Authors: Niall Teasdale
Tags: #ultrahumans, #action, #superheroes, #superhero, #adventure
By Niall Teasdale
Copyright 2015 Niall Teasdale
Amazon Kindle Edition
Part One: Darkness
New Millennium City, MD, 2
Horns blared, tyres screeched, and Twilight vaulted the hood of an oversized SUV in one smooth movement before continuing on in a dead run down Waterford Street in Friendship. The driver of the car hit his horn, leaned out of his window, and screamed something obscene, though his shout was cut off in a strangled cry as the second running figure slammed into his car.
Twilight risked a backward glance: Tower Block was still on her tail, where she wanted him. Outrunning the seven-foot, grey-skinned man would not have been that difficult, but keeping him just behind her without getting turned into roadkill was harder. As she looked, he shunted the SUV aside as though it was made of balsa and ran after her. Another quarter mile. The plan called for her to get him another quarter mile down the road, and then it was someone else’s problem.
Andre Cooper, Tower Block, had breezed into town about a week earlier. He was a super-powered thug, a perennial criminal, and not a very bright one. Very strong and with stony skin which could easily deflect most weapons, he tended to commit crimes because he simply could not come up with another way to live. He was hard to stop, but he seemed to have bricks for brains and outsmarting him was relatively trivial. He also had a foul temper, so getting him to chase her had been pretty easy too.
‘Come ’ere, squishy!’ Tower block yelled at her. ‘I’m gonna paint a wall with your brains!’
Twilight bounced over a town car, pulling off an acrobatic move for the show of it, and yelled back at him while she was flying, ‘Couldn’t paint a house brick with yours.’ Tuck, roll, flip out into a run; keep him following at all costs.
It was daylight, not her best time. She dressed in a black catsuit and cowl for a reason, and that was that she much preferred operating at night. Long-distance running in heels was not exactly a good idea either, but part of being a hero was looking the part, and having a pair of shivs on her feet came in useful at times. Still, this was her plan. Thus far, in the space of a few days, Tower Block had demolished a convenience store for potato chips, trashed three bars, totalled twenty-seven vehicles, three of them police cruisers, and knocked over one bank, almost literally. He needed to go down and he was not someone she would normally have considered taking on, but some of her partner’s stupid must have been rubbing off on her because it had been her suggestion that they nail the dumb son-of-a-bitch.
The beach frontage at Fairhaven came into view ahead of her. Another couple of hundred yards. Twilight pushed up her speed a little, drawing away from him slowly. She needed a little distance for the next bit. The sound of car horns and screams told her he was still following, but she checked back over her shoulder anyway, not for Tower Block, but for the white shape coming up behind him. Now it was just a matter of timing.
Pulling up in front of the railing which marked the transition between street and sand, Twilight turned and pulled the Glock from its holster on her right thigh. She used a Glock 20, chambered for a 10mm round. They were not especially popular in the US, but she found the slightly larger calibre useful for its stopping power, and because you could do more with a big load. She cracked off a shot at fifteen yards, hitting the big man’s chest: it was not a hard thing to target. The round splatted against his hulking pecs, sticking there without doing even the slightest damage.
‘Whadda fuck was that?!’ Tower Block yelled at her. ‘You stoopid!’
‘Sonic beacon,’ Twilight called back as he ran closer. ‘Don’t want to lose you.’
‘Ain’t gonna lose me, little girl. I’ma gonna be the one hittin’ you.’
Twilight dived sideways. ‘Good luck with that.’
And that was when Cygnus flew up behind him, grabbed the back of the tactical harness he was wearing, and lifted. Despite being a willowy woman who would have looked more at home on a catwalk than bench-pressing weights, Cygnus could lift a car, and had done, complete with a payload of bank robbers. Tower Block squirmed more, but compared to that he was easy. Her flight slowed a little with the added weight, but the big man let out a roar of anger as she plucked him up off the sidewalk and carried him out over the beach and then the water of Chesapeake Bay.
Twilight watched her go, grinning. From the south a helicopter was flying in already, laden with divers equipped with sonar equipment which could track the sounder on Tower Block’s chest. Because Twilight had done her research and Tower Block had one flaw, or rather two connected ones: he needed to breathe and he was denser than water.
‘Denser than a ton of poured concrete,’ she muttered just as Cygnus dropped the man into the bay. He could wear a mask to avoid gas, and had actually figured that one out, but a few minutes on the bottom and the New Millennium City Police Department divers could attach flotation bags and lift his unconscious body to the surface for collection.
Grinning, Twilight turned around and spotted news cameras from ACPN closing on her. At that point she hoped Cygnus was going to get back soon. Super-thugs she could handle, but reporters were another matter.
‘It was teamwork,’ Cygnus was saying. ‘We needed Tower Block distracted because trying to fight him close in would be suicide, so we got him to chase Twilight while I got in behind him where he couldn’t reach me.’
‘Your partner likes the cameras,’ Special Agent Jacob Dannon commented.
like them,’ Twilight replied. ‘One of the stipulations of our partnership is that she handles the press. Most of the time anyway. And she doesn’t hog the glory.’
‘Actually, this was Twilight’s plan,’ Cygnus said in response to a question neither of the observers had heard. ‘Tower Block is not the kind of villain she would normally take on, but she thought that the two of us together could get him back where he belongs, behind bars, and she came up with a way of putting him down long enough to get him there.’
‘Okay, so she doesn’t,’ Dannon said, ‘but she’s been getting a lot of air time in the last few months.’
Twilight grinned at him. ‘Still don’t like Ultras, huh?’
‘I don’t like the glory hounds. Ultranova, for example.’
‘Well, he’s out of the picture and Cygnus isn’t one, and you know it. She’s got better at taking these sessions, but she makes sure I get good press, or as good as I think I need.’
The muscular agent nodded, reluctantly. ‘Yeah, okay, you’re right. And you stopped Bricks-for-Brains with minimal collateral damage. I doubt we could have done better. Pretty sure we’d have had injured agents–’
‘And maybe a dead Ultra,’ Heather Bryant, his partner, commented as she walked up to them. ‘As it is, he’s unconscious, but they pumped his lungs out and put him in Neurotronic restraints. Apparently he’s hard to kill. We had plans to use an anti-tank rocket on him.’
Dannon gave a shrug. ‘He’ll get out again, somehow, and he’ll be back doing this somewhere else for a week or so until someone stops him.’
Twilight shrugged in turn. ‘If the divers hadn’t got him out in time…’
‘And you’d have been okay with that?’ Bryant asked.
‘No.’ The black-clad heroine looked across to where her white-clad counterpart was trying to wrap things up with the reporters. ‘But that’s mostly because Cygnus would have hated it. The world would be better off without some people. Then again, that’s not my call. That’s why we have a justice system, right?’
‘When it works.’ Bryant sounded a little sour. ‘The fact that we actually need people like you and her… Doesn’t say much about the system, does it?’
Twilight gave another shrug. ‘That sounds like politics. I don’t like that any more than I like cameras.’ She spotted Cygnus heading their way and grinned. ‘Good, we can get out of here.’
‘You have plans?’ Dannon asked. ‘Not like you to be out in daylight.’
‘It’s not, and we have. It’s Sunday. Sunday afternoon is time for sparring.’
‘You spar with a girl who can punch through armour?’ Bryant asked, eyes widening.
‘She doesn’t hit me much,’ Twilight replied with a grin.
In truth, Cygnus had been getting better at landing those powerhouse punches, but she did pull them
when she was practising. Sunday had become a regular event for the two heroines, but not for a reason either of them liked or particularly wanted to remember. Cygnus’ boyfriend had been murdered and had left her his house and a lot of money. The house came with a dojo and they had been using that for several months, but it had taken Cygnus a lot longer to finally decide to move into the place along with her housemate, June. Even then the master bedroom remained empty; used to sharing an apartment, the new owner was happier in one of the many guest rooms on the ground floor.
Besides which, Cygnus was not always Cygnus, and her alter ego could not fly, and the dojo and main bedroom could only be accessed by someone who could fly, or teleport. That was how Twilight got up there when her partner did not carry her; stepping through shadows was a limited form of translocation, but it did the same job and Twilight was good at it.
Today they were alone in the house. June was in Los Angeles on a modelling job. Her career had not exactly sky-rocketed, but this was her third job since the start of the year, and her second in LA. She was quietly confident that she was going to be able to make a living in front of a camera and Cygnus could not have been happier for her. June had wanted a career in modelling for years and now, finally, it was coming to pass.
Twilight parried a blow aimed at her chest, snapped a kick at Cygnus’ ankles, and followed through with a full-force strike to the chest. Cygnus backed off, grinning. There was no way her friend could hurt her, and they both knew it.
‘I’m going to stop falling for that eventually,’ Cygnus said.
‘You don’t every time. You’re improving, you know?’
‘Have you been studying Bobby’s notes?’ Having asked the question, she followed it with a flurry of rapid strikes to Cygnus’ face which were dodged or blocked.
‘Not as much as I should.’ The return strikes were just as rapid and Twilight backed up, forcing Cygnus to overextend… And then there was the leg sweep. ‘It still makes me a little uncomfortable,’ the blonde added from the floor.
‘As uncomfortable as landing face first on those boobs of yours?’
Cygnus rolled over and then somersaulted smoothly to her feet, assisted by a little flight power. ‘Differently uncomfortable,’ she replied, adjusting her suit. She was not smiling.
‘Sorry,’ Twilight told her.
‘It’s okay. I know he’d have wanted me to get on with it, but…’
‘It took me months to get over Andy’s death. Actually… until you killed Ultranova, and I still want Blutadler.’
‘But not Tonaldo?’
Twilight relaxed, stepping back. She could tell that neither of them was in the mood to continue for now. Not really. She pulled off her cowl and shook out her shaggy, black hair. ‘Can I use a shower? We can talk over a drink.’
‘You know you don’t need to ask,’ Cygnus replied.
They sat in the large, open, more or less circular lounge with a glass of wine each. Twilight had sloughed her skin and become Andrea Morgan, dressed in an oversized towelling wrap. Cygnus had gone through a more drastic shift, losing several inches and cup sizes, and changing into the more homely form of Penny Worthington, and was now in her own big dressing gown and her glasses, without which she was half-blind.
‘I came to New Millennium
that the Tonaldo family had pushed my brother to his death trying to prove he was one of them,’ Andrea said, her voice soft and a little hesitant. ‘And then we find out that Ultranova killing him at a bank robbery was not any kind of accident. The bastard was hunting for bodies for Professor Blutadler to turn into animated corpses.’
‘And Blutadler got away when we hit their base,’ Penny said. ‘I can understand you wanting to find him.’
‘And I will. Aside from anything else, he wants to find you. Putting Andy’s body to rest though… It kind of gave me some peace. I still want to take the Tonaldos down, but I have to admit that, well, Andy was an idiot for working for them. I can’t
blame David Tonaldo, personally, for getting him killed.’
‘So that’s why you were keener to take out Tower Block? You’re less obsessed with Tonaldo?’