[Misc/Acra] Thunderclap #6
rickhindle at gmail.com
rickhindle at gmail.com
Mon Jun 18 22:15:03 PDT 2007
#6 - Crossfire
by Rick Hindle
[cover shows the American Ranger, clad in a red, white and blue
costume, wrestling with a feral ape-like Senator Simian. Tommy is
laying on the ground in the background between them, with Thunderclap
standing over him. Type on the front states: "A Clash of Titans!"]
As the side of his apartment came crashing in, Tommy didn't think
about his or Suzie's health or safety. He only cared about the fact
that he was about to lose money.
"Awww...there goes my deposit," Tommy sighed as he hit the floor.
He heard a body come through the hole, taking out pieces of wood that
stood in its way. Rolling over, Tommy looked up to see the American
Ranger standing in front of him. Tommy could only gasp at the size of
the red, white and blue clad superhero. He stood regally in the ruins
of his living room, his hands on his hips, jaw strongly fixed.
The American Ranger gestured for Tommy to stand. Dutifully, Tommy
complied, only to still find himself staring upwards at the government
sponsored hero. Tommy knew his eyes were wide but he couldn't help
"Wow," Tommy whispered in awe. The American Ranger had crashed
through his wall. THE American. HIS wall.
"By orders of the Department of Superhuman Affairs and Presidential
Act number four-three-dash-two-one-zero-nine," the Ranger began, "you
are under arrest and are ordered to surrender immediately."
Tommy looked over at Suzie. She was standing there defiantly. "What
the hell?" was all Tommy could say.
All he had wanted to do was come home and tell her that their
relationship was over. Instead, he was standing in the middle of
their ruined apartment, with the American Ranger about to arrest him
and Suzie just standing there.
"What's going on?" Tommy stated.
"You are under arrest," the Ranger repeated.
Tommy looked over at Suzie again, "What's going on?" he repeated
directly to her.
"You're being arrested for treason," she informed him.
"What did I do?"
"That's of no consequence," the American Ranger stated. "You are to
come with me now. Or else."
"Or else?" Tommy began to look back and forth between the costumed
superhero and his now definitely ex-girlfriend. "I thought you were
supposed to stand for truth. Justice? The whole American-way
The American Ranger did not seem phased by Tommy's response. He was
a patient man, it appeared, who had faced a lot tougher adversaries
then Tommy. "I answer to the President of the United States," came
the tightly worded response. "He has ordered your arrest on the
grounds of treason."
"Treason? Wait wait wait wait wait wait...what?" Tommy tried to
"Please come with me, Mr. Preston.."
"How 'bout a lawyer, huh?"
"You won't need a lawyer where you're going," the Ranger explained.
"I don't believe this," Tommy replied.
Tommy realized what he needed to do.
He bowed his head deeply and walked forward. "Good," the American
Ranger said. As the Ranger turned to look at Suzie, Tommy juked away
and made a run for the door. His super speed carried him across the
room in an instant.
Instead of stopping and opening the door, Tommy took a slight hop and
hit the door with his feet. The wood tore away from its hinges and
began to slide down the stairs. Tommy balanced himself on the door,
turning it into a snowboard. Before he hit the first landing, Tommy
sped forward, off of the door and screamed out of the building at a
high rate of speed.
Tommy wondered where he could go. His first inclination was the head
to Clay's apartment. It was only a handful of blocks away. But if
Suzie ratted Tommy out for something, she probably did the same to
Clay. There's only one other place he could go.
As Tommy sped down Kennedy Boulevard, he just hoped someone on the
Protectors Island was home.
~ ~ ~
Frankie the File was a two-bit criminal. He got his nickname from
being great at making "hot" cars and guns disappear by finding
creative ways to remove VIN and serial numbers. It turned out that
Frankie also liked to dabble in a bit of breaking and entering, as
that's where we found him.
I had been working with the Fedora since we left my apartment trying
to figure out who the Spider was working for. The Fedora knew of
Frankie from some information the guy had given up a couple of months
back involving some convenience store stickup.
The File had been breaking into an apartment on the East Shore when
we interrupted him. The Fedora slammed the crook up against the wall,
cracking the drywall around him There was shouting - I tried to drown
I'm sorry, but if you're obviously much stronger then someone, why go
ahead and intimidate them physically? Is it to help your 'street
cred'? It didn't humor me at all to see the Fedora doing this to an
obviously pitiful waste of air.
There was some more shouting, some crying and whining. It was really
sad. And not from a, "it's sad to see someone cry" perspective. But
from a "he's so strong and powerful and the other guy's a 90-pound-
when-soaking-wet weakling" point of view.
I reached over and pulled the two apart. Frankie slid onto the
ground. I smelled urine. Awesome, I thought, the Fedora made this
two-bit criminal piss himself.
Instead of paying attention to the snitch, I stepped in between them
and looked at the Fedora. He was smiling beneath his trademark hat
and domino mask. I found no humor in what was going on, in fact, I
wanted to punch the Fedora right here and now. I chose not to. Don't
think I didn't want to, I just chose not to.
"You done yet?" I asked the Fedora pointedly.
The Fedora chuckled lightly - the smile failed to disappear from his
face. It was perverse - this guy was getting off on beating the holy
heck out of some criminal just for a bit of information. Sad.
Really, really freaking sad.
Something changed quickly in the Fedora. The smile disappeared -
maybe it was the fact I was staring him down. I was slightly taller
then him, but he seemed bulkier. It would be a reasonably fair fight
if I didn't have some sort of superstrength.
"I heard you the first time," the Fedora snapped. "And yes, I'm
done. I found out who I need to talk to next."
I turned and looked down at the File. His face was already bruising,
his tongue moved around in his mouth like he was searching for a
missing tooth or two. A trickle of blood ran from his nose. I was
sure that once he opened his mouth, there would be a river of the
I motioned towards the door, "Let's get out of here."
The Fedora stared up at me, his jaw setting hard in stone. "I'm not
"You are," I stated firmly, and shoved him towards the door."
"Listen, hotshot, I've dealt with a lot worse than you have-" the
Fedora began to say.
I refused to listen. I simply held my ground between the File and
the Fedora. I wasn't going to let that overgrown bully get the snitch
he had just beaten up.
"Just cool off, Fedora," I instructed. He seemed to calm down.
He turned and looked at Frankie the File, now curled up in a fetal
position. "I'm watching you, Francis," the Fedora said slowly and
We walked out in the hallway. "I'll get a hold of you once I know
something more," the Fedora stated.
"Don't bother," I replied. "This really is your fight, not mine."
The Fedora didn't say anything. I wanted to make sure he left and
didn't go back for more of the File. Once he did, I turned and walked
up towards the roof.
As I prepared to step off of the edge of the building and fly off, I
realized that the Fedora's whole act was sad. Really, really sad.
~ ~ ~
Tommy stopped himself sharpy at the gates to the Protector's
mansion. It was a massive villa, surrounded by large, green leaves.
The air was thick and he was having trouble breathing. The humidity
and his exertion made his t-shirt and jeans stick to his skin. After
all these years, now I know what David Lee Roth felt like in the 80's,
Tommy quipped to himself.
"What can we help you with?" a man's voice sounded. Tommy looked
up. He hadn't seen Ace in a couple of years. He was still tall and
slender, his Errol Flynn mustache was still waxed perflectly.
"Hey, Ace, been a while," Tommy replied as he straightened up.
Ace looked at him for a moment before his eyes widened in surprise.
"Velocity...Tommy! Wow!" he reached forward, and first clasped his
hand before pulled him into a half-handshake/half-hug. They
seperated. "Man, what happened to you?"
Tommy shook his head and sighed, "It's too much to tell you right
now," he replied breathlessly. Ace looked hurt, but Tommy shook it
off, "My apartment just got torn apart by the Ranger."
"Yeah," Tommy responded. "He just tore through and was going to
Ace's mouth fell open. He closed it quickly, but Tommy could tell he
Tommy held up his hands in innonence, " Dude, you've got to believe
me," Tommy pleaded, "I didn't do anything."
"Did he tell you why?"
Tommy shook his head, "No. He just spouted some presidential order."
"What's going on out here?" a voice boomed across the courtyard.
Tommy looked up and smiled slightly. Senator Simian was here? This
was perfect, he told himself. The massive half-simian/half-human
He was dressed in a bespoke suit, black with white pinstripes. His
tie was a light blue, with what looked to be cooked lobsters inprinted
in a pattern on it. The Senator's hair was graying with age, but it
hadn't affected his size or even the way he carried himself.
"Ace, I asked what was going on? The security sensors inside the
mansion are going crazy," the Senator stated. He stopped talking when
he noticed a still panting Tommy, sweat covering him. "Who's this?"
"Er...Senator Simian, may I introduce to you Tommy Preston," Ace
responded. "You may know him better as Velocity."
The Senator's eyes widened as his mind flashed back to when one of
Major Tanaka's robots had tried to kill him at City Hall Plaza. The
young man who had saved his life was wearing a silver outfit, streaked
in oranges, reds and yellows. That had been Velocity."
"It's been a long time, Senator," Tommy finally said.
"It has. Now, what seems to be the issue?"
As Tommy recounted his story, he could see the Senator's reactions
change. Initially, it seemed as if the Senator was about to order Ace
to hold Tommy and call the Ranger in to pick him up. But as Senator
Simian thought more about it, it became clearer and clearer that the
he was believing Tommy's story.
Tommy finished his story and waited for the Senator to finally
answer. Before he could finish saying, "I'll call Washington," the
loud whup-whup-whup sound of a helicopter's blades announced the
presence of others.
In unison, Tommy, Senator Simian, and Ace turned and looked up as a
massive helicopter wearing Department of Superhuman Affairs logos
began to descend over Protector's Island. A single rope dropped from
an open hatch in the bottom, and the red, white and blue-clothed body
of the American Ranger began to slide down to the ground.
As the Ranger's feet landed on the soil of Protector's Island, a
series of ropes followed him, bringing down the khaki and black
clothed DSE soldiers. Tommy's mouth dropped as he saw the American
Ranger and Senator Simian, standing face-to-face.
"Senator, thank you very much for catching this fugitive," the Ranger
stated plainly, almost sarcastically.
"Actually, I'd like to thank you for coming by," the Senator
"Yes," the Senator continued, "So I can tell you personally that Mr.
Preston is now under the protection of, well, the Protectors."
The Ranger scoffed. "The President has ordered his immediate arrest."
"Excuse me, Senator, but I had my orders."
"As a member of the United State Senate, who does oversee the budget
of the DSE, I suggest you prove the charges."
The tension was so thick that it seemed to overpower the already
heavy humidity. Tommy's eyes bounced back and forth between the two
legends. The American Ranger wasn't as large as he had thought him to
be, but the Simian was as large as he remembered.
"If you're not willing to hand him over, Senator, then you might pay
have to pay the ultimate sacrifice," the Ranger snarled.
Senator Simian's eyes widened. His former teammate. His former
companion on adventures. His friend. He was being threatened by
someone he knew and respected. The Senator growled, showing his sharp
"Bring it," he snarled in return.
~ ~ ~
I was still a bit heated about the stunt that the Fedora had pulled
with that two-bit criminal. Even if he wasn't possessing superhuman
abilities like I was, he was still clearly more able to do things than
that flunky was. It aggravated me that superhumans would do that to
Maybe that was the answer to the question that all my friends were
asking me. The 'why' I had decided to take over my father's place as
Thunderclap. I was gifted with abilities that ordinary people would
kill for. The least I could do was to protect people who didn't have
these abilities from those who did.
In short, I was protecting those like me from those who aren't like
From my vantage point high over the bay I could see thunderclouds
rolling in. It was going to be rough, at least that's what those big
black clouds told me.
I enjoyed the rain, it helped make everything fresh again. Although
I had the feeling that if I didn't head home, I'd be soaking wet in no
time flat. I turned, heading away from MacHammond Airport and back
Something drew my attention to Protector's Island. It was probably
the muzzle flashes from a number of automatic weapons going off.
While I had been warned previously about not getting involved where I
didn't belong, it was obvious to me that I was needed.
As I neared the island, I saw the American Ranger standing there, in
all of his patriotic glory. He was trading punches with Senator
Simian. This stopped me in my tracks. Here were two of the most
legendary superhumans trading punches in front of their former
I slowly moved forward - maybe this was just an act. Maybe a movie?
A documentary maybe about them?
No, I soon found out, as I saw Ace duking it out with a bunch of DSA
soldiers. And Tommy was there. Moving quickly, avoiding the DSA
shocktroopers and their bullets. He was moving very quickly, in fact,
it looked like he was a blur at times. I shook it off, thinking it
was my flight shaking my head.
"Son of a -" I muttered as I sped down towards the fight.
I swept in, my eyes focused on grabbing Tommy and getting him out of
there. I'd deal with everything else later.
As DSA soldiers got in my way, I knocked them over. At this time, I
felt no remorse as their bodies bounced off mine. When I finally
reached Tommy, I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him away.
As soon as we were away from the fight, I slowed down. I
miscalculated my stopping ability though, and Tommy and I starting
rolling and sliding across the immaculate lawn of Protector's Island.
"Clay, what the hell are you doing here?" Tommy asked as soon we
both could get our bearings.
Before I could respond, I felt myself getting grabbed by the back of
the spandex color and thrown through the air. I sat back up and
stared back at Tommy, who was being held up by the American Ranger by
"Let him go!" I yelled at the Ranger.
The government's superhuman turned and look at me. "Who are you?" he
"My name is Thunderclap, and I'm telling you to let him go," I stated
as calmly as I could. I doubt it was doing any good.
The Ranger looked at Tommy as if to say 'I'll deal with you later',
and then simply tossed him to the ground. He turned and walked
towards me, his eyes narrowing under his mask. If he could smell
fear, I'm sure he smelt me.
"And what are you going to do to stop me?" he asked.
Without responding, I slammed the palms of my hands together, trying
to unleash a burst of energy. I did manage to produce a thin, disc-
like energy burst. It slowly hit the Ranger, who laughed at it.
I could feel the others there - the DSA soldiers, the Protectors,
even Tommy - laughing at me. It cut through me. I knew they weren't,
but they were probably shocked to see someone calling themselves
"Thunderclap" unable to even produce the famed burst of energy that
had given my father this name.
The Ranger slowly moved forward. "Got anything else, junior?" he
sneered at me.
"Yeah, this," I grunted as I swung at him as hard as I could. My
right fist hit the left side of the Ranger's jaw, lifting him off of
his feet and putting him onto the ground on his back.
"Holy shit, Clay," Tommy said. "You just frickin' knocked out the
American frickin' Ranger."
-continued in Thunderclap #7 "High Stakes"
~ ~ ~
Notes: It's been a while, I know. I felt this was more forced then a
lot of my past pieces, mainly because my current project when writing
is no longer "Write when I feel inspired", but "Write no matter
what". The good news for me is that I've got through #8 completely
plotted, now it's time to force myself to sit there and takes the
plots for #7 and #8 and turn them into actual words that flow here.
Hope everyone enjoys this one, though.
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