[PINCITY/ACRA] Pinnacle City Tales #1
rickhindle at gmail.com
rickhindle at gmail.com
Sat Feb 16 17:08:20 PST 2008
Pinnacle City Tales
#1 - "Black & White Pictures"
by Rick Hindle
[Cover shows a number of black & white photographs. Included in the
stack is a young man wearing an army uniform, circa early-1940's - the
solider is saluting with his right hand, while his left arm is around
the shoulders of a pretty dark haired female; they are both smiling]
He stood a ramrod-straight six foot, four inches tall. He wasn't
actually sure of his weight, although given all of the high-tech
components that made up his left arm, part of his face, and a chunk of
his lower body, the man popularly known as the American Ranger figured
it was somewhere around 350 pounds. Despite not having shaved in
three decades, the Ranger scratched his face - the skin was pulled
taught across his cybernetic jaw. The fake skin had been his idea -
he was vain enough to care.
Despite being over eighty years old, the Ranger appeared to be in his
late-twenties. It was a sometimes painful reminder that he and his
former teammates on the Protectors had been doused with some strange
type of radiation years before that had caused them to stop aging
For some piece of nostalgia, even though his friends were long gone,
the Ranger kept an apartment in an old row house in Rosetown. He and
his friends had grown up in Rosetown, the sons and daughters of first
generation Irish immigrants to America. Some had settled on the banks
of Pinnacle Bay, working on the docks or in the factories in Rosetown,
the Old City and on the East Shore. Some parents travelled across to
Westinvale to work on the large properties of the rich and famous.
What they had all longed for was to send their children not even to
Whitman College up on Patriot's Hill - that was too much, they
thought, to even pray to The Lord for. Instead, they wanted to see
their children at least go to Pinnacle University and become a doctor,
a lawyer, anything to get them out of what had been their lives.
That's what the Ranger's parents had wanted. James Fitzgerald
O'Grady had been the second child of Rosemary Fitzgerald and John
O'Grady. His older brother had gone onto Pinnacle University. Jamie
wanted to go there, but he knew he was going to end up on the docks
with his old man.
Looking at the photos on his mantle, the Ranger was brought back to
his former life. He only seemed to think about being Jamie O'Grady
when he was in Rosetown. It never happened elsewhere, he wasn't sure
why, but maybe that explained all he needed to say about his
reasonings to keep this small place.
The War started in December, 1941. The Japanese had bombed Hawaii
with airplanes. The Germans had attacked Pinnacle City with their
submarines. It was rumored that Hitler was worried about the growing
superhuman population in Pinnacle City and that had scared him enough
to start the war on his terms.
Sure, it had spared England for at least a bit longer, but the
bombing would continue and the submarines would again prowl the
sealanes of the Atlantic. But Hitler had wanted to keep the
superhumans busy. And that meant bombing Pinnacle City.
Rosetown had been hit, but not seriously. The bridge connecting
Westinvale to the Old City was destroyed, as were chunks of houses and
factories on the East Shore. Across the MacLanahan River, the beaches
and small houses in Tiber City had been hammered, as had the Naval
base south of the city. But the fire had been concentrated on
Pinnacle City for a reason.
And the superhumans came to the city's protection from invaders for
the first time in what seemed like would become a common occurrence.
Dangerman and Madame Liberty, Archimedes Johnson and Trip Havok, the
Dirigible Man, Captain Time, the Futureman, the Kid Militia. They all
came. They saved the people first, then their dogs and cats. And
when they were safe, they sent the submariners back to Hitler with a
Their fists like steel, their powers seemingly unimaginable to some
of the Nazi sailors, these American heroes. Strike that, the Ranger
thought, these Pinnacle City heroes, pushed back. He remembered
watching from the shore as the Futureman tore open the shell of one of
the German U-Boats with one of his many fascinating machines. Then
Johnson and Havok landed into the cracked shell and started throwing
punches and firing their pistols like the world depended on it.
And it did, and would.
On that day, Jamie O'Grady knew he needed to do something. But
unlike the Dirigible Man's ability to fly, or Captain Time's ability
to literally stop time, Jamie had nothing special to give.
He joined the Army, like everyone else in Rosetown and in Pinnacle
City, for the chance to fight Hitler. What he didn't want is to go to
the Pacific. While Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanese, it
was Pinnacle City that mattered to him.
But his luck hadn't been that good. Instead of going to England to
join in the upcoming fight against Hitler's European fortress, Jamie
O'Grady was off to the lovely west coast to prepare for invading the
Japanese-held islands of the Pacific. For Jamie, it wasn't his war.
It was someone else's.
The train was scheduled to leave from City Station in Kennedy Park.
His parents chose not to come, and neither did any of his family
members. Only Carla came. Jamie had been dating Carla Fiorello for
nearly two years. It was a Shakespearean romance, if there ever was
one. His parents disapproved of him marrying someone who wasn't
Irish. Her parents disapproved of him because he was Irish, not an
Carla's father had made a lot of money in the imports and exports
business, but he refused to give her any of it if she married the
child of an Irish dockworker. It was an unspoken agreement between
the two that when Jamie came back, they'd move to the Old City, where
he'd put himself through school and she'd get a teaching job.
And they'd get married. Whether or not her parents approved. And
regardless of what his parents thought, he'd go through with it. His
mother would be proud - he'd get out of a Rosetown.
The Ranger caught himself frowning a bit. Rosemary O'Grady's son
never really did move out of Rosetown. He was magnetically drawn back
to it everytime.
Jamie had kissed Carla goodbye on the train platform. He tried as
hard as possible to hold back the tears. Seeing her cry had been
difficult enough. But he couldn't give his fellow soldiers the
satisfaction of seeing him cry.
Looking back again, the Ranger just shook his head. Stupid boys,
thinking they're too tough to cry.
His mind flashed back to the last words that Jamie and Carla had
exchanged. "I love you," Carla had stated. Unlike everything else she
had said, it was firm and solid. Like an island to him.
Jamie smiled his lopsided smile. "I know."
The train whistle blew, calling the remaining soldiers on the
platform to the train. Her hand slipped out of his. A wave and a
kiss blown across the heads of other girlfriends, wives, and mothers.
The train had just finished cross the bay along the Grand Bay Bridge
when it slipped across the boundary into the Pinnacle City
Transnational Airport. From his seat, Jamie O'Grady could see a DC-3
powering up its mighty blades as it prepared for flight.
After seeing Dangerman and the Dirigible Man fly over Pinnacle City
defending it from the Nazis, it was clear to Jamie that flying
naturally was something more impressive than it was with mechanical
assistance. The train flew across a ravine built between two of the
runways, heading towards the Pacwonset Range and the county beyond
The Ranger stopped remembering and his reflexes tightened
immediately. He rolled his neck around, trying to loosen the muscles,
but he knew it wasn't going to help.
All he could think about was the searing pain. Was it the fire
melting the metal around him? Was it the screams of his fellow
soldiers? Was it the large piece of metal that had cut into his
femural artery - moving his leg would have killed him. The metal had
saved his life.
Or had it changed him?
The test plane had been flown by a man who would someday become his
friend, confidant, rival, and teammate. Christopher MacHammond, son
of the industrialist of the same name, had crashed his test aircraft
into the train after colliding with an alien vessel.
That alien vessel would someday lead to a line of heroes that would
become heroes, martyrs and catalysts for more than one heroic age.
But that plane crash tore through the ranks of some of Pinnacle
City's youngest and brightest. Arthur Bakker's death in the crash
would lead to his brother Maxwell taking control of Bakker
Industries. The death of Cornell Stewart would lead to the end of the
Kid Militia. Craig Powell's injuries would lead him to become the
But of all of them, Jamie O'Grady was blessed and cursed the most.
The last thing he remembered before passing out from the pain was a
bespectacled creature of some sort comforting him and saying, "Don't
worry, we'll take care of you..."
The American Ranger tried to keep from crying, but it didn't work.
His body was wracked by heaving sobs. His life was almost taken from
him for fighting a war that wasn't his.
He breathed deeply.
It was his war. It had always been his war. Or at least, it would
become his. From the shores of France to the street fighting in
Berlin. He and his compatriots had defeated Hitler's organization of
superhumans, the Swastika, so convincingly, that the when word spread
that the American Ranger had led American forces on Okinawa, the
Emperor of Japan had surrended.
It had saved millions of lives on both sides of the ledger.
The fact that the Ranger was in Africa at the time trying to rescue a
kidnapped General Eisenhower was moot. It had saved lives.
He had saved lives. Thousands, if not millions of them, in Pinnacle
City and across the globe.
Except his own.
Author's Notes -
It's been a while since I sat down and was able to put something
together that I was happy with. Maybe that's my fault. I'm in awe of
those who put out work on a regular basis - it pushes me to do better,
which usually leads me to putting together something that I scrap too
quickly through it.
I've been inspired lately, however, to continue with Thunderclap, but
I need to reach a certain point where I'm happy with what I'm putting
together. I deal with some major writer's block - I can build a
plot, but then when it comes time to put together the actual story, it
falls apart under by overly judgemental self. When I wrote this, I
made sure I kept it short and simple, and I chose not to worry about
the length and depth of the story. It was mostly a chance to draw out
a bit more about the American Ranger.
Part of this was inspired by Robert Jordan's "The Wheel of Time". As
I've begun to read the second novel in the cycle, I've begun to think
about world building, and how I've only touched on the world of
Pinnacle City. I'm not making any promises (I do that a lot around
here, don't I?), but recently I've been inspired to write more often.
So hopefully, I'll start posting a bit more often. I hope.
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