Two weeks after the sophomore team free-for-all exercise, Collin Gauge exited the elevator into the HCP facility to find another handwritten page taped to the corridor wall.
‘2 v 5, 3 v 7. 1 MT, 4 VM, 6 CF. Saturday’
The muscular youth spent several moments examining the page, even going so far as to lift it away from the wall to see if some additional hidden clue was on the back. Nothing. Well, 2 v 5 is easy enough to figure out, and that’s the one that affects me. What the hell are MT, VM, and CF though?
Deciding it was worth trying to find out even if it didn’t directly affect his team, Collin took a picture of the page with his phone before turning to continue down the hallway. One mystery at a time.
Navigating the now familiar hallways quickly, the sophomore checked the time as he arrived at his destination to note that he was still five minutes early. Having nothing else to do to occupy his time, Collin pushed the classroom door open and stepped inside, a look of surprise crossing his features upon seeing who was waiting for him.
“So what the hell did you call us down here for on a Saturday, Collin?” The brief flash of shock on the second ranked sophomore’s face deepened to a look of genuine confusion as the question was posed by the skinny blonde currently outranking him.
“Nope, wrong guess Ames.” Collin actually jumped in surprise at the second voice from right next to him, recognizing it as the third ranked sophomore only after managing to embarrass himself. “He looked like you hit him in the back of the head with a board when you asked that. So how’s your weekend going so far, Gauge?”
“Confusing.” The tone of the one word response drew giggles from Amelia and a smile from Erin. “I’m guessing you both got an ‘official’ HCP meeting request too?”
“That would be a pretty safe guess.” Amelia turned to drop back into the seat she’d vacated when Collin had arrived. “Think anyone else will be showing up?”
“Probably not, from your class at least.” The cheerful voice from the back corner of the room set the three sophomores spinning to face the unknown voice and unconsciously adopting ‘ready’ stances.
“Relax guys, we come in peace! And Sam,stop showing off.” Another new voice came from the room’s door as it opened abruptly, as three unfamiliar persons, two male and one female, wearing HCP uniforms entered the room. “Were we this jumpy when we had to do this last year?” The speaker was the lone female, wearing a broad grin and waving at the suspicious looks she was receiving from the sophomores.
“Jumpier.” The two men answered simultaneously, with one of the voices seeming to come from everywhere in the room.
“So, allow me to introduce ourselves to yourselves!” The girl stepped forward as she spoke, and found herself looking up through her bright purple bangs at the sophomores. “God, you guys are TALL. Anyways, I’m Val, that’s Sam, the showoff,” a finger and a wave from the taller brownhaired youth identified ‘Sam,’ “and that’s Kevin.” A second pointing finger and wave completed the initial introductions. “And we’re you guys, FROM THE FUTURE!”
Seeing the blank stares from the sophomores sent the apparent spokeswoman of the group nearly collapsing with laughter, the boy identified as Kevin stepped forward. “She means we’re the top three ranked in the third year of the program.”
The three sophomores relaxed a bit as the introductions concluded, though the expressions worn still indicated they were far from understanding what, exactly, was going on.
“Yeah, it was pretty confusing to us when we went through it for the first time last year.” The brown haired youth spoke, his voice no longer resonating through the entire room but still echoing far more than it should. “But don’t worry, it’s nothing bad. I mean it’s a TON of extra work getting dropped on you with no real way out of it, but it’ll be fine.”
“It’s a tradition!” Val had finally gotten control of herself enough to rejoin the conversation.
“What’s a tradition?” The question from the three younger students wasn’t quite synchronized, but it was close enough to send the purple haired girl nearly collapsing in a fit of laughter again, until Sam elbowed her hard enough to draw a surprised yelp and a brief glare.
“Right, so you guys all remember last year’s Halloween party, right? Pretty cool? Well this year you three are responsible for organizing the front half of it!” The pronouncement was met with blank looks. “The front half, you know? The whole area by the entrance to the Labyrinth where all the drinks and food and regular party games are set up?”
“Why?” The single syllable from Amelia seemed to take the three juniors by surprise.
“Because it’s tradition? We mentioned that part, right?” Val seemed almost insulted by the question.
“Yeah, seriously. The top three sophomores have to set up everything for the front half of the party, and the junior top three have to arrange for the interior of the Labyrinth to go all Haunted House style.”
“How the hell are we supposed to afford that? The party was HUGE last year?” Collin’s question seemed to be one the upperclassmen were much better prepared to answer, as Kevin was reaching into a pocket to produce a small notepad before the muscular sophomore could even finish speaking.
“Relax, you get a budget! Here.” The notepad was flipped in the direction of the three lower classmen and snatched out of its flight by Erin. “The program lays out a pretty solid spread, you guys just have to handle the logistics of getting everything set up and decorated!”
“Again, why?” All eyes turned towards Amelia, causing the skinny blonde to elaborate. “Look, the party was fun, but why make the students set it up at all? I mean, we’re kind of busy, and have a fucking Oversight Committee ‘evaluating’ everything we do. Is this really something that our class should be setting up?”
“One, fuck those guys! This isn’t an official HCP function so they get no access whatsoever!” Val actually gave a small hop and fistpump to accompany her statement. “And two, I have it on excellent authority that the reason the top three in a class are selected is so that they don’t HAVE to do any of the work if they don’t want to!”
“Yeah, I mean last year we basically just made everyone else do all the labor type work. We just placed the orders and signed stuff.” The additional details from the brown haired junior drew smiles from the sophomores.
“So it wasn’t just a rumor? The school really DOES get all the alcohol for that party?” Collin found himself not quite able to believe it, but was finding himself warming up to the idea of planning the big Halloween bash now that it was confirmed he wouldn’t have to be PAYING for it.
“Seems like a good policy to me.” The somewhat dismissive tone from the black haired youth brought another round of surprised expressions. “Look at it this way, would you rather find out that a Super can’t handle their liquor at a school party while they’re still in training, or after they’ve been certified and out on the job, and just had a REALLY fuckin’ bad day?”
“When should we have all the stuff delivered?” Erin’s question brought the conversation quickly back to logistics, with the three upperclassmen all giving advice (and the sophomores rapidly ignoring most of the advice coming from the purple haired girl) and tips on how to make the party a success.
Shortly after that, the three juniors bid their younger counterparts farewell and wished them luck, only to be halted by a final question. “Why don’t the sophomores set up the stuff inside the Labyrinth?”
All eyes turned to Collin, and he rapidly began to wonder if he’d just said something really stupid. It was Val who stepped back into the room, and leaned in conspiratorially close to the muscular youth. “Look, Collin right? So Collin, it’s like this: Your class won’t have done any Labyrinth exercises by Halloween. In fact, you only go in there during the midterm and the final. I mean yeah, you’ll be in there at the party but it won’t be the same. This is very important, because Dani is in charge of setting up the sophomore midterm. You know Dani, right?” There was a pause to wait for Collin to nod in acknowledgment before the purple haired girl continued. “Now Dani REALLY wants your first experience with the Labyrinth to be a surprise. She has stated that it would make her VERY upset if someone spoiled that experience for you. So do you understand why you guys can’t help set up that part now?”
The second ranked sophomore found himself growing a little pale as his imagination provided several scenarios involving a VERY upset Weapons Instructor, and he nodded enthusiastically in response to the last question.
“Good, so we’re all on the same page. See you guys at the party!”
“Good morning everybody!” The far too cheerful tone of the Overton Weapons Instructor rang out loudly in the observation lounge where four of the sophomore HCP teams had gathered at the ungodly hour of 6am. Surveying the tired expressions the red haired professor adopted a puzzled expression. “If you guys are always this tired when we make you come here, why don’t you just bring some coffee or something? Or make it? You guys are weird.”
The second suggestion seemed to meet with a great deal of interest from the assembled students. The interest peaking further when the animated woman strode over to the near wall and slid open a concealed panel, behind which was a stack of styrofoam cups and a large dispenser, from which wafted the heavenly aroma of freshly brewed espresso.
Immediately after acquiring a cup for herself, Dani dodged gracefully out of the way as a pack of half asleep college aged Supers rushed the coffee bar and settled softly into a chair as she waited for the sophomores to get their caffeine fix. “Better now?” The question asked a few minutes later was met with nods and far more alert looks than most in the room had been wearing when the Weapons Instructor entered.
“So, I’m pretty sure you’ve all figured it out, but the Dean says I have to be explicit about this stuff. The exercises for you guys today is team 2 vs team 5, and team 3 vs team 7. Any questions about that part?”
“What will our friends on teams 1, 4, and 6 be doing?” The question came from Ramòn Carerra, one of the few students who’d seemed fully awake prior to the revelation of the coffee. “I think I am not the only one of us finding himself more curious as to what a VM or an MT is than the details of our own trial for the day.”
“Sorry Mr Carerra, that’s not part of this morning’s briefing. But I’ll let you in on a secret, the reason I scheduled you guys to come in at 6 is because James isn’t starting the other exercises until 8, and they run consecutively instead of concurrently.” A few of the less caffeinated students seemed to have trouble following Dani’s statement, but most of the sophomores adopted suddenly eager expressions, drawing a laugh from the Instructor. “Right then, so here’s what you guys will be up to this morning!”
“Capture the Flag.” The disbelieving tone from the lightly built dark haired youth hadn’t lessened through his numerous repetitions of the same statement. “We’re training to be Heroes, and they’re having us play Capture th-…”
“Not that it seems to be sinking in, Zach,” the exasperated interruption from the team Captain cut off the shorter male in mid-complaint, “but to quote our moderately insane Instructor for the day, it’s ‘Full Contact Combat Capture the Flag.”
“It’s still silly. And why are we looking at the map of where our flag is when the other team has the world’s greatest telepath?”
Zach found his three teammates staring at him with surprised looks, before Scott suddenly began a seemingly genuine slow clap. “My prayers have been answered, and you’re learning Zach! Two weeks ago you wouldn’t have spotted the problem of my girlfriend being able to read the location of our flag as a tactical disadvantage. Now, think very carefully about what everyone on OUR team can do and see if you can figure this out too!”
“We’ve only got another two minutes before we get deployed into the simulation room. Just tell him, Scott.” Eloise James didn’t look up from her inspection of the automatic shotgun she was examining, a Saiga 12k loaded with rubber-taser rounds. “Though I admit it’s progress, I owe you five bucks.”
“YOU GUYS ARE BETTING ON MY LEARNING CURVE?”
“Yes.” The simultaneous response from all three of his teammates rocked the dark haired youth back for a moment, but then he laughed. “Fair enough, what am I missing?”
“My eyes, Zach.” Erin tapped a finger between the orbs in question as she spoke. “Reading through paper isn’t hard. As soon as Dani held up our map I saw the location of our flag, and that means Cat knows it too.”
“Well shit. So we’ve got to sprint for our own flag and just play defense then.”
“Maybe I was too hasty at conceding the bet, Scott.” Eloise chambered a round as a light in the ceiling flashed and a computerized voice began counting down from 30.
Before Zach could manage to start yelling again, the smaller sandy-haired boy put a hand on his shoulder. “As soon as Dani held up the maps, Erin read what was on them. Not just OUR map, Zach. She knows where their flag is too. And even for the super telepathy/mimic team, it’s hard to catch an invisible Erin Casse.”
The taller boy absorbed the information, comprehension dawning just as the door swung open to admit them to a room fashioned to look like an abandoned industrial park. “Erin gets their flag, we defend. It’s a race.”
Scott turned to look triumphantly at Eloise. The white haired girl gave a dramatic sigh, but nodded an agreement before fading out of sight as team 3 split up and sprinted towards their objectives.
Lisa Shang leaned groggily against the wall and considered the degree to which she disliked the strategy her team had opted to employ. It definitely made SENSE, of course. Very little that came from Alexandra backed with intel from Catalina failed that litmus test. The issue the rainbow haired girl was having was with the result of her own role in said plan.
Catalina had informed them all of their flag location being compromised immediately, and with Erin being the nominated flag-capturer of their opponents, it was quickly decided that the ONLY defense was a really good offense. All the nearly invisible and incredibly skilled third ranked student would have to do is touch their flag and the exercise ended, meaning even if all four member of Team 7 remained on defense they were likely to lose. So Lisa had become their team’s opening gambit: a piece trade.
Alexandra had mimic’d the class’s hispanic teleporter and Catalina had given her the position she needed to drop Lisa almost directly on top of Team 3’s SECOND invisible woman. The idea had been for the petite asian girl to take out the invisible gunslinger, likely be incapacitated in the process, but create enough of a diversion that the other 3 could take out either Zach or Scott and send Tasha to get Team 7’s artillery back into the fray. Unfortunately Eloise’s reflexes had proven more formidable than expected, and the invisible girl had shot first. Lisa still managed to exhale a pretty decent shockwave, and she was certain she had injured her target, but Eloise’s taser round had left Lisa unable to do more than lie against the wall and try to process the ongoing combat.
Team 7’s captain had apparently abandoned the idea of switching to Gerard’s power upon arrival to create a screen to advance behind and gone with something a bit more offensive instead. Energy grenades rained in volleys towards the area where Team 3’s male members had taken cover, keeping the two boys pinned down while Tasha and Catalina attempted to disable their invisible opponent, or at the very least keep her away from the mimic while she kept the dangerous pair of Scott and Zach pinned.
“Just teleport in and grab the damned thing already!” Tasha half shouted, half growled the instruction in the direction of her leader as another taser round struck her in the stomach. At least five had hit the healer so far, but the shots didn’t have enough juice to overwhelm the massive woman’s incredible healing powers.
“I can’t see the flag, they made a point not to look in the room it’s actually IN, and Alex can’t teleport into a room she’s never seen inside of anymore than Be or Teresa can.” Lisa found herself glad that the telepath was keeping her in the loop for team communications. She was surprised, however, at the next mental message. “Lisa, if I block out most of what you’re feeling from the taser, can you do another air blast?”
The disoriented girl considered the request, then attempted to nod. It didn’t quite work, but the message seemed to be received. “Okay, here goes nothing.” Suddenly the auburn haired telepath went rigid before staggering to the ground. Lisa found her mind suddenly clear, even if her body still refused to quite do exactly what it was supposed to.
Without hesitation the rainbow haired girl unleashed the breath she’d been trying to hold, blasting a wave of freezing cold out along the ground in front of her, drawing a surprised shriek as a ghostly form became briefly silhouetted before slipping on the suddenly frozen ground.
“GOTCHA!” Tasha lunged forward and grabbed one of the invisible girl’s ankles, only to receive yet another round to the shoulder in response.
Not the best reflex to have, in hindsight, as the completed current between the two women was far more damaging to Eloise than to the giant healer who had snared her. A quick pull followed by a right cross, and the white haired girl faded into view, unconscious.
“ALEX! EL IS DOWN!” Tasha staggered slightly returning to her feet, but recovered quickly and moved to assist Lisa.
“Why… not… just…” The rainbow haired girl tried to speak before her teammate reached her with mixed results. Then the warm glow of the muscular woman’s power enveloped her petite teammate, and Lisa tried again. “Why didn’t she just charge in as Ames?”
“Because Scott can hit hard enough to take Ames out, nevermind a 75% impression by Alex. Now c’mon, our team needs its artillery support.”
Lisa responded by taking a deep breath, then unleashing a ferocious blast of cold at the area Alexandra was still shelling with energy bombs. Zach and Scott returned fire as best they could, but with the crossfire they were pinned down and outmatched, since the magnetic manipulator couldn’t unleash any TRULY powerful attacks with the non-lethal limits of the HCP in place. After several seconds of the girls’ intense barrage, one of Alexandra’s copied blasts landed almost directly on top of the sandy-haired boy.
Scott was blasted out of his cover and before he could attempt to stagger to his feet, the short boy was blasted into a wall and out of consciousness by Lisa. Zach briefly surprised the four girls by leaping onto the offensive, actually managing to take drop Lisa for her second time of the match and force the other three back for a moment, before he too was taken out.
“Inside, quick quick quick!” The frantic mental voice from Catalina set Alexandra to switch powers again, and she dashed into the tiny shed the boys had been guarding, her speed barely able to be tracked by her teammates as she smashed the door open.
Just a few feet in front of her, tacked to the wall, was a triangular blue pennant. But before even her newly heightened speed could reach for it, the mimic could hear as the speakers all around the massive simulation room clicked on.
“Congratulations to team 3, they have acquired their opponent’s flag and are officially victorious!” The cheerful voice of the Weapons Instructor echoing around the chamber saw the four members of the defeated team slump visibly.
Lisa, just back on her feet for the second time, began screaming a litany of profanity at the ceiling. Alexandra, standing not more than three feet from her objective, felt tears forming in her eyes.
“None of that now, Alex.” The petite team captain was surprised by the sudden hug from behind. “You didn’t do anything wrong. We’ll get them next time.” The mimic sighed in response, but managed to force back the tears as she went to help Tasha revive the victors so they could congratulate them.
“Come on, we’re gonna miss it!” The large Samoan smiled and shook his head at the unlikely scenario he found himself a part of, being dragged down the hallway by the most petite student in Overton’s HCP. “C’mon, GO FASTER!”
Suddenly the tiny girl and her large teammate found themselves standing just outside the room they had been moving towards, accompanied by a sound similar to softly shattering glass. “You’re welcome.” The statement came from Beulah Abbott, team 5’s teleporter.
Louise squealed something that might have been a thanks and darted into the room, leaving all three of her teammates behind. Rorie started to follow, but found a hand holding him back. “We need to talk about the exercise, Rorie.” Beulah’s expression was one of complete seriousness, drawing a sigh from the heavily built team captain.
“Let me guess, you want to discuss how my strategy was another, ‘bad idea?'”
“It WAS a bad idea, it was completely insane and you’re lucky tha-…”
The teleporter was interrupted as her last teammate draped a large arm over the smaller girl’s shoulders and leaned in conspiratorially. “My friend, you are right that our Captain’s idea was of the insane variety, however there is an important rule you are forgetting here.”
“What rule is that?” Beulah tone was a mixture of suspicion and curiosity, Rorie’s expression held only curiosity as to what their Mexican teammate was going to say.
“It’s not a bad idea if it works.” The Samoan grinned at Ramón’s response, even as the dark haired Israeli girl sighed in exasperation.
“That is NOT to say that the plan could not have been better.” The teleporter was again interrupted by the muscular hispanic man. “But right now is not the time to discuss this. Right now is to get in and watch the briefing the OTHER teams are receiving so we will know what to expect when it is our turn to face, whatever a VM or MT is.” Without waiting for a response from either of his teammates, Ramón pushed the group of three through the door and hurried them to a group of open seats off to the side.
“…so your objectives are two fold: Neutralization of your opponent, and prevention of serious collateral damage.” The three late arrivals from team 5 perked up at the Close Combat Instructor’s voice. “With that being said, are there any questions?”
“Shit.” Rorie whispered the expletive as he realized that Beulah’s delay had prevented them from hearing some important details. The girl shot her captain a guilty look in response to the glare he directed her way.
“All right then, Team 4 you’re up first. Follow me.” A dozen conversations started around the room as the students not on Team 4 began discussing the upcoming exercise in hushed tones.
As Rorie was contemplating moving to one of the other groups and asking for the information he’d missed, Louise came bounding back over to the team. “I know what the letters are!” The words gave the tiny Super the complete attention of all three of her teammates, particularly as the petite girl was practically bouncing with excitement.
“They’re HCP seniors!”
The lithe form of a young black woman in a white uniform strolled casually up the middle of the seemingly deserted street, humming softly to herself as she went. I wonder if they’re as nervous as I was when I was in their shoes. God this is gonna be fun! The relaxed stride and cheerful expression gave no indication whatsoever that the young woman was about to be engaged in serious combat. I wonder if they’re gonna ambush or go fo-… The woman’s thought trailed off as a well built blond man in a grey uniform similar to the one she wore stepped out into the street in front of her. Guess that answers that. Direct approach it is!
“You’re surrounded, surrender and you won’t be hurt.”
The girl in the white uniform began laughing hysterically at the deadpan offer from her opponent. “Of COURSE I’m surrounded, there’s FOUR of you!” The young woman barely managed to get herself sufficiently under control to get the words out. “God you’re doing this wrong. If you’re going to step up and make this a straight up battle you’ve gotta introduce yourself first.” The young woman noted several brief flashes of movement to her sides and realized that the ‘civilians’ were vanishing. Teleporter, nice.
The blond man in front of her appeared greatly flustered at having been met with laughter, but his expression quickly returned to something at least close to the stoic look he’d worn when he first stepped out. “Gerard Finne.”
“Pleased to meet you Jerry, I’m Vicki. Want to introduce your friends?”
“I’d rather if you surrendered.”
“Yeah, but we both know that’s not gonna happen here. I mean Rachd would probably kill ALL of us if he put us in here and we didn’t throw down even a little bit.” Vicki adopted something approaching a fighting stance, but still far more relaxed than her opponent. “No hard feelings no matter how it goes though, ‘kay Jerry?”
“It’s Gerard.” The simple statement was accompanied by no movement, but a shimmering field formed in the air in front of the sophomore and blasted towards his opponent at high velocity.
“Ooh, force fields?” Vicki met the attack by raising her arms defensively and letting the shield hit her. Instead of a solid impact, the woman seemed to slide back frictionlessly, in spite of her feet tearing gouges in the asphalt as she went. At about a hundred feet from the blond, the field flickered out and the black woman lowered her arms. “Probably shouldn’t have given away your range on the first shot though.”
“You have to admire the setup though.” The raspy voice from directly above the senior snapped her attention up to see a nightmarish skeletal figure swinging an oversized, clawed fist for her head.
“EEEP!” The startled sound cut off abruptly as the black woman avoided the swipe by dropping, sinking directly through the pavement with a crackling sound.
“The hell?” Susan’s question was answered when the ground in front of her suddenly flexed upward, forming a shaft of gray rock that struck her cleanly in the chest and sent her straight through the wall behind her.
“Alright then kids.” Vicki had reappeared, though she now stood far taller as she was surrounded by some sort of massive armor formed from the dirt and pavement she had dropped into moments ago. “Let’s do this thing!”
“Nicely done, Mr Foster!” The mocking congratulation and slow clap was answered with a glare and a middle finger as the bruised and dirty white-uniformed young man dragged himself into the waiting room.
“Oh shut up, Max.” The reclining form of Vicki McCormick moved quickly out of her chair to offer it to her classmate. “You don’t get to mock Cody until you go in there and do better.”
“So why aren’t you mocking him?” The tall, muscular youth broke off his taunting applause and locked eyes with the elemental manipulator. “You won your match, after all.”
“And it only took me five broken bones to do it! Seriously Max, you may not get this since you got kicked out of the HCP once already, but those of us who’ve spent the last three years training right alongside each other tend to at least respect the grace period before we give each other shit for messing up.”
“What’s the grace period for getting molested unconscious by a giant plant?” The deadpan tone with which Max asked the question, drew first glares, then Vicki lost the expression as she began to giggle.
Shortly after that, even Cody’s laughter joined in as well. “Since as far as I know, it’s never happened before I’m going to say 24 hours. Make fun of me all you want tomorrow.”
“I’ll make sure to distribute the pictures then.” The black woman’s statement drew smiles from the two men.
“Right, and apparently all I have to do to keep the right to join in the fun tomorrow is win my match. Shouldn’t be too hard.” Max ran his hands up to slick back his light brown hair and then struck a heroic pose. “Five minutes or less, time me!” With that the confident senior strode out of the waiting room to meet his own scheduled opponents.
“You think he even considers it might be a challenge to take on the sophomore’s number 1 team?”
Cody offered an incredulous look to his friend in response. “Max Thompson, considering ANYTHING a challenge before it kicks his ass? Maybe you should head back to the healers with me and get checked for a concussion.”
Both laughed at the suggestion, but neither showed any inclination to move from the room. Neither was willing to move away from the monitor and risk missing the show.
Alright, found him. He’s in the little office building. Michael Karl focused to form small telekinetic tendrils to tug his teammates’ uniforms to get their attention so he could signal he had found their target, then carefully floated himself down from the building he was concealed upon so the other three could meet up with him.
“What’s the word, Michael?” The tall form of Team 1’s captain spoke quietly, and her voice held no trace of anxiety or fear in spite of the knowledge that they were facing off against one of the top ranked seniors in their HCP.
“He’s on the third floor of the mini-office building two blocks down. He’s arrogant, has GREAT senses, and he’s convinced that there’s nothing we can throw at him that will hurt him.”
“Arrogant is good.” Ty Rodins cracked his knuckles as he spoke, then began checking all the various canisters he wore attached to his belt and harness. “Stupid is better, but we can use arrogant. Sounds like a physical enhancement type”
“He’s gonna hear us coming from a long ways off, how are we going to approach?” The telepath’s question was met with looks of serious consideration from the rest of the team, then answered by the quietest member.
“We do the special delivery. I’ll go.” Ty and Michael regarded Tara with shocked expressions as she spoke, but Amelia simply grinned hugely at the suggestion.
“We haven’t exactly tested it, you sure?” The heavy set African American youth seemed torn between excitement and nervousness at the suggested tactic. “I mean, the ball will get you there intact, but you’re probably going to be disoriented as hell when you come out of it.”
The redhead held up her injection gun in response. “I have a shot for that.”
“Alright, Ty leave the ball and the breakout with Tara and you and Michael rush the building like you’re going to meet him head on. Michael, break the window closest to our target so I know where to throw, then give Tara five seconds after arrival before you go in to support her. I’ll come in ten seconds after that.” The three other members of the team nodded in acknowledgment of the plan, then the two boys took off.
Michael broke away from Ty as they approached the building, as predicted their target had heard them before they’d quite made it onto the same street and was already moving quickly towards their side of the building. Crap, he’s gonna come right out the side of the third story. Delivery isn’t going to work as well if he drops down to street level. A burst of telekinetic energy allowed the black haired youth to accelerate out to where he could see the window he needed to hit. A second burst of energy caused that window to shatter spectacularly. Enough to get him to hesitate, delivery now!
As if summoned by the thought a grey sphere roughly six feet across came hurtling through the air and crashed its way straight through the wall next to the window Michael had broken. Even as bits of rubble were still falling to the street, the telepath heard a surprised masculine shout, followed by loud coughing and cursing. The sophomore quickly affixed the thin mask that his teammate had assured him would provide protection against the chemicals she was using, and launched himself towards the opening in the side of the building.
As the young man’s somewhat unsteady flight brought him level with the gaping hole recently added to the wall, he got his first actual view of their opponent. Well over six feet tall and athletically muscled, Michael assumed that the man usually looked far more impressive than his current posture; bent partway over and coughing uncontrollably as tears streamed from bright red eyes. Behind their target he could see the masked form of Tara retreating from the muscular man as she blasted a continuous spray from two different high pressure jets. Holy shit, he’s getting both mixtures and he’s still standing. And he looks like he’s recovering. Fuck it, we’re committed now.
As the black haired combatant landed heavily through the hole in the wall, he immediately attempted to grab his target in a web of invisible energy and pull him off his feet. Doesn’t matter if he’s strong, unless he’s energy resistant like Ames he can’t do anything with no leverage. For a moment, Michael thought his tactic would be a successful one as he lifted the brown haired man off his feet and held him. Unfortunately, while the muscular Super was unable to reach the floor now, the ceiling was another matter.
The telepath barely avoided the chunk of ceiling tile his opponent hurled at him, the narrow evasion causing him to lose his focus and drop his opponent back to the floor. Almost faster than Michael could react, the brown haired man was on him. One hand grasped the front of his uniform and pulled the smaller student off the ground with ease. “I’ll give you guys credit, that was a pretty awesome entrance. But you’re going to have to d-…”
The monologue was interrupted as cylindrical object bounced through the hole a few feet from where the two men were standing. Michael smiled as he read the carefully projected thought from his technologically inclined teammate down on the street. 4… 3… 2…
Before his opponent could properly analyze the new threat, a thought from Michael brought the canister hurtling over to stick to both men. I really hope today isn’t the day Ty switched from restraints to real grenades.
The canister exploded with a familiar *FWOOMP* sound, with Michael grinning as the strange foam material quickly covered both men before hardening.
“That’s it?” The telepath’s grin faltered as he felt his shared prison shudder and realize his opponent had already broken one arm free. “You think if you throw enough tricks and toys at me, I’ll what? Give up?” The black haired youth grimaced as a large chunk of the foam around him was torn away, not a comfortable experience. “So what else have you got?”
“Hi!” The cheerful syllable from directly behind the muscular senior renewed the smile on Michael’s face, as he watched his opponent spin to face the unexpected voice and meet the irresistible force of Amelia Jacobson’s fist connecting cleanly with his jaw.
“Well that was fun.” Team 1’s captain looked over to where the unconscious form of their opponent had ended up embedded in one of the interior walls. “You okay back there, Tara?”
“I’m… fine?” The redhead sounded genuinely surprised by her own status.
“You good, Michael?”
The telepath nodded his response, rubbing at his ears that had popped from being so close to the concussive impact of the incredibly strong woman striking something with a significant percentage of her full force.
“Well I know Ty is fine because he got to wait outside. Let’s go celebrate!”
The petite asian woman cursed softly as she hurried up the steps from her car towards her condo. Cannot believe I left the files at home. I feel like an intern instead of a junior partner. So rushed was the woman that she failed to notice the alarm panel was already clear as she punched her code into it and rushed towards her home office. Files have to be right on th-…
The small woman’s train of thought derailed abruptly as she nearly collided with a large man coming out of her den. An unfamiliar man wearing a leather jacket and a LOT of facial piercings.
“Ah shit, no one was supposed to be here, man.” The woman heard the words, but didn’t have time to process them before she was nearly deafened by an incredibly loud bang.
Blinking a few times, the woman realized she was now lying on the floor, but couldn’t figure out how she’d gotten there.
“Guys, let’s MOVE!” The strange man’s voice seemed to be coming from much farther away now. Turning her head she saw three blurry forms rushing towards her doorway.
Why aren’t my eyes focusing? I need to get up. Get up! But her body wouldn’t obey the command, instead she found herself staying limp on the floor. While she tried to solve this mystery, she heard another faint voice coming from a long ways off. Turning in the direction of the voice, she attempted to call out, but only managed to cough as there was some kind of liquid in her mouth. How did I not notice that?
The coughing seemed to have gotten the person’s attention, as a shadow seemed to move across the open doorway. “Mrs Jeung? Mr Jeung? Are you guys ho-… OH MY GOD!” The voice had gotten loud enough for Mina Jeung to identify her upstairs neighbor, but the supine woman couldn’t figure out why her neighbor suddenly sounded so panicked.
“DAVE! DAVE CALL AN AMBULANCE!” Mina wracked her brain trying to remember the woman’s name, but it just wouldn’t come to her. “Mina, it’s Claire.” There it was. “You need to hold on, can you hold on?”
Mina Jeung couldn’t figure out what the woman was talking about, but everything was starting to get blurrier again. She probably just needed some rest. Probably just some weird illness. A little sleep and I’ll be good as new. As the Korean woman closed her eyes, she couldn’t figure out why Claire insisted on yelling at her so loudly, but it wasn’t long before she couldn’t hear the voice anymore.