[PINCITY][ACRA] Thunderclap #15
rickhindle at gmail.com
Sat Jul 18 19:21:21 PDT 2009
"Revolution Part III: Martyrsâ
by Rick Hindle
[cover shows the American Ranger and Zorstorer fighting. The left
side looks like it's from a Golden Age comic, while the right side
looks modern. A blurb across the bottom reads: "This Revolution Spans
âBerlin, 1967, actually,â the American Ranger finally said to
Zorstorer. The laughing subsided as my vision returned. Zorstorer
was a pretty intense sight â bald with a beard and a patch over his
left eye. His baton was black in color, studded with what looked to
be red buttons. He was wearing the same khaki uniform that he had had
on as General Echevarria; Iâd have to get Tommy to let me into whether
or not someone can change their outfit when their change their looks
Zorstorer looked down at my red, white and blue colored companion,
his good eye narrowing in disgust. âThatâs right,â he agreed. âYou
ruined my intelligence operation.â
âIâm surprised you even went to work for the Soviets, after what they
did to your eye,â the Ranger responded.
I could hear Zorstorer gnashing his teeth from where I stood. His
jaw set, hard enough that I thought he would break it. âMy eye...I
still believe it was you who was responsible.â
The Ranger tried to hide a smile. âIâve told you how many times? I
had nothing to do with your eye being torn out.â
âYou were there! You had to have done it!â
ââFraid not,â the Ranger was buying time. That part was obvious.
But for what?
Their conversation continued as the Ranger tried to relate his side
of the story. I looked at Ace, who just smiled. âWhat happened was
that, yes, I stumbled on your little info gathering thing that was
tapping the US Embassy in Berlin. I went over the wall â well, under
it actually â and tried to shut things down. What I didnât know was
that Ivan was there waiting for me, I swear. That was actually the
first time that I knew Iron Ivan and your were in cahoots. Trust me,
our intelligence has gotten better since then.â
Zorstorer laughed. âObviously, especially since youâre here thinking
youâd take down General Echevarria.â
The American Ranger shrugged, again trying not to hide his smile.
âYou got me there. Anyways, you and Ivan ended up fighting it out.
By the time I decided to step in, Ivan was busted up for so long that
it mustâve taken Mikoyan a couple of years to get him back together.
But, one of Ivanâs claws had found your eye.â
I thought I saw a spark of something, but whether it was anger,
humiliation or just the acceptance that the Ranger was right, I
couldnât tell. âNow that youâre both here, we can continue,â
âHeh?â I said, barely above a whisper. That was the second time, he
had said âbothâ. I originally had assumed he meant Josue and Sombra,
or Josue and Lumbre. But they were standing off to the side of
Zorstorerâs gaze, which was right on me and the Ranger. Maybe he
assumed I was Tommy?
A beeping forced Zorstorerâs attention away from us and towards
Thrust. The BSA traitor looked down at his watch, which was
flashing. âMultiple inbound from Santa Maria, sir,â Thrust stated
plainly, his eyes flicking in a cycle from watch, to Zorstorer, to the
Ranger, to Suzie standing dead still in the sights of his gun.
âNow,â the Ranger whispered to me.
âThe gun?â I replied, looking at it with hesitation. Even with
Weatherly giving me my pin back, the dampeners in the Montecaivo
castle were still switched on.
âNo â clap,â he answered, âLike you mean it.â
âBut what about-â
âJust do it!â he ordered.
âOkay,â I said. I took a bit step forward, and slammed my hands
together as hard as possible.
The energy blast tore out of my hands. It was a bright blue color,
almost see-through, shaped like a disc on its side. It smashed
against one of the exterior walls, tearing it wide open, letting
sunlight force its way in.
And the sunlight was followed by the Protectors. Steelhideâs metal
shell landed first, his stun blasters knocking out Thrustâs hired
help. Ironwing was next through the gap, his massive wings allowing
him to zip quickly through the room, knocking out anyone who tried to
grab a hostage. The bombshell that was Solstice Powers was the last
one through, her magic powers making the air crackle and sizzle as she
went for anyone that Steelhide had missed.
It was surgical, it was awe-inspiring to watch. Their skills and
timing were honed from years of training and working together. And
Solstice Powers was HOT.
* * *
Tommy juked to his left at about seventy-five percent of his top
speed, easily avoiding the three-round burst that the shooter had just
fired at him. As little as Tommy knew about guns, he knew that the
one wielded by the gang banger was a bad, bad thing. Twisting back on
course, Tommy hesitated just a second, allowing the gunman to line up
his target. Just as he was about to squeeze the trigger, Tommy cut
left again, this time at full speed.
The bullets whipped past him, but Tommy didnât notice them. Still at
full speed, he neared the gunman, raised his right arm to shoulder
level, and clotheslined the shooter. The maneuver spun Tommy around,
but he kept his feet. He set his feet and came to a sliding stop â it
wasnât the best move or one that Arrow would especially be happy
about, but it got it done. The perp was on the ground, in pain, but
he still tried reaching for his gun. Tommy walked closer and kicked
it away, then stared down at the gunman.
âMy town, my rules,â Tommy said in his best superhero voice, âAnd
that includes no guns, jackass.â
Tommy looked up at the sounds of the police crew coming in to clean
up the violence. A group of four gunmen wearing Kevlar and carrying
German-made assault rifles had stormed the old Monterrey Theatre and
held a bunch of people hostage. The theater was a landmark of the
East Shore and its long-time residents, almost like the Apollo Theater
in Harlem was to its locals. Striking there was a dangerous,
The âJunior Protectorsâ as they had been dubbed, Velocity and
Lightspeed, were dispatched to help out. Their high-speed abilities
allowed the two younger superhumans to knock out the gunmen without
injuring anybody after the police had drawn them out of the building.
âIâve never seen anything like this,â one of the police officers
said, referring to the badge on the arm of the last gunman that Tommy
had knocked out.
âItâs just a gang symbol, right?â Tommy replied.
âNo, Velocity, itâs worse,â the deep, scratchy voice of the Fedora
said from behind him. Tommy whipped around, his eyes narrowing behind
the eyelets of his cowl.
âThatâs not cool, all sneaking up on me and stuff,â Tommy replied.
The Fedora dismissed the comments, acting like he didnât hear them.
âIâve been seeing the symbol around â the Fileâs putting together an
army,â he explained. The scratchy, Christian Bale-esque voice made
âWerenât these guys fighting each other just the other day?â the cop
asked, his eyes seemingly drawn towards the Fedora.
âThey were. But consolidation means that the File is probably
shifting their aim away from each other an onto the general populace.
Before, any civilian casualties were just collateral damage. Now,
itâs like theyâre being targeted,â was the Fedoraâs grim assessment.
âBut, why the Monterrey?â the booming voice of Captain Mike Cesar
echoed across the quiet street. The attention of the police, Tommy
and even the Fedora was drawn to the man in the wrinkled dress sure,
half-knotted tie, wearing his service pistol strapped to his waste
like an old west cowboy.
Attention turned back to the Fedora. It was like watching a tennis
match and the ball had just been lobbed back over the net. The Fedora
stood rod still, his eyes following Cesar so closely that Tommy felt
the tension thick like humidity. âObviously a flash point,â the
âNo shit,â Cesar snapped back. Tommy could see Cesarâs face and the
large bags under his bloodshot eyes.
Fedora set his chin, he was obviously trying to hold back. Cesarâs
people had long been good sources of information for him and losing
those links now would put him behind the eight-ball in his self-styled
crusade to eradicate the criminal elements in Pinnacle City.
âA flash point filled with people and enough explosives to level the
block,â Fedora continued. Cesar looked a bit surprised as Fedora
continued his explanation, âThe Protector Lightspeed disabled the
weapons, youâll find them inside Captain Cesar. The File is an
interesting character, but getting close to him seems to be the
issue. None of my contacts can even pinpoint his location. Can
Cesar looked straight at the Fedora, âYou know the answer.â
âThe answer that youâre hiding isnât going to help us.â
âGuys,â Tommy tried to interject but the Fedora and Cesar stepped
closer to each other.
âWhat answer is that?â Cesar responded, his eyes alive with anger.
A slight smile seemed to tug at Cesarâs face. âEver hear of Frankie
the File, Fedora?â
Tommy could see the look of recognition on the face of the masked
Fedora. Cesar continued without waiting, âMy sources tell me that
Frankie the File became the File Killer. Those files he put in
between his victimsâ eyes were energy charged. Heâs a superhuman.
And heâs brought together the gangs and his target is somewhere else.
âLike the Monterrey?â Tommy asked.
âJust like the Monterrey,â the Fedora responded before Cesar could.
* * *
I grabbed Suzie first. That was the first and best thing I could
think of. I was here to rescue her and nothing was going to stop me.
I was totally Luke Skywalker to her Princess Leia; minus the
Grabbing her around the waist, I turned and flew as fast as I could
towards the opening that I had made in the building. I still didnât
know how my powers worked in there, heck I still felt a bit groggy.
That âhangoverâ I had was still lingering â maybe it was something to
do with Montecaivo. I tried to push it out of my mind as I ignore the
shots from Zorstorerâs soldiers and escaped into the daylight.
It was humid â a lot warmer than Pinnacle City when I had left.
Maybe thatâs what was getting to me. I landed on a flat area below
the castle, giving both Suzie and myself a chance to catch out
breaths. That didnât last long.
âWhat the fuck is wrong with you?â Suzie yelled. âLetâs go. Get me
âIâm a BSA field agent, Clay, I can fight for myself,â she informed
âLetâs go. All I need is damn gun. Youâre just like Tommy, yâknow?
âI came to get you, to save you,â I finally cut in. Iâm sure I spoke
over some of what she said, but I didnât care, âSo I could stop
listening to Tommy lament over you. You broke his heart.â
Suzie stopped, her mouth hanging open slightly. âNot the most
flattering look,â I said as I grabbed her and picked her up flying
back towards the castle. âAnd donât move around too much,â I
instructed her, âI can fly, but youâll be splattered all over this
As I streaked back towards the building, I thought that this decision
would be regrettable. I mean, I came here looking for Suzie and to
help her out. Now I had to worry that I was leading her back to the
âGood of you to join in,â Ironwing said to me through his filtered
voice box thingy and I dropped Suzie off and then broke a soldierâs
jaw with a fist. I tried to think of a comeback, but I couldnât. As
much as I disliked Ironwingâs condescending attitude towards me, I
couldnât dwell on it or snipe at him right now.
I watched as Sombra knocked over a soldier and then ignored the shots
by Thrust as darkness enshrouded the mercenary. I heard what sounded
like screaming but then a loud boom sounded across the room.
The shadows fell and Sombra fell with Thrust below him. Grunting
followed as the room became deathly quiet. Slowly, Sombra rolled over
and Thrust got to his feet. He looked down at Sombraâs prone body and
mechanically raised his gun and fired three rounds into the body.
Sombraâs body shook at the impact and then laid there silently.
âNo!â Lumbre yelled, her voice trembling. She fired a blinding burst
of energy at Thrust knocking him over. Before she could turn her
attention to Zorstorer, he had fired another blast out of his baton.
He missed her, possibly intentionally, and hit Josue in the chest.
The resistance leader was pushed across the floor before hitting a
wall. Lumbre just turned and looked at her fiance's lifeless body and
she collapsed onto her knees.
* * *
Growing up, Horatio and Eugene Duarte were too similar to be of any
good. Both were smart, athletic and good-looking. Given that they
were only a year apart in age, the two were extremely competitive.
Eugene was the younger of the two and their mother, the former
Cassandra MacHammond, often compared him to her long lost uncle who
had died in a plane crash at the on-set of the American involvement in
World War II. Their mother had a fond spot for her younger son, which
the elder Horatio oftentimes found challenging to work around.
Eugene had also been the first of the two to showcase superhuman
ability, again which Cassandra believed came from the MacHammond side
of the family. While Eugene displayed the ability to fly, Horatioâs
abilities were merely low-level energy displacement coupled with the
ability to absorb a certain amount of power before burning himself
After schooling at some of the elite boarding schools on the Eastern
seaboard, Eugene chose to study at Princeton before being recruited to
join the Protectors. Cassandra MacHammond-Duarte, now the widowed
matriarch of both sides of the family, saw this as a proper way to
establish himself before leaving to enjoy private service amongst the
heads of MacHammond Aerospace or Duarte Shipping.
Ever jealous of his younger brother, Horatio chose Stanford â trying
to get as far away from his family as possible and going to the lowest
possible school that the family would send him to. A quick study,
with his academic abilities no longer under the shadow of his
brotherâs, Horatio graduated in two years and secured his doctorate
within five. Again shunning his family, Horatio chose not to return
home to work for one of the family businesses, instead first creating
and building his own company â Cain Energy â and then aligning himself
with his motherâs arch-rival in the business world, the Bakker family.
While Eugene continued to make front-page news with his awesome
abilities, his older brother only showcased on the business sections.
Still jealous of Eugeneâs success, Horatio began tinkering with an exo-
skeleton that he had salvaged from a Bakker Industries division in
California. Eventually, Horatio had improved it enough where it
amplified his ability to conduct and release energy.
Originally, he had planned to use it to gain his way into his
motherâs good graces. Instead, he realized that power and wealth
could be his rather easily, and make himself much more famous than his
brother ever would be.
Minor crimes against his own company were Horatioâs entry into the
world of superhuman crimes. Insurance paid him back for whatever he
broke, money which Horatio turned into more and more advanced
technology. Soon, California was constantly on edge, fearing another
attack by the âterrorist in the super suitâ as the Los Angeles Times
had called him.
Something was missing, Horatio had thought at the time. He had
needed a calling card, something that stuck in the minds of people.
Plus, the more impressive a name, the more likely possible employers
could come up, meaning more money in his pockets.
While celebrating a successful destruction of a radio station that
was owned by a rival power company, Horatio had found himself in the
company of two buxom young beauties, supposed future starlets of
Hollywood. Gossip columnists had captured a photograph of him with
the two girls and pasted the headline as âCain Energy Playboy At It
Againâ. Horatio ran with it â Playboy, the classy super villain.
It had been all uphill since then. The Medusa Corporation had used
his services quite a few times, as had criminal masterminds like Prada
and King Friday. He had sold off Cain Energy to Bakker Industries,
just one more thing to piss off his mother. A few times, he had run
across his brother, now going by Ace of the Protectors. Now, the
mercenary named Thrust had hired him to capture a Bureau of Superhuman
Affairs officer who had inside knowledge of an Ancient. And once
again, it had forced him to cross paths with Ace.
Aceâs left caught him across the jaw, staggering him a bit. âBeen
training, eh, Genie?â As the Protector moved closer, the Playboy
feinted with his right before sneaking in a left jab.
âYouâve gotten better with the left,â Ace commended him.
âAnything to keep you off balance, younger brother, â Horatio
They exchanged punches again. It was slow, calculated, just like
their previous fights. Even as children, the two always went through
the motions of fighting like this, countering each other like chess.
Occasionally, a new move would emerge, but the other brother would
file it away and devise a perfect counterpart, ready to go for the
A sweep of the legs by Horatio, a step over and mirroring leg sweep
by Eugene. A reverse somersault to flip kick. A grab of the ankle.
A shift of weight and an off-balance kick. A left-left-right punch
It was a deathly dance of two well-trained warriors. They hadnât yet
dipped into their superhuman bag of tricks. For some reason, the two
refused to cross that line. Despite his jealousy and hatred towards
how his mother always treated Eugene and he differently, Horatio
refused to cross that bloody line and use his exo-skeletonâs ability
to emit stored energy at his brother.
âJust finish him!â Zorstorer yelled as he battled the American
âIn time,â Horatio responded as the two battled their way towards the
hole Thunderclap had blown in the wall.
âJust do it!â the Nazi super terrorist screamed and pointed his baton
towards the pair. Just as he pressed the button, the Ranger hit him.
The batonâs end erupted, emitting its destructive power. The ground
just to the side of the brothers Duarte exploded.
âHold on!â Ace shouted as he grabbed his brother and tried to lift
them clear. But something went wrong with Horatioâs exo-skeleton and
produced a strong feedback. It tore through Ace and he began to drop,
the pair of the them disappeared over the edge.
* * *
I heard the explosion as Zorstorerâs baton added to the wreckage of
the castleâs wall that I had started. The next thing I heard was
screaming as Ace and the Playboy disappeared. One of Thrustâs goons
took the opportunity to punch me.
I spun around with the force of the blow and looked at the soldier.
I shook my head to clear the webs and then stepped forward, landing a
punch right in the middle of his face. He dropped like a sack of
stones in a river. I was definitely impressed with myself, throwing a
punch that hard to knock someone down with such ease was a new trick
Suzie screamed. I looked over and Thrust had her around the mid-
section and was carrying her away.
âSuzie!â I shouted just before a dozen of Thrustâs men jumped on me.
I shouted her name again as I tried fighting the men off of me. I
kept struggling, but they were all on top of me. Elbows, knees, fists
hammered my body as I fell.
Again I shouted, but it felt like nothing came out.
To be continued...
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