Something I Really Didn’t Want To Do

Ice Diamond had disappeared into thin air. Boost looked terrified. “Go home,” I told her. “Make sure your family’s all right. We’ll meet you at the FBSA office. I swear to Utu.”

Swearing to the gods is a “big deal” for Empowereds, so Boost had no problem taking me at my word. Her eyes thanked me and she disappeared in a blur. If I had a psycho after me and such a public profile, I wouldn’t have stuck around either.

“What the flit was that about?” Stephanie asked me.

“Your guess is as good as mine.”

“Are you guessing that this has something to do with what happened to Lisa and Torrie?” she asked.

I crunched my out of the shop; thank goodness the government insured registered Powereds. Shards of glass dripped from various crevices and folds of my clothes. “Yes.” I was too tired and sore for a pithy reply. I’d used up my healing for the day against the Preservers, so healing au natural  was the order of the day.

My Diavel hovered where I’d flown from it. I limped over and heaved myself on. Stephanie (I’ve decided I’m not using that name she chose) climbed on behind me and snaked her arms around my waist. She raised herself up a bit and whispered in my ear, “You okay?”

I upped us to 500 feet. “Not in the least,” I answered. I kicked in the burner and headed toward the FBSA office. Chicago streamed by beside and below us. It can be a beautiful city.

Of course, I’ve found that most cities can be beautiful when there aren’t a bunch of people around to screw it up.

I spotted a familiar building and a light on in specific apartment. I sighed and changed course.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Stephanie shouted.

I hit autopilot and fished out a small earpiece and mike comm stashed in a goody compartment Jules built in. I handed it back to her. I really dislike shouting directed at my ear.

“What are you doing?” she asked again after putting activating the comm. I should have given it to her sooner.

“We’re…I’m going to see Torrie’s mother. You can stay on the roof and wait.”

I landed on the roof again and went down the stairwell. It felt…cold.

Too cold for a climate-controlled building.

I pulled by blaster with one hand and my sword with the other, placing my shield on verbal standby. The hallway leading to the apartment was dark, but a sliver of light spilled from the cracked door. I extinguished my blade and crept down the hallway. I leaned against the wall beside the door and sharpened my hearing.

I heard nothing.

I took a deep breath and kicked in the door. My blade flared into life and I swept the blaster from side-to-side, searching for a target.

I didn’t see anything…except for Torrie’s mother laying in a pool of water, her skin blackened by severe frostbite. My feet squished as I crossed the formerly lush carpet. I knelt and felt for a pulse, knowing full well I wouldn’t find one.

I hate it when I’m right about those sorts of things.

I called the FBSA office to report the murder. I turned back toward the door and saw the message on the wall.

Sears Tower. Tomorrow night. Midnight. 

I’m being jerked around. The suck part about it is don’t really have a choice.

I hate this job sometimes.

Until next time,

Douzeper

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On The Way To The Office…

Ugh. Whoever scripts my life is a sadistic smurf.

So, Lady Aether (she really should have consulted someone on name choice) and I are cruising beside Boost on our way to the FBSA office.

Everything was going great. I managed to avoid a fight with one of the few powereds I admire, she actually believed our story (it helps when you’re the Empowered of a truth God), and I got to know one of my idols as a person.

Guess what happened.

Go on, guess. I’ll wait.

Give the man/woman/other a prize. Of course we were attacked by a powered-villain because originality sucks. I swear there must be a handbook called So You’re a Megalomaniac-12 Steps to Bringing Out the Supervillain in You.

Step 1: Have some kind of tragic origin. This particular 12-stepper is a villain called Ice Diamond (and who comes up with these names?). Her whole family died in an explosion at her cryo-research lab. Check.

Step 2: Murder various innocents in some misguided revenge plot. She destroyed an almost empty lab. Notice I said almost. Check.

Step 3: Up your game and attack a major target. She went after some corporate headquarters bigwigs during the middle of the day. Check.

Step 4: Get beat by a powered hero; swear eternal revenge while being sent to prison. Boost beat her and sent her off to Ravenswood Institute. Check.

She was at Step 5, apparently. Break out of prison and surprise attack your nemesis.

The first warning sign came when my wheels started spinning on the road. If I have to explain what was causing it, you haven’t been paying attention to any of the clues. Velma would be so disappointed in you.

Boost slid on the ice, the change in traction throwing her off-balance. Ice shards shaped like, you guessed it, hailed down on her. She managed to avoid many of them, but here and there rents in her uniform and thin red lines showed.

So I did what any right-thinking person would do. I switched my Diavel to hover-mode, blasted some Hail the Villain “Runaway“, activated my shield and placed us between the storm of shards and Boost.

Okay, I was showing off for my crush. Sue me.

A woman dressed like a bondagist’s wet dream stepped out of an alleyway. She raised some future-rifle and the intensity of the shards increased. The tinkling sound as they shattered reminded me of  wind-chimes during a tornado.

Over the noise I heard Steph-I mean Lady Aether-chanting. A fireball flew past me toward Ice. Who promptly flipped a switch and fired a sphere of pure cryogenic energy. The two opposing forces met and a cloud of steam obscured the field.

A shadow that looked suspiciously like a fire hydrant zoomed through the cloud toward us. And what do you know, it was a fire hydrant. It crashed into my shield at a velocity that sent me flying off my bike and through some store’s plate-glass window. You know, after I broke through the iron gate supposedly protecting it.

Boost took the distraction we provided and managed to get back on non-ice covered ground. She picked her angle and went barreling toward Ice.

Almost instantly an ice wall appeared along her trajectory and she had to shift to avoid slamming into it. Right into another patch of ice. Down she went again.

Then it was over.

As the kids would say: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Ice Diamond cackled and disappeared.

She’s not supposed to be able to do that.

And I’m sure I don’t like the implications.

Until next time,

Douzeper

Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs: Power Profile #006-Ice Diamond

Beatrix Kalte aka Ice Diamond

Gender: Female

Power Classification: Machinist/Enhanced

Sub-Category: Elemental Gadgeteer

Power Level: C-Class

Location: Operates in the Midwest. Currently at-large.

Affiliations: Solo Operator

Powers: Various devices that allow for the creation of various cold-related phenomenon. Her main weapon is her “Ice Gun”.

Synopsis:

Ice Diamond (hereafter referred to as I.D.) is a 30-year-old former weapons researcher for BranTech Industries. Her area of expertise lay in using cold-based phenomena as a means to shape and control future battlefields. On her 26th birthday, her family surprised her in her lab. It is unclear exactly what happened, but footage shows that her youngest son, Jakob, went unsupervised long enough to mix some volatile chemicals.

Ten people died in the ensuing explosion, and I.D. fell into a coma. She awoke two months later with a marked shift in personality and physiology. The chemicals leached all pigment from her skin and left her with enhanced strength. When informed of her family’s and co-worker’s demise, she went on a rampage in the hospital, injuring several doctors, nurses and security before making her escape.

She appeared five months later with her current nom de guerre in an attack on a BranTech research facility. She attacked at night, as her skin is now pained by sunlight, and murdered whomever she found, mostly security and janitorial services. After that attack, she fashioned a suit that would protect her from the sun’s harmful effect.

I.D. directed her next attack BranTech corporate headquarters, located in Chicago. She was foiled in her attempt by the hero, Boost (see Power Profile: Boost). During her trial I.D. was found mentally incompetent and was sentenced to The Ravenswood Institution for the Criminally Insane, the maximum security mental institution for powereds.

I.D. recently escaped and her whereabouts are unknown. It is believed she is heading back to Chicago for a second attempt on BranTech Industries or a confrontation with Boost. Possibly both.

Relationships: Johann Kalte-husband (deceased), Katrina Kalte-daughter (deceased), Jakob Kalte-son (deceased), Karl Astor-father (not believed to be in contact), Hilda Astor-mother (not believed to be in contact)

Threat Level: Orange

I.D. is an active threat targeting research and industry vital to our military infrastructure. Her strength is formidable, but it is her engineering genius that serves as the biggest threat. All due caution should be exercised when trying to apprehend her. Powered backup is advised when possible.

The Feds Send A Visitor

Hey all. This is Stephanie aka Lady Aether (my brand-spanking new super-name. Like it?). Douzeper is taking his shower before we head over to Torrie’s apartment and has no idea I’m doing this. So, sssshhhhh!

I have to tell you, he is really taking Torrie’s death pretty hard. If he wasn’t friends with Stargazer, I don’t know if I’d want to be around him in this mood.

To tell the truth, I’m kind of wondering what I’m doing here anyway. I’ve never been in a powered battle before today and Douzeper is out for blood. I’m thinking I should have stayed at school and maybe done some research at most.

Oh, well. I’m here now and might as well make the best of it, even if he does act like a jackhole (seriously, this swear replacement thing kills me-in a good way). I think I might ask Stargazer if she can make me one of these.

So we have a missing girl, Lisa, the most powerful magic-user in the world foisting the case on a low-power Empowered, necromantic magic, and a flying bully with delusions of relevance and a team of sycophants. I am so making Douzeper buy me dinner for helping.

sound identified as knocking

Who in the world could that be? Maybe it’s the guy who owns this place and he and I can have a discussion about washing…everything in this room.

Oh, smurf.

“DOUZEPER!”

Douzeper: “What?”

“You need to get out here! Like now!”

Douzeper: “I only have a towel on!”

“I don’t care, and I don’t think our visitor cares either!”

Douzeper: “Fine.”…”What are you doing?”

“What?”

Douzeper: “Why do you have my glasses and communicator on? Are you-are you on my blog?”

“Never mind that! Boost is outside!”

Douzeper: “Boost?”

“Pick your jaw off the floor and answer the door! And quit glaring at me like that!”

Douzeper: inaudible whisper “You and I are going to have a discussion about personal property, young woman.”

“Whatever. You’re like five minutes older than me.”

Douzeper: “Gimme that!”

Better. sound identified as door opening

“So, Boost is it? What can I do for you?”

Boost: “The local FBSA office called me. Are you two the ones that took part in a skirmish at Abbott Park earlier this evening.”

“Um. No?”

“Wow. You even roll your eyes at super-speed, huh? Okay, yes. Why?”

Boost: “Care to explain what happened?”

“Sure. Aeromancer got all butt-hurt over the fact he couldn’t beat a confession out of me for something I didn’t do and decided on some payback.”

Boost: “Is that the whole reason?”

“I might have beat the snot out of him for his presumption and threatened to kill him if he didn’t retire. It was really quite minor.”

Boost: sound identified as a sigh “I need the two of you to come with me to the FBSA and file a report. The Preservers aren’t quite able to talk just yet.”

“May I get dressed first?”

Boost: “Please do.”

“Well, come on in. It isn’t much, but a least it’s filthy…I mean free.”

Boost: “I have to admit. I’m a bit surprised. Most people try to fight their way out.”

“You could punch me two hundred times before I could say “Ow!”, plus we were defending ourselves, so there’s really no reason to fight. Be right back out.”

Oh my Utu! I am so fan-boying out right now. Imagine a 5’9 athletic Latina, her silky black hair flowing out of her half-mask, brown eyes you can drown in, and a skin-tight blue and white outfit.

I love Jules, but Boost has been a secret crush of mine for years. Of course, even if she weren’t married or gay, she would be so far out of my league I might as well be a T-Ball player trying to hit a Major League 95-mph fastball.

sound identified as knocking

Boost: “Not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment, but could you hurry up a bit? I’d like to tuck my daughter in tonight. And who are you talking to?”

Oh…flit. Remind me to beat myself into unconsciousness later. Preferably over my open grave so I can be buried right away.

Until next time,

Douzeper

Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs: Power Profile #005-Boost

Tara Jean (TJ) Acevedo-Torres aka Boost

Gender:  Female

Power Classification: Innate

Sub-category: Speedster

Power Level: B-Class

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Affiliations: The Keepers of the Gateway (affiliate membership), Equality NOW

Powers: Super-speed. Boost has been clocked at speeds of up to 500 m.p.h.

Synopsis:

An 24-year-old Innate, Boost is one of the rare true speedsters in the world (speedster being defined as self-propelled movement of 250 m.p.h. or greater). She originally comes from Los Angeles, but her family moved to Chicago when Boost turned 12. Her powers manifested at age 14 during a robbery of a store she was shopping in.

Boost’s parents immediately enrolled her in the Academy, where she joined with the TeenTeam (see Power Profile: TeenTeam). She served with that team for three years and graduated from the Academy with Honors. She moved back to Chicago, where she acts as a solo hero.

With her speed she also serves with The Keepers of the Gateway (see Power Profile: K.O.G.), based out of St. Louis, as an affiliate member.

Boost also actively works with Equality NOW, an non-profit organization that deals with a variety of civil rights issues, but focuses mainly on LGBT issues.

Boost has made many contacts in her 10 years as a hero and is a respected member of the Powered community.

Relationships: Maria Acevedo-Wife, Reyna Acevedo-Daughter, Professor Quark-Leader of K.O.G., Rockslide-Member of K.O.G., FastTrack-Member of K.O.G., StormCell-Member of K.O.G., Flora-Member of K.O.G., Fauna-Member of K.O.G., numerous contacts with various heroes (see various Power Profiles for more analysis).

Threat Level: Yellow

Boost’s speed makes her a tactical planning nightmare. Her reflexes, heightened to a level able to deal with super-speed, make her almost impossible to hit. Her speed makes her almost impossible to defend against. Add in her activism and her contacts in the powered community, and her potential to cause trouble for the government is high.

Death from Above and Below and All Sides

Stephanie and I are back at Chez Venereal after what can only be described as a massive cluster-flit (man, Jules is thorough on this swearing thing).

Both of us need to recover a bit before I even think about going to see Torrie’s mother.

Stephanie: “This place is horrible! I feel like I need a VD test just from sitting down.”

Excuse me.

“Sorry, Miss Public University dorm-living scholarship woman, that the accommodations are not to your liking. Feel free to take the some of the massive bankroll you undoubtedly have and stay at the Waldorf or something more suitable to your refined tastes.”

Stephanie: “Please. I heard you call it Chez Venereal. You’re just trying to be a jackhole.”

Stephanie: “Wow! You weren’t kidding about the swearing thing, huh? Can’t even say jackhole.”

“Will you knock it off. I’m trying to give my two readers a thrilling tale of derring-do or whatever nonsense people call it.”

Stephanie: “Whatever. Listen, I’m going to take a shower. No peeking.”

“Don’t flatter yourself. By the way, do you have shower shoes or something. I only ask because, you know, things can get kind of sticky.”

Stephanie: “GROSS! HOW DO YOU STAND STAYING HERE?”

“I’m a firm believer in the adage “Ignorance is Bliss” when it comes to staying here, or any hotel, really. Plus, I have shower shoes. And no, I don’t want your gnarly feet in them.”

Stephanie: “I don’t have gnarly feet!”

“You won’t have any teeth either if you keep grinding them like that.”

noise identified as door slamming

Ah, blessed silence. Except for, you know, me talking.

Where was I?

Oh, right.

So, I’m following I-57 back to Chicago and we’re right at the point where it changes to I-94 near West Chesterfield when I spot Aeromancer and his goon-squad, the Preservers.

I made for the ground because I am definitely at a disadvantage in air-to-air combat with someone who can control air. Road pizza, I’ve found, is not a good look for most people, me especially.

We land in Abbott Park…and it’s full of people because of course it is. Serendipity and I had a nasty break-up long ago.

A crowd starts to gather around us. Which is understandable. I would be curious about someone landing a flying motorcycle as well. Unfortunately, it is the exact wrong move for these people.

“EVERYONE EVACUATE!” I scream. “THERE’S ABOUT TO BE A POWER-BATTLE!”

Necks crane into the sky to see if they can spot some well-known power.

I blame media glorification of super-fights for the lack of survival instinct. They mention civilian casualties, but it is glossed over in favor of “in-depth” analysis of the individual powers involved and political ramifications of said battles (which is a whole ‘nother post).

I even saw some intrepid reporter wannabe’s bringing out their camera phones to try to get video.

“It’s the Preservers,” an anonymous voice rang out. Clapping and cheering started from the crowd.

Ah, the benefits of having a massive PR firm behind you.

Having determined I was already going to be the “bad guy” of this particular piece, I decided to play the role to the hilt. I pulled my blaster, set it on Destructo-ray, and blasted a jungle gym into slag.

“GET THE H E DOUBLE-HOCKEY STICKS OUT OF HERE!” I roared.

The crowd scattered and I breathed a sigh of relief. I’d deal with the consequences later.

“Get some spells ready,” I told Stephanie. I pointed her over to a copse of trees that would serve as decent cover. She looked pale and scared, but nodded and ran off to her position.

She’ll make a heck of a hero.

The wind picked up a couple of minutes later. I looked up to see Aeromancer hovering in the air, his power giving his team the ability to fly to the battle.

I suppose I should introduce his team.

Quick rundown:

Rapidfire- An Enhanced. Cybernetic systems give him super strength, speed and agility. Fully cybernetic arms allow him to change them into a variety of weapons including lasers, swords, axes, or whatever suits him.

Umbra- An Empowered of the Egyptian God Kuk. This particular Empowered is female, so she takes on the female aspect of Kuk, that of a snake-headed woman. She controls darkness and carries a gold-plated ax as her power-focus.

Tek-Knight- A Machinist of the Gadgeteer subset. He always has several drones flying about him filled with various offensive and defensive packages.

There’s our contestants, Johnny. Tell them what they’ve won.

One ticked off Douzeper. And one newbie Magician.

I put my shield on standby and opened my arms up, inviting them to make their move.

Aeromancer dropped his hold on his team and Rapidfire dropped, arms in cannon-mode, blasting away. I snapped my shield on and charged toward the falling man, blocking each blast. I pulled my sword handle and activated the blade.

While it kills monsters, it won’t kill people. What it will do, however, is make whoever I hit with it face the truth about themselves. It may not sound like much, but it can shatter a person’s mind. Take away all the rationalizations, all the little and big lies we tell ourselves about our motives and actions.

Most people don’t want to know the truth about themselves. Those that say they do are usually engaging in lying to themselves.

Rapidfire was one of those people.

I run fast enough that I met Rapidfire as he touched down. He changed his left arm into a shield to try to block the blade.

Fool.

My blade rammed into his chest and he screamed. I have no idea what he saw, but it was enough to drop him gibbering to the ground.

One.

Tek-Knight hovered near a tree using jet-boots. The tree swayed and branches lashed out at him, damaging one of the boots and sending him into an uncontrolled spin toward the ground.

Unfortunately for him, a tree trunk met his face before the ground did.

Two.

“MAGE!” Umbra shouted.

A miniature tornado sprang up and raced along the ground to the copse of trees sheltering Stephanie. Umbra raced toward me.

I pulled my blaster and fired off a shot at Aeromancer before Umbra reached me. It forced him to collapse the whirlwind and increase the density of the air around him into a shield.

The blast couldn’t penetrate, but Stephanie, in a wonderful display of tactics, threw a massive fireball at him immediately after. The magical fire engulfed Aeromancer and pulled all the oxygen away from him, leaving a singed and breathless target.

Umbra reached me just as I fired my second shot, her ax biting into my side. Blood spurted out and I screamed. Yet, my shot flew true and hit Aeromancer, knocking him out for the second time in a day.

He fell from the sky and pancaked into a children’s playset. Taking him out bought me a moment as Umbra watched him fall. I placed my hand over the wound and Utu’s power flowed through me, closing the wound. It left an angry red scar across my side, but I can live with scars.

My blade flashed and she blocked with her ax. Our movements became a blur of strike and counter-strike. She would create a globe of darkness around us, and I would burn it away. Day and night battled it out, with no clear decision.

Luckily for me, my teammate is better than hers.

Stephanie stepped from behind the trees. She gestured and stone hands grew from the ground to hold our fallen opponents. After they were secure, she strode over to the two of us. I could see her coming. Umbra couldn’t.

She didn’t even have to hit her from behind. All she did was clear her throat.

The noise distracted Umbra for a fraction of a second. At the speed we were moving, that was all I needed.

I knocked the ax from her grasp and my fist met her jaw. I heard a crack and her eyes fluttered up into her skull.

Teamwork works, folks. The Preservers fought as individuals and lost.

Intent is also key in a fight. They intended to teach me a lesson and didn’t press their advantages. We intended to win and win quick.

We won. And without killing any of them, which I am strangely ambivalent about.

The battle did take its toll on us and so we went back to the room to rest up a bit. Magic takes it out of a person, and the adrenaline crash after a fight doesn’t help.

Stephanie, in her first real battle, shook like a leaf. I was a bloody mess from all the nicks and cuts received from Umbra. So we took some time.

Which brings us to now. I’m sure we’ll be seeing the Preservers again.

I just hope it isn’t soon.

Until next time,

Douzeper

Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs: Power Profile #004-Aeromancer

Tad Whitemore III aka Aeromancer

Gender:  Male

Power Classification: Innate

Sub-category: Elemental control

Power Level: B-Class

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Affiliations: The Preservers (see Power Profile: Preservers)

Powers: Aerokinetic, which gives him control over air. This ability allows for flight and creation of any air (wind) based phenomenon, including tornadoes. He can force the air to become denser, creating an almost impenetrable shield, or cause it to dissipate, depriving an enemy of oxygen.

Synopsis:

Aeromancer is the son of the prominent Chicago businessman, Tad Whitemore II, and grew up in the lap of luxury. He attended the best schools and had every opportunity to succeed. Yet, he didn’t. Aeromancer is not a very bright individual and only passed high school due to his father’s money and influence.

Despite his intellectual deficits, his father gave him a high-level position within his company. Aeromancer kept that position despite numerous sexual harassment suits brought against him, again, due to his father. His only real accomplishment came when he foiled his own kidnapping by manifesting his powers.

His psych profile suggests that Aeromancer is cruel and sadistic, with a hatred of women that is almost pathological. It was the recommendation of the FBSA that Aeromancer not be certified to operate. We were overruled.

He leads a team called the Preservers, based out of Chicago. This group is comprised of powers hired by Tad Whitemore II to give his son, and by extension the Whitemore name, the prestige of leading a team.

The team as a whole has done some good, but scandal constantly plagues it. Due mostly to Aeromancer’s antics. Many of his “arrests” are suspect, as are the “confessions” he has elicited.

Relationships: Tad Whitemore II (father), Rapidfire (teammate), Umbra (teammate), Tek-Knight (teammate)-see individual Power Profiles for more information

Threat Level: Yellow

Aeromancer by himself only rates a level Blue threat warning, yet he is rarely by himself. The team his father has surrounded him with effectively act as bodyguards/nannies, and are well-paid to follow Aeromancer’s lead. Fortunately, Tad Whitemore II has yet to find a magician willing to join the Preservers. If he ever does find one, the threat level will be moved to Orange.