It wasn’t long after Max agreed to go with them to the nightclub that Lloyd asked a question that threatened to damn Raanan’s plans: “How do you intend for us to get there?” he asked.
Raanan’s jaw dropped. Hell in a Handbasket was sheltered in Manhattan, across the East River. While there was always the F train to take them into the city, none of them had actually had the opportunity to thoroughly explore their adopted city in the few days they had lived here. Raanan had no inkling where to get off the train or where to go once they emerged above ground once again.
For the second time since Raanan had announced his plans for the evening, John came to his rescue: “What about Solon? I mean, his magic teleported us around the country when Miss Wellor and I went to recruit Lloyd and Jude.”
Raanan looked at the trio of young man in turn with his expression of confusion slowly growing. “Teleport?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Lloyd explained. “He waves his hands in the air and says something like ‘Trogdor’ and suddenly everything around us changed. It was kinda badass.”
Raanan frowned. He was capable of such a feat but unable to take anyone with him. “All right,” he said, looking towards the dorms worriedly. “Let’s find him quick before Stinky and his sidekick come back with Razi and that fat chick…”
As the trio headed out in search of the magus, they became oblivious to two others falling in line with them: after their departure, Carl had arrived to check in on his amnesic roommate. His asking, “Where is everyone?” prompted Sergio to divulge all he had overheard. With no other plans for the evening, Carl decided to tag along and encouraged the other senior to do the same.
The group only continued to grow as they made their way down the hall. While Andrew never returned with Razi, Jude had successfully convinced Pandora to come with them. Not long after they fell in line, Will and Gregaro caught wind of the plan to depart and joined in as well. With each addition to his would-be entourage, Raanan’s scowl deepened. By the time they had found Solon alone in the library, the Filipino youth wore a disgruntled look on his face.
It took some convincing to get Solon to agree to come with them. He wasn’t interested in clubs or music or girls—he only wanted to advance his own arcane arts and impress the Aurelius enough to become his heir. Ultimately, it was Max who convinced the magus to join them: he reasoned that the Aurelius’ job would take him beyond his sanctuary and that Solon would need to know how to handle himself in a social situation and navigate urban environments. Seeing the trip as a learning opportunity, Solon consented to transport the group there and back.
Solon’s teleportation circle was only accurate when he intimately knew his destination. Having never even heard of Hell in a Handbasket, it took him four tries before he landed the assemblage anywhere near the nightclub.
With each casting of the spell, Solon was careful to picture a rooftop. Though he was oblivious to most things, he understood the fractured social paradigm of human and Neo-Sapien relations. Though not a Neo-Sapien himself, the public was unaware that magic existed and the party’s sudden appearance would undoubtedly rope him in with his classmates.
The twelve teenagers climbed down the building’s fire escape and proceeded out of the alley. A line of people was already snaking its way down the street, leading some to doubt Raanan’s boasts that he could get them in. “Just let me talk to the bouncer,” he said. “I’m sure once he sees my card, we’ll be golden…”
Raanan led the procession towards the front of the line, only to realize he was not the only one confident that they could bypass the velvet ropes.
Compared to Raanan and his classmates, they were a small group. Whereas twelve students had left the New Vindicators Academy of America, there were six of the strange crew making their way towards the doors. Like the teenagers, this band included only a single female. Also like the teenagers, the likelihood of them being granted admittance was slim…
One of them was a short, scrawny young man with a bowl haircut and glasses patched together with a bent paperclip; he wore jogging pants and a red ensign shirt. At nineteen-years-old, he was several years younger than many of his comrades—most of which were in their early twenties.
One such comrade was an African-American man garbed in a black shirt that proclaimed, in big, pink letters, “VIRGIN.” Beside him a tall, muscular man sporting a goatee. In his mid-twenties, his tweed jacket hung over a shirt sporting a line from his favorite webcomic: “Ninjas can’t catch you if you’re on fire.” A Japanese man was twitching his shoulder to the music emanating from deep within the club; he merely wore freshly ironed jeans and a black T-shirt that simply read, “The Game.”
Each of them was focused on the lone female in their group. Either she didn’t notice their linger gaze or merely didn’t care. She was the tallest of the group—besting the man in the tweed jacket by a mere inch. In her late twenties, the sickly-thin woman sported long, black hair, a wide forehead, hollow cheekbones, a square nose and large lips.
At their head was a rotund man whose girth stretched the too small T-shirt that merely depicted the icon ‘S’ shield Superman wore on his chest. “So, a human cleric of Pelor, a half-orc barbarian and a multiclassed elven enchanter/fighter walk into a bar,” he was saying to his friends, “and the halfling rogue walks under it.”
The others couldn’t help but chuckle as they made their way up to the bouncer. At the sight of them, the bald man simply folded his arms across his chest and planted himself between the odd group and the club’s doors. “I think you have the wrong address,” he told them.
The fat man rolled his eyes at the man. “If you are trying to intimidate us, I believe you botched your skill check.” He reached forward and patted the muscular man on the arm. “Step aside, my good man: my friends and I seek to indoctrinate the newest player in our party with a night of merriment.”
“You wanna keep that hand?” the man asked, looking down at the appendage. “Keep it off me.”
“Kenan? Demonstrate for the man who it would be in his best interest to let us through?”
The black man stepped forward and held his hand out, palm upwards. A single flame danced above his hand and caused Max to roll his eyes.
Some of the people waiting in line started to back away slowly; others took off at a run. “So, are you going to let us through or not?” the fat man asked the visibly shaken bouncer.
Max started to advance on them but Raanan reached out and grabbed the back of the youth’s shirt. “Dude, let ‘em go!” He gestured towards the entrance and smiled as the bouncer let the six slip through. “What would you rather do: beat some dorks in the street or go inside and grind on some of the finest tail New York has to offer?”
Once Max stood down, Raanan patted him on the stomach. “Good boy! Now sit here and let Big Daddy Lumanta work his magic!” Raanan moved to crack his knuckles but they didn’t crack. Rather than face embarrassment, he supplied the cracking noise him himself. Reaching into the inside pocket of his jacket, he marched up to the bouncer.
Having been publicly cowed by the last group to pass through the doors, the bouncer was feeling humiliated and looking to take out his aggressions. When the short boy approached him, he simply pointed down the street. “Hell no,” he intoned loudly. Still, Raanan persisted…
With his back to them, the other students couldn’t make out what Raanan was doing. He pulled something out of his coat and showed it to the bouncer. The agitated man paused to listen to Raanan. He looked away then and Raanan passed something into the man’s hands. Stuffing whatever it was into the back pocket of his jeans, the bouncer stepped aside and Raanan gleefully waved for his classmates to follow him into the club.
Once they were inside, Raanan started doing the Cabbage Patch—a move that caused a lot of his peers to raise their eyebrows: Raanan thrust both of his arms out parallel with each other; with his hands clenched into fists, he slowly swung his shoulders in a circular motion that piloted his rigid arms in synchronicity with his gyrating hips. “Too flat,” he said as his eyes passed over a Korean girl. “Butterface,” he said at the sight of a blonde dancing near her. His sight locked on a chesty redhead sitting by the bar. “Jackpot,” he said as he set his mind on the woman easily ten years his senior.
Suddenly, Raanan crouched down and began pumping his right arm back and forth. It was a dance move universally known as the Lawnmower and after three or four tugs, his arms seized an imaginary lawnmower that he steered towards the unsuspecting woman.
Lloyd and Max exchanged looks of confusion; John couldn’t help but laugh. Sergio simply gazed about him in wonder. “What are we supposed to do here?” he asked. In order to be heard over the amalgamation of driven bass lines and synthesizers, he was forced to raise his voice.
“Dance,” Carl called back.
“But there’s no music,” Gregaro said, covering his ears with his hands.
“This is music,” said a dancing Pandora. As someone who branded herself as a punk, she was at home with the short, punchy songs the new wave band belted out from the stage.
Gregaro shook his head. “This is not music,” he offered. “This is just noise. Buddy Holly! The Everly Brothers! Ritchie Valens! Now their music was the end!”
“I’ve never heard of the Everly Brothers,” Pandora offered, “but the other two… didn’t they die in a plane crash with the Big Bopper?”
Gregaro looked to his roommate to confirm the purple-haired girl’s claim. When Carl nodded, Gregaro frowned.
“You, uh… you didn’t like Elvis did you?” Pandora asked.
Gregaro looked back the girl with a confused expression. “Why?” He cringed and braced himself for the worst. “What happened to Elvis?”
“Nothing!” Pandora exclaimed. “Elvis is super!”
The trio had failed to notice that their classmates had wandered off. Sergio was the easiest to spot: the amnesic had done just as Carl told him and was dancing. Surprisingly, he was able to perfectly mimic the movements of the others huddled around the stage. Not far off, John was suggestively dancing with the Korean girl Raanan had dismissed as flat-chested. Seeing the two of them sparked something in Jude: the young man grabbed Pandora by the hand and pulled her away from the others.
Carl looked around Gregaro’s back and pouted when he failed to find Will there. All week long, the two had been inseparable: Will had tirelessly worked to help Gregaro adapt to his new temporal home. Unwilling to abandon the fedora-capped youth, Carl stood back, oblivious to Solon’s presence behind them on the wall.
The magus peered out at the legions of young people enjoying themselves. Across the club he could see Gage dancing by himself; it was a sight that caused him to drop his gaze to the floor: he was ashamed that the handicapped boy had no fear plunging into this environment while he was gripped with fear. He needed courage and he knew where to find it…
Solon Carlyle cast a quick spell to alter his appearance—making himself look several years older—before meandering off towards the bar.
It was there that he found Raanan watching with a slack jaw as the redhead he had first descended on left the bar. “What!?!” he thundered after her. “You don’t like pizza!?!”
Solon raised an eyebrow at him as Raanan turned towards the stage; he threw his arms back and rested his elbows on the bar. “Bitches, am I right, man?”
The magus had no idea what to say. He simply turned away at the bartender’s approach and drew a blank. He had no idea what to order either.
Raanan whipped around and smiled at the bartender. “Two Jack and Cokes, m’man.”
“Riiight, kid…” the bartender laughed.
“Kid?” Raanan asked. He rolled his eyes as he reached for his wallet. “Dude, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m Asian.” He flashed his driver’s license, which claimed the 15-year-old had been born in 1974. “We all look young.”
The bartender looked at the Georgian driver’s license and then back to Raanan with a suspicious look on his face. Rolling his eyes, Raanan snatched his wallet back and pulled a crisp one-hundred dollar bill from it. “Two Jack and Cokes,” he said again, this time more slowly. Snapping the billfold shut, he stuffed it back into his pocket and looked across the bar.
The redhead was sitting on another stool, being approached by one of the people who had slipped in ahead of Raanan’s group. The man in the tweed jacket sauntered up to her and tapped her on the shoulder. When she turned, he smiled. “What alignment are your boobs?” he asked. “Because they look Awful Good to me!”
Raanan and Solon cringed when they saw the man get slapped. When the bartender came back with their drinks, Solon looked from the pair of glasses to the woman and back to the glasses. Before Raanan could react, he took them up and walked around the corner to where the woman was sitting.
“Here,” Solon said, setting one of the drinks in front of her. “I’m… not going to try any cheesy pickup lines on you. I didn’t even want to come here—my friends dragged me into it. I just… I saw that guy harassing you and I figured you didn’t want to be bothered and I thought if I just sat next to you and made it look like we were together, these others guys might start leaving you alone.
“Please don’t slap me.”
The woman smiled and raised the drink. She leaned forward and Solon’s eyes bulged as he looked down the neckline of her shirt. “I’m Rebecca,” she breathily said into his ear.
“I’m Solon,” he said stupidly. Her cleavage still held his gaze.
“That’s different,” she said as she pulled back. He forced himself to make eye contact. “Never heard of anyone with that name.”
“Solon was a poet in Ancient Greece.” He simply continued to nod and fought to keep from looking at Rebecca’s chest. When Rebecca put the glass to her lips, Solon did the same. He took a swig of the absconded drink before letting it dribble back into his glass. Before the glass could leave his lips, his eyes bulged at the sensation of her hand on his thigh—her fingers inches from his groin.
Raanan watched the entire episode in stunned silence. “Some guys have all the luck,” he grumbled. He turned back to the bar and looked at the pair of rings left by the perspiring glasses. “And he stole my drinks!”
“A wench sets an adventurer’s drink down before him and smiles flirtatiously.” Raanan turned and took in the sight of the fat man chatting up a pretty blonde. “‘Is that a +3 dagger in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?’ she asks.
“‘Nope,’ says the adventurer as he reaches into his Bag of Holding, Type II. ‘It’s a canoe.’”
The girl stared strangely at the man. “I don’t get it.”
“That’s okay,” he said. “Wanna screw?”
The girl simply got up and walked away. With a heavy sigh, the overweight man slipped into her seat. “Bitches,” Raanan said as he sat next to him. “Am I right, man?” He produced his wallet once more and withdrew another banknote depicting Benjamin Franklin. “Two Jack and Cokes!” he declared, slamming the bill down on the bar.
“Big spender…” the big man said as the remuneration held his gaze.
Raanan shrugged. “I was kinda hopin’ that if some fly bitches saw me droppin’ Benjamins, they’d be all over me.” The youth never noticed the other man signal to his friends to join him. “I mean, I thought wealth and status got bitches in the mood, y’know? Freakin’ Centurion Cards being invitation only…” Raanan was oblivious to the three men flanking him; he simply seized the Collins glass set before him and took a drink. When he put the glass back down, he had an ice cube between his teeth. “Then some loser goes and practically walks right into her pants!” Chewing on the ice, his head swiveled from side-to-side, taking in the other men. “Sup, guys?” he asked casually.
“Gimme your wallet,” the fat man said.
Raanan turned to him and then looked at his friends; the Neo-Sapien—Kenan—was amongst them. Raanan rolled his eyes as he realized what was about to happen. “Seriously?” he asked. “Look, you douches don’t know who you’re messin’ with, okay?”
The youngest of the group reached out and grabbed Raanan by the neck. He easily hefted the boy into the air—an act that made the bartender reach under the counter and seize his baseball bat.
“Name’s Raanan Lumanta,” the Filipino managed as he reached for his wallet. “Now that you know who you’re messing with…” He took the wad of bills out and offered them down towards the ponderous man. “Here you go.”
“Put him down,” the bartender said, pointing the bat at the group, “and get the hell out of here!”
“Jim, put him down.” The scrawny youth put Raanan back on the floor. “Kenan?”
Kenan reached over and took up Raanan’s untouched drink. He put it to his lips and drank deeply. As he set the glass back down, his cheeks were puffed out. Raising his hand to his face, he snapped his fingers and a tiny flame appeared over the tip of his thumb.
Suddenly he spit the drink out. Coca-Cola was hardly flammable and distilled liquors—such as Jack Daniel’s—was 80 proof, or 40 percent alcohol. There was hardly enough alcohol in Raanan’s drink to render it flammable; Kenan accomplished nothing but extinguishing his own flame.
They all looked him oddly—Raanan, the bartender, Kenan’s friends. “That was a lot cooler in my head,” he said.
Raanan used the respite to drop to all fours and crawl between Jim and the fat one. The moment he was free he took off at a run towards the closest classmate he could find: “Max!” he screamed. Pulling his fellow sophomore away from a cute brunette celebrating her twenty-first birthday with her sorority sisters, Raanan tried to turn his group’s pyro towards theirs. “Go beat them up!”
Max looked down at the short boy. “Seriously?”
“They held me up! Took my money!”
“You got rolled by nerds?”
Jim snatched the baseball bat from the bartender’s hands and bent the aluminum club over his knee.
“You got rolled by super-powered nerds?” Max asked, amending his previous statement. Undaunted, he converged on the quartet: only the skinny Japanese man and the Gothic girl were missing. “Hey, I think you took something that belongs to my…” He looked over his shoulder to where Raanan stood, punching the air energetically. “Friend?”
Laughing with his friends, the scrawny one of the group stepped up to the daring youth. He swung the bat down and into his hand. Gripping the head, he squeezed and left an impression of his fingers in the bat. “As you well know, magic and weapons are prohibited inside the cafeteria,” he said.
Max waved at Jim. Once he knew he had the older youth’s attention, he pointed to his feet. “Your shoelaces are on fire,” he said matter-of-factly. Jim idly looked down and discovered that the teen was hardly lying: the aglets of his laces had indeed burst into flame.
“So, what are you losers doing in a place like this?” he asked as he watched the thin man try to stomp out the flames on his shoes. Ultimately, Jim found it infinitely easier to simply kick off his shoes. “Isn’t your usual Friday night pretending to have sex with imaginary characters or playing World of Warcraft or something?”
“We came to see the band,” the youth said in his socks. “Gordie LaChance is Shooting Up Castle Rock is up next and they are awesome-cubed.”
Max shook his head. “That has to be the gayest name ever.”
“Oh no you did not just blaspheme against Wesley Crusher!”
Jim charged forward and took a swing at the athletic youth; having been in his share of fights over the years, Max had no problems in dodging the wild blow. “Man, you guys really suck…”
“Yeah, well, your momma’s so fat she provides one-hundred percent concealment!”
“Yeah, well, your socks are on fire!”
Jim looked down to see that his socks were indeed on fire. Momentarily forgetting that he was impervious, the rawboned man flew into a panic.
Realizing they were dealing with Neo-Sapiens, the fat man thrust a flabby arm forward and pointed towards Max. “power_gamers!” he exclaimed in a voice loud enough to stop the band’s performance. “Roll for initiative!”
“And now…” the black man announced as he pulled his hands back in the style of the Kamehameha, “I shall divide you by zero!” His hands flew forward and a torrent of flame exploded towards Max. Without a care for the attack, Max simply walked through the fireball; he emerged from the offensive without being singed.
“Yeah, guess who doesn’t catch fire, moron?”
The music’s ceasing coupled with the jet of fire had drawn the attention of the other students. Emerald flames crackled in Lloyd’s skull as he ran to his roommate’s side. “I’m comin’, Max!” he screamed as he summoned his soul-weapon—a warhammer—to his hands.
The power_gamer’s stereotypical Asian nerd, sp4wn_p01nt, teleported into Lloyd’s path and immediately the Nephilim’s eyes fell on the man’s shirt: “THE GAME,” it read.
“Nooooooo!” the Nephilim howled. He swung his weapon in a fit of rage and repeated the process each time the thin man dodged. “You just made me think about it, dammit!”
Carl rose up into the air and flew over the crowd. His eyes locked on Kenan, or RedHott315 as he was known online and in battle; he had seen the flame spurt emanate from his hands and assessed that his standing so close to the bar could prove to be a danger to the rest of the club’s patrons.
Thrusting his arm towards the man, Carl let loose a blast of solar energy for the gamer.
PWNAGE’s jaw dropped as he watched his teammate stagger from the blast of white-hot light. “Wow,” the man in the tweed jacket said, “you just got owned by some kid…”
“No screen cap,” the other man grumbled as he clung to the bar, “didn’t happen.” His arm fumbled behind the counter and grabbed the first bottle his fingers found.
He produced a bottle of tequila.
“Move it, Tak!” the pyrokinetic thundered as he hurled the bottle at Lloyd’s feet. As the glass ruptured, sp4wn_p01nt teleported away, knowing what was coming next: RedHott315 took aim on the floor at the Nephilim’s feet and unleashed a jet of flames from his palm.
The alcohol ignited and Lloyd gave a short scream that gave way to chuckling. Lloyd walked through the fire in much the same staff Max had: only his clothes showed any damage. “This was one of my favorite shirts, you douche!” Lloyd thundered as he looked to his chest. Acquired during Head East’s 1979 tour, the black shirt depicted a sphinx and promoted the band’s “Different Kind of Crazy” album. Now, the flames had taken bites out of its hem and sleeves; Lloyd’s shoulder was still ablaze.
“Are you all fireproof!?!” the man thundered.
“Nah, broseph,” Lloyd said as he continued to march towards his opponent, “I’m not fireproof…” He watched as n00b charged for him with the baseball bat. He didn’t move to dodge as the super-strong gamer swung the weapon down and never flinched when it made contact. “I’m freakin’ invincible!”
Such a claimant signaled to the power_gamers’ only female member: the group’s Gothic girl, Nora Mondale—or Ding!, as they called her—used her own abilities to bolster her allies’ powers while dampening their opponents’. One by one, Ding! focused on one super-powered brawler or another: after augmenting PWNAGE’s powers, she moved to decrease Lloyd’s.
As Lloyd swung his spectral warhammer through the invulnerable n00b, the frailer man counted with a blow of his own. Denied his imperviousness, Lloyd staggered back from the attack and let both his soul-weapon and the fire in his eyes dissipate. n00b failed to take advantage of the respite and instead watched as his leader—the GM—hurled a handful of dice at Pandora, who was now racing across the dance floor to join the battle…
The polyhedrons pelted the pudgy, purple-haired punk precipitating her to pause. Provoking her pugnacity, Pandora put her palms together and projected a peal of plasma for the portly pacesetter of the power_gamers. The pedantry of power packed a puissant punch that put the porcine person on his posterior.
Carl looked from the rotund man’s still form to the origin of the blast that brought him down. “I… I think you killed him!”
Pandora turned towards Carl with eyes brimming with agitation. “He threw dice at me!”
The barefoot n00b smiled lecherously at Pandora. “I would love to tap that…” the youngest power_gamer said.
“You’d have to roll at least a 15 to get into my pants,” Pandora growled at him.
“Only a 15?” Raanan laughed. “You whore.” Before any of his classmates could even think of silencing him, PWNAGE hammered the shortest teen with a blast of bio-energy.
The man in the tweed jacket possessed the Neo-Sapien power to absorb and redirect energy. Fueled by one of RedHott315’s blasts, PWNAGE began to pick off the weaker heroes with his own attacks. He took aim on Max and John, who had together bested RedHott315 through a combination of simply immunity to the nerd’s attacks and mentally manipulating water to nullify the man’s attacks. As John received the blast, Max continued his charge undaunted. With an alcohol-soaked rag wrapped around his knuckles, Max ignited his fist and slammed it into the big man’s face.
PWNAGE absorbed both the brunt of the punch and the heat of the flames. “That which doesn’t kill us can only make us stronger!” he laughed as he thrust his arm forward. With his palm inches from Max’s face, his next blast—empowered by Ding!’s leveling-ability and Max’s attack—would be from a point blank range.
Jude’s arms wrapped around Max’s midsection and spirited him away to safety. In a heartbeat the pair was behind the now-vacant bar with an unconscious Raanan, Lloyd and John. “I was thinking we should leave…” Jude said timidly.
“Good idea,” Max said. “Where’s the wizard?”
“I think he left with the other people,” Jude said. “It’s pretty much just us and them in here at this point and I didn’t see him anywhere… Will’s gone too.”
“Cowards,” Max grumbled, standing up to lunge back into the battle. He hesitated when Jude grabbed his wrist. “What?”
“What am I supposed to do about these guys?”
Max looked about the nightclub to assess the state of their brawl. Gregaro was still bundled up in his coat and hat, locked in a futile fight against the power_gamers’ transporter. While his quick jabs and rapid footwork were reminiscent of some of the best boxers the world had known, all of Gregaro’s prowess in the ring was useless against the teleporter. With each strike Gregaro threw, sp4wn_p01nt merely disappeared, only to reappear in the boxer’s blind spot.
Not far from where they were, Sergio stood back in order to protect Gage. Gage was trying to get around him—insisting that he was hardly a burden—but the amnesic refused to hear it.
Carl was still in the air, unleashing phosphorescent fusillades upon PWNAGE while Pandora kept moving to stay out of n00b’s reach and pelting him with plasma bursts from a safe distance. By attending to the enemies who were still standing, they simply allowed Ding! to tend to the unconscious RedHott315 and the barely conscious GM.
Max pounced over the bar and tackled Ding! to the ground. “You so much as breathe funny and I’ll burn your face off,” he snapped as he pinned her.
“How do you plan on doing that,” she asked in a nasally voice, “after I’ve depleted your powers? Your strength?” As if to prove her point, Ding! pushed Max off of her. He felt weak. He felt tired. He wasn’t sure what had come over him. “Your stamina?”
The GM swung a barstool down and over Max’s back, dropping him to the floor. Barely holding on to consciousness, Max tried to push himself up, only for the GM to sit on him. “Stay down, hothead!” the fat man laughed.
“You’re sure you’ll be fine?” Sergio asked his blind classmate, unable to merely sit back any longer. Unlike the others, he possessed no super-powers—he had nothing that would make him a contender in this brawl. Still, he felt he had to do something…
“I’ll be better than fine,” Gage said. sp4wn_p01nt had a cell phone in his pocket—the electronic device was like a beacon to the boy from Brooklyn. “I’m going to put an end to this…”
As Gage sent an arching line of electricity through the air, connecting himself to sp4wn_p01nt, Sergio charged for the GM. “Leave him alone!” the amnesic thundered as he swung his fist for the rotund man.
Sergio’s attack hit harder than he could have dreamed: not only did he knock the GM off of Max, he sent him flying into the bar. As the GM dropped into an unconscious heap, Sergio turned towards Ding! The woman smirked at him. “Big mistake hitting Greg,” she said haughtily. “You should have come for me first. Now, all your strength is-”
“Is what?” Sergio asked as he slammed his fist into her stomach. It wasn’t just the punch that made the Gothic woman’s eyes bulged: she realized that her powers had had no effect on the youth—his terrifying strength had not diminished in the least bit.
“He hit Nora!” n00b screamed as he watched the only girl who wasn’t related to him and whose phone number he had fall to the floor.
“I swear,” PWNAGE growled as he took aim on Sergio, “these kids’ dice must be loaded or somethin’…” The blast of energy exploded from his palms and collided with Sergio’s chest. He let out a triumphant laugh as he saw the man stagger back from the blow and hurriedly high-fived n00b.
Sergio was still standing. He was hunched over but still on his feet. He straightened his back and as he rose up, PWNAGE saw that his blast had not only obliterated the shirt his opponent wore but tore through his flesh, exposing the metal frame and tubes and circuit boards contained beneath.
Even more shocking: Sergio’s flesh began to knit itself back together, leaving him whole again in no time.
Something clicked in Sergio’s head then: his attacker was across the room and experienced in ranged combat. Sergio knew how best to fight him and raised his arm in preparation for a counter attack.
He was surprised at the hissing sound of air escaping his arm: plates retracted back, revealing crevices in his skin that he hadn’t ever known were there. His palm swiveled around counter-clockwise on a ball hinge as metal coils slowly moved through the frame that just seconds ago had been his right arm.
He gaped in astonishment at the lenses aligned throughout the bionic appendage and then something akin to instinct took over: he took careful aim on his opponent and watched as a blinding blast of energy rocketed from the cannon his arm had transfigured itself into. “Oh…” he muttered at the startling display. “Well, that’s different…”
He trailed off as he noticed something engraved into one of those metal plates: the inside of his arm read, “Sentry Model #IN18769.”
Carl landed and simple stared in wonder at his roommate. “Sergio?” he asked in astonishment.
sp4wn_p01nt appeared behind PWNAGE and n00b then. “We’re getting out of here!” he thundered, grabbing both men by the collar before suddenly teleporting away. Max rolled over onto his side and looked to where the other three members of their group were: the GM, RedHott315 and Ding! were all gone as well.
At the sound of sirens in the distance, those who still stood converged on Sergio. “We need to get out of here,” Pandora said.
Gage hurried away from the others. “You guys get out of here!” he declared. “I need to take care of something first!” His classmates gaped at him in wonder as Jude appeared in their midst; the sophomore had already taken their unconscious classmates out of the building, leaving them secured on the same rooftop Solon had first brought them to.
Grabbing Pandora’s hand, Jude teleported her away before he returned for Max. When he grabbed Gregaro he shivered at the biting cold that permeated the older youth’s coat. After he had taken Carl, Jude returned for Sergio, only to see Gage hurrying back into the club. By the time he returned for the blind boy, Gage was standing where the others had been.
“You mind telling me what was so important that you had to go and run off-”
“The cameras,” Gage said, interrupting Pandora. “I figured it would be best if there was no evidence we were ever there…”
The sound of someone climbing up the fire escape drew those still standing around. The tense teenagers relaxed only when they saw it was only Solon and Will. “And where did you two go?” Pandora asked. “You saw danger and took off running?”
“No,” Will said, “we got the club’s other patrons to safety.”
“Dude?” Max asked, narrowing his eyes at the magus. “Are you wearing lipstick?”
Solon grinned stupidly. “Yeah…” he said before weaving his hands through the air, in preparation for transporting them all back to the campus…
To Be Continued... wrote:Mister Negativity and Captain Pretty Pants.