[PINCITY/ACRA] Thunderclap #10

rickhindle at gmail.com rickhindle at gmail.com
Mon Sep 1 20:48:57 PDT 2008

#10 – Mordecai
by Rick Hindle

[Cover shows Thunderclap crouched in a fetal position, while giant
robots are in the background, destroying buildings.]

	I kept trying to keep talking, mostly to keep myself warm, but also
to keep this crazy near-albino chick talking.  I needed to buy some
time.  Whether it was the Protectors who bailed me out again, or
somebody else.  At this point, it didn't matter, I was a human
popsicle, and it was getting colder every second.
	“So, come here often?” I tried to say between chattering teeth.  More
likely, I slurred three quarters of the words like I was drunk college
kid on a Friday night.
	“Stop talking to me!” she screamed, “I am the Ice Queen and I demand
	Great, I thought, not only am I trapped in ice by some whacko, but
she's got thoughts of superpowered royalty.  “Umm...”
	“Silence!” the Ice Queen shouted and fired another blast of ice at my
head.  Her aim was slightly off, and the jagged energy sliced my
cheek.  I felt warm blood trickle slowly down my cold flesh.
Frostbite probably wasn't too far off.  But then again, I'd never
experienced frostbite, but I'm sure it wasn't going to take long.
	She stared at me through her cold blue eyes, sneering at me.  The Ice
Queen had me trapped up to my shoulders in solid ice.  At this point,
the only thing keeping me alive was the fact my head was free, and my
spandex suit covered my body.  If any skin had been exposed, I'd be in
deep trouble.  The ice was pressing in on my chest, threatening to
crush my upper body in on my lungs.
	“You never answered my question,” I tried to say.
	The Ice Queen didn't speak.  She just stared at me.
	“So, what's your deal?  Alien?  Troubled upbringing?  Military
experiment?” I just tried to keep talking.  This wasn't going to be
easy.  She seemed to be one with her icy powers, a shield against the
outside world.  I was trying to break through it, just to see if it
could help me somehow.
	“Do you ever shut up!” she screamed at me.  Her icy throne slid
towards me.  I could feel her icy breath on me now, “You're worse then
those girls who would sit in the hallway and laugh at me.
	“Nothing would get them to be quiet.  Their tiny little skirts,
trying to get all of the boys and teachers to give them whatever they
wanted.  I earned what I got, but not on my back.  And they laughed at
me?!  They got what they earned.  All of them.  Now they'll never
laugh at me again.  And nobody will ever stop me!   The stupid boys
with their stupid letter jackets.  The stupid quarterback who tried to
get me to do his homework, and then called me a slut when I wouldn't.
He learned it to!”
	Oh crap, I told myself.  She was a mess.  This girl too revenge on
her bullies.  But instead of turning them in or ignoring it, she
lashed out.  Wow.  So this is how supervillains go bad?
	I said something incoherently.  I was losing it.
	Was I like her?  Was I pushing people away?  She forced herself into
a role in high school and allowed others to dictate her life.
	I was fading quick.  Stay awake my brain tried to tell the rest of my
body.  My breathing, though, was becoming laborious.  This was tough.
Too tough to breath and talk and think all at the same time.
	Was I forcing myself away from my friends?  Tommy joined the
Protectors.  Should I have gone with him?  What if I had never become
Thunderclap?  Would he not have used his powers and been hunted down
by the Baron?  Would Suzie had ever left him?
	“Lithen-” I slurred before my head rolled back.  Through half closed
eyes, I could still tell she was there on her throne, staring at me, a
brutally cold, smug smile on her face.
	What about Gretchen?  Would she be dating that pretty boy Kellogg
Bakker if I wasn't galavanting around the city in spandex.  Would she
and I be together?  I tried to shake my head clear of these thoughts.
The Ice Queen's ranting suddenly started again.
	“You're just another one of them, Thunderclap,” she stated. “You're
just a superficial loser who hides behind your facade.  Instead of a
football uniform, you wear spandex to hide yourself for your inner
	Was she right?  I wanted to admit it that she was.  I tried to speak
again, but nothing came out.  For me, all I could see was black as my
breath became ragged.
	Then the shooting pain started.  It felt as if my body was being
ripped apart.  I tried to scream, but couldn't.

	I landed with a thud.  Opening my eyes, I thought I'd be in the park,
just outside of my icy prison.  Nope.  Totally wrong.
	There was nothing but black around me puncuated by millions of tiny
pinpricks of light.  The floor on which I was laying on was a sea of
blue, shifting like the waves on the ocean.  I whistled lowly to
myself, “Is this what heaven looks like?” I wondered aloud.
	“Not unless you believe you can visit Heaven while still alive,” a
voice sounding like Roger Moore's version of James Bond came from
behind me.
	I wheeled around, somehow managing to come up with a fighting crouch
like I had seen in some cheesy kung fu movie.  But my balance had been
thrown off after being frozen into a statue by the Ice Queen.  I
waivered and then fell backwards onto my butt again.
	“The answer is actually, 'yes',” the man said to me as he
approached.  He was probably around six feet, wearing a heavy leather
trench coat and a wrinkled gray suit under it.
	“Are you the Doctor from Dr. Who?” I asked.
	The man chuckled.  “While we have a few common traits,” he admitted,
“I'm not a television show.”
	I struggled to my feet.  “Wait, what's the question?”  I was
	The man shook his head a bit.  “Darn confused children,” I heard him
mutter.  Before I could retort, he said, “You can visit Heaven while
still alive.  It's not a figurative place at all, nor is it strictly
	“Well, Clay Hunter,” he said bluntly, “Welcome to Slipspace.  My name
is Mordecai Holmquist, and I, well, walk this section of Slipspace.”
	“Slipspace?” I asked.  “Wait.  How do you know my name?” I was
completely dumbfounded.  Nothing was making sense all of a sudden.
	Mordecai chuckled again at my cluelessness.  “I forget that you're
not your father,” he said.  “Slipspace is a sort of interdimension
pathway.  In Slipspace, you can travel to the various planes of
	“'Planes of existance'...” I pondered the various thoughts that
quickly ran through my head.  “You mean like dimensions?”
	“Dimensions, planets, even time,” Mordecai answered. “The universe is
a very mysterious place that I only know a millionth of.  Some of my
type have walked the Slipspace for decades and know a thousandth of
the universe.”
	I was awestruck by this Slipspace.  Wait, I told myself, hold on.
“I'm dying.  This is that tunnel before the light, right?” I started
hyperventilating.  “You're my guide, or whatever.  You're my guide
to...to death.”
	Mordecai came forward and was about to put his hand on my shoulder.
I slapped it aside.  I wasn't going to let anyone take me to death.
He came forward again, I tried moving blocking his touch again, but he
was able to touch me.  His touch calmed me, got my breathing normally
again.  “What the hell...”
	“I get this a lot,” Mordecai admitted to me. “It can be a bit
disconcerting to come here.  But honestly, I'm not kidding.  The
Slipspace is a fascinating place, but it's not death.  We're far from
it.  I can show you Hell, that's not a problem.  How about Heaven,
just to prove to you it does exist.  Maybe I can show you where
your...” he sneezed.
	My eyebrows raised, “My what?”
	Mordecai waved it off.  “The reason I brought you here now are two-
fold,” he explained. “First, I know for a fact that you still question
why you became Thunderclap.  And second of all, I know that the
decision may not have been your's alone.”
	“I'm pretty sure I made a very concious decision to jump off that
balcony and learned to fly,” I retorted.
	Mordecai raised his hands in defense, “Regardless of that, you still
do question as to whether or not you should carry on as Thunderclap,
	I turned my head slightly and I turned my gaze past Mordecai and off
into the distance.  He was right, I admitted.  I didn't exactly know
why I actually chose to become Thunderclap.  I also wasn't sure
whether or not I did want to become my father.
	As I brought myself back to loking at Mordecai, the man smiled,
	“Huh?” was all I could think of.
	“You feel your being Thunderclap is driving a wedge between you and
your friends, right?” he probed.
	“Well,” I hesitated.  Was he right?
	He continued. “If you hadn't become Thunderclap, what would your
friends be doing?”
	“Well,” I stammered a bit.  Would things be any different? “Well,
Tommy and Suzie would still be togeter.  Gretchen would still be in
grad school, probably still dating that rich kid.”
	Mordecai had a smile on his face. “You sure about that?”
	“What, about Tommy and Suzie?”
	“Or about Gretchen?”  Mordecai's words confused me even more.
	I decided this confusion had to end.  “You're not making sense.  Tell
me something or do something, but if not, then let me go back.”
	“So the Ice Queen can finish you off?”
	Hmmm...he was right.  I didn't have a way out my icy prison.  Was I
still in the icy prison, or not?  That still didn't answer how I got
here.  In fact, I probably should ask that.
	Before I could say anything, Mordecai began speaking again, “Let me
show you something.  Slipspace allows you to see possible futures
based on decisions that you did or did not make.”
	I didn't even try to respond.  This stuff was too far over my head.
Nothing seemed to make sense to me in Slipspace.  It was like this
place took your thoughts and ideas and then dumped them out of your
	“Follow me,” Mordecai simply said.
	I shouldn't go, I told myself.  My the doorway suddenly appeared.  I
thought about it for a moment, and then followed him through.  It
didn't make sense.  Then again, nothing in last six months had made

	We were standing on a hillside overlooking the western half of
Pinnacle City's massive bay.  We were somewhere near my old home.  It
took a moment, but I recognized where I was.  [Look up from #1 where
Nathan Hunter is buried].  We were standing two rows over from where a
service was being conducted.
	A single casket of dark wood sat hanging over the open grave.
Mourners numbered in the dozens were there, many dressed in black.  I
recognized a couple of people.  For some reason, Senator Simian was
there, as was Ace of the Protectors.
	The Senator moved, and there I am.  I was wearing the same suit I
wore to Dad's funeral.  Gretchen was standing next to me, her head
delicately placed against me.  Her makeup had been running from
crying, some of it staining my coat.  I noticed our hands were
	“What the hell is this?” I asked.
	Mordecai stood their silently, gathering in the details.  “If you
hadn't become Thunderclap, do you really think Tommy and Suzie would
still be together?”
	I turned away from the scene and looked at Mordecai.  “That's what I
said, wasn't it?”
	Mordecai shook his head.  “Do you know why Tommy was attacked by
Facebook, under the disguise of the American Ranger?” he asked.
	“Nope,” I replied. “Neither did Tommy.”
	It looked like Mordecai really wanted to tell me something.  He
gritted his teeth, sighed deeply, and then continued, “Tommy would
have gone back to being Velocity regardless of the situation.  Or at
least, he would have used his powers again.”
	“He hadn't used them for years,” I tried to explain.  “Until he saw
me as Thunderclap, he never even thought of using them again.  He and
Suzie fought over that issue.  Hell, I didn't even know he had
	“He would've.  Trust me, please,” Mordecai said calmly.
	“And Facebook factors into this, how?”
	“Facebook would have gone after him, just as he did,” came the slow,
pointed answer.  “And Tommy would have run to the Protectors.  But you
wouldn't have been able to come and rescue him after that serum was
injected by the Baron.”
	My face turned white as I looked down at this scene. “He would've
died instantly from the serum, his powers overloading themselves.  The
Baron had been right.  All of his buyers cashed in their chips and
their favors.  The heroes began to become the hunted.”
	“All because...”
	“Yes,” Mordecai answered.  “Now follow me.  But look down first.”
	Robotically, I did as instructed.  My mind was frozen in place.
Tommy was going to be dead because of me?
	I looked down.  “Nathan Hunter” stood up at me from the stone at my
feet.  I took a half-step backwards and nearly dropped to my knees.
Above his name was engraved a single lightning bolt.  Below it had his
year of birth and death.  And a single phrase:

A Hero Never Fails

	Mordecai led me back through the passage, my mind whirling as we
went.  I wanted to ask why we stood next to my father's grave watching
Tommy's “funeral”, but I was numb.
	If I hadn't become Thunderclap, Tommy would have died?
	“There is more, if you want to see it,” Mordecai said.
	“Do I want to?”
	Mordecai gave a brief flash of a smile. “That's not my decision,
Clay, that's your own.”
	I threw my hands up, as if to say “Sure, why not?”  The walker of
Slipspace just snapped his fingers.
	Where we were was quicker to tell.  We were in the central quad of
Pinnacle University, a giant monument to the Futureman stood in the
center of the quad.  But behind me, I heard the roar of a fire.  I
turned to see Mordecai walking towards a building gutted by fire.  It
was O'Roarke Hall.  The Graduate building.
	I ran past him.  No, I wanted to scream.
	I got to the edge of the building and saw it.  I then dropped to my
knees.  Tears ran down my face.

	Nothing could prepare me for seeing Gretchen laying there, dead or
dying in my arms.  They weren't really my arms.  They were the arms of
what could have been me.
	“Major Tanaka's robots,” Mordecai answered the unasked question as he
came up behind me.  Before I could respond, “The same ones you
destroyed when you saved Tommy.”
	My head dropped, my chin banging noiselessly again my chest.  “What
about my mom?” I asked.
	“Killed by the serum.”
	I sniffed deeply.  “Who did they poision to kill her?”
	Mordecai didn't respond.  I stood and looked at him.  He gave an
almost pained look, as if he was sorry for me.
	“As I said, the Baron won,” Mordecai finally answered.
	All of the deaths came crashing down on me.  Mom.  Tommy.  Gretchen.
I just exploded, “What the hell does all of this have to do with me
not following the path I chose?  I chose the path I did, didn't I?  I
became Thunderclap!”
	Mordecai didn't miss a beat.  It was as if he knew this coming. “Look
around and think about what you have already stopped from happening.
This gets worse, Clay Hunter, much worse.”  He stopped and took a deep
breath.  “Like it or not,” he continued,” the fates have a plan for
you.  One that follows a very clear path.”
	I shook my head.  “And that is?”
	“Your family -” his voice stopped and the pain of my body being torn
apart came back.  I was being ripped away from Slipspace and back into
the park.

	I was laying on the ground in the park.  My ice prison was
surrounding me, broken into small chunks.  I rolled onto my back,
looking up at the clear blue skies.  The sun blinded me.
	“You're awake finally,” a gruff voice said.  I looked up, and the sun
was blotted out by a stout guy in a jacket and spandex.  The spandex
didn't fit him that well – the guy wasn't fat, but he wasn't skinny,
	“I'm Clusterbomb,” he said, reaching out a hand to help me back up.
He pointed at someone standing to my other side, “And that's Athena.”
	I turned to look at her.  She was model-tall, with blond hair that
cascaded down her back.  She was wearing a skin-tight body suit that
seemed to melt the ice around her.
	“The Ice Queen escaped,” Athena informed me.  I just nodded dumbly.
	Both continued talking, mostly to me, but occasionally to each
other.  Eventually, Clusterbomb slapped me across the back of the
head.  I stumbled, wheeled around, and then noticed that he was
laughing.  I could hear her laughing, too.
	I rubbed the back of my head and chuckled.  I'm sure my face was
red.  Smiling actually caused the cut on my cheek to re-open.  “Nice
cut,” Clusterbomb said with a smile.  “That's gotta be four or five
stitches right there.”
	Gingerly, I touched the cut.  Yep, it was a nice one, I thought.
	“Well, thanks guys,” I said humbly.  It wasn't the first time I had
been rescued by other superhumans, I doubted that it would be the
	“Anytime,” Athena responded.
	Athena and Clusterbomb wandered off, trying to help the police figure
out what happened to the Ice Queen.  I watched them – well, her – walk
away and then I turned and stared at the pond.  The ice was beginning
to melt, and I felt something slip away with it.
	Maybe I had done the right thing, I told myself.  I thought about
everything that Mordecai had said.  My family had something to do with
it all, but I just couldn't bring myself to really thinking more about
it.  All I wanted to do right then was to get home and take a nice hot


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