Friday, January 28, 2011

No. 19: The Cat Rangers

The training for me was rigorous. I had to climb up a steep grade while dodging laser blasts then upon reaching the top I had to go back down using my optic blasts to deflect various objects being shot at me. I reached the ground and proceeded to run toward the balancing floor. I began leaping from platform to platform trying my hardest not to fall. I was in the middle of the floor when I landed on one platform that immediately buckled sending me crashing into the floor.

I kept my head above water as my friends, Aaron and Alex tried to keep from laughing but did show concern for my well-being. I swam to the shore where the training had started and climbed out of the creek. “That was not fun,” I said.

“Glad I didn’t go first,” Alex said.

“Are you okay, Brian?” Aaron asked. “Who knew that log wasn’t secure?”

“Wish it was just a little warmer today,” I shivered. “Okay, so we’re going to have to rework that part of the course.”

“Maybe we can find another log we can toss in or maybe there’s a path further down the creek,” I suggested.

“Why do we have to go through this training?” asked Alex.

“So when the time comes we can defend our country from Ganthet,” I said, in a dark and foreboding tone.

Ganthet was our main adversary. He is, or at least was, an archaeologist who believed he was destined to rule humanity. He had the great fortune of finding the Seven Rings of Emtrion, powerful weapons from Double A’s home planet of Emtrion. Ganthet was now hell-bent on ruling the world. We were here to stop him at every turn. We are the Cat Rangers.

The Cat Rangers was a team led by me, Fuzzytail who could use his optic blasts with pinpoint accuracy. The other team members were Alex, as Abracadabra, a skilled magician and sorcerer and Aaron, as Double A, a cyborg. Our headquarters was located in a small wooded area by a creek just a quarter mile from our neighborhood. Our hideout was located a little ways down the creek near a tree that had fallen over which became the steep grade in our training.

“So how should we modify the training?” I asked.

“No time for that now,” Aaron said, lowering his voice to be Double A. “There’s a monster attacking the city.”

I looked at an imaginary computer screen that Double A was standing in front of and glared. “Gargantua?” I asked.

“Of course,” Double A answered and soon the Cat Rangers were racing downtown to stop the monster.
Gargantua was a massive brown, almost wood-like creature, accidentally created when Dr. Michael Kirkwood was bombarded with radiation while doing research in an arboretum. The Rangers raced downtown to see the giant monster tossing cars into the building and seeing the citizens scatter. We gathered in an alleyway to come up with a plan for the disposal of the monster.

“Aber,” Aber was Abracadabra’s nickname. The name came from a cat that Alex used to own. “can you use a freeze spell to stop Gargantua?”

“I can try FT,” Aber said and flew off toward the creature. FT was my nickname as the others didn’t really enjoy the name Fuzzytail for the name of their leader. I had also taken my name from a cat I knew and I guess I didn’t think the name through but what I lacked in a good name, I made up for in leadership and abilities.
Aber was just out of Gargantua’s sight when he spoke his magic words, “abracadabra” and a bright light of shapes and shadows flowed from his hand and toward Gargantua. The spell did not work as well as we all had thought, it just annoyed him and he swatted Aber down onto the street. That’s when Double A and I attacked, emerging from the alley and leaping onto the monster, taking him down. Double A used his arm cannon to keep him subdued while Aber worked on conjuring up a bigger spell.

Gargantua overthrew Double A knocking him several blocks away and leaving me and Aber to face his wrath. Aber barely got a shield spell up to protect himself from Gargantua’s fist and I fully opened my visor to unleash my optic blasts onto the monster which at least knocked him down.

“The militarys’ on it’s way!” shouted a policeman from the sidewalk. “Just keep it busy until they arrive!”
“I think we can do that,” I hollered to Aber who was casting a disorientation spell on the beast. Double A joined us again and quickly stunned Gargantua with a right upper-cut. Double A, Aber and I simultaneously attacked keeping Gargantua busy until we saw the military rolling down the street. They were able to subdue Gargantua and inject the calming effect serum into what would quickly return to Dr. Michael Kirkwood. The Rangers didn’t stick around as Dr. Kirkwood was loaded onto a military van but returned to the hideout.

“We should probably get home,” Aaron said, looking at his watch. “It’s about time for my dinner.”
“Yeah, I said I’d be home by now,” Alex said.

We left the clubhouse and walked to the main road and continued walking until we each arrived at our own streets. I arrived at my house and walked in to see my mom packing away some sit-around figurines and all the pictures had been taken off the wall.

“Oh, good. You’re home,” she said. “You can help me wrap all the breakables in newspapers.”
I didn’t want to move. I had lived in the same house for ten years and I had grown slightly accustomed to it. I knew this day was slowly coming but it had taken a while getting here. Mom had worked for years at one of those mainstream real estate companies and had finally found a small company she could purchase in an up-and-coming suburb. It was a great opportunity but I still didn’t want to go.

“What are we having for dinner?” I asked.

“Oh, I haven’t been thinking. When we get hungry I can make something. I just got so caught up in packing today that I barely thought about anything else. When I’m done with the knick-knacks in this room we can start on your room.”

I muttered something in agreement and began grabbing knick-knacks off a shelf by the kitchen and slowly wrapping them in newspaper and placing them in a box.

At school the next day, during recess, Alex, Aaron and I met near the jungle gym like we always did but today we had something different. A boy in our class had joined us. Anthony wanted to join our club but we were not accepting new members. Especially for someone who was calling themselves Supercat. Anthony wouldn’t leave us alone so we did really the only thing we could do.

Supercat had holed himself up on his Rocky Mountain base, watching Earth while his robots took control of justice and took that control just a little bit too far. Supercat had never acted like this before so everyone was wondering what was wrong. As the Rangers approached it, several robots attacked us. They maneuvered expertly and actually pulled some very good punches but after a few minutes they were beaten. We smashed down the door and saw Supercat floating in a huge cathedral like room surrounded by huge monitors.

“What’s wrong, SC?” I asked as Supercat turned his head toward us.

“How can humanity live so close to extinction?” he asked. “This planet has enough nuclear ammunition to destroy itself several times over. I’ve had the power all this time to stop it and I didn’t. I’m rectifying that mistake now.”

“This isn’t like you, Supercat. You would never police the world like this. Even you know you can’t control Earth’s destiny,” Double A said.

“I used to think that but now I can be so much more to this planet than just a hero.” Supercat gracefully glided down and made eye contact with us. “I could guide this planet into being the most advanced technologically, scientifically and intellectually. And no one can stop me, not even you.”

“That does sound good but you were sent here for so much more. You are not a dictator and those robots you created have hindered more than they have helped. You’ve got most of the world angry at you and several countries are considering your recent policing an act of war,” I explained. “Either stop what you are doing or we will be forced to take you down and bring you in.”

Supercat looked at me with a surprised look on his face then smiled. “I have a planet to monitor,” and he flew back up into the position he was in when we arrived. The Rangers all looked at each other and shrugged then we attacked. We were actually too quick for Supercat and were able to catch him off guard but our victory was short-lived as he used his heat vision on us. Aber and I quickly dodged the blasts but Double A was hit and was pushed back.

Double A’s cybernetic parts were made of a metal alloy called Arkym, which was near indestructible. Double A shot at Supercat with his arm cannon and Aber cast an entrapment spell, binding SC in a mystical box.
“Let me out!” Supercat yelled and tried in vain to shatter the magic box.

“That box won’t hold him for long. What are we going to do with him? There’s no way we can take down the world’s most powerful superhero,” Aber said.

“Somethings wrong with him. Supercat would never act like this unless it was for a good reason,” Double A said. “I think someone is controlling him.”

“But who?” I asked and noticed the box was starting to crack and fade as Supercat continued to punch and use his heat vision on it. “It would have to a pretty powerful being to take control of Supercat.”

Supercat punched his way out and flew fast toward us. We tried scattering but were still hit by his fists of steel. “You have only prolonged your demise, Cat Rangers. After I destroy you, no one will be able to stop me from taking over the world as Supercat!” the voice came from Supercat but it was not his. His eyes glowed white and an evil smile spread across the bottom part of his face.

“I recognize that voice. Supercat is being controlled by someone,” I said. “Brainwave!”

“Very good, Fuzzytail,” Brainwave said, finally showing himself and releasing control of Supercat who was now weak and disoriented. “But I will still be able to defeat you and use Supercat to take control of the world. Nothing can stop me!” Brainwave bellowed.

“Brainwave…” Supercat staggered to his feet, “you talk too much,” Supercat reached over and punched Brainwave as hard as possible sending him flying into the monitors causing electricity to radiate out. Suddenly, the monitors exploded sending shards of glass and wire out into the Fortress.

Aber quickly cast a spell around everyone protected the four of us from the explosion. When the smoke and static cleared, Brainwave was a charred mess but was still alive.

“I’ll take it from here,” Supercat said, still not at full power but good enough. “Brainwave will be placed where his powers will be useless. Thanks Rangers, you did good.”

Supercat smiled at us, picked up Brainwave and flew off. “Thanks, SC!” I hollered back.

A teacher blew a whistle and everyone from our class ran to line up and go in. “I guess I might as well tell you guys now,” I began as I walked with Alex and Aaron. “I’m moving.”

“Moving? When?” Aaron asked.

“Not for a while, end of the school year or so. We started packing last night,” I said. “I don’t want to move but my mom got an awesome deal on a real estate company so we’re moving to be closer to her new business.”

“Man, that sucks,” Aaron said. Alex was curiously quiet as we all went back into the school in single file.

After school, we all met in my backyard. None of us were really in the mood to play or do anything as me having to move sunk in. Instead, we just sat around on the lawn and just talked. We talked about anything that came into our head trying to avoid the real issue.

“So what do we do?” Aaron asked.

“Do about what?” I said.

“You moving. When you’re gone, the team is dissolved,” Aaron said, raising his voice a little.

“Calm down, Aaron. It’s just a fake superhero team. Besides, I’ll still be here until May so we have plenty to finish up the loose ends,” I explained to the guys. “So what will be the next thing we fight?”

“Remember when you gave those flowers to that girl?” Aaron asked.

“Of course I do. I was so nervous then after I gave her the flowers I was so embarrassed because then everyone thought we were dating then she starting hating me. That was a busy week,” I said.

“I can’t even remember what we used to do before we started the Cat Rangers,” Alex began, “I don’t remember being outside as much.”

“We do spend a lot of time outside.”

You could tell Aaron was getting tired of all this moving talk and he stood up. “Something’s coming!” he said in an eerie voice.

Both Alex and I looked at him. “What?” I thought he was being serious.

“He got through our initial defenses.”

“What are you…?”

“Eradicator…” he said.

Alex and I leapt up. “Who’s Eradicator?” Alex asked.

“I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this,” I said. “Eradicator is my brother,” I revealed.

“Nice,” Aaron smiled.

“You have a brother?” Aber asked.

“We were launched from our home planets at the same time when the disease took over but while my course took me to America, his course took him to Sarkelostan where he was raised to only know hate. As an alien he was tortured and subjected to horrid experiments until they saw his potential as an army of one. They trained and conditioned him until he became a living killing machine.”

“We better stop standing around. He’s plowing his way through our secondary defenses,” Double A said and began running toward the tree in my backyard that was near the edge of the property. “Strengthen the auxiliary defenses and seal the doors and windows.”

We prepared for the onslaught that was sure to come from Eradicator because while the defenses were slowing him down he was still making his way through the perimeter. We watched on the monitors in awe but finally decided to act.

“Double A, you stay here and watch the monitors, Aber and I will attack and try to push him back,” I said and Aber and I flew off to defend our hideout.

I flew at full force toward Eradicator. As I emerged I saw that he was protected in reinforced steel armor. Every inch of his body was covered. Only his eyes were exposed but was surrounded a bright red metal mask. A flowing lighter red cape billowed behind him. Wanting to stop him, I hit him as hard as I could and we flew back several feet before coming to a stop. Eradicator’s fist flew out at me and struck me, sending me back to where I came from, nearly hitting Aber.

Aber quickly cast a spell on Eradicator, trying to blind him. It worked a little as Eradicator struggled to stand up straight and staggered backward. I was even taking awhile standing back up and couldn’t keep my balance.

Eradicator was mad now. When he was able to stand firm he began running toward the mansion. None of the defenses could hold him back because he was running too fast. Aber couldn’t cast a spell or fly away before Eradicator knocked him out of the sky. I just watched in awe as Eradicator trampled through our defenses and plowed through the wall of the mansion.

Aber and I just looked at each other then rushed to the mansion. Eradicator took no time in finding our control room and knocking Double A across the room. Although Double A was still down we had Eradicator surrounded, prepared to fight to the death.

“What are you doing here, Eradicator?” I asked.

“Can’t a guy visit his beloved brother?” Eradicator chuckled, which echoed from his helmet.

“Depends on why you’re here and since you’ve already pulverized me and Double A and caused massive damage to our artillery and mansion I can guess your visit isn’t a peaceful one,” I said, warming up my optic blast.

“Ganthet wanted me to loosen you up so his job would be easier,” Eradicator said.

“Ganthet? Where is he?” I yelled.

“He’s somewhere. But that is of no matter. He will find you and crush you,” Eradicator threatened.

“Those jewels don’t belong to Ganthet, Eradicator. They belong to the people of Emtrion. They belong to the people of that planet to keep their history alive!” I said, trying to get through to him.

“Their people are all dead, Brother,” Eradicator growled. “You may have garnered sympathy for them but I have not! They are dead-just like the majority of humans will be as soon as Ganthet takes care of a few things.”

“Ganthet has indescribable power and he still has to “take care of a few things?”” I asked, grinning. Behind Eradicator, Double A was standing up and starting to aim his arm cannon at his back.

“Taking over Earth’s military is seeming a bit more problematic than Ganthet thought but they will be gone soon…” and with a crackle and a loud explosion, Eradicator went down. Double A’s arm cannon was smoking, as was Eradicator’s back.

We moved closer to Eradicator and saw that is armor was badly damaged. He was started to move and we didn’t really know what to do with him. We all looked at each other hoping the others would know what to do.

“I have an idea but we need to get that helmet off him,” Aber said. I used my optic blasts to cut the helmet off, starting at the hole that had weakened the entire armor. “Get him up. He needs to be fully conscious.”
Double A and I rolled Eradicator over and pushed him to stand up. “Get up! Pay attention, you monster!” I said and saw that he looked almost like me only a little older and with lighter colored hair. His eyes opened and I pointed his face right at Aber.

Aber raised his hand and spoke the magic words, “Abracadabra!” and a collage of bright lights and shapes surrounded Eradicator’s head. Soon, he was unconscious and Double A and I dropped him on the floor.

“What did you do?” Double A asked.

“Mind wipe. He will now probably spend the rest of his life as a vegetable,” Aber said. “I know a facility he can stay in and be taken care of.”

“Remind me not to get on your bad side,” Double A said.

“Alex?” I asked, breaking character and seeming a little miffed, “Mind wipe? Really? As a magician you can mind wipe people?”

“I’m really more of an all-powerful sorcerer,” Alex said. “From outer space. So cosmic sorcerer, I guess.”

“Cosmic sorcerer? Aaron, any new powers you wish to divulge to us?” I sounded like I was joking but was actually serious.

“Oh, Brian,” Aaron said, “how is Alex’s cosmic sorcery any different than your late-developing ability of having bones of steel?”

“It’s not “late-developing”, on Earth the sun makes Fuzzytail’s bones as strong as steel,” I explained.

“What? You said Earth and Omegatron had the same sun!” Aaron pointed out.

I paused for a moment. “We’re not talking about my bones, we’re talking about Alex being an all-powerful sorcerer!”

Aaron and Alex laughed. “I have to get home. I didn’t realize it was so late. I’ll see you guys at school,” Aaron said.

Aaron leaving left Alex and me alone. We had been friends since Kindergarten and it was six years later. I wondered where the time went but Alex and I weren’t ones to really share what was going on inside.

“So when are you moving?” Alex asked.

“Sometime in April but I’ll finish up school here,” I answered.

“That’s quite a commute,” Alex joked.

“20 miles, roughly half an hour,” I said. “It’s my mom who’ll be driving, not me. Sit back and nap if I want to,” I smiled.

“Remember when we tried to include a girl in the Cat Rangers?” Alex suddenly said.

I snorted. “Yeah. That didn’t work out so well. It would take a special girl to understand what we’re doing but Laura tried, she just didn’t get it.”

“This was fun. Having our own club,” Alex sighed.

“It was. And I’m only 20 miles away so it’s not like we can’t continue doing this,” I said. “You can visit me and vice versa. It’ll be fine.”

I only invited Alex over once but I tried to talk to him once every two weeks to catch up and see what he was doing. We started sixth grade in schools roughly 20 miles apart. Between our last adventure and me moving we did other things that we had gotten into so the Cat Rangers never formally disbanded and Ganthet never tried to take over the world. But if the time ever comes, hopefully the Cat Rangers will be there to save the day.