Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Second String Heroes Episode 2.1

The Name In Debate Patrol headquarters was located in south Seattle. It was nestled in a warehouse in the Georgetown section of the city.

From the outside it was a smallish normal looking building with a completely mundane, if slightly rundown, look.  The peeling off-white paint, dead weeds growing along the base of the walls and in random spots in the cracked concrete parking lot, the large roll up door with its dents, and the several painted over windows near the roof all added to the general feel of neglect about the place.

Crusader pulled his car into the lot just before ten, rechecking his directions for possibly the eighth time, just as the first drops of rain fell from the heavily laden clouds above. He got out of his car grabbing a baseball duffle bag and headed to a side entrance with the words no solicitation written on it with a marker. Walking past a pair of vehicles that were significantly newer then the beat up machine he had arrived in he just sighed and shook his head.

After trying the handle he banged on the metal door when he discovered it was solidly locked and wouldn’t budge.

A little bit later a muffled voice called through the closed door. “Who eis eit?”

He yelled back “It’s the League of Brutal Villainy! Here to take over the city!”

A small pause, “Crusader?”

A small sigh. “Yes Grande it’s me.”


The inside of the headquarters was significantly nicer than the outside. Although it still looked like a converted warehouse, but it was at least well maintained and had a rough functional style. Several second hand couches and an animal bed, with a sleeping white cat in it, sat in front of a big TV in one corner near the large roll up door. Off to one side along another wall was a white board with notes written on it and a large conference table. The opposite wall of that sat a bunch of surplus sports lockers.  A small kitchenette was stationed in the corner with the ever present pot of coffee and sink full of dirty dishes. At the back of the room, opposite of the big roll up door, was a hallway that led to several other rooms.

Grande and Sun Wolf were already there, and in the middle of a heated argument, which Grande continued the moment he turned back after opening the door for Crusader.

“Meystic Society!”


“Meystic Patrol”


“Grande League.”

“Hell no.”

“Meidnight Patrol.”


‘Rain Ceity Renegades.”

“Seriously Carlos, where do you come up with these verbal nightmares?” Sun Wolf asked disgustedly.

“They are not that bad. Tell her Crusader.”

“Ummm,” glancing over at the attractive Russian woman who smirked at him. “Mystic Society wasn’t that bad. But a lot of the others were.”

About then the side door that Crusader had just entered through opened up and a soaking wet girl rushed in. ‘Like, it is dumping like Zeus forgot to turn off his shower or something.” She paused and waved outside at someone, who beeped a car horn in acknowledgement. “My mom gave me a ride.”

She shrugged off her wet coat and threw it toward a wall where it seemed to float over to a locker of its own accord and place itself gently on a waiting hook inside.

“What did I miss?”

“Tasha and Carlos were arguing over team names.”

“Oh, were there any good ones?”

“Nyet. They were pretty much like normal.”

“B, I’ve got your stuff in my bag over here, come get it. I really don’t want to keep it any longer than I have to.”

Betony walked over to Crusader as he fished though his duffle bag and held out the small bundle of her magical belongings.

“Your belongings are returned.”

“Thank you.”

As she took them from his hand again reality seemed to pause a moment before continuing on like normal.

“Definitely some sort of oath.” Betony murmured to herself.

Grande ignored the banter and sat down at the conference table and began talking before everyone had had a chance to gather. “Ok everyone time to get to work. Crusader here doesn’t know anything about the business and we need to get him up to speed. But first Order of business: We need to know something. What the heck is your real name? I am seick of saying Crusader all of the time.”

They all sat down at the table some more casual than others. Betony putting on her herb belt and placing the amulet into a jeans pocket. The cat even sauntered over and hopped onto Natasha’s waiting lap.

“Oh dang I’m sorry. I really should have done that earlier. My name is Aaron Lakes.”

Everyone smiled or nodded and gave their greetings. “Welcome aboard Aaron.” “Hey.”

“That wasn’t that awkward was it Aaron?” asked Betony

“Not really, the awkward part would be introducing yourself in the middle of a fight. I just really couldn’t find a good time to do that. And why are we getting started? I thought you said someone named Roland was coming back from vacation and was going to join us?”

Natasha smiled. “He is here. In fact he has been here for a while.”

“Is he in back or something?”

The white cat on Natasha’s lap looked up and made eye contact. And a polite voice spoke inside Aaron’s head. “Greetings Crusader, I am Roland. Are you ready to begin now?”

At the sound of the polite voice in his head, coming from a white housecat of all things Aaron Lakes aka Crusader paused had to do a slight mental reboot. “Umm, yeah. Sure. We can start. Totally.”

The rest of the table lost it in laughter, including Roland.

“I am sorry,” apologized Roland after the laughter had died down “but Carlos wanted to see how you would react. For some reason he finds it very funny to see how people react to me the first time”

“Even eif you beat me up eit eis totally worth eit.” Grande replied with a huge grin on his face.

“You’re invulnerable. I don’t think I could beat you up if I tried.”

“Yep, like I said; totally worth eit.”

Roland interjected. “Now that icebreaker is out of the way we should start you on some of the information that you need. I have been informed by our colleges that your career as a crime fighter is a new one and that you lack some of the basic knowledge that most of the group including myself take for granted. Can you give us a bit of what you do know so that we may fill in the gaps in your knowledge?”

“Umm sure, Granite Island specifically? Or just what I know about super heroes and superheroing in general?”

“Please begin with Granite Island. We will discuss the other information after that as it becomes relevant.”

“I wish I knew I’d be taking a quiz today, I’d have studied.” Aaron joked weakly “Ok, after a bunch of internet searching last night after I got off of work I found out that Granite Island is a place where they keep super criminals. And that’s about it. Which, sadly, is probably twice what I knew yesterday.”

“It is a good starting point. Natasha, can you please turn on the projector?”

Natasha tapped the tabletop in front of herself several times, typing in commands and dragging her finger across the touch interface to open programs. Moments later a 3 dimensional hologram sprung out of a small dome shaped emitter in the center of the table displaying an image of an island in the center of a body of water that slowly rotated.

Aaron actually looked at the table for the first time. It was a high tech marvel. Along each side there were several touch pad keyboards and displays inset in the smooth glossy plastic. Near the center holographic emitter lens were multiple access ports of various types, most of which he did not recognize. But to him the coolest part by far was the holographic emitter. The rotating image was crisp and sharp. It seemed to hover in the air at about eye level, semi-transparent so that you could see the person across from you through it.

“Sorry I have to interrupt. Where did you get this table? It is amazing. You pull it out of a mastermind’s lair? Was it given to you from an ancient star faring race for a job well done?”

Everyone else chucked at that.

Betony grinned over at Carlos. “Yes fearless leader, tell him how you got this technological marvel.”

Grande mumbled something under his breath.

Betony leaned in still grinning and cupped a hand around an ear. “What, I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that.”

“I bought eit at Office Depot with the reward from our first bust.”

“Seriously?  They sell these at Office Depot?”

“Actually at the Office Depot Outlet store. Apparently there was not the market for these that they assumed there was. Eit was significantly marked down from the original price, and on a sale at the outlet store. And I had a coupon.”

Aaron paused a moment. “Ok. I gotta know, how much was it?”

“Seix hundred dollars. Wheich was about two and a half percent of the original price. And before you do the math ein your head, eit was originally twenty four thousand dollars.”

“Twenty. Four. Thousand. Dollars.”

“Well eit deid come with these really nice chairs. Real leather with good lumbar support.”

Roland did a polite psychic cough in everyone heads. “If we could resume? Thank you.”

Roland stared intently at the image and the cursor began to move highlighting the complex on the island. The picture zoomed in as Roland continued to narrate. “Granite Island is a massive chunk of solid rock, a type of super dense granite from the earth’s crust that somehow got up-thrust almost intact several million years ago. It is situated nearly in the center of north Puget Sound. Sheer cliffs twenty three feet tall ring the island on all sides except for the southern tip of the island. Where it looks like eons past a portion of the cliff had shorn away leaving a gradual slope from the water to the peak of the island where the prison was built.”

He continued “The prison buildings themselves are constructed out of titanium reinforced concrete. Walls twenty feet high surround the complex and are dotted with searchlights, both high tech and magical monitoring devices as well as Manned and remote guard emplacements. An administration complex for the MCTF sits just outside the walls near the power generators that is where all prisoner access in and out of the complex is located. The prison goes down several layers into the solid stone. No one outside of the complex has any idea of how deep it really goes.”

“It is not just a place designed to hold supervillains and other powered criminals. It is also used to hold dangerous unpowered individuals too, mass murders, cartel and gang leaders and the like. Current estimations have the inmate population at around two thousand.”

Aaron whistled. “That sounds like a very unpleasant and dangerous place to visit.”

“It is indeed. It is believed that the prison is equipped with a containment cells that will be able to handle any possible situation or person.”

“How so?”

“Known examples are magically warded rooms with extra dimensional guardians, hibernation chambers, light opaque force fields and even standard vault doors.”

“Sounds like they thought of it all.”

“Indeed. Well,” continued Roland “Maybe you can fill us in on what you do actually know superheroes now that the Granite Island questions are out of the way. Which will enable us to help you with the rest that you don’t.”

“Umm, ok.” Crusader began “The first real superhero showed up in World War Two, Jonathan Kilroy. If I remember my history lessons he was part of the United States super soldier program and served in the Pacific theater before the accident that killed him at the end of the war. Although according to internet rumors he is still alive and has shown up occasionally to help against overwhelming odds over the last fifty years. His ‘Kilroy was here’ graffiti showing up after those events.”

“It was the first US super soldier program.” Natasha interrupted. “There have been six of them.”

“Six? There were six super soldier programs?”

“No.  Six United States programs, not just six in total.”

Under Roland’s direction the table hologram began to search online databases and display the results which he listed aloud. “There have been eleven European programs, two German programs, four Canadian programs, five Russian or Soviet programs, three Chinese programs and two Mexican programs. Not all of which have been successful or yielded any known results.”

Aaron looked over at Carlos. “So were you..?”

Grande looked offended. “No! I am from Argentina.  Do I look like I am from Mexico? I am not some experiment. I am all natural!”

“Whoa, Whoa, Sorry, Sorry, Sorry!”

Roland attempted to defuse the situation “Please continue Aaron.”

“Sure, if I remember right everyone was pretty much solo until some major teams formed in the mid Sixties to fight the First Vrall Invasion and most of them are still together in one form or another. We have the Atlanta Action League, The Shadow Syndicate in New York, The Guild in Chicago, the Freedom Force in Washington DC, the Golden Host in San Diego and of course the Emerald City Defenders here in Seattle. Honestly, that is pretty much all l know from when I was back high school or random things here or there.  I know there are more teams that just the ones I named, don’t most major cities have at least one? “

Betony nodded. “They do. And what you know is not too bad. But that is mostly history. Do you know about anything current, or anything about laws?”

“Nothing really, pretty much just what I told you guys.”

Natasha began to type on her section of the conference table. “Here’s a quick overview of some laws that pertain to us. Supers don’t have to register their identities until they commit a crime in costume, any crime. That includes a speeding ticket if you are driving a car in costume. I’ve seen how you drive. You need to be careful.”

Crusader hung his head slightly and nodded abashedly. ”Yeah.”

“The bounty system for powered criminals and the MCTF controlling body to oversee their posting and payment went into effect January Fourth, Nineteen Eighty. It was designed to give the powered individual an incentive to help solve problems as opposed to causing them. Of course the state and federal governments do take a cut out of it in taxes.

The rating of each criminal or organization determines the amount of bounty that is awarded, with their ratings being adjusted periodically. The ratings start at the bottom with an E Classification. Which are low powered minions and assistants of the more powerful. All the way to A-Epsilon which as you can imagine threaten the world with their very existence. Fortunately at this time there are no A-Epsilons currently on record.

Also as part of the charter we have to cooperate with local, state and federal law enforcement. Which means we have to share all threats that we learn about and if they request it lend them a hand in capturing criminals and assisting with disaster preparations and recovery. Overall it is not a lot of stuff if you look at it on paper but in whole a lot of responsibility and restrictions.”

The whole table nodded in understanding, even those that had heard this information before.

“Anything else that I should be aware of?”

“That should cover it. I will of course keep you and the rest of the team appraised of any changes as they develop.”

Grande was the first to break the thoughtful silence. “Man, that was a total downer. Let’s do something a leittle more fun. Eis anybody up for some combat practice?”

A chorus of agreement greeted his idea.

Everyone but Crusader went to their lockers and got the gear they needed ready. He just opened up the baseball duffle bag that he brought with him and removed the sword belt with its sheathed blade.

Grande spotted him and with a grin challenged him. “Bring your magic toothpick over here and let’s see what you can do. Five bucks says I can land the first hit.”

“You’re on!”

Grande got the five dollars.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Second String Heroes Episode 1.3

Waiting by the armor plated transport Sun Wolf, Betony and Crusader watched the grey and maroon armored MCTF troopers walk down the ramp.

Each trooper wore standard issue Mega Crime Tactical Armor. In addition to a helmet with a fully polarized face covering visor, the armor itself was built out of high impact ballistic plates which gave the wearer protection from small arms and light powered energy weapons. The plates covered the torso, groin, biceps, and thighs in a dark matte maroon over an industrial grey jumpsuit. At the waist hung a tactical belt covered in pouches and devices that the average trooper might need during his dangerous duties. In addition the troopers had matching armored leather boots and gauntlets once again in a dark matte maroon.
A tall man in a maroon half helmet with captains’ bars and a tactical visor separated himself from the troopers and offered a hand to each of them in turn. “I’m Captain Sherman. Good job capturing these two.” He looked around at all the damage “It looks like this was quite the fight; I wish I could have seen it.”

Captain Sherman pulled a military grade touchscreen pad out of a hip pouch and taped the screen a few times pulling up files and photos and occasionally adding a few notes about the scene of the battle here and there in the proper spots.

Natasha looked over at the pad one eyebrow raising in appraisal.
“Ok, the Electrocutioner and Abominatron. Class C and D ratings respectively.” He shouted over his shoulder to his troops. “Second class electrical containment, the usual the reinforced rubber restraints on the Electrocutioner. Remember not to disturb his hood; we have to follow the law. Separate the robot parts in bins, no more than 20 pounds per. He can reassemble at 30 pound increments. And put the EM detectors on top to see if the parts start to go active.” With those instructions his men got to work.

She whistled, an odd sound coming from a muzzle “That is quite the database. Where can we get ahold of one of those?”

“These? They are standard MCTF issue. Touch screen, sound and video recorders, GPS, and a copy of the powers database software. I’ll see what I can do, we have sold them in the past. Maybe we can sell you one at a discount, with a self-updating subscription plan of course so you have the latest info to help you out.”

“That would be great, very useful in our line of work.”

He tapped the pad again. “These two had a reward. Want me to send it your usual account? It is about six thousand combined before taxes and admin fees.”

“Da,” She agreed “that sounds good. It is almost time for the usual bills and such. This is not a cheap line of work to get into. Especially if you don’t have any sponsors.”

Captain Sherman nodded “Will do. Oh and do you guys have a team name yet? I know it would make our job a bit easier when it came to get ahold of you.”

They all shook their heads.

Betony spoke “We are still arguing about that.” She rolled her eyes, “We have kinda decided that it needs to have patrol in it. But Grande has some of the worst suggestions.”

Grande chose that moment to walk up after his interview. “No I don’t, I think Power Patrol eis a great name.”

They all shook their heads or rolled their eyes. “That sounds like a name a bunch of kids would have.” muttered Sun Wolf.

Sherman chuckled “Good luck with that. A name can make or break the team’s reputation.” One of his men signaled him as they were loading the last of the tubs with Abomination’s parts inside. ” Looks like my guys are about done. Well off to Granite Island. If you want I can try to arrange a tour some time. You deserve to see where some of the guys you bust end up.”

“Thanks for the offer Captain. We might be interested in that. Use the team email you have on file for us.” replied Sun Wolf

“Will do. “ The Captain waved as he got in the MCTF armored transport. The rear hatch closed with a mechanical whine and the vehicle rumbled off.

Betony glanced over to Crusader after the MCTF had left. “You were awfully quiet back there. What’s up?”

“Yeah, I had no idea what you guys were talking about back there. As you probably remember I’ve only been doing this for about a month. This was not my plan for my life. I'm still going to community college to get my associates degree. I just read a bit about this kind of stuff online and in the paper. Like most normal people I just kinda ignored it and tried to go along with my life. And besides I thought it would better not to say anything and look stupid in front of that guy.”

She winced “Oh yeah, I think we forgot about that. Most of this is probably pretty weird for you. Anything in particular you want to know.”

“Yeah, what’s Granite Island?”

“What’s Granite Island, huh?” Betony looked over to Sun Wolf and Grande for help “That is not too hard of a question. But it might be better to talk about it in less public surroundings.”

“How ‘bout the base?” Grande suggested.

“Da, good idea Grande. And besides,” The wolf woman smirked “You can change your pants. I imagine that rip up the back is getting a bit drafty. Although the red was a good choice; it matches your costume well. That TV interview might be a good one for my personal archive.”


Betony, also smirking, nodded her head. “Yeah, totally. We should do that. Wait, what time is it?”

Everyone looked around the street trying to find a clock when Crusader stage whispered to Betony. “Check your cell phone.”

She grimaced and pulled it out of another pouch on her belt. “Four o’clock! I’m gonna be late! Practice is at Four thirty! Crusader can you give me a ride to the school? I promise I’ll make it up to you.”

“Sure, I can do that for you. The car is over there.”

“So eit eis settled, being that tomorrow eis Saturday, we will meet at the base, let’s say tomorrow at about Ten-ish.”

“When was that settled? Was that one of your spontaneous executive decisions?” Sun Wolf sighed and waved her hand “Sure that will work. And besides Roland will be back from vacation. We can introduce him and Crusader to each other.”

Betony and Crusader both waved to the other two before they got into Crusader’s beat up Focus. Crusader climbing in the driver seat and Betony into the cluttered back seat. She had to shift a still slightly warm pizza bag and a few empty fast food drink cups to make a space to sit down.

Crusader looked in the rear view mirror at his companion “Why are you sitting back there?”

“I have to change; I can’t look like this at school. Secret identities are supposed to be secret. And besides because I am running late I need to put on my cheer uniform so I am ready when we get there.”

Before he pulled away from the curb he watched as she reached around behind her neck and unclasped the large gold necklace she wore. Magically her features began to change, youthening dramatically. Her long nearly waist length blond hair shrank down to a simple pageboy. Overall her body shrank down and got less mature until she looked her actual age of seventeen not the mid-twenties appearance she normally had while on the job. She glanced up at the mirror and smirked at Crusader “My mom made me a good disguise huh? You can stop looking now.”

“Crap, sorry. That is just so cool to see.”

“It is kinda cool isn’t?”

He pulled away from the curb and began to quickly pick up speed and cut in and out of traffic in the manner of all good delivery drivers as it raced to Betony’s school.

Roosevelt High School right?” Crusader called over his shoulder. Being very careful not to look in the mirror at the changing teen in his back seat.


A mere fifteen minutes after they had left the heart of downtown they pulled up to the front of the Roosevelt High School campus.

“We are here.”

“Wow that was super fast! Are you sure that is not another super power?” She commented with a small laugh. Betony climbed out of the back of the car adjusting her uniform and smoothing down the skirt of her green and gold cheer uniform. She posed over dramatically “Go Rough Riders!”

He chuckled at her over cheerfulness. “Well I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Wait!” She looked thoughtful for a moment. “Can you do me a favor?” She held out a small bundle, her costumes belt and the amulet. “Can you hold onto this for me until tomorrow? I don’t want to take a chance of anything happening to this here. You know just in case. There are herbs in here that might look suspicions to security. And this valuable and I’d rather not have this stolen and have my mother’s disguise amulet go missing and end up in the wrong hands. “

“Sure thing B, you have my word that I will protect your stuff and keep it safe.” Momentarily reality seemed to pause except for the two of them as soon as he uttered that promise. “Whoa, that was weird. What kind of power do you think that was?”

She also looks a bit startled. “Yeah that was weird. Maybe it was an oath? We should probably check that out tomorrow. Well, see ya later! I’m off to practice!”

Crusader waited until she walked through the front doors of the school before he drove off. As he drove off he picked up his cell phone and made an important call.

“It’s me. Sorry it is taking me so long to get back to you. There was a villain fight or something in downtown. Yeah, it killed traffic. I’ll be there soon to finish my shift. That last delivery? Yeah I made it there on time but that old lady gave me a fifty cent tip. Quit laughing. Yep, see you in fifteen.”

Crusader pulled off his chainmail coif, undid his bandana, shrugged off his jacket and put on his red mesh Poppy’s Pizza hat. Time for him to get back to work.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Second String Heroes Episode 1.2

Meanwhile Crusader and Betony were in the thick of it. Abominatron: The Steam Powered Terror was short one fist and several legs thanks to a series of lucky and almost skillful attacks by Crusader. Its tesla coils flickered intermittently discharging arcs which hit the surrounding area, scorching the ground at random.  Its attacks had slowed down very little. Lurching forward it swung and missed at Crusader who managed to keep it at bay.

The Electrocutioner on the other hand was completely active and absolutely livid. The electro-whips he kept forming and flaying at Betony repeatedly missed and struck everything other than the flying girl that he was aiming at. The yellow energy scorched and cleaved through almost everything it came in contact with as he lashed out.

He snarled at her as an electro-whip arced through a spot she was in moments before “Stop your fluttering about and hold still witch!”

“I’m not a witch I am a druidess!” she said dodging and shooting off a purple and green beam at him in return “Witches are evil, Druids aren’t! I’m sick of people saying that. And hello?! I’m wearing white and gold.” Gesturing to her white flowing gown, golden necklace and belt with a hand.

His only reply is another electro-lash in her direction.

“Crusader, how are you doing over there?” Betony called over her shoulder as she heard a crash and the sound of rending metal behind her.

“Getting tired,” he pants, dodging a swinging fist “I had no idea I was this out of shape. I need to join a gym or something. And Abominatron isn’t slowing down too much. I hope Grande and Sun Wolf get back soon.”

At that moment the two tired combatants hear a loud heavily accented voice ring out “Deid I hear someone say my name? Grande to the rescue!”

Caught off guard the Electrocutioner started to turn toward the pair of returning heroes when he is blindsided from behind by a tackle.  Electricity crackles down his arms illuminating his lightning tattoos and starts to shoot from his body in a miniature electrical storm. Yelling at the top of his lungs he struggled to get free, lightning striking Grande several times. But the sparking electricity hardly seemed to faze him, only making smoldering spots on his pants and mask as Grande went for a sleeper hold on the surprised villain.

“Betony! Sleep spell heim. Just heim!”

The Betony started at Grande’s order and the surprised druidess chanted for a long moment and a pale green roiling mist filled the air around the Electrocutioner’s head. He thrashed around for a moment or two trying to break free while the lightning emanating from him getting got more and more fierce before he gave up, took a breath and slumped over, out cold.

“Awoooooooooo!” A wolfs howl cut through the air as a golden furred form flew down from the sky to land with a 2 footed kick to the Victorian menace’s crab shelled lower back. Abominatron staggered back and nearly collapsed as several of its damaged legs buckled and sparked from the unexpected weight.


“Nice hit Sunwolf!”

“Thanks Crusader! I’m going to try to grab its arm.” She said acrobatically dodging around a weak pulse of energy from the flickering teslas.  “And...”


“And I’ll wack it a good one!”

A swift flurry of dodging and attacking Sun Wolf managed to retain her footing on the smooth bronze and steel carapace of the robot and get a good enough grip to lever The robot’s functioning arm back. Crusader charged in, his attack seemingly guided more by his sword than his personal skill. The gleaming blade glowed with a faint blue light as it seemed to effortlessly cleave the steam powered arm from its socket.

More sparks shot out of the malfunctioning teslas as the enormous robot shuddered and clanged for a few moments, random gears cogs and wires falling from the arm socket, before it slumped over and halted movement with a whistle of escaping steam.

Its speaker played what sounded like music from a carousel that was slowly losing power. The notes getting longer and more drawn out. “Notoothinnng caaann stooopp meee….” Abominatrons voice faded out over the top of those sounds before it could say any more.


The whole team cheered, fist pumped and high fived as their final opponent was downed.

“Yeah we did it!” Whoohoo!” “All right!” “Ole!”

It was about then that Crusader noticed the news crews from the local news.

He quickly covered his mouth and pretended to cough into the side of his fist.



The others quickly looked about and saw more than 1 news team as well as local PD. Almost instantly they became more professional. Grande immediately began barking orders.

“Crusader,” he gestured. “Secure Electrocutioner. The taskforce from Granite Island weill hopefully be here soon to get heim. We don’t want him getting away like Psiren deid.”

Crusader muttered under his breath as he walked over to the prone villain. “It was one time, and he never lets me live it down. She fooled everybody, not just me. But does he remember that? Noooooo.”

“Sun Wolf gather the junk from Abominatron. Betony, do ummm something magicy I am gonna go talk to the News.”


Betony smirked a bit. “You go ahead and do that Grande, I will be right back here.”


The mobile news truck was in the middle of setting up its microwave antenna when Grande swaggered over. He waited there patiently almost posing while the crew finished their set up, occasionally wiping off a bit of dust and grime from his multiple collisions with the ground and other objects. The news crew seeing him waiting hurried up their prep work to interview the battered luchador.

Meanwhile the rest of the team, while subtly keeping an eye on the unconscious Electrocutioner, was busy gathering the random chunks of brass and steel belonging to Abominatron and waiting for the MCTF (Mega Crime Task Force) containment units to show up.

Glancing over at Grande Crusader shook his head. “That guy loves giving interviews. He puffs himself up and takes most of the credit for stuff we all did.”


“Why don’t you give an interview or two?” Betony asked “I think you would do a good job if you tried.”

“No no no no.” he said holding his hands up. “Not me. My costume sucks. I don’t want to get recognized.”


The girls laughed lightly as they gathered the junk.


“I mean seriously. Think about it, everybody has a better disguise than me. Sun Wolf you shape change and Betony you have that amulet. All I have a bandana and this chain maile coif I bought online.” he smirked “I couldn’t face my friends or family if they learned about this. It would be soo embarrassing to admit when I’m not at work or taking classes that I attack guys in spandex with a magic sword.  Can you picture explaining that at Thanksgiving dinner? “


Poorly imitating an old woman’s voice he went on “So dear I have been reading about these “makes  finger quotes with hands “ ‘alternative lifestyles’ on the internet. Do you belong to one? I was talking to Muriel at my bridge club and she said her nephew joined one then went and built a robot in his garage and started wearing spandex. Are you planning on doing that? Or does a sword mean something different? Why can’t you find a normal job and a nice girl? Not all those hussies in skintight spandex and odd colored hair that we seem to see you with all the time on the news. Your mother and I worry about you.”


“Or maybe even worse, if they accept it” he said before he went on in the old woman’s voice “the Hendersons down the street lawn is terrible and they have loud music late at night. I think they might be supervillains. Can you get a bunch of your friends to kick their door down? I’m moving next week, can you get that speedy girl and that 4 armed guy to move furniture?”


The girls were clutching their sides and almost dying with laughter at this point.


Grande was right in the middle of his interview when he heard the loud laughter erupt behind him from the girls. He glanced over his shoulder, frowned at his joking team mates and turned back to the microphones.


“Sorry ‘bout that, they were probably relieving stress. Can you repeat your question?”

The Asian woman in the expensive plumb colored suit and perfect hair smiled and spoke into the microphone “Does your team have a formal  name yet?” and pointed it back toward Grande.

 “No not yet. That eis the one beig argument that we seem to have every few days. Personally I think that sometheing like Grande’s Guardsmen would be pretty cool and has a nice reing to it. But they say no.” He shrugs “Oh well. You can’t have a good quality name like the Emerald City Defenders without a beit of thought.”


They both chuckled at that.

 “I, I mean we, respect that group and what they can do. But we are not ein their league. We need a name just as good that feits us.”


As he was speaking off to his left a large grey and maroon armored vehicle with MCTF in big black letters on the side rumbled over to the fallen villains and stopped with a hiss of air from the brakes on its six large tractor sized wheels. A ramp folded down with the sound of strong industrial motors.

“Well that’s my queue to wrap theis up. Eit was nice talking to you Susan, but duty calls.”

“Thanks for the chat Grande” Turning back to the camera. “This is Susan Kim Chanel Six Action News. Back to you in the studio.”

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Second String Heroes Episode 1.1

It was the time of day in the Northwest when the spring sun transitioned from late afternoon into evening. Everything was brightly lit, almost blindingly so. With the golden sun illuminating the tops of the evergreens and the quirky rows of houses in the northern part of the city. Cars were parked along the street with more arriving and leaving from moment to moment as people got home from work and went on their late day errands. Bicycles and people walking passed each other on the sidewalk, most waving or nodding hello in a friendly way.




*bing bong*

*knock, knock, knock*

More insistent, *Knock, Knock, Knock*


An older woman’s quavery voice comes distantly through the old wooden door. “I’m coming, I’m coming.” A brief while later she speaks again through the door “Who is it?”

“Poppy’s Pizza delivery ma’am.  You placed an order. For a...” The pizza delivery driver pauses a moment while he checks the receipt “A large extra cheese with pepperoni and mushrooms with the cheese glazed crust.”

“Oh you were so fast! I don’t have my money ready. Give me just a moment to go get it.”

He fakes a smile. “Well ma’am, under 30 minutes or it’s free.  I’ll be right here waiting for you.”

Standing in the late sun on the front porch the delivery driver begins to fidget impatiently, playing with the zipper on his black and blue armored leather motorcycle jacket. Tugging on the black bandana tied loosely around his neck. Removing and readjusting the bright red mesh baseball cap with the Poppy’s pizza logo on it, which happened to be a pizza with a slice out of it wearing a chef’s hat. Trying to polish the scuffs out of his over buckled mid-calf square toed boots on his blue jeans.


Off in the distance from the direction of downtown the sound of an explosion rumbled, momentarily startling the singing birds into silence. The driver glances back over his shoulder south towards the city’s downtown, becoming visibly more impatient at each passing moment.

He mutters under his breath as another rumble this time followed by a drawn out crashing sound erupts from downtown,” Come on, come on.”

The front door cracks open revealing the little old lady standing there with a tired old flower patterned purse.

“How much was it sweetie? My memory is not what it used to be.”

“Twelve eighty two with tax and delivery fee.” Holding out the receipt.

She cracked open her purse digs around and pulls out her wallet. Each motion taken with the infinite care of the elderly. After what feels like an eternity she pulls out 12 dollars in singles. “I have exact change in here, just let me find it.”


The explosions and rumblings are now joined by crashes. All of which seem to be increasing in pace and ferocity.


“50, 55, ooh a dime, 65, 68. Oh dear I don’t seem to have any more change.” She reaches back into her wallet and pulls out an additional 1 dollar bill. “Here you go young man. Keep the change.”

Calling “Thankyouverymuchma’amhaveaniceday.” over his shoulder as he stuffed the money in his company branded zippered change bag, he bolts for his car. The delivery driver pauses a moment to chuck the hat and the warming bag onto the back seat of his third hand blue, white and primer grey Ford Focus and guns it toward downtown Seattle.



5 minutes, 2 run red lights and a near miss with a taxicab later Crusader arrived at the scene of the battle and got out of his beat up car. He adjusted the black bandana that covered his lower face, tugged the chainmail coif into place over his mussed black hair, tucked it into his black and blue jacket and checked the seating of his enchanted sword in its belted scabbard.

He looked out over the street where his teammates were fighting for a moment, bolts of electricity, purple hued magic and the occasional chunk of shattered concrete flying through the air.

Crusader popped his knuckles and spoke “It’s time to get..” just as he was knocked down by a flying newspaper box.



Glancing over in the middle of the brawl Grande smiled slightly as Crusader’s car pulled up

And just as quickly frowned as he saw him crumple from the impact of the wayward newspaper box.

He looked over up and to his right. “Betony!” he shouted at the attractive young blond-haired woman hovering nearby “Crusader took a hit.” He pointed quickly at the prone figure. “Use your magic to help that Estúpido up, we weill probably need him!”

 Betony looked at where Grande was pointing and gave a pained sigh of a teenager who was told to clean her room or take out the trash. Chanting a quick spell under her breath she fired off a bolt of bright purple energy at the huge 4 legged robot that was advancing in her direction. As it staggered back into a near-by car she glided over to her prone companion, her long blond hair and white flowing gown streaming out behind her.


 “This fight is taking way too long. I still have to study for the biology test I have to take tomorrow.” She muttered to herself as she came to rest on the ground. Her sandaled feet landing in the grit and debris thrown up by the fight, next to the groggy hero.

Pulling out a curved bronze dagger with a handle made of a pair of twined snakes and taking a pinch of herbs from a leather belt pouch Betony began to chant in a language that was old when man first came to the British Isles. A pale purple cloud formed in front of her quickly enveloping Crusader who started to twitch slightly and groggily sat up.

“Uggh, what hit me?” He glanced up at the frowning blond druidess who gestured to the dented Seattle Times newspaper box. “Oh... Thanks B.” He blinked hard and shook his head trying to clear it. “Wait isn’t it a Thursday? Didn’t you say something last week about you having cheer practice and a math test tomorrow?”

“Duh” her tones frustrated “but it is biology and stuff. But robodork and electrojerk decided to hit the bank. And Grande being a ‘Grande sized Moron’ thought it would be a good idea for us to try to stop them before they did too much damage to Third Avenue. But with him crashing into everything, it is not going to happen as easy as he thought. And that pretty much kills all my study time tonight.” She completed with an eye roll.

Betony and Crusader looked toward the melee in the center of downtown Seattle that was continuing to erupt in front of the US Bank. A vaguely Victorian styled eight legged brass and steel crab centaur robot with highly polished brass and steel accents was using oversized pneumatic fists to try to pummel a short shirtless dark skinned man in a bright red and white luchador mask with slightly too tight matching pants. The short luchador dodged most of the attacks and appeared to be cursing in Spanish.  Every time it struck out at him and missed knocking divots into the city street, a cloud of steam would billow out from the pipe organ shaped pipes on the back of its shell and shoulders. It was a wheezing clanking bubbling loud mechanical monstrosity surrounded by a cloud of white foul smelling water vapor and smoke.


In another nearby part of the melee a tall blond bipedal female wolf in what looked like a leather bikini faced off against at a laughing man in an executioners hood with a glowing axe made out of yellow electricity. She bounded off of buildings, light poles and parked cars while dodging his attacks. The hooded man’s muscularly rippling arms stuck out of hit loose sleeveless shirt and had tattoos of stylized lightning bolts zig zagging all down them.


“B, who are those two?” Crusader asked as he stood up.


Looking at her smartphone Betony did a quick internet search.


“The guy with the axe is the Electrocutioner. He shoots lightning and can make weapons and whips out of energy. Other than his powers he is physically normal though. And not surprisingly a total nut job. He is wanted for multiple robberies and is a person of interest in a few murders in Southern California,”

She did a quick scan again. “And that big loud dork is Abominatron: The Steam Powered Terror. Seriously. That is its complete name. It is pretty much what it looks like a tough huge smelly robot that punches and shocks things.”


They looked at each other at the same moment. “Shocks things?”


At that moment a handful of hidden hatches popped open and a dozen Tesla coils of various sizes sprouted from its arms and back and began to hum, rising in pitch quickly. Arcs of energy ran between them like Jacob’s ladders accelerating in speed. A bright blue bolt of electricity shot out of its clenched fists slamming into Grande, throwing him four or five blocks through several parked cars.

“And so fall all who oppose the might of Abominatron: The Steam Powered Terror!” A harsh artificial voice proclaims from a brass grilled speaker mounted in the creature’s armored chest. Its arms ratcheted back into place and the low electric hum began to build again, abet at a slower pace.


“Ca … Grande!” A concerned cry escaped from the blond wolf woman as she turned and bolted toward the downed luchador.

“And we lost Tasha.” Crusader drew his sword and looked toward the robot “Looks like it is my turn at bat.”

“And it looks like you and I will have to hold off the electric twins until they get back.”


Natasha bound down the street at top speed, the shaggy blond hair on her head and body streaming out behind her. She was in such a rush that she sometimes used her arms to propel herself forward faster occasionally dropping onto all fours. In her flight she bounded off of whatever gave her the clearest path the pile of twisted metal that now housed Grande, be it walls, streetlights or even the occasional car. Her worry and concern for Grande made her push herself even harder than what she normally would. As she ran the breeze of her swift passing caused her nose to twitch as it picked up the scent of her singed fur. A reminder of several of the Electrocutioner’s near misses.


She cringed at the scent “Uggh, I hate the way my burnt hair smells. Especially with my wolf nose.”

But even then as she ran down the street the scent faded as her burns and singed fur healed and grew back with unnatural swiftness to its normal state before she finished her flight.


 The body in the mangled pile of cars lay there unmoving, but not from lack of trying. Grande struggled futilely at the jagged and bent shards of metal pinning him in place. Anyone else would be in extreme pain or life threatening danger, but not Grande, he was just mad. “Estúpido robot. He’s not allowed to have electricity too, just punching. That is cheating. How would he like it if I deid that too. I need electricity gloves or something. Si, that would be muy cool. I wonder who I can get some from. It shouldn’t be too hard, right?” As he tried to break free by struggling again, the knifelike edges of the twisted metal pieces press tighter against his legs. Leading to an unfortunate situation.




“Oh, no,no,no,no, no. Not my last pair of hero pants. I’ll never be able to match some new ones to the mask!”


The wolf woman catapulted herself off of a lamp post and landed next to the pile junked cars with a heavy thump. Her sensitive ears could hear swearing in Spanish coming from the bottom of the pile which caused her to sigh in relief. With grunts of exertion she began to bend back some of the metal, and throw the glass and plastic out of the way to free her trapped comrade.  As she got closer to him she called into the rubble, “Hold on Grande I am coming.” Her voice was a surprisingly feminine growl.

“Tasha, eis that you? Help me out of theis mess. I need to show that Estúpido robot who is boss. He has to learn that you can’t zap Grande into a few cars and get away with eit.”


A few moments passed as she worked her way down, chunks of metal and other debris clattering to the ground all around her. “Carlos why do you go after the big ones? You are only invulnerable. Not super strong.” She chuckled, “One of these times you are going to be knocked so far and buried so deep we will have to call Molareon to help dig you out.”

“It’s a machismo thing. A chica like you wouldn’t understand.” Grande tried to move again as his teammate pulled at the metal trapping him. “And you’d better not call Molareon; I hate that mole guy heis eyes creep me out.” The sounds of more metal bending and rivets popping “Be careful with that stuff I already have some tears in my hero pants. I don’t want to be on TV in my briefs!”

More sounds of metal bending. “I still can’t believe you call them hero pants. Call them part of your costume or something. “


With a final heave Natasha tore apart the last barrier of metal parts and opened up a wide enough gap to for Grande to get loose from his automotive iron maiden. He is greeted by a sloppy werewolf tongue across his mask. Grande sputters “Loca mujer loba now eis not the time for that. We need to get back to the action.”

As they begin sprinting back to the brawl Grande looks over to Sun Wolf with a thoughtful expression. “Do you happen to know anywhere I can get electric gloves?”

It Begins... Again.

The B and C list heroes. The other guys. The ones not quite good enough for their own endorsement deal. The ones that people go “Who?” when they hear their chosen code name.

You know them. The guy who can just run pretty fast. The girl who can talk to fish, but not breathe underwater. The stretchy guy, you will always run into a stretchy guy somewhere.

The people and teams that patrol the mean streets of Century City, Bozeman, Cleveland, or El Paso.

These stories are about them.

Well maybe not those guys exactly, but somebody pretty close.