Month: October 2017

Memoirs of the Second Age: Hawthorne

So you finally got to me?

From what the other’s said, you’ve heard everything about his death that you could want.

No…you’re right. I suppose there’s a few more things you need to know.

Most people say that that night ended the Second Age. After all, that’s when the biggest monster the world had ever known was finally killed for good. Ten years later, and we’ve never seen anything like him since.

But Ages don’t end when people die. We lost three members of the Council that night, and most of the others retired over the next two years. It was their replacements who started the New Age.

No, I’m not talking about me. I was the last to switch in, and Lux stayed around for years after he stopped serving.

I know a lot of people look on the Second Age like we did the first. I’ve heard them calling it the Gilded Age, as if the Council had just covered up all the shit that had gone wrong, but the rules they set up were solid. The fact is that, at the time, nobody could have fixed the system better than they did.

In the end, there was just too much new blood for the old ways to stick around. Macropolis worked well, but so many other cities were failing under the same rules. The new system works better, it lets people know that they’ll be protected no matter where they live.

But that’s not really what you’re here about is it? You already talked to the others, you know what happened with them.

Fine. I’ll go through it.

After her brother died, Miss Mirror went on a crusade. It took Mach-sorry, I meant Scanner-nearly a year to calm her down. Eventually, she took over Will’s job at the support groups. From what I’ve heard, she does a good job. She makes sure the kids that get to her take it seriously, and she’s been keeping a close eye on them.

Allspades took over the hero gym after Phil died. He has to close up earlier than Phil did to keep up his patrols, but the place is more popular than ever. He lets Miss Mirror use it for meetings when her groups need to let off steam, and I think he’s taken more than a few of the kids under his wing. Better living through punch, I guess.

It was three years before Mach took on her new mantle. Between the physical therapy and learning what her powers could really do…let’s just say that we’re lucky she’s as smart and determined as she is. She mostly consults for the police and other heroes, but she’d solved more cases in the last year than any five precincts combined. I think she works for the government sometimes too, but she doesn’t like talking about it.

Unimportant kept his personal war going until he and Scanner finally tracked Asclepios down five years ago. We thought he was going to retire after that. We even bought a cake. But six months later, he was back on the streets. It’s hard to know just how many people he’s taken down, but every time a new gang’s warehouse has an unexpected fire or a drug shipment ends up spilling onto the road, I’m sure he has something to do with it.

Burnout’s powers keep growing stronger. He works as a hero, but it’s hard to justify sending him after smaller threats. When he goes all out, he looks scarier than most villains do. If we stuck to the old system, then he would have needed to be reclassified by now, but now he’ll always be stuck somewhere in the middle. When you look at him, it’s hard to remember the college kid who was more afraid of his power than anything else.

After Lux took a back seat, I took his place on the Council. I’m in charge of this region, so I didn’t have to leave home, but it still takes me out of the city for a few months every year. Like I said, I came in at the tail end of the changeover, but there were more than a few issues that had to be stamped down to get everything working right. I like to think I helped everything turn out for the better, but it’ll probably be another few years before hindsight kicks in.

…You really want to hear about that?

Okay, it just seems like a bad way to end things.

Red Racer had three funerals. His name was carved into the memorial, just like everyone else who died that day. The whole city was there.

He was buried next to his parents. We wanted to be there, but the only one who had a good reason for showing up at the funeral was Scanner. All of his classmates were there when they lowered him in.

Our funeral couldn’t start until they left. The grave had been filled in, but everyone who was a part of both of his lives was there. We each had something to say-and there’s no way I’m letting you put what that was in your book. After what he did, he deserves the privacy.

Rumor’s name is carved on the memorial with Red’s, but I still can’t think of him and Will as the same person.  Will would have told you that Rumor died years before that, and I think that’s the best way to think of it.

Will’s funeral was massive. I don’t know how many of the people attending were heroes, but line at the graveyard was long enough that I was worried about the city’s safety.

It was almost surreal. Hardly any of them had anything nice to say about Will. All of them thought of him as a hero, and nobody was happy to see him go, but it was almost like they were they out of obligation. But nobody disappeared after they said their piece, and nobody left after the coffin was lowered. They all stayed until the grave was filled in and they were slow leaving after that.

It was like they were waiting for him to be alive again.

Easily a hundred people stood in the rain watching a grave with an empty coffin.

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Chapter 134: The End of an Age

It had gotten cold under the black sky. He’d shoved his hands as deep into the pockets of his coat as he could, but the frigid air was still biting at his fingers.

William Writer walked into the battlefield.

He walked past the injured heroes lying on the streets.

He walked past the exhausted heroes, forced to the sidelines.

Eclipse had stopped using the pillars. If it were any other villain, Will would think that he’d gotten tired, but Eclipse didn’t run out of power. He was just done with his experiment for the day. He had reverted to his older tricks instead.

Most of the heroes were fighting his ghosts. The blackened figures looked like somebody different to everyone who fought them. Will didn’t look too closely. He knew who he would see.

Will stopped. Eclipse would be at the center of it all. He wasn’t in the sky anymore; he would be on the ground to let as many heroes as possible have a chance to attack him. It wouldn’t work. Eclipse couldn’t be hurt by any attack they could throw at him like this.

It had been so simple. He didn’t know how he hadn’t thought of it before.

Will closed his eyes and silenced the world.

His voice rang out over the battlefield, but his lips didn’t move.

Unimportant. Janus. I need your help.

It was a simple, almost mundane use of his power, one of the first things he’d learned to do. It was the kind of thing he’d use to show off as a teenager. He was the only one who could hear anything anymore.

He wanted to let it end there; his message had been sent, but if this was going to work, he would need a clear path. Will targeted the ghosts. He couldn’t hurt them directly-there was too much of a crowd for him to risk it-but he didn’t need to.

Will isolated his power onto the ghosts, and sound returned. With another flex of his power, his power screamed straight into the ghost’s ears.

They weren’t human. They were barely sentient. But Will had fought them for a third of his life, and he knew exactly how much this would hurt.

The ghosts fell back. They didn’t try to cover their ears, they were better than that, but none of their fights lasted long after Will started his attack.

“Janus.”

Even without his powers, Will would have heard her cape flapping in the wind behind him.

“I don’t like being summoned.”

“It’s too late to make you like me. Hello, Unimportant.”

He felt Janus jump as the young hero materialized next to her.

hello will…you showed up”

“I’m sorry.”

“you’re here now…what do you need”

The battle around them had mostly stopped, and most of the heroes were looking his way. Even if they didn’t know who he was, they had to realize he’d been the one to call Janus out. More than a few had already connected the rest of the dots. Soon, everyone would know that Rumor had joined the fight.

“I can stop him. I think I can stop him for good, but I need your help.”

He could have kept it quiet. He could have stopped everyone else from hearing him, but secrets wouldn’t do him any good anymore.

They needed to hurry, but he waited for their answer. He couldn’t rush them into this. No matter how much he wanted to beg.

“Are you sure?”

Will pulled his hands from his pockets and turned around. He’d been getting more sleep in the last few weeks than he’d had in months, but right now he felt more tired than he had in years. Judging by the way the two of them flinched when he met their eyes, they saw it too.

“Yes. I have to do this.”

“what do you need”

“I need you to user your power on me. I need you to split me between as many worlds as possible. All of them if you can.”

No.”

Unimportant’s sudden emergence into reality caused the air to ripple. The only thing still obscured was his face, but the wave of shock and an anger rolling off of him made his message clear.

“You have to. That’s how he does it. We can’t kill Eclipse because he’s barely even here. If we want to beat him, we need to hit him everywhere at once.”

If I do that, you’ll never get back. You may not even be sane enough to do anything once I start.

“That’s what she’s here for. Janus can anchor my mind so that I can keep going long enough to finish it.”

There’s another way.

“No there isn’t!” Will’s power rolled out with his voice, carrying it throughout the city. “Eclipse has killed tens of thousands of people in our world alone. He hasn’t aged since the start of the Cold War. He just killed Red Racer. We have to do this…Please.”

For just a moment, Unimportant let himself appear fully in the world. He met Will’s eyes for the first time since he’d returned from in between. His eyes were red and cracked, whether from crying or from fighting all day. His gaze dared Will to look away, but Will held steady.

Unimportant closed his eyes and let himself fade. “okay

Will looked to Janus.

“You had me at kill Eclipse.”

Will nodded and turned back towards Eclipse, still hovering in the center of the city without a care in the world. “Then I’m ready.”

The two slider’s walked up behind Will and placed a hand each of his shoulders.

Will closed his eyes.

When he opened them again, he was looking at thousands of worlds.

A lot of them, maybe even most of them, looked just like Macropolis. He was in forest. He was on mountains. He was standing on a lake of lava and floating in the emptiness of space. His mind should be in pieces. His brain should be oozing out of his ears. But he focused himself completely on a single thought.

In every world, Eclipse was floating in front of him.

He could see Eclipse clearly for the first time. The cloak of darkness that normally shrouded him from view was practically invisible. Will could see the long slender fingers dancing in the air as if each were conducting its own orchestra. Will could see the same well pressed suit that Eclipse had been wearing the day he got his powers. But most importantly, Will could see the razor thin white line running across his neck.

Will stepped forwards, and Eclipse raised his arms towards him.

“William! It has been too long. And here you are, sitting on the throne of a god, just like I always knew you could. An heir of Mnemosyne deserves so much more than you have given yourself. Even the title you chose was so far beneath your potential that it is almost insulting. Rumor, the master of sound. You are so much more than that.”

Will kept moving.

“I’m here to kill you, Phillip.”

Eclipse laughed. “Kill me? I cannot die, William. You have barely even begun to enter my realm. Even after drinking the ambrosia and spreading yourself so very thin, you are only seeing a tenth of me. And why would you want to? Don’t you realize what you have done? If I were to help you, you could become as invincible as I am.“

“Did you know that I can’t help it? Every day, there are people hurt and killed and every one of them screams for help. And I hear every last one of them. For the last eight years, I have heard the dying words of every person you’ve killed. Every one of them curses your name, and you call yourself a god?”

“And you think that you’ll be the one to stop it? I have seen you in a thousand worlds, fighting millions of battles. You are powerful, but even the greatest of your songs cannot harm me. My experiments will not end here.”

Will didn’t slow down. “Can’t they? Are you sure? After all, you still have that scar.”

“Ah yes, your goddess’s gift. It was the kind of attack that never should have worked on me. But you two did work well together. Nonetheless, it was just a scratch. A fatal blow is nothing to a true god.”

Will was finally in arm’s length of Eclipse.

“For what it’s worth. I’m sorry it came to this.”

Eclipse’s smile only grew wider.

Will reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder.

It had been eight years since Will drank the ambrosia. After all that time, he had never pushed his power to its new limit. He knew what it would do to him.

Will’s power reached within Eclipse, past the point of sound, into the smallest level of vibration.

Eclipse felt it almost instantly.

“What are you doing?!”

His hand reached to grab at Will’s, but he was too slow. His finger’s brushing Will’s arm just gave another outlet for his power.

Eclipse’s fingers disintegrated.

“No!”

Will grabbed Eclipse tightly and trapped his arms in a hug. He had to, his fingers were going too.

“I’m sorry. But even you can’t survive this.”

Eclipse screamed, but Will couldn’t hear him anymore. His powers were entirely focused on his task.

For the first time in his life, William Writer experienced silence.

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Chapter 133: Grief

“MITCH!”

Rachel Chase flew for the pillar of light. She didn’t slow down for the shouts ringing from behind her. She didn’t stop for the hands that tried to grab for her. She didn’t stop for the walls of fire and rock and wind that sprung up in front of her.

She didn’t stop because 13 years ago she had complained that her parents brought home the little brother she had never even considered wanting.

She didn’t stop because 9 year ago, she had spent four hours scouring the park for the action figure her brother had dropped, and because the smile on his face when she brought it home had been worth every second her parents had grounded her.

She didn’t stop because 7 years ago, she had had to tell her little brother that their parents were never coming home again, and she had promised him that things would be okay, that she would never leave him.

She didn’t stop because 3 years ago, she had spent two months convincing her grandparents that she needed to move out of their house and take her little brother with her. Because he needed to be closer to school and she needed to be in the city.

She didn’t stop because 3 months ago, she had seen her brother do the impossible. Because after watching him lay in a hospital bed nearly catatonic for countless hours, he had broken free and faced down a villain on his own that had taken out half a dozen more experienced heroes in a few short days.

She didn’t stop because she couldn’t believe that anything could happen to him, because she had promised that she would never leave him, because she always believed that nothing would ever take him away from her.

She stopped after light had faded. When she reached the center of the pillar, where the ground had been scoured clean, she fell to her knees.

There wasn’t a mark on him, but he didn’t look like he was sleeping. She grabbed him and hugged him to her chest and prayed for him to fight her off like he’d done hundreds for times before. His arms hung limply behind him. She pulled the helmet from his head and begged him to breathe, to wake up.

His skin had already grown stiff and clammy. His eyes had already grown glassy. He looked like he’d been dead for hours.

She didn’t scream. She hadn’t taken a breath since the pillar appeared. Her sobs were quiet, but there wasn’t any sound to drown them out. Her tears dripped onto his face and she wiped them away.

She didn’t realize she had turned her power off completely until she felt the hands grabbing her shoulders. She gripped onto Mitch more tightly but they slowly pried her away. They were saying something, but she couldn’t understand them.

She let herself get pulled away, but her eyes never left her brother’s body. He had crumpled onto his side when she let go and she wanted to rush forward and put him back onto his back. She stared at him until the crowd of heroes closed up behind her.

They stared at her as she was pulled through the lines. She could see them turning to watch her, and she wanted to shout at them. She wanted to yell at them because her brother was dead and they were staring at her instead of going after the monster that killed him.

A figure retreated into a dark alley, and she knew who he was, but he couldn’t be here.

They finally pulled her back to the edges of the battle, where the injured heroes were laid out. They found her a spot on the curb and sat her down.

Someone was on one knee in front of her, and trying to talk to her. She let her eyes wander to the face and managed to recognize Hawthorne’s helmet.

“-be okay?”

She hadn’t heard most of the question, but Rachel knew what she was asking.

“Go.”  She put all the venom she had left in her into that word.

Hawthorne jerked back.

“Go get that monster. I’ll be fine.”

Hawthorne’s face was hidden, but Rachel knew she was hesitating.

“GO!”

She had started crying again. When she shouted, her tears were flicked off of her faces and landed on Hawthorne’s suit, which drank the liquid thirstily.

Hawthorne still moved slowly but she got up and walked back to the battle, watching Rachel over her shoulder.

Rachel didn’t watch her walk away. Her mind was drawn to the last image of her brother, lying on his side and slowly growing smaller as she was dragged away.

And then there was the man in the alley. He couldn’t be here, but she knew she saw him. Her mind’s eye lingered on the shadowy image and her face grew hot. The tears running down her face started to sting in her eyes before they were finally squeezed out. Her hands clenched into fists, and she slowly rose into the air.

She stormed through the sky. He wouldn’t be in the alley anymore, but she knew where he’d be running.

Away.

He could move fast, but not quietly. He wouldn’t have gone far.

Miss Mirror slammed into the ground in front of Will Writer.

Her fist slammed into his face. She didn’t put her power into it, but he wasn’t expecting the blow. Will went sprawling back onto the ground.

“Hello, Rachel.”

Even now, he sounded calm.

“You bastard. What the hell are you doing here?”

“I came-” Will got to his feet as he was talking. “when I saw your brother running to the fight. I’m sorry.”

Her tears had been blown dry during her flight, but she felt them melting her eyeballs from the inside, waiting to burst free.

“Sorry?” Her breath hissed through her teeth. “You’re sorry? You were supposed to protect him.”

Her fist slammed into his chest. There was no force behind it.

“You were supposed to watch him.”

Her fist slammed into him again.

“To make sure he was ready.”

Again.

“And you abandoned him. You abandoned all of them.”

Her fist slammed into him again and her tears finally burst free.

He stood there, still as a statue, taking it all.

“You ran away.”

Her fist dropped to her side and Will stepped back.

“I did.”

She looked up. There were circles under his eyes, and wrinkles on his face that she had never seen before.  He wasn’t crying. He didn’t even look sad. He looked up at the black figure hanging against the black sky.

“That man, comes back no matter how many times he’s beaten. No matter how many times he’s killed. He exists somewhere outside of this world that we can’t reach. There isn’t a hero on any world that can touch him.”

“I don’t care.” Miss Mirror was surprised to hear herself speaking.

Will turned back to face her.

“I don’t care where he his or when he is or if he is literally everywhere. That thing killed my brother.”

She looked at Will, and he was staring back at her, but his mind was somewhere completely different. She was going to punch him again, she could feel her skin starting to boil.

He turned and walked towards the battle.

“Where are you going?!” She shouted after him.

“To end it.”

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Chapter 132: Red Racer Saves the Day

The air had grown cold under the sunless sky. It bit into his skin as he rushed through the city until he could feel goose bumps rubbing against his suit. But he barely felt the cold; he was too excited. He hadn’t been able to run this fast since his sister started taking him on patrol with her. He didn’t want to stop.

More than that, he was excited to help. Tina had sent him out here to warn the others, because Eclipse was turning the monsters into something worse, but he had been dying on her couch. He had been trying to figure out the best way to leave since the sky had grown dark.

He was a hero; he wasn’t supposed to sit on a couch and watch other people save the city. His sister would never do that. His parents would never do that. None of his friends were doing that. It wasn’t fair that he was the only one who had to stay behind, just because he was younger.

He was Red Racer. A superhero. Being a superhero meant that it didn’t matter how old he was; he was supposed to help, no matter what happened.

The wound of gunfire echoed in his mind and he ran faster.

Superheroes didn’t let danger stop them. They ran towards danger, because that’s where they needed to be. That’s where Red Racer was going to be.

The battlefield opened in front of him. There were heroes on the outskirts. A lot of them were hurt. Some of them were helping the hurt ones. Red didn’t slow down, but he didn’t have to. His eyes danced along the bloody wounds and missing limbs and settled on their faces. His friends weren’t there.

Red Racer kept running. There were people ahead he could help.

He had an idea of where Allspades was, and where Unimportant would probably be. He could see Hawthorne and Burnout in the sky, slowly gathering a following of other flyers. There were a few silver heroes up there; one of them might be his sister.

Red Racer darted around the next building before running up the far side and stopping at the top. If Allspades wasn’t fighting, he’d be on a roof.

Allspades wasn’t hard to find. With the shadow-dome over the city, he stood out like a firefly. He and a few other heroes had gathered below the flyers on the street below. Red Racer moved straight for them, launching himself from building to building at top speed.

He gave a quick glance up to the flyers, but didn’t see any of them heading his way. When he looked back down, Allspades was staring straight at him.

Red stopped right in front of him. Before Allspades had a chance to react, Red already heard the whispers.

“What’s a kid doing here?”

“He’s going to get himself hurt.”

“He’s going to get someone else killed.”

“Isn’t that the kid who fought Jaeger?”

Red Racer ignored the voices, even though his fingernails were digging into hi palm. Even though his his teeth were clenched. Even though he could see the guns hiding behind his eyelids. Red Racer ignored the voices.

“Allspades we need to-“ He barely and a chance to start. Before the questions started.

“Red? What are you doing here? I thought you were going to stay with Mach.”

“She said-”

“Yes he was.”

Red flinched at his sister’s voice. He knew that tone, and he really didn’t want to turn around to see the face that went with it.

“And he has ten seconds to explain why he left or be in her living room.”

“She sent me. She said he’s trying to make them smarter.”

“What does that mean?” Allspades asked. “How are they getting smarter?”

“She didn’t say; she was looking at the screens-eens and then she was talking really fast-ast and not making any sense-ense and then she was practically shouting at me to get down here and warn you that he was gonna make them smarter and stronger and that we had to stop them before they wake up-up and-”

Red could feel himself running out of breath, which was odd because he hadn’t been out of breath since he’d gotten his powers. A hand rested on his shoulder. He slowly-for him at least-turned until he was looking in his sister’s eyes.

“Calm down, Red. It’s okay. You need to think. Did she say anything about what she meant by wake up?”

“When-en…” Red took a deep breath. And then another. “When she was looking at the screens, she said that they were fighting for control, I think she was afraid of one of them winning.”

Light flooded the sky. Red was facing the other way, and he still had to shut his eyes against the burning light. He heard a few heroes scream.

The light faded, but the screaming didn’t stop. When Red opened his eyes, the other heroes were already moving. His sister was the only one staying behind.

“Red, you have to go back to Mach’s.”

“But I’m already here!”

“You delivered the message. You did a good job, but you can’t fight these things. You need to leave.” Miss Mirror forced her brother to look her in the eyes. He tried not to see the way her entire body was shaking with every word. “Please, go. I can’t let you get hurt.”

“But-“ She didn’t’ let him finish before she flew away. “But that’s not fair.”

Red turned and watched his sister fly at the monster.

The heroes couldn’t even get close. There were no more randomly swatting tentacles or slow crawling movements. The blob of flesh wouldn’t stand still for more than a few moments before every one of its muscle’s would move at once, launching it over heroes and onto buildings. Its tentacles pierced into the towering sky scrapers and let it cling to them like a wasp nest.

Red couldn’t see clearly, but every time it jumped, there were a few heroes who couldn’t get out of the way in time, and the flesh monster was growing bigger.

His sister was only just arriving at the fight. He couldn’t help watching her. She was a flying tank, she could take hits that would flatten people twice her size and laugh them off without a scratch. The flesh monster could slam into her at full speed and it wouldn’t even make her flinch.

But he couldn’t shave the feeling that she was in danger. Something about the way it moved…about the way the heroes were disappearing. It jumped again, and Red watched closely. It was just coming up on another hero when a flash of light nearly blinded him. It happened quickly, almost too quickly for him to see, too quickly for someone who wasn’t as fast as him to have any chance of seeing.

Red launched himself forward. Even before he leapt off the firs roof, he could feel his wake stretching out behind him. He didn’t have long, but he couldn’t go straight here either.

Red jumped from building to building.  Hours of fighting had damaged most of them, and the broken pieces started to follow Red.

He circled the fight twice but he still didn’t have the kind of wake he needed. But he also didn’t have any more time. He saw his sister staring down the flesh monster. She had absolute confidence in her powers to protect her.

Red dragged his wake behind him and charged at the monster clinging on the wall of the skyscraper. His sister shouted, but he didn’t stop. Red grabbed the gravity creating his wake and flung everything he had at the flesh monster, shooting all the rubble he had gathered forward, and shooting himself backwards, straight at the ground. He had the chance to hear the monster scream before he was launched too far. He smiled.

He felt the air forced out of his lungs at the change in speed. He couldn’t breathe with the air rushing past him. He didn’t have a purchase, there was no way for him to stop his fall, but he closed his eyes and trusted that he would be fine.

His sister grabbed his outstretched hand. WHne someone grabbed the other he had to open his eyes. Hawthorne. He heard them screaming as they fought to slow him down and they only barely stopped their fall before his feet touched the ground.

“What do you think you’re doing?!” Their voices rang out together.

Red Racer gasped for air. He took three greedy lungfulls before he answered, but he was still out of breath.

“It’s…not…eating people. It’s..teleporting them.”

“What?” His sister’s voice snapped through the air. He couldn’t see her eyebrows, but even under her mask he knew they’d jumped to hide behind her bangs.

“It’s happening fast; I can barely see it, but its opening portals before it actually hits them.”

“Are you saying that thing’s a slider?” She was calming down, but her voice still echoed around them.

“It’s made of heroes,” Hawthorne said. “Who knows what it can do?”

Red looked into his sister’s eyes. His eyes were filling with tears. “You can’t get close; you can’t. Your power won’t protect you”

“Okay.” She took a deep breath. “Okay Red. You managed to hurt it. No one else has made it scream. Do you know what that means?”

“It means…” Red paused, and he could tell his sister was waiting for him to finish. “We need to hit it with a lot of stuff all at once.

“Unless we can get enough sliders to shut its power down,” Hawthorne said. “Unimportant was going to gather them. I don’t know how long it’ll take them to get here.”

There was a moment of silence. Red wanted to say something, but he was afraid his sister was going to send him away again. Then she turned to face him.

“Red…” she began. “Can you do that again? Hit it like that?”

“Yeah!” Red bit back the shout. “I mean… of course I can.”

“Do it. The second its shields are down, hit it with everything you can get. We’ll warn the others.”

Red started running before she finished. He’d grabbed the best pieces of rubble from the closer buildings, so he had to widen his run.

He caught glimpses of the fight between the buildings. Heroes were trying to attack from all sides with as much as they could, but the flesh monster had curled up on itself and none of them hit. Red didn’t stop running though.

He ran for minutes on end in endless circles. He was going as fast as he’d ever ran, maybe even faster. He didn’t have to look behind him to know that his wake had grown beyond what he had hit it with the first time. It had grown beyond what he and his father had traded blows with. When he was the tail end of the wake coming up in front of him, he just tightened his circle.

Through the rushing wind, he heard his sister’s voice. “Its shield is down, clear a path!”

Red Racer charged for the monster.

A thousand yards of debris followed him.

The flesh monster was on the ground this time. They had managed to lure it onto a main road, giving Red a clear path. He charged faster and faster, adding more to his trail until the last moment. There was too much to let him flow around him like he had before. A block out from the blob, Red leaned back and started to slide.

He put his arms over his face and let his wake rush over him. An earthquake flowed over his head. Shards of glass and pebbles bit into his arms and bounced off his helmet.

The monster’s scream was quiet compared to the onslaught flowing past Red; and it died before the torrent ended.

When the last of the noise finally died, Red clumsily got to his feet. His right leg would support his weight and he nearly fell back to the ground. Where the monster had been, there was only a mountain of rubble built up along the wall of the building.

There were people cheering in the distance. Red could see them, but he couldn’t hear them.

His sister and friends were moving towards him. They were shouting and waving.

Red started limping towards them and raised his hand to wave back.

His world turned white.

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