Part 4: The breaking point
After the attack all Maggie would talk about was Marvin, on the way to and back from school, during Karate classes, he was even sitting with us in the cafeteria. Did I know Marvin's family was originally from Norway? Did I know his ancestors were Vikings? Did I know Marvin's sword could now slice through metal? Did I know Marvin could do magic? It was Marvin this, Marvin that.
It was driving me nuts. The guy was stealing my best friend without even trying. I did what I could to avoid him but it wasn't easy. Maggie enlisted him into protecting me. I let him know in no uncertain terms I didn't need his protection, it didn't stop him.
Thanksgiving was the first break I got from Marvin. We drove to Dallas to celebrate it with my father's parents. It was the one time of the year Dad got to see his whole family.
Grammy loved having us over, it gave her an excuse to cook. Every year it was a turkey, the stuffing changed each time as she experimented with different herbs. She made her own cranberry sauce as well as the pumpkin and apple pies. The only store bought things Grammy allowed for her thanksgiving dinner was the pop for the kids and wine for the adults.
We left an hour early because traffic was always heavy on thanksgiving. We still got there late; Reverb and Boombox had torn down an overpass in another one of their fights so we had to detour through the city.
Both had sound based powers, Reverb could generate sounds while Boombox could turn sound he heard into concussive blasts. They had been fighting for years now. She'd beat him into submission and he would escape from whatever prison she put him in then come right back after her. People described it as the rivalry of sounds. Me, I just thought they should get a room and work off the sexual tension there. That way the rest of us could go on with our lives.
Because we were late the poker game was already under way. Grammy's tradition was cooking, Grampa's was poker.
Grammy hugged and kissed me, she was a plump woman a little shorter than I was. Every time I saw her she was jovial. When I was younger I thought that her super power was to chase the bad things away, as I grew up I realized that bad stuff did affect her, she simply didn't let any of her grandkids see it.
After the greeting my folks joined the game. They sat opposite Uncle Bert and Aunt Betty; dad's other sibling, Greg, was seated next to mom. Betty's husband DB, I never got anyone to tell me what the initials stood for, was next to Greg's wife Judith. Grampa and Grammy were seated at each end of the oval table.
The fact that Bert's wife Elizabeth and his kids weren't here told me something was up more than the lack of wine glasses on the table. It was a poorly kept secret within the family that Bert had a drinking problem. Uncle Greg told me Bert was in the process of getting divorced and had joined AA in the hopes of getting some custody rights to his kids.
The kids had a game going to, but I just watched them play, poker wasn't a game I cared for; I couldn't win at it.
"Did you ever find out why you were attacked?" Lizzy asked me. She was fourteen and her name was Elizabeth, but there was already one in the family so everyone called her Lizzy.
"No," I answered after remembering everyone knew about the first attack. I didn't feel I was lying, someone kept sending parahuman to kill me, but I didn't know why.
"It must have been so cool being saved by a super hero," Benny said. He was eight and Lizzy's brother. His full name was Bernard, but he hated it and got us to call him Benny instead.
"Yeah, is was," I lied as I ruffled his ginger hair. At his age he didn't need to be burdened with the reality of the fear and pain associated with the attack.
"The Great Fireman came to our school last year," Marc said. Sam, his twin, nodded in agreement. "This year they are saying we're going to have Techknight give the year end speech."
"Techknight? From the Justicars?" I asked incredulous. These two might go to an expensive school in Oklahoma City, but I somehow doubted the Justicars would send someone all the way from LA just to speak at a school.
"Yes Sarah," Aunt Betty said to my mom, "why don't you tell us what came of it? I'm afraid it didn't make the Dallas news."
"Nothing's come of it. The police are still looking for the parahuman who saved Jayson."
"Why are they still looking?" she asked, looking at her cards before putting chips in the pot, "Didn't he give his statement?"
"He murdered the men who were assaulting my son, so no, he didn't give a statement." Mom still had trouble resolving the gratitude she felt toward the parahuman who had saved me and the atrociousness of the way he had killed them.
"That is simply horrible," Betty said, "how ever did Jayson cope?"
"Jayson's tough," mom replied. She didn't know about my fear of a patch of sidewalk or how it took Maggie to force me to get over it.
"Hopefully the media helped him get over it."
"No reporters talked to my son," mom stated. They had waited a few days before knocking at the door and she had unceremoniously slammed it in their face. When one of them sneaked into the backyard and cornered me dad chewed her out so badly that none of them showed up near the house again. He also made sure the school knew about them so no reporters were allowed on the property.
That just left them while I ran to school and back to try to interrogate me, but I didn't give them the chance. Even without pushing myself I could leave them in my dust. Once they realized this story was going to take more work than they thought they dropped it.
"How could you let such an opportunity pass?" Betty asked, aghast, "Do you realize how much work I have to put into getting Elizabeth to appear on television?"
Lizzy rolled her eyes. Ever since she was five years old Betty had her participate in all sort of pageants. She had loved them at first, but now she was doing it just to keep her mom happy.
Lizzy had decided to become a scientist
Betty didn't care for that idea. She felt there was no future for a woman scientist and gave my mom as an example. Fortunately Lizzy had a better head on her shoulder then her mother and didn't believe her.
If Betty bothered asking me I would have told her my mom was a more successful woman than a has been beauty queen like her.
The oven beeped and announced the game was over. Everyone went about setting things up and soon we were eating. The rest of the evening was, thankfully, without any discussions of what had happened to me.
* * * * *
After Randall attacked me in the hall he really started giving me the creeps. It got to the point where I'd even seek out Marvin if I couldn't find another one of my friends.
Of course I couldn't always find someone. When he managed to corner me on my own he wouldn't actually hurt me; oh he'd shove in against a locker or a wall, but he wouldn't hit me, he'd just give that same warning. There was a hunger in his eyes when he said that and it freaked me out.
A few days after thanksgiving Randall had me cornered again. It was early morning I'd just arrived for my workout and I was putting my bag in a locker when he grabbed my shirt's collar and pulled me back hard. I backpedaled until I tripped on a bench and hit my head on the lockers.
"It's just a matter of time now," he said looming over me, "you better prepare yourself."
Sometime I wished he'd just get it over with and gave me the beating he so obviously wanted to.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Billy said from the doorway.
And here I thought my day just couldn't get any worse.
"I was just talking with him," Randall said.
"Yeah, right," Billy said pulling him away from me, "that's why he's on the floor."
I used the opportunity to get up.
"I told you before. No one touches the matchstick but me." To make his point Billy punched me in the stomach. "You try to rough him up again and I'm going to pound you to a pulp, you got that?"
"Sure Billy, whatever you say," Randall replied.
"Good, now come on we got to get going."
What do you know, I thought once they'd left, Billy has a special place in his heart for me. The chuckle at my own lame joke didn't last long, it made my stomach hurt. I decided to forget about training and headed directly to the classroom.
* * * * *
It was the middle of the last period before lunch on that same day when the loudspeaker squawked
"May I have your attention please," Principal Pullox's voice came, "Due to . . . unforeseen circumstances classes are ending now for today. Students who normally take busses home are asked to go to the cafeteria, arrangements are being made. Everyone else, please go home to be with your families."
We all looked at each other to see if someone knew what was going on, Mister Pullox's tone had been so somber, but it was clear no one did.
"All right," Miss Tatia said to get our attention, "you heard what the principal said, classes are over, but that doesn't mean you get to leave here without homework, I want you to read chapter twelve and thirteen, covering the civil war. We'll be discussing it next time." With that most students ran out the class like this was the start of the holiday vacations.
"Do you have any idea why we're being sent home?" Maggie asked as I reached my locker, she been was waiting there for me; Marvin, the magical wonder, was with her of course.
"No," I answered as I put my books in it, "I don't know any more than you do." I made sure the books I needed for my assignments were in my pack. "How about you? Heard anything from up on high?" I asked Marvin without looking at him.
"It doesn't work that way. He only talks to me to tell me what to do. And the less he talks the happier I am."
When I turned to leave I had no choice but look at Marvin and I saw some more of the momentary glimmers I'd been noticing on his black trench coat recently. I really wanted to ask him about them, but I had to remind myself I didn't like him. I just tolerated him.
"Do you need a ride home?" Marvin asked us as we made our way through the crowd. It didn't look like anyone had listened to principal Pullox, everyone was in the hallways.
"No," Maggie answered, "we live just a few miles from here."
"Ok, then I'll see you two tomorrow."
I was surprised that she refused the offer. I would have expected her to use any excuses to spend more time with her new best friend. I almost asked, but figured it was better if I kept my mouth shut, I might have lost the best friend status, but I didn't want to lose her as a friend completely.
The walk home was eerie, everyone was going home and it wasn't even lunch time yet. People were driving like maniac to get there. Some were white as sheets while others were panicked. It didn't tell us anything about what was going on, other than it wasn't just the school that was affected.
Dad was home too.
The only sound was the television in the living room.
"The object," a woman said, "is now passing by Grove Beach, as you can see it has caused the highway to come to a complete stand still as some people are abandoning their cars to either flee or move as close to the water as they can to get a better look."
I peeked in the room, my mom and dad were riveted by the image of a crowd of people standing on a beach looking at some sort of disk in the air.
"What's going on?" I asked dropping my pack.
He didn't say anything, he just pointed to the television.
"For those who have just joined us," the announcer said, "Early this morning a saucer shaped object was seen off the coast of Pirate Bay. Words from a fisherman is that it came out of the ocean about 20 miles off the coast. It's been moving south along the coast since then at about thirty miles an hour.
"Parahumans have been coming and examining the flying saucer, but none of them have been able to determine the nature of the object."
The camera roomed on the disk like object and half a dozen parahumans were flying around it. The only one I recognized was Techno, in his white and silver power suit. The only notable one was someone with a bird like fire around him. The others weren't even in any kind of costume; two guys and two girls.
I sat next to mom and she hugged me tightly. I didn't really get why everyone was making such a big deal of it. It was probably going to turn out to be something a parahuman inventor made.
Parahumans came and went, the one with the bird like fire aura eventually landed and a reporter asked him for an update. The name Phoenix appeared at the bottom of the screen as he explained that Techno was trying to find a frequency that would let him talk to whoever was inside. He didn't look any older than I was and he was rubbing shoulders with heroes like Techno. I felt a momentary pang of envy but then I reminded myself that I wasn't a hero like they were.
One of the woman in civilian clothing said that she was here to try and figure out how the craft flew. She declined to give her name when asked and simply said that she worked for NASA.
An hour later the crowd became excited as wall of water became visible in the distance following the shore. The camera zoomed and I could see that the wall of water was the wake from someone flying just over the surface. I could only make out that he or she wore red, but it wasn't long before I saw there was a white maple leaf on the man's chest.
"This can't be good," dad said.
"Is that?" the reporter said over the image of the man slowing down. The camera zoomed out and we saw Techno flying in his direction. "Yes, it's just been confirmed. It's Maple Leaf, the Leader of the Canadian super team. Ron, do you know what he's doing here? Has the Canadian government made any statement?"
I understood my dad's worry. Canadians were nice and friendly, but their army was scary. It had the largest concentration of Parahumans in a military force in the world and while they didn't make a habit of using them, when they did they didn't hold back. There had been that thing with the province of Quebec back in the seventies. They'd tried to split off; there had been bombing and kidnappings.
The Canadian army was sent in and the stomped on them so hard the world noticed and it was still part of *our* history books. They never attacked anyone else after that. They promised the world that they would only act as peace keepers, and only go where they were invited.
Kuwait, Somalia and Afghanistan where three countries I remembered who had asked them for help. They were at peace now, but the Canadians had been ruthless in bringing it about. They completely wiped out the opposing forces.
The UN tried to restrain them, but it didn't work. The Canadians hadn't committed any kind of war crimes; they had just fought those wars extremely efficiently.
With an army like that willing to come in and help a country fight off invaders you'd think there wouldn't be any wars anymore, but it wasn't so. Countries still fought each other and most of the time neither one of them called in help.
We were lucky that our war with Iraq was so short; no one had time to call them in.
Maple Leaf's uniform was the colors of the Canadian flag; a white maple leaf on his chest and the rest red. He was standing in mid air talking with Techno, by the expression on his face he was more likely shouting. Techno's face was hidden behind his helmet's silver visor so I couldn't tell what he was feeling but he looked relaxed, his jet boots keeping him level with the Canadian parahuman.
The camera focused on the reporter. "I've just received word from the studio that Canada is claiming the craft belongs to them. That it's part of an experiment they ran in the eighties and that Maple Leaf is simply there to ensure it is returned unarmed.
"Do we have any way to hear what they're saying?" She wasn't talking in her microphone but to the people around her. Someone pointed to an older man sitting on the sand wearing large earphones. He was pointing a parabolic antenna toward the parahumans.
"Excuse me, sir" the reporter asked tapping him on the shoulder, "are you able to hear what they are saying?" The man looked at her and blinked before removing one of the earphones. She repeated her question.
"Yeah, I can. The guy in red identified himself as Maple Leaf, he said that the saucer's his and he's taking it back to Canada. Techno said it was in US airspace so it was going to remain here until they were done with it. They've been exchanging threats. Oh My. Techno just said that he wasn't getting it without a fight. Maple Leaf said 'gladly'"
"The Leaf's strength and invulnerability against Techno's armor," dad said, "it isn't going to be pretty."
I nodded. Maple Leaf was suppose to have been the inspiration for the superman character in the comics.
The camera turned and caught Maple Leaf just as he threw something behind him. There was a flash of light and five people were standing on a silver disk floating a little higher than the Canadian Parahuman.
I didn't recognize any of them, I'd have to ask Maggie later. One of them looked like an Eskimo, with winter gear and everything, one looked like a large bear. There was a thin woman who glowed slightly and one who seemed to be absorbing the light around her. The last one was crouched with his hand spread on the disk.
The Parahumans who had been studying the craft flew to join Techno, although two of the civilian ones seemed reluctant to do so. Phoenix's flames burned brighter and larger.
The crowd gasped and the camera looked around trying to find what had caused the reaction and eventually zoomed on the craft. There was a small black rectangle on the underside, it hadn't been there the last time the camera had show it to us.
As I watched someone jumped out of the rectangle. The camera zoomed close enough I could tell it was woman, she had short dark hair with almost white bangs around her face. She fell of a seconds and then sparks lit up around her.
My mom gasped and stood.
The sparks became a field of electricity around her and she wasn't falling anymore, she was flying.
"It's Electrika," mom said a moment before the reporter, "She's back."
Electrika flew next to Techno, and a moment later he and the others left as fast as they could fly, leaving her alone with the Canadian team.
Maple Leaf seemed amused.
"What are they saying?" the reporter asked off camera.
"Dunno," the old man answered, "all I hear now is static."
Maple Leaf lost his amusement to rage. Electrika just shrugged and there was a bright flash of light followed by static.
"What happened?" dad asked.
I had no idea. Had Electrika caused that? I couldn't remember any news story where she did anything like that.
The static was replaced by colored bars and 'please standby'. A moment later we were looking at a news room where the news anchor was running toward his desk. "It seems that Lisa is experiencing some technical difficulties. To recap, this morning, around seven pacific time a saucer shaped craft was spotted off the coast of Pirate Cove . . ."
I tuned him out and answered the phone.
"Did you see?" Maggie almost screamed in my ear, "Electrika's back. I knew she'd get back."
"Yeah, I saw." I couldn't quite work up her level of enthusiasm.
"Can you believe it, she's back. I hope Claw's back too. Do you think he's in the flying saucer?"
"Take a breath Magster."
She paused. "don't you find it amazing at all?"
"I guess," I said after a moment of hesitation.
"You guess? Come on, this is Electrika we're talking about. She's been missing for months now."
"Was there ever any doubt she'd be back?" I asked. Maggie was silent. "You said it, she's Electrika, leader of the Justicars. Of course she was going to come back. And of course Claw's with her, probably in the flying saucer."
"You could sound a little happier about it."
"I know, I'm sorry," I said. I looked in the living room to make sure my parents weren't paying attention to me and lowered my voice. "It's just that after being attacked by parahumans myself the whole thing starts losing some of its appeal. You're having fun playing hero, but I'm just the victim here, over and over."
"You don't have to be the victim," Maggie said after a moment, "you can be a hero too."
She was right, of course, but. . .
"No, I'm not going to fight, ever, I told you before, I don't care what happens, I'm never going to fight. I'm leaving that to you."
Mom walked by and I covered the receiver. "What's going on?" I asked her.
"Electrika fried all the electronics on the beach when she stunned the Canadian parahumans. The reporter was able to call in the station. Electrika and the flying saucer are heading to Los Angeles, to the Justicars headquarters. They'll be there in a few hours and they'll give a conference. I'm going to make lunch while we wait."
"Ok, I'll be there to help you in a minute."
"There's no need honey, you keep talking with Margaret."
So I did for a while. After that we ate.
Around two the flying saucer arrived to LA. And as it flew between the taller buildings I get a better sense of its size. If you took a Boeing 747 and spun it around the middle point you'd have a disk that was pretty much like the one I was watching.
The Justicars building was twelve stories tall, just outside the financial district. It looked like nothing more than an office building; no big neon sign, no spotlight on the rooftop, but as the saucer came to a stop a few feet over the roof it seemed to acquire something special I couldn't place. I couldn't help feeling that even after the saucer was gone no one would ever look at the building like it was ordinary.
A podium had been setup and hundreds of reporters were seated and standing looking in silent awe as the saucer stopped moving. The underside that was facing the reporters opened up, Electrika, Claw and someone else stepped out. Their companion was tall, almost seven feet tall and very thin, almost gaunt. His bald head was proportional, but looked larger because his features were smaller than usual.
A group of people welcomed them with hugs, most, but not all, were parahumans. After that Electrika took to the podium.
"Before we start," she said, bending down to the microphone, "I'd like to say that it's very good to be back."
"Mirian Bromont, from MSNBC. Where exactly have you been?"
"It's more of a when, rather than a where. We don't know how, but while we were sailing on the Pacific we found ourselves in the mid eighteen hundreds."
"George Snip, CNN. What did you do while you were there?"
"We were taken prisoner by pirates," Electrika said with a chuckle, "we escaped, we lived in the town that used to be where Pirate Cove is now. We investigated ghost stories, which turned out to be an alien, fought it and met Alistair in the process."
"Did she say alien?" I asked chocked.
"Who's Alistair?" George asked quickly.
Electika indicated the tall being who had exited the flying saucer with the. "This is Alistair. It's not his real name, but we never managed to pronounce it so we gave him that one."
"Can we talk with him?" an Asian woman asked standing up, "Chen Lee, LA Kanton news."
"Do you mind talking with them?" Electrika asked him.
He moved to the podium and bent down to the microphone.
"Is the space ship yours? And where are you from?"
Alistair pointed to the ship, nodded and then indicated he sky. The reporters gasped.
"What's going on?" dad asked.
"Maybe there's problem with the microphones," mom volunteered.
A short man with bleached blond hair stood. "Could you repeat that? seems my studio didn't get it."
Alistair nodded and bent down closer to the microphone. The man put a finger on his earpiece.
"No, they still can't hear you."
Claw moved to the podium. "You're gonna have to 'scuse us. We been working with Alistair for a year, we forgot about that." Claw was around six feet tall. He only wore some tattered pants. He was muscular enough to rival Coach Warner and he was covered twith light brown fur from muzzled head to toe.
"What did you forget?" the man asked.
"Alistair's race is telepathic. It's the only way they talk. No vocal cords. I'm gonna translate for everyone at home.
"The ship's not technically his, it belongs to the exploration guild, of which he's a member." Claw turned to the alien. "You sure 'bout that? You never know, might still be around.
"That he was a member of," he said to the reporters, "he doesn't think they're still around anymore. Which I guess means the ships yours now."
There were a few chuckles.
"As for where he's from, he hasn't been able to figure that out yet, the computer was damaged when it crashed here and his maps were scrap, but he's been able to work out that the trip took 'bout five million years."
My jaw dropped.
An alien, a real live alien.
* * * * *
School opened up as usually the day after, but none of the teachers could get anything done. The only thing anyone wanted to talk about was the alien. I wasn't any different. Eddy Maggie, me and even Marvin spent the day trading theories as to where he was from and what he was doing here.
Billy even forgot to bully me because of Alistair.
The Sunday church service was interesting. The two priests got into an argument over if Alistair was from God or the devil. It might have been funny if the answer hadn't been so obvious. He looked like us, so he had to have been made in God's image.
It made me realize just how much of an impact on the Church his arrival had. It hadn't occurred to me to question God because of him. I mean God was everywhere, not just on earth but in the entire universe, so of course it made sense that He had other creations. Ok, if Alistair had had hooves and horns maybe it would have been tougher for me to think that, but the guy pretty much looked human.
The Church didn't agree. Within a week there were a dozen groups that splintered off, the most extremist of them declaring that Alistair had to die because he was an affront to God. Didn't we already have enough extremist bigots using God's name to justify their hate?
We had a serious discussion about if we were going to Christmas Mass. Dad ended up calling our priest and letting him know in no uncertain terms that if there was any discussions of aliens we would be walking out. Christmas was about the birth of Christ, not some species from far off in the galaxy.
We picked up Grandma Doris, my Mom's mom before Mass like we do every year.
The congregation that year was smaller than usual.
After Mass we headed home to celebrate. It wasn't the party it had been when I was a kid. I was old enough not to need to have gifts anymore, although I was always happy with the pencils Grandma gave me.
Just the four of us around the table was special enough. I knew it meant everything to Grandma. We were the only ones spending the holidays with her. Her two other daughters lived out of state and never visited. I hadn't even met them. The reason given every year was that it was too far, but what I'd been able to piece together led me to think that it had to do with a lot of money being lost in the eighties.
After the Christmas dinner we went to drive grandma home, only to find a foot of snow on the ground. I couldn't believe it. I had never seen real snow before. Even mom and dad were overcome with wonder. Grandma sat on the porch wrapped in multiple blankets while he had a snow ball fight.
The next day she took care of us as we came down with colds. I was the first one to get over it so I helped her. The snow only lasted the day here, but in Dallas it fell for three days, they had six feet of it by the time it was over. The city was completely shutdown, and they had to deal with flash floods when it melted over the next day.
My dad's folks were ok. The flood cause some damage to their house, but nothing Grandpa couldn't fix himself.
The freak storm sparked a debate about Climate Change. Debate might be the wrong term here, shouting match would be more accurate. Everyone agreed the weather was changing, but no one could agree what was the cause. Scientist pointed their fingers at the carbon emitted by the various industries. Corporations pointed their fingers at weather controlling parahumans. Except for one, parahumans stayed out of the argument.
Green Peace hacked the conference's video system to give the Terrorist's opinion on the matter. Science showed Oil using corporation were to blame and since they didn't want to work toward fixing the problem he was going to do it for them. The next day he destroyed an entire oilfield in Iran by petrifying the oil in the wells.
* * * *
By the middle of January you couldn't really tell anything had happened. The water damage had been repaired, Alistair's ship was parked at the government's parahuman research center in Area fifty-one, the church had put out most of the fires caused by the splinter groups and Billy was bulling me again. Like the previous ones the next attack came out of the blue, I'd almost started to believe they were done and over with.
It was the weekend and I was hanging out with Maggie and Marvin. She'd invited him along of course, and he drove us to the old textile factory on the outskirt of town.
We were there for two hours chatting about everything and nothing when the guy dropped in front of us. We looked at him mouth opened as he dusted himself off. He'd landed on his feet, cracking the pavement. He was wide shouldered, heavily muscled and chomping a cigar.
"I got to go take care of my car," Marvin said, the first of us to find his voice, before running off.
"I'll help you," Maggie said as she ran after him.
"Nice friends you got there kid," the man said in his gruff voice. It matched the rest of him; ripped jeans, dirty wife beater, unshaven chin and messy black hair.
I knew why they had left, I knew that they were going to change and come right back, but I couldn't help feeling abandoned anyway.
I pushed that feeling aside and tried to calm myself. All I needed to do was stall him long enough for them to come back.
"What are you called?" It sounded like a stupid thing to ask, but that was all I could think of.
"Don't have a name yet," he said as he took the cigar out of his mouth, "media hasn't heard of me yet. He spat before putting back in. "But after I'm done with you they're gonna call me the ass raper."
I stared at him and he just smiled around his cigar. For once my legs obeyed me; I turned and ran.
"That's it, run. 'Just gets my blood going. Don't expect anyone to come to your help this time. I checked the place out and it's just the two of us."
Right then I didn't care about help. All I wanted to do was get as far away from him as possible. I wished I'd paid attention while we were walking around because then I might have known how to get out of here. The place wasn't one large building, it was a dozen of smaller ones, although smaller was a relative turn, placed in what felt like random. That created a bunch of maze like path that often became dead ends. It forced me to keep my speed much lower than I'd liked.
I was back tracking away from another dead end when he stepped in front of me. I didn't have time to stop so I sped up. I didn't gain that much speed, but I figured it would be enough to shove him aside.
Running into him was like running into a wall. I bounced off him and into the brick wall. I then ended up face first on the dirt.
"Well that was fun," he said as he pulled me up by the neck and shoved my face against the brick, "just the thing to get me worked up."
I saw starts for a moment and then I felt the pain flare up as he scraped my face against the wall.
I ignored it.
He was pulling my belt off.
Please God don't let him rape me, I prayed as I grabbed his arm and tried to get him to let go. Instead he pressed himself against me.
"Keep fighting me," he whispered, "you have no idea how much of a turn on that is."
He wasn't lying; I could feel how hard he was. I fought harder to get him to let go.
"Release him mortal!" boomed behind us.
My attacker tensed. "How the fuck did you find us?"
I managed to crane my neck just enough to catch a glimpse of the parahuman who had spoken. The media called him the modern day Viking with his winged metal helmet, chainmail shirt, fur lined cape and boots, sword and shield. I was familiar with how he looked, after all Maggie as enlisted me to help Marvin design his costume.
"Why the hell do they keep showing up? You their pet or something?"
"Unhand him immediately or feel my steel."
I winced internally, Marvin had to work on his one liners.
My assailant shoved me to the ground. "Don't move. I'm going to take care of the anachronism and be right back."
The Viking stood still as the man stomped in his direction. He raised his shield to take the punch and the symbols on it lit up. The man struck it again hard enough that Marvin reeled back even if the magic on the shield was suppose to absorb the impact.
Marvin swung his sword over head and the man caught it with one hand. I couldn't understand how he'd done that, I'd seen that sword slice through steel.
The man's smirk lasted only until the blue flame erupted from the blade and engulfed his arm.
"How do you like the feel of Hearthfire?" Viking said as he watched to other man try to put it out.
I winced again. When this was over I was going to tell Marvin not to talk when he was Viking. He sounded way too corny and fake.
With a yell the man slammed a fist on Viking's shield and he went down to a knee.
"Hey Vicking, scram," the Fist said as he stepped out from between two buildings.
The man looked at the new arrival while Viking did what he was told. When the man looked back Viking was several feet away and running.
The Fist lobbed two balls at the man's feet.
It took me a moment to realize what they were. I covered my ears and looked away just before they exploded. I was going to have to ask Maggie where she'd gotten grenades.
The man stood back up. His clothing were in tatters and pieces of shrapnel were imbedded in his skin. He locked eyes on the Fist and ran toward him yelling in rage. When he was close enough the man swung wildly and the Fist dodged. Viking joined in the fight, but he was swatted aside quickly.
Seeing Marvin fly back before crashing down shocked me. It finally dawned on me just how dangerous the man was. He'd shrugged off fire and grenades, he'd swatted Marvin without even thinking about it. What was going to happen to Maggie when he finally connected a fist?
Thinking about it made it happen.
I didn't see the impact, but I heard Maggie's grunt before she flew into the wall. I heard something crack and then she was on the ground, immobile. I looked from her, to Marvin who was trying to get back on his feet, to the man who was smiling with satisfaction and I saw red.
I ran at him screaming. He swung at me, but I caught his arm, twisted it hard and punched his shoulder, dislocating it. He was still yelling in pain when I tripped him back and kneeled over him, knees on his shoulders. Then I started punching him in the face, over and over and over again.
It felt good to finally hit someone back, to hear bones breaking under my fists. After all the bullying I had taken, after all the times I had held myself back to avoid drawing attention to myself this was one time when someone was going to feel what it was like to be on the receiving end.
My name finally registered and I looked up a Viking. I had the feeling he had been calling it for some time now. He pulled his helmet off and it shimmered, turning into the hood of the shirt he wore under his trench coat. With it off the rest of his costume shimmered back to his normal clothing.
"Man, I wish you'd told me you were able to take care of yourself like that."
I looked down at where he was indicating and didn't immediately understand what I was looking at. It looked like a rumpled bag in shades of red and pink with a black carpet on top of it. Why did I have a bag between my legs? I looked behind me and for a moment saw only a buck of town clothing before the image readjusted itself into a body.
I looked back at the 'bag' and this time I knew it was a face. There were no recognizable features. Where the eyes, cheeks or nose should have been there was only a bloody mess.
I jumped off the body and got to all four before throwing up.
"Are you ok?" Marvin asked putting a hand on my shoulder.
"Don't touch me," I yelled, shoving him back harder than I'd meant to.
I ran off, but I couldn't shake the bloody image from my head. I'd killed him. I had killed someone.
But worst than that.
I had enjoyed it.