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Authors: Phil Hester,Jon S. Lewis,Shannon Eric Denton,Jake Bell

Megamatrix Hero Within (4 page)

BOOK: Megamatrix Hero Within
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Street criminals liked clinics. Some of the drugs they scored could be sold to addicts, and they saved the good stuff for crime-bosses who needed to keep their henchmen healthy and strong.

"I got it," the lockpicker announced quietly.

"Then let's hurry," said the lookout. "And don't bother grabbing tongue depressors this time. Napalm didn't buy the ones we grabbed last week."

"I know, I know."

As they disappeared inside the clinic, Fletcher dropped into the alley without any more sound than a feather landing on a cotton ball would make.

It wasn’t long before the men returned, each carrying two boxes of pharmaceutical drugs. "I told you the shipment came today, didn't I?" the lockpicker gloated.

"I didn't say you were wrong. I just asked if you were sure," the lookout said.

"Does it look like I'm sure?"

They stepped out the door and into Fletcher. The lockpicker toppled over backward like he'd run into a wall, causing the lookout to stumble over his partner and wind up on the ground beside him.

"I'm pretty sure those don't belong to you," Fletcher said in his most menacing tone.

The lookout jumped up and balled his fists. "What are you doing out here, kid? You looking to get killed?"

"No," Fletcher said. "I'm really not too worried about that. You guys, on the other hand, might want to walk away while you still have the chance."

The lockpicker took a gun from his waistband and pointed it at Fletcher. "Don't be stupid, kid."

Liberty Torch's enhanced reflexes helped Fletcher kick the gun out of the thief's hand before he finished his sentence. Then he grabbed the lookout by the throat and hurled him down the alley like a stuffed animal.

The lockpicker scuttled toward his gun, but stopped when Korgus's huge ball smashed the pistol into the concrete before him. Fletcher reeled the ball back with the chain, daring the thief to make a move.

But the only move he made was one that got him out of the alley as quickly as humanly possible without daring to look back.

So that's what being a superhero felt like, Fletcher reflected with a satisfied chuckle. He picked up the four boxes and examined them. He didn't know one kind of medicine from another, but regardless of what was in the boxes, he knew whatever it was must be worth something.

With a wicked smile, he flew back to Miguel's house and stashed the medicine in a corner of the basement until morning. With a gentle pat, he left them and headed back toward the ruins.

It took a little explaining when he met his brother and Miguel, but they accepted his story of getting lost among the weeds and being trapped in a sinkhole. He didn’t mention anything about his newly acquired powers, though.

“You’re lucky you managed to get out,” Miguel said. “The Revolution needs a new place to meet. One of the guys broke his ankle getting it twisted in those vines. When I tell them we nearly lost a new recruit in a sinkhole, they’re not going to be happy."

 

CHAPTER 7

 

The next morning, Fletcher was up before anyone else, which wasn’t difficult since he couldn’t possibly sleep with so much power pulsing through his body. It took all his patience to wait until the first rays of sunlight fell on the basement window before he leapt up from his cushion on the floor and ran to his stockpile of medicine.

With the boxes secured in his arms, he tiptoed up the stairs and out the front door. Few people were out to see the sunrise, so Fletcher didn’t worry too much about hiding his newfound abilities. When normal people saw someone flying or bounding from rooftop to rooftop, they got scared. That’s why he’d waited at least a block or two before flying, partially out of fear of drawing attention to Miguel’s house and partially because he had one other task he wanted to take care.

When he got to the front of the barbecue restaurant from the previous afternoon, he carefully put the boxes down on the sidewalk. A quick moment to remember the face of the woman behind the counter was all it took and Korgus’s ball and chain appeared on his forearm, crackling with vicious intent.

The ball smashed through the front door and swung around to exit through the window, sweeping a path of complete destruction fifteen feet in diameter. “There. You won’t have to worry about any non-paying customers trying to hide in here any more,” Fletcher said with a laugh as he took a moment to admire his handiwork. Satisfied, he picked up the boxes and flew to a place he never thought he’d go.

 

When the building that had once been the mayor’s mansion came into view, Fletcher was shocked. The building was one of the few that looked better now than it had fifteen years earlier. The marble facade gleamed in the first morning light and the brass flagpole was blinding. The wrought iron gates were both elegant and capable of holding back an angry mob. Though, they didn’t matter much to someone who could fly right over them.

Before he could land on the front steps, two burly security guards were already approaching with guns at their sides. Somehow—possibly from the powers he’d inherited from Red Wraith?—he was also aware that two snipers had him in their sights. Boldly, he declared, “Tell Technein he has a visitor.”

The security guards weren’t at all phased by a flying teenager demanding to see their boss. Fletcher got the impression this kind of thing happened every day, and he guessed they were not amused by it based on the way they grabbed him and hustled him back toward the gate. Each grabbed under one arm, causing him to drop the boxes on the steps. For a moment, Fletcher regretted not sneaking into Technein’s office while invisible.

“Sorry, kid, no auditions. Boss has all the muscle he needs,” one of the guards grumbled.

“Oh, really?” Fletcher challenged. “Not from where I’m standing.”

Like a balloon inflating, Fletcher began to grow, breaking free of the guards’ grasp. Within seconds, he was as big as the guards, and seconds after that he was twice their size. They raised their guns, but before they could fire he slapped them away with a hand as big as a side of beef.

The snipers fired, but their bullets were no match for Korgus’s legendary toughness. More guards poured from the mansion’s front door and Fletcher laughed. He lifted his foot and dropped it in a mighty stomp that would register on Richter scales two counties away. The quake sent the guard all tumbling over themselves, much to Fletcher’s amusement.

As the guard’s swarmed, Fletcher noticed another man standing on the front step. He wore a blue robe and sipped from a large coffee mug, watching the assault like it was an old TV show he’d seen a dozen times already.

Fletcher leaned down and swept aside the dozen guards as though he was dusting an end table. Then he made his way toward the man in the robe.

“I’m here to see Technein,” he told the man.

“Good luck with that,” the man replied, pausing to take another sip of his coffee. “Technein hardly ever wakes up before noon. You think maybe I can help you?”

“Who are you?” Fletcher asked, slowly returning to normal size.

“I’m going to be the guy that decides if you walk out of here or get carried out in a body bag, so I’d suggest you calm down. They call me Napalm.” The man in the robe held up his left hand and extended his index finger. In a flash of yellow and orange flame, it burst, the concussion from the blast knocking Fletcher back a step. “Now, what do you need to see Technein for?”

“I know he buys medical supplies,” Fletcher said while Napalm slowly sipped his coffee and his finger reformed itself molecule by molecule. “I brought four boxes and was hoping to sell them.”

Napalm shook his head and sighed. “You think Technein is a fence? You have no clue how this works, do you?”

Fletcher had to admit he didn’t. He’d only decided to become a supervillain a few hours ago and didn’t have any way to research it. Maybe he should have asked the lockpicker and the lookout from the night before where they were planning to sell the medications, but he doubted they would have been in a helpful mood.

Napalm scanned the front lawn and its scattering of well-armed security guards with a chuckle. “Come on inside. Let’s talk.”

Fletcher started to pick up the boxes, but Napalm told him to leave them and gestured for Fletcher to follow.

They went down a hallway and into a plush office with dark red walls trimmed in mahogany. Napalm sat in a leather chair behind a gargantuan desk and pointed to an empty seat across from him for Fletcher.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, kid, but normally if someone pulled a stunt like that, I’d have him killed. Then I’d find his family, and I’d kill them. Then his friends and anybody he talked to in the last week or two.”

“What is the right way to take that?” Fletcher asked sheepishly.

“I guess be thankful I’m in a good mood today,” Napalm offered. “Or maybe I’m just curious. I get that way sometimes. Why is someone with all your powers ripping off medical supplies from some dumpy clinic?”

“Excuse me?”

“Okay, we know you can fly. You’re bulletproof and you can grow to at least forty feet tall. First off, how come I’ve never heard of you? And, second, if you can do all that, why waste your time on a piddly little job like this?”

“Well, first, I just got these powers,” Fletcher answered.
“Aren’t hormones amazing?”
“And, second, I guess I didn’t really think about it.”
“Obviously,” Napalm groaned sarcastically. “I like the way you handled yourself out there, kid—what is your name anyway?”
“Fletcher.”

“I like the way you handled yourself, Fletcher.” Napalm reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a wad of money. He peeled three hundred dollars from it and tossed the cash to Fletcher. “That’s more than enough for the medical supplies. And—as you can see—there’s plenty more to be had for a young man of your talents. Interested?”

Fletcher snatched up the money and shoved it into his pocket while nodding furiously.

“Good,” Napalm said with a smile, leaning back in his big chair. “Tomorrow evening, I could use a flier to help extract...”

As he went on, Fletcher’s gaze wandered up the wall behind him. Hanging inside a glass case was a golden spear with three prongs. When his eyes fell on it, Napalm’s words were drowned out by singing. For a moment, Fletcher thought he was going mad, that the Megamatrix was affecting his brain. Then he recognized it as the chorus of voices he’d heard when he was underwater the night before.

“Are you paying—Oh, you noticed that?” Napalm said proudly as he looked above his head. “Lord Trident’s trident.”
“Neptune’s Spirit,” Fletcher whispered, not knowing how he knew that.
“Right. Get it? Like ‘Spear It.’ I took that after he died at my feet.”

Fletcher swallowed hard. He’d never seen the trident before, but he wanted to jump across the table, smash the glass open, and steal it for himself—no, not steal. He wanted to take back that which was his. Neptune’s Spirit belonged to him.

“So, are we on for tomorrow?” Napalm asked, snapping Fletcher out of his fixation.

Fletcher stole more one more glance at the trident and nodded. “Of course. I think this is going to be the start of a great opportunity.”

 

CHAPTER 8

 

Tremblor gave off the unmistakable aura of a fat kid who always got picked last for every game when he was in school. He could sway from inordinately nasty to nauseatingly bootlicking in a matter of seconds. He wanted so badly to be liked, yet harbored so much resentment for anyone who looked at him the wrong way.

The first thing Tremblor did when he discovered his ability to cause miniature earthquakes was use it to tear his high school to the ground and open a fissure through the middle of the football field during a game, swallowing the star quarterback and most of the linemen. Three months later, he started working for Technein.

The first job Napalm gave Fletcher was to accompany Tremblor to a meeting with a gang from the other side of the bay. Napalm pointed out the window of his office, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. “We need to find someone who knows how to fix bridges. An engineer, some construction guys. The Bay Bridge is coming down and if it does, we’re going to lose half our territory,” he said. “The Winslow Street Gang is acting like it’s already collapsed and they don’t have to play by the rules. We need you guys to send them a message about what we think of guys who don’t follow the rules.”

“You want us to send the message to them?” Tremblor asked enthusiastically, like he already knew the answer.

“The message is more for anyone else over there who’s thinking they can get away with cheating Technein out of his fair share of their business.”

Tremblor laughed and punched Fletcher playfully on the arm. “Aw, yeah! This is so gonna rock!” he cheered. “Let’s show ‘em what Team Fletchblor can do.” He held a hand up for a high five, which Fletcher gave him nervously. The floor of the office wobbled and the pictures on the wall swung back and forth.

“Tremblor!” Napalm snapped. “What did I tell you about doing that in here?”

“Sorry,” Tremblor apologized sheepishly.

Because Tremblor couldn’t fly, Fletcher was stuck riding with him in one of Technein’s cars across the bay and into Winslow Street territory.

“You’re a lucky guy,” Tremblor told him. “First day on the job and already an enforcer. It took me a year and a half to get where you are. You must be something special.”

Fletcher just shrugged in response. He didn’t have any reason to dislike Tremblor, but the way the rotund villain came off as so desperate to be liked instantly turned Fletcher in the opposite direction.

“Well, stick with me and we’re going places, Fletch-o. Who knows? Another year or two, I could have my own territory to oversee.” Tremblor paused as a stray thought appeared to suddenly cross his mind. “Wait a minute. You think that maybe that’s what this is about? I’m taking you out to train you how to do my job so I can move up in the organization. And Napalm said this territory had some trouble makers. Maybe they’re auditioning me to see if I can handle it. Oh, man! You’re in the big time now.”

BOOK: Megamatrix Hero Within
3.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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