Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Meta Corps: Dream of the Youth (Part 1)

"Fly away little story, be free..."

Chapter 1 - August 6th, 2010

When he noticed that a hero was chasing them, Sergei Slade knew that he would have to execute Plan B as his massive tank leapt from the 405 freeway and into the parking lot of the Costa Mesa Mall; a dead end. Random shoppers either ran or flew out of Slades way as he left a trail of crushed vehicles in his wake. He made a hard one-eighty to face the freeway, cars piling up as if the tank were a hand running through sand. Slade paused to regain his bearings and held his bag filled with his stolen loot. He smiled and thought of the potential that could work in his favor stemmed from a pair of world-renowned gauntlets.
  Slade looked out of the viewport of his tank and saw a yellow, meta-generated force field cover the mall’s parking lot. Colorful meta humans, homo validus, born with fantastic powers hovered near the organic blockade. Although unqualified to be heroes, the metas were raised to embrace their inner good, and Slade was their target.
Slade laughed at them. The tank sat dormant.
“In a world of super men, only the privileged can fight.” He said.
 “Captain Redbird has penetrated the barriers, sir.” Slade’s wife, Liz said.
Slade nodded and looked up.
“I see him. A red spandex dot with a leather jacket isn’t that easy to miss…”
Slade laughed at the hero floating fifty feet away from them. He bit down on his cigar, lowered his shades, and pressed down on the bullhorn button.
“Captain Redbird; the hero with all density and intensity, but no ingenuity. I’m surprised that your power over your own mass doesn’t refer to your stupidity as well.” Slade’s voice echoed off the buildings like sandpaper.
Redbird curled his lip, his greasy hair caught on his unshaven whiskers.
“Said the military brat holed up in his tank…” He growled.
Redbird thought of the piece of the stolen knife in his utility belt. He had half of the hilt and Slade had the rest. Redbird pointed at the tank; his heroism bleeding through by his exaggerated pose.
“Your loot belongs in a museum, Slade! The Blade of the Amber Talon is worth nothing to you!”
Slade looked at Liz with a knowing smile.
“He thinks that that’s all we’ve got.”
Liz nodded.
“I say that we let him. What harm is there if we each fight for the whole of the blade? Just think too, if we win and escape, than the EnWol gauntlets should soon make a profitable hmm…. splat on society.” She said.
Slade laughed and aimed his canon at the obnoxious hero. Redbird narrowed his eyes and swore. He swooped up into the air and Slade’s grin broadened. He snapped and held both the control wheel and his sack of stolen treasures in hand.
“This is where the fun begins. Dive you galoot!”
Redbird looked down at the tank. The front was coughing up bursts of black smoke, presumably damaged when it exploded into the parking lot. Redbird gave a half smile. He flexed his hands from his perch in the air; calling any available resources to help him increase his density. He aimed for the damaged portion of the tank, and dove with a scream. Slade stood up in his seat.
“Yes, come on!”
Liz made adjustments on her console.
“The tank is ready, the weak point is set. Keep aiming at him.”
Slade ground his teeth.
“Brace for impact, Liz.”
Redbird slammed his shoulder, full force, into the tank. The rear lifted high into the air with Redbird acting as a pivot. Slade laughed like a madman as the tank flipped into the air.
“We have a hit! Redbird is right on target!” Liz yelled. She could feel gravity tugging her to her side, and then upward and back.
“May Gaia bless America, honey!” Slade whooped and flipped a switch under glass. Previously unlit buttons and switches lit up on Liz’s console.
The tank tumbled across the parking lot toward the metas and the main road. The people behind the force field skittered back a few steps as the tumbling beast rushed at them. Redbird chased after it, looking for a place to grab and pull it back. He closed in and grabbed hold of an inch thick bar. It instantly tore off and wrapped around his fist like the triangle of a binder clip. The tank came at rest on top of several cars. The heroes arms burned from the weight of the tank. He threw the triangular rod and swore again.
Liz pressed a button as the top of the tank hit the ground.
“Initializing alternate combat mode bravo-uniform-lima now! Sergei go!”
Slade nodded and pulled his portion of the ceremonial orange blade from the sack and jammed it into a slot.
The roof of the tank parted down the middle. Redbird sneered as a sphere emerged from the remains of the tank. It did not seem to have a visible method of propulsion, and the top hemisphere was completely transparent. Slade and Liz peered out from the top.
“It’s a funny story, Captain Redbird,” Slade said from his megaphone. “The mechanism to release this puppy was caught after a ferocious battle from before I was able to get my hands on it. Yes, you destroyed the main motor, but that can be kludged back together. This baby though, she has the real guns on her. How, you ask? Well, weapons that can cut diamonds.”
The sphere hummed as it produced sets of lasers with a brilliant orange glow. Slade took aim at Captain Redbird, itching to use his new toys.
“Now son, if you don’t want to be turned into a super dense oil stain on the lot, I would surrender your piece of the blade to me. Got that? If you don’t do it, well, I may have to hurt you.” Slade said.
Redbird sneered and posed to defend himself. “This keeps getting better and better…”

             “I wonder what that is…” Lora Summers stepped over to the railing of the covered bridge between malls and squinted. A yellow dome encapsulated the southeast region of the mall. She looked down to the street below and saw several police cars and flying meta humans speeding toward the scene. Some of the fliers looked like they were made of fire.
Random patches of the dome glowed brighter as it started to shrink. Lora shielded her eyes and put her bags down. She made a nervous laugh.
“Oh boy, that doesn’t look very good at all.”

             The civilians and eager mall patrons looked on as Slade chased Redbird through the parking lot. Those that could practice their meta powers floated outside the force field, itching to help. The others that were able to produce force fields worked to keep the battle in and the innocents out.
Redbird kept an eye on the orb, looking for an opening. He ducked behind a large wreckage of cars, increased his density for a moment and ran at the floating orb from the other end. He felt his footsteps imprint the asphalt and destroy the cars in his way. Slade giggled as he aimed for Redbird, the assisted system promising an accurate shot every time.
Redbird leapt up and he concentrated on his fists, giving them enough mass to make holes in solid iron. Slade moved his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other. He saw the whites of Redbirds eyes.
“Die you scarlet snake!”
Slade got a direct hit on Redbird’s chest. The top of his costume disintegrated and he fell. He rolled on impact and sprang to his feet. He glanced up at the globe and decided to run around in zigzags to make himself a harder target. He could not get hit again.
Slade was hysterical. He was guffawing, slapping his knees and he appeared to have trouble breathing because of it. Liz stared at him. She cocked her eyebrow and lowered her half moon glasses. Slade turned to her and pointed at the parking lot.
“How did you like that? That sucker actually works!” He clapped and laughed again.
Liz took a moment to glare at him.
“Are you alright?” She asked finally.
Slade caught sight of Redbird dashing away and gave chase.
“Never better, why?” Slade growled.
“You are not quite as… animated. Remember that we don’t want to kill him, we just need the remaining part of the hilt.”
Slade snorted.
“I’m going to maim him. If he dies than that’s his problem.”
Redbird ran the parameter of the dome as Slade tried to destroy him. Liz caught a flash in the corner of her eye and glanced up at the force field. She was sure that something was happening. She focused her eyes, unsure of whether she was seeing things or not. She gasped.
“Sergei, the shield is shrinking.”
Slade looked up without a word and nodded after a moments study.
“This means two different things,” Liz continued. “The metas that are projecting the field are losing their power, or they are compressing it to trap us. My guess is on the latter.”
Slade giggled again. He felt his ego grow and it fueled an idea. He took his sights off Redbird and pointed up at the force field.
“Sergei, what are you doing? The force field is a mental projection. The attack may put the metas into permanent shock.”
Slade laughed again and set the laser to its full power.
“Brain freeze!”
The lasers combined into concentrated beam and the shield quivered.
The force field metas were in agony. Blood gushed from their noses and ears as they screamed and fell. The mental wall faded away. Slade clapped and hollered. Liz felt a pang of guilt and fear in her stomach.
“Sergei, we are not terrorists.” She said. “What would possess you to…?” Liz trailed off. The mass of meta civilians started to swarm the floating orb, including Captain Redbird.
“Hey! What is this?” Slade yelled.
Several angry faces and all colors of the rainbow blocked out the light. Slade both fired his lasers in random directions and rolled to each side to dislodge the metas.
“Unlicensed punks! Get off!”
Liz stood up.
“Sergei, go to plan­—”
Liz gasped. The orb trembled and sent her to the floor. Slade growled and removed the Blade of The Amber Talon from its slot and hid it on a holster on his leg. The floor glowed a bright orange.
“Elizabeth! Defensive maneuver Tango-Alpha—”
The floating orb exploded.

             Lora watched with a terrified fascination as an orange beam of light sliced through the west end of the mall as if it were a sponge cake. The beam vanished and the building moaned as the new top half slid toward the main road. A split second after the beam vanished, Lora started to run towards the ruined building.
An explosion rocked the south end of the mall. Lora could not help but turn to it and scream. She saw that something was rushing at her, but she did not have time to react. The debris bounced off Lora’s chest and she fell on her butt. Lora grabbed the debris on instinct. The bridge dipped a little to the west and Lora stood up, unaware that she was cradling the two cylinders that had hit her.
“Gaia’s Gadflies!”
Lora looked around to see if she could lend any assistance, and saw a police officer flying toward her.
“Ma’am, let’s go!”
The meta officer scooped Lora into his arms and flew up the incline back to the mall’s east side.
Lora held her hand out.
“Wait! Cindy! My friend is in there! I’m her only ride back.”
“Is your friend a meta?”
Lora nodded.
“Yes, but—”
“Then it’s a good thing that she can fly. The west side is no longer safe; we can’t go in and get her on our own.”
The top half of the mall slid far enough off its base, crumpling the bridge. Lora shrieked and the officer flew out from under the covered ceiling.
As they ascended, Lora watched as the sea dragon inspired bridge crumpled onto the parking garage and palm tree laden Bear Street below. Hundreds of unharmed meta heroes vacated the new opening of the base like a cartoonish swarm of bees in a hive. Lora hoped that her elastic meta human friend, Cindy Richards, had been one of them. 

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