B003 Forbidden Garden (Part 1)

“…When the blazing sun is gone,

when he nothing shines upon…”

…Through the duct, into the next room. He could hear the corpses…

They banged on the door, but they could not get through. Yet. He needed something to dis…

The little girl again, crying. Something for him to protect, they were s…

“…As your bright and tiny spark…”

Vermillion blades, crawling…

…e was almost upon him, the blades cutting through…

No. Not this one. Look this way…

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B002 Rising Stars (Part 7)

Vermillion blades, crawling…

A door. He had to… a girl, crying in the corner…

…kle, little star, how I wonder what you are…”, she sang as…

Always, always the vermillion blades, crawling… crawling towards him, never stopping…

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B002 Rising Stars (Part 6.4)

This time, Gloom Glimmer held up a nearly invisible force-field up around them as she flew herself and Polymnia towards the Harbor.

Over their communicators they heard status updates: Nearly twenty Spiteborn had attacked and nearly destroyed the headquarters of the NLPD before the Amazon and several other superheroes intervened. Though the Amazon was the only A-Lister present, they were able to destroy all of the enemies.

Every hero still present in the city was up and fighting, including the Junior Heroes who had been roused from their sleep – the dire lack of metahuman personnel meant that the usual restriction on them fighting the Spiteborn had been lifted.

There were also several reports of supervillains fighting against the Spiteborn, either to defend themselves from an attack, or to help others. Even one of the Dark Five, Lamarr the Purple, had been sighted fighting off more than fifty Spiteborn who had attempted to attack the Petal Memorial Hospital. Still, the situation was getting desperate, as more and more Spiteborn were turning up. They had to find the root and destroy it.

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B002 Rising Stars (Part 6.3)

And then the beast was upon them. It moved faster than anything of its size and ungainly shape ought to be able to, using its many arms to move in an unnerving way that combined leaps and extremely fast crawling, always keeping at least a few legs on the ground for traction.

If it wasn’t for the bubble of blueish energy Gloom Glimmer summoned, it probably would have crushed Polymnia before she had a chance to react. This way, it simply bounced off the bubble – only to immediately continue its attack by pelting the bubble with blows that could punch through concrete.

Turning to Gloom Glimmer, she saw the girl still reeling from the attack – though she seemed to be in better shape than herself. “Fly higher! It doesn’t seem able to fly!

“No, if we do that it will either attack with those spheres again or turn its attention on the buildings around us – and the civilians within. Just give me a few seconds to recover from that blast – it seems to interfer with my ability to self-heal, or I would already be blasting it to pieces”, said Gloom Glimmer in a pained voice.

It was then that Polymnia noticed how most of her skintight costume was gone, torn apart so it left her basically naked on the entire left side of her body. The skin underneath looked nauseating, as if the blast had replaced it for cancerous growths. Even while Polymnia watched, it healed, albeit slowly. She realized that Gloom Glimmer must have taken the actual hit – she herself had only been hit by the attack’s shockwave.

Throw me out of the bubble! You need time to concentrate on healing yourself – I’ll distract it, try to move it towards the harbor!

Gloom Glimmer nodded and moved her arm in throwing motion. Polymnia felt herself be pulled out and through the force bubble. She flew until she was about twenty meters away from her comrade and the Spiteborn, landing softly on her mechanical feet. She immediately went to match her actions to her words, unleashing a sonic storm on the beast that attacked its sense of balance by way of the inner ear. At least she hoped so, because every Spiteborn was unique, despite some common characteristics, and not all of them even had organs that could be affected by her sonics.

Thankfully, this one proved to be at least partially susceptible, because it let loose a shrieking scream that was much too human for Polymnia’s taste. It turned around, focusing on her and, though wobbly, charged to slam right into her. Just the sight of it crawl-leaping towards her in ways that should not be possible made her want to hurl. She tried to get a grip on herself, but not fast enough to get out of its attack range – though it missed her, three of its many-jointed arms struck out to the side, punching her solidly all across the torso and hammering her into the next building… and through the wall into a deserted living room.

Her hearing picked up several terrified voices on the first floor, but she was too dizzied to make out how many exactly. Picking herself up for the second time, she was treated to the sight of the Spiteborn having opened its mouth to a ridiculous degree – it split open down to her shoulders, revealing three rows of teeth the size of Polymnia’s hands. The dark, sludge-like liquid that was the Spiteborn’s spit was gathering into a sphere at the center of its nightmarish mouth.

No, you don’t!, she thought, her hands flying to her keyboard. Her speakers aimed at the monstrosity and let loose a thunderous blast – no time for anything complicated.

It hit the sphere just as it was almost complete, pushing it into the Spiteborn’s gullet. Its jaws snapped shut and the sphere exploded inside the beast, inflating it to comical size before it popped like a balloon, black sludge exploding outwards and covering the buildings and the street for several meters around it.

Polymnia staggered out of the house she had been thrown into just as Gloom Glimmer flew down to her.

Well, that was kind of anticlimactic“, she complained to the rejuvenated girl. She was not surprised to see that Gloom Glimmer’s clothing was apparently mending itself, now that the danger was over.

“Didn’t you learn about the Spiteborn?”, Gloom Glimmer asked.

Just the basics, really. We Junior Heroes are not supposed to fight them“, she replied, slowly feeling the pain recede and her sense of balance going back to normal – probably an effect of Gloom Glimmer’s power.

“This was just a branchling. They are generally either stupidly tough with little to no offensive power or the opposite – extremely strong in offense but laughably fragile, at least for an abomination of such size and appearance.”

It did seem to take that red blast without a scratch, though.

“The blast was defensive. My power was going into overdrive to heal my body, so I only got a rather weak kinetic blast to fend it off.” With that, she raised her hand to her ear and said: “Control, Spiteborn is down. Heavy, but localized damage to one building and a lot of contamination through bodily fluids. I will attempt to clean up.”

Negative. We have a Class 3 alarm. Went in during your battle, there are sightings of Spiteborn all over the city, concentrating on the harbor“, replied Widard himself.

Polymnia gasped as a thought came to her. “If there are several at once all over the city… and this one seemed to specifically target the two of us…

Gloom Glimmer finished for her: “There’s a trunk somewhere in this city, maybe even a root.”

Precisely. The Spiteborn are attacking several places at once, reportedly focusing on metahumans, be they heroes, vigilantes or villains. Since such a coordinated attack at just such a time when most of the town’s heavy hitters are unable to help implies intelligent command. Which implies a root and at least one, probably more trunks. The only reasons we are not sounding the sirens is because we have to avoid a panic. The two of you, move to the harbor, most Spiteborn are reported to enter the city from there, which makes it the most likely place for the root to be. Recruit any combat-able metahuman you come across, regardless of allegiance, and destroy it!

B002 Rising Stars (Part 6.2)

They were quite surprised when a black sphere shot them out of the air.

* * *

Polymnia’s vision went black for a few seconds as they hurled through the air. Spinning wildly, she almost emptied her stomach when she suddenly jerked to a stop.

<Polymnia, what happened?!>, asked her handler.

“Something attacked us, Sarah!”, she answered, trying to get an idea of their situation.

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B002 Rising Stars (Part 6.1)

A few hours earlier…

“Are you absolutely sure about this?”, Widard asked from behind his desk, incredulous.

Yes. I’ve run every test I could think of at least twice“, Melody answered. She was still in her workshop-jumpsuit (though she had zipped it up), as she had been summoned from her work to discuss her report on the ravenbots.

“We need to be absolutely sure. I know you understand what it would mean if your analysis is accurate”, Amazon answered. The tall woman had joined the discussion as she was the highest-ranking member left in the city. Clad in a skintight scarlet jumpsuit, with a token domino mask, and with short-cut blond hair, she looked every bit the high-level Adonis-type.

“I can confirm her analysis – my power backs her up and it hasn’t been wrong yet”, Irene supplied. Unlike Melody, Irene had changed into her costume, complete with her cape.

Patrid, who was leaning against the edge of Widard’s desk, rubbed his forehead with his thumb and forefinger. “This is the last thing we need”, he sighed, uncharacteristically subdued.

I don’t see why this has to be such a bad thing. Whoever made these could very well be a potential hero – maybe they just started out and that is why we don’t know about them“, Melody replied.

Widard, Patrid and Amazon looked at each other. By silent agreement, Widard took the helm: “Melody, you of all people should know that a gadgeteer needs an extensive support network to even begin working. If whoever made these robots is already able to produce this kind of work, but hasn’t joined either the government – in which case, we would know about them – or us, then that must mean that he or she is getting support from somewhere else. Most likely, then, a supervillain.”

Or maybe he or she is just filthy rich“, threw Melody in.

“True, that is possible. But unlikely, seeing as how the Hawaii Act allows the government to track any and all transactions above 10.000$. We would know if the materials for that mass of robots, along with the facilities and equipment needed to construct them, had been purchased legally. So we have to conclude, until disproven, that whoever did this is either a villain who is not as messed up as the Rabid Eight – a feat that does not mean much, all things considered – or a vigilante. Both of which are a problem”, Patrid said. “I would also like to add the fact that whoever made these had no trouble launching a near lethal attack on El Conquistadore. True, he is a monster, but it still says something about the master of those ravens that they went for the kill.”

Melody chewed over that, then said: “What if their creator is not the same person as their controller? Maybe the Gadgeteer behind them is being forced or tricked into making them for someone else?

Amazon raised an eyebrow. “This sounds almost like you want them to be a good guy. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but why this vehemence?”

“That’s easy, Amazon”, said Irene. All four turned to her. “Melody simply hopes that she and the raven’s creator could work together – her work is extremely advanced and might mesh well with Melody’s.”


We are currently operating under the assumption that the creator of these ravens is female“, explained Melody.

“Any reason for such an estimate?”, asked Patrid interested.

“Melody’s intuition tells her it’s a girl. And my power gives that possibility a 67% chance”, supplied Irene.

“Well, either way, I want the team to take measures assuming the worst case scenario. That means taking note of any raven you see, being prepared for sudden attacks and wearing protection against sonic attacks”, ordered Amazon. “We are currently at the brink of a war with the more militant parts of the Sovjet Union, the Califate is moving, more and more Spiteborn are appearing and criminal activity has picked up since the fall of the Sovjet Union’s leadership, as there are now quite a few army bases where the officers and soldiers are not getting their paychecks, so they are selling equipment to the black market – in some cases, even Gadgeteer-made equipment – so we have more and more normal criminals with the firepower necessary to threaten metahumans up in the B-Class. The last thing we can afford right now is to lose any of you, even temporarily.”

“And on that front, I want you, Gloom Glimmer, to go out for a patrol – your file says that you only need a few hours of sleep a week, so we’d like to capitalize on that”, said Widard.

“Sure thing, Boss”, answered Irene.

Can I tag along? I’m not that tired yet“, asked Melody, only to try and stifle a yawn.

Widard was about to deny her, when Irene cut in: “I could energize her. It’s not even harmful, unless I do it more often than once a week.” Melody gave her a thankful smile.

“Well, alright. Go out and take care you two”, he conceded.

* * *

Let us never speak of that again“, said Polymnia, still flushed from being energized by Gloom Glimmer. After having been charged up in the most embarassing manner possible, she had put on her spare suit of armor. Thankfully, the UJH headquarters had the facilities necessary to process and reproduce her work, meaning that she could always have a spare suit ready.

“Well, did you think I was just going to touch you somewhere and have you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed again?”, asked Gloom Glimmer, who was levitating both of them. They were flying North – the UH headquarters were located pretty much at the center of the city, to allow for quick deployment. Since they wanted to circle the city, they would fly to the northern part of the city, then work their way counterclockwise to the harbor.The idea was that they would first fly over the populated areas, where they wanted to be seen by the civilians before bedtime, then end in the harbor, where being seen was not as important.

Honestly – YES! I would not have thought that that kind of procedure would be necessary!”

A mischievous grin spread on Gloom Glimmer’s face: “It wasn’t. I could have just tapped you on the cheek or something.”

Polymnia opened her mouth in a mute scream.

Why would you do that to me?!”

“I just wanted to see if you would go through with it – not to speak of the expression on your face when I told you that it was unnecessary”, answered Gloom Glimmer with a satisfied grin.

Polymnia spent the next minute cussing at her, though the profanity filter in her vocoder muted her words.

* * *

Say, what is that tune you’re humming all the time?“, asked Polymnia after while. They had reached the western district of the city. Below them they could see soft hills and large mansions. This was the part of the city with the oldest buildings, barring the harbor, as it had been the one least destroyed by Desolation-in-Lights attack on the city.

“Oh, that one? I barely even notice it, it’s just something I can’t get out of my head”, Gloom Glimmer replied. Polymnia got the impression that she would not want to discuss this any further, so she dropped it.

“I wanted to ask something as well”, said Gloom Glimmer. “But it’s a very personal question, so don’t feel obligated to answer it, or anything.”

Ask away. Though I won’t promise to answer.

“I’ve read your file. I know where you come from, your familial background and everything. But I’d like to know how you manifested, if you don’t have a problem with it.”

“It’s only me being curious.”

I’ll tell if you tell. And you go first.”

“Deal. But you’ll be disappointed, because I can’t remember.”

Are you kidding me? There is NO WAY anyone could forget their manifestation, unless you’ve been mindf***ed beyond belief!

“I didn’t forget it, it’s just that I had it when I was still in my mothers womb – just like my sister. I can’t remember it because I couldn’t even think back then.”

Your powers manifested in… I though that had only been a fluke when it happened to your sister!

“Well, my parents have only had two children with each other, so there wasn’t exactly much data on that particular circumstance. But yeah, I got my powers when my mother was just seven months pregnant. And I got my first shot of power suppressants barely a minute later, to prevent a repeat performance like with my sister.”

Wow. Talk about a difficult pregnancy. I guess it’s my turn now? Give me a minute.”

They flew quietly over the western district, waving at a few civilians they passed. In one case, Gloom Glimmer fired a golden blast towards a playground that exploded into a shower of butterflies, delighting the children.

I manifested a bit over a year ago. It was… kind of stupid, really. My family is really, really musical – every one knows how to sing, every one knows how to play at least one instrument. But I was never able to carry a single tune. The only thing I was good at was helping my uncle who built musical instruments. But that wasn’t enough to take part in all the family performances we did. And my mother, who’s an internationally known violinist, was always disappointed that of her five children, her only daughter could not sing or play an instrument. So I was left behind time and time again. Then, about a year ago, my family was doing one of their big performances in New York and I was back home because I just couldn’t stand going along and being the fifth wheel. I was sitting in my workshop, trying to play a violin of my mother I had fixed up for her. But, of course, I failed. And I failed. I spent hours trying to play, but I just couldn’t do it. And… well, that’s it. I was sitting there, trying to play the Violin I had just repaired and I was crying, and angry both with myself and my family and… I can’t put it in words, it was like a current was being run through my body and my mind was opening – I couldn’t see my surroundings anymore because I had all these ideas, raw and unformed, pure inspiration. And, at the same time, I started to hear, really hear every sound around me.”

She paused for a moment, lost in her own memories.

When I came to, I was still in my workshop, only two days had passed. I was drenched in sweat, but when I stood up and picked up the Violin, I just knew how to play it perfectly. And I played and for the first time in my life, I was good. And then I noticed that my body had changed – I had grown almost half a foot, plus all the other improvements. Quite a shock, I tell you, though not as much as being unable to produce a sound with my own mouth.”

“When my family came back the next day, I greeted them playing a Violin I had made myself. You cannot imagine their surprise.”

B002 Rising Stars (Part 5)

“Huh? You’re here earlier than I expected”, Vasiliki said in a joking tone. “What happened did your girlfriend throw you out?”

“No, she fell asleep. Had a hard week”, he replied with a smile

Something about that smile made her shudder, but she pushed the feeling away. Continue reading