Hysteria: Part 2

Outside of shock, I didn’t have much of a reaction.

When I hung up, I turned to Daniel, who had undoubtedly been listening to both sides of the conversation, and asked, “So now what?”

“We go to the hospital. This is going to be big.”

“Like maybe too big for us?”

Daniel shrugged. “Everything’s too big for everyone the first time. If we get stuck, we’ll call somebody.”

“Think we could get in as ourselves?”

“I doubt it.”

I opened my door and put the phone back in its charger on the table in the hall.

* * *

Daniel drove us down to Grandpa’s house and we changed. I went in full armor. We flew out of the exit in the forest in Veterans Memorial Park.

Even though Daniel couldn’t fly as fast as the Rocket suit, it still didn’t take very long to get downtown to the hospital. We landed on the roof, near the helicopter pad.

As many times as I’d done it, I still thought it was cool to be flying. The city lights dotted the darkness, little islands of human handiwork keeping back the night.

“Just a second,” Daniel said, “I’ll go find him.”

Then he stepped off the edge of the roof.

I waited around for him, hoping I wouldn’t have to explain what exactly I was doing there.

He floated back up in a little while and landed next to me.

“He’s in surgery now. They’ve got a lot to close up. Nick, this is bad. The guy who beat on him was an actual supervillain.”

“How’d it happen?”

“Experience it yourself.”

And then I was there. Keith lay in bed watching Mythbusters. His arm hung in a sling. It surprised me a little that it wasn’t in a cast, but I supposed they might be worried about whether it might expand again unpredictably.

Outside the room, I could hear nurses talking, and something beeping, but none of the frantic running of a bad hospital drama.

In any case, Keith didn’t look too badly off — at least for a little while.

Then the window broke. Glass fell across the floor and Keith made a wordless sound of surprise.

A man climbed into the room. His skin appeared to be metal and a line of spikes ran down the front of his chest, down his spine, and across the bottom of his forearms.

Keith struggled to get off the bed, but fell on the floor.

The metal skinned man leaned across the bed, pulled Keith off the floor like he didn’t weigh anything, and held him in the air.

“I saw you on TV the other day.” The metal man smiled. Even his teeth were metal spikes. “And I said to myself, ‘This kid has potential.’ And you do. You’ve got the potential to put me and my friends in charge of the biggest group of psychos in the Midwest. Do you know who I am?”

Even if Keith didn’t, I did, but it turned out that Keith knew too.

“You’re Spike.”

Keith’s voice sounded just a step away from panic.

“You’re a winner. Somebody ring the goddamn bell.” Spike turned his head toward the room’s door. “How about you?”

A policeman stood in the doorway. I pegged him as being in his late 20’s. He held his right hand near, but not on his gun. “Put the boy down.”

“Or you’ll what? Shoot me? Save yourself some trouble and leave.”

The cop had balls of steel though, and in the face of a fight he had to know was unwinnable, he didn’t back down.

“Let’s just step back and talk,” the policeman began, but he didn’t get to finish.

Dropping Keith, Spike struck a blow with one long arm and the policeman disappeared, thumping against a wall in hallway.

Shutting the door, Spike said, “I’d prefer a private conversation.”

Spike grabbed Keith again, lifting him up toward the ceiling.

“We’ve got to talk. Who made the power juice? Was it you? Someone else?”

Keith hung limp in his arms. The skin below his eyes seemed shiny — possibly from tears.

Keith didn’t say anything.

“Protecting the guy? I respect that. It’s not very healthy, but I respect it.”

Spike lowered Keith to the floor, let go with his right hand, but held on to Keith with his left.

Spike’s fingers reshaped themselves into knife blades.

He grabbed Keith’s face, making little cuts on his cheeks and chin.

That’s the point at which I’d have changed the channel if it were on TV or had Daniel stop. Unfortunately he’d just stuffed the memory into my head all at once. I knew the whole thing from beginning to end.

Let’s just say that Keith gave Spike his uncle’s name and address before Spike amputated anything, but after some fairly nasty punches and puncture wounds.

I became aware of myself again as Daniel shook my armor.

“Rocket,” he said, “did you get it all?”

“Yeah. We’d better get over there. It’s probably too late, but… Also, we’ll need everyone else. Spike’s part of a team. There’s his twin brother for one and then a couple other guys.”

“I know. I already sent everybody a yellow.” He held up the old Heroes League ring we’d handed out the first time we’d gotten together as a team. It glowed. With any luck, everyone else was wearing their own trinket.

I plugged Keith’s uncle’s address into my GPS and blasted off, Daniel just behind me.

17 thoughts on “Hysteria: Part 2”

  1. Given how easily Keith screwed his arm up using the stuff I’m not completely sure his uncle is all that competent. 😉 Hope everyone is wearing their decoder rings, wasn’t that a problem last time?

  2. This upcoming fight can go a number of ways, depending on who the Heroes League brings along.

    Vaughn would come in really handy right about now.

  3. Well looks like Spike is one mean guy. I hope Nick and the others are going to be ok.
    Maybe they should also put in a call to another team and request some help.

  4. Well Hg, I figured that against Jim’s nightmare version of the T-1000, Vaughn would have the best chance.

    I mean, I can’t see how morphing into an animal is going to stop a man that can morph into a stainless steel battering ram. Also, what can superspeed do against a morphing metal?

    But, I figure a metal-man will have a TON of problems with a lightning. I mean, how badass is your metal powers against someone who generates electricity? Also, a well-conjured hurricane will put a hurting on pretty much anything.

    I guess, I’ve always had a respect for fierce weather, and I’ve always loved weather-based supers, like sexy Storm.

  5. Oh, and I forgot about Fro-Zone….”WHERE….is…his SUPER-suit??!!!”

    No, but I’ve always felt like weather is the one thing you can’t neutralize. As Hurrican Katrina painfully taught us, Mother Nature can still give you a spanking, no matter how big and bad you think you are.

    Of course, given how little thinking Vaughn does, he might not be that big an edge.

  6. Hmmm, I guess maybe you missed the gist of some of Marcus’s and Jaclyn’s powers. Jaclyn’s also superstrong and close to invulnerable. Marcus can actually morph into pretty much anything, including highly fluid forms with sharp blades and stuff. As for Vaughn’s lightning hurting a man made of metal, well, I guess that depends on how well Spike conducts the stuff, and how resistant he is to the heat generated by his electricity impedance. True metals generally pass electricity through them with little effect on their own substance. The electricity from Vaughn’s lightning probably won’t hurt Spike at all, since Spike would just conduct it into whatever sink he was touching. The heat generated by the electricity passing through the air could be significant, but, again, most metals are fairly heat resistant.

    As for the hurricane effect, maybe Vaughn could drown or rust Spike, given the right circumstances, but he’s probably tough enough to handle having cars dropped on him, and heavy enough that gale force winds are only going to inconvenience him.

    But yeah, when you’ve got weather control powers, you’ve got a lot of tricks in your bag to draw on. (In fact, if Vaughn can affect air temperature enough, he could simply immobilize Spike freezing his metal. Follow that up with a few lightning bolts to generate super-hot spikes in temperature, and maybe he’d crack right open.)

    Hg

  7. Some of the best heroes I’ve seen have lousy powers, but remarkably good battle savvy. Batman and Green Arrow spring to mind here, as does Ironman. Over-reliance on good powers sometimes does the hero in.

  8. My personal favourite has always been Superman, but I feel like he’s perennially badly written, as no one knows what to do to make the world’s most powerful hero more interesting.

    (Though I have ideas)

    Batman is awesome precisely because he doesn’t have powers. I liked the X-Men under Chris Claremont because he made them seem like people. Humanity and character are way more important than powers.

  9. @Hg, freeze Spike and then raise temperatures to crack him open like an egg….I LIKE the way you think!

    @Eli: Yes, you’re right, some of the best heroes rely on superior skills over superior abilities. As Alex demonstrated in the last arc, having a ton of tricks doesn’t equal a pound of brains.

    With that said though, they can’t hope to take down Spike with hopes and prayers. They do need some ace in the hole. And remember, Nick pointed out that Spike was part of a team, who knows how nasty the rest of his crew is??

  10. @G.S. – Part of the problem with superheroes (and popular characters in general) is that people, even their creators start relying too much on gimmicks.

    Just because you’re writing a Spider-Man story doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be web-slinging and wisecracks ALL the time. Many folks forget that. And the very thing that made your character cool, renders them useless.

    Part of why Jim’s serial is so great is that the superpowers are truly ‘just’ a device in the story, it isn’t the crutch.

  11. I think you’d get better results by first superheating the metal then freezing it rapidly. A sudden severe drop in temperature will change the molecular structure of metals, causing them to become extremely brittle. Anyone remember what happened to Colossus? Pyro got him good and hot then Blob dropped a tank of water on him.

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