Our Story So Far:
Captains Blaine “Centurion Six” Winters and Jacob “Zulu” Mbeke of the New York State National Guard Enhanced Forces Division (EFD) are called out to consult on a multiple homicide in the south Bronx. The case seems like routine “skrag” gang violence until our heroes are attacked by some kind of killer cyborg robot-monkey mounting a highly advanced stealth/security system and a small-caliber machine pistol. There are several large explosions, and what looked like a routine case suddenly becomes an unholy debacle.
Meanwhile, teenaged ultra-human club girl Rebecca Rodriguez uses her Telekinesis to sneak out for a night on the town in Upper West Side Manhattan. She meets up with her friends, uses her Empathy to talk their way into Pacha, and gets ready to party like there’s no tomorrow.
Note: To read the story from the beginning, click the Centurion Six keyword down below.
* * *
Shelby landed, looking like an angel—white diaphanous nightgown lit from beneath by the redirected photons she channeled to access her ultra-human gifts, long blond hair streaming in the breeze, regal presence hung about her like a cloak. The cops starred, as well they might. Somewhere a woman prayed. Personally, Blaine thought that Shelby’s flight goggles ruined the image. Or maybe it was her fuzzy slippers.
Blaine rolled over, checked the police sergeant’s heartbeat, let himself collapse a little when he realized that there was nothing there. The man was dead. He looked closer, saw at least a dozen shrapnel wounds amongst the blood and gore of the sergeant’s chest, neck, and face, and knew at once that the man had been killed in the initial ambush-explosion.
Above Blaine, Zulu let go of his invisibility. He showed up standing over Blaine with his pistol out, searching the wreckage of the ruined drug house. “You okay, Chief?”
“I’m a little cut up. Looks worse than it is—probably.” Blaine pulled himself up to his hand and knees, looked around. There was a piece of glass, shrapnel from the explosion, stuck in his upper arm and a good deal of blood on the ground—his, the cop’s, even the monkey-robot-thing’s. He pulled the glass out and grimaced; more blood flowed down around his biceps and elbow. “Any sign of that thing?”
“No. Shelby whacked it pretty good. There may be some pieces, but—“
“I got a piece right here,” Blaine said. He held up the thing’s arm where he’d been holding it when his lieutenant—First Lieutenant Shelby “Sunburst” Sexton—hit it with a massive focused photon-laser pulse. “But I don’t think that she killed it. I felt it turn and jump after the explosion. I doubt we’ll find anything now.” Blaine threw the piece to Zulu. “What d’you make of that?”
“No fucking clue. Some kind of robot-thing with fur? We’ll have to ask the Colonel, see what he says.”
“Yeah,” Blaine said. He’d known that already, but wasn’t looking forward to the interview session and attendant After Action Review.
On his feet now, Blaine saw cops approaching, guessed that they were ready to come out now that all the craziness was over. One of the younger ones was the first on the scene—a blonde kid about Shelby’s age, early twenties, twenty-three at the most. He was a well-muscled kid, but his eyes were wide, and he looked a little frantic.
“Sergeant Malloy! Is he—?“
“I’m sorry, officer. There was nothing else I could do.”
The kid looked confused, angry. “But I thought… I mean, you’re supposed to be—“ He cut himself off, made a visible effort to pull himself together. “But aren’t you--?“
“Look, I’m sorry,” Blaine said, “If there’s anything else I can do…”
A second cop, an older man, came up and put his arm around the kid. His voice was cold. “You’ve done quite enough, Captain. Us regular folk’ll take it from here. Probably what we should’a done in the first place, you ask me.” To the kid, he said, “Come on, Jimmy.”
A beat passed before Zulu grabbed Blaine’s arm. “Come on, Blaine. This ain’t part of the gig, man.”
Blaine let himself be led away from the scene, realized as he walked exactly how many times he’d been cut during the fight. He had at least a dozen different wounds, most of which were still bleeding. His uniform was in tatters.
“Any of that hurt?” Zulu asked.
Blaine shook his head. “I can’t really feel it. Except where that thing got me in the chest, that one hurts like Hell. But I guess I’ll be alright with a couple of stitches.”
Zulu shook his head. “Glad I’m not the team’s tank.” He looked up, smiled at Shelby. “Nice nightgown, LT. But it’s the slippers with the goggles that make it pop.”
Shelby started to say something, but Blaine cut her off. “Where the Hell is Danny, lieutenant?”
“Seriously? You come over here all covered in blood, and the first thing you can say is, ‘Where’s Danny?’ What the Hell’s the matter with you, sir? I flew here at Mach 2 in my freakin’ nightgown and, by the looks of it, that’s what saved your ass.” Shelby took a breath. “But don’t worry, I’m sure Danny will be along as soon as he can be.”
Blaine took a breath, blew it out. He suddenly felt tired. “You blew up our crime scene, Shelby. Now we’ll be lucky if we ever figure out what happened here. We—“ He shook his head, cut himself off. “You know what? Forget it. I’ll do it.” He walked over to his bike, grabbed a spare earbud out of his saddlebag, and clipped it to his ear.
“Mainframe, you up? Account for all team members, and dispatch Eagle One to do an orbital sweep of the area, wide area search. Look for any anomalous energy readings and/or any readings that look like they might be associated with stealth technology. Acknowledge.”
“Thank you.” Blaine turned around. “Shelby, you’re released. Go home, start working on your report. Zee, you go see if the cops need anything else, see if there’s anything they need us to do.”
“Will do, boss,” Zulu said.
“But nothing, Shelby. You get out of here now before the cops realize what really happened out here and start talking about property damage. Or, God forbid, Reckless Endangerment.”
“What are you gonna do?” Zulu asked.
Blaine smiled. “I’m gonna go see if I can find somebody to gimme some stitches. Then I’m gonna go grab a shower.”
Mainframe interrupted. TEAM REPORT READY.
CALLSIGNS ZULU AND SUNBURST ARE CO-LOCATED WITH CALLSIGN CENTURION SIX. CALLSIGN CRIMSON ONI IS ENROUTE, APPROXIMATELY TWO-POINT-THREE MILES SOUTH-SOUTHWEST, CURRENTLY LOCATED 200 METERS ABOVE THE EAST RIVER. CALLSIGN JAILBAIT IS CURRENTLY LOCATED AT THE ESTABLISHMENT PACHA, LOCATED AT FORTY-SEVEN WEST FORTY-SEVENTH STREET. SHE IS APPROXIMATELY TEN FEET BELOW GROUND LEVEL.
Blaine stopped in his tracks. “What?”
REPEAT: CALLSIGN JAILBAIT—ALSO KNOWN AS REBECCA RODRIGEUZ—IS CURRENTLY LOCATED AT PACHA, A BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENT LOCATED AT FORTY-SEVEN WEST FORTY-SEVENTH STREET.
“Damn it!” Blaine said. He turned around and started walking back towards his bike. “I thought you and Danny were watching her, Shelby.”
“Don’t hang this on me, Blaine. She’s a big girl, and you know it.”
Blaine mounted his bike. Zulu and Shelby both looked alarmed. Zulu said, “Where the Hell you going, Blaine? Don’t you need to get some stitches or something?”
“I’ll take care of it later.” He kicked the bike to life, and the Ducati’s engine roared. “You’re in charge, Zee. Call me when you’ve got something to report.”
“Blaine wait! This is crazy! You’re still—”
Blaine shook his head and roared off into the night.
* * *
Rebecca managed to stumble out of the club before she was sick. But that was it. Her vomit came forth in a torrent just past the outside doors, splattering the gutters on the far side of the by now familiar velvet rope. A small line of would-be club-goers stood just beyond the doors waiting to get in; old-looking frat-boys cheered when she hurled. The cheers turned to catcalls when she stood up, but Rebecca’s head hurt too much for her to even consider turning.
Suddenly, the cute bouncer was standing next to her. “Rough night, little girl?” He shook his head. “I tried to warn you.”
“Get fucked,” Rebecca replied.
She stood straight, tried to muster as much dignity as she could. Then she spread her arms, figuring that if she could use her powers to glide off into the night, at least these dumb fuckers would know she wasn’t some kind of loser Mundie like them. But her head was killing her, and the world chose exactly that moment to take a drunken lurch. Rebecca stumbled and almost fell, and this time even the bouncer joined in the derisive cheering.
Mortified, Rebecca ran.
She made it maybe a block before her right heel caught in a cobblestone and snapped. Rebecca stumbled again, and this time she went down. It didn’t hurt, but the impact was jarring, and it set the world to spinning again. Rebecca reached for her phone, figured fuck it, she’d just go ahead and call Blaine and take her lumps, but then she realized that she’d left her purse and practically everything she owned back withPacha’s coat-check girl. She sighed and laid back, put her hands on her head and wished to Hell that her head would stop hurting.
“Can it be? Is that the precious Jailbait I see before me—all grown up and lying in a gutter?” A whistle sounded from the darkness, followed by a laugh. “Does the Colonel know you’re out this late, little girl?”
“What?” Rebecca said. The voice sounded familiar, the sarcasm friendly. “Blaine?”
A figure emerged from the shadows. He was tall, and he wore a pair of torn old blue jeans and a black hoodie with the hood pulled up. Rebecca shuddered, but she felt amusement and a sense of relief radiating off of the man through her Empathy. He pulled back the hood to reveal scaly grey skin, an unnaturally wide smile, and pointed shark-like teeth. At his sides, his hands curled like claws.
“Nah, not Blaine, precious. But I was hopin’ to find him, if you know where he is.”
Rebecca was thunderstruck. “Jason? Jason King?”