Rattling Cages: Part 17

Solar Flare didn’t stop burning when he landed. White and yellow flames covered his body.

I checked him for any hint that he might have calmed down since crashing the McAllister’s Christmas party. His face was immobile. His lips were a thin line.

It felt like the wrong kind of calm.

“Get away from them.” I recognized his voice, but only barely. It sounded rougher than when he’d questioned us — as if he’d been doing a lot shouting or possibly crying.

The flames around his right hand intensified, growing brighter.

He started walking toward us, passing Night Wolf’s car.

The right door opened. A featureless grayish goo exited, resolving itself into Marcus.

“I just figured out how to shift out of the paralysis. Is that cool or what?”

Solar Flare turned his head back, expression tense, his hands curling into fists while his arms moved up, almost into a fighting position.

“Hey,” Marcus said. “I’m not looking for trouble. I just got out of the car.”

He grabbed an old jacket with the Heroes League logo (a stylized HL in a double circle) on it and put it on. “Quite some weather we’re having, isn’t it? You’d think it was the middle of February.”

Walking around Solar Flare, he said, “Have you met everybody yet? I’m The Shift. This is the Rocket. This is Ghost Something Or Other.” He pointed to Rachel. “And this is She-Who-Must-Choose-a-Name.” He pointed to Jaclyn.

“I’m getting to it,” Jaclyn said.

Rachel gave him a lopsided smile. “Right now I’m going by Ghost. Ask me again tomorrow.”

Solar Flare checked back toward Marcus and then toward Jaclyn, Rachel, and I as we stood behind the truck.

“You’re all what, grandchildren of the Heroes League?”

“You got it,” Marcus walked around him and joined us.

Solar Flare moved his eyes across the four of us and sighed.

“Just get out of my way,” he said.

“You’re not going to kill them in cold blood?” Jaclyn sounded just on the edge of angry. Her right hand clenched.

“They’ve been doing this for years!” He sounded exactly like he had in the McAllister’s cottage. “Do you know how many people they’ve killed? And not for a good reason… They’ve done it for money. Money for a life. Money for lives. People’s friends, parents, children, all killed to rip them apart, to make an example of them… Better to end it and make sure they’re done.”

I could feel the heat coming off his body through the helmet.

“Even if you end up going to jail for it?” Rachel glanced behind her toward the bodies in the back of the truck. “If someone finds three bodies in a hole in the highway with the remains of a truck melted around them, there’s not going to be any kind of mystery who’s behind it.”

“I’ll think about that later.”

None of us moved, but the thought that someone might find seven bodies in a hole in the highway began to nag at my mind.

Behind me, Ray moaned.

Solar Flare’s fist burned brightly enough that my helmet adjusted the light levels.

“Move now!” Solar Flare pulled back his arm, clearly threatening a plasma strike.

Next to me, Rachel pushed away from the back of the truck, her arm moving through the tailgate as if it didn’t exist.

Jaclyn stepped forward, shielding her eyes with her arm. “No.”

I couldn’t see Marcus where he stood on the other side of Jaclyn, but I heard him say, “You don’t want to kill us.”

As for myself, I had the sonics ready. A blast of sound would distract him enough for Jaclyn to take him out. If I were going to do it though, I’d have to strike first. The stealth suit would never protect me from a full blast.

From the truck bed, Ray said, “Solar Flare, you’ve got me. You’ve got all of us. The cops are coming. What more do you want?”

“I want her back.” Solar Flare began to float upward.

Jaclyn jumped on to the truck bed and stood next to where Ray lay.

“Look at me,” Ray said. “I can’t fight you. I can’t even move. I’m half blind from the kid’s guitar right now. If you want to fight me, it’s too late. There’s nothing left to fight.”

19 thoughts on “Rattling Cages: Part 17”

  1. You know, if he killed them and went to trial I don’t think that I’d convict him. After all killing police of any kind is either a death sentence or life in prison. Either way all he did was save the expense of a trial. That doesn’t even take into consideration all the other people that they’ve killed.

    1. And that’s why a jury system is shit. That’s how lynchers could do what they did and expect to go on with their lives undisturbed.

  2. but you forget that he wade of also killed the new heroes league in the proses. sines they wade try to stop him. so wade you still not convict Solar Flare know that he killed a group of teen heroes just trying to do the right thing and bring them to justice.

  3. Yep Flare is not in his right mind. Talking about convicting him, I would. A person shouldn’t be free if they are unstable and have hurt people (even crimenals). They should get some kind of help. More so if they can level people with just a little more than a glance.

    Looking good so far.

  4. “Quite some weather were having, isn’t it? You’d think it was the middle of February.”

    We’re, not were. But I’m betting this was written late at night, no?


    Looking good so far. It feels easy. A bit too easy. Even for a bunch of super-powered kids.

  5. “She-who-must-choose-a-name” hehe, priceless.

    The only venomous mammals out there are platypi(sp?) and shrews. “The Shrew” and “Shrew Girl” don’t exactly inspire fear in the heart of darkness, but I’ve heard worse.

    So that leaves mythology. Chimera are supposedly poisonous… in *one* of their heads. And that’s a decent name for her. Actuaaly that’s a really good name come to think of it… hope the stigma of it being a fan suggestion doesn’t take it out of the running.

    Along that vein, Sphynx isn’t bad either. Different connotations but the Greeks who invented her would have thought it appropriate.

    A Manticore is almost the same thing as a Chimera, but in the myth Manticore was Chim’s brother–and lover. Cue “Eeeeewwwww…”

    Another Greek myth–Lamia. A cat-person-critter. The name sounds alot like ‘Lame’ though, which could cause strife and disharmony. But the theme works.

    Oooooohhhh… Barghest. That is an AWESOME name for a dog-themed super. Sidetrack. Moving on…

    A review of Greek/Roman gods and heroes was fascinating, but no names really stood out.

    A review of pre-colonial American mythology provided names that were instantly forgettable. And unpronounceable. Meh.

    I also researched the fangs angle, just to see what interesting names would come up; nada. I did discover that we’re allowing our geneticists waaaay too much leeway with their gene-naming. Get this–the name for the gene group that forms fangs in snakes is called /sonic hedgehog/. I can’t make stuff like this up.

    In short, my vote is for ‘Chimera’. It might be taken already, but not by an A-list super as far as I know, which means it’s open as far as I’m concerned.

  6. Btw, this serial started at a cruising speed of awesome in the awesome lane and has not veered into any other types of traffic since then. If you print the books, I’ll buy em’.

  7. Thor/Daymon/LordCainn: Solar Flare’s basically been put in the worst situation of his life so he’s not at his best, but murder in this situation doesn’t really seem right to me either. I tend to think that this sort of ambiguity is where fiction is interesting.

    Eli: It was a little easier than it could have been. If the Executioner team had been hunting them, it would have been hellish. As it was, they were hunting Solar Flare and Nick and the others happened to step into it. “The Exectioner” is a bunch of normal people who can only go up against supers because they’re good at planning. Making the assumption that they survive this, if they ever come back, it could be a very different situation.

    Parahacker: Sonic Hedgehog? That’s amusing. I wonder when that was named? Chimera would be cool for Haley (since she’s the one with the fangs) though she’s already called Night Cat.

    Jaclyn presents other problems with naming — she’s got the same powers as her grandfather (speed, strength, near invulnerability), but she doesn’t want to reuse his name and a number of the most relevant names were taken by her older brothers (who have the same powers).

    As for books… Thanks. I’ve been thinking about it. Also t-shirts.

  8. Hey Jim,

    I absolutely adore the way you have humor in the unlikeliest of places. “She who must choose a name”

    My personal opin, the Executioner needs a dose of his own medicine. I never did like fiction where the heroes constantly let the bad guys off due to some rusty, tired code of self-righteousness. Solar Flare needs to perform a public service and cancel out those clown once and for all. The fact that he gets a little revenge is a bonus.

  9. With regard to the “Sonic Hedgehog” thing, by ancient (literally ancient, dating back centuries) tradition, the scientist who catalogues a new species/star/mineral has the right to name it whatever he wants. The only change in modern times is that it can’t be scatological or racist.

    So we have not only the gene Sonic Hedgehog, but a genus of ant called the “harrisonfordi”, a species of poisonous tree frog called the bushii, another species called the rumsfeldi, and, my personal favorite, the planet Pluto. Which got its same because it begins with PL–Percival Lowell!

  10. Wasn’t it Nietzsche that said “And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you”?
    The heroes are vi-gil-an-tes. This means they’re already treading a very gray area when dealing with the law and moral behavior. If they start killing because they’re mad, or because they think it’s best but without the backing of the legal justice system then they’re killers just like the people they fight.

    My wife’s right, I get way too philosophical about comics and novels 🙂

  11. I don’t know about too philosophical… Comics and novels’ ability to hit those sort of issues is one of the things that make them more than just stories about people fighting each other.

  12. So he does already have sonar lop, good to know. This part still bugs me tho, the fact that they let a guy who would come after their families live seems kinda stupid, like they didn’t think about the future and what would happen if he ever got out

    1. Well, if you make the assumption that prisons are the revolving door that they appear to be in comics, yes, it might be stupid to do that. If you assume that Ray, a guy who has likely killed more than fifty people in his life, many of them innocents, will probably go to jail for life or be executed, then it’s not so dumb.

      Unlike DC or Marvel, I don’t lose millions of dollars by sending a character to jail and never letting them out, so I can go with with actually happens in the real world.

      That said, that doesn’t mean they can’t escape (because that does happen in the real world too), but having a character like the Joker escape more than a couple times strains my ability to believe in the story. I’m pretty sure that if the Joker existed, he’d have been executed after his first or second time being caught.

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