Every so often, I have an experience where I read or see something and I wish that I had written it. Sometimes, the same piece speaks to me and echoes something deep in my soul. Since I’m a very moody emotional artist-type, I can get teary-eyed at all sorts of things. For example, I can’t make it through a production of Man of La Mancha or Les Miserables with a dry eye.
A couple of weekends ago, I had one of those experiences somewhere I never expected.
My daughter had been begging me to take her to a particular movie for about two months. I’ve been sick (and still haven’t been able to breathe easily in 2014), my grandfather is dying and my poor family is doing everything that they can to keep him comfortable at the expense of their sanity, I’ve been put in charge of testing the two largest IT initiatives in my company, the holidays hit, etc. Still, after much asking and lots of cold medicine I decided that I’d get her there last weekend for a matinee. The movie she wanted to see was Frozen.
I want to go see it again.
Now, it’s definitely a kid’s movie and I’m not going to say that everyone should rush out and see it instantly, but when it comes out on DVD or gets to streaming on Netflix, watch it. I really enjoyed it, and it made me think about how I write characters. I found myself thinking about the Lantern, Charming, and Freedom Squad. It’s a silly movie, it’s a fairy tale, parts of it are very predictable, but parts of it aren’t so predictable and some of it is downright fantastic. I went to my childhood and back again.
Without including any spoilers, by the very end, the movie had the best example of true love that I’ve ever seen. And there’s something that happens fairly early in the movie that also resonated with my high school self (picked-on geek).
It’s fun and enjoyable, and it was something I really needed to help get me back on track. For me, it was the best movie of 2013, even if I did see it in 2014. In a world of dark and varying shades of gray, it was nice to play in the snow.
Two weeks had passed since Defiance had been turned over to federal authorities. In light of private hearings which had reviewed Freedom Squad’s testimony, the testimony of Carlos Ruiz who had been believed to be Psionicist, the evidence supplied by Agent King and most importantly, a surprise confession from the Ace of Spades, Defiance was being granted a pardon.
However, explaining the existence of the Ace of Spades to the public was considered highly dangerous. Defiance’s role was also going to be difficult to explain. For now, he was forbidden to use his costume and a new identity was being constructed for him. He had also been assigned to work with Agent King.
Stacy King assumed that Defiance was the reason she had blindfolded and taken to a top secret government facility. She wasn’t sure which division of the government wanted to talk to her, but the whole thing had a very CIA feel to it. She passed through what must a have been her twelfth security door and entered a room with smooth black walls. Her escort pulled the door shut behind her.
Light came down from the ceiling panels. There was no smell to the room either, not even the antiseptic of cleaning fluid.
A black table stood in the middle of the room with a single chair pulled up to it. Stacy sat down to face a wall.
She wondered how many people were behind the wall. She felt a touch of dread. What if the Ace of Spades had somehow fooled them all?
“Agent King, in your opinion, has Defiance been completely freed from the Ace of Spades’ influence?” asked an unseen voice.
“Yes,” she answered.
“How did this occur?”
“Rigel, also known as Corinne Dandridge, used her telepathic abilities to remove the Ace’s control.”
There was a pause.
“Could Rigel establish the same level of control in others?”
“I’m uncertain. Based on my assessments of her, she is more of a telekinetic and less of a telepath than the Ace of Spades. Additionally, it wouldn’t fit her psychological profile. She’s the daughter of the hero Orion.”
There was a longer pause.
“Has she made telepathic contact with you in the past, Agent King?”
“Yes. I allowed her to see into my mind so that she could have as much information on the Ace of Spades as possible.”
“Did you also provide her information on Matt Johnson, now known as Velocity?”
“Yes. That was well within my authority.”
“In your opinion, if Rigel and Freedom Squad turned rogue, what checks would we have to control them?”
“I believe that the Ultra Task Force, coupled with the Megalopolis Police’s Renegade program would be able to apprehend Freedom Squad. If our abilities proved insufficient, we would call in other hero teams, such as New Citadel or the Wardens. Arguably, we could request the services of the United Nations’ hero, Defensor. In an extreme situation, Wildside, Inc. has clearance to operate as a government contractor. However, I wish to reiterate that I believe it is unlikely in the extreme that Freedom Squad would go rogue.”
A long pause followed.
“Thank you, Agent King. You are dismissed.”
Stacy King stood up and quietly left the room. As her escorts rejoined her, she told herself that the questions were well within reason. Once she had a new identity for Defiance, the Ultra Task Force should be ready to handle almost anything.
After she had departed, one of the men hidden behind the one-way glass wall spoke, “So, what did you think of her answers regarding Rigel and Freedom Squad?”
“I didn’t like them. The President should have let us seize that alien, Starlight, in the first place, and I certainly don’t like the thought of anyone with the power to alter minds running around. Especially not in charge of a superhero team. I don’t care who her Dad was or what he did.”
“So, have we decided how to solution this?”
“If what we are doing gets out…”
“Sometimes sacrifices are necessary for the greater good.”
“Do we have a test subject?”
“And what are the chances that something can go wrong?”
“Go wrong? Almost zero percent. Remember, the prototypes for this were invented by the CIA. But as a precaution, we need to make sure that this Rigel character never gets close to one of our operatives.”
“Unless she has to be eliminated.”
TO BE CONTINUED
I apologize for being away. The holidays hit and things went a little crazy, but unfortunately, I came down with the flu on New Year’s Eve. I decided to follow it up with a nasty cold/sinus infection and cough that got into my lungs. Fortunately, I’m doing much better now thanks to some antibiotics and a nifty red inhaler. It’s bad when you suddenly realize how much easier it is to think after a few days of meds.
So, several people have emailed me about posting the epilogue for Freedom Squad Defiance. I should have that done later today/tomorrow. I was working like crazy on HeroNet Files in December, and I need to finish up that project so it can get published. I’m still doing lots of Mummy:The Curse stuff as well. Finally, I should know one way or another about Charming being published by January 31. The good news is that it hasn’t been rejected. The bad news is that I don’t have a signed contract.
Here’s hoping that 2014 is being good to everyone!
All the best,
Harry (now where’s that cough medicine…)
Most years after I’ve finished Nanowrimo, I take a few days to exhale. Oftentimes, I’m completely exhausted from trying to write so much in such a short period with everything else that life throws at me. I usually don’t get anything written in December. Sometime in February I catch my breath and do rewrites.
This year, life has been crazy. I’ve got a number of projects for Mummy: The Curse and I’ve been desperately writing another superhero piece called Hidden Strengths for HeroNet Files. Of course, there’s also holidays and life to deal with.
So, the good news is that I’ve kept my momentum and written over 17,000 words since the end of Nanowrimo. The bad news is that I’ve haven’t written any posts that I’ve wanted as follow-ups to Nano. I’ll see if I can’t fix that. Til then, happy holidays to all!
Nothing but Epilogue left after this. Thanks for coming with me on the Nanowrimo journey. I know the writing’s rough, but I hope everyone’s enjoyed. I especially want to thank all the new visitors who’ve come from the various WordPress.com sites. I wish you all the best in your writing. – Harry
In another section of Ace’s under-mall base, Defiance was struggling to defeat his invisible foes. A metal wrap surrounded him and it was being using to spin him around while thousands of volts of electricity surged through him. He couldn’t keep himself oriented enough to find a way to fight back.
Nightstar watched Defiance spin even as he dodged energy blasts and missiles. Fortunately, he had a psychic sense that made him aware of dangers and tended to have an unnatural luck in these matters.
Coupled with the ability to teleport and lots of combat training, he was still standing.
Velocity had been the first victim of invisible electrical enemies, smashing into an invisible force field at full speed. Nightstar had gotten him out to the parking lot via psychic sword teleport. Solaria had fallen to a sonic blast next, but Nightstar had retrieved her as well. The only other member of his team standing was Defiance.
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“How could you?” shouted Cori’s dad. “You let all those people in the mall die.”
Cori looked around. She was at home in Australia, a place that she hadn’t lived for years, but she was Rigel and in costume. “No, Dad, this isn’t you. I’m in my own mind being attacked.”
She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned. A black-gloved fist slammed into her jaw. She fell to the ground with the taste of blood in her mouth.
The Ace of Spades stood over her.
“You think I’m afraid of a fistfight?” she asked him.
“No,” he said, drawing a pistol from his belt, “but you’ll be traumatized by this.” He pointed the gun at her father and fired three times.
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Sorry about the delay in posting. I’m getting myself back together after Nano. More on that in an upcoming post.
“Got him,” she said.
Rigel stood up and went over to the Freedom Squad computer. She closed her eyes, feeling the location and its surroundings. She opened a map site and moved the maps until she was sure that she had the right place.
“He’s there, just outside of town, at that mall,” she said. She that knew he had to know that she had detected him. It all somehow seemed too easy. She didn’t like it.
“That’s the new Appleton Mall,” said Nightstar. “How ironic. We were just there.”
“To be exact,” said Ion, “it’s a coffee shop at the new Appleton Mall. I should have known the Ace needed to stay highly caffeinated.”
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After what felt like an eternity, Cori clambered out of the tube. She wondered if she had briefly drifted off to sleep. As the air hit her, her skin felt slightly sticky. Solaria had been right. A second shower was a requirement after spending time in the healing tubes.
Dr. Lord handed her a warm towel. She wiped off the residue from the tube. Strangely, she felt surprisingly clean afterward. She wondered if she had been wrong about the second shower. When she touched her hair, she decided that Solaria had definitely been right.
Nightstar was gone. She looked around, slightly surprised that he had left.
“Dr. Lord?” she said.
“Cori, call me Jake.”
“Okay, Jake. Where did Nightstar go?”
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Cori felt as if she were running out of time.
She tried to tell herself that the mayor was the Ace of Spades, and that he had been hiding in front of her eyes. She tried to believe that the Ace felt that by being close to Freedom Squad that they would never suspect him. She tried to believe that it was possible that the Ace hadn’t considered the physical danger posed by walking around next to superheroes.
All she did believe was that somewhere, the Ace of Spades was escaping.
Her communicator buzzed. A text message came from Starlight. “I will be delayed in my return. What is the situation?”
Rigel used her telekinesis to text back. “Fusion defeated. Return to Headquarters when possible.”
She had let her team head back to base. Everyone was hurt, and they needed treatment. Jake Lord had returned to Freedom Squad Headquarters and was ready to help. The Homeland Security Ultra Task Force had people in radiation suits sweeping the area with Geiger counters. Rigel wanted to leave, but someone from Freedom Squad should be present. She was team leader, so she was the choice.
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I wanted to say thank you. I cannot tell everyone how much all the support has meant to me this month. I finished Freedom Squad Defiance this morning and validated it. I really appreciate the inspiration from everyone who commented on Facebook, pinged me on Twitter, plus 1′d me on Google Plus and visited this website. I was particularly inspired by Rasheen, Jennifer and Becka for all of their efforts. You guys are wonderful. My family and friends deserve a ton of credit.
I will post the remaining chapters in the next few days, but right now, there’s a daughter of mine who wants her Dad to play with her instead of writing.
Good luck to everyone out there still writing!
All the best,