Month: February 2017

Chapter 121: Running Down

Red stumbled, and Jaeger’s next hit forced his feet off the ground. The debris trailing him fell to the ground and didn’t rise again.

Red hit the ground and bounced until he slammed into the far wall. Dust blocked the world from his views.

He let the dust settle on him, but he didn’t move.

Jaeger was faster. Every time they got close to each other, Jaeger go that much faster than him. He had been playing with him the whole time, and it seemed like he was finally done playing. Even if Red got up and ran as fast as he could, he would never catch up.

His eyes were closed, but Red didn’t see darkness. His hands were covered with blood, and he was shaking so much that he couldn’t focus on anything else. Something clicked in his ear.

The guns were back. He couldn’t hold the image back any more, and they swam to the font of his mind like they’d never left. A single gunman was standing in front of him. Red could look straight down the gun’s barrel.

Shadows crept out of the barrel. Long tendrils of blackness slithered through the air, reaching towards him. He wanted to run away, but he couldn’t move. Through the thickening darkness, he could see the gunman preparing to pull the trigger. Red only had one option left.

He opened his eyes, but the image didn’t vanish. Jaeger stood in the middle of the clearing; the faceless man with the gun stood next to him.

Debris orbited Jaeger; even the dust that had settled onto Red was drifting away into his field.

Jaeger stared at Red until the last of the dust drifted away, and then he turned to the heroes he had piled to the side. The gunman turned with him.

Red’s eyes were still trying to move at super speed.  Jaeger strolled over to Red’s friends, but to Red, it looked like he was underwater.

Red’s eyes grew big, and he tried to get to his feet. His heart was racing, but the blood in his veins was crawling. He forgot the fire in his legs as ice started to grow in his chest and his insides grew hollow.

If Jaeger was underwater, then Red was stuck in syrup. Every inch of movement seemed to cost him minutes, and Jaeger grew that much closer to his friends, to his sister.

He finally got his feet beneath him and reached for his power. There was nothing there. His breaths grew shallow and he reached further and further, but the power slid away from him.

Jaeger was close now, he was only steps away from them now. The gunman had stopped moving; he turned and stared at Red. Even though he didn’t have a face, Red knew he was smirking. He turned back away and raised his gun.

Red’s heart stopped. His nails bit into the palms of his hands. The gunman took his time, trailing his weapon across each of the figures lying on the floor. Finally, it rested on his sister.

Red started running. Even without his power, even though he would never make it in time, Red ran straight for Jaeger.

His shoes scuffed the ground. The sound echoed through the battlefield.

Jaeger’s head whipped towards him. For the briefest moment, his eyebrows arched, and his mouth started to form a word.

There was a trickle of power, barely within reach, and Red snatched it up. He ran through the gunman, and the figure slinked into the back of his mind again.

Jaeger finished turning. His shock had turned into a smile. He started to run.

To Jaeger, Red might as well be standing still, but Red’s eyes could still see Jaeger circling to his left. Before their powers clashed, Red grabbed everything he had and shoved it at Jaeger.

Both of them went flying, but this time, Red was ready for it. There was more power there now and Red grabbed everything he could before it vanished again. He landed on his feet and took off.

They had the same power. Every time they hit, whatever power they let go of was up for grabs. That was why, even now that Red had managed to push Jaeger back just a little, he still wasn’t moving as fast as he should have been able to.

Red felt a smile grow on his face. Jaeger was still faster than him, but that could change.

Jaeger was moving again, but Red stayed still. His eyes followed Jaeger as the villain circled towards him.

It had worked once.

The ground was shaking beneath them, but neither paid any attention. Neither could afford to focus on anything else.

Jaeger was smiling as he reached Red, but Red flexed his power at the last second. He launched himself at full speed, shoulder first into Jaeger, shoving everything he had into the attack. It wouldn’t have worked on most runners, they would see it coming and be able to adjust, but Jaeger had let Red get the drop on him once before, and he didn’t think it could happen twice.

Red barely slid back, but Jaeger flew across the battlefield before he was able to stop himself.

There was even more power up for grabs now, and Red got over half of it.

He couldn’t stay still and keep all the power he had grabbed. Red Ran straight for Jaeger.

The two of them circled each other, spiraling towards the center of the battlefield.  As they got closer, the pieces of debris following them started to crash into each other. A low grinding began to fill the air as the twin spirals of dust started to grind against each other.

They were almost going the same speed now. When they finally clashed, they froze in place. They were both desperately grabbing at the other’s power, and neither of them was winning.

Jaeger’s fingers curled into a fist and slammed into Red’s face.

The power slipped between the gaps in his grasp and he slammed into the ground. He felt something snap in his arm, and he had to freeze to keep form screaming. The shaking ground reverberated through his arm. He couldn’t focus through the pain.

“You are strong.”

Red looked at Jaeger. The villain’s voice was smooth and oddly comforting. Despite that, Every word sent a shiver down Red’s spine.

“But you do not know your strength. I-“

Red launched himself forward. His feet didn’t even get a chance to hit the ground before he slammed into Jaeger and desperately grabbed all the power he could.

It wasn’t enough; Red hit the ground again, and Jaeger barely moved.

“It seems that you still need to learn patience.”

Red scrambled to his feet. He was good arm was still on the gorund when he sped up and had to fight the rest of his way up while he was running.

They started spiraling again, but this time, Jaeger was faster. The grinding filled the air again. It masked the sound of the shaking ground, but only barely.

There was a shout from somewhere, and plants burst from the ground.

Red jumped; he sailed over the growing plants.

Jaeger was moving too fast. One of the roots sprung up right in front of his foot and he tipped forward.

A glowing figure slammed onto Jaeger’s back, and Red saw his eyes bulging. More importantly, he felt Jaeger’s grip on the power loosening.

Red desperately clawed all of the loose power towards him.

Red landed gently outside the ring of plants. He turned back. Allspades was glowing; and the light was digging into the ground around him.

Jaeger was trying to force Allspades off, but he couldn’t lift him up.

Two more figures floated towards the two.

Burnout was using the armor he’d seen on the news, but it started to fade as chains of fire wrapped around Jaeger’s form.

His sister kept floating towards Jaeger. She landed next to him and collapsed to her knees. She raised her fist and slammed into Jaeger’s head, breaking straight through his power and knocking him out.

The glow vanished from around Allspades, and he collapsed to the side. Burnout was sitting on the ground, but he managed to keep the chains on Jaeger.

A hand rested on his shoulder.

Red met Hawthorne’s eyes, and he knew she was smiling under her helmet.

The two of them walked to his sister’s side, and she immediately pulled him into a hug.

The others were looking at them.

Red felt blood rush to his cheeks, but he smiled and hugged his sister back.

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Chapter 120: Clash

Red Racer barely made it out of the hospital before he started heaving.

He’d never run on an empty stomach. The pulses of his power echoed inside of him, and churned the empty space. The costume his sister had neatly placed into the closet of his hospital room was tight across his chest and made it hard to breathe. He stumbled, but he refused to fall. Red grabbed a hold of his power and forced it to keep him moving.

The air swirled around him and spots began to dance on the side of his vision. There were gunshots echoing in the back of his head. His heart thundered in his ears, but he just ran faster. Dust and trash started trailing behind him, lifting into the air and swirling in the vortex of his wake.

The city blurred past him, but he saw everything.

Almost everyone was staring at their phones or standing outside of bars with their eyes glued to a TV. Some were talking, some were shouting, some were frozen in place. Everyone looked scared.

Most people on the street this time of day were old enough to remember Jaeger thirteen years ago. It wasn’t something they could forget. Red had only read about him online, but the thought of a runner who spent his entire career going after heroes struck a chord in the pit of his stomach.

His parents had gone against Jaeger half a dozen times before they captured him, but they had only sought him out once. Jaeger had come after them time and time again; he’d never been paid and he didn’t hold a grudge, but he kept coming.

Now he was after Red’s sister, he was after Red’s friends, and Red wouldn’t sit on the sidelines. The faceless thing that had been haunting him wouldn’t stop him.

It was a straight shot to the battlefield. Red’s eyes stopped dancing and focused on the figures in front of him. Jaeger was dragging Burnout towards the others. Right now, he was moving at a crawl, but if he sped up, he could kill all three of the long before Red got close.

The steady, slow clacking of a machine gun echoed in his brain. His breath grew ragged and his eyes could only focus on Jaeger’s slowly stalking form. His heart sped up, but the blood in his veins felt like syrup.

Red grabbed his power. It was in him and all around him and there wasn’t enough. Red reached further and tore his power free. The trash in his wake fell to the ground and his ears popped.

Red’s power slammed into Jaeger and for an instant, they both froze mid-air. Red’s hearing returned and he and Jaeger flew apart a loud clap. The wind tore free form their meeting point, picking up the unconscious heroes and carrying the away from the center of the destroyed block.

This wasn’t like Frankenstein, Red was ready to catch himself. He slid backwards, nearly to the edge of the battlefield.

Jaeger clenched his fists and stopped without touching the ground before dropping to his feet.

Jaeger looked straight into Red’s visor, and they both ran.

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Jaeger reached for the gravity in the area and pushed himself forward. Across the battlefield, his son did the same.

His smile threatened to split his face in two. The predator had kept his promise. His son had gained the strength that had awakened Jaeger, and now he was standing before him, free to bask in the glory of the hunt.

But first he would have to be tested. And then he would have to be discipline; all children needed to be taught to respect their parents. It was the only way they could learn how to reach the potential their parents saw within them.

Jaeger started out slow; slower than his son had hit him before. First, he had to give the boy some confidence. It was only when he tore that down that he could teach him his first lesson.

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Red grabbed everything he could. It wouldn’t be as much as he had used to hit Jaeger with, but it was enough to meet Jaeger halfway across the battlefield.

A drumbeat of rushing air reverberated throughout the battlefield. Each time the two of them met, their wakes would force the air and debris to clash around them. Each time they separated, their wakes would mix and clatter until finally separating into two distinct trails.

Their powers never let them touch. They’d clashed a dozen times in the seconds they’d been fighting, and neither of them were scratched.

Jaeger was moving at the same speed as Red. That wasn’t right. Jaeger was one of the fastest men alive. He should have been at least three times faster than Red.

Red desperately grasped for more speed. His legs pumped tirelessly, carrying his power with them and launching him farther with every step.

Jaeger matched him perfectly.

The fight hadn’t even lasted a minute, but Red could feel a fire spreading through his legs. He hadn’t asked anything of them for over a week, and they couldn’t give him what they used to.

Red grabbed even more speed, pulling the power to his legs so that even if they slowed down, he could keep his speed up for just a little longer.

At their next clash, Jaeger swung at him a little too early, and Red slammed into hi. Their wakes collided again, but more debris was following Red.

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Jaeger reached for more gravity. He had moed too soon and let the boy get a hit in. It wasn’t a mistake he could repeat if he wanted to teach his son just how much stronger he would become under proper guidance.

The gravity didn’t respond. Jaeger reached again, but there was nothing there to grab.

The boy was coming at him again. Jaeger turned to meet him, but half of his mind was elsewhere.

Stone and metal slammed into each other as their wakes met. Jaeger grabbed for the boy’s collar, but he missed. His son’s tiny fist bruised Jaeger’s forearm.

They separated and Jaeger felt it. The boy had sped up again. He was pulling out more speed than Jaeger had ever expected, and the new bruise would be a constant reminder.

It wouldn’t happen again. Jaeger reached deeper and pulled out enough gravity to match the boy’s new speed.

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Red kept reaching for more power, but he couldn’t force himself to go any faster. He had gone faster than this before, but the power wasn’t there for him to grab.

Red reached desperately for it, constantly reaching for more speed.

He clashed with Jaeger again. The grin on his enemy’s face made Red’s frown deepen. He wanted nothing more than to run as far from Jaeger as he could, but he forced himself to keep going. Their wakes slammed into each other and Red felt more power, just barely out of reach. He stretched his powers towards it, grabbing a small handful and adding it to his own speed.

A few ticks of the clock later, and they clashed again. It was impossible, but Jaeger’s grin had grown even wider. He came elbow first for Red’s face. Red flinched away from the blow, and had to slide around Jaeger to keep from being hit.

In that instance where their wakes crashed, Red felt his powers being ripped away from him. He grasped desperate for more speed, but it had vanished

And now Jaeger was moving faster, and his wake had grown larger.

He had stolen some of Red’s speed.

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