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Freedom Squad Defiance – Epilogue

Epilogue

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.”

Another pause.

“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?”

“Project Cain.”

“If what we are doing gets out…”

“Sometimes sacrifices are necessary for the greater good.”

“Do we have a test subject?”

“Yes.”

“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…”

“Unless she has to be eliminated.”

TO BE CONTINUED

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 23 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Chapter 23

Time.

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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Chapter 20 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Chapter 20

The mayor rubbed his temples. He couldn’t believe what had happened. He was inside Freedom Squad Headquarters in Protector’s room sitting in a chair. Protector was lying in a bed only a few feet from where he was sitting, and Starlight stood over him.

“What just happened?” asked the mayor. “Defiance was about to crush me. Now, I’m here?”

“As mayor of this fine city, you should know that you are in safe hands. The noble heroes of Megalopolis are currently outwitting the foul villains outside,” stated Starlight flatly.

The mayor stared blankly at Starlight.

“Mr. Mayor?”

The mayor stood up. “Starlight, how did I get here and please use standard English?”

“My apologies, sir. Velocity brought you. I am to defend you if the battle goes poorly, however, it appears that Freedom Squad has triumphed.”

“Who is, no, wait, by Velocity are you being scientific or… never mind, I need to make a call. Afterwards, I want a full explanation from Rigel,” he looked over at Protector. “What happened to him?”

“I believe it was the work of a super-villain known as the Ace of Spades.”

“Fine, Starlight, stay here with Protector. I’m going to have a talk with Rigel.”

The mayor stepped out into the hallway and began walking toward the front. As he walked, he typed a single word text into his encrypted phone. “Nuclear.”
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Nanowrimo Day 1 – Freedom Squad

So, here’s my first day’s effort at Nanowrimo. It’s just a touch over what you should average a day to finish on time. However, I tend to start slowly in the month and as I get to know the characters and the plot becomes clearer in my head, the writing accelerates.

This is a sequel to an as yet unpublished story originally slated for HeroNet Files Vol. 1, but now appears ready to come out in a later book.

Freedom Squad: Defiance

Chapter  1

In Megalopolis, the gleaming self-proclaimed “City of the Future”, the members of Freedom Squad were on mandatory duty to host an important event. Corinne Dandridge, Cori to her friends, but better known to the world as Rigel, projected her thoughts to Nightstar. “Hurry up, we need to begin the tryouts.”

She waited at the edge of the team gym for Nightstar’s inevitably delayed response. She sighed. He never seemed to be on time for anything.

“Rigel, have I mentioned what a bad idea I think this is?” Nightstar thought back.

“Yes. About thirty times by my count,” responded Cori, “but it’s what the mayor wants. I need you, get up here. What are you doing?”

“Sorry, I was working on the Night Cycle.”

“The Night Cycle? We have a Freedom Van, Freedom Cycles and a VTOL Freedom Flyer.”

“Well, now we have one less Freedom Cycle and a bonus Night Cycle. Don’t worry, I can pay for it if the government budget people get mad.”

“Get up here.”

“No worries,” he replied, partially imitating her Australian phrases.

Cori folded her arms across her chest as her last thought echoed in her brain. She wondered why she was still the team leader of Freedom Squad. She could have left.

She looked over at Alex, known to the world as the Protector, in his blue and gold, holding the Shield of Justice. As she heard the passion in his lecture about what it means to be a hero, she knew why she was still the team leader of Freedom Squad.

With a sense of guilty pride, she thought, “This is my team.”

Alex paced back and forth with the ease of a panther. He looked so much like a superhero, like the Protector. Cori wondered what the former heroes who had carried that mantle, the ones that Alex always worked so hard to honor, would think if they could see their successor. Alex didn’t think he had any real powers, and he always seemed to be trying to prove himself. Yet, when he was the Protector, when people needed him, Cori found herself hoping that she could be half the hero he was.

As Protector spoke to the recruits while Cori watched for their reactions, and she could see that they shared her own admiration for Alex. The only one that she couldn’t gauge was Starlight, an alien who the government had agreed to assign to Freedom Squad. He had no face, just a reflective featureless white mask that hid some type of advanced circuitry comprised of energy… maybe. He had come to replace a former malfunctioning alien named Star Sentinel. Cori was a genius, but she had no idea what to make of Starlight other than he was from a far more advanced civilization.

She focused on the other recruits, trying to study them and separate worthy candidates from unworthy ones. She wished that she could just read their minds. It would make things much easier.

Ion yawned beside her. He was the newest member of the team, and the only candidate who had proven himself from the last one of the mayor’s tryouts. Half of that group didn’t even have super-powers when it came time to test, and the other hero who had seemed worthwhile, a man who went by the name “Secret” had balked when he had found out that he needed to reveal his identity to the government.

“I like the woman in red,” Ion quietly whispered to Rigel.

The group of a half dozen would-be members of Freedom Squad included a tall woman with brown hair in a form-fitting red uniform with a yellow sun on it. Her codename was Solaria. She could fly and project flame.

“She’s not bad based on her energy outputs, but she’s new to being a superhero. We’ll see how she does after Protector runs her through the paces.” Rigel said, “Besides, Ion, she comes with her partner, Snowfall,” Rigel indicated a young man in a blue and white uniform with patterns that reminded her of snowflakes, “or not at all.”

“She’s with him?” whispered Ion. He sighed and shook his head. “That’s too bad.” He smiled, and Rigel wasn’t sure if he was being serious or not. Ion did have a mischievous touch to his personality, which Cori rather liked.

Protector walked over to the door of the simulation chamber and checked the settings. He looked over at Cori. “Rigel,” he asked, “may I start the combat testing?”

Cori tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder and stepped forward with a swish of her white cape. “I’d like to wait for…”

A bright yellow flash cut through the air. A crack seemed to form in the fabric of reality itself, and Nightstar stepped through, twirling his sword composed of psychic energy. He wore a black bodysuit with a bright yellow set of boots, gloves and a bright yellow belt. A brilliant yellow and red exploding start was emblazoned on his chest. He adjusted the mirrorshades that he always wore and gave a smile to the recruits.  “Hello, everyone. I’m Nightstar.”

Solaria grinned and clapped, and so did Snowfall. One of the recruits, who went by the codename Wraith simply said, “Wow.”  Freefall, a recruit who apparently hadn’t had the resources to give himself a full costume as he wore a black shirt over a Kevlar vest, jeans and a trenchcoat with a cheap domino mask, just stared. The only one who didn’t seem completely impressed was the alien Starlight. Rigel had to keep reminding herself that he wasn’t the same person, or being, or entity, or whatever as Star Sentinel.

Nightstar gave a bow with a flourish of his cape to more whistles and cheers. Nightstar was the team member with the most experience as a hero and a reputation as part of the famous West Coast team, New Citadel. She knew that he didn’t want to be team leader, but he naturally seemed to command attention. “I’m looking forward to see if any of you can make the team.”

He walked over to the recruits like a celebrity and started shaking hands. Rigel rolled her eyes. In a few minutes, Nightstar would be signing autographs.

“Whoa… Nightstar’s on this team?” whispered Ion in false incredulity. Rigel nearly giggled despite herself.

Protector came over to Nightstar. “I was about to have them start in the Simulation Chamber.”

“Sounds good, Protector,” said Nightstar, stepping back. “I’m just here to help with the evaluation.”

A woman in green, who went by the name Chameleon, raised her hand. “Nightstar, sir,” she said, “could I have your autograph after the testing session, even if I don’t make it?”

“Oh my god…” thought Rigel. “She actually asked him.”  She made a mental check against Chameleon in her head.

Nightstar adjusted his mirrorshades, but before he could reply, Rigel strode over and interjected, “No. We aren’t doing autograph sessions. This tryout is about finding new members to join Freedom Squad. Megalopolis is a big city and after battling menaces like Promethea…”

Rigel paused mid-sentence and glanced at the ceiling. She had a sudden feeling of danger. As if in response to her hesitation, the alert blared.

The Freedom Squad computer announced, “Alert. Priority One Alert. Code Tartarus.”

“Ion,” said Rigel, “get upstairs and get the Freedom Flyer ready.”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Ion, instantly serious. With the smell of ozone and a faint blue afterimage left behind, he raced upstairs.

“Sorry, everyone,” said Nightstar, “but the tryouts are over. We have an emergency. If you will all come with me, I’ll teleport everyone out of here.” He spun his sword and cut a rent in the air. The glowing tear hung unsupported over the floor. Nightstar reached out to Chameleon, and she took his hand with a happy gasp. “Everyone hold hands,” he said.

All of the recruits did as they were told with the exception of Starlight. He was under orders from the US government to remain under observation at Freedom Squad Headquarters. The alien walked over to Rigel. Nightstar took the others, closing the rent with a flash of light.

“I can be of assistance, Rigel. I was sent here to aid the Terran authorities. I command cosmic energies.” The alien looked at her from his blank faceplate. It was a little eerie for Rigel to stare at him and see a vague outline of her own face reflected back.

“I’m sorry, Starlight, only members of our team can come in the Freedom Flyer. We will handle this.”

 

“I understand,” he responded flatly.

“Protector, let’s go,” said Rigel, as he started climbing the stairs.

He stared at her, and she could hear his thoughts. “Should we leave Starlight alone in the base?” he thought.

“I think he’ll be alright, Alex,” thought Cori. She didn’t know why, but she trusted the alien. She remembered how his predecessor, Star Sentinel, had constantly tried to warn the team that he was malfunctioning, yet no one has listened. Besides, she wasn’t sure what Freedom Squad could do to stop a fully functioning alien android from a civilization that had mastered faster than light travel.

When Protector and Rigel reached the Freedom Flyer, Nightstar was already inside. Ion had gone through the startup sequence and activated the VTOL engines. Rockslide, the massive earth elemental-like muscle of the team sat in the cargo area. “Base Lockdown,” Rockslide managed to say in his gravelly voice.

“Hey, Rigel,” said Ion, “What’s Code Tartarus?”

Cori swallowed. “It means there’s been a breakout at Megalopolis Penitentiary in the super-villain wing.”

The mood aboard the Freedom Flyer was suddenly serious.

“Wait, couldn’t Nightstar just teleport us?” asked Ion, “With his sword slash wormhole trick?”

“Too far and I’ve never been to the Megalopolis Penitentiary,” Nightstar said.

“No problem,” said Ion, “Well, then strap yourselves in, because I have GPS coordinates and the auto-pilot is ready to take us there. Megalopolis Airport acknowledged the emergency flight.”

With that, Ion pulled back on the controls. The engines screamed and launched the Freedom Flyer across the Megalopolis skyline.

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