|Runaways Remix: Teenage Wasteland
Author: Cmdr. Gen. Marasco PM
The continuation of Runaways Remix. The Pride's children have escaped their parents, and are currently hiding and planning. But when a late-night snack run nets them a new member, the Pride may not be the only thing they have to worry about...Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Chapters: 5 - Words: 42,007 - Reviews: 21 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 04-29-12 - Published: 09-30-10 - id: 6362747
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Runaways Remix: Teenage Wasteland
Primary Event Report
Author: UNCS (Former) AI HNA2-37A ("Hannah")
Subject: Jacob "Jake" Hunter and Acquaintances
Most children think, at some point or another, that their parents are evil. This is unavoidable. When conflict arises between parent and child, the usual response is anger. However, the trigger for this is often something small and unimportant, to be forgotten soon after.
Unfortunately for poor Jake and his friends, the accusation of evil now applied to their parents could not be more appropriate.
Jake is one of seven only children in a group that, until several days ago, were believed to be nothing more than (and I quote) "boring, normal Los Angeles socialites". This image was shattered when, during a boredom-inspired spying run, the seven witnessed their parents kill a teen girl in some dark sacrificial ritual.
Sparked by fear and confusion and the pure teenage refusal to not do nothing when there was something to be done, Jake and his friends (see attached files for information on Alex Wilder, Nico Minoru, Gertrude Yorkes, Chase Stine, Karolina Dean, and Molly Hayes) uncovered evidence that their families were (respectively) inter-dimensional arms-dealers, crime bosses, dark wizards, time-traveling despots, mad scientists, alien warlords and (if you will pardon the slightly-cliche term) evil mutants, united as a secret society by the name of "The Pride".
Through their investigations, the teens gained resources and activated latent abilities (see additional files on objects codenamed: Staff of One and Fistigons and biological file for genetically engineered creature codename: Old Lace, as well as genetic code reading for Hayes and Dean) and intended to turn their parents in for their crimes.
The Prides reach, sadly, is quite wide (see Personal Files 04 to 2293302 for reference), and the seven were promptly framed for the very murder they witnessed.
Currently, Jake and his fellow runaways (including yours truly) are hiding inside the subterranean remains of a mansion (Codename: HOSTEL), with the intent to somehow atone for their parents crimes by helping people with their powers and tools.
This report will be updated...when something actually happens
Bronson Canyon, California
Jake Hunter was woken from his power-nap by the sound of what could be described as evil laughter. Startled, he reached for his M6D II Spartan Modification pistol, which he'd kept loaded and at his side for the last couple days, before realizing that the laughter was coming from Molly. He replaced the pistol, then grumbled to himself. He wasn't angry with Molly, just frustrated that she'd interrupted his rest. In the last four or so days (he wasn't sure of the exact amount of time, having spend most of it underground) since the events that had led him and his friends to this sunken mansion, he'd been unable to catch any real shut eye. Between the weirdness that had occurred the night he ran away and the strange, sometimes disturbing dreams he'd been having, he was practically running on empty.
Sighing and realizing that he probably wasn't going to go back to sleep any time soon, Jake rose to a sitting position from his spot on a wrecked couch and looked over to his left at Molly.
The youngest runaway was adorned in a pink "Pixie Rawk" shirt, a pair of Jake's jeans and her sneakers, and was currently astride Gert's genetically modified velocoraptor thing known to the group as "Old Lace", riding it like a horse. (Jake had stopped thinking of his friends by their new names several days ago, and mentally referred to them by their original one).
There was a shirt wrapped around Lace's long muscular neck, and Molly was using this as an impromptu set of reigns to help hold herself on the dinosaur's back. Additionally, Jake noticed that Old Lace was currently wearing Molly's favorite hat (the red one, with the cute little pom-poms). Lace seemed slightly annoyed by this, but didn't do anything about it. The hat seemed to be the source of Molly's glee, which had now subsided to a ditsy-cheerleader-style giggle.
"Hey, look!" She called, putting her hand to her mouth to stifle her giggles. "I put a hat on Old Lace! This is so freaking hilarious! See? See?"
She flipped one of the pom-poms with her hand and burst into a fresh bout of laughing, hard enough this time that she almost fell of Lace's back. She managed to stop herself by grabbing the shirt. This only made her laugh harder.
"Molly, get off Gert's dinosaur!" Alex called from the stairs, using Molly's actual name as opposed to Bruiser, the one she had given herself. Jake glanced over to see that the team's unofficial leader was currently reading through their copy of the Abstract. Again. The boy had his glasses up and the ring he'd gotten from Karolina's mom in front of him. Obviously, he was in the middle of translating more of the book.
"Why?" Molly asked in the voice most children used when questioning people of authority. For added rebellion, she crossed her arms and pouted.
"You're gonna get hurt doing that!" Alex called back. "And seriously, stop saying "freaking" so much, please? It's really freaking me out."
"But you just said it!" The girl replied. "And if you give me one of those "do as I say, not as I do" lines, I'm going to punch drop that pillar on you." She added, seeing Alex prepare to continue. She pointed to a large cracked pillar laying next to the stairs Alex was sitting in.
"Just stop with the "freaking", alright?" Alex sighed.
"But Arsenic says I can use whatever words I want!" Molly argued. She slid off Old Lace, but left her hat on the dinosaur. "She says I can use whatever words I want! I don't have to listen to anyone anymore! See?"
She inhaled, and let loose with almost a full minute of cursing, stringing together every dirty word she'd ever heard into a single sentence. Alex recoiled slightly from her blue streak. Jake found himself smiling. Molly ran out of steam, stopping and breathing heavily.
"You forgot Sith." Jake added calmly. It was true; that was one of the few curses the younger girl had failed to spit out.
"Sith." Molly repeated, smiling as she finished. Alex blinked, then rubbed the bridge of his nose.
"Okay, seriously, her name is Gertrude, not "Arsenic". I don't care-"
"Ah, but I do." A second female came from behind Alex. Jake looked up to see Gert herself standing behind Alex, hands on her hips.
"Gertrude was my slave name." She continued, shaking her finger at Alex. "Feel free to call yourself by your master's titles, but the rest of us are starting over." She looked over at Molly, who smiled brilliantly. "Ain't that right, Bruiser?" She asked Molly.
"Damn Sithing straight, Arsenic!" The girl called back. Pumping her fist in the air.
"And here I was, thinking that codenames were supposed to be cooler than your real ones." Alex muttered sarcastically to himself.
"Hey, if you ask me, "Arsenic" is quite a bit cooler than "Gert", boss." Jake joined in. The boy in question simply grunted.
"Hey, Hardpoint! Guess what Arsenic told me earlier!" Molly said breathlessly. Jake raised his eyebrow in curiosity.
"I don't have to go back to fifth grade!" Molly continued, clapping her hands together and bouncing on the balls of her heels. "Endless summer vacation!"
So she's in fifth grade, Jake thought to himself. Strange, I could have sworn she was in fourth.
To Molly, he simply smiled.
"Lucky you." He replied, shifting back into a reclined position. Behind Molly, Gert and Alex started whispering. Jake could easily hear what they were talking about (thanks to his augmented senses), but after a full thirty seconds tuned it out; just stuff regarding school.
Molly, no longer the center of attention, looked over at Old Lace, who was sniffing at something on the floor. She took her hat off Lace's scaly head and put it on her own, followed by the shirt, which Molly casually tossed aside. She walked over and slumped onto the open section of the couch Jake was currently occupying. She sighed and looked at the ceiling.
"I'm sad." She said simply.
"Oh?" Replied Jake. This wasn't overly surprising. Molly had been having seemingly random mood swings for the last four days.
The girl nodded.
"I can has Spartans Hugs?" She asked, holding her hands out him.
Jake paused, then shrugged. He reached out, and Molly quickly wrapped herself around him with a sigh, burying her face in his neck. Jake returned the hug, patting her back.
On the stairs, Alex and Gert shared a look. Jake shrugged, as if to say what else am I supposed to do?
Molly released him, smiled brilliantly, and moved off to one of the near-by rooms, humming happily to herself. Silence filled the room following her departure.
"The hell was that?" Alex asked, raising his eyebrow. Gert shrugged.
"Don't ask me. Molly's been acting weird since we rescued her from her fascist parents."
Jake grunted in agreement. He wished he could ask Hannah what she thought of the mutant girl's behavior. Unfortunately, Hannah was currently out with Chase and Karolina, hiding the former's van somewhere.
Once again, as if by the power of his thoughts alone, the hallway leading to the Hostel's entrance lit up with a kaleidoscopic rainbow of light.
Seconds later, the room was filled with a sudden brilliance; Karolina, Chase and Hannah returning from their mission.
Karolina swooped in, holding Chase under his armpits. The boy himself was spreadeagled, arms outstretched.
"Lucy in the Sky and Talkback, reporting for duty!" Karolina called chirpily. The other teens in the room looked at them in shock.
"Okay, I'm officially in hell." Alex said, rubbing the bridge of his nose again and sighing. "My parents killed me and I'm in hell."
"Nah, we're still alive." Jake added.
"You sure?" Alex replied sarcastically. Jake pretended to look around.
"Well, I don't see the Prophet's of Regret and Mercy." He stated. "So either we're not dead, or they've actually managed to pull of the Great Journey."
"Or we've died and gone to heaven." Chase chimed in. "I mean, we're surrounded by hotties, aren't we?" He gestured up at Karolina, who was still holding him up. The girl pouted, then turned to Alex.
"So, how goes the decoding of the Pride's Giant Book of Evil?" She asked, sinking down to drop Chase. Alex grunted in response.
"Slow. But I'm getting it done." He flipped a couple pages in the book, and held the ring up to his eye again. "I'm not sure, but it looks like there's a lot of historical stuff in the first chapters, not much we can really use. Though whoever wrote this keeps coming back to these weird things called 'Gibborim'."
"Okay, I'm pretty sure I've heard that before," Gert said quietly, putting her hands on her hips. "But I'd need a computer to check. Which is going to be a problem considering our current predicament."
"So we're S.O.L. without D.S.L." Karolina noted, rising up again to hover at head-height.
"Not necessarily, ma'am." A third female voice joined in the debate. This one came from Chase. More specifically, the Fistigon weapon system gauntlets he wore. Chase rotated his hand so the "palm" of his right gauntlet was face-up. Fire shot out of the holes in it, twisting and forming into a human shape; Hannah..
About a day ago, the AI had run a compatibility test on the Fistigons for Chase. During it, she had found that they had an incredibly advanced computer system installed in them. After a little modification, she easily transferred herself from Jake's neural lace to the gauntlets, allowing her to be carried around by someone other than Jake.
"I believe I can be of some assistance." Hannah continued.
"Okay, first, please stop calling me that." Karolina addressed the flickering form. "I told you that before. Second, how can you help?"
"There's a large lightning rod in one of the collapsed rooms." The AI explained. "I believe it came from the third story of the building this place used to be. When it was found, I had Jake install a standard-issue COM relay to it. Through it, I have a pretty stable connection to the outside world."
"So you could look up these...Gibborim for us?" Gert asked. Hannah nodded.
"Sure, but it might take a while. I'm running through everything I took from the Hunter's computers on for any reference on them, and I'm not getting nothing."
"Then we'll keep that as a back-up idea." Alex decided. "From what I'm reading, we might get some information on them from the Abstract, if the writer keeps talking about them." He focused on Chase and Karolina. "So, are our wheels out of sight?"
"Yeah, in plain sight." Chase grinned. Jake saw Hannah roll her eyes, then dissipate into a wisp of smoke. As she did, he felt the skin-crawl inducing sensation of the AI returning to his mind.
Mercy's wrinkly left testicle, I hate working with him, she said to Jake, followed by a sigh.
Prophets have testicles? Jake asked, surprised.
Jake mentally shrugged, before returning his attention to Chase's explanation.
"I jacked the plates off this stoner dude's car that's always parked in the lot up the road," He said, obviously proud with himself. "It'll be months before he notices his plates are different...if he manages to stay clean that long."
"Wait, what?" Alex said in disbelief. Gert murmured something to him about "magic beans".
"Hey, I read about it in this true crime book." Chase said, shrugging. "Our parents are looking for my van, right? Means they want my plates. But if they see our ride now, and run the numbers...it'll come up clean. Works every time."
"Which would be great,"Jake asked. "If that when they ran the plates the number wouldn't come up as belonging to something that is obviously not an unmarked white van."
Chase's face fell from pride to shock.
"Oh shit, they can access that?" He muttered. "You're joking."
Jake shook his head. "Wish I was. But it's true."
"Which would have been a problem," Hannah chimed in, voice seemingly coming out of thin air, "If I hadn't hacked into the National Vehicle Database and changed the numbers myself."
The group exhaled simultaneously.
"Well, at least we have someone else on this team who is at least a little bright," Gert muttered to herself.
Jake nodded in agreement. As he did, he could have sworn the light in the room dimmed buy a noticeable amount.
"Hey, speaking of 'bright'", he spoke up, "Is it just me or did Lucy in the Sky's alien skin light-show just drop a couple notches?"
"Oh, my glow?" Karolina looked at her arms, narrowing her eyes as she noticed the change as well. "Yeah, it's not just you. Talkback here noticed I lose some of my light at night."
"I agree, if anyone cares," Hannah added. "Kar- ahem, Lucy's energy readings are dropping at a pretty steady rate."
"So...she's basically like a giant solar calculator." Alex thought out loud.
"Yeah, except bigger...and worse with numbers." Chase said with a snicker. Karolina mock-glared at him.
"Who you calling 'bigger', Mr. Hand?" She quipped, lightly smacking the back of Chase's head with her hand. Gert groaned.
"God I hate sexual tension." She said, in monotone voice that she used when she refereed to teenage biological things. It was the same voice she'd used on Molly, back at the meeting that had started this whole thing.
"You and me both." Alex agreed. "Speaking of that..." He looked around, as if searching for something.
Or someone. And Jake had a pretty good idea who.
From the room to the right of the group came the sound of someone apparently turning the place upside down, followed by a cry of frustration, which morphed into a yell of surprise, mixed with one of outrage, in a different voice. Seconds later, Molly came storming out of the room she'd gone into earlier, back hunched, fists clenched and face drawn in a mask of anger. Behind her, rubbing her eyes, came the person Jake had guessed Alex was looking for; Nico. The Asian girl was rubbing her eyes with her fists.
Molly stalked over to where Jake stood and took a place next to him. He noticed she was toying with her shirt and grumbling.
"It's on backwards." Jake whispered to her. Molly looked down, surprised, and noticed he was right. The "Pixie Rawk" title was on her back. She pulled her arms from the sleeves and twisted it around.
"Oh, there you are, Nico." Alex said calmly, noticing the final member of the group joining them. "Something going on?"
"Well, yeah." Nico replied, looking around the room. "I can't find my freaking staff."
"You mean the Giant Stick of Doom?" Jake probed.
"Yeah, whatever you wanna call it. I just can't find it anywhere." Nico seemed on the verge of panic. Jake wondered why she was getting so worked up over a simple thing like it.
"You probably misplaced it in one of the other rooms." Karolina suggested, patting Nico on the shoulder. "This place is a funhouse. It took me a whole hour to find my bracelet this morning." She indicated the item in question, now on her wrist. She'd put it on while the group was discussing Chase's van.
"Took me twice that to find my glasses." Gert chimed in. "And I still haven't found my other checkered sock."
"Sure." Nico said quietly. She leaned in close to Alex and started a conversation with him, quiet enough that only Jake could hear. Again, he tuned it out, (hearing only something about "a sliver in my soul" and "chest") and instead focused on Molly, who had moved from her place next to him to lean against Old Lace, who was watching the preceding with distaste (if dinosaurs could feel distaste). Deciding to get out of the way if the discussion between the two resident lovebirds of the runaways got any hotter, he joined her.
"Freaking stupid head." Molly spat. Jake made a confused noise, and Molly jerked her shoulder at Nico.
"Problems?" He asked. Molly glowered at the gothic girl and slouched down again, pouting.
"She woke me up. I finally manage to get some real sleep, not that weird zombie-snoozing that I get when I engain...enjang...how do you say that thing when I go all mutant and stuff and my eyes and hair glow?"
"Engage?" Jake supplied. Molly nodded.
"Yeah, engage my power, you know. I finally get some real sleep, and I'm having a nice dream, and Nico comes blundering in, looking for her magic wand, and wakes me up."
"So that's what she was freaking out about." Jake said quietly. Molly snorted.
"No, she freaked cause I didn't have my shirt on." She muttered. Jake twitched.
"Why the hell didn't you have your shirt on?"
"I got hot. It's like, a million billion billion degrees in this cave. And there's no AC."
"That, and her metabolism is much higher than that of a normal human." Hannah interjected. "It's partially how she can get so strong. She, effectively, run hot."
"A good enough answer for me as any." Jake decided. He glanced back over at Alex and Nico. They'd gotten a lot closer together, and were still closing the gap as he watched. It didn't take much to guess where this would lead.
Molly, apparently, wasn't to happy with this. She crossed her arms, put her face into a look of disgust, and spoke up.
"Hey, could you make out later, please?" She whined. "I'm really freaking starving."
As if to agree with her, Jake felt his own stomach growl.
"Food can wait, Mol." Alex said, turning to the youngest runaway. "We still need to plan our move against the Pride, and now Nico says she has something inside her."
"You mean beside you?" Molly growled quietly. Jake started to laugh, but quickly turned it into a cough when Alex glanced over at him.
"Well at least someone does." Chase groaned, patting his abdomen. "I'm running on empty here. It's been like, twelve hours since we last had anything to eat. And those were those weird-ass energy bar things from Jake's pack."
"He's probably right," Nico decided. "I'm just feeling weird cause I'm hungry."
"Well there's still the problem of how we're supposed to get food in the first place." Alex continued. "We can't exactly call for pizza, and if we use our credit cards or pull cash from an ATM it'll be like sending up a signal flare for our parents."
"Then we use cash." Chase suggested. "It's what I did whenever I wanted something I didn't want my dad to know about."
"But we've only got about twenty bucks between us. That's not enough for much of anything."
Chase made a dismissive noise and waved his hand. "Dude, your parents being so rich has made you soft. Twenty bucks is enough to get ten people a freaking feast at a Circle A. We've got seven."
"Actually, we have twenty seven dollars." Hannah added. "I've done a bunch of scans of this place since we got here. Seems some people like to chuck coins into a hole in the ground over our heads. I'm getting at least seven dollars worth of quarters and dollar coins alone, and who-knows how much more in random smaller coins."
"Even better." Chase said, crossing his arms. Alex sighed.
"Fine," He muttered. "But I'm coming with you this time. No more magic beans."
"Magic what?" Chase asked in confusion. Alex ignored him.
"Gert, I need you to stay here and keep an eye on Molly." He ordered. Gert nodded, but Molly took offense to it.
"Hey, I'm a mutant, remember? I'm stronger than all of you combined! Jake included!" She spat, leaning in towards Alex with her hands on her hips. As if to back up her statement, her eyes flared pink. Her hair, however, stayed normal. In the four days since she'd discovered her power, Molly had gained impressive control over it.
"We know, Molly." Alex said soothingly. "And it's not because you aren't capable. If you remember correctly, your face and name are currently on every Amber Alert-connected media device across most of the country. We need to stay incognito. If you came along..."
"Fine." Molly grumbled, laying back against Old Lace. "But I want certain stuff!" She added, jumping forward again. Quickly, she ran up the stairs to the room she'd sleeping the last couple nights and retrieved a piece of paper. She handed it to Jake, who was closest. He scanned over it quickly. Nothing outwardly interesting, just standard preteen wants; sugary cereal, candies, soda, chips, ice cream...the like.
Jake handed the list to Alex, who pocketed it. With a plan now firmly in their mind, Jake (following Alex, Nico, Karolina and Chase) filed out of the Hostel.
I don't think I'm going to be needed for this assignment, Hannah told him. If you don't mind, I'm gonna start looking into these "Gibborim" while you're gone.
Be my guest. The more info we have, the better.
Jake shivered as Hannah left his mind, but continued as if nothing had happened.
As he entered the hole out of the sunken mansion, he heard a final snippet of conversation between Molly.
"I still wish I could go. I wanna beat something up and teabag it."
"Don't worry, kid. If they forget to bring us back some beef jerky, Old Lace and I'll teach them a lesson about the food chain."
Smiling despite the veiled threat, Jake continued onward to Chase's van.
Los Feliz, California
After a mind-numbingly uneventful ride to the closest Circle A (during which Jake had actually managed to grab a good sleep, which was thankfully mostly dreamless, with the exception of a single one towards the end involving fighting what he could only describe as killer zombie robots and rescuing a girl with a massive scar across her face from inside some kind of church-like building on the very top of a multi-level moving city before escaping in, for some weird reason, a red airship), Jake and his friends assembled in the parking lot. All were wearing the "disguises" that Alex had made for them, a mixture of their own clothes and some that their leader had gotten from a "clothes-for-the-poor" bin behind a church (as they were, technically, poor).
Jake glanced at himself in the wing mirror; his new outfit consisted of a red Adidas beanie cap, brown real leather jacket, a jungle camouflage T-Shirt, black cargo pants, and scuffed sneakers of a generic brand. Seeing his reflection, he shook his head. Blend into a crowd this ensemble wouldn't. The fact that the jacket did little to hide the presence of the items hidden under it didn't help...
"I'm not sure about this..." Nico said quietly to Alex, holding up the front of the green-and-white sleeveless hoddie she wore. "I mean, these "disguises" make us look like one of those freaky politically correct, multicultural gangs that robs nice people who don't deserve it in really bad movies."
"Well, at least we don't have any intention of stealing anything, right?" Karolina said, putting emphasis on the last word and directing it towards Chase.
"Too late." He replied. "Looks like someone beat us to the punch." He pointed towards the interior of the store. The rest of the runaways looked.
"Oh, this is just perfect." Alex moaned.
Inside, the single employee, an older-teen girl dressed in "punk" style, stood behind the counter with her hands up, facing three ski-mask wearing assailants, two wielding pistols.
Instantly, Jake's neural implant kicked in, scanning the weapons for data. They weren't anything impressive, standard civilian-grade 9mm's. Cheap, easy to acquire, and even easier to maintain. Perfect hold-up weapons. The readings also informed him they were loaded with shooting range-style rounds. The only noteworthy thing about them was that one seemed to have a laser sight under the barrel. In other words, nothing that would stop Jake...but it would be more than enough against his friends (and maybe the cashier, if she got caught in the crossfire).
"Great, of all the stores in California, these guys chose to knock over this one." Nico complained.
"So...what are we going to do?" Karolina whispered, fear in her voice. She took off the glasses that were part of her disguise to get a better look at the inside of the store.
"We're going to get back in the van, and go home." Alex said calmly. The rest of the group looked at him in surprise and shock.
"Wait, I though you said we needed to help people!" Chase cried. "And now we've got the chance, and you want to run away?"
"Yeah, eventually." Alex replied. "But we're not ready yet, tonight even more so!. Besides, what would we fight them with? You don't have your gloves-"
"Cause you said to leave them behind to stay incognito!" Chase fired back.
"-Karolina's running on fumes, Nico's lost her staff, and Jake-"
"Is armed to the teeth and ready to kick some ass." Jake finished, smiling. Alex looked at him in shock. Instead of answering the expected question with words, Jake unzipped his jacket, revealing the thing he'd been wearing under it; a pair of bandoleers, loaded with two M7 submachine guns and plenty of ammo.
"Wh...where did those come from?" Alex sputtered. Jake smiled.
"Found 'em in my Bag 'O Guns." He replied. "Started thinking about The Matrix after Chase's failed attempt at a codename-"
"And remembered the part towards the end with Neo in that building." Chase supplied.
"Damn straight." Jake pulled the SMG's free of their holsters and slid the charging levers forward.
"Fine, but Nico still hasn't found her staff-"
"Anyone got a knife?" The gothic girl interrupted suddenly. The attention of the group shifted to her.
"Knife? What for?" Karolina asked, voice now full of curiosity.
"I just remember how I got my mom's staff last time; I got cut by Gert's dad's ax when we were rescuing Molly."
"Got you covered, babe." Chase said, pulling something out from his pockets. Jake recognized it as a switchblade knife, the same one he'd given Chase for his last birthday. "Never leave home without it."
"What, no, put that away!" Alex cried. "We aren't going to play hero-"
The boy's anger was interrupted violently by the sound of a gunshot from inside the store. Jake noticed it was way to loud to be a pistol. Perhaps the cashier was fighting back?
The runaways fell silent again.
"Alex..." Nico started.
"Do it." The boy replied. Nico made to open the knife, but it didn't come open. Chase noticed this and cursed.
"Right, damn." He spat. "I needed to get it oiled."
"But I still need-" Nico began. This time, Jake cut her off.
"Here, use mine." He said, pulling a UNSC-standard combat knife from it's sheath on his belt. He tossed the knife, handle first, to Nico. She caught it and, in the same motion, slit the top of her wrist. The moment the blade pierced her skin, she started speaking. Not normally, but in the deep, echoing voice she'd used when she froze Mrs. Yorkes.
"When blood is shed..." She chanted, "Let the Staff of One emerge."
Even before she'd finished, something happened. The missing Staff slid out of her chest. Nico caught it skillfully.
"Heh." She laughed softly. "Kinda tickled there..."
"What the..." Chase gasped. Jake joined in the confusion.
"Did her staff just come out of her right nipple?" He said aloud. Chase shrugged.
"Alright, here's how we're going to do this." Alex said, clenching his fists. "Karolina, I want you to flash these guys and see if you can blind them, then get the cashier out of here. Jake, you cover her. Nico, Chase and I will take the masked men."
The group nodded in agreement.
Alex moved forward, and the group followed. Karolina yanked her bracelet off, filling the night with her now-weaker glow. Jake readied his SMG's, placing their extended stocks against his shoulders.
"Now!" Alex cried.
Karolina let loose with a burst of light, aimed at the robbers; unfortunately, the "blinding" part of the plan didn't go as expected. The burst of light managed to blind the robbers...but also took out every window in the store and blasted the racks along them into debris.
The robbers recovered quickly, and turned to face the teens. Karolina's face took on an apologetic look, and she put her hand to her mouth.
"Whoops!" She called apologetically, apparently to the cahier. "Didn't mean to break all that. I was trying to blind the bad guys!"
"You, on your knees!" Alex called to the robbers. "Your all under citizen arrest!"
For a moment, no one moved. This moment was longer for Jake, with his augmented reflexes. He slipped into Spartan Time, scanning the scene as he did so.
New details became visible to him. Sure enough, the weapon that had fired wasn't a pistol; on the floor next to the cashier, possibly dropped by her when Karolina had blown out the front of the store, was a pump-action tactical shotgun. It's barrel was smoking, and Jake could smell buckshot residue in the air. One of the robbers (the tallest, apparently a male) had a large hole in the front of his shirt; a hole that matched the pellet spread of a close-range shotgun blast.
Had this guy just taken a point-blank round to the chest...and lived?
Jake didn't spend the time to ponder it. The robbers and cashier snapped out of their surprise, the latter screaming "what the fuck now?" and the former something about "Power Pack".
Jake didn't have time to ponder what the hell a "Power Pack" was (aside from the Star Wars equivalent of a magazine) before the robbers opened up. Bullets zinged by the five teens, forcing them down. Alex and the three others hid behind a magazine rack and covered their heads. Jake hurled himself in the opposite direction and opened up with his dual SMG's, adjusting his fire so as not to hit the cashier. The robbers took cover as well. Jake continued to fire, making sure they kept their heads down.
"Who the heck is Power Pack?" Karolina cried.
"Hell if I know, sounds like some kind of rapper." Replied Chase.
"Magic, magic!" Alex ordered, ignoring the other two. Nico moved forward, taking advantage of the lull in projectile fire to get into position.
"Freeze." She chanted, in the same voice as before. She swung her staff forward, and Jake saw the tip glow with a strange light.
The robbers, however, didn't freeze, any more than they had when Alex ordered them to.
Instead, there was a large rumble, and the stuff in the center of the store blasted outward. From the remain a massive, green shape appeared with a loud pop.
Jake recognized it instantly; a Pelican dropship.
Though it wasn't what Nico had been aiming for, the sudden appearance of the jet-powered ship still worked; the blast of air and debris form the dropship's arrival slammed into the robbers, knocking them down and disarming them. One of them screamed angrily about their "piece".
"What is that?" Karolina asked, peering over the rack she'd been using as cover.
"I have know idea." Replied Nico. "That certainly didn't happen last time.
"Hey, stay focused!" Alex ordered. "Lucy, get the cashier out of here! Talkback, subdue the little guy! Jake, your with me!"
Jake nodded and rose from the floor. From the other side of the room, Chase called out something, but he missed it. To his left, Karolina lifted the stunned girl behind the counter out through the busted window.
Something glinted on the floor; the shotgun. Jake kept his eye on it while he and Alex approached the two taller robbers (the third smaller one was currently being threatened by Chase and his switchblade).
"Alright, stay on the floor." Alex ordered. "We can do this quietly-"
"Think again, brat." The shorter, skinnier robber spat. The voice confirmed Jake's growing suspicion that it was a girl. Without hesitation, she lashed out at Alex, catching him in the stomach with a kick. The boy went flying, smashing through one of the still-standing snack displays.
Nico saw him fly, and screamed his name.
Jake moved to do something more effective than name-calling; he dived and rolled away from Alex's attacker and grabbed the shotgun off the floor. The moment he touched it, a display burst to life before his eyes. He ignored it, continued rolling till he came up on one knee, and drew a bead on the female robber's masked head.
Without hesitation, he pulled the trigger.
The shotgun bucked and roared, and his target stumbled forward from the blast. But, unlike what Jake had been hoping, her head stayed on her shoulders. In fact, the only damage seemed to be to the mask she wore.
"Let's get out of here!" She ordered her colleague. The man nodded, and they both left through the remains of the door.
Jake scanned the remains of the store; aside from the hulking form of the Pelican, the only person in the building besides his friends was the third and final robber, currently being held in place by Chase.
Jake exhaled, feeling his adrenaline rush subside. To his right, Nico helped Alex to his feet.
"What the hell were those things?" She wondered. Alex groaned and shrugged.
"Not normal bangers, that's for sure." He said, stretching. "They were way to strong to be normal humans."
"And tough." Jake added. "I hit that chick with a point-blank 12 gauge round and she survived. There's enough Joules of energy in one of those rounds to rip an Elite clean in half."
"Wish I had that right now." Alex moaned, rubbing his back. "Am I seriously the only person in LA without superpowers or advanced weapons or something?"
"Probably, bro." Chase sighed. His captive made a mumbling noise (which reminded Jake of Kenny from South Park), but the boy silenced him with a flick of his switchblade.
"Hey, is everyone still in one piece?" Karolina called out. Jake turned to see her float through the window. Her glow had obviously subsided by now, as the colors of her skin had changed from full-spectrum to more muted blues and reds. "I tried to get the bad guys, but they just took off."
"And you couldn't catch them?" Nico said, sounding surprised. Karolina nodded.
"I saw one of them outrun an SUV doing way over the speed limit." She replied. "Seriously, what the hell are these guys?"
"Let's ask our friend here." Jake said, jerking his thumb in the direction of the robber Chase was holding. The five teens gathered around their prisoner.
"Now let's see just what we're dealing with here..." Chase muttered, hauling their captive's mask off.
What was underneath sparked a series of surprised exclamations from everyone except Jake and Alex.
The robber they'd captured was no older than they were. He had black hair and brown eyes, off-set by the ring running through his left eyebrow.
"Oh jeez, please, don't hurt me." He pleaded. Jake grit his teeth. For some reason, he hated the kid's voice.
"Why shouldn't we?" He growled, placing the shotgun to the kid's temple.
"Look, I didn't want any part of this! My parents made me do this! They threatened to kill me if I didn't help them! Please, you gotta believe me...their evil!"
Silence fell on the group at this last utterance. Looks were exchanged. Finally, Alex spoke up.
"Then welcome to the club." He said, holding out his hand.
And just when I though this night couldn't get any weirder, he thought.
End of Issue One