[LNH] The Team Director's Cut

Jesse Willey cabbagewielder at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 23 12:48:20 PST 2004

The Team Director's Cut #7

Ah... The Team Annual #1.  At this one point one of my four readers
stopped reading.  Why?  They said it was so different from everything
that had come before.   That was the point.   I was feeling warn down.
 There were just some much comedic potential in these characters.   By
completely switching gears, I could save my own interest in the series
by doing the one thing I wanted to do.  I destroyed Sig.ago.    I
thought it would start uproar when it was first released.  It took
almost two years before anyone really noticed.

The Team Annual #1
 A Night in the Darkness Part One
 The Morning After
 By Jesse N. Willey

Chapter One:

	Some call it destiny.  Others call it fate.  Whatever you call it,
you can't escape our final destination.  We are born to die.  My
friends learned that the hard way.  As far as I know, I, Joshua
Chesterfield, was the sole survivor of the massacre at our
headquarters. I swore to myself I would never put on the Duplicator
costume after the Overlord incident, but there I was walking through a
burnt out subway tunnel. I inhaled air, which smelt like burning
flesh, for Christ's sake.  God, what was I looking for anyway? Maybe,
I was looking for you, God.   Divine said you abandoned us.

	Water dripped slowly down the corridor, which reminded me of the day
not so long ago when my half-sister Amelia and I discovered this place
and fixed it up.  Little did we know the connection the place had to
our own dark pasts.  Our subway station headquarters had once been a
hideout for the Dark Conclave.

	"Ungggh....Help!" someone cried.

	 I tried to make out the voice but it didn't last long enough for me
to make out who said it.  I was barely able to get a fix on which
direction the sound came from.  I ran to the pile of rubble and began
digging.  It wasn't long before I came across a loose leg.  I couldn't
tell whom it had belonged to off hand, but it didn't matter. I had to
find whomever it was who had shrieked for help.  Finally I found an
arm with a pulse.  I dug out the rest of the body and I swallowed in

	"Mother?" I asked.

 	I didn't know what to do. On the one hand, my mother was the super
villain called Conductress, and she got herself into this mess.  On
the other hand, I'm a super hero.  I'm supposed to protect everyone.
Nervously, I begin pulling her from the wreckage. She handed me an
object, which resembled the communication cards that The Team used.

	"I must reach Mastermime!  There isn't time. This conflict isn't
about good and evil any more, it's about survival," she said.  Her
body began to sparkle with energy.  The electricity hit me without
I lost consciousness immediately.  As I fell to the ground I thought I
heard her say something about `being sucked into oblivion'.

	The world became brighter.  My friends were standing around me. 
We're super heroes, I should have known better than to think they'd
stay dead.  Amelia had her arm around Rick Henkerton. Divine had her
harp back. Patient Zero and Absurd Lass were back to their `normal'
selves.  Simon McGillis was back in the Boy Redundant Lad costume. 
Everything was as it should be.  Even Sky was fine.....

 	"Hey Bro, aren't things grand?" Amelia asked.
	 "I sure think so," Rick replied with a wry smile.

 	They were all happy.  A bit too happy, in my humble opinion.  It was
frightening in a Norman Rockwell kind of way.  It was painfully
pleasant to sit and talk with them.  I began to relax.  All the pain
of the last few days was quickly washed away.

 	"Who wants to play Rorschach, the fun inkblot party game?" Absurd
Lass said excitedly.
 	"Sounds like fun," Sky replied.
	 "I'm in," Rick said.
	 "Me too," Amelia remarked.
 	"I guess so..." I said nervously.
	 "I'll be the recorder," Absurd Lass said with a giggle.

	Absurd Lass opened the box and quickly fidgeted with the contents. 
All the cards were place face down in a pile. Then she turned the
other way, toward the wall.  She held a card behind her back, and
motioned for one of us to start the game.

	"Oh- Oh,  it's my turn!  Sorry. I see a microphone,"
Sky said.

	Absurd Lass wrote down what he said.  I looked at the card.  It
didn't look anything like a microphone.  The inkblot was clearly a
wilted rose. How anyone could mistake wilted rose with a microphone
was beyond me. Top of the object may have slight resemblance, but the
bottom of a rose is much thinner.

 	"I see a telephone pole," Rick replied.

 	I hadn't been paying attention when Rick had been given his time to
look at the card.  I only got a quick glance at it but, I knew it was
anything but a telephone pole.  A telephone pole?  A telephone
pole??!!!  Couldn't he obviously see it was a cross.  It didn't have
wires attached to it.  It couldn't be a telephone pole.  What was the
matter with him? I didn't have much time as Absurd Lass pulled out the
next card.

	 "It's a mask," Amelia said.

	Her idea wasn't far off.  The picture was meant to cover something. 
It wasn't a mask.  It was a shroud. Normally, I'm good at remembering
the definitions of words only I couldn't make much sense to me either.
 I tried to pull my thoughts together.

	"So, Duplicator, what do you see?" Absurd Lass asked.
	"I see..." I said.

	What could I say?  They had me staring at a blank
card.  It felt like pure oblivion, and my soul was falling into it.  I
fought back. Wherever this pit led, I didn't want to go.  I wanted
to stay with my friends.  But my friends were... dead. Except for Rick
who just seemed rather out of it, as if part of him had died with The
Team.  There had been nothing wrong with their answers.   I wanted to
join them on the other side of life, but there was so much to do.  I
had to stop who or whatever caused this great threat to existence.

	"I'm sorry gang, but I have to go," I said.

	I turned around to face a doorway in the middle of nowhere.  I slowly
walked away.  I knew I had to leave, no matter how much I didn't want
to.  Somebody had to carry on or the rest of the city would be
destroyed.  Three million people were already dead or dying because of
the initial explosion.

 "So long bro, I'll miss you," Amelia said as I slowly walked through
the door and closed it behind me.  I struggled to resist the urge to
say `Yeah, back at you'.


	For a moment or two there was blackness.  I began trying to run.  My
leg pounded into something impossibly hard.  My foot would be bruised
for days. When I opened my eyes, I discovered I was flying high
above the city in the arms of Boy Redundant Lad.

 	"Rick?  What are you doing?" I asked.
       "You require medical attention," he replied coldly.
	"Look, I'm fine.  Can you put me down?" I replied.
	"That would hurt you even more.  You're my friend.  I don't want to
hurt you," Rick replied.  "You're the only one I have left."
	"Look, I know you're upset about the others, just set me down.  We
can go to The Justice Cafe and commiserate.  We needed to talk," I
	 "I don't have time.  Too many people to save," Rick said.
	 "You have to let yourself rest sometime," I replied.

	He dropped me off at the hospital and then flew off.  He really
hadn't taken this well.  Like I said, he's been really out of it the
last few days.  Even his parents, who knew about his powers, had filed
a missing persons report with the Sig.ago Police department.  He had
spent every waking moment of the past three days, perhaps even longer,
as Boy Redundant Lad.  It wasn't long before I was met by Doctor
Variel and Doctor Augustus.

	"I still refuse to believe Autumn played any part in this," Variel
	"Why?  Because she's Gully's cousin?" Augustus replied.
	"No, there's more to it than that," Variel remarked.
	"Jerome's own notebook said he stopped training her because she
experimented with darker aspects of magic," Augustus said with a smug

	 They were arguing about the cause of an event that
had already claimed so many lives.  No amount of arguing would bring
them back.  While the danger had subsided, a sense of doom hung in the
air like a cloud of ash. Sometime soon that cloud would burst.  Until
then, my heart beat with a sense of the ominous.

	As I waited to be treated, a nurse ran by pushing a bed toward the
morgue.  I recognized the boy.  I had seen him on the playground at
the mall just a few weeks before.  He had survived one disaster, only
to be blown apart by the next one.  There were three million stories
just like that.  Three million lives lost because two people who had
the power to change the course of history chose not to.

	The doctors checked me out, and then released me.  My injuries
weren't life threatening and they needed the bed for those with more
serious injuries.  Some injured people who had no hope of survival
were just left on stretchers to rot.  This was the result of The
Team's fight against evil.  Now they were gone, and they'd left us,
Rick and myself, with a war.  A war we couldn't possibly win.

	They thought they were heroes who could do no wrong. They believed
that no matter what happened things would always turn out for the
best. They believed that love, courage and bravery would conquer any
situation no matter how hopeless things seemed.   They chose to die in
a futile attempt to save us all.  For all we know they only made
things worse. Evil, by its very nature, finds a way to survive and
there were no more heroes to save us from it.

	I didn't pay attention as I left the hospital and I bumped into
somebody.  I was busy zoning out while listening to the music on the
hospital's radio.  It didn't really matter much to me who it was, but
they were sure looking for me.   With his night stick in hand the man
got up..... and hugged me.

	"Son!  You're alive!  Where's Amelia?" he said with glee.

	The man was my father in all ways except blood, which made what I had
to say so hard.  How could I tell him that his stepdaughter was dead?
How could I tell him that the little girl that he had taught to ride a
bike was dead?  So I said nothing. I simply turned away.

 	"Oh," he replied sadly looking down.  "I see."

	Chapter Two
	My name was Rick Henkerton, but that name doesn't apply any more.  It
vanished with a large chunk of the city in a wave of non-existence.
Rick was a cloud of hopelessness in a world of hope.  Now I have
returned to my destined role.  I am Boy Redundant Lad, a beacon of
hope in a hopeless world.  Rick had friends that he could joke around
with. Rick had time to relax.  Boy Redundant Lad is a one man army.  I
am the best and I won't rest until the whole city is whole again.

	I can't do it alone.  My reasons for being down by the docks are
twofold.  I want to reform The Team while making sure the shipments of
medical supplies can make it to those who need them.

 	"Yo, Rick!" I hear on the edge of my super hearing.

	I knew my ex-girlfriend Girl Redundant Lass couldn't resist trying to
help me on this.  Normally I'm against manipulating people.  But it's
not just my life at stake.  There are millions of people to save. They
must be protected by any means necessary. I signal her to come over. 
We both clearly see the four thieves trying to steal the supplies.  I
fly down toward them.  It gives them a good scare.

	"Smeg!  It's Boy Redundant Lad!" One of the potential thieves says. 
He motions to a woman and child who are standing twenty feet behind
him. He isn't much older than I am.   "Please, man, you have to
understand. My sister just had a baby.  They'll starve."
	"Here," I say tossing him three packs of rations.  "There's enough
for everyone, if nobody decides to be stupid.  As for you three...
spread the word, I'm watching."
	"Thanks man," the first thief says running back to
the woman.

	 Girl Redundant Lass motions me to fly.  It's obvious she doesn't
like the tactics I used.  She just doesn't understand.  We aren't in
Net.tropolis where you can just lock people away in prison.  If I'm
going maintain order, the people have to learn that I can be their
best friend or their worst enemy.

	 "BRL, let's fly," she says.
	 "Not until our fourth member shows up," I say.
	 "Fourth member?  I don't even see our THIRD member.  You look as if
you haven't slept in a while.  Are you sure you're feeling okay?" she
says with a half laugh.

	She LAUGHED.  Does she have no respect for the dead? I would yell at
her, but I need her on this.  I'll need all of them.  Sure, I sent
invitations so to several paranormals, but I know which ones would
take me up on it and which ones have no other choice.

	"You want to meet the third member?" I say. I slowly tap my watch
lightly.  There is a faint `blip' followed by `fshzip' sound as a man
shaped energy field is emitted by my watch.  It quickly forms into a
teenager in a super costume.  It is clear Mary is taken aback.

        "Hey Mary, long time no see!" the teenager
        "Who are you?  Have we met?" she asks.
        "Yes.... I mean no.... I'm mean I'm not sure. 
As for who I am, my name is Virtual Man," the teen says.

	I could already sense Mary swooning over him.  Maybe she wouldn't if
she knew who or what Virtual Man was, but that wasn't my problem.  I
didn't love Mary, at least not in the same way I loved Amelia.  Of
course things don't always work out the way you want them to. I just
wished for once, just once, they would.

	That's when the ground rumbled.  That was one of the few small
problems with the one I chose for our fourth member.  She was
dangerously unpredictable.  Most probability manipulators have
attention deficit disorder but her case it is extremely severe. Her
grand entrance only served to lessen my impression of her.

	"This is The New Team?  What a bunch of losers!"  Holly Rogers says
as she jumps out of a large crack she formed in the street.

	Holly claims to be Sky's dimensional counterpart from another
universe who was brought to our Earth as part of The Time Crapper's
master plan. Considering we were dealing with the aftershocks of
His/Her/Its  plan, she was a logical person to recruit.  I could only
hope I made the right decision.

	"Who are you calling a loser?" Virtual Man replies.
	"You, for one," Holly retorts.
	"Bite me, prom queen," Virtual Man grimaces.
	"Will both of you STOP IT!  I've got a mission for
you three," I yell.
	"A mission?  Already?" Mary asks.
	"Yes, I need you to spy on the church tent that appeared on the
outskirts of the city.  I'd come along but, if I'm right, I'd be
recognized," I tell them.
	 "Spying on a church?" Holly asks.  "I don't get it."
	 "You will," I said.

	I didn't think they'd understand.  The super villain population must
be weeded out of Sig.ago before the repairs are made.  Super villains
can hide anywhere, even a church.  They don't know the world the way I
do. Starless would understand.... wherever the hell he
is... after what happened to Divine nobody has seen him.

	We take flight.  We each head our separate ways. They head to the
Church tent.  I head to the wreckage of our headquarters.  I have to
check on the fifth and final member.  I know he'll be down there
looking for survivors that won't be there.  My mind is flooded with
and tormented by good memories, until finally, I find Josh.  He's
unconscious so I gently pick him up. I get him out of the crater
easily and flew toward the hospital.  As we reach the peak altitude
for our flight, Josh begins to stir.

	"Rick?  What are you doing?" Josh asks.
	"You require medical attention," I reply coldly.
	"Look, I'm fine.  Can you put me down?" he says.
	"That would hurt you even more.  You're my friend.  I don't want to
hurt you," I state matter-of-factly. "You're the only one I have
	"Look, I know you're upset about the others, just set me down.  We
can go to The Justice Cafe and commiserate," Josh tells me.
	"I don't have time.  Too many people to save," I say.
	"You have to let yourself rest sometime," he replies.

	As I set him down on the ground, I think maybe he is right.  Maybe I
am working too hard.  But of course he's wrong.  What is one person's
social life worth if losing it can help so many other people?   Not a
thing.  So, I pick up my cape and fly on into the sunset.

 Chapter Three

	Who am I?  You aren't getting that answered soon.  I keep my identity
on a need to know basis.  The only person who needs to know who I am
is me.  Nobody else will ever learn another smegging thing about me. 
I've been hurt too many times by too many people to tell them
anything.  In other words boys, the mask stays on.  That doesn't
really matter to all of you, does it? The mask is only serves to
attract you further.  That suits me just fine.  It makes you come
close enough that I can pound your ass into the sidewalk.

	Anyway, I was investigating a church that popped up in the small
crater in the middle of the remains of Sig.ago.   I knew there was
something fishy about it. It didn't quite seem on the level.  I went
in the church in my civilian identity to get an idea what the preacher
was trying to say.  It was probably just another one of those churches
trying to increase its number of converts by preaching in the most
recent disaster area.  Unfortunately there's no law against it.

	"Welcome everyone.  Welcome newcomers.  Pick up your books and turn
them to The Book of Divine, chapter eight verse 13," the priest said.

	The Book of Divine?  I'd never heard of it.  I know quite a bit about
religions and their connection to the paranormal.  I came across no
references to it at all.  Of course there are quite a few books on the
occult that I don't own.  It's quite possible I missed it.

	"God said to Divine that man shall have his own destiny to lead free
from the influence of our kind.  Only then will the Children of God be
full grown. He sent her to round up threats and plant the seeds of
this future and insure they bore fruit.  So she wandered Heaven and
Earth in search of threats to the will of God.  It was only a matter
of TIME before she realized that stopping those who would interfere
with destiny was a form of intervention.  She was put on trial and
punished so that we all could live.  She went to hell so that the
entire world would not be burned by its flames.  Although we may have
lost friends and loved ones, at least we are here to mourn," the
Priest said.

	I could tell the books were new.  While the text had some biblical
overtones, I remembered reading about a local super hero called
Divine.  She was supposedly an angel.  Several weeks ago she fell from
grace.  (The Team #18)

	Three people from the row behind me jumped and charged The Priest. 
Two of them looked like super heroes but there was something odd about
the third.  He looked as dark as a shadow but was filled with
flickering ones and zeros that glowed brightly.

	"Great Starless!  We are greeted by The Prophets of Divine," the
Priest said.
	"Shut the smeg up. We aren't prophets.  We're here to shut down your
sham of a church," said one teenaged girl.  She was dressed in a skin
tight pink body suit.
	"But you were the new goddess's friends.  Surely you are followers of
the true faith," the priest said as he clenched his book close to
	"We don't like the way you've warped and twisted our friend's
memory," the girl dressed in the pink bodysuit.  Her hands began to
glow with some sort of energy that disrupted the fabric of
probability. The end result was a minor aftershock.

	The priest's shadow began to cover him like a cloak.  Every shadow in
the room was drawn toward him.  Only the man's bright grey eyes shone
through the darkness. I could sense the aura he was trying to project.
He wanted to absorb our souls.  The way he ingested the souls of his
followers.  I've been taught enough magic over the past several months
to defend myself.  The others would have to protect themselves.

	"So, you are the new Team?  I knew you'd reform sooner or later. I
just didn't think you lambs would find the slaughter so soon," snarled
the shadow priest.
	"We don't know what you're up to, Ominous, but we're putting a stop
to it," the flashing digit guy said.

	Ominous?   The guy's codename was Ominous?  Of all the superficial
names he could come up with he chose Ominous?  He might as well call
himself Villain or Bad Guy and be done with it.  I mean come on! 
Bleak, foreshadowing of the dismal?

	"No, I'm putting a stop to you," the priest said.

	The next several seconds changed my opinion of him.  Grey bolts shot
out of his eyes and hit the guy with digits covering his body.  All
the blinking digits changed into zeroes and he fell to the ground. The
other heroes looked on at him in shock.

	"You killed Virtual Man!" the other girl said.

	"He could not be killed.  He had no soul.  Soon you won't have one
either," Ominous said.  "I only need three more before my plan can

	I knew what he was planning.  He had collected the souls of followers
and the eleven million people who died and gathered them together.  He
was going to complete Divine's mission without interfering in the
events of man.  There was only one more cosmic-level being left to
face.  God himself.  I concentrated and my clothes changed into my

	"Well you aren't getting them here, buster," I said.

 	Oh God dammit!  I'm beginning to sound like the spandex people.
Someone would say when in Rome do as the Romans do, but it didn't feel
natural. Emitting the clouds of light from my hands and kicking his
ass feels fine.  It's just the other requirements like this costume
that gets to me.  The gases repelled him. His shadow began to shrink
and his laughter filled the room.

	"She's one of you now?  Then let you share the fate
of all her other past partners," Ominous cackled.

	I guess that's when I knew my mind was completely made up.  I was
going to be a superhero. What harm could I do?  I mean this Team is
going through hell as it is.  I decided I had finally found my place.

	"BRL, corridor for three," the other girl said as she talked into a
credit card sized object.
	"Three?  You and Holly are the only ones there.  I already activated
Virtual Man's retrieval protocols," a crystal clear voice said over
the device.
	 "Yeah, I know, but there is someone here we think
you'd like to meet," the girl commanded.

	A ripple opened in the space in front of us.  It looked like someone
had torn the fabric of reality apart. The girl in the pink bodysuit
jumped through. The other girl motioned for me to follow her. At first
I was hesitant. I wasn't sure I wanted to go with her. Then an angry
group of Ominous's soulless followers came after us.

	"Come on!  We don't have much time left," the other girl said.

 	Traveling through hyperspace felt like falling, but only for a
second.  The next moment I had hit the ground with a simple walk.    I
don't know how else to put it.  The room appeared we appeared in was
covered with high technology.

	"Ri- I mean BRL, where are we?" the girl asked.
	"This is Sub level Thirteen.  It's a secret bunker beneath the
Sig.ago branch of the Federal Emergency Management Agency," said a guy
in real tight spandex.  "Where's the new applicant?"
	"She's right behind me," the second girl said.
	"Okay, your codename please," Rick said.
 	"I call myself The Mystery," I said as I stepped out from behind the

 	He stared at my costume, and then was practically giving me the eye.
He wasn't that bad looking and he was only about three years younger
than I was.  Not to say that I had thing for him at first sight or
anything.  I was just surprised is all.

	"Amelia!  You're alive!  But how?" he asked.
	"What?  I- I don't know what you're talking about?" I
	 "Uh.... sure you don't.  I'm sure your memory will
come back to you soon enough," he said nervously.  "Until then I'd
like to welcome you to The Team!"

  		The End?


	This is another issue I thought would be controversial.   Mostly for
the Gasmaster backstory.   If anyone actually read this issue, they
didn't care.  Oh well.  Maybe it will finally stir things up now.


       The Team #19
	A Night in the Darkness part two: Sleepless Night.
	By Jesse N. Willey
	Edits by Subreality's Rossi

	Alison Delphi lay in her room and cried. She had never meant to probe
Sky's mind so deeply.  He had always kept his thoughts and emotions
half closed off to the world.  Now she knew why. She knew too well. It
was almost as if she lived through the hell of Four Thirty Sixth and
Half Mulberry Street.

	Nobody would know.  Sky surely wouldn't tell anyone. Nobody would
ever believe her, but she had to prove it happened, if only to
herself. There was no way she was going to sleep tonight.  She reached
out with her mind--

	<Brain Boy, are you there?>
	<Yeah.  And please call me Carter.  Is something
	<Yes, but not with me.  I mean it's my problem, but
it's not...>
	<Ah.... You had your first accidental mind probe. I
	<It's more than that. Do... do you think you could
get me some sort of cruiser?  Oh, and whatever you do,
don't tell Sky.>
	<Sure, no problem, but what's up?>
	<I can't explain.  Not yet.>


	Rick awoke as soon as the door slammed open.  He gave a startled jerk
and almost hit the ceiling. Sometimes he couldn't get used to having
the top bunk.  He had learned to walk again a little over a year and
half ago and jumping was something that sent shivers down his spine.
The bright light made him cringe.

	"It's only me," Sky said.  "Sorry about that."
	"Unghh... what time is it?" Rick asked.
	"Two am," Sky replied with a yawn.
	"What happened?" Rick asked.
	"I'll tell you in the morning," Sky said.
	"I want to know," Rick remarked.
	"In the morning.  I'm tired, hungry and really pissed off," Sky said.
"All I'm gonna say right now is that I tried to salvage your
friendship with Carolyn Forge. Now get some sleep."

	"You _what_?!" Rick asked angrily. There was nothing but silence.

	He looked down to see his friend on the bottom bunk completely passed
out.  He'd never seen anyone fall asleep so quickly.  Normally, Rick
would yell and scream and try to wake Sky up. He seemed so tranquil.
It was almost if he hadn't slept in a day. Rick would get around to
strangling him in the morning.

	"Night pal.  I know you meant well," Rick said.


	Nick Starless sat at the monitor board watching for anything unusual.
He knew the Benyorian Security Forces were going to catch up with him
tonight.  How many years ago had it been since he made that minor
infraction of their laws? Factoring in the relativistic velocity
jumps, it was about forty five years.  Not that anyone on The Team,
aside from Divine, who was AWOL, knew his real age.

	He flicked his pencil back and fourth on the desk, writing a stupid
love poem.  He was glad nobody else was here. It would be
embarrassing. He could just imagine what Absurd Lass would say if she
saw it.

	"Thinking of Absurd Lass, I wonder why she and Patient Zero didn't
check in this afternoon.  They only went to help try and rebuild the
mall.  I wonder what happened to them," he said out loud. Then: "Damn
it Starless, you're talking to yourself."
	"No, I am here Nick," came a voice from the small holographic fire.
Nick had liked the effect from a few days before so much that he had
kept it in the headquarters memory banks.

	He didn't know who would be coming into headquarters at this hour. 
Most of the others went to their homes or private sanctuaries at this
hour. Even Amelia would have gone to bed at this hour.  It was four am
and Nick should be in his bed sleeping on board his
spacecraft.   'The Good Ship Lollipop' which was docked in the
headquarters Hangar Deck.

	"Divine?  Where have you been, my darling?" Nick asked.
	"I-I went to see a man about the future," she replied as tears came
to her eyes.
	"Really.  You mean that future?  I knew I'd have to
face it eventually. I'm not going to run from it any more," Nick said.
	"I know.  It wasn't your destiny I was worried about.
 I've done a horrible thing.  Great Father help me, I've damned us
both," Divine said in tears.
	"What are you talking about?" Nick said.
	"I-I  I don't know how to put it."

	Divine fell on her knees and wept.  Nick moved in to comfort her.

	"What do you have to explain?" Nick asked.
	"I-I-I signed a contract with Lucifer.  When we die our souls will go
to Hell.  In exchange, he will supply us with a bit of back up when
the time comes," Divine said. "It was all I could do."


	Amelia Chesterfield sat at staring at the computer.  Her name, the
date and `English 102' were written at the top of the screen, along
with the words 'Mister Mystery: Man, Myth and Legend'. That was it. 
Her paper was due to her professor by 4:00 PM the next day. That gave
her a little less than twelve hours, including the time she was in
class, to finish it.  Even her super human endurance couldn't keep up
under this type of pressure.

	"In the Mid 1920's there emerged a hero who..... who did what?
Arrgggh!" she mumbled while typing.  She wrinkled her nose and then
pushed her glasses up closer to her face.

	She heard a faint flushing sound in the background
and then loud rumbling of someone running.  She turned around in
almost sheer terror. She half expected some crazed super villain come
in and destroy her English paper.  It was only her half brother

	"Hey sis," Josh said lazily.

	It was obvious from the movement of his body and the cloudiness of
his eyes that she wasn't the only one who had been lacking sleep.
Something was bothering him, and since she felt that since no ideas
were coming to her for her English paper, they might as well talk.

	"What's wrong Josh?" she asked as she turned her swivel chair around.

	"Well.... it's just that tomorrow is the first day our school is
requiring security badges and id cards and what not. I think it might
be a good idea to put The Team on patrol there.... y'know just to be
on the safe side," he said with a worried look.
	"Bro, they're going to have police there out the wazoo.  We'd be a
fifth wheel," Amelia said.
	"You remember what Gasmaster said at the mall. The gas was supposed
to activate latent paranormal abilities.  If some nutzo kid just
happened to be affected...."
	"I think we'd know about it by now," Amelia said as she waved a cloud
of a green gas in his face.  "Please, for your own sake, get some


	Simon McGillis' eyes were glued to his television. He was in ecstasy
as the men with guns shot the other men with guns. When you were
fifteen and unable to walk (which made it impossible to get girls to
notice you) the next best was pointless destruction. His parents
would kill him if they knew he was watching this. They didn't know
that as a super hero he dealt with situations like this all the time
in real life.

	"Reg, get your mind out of the gutter and start kicking ass," the old
cop's voice blared.
	"Right si--," said the young cop who would have gotten married the
next day as a shot rang out.
	"There goes my retirement," the old cop said.
	"You can say that again," sniggered the person with the gun as he
fired, blowing away a squad of cops, including a fat guy who resembled
Joe Don Baker.

	Simon laughed quietly at the movies. His parents were sound asleep in
the room next to his so he had to keep it down...  One wrong sound and
he'd get caught.  He would have been able to remain quiet about if the
camera hadn't panned out to reveal a woman dressed all in black

	For a second he began to drool until he realized something.

	"Holy Crap!  Mom!" he yelled.


	The villain called Gasmaster slept.  He felt like he was the only
paranormal in the city who was getting any sleep. The thought that
this was even a remote possibility filled him with an almost childish
sense of glee.  He began to dream. At first it was a peaceful dream,
free of any disturbances. Then the memories began to surface.  The
ones from many years ago, when mankind was still young.  He had been
old even then.  Cronus's influence had been gone for many hundreds of
years. Cronus had given Gasmaster, who had long since forgotten his
original name, a lengthened life span for his great service.  Ever
since Zeus had taken over Olympus, Gasmaster had felt himself aging
little by little over the decades.  So he led the two men he had duped
into helping him, on a little mountain climbing expedition.

	"You think this will work?" one of the men asked.
	"Of course it will.  Our inside source has checked
out the plans himself, right Promy?" Gasmaster said with a cocky
	"Yes, I have.  Now come, the fires of Olympus shouldn't be much
farther," the second man said.  "I hope you two know what you're
	"Prometheus, please don't tell me you're scared," Gasmaster replied.
"Zeus isn't half as tough as people think he is.  Surely, he is almost
a big a loser as his father before him was."

	It occurred to Gasmaster that his original gift of expanded life had
been based off faith.  As he slowly lost faith in the power Cronus
had, the older he got.  This new source of life did not rely on faith.
What they sought was a piece of creation itself.

	It was a less crowded pantheon in those days. Athena
And Dionysus were yet to be born.  Security was not something they
worried about on the Godly planes at the time.  Prometheus had
easily been able go in and steal fire.  Gasmaster reached to put his
hand in it.  It did not burn his flesh, but rather his flesh invited
its touch. At the same time the flame became twisted and tainted.  The
Fires of Olympus made him an immortal.  In exchange he gave fire the
ability to destroy and kill.

	"Remember, there is but one way for you to die now.  If the blood of
another immortal drops into your veins while your heart yet beats,
Hermes, grand herald of Hades, shall surely come for you," Prometheus
said. "Only things as pure as The Flames of Creation can grant
immortality.  Now that purity is within you, as is the true flame.
Those who consume such fires rarely do so without cost."

	Prometheus had been right. The days of Rome hadn't been kind to man
who called himself Gasmaster. Then there were those awful years he
spent in France, when he got his head cut off.  His original head had
gotten smashed to bits, yet a new one grew.  As if by magic, it had
all the memories of his old brain only slightly jumbled.  He learned
he could take any injury and survive.  Time flew on, death after the
death.  As fewer children of Cronus remained on the Earth plane
he gained the ability to create gases with various abilities.

	In the Nineteen Fifties, he moved to a small town and settled down
under the name Jack Candor. He met a young woman named Kara. After
knowing each other several hours, they went to their town's lovers
lane. A year later he and Kara had a daughter. Jack was called off to
defend American interests in the Korean War. He fought bravely, and
was declared legally dead seven times.  He always came back before his
funeral, except for the last time.  His head had been blown to
smithereens in friendly fire.

	Three months later he had dug himself out of a pile
of corpses.

	Twenty five years later he returned to the small town where he had
met Kara.  His name Karl Jung now, no relation to the psychologist.
There he met a woman named Marjorie.  Hoping to continue with her were
he left off with Kara, they quickly went to Las Vegas and got married.
They hooked up with a war buddy of Gasmaster's.  They got jobs at the
man lab.  One day Marge was involved in an accident, which gave her
the ability to produce lighting that oddly enough left intense
pheromone levels in the air. The three of them, along with two
recruits from an
insane asylum, became super villains Then while updating Marge's
medical file he came to a startling discovery.  Her mother was a woman
named Kara, and her father was listed as Jack Candor.

	"Crap!" he'd thought.
	"Karl, honey," Marge replied.
	"Yes dear," he said.
	"You're going to be a father," Marge said with glee.

	Gasmaster awoke with a scream.  It was the worst dream
he had ever had, mostly due to it's lack of protective Freudian
imagery.  It was all his memories.  He had wished he could be an


 	This is one case of me pushing the envelope where I don't think I
pushed it hard enough.   I wanted to portray an accurate portrayal of
the type of bullying I went through during elementary school all the
way up to the middle of High School.   I was about a million times too
nice to these guys.   What do you expect they were stock villains.


The Team #20
The Night in the Darkness part three.
The Start of the Day
By Jesse N. Willey.
Edits By Subreality's WAY Overworked Rossi

It was five am, and Neal Carter loaded up his book bag and prepared
for school.  The math workbook with all the assigned problems from the
chapter was in place right next to his notebook which contained his
history worksheet.  He'd finished the rough draft of a story for the
so called `creative writing' unit of his English course. The bag also
contained one small surprise, a drug which was commonly used as a
cough suppressant. It would, however, do something quite different to
people with certain paranormal abilities. And best of all, the
school's new security policy wouldn't consider it a weapon.

	"Today the oppression of me, and those like me, will
end," he thought.

	He grabbed himself some peanut butter toast and some
milk. He would have to rush breakfast, for he had other errands to
attend to before he got to school. He had to talk to McAllen before
their plan was put into action. Finishing his toast and gulping down
the milk, Neal ran to his friend's house. He didn't even have to knock
on the door. McAllen was waiting for him.

	"So, you ready for fifth period?" Neal asked.
	"Of course. Once I spike the cough suppressant your
powers will do things they never have before.  All I have to do is
take the pill," McAllen said.
	"I thought it was MY POWERS that we wanted enhanced.
You've never really even said what your powers are McAllen," Neal
	"Trust me..... have I ever steered you wrong before?
I know what I'm doing," McAllen said, sneaking a smile. "When my
powers are spiked there won't be a paranormal on school grounds that
will be safe."

	McAllen was a bit nuts, but he was a trustworthy kook. If he said you
were going to get an `A' on a paper he wrote for you, you would. If he
swore vengeance on you, then awful things would begin to happen to
you. That's just the way it was.

"Okay, okay.  As long as it works," Neal replied.


	Holly Rogers sat in her family's new Sig.ago apartment waiting for
her alarm clock to ring. It was an inexplicably hard task since it
wasn't set to go off for another hour.  She could use her powers to
manipulate the fabric of reality and cause it to go off early, but
that would be cheating. She wanted to do this fairly.  Throughout the
darkness of her life, she had always played things fairly.

	Then a bright light enveloped her. She was instantly transported to
the middle of a void-like reality.

	"Where am I?  Who's there?" Holly called out.
	"You are in my realm now.  As for who I am, you should know that by
now," A man said.
	"The Time Crapper!" she gasped.
	"Correct.   You knew I would return to speak with you again some day.
It is time..." The Crapper said.

	There was a sense of melodrama in his voice.  The being that was a
gestalt of everyone who ever could have been and everyone who ever
couldn't have been, seemed to smile.  Whatever he was planning, it was
exceptionally wicked.  He had been planning it for some time.

	"What do you want with me?" Holly asked.	
	"You must go to school today...." Crapper began.
	"Tell me something I don't know," Holly said.
	"...and you will help students with `extreme views',"
the Crapper continued.
	"Why?" Holly said.
	"Because several days ago the angel, Divine, attacked
me.  I'm setting up my revenge, duh," the Crapper said
as his/her/it's voice molded itself to sound like
Holly's.  "And, like, if you, like, fail, I'll make
sure you were, like, never born in the first place."	
	"O-Okay," Holly said sadly.  "I'll do it."


	Rick and Sky sat at the breakfast table eating Frosted Flakes. Rick
gave his friend a half angry look in order to show that he wanted to
continue the conversation they had started last night. Sky grumbled
and muttered something under his breath. (The conversation took place
last issue.)

	"So, how's Carolyn?" Rick said trying to snidely restart the
	"Oh fine," Sky said as he crunched down on his breakfast cereal. "And
she's waiting for you to apologize.  She's really ticked at you."
	"Me?  Apologize?  For what?  Wanting to live my own life?" Rick said.
	"She's your best friend.  You can't stay mad at her for something
like this," Sky said.
	"Friends don't treat friends like injured animals they find on the
street," Rick said.  "I am a human being.  Back before I had the
nanites change my DNA, I thought everyone had a reason to try to
protect me. But... but..."
	"Amelia taught you otherwise, right?" Sky said.
	"Well... her... and Electra," Rick said.  "How's she doing anyway?"
	"Dunno... I didn't see her," Sky said.  "Frankly, I couldn't care
less.  Oh and I talked to Amelia yesterday.  Just a hint if you want
to smooth the ice with her.... there's that new sci-fi film playing
down at the Cineplex."

	Rick sighed.  He knew Sky meant well, and he really did want to
apologize to Amelia.  He really cared about her.  It wasn't that
falling for Electra was a mistake but it just wouldn't work out.
Sometimes the treasure you're really looking for is right in front of

	"Alright, I'll call her," Rick said at last.
	"About time," Sky said.


	Divine quickly dressed. After being cast out of heaven she was
finally truly free to do as she pleased. After convincing Nick to give
up monitor duty, they had had a good time.  Her father would have said
too good and assigned her to burn. Of course her father's morals, like
all parents, weren't quite caught up with the modern generation.
Unlike most parents, her father's morals were some three thousand
years old.

	"So, uh, how does it feel to be a fallen angel now?"
Nick asked with a wicked smile.
	"Oh, I'm not fallen.  I'm just not as high as I used
to be," she said returning the smile.

	They stared at each other a few more moments, and the sheets rolled
over again. She began tickling his ear. Nick grinned in a way not
often seen outside certain bars or hotel rooms in the Centauri sector.

	"Whoa! You're feisty.  Are you sure you're on the
level?" Nick asked.
	"Only one way to find out," she said as she removed
her robe again.


	The small alien bounty hunter's ship hung in geosynchronus orbit
around Sig.ago. He had just beamed down to the planet to find his
prey. Nick Starless was not the easiest person in the galaxy to find.
With legends of a man fitting his description appearing on so many
worlds, it was hard to find out if any of these claims had any
veracity. Of course, Aranti Harsheen bounty hunter for hire, knew a
secret even the Benyorian fleet that was looking for Starless didn't
know.... his home world.

	`I'm sorry old friend,' Aranti thought. `I don't like this any more
than you do. Even if the Benyorians hadn't put the price on your head,
you sold out The Order. I'm going to have to take you in.'

	*Mental commands not understood,* echoed the ship's computer in his
	"Never mind," Aranti replied.


	The Chesterfields' apartment was blustering with activity. Alison was
visiting to get assistance with her English paper. Joshua was rushing
over to Simon's to help him get to school. It was a regular Team
members "out of Spandex" meeting. It was just the sort of activity
Amelia had hoped for when she first formed The Team. The young women
had just finished the second of the three pages when there was a loud
knock on the door.

	"Who is it?" Amelia asked.
	"Amelia, it's us," Rick yelled.

	Amelia opened the door in shock. Rick Henkerton, as a rule, avoided
doorsteps. It dated back to before he relearned to walk unaided. What
would he be doing there was before the ten minutes before she had to
head to class was beyond her possible understanding.
Why he would bring Sky with him confused her even more.

	"Hey Rick!  What's up?" Amelia asked.
	"Um.. Urr..." Rick said.
	"Rick, spill it or I will," Sky said with a wide smile.
	"Spill what?" Rick said as he gave his friend a ribbing.
	"Oommph!  Watch it...." Sky retorted. "Anyway, Alison and I were
already going to get a bite to eat after classes today, and I THOUGHT
it'd be a good idea if you and Rick came along."
	"Sky....." Rick whined.
	"Sure, I'd love to come. Maybe Rick could help me update my scrapbook
or something afterwards," she said with a wink.
	"Um... ur.... sure," he replied.


	Brain Boy sat adjusting the keypad on the Time Cube he had borrowed
from the LNH.  Having set the sequences properly, he decided his job
was complete. He turned to his lab assistant, the genetic mutation
known as Greptile.  The two of them examined it a few times.

	"Hmmm...." Brain Boy said.
	"Hmmmmm....," Greptile replied.
	"So, do you think it'll work?" Brain Boy asked.
	"I dunno.  It's worth a shot.  Besides, there's only one way to find
out," Greptile replied.

	Lucas Thompson, the part time super hero known as SPLoTcH!, gazed at
the mess they had made of The Team headquarters' cargo deck. The large
cube shone like a beacon to the Mecca of messiness. He wished he had
been around to help make it, instead of being up in his room playing
video games.

	"Hey guys, what's up?" SPLoTcH! asked.
	"Nothing much, except Brain Boy adjusted the Time Cube to lock in on
to our dimensional vibration frequencies...," Greptile said with an
excited cry.
	"Meaning what exactly?" SPLoTcH! asked.  "Does that mean what I think
it means?"
	"It means we can go home!" Greptile said with excitement.
	"Oh," SPLoTcH! Said, sounding depressed. "That's what
I thought."
	"Come on man.... our girlfriends must be worried
sick," Greptile replied.
	"Grep, you never had a girlfriend," SPLoTcH! replied.

	Greptile stared at his best friend.

	"Look, if I could go home without you, I would. Due to our means of
entry, either we both go, or we both stay.  I... I want to go home,"
Greptile said.
	"Alright, if you put it that way," SPLoTcH! said with a laugh.  "I
really had you there, didn't I. We're going home!  Wahoo!"


	Simon McGillis slumped into second period class slightly late.  The
one good thing about his handicaps was that he got unlimited tardy
slips. It saved him from having to be left out of the stupid
conversations in that time before class while the teacher was waiting
for everyone to settle down.

	"So, we start at fifth period?" he heard one student ask.
	"Yeah.  As soon as the test is given," the student next to him

	Simon recognized him.  He was one of the kids who was picked on more
than he was.  He didn't recognize the guy, but he didn't really know
very many people in this class.  You don't have time to mingle in
classes when you leave early and arrive late.

	"Hey Simon!" came the voice from some girl in the back of the room.
"You're in our group."
	"Oh, hi Xandra," Simon replied.

	Alexandra Hayes, or Xandra to her friends, was quite a remarkable
student. She got `A's in all of her classes, was captain of the debate
team, editor of the high school paper, and was still an overall nice
person.  Most people with those type of credentials treated everyone
else like dirt. Before Simon had come down with the neurometamorphosis
syndrome, he'd had a serious crush on her.  Then she came to visit him
in the hospital and had helped him learn to walk again. While he could
tell she felt the same way about him, his own feelings changed. She
had become the older sister he never had.

	"Cool," Simon said.  "What's the assignment?"
	"Make a list of things we think of when we hear the word Super hero,"
said a ditzy blond.
	"Heh, chicks in tight spandex," said Todd, the ditzy
blond's boyfriend.
	"Shut up!" the ditzy blond replied.
	"Any other suggestions?" Xandra asked.
	"Well... as you know... I've met a few super heroes during that whole
Overlord stuff..." Simon said weakly. (See issues #6-9 and Regal
Thirteen Secret Files #1.)  "If it weren't for them getting that
medical equipment I needed, I would've died.  They got it for me....
but it cost them quite a lot.  So I say self sacrifice."
	"Heh.... is that your final answer, or would you like
to spend a lifeline?" the ditzy blond giggled.

	He wished he could blink into costume, and not hold back.  What would
they do if they found out they were in same class with the current Boy
Redundant Lad.  Every word he was saying was the truth, except the bit
about medical equipment.  In actuality, Rick Henkerton, the original
Boy Redundant Lad, had given him the powers to save his life.

	"Not only that, I'd say second chances.  All the heroes I met were at
rock bottom before they became supertypes, and then used their powers
or gadgets or whatever to make something of their lives," Simon said.
	"Alright class, time's up!" the teacher said, right as Xandra
finished writing Simon's speech down. "Now for the oral presentation. 
Xandra, your group goes first."
	"Alright Simon, knock'em dead," Xandra said.


  As for the Sky origin story, it was based loosely on a really awful
Tom Russell story.   It went as far as retroactively adding things to
The Cosmic Plot Device Caper and a few other very old LNH stories. 
After I bashed Tom's head in with a trout, he wisely decided not
disseminate this story to the general public.  I liked elements of the
origin.   I decided to use parts of that origin, and leave out others.
I had intended to include `based loosely on a story by Tom Russell'
but he asked me not to.


7 Hours Earlier

	The sky was grey and cloudy, but Alison was unaware of it. She was
blind. Her arms shivered in the cold. Every time she had been this far
out into the countryside it felt this way. Using the mental map of the
building that she had accidentally grabbed from Sky's mind, she walked
around the yard. She stopped over near the tree.  She could
psychically sense it. She knew her...she meant Sky's.... father had
buried Sky's sisters and mother under it. In a fit of rage, Sky had
killed his father. His unmourned bones still lay there.

	She walked up to Sky's old home. It was really an old rotting shed
with three bedrooms added on to it. She walked into the room that Sky
had occupied.  She sensed something almost anachronistic about the
room, as if it had been lived in yesterday.

	"Ah, you're here," Alison whispered.
	"I am everywhere. I'm surprised you figured out my
part in all of this. After all, Sky never did," said a
man in a long black cloak.
	"Actually, I haven't put it altogether yet.  Time
Crapper, is it? He's Holly's son isn't he?" Alison
	"Correct, and yet, she is indeed the alternate
universe Sky," Crapper said with a grim frown. "Mister
Waters knew at least one of the children he was
raising was not his own.  He killed all of her...
their children.... until he found out which one wasn't
his.  Alas,
that child killed him."
	"So.... he wasn't Sky's father," she asked.
	"Precisely," Crapper replied.
	"Then who was?"
	"I was," Crapper said as he faded away. 

	The Team #21
	A Night in the Darkness:
	The Setting of the Sun
	By Jesse N. Willey

	The Justice Cafe filled with people.  It was eleven thirty, time for
lunch. Dozens of tables filled with people who insisted on having
noisy conversations. Rick, Amelia, Sky and Alison took their seats.
Amelia felt naked being here out of costume but, Rick had insisted.
She wondered if he missed being Boy Redundant Lad at all.

	"Yeah, I'll have `The Ultimate Pizza' and an Easily Discovered Cola,"
Sky told the waiter.
	"Hmmm.... I'll have a `Divine Burger' and an Easily Discovered Cola
Lite," Amelia said.
	"I'll have the same," Alison said.
	"Uh.... I'll have a Beanfactor Chili cheese dog, a root beer... oh
and could we get a Fried Onion Lad to share?" Rick asked.
	"Certainly, will that be all?"
	"Yes," Rick said before turning to his friends.  "I can't believe you
guys almost forgot the Fried Onion Lad."

	They all shot Rick a strange look. First off, Rick had insisted on
paying for all of this and then he had gone and ordered the most
expensive appetizer on the menu. It gave them a slightly unsettling

	"What? It's my money. Nothing is too good for my friends," Rick

	Their chatting resumed. It was pointless nothing talk, which served
as an extended hello. Then the food came.  The chatting became more
personal and Amelia inched her way closer and closer to Rick during
the meal. Rick began inching closer to her. Sky grinned to himself.

	"So, uh... Alison, how about you and I take a walk?" he said.
	"What?  Amelia and I were just discussing..." She
stopped as Sky softly bumped her ribs. "Oh!"

	Amelia and Rick looked into each other's eyes, barely noticing Sky
and Alison leaving. They inched closer and closer, until their mouths
were a mere centimeter apart. Then there came a loud thump on the

	"Ahem!  Do you want desert?" the waiter said with a knowing grin.
	"Uh... check please," Rick replied.

	Rick settled the check, left the tip and left the table. Amelia
followed him. As the left the Café, Sky came running toward them, his
face was filled alarm.

	"Amelia! It's time to er... change. Something is up at the high
school," Sky replied.
	"Right..." she said.
	"Rick... I had a dream that predicted this. You have to go too,"
Alison whispered in Rick's ear.	
	"I see--ungh!" Rick said as he toppled over in pain.
	"Are you okay?" Amelia asked.
	"Yeah... it's happened before. It's this odd feeling
I get sometimes when Simon is using his powers. I'll be fine," Rick
said as she helped him to his feet. Rick gently pushed her away.


	McAllen and Neil came into class on time.  For them, this was out of
the ordinary when it wasn't a test day. What the teacher and students
did not know, was there was going to be a test, only Neil and McAllen
would be giving the questions and the only way to pass was to die.

	Holly Rogers sat in the front of the room doodling in her notepad.
Joshua Chesterfield took his usual seat next to her. She knew he had a
thing for her, but she wasn't interested. He turned toward her and
placed a Cadbury Cream Egg on her desk. She smiled half thankfully and
handed it back to him.  Then the tardy bell rang.

	McAllen swallowed a small red pill. Seconds later Josh's hands began
to glow. Soon his desk was covered with Cadbury Cream Eggs. Holly's
own hand began to glow, and soft spring air began to shift through the
room. A small tornado swept across her desk.  McAllen smiled. It was
happening quicker and more efficiently than he could have planned.

	Neil jumped out of his seat and ran across the room at super sonic
speed toward the guy who had laughed at him for an entire semester
during his freshman year. With one blow, his foe's chest shattered and
his heart exploded. Neil laughed. Students ran out of the room as fast
as they could. Neil turned toward the teacher.

	`Holy shit!' Josh thought as he reached into his pocket and tapped
the SOS button on his Team Communication Card. The card duplicated as
he touched it.

	The door burst open. A young man in a blue spandex-like suit with a
long red cape came walking in like the hero in a western. His eyebrows
sunk in and he wore a gruff frown on his face. His name Boy
Redundant Lad, and he didn't take shit from anyone.

	"Greetings gentleman, are you prepared for your lessons today?" BRL
said menacingly.
	"Who the smeg is that?" Neil asked.
	"I dunno..." McAllen said.  "But you can take him."
	"Right I can.." Neil said blankly.
	"Silence!  Who am I?  I'll tell you who I am. I'm Boy
Redundant Lad.... and I'm here to see you in hell," he replied.

	Neil charged the Superfluous Saviour at speeds left strictly for the
birds of steel. Just as quickly, Boy Redundant Lad grabbed the teen's
head and tore it clean off. Holly and Joshua turned their heads in
disgust. Then the walls themselves trembled, and The Mystery and Sky
entered the room.

	"Si- I mean BRL... what are you doing?" Sky asked.
	"Distributing justice," BRL replied.

	Sky threw a boomerang, which Boy Redundant Lad grabbed in midair and
crushed. It gave Mystery just enough time to create a cloud of knock
out gas. It was not enough to fall the mighty fallen hero.

	"Smeg!  There goes that plan.  Now what do we do?" Mystery asked.
	"I don't know!" Sky replied.
	"Leave everything to me," Rick said solemnly.

	Rick clenched his fists and began to concentrate. It was suddenly
very clear to him why he kept getting the dizzy spells whenever Simon
used his powers. Rick had never given his powers to Simon, but rather
psychosomatically transferred them. Now it seemed it was time to take
them back.  A large burst of light followed by a sonic boom erupted
from Rick's body, and soon he too was wearing a Boy Redundant Lad

	"All right, let's finish this," Rick said.

	Nobody had seen Simon or McAllen sneak out of the room, but the
screams from the hallway made it clear where they went.  The Team
members ran out the door, to see nothing but a stampede of teachers
and students.

	"Lucky for us, I can fly," Rick said.

	Rick flew over the crowd to get to the false Boy
Redundant Lad.  He was too late.  Simon was punching McAllen to the
ground. Rick pounced on the other BRL. McAllen ran as fast as he could
to disappear into the crowd of other students.

	"What the smeg are you doing? You're letting the bad
guy get away!" Simon said.
	"No, I'm not," Rick replied.

	Another burst of light erupted from Rick's hand. The false Boy
Redundant Lad fell to the ground, unable to walk. Rick had been wrong.
Just because Simon had the same neurological problem that he had
gotten nanite treatments for, doesn't mean he'd make a suitable
replacement superhero.

	"What the hell are you talking about..." said Simon.
	"We're the heroes.  We don't kill," Rick said.
	"Sanctimonious self righteous hypocrite. You know without these
powers, I'll die.  What right do you have to play judge, jury and
executioner?"  Simon cried.
	"Come on gentlemen, you know you want to destroy each
other..." McAllen said with a twinkle in his brown eyes.
	"I can control my anger," Rick replied strongly.
	"No, you can't," McAllen snickered as his eyes became white.


	Nick Starless arrived home.  He had headed out to answer a general
alarm, but it stopped ringing. There was a sudden silence over The
Team's headquarters.  He ran into the kitchen and gasped. Divine's
body was lying on the ground.

	"Divine?  Divine, are you okay?" he asked.

	The angelic glow that surrounded her body was fading. As soon as he
wrapped his arms around her, her body dispersed into nothingness. His
ears twitched, as if someone else was in the room.

	"Who's there?" Nick asked.
	"My name is Gabriel. Oh, don't worry, my fight isn't with you. You
were just a pawn in her satanic game. Come on, aren't you going to
thank me?" came a voice from behind him.
	"Thank you?! You bastard, I should wring your neck!"
Nick yelled.
	"Lucifer tried to do that once. Trust me, you're no
Lucifer," the angel replied.

	There was loud burst of angelic light and he was gone.

	"Don't worry my love," Nick said to the air. "I'll be joining you


	Alison awoke from the wretched daydream.  It was a horrid vision of
tomorrow, what she had to avoid. Divine was going to die, and it was
going to set off a cataclysm of Biblical Proportions.  All she knew
was that she had to gather the others. She telepathically scanned for
the nearest cab. She then gave the driver the inclinations to pick her

	"Where to?" the cab driver said.
	"Michael Jordan High School," Alison replied.
	"Haven't you heard?  That's some sort of superhuman warzone," the
driver said.
	"I know.  I'm a super hero too," she said.

	With only three readers on RACC, and more readers coming in from
other places, I decided to cut loose.  Profanity, which was original a
very rare thing, became quite common.   I became a lot gorier.   One
of the test readers complained that there was surprisingly little
blood when Neal's head gets twisted off.   Another test reader pointed
out that I was correct in not showing much blood.   If the twisting
was done quickly with enough force, it would be like twisted a garden
hose.   It is sort of gross if you think about it.

	The Team #22
	By Jesse N. Willey

	I had everything going for me. Good grades, friends who would stick
by me no matter what, and our girl's soccer team, which I was the
captain of, was going to the state finals. Now, five of us, myself
included, are heading to the morgue. I'm dead.  All I can say is that
it royally sucks.

	The super human group called The Team turned our school upside down.
I don't blame them. I may be dead, but the actions they took stopped
more students from dying.  They were trying to do what was right.
	After all the bad things you hear on TV about violence in school and
the stigma of teens with paranormal abilities being a danger to
themselves and others, it's nice to see some of them trying to stop
such pointless loss of life. They were trying to make the world better
for normal people. It made me wonder if any of them had lives outside
of the cape and cowl. Did they even know what normal people were?

	I didn't grab the AM transmitter for my hearing aids as we were
running out of the room. I didn't think the device, which was drenched
in my teacher's blood, would even operate. It did. That's how I got
the answer to my question. At least one of these super human teenagers
was human first, then super.   His name was Rick.  I thought you were
going to say my friend Simon.  You couldn't be more wrong.

	"What the smeg are you doing?  You're letting the bad guy get away,"
Simon said.
	"No, I'm not," Rick replied.

	I don't claim to know what their argument was about, but it was
obvious it wasn't just about two super heroes wearing the same
costume. It was about honor, respect for history and respect of the
human spirit.   It was easy to tell which one deserved it. Maybe this
hot shot guy had taken over the mantle while Rick was sick or

	"What the hell are you talking about..." demanded
	"We're the heroes.  We don't kill," Rick said.
	"Sanctimonious self righteous hypocrite. You know without these
powers, I'll die.  What right do you have to play, judge, jury and

	Rick could have responded any number of ways, especially after
McAllen goaded him into fighting without even being there. Rick
remained calm and collected. Simon raised his fist and smacked Rick in
the face. Rick kicked his sparring partner in the groin.

	"What right do I have? None at all. But you have taken another human
being's life and so help me, I'll take you in by any means necessary,"
Rick said.
	"Human life?  He killed three people.  Scum like that deserves an
injection of justice.  I was doing what had to be done to save us
all," Simon said.
	"As am I," Rick said.  "You should feel lucky that there might still
be a way to save yours."

	Off in the corner the one called The Anomaly sat crying.  Looking at
the severed head of the high school killer, it was obvious he
recognized something.

	"Simon! Look, don't you see who you killed? His name was Neal
Carter... and in another time, in another world, he was your best
friend," Anomaly said solemnly.
	"I doubt it! He was a psychotic loon..." Simon said. 
Rick's glowing fist collided with him and Simon fell to the ground. 
His costume and cape vanished, and his feeble legs collapsed. As he
fell to the ground, he was barely conscious.

	Then the heroes were silent. The last two present left the room
trying to get a handle on the swarm-like spread of students trying to
escape the building.  Rick turned to The Anomaly, and tried to comfort
his comrade.

	"You okay?" Rick asked.
	"No.... he would have called himself Zip.  He would have been a
hero," The Anomaly said.
	"What?" Rick asked.
	"Neal really was a hero in the future.  At least the one I visited
during the Overlord event. I think maybe being left behind for so long
without rescue during that week was what began his fall. It's a
pity.... he could have done so much good," Anomaly said as tears
leaked onto his spandex costume.
	"All death is pointless," Rick said.  "As are most forms of

	The other heroes had caught up to McAllen.  At least half a dozen of
paranormal students were rising to McAllen's defense. Most of the
heroes were faltering against their foes.  This senior with glasses,
Orin Whathisface- the one who won the state science fair for the
invention of some chemical process or whatever, came rushing toward
Rick. The ground around him was into gelatinous goo making it
impossible for Rick to walk.

	"What do you think you are?  Some kind of wanna be
super villain?" Rick asked.
	"I'm someone who is just trying to keep the peace,"
Orin said.
	"What do you think I'M trying to do?" Rick shouted.
	"You?  Boy Redundant Lad??? I heard you tore somebody's head clean
off! That is an act of war against our student body!"
	"That.... that was my former student.  The one true, original Boy
Redundant Lad is back," Rick said with his convincing superhero-ish
half smile.

	A blue fog surrounded Orin. Dizzy, he tried using his powers on  the
gas and turned the gas into gelatinous goo. It stuck to his face, and
he began to scream in agony. While his hands were quickly eliminating
the goo, a purple boot kicked him in the back of the head. A woman,
who was not much older then me, landed her jump kick and then reached
ground not long afterward.

	"Leave him alone!"   She said.
	"Mystery, I could have handled that myself. I haven't been out of the
super hero game that long, darling.  Now go help your brother," Rick
	"Right, BRL," she said. "Wait, what did you call me?"
	"Umm... nothing."

	Every hero has at least one chink in their armor.  They are not
completely impervious to everything.  It became obvious what Rick's
weakness was.  I was a fool to have a crush on him, if you think about
it.  Even if I hadn't died, a superman deserved a superwoman.

	After Orin lost concentration, the goo turned back into floor tile.
The Superfluous Saviour was easily able to break free of it with his
super strength.  He knew that most of the rampaging paranormals were
not in control of themselves. McAllen was releasing all of their
pent-up rage. He flew straight toward him, holding himself proud yet

	"So, you think you're a super hero? I've been expecting you," McAllen
	"You were?" Rick said.
	"I was expecting that Escapade Chick from Teenfactor. I mean humina
humina," McAllen said.
	"Personally, I find Electra more attractive.  Sure they look pretty
much the same, but Electra is angrier, and a bit rougher," Rick said.

	For the first time since I started classes with
McAllen, back in September, he sounded almost like a typical teenager.
I knew better. Rick knew as well.  Either that or he just had a thing
against Teenfactor. He belted McAllen so hard his grandma would have
felt it.

	"Ungh!" McAllen muttered.
	"She's got more of a punch to her," Rick said with a smile.
	"Shit!  That hurt!  I'm gonna kill somebody for that," McAllen
	"Go ahead and try!" Rick responded impulsively.
	"Don't mind if I do."

	That's when my headaches started. I could literally feel the pressure
in my brain increase. It was like something grabbed hold of my
thoughts and began crushing them.  A loud pounding erupted in my ears.
 Blood leaked out from out of my hearing aids.

	It hurt so much, for one second. Words don't exist to describe the
amount of pain I was going through.  But, like I said, it only lasted
for a second or two. Then it stopped. I listened to all the noises
around me. There was silence. I couldn't even hear my own heartbeat.
It was then I realized that I was dead.

	"It is done. Do you know what it's like, breaking a person's mind up
synapse by synapse? Getting to know each fiber of their soul right
before you destroy it, knowing that there are things about that the
person that only you'll know. Oh, the things she felt about you.   If
she had lived, you'd regret the fact she was only seventeen.  I know
most guys would," McAllen said with a wide smile.

	"You smegging bastard! You killed her!" Rick shouted.

	It was then that a cab arrived at the school. A girl got out and
stared into McAllen's eyes. He could feel something pushing at his
mind. He had torn through my mind only seconds before, and now the
same thing was done to him. He who lives by the sword, dies by the
sword. Only I had the feeling that this girl was going to let him

	His mental arm reached outward and grabbed the minds of four of my
friends for support.  He redistributed the pain amongst them. Soon he
had his mental footing again.  Not knowing what he had done, the girl
kept pounding him telepathically. He still stood, and she
Quickly tired. Then McAllen drained them dry, as he had done to me.

	"Thanks for weakening them for me. I couldn't have eaten them all at
once like that otherwise," McAllen said.
	"Why?  Are you doing this?" Alison asked.
	"Because I want to know why they hurt, as I slowly kill them," he
	"What did they ever do to you?" Rick asked.
	"It happened before homecoming. Ask them about
it....," he said as his eyes rolled back into his head.

	After succeeding at what he meant to do, he had turned his telepathic
powers back on himself.  Typical teen killer behavior.  After the
ruckus he caused, I was hoping for something a bit more creative.

	I was still dead.  It was surreal. Was this what happened to all dead
people? Or just me? I couldn't see the spirits of any of the other
people who died.  Of course for all I knew ghosts being able to see
each other was crap invented by the writers of Casper.

	The squad of angry paranormals charged on like chickens with their
heads cut off.  The heroes couldn't deal with them. They had expected
that with their leader dead, they would stop fighting. That hadn't
been what McAllen had been planning at. He didn't make them go crazy.
He only released what was already there. As for his death, he had
given their cause a martyr. He had made two men's cause a crusade.

	"They're still coming!" Mystery cried.
	"Well, my love, we will face them together," Rick said as he flew to
her side.
	"You mean it?" Mystery said.
	"Of course," Rick said.

	They were a team and no matter what their future held, they always
would be. They stood side as a parade of variously powered teenagers
attacked. They were more than a team, they were friends, till the end
if need be.

	"Brute force isn't going to work here," said
	"You're right, bro, what are we gonna do?" Mystery asked.
	"I have no idea," Rick replied.
	"I do," Anomaly said. "Holly, charge up my trick boomerang with a
counter probablity field..."
	"Okay, but I don't know what good it will do," she replied.
	"Mystery, now!" Sky yelled.

	Sky threw the boomerang which flew out with explosive speed. Mystery
wove a gas cloud, which followed the wind trail left by the boomerang.
Asleep, the students were much easier to round up.

	"Here come the police, they can handle the rest. At least one of us
had better stay behind to tell our side of the story," Mystery said.
	"I'll do it.... I owe it to Neal," Sky replied.
	"The rest of us will have to get to headquarters immediately. There
is going to be a war of biblical proportions erupting if we don't get
there soon," Alison said.

	I don't know what she meant, but I didn't care. I felt a white light
consume me.  My time here was over. Whether or not there was anything
after this was a complete mystery, but it would be fun finding out.


Next: Rest for the Weary

Sky created by Tom Russell Jnr.   Brain Boy created by Sean C.
Daugherty.  All other characters created Jesse N. Willey. This
Document Copyright by Jesse N. Willey, 2000.  Commentary 2003.

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