Saturday, August 27, 2011

Liberty's Cry, Part 3

Stepping outside, Patriot Star was shocked by what he saw. There might have been a hundred super heroes duking it out in street. In a way, Nathan felt like he was at a carnival, with all of the flashing lights and insane sounds flashing and reverberating through his very soul. In a short time, this man who had become resigned to stoicism suddenly found himself more comfortable with the smile he was wearing.

Realizing he didn’t want to miss out on any of the action, but still not understanding what this battle was about, he cried out, “By the star-spangles of that most illustrious banner, what foul fighting is this!?!”
“The damned Tories must be trying to stop the Convention!” Gil cried out.

“Little did they expect to meet the might of JUSTICE!” Nathan cried out, realizing he might even be louder than Gil.

Finding the most nefarious-looking fellow he could, who seemed oddly out of place as he had chains clad all across his body, Patriot Star pounced. Wishing to make an anachronistic joke about this fellow being a bit early for the punk rock convention, Patriot contented himself by merely socking the man in the face.

He was of course rather surprised when the man’s chains began moving, by themselves. In fact, Nathan felt them quickly making their way around his neck. Tugging on the chains and giving the fellow a quick boot in the chest, Nathan dislodged the chains from his neck and cried out, “A Magnetic Master of Momentous Magnitude! You may have surprised me once, fellow, but you won’t get me twice!”

Jumping on top of his adversary, Patriot Star gave him a boot to the face, laughing. The adversary spat out, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”

Patriot Star laughed, saying, “‘One man thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they.’ You’re not the only one who’s read the words of Rousseau, chump!” Getting in close, he then proceeded to use the man’s face as a punching bag.

“And clearly, you’re not the only American who’s fond of excessive force. The chained fool is out cold. Get up, Patriot, and face me.” Realizing the voice behind him was correct, and this chained individual was quite certainly down for the count, Patriot Star warily got up and looked at the man behind him.

There was nothing there. “Invisibility’s your game then, eh?” Patriot Star asked, swiping his fist. His hand was greeted by nothing.

“Actually, I’m a ghost,” Patriot Star’s new adversary explained, “Oliver Cromwell’s ghost, since you’re curious.” Nathan saw the ghost float up through the floor. The thing turned corporeal, and proceeded to hit Nathan in the face.

“You may have drawn first blood, but how about this, chump?” Patriot Star swung his foot, in an attempt to knock the ghost down, but to no avail.

“Your physical blows will not curb me, pathetic American. Your only choice is to die.”

Clenching his fist, Nathan felt frozen. Even now, when he felt at his peak, when he was adapting the identity of the world’s greatest American hero, he couldn’t manage to defeat this ghost. All he could do, was die.

“Not so fast, ghostie!” Before Nathan could see who was behind him, his eyes burned with a bright flash. Someone leaped over Nathan’s head and kicked Oliver Cromwell’s ghost in the face. Nathan heard the sound of flesh meeting fist, before his eyes reverted back to the point where he could see again. His sight regained, he saw a young teenaged kid standing on top of the defeated ghost.

“You’ve gotta surprise ‘im, Patriot!” the youth said, “I thought you knew that!”
“Firecracker?” Nathan muttered, shaking his head.

“The one and only!” he said, “Are you alright, Patriot?”
“Fine,” Patriot said, “Fine.”

As Firecracker helped him up, Nathan looked around. He realized the fight was over.

“Boy, Patriot. I sure am glad all you super guys came when you did. I don’t think I could have taken all those guys on!”
“Merely here to help, lad,” Patriot felt even more sore than before. Maybe he wasn’t quite at the prime he thought he was. But then he looked at Firecracker. He looked at the boy’s soft blue eyes, his youthful enthusiasm, and he was saddened. He thought back to the history books, the things they’d said. Why would the Patriot Star of this era kill the teenager? Did he really betray the Revolution?
“Patriot, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, lad. I have but to ask,” Patriot considered the ramifications of what he was doing and came to the realization that he didn’t care, “a question.”
“I’m all ears,” Firecracker said, “Shoot.”

“Have you ever considered betraying America?”
“Why would you ask a danged strange question like that, Patriot?” Firecracker said, laughing, “I’d never think of betraying the country like that.”
“Good,” Patriot said, “Just know, if you ever did think about it, that it wouldn’t end well for you. It would probably end in your--” he paused on the word, but finally mustered the courage to say it, “death.”

“Good to know I’d never think about betraying anybody!” he said.

“I’m glad to hear it,” Nathan said, “Because America is a beautiful place. It’s a place where people have freedom. They can have their own opinions, their own ideas. That’s its beauty. But sometimes, that freedom can be taken too far. We can muster up our own ideas so much that we hurt other people. When we take our ideas and force them on others, betraying them, that’s when we’ve crossed the line.”

“You should have listened to your own words,” a figure behind Patriot Star said, “They might have saved your life, impostor.”
Nathan turned around and saw that the original Patriot Star, the man who he had been imitating this whole time, was before him. Next to him was Voir. Next to Voir was a man Nathan didn’t recognize.

“I’d been wondering how you knew the Torie anthem, you scum,” Voir said, “People are born free and they always will be, no matter what Rousseau or anyone else says to the contrary.”
Quickly assessing the situation, Nathan saw there were only four people directly confronting him. The rest had already gone back to the bar or seemed too busy with the casualties. Firecracker and Voir shouldn’t prove too much of a problem. The real Revolutionary-era Patriot Star would prove tricky, but it was probably possible to beat him. However, Nathan wondered about the other one standing next to Voir. Who was he? What were his powers?

Nathan took what he thought was his best option: he ran. Turning around and sprinting with as much swiftness as he could muster, he heard one of Firecracker’s bombs go off. For the briefest of moments, he smiled. Had the boy decided for himself what America was? Had he decided correctly?
Was this why the real Revolutionary Patriot Star would kill him? Nathan refused to think about it. He could see the building where the Constitutional Convention was being held right up ahead. Maybe if he could just run around it--

He saw the man he was afraid of: the man standing next to Voir had the ability to fly. Nathan continued running, as the flying man swooped over him and then turned around. The two were set for a collision course.

At the last second, Nathan leaped into the air. Grabbing onto the flying man’s head, he flipped onto the man’s back and held on tight. The flying man flew higher and higher, speeding towards the Constitutional Convention. His flight path seemed out of control, whizzing around, doing barrel rolls. Essentially, he would kill Nathan if he had to. Thus, Nathan did what he had to do.

A quick snap was all it took for the flying man to plummet towards the ground. Hopping off, Nathan had many thoughts whizzing through his head at a trillion miles a second, as thoughts are prone to do, when one is in a situation involving almost certain death. Most of these thoughts involved said imminent death, but there was one tiny, nagging thought which managed to take up a small section of Nathan’s thoughts: how could Rousseau, one of the largest proponents of political revolution, be turned into an inspiration for the Tories? Why was Gil surprised when Nathan mentioned France? How could--

Nathan found that his fall had reached a much slower clip. He felt like he was falling through mud: he was still falling, but not at anything near a fatal rate. He saw the building before him. It was where the Constitutional Convention was being held. A window at the top of the building opened up and let Nathan in. The window closed behind him and he gently landed on the ground.
He looked around, finding himself surrounded in complete darkness.

“Hello, Nathan. We’ve been expecting you.”
Nathan reached out, but found that he had nothing to hold onto. He asked, “Who-- who are you?”


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Liberty's Cry, Part 2

Nathan moved his shoulder around. Falling out of the wormhole into a cobblestone alleyway had led to a harder impact than he had been expecting. But it didn’t matter much. He smiled, as he looked around. He was in Philadelphia, 1787. In the 1970’s, he had lost his America. Now, by travelling back in time, he’d found it.

He looked down at his costume. It was strange to realize that he was wearing the costume of Patriot Star, but it wasn’t a costume he’d ever worn. It was strange to look back and remember those seventy years ago--or a century and a half in the future, depending on your perspective--when he’d put on his costume for the first time.
Yes, it had been 1941 when the American government had completed their experiments, creating their American super hero. It had been a dark time, a scary time, and the government wanted to inspire the soldiers. So they gave Nathan super powers and allowed him to adopt the moniker, “Patriot Star,” the same name used by a super hero back during the Revolutionary War, along with several other super-powered American heroes. Yes, Nathan had been Patriot Star back in the Forties, but now he was more than that. Bigger than that. For now, he was adopting the identity of the original Patriot Star, the Patriot Star of the American Revolution. And that made the time-travel worth it.

Walking out into the cobblestone street, he basked in the atmosphere of a real America. His America. Everyone here seemed so happy to be alive, so happy to live in a country that valued freedom. He could only wonder, where had it all gone wrong?

Then he wondered if he was where America had gone wrong. America had already dealt with presidential assassinations, incompetent presidents, corrupt presidents, but they’d never dealt with the very symbol of their patriotism going rogue.

But then he looked around at the city, again. This was his America. This was what Nixon had been betraying. Had he gone rogue, by guarding his values? Or was it Nixon who had gone rogue? Nathan was merely defending--

His stream of consciousness was cut off as he came across a bar, The Blue Eagle. He hadn’t thought about it for a long time, now, but he suddenly came to the realization that he hadn’t had a drink in decades. Seeing as how alcohol was so popular during the Colonial era, he figured, why not? This was a reconnaissance mission, after all. It was best to talk to the people in an environment where they were comfortable.

Opening the door to The Blue Eagle, Nathan was surprised by what he saw. It was more super powered beings than he’d ever remembered being in Philadelphia. Before he’d fully acclimated himself to the surprise, he heard a voice cry out, “‘Ey, Patriot Star! What a surprise! Have a sit with us.”

Looking to see where the sound came from, Nathan saw a rather tan man with a long beard. He was sitting next to a much smaller man, with a thin moustache and brown, beady eyes that seemed to be examining the place. If Nathan was correct, he’d stumbled upon Gil and Voir, two of France’s protectors, at the time.

“Gil!” he yelled, taking a shot at normalcy, “I didn’t expect to see you here.” He sat down at the bar stool next to Gil and looked at the bartender, “Gimme a pint o’ beer.”

Voir spoke up, but it was more of a whisper than anything, “We didn’t expect to see you here, either, Patriot. I’d heard you were off in Massachusetts, dealing with the dissidents.”
“Yeah, well. For a guy with super senses, Voir sure does hear a lot of things wrong, don’t he, Patriot?” Gil then broke into a hearty laugh, patting Voir on the back, “Oh, I don’t mean to hurt your feelings. Simply pointing out something interesting, is all.”
“Yeah, well, uh,” Nathan began, not quite forming a confident sentence, “We’ve mostly wiped the floor with Shay’s rebels, and all. They weren’t much of a match against liberty’s lovers.”
“Here’s a guy who can speak my language!” Gil bellowed, “Hanging out with twit over here for so long, I started to feel like I was the only one who could talk right.”
Voir cringed, “Just because I don’t talk at your obnoxious volume and with your cliched absurdities, doesn’t mean--”
Taking his beer, Patriot Star tried to alleviate the tension, “Well, let’s make a toast to this beautiful country of ours. What say you all?”
Gil and Voir picked up their beers--Gil’s almost empty and Voir’s almost full--and the three clicked their glasses together. Then, Gil and Nathan yelled, “For Justice!” Voir, not happy with the rowdiness, took a tiny sip and put the beer back down. Gil splashed the rest of his beer into his mouth, while Nathan took a good hearty swig.

Wiping the beer off his lips, Nathan thought of how simple this mission had been. Just as he had been assigned to do, he’d gone back in time, confirmed that this was Philadelphia during the Philadelphia Convention, and he’d even met some people to corroborate what he already knew. Truly, it was a perfect mission and he wondered how quickly he could get another, once he was finished here.

Looking for something to say, he asked, “So how’s France, then?”
“What are you--” before Gil could finish, the three of them heard a loud boom come from outside.

“Sounds like one of Firecracker’s bombs,” Voir whispered. That stopped Patriot Star in his tracks, for a moment. He had read of Firecracker in the history books: the youthful, energetic darling boy of the Revolution. The real Revolutionary Patriot Star had killed him for being a traitor.
“The boy might be in trouble, so it looks like we’ve got a job to do,” Gil said, “Let’s go!”

It seemed that half the bar got up to address whatever situation was occurring outside, and it was then Nathan realized how much he loved it here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Liberty's Cry, Part 1

The four foot soldiers kept complete radio silence, as they sneaked through the cobble-stoned streets. Though warned not to engage in any violence unless absolutely necessary, three of them were equipped with an assault-rifle, powerful enough to rip through the skin of all but the most powerful of supers. The fourth had a flame-thrower, just in case things got thoroughly out of hand.

They stopped in front of the window of what looked to be a cobbler. Team leader Alpha beckoned them to stop for a moment. They hit the floor. Crawling past the window, they missed the falcon eyes of the nocturnal cobbler. Once past the window, they reached the door to the printing press.
Breaking radio silence, the field leader whispered, “Delta, turn on your invisibility matrix. Charlie, take care of the window. Beta, stand prepared to engage any hostiles.”
Once again, the hush of night fell onto the four. If anyone had been looking at Delta, they would have noticed his disappearing act. Charlie’s hand turned into Kimberlite, a rock well-known for containing crystals. His hand consisting of the rock and each nail consisting of diamond, he put the nails against the printing press’s window, turned his hand, and caused a hole barely large enough for a human to fit through.

With a particularly deft bit of acrobatics, Delta leaped through the hole and landed in the printing press. He scanned the room and observed no hostiles. Making his way towards a newspaper, The Philadelphia Independent Gazetter, he observed it carefully. Staring at the date, he whispered into his communications console, “Theory confirmed. We are currently located in Philadelphia, 1787, circa the Philadelphia Convention and the formation of the U.S. Constitution.”


Harry sighed, as the bailiff took him to his cell. Without the sky, life seemed limited. And it was all because some damn suit had an inferiority complex. So maybe Harry shouldn’t have stolen from the bank. Maybe he shouldn’t have done a lot of things. But in retrospect, all that mattered was that he was here now. It could be worse: he could be dead. Then again, it could be better: he could be free. But for now he just had to make the best of his situation, plot some future crimes. And when the time came, as he knew it would, he’d break out of this joint.

The bailiff opened the cell door and Harry walked through. It was moments like these Harry wished he had more power. The really powerful ones--the ones with the nuclear blasts, the strength of a steamroller, or just high-level telepathy--got their own cells. Little old Harry, two-bit crook with an aptitude for flight? He got a cellmate. Make the best of it, Harry told himself. The best of it.

The bailiff closed the door and left, while for the first time Harry truly looked at his cellmate. The guy wasn’t anything special. He had muscles enough to lift a dumbbell, but not enough to lift a car. He had clean brown hair and was well-shaven. Harry couldn’t help but notice he was reading a book.
“So,” Harry began, “Whatcha reading?”

“A biography of Nixon.”
“Nixon, eh?” Harry said, amused, “You pro’lly don’t remember Nixon, young kid that you are, but I wasn’t all that young when he was in power. Scary times, I tell ya. So why ya interested in him?”
“I majored in American History in college.”
“Hmph,” Harry said, “American History major? You don’t see too many of those around here.”
“No, no you don’t.”

“Y’know when America took a turn for the worse? It was the Nixon assassination attempt. Oh, that was a doozy. Sure, that guy was messin’ things up, what, with Watergate and all. But it was when that so-called ‘Patriot,’ think they called him Patriot Star, actually. It was when that guy tried killing Nixon that everything went to Hell. I mean, people’d believed in him, y’know? He was a symbol. Then he went and tried to kill a President. How’d he think the people were gonna react?”
“That’s interesting. Well, at least he didn’t succeed.”
“Yeah, but the fact that he even attempted it was--” Harry found himself at a loss for words, so he started a new sentence, “I tell ya, it’s when people get overly-patriotic that this country starts havin’ problems. The people who fight for their vision of America, no matter what everyone else thinks, they’re the problems. Y’know what I mean?”
“Yes, after all of this reading, I think I’ve begun to understand that.”
“Son, my name’s Harry, or the Owl, depending on how much I like ya. I don’t think I caught your name.”

“I’m better known as Patriot Star, you patronizing bastard. I’m at least a decade older than you are and I clearly don’t mind killing. Therefore, the less you speak, the better our experience will be together.” For three days, their cell was silent. Patriot Star read, while Harry cursed his luck and prayed for his life.

Eventually, the bailiff came and broke the silence, “Nathan,” he said, “You’re going to come with me.”

Nathan walked in silence with the bailiff, aloof to his surroundings. In the beginning, he’d been shocked by his inmates. He had seen the depravities super villains could sink to, and once, it horrified him. But that was almost forty years ago. With the Youth Serum still coursing his veins, and the life sentence still hanging over his head, Nathan would have a lot more time to get used to it. Somehow, that didn’t bother him anymore.

Occasionally, he’d wonder if he’d ever get out. When would the American people stop caring? Fifty years? Eighty? A century? But he tried not to wonder about it too much. It was the hope that killed him, the hope that was too much to bare. Therefore, his heart sank when he saw the door to Julia’s office. Hope was the last thing he needed.

As the bailiff sat him down, Nathan said, “Don’t waste your time, Julia. I know you can’t shorten my sentence, so why even bother?”

He was surprised to see her smile, “You’re right. You tried killing a President. I can’t shorten your sentence. I probably can’t even make your stay here any more comfortable. This mission will provide you with no benefits.”
“So can I go, now?”
“If you want to,” Julia said, “As you’re well aware, this is a free country.”
“I don’t like being toyed with.”
“Then give me the chance to speak,” she said, “I assure you you’ll be satisfied.”
“Alright, what’s your idea?”
“One of our Ultra Metahuman units accidentally opened up a wormhole that we believe leads to Philadelphia, circa 1787. You’re an American History major with combat experience. We want you to go in there and figure out if this wormhole actually does travel through time. You’ll get nothing in return.”

His response was immediate, “I’m in.”

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fear and Loathing, Part 4

Crusty took both of the aliens by their heads and smashed them into each other.

“Stop!” Fenrir yelled, “Crusty. You don’t have to fight anything. There’s nothing there! Just stop.”

“She can’t hear you, Fen,” was all Merc could say.

Seven aliens encircled her. She took one of them and spun it in circles. Its squeal was high-pitched, and she could swear her ears were bleeding. But that was no matter, as she was knocking all the other aliens away from her. As long as they were away from her.

“You’ve got telepathy,” Fenrir said, “Do something.”

“I can’t,” she yelled, “I don’t know how to use it.”

Fenrir leaped off the staircase and near Crusty, changing into his half-wolf form. He came up from behind her and grabbed her arms, trying to prevent her from moving.

“Crusty. Get a hold of yourself.”

The aliens had grabbed her arms. She was impressed. They weren’t even bipedal. They must be telekinetic. But it wouldn’t work. Not this time. She threw herself forwards, thrusting the alien in front of her. When she saw it, she beat it into the ground. Punch. Punch. Punch. She threw in a headbutt to make sure.

Finally, seeing it would stay there for a second, she took the sofa she had and threw it onto that disgusting freak of nature.

“I’m in control!” Crusty yelled, “You can’t do shit against me, you got that, you damn aliens? I can kill all of you!”

That’s when she felt it. She grabbed on tightly to her stomach. The alien was inside of her.

On the verge of tears, Merc looked at her crazed friend. She couldn’t even tell if Fenrir was alive or not. She grabbed onto the stone as hard as she could. She concentrated, trying to channel all of her energies into it. There was so much fear in this place. There was so much terror. Why weren’t her powers working?

Back in the kitchen, Phantom heard the scream, “What was that?”

“Sounds bad,” was all Allure said.

“That wasn’t the television. We’ve got to go outside and--” Phantom felt something sharp rip through one of her lungs. On instinct, she turned intangible, but it was too late. She gasped for air. Turning around, she saw Allure grasping the knife. She attempted to say, “Why?” but she was out of breath. Only her lips could form the word, as her vocal cords stayed silent.

“Why?” Allure mimicked, “Why else? Money. Power. Survival.”

Phantom stumbled out of the kitchen, into the living room, only to see the carnage of Fenrir under a sofa, Crusty flailing around like a maniac, and Merc crying into her necklace.

“Traitor,” Phantom tried saying but failed, “Traitor.”

Nobody could hear her. Everyone was too busy to even notice her enter the room. Except Allure. Allure swung open the kitchen door and giggled, “Deary, you’re almost making this fun for me.”

Running out of energy, running out of the will to live, Phantom turned into her corporeal form. Allure reciprocated by stabbing her in the chest. Once. Twice. Three times. It was a back and forth motion that had become so natural, by the time Allure was done, she’d noticed seventeen stab wounds on Phantom. She wiped the sweat off her brow. Now her scent was at its most natural, and her pheromones were being given full reign. That made her all the more alluring.

Crusty felt the alien clawing inside her, trying to make her one of them. She knew how parasites lived and how they treated their hosts. She wasn’t going to be a part of it. She took the table her soda rested on. Throwing the soda out the window (she was surprised to hear the window break), she grabbed one of the table’s legs and ripped it off.

Looking at it, she simply said, “You aliens could use some fiber.” She jammed it into her stomach and felt the alien die. A smile spread across her face and she sighed. Finally, the aliens were gone.

Allure looked up in time to see the sixth room mate walk in through the broken window. For an alien, she looked surprisingly human, “I can’t kill Mercury Stone,” the alien said, “She’s weakening my power. Allure, finish the job.” Merc, looking up and seeing her efforts were getting her nowhere, fled up the staircase. Allure’s knife ripped through the air and into Merc’s back.

“You’ve done good work, Allure,” the alien said, “I placed the artifacts from my home world under your bed.” Allure nodded her head, smiling. They would sell for a high price, on the black market. The alien walked towards Merc, “Now, I can get back my stone that damned Phantom stole from me. With that--”

“You’ll augment your powers, rule the world,” Allure said, “You’ve been waiting so long for this moment. If that damned Phantom hadn’t taken your stone you could’ve called your leaders and taken over the planet sooner. Etc. Etc. You really can be predictable sometimes.”

The alien walked towards Merc, ignoring Allure. Her smile grew wider every second. Finally, she would have the power. She leaned in to rip the stone off of Merc. Merc’s eyes snapped open. Using her last bout of telekinesis she took the lighter from her pocket and put it in front of the alien’s face. She lit it. “Fire,” Merc mumbled, “You’re afraid of fire.”

The alien shrieked as it fell to the floor. It fell down a couple of steps and writhed in agony. Then, there was silence.

Allure looked around in all the chaos of nothing. She looked at all of the cadavers, many of which she had caused. Seeing few other options, she moved to the phone to call the police.

In the hospital, Fenrir woke up. He looked around the room and saw Julia, sitting on a chair beside his bed.


“You’re in a hospital, Mr. Fenrir. For two days after the incident in the dorms, you were knocked out. It looks like it was Crusty who did it to you. So I have a question for you. Are you alright?”

“Yeah,” Fenrir muttered, “Fine. But what happened?”

“One of the girls was a member of the Skarilians, a group of parapsychologic aliens whose power comes from the fear of others. That girl, Merc. Her stone was stolen from the Skarilian, who was attempting to collect information on the human race. When Phantom found out, she stole the alien’s stone and kicked her out of the dorm. The alien hired Allure to kill her room-mates. She did so.”

“Kill? You mean--”

“Yes, Mr. Fenrir. Only you and Allure survived the fiasco. I’m sorry.”

“Does this mean--”

“You have a reduced sentence? I’m sorry, but your task was to protect the girls. Clearly you failed.”

“I s’pose that’s fair. But how did you figure all this--”

“We’ve had xenologists working on this for two days and we found Allure’s DNA all over one of the murder weapons. I’m not incompetent, Mr. Fenrir. In fact, the only thing I’m not sure about, is how you survived. Those were some pretty nasty blows you took.”

“Do you believe in fate, Julia?”


Fenrir smiled, as he drifted back to sleep.