Since Max has a TON of stuff going on, and Zach is just paying bills, working, and eating pizza, the next few (I’m not sure how much, but more than four) chapters will be entirely devoted to him. Comment your email or some shit and I’ll write you a few paragraphs about that if you really want to hear from him.
Hotfoot handed me a sniper rifle to use as a crutch, and we limped down the hallway. When we passed the legless goon, I crouched beside him and cauterized the wounds with my plasma cannon. “So,” I ventured when he fell unconscious again. “You got a time and place? Preferably somewhere discreet, like where I won’t get caught drinking illegally, with a supervillain?” He looked back at me, head tilted, and scanned me from head to toe. “Huh,” he mused aloud. “You’re underage. I had you pegged at around me, probably more. Anyways, yea. South of the Border. Solid Tex-Mex place. Tuesday nights would be the easiest on my wallet, but I can manage.”
“Do you have a way for us to make contact?”
“I was thinking about like over, SuperWiki or something, but that’d be stupid. To many people would see. When we get out I’ll give you a phone number.”
He gingerly stepped over some rubble and helped me across. We walked down the hallway in silence, before arriving at a room labeled Armory in multiple languages. He kicked the door down, and after scanning the room started cursing wildly. “What?” I asked, readying myself for a fight. “That Gamma fucker got away.”
“Wait you fought Gamma?”
“Yea, the blonde british guy right?” I nodded. “I beat the shit out of him. He looked pretty bad when I left him, but he was probably playing possum.”
“You’re telling me you fought and won against Gamma, but lost to a Speedsuit?” Speedsuits were about half as fast as Gamma, and had nowhere near the amount of destructive abilities.
“Two Speedsuits, I was holding back so I’d have enough power to pull your ass out of the fire, and he shot me in the back. Now hurry up, I don’t want him sneaking up on us and taking your head off.” That meant he was at least a low Level Seven, possibly more. I started to feel very small. We continued to walk, in silence again, before we found ourselves in an empty room. It was dirty, and brown stains covered the yellow walls. Zach fiddled with a remote control looking device, and a dark purple portal whirled into existence in the center of the room. “It leads to the super hospital on Bear Street, but before you go, I need to tell you something.” He paused for a moment, as if he was collecting himself, and said, “You can’t tell anyone about this place until a week from now.” He blurred away, and an instant later he dropped a few wrecked bugs and cameras. “I set a device here. It will be safe, and no-one will die if it goes according to plan, but if heroes show up, this entire pocket dimension could collapse.”
“We’re in a pocket dimension?”
“Uh, yea. That’s why there isn’t any doors.”
“I thought we were underground or underwater or something.”
“Yea, that does make more sense I guess. Anyways, you can’t let ANYONE know.” He stepped forward, and I saw how much he towered over me. Spoiler alert. A lot. “I need you to promise me that. I can hear your heartbeat, so I swear to god If you lie, I will leave you here.”
I doubted it, but I didn’t want to fuck around and see if he could.
“Fine. But, if this is a trick, and people die because I did nothing, The Paragons will be knocking at your door.” He handed me a slip of paper with a number and I nodded in his direction. I took a deep breath and stepped through the portal and onto a hard linoleum floor. I was greeted by a chorus of screams, before someone punched me in the face. My nose broke again, and the blow sent me skidding across the floor. Fucking Brick types, I thought as I fell into the black.
I woke up, and I saw.
I saw. The table, the plants on the desk next to me, the IV bag. I saw! Something was wrong though. Everything was, so clear. It wasn’t natural, and my eyes felt cold. I reached up to touch them with my left hand, and my eyelids didn’t react. I felt metal. Oh god I felt metal. I tried to stand, but I was blocked by a small black strip of cloth strapping my chest too the bed. I grabbed it with my left hand, which moved strangely slow, and ripped the cloth in half. I swung my leg too the side of the bed, and saw completely hairless, but unmarked flesh. I grabbed the table with my ha-
Wait. I didn’t have a hand. I grabbed my left with my right, and pulled, immediately wishing I hadn’t. The hand came off, revealing a metal stump underneath. I tried wiggling my fingers, and the disembodied hand moved. The weirdest part of it was that I felt like my hand was wiggling in its normal spot, and a few feet from the grey stump.
“M-max?” Someone croaked from the room’s corner. I turned, barely fast enough too see the blur that enveloped me in a crushing bear hug. “Ohgodmaxyourbackiknewyouwouldohgodohgodthankyouthankyou” he nearly bawled into my shoulder. I extricated myself from his arms, and saw Harry. He looked bad. My brother normally fit the “Billionaire Playboy by day, Superhero by night/whenever it’s convenient” stereotype to a T. He was tall, tan, had a rugged jawline, and wore expensive glasses under his carefully crafted messy hair. Today though, today was weird. He was deathly pale, his hair stood out in way too many directions, and he had a full grown hobo beard. I hugged him again, sticking my hand back on behind his back. “How long has it been?” I forced through dry lips. He stepped back and scratched the left side of his chin. “Three days. Mucho Lucha hit you hard, forcing us to put you in a medically induced coma. While you were out, I uh, made a few adjustments.” I snorted, and waved my left hand in front of my eyes. “These?”
“Yea. I went kinda crazy when you were out and couldn’t stop building. The hand has a cannon in it, and your eyes can zoom a few hundred times. I also put in thermal and electromagnetic imaging, in it, and an anti-personnel laser.”
“Wait, run that by me again.”
“An anti-personnel las-”
“No I heard you but uh, why?”
“You won’t be helpless again.”
“Uh, how do I activate them? It’s not like my eyes have buttons or uh, did you add that too?”
“They’re linked to the same wiring as your sonar implant. It’s like a new muscle. Just feel it out. But not in here. That might cause fires.We’re going to get you cleared for home, and then I’ve got a few presents for you.”
A few hours later, I relaxed on my couch listening to Harry rant about safety and knowing one’s limits. At some point in the car ride, his euphoria of having a brother again had faded, and he nearly killed me himself. I tuned him out mostly, feeling out my eyes. I stared at the back of my hand with a microscope setting, and noticed carbon fibers woven into the latex like material. Mesmerized by my newfound abilities I didn’t notice that Harry stopped talking. “Well?” He asked, as he sat in a recliner facing me.”Uh could you repeat that?”, I mumbled. He glared at me. “You didn’t listen. Goddamnit Max you never listen. This is why that happened to you. You’re just like mom dad, and if I can’t do something you’re going to end up li-” he stopped unable to continue. “Just tell me what happened. Everything. I know it might be…hard for you to talk about, but we need to know.” He placed his phone on the desk and hit record. “Start from the beginning.” I told him about the raid, and how it was a trap from the beginning. When I told him the file was somewhere else, or had already been sent, he sprang up from the chair and sprinted to the computer. “Keep talking. I can hear you from here”, he shouted over his shoulder. I talked about getting captured, and how all EZ prisoners probably had false memories implanted, and paused. Collecting myself, I told him what happened next, in as much detail as I could. Harry stopped moving and I could see his whole body clench, and I heard a cracking noise. After a few seconds he relaxed, dropped the crushed computer mouse, and walked back to the recliner.
“How did you get out?”
“A few hours after Gamma left, I heard a few crashes followed by a ton of sonic booms. Nearly instantly after that a man rushed into the room and slammed the door behind him. He freed me and introduced himself as Hotfoot. He said he was there to rob them so I assumed he was a villain, and we fought our way out. Now this Hotfoot guy, have you heard of him?”
“Nope, but I’ll look him up, aaand the database has nothing.”
“I don’t know anything about him besides he has a slight philly accent, and he has some serious juice. Probably a speedster and a brick of some sort, since according to him he uh ‘beat the shit out of Gamma’”
“And you believe him.”
“I have no reason not too. Speedster fights make the sonic booms I heard, and we both know Gamma loves fighting speedsters. Anyways we fought off a small army of EZ gangsters, and two Speedsuits.”
“EZ has Speedsuits?”
“At least two, probably more. Back to the point, Hotfoot fought both at once while conserving power, and had the upper hand till he was shot in the back by a force beam. A Speedsuit began to choke him, and I shot its arm off. After that he shredded the other Speedsuit, and we left. Oh yeah, he also claimed to have super hearing.”
“Damn. A new Level Seven villain. At least he seems sort of amiable. Did he say who he worked for?”
“No, but his gear was too good for a loner.”
“I’ll enter this into the files later. Come down to the workshop with me. I have something pretty cool.”