MISC: Thunderclap #5 - Thoughts

rickhindle at gmail.com rickhindle at gmail.com
Tue Jan 23 20:48:35 PST 2007

Cover shows Tommy in the front running directly towards the reader.
There are faded pictures in the background, on either side of Tommy,
one is Thunderclap in the pose of "The Thinker" facing the left side.
The right side shows the Fedora in a mirror image of Thunderclap's pose

#5 - Thoughts
by Rick Hindle

	The inland side of the intersection of Empire and Fourth in Pinnacle
City's financial district is hardly as well known as what's on the side
closer to Pinnacle Bay.  Facing the bay is the massive Millennium Tower
on one side of Fourth and the Taj Pinnacle on the other.  If you asked
a hundred people what was across the street from either building, you
might get one person to guess that the building across from the giant
hotel is another hotel - the Roma Hotel.
	It's the other building, directly across from the Millennium Tower,
that people would never be able to name.  The fifteen story building
was fairly nondescript, with a simple green awning trimmed in gold.
The owners of the building, according to the Pinnacle City Hall of
Records, is the Leoniv Trading Corporation, based out of Eastern
	If the Hall of Records had done any background work they would have
known that the Leoniv Trading Corporation was owned a couple levels up
by an organization known as the Medusa Corporation.  The Medusa
Corporation had long been the target of the federal government for
violations of the RICO Act, as well as by the Department of Superhuman
Affairs, and even the superhuman protectors around Pinnacle City and
the world.  For years, the organization had hired and used superhuman
criminals to commit crimes.  Due to the many layers of red tape and
potential political land mines that laid around the company, very
little had been done to bring down the corporation.
	Between the relative anonymity of the building and the protection the
lawyers gave him, the man simply called 'the Baron' by his subordinates
enjoyed his position.  It allowed him to enjoy his days at work,
strolling in late in the morning, enjoying a light brunch, and then
strolling out before three in the afternoon to pick up his daughter
from the expensive Catholic school she attended.
	The Baron was nearly six feet tall, his once lush head of hair was
thinning and turning snow white.  He chose to wear expensive, tailored
suits from Italy.  His driver wheeled him around town in a Jaguar
sedan, with dark tinted windows and a noisy exhaust that was guaranteed
to attract attention.
	The ringing phone on his desk interrupted his day dreaming, brining
the Baron back into reality.  He turned away from the window facing the
Millennium Tower and pressed the speaker button on his phone.
"Yes?" he inquired.
	"Sir, your eleven o'clock is here," his secretary informed him.
	"Send her in," the Baron responded and then settled back in his
chair.  The door across the room from his desk slid open, and a trim
woman walked in.  She was wearing a smart business suit, black framed
eye glasses, and a pair of flats.  Her perfectly flat dark black hair
was hanging down her back, leaving her face free to be seen.  The Baron
noticed her face and complexion made her partially of Asian decent.
She moved smoothly - there was no wasted motion.  He concluded that
his appointment was in top physical shape.
	"Herr Baron," the woman greeted him.  She nodded her head deeply
in a show a respect.  It worked - he smiled somewhat sheepishly, his
head bowing in return.
	"Please, please," he gestured towards one of the chairs across
from him.  She sat in the other one and looked across at him, her face
expressionless.  "To what do I owe this visit?"
	Now she smiled, reached into her pocket, and extracted a vial of
liquid.  It was purple in color and held the consistency of Guinness.
She shook it slightly, making the Baron's eyes shift around.
	"Para-X13?" he asked simply.  She nodded.
	"The Corporation is extremely happy with you," he informed her.
	A smile spread across her face. "I'm quite glad," she responded.
"I take it the money will be in my Cayman account within the hour?"
	The Baron smiled and reached forward towards his computer.  He tapped
in a few quick commands and prepared to start the transfer.  "And the
formula?" he asked.
	She was quiet.  The Baron looked up, and repeated, "The formula?"
	The woman looked past him and stared out at the Millennium Tower.
"There was a problem."
	The Baron sat back away from his computer.  His left hand stayed on
the desk, tapping rhythmically; the right elbow rested on the arm of
his chair.  "What type of problem?" he asked, his eyes closing to
	The Spider turned her eyes back to the Baron.  She breathed in deeply,
weighing the answer.  She exhaled and then spoke, "The Fedora."
	Now it was the Baron's turn to inhale.  He went over the list of the
Medusa Corporation's business ventures in Pinnacle City that had been
interrupted by the Fedora.  It was growing too long in his head, too
quickly.  He exhaled - it was long and drawn out.  A bit too dramatic
he was sure.
	"It was a Bakker Industries building, wasn't it?" the Baron asked.
	The Spider nodded. "He's becoming a bit of a personal protector for
them, isn't he?" the Baron asked rhetorically. "No matter.  You've
done well.  You'll be rewarded as promised."
	He extended his hand, palm up, and accepted the vial she handed over.
He studied it for a moment and then placed it on the desk in front of
	The Baron then looked up at the Spider.  "I would suggest
disappearing for a bit.  I'm quite sure that the Fedora and his cronies
might be on the lookout for you."
	The woman nodded. "But we will be in touch in the future," the
Baron told her. "We continue to be quite impressed with the quality
of your work."  Again the Spider nodded before standing up and
walking out the door.
	As the door closed, the Baron turned and looked out the window, the
vial still sitting on the desk behind him.  As the sun reached its
apex, the Baron smiled and enjoyed the sunlight reflecting off of the
Millennium Tower across the street.

~ ~ ~

Earlier, that morning, in the Tanner Heights section of Pinnacle

	It turns out that some energy thing working for Isaac Foss was what
had led the Fedora to my doorstep.  Why he was at my doorstep was a
completely different question.  I had tried to figure it out, but the
Fedora was either non-committal about an answer, or Gretchen would tell
me he was too hurt to talk right now.
	This went on for a little while before I decided to walk down the
street to Lido's to grab coffee.  It was the first time I had been
outdoors since my encounter with the Red Samurai.  Of course, it was
raining.  So here I was, on my own and outdoors for the first time in
days, but I was spending my time dodging puddles.
	I was completely soaked to the bone by the time I made it back to my
apartment.  As I shook the rain off of me like a dog, I spied Gretchen
sitting in the living room, laughing at a joke the Fedora was saying.
For some reason, that touched a nerve with me.  I stopped before saying
or doing anything - I wasn't as hot-headed as Tommy was when he had
started dating Suzie.  I wasn't even dating Gretchen.
	Heck, I didn't even know if I had feelings for her or not.  It was
something that was running through my head at a thousand miles a second
as I re-entered my living room.
	The Fedora looked up as I strolled in and handed a cup of coffee to
Gretchen. "Your friend has a knack for bandages," he informed me.
	I smiled, "She's a better nurse than a student," I returned.
	Gretchen's eyes opened wide as she whipped over to look at me as I
settled into a comfortable chair.  "Well, I'd be able to go to class
more often if I didn't spend so much time patching you up," she
	"Wait, this was only the first time you -" I responded, a look of
fake shock on my face.
	Gretchen's face showed that she wasn't pleased where this conversation
was headed. "First time?" she replied. "You've been doing this
for, like, a week."
	As I shrugged, I responded, "More like two weeks or so."
	"Two weeks," she repeated. She turned to the Fedora, saw a slight
smile on his face, and then turned back to me. "Two weeks?"
	I shrugged again, "Well...um...uh...things happen."
	"Really?" Gretchen turned to look at the Fedora, "So tell me,
Mr. Fedora, how long did it take you before you needed some serious
medical attention?"
	Before I could interject that bandaging my shoulder could not be
considered 'serious medical attention', the Fedora mumbled, "Six
	Gretchen's face lit up, "I'm sorry.  Can you say that again?
Possibly louder?  I'm not sure someone has super hearing over there."
	I tried to say that I didn't need super hearing to hear him, but he
responded anyways.  "Ahem...um, six months into my 'career'," he
used air quotes around career.  I don't like air quotes.  "Vox Trion
tried to shatter my spine with a hypersonic wave.  It only snapped my
leg in half, luckily, but I was laid up for a couple of weeks until the
Healer was able to see me."
	I leaned forward. "The Healer?"
	The Fedora cocked his head slightly as if he was thinking. "Your
father never told you about him...er...her, eh, it?"
	That was the second time the Fedora had piqued my interest with a fact
about me.  "There's a lot you have to learn about my predecessor and
me and our relationship, Fedora," I responded.
	"The answer's 'no', in other words," Gretchen interjected.
	The Fedora chuckled. "The Healer is one of the Ancients, an
otherworldly group of superhuman who predate known civilization.  It's
got amazing powers to heal you, although the price is fairly high."
	"How high?" I asked, my attention now drawn away from Gretchen and
away from the Fedora's uncanny knowledge of my own life.
	"It's not money, and not your soul or anything along those lines,"
the Fedora informed us.  "You just have to steal something from one
of the other Ancients for them.  It's some sort of game for them."
	"Like what?"
	"The Healer has a messenger, it's actually the god Mercury, believe
it or not," he said.  Gretchen's eyes were wide at the thought of the
gods of myth being alive and roaming the Earth. "He made me an offer
- be healed by his master or lay around waiting to heal.  Obviously,
I chose to get healed the quick way.  The Healer came to me, put my leg
back together, and then told me I had one week to go to Egypt and steal
some other Ancient's scepter."
	Gretchen was hanging onto every word that the Fedora said.  I sat back
and sipped my coffee, watching Gretchen stare wide eyed at the Fedora's
description of the Egyptian temple.  The masked superhero just sat
there, telling his story and undressing Gretchen with his eyes.
	I felt jealous.  After all, this guy was sitting here, trying to pick
up a girl I think that I liked, in my living room.  I had to think of
something to interject, "So these Ancients," I said quickly, trying
to finish the sentence, "What do they look like?"
	The Fedora seemed to be amused by my question. "They look however
you want them to look."
	"Huh?" I responded before immediately feeling like an idiot.
	"It's an interesting and very textured world of people, places and
things you might never thought you'd see," the Fedora explained to
me.  "You've entered a new world, Clay Hunter, and you're not going
to get out of it."
	Gretchen seemed shocked by his ominous warning.  "Well, then at
least let's find out what you were looking for when you ran into that
energy being," I said as I stood up.
	"And you wonder why I came here," the Fedora responded as he stood
as well.
	Gretchen got up as well, "Are you sure you should go?"
	"I feel fine," I replied.
	"Not you," she came back.  She pointed over at the Fedora,
	I stood there slightly dumbstruck.  "Ouch," was all I could think
	I kept it to myself.

~ ~ ~

Still earlier that night, inside Inlet Park

	Tommy's feet just kept moving along a straight line, smack dab in the
middle of the pathway.  He didn't turn to look at the lovers walking
past him, nor the beggars on the side of the path.  His mind was
juggling thoughts constantly, the rest of his senses inactive.
	He had first met Suzie immediately after becoming the superhero known
as Velocity.  It was a brief, meteoric climb for him as Velocity -
Tommy smiled as he recalled saving Senator Simian from a giant robot
assassin.  Later, he had saved Suzie from a space pirate named Mandalor
who had wanted to kidnap Suzie and bring her back to his home world as
his bride.
	Their relationship had also risen meteorically.  Tommy remembered
telling Suzie that he loved her while standing on top of the Millennium
Tower after helping the rest of Pinnacle City's heroes defeat
Mandalor's invasion fleet.
	Tommy smile turned to a frown as he remembered how quickly everything
	A superhuman who went by the name of Dreamscape had come to Tommy,
explaining that if did not walk away now, Suzie would be in danger.
Tommy knew what he had to do - he wasn't as stubborn as Clay.
	He quit.
	Tommy's mind continued to move, bringing his best friend into focus.
How much trouble could Tommy's big mouth get Clay into?  It was Clay
who was the superhero now.  After all, it made sense, didn't it?  His
dad had been a superhero - one of the best.  Tommy remembered growing
up with a Thunderclap poster of his bed.
	For a whole generation of kids in Pinnacle City, Thunderclap had been
the superhero.  And now, his best friend was holding that role.  He was
fighting for people he didn't even know, protecting them.
	And why?
	Suzie kept asking that question, but Tommy never had a good answer.
It didn't make sense, sure.  Tommy originally had done it for the girls
and the fame, but he had quickly realized that having the first meant
giving up the latter.  At least Clay wasn't tied down right now.  There
was nobody in his life, right?
	Tommy smiled at the thought of being single.
	Not having to make your plans around someone else.  Eating what you
want and none of their health food, low in carbs, high in protein junk.
 Being able to get absolutely hammered at noon with your best friend.
	His thoughts again came back to Clay.  What if someone he had told had
told someone else about Clay's other identity?  What if one of his
friends was a superhuman criminal?
	Tommy's mind continued to whirl, now he was back thinking about being
	He had had fun back then.  Tommy had enjoyed being Velocity, being
able to test his physical abilities.  Sure, it was a reckless thing to
do, but he had enjoyed it.  He remembered fondly the pure joy of
running at top speed, of racing the wind as it crossed MacHammond
Airport's runways.  One newspaper had even called him "The New
Rush".  But that was all before Suzie.
	Before his mind to track back to Suzie, Tommy was knocked off his feet
and thrown to the side of the path.  Tommy tried to lift himself back
up, but his arms were quickly pinned to his sides.  Whatever had picked
him up had fantastic strength, Tommy thought, just before he was tossed
back across the path.
	Tommy hit the ground and instinctively started rolling away.  He hit
the edge of a rock ledge and used to slight drop to get himself back
onto two legs.  As he was standing, Tommy got a look at the massive
creature moving towards him.
	It was gray colored, with smooth skin and wore blue overalls.  The
creature was easily seven feet tall and three times the shoulder width
of a normal man.  Tommy's recognized the description from a story he
had read - it was the Crusher, a superhuman who worked usually-
	Tommy cut off his thoughts as the Crusher made another swipe at him.
Ducking quickly, Tommy then sidestepped the attack by exercising his
super speed.  It had been a couple of years since he had used his
superhuman ability.  His knee ached instantly due to the pressure he
had just exerted, but his body quickly recovered.
	The creature turned again and made another swipe, but again Tommy
ducked out of the way, again using his speed.  The Crusher was getting
impatient, which made Tommy smile.  He began to slowly trot around the
monster, using his speed to confuse it.  When the Crusher was about to
swat at him, Tommy would reverse course.
	As he circled the Crusher, Tommy got brave.  He slowly moved his orbit
closer and closer until he could get a shot in.  As he rounded the
Crusher, Tommy stopped, jumped up, and began to lay super fast punches
into the back of the creature's head.
	With a loud "Ugh!" the Crusher fell forward and collapses.  He was
breathing uneasily, but Tommy wasn't going to wait around for anything
	Turning quickly, Tommy accelerated out of Inlet Park.  His super speed
carried him out onto Kennedy.  Tommy whipped through traffic before
taking a hard left onto Broadway.
	Speeding through the boundary of Tanner Heights and Pinnacle
University, Tommy thought he saw an man-sized energy being fly across
above him.  He didn't think twice about it, as Tommy was being careful
to avoid the cars and trucks on the roadway.
	Tommy cut off a Porsche as he took a quick right off of Broadway, and
worked his way up an exit ramp towards the top of Manor Ridge.  The
expensive neighborhood was home to many of the nouveaux riches in
Pinnacle City.  Whereas parts of the city like the Granite Line,
Patriot's Hill, and Westinvale were known for their Victorian homes and
palatial villas, Manor Ridge held most of the city's modern mcmansions.
	But Tommy wasn't there for the sites and below-average architecture.
He was running to the place where he first decided to be a superhero.
Or at least, that's what he told himself as he slowed down.
	It had been a few years since he had last been there, and another
large mansion had been built on the site.  It made sense - from this
point, one could see Pinnacle City stretched out in front of them.
Millennium Tower's spires blinked off to the right, while the ships in
Pinnacle Bay sat quietly at this hour.  The moon hung in the sky,
allowing Tommy to take in the sights from the East Shore to his left,
across to the Old Town Peninsula.  The Morriston Bridge glowed in the
distance, welcoming those crossing Jefferson Avenue to Westinvale.
MacHammond Airport was lit up, as were the telecommunications towers on
Folder Island that helped the East Bay Bridge span from MacHammond
Airport across to Broadway.
	Tommy crept his way around the house and stood below a poorly crafted,
imitation wood balcony and smiled.  He suddenly discovered he was
happy.  It was like all of a sudden, the attack by the Crusher had
brought something out that Tommy had oppressed for all of this time.
	He began to chuckle, thinking of running through the maze of cars in
the city at high rates of speed.  He had amazed himself by cutting off
that Porsche.  Now here he was, standing on the side of a cliff,
staring out at the city spread out below him.  He was happy.
	He was Velocity again.
	Tommy began to laugh.  "What will Clay think of this?" he asked

~ ~ ~

	Suzie sat bolt upright on the couch.  It had been a few hours since
Tommy had left and he hadn't come home yet.  This wasn't anything new
- he would be gone for a little while before crawling home, she told
	But something was different.  Suzie felt a shift in the air around
her.  Her eyes shrunk down to slits before reaching for the phone.
	She dialed a number and then waited.  After a half dozen rings the
call was answered.
	Suzie's call was quick, but to the point, "He's active."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Author's Notes:

-This one was a bit of a challenge to write, as I scrapped a couple of
plots and outlines to get where it ended.  The next couple of issues
are plotted, but if this was any indication, things will probably get a
little muddled before they get answered.

-Next issue, which will hopefully be done before the end of the month,
will feature my own ape-based character, Senator Simian, someone I
created a year ago, but haven't found the time to include him.

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