Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Meta Corps: Dream of the Youth (Part 11)

  Chapter 14

             Tench was the first of the three to see it. The cloud was dark, brooding and sat low over eastern San Francisco. Tench slowed to a hover, and Lora and Sarra did the same
 “What is that? That’s a mean looking storm.” Lora asked, her voice wavering.
“That sucker must be a mile in diameter.” Sarra said.
 Tench cracked his neck, the sound inaudible from the wind.
 “That looks like it’s your very first day on the field, ladies.”
 Sarra snarled.
 “Doesn’t the first day come after extensive training? I thought that first days with no experience only happened in the comics.”
Tench and Lora replied simultaneously.
 “Where do you think the writers get these kinds of ideas?”
The two exchanged glances and laughed. Sarra got a kick out of the synchronicity. She pointed at them with a rounded elbow.
 “Wow. The stars shine on you two, hard.”
 Their laughter fell to nervous levels. Tench fiddled with a dial on his goggles while Lora watched him with a swelling chest.
 “Rachel, hey, it’s Tench, I’m seeing an odd cloud in what looks like Dogpatch. Is anyone on this?”
 Rachel sighed. Levan was asking her what was going on, frustrated at being ignored.
 “Not really, you’re the first to call after I received the distress signal, Andy. Looks like you’re on the job. Is anyone with you presently?”
 Tench pointed at the two women.
 “Lora and Sarra, the new EnWol are.”
 The voices got fuzzy as Rachel spoke to a different someone.
 “Rachel?” Tench asked.
 Lora and Sarra exchanged glances. Rachel came back on.
 “Okay, Florence gives her best wishes to her new protégés, and Juno Osbourne will be present to monitor the site once she’s set up.”
A new voice came on, clear as a bell.
“I’ll join them too.” Levan said. Tench could see him raising his eyebrows with seductions intent at Rachel. Tench heard a slap and a thank you from Levan.
 “Fine, that idiot will be joining you too, just get him out of my hair!” Rachel yelled.
 Tench chuckled.
 Sarra mocked his laugh, slightly frustrated. She stretched out and stroked her finger across his face, digging into it at the same time.
 “Yeah, hey cutie, can you let us in on stuff, like, say just what that thing is?”
 Sarra pointed at the cloud with a twenty-foot arm. Tench ignored her. Lora floated up and rubbed Sarra’s back. She was cold to the touch.
 “Hey, easy, easy, Sarra. He’ll tell us. You’re part of the club too.”
Sarra snorted with her breath shooting out in cold streams from her nose.
 “That sounds okay, Rachel, we’ll keep an eye out.” Tench said.
 “Good luck.” Rachel sounded relieved.
 Tench broke the connection.
 “Okay, we’re going to go investigate that thing… whatever it is. Rachel sent out a scientist to help out on a technical side and Levan will accompany us as we check it out up close.”
 “We’re going in that scary thing?” Lora asked while pointing at the growing anomaly.
Tench puffed his cheeks.
 “Hey, I’m scared too, but what else is there to do but attack that big splotch?”
 “Ask someone else to do it?” Sarra asked.
 Tench looked at her with his lopsided smile.
“And get bad PR? No way.”
The cloud made itself known, and a shockwave pulsated from it. Lora shrieked and latched onto Tench as a strong wind blew past them. The three of them stared at the angry, flashing cloud. A mangled symphony of car alarms wafted up from below.
Tench blushed, all too aware that Lora was clutching him. Sarra hovered up with a smile on her face.
 “We really should go check out what’s raging down there, but I don’t want to rush the raging that’s up here.”
 Lora looked at Tench, her own face flushing. She broke off and started to giggle. Tench was unable to speak and his perspiration disagreed with his spandex. He pointed at the cloud and flew toward it with the sisters trailing behind.
 They arrived within a few minutes, both Lora and Tench having settled down enough to function without giggling. They swooped underneath the cloud and noticed that there was dry warmth radiating from its center. It was generating a very low drone, like a slowed thunderclap.
 “It’s always a warehouse, isn’t it?” Sarra asked.
 “I’ve been to quite a few that had some bad guys in them.” Tench said.
 20th street led to a shore side lot surrounded by rustic buildings. Spare parts, tools, parked cars, overgrown dead plants and poorly stacked resources of different verities sat wherever a spot could be found. A shipyard was a few hundred feet to the north; it looked just as dirty and uninhibited as the preceding buildings. The warehouse under the cloud had its two front windows blown out.
Tench saw a crowd of workers who matched the area. They stared up; slack jawed at the swirling mess. He turned to Lora and Sarra.
 “I’m going to tell them to evacuate and to spread the word. You two scan the perimeter of our vacant void and see if anyone is hurt. Don’t go in until I join you.”
 Sarra wrinkled her nose.
 “Hey, who’s the more powerful one here? Me, I’m EnWol.”
 Tench smiled.
 “And who’s your senior? Who’s been a Meta their whole life and has a confidant grip on their powers?”
 Sarra’s wrinkled nose intensified. Tench continued.
 “That was rude of me to retort that way, but it’s the truth. I’m open to suggestions, but you do what I say or someone could get hurt. That goes for Lora too. If I’m not around, or you’re on your own before you know what to do, think of what is morally right, and act on it. All right?”
 Lora nodded. Sarra sneered.
 “What about exceptions?”
 Tench’s own nose wrinkled.
 “We’ll talk later. Lora, you’re in charge, go.”
 Sarra’s jaw fell.
 Tench left before he could answer.
“Okay Sarra, let’s mosey.” Lora swung her fist across her chest. “I want to make a plan of action before we—”
“Bullshit, you’re not in charge.”
Sarra shot down to the building. Lora frowned and followed her sister.
 “Hey, wait, wait. Sarra!”
 Lora followed her sister and watched her shoot once around the building in a blur. Lora dropped to the pavement, trotted up to the 800 foot deep building and started to look around on foot. Sarra zipped up behind her sister.
 “What are you doing? I’m done.” Sarra asked.
 Lora hesitated.
 “I’m just double checking, Sarra, it’s alright.”
Lora jogged away. Sarra watched her for a moment and sneered. “It’s alright…”
Lora stopped to look at something at the midway between the front and rear of the building. She bounded back into the air, and waved to her sister.
 “Oh, Sarra, come here, look!” She was hopping up and down.
 Sarra rolled her eyes and flew over.
 “What, did you find a kitten and a baby ducky? I don’t have time for…. Oh…”
The two stared at a pudgy man in a dark suit. He was disheveled and knocked unconscious.
 Sarra held her arms out.
 “Okay, how in a horrible void could I have missed this guy?”
Lora ignored her sister. She had bent down on Sarra’s approach to try and wake him.
 “Sir? Sir, please wake up and tell us what happened. Please?”
 Sarra pushed her sister aside. Lora fell to her butt and Sarra wrapped her arms around the man. He had a nasal groan.
 “Sarra! You put him down. What if he’s hurt?” Lora stood up and grabbed Sarra’s shoulder. Her hands went through her sister’s body to her mid forearm. Sarra showed no signs of noticing. Lora recoiled and wiped her hands on her hips on instinct.
 Sarra brought the man close to her. His glasses were off on one side, and his two front teeth were prominent. He tried to focus on Sarra. She drew him close and spoke through gritted teeth.
“Okay you rat, listen up. I want to know who is responsible for that beast hanging above us.” Sarra shook him. The man replied by retching. Sarra sneered. She wanted to drop him.
“Be nice!” Lora called. She was torn between either letting Sarra talk, or acting out and stopping her. She didn’t know how hurt the man was or if Sarra would cooperate if challenged.
Sarra ignored her sister. Lora saw the man wince. She stepped up, grabbed Sarra’s shoulders and tried to shake her.
“Sarra, stop it, put him down already! This isn’t a good way to be a hero.” Lora yelled.
 “What are you doing?” Tench swooped in from the front of the shop and approached Sarra, who decided to drop the man anyway.
 “Great Gaia, who’s this? Did you rough him up like that? You were in charge, Lora, what happened?”
 Lora pointed at Sarra while sputtering. Tench eyed Sarra with an arched eyebrow. Sarra felt her defense strengthen from Tench’s intimidation.
 “You don’t rough up an innocent found at the scene.” He said.
 Sarra crossed her arms.
 “I didn’t pulp him, I found him like that.”
 The man stood up, using the wall for support. Tench helped him up and Lora came in to assist.
 “Regardless, I saw you drop him on purpose. There’s no excuse for that.”
 Sarra cured her lip and widened her eyes. She folded her arms into a tight cross.
 “Yes, mother!” She spat. “I’m sorry for ever upsetting you. Why, I would love it if you would forgive me!”
 Lora looked up and held her hand out at Sarra.
 “Sarra, easy,” she said.
 Tench gave Sarra a look, and then went back to the man. He handled his chin with care as Lora stroked his forehead with a cold palm.
 “Sir, the heroes are here, what happened?” Tench asked. “Is there a threat that you know of running around?”
The man pointed behind Tench and his eyes widened. Lora followed his gaze and gasped.
 “Him!” The man squeaked.
 A yellow tendril came from out of nowhere and slammed the man’s head against the wall. Lora screamed. In the span of a second, Tench turned on his heel, tracking the end of the tendril as it returned to its owner. He released a spray of ice, and Lora followed that lead another second later. The blasts lacked the pressure to hit the target and fell short.
 The person for whom the tendril belonged floated off the ground one hundred feet away.
 Tench went into a fighting stance and Lora copied him. Sarra studied the yellow suited male assailant with a lack of interest.
 “Who’s that?” Lora asked.
 Tench growled.
 Lora nodded and her heart quaked. Her breathing increased.
 “I’ll say.”
“No, he’s dead meat!”
 Sarra shot ahead like a bullet.
Tench held his hand out.
“No, wait. What are you doing?”
He took a glance at Lora.
“Keep an eye on our...” Tench looked back to see the injured man hobble into the building.
Tench sighed.
“Never mind, I guess.” He said and they lifted off to chase after Sarra.
 Sarra cocked her arm back, eager to unleash her icy fist on the fiends confidant smirk. She approached, roared and released her fist into her opponent’s chest. Sarra’s fist stretched out from the man’s back like a yellow tree branch and rebounded back. The man tilted his head with a grin. Sarra pulled her fist back, but it was stuck in the man’s chest.
Tench put a hand put in front of Lora when they were several feet shy of Sarra.
 “What are you doing? Sarra is—”
 “Hey, this is another stretcher with some kind of adhesive so unless you want to get stuck, than stay back, alright?” Tench’s voice cracked.
 Lora looked out at her struggling sister. Tench cupped his hands over his mouth.
 “Use your ice powers!”
Sarra glanced back at him; both her arms and her knee were caught. She started to panic.
 “You’re a crazy idiot!”
The man had not moved. He laughed at Sarra.
 Tench looked back at Lora.
 “I’m sorry, does she ever learn?”
 Lora bit her lip.
 “Usually the hard way…”
 Sarra looked the man in the eye and her courage deflated. The cloud was growing. It obscured the sun and put the face of her assailant in shadow.
The man smiled and his eyes glowed yellow.
“Brain freeze…”
His head split down the middle revealing silver within. Sarra’s breath caught. Every instinct screamed at her to run, but she wanted her extremities back. The split went down the man’s chest and stopped at his navel. The back was unbroken, showing off Sarra’s horrified reflection. The new cavity grew four sets of teeth that swirled around the bloodied parameter. Arcs of electricity appeared down its throat in the center.
Sarra lost her impermeable nerve and screamed at the abomination before her. Lora huddled in Tench and looked away; her sister’s cry shook at her core.
 The thing’s lips stretched out to encompass its prey. Sarra snapped and broke for all. She turned to fly away without her appendages, only making it far enough to see the last sliver of light before she was consumed. Sarra pounded frantically at the rock solid wall while crouched over. Dozens of electrical tendrils reached out from the things pit to ingest her. Sarra tried to fend them away in the small space, but the crackling tendrils numbed her on contact and dragged her away.
Sarra was there and gone in eight seconds.
Tench and Lora watched through bleary eyes as the thing’s body deflated and resumed a human shape. Sarra tried to escape in the compressed space, and it showed through impressions in its body. The thing laughed and twirled its arms upward. Its elbows hooked together and it spun them around as one like a baton. It gained velocity and the budges of Sarra moved toward the arms. The ends of its arms blurred as they spun now left to right in an arcing figure eight.
 The twirling slowed and it held the stretched arms up as if it had something to throw. They reached a climax, and then released. Globs of Sarra blasted from the ends of its hands onto the concrete below. Lora and Tench watched her rain down and the ground with a splash. Sarra remained motionless, reflecting the sky.
 The thing approached Tench and Lora and spoke as they studied their partner on the ground below. The two heroes eyed the thing, and Lora hid behind Tench. It had a wicked smile.
 “The Cherry Tart was delicious, there is no doubt in my mind, but I really must have had my supper before desert. I think that I would enjoy the main course… the Lemon Chicken.” 

If you would like the whole book, a souvenir of the experience, check it out at Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/87111 

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