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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

Chapter 27

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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Chapter 25 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Sorry about the delay in posting. I’m getting myself back together after Nano. More on that in an upcoming post.

Chapter 25

“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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Chapter 19 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Chapter 19

“Defiance!” shouted Rigel.

She was inside a burned-out building, picking her way around fallen walls and broken columns. Bare wires sparked from wall outlets and water sprayed from shattered faucets. The floor was covered with playing cards, each one of them showing the Ace of Spades.

“Bill!” she yelled.

She came to a window and saw a single building standing across the street. It was a single family ranch-style home, beige with brown trim, fairly non-descript, other than it was in perfect shape including a manicured lawn. Oh, and it was located in a ruined city between collapsing skyscrapers. An American flag hung off the porch.

“Well, at least it doesn’t appear too hard to figure out what’s important in his mind,” she said.

The Ace of Spades opened the door and stepped out onto the porch. “Hello, Rigel.”
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Chapter 17 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Chapter 17

“Last night, Freedom Squad may have been saving lives, but this reporter wants to know where Protector and Rockslide were? Are they recovering from injuries in their battles with Defiance, Death Queen and the other villains rampaging through the city? And in the meantime, progress continues slowly on cleaning up the monument to the original Freedom Squad. But first, news from the Northwest, where the hero team Vanguard defeated one of our escapees…”

Click.

Rigel turned off the morning news broadcast and put her boots up on one of the consoles in the Monitor Room. She groaned softly. “Why does the press have to be so difficult?” she asked no one in particular.

Rockslide rumbled beside her. He sat down heavily on the floor.

“I know,” Rigel thought to the massive stone superhero, “And I’m sorry, but you are a little hard to disguise.”

“I know,” he sadly thought in reply.

“Besides, you’ll have Starlight around if things get out of control, and you know what you need to do,” she thought back to him.

“Protect the Protector,” he thought back. “And put on a good show.”

“Right,” she responded. “Now, remember, what we are about to do is rather mad, but I need you to make it look good. I’d also like you to trust me with something. I want to alter your brainwaves slightly. Basically, I’m trying to make you less susceptible to mental attack. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Ace of Spades tries to do something to you once he figures out my plan.”
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Chapter 15 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Chapter 15

Matt Johnson sat in a tired old recliner and stared at a feature article about up and coming American Olympic athletes. His photo was in the middle of page. He was holding a medal in one hand and wearing his Penn State colors.

That all seemed to be gone now.

He kept wondering how it had happened. Was it the diet? The training? Had someone slipped something in his drink?

The speed was one thing, but he had broken his own weight lifting record without breaking a sweat. He felt indestructible. He also felt healthier than he ever had. It was as if some magical genie had given him everything he had ever wished for when he was training.

And that meant he would never be allowed to win an Olympic gold.

The doorbell buzzed. Angrily, he got up. The reporters were wearing him out. It was late enough that he could be asleep. He wished that the whole thing had never happened. Stupid other coaches started going crazy. Coach Hudson, his coach, hadn’t said anything. He just seemed sad.

The last look Coach Hudson had given him stung him. It was betrayal along with dashed dreams, mixed up in a confused whole.

The doorbell buzzed again. “I’m coming,” Matt said, doing his best to move slowly.

Swinging the door open without checking the peephole, he didn’t know what to do when he found himself face to face with Rigel and Nightstar of Freedom Squad.
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Chapter 13B – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

More writing… Chapter 13 continues

An alert blared. “Unauthorized personnel at front gate,” announced the computer.

Solaria could be seen standing at the front gate, flames swirling around her. She had her arms folded in front of the sun symbol that she wore on her red bodysuit. Snowfall was clearly recognizable standing behind her and to the left, despite the fact that he wore a black trenchcoat over his costume and a black hat on his head.

Telekinetically, Rigel activated the front intercom. “7… 8… 9…“ said Solaria while flames crackled in the background.

“Solaria, this is Rigel. What are you doing?”

“It’s about time. We need to talk, and don’t I get a ‘G’Day’?”

“Sorry, it hasn’t been a good day. I’ll let you both in and meet you at the front door, assuming you’ve passed all the scans,” said Rigel. “Oh, and stay on the sidewalk. The grounds have mines.”

Rigel clicked off the intercom.

“I can talk to Solaria, if you’d like,” offered Ion with a grin. “I don’t mind.”

“I’m sure you don’t. Fine, you can come.”

After Solaria and Snowfall passed retina scans and made it up the sidewalk, Rigel and Ion greeted them at the front door to the mansion. Solaria was no longer projecting flames, but she seemed irritated enough to do so.
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Chapter 13A – Freedom Squad Defiance

Chapter 13

Protector was asleep. More importantly, he was alive.

Rigel knew that Dr. Lord was going to stay at his bedside, and that whatever the Ace of Spades had done, Alex’s mind was doing its best to heal. She wanted to try and go into his head, but she convinced herself that she needed to trust that the best thing for him was to let him heal.

Whatever the Ace had tried to do, it had failed.

There were other matters that Cori needed to address. She was determined that she was going to redo the code on the Freedom Squad servers and create the world’s greatest firewall. The Ace of Spades wasn’t going to get into their systems again. Afterwards, she was going to check every log file imaginable and determine how the Ace had accessed their systems. She sat at a keyboard with her hands folded under her chin as she watched code flash by on the monitor. The keyboard beeped as it tried to keep up with the speed of her telekinetic typing.

Daniel Hunter came up behind her. She mentally sensed him before she saw him. He seemed a little shaken by the attack, but he was otherwise okay. Like everyone else, he was more concerned with Protector. Though, at this point, she knew that he was worried about her. He had been a team leader in the past, and he had been the one who had supported her when she decided to join Freedom Squad.

Daniel put a hand on her shoulder. In a gentle voice, he said, “I can do that.”

“No,” she said. “This is my responsibility. The mayor even told me to do it. There was an error with our security system before the cameras showed Protector convulsing. I should have taken care of this. Someone’s been accessing our systems. I’ll let you follow up and check the log after I’m done. If there’s another crisis, I’ll even let you take over, but for right now, I’m going to catch the person who’s been causing all the trouble.”
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Part 12 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo (long one)

Okay, this is a long section and my personal favorite part of the book so far. Like everything else, it needs a solid rewrite and I’ll work on getting it polished for publication later. As always, I’d love any comments, thoughts, feedback, etc. I’d especially like to thank my old Champions groups with an extra shout to Wayland Smith, Mr. Gambino and Jeff Smith for some of the inspiration.

Chapter 12
Protector had run all the way to the Monitor Room. When he sat down in the central chair, he felt strangely tired. His skin seemed warm, and he felt flushed. Maybe Dr. Lord had been right to keep him off duty.

He watched the Freedom Flyer take off on the roof camera. Despite how he felt physically, he wished that he could be with the others. It was what he was supposed to do.

He was the Protector.

With a heavy exhale, he tried to replay the battle in the park in his head. He considered how he might have been able to stop Defiance. Perhaps if he had maneuvered in front of a shattered statue of one of the heroes of the original Freedom Squad, it might have triggered something in Defiance’s mind. There was a hero still inside that angry caped man in red and white. He had ordered the villains not to kill Freedom Squad. He had tried to talk to Alex about the Protector, Defiance’s Protector.
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Part 11 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Chapter 11

“Touchdown!” said Ion. “This is your captain speaking, the Freedom Flyer has landed. Please return your tables to their upright positions and deplane before the bad guys get here.”

Cori breathed a sigh of relief. The jolt was from the landing. The doors of the Freedom Flyer opened and the team quickly disembarked.

“We should hire a pilot,” suggested Ion.

Rigel was busy trying to watch the top of the Megalopolis Tower, seeing if she could spot Nightstar. There was a light flashing, which had to be his sword. The light suddenly faded as what appeared to be smoke billowed around the base of the restaurant.

Nightstar’s thoughts filled Cori’s mind. “Death Queen and lots of baddies… slicing out of here with Polt, hope he’s ready… oops… park’s a bit out of my range.”

Rigel saw Nightstar appear in the sky holding on to Daniel who was now in his gray and white Poltergeist armor. They were hundreds of feet up. Nightstar thought, “Need to adjust for altitude when I’m figuring out distances… Daniel!”

Poltergeist grabbed Nightstar by the arms and was carrying him through the air. A bright red and white comet streaked toward them.

“No!” she said and launched herself in the air, hoping she could get close enough to telekinetically stop Defiance before he hurt Nightstar and Daniel. Unlike Nightstar, she didn’t have any issue calculating speeds and distances, and she knew that she wasn’t going to be anywhere close when Defiance hit them. Mentally, she yelled to them, “Activate Daniel’s force field or teleport or something… Defiance is coming!”

Nightstar’s thoughts flew back. “Not enough power. He’s going to hold me and I’m going to try and swing. Maybe my sword can take him out.”
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Part 9 – Nanowrimo Freedom Squad

Chapter 9

When Rigel arrived at Freedom Squad Headquarters, she quickly checked the Monitor Room. Starlight stood in the middle of the chamber, his featureless white facemask reflecting the colors of the different screens.

“Starlight?”

“Greetings, Rigel,” he said without turning toward her. “I have something that I would like to say to you.”

“Yes?”

Starlight made a strange noise. It took Rigel a second, but it seemed that he was imitating someone clearing there throat. “Rigel, with all due respect for the noble efforts of yourself and the rest of Freedom Squad in protecting the good citizens of Megalopolis, I believe that the vile stench of evil has arisen in this fair city and I wish to assist in refreshing it with the clean scent of justice.”

“What?” she asked.

“I’m sorry,” said Starlight. “I probably need to watch more television. The Protector has led me to believe that other television programs would help me assimilate Terran culture. Perhaps I should try another set of colloquialisms. Captain, despite my alien outlook and lack of emotions, I feel that it is only logical that I assist in the retrieval of super-villains from the planet.”

“Are you asking to join Freedom Squad, Starlight?”

“Affirmative, Captain.”

Cori bit the inside of her cheek to avoid laughing. Starlight’s alieness somehow seemed much less threatening when he was trying to sound like a cartoon hero or a starship science officer. He had been the only one standing in the park after the fight, and the mayor had told her to augment the team.

“Starlight, welcome to the team.”

“Thank you, Cori,” he said flatly. “Live long and…” Starlight paused as he attempted to position his fingers.

“You are welcome, Starlight. Is Protector in the medlab?”

Starlight lowered his hand. “Yes, he is being treated along with Rockslide and Snowfall.”

She thanked Starlight and headed down to the medlab. She wished that she knew what to do. She wasn’t sure where Defiance could be. The team could go out on patrol, but she wondered if a team of villains would just attack Freedom Squad Headquarters.

“Nightstar,” she thought, “I’m back at the base. Any ideas on how to find Defiance?”

“Hi Cori,” he thought back. Nightstar had a natural affinity for telepathic communication even though he couldn’t initiate it. “I do have an idea.”

“Great! What is it?” she thought back with a touch of excitement. Nightstar did have the most experience of anyone on the team, she reminded herself.

“Orion, your father, was known as the greatest tracker of villains that ever lived. I’d have you reach out telepathically until you found him.”

Cori felt deflated. “Nightstar,” she thought, “I’m not as good as Dad. He had years of experience.”

“So,” thought Nightstar, “Hmmm… Death Queen would need bodies… oh, sorry, studying some crime files while I’m thinking with you. Anyway, you need to get years of experience yourself. It can’t hurt to try while we are waiting for something to happen.”

“You are right. Okay, I’ll try, but first, I’m checking on Alex, Rockslide, JR and Snowfall,” she thought.

“Who’s JR?” he asked.

“Ion. JR is his real name, remember?” she replied.

“Oh. I like Ion better.”

Cori shook her head as she ended her conversation with Nightstar as she walked into the medlab. Dr. Jake Lord, a middle-aged former superhero once known as Dr. Hurricane, was monitoring a console next to a clear tube filled with red liquid. Alex floated inside.

Although she knew about the healing tubes, it still surprised Cori to see one of her team members suspended inside one. Ion was sitting on a metal table, shirtless, with white medical tape wrapped around his torso. He was watching Alex’s tube, but also kept checking another one which was filled with stones. Cori realized it was Rockslide.

Ion looked over at Rigel, “Hey, Cori, isn’t this alien tech cool? Apparently Starlight’s predecessor gave it to us before he went loopy and got recalled. It’s like a bacta tank.”

“Yes, JR, it is.” She tried not to sound worried, but she didn’t like this. They didn’t fully understand how the healing tubes caused cellular regeneration. “How are they doing, Dr. Lord?”

“They should be fine, but I’m ending Protector’s session,” he pressed a button and the red liquid drained out of the tube. Cori could see that Alex was held in a harness and had a breathing mask over his nose and mouth. “Starlight said that he was concerned that a normal human might not be able to endure the process.”

“Why?” asked Cori.

“He couldn’t explain, but he told me that he would watch some medical shows on television to help him with the language. He kept quoting or paraphrasing DeForest Kelley while we were talking. It was amusing.”

Ion hopped off the examination table. “I’m going to have so much fun with him. Can you imagine him going up to a villain and saying ‘Make my day?’?”

“No, I can’t,” said Cori, trying not to even smile at the thought, “And we need to make sure that he doesn’t do that.”

“Okay,” said Ion sulkily.

“How are you doing?” she asked Ion.

“I’m fine. Doc Ex-Hurricane thinks I should find some time to rest. He says the ribs are bruised, but otherwise, I’m okay. I’m staying on duty.”

Cori smiled. “Thanks.”

“I’m staying on duty too,” gasped Protector as Dr. Lord helped him out of the tube.

“I don’t think so,” said Cori, walking over to him. “I saw you after that fight. You took on Defiance, and you have no powers, remember?” Her voice softened. Alex needed to be okay.

“But I’m the Protector,” he coughed.

Dr. Lord stood between Rigel and Alex. He guided Alex over to one of the examination tables. “I’m the team doctor, and I will decide who is cleared for duty and who isn’t. Ion is fine. Rockslide is fine as far as I can tell. Furthermore, he can stay in that regenerative fluid longer than a human.”

“Am I cleared? I need to help stop Defiance. The last Protector did,” said Alex.

Cori folded her arms across her chest and waited. Alex had been the first person that she had met when she had joined Freedom Squad. She guiltily remembered thinking that since he had no powers that he’d be a liability. Of course, that wasn’t exactly true, even if he believed it.”

Dr. Lord pressed a stethoscope against Alex’s chest and made him take several breaths. Cori watched Dr. Lord shine a light in Alex’s eyes. The pupils dilated.

“He’s not cleared. I want him to wait a few days.”

“I feel okay, Doc,” said Alex.

“His medical readings look fine,” offered Cori, who immediately regretted speaking up.

“He looks fine, but he’s only fine because of this technology which Starlight told me was risky for normal humans. I want to reassess him after a few days, Rigel. Protector, that means no crime fighting and light workouts only.”

“Alex, you should listen to the doc. I saw how you looked at the end of that battle. Those zombies the cops shot looked healthier. Please,” said Ion.

Alex shrugged. “I’ll obey doctor’s orders,” he said reluctantly.

“Good,” said Dr. Lord, “Now I only have one patient to worry about. You two can go.” Ion and Protector got up and left. Dr. Lord turned to face Cori.

“Me?” she asked, pointing at herself.

“No,” he said, shaking his head. “Rockslide. I want you to telepathically check on him to make sure that these readings showing me that he’s getting better are telling me the truth. Quite honestly, there was nothing in my anatomy class to prepare me for him, and I didn’t take geology.”

“Oh.”

Cori concentrated. She could feel Rockslide’s thoughts. He seemed quite happy. “Are you doing well in there?”

“Oh, yeah. This is wonderful!” he thought.

Cori chuckled. “He’s fine, Dr. Lord.”

“Good. I’m going to let him out. Oh, and Rigel?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Call me Jake. I was a big fan of your dad in my hero days. That and Daniel Hunter always spoke highly of you.”

For the briefest of instants, Cori wondered if Dr. Lord could be the Ace of Spades. In the next instant, she decided that she was getting way too paranoid for her own good. And in the instant that followed, she had an idea.

“Sure, um, Jake, do you mind if I ask you a question?”

“Rigel, you are the team leader of Freedom Squad. I’m the team doctor. You can ask me anything you want.”

“Did you know Defiance?”

“Sorry. I knew of him, but I never met him. Why?”

“Just hoping that I can learn more about him, possibly telepathically locate him.”

The healing tube containing Rockslide swung open, and the hulking member of Freedom Squad reassembled himself. He took a few steps and looked around the medlab. “Better,” he rumbled.

“Wonderful,” said Rigel. “Well, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I’m going to be concentrating on finding Defiance.”

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