8Fold: My Father's Son #1

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Sat Jun 12 15:53:43 PDT 2010

My Father's Son #1
An Eightfold series 
'It's A Start'
written by and copyright 2010 Saxon Brenton
Cover shows a costumed hero leaning forwards towards the reader, making 
an effort to push against something.  He is wearing a navy blue costume 
and gloves, with a grey sweatshirt and hoodie.  His face is completely 
obscured by a fencing mask.
     He was trapped.
     Which was rather ironic and extremely annoying.  After all, 
Slowpoke could walk through walls.
     And the situation?  He was at a theatre and had been imprisoned 
within some type of cube of force.  Worse, it was a force cube created 
by an evil mime!
     All right, yes, when you put it that way it sounded stupid.  
Slowpoke didn't dwell on the silliness, however.  Mainly because he was 
dealing with a fellow metahuman, and metahumans rarely let themselves 
be limited by the possible, let alone the sensible.
     Instead the four-colour hero pushed experimentally against the 
boundaries of the force cube.  There was no give.  Or at least, not yet.  
His experience over the past two days against the Crime Mime (as the news 
reports had referred to him; the man himself hadn't spoken a word as yet, 
let alone formally introduce himself) suggested that the force field 
would weaken and dissipate in a few minutes.  But in the meantime the 
Crime Mime would have escaped.
     He explored the inside of the construct.  It was larger than either 
of the previous two that he'd been in, so he had to float as he examined 
the upper section.  Was there a weak point?  Probably, since he knew 
these things weren't airtight.  He tried to recall if a cube was any 
weaker on the faces than on the edges or vertices.
     Then the Crime Mime came back.  Slowpoke wondered why, and was 
answered when the mime made exaggerated motions of pointing at Slowpoke 
and pretending to laugh so hard that he had to clutch his belly.  
Slowpoke took note of that with a clinical detachment.  .oO( Keep 
laughing, ) he thought.  .oO( The longer you hang around here the closer 
I am to escaping. )
     The four-colour decided to try something.  It probably wouldn't 
work, but even so it might amuse the Crime Mime into lingering a bit 
longer for some more artfully contrived guffaws.  Slowpoke flew to the 
top of the cube and began to push against the uppermost part of the front 
face.  Astonishingly it tipped over almost straight away.
     Slowpoke toppled with it and landed unceremoniously on his face.  No 
surprise there: he had been hard up against the top surface (which had 
now fallen over to become the new front) and had had nowhere else to go 
with the thrust that he had been generating.  Okay, so next time he 
wouldn't start with so much force.
     The Crime Mime was now pantomiming hysterics.  Right.  So.  Clearly 
the mime was able to vary not just the size and shape of his constructs, 
but also other variables such as fixed versus mobile locations.  Maybe 
even the rate at which they weakened and decayed - in which case 
Slowpoke's guestimate on how soon he could break out might be off.
     Change of tactics then.  It occurred to Slowpoke that he could simply 
use his flight to propel the cage after the Crime Mime and use it as a 
battering ram.  If he acted fast enough he could catch the cackling 
criminal off guard and pin him against a wall.  Maybe.  A nasty thought 
reared its head in response and demanded to know what if the Crime Mime 
was immune to his own powers.
     Slowpoke decided to continue to play for time instead.  He once 
again flew up to the top edge of the new front face of the cube and 
pushed.  Once again the cube tipped over.  The Crime Mime was so 
impressed that he started to silently clap sarcastically.  Slowpoke 
ignored him and once again flew up to the top edge of the new front face.
     With exaggerated steps the Crime Mime sauntered up to the force 
cube, taking up a position right at the point where the cube would 
topple onto him if Slowpoke continued to roll it forwards.  Then he 
thumbed his nose at the hero.
     Slowpoke quite deliberately pushed the cube over, but the Crime 
Mime took one large pace to the left, sidestepping being squashed and 
putting on a smug expression.  He made more insulting gestures, but 
Slowpoke was happy with the situation: he'd felt the surface of the 
force cube begin to grow wobbly.  It wouldn't be long now.
     Hoping he was presenting a sense of mere bloody-minded relentless-
ness, Slowpoke unhurriedly but methodically floated up to the top of 
the cube, reoriented himself so that he was again facing the direction 
of the Crime Mime, and once more pushed the cube over.  Once again the 
Crime Mime sidestepped being squidged.
     The Crime Mime did a mocking little dance, turned his back on 
Slowpoke and waggled his buttocks in the four-colour's direction.  Which 
was foolish of him.  As soon as the criminal's back was turned Slowpoke 
flew hard against what he hoped was a sufficiently weakened surface of 
the force field, which obligingly ruptured.  Slowpoke crash tackled the 
Crime Mime and wrestled him to the ground.
     This in itself was not good enough.  Even as Slowpoke reached for 
handcuffs to restrain his opponent, the mime made a quick gesture with 
his hands, creating a wedge that barrelled the approaching police down 
the stairs, except for one of them who went over the railing of the 
staircase.  It was a two story drop to the floor of the foyer below.
     Slowpoke risked wasting a whole half second kneeing the Crime Mime 
in the stomach before flying after the falling man.  Maybe that would 
slow the mime down long enough for the police coming up the matching set 
of stairs to capture him.  Whatever the case, Slowpoke should have kneed 
him more quickly.
     The rescue looked hair raising -- like an attempt to save someone 
at the very last second and which *failed*.  Slowpoke flew through the 
upper balcony at an angle, yelled, "Take a deep breath!" and grabbed the 
cop just before he hit the floor below.  Somebody screamed.  The two of 
them hit the floor and vanished.
     They re-emerged scant seconds later.  Slowpoke flew straight back 
up towards the balcony where he had left the mime.  The cop blinked as 
they emerged back into the light.  "Whoa!  I thought I was a goner there 
for a moment."
     Slowpoke shook his head inside the hood of the grey sweatshirt.  
"No.  Power of intangibility.  I've got the luxury of a much longer 
stopping zone and turning circle."
     By the time they arrived back at the mezzanine level the Crime Mime 
was gone.  In what couldn't have been anything more than ten seconds he 
had seemingly ducked away and vanished, and a fruitless quarter hour of 
searching produced no sign of him.  The police might have better luck on 
the security camera footage.
     As soon as the police were finished getting a statement from him 
Slowpoke flew home.  He was cutting it close to the curfew time, and 
flew back fast and low to Burlington College.  Part of that meant 
pouring on the speed, but he also went intangible.  This reduced wind 
resistance of course, however he had discovered a while ago that past a 
certain threshold he also turned transparent, making him effectively 
invisible to most of the school's sensors, which was just as useful.
     Because Burlington was a school for young metahumans.  It included 
dormitories to border youngsters who -- like himself -- were wards of 
the state.  And Slowpoke knew that if anyone at Burlington found out 
that Kevin Decamp was performing extracurricular heroing, they'd freak 
out.  They seem fixated on the idea that he was automatically going to 
follow his father's footsteps and become a black cape, and Slowpoke had 
a pretty good idea that anything he did would be misconstrued because 
of this.
     Once he was back near campus Slowpoke found a secluded spot and 
quickly changed out of his costume-on-a-budget fighting togs: the navy 
coloured gloves and tights, the hooded grey sweatshirt and the fencing 
mask.  Beneath the garb of his Slowpoke persona was the most-emphatically-
not-on-a-budget Burlington College bodysuit.  He wouldn't dream of being 
seen doing non-school-sanctioned heroing in the Colleges' tan and gold.  
But at the same time the school bodysuit was made of high quality 
materials that were both insulated and impact resistant.  Despite the 
tactical application of his own powers to avoid getting hit in the 
first place Slowpoke had reckoned that the bodysuit was too useful an 
accessory not to make use of.
     Not for the first time he wondered if he should get a similar 
outfit done in his own colours.  Possibly even go really high end, made 
of material with programmable molecules that would allow him to perform 
an instant costume change.  Both types of material were expensive -- the 
quick change material insanely so -- but neither were actually beyond 
Slowpoke's means.  It's just that there were more important things he 
could be spending his money on.
     That thought was shoved aside as his mind habitually returned 
to the topic of four-colour heroing.  Could the Crime Mime have had 
programmable clothing?  Slowpoke wondered on this as he quickly swapped 
his costume for a tracksuit and jogged back to his room after his 'late 
night workout'.  If so it might explain how the villain had been able 
to vanish so quickly, and it would show on the security camera footage.  
Was there such a thing as programmable whiteface, though?  Possibly, 
even probably when dealing with metahumans.
     As soon as he arrived at his room he collected some toiletries.  
He was hot and sweaty and really needed a shower.
     Mr Johansson, the maintenance man, glanced at him without much 
interest as they passed in the hall and said the obligatory, "Lights 
out in fifteen minutes."
     "Okay," Slowpoke responded and picked up his pace to the showers.  
There he undressed and made a cursory check of his face in the mirror.  
There wasn't any change in his complexion; certainly no improvement.  
He was still a ferret-faced teenager with lank hair and acne.  Truth be 
known it was the main reason that he had chosen the full face mask in 
the first place.  Then he showered and scrubbed himself all over before 
returning to his room with only a few minutes to spare.
     Now at last he could relax.  Slowpoke sat himself cross-legged on 
his bed and did some meditating.  He was in the middle of a self-imposed 
program of practising not thinking about Tolstoy's White Bear -- or 
white bears in general, for that matter -- and was by now quite good at 
it.  The problem was that he had no active psi defences, and while the 
skill of not thinking about something was important for avoiding 
accidentally broadcasting one's thoughts, it was useless against a 
directed mental probe.  Getting ahold of psi-block technology was the 
obvious answer -- and this was one of the several things that had a 
higher priority for Slowpoke than an expensive new costume.  Until 
then Slowpoke would simply have to make do with thinking Kevin 
Duchamp's thoughts.
     Then, around half past ten he snuggled into bed and hid under 
the covers, turned on his flashlight and read another two chapters of 
Michael Harmond's _Living At Escape Velocity: A History Of Super Speed_.
Next issue: 'My So-Called Life'
Character credits:
     All characters here are created by Saxon Brenton.
Author's notes:
     This series has been in production limbo since 2006.  In an attempt 
to kick start the creative process and finally get something ready for 
publication I decided to emulate the shorter format that Dvandom choose 
for his _Exarchs_ series.  Next issue will be cover events that were 
originally planned for the second half of #1.  As a result the tone of 
two parts might seem a bit uneven, since they focus on completely 
separate aspects of Slowpoke's life.
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au     saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
"These 'no-nonsense' solutions of yours just don't hold water in a complex
world of jet-powered apes and time-travel." - Superman, JLA Classified #3

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