Month: August 2017

Chapter 130: Distance

Even without the binoculars, he could see the glow around Allspades from a few blocks away. The white figure jumped off the roof and dove headfirst into one of the flesh creatures. He vanished from sight as the creature swallowed him whole.

Will gripped the balcony railing until his knuckles turned white. Eclipse was forcing them to kill. He never used the same trick twice, but mutating people like this was something completely new. The heroes were as good as dead as soon as they were fused together, but most of the others weren’t going to be able to handle killing what was left. More than one hero had already been brought to their knees after the bodies reformed.

Cracks appeared in the creature and white light poured out of it. It grew brighter until the creature vanished.

One of the monsters had been under constant bombardment for the last five minutes, and it still wasn’t stopping. These things weren’t smart enough to stop fighting before they died. Each of them had half a dozen minds without a brain cell to speak of. It might have been possible to stop them with a barrier or a cage, but they would just attack it until they bashed themselves into pieces or they wall gave out. Even if they could be contained, there was no guarantee stopping Eclipse would change them back.

The light vanished. Will yanked the binoculars back over his eyes. Allspades had dropped to one knee. He was surrounded by half a dozen bodies but he ignored them and struggled to his feet. He was used to bodies. For once, his history was an advantage.

Hawthorne had done almost as well. She’d frozen when she first saw the bodies hanging from her trees, but she’d avoided Eclipse’s next attack and went straight back to the fight.

Will couldn’t help the light smile tugging at his lips.

Will shouldn’t be here. He should be down in the basement shelter with his neighbors. Instead he was up here, trying to figure out the best way to fight these things.

“You’re not a hero anymore. You’re not even in the same room.”

Saying it out loud didn’t help. The words floated in the air around him, but they felt lifeless. No matter how hard he fought, a part of him wanted to be out there. The sight of Eclipse stoked the rage he’d kept buried for the last three years. But he was done being a hero. Even the kids didn’t need him anymore. He wasn’t going to give up his new life for an old grudge.

A blue comet darted across the sky again and Will focused his sights on the new distraction. Burnout was one of the few heroes who could stay in the sky long enough to attack Eclipse directly. So far they had barely managed to distract him, but eventually he would take enough damage to flee.

Will scanned the streets. He caught himself doing it every few minutes, searching for a tiny red and white blur, but he hadn’t seen it yet. Maybe they’d told him to stay away from the fight. Maybe he’d actually listened.

Miss Mirror was flying too, but she didn’t get anywhere near Eclipse. She couldn’t; he’d have killed well before she could get close enough to punch him. She was stuck getting people away from His attacks and away from the monters’ groping tentacles.

The pillars were rarely hitting heroes anymore. The sliders must have figured out what to look for. But there were still enough of the monsters around to keep everyone busy.

“That’s exactly what he’s looking for.”

Will shifted his gaze up to Eclipse. This couldn’t be all he was planning. It was too simple, too overt. There was something else coming. He focused on Eclipse’s face and watched as closely as he could. His eyes were half lidded and his lips were pressed thin. He turned back and forth until he was looking in Will’s direction. And then he was looking at Will. His lips curved upwards and he raised a single hand.

“What are you planning, Barber?”

Eclipse’s fingers danced in the air, and one of the monsters vanished.

“So they’re more than a distraction.”

Of course they were. They were too big, too complicated, to be just a distraction. If they’d managed to kill them all fast enough, then they could have stopped the plan before it got going.

Will tore his gaze away from Eclipse’s. If anyone down there realized what Eclipse had done, they weren’t spending the time to think about it. Everyone who had been fighting it had split off to fight the others.

Or maybe he had spoken too soon. Hawthorne had left her fight and was talking with nobody. Unimportant must have figured out what was going on. For the second time that day, Hawthorne sprouted wings.

He followed her trail up to Burnout and any flyer she could get on the way. Maybe they would be able to stop it.

Will looked back to Allspades. He had moved in on another of the monsters, but it didn’t look like he would be able to dive in like he had the last one. Will couldn’t tell if he was too tired for it or if he just couldn’t get close enough.

Will scanned the streets again. There were still too many monsters left. If Eclipse unleashed whatever he had locked away, they’d be too divided to handle it.

Will almost looked back at Eclipse before he froze. He panned along the ground quickly. He didn’t want to think he’d seen it, but the way his heart had frozen was all the proof he needed.

A red and white blur was racing towards the battle. A trail of dust followed behind it, growing wider and longer with every step. It moved too fast for him to make out any details, but Will could imagine the goofy grin behind the visor.

Red Racer was coming to fight.

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Chapter 129: Creation

Mitch was sitting on the couch staring at the camera feeds she’d put on the TV. Tina had been watching him closely at first, but she could feel her lungs start to seize up just looking at him. A normal kid on a sugar rush had trouble sitting still, but Mitch had grown extra limbs. His hands were running through his hair and clenching his pants and tapping out a rhythm on the armrest. His legs were reenacting a stampede in place. His eyes were locked on the view through the screen, but his pupils were dancing.

So she looked away and stared at the screen as a half dozen images gave them a view of battles. She had the monitors rotating through the cameras, but she didn’t want to look at them for too long. Even through the monitors, her powers were at work. Each and every hero’s costume was personal to them, and staring at one for too long would force her to delve into its creation.

Only one image wasn’t cycling, but she didn’t want to look at it too long. She’d gotten one of the cameras to focus right on Eclipse, but he’d barely moved more than a finger since he came out of his shell.

Tina risked another glance. She didn’t think her powers would work on him. There was nothing there to look at, or it was too big to understand what you were seeing. Nobody seemed to agree on which. But even so, she needed an object, something somebody had invested enough effort into to leave a mark. There was nothing of the sort for Eclipse.

One of the cycling cameras caught her eye, so she froze the cycle and blew it up to fill half the screen. Hawthorne was floating over some monster that Eclipse had created. She heard Mitch’s breath hitch behind her. She didn’t blame him; she couldn’t look away from the thing on the screen.

Before she could look away, Tina was drawn into the creature’s minds.

There were six of them, and they weren’t screaming.

Their minds were buried beneath a mass of instinct and fear. Each of them was scrambling, clawing their way to the surface. Tina watched one of them make it most of the way to consciousness, and as it crawled towards the light, she felt bile burning in her throat.

Its core was still there, driving it to wake up and become conscious, but the image before her was featureless. No, it was like a hundred thousand minds had all been shoved into one and they had meshed together so completely that there was no personality left.

It wasn’t possible, not with six minds, not with a thousand and not without destroying the core completely. It was like one mind had been broken into pieces and, after each had grown a complete mind of its own, they were shoved back together and forced to fit into the shape of the original.

She shouldn’t be seeing this. Tina’s power had only ever worked on objects, on the parts of people’s minds that they left behind. She couldn’t’ just dive into a monster’s mind, especially not one as convoluted as this.

The creature was almost at the light now, and a part of Tina knew that giving this uncaring intelligence to the monster outside would let it kill hundreds of more heroes than it had already. She didn’t have any experience on fighting in a mind – she could only vaguely remember meeting Will in her own head – but Tina drew back as har as she could and threw the weight of her mind at the blank monster.

And when she crashed into it, the screaming started.

The blank fell into the pit it had crawled its way up, slamming into the others on its way down. All of them screamed in pain and anger and fear and frustration.

Their screams echoed from the pit, slamming into her and forcing her back, back to the edges of their mind. And as she was being thrown out, Tina saw a single eye, all black save for a white pupil, open and stare at here.

Tina shoved herself away from her desk and felt her wheelchair catch on the ruck. It flipped, throwing her off and onto her back.

Mitch was by her side in a flash. He slowly helped her to her feet.

“Thank you. Can you get my chair?”

Mitch didn’t respond. She glanced over at him and saw his eyes transfixed on the screen.

She hand’t changed the images, but the largest was not focuxing on the mad monster floating In the sky abover the city. He was staring straight at het, through the camera and the network and the screen. Their eyes met, and she understood.

“You have to go.”

“What?” Mitch snapped out of his stupor and tore his eyes from the screen to stare at her, but she wasn’t looking at him. Her eyes were glued to the monster’s.

“You have to warn them. He’s going to make something worse. He’s going to make something strong enough and smart enough that it will never be stopped.”

“But-” Mitch stared at her, sitting on the floor with her wheelchair still on its back next to her.

“Red Racer. Our friends are in trouble. Your sister is in trouble. And you are the only one who can warn them about what’s coming. No matter what he makes. No matter how big it is or how many people he used, they have to kill it before it can wake up.”

Red’s outer layer hadn’t hit the floor yet before he was out the door, leaving the glassware from the coffee table shattered on the ground next to the open door.

Tina turned back to the screen. The cameras had changed again. None of them pointed at Eclipse. Tina watched as the last of the monsters was torn apart, and one by one the heroes on the ground stared up at the figure in the sky, waiting for the sign of the next attack.

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