Monday, September 19, 2011

The Meta Corps: Dream of the Youth (Part 2)

Chapter 2

             “Like, great cheese and macaroni, Lora! That was totally intense!” Cindy Richards walked back and forth across the living room carpet. Lora sat on the sofa hugging both her legs and a pillow, bouncing back from her unique shopping experience.
Lora’s parents had finished talking to her about the attacks at the mall. Her father, Louie, had said that most go through their lives with a two percent chance of being in an attack like that. Her mother, Serena, said that the safety of those involved, including Lora’s, was one of the more important things.
Cindy though could barely contain her excitement over the occurrence and the heroic possibilities.
“I mean, like, how many times does that even happen in SoCal? We got a real super villain attack! It’s, like, wow!”
A noise of wet disgust came from the other end of the sofa. Lora’s sister, Sarra sat with her laptop, shaking her head.
“Okay Ms. Hero-wanna-be Cindy, look, are you so caught up in the moment that you didn’t think about who could have died? The internet says that that explosion killed fourteen people, six metas, and Crystal Court’s slide into the street killed another twenty-five. This is after Slade and his wife got away, somehow unharmed, with Redbird babbling on about him.
You can fly and stretch, did you use those powers to save anyone? Better yet, was it a good idea to bother since the bad guy’s explosion was caused by the swarm of metas? Most of which could probably conjure up some fire, I might add. When are too many goody-goods too much?”
Cindy frowned.
“Okay, like, that sounds like something a bad guy would say, and I’m not going to let a bad guy with purple hair bring me down.” Cindy said her valley girl accent in full force.
Sarra looked up at her golden brown hair creeping into her eyes. She curled her lip.
“My hair hasn’t been purple for months now. I stopped dyeing it when I accepted that I wasn’t gifted enough to have your platinum shade.”
Cindy crossed her arms and looked down at Sarra. Lora stood up and grabbed Cindy’s shoulder.
“Hey you guys, come on. Please be good, please? I just had a really scary experience, and I don’t need any more stress. I don’t want to remember this on top of that in our last few weeks together.”
Cindy nodded.
 “Yeah, take Lora’s advice; she’s the oldest, after all.”
 Sarra closed her eyes. She felt her blood boil with the reminder that she was the youngest of the duo. Sarra forced herself to remain calm; it was hard to be reserved sometimes.
 “By a minute or so, sounds pretty typical for fraternal twins.” She said through her teeth. Sarra inhaled and cleared her throat.
“Okay fine, I can see that age proclamation and B-F-F’s forever is more important than Lora’s harrowing experience. Of course, her bouncing back from something like that within minutes is her trademark.”
Lora clasped her hands together.
“Our move to San Francisco is a big thing, Sarra. I know that you have friends here that you’re going to miss.” Lora drew her honey blonde hair out of her face.
Sarra smirked.
“I have enemies that I will be glad to get away from.”
Cindy pointed at Sarra.
“Okay, dressed like that, I’m sure you have a bunch.”
Sarra sneered. Her shirt said advised to “stop fucking arguing and reboot.”
“Like, grow up, Sarra. Don’t dress like you’re fifteen or something.”
Sarra looked at her sister, who nodded in agreement with Cindy.
“That shirt is a little rude, Sarra.”
Sarra scoffed.
“Yeah, like a fifteen year old would know what this means.” Sarra pointed at Cindy. “Know what, look at you. You always wear the same kind of spandex out like you’re obsessed with the gym. Do you think you’re Xu Cougar?” She asked.
Cindy wore an athletic short-sleeved top and running capris. She tugged the bottom hem of her shirt.
“What’s wrong with my clothes? It’s not like; some cotton will stretch with me.”
Cindy rocked her leg forward and threw it up across her back. It stretched over her shoulder and she caught her own ankle before it hit her chest.
Sarra rolled her eyes and stood up.
“Yeah, having the ability to touch your own toes is useful, I gotta say.”
 Lora frowned. She hated how Cindy and her sister clashed. She started to make the move to break them up.
“You guys, give it a rest. Sarra, why don’t you go get some soda.”
Sarra snorted.
“Don’t cast me away like your slave.” She said and headed for the kitchen.
Cindy gurgled with disgust.
“She’s like, a total brat Lora.”
Lora helped Cindy to put her leg down without it going out from under her.
“You need to get to know her, that’s all.” Lora said.
Cindy nodded and pulled on her hand so that it would stretch a little.
“I have and I totally think that Sarra might work to get me tested in a lab, or something über sinister like that.”
Lora looked up to think.
 “No, that’s silly. Sarra wouldn’t do that. Lots of people can stretch.”
Cindy shrugged.
 “We aren’t exactly two peas in a pod, Lora. More like, she’s a sour grape, and I’m… I’m, like, some kind of taffy, or something” She sneered and twirled her short hair in her finger.
 Lora laughed.
 “Cindy, that’s picture-perfect.” She said.
 Cindy smiled.
 “Really? Cool! I guess that you would be, umm… a strawberry then.”
 “Oh, yummy, I love strawberries.”
Sarra came out from the kitchen and threw a can underhand at Lora.
“Hey Pinkie, heads up.”
The can of soda flew at Lora. She flinched and got ready to catch it, when Cindy came out and did it for her.
“Okay, that wasn’t nice, you could have, like, hurt her.”
Sarra scoffed and sat back down.
“What-ever!” she said to mock Cindy. She popped open her can and absorbed herself in her laptop.
Cindy gave Lora the soda.
“Freak on a leash, I’ll be glad to get away from her.” Cindy croaked. “Hey, I’m glad that you and your parents, at least, are finding better things with this move.”
Lora smiled.
“Daddy got a promotion to head art director at Maze of Trees. I’m so happy for him, Cindy.”
“He’s going to help create such fine video games like ‘Who’s Afraid of the Troll?’”
Lora frowned and looked away.
“I don’t know that one, Cindy. Was Dad involved with that one?”
Cindy stuck out her tongue and made a quick raspberry.
“It stunk, like, don’t worry about it.”
She didn’t.
“Well, Orange County won’t be the same without my Lora Summers.” Cindy said. She stretched her arms out to give Lora a hug. Lora did the same with her non-elastic body.
“Nor will San Francisco feel complete without my Cindy Richards.”
Sarra looked up at them and smirked.
“Stretch and Sugar was filmed on location in front of a live studio audience.”
Lora broke off from the hug.
“Sarra, would you please stop it? We had a rough day today. Do you know how rude—”
“Lora, shut up. It’s how I cope with things.” Sarra said without looking at her.
Lora flinched.
Cindy watched the two sisters, Lora deflating and then springing back up and Sarra showing her patented apathy with horrible posture.
Cindy pointed at them.
“I may be, like, a year younger than the both of you combined, but even I know that that was wrong.”
Sarra glanced at Cindy.
 “Lora, why do you always do what people tell you to do? Especially from her?”
Lora’s eyebrows knitted together and then she giggled.
“What do you mean, Cindy? I like to help out.”
Cindy shook her head, her short bobbed hair hitting her face.
 “I mean that you’re… you’re a bit too nice, you know?” Cindy continued.
 Lora was confused. She cocked her head as Sarra chimed in.
 “Oh, you mean like you’re too much of an idiot and I’m too proud, stoic, and mean?”
 Cindy pointed at her.
 “Like, yeah! You’re right for once, Sarra.”
Sarra stifled a laugh. Cindy frowned, a little confused, and then her face darkened.
“Hey, wait a second, you…”
 Lora held her hand out.
 “Hey Cindy, let it go. What do you mean I’m too nice?”
 Cindy frowned and sat back down, glaring at Sarra.
 “As I was saying, it’s not that that’s a bad thing that you’re nice, Lora, but I noticed that it’s gotten you in trouble before. Remember how you dressed up as Sarra that one time and she showed you where Kevin Sherman lived?”
 Cindy glanced at Sarra and her widening smileShe was smiling.
“I do remember that.” Lora clicked her tongue and shook her head. “The poor boy was promised some… umm…” Lora couldn’t help but giggle. She waved her hand. “…you know, of that, but… he was too shy to go through with it.”
 “So, like, why did you agree to it? Why did you let Sarra take advantage of you for that long?” Cindy asked.
 Lora’s giggling dwindled and she bit her lower lip.
 “Well, she’s my sister, and I just wanted to help her out. Dressing up like her sounded really fun too.”
 Cindy nodded.
 “Well, what if Sarra had lead you to, say a serial rapist—”
 Both sisters expressed their protest at the last word; both also defended Sarra. Cindy held her hands up, her voice rising to be heard.
 “I never said that Sarra had or would, dudes, but I meant that—” A pillow struck Cindy’s face. Lora looked at her grumpy sister.
 “I’m sorry Sarra.” Lora said. Sarra made a rough grunt.
 “See,” Cindy started and tossed the throw pillow. “Why apologize on her behalf?” She looked up in thought.
 “Okay, I guess that was justified, I kinda crossed the line, but still. My point was that… Lora, I love you, but you know, even the clean cut civilian housewife with a flared dress and like, that creepy smile listens to their gut. At least I think they do, they might be zombies at that point, but never mind.”
 “Eww.” Lora said.
Cindy waved her hand.
 “Look, it’s good to be nice, but don’t be overly generous and do weird requests. Find the mama bear in you and learn to say no. Be more assertive! You know, instead of going yes-yes-yes all the time.”
Lora’s head slumped and she saw the design on her shirt; a family of cartoon cats was walking on a terrain-turned-caption that proclaimed “Whatever It Takes.” Lora could imagine a “Say Yes” preceding a comma floating in the pink void above the cats. She sighed and sat down in a seat.
 “You know your subservience might be the reason why none of you two have ever had steady boyfriends.” Sarra said.
 Lora looked at her sister, puzzled.
 Cindy scowled.
 “Hey, look who’s talking, chica. Like, I’m rubber and you’re glue. Why don’t you tell the audience where your boyfriend is?”
Lora laughed at the throwback. She gasped and stood up.
“That reminds me; I left something in the car from that event, just a second.” She left the house and went out to her yellow Bjalla.
Lora had thrown the chrome cylinders in the back seat in her haste to get home, and then forgot about them. She opened the car door and pulled the odd things from the back seat to study them. They were a pair of gauntlets. They collapsed like foam and were as light as, but they gleamed like metal.
Lora marveled at the odd construction as she closed her car up and trotted back to the house. Sarra made a quip as Lora walked back in.
 “You know Cindy,” she croaked. Cindy smiled at Lora and they waved at each other.
“I think that it should be known that I don’t look like some kind of athletic meta hero that tells kids to eat their vegetables. All while collecting green of a different kind.”
 Cindy frowned.
“Oh no…” Lora moaned. Sarra smiled with mocking cheer.
 “Hey there kiddos, I’m C-Girl, and I have the power to hand you my celery sticks! Uh-oh! Who’s that I hear? Why, it’s the dastardly no-good nick, Professor Lazy Bones!”
 Cindy’s eyebrows shot up. Sarra tried not to laugh as Cindy approached her.
 “He’s come to take away our youths abilities to play hearty sports like basketball, participate in invigorating activities such as running on a track field, as well as—”
 Cindy punched her square in the shoulder and left. Lora gasped and covered her mouth while Sarra laughed and hissed over the pain. Cindy stomped into the bathroom to get away and calm down.
“Are you alright, Sarra? Do you need ice?” Lora asked.
Sarra’s laughter was displaced by her moaning. She rubbed her arm.
 “Crap, she can pack a punch. My arm’s going to be black.”
 “I think that just because you can’t get along doesn’t mean that you two can’t keep quiet.” Lora said.
 Sarra snorted.
 “Blah blah blah… Let’s all be friends, and this way we’ll be fine…” Sarra slumped on the couch.
 Lora nodded and looked at the gauntlets. She undid the hinges to put them on.
 “Yep. I just wish that I knew how to enforce that a little bit better.”
Lora put the other one on and walked out in front of Sarra, who did not care to look up.
“Sarra, these bracelets, well, they found me today and I was wondering if you knew about… them…”
The inner side of the gauntlets glowed and Lora’s wrists burned. She shrieked and tried to remove them. Sarra stood up.
“What in the…” Sarra trailed off as her sister fainted.
Lora’s wrists rose above her head and brought her body into the air. A white light erupted from the gauntlets and Sarra turned away to shield her eyes. She bumped into the arm of the sofa and fell behind it. An inhuman whine came from Lora; it’s pitch escalating.
 Sarra looked back and saw both her parents, Louie and Serena, with Cindy behind, rush out to see what was going on. All four of them were too stunned and confused to know how to act.
“What happened?” Serena yelled.
 Cindy looked up at Lora’s arms and realized what was going on. She started to smile. From Lora’s shrill whine came several deep and pulsating tones.
Lora woke up with a gasp and tried to regain control. She felt the gauntlets squeeze her wrists so hard that they were going numb. Bouts of electricity ran up and down her body to replace her clothes with something new. The whine peaked before letting out a larger burst of sound that traveled the house and shattered all the windows.
 Lora’s odd torment disappeared as suddenly as it had come, leaving telltale changes. She hovered in the air wearing a two-tone one-piece suit. The bodice and the top part of the short sleeves, elbow length gloves, and pants were pink, while the rest of the sleeves and wide belt were yellow. Along with the suit, there was a pair of flat-heeled pink boots with yellow soles and trim. Her hair developed pink streaks and a matching pink hair band. Lora’s former clothing was in a pile under her feet.
 On the exact instant that Lora had regained control, she worked to rip the gauntlets from her arms. Cindy jumped up.
 “Lora wait!”
 Her arms stretched like water and wrapped themselves around Lora. A panic-stricken Lora looked back at a grinning Cindy and her confused family. She let her breath out with sharp mewls.
“What in the name of a horrible void is going on?” Sarra said.
 Lora nodded and looked to Cindy for an answer. Cindy carefully released her grip and whispered.
“Are those gauntlets the things that you left in the car?”
Lora nodded furiously. Cindy laughed.
“Coolness! Okay, you know how I said all that stuff about saying no to weird things? Ignore it! Know why?” Cindy’s voice could not contain itself.
 Lora made such a slight jerk of her head that it may have been a shiver. Cindy held her rounded arms out, double her own height, to calm Lora.
 “I don’t know how you got them from the malls freak out, but those…” Cindy squealed and pointed at Lora’s arms. Lora looked at her new accessories.
 “Those are the Gauntlets of the EnWol! You’re a hero!” Cindy said. She retracted her arms to hold her fists to her chin, and jumped up and down with a squeal. Lora held her head and noticed that she was hovering in midair.
She looked back at Cindy.
 Louie stepped up, his gravely surfer voice strained to its limit.
 “Wait, wait, my little girl was caught in a villains trap and is now a meta? Was there some radiation involved in that blast?”
 “I wanna be a meta…” Sarra mumbled.
 Cindy put her hands on her hips.
“Like, no, I’m a meta. I’m the one with the insensitivity to pain and a vicious heart with a flying, stretching body. I’d be one sick puppy without my elasticity too. Lora’s an EnWol now, a…” Cindy searched her mind. “She’s a Pink Lemon, as Florence Sanders was first designated.”
Louie and Serena exchanged glances.
 “Lora’s a liquefied flying powerhouse?” Serena asked.
Cindy nodded.
“Of course! Awesome huh? What do you think, Lora?”
 Lora was puzzled. She dropped to the floor, tugged on her gloves then looked at the windows with a frown.
 Louie followed Lora’s gaze and noticed the shattered windows for the first time. His face turned red and he swore as he went to inspect the damage. Lora looked at her flabbergasted mother for a moment and then at the floor. She didn’t know the first thing about metas or half of the margin that became heroes. She knew about the EnWol and the Meta Corps branches in the back of her mind, how some people could fly, stretch their bodies, or control some elements, all for good or bad, but not much else.
 Lora held her hands up at shoulder length.
 “Umm, Cindy?”
Cindy took a step with a wide grin.
“Yes, Pink Lemon?”
 Lora looked at her with a puzzled expression and chuckled nervously.
 “Oh boy, how do I say this?” She held her chin and then looked at her glove. “Ooo, that feels weird. Okay, I am very grateful that our evolution has given us the mutation and opportunity to become heroes if we want to, but…”
 Cindy laughed.
 “Um, hello, Lora. EnWol aren’t meta, duh.”
 Lora nodded and touched Cindy’s shoulder.
 “Oh, I know that, but… well, since I don’t have a mutation gene like you do, Cindy, I haven’t really concerned myself with it…”
 Cindy scoffed.
 “Well, Peach, I’m a meta; you concern yourself with me.”
 “No, Cindy. Well…”
 Lora threw her arms to her side and sighed.
 “Cindy, why?”
 Cindy laughed.
 “Why? What do you mean by why? This is the…”
 Cindy’s smile faded and she recalled seeing the life changing strain of being EnWol. Lora had an idea of what was being presented to her, but she was unsure of the changes at hand. Cindy frowned and picked at Lora’s elastic costume.
“Umm…like, if life takes a dump on you, than you learn how to deal with it, right?”
Lora nodded.
 “Yep, I guess. If life hands you lemons, you make pink lemonade?” She asked.
 Cindy laughed and pointed at Lora.
 “Exactly! Yes! So why not take this opportunity to like, totally step up your game and make a difference in this world as a hero. No one so far has given up the chance to be EnWol, you know.”
Lora frowned and looked at her parents. Serena shook her head and Louie was too preoccupied with the glass and his temper.
 “I don’t know, Cindy… Thinking about being thrown into a different world is exhausting.”
 Cindy took Lora’s shoulders.
 “I’ve been working on it, making a name for myself and all. A hero in training could help the newbie, right?”
 Lora gave a small smile.
 “This is a teensy bit too confusing.”
 Cindy bumped Lora’s shoulder with her fist.
 “Hey, it won’t be that bad. You might even meet some kind of super hunk. Wouldn’t that be something?” Cindy said.
 Lora made a genuinely happy smile for the first time since she put the gauntlets on. She took her hair in her hand and twirled it, basking in her own romantic thoughts. Cindy made a sly grin.
 “Hey, I know that look.”
Except for a slight flush of her cheeks, Lora did not react.
Sarra walked up.
 “Hold on, hold on. The Antiquity Channel has said that the EnWol usually put the bracelets on and they immediately turn into goo.” Sarra poked her sister. “Lora is still solid,” she grabbed Lora’s wrist, “and she still has a pulse. Her heart should be gone.”
 Lora’s dreamy look fell and she paled.
 “Gone?” She squeaked.
 Cindy nodded.
 “Hey, yeah, I noticed that. I wonder what’s up.”
 Lora frowned.
 “Why do I need to change into goo, Cindy? Sarra? Whomever? That’s… kinda yucky.”
 Sarra motioned toward Cindy.
“I don’t know, but Ms. Hero Morph here should. Tell us.”
Cindy sneered and looked back to Lora.
 “Umm, okay, so the EnWol need to turn to goo to be able to stretch so that they don’t get hurt, right?”
Lora nodded. Cindy swept an extending arm out.
“Well, they’re all like that. It’s a staple power for them; it just needs to happen and stuff.”
 “You’re just stretchy though, Cindy, you can’t get hurt like that either way.” Sarra said.
 Cindy shrugged.
 “I could get hurt if I couldn’t stretch; I just wouldn’t feel it. I would bet that stretching normally would hurt like a salty snail though.”
Lora nodded.
 “That sounds, right, Cindy. I remember how sick you got when your appendix burst.”
 Cindy held her stomach.
 “Oh, for sure, Lora. That’s about as bad as it got. I’ve totally been sick to my stomach before, but that was really friggin bad.”
 Lora nodded and looked back at her mother. Serena looked like she was nursing an oncoming headache. Lora dropped to her feet, unsure of how she knew how to stop hovering, and walked over to her mother.
 “What do you think of this, Mom? This is, well, pretty dazzling and I’ll do my best, but…” Lora asked. She twirled her hair in her finger while slowly grinding her left set of toes on the linoleum.
Serena sighed; she felt her developing migraine worsen.
 “Lora, you just turned twenty one. That’s technically an adult, so it’s your choice. You’re a good kid and I’ll be pleased with you no matter what you choose to do.
That was a good word that you used: dazzled. I am dazzled by the malls destruction, how you could have been killed; then this hero biz and the windows. Some things are too much, baby and I’m glad that you can keep sane while it happens.”
Lora nodded with a smile and thanked her mother. Cindy stretched her arm and clamped her hand on Lora’s shoulder.
“Lora, this is a risky business. You might hurt someone; or someone might hurt you if you don’t turn stretchy real quick. But think of all the good that you could do for mankind! The first Pink Lemon, Florence Sanders, wearing those very gauntlets opened the door for acceptance with those powers.
Hey, before Florence showed up to help stop Hitler, metas either kept to themselves or the people around them made sure that they kept to themselves. Now they’re all over the place because Florence proved that metas are people too. Now they’re out in the open, telling everyone about their abilities and pushing an understanding!”
 Cindy eyed Sarra.
“Everyone they can trust, anyway.” She turned back to Lora and stretched her neck a little. “Like, I think that these are the same gauntlets, they kinda alternate between partners, if I’m right.”
 Sarra rolled her eyes and her reserve of sarcasm bubbled.
 “O fair sis’, didn’t this meta tell you to refuse weird prospects, to just say no, regardless of it being redacted? Surely this asset was not forgotten in the commotion.” She said.
Cindy sneered at Sarra.
 “This is, like hardly weird, you idiot!”
 Lora got between her friend and her sister.
 “You guys please don’t start! Please?”
 Sarra rolled her eyes with a sigh and walked away. Cindy smiled and lightly backhanded Lora’s shoulder.
 “Well, you vanquished your first evil, Lora, how did it feel? Wanna do some more?”
 Lora looked at the hopeful Cindy; seeing her heart fluttering at the prospect. Lora smiled.
 “Would you be able to help me out, Cindy? You know more than I do.”
 Cindy’s smile faded with a sigh.
 “I wish that I could. Meta heroes need to have finished high school. I’m barely seventeen, so I have another year to go, a year and a half at the most. ”
 Lora stuck out her lower lip in a pout.
 “Do you still want to do this though?” Cindy asked.
 Lora nodded and smiled.
 “Well, sure! It sounds like a lot of fun anyway.”
 Cindy suddenly whooped and hugged Lora. Lora exchanged the hug and noticed that Cindy had hovered almost horizontally.
 “Oh cool, cool, cool! Whats the hero name going to be, Lora? Pink Lemon? My EnWol mentor, Helena Christophers in HB is the Dazzling Blaze.”
Lora tilted her head back and forth with a laugh.
 “What? Oh, I don’t know. Pink Lemon is cute. I’ll go with that.”
 Cindy moved back and made an okay sign with her hand.
 “A classic, Lora! Good choice! Come on, we need to tell someone at Meta Corps about you.”
 Cindy turned and flew out the open window. Louie watched Cindy go and slapped his forehead.
 Lora, trying to fly, felt herself lift up and ahead. She apologized to her father. Louie pointed outside the window.
 “Just go, Lora.”
 Lora nodded and she flew, putting her arms out in front of her to follow Cindy into the air. Louis was swearing to himself about the glass as Sarra stepped up behind him.
 “Now why couldn’t you two have made me be able to do that stuff, huh?” She asked.
“Sarra!” Serena warned.
 Louie glared at her, the color of his face sharing that of a beet. Sarra shrugged with a curled lip.
Serena sighed from across the room and spoke.
 “Sarra, I can handle a lot, including you and your sister, but… the move upstate, the glass, the mall, Lora and the EnWol… this is too much, I need to lie down. Sarra, just help your father with the window. Without any smart-ass remarks, please.”
 Serena left and Sarra looked at her dad.
 “So, do you need my Goon to haul the new glass around, or what?” 

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