Sunday, July 24, 2011

Redefining Superman Part Twenty-two

Redefining Superman

Part 22

Leaving the chamber where CereB.O.R.G. had entrapped him, Eclipse moved along through a long corridor that snaked around quite a bit before bringing him to another chamber that was quickly filling up with Mar ‘doxxals. He remained hidden behind the outcropping that served as a wall and counted seventeen of the alien beasts. That was far more than he felt he could safely handle at the moment, but if these creatures were aiding CereB.O.R.G. in conquering the Earth he had to do everything he could to stop them as soon as possible. It looked as though that meant right now, regardless of how he was feeling.
He stopped and made an inspection of his suit. He had developed this suit to be actively functional, as though an ordinary man would be wearing it and needed its extra functions of intricate technology. Despite all he had been through, the suit seemed to be working perfectly. Sure, the fabric itself was a little worse for wear, but everything he had built into it worked fine. Considering how weak he currently felt, though he was still stronger than any ordinary Terran, and looking at the number of Mar ‘doxxals he was going to have to wade through, Eclipse knew he needed any extra edge he could give himself.
Working the psy-link controls the suit “warmed up”. He felt a slight tingling, as though a steady thrum of energy was permeating the cells of his body. Suddenly he experienced a surge of strength he hadn’t before energizing the suit and he was thankful he had been as foresightful as he had when considering his having to convince officials such as the FBI as to the functionality of his suit so no one would entertain thoughts that he might actually be Earth’s former champion. He still didn’t know if the extra he received from his suit would be enough to get him through this many Mar ‘doxxals, but he didn’t have much choice at the moment.
Readying himself for the task at hand Eclipse entered the room at a fast pace, hoping to get partially through before being spotted. If he could get at least part-way to the exit on the other side of the chamber before having to stop and fight these aliens he thought he’d stand a better chance.
His planning had been good and he managed to make it actually somewhat more than half-way before a few of the aliens caught sight of him and turned his direction. Others crowded around him even as he began swinging his fists at one alien after another. The aliens were stunned by his blows, but not enough to take each one he hit completely out of the battle. All he was achieving seemed to be to lessen the odds against him momentarily until the ones he’d stunned recovered and rejoined the fray. That meant he effectively had an unlimited number of Mar ‘doxxal to fight, and these creatures didn’t know how to sit back and watch any battle involving their race. It was all or nothing to them. Well, actually it was more like it was all to them. There was no such thing as a Mar ‘doxxal not getting involved in a fight. They lived for carnage and the bloodier it was the better. And they loved the taste of blood. Any blood. It never mattered to them what species the blood was from, somehow it always tasted good to them.
Somewhere within his battle he thought about using his force field and activated it through his psy-link. That helped quite a bit. He should have thought about it sooner, but he really wasn’t used to having a force field or even needing one. His own invulnerability had always been enough for him. Now he needed extras.
Speaking of extras, he had been using his laser-vision focused through the visor of this suit, which turned the beam green and focused his twin beams into one. The suit itself actually had a laser program built into it, though it wasn’t as strong as his own. If he added the power of the suit with his own ocular energy it should pretty much equal what he’d always been used to having. Eclipse gave it a try and was pleased with the results. One after another the aliens cried out in pain from where his laser-vision struck them. He tried aiming for their eyes, thinking that if he could blind them it would help even more. Eyes were usually fairly soft organs on any species and should do a lot of damage. More of the creatures began falling away as he focused his lasers on their eyes, screaming louder than before as each one found its eyes burned beyond redemption.
Still there were more than enough to cause him to become weary from the constant beating he himself was taking as the Mar ‘doxxal ganged up on this foe and managed to finally drag him to the ground. They started piling on top of him, preventing the worn hero from being able to swing his fists effectively any longer, but suddenly he started noticing there seemed to be less of the creatures as the weight driving him down lessened. When it got to where he could once more swing his fists and use his laser-vision he realized something else was going on that was assisting him in taking down these aliens. He chanced a glance to his left and was surprised, though pleased, to find his own wife and her FBI partner just inside the entrance he had been heading for. Each of them held a rifle-like weapon they were using to blast away at the aliens and although neither weapon was apparently powerful enough to kill any of the creatures, they seemed to be doing enough damage to keep the beings from continuing to fight.
What were the weapons they were using and where had they…then he recalled why the weapons seemed so familiar. Meredith, in her old life, had used one of them before. They were the Zeus Particle Cannons from the S.P.A.R.T.A. Labs. She must have gone there with Robertson and secured one for each of them – along with the suits they were wearing. Smart thinking on her part. Inwardly he smiled. Outwardly he continued fighting Mar ‘doxxals.
Finally, between the two Zeus Cannons and his strength and lasers, the number of the creatures dropped considerably and those remaining were so physically damaged they found it impossible to continue fighting, though their genetic disposition caused them to want to continue on until each of their enemies was being chewed greedily within their maws.
“Let’s get out of here, shall we?” Meredith said as she placed a hand on Eclipse’s shoulder. He nodded and followed after the two agents in hurrying through the exit. Once they had gone a short way down the corridor Meredith turned, aimed her cannon and released a long blast at the ceiling that caused the rock to cave-in, covering the entrance and preventing any of the aliens from following after them.
“You’ve got a great brain in that head of yours,” Eclipse said, careful not to put too much of a personal emphasis on his words. He didn’t want Robertson seeing a relationship between them.
“We’re not out of the woods, yet,” Meredith responded.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Follow us. There’s more to this alien invasion than just those things back there.” Meredith followed after Robertson in returning to the chamber where the caskets of eggs had been stacked. They showed the contents of the open one to Eclipse, who shook his head.
“Are there more rooms filled with these eggs?” he asked.
“We don’t know,” Robertson answered. “These were the only ones we came across before we heard the screams of the aliens you were fighting. We haven’t had time to search through any of the other chambers.”
“What do we do with these?” Meredith gestured toward the eggs.
“I’d like to say ‘destroy them’,” Eclipse said, “but as much as I detest those creatures we just fought, I find it difficult to consider destroying any of their race before they have the chance to be born.”
“From what I saw of those things back there,” Robertson’s voice sounded harsh and condemning, “they didn’t look like a race of being that had any compassion or conscience. If we hadn’t come along they wouldn’t have stopped until they had killed you.”
“You’re right on that count,” Eclipse sighed. “And you’re right in your estimation of these beings as a race – they have no compassion or conscience. Everything encoded into their DNA tells them to be savage and vindictive. They torture every race they come in contact with, then eat everything they torture, and they don’t usually wait until their food is dead before beginning to eat it, either.”
“And these are the creatures you hesitate to destroy just because they’re still in their eggs?”
“I know, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to me, either, but…”
“What if these were chicken eggs and you knew that if the chickens that hatched from them were going to produce bacteria that would decimate all life on Earth. Would you have any qualms about killing those?”
“I see your point,” Eclipse stood from where he’d been crouching over the open casket. “All right, I guess we really don’t have much choice. We destroy these eggs or when they hatch they’ll kill any and all humans they meet. He took an egg from the casket and placed it on the ground before him.
“Stand back,” Eclipse said as he focused his laser-vision on one of the eggs. He hit the egg with as much energy as he could – and the egg exploded. Not with enough force to destroy the other eggs nestled in with it, but enough to knock Eclipse backward where he struck the opposite wall behind him, causing the rock to break and part of the wall to crumble in on him.
“That was unexpected,” he said as he picked himself up off the ground and brushed the dust from his suit.
“I’ll say,” Meredith knelt and picked up one of the unharmed eggs. She looked it over more carefully, as though by scrutinizing the unborn creature inside she could learn what had made it explode that way. “The fluid around it – I had thought it was nothing but amniotic fluid, like with human babies, but what if this is something that’s highly flammable?”
“That’s possible,” Eclipse said as he picked up an egg and studied it. “It does look somewhat oily, possibly like some form of petroleum.
Noises from the corridor behind them caught their attention and they all looked toward the open entrance to the room.
“Sounds like we’re about to meet the parents,” Robertson leveled his Zeus Cannon at the empty doorway.
Meredith looked at the egg in her hand and smiled. “Let me try something here,” she said. She waited until she saw a foot from one of the Mar ‘doxxals move forth from the doorway and then a body joined to it. She hurled the egg she held hard against the alien and the egg exploded upon contact. The alien roared in pain and anger, but was blown backward harder than Eclipse had been.
“I think we just found an answer as to what to do with these eggs as well as how to take the offensive against those aliens,” Meredith reached down to arm herself with more of the eggs.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Redefining Superman Part Twenty-One

Redefining Superman

Part 21

"Something's weird about this level," Meredith murmured out loud. Robertson was directly behind her, but she wasn't actually talking to him. He had been quietly sulking ever since she chided him for kissing her. She could understand the heat of the moment, considering how thy had been fighting hard for so long to get free of that lower level, and a slight kiss on the cheek or even a peck on the lips or even a hug would have been understandable, but the way he had kissed her said volumes about the way he so obviously wanted her, not just to share a single moment, like high-fiving one another after a victory.
They had started walking and he assumed the rear position, refusing to talk. So she had done all the talking, when any was needed, which was seldom. Mostly she mumbled to herself and if he wanted to pick up on it, that was up to him. She wasn't his nursemaid or mother and she sure as hell wasn't his lover. She could have used the intra-suit communicators, but she didn't want to make this easy for him.
"Grow the hell up," Meredith mumbled under her breath. She hoped this time he actually had heard what she'd said.
Then she stopped short, causing him to almost run into her, but stopping just in time. She waited, listening, until Robertson finally leaned forward and into her left ear said, "What is it?"
She turned her head to answer and found his lips next to hers once more. He quickly backed up enough to give her space.
"Sounds. Up ahead," she whispered barely loud enough. She jerked her head in the direction they had been heading. "More than one." He nodded, understanding that she meant more than one person up ahead.
Slowly Meredith started forward once more and Robertson waited until there was at least five feet between them before he began walking. That was the best method in a tight situation like this. He didn't need to run into her at the wrong moment and cause noise that might lead to their being captured or killed. He almost sighed, wishing he had been in the lead now. He understood too well that she knew exactly what she was doing and had proven she could handle herself in any situation, but still, he wished it were his place to be the first in sight in case anything happened that could lead to death. It was just how he was built and had lived his life - protecting others.
Slowly they crept forward. A faint light was evident up ahead and Meredith reached up, her index finger slightly tapping the left upper corner of her goggles, disengaging the night-vision aspect. They certainly didn't need any bright lights blinding them. Robertson saw her move and realized what she had done. He reached up and did the same, thankful she was more familiar with these suits than he was. He was learning.
Meredith crept forward as minutely as possible until she was able to see movement up ahead. She stopped, her right hand behind her, fingers splayed to indicate for him to hold up. She surveyed the scene ahead of her, then remembered the function for sharing and using her right hand squeezed down on the lower right section of her goggles. Robertson was unprepared for the visual as his goggles displayed on their inner surfaces the same scene Meredith watched.
Three large, monstrous creatures of obviously alien origin moved about in the chamber before them. The beings were moving crates - at least it looked like crates, though as Robertson watched he realized these weren't the oblong wooden boxes he was most used to on Earth, but cases of some dark material that was smooth, rounded at the corners. More like small caskets, but with fewer angles to them. As they watched the creatures stacked the - crates - for want of a better word, one on top of another until they had a wall of them. As the creatures worked they realized there were far more than three of them. The beings were moving in-and-out of the chamber, one alien taking the place of another as each delivered the cargo they had brought in and stacked it. When the first wall was completed the creatures began stacking another wall of crates in front of that. How the hell many of these things were there and what were they for? What was inside these crates? Were they dangerous to Earth?
Neither of these FBI agents knew the answers to any of these questions, but they knew it was up to them to learn as much as possible in order to determine how to counter whatever these aliens were planning.
With the second wall of crates completed the aliens all filed out of the chamber. Meredith waited several minutes to ensure none of the beings would return, then motioned for her partner to follow her forward.
Meredith passed by the crates and peered around the corner of the rocky outcropping that led away form this area. She couldn't see any of the beasts anywhere nearby and returned to the chamber where Robertson was already checking the outside of one of the casket-like boxes.
"See any way to open it?" Meredith whispered.
He merely shook his head, wanting to keep the conversation to a minimum. Just in case any of the aliens returned.
As he felt along the outside rim of the crate he held his fingers located a slight bulge in the otherwise smooth design. He depressed the bulge, pushing it inward. A slight "click" could be heard in the silence of the room and the lid came away in his hands. He handed the lid to Meredith and looked into the crate, his eyes wide with wonder.
Meredith moved forward enough to see into the crate. At first she as unsure of what she was seeing, then her eyes, too grew large as she realized they were looking at what must be at least sixty oval-shaped eggs that were a translucent dark blue. Inside each egg was a small form that had to be a fetus of the large aliens that had stacked these crates in this chamber. Meredith and Robertson both looked at the rest of the crates and ran calculations in their heads. If there were sixty eggs in each crate, which they now realized must be incubators to keep these eggs warm and hatch them, then that meant there had to be at least fifty-two hundred eggs stored in this chamber alone. Were there more in other areas of this underground cavern? If there were, Earth was in serious trouble.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Redefining Superman Part Twenty

Redefining Superman

Part 20

He didn't know how long he had been trapped this time, but Eclipse  knew that if he didn't get out of this situation soon the Earth he had given up his identity to protect would be overrun by alien creatures that were not only a lot stronger than the average human, but far more savage as well. These beasts would as soon eat a human live and watch him suffer as parts of him disappeared down their gullets than to kill their victims outright. He couldn't allow that to happen.
He had continued struggling, both mentally and physically, but so far he had made no progress. He did, however, notice that at times the energy seemed to weaken a bit as the slight aural glow would flare up, making it easier to see in his peripheral vision, then subside to where he felt as though if he had only known that this lack of energy was about to occur, he could possibly exert himself just then and become free.
He had begun counting the seconds between the surges, which had either begun happening more often or he was noticing them more readily. After a bit he thought he had it down to every three minutes and thirty-three seconds, but while he was waiting to see if his assessment was correct, one of the Mar 'doxxals slithered into his field of vision. The creature looked him over thoroughly and had Eclipse known their physiology better, he might have thought the alien had leered or grinned at him, but he couldn't be certain. A face like that was difficult in distinguishing certain features. Smiling was one of them, regardless of the intent behind the smile.
The Mar 'doxxal moved closer, reached up to poke him in the chest with the digit of its large, meaty hand, but as the "paw" came close enough to touch him the energy field his body was enwrapped in surged outward, shocking the beast. The creature leapt back, holding its injured paw with the other and jumping around as though the energy shock had seriously hurt it. Score one for CereB.O.R.G. for protecting him against the alien's minions, even if it wasn't an intentional protection.
The stupid beast finally ceased hopping about and moved closer to him once more. It actually reached toward him again - with the same hand - with the same results. This time the beast had received possibly less of a shock, since it had pulled its massive paw back faster as it reached forward to poke him in the chest, but it still had gotten shocked.
These creatures were smarter than the swamp reptiles of Earth, weren't they? He had always thought they were, and yet, this one seemed to prove the opposite view, that they weren't any more intelligent than a dog that had chased cars too many times - and caught up with them when they stopped suddenly.
The Mar 'doxxal moved about the space before him, its body hunched over as though it were conceiving some sinister plan of world domination, though Eclipse now surmised that wasn't a possibility. The creature then swiftly snagged a rock lying on the ground and flung it at him. The small projectile struck his body, but was deflected away by the energy field with an even larger surge of power loss about him. That time he had seen the flashing energy further into his field of vision and the force controlling his imprisonment seemed to waver a bit. Could it be that the aliens' actions were weakening the field about him? Or was the field only interfered with momentarily as the rock struck and its integrity uncompromised for more than a split second?
He was about to find out as the alien beast searched for more rocks and began heaving them one-after-the-other at him, each one striking and bouncing away, each time causing the energy to flare up with sizzling sounds as of some poor, pitiable creature such as a rabbit coming in contact with an electric fence on its travels.
Soon the Mar 'doxxal seemed to run out of rocks, since the effect of the energy burst began pulverizing each missile as it struck its target. The beast looked about and picked up a small boulder that had almost seemed to be part of the wall, but turned out to be loose. The alien creature hefted the rock up over its head and heaved it as hard as it could. The rock, which was at least three-feet across and weighed approximately two-hundred pounds, struck Eclipse full-on. Not only did the "torpedo" interfere with the energy flow that was holding him prisoner, but managed to have enough force behind it to push the statue-like hero backward. Something broke within the energy field and Eclipse could sense when it happened. He exerted all his own energy in breaking free from his bondage and was somewhat surprised when it worked.
He felt weakened beyond belief as he stumbled forward, but at least he was free. Eclipse looked up at the creature standing before him and thought the beast seemed as surprised at the outcome as he was. Not wanting to give the beast any time to think the matter through, he reached over and snagged the last rock thrown at him that had been reduced in size by its contact with the energy field, but not completely pulverized the way the smaller rocks had been. He flung it with a side-arm pitch and watched as the missile struck its target dead-center. The beast, surprised at the blow to its body, was flung back against the far wall.
Eclipse knew he couldn't rest on that move alone and rushed forward, his fists pummeling the alien one-blow-after-another, raining down pain on the creature until it succumbed to his greater force and slumped to the ground unconscious.
Eclipse stood to his full height, his hands yet clenched into fists, his lungs heaving in exertion. He couldn't recall the last time such a fight had caused him to breathe hard, but he knew he was weakened both by his lack of yellow solar radiation and the red sun energy that had kept him entrapped for so long. He needed sunlight and he needed it soon, but first he had to determine where the exit to this underground mausoleum was. That wasn't going to be as easy as he had previously thought.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Redefining Superman Part Nineteen

Redefining Superman

Part 19

This was impossible and he knew it. Regardless, it was still true that CereB.O.R.G. had managed to render him powerless. How was this creature that was part organic and part machine doing this to him? First his adversary had trapped him in a cell that had been all but impenetrable so he couldn’t escape. Then that cell was filled with some type of gas that had been able to affect him and knock him out. When he awoke he found himself within a stasis field that had almost succeeded in keeping him a prisoner. Now he was once more unable to move, only this time because of some type of energy that was affecting his body, somehow preventing his muscles from moving. What the hell was going on?
Almost all his life he had been nearly impervious to harm. Sure there had been a few things that had been able to hurt him, but none of those were part of what was keeping him immobile now. Whatever it was, he knew only a being as superior in its intellect as CereB.O.R.G. was could possibly come up with the way to defeat him. Hadn’t the cyborg being almost done that several times in the past? Each time he had managed to outwit this being and find a way to bring about its own defeat. The last time they’d fought he had actually destroyed CereB.O.R.G., so who was it that had just caused his downfall, or perhaps he should say “what was it”, since CereB.O.R.G. wasn’t entirely a naturally-born sentient being, but a construct that had been designed by someone else, someone whose identity he had never learned, but who had sent the creature out to conquer as much of the known universe as possible.
That was why he had fought so hard each time to defeat this creature, because it threatened the freedom and existence of the planet Earth, the place he called home.
He should have known when those aliens surrounded Earth and demanded he battle them under the conditions they had set, the loser deciding the fate of this planet, that CereB.O.R.G. had to be involved in some manner. But how? This cybernetic construct had been completely annihilated, every atom, every molecule, every particle of its being pulverized beyond the point of redemption under any terms. How was it now rebuilt?
Eclipse had been pondering this question for as long as he had been bound in whatever this energy was that kept him prisoner. Whatever this stuff was it made him feel weak on top of everything else. It was almost as though he were under a red sun, not a yellow one, such as Sol was that the Earth revolved around.
Wait. What color was this energy? He strained with all his remaining might, which wasn’t much of anything, to move his eyes to where he might be able to catch the tiniest of glimpses of the energy surrounding him at his middle. He couldn’t even move his eyes, but if he could somehow manage to catch the barest glimpse of the aura this energy produced, perhaps he…There! Was that it? It had to be. He strained yet again and…Yes! It was red. That was how CereB.O.R.G. had captured him, by using the energy of a red sun. But shouldn’t the energy from Sol still be affecting him even more?
Clarity suddenly dawned upon him. Had he been able to smack himself in the forehead and mutter “DOH!” he would have. Of course. That was why CereB.O.R.G. had made certain to get him so far below the surface of the planet and keep him there for so long. This entire time he dealt with Ozzie Bunso, following him and trying to see who he reported to once he was set free from the FBI headquarters, it was all an elaborate ruse to get him involved and force him underground where Sol’s yellow radiation no longer reached him. Sure, he yet retained the abilities he’d always had under Earth’s yellow sun, but by being literally in the dark for so long with no possible chance of having Sol’s radiation bathing him as he was used to in his daily routine, then hitting him with a high dose of red sun energy – he had been susceptible beyond belief.
At least he had been able to determine what had been used to confine him in this manner. Now he needed to determine the way to set himself free – without the benefit of his powers.
He suddenly wondered if he had added to his own demise by creating this new identity with a full suit that covered every inch of him including his head? Had he been partially responsible for preventing Sol’s rays from reaching him? No, that was ridiculous. Clothing wasn’t made to be impervious to radiation like the sun’s…except when deliberately designed that way, as he had this suit. Of course. He had been responsible. He had designed the suit so nothing could get through it and that was exactly what had happened. Nothing, including the yellow sun radiation had gotten through his new outfit, enabling CereB.O.R.G. to defeat him that much easier.
It did no good beating himself up over this lapse in reasoning. Once he got out of this predicament he would design something completely different, perhaps something that allowed sunlight in, certainly, hell, he’d gladly strut about fully naked if that was what it took to ensure he would never again be in a predicament like this one, but for now he needed to focus on getting free.

* * * * *

“Is that a slight breeze I feel wafting down from above?” Meredith nearly laughed with joy at the fact that they had managed to carve their way slowly-but-surely through the ceiling of rock to another chamber above them. It had taken a long time, nearly three hours if the internal digital chronometer within her suit was any good, and she knew it was. God, no wonder she felt completely drained. Three hours working as hard as they had clearing away debris and continuing to bore through solid rock would tire anyone, and they had been going since early this morning already. What time was it, anyway? She once more checked the internal clock and found it was nearly two in the morning. She had been going strong for nearly twenty-four hours already. And how long had it been since she’d eaten? She had no idea when she had eaten last. Her brain was too foggy from the lack of sleep and proper nutrition to know. All that could wait until later. For now she simply needed to help get free so they could locate her husband and hopefully get the hell out of this place. She needed sunlight on her face, something, anything to make her feel more like a real person once again and less like a mole.
“Need help climbing up there?” Robertson asked, seeing how long it was taking his partner to climb to the top of the mound of rubble and through the opening. “Or are you just enjoying the view?”
Meredith glanced back at Robertson and smiled. Sure, he was an ass at times, but she was learning to like him. He wasn’t really so bad once she got to know what made him tick. She turned back toward the opening and shoved her Zeus Cannon through, laying it on the ground to the side of the opening. Then she grabbed hold of the ledge above her and pulled herself through the hole. Hmmm, this was tighter than she’d thought it would be. If she barely fit, how was her partner supposed to get through?
Meredith finished pulling herself up and turned about on her knees to look down at Robertson. Fortunately the goggles allowed them to see in the dark or she would never be able to locate him in the total blackness below.
“See anything?” he called up to her.
“Nope. Just the same darkness you’ve got down there.
“Hey, the hole’s pretty tight. We might have to…” She stopped talking as his hands came through and grabbed hold of the ledge made from the opening. Meredith moved back so he would have more room to wiggle through and watched in amazement as somehow Evan Robertson managed to squeeze through the opening she had barely fit through.
“That’s odd,” she mused aloud. “I thought for sure that opening…”
“Yeah, you’re right,” he interrupted her thought as he stood and looked about the chamber they were now in. “It is the same darkness as below.” He looked down at her, still on her knees and offered her a hand. She took hold of his hand and stood to her feet, not that she couldn’t have done it just fine on her own, but she decided working as a team had been good for them thus far. No sense in refusing his help now. It could only make things revert back to what they previously were, and she didn’t want that. This relationship was like any other and would take time…
Robertson leaned in and kissed her on the lips.  She pulled back quickly, wiping her lips with the back of her hand.
“What the hell did you do that for?” she glared at him.
“I – I just thought…”
“You thought wrong, Evan. I’m married, remember? And I love my husband more than anyone else in this whole world. Keep that in mind, will you?”
“Sure, Meredith,” his voice was hard and stern as he answered. “I’ll be strictly professional from now on. I guarantee it.”
Damn. Now they were back to square one again, but she knew it hadn’t been her fault. Why the hell had he tried kissing her?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Redefining Superman Part Eighteen

"Any idea how we get out of this trap?" Evan Robertson ran a hand across the smooth surface of one of the walls that had slid in place to block them in. Each of them had tried their hand-held weapons, but neither had done more than caused a slightly warbling effect that rippled across the surface for barely a few seconds before ceasing and refusing to do anymore.
"Not a thing," Meredith shook her head as she walked up beside her partner and stared at the wall. It almost seemed alive, somehow, but she couldn't quite figure out why. "Perhaps if we try using the Zeus Cannons on the ceiling we could blast through to whatever chamber might be there?"
"And if nothing's there other than more rock?" Robertson raised his eyebrows, though they were difficult to see with his goggles obscuring that part of his face.
"Then maybe we can bring the ceiling down and climb up on that rubble and do it again and again until we do locate a way out."
Robertson thought her plan over for a moment and shrugged. "Beats anything I can come up with."
As they aimed their weapons toward the ceiling and were about to fire a charge off, a slight humming sound began. Robertson leapt back, since he realized it was coming from the mid-section of his suit.
"What the hell?" he looked over at his partner, who had a smirk on her face. Even in a situation like this where they might be staring at their imminent death, it was good to see this agent react in a way that didn't display his typical "superiority complex".
"Mine's doing it, too," Meredith laughed. "It's a special feature that lets us know whenever there's a Super nearby. It serves a dual purpose - to warn us in case the Super in question is intent upon doing us harm, or to alert us to possible assistance if it's a hero being detected."
"How do we know which it is and where he's at?"
"By the pitch and vibration of the signal. The stronger the vibration and the higher the pitch the greater the strength of the Super. Good or bad is up to us to determine." Meredith tried her best to look calm and unruffled, but having worn a suit like this before she had also experienced the Super-detector before and knew from the pitch that it was her own husband being detected. No other Super caused the detector to reach this high of a pitch. Somewhere on the other side of one of these barriers Solar Eclipse had walked up and could very well be examining the material the same way they had.
She walked up to the side closest to them and felt no change in the vibrational pitch, so she went over to the other side and the system alert grew stronger. "He's over here!" she shouted as she aimed her Zeus Cannon and fired a full blast at the impenetrable barrier.
"We already know the cannons won't get us out of here," Robertson argued. "Why bother wasting the charge in that thing?"
"I'm hoping to catch the attention of - that Super," she had almost said Eclipse, but realized she couldn't admit to knowing who was on the other side of the wall. "Maybe the particle charge will cause some type of effect that will get whoever it is to try and break through."
Realizing her idea had merit, Robertson added the particle blast from his own cannon to hers, but soon they realized the cannons had no effect as the alarms within their suits became quiet once more, letting them know the Super was no longer close enough to be detected.
"Damn!" Meredith aimed her cannon at the ground and looked at the same spot. Had she not been wearing her goggles her partner might well have seen the tears forming behind her eyelids, threatening to overflow.
"I guess it's back to blasting through the ceiling," Robertson hefted the large weapon up in his hands so he could aim it up at the ceiling. He realized Meredith wasn't joining in with him and looked over to her. She had moved closer to the wall and rest a hand gently upon its surface. From her stance she knew she was feeling defeated - and doomed. He had no idea she was considering the possibility that a moment ago was the last time she would ever be that close to her husband.
"You aren't quitting on me, are you Meri?" he said, using the more familiar version of her name he had never used before. "We are not going to die here today. I won't allow it, and I don't believe you will, either." He lifted his cannon up and released a blast at the ceiling. Nothing happened at first, but then a few small chunks of rock fell and bounced near his feet. He stopped firing and looked down at the rocks, kicking one over toward Meredith where it deflected off her boot.
"We can do this if you add your strength to mine, Meri."
The all-but-defeated FBI agent looked at her partner and new vigor flowed through her. He was right. They had a chance if they stuck together on this.
"United we stand - divided we fall," she said as she lifted her cannon and aimed at the point where Robertson had already managed to blast a few chunks away.
"Let's make it 'united', all right?" he fired his cannon along with hers, both beams converging at the same point. Something began changing in the visual effect of the particle matter where the twin beams merged and struck the rocky ceiling.
"Is that changing color?" Robertson asked, knowing it was.
"Sure looks like it to me," Meredith answered.
"I hope that's a good thing," Robertson said, lifting his cannon higher and pushing the butt of it more firmly against the front of his shoulder where it met with his pectoral.
Suddenly a large section of the ceiling crumbled and caved in. The two agents leapt back out of the way of the falling rock, staring in awe as a mound of debris grew in front of them until the cascading rock ceased. They looked at one another and laughed, then pointed their weapons at the new ceiling further away where the old rock no longer existed and started in with a new blast of particle matter.
"Guess this is one time it's all right to cross the beams, huh?" Robertson said, hoping his partner got the movie reference.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Redefining Superman Part Seventeen

Redefining Superman

Chapter 17

    Walking was too slow, even for someone who could speed-walk from the east coast of America to the west coast faster than the time it took for a five-pound weight dropped from a height of one-hundred feet to reach the ground. Flying several feet above the ground seemed to be the optimal mode of travel, except then he wouldn’t locate traps as easily if they were rigged for someone to trip who was walking, considering the possibility that there were more traps. So far the ones that had already been triggered made Eclipse think that was the case here. So he walked, not nearly as fast as he knew he could, but nothing near as slow as the snail’s pace normal human walking speed seemed to him, either.
So far he had spotted two imperfections in the ground and one in a wall that suggested they could be triggers for traps. Naturally he hadn’t tripped them, since not only would it serve to alert those he was searching for that he had escaped, but he had no idea what the results of the traps might be. For all the facts he didn’t have about those who had set these traps, at least one of them could be rigged to harm people above ground, just for the thrill of it.
He had been able to backtrack his steps – even though part of the time he’d been moved along an unknown route while he’d been unconscious. Still, he had trailed the freshest movements in the dust and pea gravel covering the paths through this subterranean maze. He knew he was on the right track when he pulled up short with the tunnel sealed off by the same substance that had trapped him in the first place. From floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall was a solid barrier of identical substance. He ran a hand carefully along the surface and focused in to check the material on a sub-molecular level. Definitely the same substance.
Eclipse knew he wasn’t going to be able to get through this material – not without a long, tedious battle, perhaps with his laser-vision focused as he had earlier, or perhaps through more grueling minutes leading to hours carving out small sections of discs. He decided the best course was to find a way around this barrier through one of the side tunnels he had passed earlier.
Retracing his steps Eclipse turned right through a tunnel only to discover a slight emission of light in the distance. He nodded his head. Either it led to where he might find some answers – possibly Ozzie Bunso, in fact, or into another trap. He realized the possibility that more aliens such as the ones he had already taken care of could be waiting for him down this corridor. At least he now knew who he faced and how to deal with them.
Using more caution Eclipse moved through the tunnel, his vision constantly scanning every inch of the ceiling, floor and walls, searching for triggers to traps. He had made it almost to the source of the light when voices came to his hearing. Tuning his audio-receptors he was able to pick up what was being said.
“…not my fault if someone was trailing me,” the voice came in a high-pitched, nasally whine that he knew could only belong to Bunso. Eclipse smiled to think their “rabbit” had led him down the warren straight to those they’d been looking for. Or at least some of those who worked for the Kingpin.
“Please!” Bunso continued to beg, “You gotta let me outta here. Don’t let them take me when they come back. You know they won’t let me live. You’ve seen how those – monsters – laugh at how easy it is to break the bones of humans. You know what they can do to human flesh! What kind of men are you if you let alien monsters torture and kill other men?”
So that was it. Bunso was being held by lowly human henchmen so that when the alien overlords returned they could torture the sniveling petty criminal. Eclipse wasn’t about to let those aliens get their, ah, claws – literally - into Bunso, but he didn’t have to rescue him until after the aliens returned, either. That way he’d be able to set his own trap for these servants of those who had forced him to give up his hero identity.
Eclipse moved a short distance back up the passage so the initial, slight hum of the cloaking function built into his suit wasn’t picked up by any of those holding Bunso prisoner. That was one of the cleverer functions he had thought to include so he had something to demonstrate to officials like the FBI if they asked for a display of what he could do. The cloaking function didn’t make him invisible, but it did blur and fade his image enough that when he was in a dark place, such as this chamber and the passageways leading up to it, those without his sense of sight wouldn’t discern him He had intended it to simply be a ruse when displayed to others. He would activate the cloak and as it faded his image he would vibrate himself at such a frequency that he would effectively vanish from sight. It wasn’t something that had reasonable applications in real life most of the time, but for demonstration purposes it would be a real crowd pleaser.
There was a hollow section back from the passage over to one side. He decided that would be his best place for concealment. That way if those he was waiting for arrived by way of this same passage they wouldn’t run into him. He wanted this meeting to be on his terms only.
As he waited in silence, hearing only the whimpering and whining of Bunso, he considered his change in crime-fighting techniques and style. A few short months back he had been openly using his powers in full strength and almost nonchalantly. After all the years of using his powers and honing them to perfection so he knew exactly what he could do and how to handle nearly every situation any criminal, super or non, could throw at him. Now he was using covert methods, taking leaf after leaf from the playbook of his old friend and ally The Darknight. Who could have conceived of such a change in his lifestyle?
A sound came from the opposite side of the area where Bunso was being held. It was obviously the sounds of more than one – individual. He hesitated to use the term “person”, since for all he knew those arriving were more of the same aliens, or worse, their masters who commanded the armada of spaceships encircling the Earth, watching for any sign that he was once more actively using his powers. At least he now knew he could come out of hiding, though he elected to keep his cloak on. The edge it gave him should be just enough to allow him a surprise advantage when he attacked.
Peering slightly about the edge of a rocky outcropping Eclipse spotted exactly what he had expected to see – a squad of four of the servant aliens – Mar ‘doxx – their race was called, making each of them Mar ‘doxxals. The large, ugly brutes moved in a way suggestive of slugs oozing their trails along the ground. Not that these creatures oozed a slime-trail, but their feet, such as they were as the ends of their lower appendages flared out more than two-feet across at their widest, and came in contact with the ground. The edges of their – feet – pulled back and spread out slightly as the bodies moved forward, very similar to the average banana slug.
One of the Mar ‘doxxals lifted an arm and reached toward the imprisoned Bunso, who reared back as far as his chains allowed, trying desperately to back-walk up the side of the craggy wall behind him. The fear on Bunso’s face was all too obvious. He knew what these aliens were capable of and he knew they intended their worst for him.
The “hands” of these beings exuded a mild acid that ate away at porous surfaces, like human flesh. One touch would not only scar Bunso for the rest of his life, but eat through very slowly, dissolving his flesh micro-inch-by-micro-inch until all of his flesh was gone and his inner organs lay exposed. That wasn’t by far the worst of it, either. The acid produced a by-product enzyme as it dissolved flesh that covered the organs and held them in. That meant that in all likelihood, Bunso would out-live the destruction of his flesh as something looking very much like those toy models appropriately called “Invisible Man” used for teaching the human anatomy to children. He would still be in somewhat of a human shape while these creatures continued their torture of him.
Eclipse knew he couldn’t allow that to happen, no matter how much of a low-life Oswald Bunso was. He stepped out from behind the rocky outcropping, preparing to move at hyper-speed so he could intercept Bunso before the appendage could make contact with him and deliver its acidic touch. He was completely unprepared for the blow of energy to the center of his back that sent him sprawling forward, his cloaking function failing, making him visible to all around.
“Who the hell is that?” one of the human thugs cried out as the darkly-armored Super suddenly appeared from seemingly nowhere.
“That,” a booming, hollow voice that Eclipse had heard before called out with but a tinge of a sneer, “is exactly who I have been waiting for.”
Eclipse recovered from the blow and got to his feet. He spun about to face his adversary and stopped in his tracks, his face behind his mask frozen in unbelief. Before him stood the being he had fought years back, the half-organic, half-technological machine – CereB.O.R.G.
“Confused?” CereB.O.R.G. stood with his arms slightly out from his sides, sparks of energy crackling among his fingertips.
“You were destroyed,” Eclipse said without considering the ramifications of his words. Only the persona he had previously been would know of the destruction of this cerebral biological organic replicating genetics creature that had assumed the form of a man.
“You mean you destroyed me, don’t you, my old adversary?” CereB.O.R.G. grinned. He raised his hands with a move near the speed of light. Energy that appeared electrical in nature, but was far worse than anything Benjamin Franklin ever attracted down the string of a kite enveloped Eclipse. His body spasmed in agonizing pain even as he once more lost consciousness.
Then his eyes fluttered back open as he fought to regain his faculties, but the best he could do was to stave off the darkness that threatened to swallow him. Somewhere in the distance he thought he could hear the sound of a human screaming, though he had never heard sounds like those coming from a human before.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Redefining Superman Part Sixteen

Redefining Superman

Chapter 16

"Watch your step down here," Meredith called back over her shoulder at Robertson. They were down below the city streets, each carrying one of the Zeus Particle Cannons, though Robertson still had no idea what the weapon he cradled in his arms was capable of.
"Looks like something exploded up ahead," she called back once again, walking up on an area where a lot of debris was scattered about. They'd long ago passed the area of the first explosion that had flared up through the opening beneath the mailbox, making it difficult for them to ascend the staircase that was no longer there, but with the aid of the Sparta suits each of them had dropped gracefully past the debris and into the dark pit by way of the suits’ special anti-gravitational functions. They noticed this new area of debris was of a different origin than the previous one.
Robertson walked up to where his partner stood. They both surveyed the damage, using the night vision goggles that were part of the design for the Sparta Suits they wore. It had taken a bit for Robertson to get used to the idea of the suits. They felt strange - not uncomfortable, just strange - like perhaps they were somehow living entities. Robertson tugged at the sleeve that ended just at his wrist. Why did it constantly feel as though the material was crawling across him? Meredith glanced aside at her partner and smiled slightly.
"You stop fidgeting with it that suit will form to your body and be like a second skin," she said. "It adjusts to the size, shape and weight of the wearer, though it has to be fitted proportionately to start with."
"That's why you gave, ah, Doctor Mathis our basic measurements over the phone?"
"Right. If we'd gotten suits that were too off from our proportions we'd either be clawing at them just to breathe or they'd be too loose. We need them snug for them to be effective and work they way they're intended."
"And what exactly is the intent of these suits?" Robertson asked as they continued on, picking their way carefully through the rubble.
"To keep us alive." Meredith stepped up onto a large chunk of concrete and paused momentarily before leaping over to the other side. Robertson followed.
"How do they do that?" he asked, his tone displaying his skepticism.
"First, they are nearly impervious. Nearly. not quite. They'll deflect sharp objects like knives and even small caliber rounds of ammo, but you get hit with something big and all they'll do is slow the round so it pierces your body more slowly, maybe not go so deep.
"But generally speaking, the Sparta Suit is designed to monitor the body of the wearer - your heartbeat, breathing, respiration, just like in a hospital during surgery, only more stylish and mobile."
"What good does it do knowing how fast my heart's beating?"
"In case something gets added to, say the air - we breathe it in and it makes our heart rate increase. Maybe its intention is to cause our hearts to eventually explode from over-exertion. Nice to know so we can have the suit override whatever it is - give us a shot of something to counteract any drug."
"This suit has needles in it?" Robertson stopped and held his arm up so he could examine it more closely.
"No," Meredith laughed, turning back toward him. "It contains a drug the developers at S.P.A.R.T.A. Labs named Coverall, so-named because no matter what drug is induced into someone's body, the Coverall will analyze it and act to counter its effects. It spreads throughout the wearer's body evenly by being secreted in tiny amounts from the lining of the suit. The skin absorbs it directly all over and it goes to the place where the drug it needs to counter is already starting to work. The fact that it gets introduced into the entire body at once allows the Coverall to be where it's needed faster."
Robertson lowered his arm, but looked at his entire suit, as much as he could see at least. "That's some weird stuff."
"Yeah, but if you need it, you'll be glad it's there."
"You ever need a dose of Coverall?" Robertson asked as they once more began moving forward.
"Once," she nodded. Robertson was behind her and saw the back of her head move up-and-down. "Some drug in liquid form was thrown in my face. I breathed it in, swallowed some, and my skin absorbed it through my pores. It was a triple whammy, but the Coverall went to work immediately and here I am as a living testimony."
"Mind if I ask what you were doing that you were wearing one of these suits?" he asked.
"Oh, sure - ask away," she fell silent after that comment and Robertson waited for more, but nothing was said. He chuckled.
"But you aren't going to tell me, right?"
"I said you could ask; I didn't say I'd tell you," she smiled, though he couldn't see it, since he was behind her.
"Confidential assignment?" he asked.
"Top-secret, hush-hush, I'd-have-to-kill-you-if-I-told-you assignment," she quipped. Actually it wasn't that the assignment was all that top-secret, but telling him about it would reveal her true identity, and that was something she needed to keep quiet about.
"Gotcha," he responded.
Meredith suddenly stopped. Robertson came up beside her and they both looked down at a spot about five feet across that was blackened with a pattern that spread outward from the center, trailing off into wispy entrail-like tentacles.
"Looks like we found the point-of-origin for the blast," he said.
"Looks like it," she answered. Meredith turned slowly in a three-hundred-sixty-degree turn, scouring the ground about her. Then she did it again, this time looking at the ceiling.
"Appears that something was blocking off this area of the tunnel," she stooped and ran a hand across the ground directly in front of her. "Can't see anything but ground, but it has a cleared space about eight-inches wide, like something was here and then removed after the blast."
"If something was between the blast and the rest of the chamber," Robertson peered in the distance the direction they'd come, "how did so much debris get spread out back there?" He pointed behind them with his weapon.
Meredith stood and studied the area about them. "Good question. One we need to find the answer to."
They started forward and a slight noise caught their attention. They looked and both before and behind them walls of dark material slid up from the ground, sealing them into a small section of the tunnel.
"Looks like we found that answer," Robertson said.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Redefining Superman Part Fifteen

Redefining Superman

Chapter 15

Solar Eclipse held a disc in his hands. He ran a hand across the slightly curved surface of it, feeling how smooth it was, making sure there were no imperfections that could spoil the plan he'd made. He had made this one perfectly smooth and round, just like all the others. He set the disc on top of the stack he'd amassed of the small, round objects he'd made while he prepared himself for breaking out of this cell and ruining the day for those in the outer room who had been his jailers. It hadn't been easy carving all these discs out of the material these walls were made of. Except for that one single hole he'd made while trying to break free from the stasis field that held him immobile the walls couldn't be pierced by his vision. Not straight on, at least. The only reason he'd been able to make that one hole was because he'd focused on it for such a long time. But punching a pinpoint hole into the material wasn't going to do him any good. It would've taken far too long to bust his way out. It was too resilient to his strength.
Through trial and error he had found that by angling his vision just the right way he was able to slice through a quarter-inch depth at a time. He hadn't thought that was going to do any good, either, until he realized that he could make small discs, no more than eight inches across for his purposes, carve them right out of the walls. It was then he'd smiled, knowing that the way out of this cell was also the way to get through his jailers, too.
Once he'd amassed a sufficient amount of discs he used his fingernails and beveled around the rim of each one until it was sharper than the sharpest surgeon's scalpel. Fortunately he was able to move at an increased speed faster than any other being on this or any other planet ever even thought of moving. Otherwise he'd still be working on the first few of these razor-sharp Frisbees.
By carving the discs from the wall a quarter-inch at a time he'd also carved away the wall disc-by-disc. Now all that remained of the wall before him was a layer of material less than a sixteenth of an inch, with a lot of round depressions all across its surface. He determined he could punch through that readily enough. Or at least kick through it. When he was done with all this he wanted to come back and take samples - analyze this material and use it to redesign his house so it was the most impenetrable fortress in the universe. Maybe even readjust the molecules slightly so he could make it pliable and reconstruct his action outfit from that material.
He held his arm up and inspected the material. It was suitable for his purposes for now, but had he not implemented within the design of the suit the energy used to generate the force field created by the CereB.O.R.G. He'd fought a few years back his suit would burn to a crisp as soon as he moved at hyper-speed. No, it was barely more than ordinary material and would never have withstood that first explosion he'd been hit by earlier, let alone the second one. Fortunately he'd designed the technology within his suit so that the energy signature recognized when ignition of any material about was readying to explode. The force field generated instantly from that moment of detection, surrounding him completely. He didn't need the extra protection, but without it he would've been the first completely nude Super strolling around on the streets in full view of the Normals.
He smiled. That would've been one heck of a sight for the vast majority of spectators. Some might even have enjoyed the sight. Sure, there were certain Supers, mostly women, but a couple of men as well, who wore extremely brief outfits, but none who followed the nudist philosophy or social customs. He'd never seen anything wrong with nudism. Maybe he should give it a try and set a new example for the others to follow. Oh yeah, wouldn't Meri love that idea?
He chuckled silently to himself as he picked up a handful of the discs, the remainder stacked neatly so he could make quick use of them. He inhaled deeply, lifted his right leg with his knee almost to his chest and then pushed it forward like a piston, his foot slamming against the weakened layer of wall. The material shattered the way he expected it to, sending jagged shards flying outward, much of which caught those on the other side of it unaware, the edges slicing through flesh and bone alike. There was a lot of shouting and screaming even before he began hurling his discs like the Frisbees they resembled. One after another of the discs sliced through the air before striking the targets he'd thrown them at. Then they sliced through flesh and bone as well. Even more screaming ensued as he continued hurling his discs, severing arms and legs and watching as pale blue fluid spurted and oozed from the wounds he'd inflicted.
Oh yeah - had he not seen through the pinpoint hole he'd made that there were extra-terrestrial aliens on the other side he never would have devised this plan. Even with his newly formed ideals on how to treat criminals he'd never have been this brutal with human beings. They were too fragile. These aliens now, they were an entirely different matter. Although they weren't of a size much different than his own, their hides were a lot thicker, and more resilient to even the hyper-strength punches he was able to throw. That was why he'd decided against trying to fight his way through them once he'd seen what he was up against. Hmmm, he rubbed the chin of his helmet as he considered that last observation. Perhaps the wall material had been modeled after the hide of these aliens. That would explain a lot about its structure.
Wouldn't that be something, he almost chortled his thoughts out loud, fashioning his suit out of their hides? Naw, wrong color. He didn't want anything that was as sickly mottled greenish-grey as these things were.
He'd recognized them as being of the servant-class to the ones that had attacked Earth and forced him to relinquish his decades-old persona. He'd come to appreciate that persona. It was more him than anyone else he could ever be and those ETs had made him give it up in favor of saving his adopted planet.
These others he had found to be equally as perverse and detestable as the ones they served. In his mind that was why they served the ones they called their masters, not because they'd been bested in war and placed in servitude, but because they enjoyed the fact that their masters allowed if not encouraged them to be ruthless and brutal when dealing with races on the planets they conquered. He'd seen these creatures fight before, on another planet he'd visited not that long ago. He knew too well what these were capable of and that they liked what they did, how they inflicted pain on others, even up to killing their victims excruciatingly slowly.
It was for that reason alone that he'd devised the use of these discs in order to slice them up and let them bleed out slowly instead of dying outright. They didn't deserve a quick death. It was too good for them.
Moments later the screaming stopped as the last of the aliens bled out, their lungs, or whatever they had that passed for lungs, finally gave out as their primary circulatory organ pumped its last. They slumped against the floor and walls and some small pieces of alien furniture and ceased moving.
He stood but a moment and took in the carnage he alone was responsible for. Killing others no matter what species they were wasn't enjoyable for him, but these had needed to be killed. They never would have allowed him to pass by them and escape alive, that was a given. The only out of this prison was through their dead bodies.
Eclipse moved about the room on his way to the other side where he determined the exit to be. At least the corridor which led ultimately to the exit. He'd have to figure out exactly where he was and locate the proper direction to travel. Sure, he could fly straight up, punching through solid rock and whatever else was between him and the surface of the planet, but that could undermine the foundation of the city of whatever buildings or roads were above him and cause them to cave in. Locating the proper route out of here was the better way to travel, even if it was also the longer way.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Redefining Superman Part Fourteen

Redefining Superman

Chapter 14

"Meredith!" Evan Robertson called out to his partner. She stalked away from him, back toward where they had left their FBI-issued vehicle. "Where are you going? We still have work to do here."
Meredith ignored her partner. She knew he was referring to the Bureau policy that stated she had to continue on in search of a way into that underground labyrinth in order to locate and recapture one Oswald "Ozzie" Bunso, the bank robber they had apprehended previously and subsequently had released in order for him to lead them to the person they learned was the new Crime Kingpin of their city.
To hell with policies. It had been several hours since her husband in the guise of his new Super persona, Solar Eclipse, had gone into that tunnel after their "Rabbit", Ozzie Bunso. Neither had returned. Sure, Bunso could well have met with something unexpected and been injured in such a way that he wasn't able to return back to the surface world, or even worse, been killed, but her husband? Not a chance. If there was something preventing him from leaving down there against his will, that had to be one hell of a something.
"Where are you going?" Robertson demanded as Meredith opened the driver-side door of the FBI car and slid in behind the wheel, readjusting the seat and wheel to accommodate her frame, since he had been driving last. Robertson grabbed hold of her door and prevented her from closing it.
"We can't just leave a scene like that back there!" he still shouted as she glared up at him.
"Get in or get the hell out of my way, Evan. Either way I'm leaving and I'm not waiting for you to make up your mind."
He saw the determination on her face and although he didn't at all understand why she was this determined, what had happened to make her this focused on whatever it was she had decided she needed to do, he released her door and hurried around to the other side, leaping into the passenger seat just as she fired up the ignition and slammed her foot on the accelerator. Her vehicle sped away from the curb, barely missing a car that was coming up the street on her left. The other car blared its horn. She continued accelerating.
While they drove, Meredith withdrew her personal cell phone, not her Bureau-issued one, from her jacket pocket. She flipped it open and pressed a single button for the speed dial number she had programmed in. The phone on the receiving end rang several times before it was answered, the voice on the other end traveling from the phone to the ear bud she was wearing.
"Doctor Mathis?" she spoke rapidly into the phone.
There was a momentary silence and then a male voice began to speak. "Lo..."
"No time to explain," she cut him off, afraid he had recognized her voice and was about to speak her name - the name she no longer was able to use. "This is FBI Special Agent Meredith Montgomery. I was told about you by a close friend," she began to spin the invented story that would cover her and explain how she knew this renowned scientist who was not only part of, but one of those in charge of a covert government agency that was experimenting with various aspects of paranormal mixtures with science and the occult. The organization was known as Scientific Paranormal Amalgamated Research Technology Acceleration or simply S.P.A.R.T.A. Labs.
"But isn't this..?" he tried once more to understand what was going on with this person whose voice he thought he recognized, but who was telling him she was someone altogether different. And what was this about being an FBI agent?
"Doctor Mathis!" she spoke tersely into her cell. "I need to borrow a couple of your Zeus Particle Cannons. Can you get them ready for me? I'll be there in approximately ten minutes."
"My Zeus..?"
"Doctor, please! I don't have time to debate this. Get the Zeus Cannons ready. And two of your Sparta Suits, too - one male, about six-feet in height, one-sixty..." she paused, looking her partner over. He used his thumb to indicate upward. "Make that one-seventy-five pounds and one female, five-seven and one-thirty-seven pounds." She closed her cell and slid it back into her pocket. She knew Mathis was confused, but she also knew he was someone who could be trusted in an emergency. She and her husband had worked with him many times in the recent past when they'd had occasion to be in this city, as well as the S.P.A.R.T.A. Labs in the city they once called home and Mathis had always come through for them, no matter how urgent the situation and how impossible it had seemed at the time.
"One-hundred thirty-seven pounds?" Robertson asked, an eye-brow lifted in curiosity. "You don't look an ounce over one-twenty, tops."
"It's all muscle," she said, almost smiling. His eyes roamed over her seated form and he nodded. He could believe she was solid muscle.
Nine-point-seven minutes later the FBI car pulled up in the business district, outside the building in the downtown portion of the city that was unknown to those walking by it on a daily basis as being anything other than simply one more structure where one of many thousands of companies conducted business matters. In fact it was the covert headquarters for S.P.A.R.T.A. Labs.
Meredith ran through the main doorway, flashing her FBI credentials and walking briskly toward the elevator, ignoring the security guard who started to move toward her, but paused as he noticed her government shield. Robertson jogged to catch up with her, fumbling to get his credential case out of his breast pocket so he wouldn't miss getting into the same elevator car as his partner. He wasn't sure she would wait for him and still had no idea where she was going. He had never heard of the covert research facility and had no idea what it was all about. He watched as Meredith slipped a card out of her pocket and slid it through a card reader before replacing it in her pocket. The car began ascending and he noticed how it never once dinged as it reached each floor, nor did it stop at any floor, though he knew they must have passed more than a dozen and certainly someone else in this building must want to ride up to a higher floor. Express to the top, he thought silently to himself. Someone's got clout.
When the car stopped Robertson glanced at the panel that displayed all the floors. None of the buttons was lit up. He looked up at the digital display and noticed no floor number was prominent there, either. "What the..?" he began to ask as the doors slid aside and his partner exited abruptly. He had no choice but to follow.
Meredith turned right and walked briskly without stopping at the main desk where a perplexed woman of slightly less than middle age sat at a console with her ear-bud in place as she answered phones and re-directed each call. She looked up as the two agents passed, but said nothing. No one could get anywhere in this facility without a key card to access any of the sections. If they were not authorized they would be back momentarily.
Meredith reached a door and once more slid her card through the reader. The door opened inward and she pushed through, not waiting for it to finish its movement. She likewise slid her car on yet another door, but then called out as she moved beyond the door, "Doctor Mathis! I need you to get your Super-locator as well. The Maximum Particle Detector, please."
A thin man who appeared to be at least sixty years old stepped from behind a bank of large cases which Robertson realized held various mechanical devices. Many looked as though they could be weapons, but then again, they looked as though perhaps they could have other functions as well. He was experienced enough to be discerning.
"The Maximum Particle Detector, Lo..?"
"Meredith Montgomery, Doctor Mathis," she snapped her name once more, displaying her FBI credentials, holding the picture ID right up to his face where he couldn't miss it. She snatched the device he'd been holding in his hands and looked it over briefly, then tossed it behind her, trusting her partner to be there to catch it. She then snatched up another identical weapon and held it in her left hand then reached under the counter behind her, proving she had indeed been in this facility before and was familiar with its contents. She extracted two identical cases large enough to hold the weapons. She pushed one across the counter to Robertson and placed her own weapon within the case she had, snapping the lid closed. Robertson followed suit and picked his case up in his left hand.
Meredith noticed the two Sparta Suits she'd requested laying folded on the counter. She picked one up, saw it was the size for a male and tossed it to her partner. She picked hers up, checked to be certain it was the correct size and began undressing, dropping first her jacket onto the counter and then unbuttoning her blouse. She noticed Robertson's eyes grow large as he watched her undress. She wanted to laugh at his expression, but knew the situation was too tense for levity at the moment.
"This isn't a strip club, Evan. Change clothes," she snapped even as she continued stripping off all her clothes down to her bra and panties. She then slid her legs through the waist of the suit and snuggled her feet into the boot sections, making sure they fit snugly. She slid her arms into the sleeves and sealed the front of the suit. It fit her as though it was made specifically for her. She looked at Robertson and saw that he was almost completely into his suit as well.
Dr. Mathis returned with a slightly smaller device, this one seeming less like a weapon and more like the pommel of a medieval sword. Meredith held it in her right hand and depressed a button on the outer portion of the pommel with her thumb. From the center of the device several antennae-like projections extended upward and a soft beeping sounded audibly. She nodded as though satisfied and did an abrupt about-face, starting for the exit.
"But Lo..." Mathis reached out to grab hold of her, but was too slow to catch even the cuff of her form-fitting Sparta Suit.
"I promise to return these as soon as we're finished with them, Doctor. We'll leave our clothes as collateral. The FBI thanks you for your prompt cooperation."
She and Robertson exited the research lab, leaving the head of S.P.A.R.T.A. Labs in this region looking on as bewildered as he had ever been.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Redefining Superman Part Thirteen

Redefining Superman

Chapter 13

    The first thing Marshall Montgomery, a.k.a., Solar Eclipse, noticed when he awoke was that there was no light. Wherever he was, it was as dark as the most sparsely populated section of space where stars were at a minimum. He should know - he had been to just such a place before.
He tried to move and found that an impossibility.
What the hell? he thought to himself. He tried to mouth the words, but his lips and jaw wouldn't move any better than his legs or arms. He examined his situation the best he could with his mind alone, sending his thought impulses into his nerve endings and realized there was no sensation of being bound by anything. No ropes, no chains, not even duct tape wrapped about his body to prevent him from moving. But he was in an upright position - completely vertical, straight up from feet on the ground to head above as he stood immobile in the darkness.
Out of all the new things that had happened to him since being banned from being his old self, the unequivocal Champion of Earth, this was perhaps the strangest and newest sensation. He had never been bound before in a method he couldn't figure a way out of. The hardest part was that he couldn't figure out how he was even bound. If he could figure that out he should be able to get himself freed. He considered that it might be magic, but try as he might he couldn't detect anything supernatural about any of this.
Since his head was pointed straight forward he decided to try his laser-vision and see if that at least obeyed his commands. He focused his concentration upon his eyes and pushed outward in a way he had never needed to before. This was more work than he could ever recall having to do at any time in the past, even when he was a youth on the family farm growing up in the Bible Belt of America. Nothing compared to the strenuous exertions he experienced at that moment, just trying to activate his laser-vision.
A spark appeared in the center of his vision and he became encouraged. If he had a spark - suddenly a thin, neon green line streaked forth along the path his vision would be taking in seeing at the moment if he were able to see anything. The line of green laser light struck the wall or something at the opposite side of him and he was able to see the light flare out slightly as it continued flowing out from his eyes as a steady stream of power. He felt the perspiration bead up on his skin as he continued powering all his energy into this single act of defiance. The laser beam continued beating against whatever surface it had contacted until it burnt its way through. He could tell the difference in the way the slightly diffused particles of the beam where it contacted the opposing surface cleared, which meant the beam had gone through and was now flowing freely once again.
He shut off his vision power. Had he been able he would be bent over gasping for breath from the extreme exertion of this act. As it was, he could only stand straight, his mouth closed and his lungs beating normally, although slowed greatly by whatever was keeping him in this state of stasis.
That was it! He knew in a moment that no matter who had done this to him he had been placed within a stasis field. It kept him immobile, prevented him from even flexing his muscles. He had experienced this before, but in a voluntary manner. Part of an experiment from the Sentinels, that group of alien beings self-avowed to protect the universe from great menaces, such as CereB.O.R.G., who he himself had helped in fighting when the part-mechanical, part-living organism creature had attacked Earth many years ago. The Sentinels wanted to experiment on stasis energy in order to see the effects such energy might have on different beings when inside a ship traveling at FTL or faster than light speed. He had been a volunteer on that project, as had various other Supers he was well acquainted with, and it had felt identical to this when he had been placed within the stasis chamber. Only then he hadn't been fighting to get free.
There was a trick to the stasis energy that kept a person immobile. It operated on a function of the brain, in the expanse of the cortex, if he recalled correctly and he always did. That had been part of the experiment, to see if those within stasis could effectively free themselves, therefore pulling themselves out of the protective harness which kept them safe during the FTL transportation. Out of all the Supers on the trip through space he had been the first to almost free himself. No one had gotten completely free, but he had come closest. At least that was what the results of the cerebral scanning made by the Sentinels throughout the journey determined. They showed the brain activity of all the participants and none had been as active as he. None had come so close to breaking loose.
He concentrated his mind on the cortex of his brain, knowing he had to take this maneuver layer-by-layer, the cortex being composed of six individual layers, each one having its own unique composition in terms of neurons and connectivity. The key was to transition the composition of the layers so they all aligned together into one neuronal composition. That enabled the person whose brain it was to achieve a higher degree of functionality, to be able to use more than a mere ten per cent of his brain. To effectively activate and utilize the full one hundred percent of his brain.
He hadn't even known exactly what it was he had been doing at the time. All he'd known was that he had sensed something inside his brain - which was the stasis energy - and he had focused on it in order to circumvent its interaction in his brain.
He felt the first layer of his cerebral cortex and examined its composition. Then he examined the second layer and the third and fourth until his mind had catalogued the differences between the six layers. With that information stored he was able to work on the process for realigning the six layers, make them convert over to being a unified composition, change the neuronal signature of each so they all began functioning as one solidified unit. Solidarity. Yeah, that was the key.
It seemed like eternity as he reconstructed each of the outer layers of his brain, but in reality it was no more than a half-hour at best. Suddenly he felt something snap, and his body loosened up. His mind went through a transitioning stage and he felt as though he had just woken abruptly from a deep sleep. He heard himself making a "Nnnngghhh," sound that pulled from the inner depths of his consciousness.
And then he was free. His arms snapped outward from his body at the same time his legs stepped forward from the position he had been trapped in. All at once neural information began soaring into his brain as he scrutinized everything within the darkened chamber where he was held prisoner. His eyes, able to see in the thickest darkness, took in everything about him now that they were free to function properly once more. His ocular centers fed the information into his brain where it was examined and stored.
Eclipse swooned slightly. He wasn't used to having this much brain activity all at once. The human brain was designed to function on a level below the cognitive process of the possessor. That way people were not aware of the many details the brain operated within as it caused the body to function in the smallest of matters, like breathing or blinking. Now, with his brain functioning at a greater level than ever before, he experienced everything he did, every action, as though it was all displayed upon a movie screen before him, but one in which he took an active participatory role.
He stopped moving, allowed himself to calm down so he wasn't overwhelmed by the influx of experiences assaulting his brain or more correctly, the understanding he had of his brain's workings.
That was better. Less input meant less that was overwhelming him. He still felt his blood flowing throughout his body and his nerves examining everything that touched the surface of his skin, which meant all over him, since he was wearing a complete body suit that touched almost every micrometer of his skin. He moved his head the tiniest bit upward and he experienced multiple sensations from the movement.
He focused his brain power once more and within another half-hour the natural realignment of his cortex layers slowly returned. He inhaled deeply and slowly exhaled as he felt the sensations disappearing, his experience level returning to what it should be. Certainly, given enough time, he could have mastered the sensations that had overwhelmed him, enabled himself to become used to the extra awareness of everything about him, but he knew it was best that he return himself back to the stage in which he knew was proper. Even for a super-Super like himself.
Clearly the human creation was not intended to utilize its entire brain consciously.
With that problem resolved he scanned the darkened room. There was nothing in it save himself. It was no more than an eight-by-eight-by-eight foot chamber, that being eight feet wide, eight feet deep and eight feet high. Enough room to encapsulate someone like him and not much more. He was surprised his captors had allowed so much space for a single individual who was held in one small portion of the room.
He went over to the wall where he had pierced the surface with his laser-vision. He felt the tiny hole with his fingers, albeit through the thickness of his gauntlets. Even through the thick material and metal he was able to discern the tiniest of imperfections on the surface of anything he touched. He bent and peered through the hole and was surprised by the sight he observed on the other side.
Straightening he smiled to himself. Before he broke free from this prison cell he would have to devise a plan for those awaiting him outside it. Let them know exactly how not-a-prisoner he was.