Chapter 27 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo
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.
Of course, it didn’t help that his psychic sword didn’t work against soulless entities like robots. It also didn’t help that he was worried about Rigel. Who knew what was going on in her mind? She looked tired before all of this began. How would she still have the strength to challenge the Ace of Spades?
Nightstar tried to come up with a way out of this. Maybe Ion’s team was having more success.
The Eternal Darkness whispered to Nightstar. He had the power to put an end to this anytime he wanted. The evil presence trapped inside him had gone dormant since Rigel had entered his life, but it longed to be unleashed. Anytime he wanted, Nightstar could end this, all of it.
“And everything else will end shortly thereafter. No thanks,” said Nightstar.
His danger sense flared, but he couldn’t sense the immediate threat.
“Self-Destruct sequence activated. All personnel evacuate,” came an announcement.
That was the threat. He tried to reach Protector on the communicator, even as he spun out of the way of a laser and teleported out of the cone of a sonic blast. “Protector, what’s happening with Rigel?”
“She’s still standing here, but she doesn’t look good.”
Nightstar hesitated for an instant. In that instant, a concussive blast caught him. He was blown into the corrugated metal of a shipping container. The Eternal Darkness whispered to him once more, but Nightstar wasn’t able to answer.
“Terminate Nightstar,” stated the robots.
Protector stood beside Rigel in the coffee shop. His communicator showed that Nightstar was down. Rigel’s mental energies swirled around her, making her glow. Her eyes shone white and she stood there, unmoving. She was fighting the Ace of Spades while the rest of Freedom Squad was trying to penetrate the base below. All he could do was stand next to her and be ready to protect her in case some agents of the Ace of Spades attacked.
She unexpectedly gasped and coughed.
“Rigel, I don’t know if you can hear me, but I’m right here,” he said. “You can do this.”
In the mindscape of her psychic battle, Cori wasn’t so sure. In her perception, she was lying on the ground of a futuristic gladiatorial arena, and the Ace of Spades was standing over her twisting a laser spear around in her gut.
“Just so you know, Freedom Squad is losing its battle with my forces. They won’t manage to reach me until after you are dead, and I’m far away. So you know, I’m going to make it pretty clear to the world that you were responsible for everything. You wanted your team to succeed so badly that you would set up attacks on Megalopolis to make Freedom Squad look good.”
Cori tried to force the scene to switch. She was at one of the universities she had attended. It alarmed her that she couldn’t tell which one. The Ace of Spades was winning. She was losing access to her memories.
She was standing in front of the office of the Mathematics chair, holding a tablet. She opened the door. The Ace of Spades was sitting at the professor’s desk.
“If you decide to give up, I’ll spare your team. Nightstar’s down by the way.”
“No,” she said, as blood began to drip from the spear wound she had suffered.
“You don’t have the strength to beat me. Give up. Save your team,” he said.
“I only need one of them to reach you. One punch from Velocity and this battle is over.”
“Hmmm… I’m going to give you an F minus, young lady. Velocity is lying unconscious in the mall parking lot. As far as anyone else, they won’t even be able to see me. I was in Daniel’s mind, remember? Now, let’s get back to killing you, shall we?”
They were standing on a rooftop. Nightstar lay on the ground in a widening pool of blood. Her heart stopped, and she couldn’t breathe. Ion was beside Nightstar, not moving, with one of his arms sliced off. Pieces of Rockslide littered the roof, only enough to recognize the body.
“I present the death of Freedom Squad. I left a few people out, but you can assume that I killed them already. Your turn,” he said.
He was standing in front of her holding some kind of energy blaster. She heard it power up and then he fired. She reached out with her telekinesis, but she couldn’t deflect energy. She collapsed on the edge of the roof. She felt burns all over. She gasped and tried a yoga breath. She had to get control of the situation, change the environment, mount some kind of offense.
She glanced over at Nightstar. He was dead. Ion was dead. She had failed. Somehow, she had gotten here to this roof and lost her battle against the Ace of Spades. Nothing could save her or her team or her city.
“Dad, I’m sorry,” she whispered. “Wherever you are, I love you.”
“Goodbye, Rigel. You were the best opponent I’ve ever faced.”
Cori closed her eyes. She heard the energy blaster power up and fire.
A second later, she realized that she wasn’t dead, but that wasn’t possible.
“How…?” said the Ace of Spades with a tremble in his voice.
She opened her eyes. Protector was standing over her, holding the Shield of Justice.
“I’m the Protector,” Alex said, advancing on the Ace of Spades.
Cori’s costume repaired itself and her wounds faded. Nightstar, Ion and Rockslide’s remains vanished from the rooftop. She felt stronger.
The Ace of Spades tried to back away, but Protector was faster. Alex smashed away the energy blaster and kicked the Ace in the chest. The Ace barely conjured some kind of energy field to block Protector’s next strike.
The Ace of Spades was rattled and losing focus.
This was her chance. She concentrated. She needed to know two things. First, how was the self-destruct controlled? A holographic computer screen appeared in front of her.
“What are you doing?” shouted the Ace, even as Protector continued to attack. “How can you attack me with Protector and go through my mind? You were dead.”
“Maybe I was faking,” said Rigel, completely uncertain of what was going on, but quite ready to take advantage of it. If having the Ace of Spades confused prevented him from killing her, all the better.
The computer gave her access. The Ace was too worried about Protector to prevent her from getting into his memories.
There was no self-destruct. Bombs were too easily detected. A number of mind-controlled innocents, mostly homeless were in the base surrounding the Ace’s command chamber to keep any hero team occupied.
Time for the second question. Where was he?
The Ace of Spades made a hole appear under Protector. “Say goodbye to your construct, Rigel.”
Protector caught the side of the hole as he fell and flipped back onto the roof. He smashed the Ace of Spades with his shield. “This isn’t possible. You are too powerful to be a mental image.”
Protector punched through the Ace’s energy field and grabbed his uniform. “That’s because I’m not a construct.”
“Oh,” said the Ace. “I understand now. You’re the Protector.”
Cori located the Ace. Now, she needed to do something with the information. Velocity was fastest, but he was unconscious. Nightstar was the easiest for her to communicate with, but he was unconscious. She would use the least energy on a mind she knew, one she had recently touched.
Cori realized that now that the shock of Alex’s arrival in her mind was gone that the Ace would regain the upper hand. She played her last gambit.
“Defiance, the self-destruct isn’t real. Here’s the location of the Ace of Spades. It’s up to you. Stop him.”
She sent the message with every bit of power she could spare.
The sky went dark.
“I am master of this domain. You bought Rigel some time, Protector, but that’s all. Now, you get to join her fate.”
Rigel felt a shock wave hit her, and she was suddenly manacled against a wall along with Protector. The Shield of Justice lay on the floor.
“Alex, what did you do?” she asked, even as what looked to be a firing squad marched into the room.
“I remembered what you said about physical contact and psychic connections. I touched you and tried to help.”
“You were swept into our psychic battle. You saved me,” she said.
“That’s what teammates are for. Now, how do we get out of this?” he asked.
“Concentrate, use your willpower and try to make things work the way you want. Do your best,” she said. She knew that it wouldn’t work.
The Ace of Spades was too powerful, but she still had hope.
At the base, something in Defiance had snapped when he heard the robots say “Terminate Nightstar.” For the first time in years, he felt it was something snapping back into place. He got his head clear enough to rip free of the metal and flew in front of Nightstar as the robots fired, taking the shots instead.
Defiance reached around and grabbed the shipping container. Using it as a club, he swatted the defense robots, reducing them to junk.
He quickly checked Nightstar’s vitals.
“Alive, but unconscious. Okay, I’ve got to stop that self-destruct.”
Rigel’s message reached him. The self-destruct wasn’t real, and he knew where the Ace of Spades was.
He grabbed Nightstar’s communicator. “Ion, this is Defiance. Rigel says the self-destruct isn’t real. I know where the Ace of Spades is. I’m going to get him.”
“It’s not real?” said Ion as Defiance put the communicator down.
In his mind, he could see the Ace of Spades on some underground high-speed rail. Moreover, he could sense the Ace. He flew out of the mall as fast as he could.
He didn’t know why but there was something critically urgent about Rigel’s message.
Rigel and Protector watched the firing squad raise their weapons. The Ace of Spades stood behind them.
“Any last words?” asked the Ace.
“Yes,” said Cori. “Remember that Carlos Ruiz was able to survive on a liquid food diet.”
The Ace’s eyes widened as Cori smiled.
The entire chamber jolted and the firing squad lost their weapons.
The manacles vanished.
“What happened this time?” said the Ace.
“Open your eyes. Your real ones,” said Rigel.
Something about the way she said it made the Ace act. He opened his eyes to see that his escape sled had been torn apart. Defiance was glaring at him, and the Ace caught a glimpse of a Defiance’s red-gloved fist before everything went dark.
In the coffee shop, Rigel slumped to the floor. Protector was kneeling beside her.
“Is it over?” Protector asked.
“It’s over,” said Rigel. “It’s over.”
Posted on December 7, 2013, in Freedom Squad, NaNoWriMo and tagged Ace of Spades, Defiance, Freedom Squad, Freedom Squad Novel, Harry Heckel, HeroNet, HeroNet Files, Nanowrimo 2013, Nanowrimo Novel, Protector, Rigel, superhero, Superhero team, Superheroes. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.