew at some point we’d start using our powers more often. They’re more than just powers, they define us. There have been hundreds of instances where using telepathy would make my life so much easier, but I decided against it. We stay cooped up in our modest suburban home pretending to be average teenagers who will one day have full-time jobs in an office with two and a half kids at home. On a lot of levels our family is like one you’d find on a daytime sitcom: angsty teenager, confident mom, insightful father, nerdy other sibling, all living in a little white house.

“Jason and Desmond, get down here right now or you’re stuck watching the whole thing on TV,” mom says. She sounds more perturbed than dad had.

“Dude she’s getting mad,” I say.

Hurry up.

“You’re going to make me mad if you don’t quit it. Just go wait downstairs,” he says. I stay with my back against the wall.

It’s cold out for the end of May. Two windows are open to let a breeze to blow through. Our costumes do little to protect us from the cold. Jason’s temper probably keeps his blood warm, but I barely have any mass on my bones. Enhanced strength must lend itself to an enhanced physique or something.

“Alright let’s go,” Jay says. He bounds down the stairs and I follow close behind.

“Finally. You boys shouldn’t keep your mother waiting,” dad says.

Mom walks in from the kitchen. Both of them were suited up and ready half an hour ago. Jay and I were still finishing up a round of gaming at the time. I always beat him, even at shooters, but we still had fun. He’d try pushing me off the bed. I made it hard for him to concentrate after I had hit the floor; or the wall. Now mom stares at us and maintains silence. Her usual tactic for letting us know we’re in trouble.

Jay, Dad, and I circle around her and the room fades to pink. Everything is distorted like looking through the windshield of a car in the pouring rain. Jay and Dad look the same, and mom has vanished. We all stand still while the surroundings come back into focus. This time we’re standing in front of the nation’s capitol. Mom’s waiting next to the rest of The Guardian Society; a group of fifteen metahumans. Their kids are here too.

We had only been to DC once before as a family. Our parents show up here on a semi-regular basis. Dad used to tell me stories about reporting to a call from the president in the middle of the night. The spotlights illuminating the dome heighten the tension in any situation. Walking into a room with a handful of politicians and knowing the situation is dire enough for them to have given up on every other possible avenue. Their eyes, glassy and darting around the room, attempt to fixate on something and slow their thoughts.

The mood for today is much different. We ascend the stone steps amid the din of the reporters. I remember how much I enjoy being here to smell the fragrance of cherry blossoms in the air. Everyone seems calm despite the anxious chatter.

Jay and I walk over to stand next to Dragonette. She’s the only other metakid we’ve met before. A few years older than us and a bit more mature, her looks are striking. The name fits her so well. She reminds me of the dragons I’d read about in Japanese mythology. There’s a quality about her which makes me want to spend hours studying her but frightens me every time our eyes meet. We were first introduced at a community barbecue. She and Jason chatted about sports while I stood in silence. I smile and offer a wave. Standing on the other side of Jay means I can’t hear their conversation, but I can still gather what they’re saying.

“I thought there were five of us,” Jay says.

“We’re waiting on the speedster,” she replies.

“What’s he call himself?”

“Beats me,” she says and shrugs.

Help.

A green blur whizzes past and I’m almost knocked to the ground by a shove against my shoulder. Jay reacts fast enough to grab me since I was already in his head. The speedster screeches to a halt a few feet next to me. He bends over to catch his breath. I right myself and shake my thoughts back into focus.

“Sorry I’m late,” he says with a huff.

“Dude, watch where you’re going,” I say. It’s taking a lot of effort to keep Jay from beating this kid up in front of the press.

“I know, I know, I’m sorry.”

“Quiet,” says Count Crypt. He’s the resident medium for The Guardian Society, and I think he died the moment he got his powers.

Jay elbows me in the shoulder right before dad gives the opening remarks.

“The Guardian Society is here today to share a few more details about our impending mission and answer a few of your questions,” dad says. A few cameras flash while reporters scribble down the speech. “We received high-level readings of an unknown energy near Neptune. Further analysis has revealed it to be some sort of alien craft with technology far beyond our own, even with the help of Ratchet.” He’s some sort of technological genius, but he’s often resistant to share any of his creations with the rest of society. His daughter is part of our team.

“With our combined powers, we can reach the craft within a couple of months. But this will equate to years in Earth time. And so, we’ve decided to entrust these heroes with our regular responsibilities,” dad says and gestures towards the five of us. I stand up straight and look out over the crowd.

Every camera bulb flashes. The reporters start clamoring and squeeze closer to the steps. More cameras flash, a few hands spring up into the air, and someone drops their legal pad. We just stand and watch.

“I’ll introduce them and then take questions. First on the left is Ingot, next to her is Dragonette, the twins are Gemini, and Mach is on the end. Together, they form a capable team. Now, let’s try and make this orderly, I’ll answer Jean’s question first,” dad says.

Jay and Dragonette look out over the crowd as if they’ve done this before. The two of them exude confidence. I lean back to check on Ingot; she’s got her arms folded. Mach scratches the back of his head. Our parents have spoken to the media enough times to know most of them by their first names.

“Orion, where did these heroes come from? They all look much younger than you,” Jean says. Then she realizes her comment might come off as offensive. Dad just laughs along with a few other members of The Guardian Society.

“To be honest, we’re not one hundred percent on their origins. But we’ve known them long enough to put our full trust in them.”

“What’re their powers?” another reporter calls out.

“Well I don’t want to spoil anything. Let’s just say they’re unique and talented.”

I wanted to meet the heroes dad was describing. Telepathy, super strength, and super speed are far from unique. Any second grader could come up with a more imaginative set of powers. And talented? I can’t speak for the other three, but I know Jay and I have never seen any real action. I’m not counting the kids he beat up at school.

“How should we refer to this team? Have they got a name?”

Before dad can answer, Jason speaks up, “Do we really need a name?”

 

Next Chapter

The first post for Hi-Five. Read more about it, and myself, in the ‘About‘ section.

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