Wednesday, July 11, 2012

No. 33: Superkitten

Alix Kincaid staggered into her apartment on Essex Street in New York City. As she walked down the hall, she removed her shoes, pants and belly shirt, leaving them in a trail down the hall. She grabbed an oversized t-shirt in her room and put it on then collapsed on her bed. She had just fallen asleep when the alarm went off. She ignored it and let it beep.

“Alix! Can’t you hear that?” her mom shouted from the doorway. “You need to get up. You’re not missing school again!”

Alix slowly rose from the bed and stood up. She turned her back to her mother and removed her shirt, grabbing another one from the floor.

“You should really wear a bra,” her mother said.

“My boobs, my rules,” Alix said.

“What time did you get home last night?”

“I didn’t notice. Late.”

“What were you doing out so late?”

“Mom,” Alix looked straight at her mother’s eyes. “I’m not gonna lie to you. What’s for breakfast?” Alix walked past her mom and back down the hall where her clothes were still laying.

“Don’t avoid the question, Alix!” her mom shouted.

“Why does it matter where I was? Nothing bad happened and I came home.”

“It matters because no matter what you think I care about you and love you. I am your mother!”

“I know. You keep reminding me,” Alix rolled her eyes. “There’s nothing to eat here. Can I have a couple bucks to buy breakfast?” she asked, eyeing her mom’s purse.

“I guess. But just take the five. I want you to come right home after school, okay? I’ll make a good dinner and we can talk.”

“Talk? About what?”

“Just talk. We never talk anymore…” she brushed Alix’s short blonde hair from her eyes.

“We never talked before,” Alix interrupted.

“Regardless. Right after school.”

“So I’m beginning to think those pills Paolo gave us last night were fake,” Traci said, standing outside the stall in the girl’s bathroom at school. “I mean, I started coming down pretty quickly after I took them and normally I get a pretty good buzz going that lasts. Last night I just didn’t feel it as much as I usually do. Jesus, what are you doing in there?”

Alix wiped and stood up to pull up her pants. “They were real Traci, I can vouch for Paolo. Also,” she opened the door to the stall, “what the hell would I be doing in here?”

“I dunno. I’ve seen a lot of things happening in a bathroom,” Traci shrugged.

“Come on. Let’s go outside. I need a smoke.”

Outside, Alix and Traci sat on the basketball court watching some boys play basketball. Alix was slowly smoking her cigarette. “My mom wants to ‘talk’ when I get home. She wants to make a nice dinner and have a mother-daughter conversation,” Alix said.

“How dare she,” Traci said.

“It could be worse,” Alix said, exhaling smoke. “She could want to take me to the mall.”

The girls stood up and began walking back to the school. A basketball flew through the air and hit Alix on the side of the head.”

“Ow!” she screamed.

“Nice catch,” said one of the boys.

“That hurt, Diego!” Alix yelled angrily.

“Not like there’s anything up there to hurt,” Diego scoffed. A couple of his friends chuckled.

“Look Traci,” Alix held up the basketball, “we now have proof that Diego has at least one ball.”

Diego got in Alix’s face and smirked. “I didn’t hear you complaining a couple weeks ago.”

Alix took one last drag on her cigarette and threw it down. “I didn’t have to complain. The bored look on my face said it all.” And she exhaled the smoke in Diego’s face.

Diego stared at Alix as she smiled at him. “Bitch!” he said as he slapped her across the face. Diego turned around. “Come on, guys. Let’s go in.”

Alix felt the warm area where Diego slapped her and got angrier with every passing second. Traci walked over to her and held her. Alix began screaming and running toward Diego. She then punched Diego square in the back. Traci shuddered at the sound of the crack. Diego fell to the ground. Traci saw what had happened and began screaming.

Alix noticed what she did and began crying. She saw a couple of teachers and security officers running toward her. Alix began panicking and ran away in the other direction.

Traci walked down the street after school. She had barely stopped crying since this morning. While she was walking past an alley, a hand flew out and grabbed her. She began screaming but another hand covered her mouth.

“Quiet. I don’t want anyone to know where I am,” Alix said.

“Alix!” Traci fumed. “You scared me to death!”

“Sorry. How was school?” she asked.

“You shouldn’t have left. The police are looking for you,” Traci said.

“I know,” Alix sighed. “I killed him.”

“I know. I was there. Are you gonna turn yourself in?”

“Of course not. I’m gonna wait until it dies down and then I’m leaving town.”

“Running away? Why? I was there. I gave a statement. The teachers and principal don’t like Diego and the police honestly don’t seem too keen on avenging his death,” Traci said. “To them it’s just another dead gang member.”

“I’m still gonna wait until things cool down,” Alix said. “I need a place to stay.”

“You can’t stay with me. It’s crowded and the police will probably find you. You could probably stay with my brother. He lives alone so he may let you stay a night or two. He lives a couple blocks from here,” Traci offered.

“Okay,” Alix nodded.

Traci knocked on the door to Nick’s apartment. He opened the door with a phone pressed against his car. He motioned for them to come in. “Yeah. No, I’ll need proof of the money first. I know but after last time I’m changing the rules. All right, call me back in half an hour,” Nick hung up. “Hey, Trace, what’s up?”

“Hi, Nick. Alix needs a place to stay. Something bad happened at school. Can she stay here?” Traci asked.

Nick shrugged. “I guess. She’ll either have to sleep on the couch or the floor because I only have my mattress.”

“That’s fine,” Alix said.

“Great. Thank, Nick. I gotta get home, Alix. I hope I’ll see you at school tomorrow,” Traci hugged Alix and left Nick’s apartment.

Alix and Nick looked at each other. “Thanks for letting me stay here.”

“How are you going to pay rent?” he asked.

“Oh. Um, well, I have no money but I can do chores or…”

Nick unbuttoned his pants and pulled them down. “One for each day you’re here.”

Alix sighed, stepped forward and got down on her knees.

“So if Alix comes home, tell her that charges are not going to be pressed but we do want her to give us a statement,” the police officer said as he and Alix’s mom walked to the door.

“Thank you, officer. I’m sure Alix will be relieved.”

“Have a good evening, ma’am,” the officer said and left.

Alix’s mom closed the door and went into the kitchen. Her dinner was almost finished and the table set. She sat down at the table and sighed. “Damn it, Alix.”

There was a knock on the door and she got up to answer it. She opened the door and saw a young kid standing in the hallway.

She smiled. “Yes?”

He pulled out a gun from his jacket and began shooting at her. Three shot were fired. One hit her leg, the other hit her shoulder and the last one went through her stomach and out her back. She fell to the ground, the kid ran away. Blood poured out of her wounds and pooled beneath her.

Alix ran into the hospital and into her mom’s room in the intensive care unit. She was sobbing and having a hard time catching her breath. “Oh, mom! I’m so sorry. That should’ve been me! I should’ve came right home. I am so, so sorry. You’ll never forgive me this and you shouldn’t have to. I am so sorry, Mom. I love you…” she cried on her Mom for several minutes until a nurse escorted her out.

Half an hour later, Alix was standing on the roof of Nick’s building. It was windier and slightly colder up there but Alix didn’t feel it. She looked out over the city, still crying. She thought about the last couple of days, and walked, half mesmorized, to the edge of the building and defiantly looked down.

“I’ll see you soon, Daddy,” she said and prepared to step off the edge.

“I wouldn’t do that,” said a voice behind her.

Alix turned to see who it was. “What?”

“Please come down. I have a question to ask you,” said the man.

Alix reluctantly got down and took a step toward the man. “Okay. I’m down. What do you want?”

“I’m here to give you the opportunity of a lifetime. My name is Dmitri Sylvester and I am the director of a covert government team. We’ve been watching you for quite awhile, Miss Kincaid and think you would fit nicely with our team,” the man explained.

Alix eyed him suspiciously. “Why do you think I would fit in?” she asked.

“Well, aside from your lack of agoraphobia,” Dmitri chuckled, “you have a special power a lot of other people lack.”

“Like what?”

“How do you think you really snapped that boy’s spine?” he asked.

“Oh, geez. You saw that?”

“I told you we’ve been watching you,” Dmitri said. “Anyway, the average hit to the middle of the back will hurt, may bring someone down but will not paralyze or kill a person. You, however, used your power—a force field around your body that strengthens every punch and kick when you want it to.”

“So I’m some kind of freak?” Alix asked.

“Of course not. With the right training and motivation you could be a hero.”

Alix smiled at that. She thought for a moment and shrugged. “What have I got to lose?” she joined Dmitri and they started walking back to the stairway door. “What about my Mom?”

“She’ll be fine. The government will pay for her care. You or her won’t have to worry about anything.”

Alix, as her new identity of Superkitten, stood atop a warehouse with Geo-Whiz, an older boy with a red and black skintight uniform and a billowing black and white cape. Superkitten kept looking over at Geo-Whiz and then, finally, giggled.

“What’s up?” Geo-Whiz asked, not taking his eyes off the building across the street.

“Why are you wearing a cape?” Superkitten asked.

“I think capes look cool. All the cool superheroes wear capes. Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel. Magneto wears a cape,” Geo-Whiz explained.

“Okay. On a scale of one to ten, how much of a dork are you?” she laughed.

“Very funny,” Geo-Whiz smiled. He then extended his gloved hand toward her. “I’m Brandon Taggert.”

She accepted his hand and smiled. “Alix Kincaid. What’s your story?”

“I graduated college at 13 and you’d be surprised at how many companies are not willing to hire a 13-year-old—labor laws and all. So at 14, I began a series of low wage jobs and then when I was 18, companies still wouldn’t hire me. I found out around that time I had geokinesis but I hardly used it and kept it to myself. I was working a dead end customer service job when Dmitri approached me and offered this to me,” Geo-Whiz said. “You?”

“I killed someone,” Superkitten smiled. “I hit bottom. I was about to kill myself when Dmitri arrived.”

“I’m glad you didn’t. How’d you choose your name?” asked Geo-Whiz.

“Superkitten? My Dad always called me Kitten. I added the Super because of the powers. How about you? I mean, come on, Geo-Whiz?”

“Whiz because I’m smart and Geo because of my geokinesis can control and manipulate the Earth.”

“We got movement down there,” Superkitten pointed. She prepared to leap off the building.

“Wait. Those aren’t Taikon’s normal henchmen…” Geo-Whiz hushed. He watched and listened as one of the people unlocked the warehouse door. “Oh my God!” Geo-Whiz focused his hands toward the ground and the concrete and dirt lifted the two people up into the air just as the entire warehouse exploded and became engulfed in flames.

Geo-Whiz and Superkitten protected the two people from the flames and led them away from the edge of the building.

“Are you okay?” Superkitten asked.

“Yeah, shaken—a couple of burns but we’re alive,” one of the people said. The people were a man and a woman, early twenties.

“What were you doing at that warehouse?” Geo-Whiz asked.

“Some guy down the street gave us ten thousand dollars in cash and a key and told us to unlock the warehouse door,” the man said.

“I’m gonna see if I can find any trace of him,” Geo-Whiz took off toward the street. “You help them off the roof.”

Superkitten and Geo-Whiz reunited several minutes later. “Taikon is trying to say something. He knows we’re onto him,” Geo-Whiz pressed a button on his gauntlet. “Dmitri? The warehouse was blown up.”

“We’re actually getting something from Taikon’s signal,” Dmitri said. “It’s coming from Merrittstown—a suburb. Better head on over there.”

“Okay, Dmitri,” Geo-Whiz looked at Superkitten. “You heard him. Let’s go.”

Superkitten and Geo-Whiz arrived in Merrittstown and saw a robot tearing it apart—throwing cars into buildings and houses. He heard the two approaching and turned his head revealing a half-human face. The head startled Superkitten.

“He’s just a cyborg, SK,” Geo-Whiz said.

“I know, I just wasn’t expecting it,” she replied.

“You should’ve seen me before I had my face blown off, sweetie,” the cyborg said. “You would’ve been all over me.” The cyborg raised his arm, aimed an energy beam and began blasting away at Geo-Whiz and Superkitten.

They barely had enough time to get their force fields up before the beams hit them so they were knocked back a few feet. Geo-Whiz countered by lifting the ground under and around the cyborg, knocking him onto his back.

Superkitten leapt up and plowed her feet into his chest, cracking the breaking the metal. “You think that can stop me?” the cyborg said with a slight cackle. He flung his feet up and kicked Superkitten in the back, knocking her down.

Geo-Whiz angrily began using his power to throw huge boulders at the cyborg. A couple hit him, crushing his left arm and splintering his right calf.

“You’re good,” he said, slowly approaching Geo-Whiz. His arm and leg suddenly began repairing itself. “But I am better.”

Superkitten jumped up and kicked the cyborg’s head. With the help of her power, the head tore off of the cyborg’s body. The body went limp and fell to the ground. The head landed quietly on the street, dead.

“Grab the head, SK,” Geo-Whiz pointed as he lifted up the body. “Let’s get back to base.”

Agent Spider and Geo-Whiz stood with Dmitri and the cyborg’s body and head. “This is amazing use of cybernetics but somehow this kind of technology seems beneath Taikon,” Dmitri said, holding the head in his hand and stroking his chin with a couple of fingers.

“He barely put up a fight. I expected more from something that was half-human and half-robot,” Geo-Whiz said.

“Considering you had the new girl with you, you should be glad,” Agent Spider said.

“Alix did just fine,” Geo-Whiz chuckled. “She did a lot of the work.”

Agent Spider was the only member of the team who covered most of his face. Geo-Whiz wore a mask but just over his eyes. Agent Spider had the ability to defy gravity and climb walls with ease. He was born Miguel Stoll in Miami. He learned he had the powers by accident and never used them. He had almost forgotten about them until his brother was killed in a drug raid and Dmitri confronted him. Now he was 23 and took his position as Agent Spider very seriously. Dmitri had created a special gauntlet for Miguel that shot small grappling hooks.

Elsewhere in the compound, Smoke was being entertained by magic from Abracadabra. Smoke was a young girl—younger than Alix—who could turn her body into smoke. She was the only member who had just one power but she was being trained in various types of fighting and martial arts just like the others. She was orphaned at age 9 and was placed in foster care. When her powers started manifesting themselves at 12, Dmitri adopted her.

Abracadabra, or Aber, was 23. Aber was an accomplished magician and sorcerer. Aber doesn’t know who he is or where he came from. He awoke, inexplicably, at the bottom of a pyramid in Egypt. No one knew who he was or how he got to Egypt but Dmitri took him in and now he was quite possibly the most powerful team member.

Red Fish was another member and he typically kept to himself. Red Fish, known to the world as insurance company magnate David Portnoy—the youngest CEO of an insurance company at 27. David could breathe underwater so Dmitri immediately sought him out. At first, David refused but soon gave in when Dmitri agreed to let David keep his day job.

Alix was in her room with America, or Matthew Coffin, who was the de facto leader of the team because he was the oldest at 32. America’s only power was flight but he was a skilled martial artist and a true believer in what the United States stood for.

Alix began panting faster and then smiled as she came. Matthew repositioned himself and he lowered his face to her and quickly finished up. She leaned up and kissed Matthew. “Thank you,” she smiled. “And I won’t tell anyone. I just…really needed it.”

“No problem,” Matthew smiled and began putting his clothes back on.

Dmitri’s voice came on over a speaker. “Alix? We need you to come to the second laboratory. We need you to listen to something.”

When Alix and Matthew got to the lab, everyone else had also joined. “What’s going on?” Alix asked.

“I want you to listen to this. We recorded a communication from a device in the cyborg’s head,” Dmitri said.

Agent Spider brought the audio on a screen. “…What? I don’t know. Alix! Help me!” a girl’s voice shrieked but the audio was garbled.

“We’re pretty sure she said ‘Alix’ so that’s why we brought you in,” said Geo-Whiz. “Do you know that voice?”

“Yeah. It’s my best friend, Traci.”

Superkitten ran as fast as she could down the underground tunnel. She was hoping this would work because if not, she could really hurt herself. She hoped her power would be enough to break through the gigantic steel vault. She lowered her head, closed her eyes and gritted her teeth as she plowed through the door. She stood, unhurt, in a huge room with walls covered with televisions. She pressed a button on her gauntlet. “Dmitri? There’s nothing in here but walls full of television,” she said. No one responded.

The TVs suddenly clicked on. Traci was laid out on a metal table, strapped down. She was crying and struggling at her bonds.

“Traci?” Superkitten looked at the picture on the screens.

“Alix? How’d you get here?” Traci shouted.

“I’ll tell you later. Now how do I get to you?” Superkitten wondered.

“You get to her through me!” Taikon said, suddenly appearing from the ceiling. Taikon was in a black skintight suit covered with bright yellow piping. The piping was elaborate and almost followed the exact location of his skeletal structure. Taikon also wore a yellow and black helmet that covered his whole head.

“Let her go. It’s not her you want!” Superkitten said.

“No, it’s not. Defeat me and she gets released. It’s that simple,” Taikon said.

Superkitten wasn’t sure what to do. She kept looking back and forth between Taikon and Traci. She hoped she was strong enough by herself and prepared herself to fight.

“Okay, Taikon. You want me? Come and get me,” she said. She did a complete flip backwards and Taikon slammed elbow first into her chest. “Ow!” she screamed as she punched Taikon in the head.

Taikon raised his arm and began blasting at Superkitten with solar blasts that scorched everything they touched. “I will fry you and every one of your teammates!” he shouted as blasted at Superkitten as she ran away.

The blasts destroyed the monitors on the walls sending shards of glass flying everywhere. The glass began cutting Superkitten’s skin and suit. Trickles of blood oozed from the wounds. She willed up her power again and turned on her force field. She surprised Taikon by punching him in the lower back as hard as she hit Paolo.

“Why do you hate the team so much? We’re protectors of the country!” Superkitten shouted and punched Taikon in the head again and then kicked him.

“They killed my brother!” Taikon screamed with a hint of crying in his voice although Superkitten couldn’t be sure. “My brother—we were twins—was selected for the team. We have…had the same power: the ability to transfer solar energy into concentrated blasts. While I was jealous, I was glad he was getting out of our dismal home life. They trained him, made him the leader. The first big mission they had, he gets killed! And they just treat him like another soldier—dead and forgotten. This team was his ticket out and they killed him,” Taikon explained.

Superkitten didn’t know what to say and tried to find the right words. “I haven’t been with the team very long but they train us really well. Six months ago, I could barely confront a boy in my school but now I feel confident enough to take on…well, you.” Superkitten knelt down by Taikon. “What happened to your brother is awful but instead of besmirching his name and honor as a bad guy, use those powers for good. Make your brother proud.”

Taikon was silent for a few seconds, then stood up. “Stupid bitch,” he said. He swatted Superkitten, who had lowered her force field, into the rubble where a wall and monitors used to be. “You fell for that? I don’t have a brother. I hate your team because they are the good guys!” Taikon began expanding his energy, growing larger with every second. “And when I get enough power I’m going to destroy this whole facility including you and your friend!”

He grew larger and larger, the solar energy crackling out of him. Superkitten backed away from Taikon into another room. Taikon stopped expanding and began imploding. His body shrank and collapsed in on itself. He fell backwards onto the floor, a charred, smoldering husk.

It took Superkitten a moment to realize what had happened then she shouted at the top of her lungs, “Traci!”

She heard a muffled cry and charged in its direction using her powers to bring down every wall that was in her way. Superkitten untied Traci from the table and pulled her off. The two hugged each other and cried.

“Oh, Alix. It was awful,” Traci sniffed. “He killed my family and kidnapped me and…!”

“He killed them? All of them?” Superkitten asked.

“All of them except Nick because he doesn’t live there. I don’t have a family anymore, Alix! I’m an orphan…”

Superkitten hugged Traci tight. “It’ll be all right, Traci. You still have me.”

The two girls continued hugging and crying.