Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Meta Corps: Dream of the Youth (Part 16)

  Chapter 26

             Tench was too dizzy to make out anything coherent, as he spiraled to the earth. Florence flew up right beside him, finding herself in the same situation as before. She matched Tench’s velocity, grabbed hold of him by hoisting him over her shoulder, and swooped off, leaving his stomach behind. This jolted Tench awake and he got a look at his savior.
 “Again?” He shouted.
 “My hero.” Florence retorted.
 Tench rolled his eyes.
 “Okay, stop, stop. I’m fine.”
 Florence slowed to a hover, and Tench got off. He floated across from her.
 “Dang, what happened?”
 Florence looked away, trying to locate the enemy.
 “Clive smacked you upside the head and took Anne that way with Sarra not far behind.”
“How are we going to stop her?” Tench asked.
 Florence crossed her arms and smiled.
 “Well Andrew, tell me how would you put a stop to me if I went rogue?”
 Tench paused for a moment, and then chuckled.
 “Well, with ice, obviously.”
 Florence nodded and stretched her arm to pat him on the shoulder.
 “Good. If that’s the solution, then let’s go flank him.”
 Florence flew off, her pink hair billowing, and Tench followed along.

             Sarra could have sworn that Clive went into the previously empty lot. Piles and spreads of buildings, heavy machinery, tools, raw materials and cars filled the area like a dusty attic. Sarra snaked and oozed through the several loads and up with nothing.
 “Dammit, how can Clive hide some girl in a pile like this?”
 Sarra was getting mad. She knew that it was not good for her, but she believed in acting on revenge as soon as possible. With Sarra being the newbie hero, and Clive a villain since 1958, that set the challenge bar for Sarra far, far too high, and it was frustrating her to no end.
 “Come out you slimy fuck. I’ve got some calcium chloride for you to rot in…”
 Sarra peeked around a corner, and heard a scream that came from her right. She undulated over without hesitation. Sarra looked around the corner, to see her sister fall to the ground in the mouth of a cave.

                               Chapter 27

             Lora hit the ground, hard. Her lightheadedness cleared up enough to allow pain into her awareness. She gripped her arm and squealed. Her shoulder burned white hot. Lora looked up to see someone kicking her in the stomach, casing a comparatively dull pain.
 “Stop please—!” She squeaked.
 “No! I must finish my research! For many years, I have wanted to take my revenge for this curse on us all, and I have never been this close! The calm project must be set in motion immediately!” The woman shouted.
Lora could not think straight. She tried to get up.
 “Morgan, she’s down!” A male voice yelled.
 Morgan kicked Lora in the head to keep her from getting up, and her vision faded in the corners. Suddenly, the spikes of pain stopped and Morgan felt to Lora’s eye level. Lora moaned and looked away.
 “Chill the fuck out, woman! My sister didn’t have the luxury of being EnWol.”
 Sarra stood on top of Morgan, disregarding her. Morgan moaned and yelped.
 “Can you get up?” Sarra asked, slightly uninterested. Lora held her hand up and nodded, a very sour look gracing her face. She retched and went on her hands and knees. Sarra looked toward the rear of the cave.
 “If I were you, I would knock this whore’s block off when I got the chance. At least Clive wouldn’t have killed me. Remember to fight back, too Lora. Grow some ovaries.”
 Lora retched again in reply.
 “Get off of me!” Morgan ordered.
 Sarra stretched her neck down.
 “You cram it!”
 Morgan looked at her, shocked.
 “How dare you?”
 There was a yelp of frustration in the back, keeping Sarra from retorting farther. Anne flew out of the cave with a flying yellow noodle chasing her. Sarra watched Anne leave, and timed herself so that her entire torso wedged itself in with the cave. Clive’s arm passed right through Sarra’s torso, creating a hole. She had forgotten to alter her viscosity.
 “Come on!” Sarra yelled, unbelieving.
 Clive ignored Sarra and passed the rest of his body through as if Sarra were a thin membrane.
 “I’m such a silly sod, how could I let her escape?”
 Sarra lost her balance and fell backward. She slowed her fall, shifted herself so that her back literally became her front, and shot after Clive.
 Lora and Morgan were left to ache together.
 Lora smiled; she saw a light pulsating in synch with her heartbeat.
 “I guess that you’re the bad guy, huh?” She asked without thinking and then promptly collapsed with a moan. Morgan curled her lip and rolled over.
 Anne raced up to Levan to execute Tench’s idea, and she wasn’t going to let anyone stop her.
 Anne did not understand her power in the least. She was sure that she was able to fly, ‘ghost’ through nearly anything (her tube that Morgan put her in was the first thing she could not phase through), and project her innermost desires in a phantasmagoric form at will.
 She was unsure as to why she was the only one who saw those traits as normal parts of her life. She suspected that since everyone she interacted with seemed scared of her power, that they repress their own, only to use it to fight crime, of course. She had a fond wish to draw the power out from others to show them that it was not as scary as they thought it was.
 With Levan, and her own experience with trying to harness an overload, Anne was starting to understand why her power was so revered, and why, in her own mind, not too many people put their own projection and intangibility powers to use. With her newfound realization, Anne rushed to Levan to try to help him to keep his own newfound powers under control.
 Clive Ogden was right behind Anne and quickly closing the gap between them with Sarra following. She felt a strong need to hesitate because of how Florence approached her, but, as usual, Sarra used the hesitation as power and it drove her further.
 As Sarra slowed, she spotted someone flying beside her. Florence pointed up at Clive and nodded. Sarra was miffed at how her superior was contradictory, but she didn’t argue. She decided to take the moment in to exact her revenge on Clive.
 Sarra saw Tench rush up to Clive, fly up next to him, and throw ice in his face as soon as se got a look at who had joined him. Clive reacted accordingly and tried to brush the ice from his face without success. Sarra laughed and looked at Florence. She flicked her hand out in a similar manner that she uses to discharge herself. She wanted Sarra to use her ice powers, and Sarra got the message. She worked to draw in enough ice to encapsulate Clive, and got ready to attack.
 Clive was surprised to see that the ice had gone as suddenly as it came. He saw Sarra rushing at him, and ducked down at the last second. Sarra threw her ice, her body working before her mind caught up, and Clive dipped down to make an arc. He pitched herself upward so that both Clive and Sarra would smack into each other, belly to belly.
Sarra was still getting used to her elasticity, thus, she still had a low viscosity. Clive collided with her from below and Sarra’s body exploded into several globs of chrome. Clive rolled over and continued on his course as Sarra fell to the earth, her body recovering from the shock. Florence was directly behind her, hoping that her electrical charge mixed with Clive’s would be enough to send him down.
 Tench came up alongside Florence and flew past her. He rose over Clive and doused his body from his feet to his shoulders with ice. Clive’s momentum allowed him to fly past Anne and Levan, missing them by six feet. He reached an apex and fell.
 Anne was terrified to see that Levan’s nose was bleeding. She whined as he did, both for different reasons, as she inched herself over to him. Anne materialized a small teddy bear for Levan to hold. He acknowledged it, but Anne was aware that he might not have cared. She probably would not have either under that much pain. Anne held onto Levan’s hand and started to reabsorb whatever bit of his excess power that she could take.
 Clive’s body had too much friction against the ice to be able to escape without a struggle. He had no fear of death from falling at great heights, but it irritated him that he was encased in a trap with only a time consuming method of escaping as the ground came closer and closer. Clive took all of his inner silver that had not frozen, and forced it up out of the icy prison, leaving a silver shell stuck to the interior. He let his head and shoulders fly upward in the air, and then he drained herself in a glob.
 He took on a human shape, less than an inch smaller all the way around, and watched the block fall. He was bemused to see a hot spot form in the middle of the block before it blew up instantly, the pieces turning to steam. Clive smiled as his half-inch shell returned to him.
 “Morgan… Thanks, mate.”
 Clive looked back up at Anne, and darted to her, relying on his witch of a partner to get him out of a cryokinetic mess.
 Lora watched Morgan stand at the mouth of the cave, muttering to herself and orchestrating an unseen symphony. Lora felt like throwing up. Her shoulder was throbbing and the spots in her eyes had dulled significantly. Lora felt powerless to do anything but roll over and sigh. She tasted bile.
 Sarra reformed a good one hundred feet from the battle area, feeling deeply annoyed. She shot up to Florence, who was keeping an eye on Clive, wondering what she would do after the tomb of ice exploded.
“Hey, what gives? Why didn’t you prevent Clive from doing that with your own electricity, huh?”
 Florence’s face soured. Tench smacked his forehead and moved away. Sarra was unaware of Clive’s escape.
 “You are a stinker, aren’t you?”
 “What’s up?” Sarra demanded. “This isn’t pride, this is legitimate annoyance.”
 Florence crossed her arms.
 “Clive, the Electric Beaulieu, mind, has power over electricity. In this heroic and tiresome game of roshambo, Clive struck gold when he became EnWol silver. That newfound elasticity allowed him to become far more powerful after absorbing his element.”
 Sarra curled her lip.
 “You’re useless then?”
 Florence’s sour expression deepened. She did not answer.
 Sarra clicked her tongue.
 “You are useless; I’ll take care of Clive myself.” Sarra flew around Florence toward Clive.
 Florence sighed.
 “She’s torn her dress and her face is a mess…” Tench said.
 Florence nodded.
 “That’s apt. Go help her.”
 Tench nodded and followed Sarra.
 Lora stood up; her knees were buckling. She leaned on the side of the wall trying to rein in what was left of her curdling nausea. She watched the fight above. Sarra got close to Clive and shot some of her ice, but was smacked away. Clive got a part of himself incased in Sarra’s ice, to which Morgan reacted and directed a spell to heat the ice and free Clive.
 “She’s helping Clive from down here…” Lora said to herself.
 She inched over, feeling less like she would throw up than the moment before, and wobbled behind Morgan. She watched the back of her head for a moment, wondering if she should act at all. Sarra, Tench, and Florence were busy with Clive trying to capture Anne, Clark had no idea where she and Morgan were, and neither did any other hero available.
 Lora saw that she had the advantage over Morgan, who was busy tossing her riding crop of a wand around as if she was trying to swat several flies with it.
 Lora raised her arm to attack, and crumpled silently when she realized that her dominant arm was also her badly wounded arm. Cursing herself over her mistake, Lora decided to take a different route, even if it would make her feel more ill. She prepared herself for the oncoming sickness and bit her tongue. She spread her feet wide, crouched, and spun around to kick Morgan in the back of the head.
 The hit connected.
 Lora fell to the ground and so did Morgan, the latter without a peep. Lora made a loud gasp as she landed on her less hurt shoulder, the shock going through it to her bloodied one. Lora tried to keep from blacking out from the pain by standing up in a fighting stance.
Morgan was holding her head, and Lora’s nausea returned in spades. Her stomach and arm felt wretched. She walked past Morgan and picked up the wand.
“Look, I’m sorry for kicking you, but you were keeping my friends and sister from extinguishing the portal. You know, it was getting bigger when I last looked, so it would probably gobble everything…”
Lora’s hand tingled.
She looked at the wand and the world around it turned black. An uncomfortable warmth permeated her hand and went up her arm. Lora heard whispers emanate from the wand. They echoed chants of hatred and got louder with each racing beat of her heart.
“…Calm… Morgan… Fire… Flight… Leon… Die!”
Lora made a sharp gasp. She had to make the whispers stop! Lora gripped both sides of the wand and snapped it in half. The world returned to normal.
 Morgan looked up at Lora; her face contorted with horror and anger. Lora dropped the two pieces while trying to catch her breath. Her heart was a piston.
 “You fool, have you any idea what you have done?”
 Lora jumped and almost by reflex, she sprayed Morgan with ice from her upper abdomen down to her feet. Morgan hissed at the abrupt cold and started to shiver. Lora held her arm up, staring at Morgan with disbelief at what she had done.
Morgan narrowed her eyes and her lips rose with disgust.
 “You may be green now, but you remember this for when you are a professional hero, Pink Lemon. Heroes never have friends; they only have those who fear them, and those who hate them. After several lifetimes of fighting at the top, Pink Lemon, you will find that there are no positive feelings harbored toward you. The citizens you saved will turn away; your family will be shamed, and those who love you will be gone. Beware the superman, they will cry, all because the so-called hero would one day hurt those whom they had once tried to save.
 Hate is the emotion that stems from anger at others and it requires its opposite, the concept of another’s company to function. However, the true opposite of love, Pink Lemon, is loneliness. Long, dark, infinity. Alone. That is how those you save will shape your future and create your fate in the void. Heroics, harm, fear, and loneliness.”
 Lora stepped back, feeling both her shoulder and heart throb. A fat blister of sorrow tried to burst from her chest. She had a flash back to when she was inside Anne’s vortex, how both Tench and Sarra vanished, and she was alone in the void of toys. In the purest form, nothing was out there. No cities, no people, no apple pie, no love. Nothing.
 Lora’s mind made the correlation for her between Morgan’s curse and her experience with the very concept of infinity and it made her want to scream.
 Lora shut her eyes and shook her head hard. She had to get away from Morgan before the poison spread farther. Without watching where she was going, or even caring, Lora flew up into the air and forced herself to find the eye of the vortex.
 She dwelled on why she was even continuing as she flew, why bother, why be the hero if there was an inevitable point where she would do something catastrophic? Sure, she’s needed for that situation, but how much would she be needed still and not be despised when the time came?
 Lora wanted to lie down in her fluffy bed with a romance novel and good chocolate wrapped in gold foil and forget about being a hero, especially if the experience is as bad as the first day. Instead, she wondered why she trudged on in spite of both what Morgan told her, and her own feelings.
 Morgan watched Lora leap up and fly away in a zigzag. She reached for her broken wand bits and looked at them. Walter R. was engraved in elegant lettering on the handle and Morgan could feel its unbiased magic being reabsorbed back into Gaia’s immense reserve.
 Morgan clutched the two bits of wand and wept as they erupted in blue flames.
 Lora watched as Sarra and Tench tried to freeze Clive as the cloud got smaller. Clive knew better than to get cocky when he was being helped. He was on guard when it came to who was beside him, and who was not. He came close to grabbing Anne a few times, but he was forced away by at least one annoying fly that did nothing but vomit ice in his face.
 With Clive’s ability to electrocute people only by touch, or arc if the conditions were right, and the heroes with the ability to throw their ice at him from a distance, Clive decided to get crafty. If the heroes were keeping him from his prize, in essence, his healing, then changing the game seemed like a good idea. He had changed the rules when he ate Sarra to moderate success.
 Clive drained himself from the ice that covered a little bit of his torso. He let his stuck and icy thin skin fall to the bay, knowing that the covering would come back. He closed his eyes and concentrated. Clive’s head split in half down the middle, and it continued down his torso.
 Lora flew up to Sarra as she examined Clive.
 “What’s he doing, Sarra?”
 Sarra sneered.
 “There’s no one new to eat, so I don’t know.”
 Florence and Tench arrived and joined in on the villain watching.
 “How’s your arm?” Florence asked.
 Lora just moaned.
 “Are you delusional from the blood loss?” Sarra asked with a sarcastic bite.
Lora shook her head.
“I don’t know.”
 Clive was literally split down the middle. He willed his body not to reform itself as he felt himself splitting as well. The two halves of his body each formed an identical whole, their height shrinking by half to compensate for the other half.
 Clive Ogden had become two.
“What is he doing?” Florence asked. “All that EnWol can achieve by splitting is synchronicity, how can he expect to gain an advantage if he’s using an impossible method to—” Florence interrupted herself as the two Clive halves flew off in different directions. Florence frowned.
 “Oh my…”
 Florence looked right at Sarra, but spoke to everyone.
 “I’ll get Clark to call for more help, you all fire at will! Go!”
 Tench and Sarra, with a smug smile, left toward a Clive half as Florence went the other way. Lora held her arm and followed her two partners.
 The two Clive halves laughed and twirled amongst each other, glad that the mitosis had worked and that their minds were still linked. As if it were instinct, one left to rush after the hero cavalry and the other went to Anne.
 Anne looked up at Levan as she tried to reabsorb enough of the power for him to deal with. The entire cloud had a radius of one hundred feet, and Levan seemed to be coming to. His breathing had stabilized, and he seemed only very tired. His crusted blood cracked on his upper lip.
 “Is it all better yet, mister?” Anne asked.
 Levan nodded.
 “Yeah, the aberration and torment shall ultimately cease once the young miss sorts out the nefarious tribulations.”
 Anne giggled. None of them had a clue what was just said.
 Clive came up behind Anne, slowed himself to prevent breaking her spine, and took her away. Levan’s arm stretched out with a jolt, it still being elastic from acquiring Rachel’s power from a slap after stealing her radio.
 “Confound it, viscoelastic wench!” He looked up at the portal, the eye a small pinprick, and plugged it with his finger. The cloud dissipated instantly and left Levan wondering how he knew that that would happen. He looked for the Clive half, wondering how he knew what he was about to do would be effective.
 The other Clive half was delighted to see that the three heroes flew in a formation worthy of a professional flight exhibition team. He let the group come to him.
 “What is he doing?” Tench yelled through his radio to be heard.
 Sarra snarled.
 “Who cares?”
Tench looked at her. Sarra looked terrified. He frowned.
 “You sure, Sarra?”
 “Just go!” Sarra snapped. “I’m not going to let him pull that horrible trick on me again!”
 At the last moment, the Clive half’s chest had a creature burst forth from it. The several tendrils tipped with blood waved back and forth, their hairs matted and irregular. In the center was a single normal looking eye, sky blue and friendly. Underneath was a mouth with no teeth, gnawing aimlessly at whatever it could find for sustenance. It shrieked.
 The Clive half looked on with a wicked smile, entirely whole behind the creature.
 Tench paused, surprised by the sudden change. Sarra’s heart caught and she stopped completely. This surprised her.
Lora plowed on without missing a beat.
 Clive focused on grabbing Lora by using his sticky tendrils. Lora swooped up and down and dodged every swing while trying not to cry. She was terrified. After what Morgan had told her about being alone several years down the line, along with Sarra’s reaction to Clive’s transformations, and the experience in toy land, she had a right to be.
Lora wondered why she bothered, why did she care? Why had Morgan’s words struck her so hard in the gut and yet she persisted in opposition? She didn’t know why she endured, but she knew that to defeat Clive, she had to kick her fear to the curb.
Lora approached Clive, roared, and kicked him square in the face. Ice exploded from Lora’s foot, and Clive’s head sped away from his body, stopped in suspended animation by the ice.
 The horror shot back into Clive’s chest and the husk of the body fell, limbs flailing madly.
 A thought came to Lora and she started to laugh. She covered her mouth, the giggles growing in spite of both her hurt arm and emotional state.
“Oh my goodness. Brain freeze.”
 Lora enjoyed her joke and kept to her attack. She swung her arms and prepared to cover Clive in ice with only seconds before he recovered. Lora gasped and stopped when she saw Sarra fly directly into her path. Sarra dove after Clive and got ready to unleash her own attack. Lora moved out of Sarra’s way so that she could add to the blizzard.
 An ethereal sound wafted in from out of the blue with Sarra hearing it first. She lost focus and felt her ice changing back into a gaseous form.
 Sarra shook her head.
 “No, no, no! Stay with it!”
 The song slunk across the Dogpatch district, playing itself for the heroes. Tench, Lora and Juno were confused by the new music, but the remaining EnWol were enchanted. Juno watched Florence and Clark, interrupted from trying to strategize and make sense of what Clive had done.
 Clark turned to silver at his own feet, quivering; his top half bleed from over the table.
 “This tone confuses the human brain on a level of physical perception; a quality that the EnWol body no longer has. Why are they affected into hypnosis?” Juno wondered. She looked up at the heroes and villains above, trying to make sense of the new situation.
 Lora flew back to Tench; he was looking for the origin of the sound.
 “I’m definitely sure that I’m hearing this, Lora. How about you?”
 Lora nodded.
 “It’s pretty.” She said.
The Clive carrying Anne heard the slow tempo, high-pitched music and unwittingly shifted his body to a silver blob. Anne, who had been having trouble with her intangibility, slipped out from Clive’s grasp. Clive kept flying; he had not noticed that his detainee had escaped.
 Anne gulped and flew off to Levan.
 Anne could easily see which mark among the sky he was since there were refractive waves searing off of him. Anne arrived and watched him for second. The sound came from his head, yet it was not vocalized.
 “What’cha doing? That’s scary music.” Anne said.
 Levan shook his head.
 “I am most uncertain young miss, yet I know in my heart that radiating my thought patterns into an audible frequency shall assist us greatly in this terrible plight.”
 Sarra tried to block everything out in trying to keep her focus. The sound was affecting her on a mental level; it penetrated her to her core and made her melt, no matter how hard she tried to block it out. She kept her eyes from seeing light years through San Francisco, she kept her focus on the ice long enough to hold onto it, and she kept control long enough to see her gloved hands melt into reflective stumps. The mild shock was enough to force Sarra off the edge, and she melted away, unable to help herself by surrendering to Levan’s song.
 The two Clive halves suffered the same fate. They lost control and became unaware that they were shooting back at each other in a straight line, like two rubber bands that were tied together and simultaneously let go.
 Tench watched the two shoot toward each other and smiled when he realized what was happening. He patted Lora’s back and she turned to look at him. Tench leaned in with his lopsided smile.
 “Let’s go kick some ice.”
 Lora could not help but giggle and she could feel herself melt for reasons unrelated to Levan’s song.
 Tench flew past Lora to the point that he guessed the two Clive’s would converge. Lora followed and caught up. He noticed her beside him, and he had begun to orbit her. Lora felt low temperatures radiate from him as he spun. She worked to do the same. The two quickly orbited each other, creating a reserve of ice in their center.
 “You got it!” Tench yelled over his radio to Lora.
 Lora laughed as the ice and snow at their center grew larger and more frantic.
 The two halves of Clive collided with each other, not a thought between them as the song played. They both conglomerated into a mass of yellow spotted silver with bits of hair and random shapeless limbs poking out.
 Lora and Tench got within twenty feet of Clive.
 “Do as I do!”
 Lora nodded. She watched Tench make a motion to grab the reserve, and the two hurled themselves around Clive like a gravitational slingshot. They completely covered him in a three-inch thick layer of ice within six passes, making special care not to leave any openings.
 The two broke off and twirled upward, leaving a whole, immobilized and deformed Clive to fall to the ocean. Lora and Tench met at their spiraled pillar of excess ice and Tench held out his hand for a high five. Lora returned it with her good arm and gave him a hug with a boisterous laugh…
 …and gasped when her bad shoulder protested the action. She chuckled nervously and rubbed it.
 Tench laughed.
 “Hey, don’t let the arm be a killjoy, we did it. Enjoy the moment, Pink.”
Lora smiled and nodded.
Tench returned the smile, leaned in and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Lora’s face flushed and she beamed. She squealed and hugged Tench with her good arm, her warmth radiating and melting his ice to its core.

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