PINCITY: Thunderclap #9 (ACRA)

rickhindle at rickhindle at
Sun Mar 30 10:40:10 PDT 2008

#9 - "Cold Snap"
by Rick Hindle

[Cover shows Thunderclap ice skating on a pond while Tommy, Gretchen
and Kenny watch from shore in the background.  The cover blurb reads:
"Pinnacle City on Ice"]

	The dream of children is to follow in their parents footsteps just
far enough, and then follow their own paths.  I should know.  It's
what's going on in my life.
	Things haven't been easy over the last few months.  Even with the
Medusa Corporation on the run, they're still a bit peeved at me for
what I did for their little attempt to use my friend Tommy as a test
subject for a stolen formula.  I've battled a bunch of robots, fought
an alien fugitive named Talos, and even tried to help Senator Simian
and the American Ranger hunt down the leak
	But as satisfying as those small conflicts had been, it seemed
something else was missing.  Before I became Thunderclap, life seemed
a bit more simple.  Gretchen, Tommy, Suzie and Kenny all seemed closer
to me.  Now, it was like we were all being pushed off into different
	Gretchen had been dating Kellogg Bakker, the heir to the Bakker
fortune, for a little while now.  She claimed it wasn't serious, but
her face was getting splashed across the tabloids as Bakker's mystery
girl.  Meh.  She deserved better than that jackass.  Just because he
was rich doesn't mean anything.  He was still a jackass.
	Since I had last seen Tommy at the bar, he had been spending more and
more time training with the Protectors.  I had gotten a series of IM's
from him one night while I was out and about:

FASTTOMMY: Hey dude i guess ur out right now
FASTTOMMY: thought id check in and see how ur were
FASTTOMMY: im having a good time - shocking i know
FASTTOMMY: its gr8 to be around people who can actually train me
FASTTOMMY: maybe if i had this be4 i wouldnt have quit cuz of suzie
FASTTOMMY: im a bit scared tho - being an ancient is a lot more
stressful than I thought
FASTTOMMY: ill tell you more about it when i see you next
FASTTOMMY: i get leave in another couple of days
FASTTOMMY: yes...i said leave
FASTTOMMY: call me bro

	The Protectors had leave, like the military?  I thought he was
joking.  I called him later that night.  Nope, leave was real.
	I guess it's because once they graduate and become fully fledged
members of the Protectors, they are expected to be on active duty for
days at a time.  He had related to me a story of my dad, when he was
on duty with the Protectors and had ended up in another part of the
galaxy with Ironwing, the Liberator, Windspeed and a young Ace - they
ended up being there for a few weeks, fighting an interstellar war
	It was long missions for lifesaving and diplomacy that the Protectors
trained their newcomers for.  Tommy had told me it was like pledging
all over again.  I couldn't really relate - I played football while he
went to Whitman here in Pinnacle City and lived the traditional frat
boy life.  But he said that were hours of relentless learning, both on
an individual basis, as well as in the history of the Protectors and
the superhuman community.
	"There's a lot of stuff in here that would interest you," Tommy had
told me.
	"Oh yeah?" I responded, a bit nonchalantly.
	I could tell he was reading something - probably in some sort of
study hall or another. "Yeah.  They've got a bunch of reports and
analysis of your dad."
	My attention turned to what Tommy was saying. "Really?  Who did it?"
	"Ummm..." I heard Tommy pressing keys on a keyboard. "It looks like
The Professor and Dr. Asteroid."  I knew the names, but not much more
than that.  The Professor had been a member of the Protectors from
before Dad had been there, and was still part of the team's
administrative department.  Doc Asteroid was never part of the
Protectors, but had occasionally teamed with The Professor.  Dad often
spoke fondly of The Professor, but there was one thing that Dad had
mentioned that was never solved - what the pin that gave him (and
subsequently me), the Thunderclap powers.
	"Wow," was my simple answer. "How can I see these files?"
	"Join the Protectors," Tommy said with a laugh.
	The conversation turned a bit darker when I asked Tommy about being
an Ancient.  "I'm not sure exactly what my full powers and abilities
are," Tommy told me. "Like, I might just be super fast.  But I also
might be channeling some mystical force to provide my speed."
	"How can you be an Ancient, though?" I asked my most important
question - at least to me. "You and I've known each other since, like,
fifth grade.  And last time I checked, you weren't a thousand years
old back then."
	Tommy chuckled on the other side of the phone. "Um, I guess the easy
way to, uh, um, explain it, is that there are two groups of Ancients.
There are the Ageless, who are people like Dangerman or Parabolis," he
paused.  Dangerman had been one of the greatest heroes in Pinnacle
City until he lost control of his powers and went on a murderous
rampage.  He had chosen to go into deep space in exile because of the
lack of any sort of containment for him on Earth.  Parabolis had been
a deadly murderer, often fighting the Protectors, the American Ranger
and even Dad.  When Parabolis went crazy, he decimated a chunk New
York City, killing nearly a million.
	"Then there are the Spirits, which is what I am," Tommy continued.
"Spirits are those whose powers transfer at death and move to a new
holder.  From what I've learned from The Professor and my trainer
Mirage, Spirits are more susceptible to going, well, insane."
	He stopped talking.  I could feel him growing unsure of whether or
not to continue.  A bell rang in the background.  "What's that noise?"
I asked.
	"I'm getting called to the Situation Room," Tommy said glumly.
	"Ok.  I'll talk to you lat-" I didn't even get a chance to finish the
conversation when he closed the line.  I didn't really think anything
about it.  Tommy was involved with the Protectors now, which was good
for him.  Even before he had dated Suzie and briefly "retired" from
being Velocity, Tommy had never had any proper training in the use of
his powers.  He had simply used his super speed to take advantage of
situations.  Now, he was undertaking (I hoped) proper self-defense
training, improving his strength, and figuring out how to use his
powers and avoid the situations that had plagued other Ancients.
	I just wish I had had that sort of training.  Instead, I was left to
using the notes Dad had left behind in journals, and finding out my
powers the hard way.  As much as I had tried, I hadn't been able to re-
create the tremendous burst of energy that I had used against Major
Tanaka's robot in that warehouse.  Maybe joining the Protectors would
be a good idea.  At least then, I'd be able to use my powers to their
fullest potential.  Even having access to The Professor's notes about
Dad would be helpful right now.
	Of course, right now, I was hovering over Kennedy Park, wondering why
the pond was iced over in early November.  It hadn't been that cold
for long enough to freeze over anything, even if it was early in the
morning.  The sun had been out all day, the temperature nearing fifty
degrees.  The iced over pond was definitely not normal.

	Our stunningly awesome hero was not the only one wondering about the
frozen pond in Kennedy park and exploding pipes throughout the city.
Mayor James Stockard stood in front of the large windows in his office
and looked over the city.  The Pinnacle City Hall sat in the Inlet
Park area of the city.  The seemingly ageless building was tall enough
for Mayor Stockard to get a great view of the city from any of the
	"We've lost half a dozen water mains in the last twelve hours, sir,"
the city's Director of Public Works informed the mayor.  Stockard
nodded, but chose not to turn around.  He was in very good shape,
despite the fact that he hadn't been known as Rush in twenty years.
Since his entry into public service, he had taken to working out
regularly, even if he couldn't stretch his remaining abilities out.
	Public service had treated him well.  After spending time in the
private sector with MacHammond Aerospace and his own consulting
company, his popularity as a member of the Protectors had led to a
spot on the city council.  Less than halfway through his term, he had
run for, and been elected, Mayor.  Now, he was nearing the end of his
first full term, and things were starting to get rocky.  Superhuman
crime was up, and despite a growing generation of new superheroes in
Pinnacle City, the number of criminals and the subsequent damage from
them was at an all-time high.
	"Mr. Mayor?" the Public Works official followed up after not
receiving a response, "How quickly do you want us to start working on
the repairs?"
	Stockard wheeled around, a look of surprise on his face. "You haven't
started?" he remarked.
	The Public Works official looked shocked. "Well,, uh, we
were, uh-"
	"Get out of here and get started!" the mayor shouted.  He hated to
yell at civil servants, but if things weren't getting fixed, he wasn't
getting re-elected.
	The Public Works official hastily gathered his things and stormed out
of the conference room, mumbling about the cost.
	Chuckling in the corner, Captain Mike Cesar tried to keep a straight
face.  Cesar was busy, but something like this did amuse him.  As the
Public Works official slammed the heavy door shut behind him, Cesar's
face returned to its normal, humorless facade.
	"Any leads, Captain?" the mayor asked directly without stopping for
formalities.  Stockard had known Cesar since before Rush had joined
the Protectors.  Cesar had been a beat cop when Rush and the Arrow had
worked in partnership, trying to protect the city from the growing War
of the Three Families - the gang war which ended the Mafia's hold on
the city.  Years later, Rush was now Mayor Stockard, the Arrow was
dead, and Cesar headed up the Pinnacle City Police Department's
Superhuman Crime Bureau.
	"How sure are you that this is a superhuman crime?" Cesar responded.
He knew the answer, but he wanted to understand Stockard's rationale
in dragging him up to City Hall.  The SCB office was tucked into a
converted factory along the Rosetown/Old City line, and Cesar enjoyed
his tiny little office.  The giant, wood-paneled office that belonged
to Mayor Stockard was a bit pretentious to him.
	Mayor Stockard raised a eyebrow as he bent over his desk to look at
the reports and photographs laid out in front of him.  "Seriously,
	Cesar stood up and walked towards the mayor's giant desk.  "How much
of dragging me up here was due to the election?"
	Stockard exhaled loudly.  "Now's not the time, Mike," was the Mayor's
response.  He didn't look up, but even without seeing his face, Cesar
knew the answer.
	"What we know is that we're facing someone who is not known to us,"
Cesar relented. "Our experts say this is as natural as you can get.
It's not something that's machine created, so it eliminates a lot.
The potential for repeat offenders is pretty much non-existent.  The
one's who we've nailed before are locked away in Loch Merriam or in
	"So someone new, huh?"
	"Yes.  We're trying to figure out if there's any pattern, but right
now it's the pipes and the pond in Kennedy Park."
	Stockard nodded at Cesar's report.  Great, he thought, what I really
need now is more superhuman criminals.  This election is going to be a

	My breath hung in the air as I swooped low into Kennedy Park.  The
frozen pond at the center of the park had attracted a lot of
attention, not just because of the yellow police line that circled the
ice.  Onlookers with cameras turned their attention from the
unseasonable ice when they saw me.  Even though I had been around for
a little while now, people were still fascinated with the new
	I tried to look confident as I approached the crowd.  They parted
themselves for me like I was Moses.  I felt like I was walking down
the tunnel in college on my way from the locker room to the football
field.  The only thing that was missing was the click-clack of my
cleats on the concrete.  Instead, my rubber-soled boots didn't make a
sound until I walked onto the grass.
	The grass surrounding the pond was frosted it over and gave a
sickening crunching sound every time my feet landed.  While this grass
would freeze and die eventually, it was too early for it to be
happening now.
	I reached the edge of the pond and stared down.  The ice seemed to
fresh, without any marks or imperfections.  Taking a deep breath, I
put my put out and pressed it down onto the ice.  It didn't give.  The
weather needed to be freezing for days to make this happen.  The pond
was covered in a solid sheet of ice.
	"Like my work?" a voice said chillingly from behind me.  I spun
around, but I moved too quickly and my body went off balance.  I
slipped, falling onto my rear end.
	As I cursed myself, I heard the voice cackle with laughter.  I stood
up slowly, the ice was making it difficult to do so.  The crowd that
had gathered had run away.  I was left staring at a woman, wearing a
blue prom dress.  Her hair and skin were snow white, her eyes were a
sharp blue.  She was sitting atop a throne made of ice, built in one
of the Kennedy Park walkways.
	"Who-" I tried to demand.
	She cackled, her laugh tearing at me.
	"I asked, who-"
	Again she cackled, breaking my concentration.  "No, Thunderclap," she
said, "You don't get to answer questions.  You just get to listen."
	"Listen to what?"
	Her eyes opened wide. "Would you stop talking?"
	I shrugged.  "I like talking."
	"See if you like this, then," she snapped before pointing a hand at
me.  A massive burst of cold suddenly enveloped me.  I couldn't move
as my body up to my neck were quickly encased in ice.
	"Now you can listen while I tell you about how your world will slowly
be covered in ice!"

Next time:

Can Thunderclap escape from the icy clutches of this cold hearted
mistress of ice?

What interesting surprise awaits our hero if he does escape?

Find out in Thunderclap #10!!

Notes - I've decided that I've enjoyed writing Thunderclap too much to
just end it as I did.  So welcome back to Pinnacle City's finest young

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