Day four of NaNoWriMo. At about 11,600 words I’ve made my first real change. I’m making the mentioned incident happen in the NEXT chapter to get some much needed Micron bad-assery in here. I don’t think is slows the pace of the story, but it MAY bump me up to 26 chapters. Time will tell.
Edit: I also accidentally posted this at midnight rather than noon. Oh well.
Chapter Six — Showtime
The police had the city locked down. It didn’t take a genius to figure out the incidents centralized in the French Quarter. Judging from the crime tape strewn about like tinsel, the proverbial crap had hit the fan.
Russ slowed to an acceptable cruising speed. The streets were eerily empty, so news must have spread fast. Ray frowned down at the screen projecting from his wrist; the feds were quick about sending them the data– for once.
“No murders,” Ray said. “That’s a silver lining at least. Still some of the assault cases are just ridiculous. Almost all of the victims are hospitalized.”
“I guess that explains why the hospitals are so busy. Hope this isn’t the start of a zombie apocalypse.”
“Be serious, Micron. I’m looking over the histories of the assailants, none of them have violent crimes in the records. Take this lady, she’s been a part of the PTA for forty years.”
“I dunno man, have you seen our public school system these days? Maybe she just snapped.”
Ray narrowed his eyes at Russ.
“Sorry Mac, it’s a defense mechanism.”
“Well, with or without a reason she’ll be going away for a long time, probably the rest of her life.”
“Well that’s why we’re here. If Negator is responsible for this, there’s got to be a way to prove it. This might be our chance to show the world what we’re good for.”
Ray sighed. “It’s also a chance for people to see how dangerous super powers are.”
“Well we’re not gonna get anything done by hiding it. The public had our back when Cirrimus sicced the evil Planeteers on us, they’ll get our back now. I know this first hand they–”
“Micron, careful.” Ray said, raising a warning finger. “You have nothing to do with that.”
“Yeah yeah… wouldn’t want to slip up in front of the public eye. Sorry, Boss.”
They pulled to a stop. A police officer waved them over. They stepped out and approached, but Russ realized too late who it was– The Captain of the greater New Orleans Area Aaron Teller. Of all the times to run into Ray’s dad.
Aaron Teller was a shrewd man, known for keeping a tight ship. Russ should have known he was the one responsible for the fast response. It was so very him. Aaron was a tall slim built man in his fifties but his presence carried way more weight than his six and a half feet of height.
Ray kept his cool. This was the first time he faced his father in uniform. It was bound to happen eventually. He nodded, planted a casual hand on his hip and gave him his full attention.
“So you’re Macro Man huh?” Aaron said.
Ray shrugged. “I am. Is there a problem?”
He narrowed his eyes. “Besides people going crazy and ripping each other apart?”
“I mean why you flagged me down. Do you have information for me?”
“I hoped you had information for me. Right now, answers are hard to come by.”
Mac raised his wrist, projecting the dossier image of John Seiser. “We suspect this is the work of a criminal who calls himself Negator, we encountered in the southwest swamps.”
“Captain,” Russ said. “I saw the perp. He’s more dangerous than that stone thing from last year. If you have anything you can tell us–”
“Nothing.” Aaron gestured behind him. “You can see where things went down. We couldn’t interrogate to assailants because they attacked my officers on sight. We had to subdue all of them to arrest them.”
“All of them?” Ray said, raising a brow. “Some of them were elderly people.”
Aaron scowled. “All of them. One of the assailants, I played poker every Thursday with them. If you have answers, I want them ASAP.”
Ray’s stony expression softened and he glanced away. “If I find anything, I’ll let you know, Captain Teller. Unfortunately we don’t even know how he did it.”
“Well, you have free reign of the city. My superiors tell me not to get in your way, but I’m watching you. Doesn’t sit well with me that we need rely on a guy in a mask.”
Captain Teller stormed off. Russ leaned in close. “Yep, still a jerk.”
Ray smiled at that.
“Excuse me, Mr. Macro Man?” An patrolman approached, pulling his hat off of his mop of brown hair. “You think I could get your autograph? My kid’s a fan.”
Ray shrugged. “Sure.”
Russ didn’t exactly have a line of people asking for his autograph. “I’ll get a patrol going on the ground level.”
He didn’t wait for a response, instead he sprinted through the emptied streets. Russ knew the city like the back of his hand– enough that any anomaly would snap him into a deeper focus. This confidence let him conserve his strength.
“Micron,” Dave called him from his comm. “Got something you should check out.”
A map of the city formed in his heads up display. A blinking red dot at the Cabildo. “On it.”
He turned and broke towards Jackson square, closing the distance in seconds. Re rounded the corner, hearing the first trace of the scream. A tour guide ran from the building. Instinct slowed the world around him. He had all the time he needed.
Russ took in the pursuer. He was a tall lean man with a crazed look in his eyes. Tension ran through every inch of his body but has a sense of purpose, a single-minded focus. Sidestepping the guide, Russ shoved the man and toppled him off course.
Disorientation seized him but did little to slow him. His motions, his efficiency, was so absolute he regained his balance three steps later.
Unease crept up Russ’ spine. This sort of control was near impossible. It had taken him weeks of training to adjust to the minute details of moving fast. Russ had no doubts, this man had no such powers– he was just that focused on hurting the woman he chased.
All right buddy, the kid gloves are off. Russ struck him with his palm, relying completely on the shock absorption systems in his gloves. The man twisted unnaturally and started the long and slow journey of helpless flight.
Russ relaxed his focus and the world went to full speed. He tumbled backwards along the road and a safe distance from his victim.
“You alright ma’am?” he said, turning back to her.
The woman stopped running and struggled to catch her breath. “I-I am now. I don’t know what got into him, he just went crazy.”
Like a Zombie. Russ kept his eyes on the man. He scrambled to his feet and rushed at him, not a moment of hesitation. A trickle of blood ran down his temple. The wound did nothing to slow him. It only made him angrier.
Russ didn’t need to slow time. He dodged an unwieldy punch and smacked him away at the back of his shoulder. The impact pushed him back, leaving streaks of shoe rubber on the cement. The instant the momentum of his strike petered out, the man charged again.
“Give it up,” Russ said. He met him head on, intercepting his punch with a punch of his own. The crack of bone snapped through the air, the man still did not yield.
He’s insane. Russ dodged a follow up swing and gaped at a follow up strike with a broken hand. “TF, I need tranquilizers. NOW.”
Russ needed a moment of peace to phase in materials. He ducked low, grabbed the guy at the shoulder and tossed him into the air. He pursued, using momentum from a leap to carry his foe skyward. The man balked and struggled, slamming his fists onto Russ’ reinforced chest plate. He tightened his focus and abandoned his prey, bolting down to the ground as fast as his body would let him.
He triggered the transport and waited. Russ counted under his breath, the milliseconds crept by like “Mississippi seconds”. The man flailed and struggled hell bent to strike down Russ and disregarding the fact he’d fall to his death trying to do so.
Come on. Russ watched and waited, as he tended to. The beams of light peppered the ground, one by one, transporting the pistol and tranq darts.
He didn’t have time to wait for a gun. The moment the first dart formed he scooped it up and flung it skyward. The dart landed clean in the center of the man’s chest and his trip to unconsciousness began.
Russ kept counting under his breath. He needed to let the materials finish materializing. Bad things happened when you interrupted something in mid transport. The man crept towards terminal velocity, in a slow and deadly plummet.
The last pulse of light flickered and Russ leapt. The impact shook through his shoulder and chest. He had to soak it, or the assailant would break his bones. A blast of sonic energy rattled his ears– always happened when he moved too fast.
Russ lost his focus and the world sped up around him, tumbling him to the ground with his unconscious foe.
The lady guide ran over to him. “Are you alright? That was… amazing.”
“All in a day’s work, miss.” He gave her a thumb up.
Pushing away the knocked out loon, Russ stood slowly, his HUD reported no injuries, only some disorientation from sonic whiplash. The chopper blazed into position and went full propeller mode. That didn’t help his headache any, that’s for sure.
“Got a live one, Mac,” Russ said into his comm. “Also got a witness, assuming she’s willing to cooperate.”
The guide nodded emphatically.
“Good job,” Ray’s voice said over the comm. “We’ll rendezvous in the city center.
“Excuse me, Mr. Micron?” The woman said. “I know this might be a bad time to ask? But could I have your autograph?”
Russ smiled. “There’s never a bad time. Of course you can.”