The Hot New Guns: Part Three

Tapping on his earpiece, Certain put in a call to Dragonfire. “Hello. Do you have any leads yet? So far my contacts have all given me a lot of nothing. I’m going into Duncan’s Pawn next,” he added before pushing open the clear glass door of the shop. He strolled up to the counter, gave a brilliant smile, then pointed behind the large young man behind the counter. “Do you have anything with a lot more oomph than that thirty ought six?” He was out of uniform, comfortable in a pain of blue jeans, a University of El Tercero T-shirt,  and some plain sneakers.

Joe, according to the name-tag he wore, gave a shake of his greasy head. “Sorry buddy, but anything with a lot more oomph is illegal to sell in this state. You could try crossing the border to the east, only take all day. Or you could settle for what the law allows.”

“Well, thanks Joe,” said Certain in his civilian identity. “I think I’m going to take a look around for a bit. Maybe something other than a firearm will catch my eye.”

Dragonfire’s voice in his ear came through loud and clear. “I’ve got some homies who say they’ve been hearing of a new crew with some ‘dope new pieces’ that are trying to establish themselves over in Little Huynh. Next stop, over the railroad tracks.”

“Keep in touch. Out of uniform like we are, we’re more vulnerable, especially you.”

“You don’t have to remind me. Gabe, over and out.” It felt strange hearing the short version of Dragonfire’s real name in his ears, thought Certain. He didn’t go around telling saying his own name to anyone any more.

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The Hot New Guns: Part Two

As Dragonfire’s head pulled up over the car, he saw the thieves had put a much larger gun, all shiny and chrome and ominous hum, on a tripod pointed at his position. “Oh Sh-” he called out before they fired. The energy beam tore through the car and blasted him across the street into the opposite store front where he crashed through the front wall.

Before they could fire again, he leaped into the sky and unfurled his wings once more to stay aloft. The super-gun could not target him in the sky, and he called down to the criminals once more. “Give it up! If you don’t surrender, I shall be forced to take drastic measures!”

The thieves responded by carrying the heavy futuristic gun and tripod out onto the street to try and line up another shot at the draconic Hero. It was their big mistake.

Dragonfire dove out of the sky with both fists extended. Right before he impacted the big gun, there was a yellow flash. When the dust cleared and the Hero stepped out of the small crater he had made in the street, the forms of the thieves lay on the ground, lightly breathing and utterly unable to move. “I did warn you,” he told them. They learned a small secret that day, one that eventually would worm its way to other’s ears. Dragonfire was something of a misleading name. Their muscles, still tensed from his attack, told of a different element entirely. Lightning!

Minutes later, when the backup arrived, they took the remains of melted gun along with the others. Certain smiled as he looked over the piece of hardware. This was quite the find. Then he frowned. “We have a problem,” he told one of the agents on scene. “The mere fact this weapon exists means someone is building and selling others like it. We’re going to have to put a stop to that.”

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The Hot New Guns: Part One

Dragonfire landed on the street outside the little jewelry store, the neon diamond sign still lit in the broken window. “Come out with your hands up!” called the draconic champion, striking a pose with his hands on his hips even as his wings merged back into the scales on his back.

“Piss off!” came the reply from inside, followed by an intense beam of energy that struck him center of mass and bowled him over. The Hero quickly threw himself to the side, using a parked car as cover to inspect the damage.

The shot had melted his outermost scales, a disturbing sight for a hero usually immune to the effects of energy. The damaged scales were absorbed back into his body and then new, thicker, tougher scales took their place. He worked on strengthening more of his scales as he called back inside the store being robbed. “Throw down your weapons and you won’t be hurt!”

In response another beam of crackling red punched a hole straight through the sedan he was crouched behind. The crooks seemed to have no interest in surrender, and the Hero took a deep breath, physically and mentally preparing for the move he was about to make.

In the next instant, he had popped his head over the hood of the vehicle, his right hand extended as he blew out tight beams of fire at the first gun he spotted. The gun turned red and was dropped instantly as the thief felt his hand beginning to burn. A loud curse and then a louder crash as another glass display case was smashed. He re-positioned behind the car as he tapped the controls to the comm now securely in his ear. “Code eight. Robbery in progress. High-tech weaponry is active. Able to hurt me.” His nervousness came through with that admission.

“Dragonfire, be advised reinforcements are en route. ETA three minutes.” The calm voice on the other end helped to steady his nerves.

“Thank you Dispatch. Situation may be resolved by then.” The Hero took another deep breath before popping up from behind the car. His eyes widened at what he saw.

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Game of Snipers

“Report!” barked Colonel Kesno at his small line of trained, expert snipers. The five men, already at attention, brought their chins a little higher before the longest serving sniper Corporal Thomason began to talk.

“Sir! As ordered, we rendezvoused with the Hero known as Certain at 1000 hours at Point Charlie. We traveled to the edge of the sniper training zone Quiet Woods. There we formed into two teams for the exercise. We had specially brought paintball guns for this mission, and issued one to Certain as well. The rules for a kill were discussed, starting positions and waiting times, and what would happen when the losing team all signaled their ‘death.’

“During the first exercise, over the course of half an hour, our team lost to Certain’s team. Once the exercise was called, we discovered only Certain had done any shooting. We had each been assigned a color paintball, and his blue was on the three of the ‘dead’ team. We discussed it, and decided that we would stack the deck against him. All five of us were set against him in the next match.” Cpl. Thomason paused briefly to take a breath and reflect on his word choice.

“Despite the seemingly unbalanced teams, Certain was able to pop each of us without being seen first. During the second and third games, he was able to get quite close for some shots. The fourth game was late in the afternoon, and would be the last. We were determined to prove ourselves.

“We failed. In the fourth and last game, he did not even wear the ghillie suit. He seemed to have just walked through the woods, taking shots when he was in range of us. One moment you would be watching the empty woods, suddenly you would feel the hit and then he would stroll off as though he had simply been sauntering the entire time. He made it look easy, sir.”

By this time, the Colonel’s face had darkened from its usual bronzed tone to red and then to violet. “WHAT?! Are you telling me the Army’s finest could not even get a shot off at him when he wore bright look-at-me blue?!”

“Sir, yes sir.” Cpl. Thomason answered immediately. “There is one more thing, sir.”

“Well,” roared Col. Kesno at his snipers as veins bulged in his forehead.

“He hit us in the same spot, sir.”

“Explain yourself, soldier!”

“Right here, sir.” Cpl. Thomason pulled down his plain green shirt, showing the bruise right over his heart. The other four snipers did the same, exposing identical bruises. “Every shot was to the heart. Every match, sir.”

Col. Kesno looked at each sniper and their chest in turn until they let go of their shirts and went back to attention. “Anything else?”

“Sir, we went to a bar, got him to play darts, and made fifty bucks off some bikers.”

———

Back at their headquarters, Dragonfire looked across the table at Certain. “I still can’t believe you were playing paintball in the woods with Army snipers for your mandatory evaluation weekend.”

“Yes,” answered the blue-clad Hero. “Just playing paintball in the woods.”

 

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Minutes

(The following are minutes of the monthly joint meeting of the DSP and local Heroes.)

The meeting was called to order at 3:01 PM. Agent Adrian White gave a presentation on the types and pairings of upcoming training meetings the team would undertake. Certain and Superpower are to have a communications seminar to achieve better direction in the field. Superpower and Dragonfire shall have an armor destroying practice session. Certain and Dragonfire are to have long-range and fast-moving target sessions.

The military has asked to test the team. First in rotation for their military day is Certain, who is going to play something like paintball gun games with Army snipers in the woods at Fort Hoffman. The military is interested in the armor destroying capabilities of both Superpower and Dragonfire and will be overseeing their practice session. The Heroes were given careful orders not to reveal their weaknesses to the military without giving any indication they were doing so. Not saying anything was the response suggested.

The incidents of the past month were all reviewed. Certain’s arrest of the speedster calling herself Zoom Baby had been nicely in the media spotlight until the unfortunate death at the claw of the giant crab-monster. The crab is the major local story with the angle the Heroes successfully stopped its rampage is climbing. It may be worth announcing the collaboration with the military in a news cycle soon. After it takes place so footage can be viewed, suggested Dragonfire.

Agent White announced officially to the team he will be stepping down as their liaison to return to power recruiting. Several Agents are in the second interview stage and there will be up to five face to face meets with the Heroes in the coming month. This news will hit the media next Monday, as early as this Thursday depending on public reaction polls to the crab story.

The meeting ended with reminders that their DSP-issued phones are to be on and with them at all times while they are on active duty. The meeting ended at 4:16 PM.

Minutes prepared by DSP Agent Jessica Gershaw.

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Out In The Open

Agent Adrian White pinched the bridge of his nose as he looked between the three city defenders sitting around the conference table with him. “This is not how I wanted to spend this evening, listening to my hand-picked group of Heroes bicker with one another about taking down a simple Category One Aberration. I would much rather be congratulating you, toasting you, and not telling you about the group exercise you’re about to undertake, but such is life. You’re going to go into the gym and show each other everything you can do. Everything. Leave nothing out. I suspect a certain level of sand-bagging from a new Hero, but that ends tonight, at least among the team. Do I make myself clear?” Although he asked the question with a tight grin on his face, the three subjects of his talk shifted nervously in their chairs.

“Yes sir,” answered Certain first. He felt less of Agent White’s ire was directed his way.

“Certain!” snapped Agent White. “That’s quite enough. I don’t need any brown-nosing. I won’t be your agent in charge much longer. Go to the gym,” he said with a touch of disgust. The three in costumes stood and then left without another word.

A moment later at the gym, again it was Certain who spoke first. “I’ll go first, if you don’t mind. You may know I don’t need to see my target. But that isn’t the only thing…”

 —

Roughly a minute later, Dragonfire piped up as he held up his right hand. “My name comes from this power,” he said before blowing out a steady stream of fire. “But I can also focus to do this,” he said as he held up his left hand. A deep inhale and then…

Several minutes later, with the newly destroyed targets efficiently replaced by computer-controlled mechanisms, Superpower spoke up. “Sadly, what I’m hiding are more my weaknesses. I’ll show you how dreadfully easy it is to disable me and it won’t even take a superpower.”

Later after Certain and Dragonfire had recovered from both their shock and their laughter, the three had a long discussion on how they might combine their powers against a target, how to protect each other, how to work with each other instead of near each other. All that was merely talk though. It would be the effort in the gym, day after day, scenario after scenario, that would get them united as a team.

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Big Problems: Part Four

The claw snapped down on Dragonfire and he grunted in immediate pain. The crab couldn’t quite cut through his scales after all, though his insides still felt like they were being crushed. “Get off me!” he angrily yelled before belching forth a magnificent stream of heat and energy that seared right through the arm holding him. The crab, down to a normal two oversized claws and only five legs, was scuttling towards the water now after the latest attack. The siren still blared but ahead on the beach were a few foolish souls that thought the alarm and subsequent evacuation didn’t apply to them.

“Oh no you don’t!” screamed out Superpower and kicked off from the ground to fly fifty feet in the air and arc into the crab. She didn’t stop there and went straight through the spiny undersea monster in a messy explosion of shell and crab guts. Certain threw a knife that stuck into the other eye as it convulsed and died on top of small ramp that separated the shore from the stores.

“All clear,” the Blue Blaster called into his phone an instant later.

There was a second, much smaller spray of crab insides as Superpower pushed her way out of the corpse. “That’s so grody. I’m glad I can’t feel it.”

Dragonfire ran over to the golden Heroine and planted his hands on his hips. “What did you think you were doing? I had that thing!”

A laugh came from the woman as her power pushed away the guts from her body. “You think so? I saw your first attack, you know. Real impressive, big guy.”

“Guys, we’re in public. Knock it off!” hissed a furious Certain as he approached the other two Heroes. A different siren wailed in the distance announcing the approach of DSP agents to investigate the remains.

“Oh, we’re going to talk about this. We’re going to…” Dragonfire’s tirade ended under the combined glares of Superpower and Certain. “Talk later,” he finished weakly.

“We certainly will,” came the amused reply of the Golden Goddess of Good.

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Big Problems: Part Three

Dragonfire gave a wave of his clawed appendage to give Superpower a clear invitation to take on the giant crab. “By all means,” the hero’s deep voice told her, “it’s all yours.”

The golden heroine, her super powered force field as sturdy around her as she had ever known, challenged the beast, “Hey crab legs! My turn!” However the crab paid her no heed. Certain was still sliding and bobbing inches away from the three attacking claws, each as big as him, and the one eye of the monstrous crustacean had not yet even recognized the presence of the invulnerable Golden Goddess of Good.

“Oh for Pete’s sake,” she muttered as she advanced toward the distracted crab monster. She broke into a run, pulled back her arm, and punch one of the back legs of the crab, completely puncturing through it. That got its attention. Her arm proved to be momentarily stuck and she tried to wiggle out even as one of the claws lowered into place around her and closed with the force of a god’s scissors.

Her golden field didn’t even flicker as the claw shattered around her. Dragonfire rushed in and used his claws to pull apart the leg for Superpower to wrench her hand free. As she did, the leg broke and the creature teetered unsteadily on its remaining five legs. “Thanks,” she said, her expression unreadable behind the gold aura, but an unmistakable note of appreciation in her voice.

The crab made a sound much like a screech of fear and anger, loud enough that Certain covered his ears as he backed behind the corner of the coffee shop. Dragonfire roared and sent a stream of fire into the stump of the broken leg as Superfire advanced to sweep her arm into another of the legs. Her golden aura destroyed it with a cacophonous snap. “Get back!” she demanded of the other Hero as the crab reached with murderous intent to snap Dragonfire with one of its claws.

 

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Big Problems: Part Two

“Don’t worry!” called the orange and red suited Dragonfire down to the blue-clad Certain. “I got this!” Still hovering high above the giant crab-like monster, he held his right hand forward and then exhaled a roaring sheet of flame to engulf the creature.

As he did, the creature spat a stream of cold water from its mouth, turning the fire to harmless concealing mist. It seemed to do it as a reflex, its three attacking clawed limbs still clacking at the desperately dodging Certain on the ground among the flower boxes. “What?” demanded Dragonfire of all of reality. “Are you kidding me?” Then his wings pumped him higher into the sky, quickly gaining altitude and taking him away from the fight.

“Figures,” muttered Certain as he popped off shots into the beast’s thin mouth with no apparent effect. He dodged backwards out of the giant crab’s reach and it followed him, steadily moving back toward the more open beach. They were just passing the last store, a crowd of people huddled inside by the counter of the coffee shop watching, when Dragonfire came swooping out of the sky.

The mighty draconic hero held one arm forward in almost the classic superhero pose, differing in that his claws were extended and the scales covered his features still managed to show his anger rather than confident superiority. There was a horrendous crash as he hit the crab in one of its legs, and a sudden explosion of smoke! No, that was again water from the giant crab’s mouth but this time in a fine mist that concealed the creature.

More fire from Dragonfire quickly burned away the cover of the creature, showing the damage of a long but minor scratch along its tough outer layer. “Right then. Time to switch it up.” This time he extended his left hand as he took in a breath.

“That won’t be necessary,” cut in a new voice. “I’ll handle it from here.” The last of the mist cleared to reveal the fine golden figure of the hero Superpower standing confidently in the middle of Gigi Street, hands on her hips. She had to look up Dragonfire who stood nearly a foot taller, even without the wings that were even now vanishing into the scales of his back.

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