Rivalry: Part 8

When we got back to the jet, I pulled the alert’s GPS data up, and headed toward downtown Grand Lake.

We flew westward through the sky, toward the sun as it moved lower, beginning to dip into Lake Michigan.

I gave them the short version of what Cannon had said as we flew home, but we didn’t get to really discuss it. Including the time it took to start the jet, it took ten minutes to get there.

We were too late, but in the best possible way.

As we started descending toward the coordinates, the alert turned from yellow back to green. I decided to keep on going anyway, firing the directional jets to help slow us down, and bringing the anti-gravity panels online.

It didn’t take much to figure out where to land.

Michigan National Bank had a branch downtown — an old one that was three stories tall with pillars made of either gray stone, or concrete going from top to bottom.

I landed the jet in the middle of a street of buildings which, just like the bank, mostly dated back to the late 1800’s. Normally I’d have worried about blocking traffic, but the police had already blocked off the road.

They were busily handcuffing and hauling off people in police cars. Noticing that most of them had “Bloods” on the back of their jackets, I wondered if they were connected to the well-known gang, or if they’d just taken the name. Two ambulances were parked next to the police cars.

Travis, Rachel, Marcus, and Vaughn stood together in front of the bank, talking with a police officer. All of them were in costume, even Marcus. I’d known he had one, but when he’d shifted out of a human shape it disappeared so I hadn’t seen it much. For example, I’d no idea that it was green.

Everyone turned to watch as we stepped out the jet.

While the officer paused from asking Travis questions, Cassie walked up to Vaughn and said, “So what happened? What did we miss?”

“It was awesome. A few of those guys got powers from the juice, and they decided to rob the bank. I’d decided to go to HQ and shower after practice. The cops called, so I sent everybody a yellow, and we got down here. They were mostly in the bank, so I fogged it up, and Night Wolf and the Shift took out the ones inside.”

Rachel shifted her position to stand next to Vaughn. “And I didn’t do anything at all. I combed my hair and ate… bonbons.”

Rachel’s hair was almost as short as mine.

Vaughn frowned for a moment. “I was getting to that. Ghost took out half the guys outside by zapping them invisibly with her electric gloves. I had the wind blow the rest of them into walls.”

He nodded at the jet. “Cool that you got it working. Did you get anything out of Man-machine?”

“A little. Nothing I want to talk about here.”

Vaughn eyed the cop that was talking to Travis. “Right. Is there room for everybody inside?”

“Yeah. There are up to twelve seats. We can fold them into and out of the floor. How’d you all get here?”

“Marcus flew, and I used the wind to carry Ghost and Night Wolf.”

“Cool.”

I felt a chill and a sudden irrational need to leave. From the expression on Vaughn’s face, I could see he felt the same thing.

+++
Daniel: Hey everybody, that’s not you. Look up.
+++

A man in a red and black costume descended from the sky. He landed next to us. A smaller guy, who was also flying, stayed in the air.

Once the man landed on the ground, I recognized him from Double V’s database as Justice Fiend. He had short horns that barely poked through his black hair, and wore a small black mask, covering only the area around his eyes.

I guessed he might be in his mid-thirties.

Except for the scar on his right cheek that ran parallel to his nose, his face might have been a model’s. As it was, he could have played the part of “rugged hero” in most action movies.

That wasn’t what caught my eye, though. I found myself staring at the inside of his cape. Despite all the reasons to avoid them, he actually wore one. His was black on the outside, but on the inside, it showed changing patterns of darkness and fire. Shapes that could almost be people writhed among them.

Creepy. I wouldn’t be grabbing that cape any time soon.

He smiled. He had very white teeth.

“You’re hard to find. I got into this town late last night. I found out your offices have been closed for the last twenty years, and when I called you, I just got voice mail. You want some friendly advice? Get yourself an emergency number for supers. All the major teams have them.”

“Thanks,” Jaclyn said. Her tone didn’t sound especially thankful.

“I’m Justice Fiend. I recognize your team from the news. Good job on the bank robbery. I’m here because of the ball from yesterday. I’m going to find out where it came from and make sure they don’t use it again. Do any of you know anything?”

The fear I felt before I’d seen him hadn’t gone away, and as he stood there looking each one of us individually in the eye, I felt a surge of need to say something. What would happen if he found out I knew, and didn’t tell him?

I don’t know what I would have done next, but it didn’t matter. I found myself suddenly calmed, and recognized Daniel’s presence in my head.

+++
Me: You’re doing this?
Daniel: For you and almost everyone else. Actually Vaughn’s more resistant than I’d have thought.
Me: You’re blocking this for everyone though? That’s got to be hard.
Daniel: Not blocking. It’s not telepathy. I’m just muting it. It’s actually easier than being near Lee. With this guy, it’s like being dropped in a deep swimming pool. With Lee, it’s like being dropped in the middle of Lake Michigan with a lead weight.
Me: How much is it like being near Lee?
Daniel: Exactly, but on a much smaller scale, except that being near Lee only seems to affect psychics.
Me: Huh.

+++

If Justice Fiend had any sense of what was going on in our heads, he didn’t show it.

“Nothing? Call me if you learn anything. I’ve left my number in your voice mail. Besides, you’ve got an arrangement with the Feds. They’ll have my email address.”

19 thoughts on “Rivalry: Part 8”

  1. Nicely done. I would never have thought to have the problem saved off screen like that. But then again with a team the main character doesn’t have to be there every time.

    I love the series. I discovered it on tv tropes and now am archive diving to catch up.

  2. I felt a chill and sudden irrational need to leave.

    You missed an ‘a’ there.

    I’m not sure why, but Justice Fiend scares the crap out of me. Not bad, for a fictional supervillian.

  3. Eli: Thanks for catching that. It’s fixed. And technically, he’s a superhero, so far…

    Danial: Thanks for dropping by and reading.

    Mazzon/Thomas: The reason why no one’s responded will be more obvious in the next bit.

  4. First of all, Justice Fiend is like I thought he’d be, although I wasn’t expecting the cape.

    Does he have the ability to make people want to tell him the truth?

    @Eli: I think he’s a “hero”.

  5. “cool that you got the it working” – I’m half asleep, but are they calling the jet “the it” or is this a type? And yes, another fun episode.

  6. Thanks for catching that. It amazes me how often I leave words behind after editing a passage to “improve” it.

    To my annoyance, it turns out that I sometimes do that while programming too.

  7. I like his cape, and those could be people stuck in there. It would depend on what powers he has if they are. So far we know he can fly and induce fear.

  8. Given the choice I wouldn’t have helped him either. Mostly because showing up and using mind powers of any type to try and compel you to speak is not friendly in the least.

  9. What if he can’t help it, Thor? The fear and inclination to answer may be just a passive feature of JF’s that he has no control over.
    I believe that’s even likely, given that the fear-effect clearly works against him in the situation and considering the possibility of attitudes like you suggest, so pretty much does the compulsion.

  10. If Justice Fiend didn’t want to use intimidation, I would think he would keep the inside of his cloak, with it’s window into what some believe Hell looks like, hidden.

  11. Oh, I can think of a reason why he’d want the people he’s questioning cowed. More of a carrot-and-stick approach, since he definitely seems to be able to compel truth, too.

    Oh, and Justice Fiend seems like a hero about as much as that Vengeance bloke, you know, the guy with the wicked knife: i.e. stick an ‘anti’ in front of it, or maybe ‘not at all a’.

    … what a dick.

  12. I found this story about a month ago, and am loving it. Please keep up the good work.

    BTW this sentence has a the toword twice. ” I pulled the alert’s GPS data up, and headed toward toward downtown Grand Lake.”

  13. Possible continuity issue. Nick says of Marcus’ costume, “I’d no idea that it was green”. But the first time we saw The Shift in costume, back in “In The Public Eye Part 49” (right before going after the Mayor) it was grey and “his costume flashed a rainbow of colors when he moved”. Don’t ask me why that bit of trivia stuck in my head over the week or so it took to read the intervening parts.
    Of course, it’s certainly possible that Marcus upgraded his costume, hence why it’s only a possible issue. (It was NOW green?)

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