[PINCITY][ACRA] Thunderclap #14
rickhindle at gmail.com
Sun Jun 21 20:47:02 PDT 2009
“Revolution Part II: Thrust”
by Rick Hindle
[cover is a 1930's/40's homage, with Thunderclap knocking out the Ice
Queen. Cover blurb reads: "The Revolution Continues!"]
I ducked to one side and avoided the Ice Queen's freezing cold
blast. The ice hammered the back of the cell and shattered, the
humidity moving towards unbearable as the cold air evaporated and
surrounded me. I kept telling myself to keep moving � I had learned
my lesson with her after she imprisoned me in that icy tomb back in
Again, the Ice Queen fired at me. This time I had to jump and twist
myself horizontally to avoid the blast. I rolled back to my feet and
looked at her. The Ice Queen's steel-blue gaze seemed to be on fire,
her face was twisted into a horrible visage that just wanted to kill
me. “Crap,” I asked myself, “what the hell did I do to piss her off
She fired again. I shifted my weight to the balls of my feet and
dove forward, ducking the blast. It was just like football again, I
thought. While the Ice Queen wasn't absolutely consistent about where
she shot, it was still fairly easy to avoid them, as long as I kept my
wits about me and got back to my feet as soon as possible.
One of the things I noticed about her powers was that the Ice Queen
couldn't release ice blasts immediately after one another; she needed
a bit of a recharge period. It was only a second or so, but it kept
her from firing smaller bursts at me one after another. Maybe she
could, but it dawned on me that the Ice Queen was probably lacking any
sort of training in her powers. At least I could rely upon the
lessons that Dad had left me in his journals, but it seemed the Ice
Queen just fed off of her rage.
Another miss, although this one was a bit too close for my comfort.
Was I getting cocky? It had been a while since I had last put on
cleats and pads. I tried not to flash back to my knee injury, but it
kept popping up. A blast came flashing towards my right knee, but I
just turned quickly, avoiding the blast but feeling the cold air rush
past me. I heard the coaches from high school and college yelling at
me, to keep my feet moving.
Of course, they were talking about football drills, not crazy chicks
wanting to kill you. Eh, maybe it was working. A slide step here, a
fake cut there. It was working. I just kept moving.
I don't know what it was, but it was working � I was sliding,
cutting, moving in ways I had never done so before. Damn, I was in
The Ice Queen was boiling over in rage and was close to tiring
herself out. Thunderclap just kept avoiding her blasts because he
moved too quickly. How was he moving so quickly? Thrust, the man she
knew in voice-only, had told her that Thunderclap wouldn't be able to
use his powers.
“Why won't you die?” she screamed.
“You know, you really should color your hair,” he retorted.
He really was just like all of the rest. All of those jocks and
their pretty girlfriends who used to make fun of her. They had all
paid the price for crossing her. Now it would this one's turn. The
Ice Queen fired, but once again Thunderclap danced out of the way like
it was nothing.
I needed someway to get out of this. I knew there was no way in hell
that I could hold my own here for much longer, especially without my
powers. I needed that pin back. Dammit Weatherly, why had you
insisted I leave it behind? It wasn't like the Ranger had offered me
any assurances that I would be fine.
Cautiously, I moved forward whenever I could. The Ice Queen seemed
so engrossed in killing me that she never noticed my slow advance.
I’ll say this � she was determined to have me dead. There was no way
I could talk my way out of it. All I could do was continue to move
slowly forward, letting her tire herself out in the blind rage that
was engulfed in.
Another blast of freezing cold energy came at me. Now was my
chance. I dove forward and to the left, avoiding the burst but
getting very close to the Ice Queen. Normally, hitting girls is
something I frown upon; but this wasn’t a normal time.
I pushed off again and was amazed by the amount of space I consumed.
The Ice Queen was shocked as a smashed her into the wall. Her head
made an awful thud as she exhaled and then went limp. “Ugh,” I
breathed as my shoulder hit the wall. It stung, but as I rolled off
the unconscious Ice Queen, I didn’t feel it that much. Sitting up, I
shook my head and tried to stand. It was a noble effort just to get
to feet, and I felt a little groggy once I got there.
“Jeez, I really pushed myself,” I grumbled. I wasn’t used to using
that much energy without the pin. Maybe I’d have to hit the gym a
bit more when I got back to Pinnacle City. If I could afford to.
I tried not to think about my job as I carefully moved out of the
cell, closing it and locking the door as I left. I removed the key,
and without thinking, tossed it into a corner of the dark hallway, a
smile dancing across my face for the first time since I came to
* * *
The American Ranger couldn’t take his eyes away from the large wall
separating Santa Maria from Montecaivo. He knew that Thunderclap was
somewhere on the other side of that wall and it was his fault that the
kid hadn’t reported in. The Ranger shook his head and took a sip from
the coffee cup he was holding. He never should have forced the kid to
hand over his pin.
“You okay, chief?” Ace asked as he walked into the room. The Ranger
had been quiet and brooding, even more so than usual, since
Thunderclap had failed to report in from Montecaivo.
“I’m worried about Thunderclap,” was the only thing that the Ranger
Ace shrugged, “The kid’s resourceful,” he replied. “I’m sure he’s on
the other side of the wall, making contact with the underground.
Communications between the two countries are spotty at best.
Weatherly said so himself.”
The Ranger nodded slowly. Something about Weatherly didn’t sit right
with his gut, and the Ranger had enough experience to trust his gut.
He wouldn’t have survived spending six decades working for the
government without knowing to trust his gut. Maybe it was Weatherly’s
forcefulness about having Thunderclap turn over the pin.
From working with Thunderclap’s father, the Ranger knew the pin held
certain powers. But that pin hadn’t been an issue for the previous
Thunderclap, Clay’s -
“We’ve got word on Thunderclap!” Weatherly shouted as he and Nakata
came bursting into the conference room. The Ranger was shaken out of
his reverie and turned away from the window.
“What’s up?” Ace asked calmly as he walked up from the corner coffee
Weatherly tossed down what looked to be a map of Montecaivo and two
photo printouts. “Last night, we were able to get a satellite
repositioned over Montecaivo,” Nakata began. “We weren’t sure about
what all of this was,” he tapped a photograph, “until we were able to
get an update from the underground.”
“And what it is?” Ace asked.
“I’ve seen those power readings before,” Ranger stated, looking at
the picture. The satellite that the Bureau of Superhuman Affairs
agent had referred to was obviously the Olympus satellite, created by
former Protector the Professor as one of his many projects. The
Olympus was able to hone in and track superhumans, similar to heat
“And?” Weatherly asked.
“That’s probably Thunderclap,” he said tapping was appeared to be a
burst of yellow drawn lengthwise on the paper. It was brighter than
he expected, but the Ranger shrugged it off as something residual from
the pin. “I’m guessing these two,” he motioned to two brighter
objects, one nearly orange in color, that stood vertically on the
page, “are his welcoming party.”
“What’s this one?” Nakata asked, referring to an object on the other
side of some buildings.
The Ranger pondered the question for a moment, “I’m going with that’s
his contact. Sombra, right?” Nakata nodded.
“Think the contact gave Thunderclap up?” Ace asked.
“Doubt it,” Weatherly replied. “Unless he’s been playing us the
entire time.” Nakata grunted his agreement.
Something bothered the Ranger but he just shook his head to clear his
mind. “Let’s say that they picked up some Thunderclap’s power
signature,” he began to hypothesize, “where would the General want him
Weatherly pulled aside the print outs and stretched out the map.
“I’m guessing, here,” he said, pointing towards the large castle that
overlooked the slums of Montecaivo. Ace and the Ranger looked up
simultaneously towards the mountain in the distance.
“Echevarria has been using that castle as his base of operations even
before he led his military coup,” Nakata explained, “but I’m not so
sure that the General would take him to such a prominent location.”
Weatherly looked at his partner with surprise. “Really? Where would
you take him?”
“I’m thinking that he took him to the old capitol building,” Nakata
referred to a building in the center of Montecaivo.
“It’s been burned out and is a shell now,” Weatherly retorted.
“Is there a better place?”
The Ranger didn’t like the argument. Too much was at stake. “Let’s
do this,” he said finally. “Ace, myself and Weatherly will head to the
castle. I’m guessing the fortifications will require more muscle to
get in. Nakata, why don’t you and a team of those BSA shock troopers
you’ve got downstairs go for the capitol?”
Nakata nodded his head. “Sounds like a good plan. Why don’t we get
the underground involved? Contacting them would help us gain extra
leverage on that side of the border.”
Weatherly looked hesitant. “Is this the right time to getting
politics involved?” Ace asked.
“The more help we get from them now, the more it’ll look to the
populace in Montecaivo that the underground were behind the rescue of
Thunderclap and the take down of General Echevarria,” Nakata
explained. “In turn, we’ll be able to get a little extra something
from them once we free the country.”
“Working on your ambassadorship, Nakata?” Ace asked.
“Someone’s got to helm the BSA unit in Montecaivo,” he replied.
The Ranger looked around and tried to fight what was bothering him.
“I’m going to make a phone call and then we go. Thirty minutes work
for everyone?” He didn’t bother to listen for responses before
leaving the room. Something stank in there, but he wasn’t sure what.
* * *
I had no idea where I was going. I was somewhere inside the
Montecaivo castle’s dungeons, trying to find Suzie. The problem was,
I had to go at a much slower pace than what I was used to. I thought
that I was tired from fighting the Ice Queen, but I couldn’t push
myself too hard. When I forced myself to push forward, it was like
hitting a wall. Maybe I was a lot more dependent on the pin then I
Moving slowly, I checked each of the cells for Suzie. One held a
young man, chained to the wall. His eyes were sunk deep into his
face, his skin stretched tight against the bones. His ratty shirt
revealed a rib cage that was painfully thin. I opened the door and
His eyes came up � they were mixed with fear and relief. Was he
relieved to possibly be killed? I hoped not. “I’m getting you out of
here,” I said, trying to sound as reassuring as possible. I was
worried that my own fear would betray me. I had no superpowers at
this point, but he didn’t know that, did he? What he didn’t know
couldn’t hurt him, I told myself reassuringly.
“What’s your name?” I asked the young man as I removed his shackles.
He muttered “Josue”, his voice cracked and straining. I could only
imagine what this guy had gone through.
“Clay?” a voice called from behind me. Eyes stared out of one of the
cells towards me. “Suzie?” I replied. I knew it was her, I didn’t
need another clue, “You okay?”
“I-I’m fine,” she said, “A little out of it.”
I placed Josue down and walked over to the cell. As I opened, I
asked, “Kind of like the afternoon of a hangover?” Suzie gave me a
hug. I squeezed back.
“Yeah,” she replied as she pulled away. I nodded � there was
something in this castle deadening people’s senses and strength.
Maybe the pin would’ve helped me a little bit, but at that point, I
wasn’t sure how much. “Who’s that?” Suzie asked as she looked at
I bent down to help him up. “His name’s Josue,” I replied as I
hoisted him to his feet. “I’m guessing he’s one of the dissenters that
Echevarria locked away. Maybe one of the underground.”
Josue grunted as we started moving down one of the hallways, my
impeccable sense of direction telling me were going in the right
direction. “You sure we’re going in the right direction?” Suzie
We were nearing a spiral staircase that led up, possibly towards
Thrust. “Yeah,” I tried to sound confidant. It wasn’t working.
“Can’t you fly ahead and check it out?” Suzie asked.
I shook my head. “That hangover feeling you’ve got? Well, I’ve got
it to,” I told her. “But it’s not a hangover. It’s some sort of
dampener that’s been set up to deaden our abilities.” That sounded
good. After all, Suzie wouldn’t know that the pin gave me my powers.
“But you should be fine, even without the pin,” Suzie remarked.
Thanks Tommy, I told myself. “Tommy told me that -”
“Tommy was wrong,” I cut her off, lying through my teeth. “The pin’s
a...a symbol. A conduit of some sort. I’m not sure it’s exact
nature, but right now isn’t really the time to be contemplating what’s
I pushed ahead and slowly made my way up the spiral staircase,
supporting Josue’s weight with Suzie right behind me. It was a
struggle keeping myself going, but something kept pushing me on. And
then something nearly pushed me back down the stairs.
As I turned up the last flight, I looked back briefly to check on
both Josue and on Suzie. I kept moving forward though, and ran into a
wall of flesh. I bounced back, nearly letting Josue go at the same
time. Agent Weatherly reached out and grabbed me by the shirt, trying
to steady me.
“Good to see you, Weatherly,” I exhaled. “Can you take him?” I
asked, gently handing Josue to him. “I think his name is Josue.”
Weatherly’s eyes opened big. “Josue was the leader of the
underground until he was captured by Echevarria.,” the BSA operative
informed me. He then looked past me, “You must be Suzie Coates,”
Weatherly said and extended his hand.
“Yeah,” she replied. “So you’ve guys are storming the castle?”
Weatherly nodded. “Thunderclap, this is for you,” he said as he
fished in his pocket for something before extracting the pin. “Nakata
-” Weatherly’s face seemed to explode as he finished his partner’s
I heard Suzie retch beside me as I started to fall back. I caught
myself and just looked in horror as Weatherly’s body smacked down onto
the stone ground front-first with a sickening noise. Instinctively, I
began wiping off the muck and matter that now covered my face and
clothing. It was then that I looked up.
Nakata was standing there, his pistol pointed slightly down and to
the right, as if he was showing up that he wasn’t any harm.
“Weatherly is, was Thrust,” the agent announced as he walked forward.
He barely looked at the body of now-former partner as he checked on
Josue. The former prisoner looked up briefly as Nakata knelt in front
Josue’s eyes sprung open wide. It wasn’t the same look I had seen
before � it was just fear. “Let’s get moving,” Nakata said as he
hoisted Josue to his feet. Suzie didn’t hesitate, but stopped when
she saw I wasn’t moving.
“Let’s go, Clay,” she muttered to me. “He’ll get us out of here.”
I was in shock. All I could do was get up. I briefly stopped and
looked down at Weatherly’s corpse and put the pin on my shirt.
Something was wrong.
I could feel it.
* * *
Tommy sat in the conference room, staring up at the holographic
presentation the Liberator was making. Something big was going on in
Montecaivo, and it involved Clay. That’s all the Liberator would
allow, for some reason. But what the hell would Clay be doing with
the American Ranger and Ace in Central America?
“The local, anti-Covariance resistance is aiding our people there,”
the Liberator continued her briefing. “The Bureau of Superhuman
Affairs has two agents there, but according to them, they have lost
contact. To be short and to the point, I-we’re worried.”
There were looks of concern written across all of the faces around
the table. Or at least the ones Tommy could see. Ironwing was
wearing his habitation helmet, which spooked Tommy. The Liberator
continued before anyone’s concern could turn vocal, “Steelhide will
take Ironwing and Solstice with him to Montecaivo. They will provide
support to the Ranger and his team. The primary mission is to support
the Ranger and get the team out of there. Any support that will help
the resistance is extra. That is all.”
Tommy got up slowly, shaking his head. He wanted to talk to the
Liberator and try and convince her to let him go. Clay was his best
friend, he knew him better than anyone else there. If Clay needed
help, Tommy should be the one to help him, he owed him for saving him
from the Baron and the Para-X serum.
As he made his way towards her, the Liberator’s assistant walked into
the meeting room and leaned in to whispered something in her ear.
Tommy’s lip reading skills weren’t that impressive, but he could see
the word “daughter” from halfway across the large round table that the
Protectors used for their meetings.
Immediately, the Liberator turned and walked out, her face an icy
shell. “Trainee,” a voice snapped from behind Tommy. He turned and
looked at the Arrow, his training supervisor.
“Ma’am?” Tommy replied. The Arrow was the successor of another
Protector who had died during Dangerman’s obsessive crusade to rid the
world of crime. Unlike some Ancients, his descent into madness had
been to the benefit of the world, despite the cost.
“I’m going to need you and Lightspeed to start prepping for a
mission,” she informed Tommy.
“Really?” he responded, his eyebrows rising. “What’s the plan?”
The Arrow’s face didn’t budge. She was a bit worried about his
cavalier attitude towards the Protectors and their training methods.
It was well known that as Velocity, Tommy had been a fairly successful
superhero in his own right. But his layoff had put him out of peak
shape, with a lack of understanding of his full powers, not to mention
how much of a weapon he was as an Ancient.
Eventually, the Arrow responded, but not before Tommy’s face had
relaxed and he was less excited, “The gang war that’s engulfing the
East Shore is becoming a potential flash point for some of the less
desirable superhumans. Mayor Stockard has asked us to lend a hand to
those superhumans already on the front lines, trying to keep the gang
war from escalating into a superhuman war. We’ve seen what that can
do to countries, and we’re not going to have one happen in our city.”
Tommy nodded his understanding. From what he had learned growing up
and in college, combined with the “insider” history he had gathered
from the Protectors, only a handful of large-scale superhuman wars had
broken out. The first had run in conjunction with World War II, as
the Allied superhumans helped push the war against the Nazis and
helped lessen the war in the Pacific. The 1960’s had seen the
American Ranger and an earlier version of the Protectors engage the
Soviet Red October Army in Southeast Asia, leaving Vietnam in tortured
pieces. The third and worse superhuman war thus far had been in the
early 1990’s, when Europe had seen the last rise of the Red October
Army defeated by the Protectors, the Hellfighters, the Britannia
Foundation and the Dow Street Mages.
Tommy shuddered for a second at the thought of Pinnacle City becoming
a superhuman-caused wasteland. There were enough superhumans in the
city for it to be a hot spot most of the time anyways, but to have the
“You’ll be scouting out the situation,” Arrow continued, shaking
Tommy out of his thoughts. “We’re short-handed with four Protectors in
Central America, leaving Liberator and me as the only full team
members in Pinnacle City. Until we can get support from either the
rest of the team coming back from Montecaivo or from somewhere else,
we’ve got to be careful.”
After being dismissed, Tommy’s thoughts were on the mission ahead as
he walked out of the meeting room and into a long, wood-paneled
corridor. A number of small conference rooms were in the hallway,
mostly used for some of the public-facing meetings that the Protectors
handled. In between conference rooms were portraits of various
members of the Protectors through the years. Tommy looked forward to
the day that his picture was there with the little plaque below it
As he walked past the image of Dangerman, something caught his eye.
There was something about the eyes. He’d never noticed it before, but
there was something there he recognized. Tommy shrugged, “It’s
probably just cause I’ve seen it a hundred thousand times,” he told
The nagging was still there as he glanced into the next meeting room
and saw the Liberator talking with a woman he recognized. It was
Clay’s mom. “What the hell?” Tommy thought just as the Liberator
Clay’s mom � Carol � followed her gaze. Her eyes widened when she
saw Tommy. Before he could realize what he was doing, Tommy had
stopped and was blatantly staring. The Liberator stood and walked
over and clicked a switch. As the glass on the outside of the
conference room began to darken, Tommy could see both Carol and the
Liberator’s faces fill with shame.
* * *
I had no idea where Nakata was leading us. He kept making what
seemed to me to be random turns. I had already taken Josue back from
him to give him a better chance to knock out any of General
Echevarria’s people that came looking for us. We hadn’t come across
anyone, but it felt like they could be around any corner.
Nakata led us into a large, open room, with sunlight streaming in
through massive windows on the walls and high in the ceiling. It was
like a church. Except that it was like the largest church I had ever
been in. On the other side of the room, walking towards us were the
American Ranger and Ace, along with my contact Sombra and two others.
One was a striking woman with dark hair, and the other was laden down
with bandoliers filled with bullets, two antique six-shooter revolvers
rested on his hips.
“I’m so glad to see you guys,” I said as I walked forward.
“Josue, you’re alive!” the woman shouted and ran forward, Sombra
right on her heels. They took Josue from me. The woman kissed him
softly on the lips and then pressed her face against him. “I was so
worried about you,” she said.
“Josue is my sister’s affiance,” Sombra told me and extended his
hand. I took it. For some reason, I knew that he hadn’t been
responsible for my capture. It was someone else.
“Good to see you’re okay,” the Ranger said he approached me and
I quickly recapped what had happened. “We’re lucky Agent Nakata got
to us when he did,” Suzie stated.
The Ranger looked at me. I was hesitant to agree. I think he knew
that. Before he could ask a follow-up question, a cackling laughter
filled the large expanse of the room. Everyone was looking around,
but more and more laughter joined in.
“What the hell’s the joke?” Ace asked.
“It’s all on you,” Nakata responded, his pistol drawn and pointed
The clicking of guns being armed and pointed towards us filled my
ears. I stole a look around � soldiers were positioned throughout
the room, their guns trained on us. The laughter stopped as General
Echevarria walked out from one of the tunnels leading into the room,
the Ice Queen and Playboy flanking him.
“Such a lucky day,” the General greeted us, “The two of you have
arrived. I’m go glad.”
The American Ranger turned and looked at the General, his eyes
narrowing. “Well, I’m so glad that you’re so glad that, well, we’re
here,” I tried to retort, but it really wasn’t working. All of these
guns trained on me were a bit spooky, especially with the power
dampener that I believed was around.
“Old friend, you’re in one sticky situation,” the General said,
ignoring me and addressing the Ranger.
“Old friend?” the Ranger repeated. His eyes sprung open in surprise.
“What the hell?” was all I could muster.
The General’s accent shifted. It switched from perfect Spanish-
accented English to something else. “It’s been, what, forty years?”
The General’s image shifted, too. Light filled the room, blinding
Everyone but the Ranger.
“Zorstorer,” was all the Ranger could muster before the laughing
started again. This time, just from the bald, eye-patch wearing
bearded man, holding a massive baton, pointed right at us.
To be continued in...
This one took me quite a bit of time to put together. I’m starting to
like how this storyline is shaping up, with a mix of action, adventure
and history, all tied into one.
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