Post by Admin on Feb 20, 2019 15:41:19 GMT -5
The air was tense as the pair of jeeps drove through the midnight desert. Even though civilization was an hour away, the foreigners to the nation of Kahndaq were constantly looking over their shoulders. Fear that the secret police would find them, or worse Black Adam himself, had led to them to pay their guide Hanif a small fortune. The money was inconsequential to the head of the expedition, Professor Jules. The family he came from had always had income to spare, and he was somewhat of a maverick in the archaeological community. It had been his burning desire to thoroughly search the long-forgotten tomb.
King Suhaib was a ruler most had never heard of. That fact led there to be little interest when his tomb was discovered nine years ago in the desert of Kahndaq. Professor Jules had never given the ancient ruler a second thought. That was until last year when an archaeological site in Bialya unearthed a stone tablet, telling the legend of King Suhaib of Kahndaq. The story of star demons, magic, and the power of the gods instantly intrigued Professor Jules when a colleague told him of the find. Jules immediately wanted to leave for Kahndaq to resurvey the tomb of Suhaib, but by then Kahndaq had come under the rule of Black Adam, a meta-human who did not welcome outsiders.
However Professor Jules would find a way to get to Kahndaq. Using his family’s connections he met Hanif, an agent of the previous government. He said he could sneak them into the country. And he had, as the two vehicles stopped in front of a small cliff face, with a four foot door carved into it. Jules got out first and rushed toward the opening. Hanif then grabbed him by the collar of his shirt.
“I go in first,” he motioned with his hand.
Jules nodded as the rest of the crew got out of their vehicles. They quickly checked their gear, made sure the flashlights worked, and prepared to get in quick and get out fast. The Professor however hoped to spend days exploring the tomb, learning all he could of this forgotten ruler. Hanif gave the OK to enter the tomb.
The doorway led into a narrow dark tunnel, carefully carved into the stone, leading down below ground. So far the tomb was quite barren, the odd hieroglyph adorning the walls, but no gold, no jewels. After about ten minutes straight of descending in the tunnel, the flashlights revealed an opening. Jules knew from what he read about the discovery of the tomb that this was the burial room.
Hanif led the expedition inside. Some crew members were disappointed when they saw that there was no treasure. Jules knew that King Suhaib was not buried with much, and what was once here was taken by tomb raiders.
The Professor walked to the centre of the room where the stone sarcophagus of Suhaib rested. On the cover were the hieroglyphs for King Suhaib of Kahndaq. Jules had hoped that it would say more, especially about the legend.
“So why is this king so important?” asked Hanif.
“According to legend, Suhaib was a young king who welcomed a mystic that came from the stars as his consul. In time it was revealed that the mystic was a demon, who attempted to depose the king. Suhaib prayed to the gods for help, and they answered. They empowered Suhaib with their wrath so that he may face the demon. The battle was said to have scorched the earth, and ended with both combatants dying. Apparently they were both buried in the same tomb,” explained Jules. “But we only see Suhaib here. Where is the demon?”
Hanif believed him. With the advent of superheroes, Black Adam ruling his land, and the public reveal that gods exist, Hanif just knew anything was possible. So he searched the tomb alongside the Professor, hoping that if they found the demon’s remains it might have something of worth with it.
An hour passed and they were no closer to finding the demon. Some of the crew were getting quite anxious. They knew of recent stories of foreign interlopers being personally captured by Black Adam. They had heard Black Adam was as strong as Superman. They had heard he had no mercy.
Professor Jules was getting frustrated as he scanned the tomb again. He figured he must be missing something. He went over the legend in his head, trying to find a clue. As he went up and down the walls, his hand stopped over three dots. A line from the tablet appeared in his mind. The demon had three eyes.
The Professor placed his hand on the three dots and pressed down. The sound of gears turning could be heard as the wall creaked. In a second, the wall began to open up, dust flying through. Various members of the expedition coughed as dust invaded the burial room. But it was over quickly, the dust falling to the ground, revealing a small dark room.
Jules pointed his flashlight at the new room. He saw a stone block with a two foot tall statue sitting on it. Hanif stood beside the Professor, until he noticed that there were three rubies on the statue. He rushed over to it, remembering the part of the deal that let him keep a certain amount of treasure found.
Hanif’s hands hungrily grabbed at the crimson jewels, but when his hand made contact with one, an unseen force knocked him off his feet. Jules rushed over to help him up.
“Hanif! Are you alright?” Jules helped him to his feet.
Hanif seemed to be in shock, muttering, “Kulak.”
“What was that?”
Hanif grabbed his head, a look of intense pain on his face. The others didn’t know what to do as he began to shake. He collapsed back onto the floor, knocking the statue off the block as he did so.
“Kulak!” he screamed, that scream ending his life.
The Professor stared at the body of Hanif. Based on what he saw it seemed he’d had a heart attack. But that didn’t make any sense, Hanif was in the prime of his life. Jules squatted down to get a better look at the body.
“Professor, we really need to get out of here!”
Jules was about to agree when the statue caught his eye. He saw that there were three rubies, but their placement suggested they were eyes. It was then that he realized what the statue was. He had found the demon.
“Hold on a second!” Jules picked up the statue.
A shiver ran through Professor Jules, an image flashing in his mind, but it was gone before he could remember what it was.
“Professor! Our guide is dead! We need to leave, asap!”
“Alright, I’m coming.” He exited the burial room.
This time it took only five minutes to get through the tunnel to the surface. The crew quickly packed up what they deemed essential, leaving everything else behind. Two minutes later they were once again driving through the desert, hoping to make it to the border before sunrise.
As Professor Jules sat in the back of the jeep, he looked up at the stars, “Kulak.”
Issue Zero: "Welcome to Jump City, Part One"
Written by Steve K
Cover by Vassilis Dimitros
Edited by Mark Bowers
Issue Zero: "Welcome to Jump City, Part One"
Written by Steve K
Cover by Vassilis Dimitros
Edited by Mark Bowers
Virgil Hawkins was admiring the Jump City beach, thinking that it was much nicer than the one in Star City. He had only moved to the city a week ago, but was already loving it. He had officially moved out of his parents’ house and was attending Jump City University. It was a big change, but it was a little easier for Virgil because his best friend Richie Stone had come with him. They were both attending the university, and had petitioned to be roommates at the school’s dorms.
Virgil had spent most of the past week exploring the city with Richie, but had decided to have a walk by the docks by himself. He had wandered into the older, less popular part of the boardwalk, with less and less people walking by. Virgil could see that it was getting dark and planned to turn around and go home. Nature had other plans as a strong gust of wind came out of nowhere. The air tore Virgil’s Star City Rockets baseball cap off his head, blowing it down the boardwalk.
Virgil sighed as he dashed after his hat. The gust dropped the hat down near an abandoned food shack. As Virgil picked up his hat, he heard a scream. A literal bolt of electricity made the hairs on his neck stand up. He knew he couldn’t resist the call to go help someone in need.
Virgil darted in to the food shack, opening up his backpack. For Virgil wasn’t any old student, he was the hero Static. He pulled out one of his signature black, blue, and gold costumes, complete with jacket and goggles. In thirty seconds he was ready, leaving his backpack in the shack.
Static raced toward where he heard the cry for help. Turning past a dilapidated set of washrooms, Static saw the person in trouble. An elderly homeless man in a torn-up grey sweater was being punched by three punks in skull bandannas. The glassy look in his eye, and the needle on the ground told Static that the man was high out of his mind.
“Didn’t your mothers ever teach you to respect your elders?” Static jumped in front of the attackers.
“Funny,” one of them turned to him. “But you should leave while we still let you. So skid dat, fashion reject.”
Static smirked, energy crackling in his hands. They had no idea what they were dealing with. Using one fluid hand gesture, Static sent electricity into a nearby dumpster, magnetizing it, and tossed it through the air at the first mugger. He crumpled to the ground with a surprised look on his face, as the dumpster flew off into the distance.
“Damn it. Does everyone have superpowers now?” another mugger said in shock.
“Doesn’t matter,” the other one said, pulling out a gun. “We’ll waste any lowlife who messes with us.”
“Who you calling lowlife, lowlife?” Static jeered. His answer was a bullet whizzing over his head. Static quickly darted back behind a wall. “And they say America doesn’t have a gun problem!” The electric hero knew he could probably take his time and pick them off from a distance, but the fact that the homeless man was in danger meant he didn’t have that luxury.
Static pounced out from behind his cover, “Surprise!” The young man released several blasts of electricity. Although they all missed, it sent the two muggers running for cover, leaving the elderly man alone. Static motioned for him to come over to him, but it seemed he was too out of it.
With a frown, the hero dashed over to the man, picking him up. Thankfully the homeless addict lifestyle had left him quite light. As they turned the corner to safety, several bullets planted themselves into the wall next to them.
“OK, listen to me. You gotta shake off the drugs and run!” shouted Static, as more bullets whizzed past him. “Just run!”
A glint of understanding could be seen in the man’s eyes as he ran away down the dock. Static turned back toward the muggers just in time to see a gun pointed toward him. Acting on pure instinct, he just let his power flow. A gigantic bolt of lightning hit the punk square in the chest, sending him flying into the air. As he was lifted off the ground, a shot was fired, but it went way too high, soaring over Static’s head.
The remaining mugger quickly turned back around the corner, firing a few shots. Static rolled out of the way, behind another corner. As he was planning out what to do next a song by Puffy AmiYumi became audible. “Damn.” Static took out his phone. “Richie? This is a real bad time.”
“What, you with a girl, Verg?” his best friend chuckled over the phone.
“Nah.” Static kept running as the bullets kept firing. “I’m doing the Static thing.”
“Oh OK,” Richie understood. “If you aren’t busy, there’s this thing going down-|”
Static crouched behind a wall, cutting Richie off. “Could we talk about this later? I’m getting shot at, so if you could call back-”
The electric hero dropped his phone as the mugger levelled a gun at his head.
“I’m betting you ain’t Superman,” the criminal sneered. “So you damn sure ain’t faster than a bullet.”
“Yeah but do you really wanna kill a hero?” Static stalled. “I mean Batman would come at you with a vengeance.”
“I’ll take my chances,” the mugger hissed.
Static quickly thought of his family, Black Lighting, and how lame of a way this would be for a hero to die. However the bullet never came. Static looked up to see that the homeless man had returned, his right foot placed dead centre in the attacker’s genitals. With a groan the attacker fell to his knees.
“Oh sweet Jesus,” Static muttered, before launching his fist into the mugger’s face. With a thud the attacker collapsed to the ground, unconscious. “Thank you for the save, good sir.” Static stood up, picking up his phone.
“Hey I only came back to get my money,” the old man said, smiling with some missing teeth, “Plus kicking an a-hole in the balls is always fun.” The elder walked over to the other fallen muggers, reclaiming what little cash they had taken.
Static decided to take it on faith that the homeless man only took what was initially his. He then brought the phone back up to his face, “Hey, Richie, can you do one of your anonymous, untraceable, 911 call things? These lowlifes probably need to go to a hospital.”
“Probably? You don’t know? Aren’t you supposed to be studying to be a doctor?” Richie questioned, concern evident in his voice.
“Yeah well… They’ll be fine,” Static stammered. “What did you want to tell me?”
“Well, you know how I’m supposed to alert you if anything big is going down on the police scanner?”
“Oh yeah! You already have that scanner thing set up?”
“I’ve had it set up since the first day we got here!” exclaimed Richie, before calming himself. “Anyways, there’s a big fight downtown, two blocks from City Hall.”
“What kind of big fight?”
“A gang war. Like real crazy. The Bloods, Kings, JC-Boyz, Raptors. All-out shooting. The cops can’t do anything.”
Static went silent. A gang war, the very thing that led to him gaining his powers.
Static turned to face the city, bolts of electricity travelling up and down his body. “I’m on it, Richie.”
Kiran Singh had been to America a couple of times before. However, she was now living there. Her parents had let her study anywhere in the world, as they were quite global people. However she decided to study archaeology at Jump City University. One, because it was a great program. Two, because family friend Professor Jules worked at the local museum. Three, California was just so nice.
Her parents had set her up with a nice apartment near the downtown core. It was really nice and she had heard it was a good neighbourhood. She had spent the last two weeks exploring said neighbourhood, mainly trying out the local restaurants. As someone who grew up all over the world, Kiran had developed a very international set of tastes, so tonight she was trying a sushi bar.
Kiran had fallen in love with the rice and seaweed roll during an expedition near Kyoto, where a tropical storm had made her family stay in town. While stuck in town they had stopped at an all you can eat sushi bar. Since then Kiran had made it a mission to try sushi in every nation.
She was enjoying a dynamite roll when two boys approached her. “Room for two more?” the long-haired one asked.
She decided to ignore them, instead focusing on her food. “Don’t speak English, baby?” the other boy, a blond one, laughed.
Kiran put down the sushi roll. “I speak perfect English.” She glared at the pair. “And I am not your baby.”
The two were initially taken aback by the ferocity in her eyes. However the blond boy quickly recovered, “Oh. Spicy. Like curry spice!”
His friend chuckled, a bit too loudly for the quality of the joke. While the two boys laughed, Kiran noticed her hand release a few specks of light. Usually that meant danger, but how dangerous could these two idiots be?
“I would like it if you gave me some space.” Kiran put her hand under the table, not wanting any more undue attention.”
The blond boy leaned in. “But I want to close the space between me and you.” His cologne smelled horrible.
With the fierce look in her eyes returning, Kiran shoved the boy away. It was forceful enough to send him falling backward, landing on the restaurant floor on his behind.
His friend burst out laughing. “Rejected!”
The blond boy rose to his feet, his face red. “Hey I don’t see you scoring, Deacon!”
“At least I’m not failing as hard as you,” Deacon shot back defensively.
The blond boy glared at Kiran before grabbing Deacon by the shoulder, pulling him away from the young Indian woman. The two then went back to their table. Kiran sighed as she was finally being left alone. She took a sip of green tea, relaxing her. As she glanced at her glowing hand, she assumed that it was a false call by her danger sense. That was until her hand erupted with brilliant light.
At this point, the two boys who had harassed her burst from their table and back into the kitchen. The staff shouted at them, saying they weren’t allowed back there. Kiran didn’t know what was going on. That was until she heard the popping of gunfire.
The Indian woman stood up quickly as the other patrons ran to the back of the restaurant. She followed them, rushing past the cooks, but when they stayed in the kitchen, she exited into the back alley. Taking a second to make sure no one was around, Kiran called forth her light elemental powers. Projections of hard light surrounded her, forming the costume of the hero Solstice.
At a young age, Kiran had discovered she had these elemental powers. With the backing of her parents she created the superhero identity of Solstice. So far she was pretty obscure compared to most other heroes, but maybe moving to Jump City would change that.
Solstice dashed out of the back alley and onto the main street, rays of light emanating from her body. She saw two groups of thugs firing at each other. One side wore red, the other black with a crown on their clothing. Solstice didn’t really care who they were, she just wanted to make sure no one got hurt.
Questioning whether she was brave or insane, Solstice ran into the street, conjuring forth two barriers of light, each forming a wall in front of the gangs. With some concentration, she was able to hold up the barriers against the rapid gunfire.
“What is this even?” one thug in red questioned, “Y’know what? Just keep shooting.”
The gunfire intensified, Solstice feeling a strain on her mind as she desperately tried to maintain the two constructs. After a short time, the barriers began to lose strength, Solstice deciding that she had to come up with a different plan.
With a shout of effort, the elemental hero pushed the twin barriers outward, slamming into the gatherings of gang members. Shouts of confusion could be heard as they were sent flying several feet back. Most stayed on the ground, but a few stood up.
Both sides levelled their guns at Solstice, realizing she was the source of the constructs.However before they could gun her down she erected a wall of light around herself, just quick enough to block the gunfire. After a few seconds the shots stopped as sirens became audible. Solstice lowered her barriers just enough to see that several police cars were arriving on the scene. The few standing gang members, realizing they would be quickly outnumbered, began to run away.
Officers rushed out of their cars, chasing the fleeing gangsters. They managed to catch some while others managed to escape. Solstice didn’t like loose ends and thus ran after the escaping criminals.
Literally glowing with a sense of purpose, Solstice ran fast enough to catch up with the gang members. As the fleeing group turned left at an intersection, Solstice saw that they were headed toward City Hall.
Albert ‘Al’ Rothstein was always on the lookout for a small, niche vinyl store like American Classics Vinyl. Since a young age, he had always preferred the old school sound of vinyl as opposed to the newer CD format. Hell it was old school nowadays to even have any physical media like CD.
Al had only been in Jump City a few days and only just finished preparing his small apartment so, once the necessities were done, he moved onto what was next: scoping out the local music scene.
A quick Internet search of best record shops in Jump City had led Al to American Classics. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but once he passed through the automatic door, Al was impressed.
The store was a lot bigger than it seemed on the outside, filled completely with shelves upon shelves of vinyl, both new and old. Al was fond of the choice of music playing in the shop: Fifth World Raga, a mostly forgotten acid rock band. Al was a bit of a music nerd, and was a fan of many types of music, calling his tastes eclectic.
However he had a favourite as he immediately gravitated toward the corner of the store that said punk. It seemed the obvious choice for the man wearing a Sex Pistols t-shirt and rocking a ginger mohawk.
Al eagerly combed through the stacks of records. Of course you got your Misfits, your Ramones, but Al was on the hunt for something rare and odd. After a few minutes of searching he found two albums to his liking. Both were from Gotham-based bands, both bands being kind of mysterious.
First he picked up the eighties punk band the Electrics’ self-titled album. The Electrics were remembered because just as they were getting big, their lead singer disappeared after a show. The other album was Inhumanifesto by Scare Tactics, a band rumoured to be made up of supernatural creatures. Al hadn’t heard anything about them in a while, and he didn’t know whether to relate that to any possible paranormal circumstances.
Al planned to fully explore the store, wondering if all the other genre selections were as awesome as the punk. Picking up the two albums carefully, Al walked over to the alternative section. As he did so, he heard the sound of glass shattering.
The young man turned rapidly toward the noise, seeing a gunshot-sized hole in the front of the store. Outside the shredding of tires could be heard as a blue sports car zoomed past the shop. Gunshots could be seen flying toward the blue car, as a black hummer followed closely behind.
Al looked down at the albums and cursed silently. He put them down on a shelf, hoping no one else would buy them as he ran out of the store.
As he exited the store he could see the two cars driving off into the distance. He quickly ducked into the parking lot beside the album shop. Opening up the trunk of his old beat-up muscle car, Al pulled out a duffel bag, one that held the unstable molecule costume of Atom Smasher.
Al was in fact the grandson of the Golden Age villain Cyclotron and had inherited a meta-gene from him. Only recently had he decided to use it for heroics, developing the persona of Atom Smasher.
With the costume on, he immediately put his powers to use, his body increasing in size until he was thirteen feet tall. He could grow larger but he currently felt more comfortable at this size. With his enlarged stride he set off after the two cars, hoping no one would get injured in the gun fight.
In less than a minute, Atom Smasher was in sight of the two cars. He increased his speed, planning to end it fast. The gang members finally noticed Atom Smasher as he got close, and instead of continuing to shoot at each other, they focused their fire on Atom Smasher.
At his current size, Atom Smasher was not hurt too badly as the bullets bounced off him, at worst leaving a bruise, but Atom Smasher didn’t care. He just wanted to catch these creeps.
Deciding to do something he saw once in a cartoon, Atom Smasher jumped into the air and dived toward the black hummer, fists first. “Atom smash!”
His fists made contact with the back of the hummer. The force of it caused the vehicle to launch into the air, before crashing back down onto the street. The wrecked hummer was clearly non-functional now.
Atom Smasher pulled three dazed gang members out of the vehicle, roughly setting them down on the ground. He turned and saw that the blue sports car had fled the scene.
Atom Smasher picked up one of the dazed men, shaking him. “Where were you going?”
“What, um-” Atom Smasher shook the man some more. “OK, we heard about a rumble, and we were going there to represent, y’know.” The gang member threw up a little.
“And,” Atom Smasher said in his best Batman voice. The look of fright on the criminal’s face told him it worked.
“We saw those Cali Kings punks and we said why don’t we start the festivities a bit earlier, y’know?”
Atom Smasher dropped the man onto the street, the man yelping. “Where is this rumble going down?”
“City Hall, man.” The gang member tried to stand up, but was too uneasy on his feet. “Oh, thanks for not beating us up, that would totally mess with the Raptors’ cred.”
Atom Smasher turned to look at him. “Oh, I wasn’t going to beat you up, I’ll leave that to the police.”
Atom Smasher took off running toward City Hall as a squad of police jumped out of their cars and captured the three members of the Raptors.
Traci Thirteen was having a hard time stomaching her new roommate Claire. She had only met her a few days ago but she had decided that they didn’t gel with one another. However her father Terrance had told her to try and make the best of her time at university, so the two had come to grab a coffee, watch the buskers downtown and talk.
The coffee was good, the buskers interesting, but the conversation not so much. Claire was currently talking about a guy she started talking to on campus, Cam or Sam or Traci didn’t know. She thought it was very early to go pursue anyone at school as class hadn’t even begun yet. Traci wanted to have some fun before committing herself.
“Ram also has a lizard, like that ugly thing you have,” Claire said with disgust.
So, Ram was the guy’s name, right. “What’s wrong with Leroy? He’s like the coolest iguana ever.”
“Yeah, cool for a total non-conformist like you.” Claire pointed at Traci, a mischievous look in her eye.
“I prefer the term free spirit,” Traci said with a smile.
“Speaking of spirits, are you a goth?” Claire randomly asked.
“What?” Traci almost choked on her coffee at the question.
“A goth, like magic and monsters and stuff,” Claire questioned, before smiling. “Oh my god, you are! That explains everything!”
“Well,” Traci looked sheepish, before deciding to be honest, “I may have dabbled in the odd bit of witchcraft.”
“Really, so you’re like a vampire or something?”
“A vampire?” Traci was dumbfounded. “How does anything I said make me a vampire?”
“Well, we got all kinds of crazy stuff these days.” Claire stammered, “I heard Supergirl is really an angel.”
Traci snorted. “She’s said she’s Kryptonian, like Superman. See Supergirl equals Superman. Therefore Kryptonian.”
“You know what? You’re no fun to be around. Too serious and brooding.” Claire looked away.
“Then why are you smiling?” Traci grinned, her smile showing off her teeth.
“I….well- watch out!” Claire pushed Traci and herself off the street as a blue sports car barrelled down it, nearly hitting several performers.
“I swear that they should stop letting old people drive!” Claire fumed as she got back up.
“Why would it be old people?” Traci was confused, throwing up her hands, “You know what, fine. We’ll blame old people.”
Several police cars then turned onto the street, clearly after the speeding sports car. Traci wasn’t sure how bad the situation was, but decided she needed to help.
Traci turned to her roommate. “Hey, Claire, I just remembered I have to go.”
“What, you got plans?” Claire enquired.
“Yeah, a date,” stammered Traci as she began to walk off.
“Oh, who’s the lucky guy?” Claire grinned at her roommate.
Traci wondered why she assumed it was a guy. “Um, I don’t think you know him.”
“Can I at least get a name?” shouted Claire at the rapidly leaving Traci.
“Cam. Sam. Cam. Definitely Cam.” Traci began to run down the street.
“Well you better get his name straight before the date!” shouted Claire at the strange girl she had to live with.
By then, Traci couldn’t hear her. She was sprinting in the direction of the car, quickly preparing a minor illusion that would mask her appearance to any onlookers. For she was the sorceress Girl 13, and she was determined to hex that jerk who almost ran her over.
Freddy Freeman soared above the skyline of Jump City. Even though he’d had the power of flight for several years, it was still always refreshing to glide through the crisp air. He was in the body of Captain Marvel, one created by the power of the gods. Of course he had decided to not call himself Captain Marvel, figuring that it would be confusing to the citizens of Fawcett City to have two Captain Marvels. So he now went by Captain Marvel 3, or CM3 for short.
Even though it had only been a week away from his hometown, home sickness had already set in. He missed his friends Billy and Mary, the kind Mr. Ibis, and all the familiar sights. But it had been his choice to go to a school so far away. And it hadn’t all been bad, his roommate Jeremy seemed to be a cool guy, and Jump City was a pretty city.
CM3 floated in the air, watching the sun set above the expansive city beaches. It was sights like these that helped ground him in the crazy world of super heroics. Said heroics was part of the reason CM3 had taken this flight. He was doing what Billy had coined ‘Supermanning’. Essentially just flying around the city until you find someone in need.
CM3 saw Supermanning as more of a job, something he never viewed his heroics as. He clearly didn’t want to be only a superhero, that was why he had come to Jump City University to become an architect.
So far this evening he had only helped out twice, once for an oven catching fire, another time for a minor automobile collision. These acts brought to Freddy’s mind the old joke about Superman rescuing the cat stuck in a tree.
CM3 sighed, wondering if his solo hero career was just solving this calibre of problems. It seemed like back when he was partnered with Captain Marvel they were constantly fighting wizards, monsters, and other crazy stuff.
Still it was nice to have a night to just enjoy the sundown. That enjoyment ended with the hearing of several large bangs. CM3 didn’t need the wisdom of Anansi to know that it was gunfire.
With the speed of Marici, CM3 rocketed across the sky toward the source of the gunfire. Very quickly he stopped over the downtown core. He saw four groups, one on each corner of the street, firing indiscriminately at each other.
“Stop this fighting at once!” CM3 ordered loudly, his voice booming over the battle.
The gunfire stopped for about ten seconds, before resuming, CM3 now the focus of the shooting.
“Seriously. You shoot at the divinely powered guy?” Freddy sighed as felt the bullets bounce off his chest.
Either seeing that they weren’t harming CM3 or just getting bored, the various gangs began to fire at each other again. CM3 saw a blue sports car tear down the street, before skidding to a stop in front of the gang who were wearing black and gold. Four more criminals in black and gold attire rushed out of the sports car, guns in hand.
“OK, you guys clearly can’t listen,” CM3 crackled with energy, “so I’m gonna have to bring the thunder!”
Like a missile, CM3 rapidly shot down toward the ground, lightning forming a tail behind him. With a thunderous crash he landed on the blue sports car, the impact crunching it down into a much smaller size.
CM3 stood up, lightning dancing around his body. “OK, I’ve smashed your car. What you gonna do?”
The only response was all of the gang members in gold and black turning toward him and firing several clips at the hero.
“And they say Captain Marvel is the dumb one.” CM3 shook his head, then leaped at the gang members.
Natasha Irons had not slept in three days. The various projects she was juggling were all coming together. Between her home lab and her work at STAR Labs she had trouble keeping up with everything she started. Take her new nano-machines, meant to repair buildings, equipment, and vehicles quickly and cost-effectively. So far they hadn’t been able to do much more than fill cracks and holes. She had hoped that they could replace whole lost intricate sections of devices and structures, but for now they were on the back burner. Her attention was currently focused on her new power armour suit.
Natasha’s uncle John Henry Irons had given her his blessing to become the new Steel, as he focused on his political career in Metropolis. Since then, Natasha had built several suits for herself, all of which she considered failures for one reason or another. She was really hoping that this current design would be the one. She had just finished building a hammer like that of her uncle’s days as Steel, and was ready to use it.
As she looked over the design on her computer, Natasha received a message from a co-worker. They were asking about the new smart prosthetic limbs she was part of a team for. She ignored the message as she was currently not working on that project. She assumed her co-workers didn’t understand having so many great ideas running around in their head. How could she devote herself to just one cutting edge technology? Science and technology were an all you can eat buffet for Natasha.
Another message popped up, this one from Uncle John Henry. He was asking her how the new condo/lab was doing. She made a note mentally to respond to him some time tonight. She was currently looking over the rocket propulsion system of her suit, as all superheroes need to fly.
Natasha thought she had worked the issue out when a third message appeared. She almost immediately sent it away, assuming it was more people bothering her, but she left it long enough to see that it was a system notification.
Her uncle John Henry had gifted her the software he used to monitor police, FBI, and other intelligence services, receiving notifications on any major incidents. Of course, Natasha didn’t really need to be gifted it as she could have written the program herself, but it was the thought that counted.
Natasha opened the program and saw the alert was from the Jump City Police Department. She quickly analyzed the report, gleaning all she needed to know. Four gangs. All-out war.
Natasha rushed over to the pod where the current Steel suit stood. Figuring that this was as good a test case as any, Natasha walked up and pressed herself against the suit. The machine responded by opening up, Natasha stepping into it.
The suit closed around her as it came online. Quickly Natasha adjusted to the HUD that appeared before her, one that was synced with her network. The suit began to run diagnostics, everything seemed to check out. Steel was ready to go.
Steel stepped out of the pod, and she took a few steps to get used to moving in the suit. She tested out the hands, arms, legs, and made sure the head could turn. Satisfied, she walked over to the table where her hammer lay.
Picking it up, she noticed that the weight of it felt good in the suit. After a few practise swings, she grasped the hammer with both hands.
“Computer, open Hangar One,” Steel spoke to the network.
“Affirmative,” replied the system in an artificial voice.
After that response, the roof above her lab split open, revealing the California night sky. Steel felt a little chill at the thought of this test, but hardened her nerves. She was ready.
The boosters on her feet and behind her shoulders turned on. Initially she floated four feet off the ground before deciding that the thrusters were working. Steel then turned the rockets to max and was sent blasting off out of her house.
As she narrowly avoided nearby buildings, Steel decreased power to the thrusters, just enough to give her greater control.
“Well, didn’t immediately die,” Steel muttered. “That counts as a success.”
Pulling up the police report on the HUD, she saw the directions to the gang war. After calculating the fastest route, Steel readjusted her thrusters and zipped off toward downtown Jump City.
As Girl 13 ran after the blue sports car, she heard a rumbling coming from behind her. She looked back and saw a giant masked man wearing red and blue running after her. Terrified, she quickly jumped into an alley too small for him to fit in. He didn’t seem to care as he kept running in the direction of where the car went.
Girl 13 chided herself for getting scared so easily as she decided to follow after the giant man. Both heroes however stopped when they heard a thunderous crash. A second later they had readied back up and started running toward the sound.
Atom Smasher turned the corner to see a man he recognized as Captain Marvel, standing on top of a ruined blue sports car. The good Captain then flung himself at the gang members in front of him.
“Hey Cap, didn’t hear you were in town?” Atom Smasher ran over to the Marvel, a few gangsters running at the sight of the giant.
“Sorry,” CM3 punched a criminal in the face. “I’m not Captain Marvel.” He turned to Atom Smasher. “You can call me CM3.”
“Oh. Well, I’m Atom Smasher.” He held out his hand, but then took it back realizing it was too large for the Marvel to shake.
“Cool name,” CM3 said, before turning back to the battle.
“And I’m…something,” Traci shouted as she ran past the two heroes, hex bolts being tossed from her hands.
At the sight of a third hero, most of the gangsters were thinking of bolting. However the leader of the Jump City Bloods knew the kind of street cred you would get for killing a cape, so he told his boys to focus fire on the newly arrived Girl 13. She saw the group turn to her and immediately erected a magical barrier. However, it was not needed as something positioned itself in between Girl 13 and the bullets.
Steel hovered in front of Girl 13, the bullets having ricocheted off the S shield on her chest.
“Wow, a robot Supergirl!” exclaimed CM3 as he knocked down a criminal.
Girl 13 rolled her eyes. “I don’t think Supergirl is a robot or an angel.”
“Not Supergirl. Steel.” The metal hero readied her hammer.
“Oh, like that guy in Metropolis,” Atom Smasher said between punches knocking over several gangsters. “So, Steel Girl?”
“Just Steel.” She jetted toward the assembled Jump City Bloods.
It was then that her boosters decided to malfunction. With a thud, Steel landed on her back, looking a bit like a turtle. Girl 13 giggled as she created a barrier around the two of them. “I guess you’re like me, so new to super heroics.” She looked down at Steel.
“First time in this suit.” Steel stood up, using her hammer to steady herself. “That obvious?”
Girl 13 just smiled as the barrier dissipated, and she began throwing hex bolts. Steel this time ran at the Bloods, swinging her hammer. Between the two female heroes, the gang members were dropping fast.
CM3 and Atom Smasher had just taken out all of the Cali Kings, the gold and black wearing gang littered across the street, and were moving to support the other two heroes. They were stopped when more Bloods and Kings ran down the street toward them.
“I told you guys to stop like five minutes ago!” shouted a woman with an Indian accent, a bright light accompanying her.
Solstice saw the gathering of all the gangs and stopped. This was way more people than she could take. She was relieved however when she saw that she wasn’t the only hero there. Allies were always good.
“So is this like a Justice League thing?” Solstice asked as she ran toward the heroes.
CM3 turned to her and smiled. “Nah, we’re probably Teen Titans at best.” Solstice smiled back before unleashing a wave of solid light at the assembled gangs.
“Titans? I’m at least Outsiders material,” someone above said, laughing.
Several gang members looked skyward to see Static, flying above them on a magnetized manhole cover. They then did what they did best and began firing at him. Static swerved out of the way, zipping down to the other heroes. Landing next to Steel, he said, “FYI, I’m not bulletproof like you guys.”
“Welcome to the mortals club,” Girl 13 quipped as she tossed more hex bolts, the multi-coloured energy singeing the gangsters. Static grinned as he began tossing electricity at the gangsters. The crowd was gradually thinning with the onslaught of blasts, fists, and hammers.
“Time for the Raptors to win!” shouted a gang member in purple, an assault rifle in his hands.
True enough, the Raptors had the most members still standing. So Atom Smasher turned back to them and proceeded to run and punt the one with the assault rifle into a street lamp. The rest of the Raptors immediately turned and ran.
“I didn’t sign up for Goliath playing soccer with us!” one of them shouted, losing a shoe while running.
The Raptors’ escape route was then cut off by a full squad of arriving police cars. Faced with the police and the heroes, the remaining Bloods decided to run for it. Steel managed to knock a few more down with her hammer, but it was clear that the fight was over.
As the police took over the scene, the heroes gathered up, in front of City Hall, any fallen gang members, who were then quickly arrested. Civilians had begun coming out of the nearby buildings and had their phones out, taking pictures and videos. #JumpCityHeroes was trending.
Between the flashes of the cameras, the six heroes were approached by a bald JCPD officer. “What the hell was this?”
“What was what, officer?” CM3 questioned, smiling smugly.
“You know the reason I became a cop in Jump City? No supers.” He pointed at them. “And I don’t want them now.”
“What about that Hardware guy? He’s been here a while,” stated Static.
“At least he plays by the rules, and doesn’t mess up the whole damn city!” A vein bulged in his head.
Steel stood in front of the others. “I’m sorry about the damage, officer?”
“Shepherd.” The bald cop pulled out a cigarette.
Steel’s facial expression was unreadable under her suit. “Officer Shepherd, I’m sure STAR Labs and SteelWorks would be happy to pay for all damages.”
“Oh, of course you got connections.” He took a long drag of the cigarette. “Ever since that Wayne guy backed Batman, all you hero types got money.”
Atom Smasher had by now shrunken back to normal size. “Look, we’re just trying to help. And I think we saved a lot of lives.”
“Yeah, well I think you’re a menace!” Shepherd pointed at the youths.
“Regardless of what you think, heroes do make things better. Just look at the Justice League, Justice Society, uh, Titans. Anyway, back on point, Jump City could use a few more heroes.” Girl 13 pointed back at the officer.
“This is too much. Damn freaks,” Shepherd said under his breath.
Another officer walked up to Shepherd. “The Lieutenant wants to see you.”
Shepherd nodded, tossing aside his cigarette. “Just don’t let me catch you doing this craziness again.”
“No promises.” Static waved as the officer left.
Steel turned to the other heroes. “Perhaps we should discuss this hero thing? But not tonight, I have, other things that need doing.”
Girl 13 laughed. “Apparently I’m going on a date with some guy named Sam.”
Static turned to her. “I also have plans. So how about two nights from now. Midnight. Do you guys know where the old abandoned merry-go-round on the docks is?”
Steel pulled up the location on her HUD. “It is an acceptable location.”
“Then we’ll meet there, but I got to run. My car may have got a ticket by now.” Atom Smasher waved as he took off down the street, once again gaining in size.
“And I need to pay for some sushi,” Solstice remembered.
The others looked at her. “What? I was eating when all this happened.” Solstice gave a sheepish smile before running back to the restaurant.
“Hey, it’s cool,” replied CM3, “I was planning to grab a bite myself once I was done Supermanning.”
“Supermanning?” Girl 13 laughed at the Marvel.
“It’s an inside joke.” CM3 blushed, before rocketing up into the sky.
“Supermanning,” Girl 13 muttered as she walked into the crowd of civilians, disappearing in a few seconds.
“Well, see you in two days,” Steel fired up her boosters, before taking one last look at Static, “Cutie.”
Static started to blush. He then magnetized the manhole cover. “Robot Girl thinks I’m a cutie.”
Professor Jules had just arrived back in the states less than two hours ago, but already he was rushing to his office at the Jump City Museum of Natural History. In the backseat of his car was a crate with the statue they recovered from Kahndaq in it. He had been waiting to examine it, the anticipation causing his heart to race.
As he pulled into the parking lot, Bill the security guard came out to greet him.
“Back already, Professor?” Bill extended his hand.
But Jules just walked by, not saying a word to his friend. He carried the crate into his office at the back of the museum, setting it down on a worktable. With rapid movement he opened the crate, revealing the depiction of the demon within.
“Ah yes, what secrets will you tell me?” Jules picked up the statue, the rubies glinting off the light in the room.
A humming started in the Professor’s mind, images flashing so quickly as to be indiscernible. Professor Jules put the statue down and grabbed his head. Figuring it was just a headache he took a pill with some water.
As he downed the medicine he stared at the statue. “Kulak.” The three ruby eyes of the statue stared back at the Professor. It was like there was a presence within.
The presence whispered for the first time in centuries, “Soon.”
TO BE CONTINUED!
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