Part 6 – Nanowrimo Freedom Squad

Chapter 6

Protector sat back and watched the monitors in Freedom Squad Headquarters, his shield leaning against the console. He tried to stay focused and keep a constant check on the graphs and displays that would alert him to the city’s emergencies. Currently, the city was quiet other than a few fender benders suffered by commuters. It disturbed him.  Over a dozen super-villains had escaped Megalopolis Penitentiary, and yet, none of them had made an appearance.

The phone rang. It was the mayor’s office.

“Freedom Squad Headquarters,” said Protector.

“Protector,” said the mayor, “where is Rigel?”

“Uh… sir, she went to New York.”

“What is she doing in New York? I need her here in Megalopolis. Did she miss the fact that we had a prison break? I’ll have words with her later. Put Nightstar on.”

Protector cleared his throat. “Um… she took Nightstar with her, sir, to visit Psionicist in the hospital I believe. Ion’s here with me though. And we have Rockslide of course. Oh, and then there’s Starlight.”

“She took Nightstar to see Psionicist in the hospital,” restated the mayor, “Fantastic.  There’s four of you. Well, if she’s not there, and Nightstar’s not there, who do you think I should speak with?” His voice dripped with sarcasm.

“I guess that would be me, sir.”

The mayor sighed. “Good job of guessing. Listen, Protector, I’m going to have a press conference with the police commissioner in half an hour at Freedom Park, in front of the statues of the original Freedom Squad, the World War II team.”

“Yes,sir,” said Protector, knowing full well where the statues were and that the original Freedom Squad had fought in World War II.

“I need you there to stand behind me and look impressive. Make sure the shield is shining. Understood?”

“Yes, sir. Do you want me to bring Ion or Rockslide?”

“No, someone’s got to watch the base, and I doubt Ion would cause any harm checking the monitors. In the future, you let Rigel know that I want to know if she’s leaving the city.”

The monitors suddenly flashed red. Protector felt the ground shake.

“What was that?” yelled the mayor. “An earthquake?”

The ground shook again.

“Sir, I need to go. We have a situation.” Without waiting for a response, Protector hung up the phone and grabbed his shield.

Ion was already beside him. “Hey, Alex, did you feel that? I think it was seismic.”

“Possibly,” Protector grabbed his communicator. “Rockslide, head to the Freedom Van.”

“The van?” asked Ion. “How about the Freedom Cycles?”

“Rockslide won’t fit on a cycle.”

Starlight walked in. “I have been monitoring the television as per Rigel’s request. There are super-villains smashing the statues in Freedom Park.” Starlight glanced up at the monitors. “It seems that the alerts in this room are validating those reports.”

The large monitor screen showed a man a white and red costume with a mask and a cape lifting the thirty foot high statue of American Eagle over his head and then throwing it hundreds of yards through the air into the park. A moment later, they thought they felt a faint tremor.

“We need to go now,” said Protector.

“I’ll have it running when you arrive,” said Ion, disappearing with a blur.

Protector activated his communicator. “Protector to Rigel…”

A modulated voice spoke back to him. “Communications software test started. All communicators will be offline for the next hour or until server reboot is completed.”

“What?” he said, staring incredulously at the communicator. Still, there was not time to worry about it. He ran as fast as he could to the underground garage, nearly vaulting the stairs. The van doors were open and he could see Rockslide in the back and Ion at the wheel.

Protector leapt into the passenger seat and heard the back door close.

“I am ready to assist,” said Starlight from the back. He had entered the back door as Protector had gotten in the front.

“Is he supposed to come?” asked Ion, looking to Protector for an answer.

Alex steeled himself. He was the Protector. He was in charge. “Yes. Starlight’s coming. Let’s go.”

Ion drove the van through the underground garage out to the rear exit outside of Freedom Squad Headquarters. “I’m activating the siren.”

The siren blared out as they pulled onto the road. Cars and buses moved to clear the way for the van.

“I could get used to this,” said Ion, as a taxi pulled out of his way.

The tires squealed as Ion made a hard right toward the park and then slammed on the brakes. “Oh…”

Protector held up his hand.

“Right,” said Ion, “We’re superheroes. No saying bad words. Still, troubling traffic, Protector, no one’s getting out of the way. Golly gee, now what?”

The traffic had completely stopped in front of them. Horns blared, but no one was moving. The man in the car in front of them got out and shrugged apologetically.

“I understand what Ion is saying,” said Starlight. “May I attempt to respond in the proper Terran vernacular?”

“Sure,” said Protector. Alex wasn’t sure what they should do. Get out and walk? He wished Rigel were here.

“Now, now, Ion, old chum, there’s no need to get vexed about the good citizens of Megalopolis having trouble with their commute, after all, they need to be able to get back and forth from their jobs so they can put food on the table,” said Starlight in his flat voice. “No, I have a plan for exactly this situation, and it doesn’t even require a utility belt.”

With that, Starlight opened the door of the van and stepped out, closing it behind him.

Protector looked over at Ion, who was laughing. “Where did that come from?”

“Oh,” said Ion, “Starlight told me he wanted to watch television. I put on some old Adam West and Burt Ward superhero shows. However, you know, a utility belt is a good idea.”

Suddenly, the van rose in the air and went soaring over the stopped cars in the direction of the park.

“I think he’s carrying us,” said Protector.

“I think you’re right,” said Ion, nervously. “I’m turning off the siren and the light. We don’t need to be but so obvious. Any idea on how many villains we’re facing?”

Rockslide rumbled in the back.

“Defiance for certain,” said Protector.

“Right. He’s invulnerable, you know. I had a poster of him up in my room as a kid. He stopped a meteor once,” said Ion, “when he was a hero.”

“No, he didn’t,” said Protector. “Let’s not make this any worse than it has to be.”

“So,” said Ion as the green grassy park filled the windshield, marked with several discarded bronze statues. “I count 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… plus Defiance, and look at all those cops. Okay, what’s the plan?”

“I’m going to talk to Defiance,” said Protector.

“What?” said Ion. “Alex, I mean Protector, are you crazy?”

“He used to be a hero.”

“Okay, and he was defeated by the guy who used to be the Protector. I mean, what about the other villains? They weren’t heroes.” Ion gestured. “Oh and…” He rolled down his window. “Um, Starlight, old chum, I think you should put us down before the bad guys shoot us out of the sky.”

The van suddenly dropped before coming to a gentle rest on the grass. They were close enough that Protector could make out Death Queen in her barely-there black costume, displaying her pale white skin to the world, floating over the massive broken head of the Light of Liberty statue. Barrage was hovering over the scene in her bronze power armor, massive guns visible on the arms of her suit. He wondered how they all managed to get costumes so quickly after they escaped. Defiance seemed to be yelling at the police. He also recognized the massive magical creation called Golem, towering at 12 feet tall over the others, as if he were one of the fallen statues come to life. A few figures shambled near Death Queen, and Protector assumed that they had to be some of her zombies.

This was going to be tough.

“Hang on,” said Ion. “I’m calling backup.” He pulled his personal cell phone out of his belt.

“Who?” asked Protector, “Wildside, Inc.? I don’t think we can afford them. Rigel doesn’t have her cell on her when she’s in costume, just her communicator.”

Protector looked down. The communicator screen said “Software test in progress.”

“Hi,” said Ion with a big smile, “it’s Ion. Remember when I asked for your number in case of an emergency. Well, Solaria, Freedom Squad needs backup at the park. It’s going to be rough. Get here fast… oh, Snowfall? Sure, bring him too. See you soon.”

Protector was going to say something about the protocol of getting the personal number of someone who was trying out for the team, but this wasn’t the time. Defiance had seen them.

“Out of the van, now!” ordered Protector.

Ion and Rockslide didn’t question him, and Protector dove to the side, just as Defiance crashed into the van, knocking it across the park into a large tree.  Defiance floated over them, his red cape billowing back behind him. “Freedom Squad,” he spat.

“Ion, Rockslide, go deal with the others. I’ll handle Defiance.” Protector raised his shield.

Electricity crackled around Ion’s fists. “Yeah, Protector, that’s a great idea. How about we stay here and take advantage of our local numbers instead?”

Rockslide slammed a granite fist into his hand in agreement with Ion.

“Fine,” said Protector.

Suddenly, Starlight floated down beside Defiance, his own black cape billowing in the breeze. “Excuse me, but do you have car insurance? If you do not, I will inform you that in fifteen minutes, your insurance could be compared…”

Defiance punched Starlight in the chest hard enough that Protector felt the shockwave. The alien flew backward dozens of yards until he finally crashed into the ground, spraying dirt into the air.

“Where is the mayor?” he demanded.

“Defiance,” said Protector, stepping forward. “I’m the Protector, and I’m asking you to surrender.”

Defiance landed in front of Protector. “I knew the Protector, and you are not worthy to hold that shield.”

With that, Defiance pulled back his fist and struck the Shield of Justice. A ringing noise filled the park, but Protector held his ground.

Ion unleashed a blast of electricity. Sparks flew over Defiance’s body, but they seemed to have no effect.

Rockslide made a scraping, grinding noise and threw himself into Defiance. The former hero fell backward, buried by the earth elemental. Rockslide reformed and smashed Defiance over and over. For a moment, Protector thought that Defiance might be defeated.

Then, Rockslide went flying straight up into the air.

Protector held his shield more tightly. “Ion, try to distract the other villains. Run around them. Make something up, but I’m going to try to convince Defiance to help us.”

“That’s a terrible plan,” Ion said, looking at Barrage, Death Queen, the zombies and the massive Golem, “although, only Barrage looks fast. I’ll do my best.”

Defiance pulled off his mask and wiped dirt from his face. He looked angry. “Do you know who you serve? Do you know who is pulling your strings? Did it ever occur to you that there is a reason that your team was assembled?”

“I know why my team was assembled. We are going to protect the citizens of Megalopolis.”

“No!” said Defiance, smashing the shield again. A feeling of déjà vu came over Protector. He wondered if Defiance might get tired like Uberdude had.

As the former hero continued to swing, Protector somehow found a way to block each blow with his shield. He wasn’t sure that Defiance would tire. The power behind each of the blows was staggering. The Shield of Justice dispersed such impacts, but Protector still felt the shock of each of these punches pass through him. Though the shield was obviously protecting him, it seemed to have reached its limit.

“You aren’t worthy to hold that shield,” shouted Defiance. “You were put up to this, weren’t you? It’s all part of his plans. You are a fraud.”

Alex tried not to listen and think about what he could do in between impacts. Defiance was a brawler with exceptional speed and power, but he wasn’t a martial artist.

Protector turned his shield as he was hammered with yet another blow, and he managed to throw his powerful foe off-balance. Protector risked a quick leg sweep, and Defiance fell even if only for a moment.

“We don’t have to do this,” said Protector. “Listen, I don’t know what you are talking about, but if we could discuss it perhaps I could help.”

Defiance responded by rising in the air and hurling himself at Protector, who somehow managed to dodge the attack. Defiance stopped in the air and turned back to his opponent.

“You can’t keep this up. You can’t win,” said Defiance.

Alex checked his grip on the shield. Defiance was right. Alex couldn’t keep this up, but he was going to try.

“I’m going to keep this up,” Alex said. “I have to. I’m the Protector.”

Defiance roared at him.

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Posted on November 12, 2013, in Freedom Squad, NaNoWriMo and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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