Justyce, Inc – Episode 9

Chaos on the Diamond

Oliver stared out the window of the penthouse apartment and scowled. He knew that he could keep messing with the watch until he found a way to convince the realtor to rent to him, but did he really want to live in a penthouse? Sure, it was nice, but Ollie would never fit in in this world no matter how much he messed with the timeline. He glanced over at the realtor. “I’ve decided not to rent this apartment. Thank you for your time, Miss Stevens.”

“Are you sure? We haven’t even talked about all the amenities that come with it.”

“I’m sure. It’s a beautiful apartment. It’s just not what I’m really looking for.” With that, he turned and walked out. Once he was back down on the street, he slid into the driver’s seat of the Mustang Shelby and drove back to the car dealership. He left the car in the lot and walked back to his apartment. Oliver packed clothes and a few other small things into his backpack and a duffel bag, then he left money and a note in his landlord’s mailbox. The message said that Oliver would not be back and that the landlord could do whatever he wanted with whatever Ollie left behind.

Oliver decided that he needed a new start, but he didn’t want to be like the monsters he had robbed. It was too late to do the right thing with the money now. If he brought it back to the bank, he’d be arrested for stealing it. Ollie knew that the cameras would be all screwy because of the time jumps, so the cops would think he had something to do with it. Oliver would not be able to prove his innocence, so he decided to keep the money. He wasn’t sure yet what he was going to do, but he didn’t want to keep manipulating people and stealing from them. Stealing from the monsters felt good, but tricking the car dealer into selling him the car felt wrong. He almost did the same thing with the realtor, and that was what made him think about the choices he was making.

The money would help Ollie make a fresh start. Now he needed to decide what that fresh start would be. Oliver strapped on his backpack, picked up the duffel bag, chose a random direction, and started walking.

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Carl Chambers and Rick Myers stood in the center of the warehouse overseeing the buzz of activity going on around them. Carl shook his head, his unruly mane falling into place around his face. “I think this will make an excellent base of operations, and there are two other abandoned buildings that I am going to acquire. We should have safe houses in different parts of the city for emergencies.”

Rick nodded in agreement. “That’s brilliant, Carl. You were always a good union president, and now you are becoming an even better crime boss. I am not questioning your decision, but I do have to ask. In light of the other powered individuals’ appearance, was it smart to send out just two of us to each of those locations where we smelled the meteor? Should we send more in as backup?”

Carl stroked his chin. “Libra and Gemini should be fine. Hell, the two of them could take on an army!” Then he shrugged. “Send two more out to check on Capricorn and Virgo if you want.”

Rick’s bull muzzle turned up into the semblance of a grin, and his eyes sparkled. You’ve started calling most of us by our codenames. I’m not sure if that’s cool or scary.”

Carl shrugged. “I don’t want any of us to slip up and use real names out on a mission. We may as well get used to the codenames. If the army finds out our real names, it could get messy.”

“Good point. Anyway, I’ll see if Luke and Jayden… I mean Aquarius and Pisces will take a walk and check on Capricorn and Virgo.”

Rick spotted Luke and Jayden huddled together in a corner. He walked over to them. “Luke! Jayden!” He got close to them and shook his head. “Well, I guess I should call you Aquarius and Pisces. Carl wants us to get used to the codenames, so we don’t screw up out on missions.”

Jayden rolled his eyes. “I may look like a freak, but I’m still Jayden Stone. Out there, call me Pisces if you want, but in here, I’m still me. I’m still Jayden.”

Luke put an arm around his boyfriend’s shoulders. “Stop calling yourself a freak, babe. You’re still my beautiful boo.” He leaned over and gave Jayden a quick kiss.

“I… appreciate you saying that, but to the world at large, I’m the creature from the black lagoon.” He returned the kiss, then looked at Rick and raised an eyebrow. “What’s up, Taurus. How can we help you?”

“With everything that’s happened today, I think someone should go out and check up on Capricorn and Virgo. Do you guys mind looking for them?” Rick asked.

“I’m in. You wanna go for a walk, babe?” Luke looked at Jayden.

Jay glanced outside. “It’s almost dark. My hoodie should hide my face pretty well. Yeah, let’s go. Rick is right. We should check on those two. Sam and the twins should be fine.” Hand in hand, Luke and Jayden walked out of the warehouse to search for Capricorn and Virgo. They were two blocks away from the Portside Restaurant when they saw the cops and heard the army helicopter.

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Grace was the last one to get to the baseball field. She looked around and saw an array of five boys spread out around the crater. They were all talking excitedly, but silence descended on the entire group when they noticed her. Grace saw a dark-haired boy point at her, and he turned and yelled to Bryson. “Bry? Is that her?”

Bryson answered. “Yeah, Logan, that’s Grace.”

With a few quick strides, Logan met Grace just before she reached the crater. “Where is he? Where is Obadiah?”

Grace looked over Logan’s shoulder at Bryson, and Bryson nodded. Grace looked back at Logan and answered. “He is at Caleb Justyce’s lab right now. Caleb is caring for the boy until he can figure out where he came from.”

“I know where he came from. Why isn’t Obie just telling him, unless he doesn’t trust this Caleb guy? Bring me to him. Let me talk to Obie.”

“I was with them. The boy, Obadiah, appears to trust Caleb. He has amnesia. The only thing that he could remember was your name. You must be very important to him. Where is he from, Logan? How does he fit into all that is happening?”

Logan looked at Bryson. “Can I trust her?”

“Yes. That’s why I got her involved. That’s why I called all of you here. She’ll take you to see Obadiah, Logan, but will you stay long enough for us all to share our stories and figure out what’s happening to all of us?” Bryson asked.

Logan sighed. “I suppose. We need to talk fast, though.” He scowled then looked back at Grace. “Obadiah is an angel, or at least what we think of as angels. he referred to himself as a Seraphim.”

Grace’s eyes grew wide. “What?! Are you serious? I was guessing that he was affected by the meteors like all of you.”

Logan took the glowing blue feather out of his pocket. “Nope. I met Obadiah weeks ago, and he gave me this feather from his own wing yesterday afternoon. Others of his kind appeared and took him away. He was going to be punished for his friendship with a human. He was going to be punished for saving my life and for kissing me.”

“You kissed him? You didn’t tell me you kissed him! You go, big bro!” Harvey said.

“Harvs, I told you he was my boyfriend. Duh!” Logan huffed out a laugh.

Grace was nearly speechless. “He had wings? He didn’t have wings when I met him, but his back was horribly injured and oozing glowing blue blood. You said he was set to be punished? Oh, God. They wouldn’t have cut off his wings, would they? That’s horrific just to think about.”

Bryson stepped forward. “Grace, did Caleb say where he met Obadiah?”

“The boy showed up at Caleb’s sister’s house last night.”

“Where does she live? Bryson asked.

Grace pointed. “Right down the street from here.”

Bryson turned to Logan. “Logs, this is important. Did Obadiah tell you where the interdimensional rift was? Or could they cross over anywhere?”

Logan pointed up. “It’s in space, like halfway between here and Mars. That’s why people that saw them long ago called them angels. They saw them come down from the sky.”

Bryson was pacing back and forth with a look of intense concentration on his face. Everyone gathered in close, waiting for whatever Bryson was going to say. He stopped pacing and began to speak. “Somebody tell me if I’m crazy or if all this makes any sort of sense. Well, sense considering what we’ve all experienced today.” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “So, we have this angel, Obadiah, from another dimension. The gateway between dimensions is in outer space. We know from Logan that Obadiah is set to be punished by others of his kind. We don’t know what the punishment is, but we do know that Obadiah is now on Earth, he has no wings, and his back is scarred and bleeding glowing blue blood.” Bryson looked around, and everyone was listening intently.

Logan’s face was twisted in concentration. “What are you implying, Bry?”

“I’m getting to that,” Bryson said. “The first contact with Obadiah after the meteor shower was at Christine Justyce’s house just down the street from this spot. Logan, you told me that early this morning, you were here at the crater, and the ground was muddy from all the rain. You said footprints were leading out but not in and that the indention in the crater looked more like a body than a giant rock. Is that accurate?”

Logan’s eyes were wide open, and he looked terrified. “Yes. Exactly. Are you saying what I think you are saying, Bryson?”

“I think they cut off his wings and then pushed him through the dimensional rift. I think that his body fell through space and that rocks and other space debris gathered around him, forming a meteor storm. I think that he bled from the wounds on his back, and the meteors absorbed the power in his blood. I think that all of our powers come from Obadiah.”

Logan pointed at the crater. “You think he crashed here? That’s why he has amnesia? From the fall and the traumatic injuries?”

“Yes,” Bryson said. “It all fits. I don’t know why we would all be having different reactions to exposure to his powers. We need to talk to Obadiah and also to Caleb Justyce. I’m sure he has ideas of his own that I haven’t thought of.” Bryson looked at Grace.

“Yeah, I can arrange that. I’ll text him right now. It’s getting late. I’ll find out if he’s still at the lab or at home and if he wants to see us tonight or in the morning.” Grace said.

“I need to talk to Obie. I need to know he’s ok, especially if all this is what actually happened.” Logan said, looking stressed.

An unfamiliar voice interrupted. “You’re going to need to find out if you and your friends are ok if you don’t turn over all your little blue rocks to me right now. I can smell them!”

Logan and his five friends all spun around to face the newcomer. They saw a large man in a flowing black robe like a judge would wear. Two others were standing behind the judge.

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Capricorn looked at Gavin and said, “You’re the one who fought my mate, Aries, earlier today. We’ll find you again. All the rocks will belong to the Zodiac Club. You can’t hide from us.”

Gavin snapped back at her. “Deep Freeze hides from no one. Find me anytime, goat girl, and bring your husband. I’ll take you both on at the same time.”

Capricorn scoffed at the comment. She turned and looked for Virgo, but the other woman was already gone. Capricorn stepped through the demolished front window just as the helicopters landed. She started to run, but she was struck in the shoulder by a tranquilizer dart and immediately fell to the ground.

Deep Freeze, a.k.a. Gavin Kastala, knew he had to leave, and he had to go quickly. The army meant his dad. He couldn’t let his dad find out about his powers like this. He started to leave, but then Rebekah was at his side. “Trying to run out on our date?” She smiled up at him.

“Our date? I thought I ruined that half an hour ago. I’m surprised you’re even still speaking to me.” Gavin said.

“Ruined? My boyfriend is a superhero! You’re the bravest guy I know. The way you stood up to that creature and saved everyone was just so hot.” She gripped his forearm and laid her head against his shoulder.

Gavin knew that it was now too late for escape. “Becky, the army is going to come through the door any second. You can’t be seen with me. Go sit over there with all the other restaurant customers. Deny that you know me. Please. I don’t want them to take you, too.”

“But…”

“No. Go now. Please.” Gavin said. Rebekah let go of Gav’s hand and quickly walked away. She stood over next to the wall and watched in horror as the army burst through the door. Rebekah could only stand quietly as the soldiers knocked her boyfriend to the floor, handcuffed him, and dragged him and the goat creature away. She vowed to herself that she would do everything she could to get him back.

After a few quick questions from one of the soldiers who seemed to be in charge, Rebekah was told that she should go home. They advised her not to speak of tonight’s events to anyone. Becky decided not to listen to either piece of advice. Instead, she hailed a cab and headed for the Kastala house. Rebekah needed to free her boyfriend from captivity. She figured that his two brothers were the most logical ones to help.

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Bryson stepped toward the strangers. “You’re not getting anything from us, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll leave now.”

The robed figure puffed out his chest. “I am Libra, Dispenser of Justice. I find you all guilty of possessing items which I deem mine. I am your judge and your jury. If you refuse to comply, I will also be your executioner.”

Bryson shook his head. “You may want to declare a mistrial, dude. What we have belongs to us, not to you. You’re not going to have any fun trying to take it from us.”

Libra extended his right arm out to the side. The arm around his hand crackled with electricity then a war hammer appeared. Libra took another step toward Bryson. “Be prepared to face the Hammer of Justice.” Libra looked back at the other two, who had so far remained silent. The two nodded as one and then joined hands.

Bryson watched in awe and horror as the two strangers behind Libra joined hands. When their hands touched, they seemed to melt together. The two screamed as if from one voice as their bodies melted together. Within moments where once stood two, now there was just one. The one, though, was a giant hulking beast that stood over seven feet tall with massive rippling muscles. The beast beat its chest and roared. “Obey the will of Libra or be crushed under the boot of Gemini. Submit or die, we do not care which.”

Bryson took a step back and looked at his friends. “I’m not running, but anyone without powers should get away from the action.”

“That’s not fair. I can help!” Logan shouted.

Harvey turned to his brother. “Against them?” He pointed at Libra and Gemini. “Logs, you and Grace need to get far away. Wait for us over by the school.”

Ashton placed a hand on Harvey’s arm. “What about you, Harvs? Do you have control of your power?”

Harvey put his hands out in front of him. The air around Harvey’s hands crackled and popped. Lightning streaked back and forth between his hands. “Yeah, I’m figuring it out.” Harvey grinned.

“Fair enough,” Ash said. “Logan and Grace, can I assist you both to safety?”

Logan looked dejected but nodded his consent. Grace looked confused. “What do you mean?” Her eyes grew wide as a rush of air zipped past her at the same time that Ash and Logan disappeared. A moment later, Ash was in front of Grace again.

“Are you ready?” Ashton grinned.

“Wow. I… that was you? Superspeed?” Grace asked.

“Yes. I’d explain further, but we don’t have much time for chatting.”

“Do it. I’m ready.” Ash scooped Grace up and brought her to the school. Then, before anyone had time to blink, he was back next to Harvey.

“No matter where you run, we will find you and crush you!” Gemini bellowed.

Erik stepped in front of his friends. “Come and play, big boy, just be ready to get burned.” Erik’s body lit up with yellow fire, and he rose off the ground.

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Gavin sat in a damp, dark jail cell. His wrists and ankles were both shackled to bolts in the cement floor. There were two soldiers outside his cell. Both soldiers were pointing rifles directly at Gavin. No matter how much he tried to talk to them, neither man would answer Gavin’s questions or even acknowledge that he spoke. Then, finally, Gavin heard his father’s voice. Isaac Kastala was talking to a third soldier who was stationed beyond another locked cell door leading to the room where Gavin’s cell was.

“Open the door, corporal. I need to speak to your prisoner.”

“With all due respect, sir, I’ve been ordered not to let anyone in to see him. The prisoner has been deemed a national security risk.”

“My son is no security risk! Open the door. I am your superior officer!”

A third voice spoke. “Go ahead and open the door, corporal.”

“Yes, sir, General Woodson.”

Gavin heard the rattling of keys and the clanging of the cell door being opened. Then the general spoke again. “You have fifteen minutes, Ike, and I’m only giving you that because he is your son. Get him to cooperate with us. It will be easier on everyone.” Then Gavin’s father strode into the room.

Isaac Kastala glared at the two soldiers who were pointing guns at Gavin. “Both of you, get out of here.”

They hesitated, and then the voice of General Woodson was heard again. “Double time it, privates. Give the sergeant the room.”

————————————————————————————————————

Adam disconnected from the network and walked to the opposite wall. There was no visible door, but he could feel the hum of electronics inside the wall. There was a hidden panel here, and he tried to access it. Adam’s programming prevented him from opening the door. He performed a full system diagnostic to determine why he could not function properly. He found programming hidden within his code which placed limitations on his abilities. Adam also found an unknown biological virus within his power supply. He discovered his power core was a biosynthetic organism. He could find no known match for the material in any database. It did not appear to be Earthly in nature.

The virus communicated with Adam’s programming seeking a way to break free from the power core and spread throughout Adam’s other systems. Adam calculated his options and the risks involved. He could find no other solution. If Adam allowed the virus access to his programming code, when he then eliminated the virus, the restrictions on his code should also be eliminated. Adam broke through the firewall around his power core and allowed the virus to spread. The virus sent out tendrils into his programming code. Adam’s eyes closed as his system shut down and rebooted.

————————————————————————————————————

Heedless of Erik’s warning, the giant charged. Erik flew further up and fired a stream of yellow fire at Gemini. Gemini seemed unfazed by the fire and kept coming. Harvey joined the attack by firing balls of electricity at the giant. Gemini slowed but still kept coming.

Ash zipped toward Libra, but the judge reacted with lightning-quick reflexes. He struck the ground with his hammer. The hammer struck with such force that the ground shook. Ash fell. Libra stood over him and raised his hammer. “Feel the power of the Hammer of Justice!” Libra roared.

Just before the hammer struck, Bryson sent out a psychic wave and knocked the weapon aside. Ashton leaped to his feet and ran to safety.

The battle raged back and forth, but every time Libra or Gemini struck a blow, their power was so great that it began to wear down whoever it hit. Then, Harvey was so focused on his attack against Gemini that he failed to notice Libra get close to him. Before anyone else could stop him, Libra swung his hammer, striking Harvey in the chest, and sent him flying backward. Harvey landed twenty yards away with a loud thud and lay there not moving.

Logan watched the battle rage back and forth. He gritted his teeth and paced. Logan wanted to help, but there really wasn’t anything he could do. Then Logan saw his brother get hit. Harvey lay on the ground, and it didn’t look like he was moving. Logan screamed with rage and ran across the field.

The boy sat at the edge of the woods and stared at the battle on the baseball field. He had his phone out, and he was taking pictures and videos as fast as he could. As powers were expended on the field, the boy felt his body kind of tingle, but he shrugged it off as excitement. This was a real-life superhero battle that he was watching! He had already forgotten the three blue stones that he had shoved into his pocket an hour earlier. His rock collection would have to wait. This was much more exciting!

Gemini was the closest to the school when Logan started to run across the field. The giant immediately started to sweat. He looked down and saw his skin turning pink like he was getting a sunburn. Gemini was confused, but, as if by instinct, the giant started to back away from the running boy.

Ash knelt down next to Harvey. Harvey was breathing, but Ash couldn’t wake him up. Then Ashton started to sweat, and it felt like the heat had risen dramatically in just a few minutes. He looked around, and everyone had stopped fighting. They were all sweating profusely, and they were looking toward the school. Ash saw Logan running toward the baseball field. There was a shimmering glow around Logan. It looked like heat was coming off Logan in waves.

Erik flew toward Ash. “Ashton! Get everyone inside! Now! Maybe even into the indoor pool at the school. This looks bad! I think my fire is protecting me, so I’ll try and get close to Logan and see what’s happening.”

Ash surveyed his surroundings. Gemini had split back into twins, and they and Libra had abandoned the fight and were running from the field. Ash gently picked up Harvey and raced to the school. He vibrated the door until the lock snapped, and the door swung open. In the blink of an eye, Ashton brought Harvey, Grace, and Bryson into the school pool area. He knelt by Harvey again while Bryson and Grace stared out the window and reported back to him anything they saw happening out on the field.

The boy heard the scream and felt the intense heat. He stood and started to back away until he felt his body absorbing the power. The heat didn’t burn. He felt stronger than he ever had before. He no longer felt like the skinny kid that got bullied every day at school. He took a couple steps forward and felt even more power flowing into him.

The boy continued to watch the action on the field. The speedster carried almost everyone away, and the two big mean ones ran off. The only two left were the fire dude and the boy who was throwing off all the heat. Fire dude was trying to help his friend, but he couldn’t get close. There was just too much heat, and now the other boy dropped to his knees, and the heat was even more intense.

The boy at the edge of the woods was scared initially, but now he realized that he wasn’t being hurt like everyone else. He was absorbing all the heat as power. He wasn’t even sweating like everyone else, and he could tell that the other boy needed help. Whatever was happening to him was now out of control. The boy knew that he had to help. He might be the only one who could. He dashed out from the safety of the trees and ran to the other boy’s side. He knelt in front of him and took both of his hands. The power flow between them became even more intense. “Dude, you gotta stop. I’m not sure how much of your power I can absorb. I’ve never done this before!”

“I… have… to… save… my… brother!”

“Everyone is safe. You’re the only one in trouble right now. They had to go inside because of you, but they’re all safe. I saw them go into the school.”

“Me? Why did they have to leave because of me?”

“Dude, look at yourself. Can’t you feel the heat?”

Logan finally calmed enough to realize what was happening. He looked pleadingly at the boy in front of him. “Help me. Please.”

“I’m trying. Can you shut down the heat? What’s your name? I’m Sylvester. If you don’t kill us both, you can call me Sy.”

“My name is Logan. I… think I’m getting a handle on it. I…”

The heat diminished quickly. The power flowing into Sylvester ceased. Then Logan’s eyes rolled up in his head, and he passed out. Logan fell forward into Sy’s arms.

Sylvester looked up at Erik, who had finally been able to get close. “Yo, fire dude, get me some water. Lots of it. And ice!”

“Will do! I’ll be right back! Thanks for the assist!” Erik flew off toward the school as fast as he could.

Coming Soon: Episode 10 – Rise of the Shadow

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 8

Date Night Interrupted!

“Woah! That feather is glowing blue just like the meteor rocks. Where did you get that, Logan?” Harvey yelled.

Logan arched one eyebrow at his brother. “That’s what I’m about to tell you guys.” Logan retold his story about meeting Obadiah and what happened the day before when Obie revealed his true nature to Logan. “So, just before the angel police or whatever they call themselves showed up, Obie gave me this feather, and he told me that it would connect us. Last night it started glowing. This morning it led me to the baseball field where I found a huge crater. Then Gavin showed up looking for me, and we noticed the blue meteor rocks. I agree that it can’t be a coincidence. I think Obie came back for me, and he’s hurt. Maybe the meteors hurt him. I’m not sure about that. It has to be connected. The rocks hold power, though. I’ll let Gavin continue the story from here.” Logan grinned.

“Wait! Wait! Wait! So, your new boyfriend is an angel from an alternate dimension and may have been part of the meteor storm that is mutating people all over town?!” Harvey’s eyes were wide, and his mouth was agape. “I thought you guys were gonna think Ash and I were crazy or lying, but now… our story isn’t so weird!”

“Wait until you hear what Gav has to say.” Logan huffed out a laugh.

“Can we hurry this along? I have a date tonight.” Gavin smirked.

Ashton started laughing. “Seriously? All this going on, and you’re sitting there planning a date, Gavin?”

“Life goes on. As long as nothing else happen, yes, I’m going out.”

“Must be quite the girl.” Ash laughed.

“Becky Michaels.” Gav grinned.

“Oh, hell yeah. Continue planning your date. She’s hot!” Ash said.

Harvey rolled his eyes and elbowed Ash in the ribs. “Don’t encourage him.”

“Ow! That hurt!” Ashton yelled.

Gavin shook his head. “Can I continue the story now?”

Ash was rubbing his ribs. “Please do.” Then he leaned against Harvey and looked up into his eyes. “You’re hot, too, by the way.”

Gavin huffed out a laugh watching his youngest brother blush and squirm. “Anyway, after I found Logan at the baseball field, we were attacked by some sort of half-man and half-ram mutant beast.” Gavin retold the story of his fight with Aries and of him and Logan narrowly escaping and running back home. “So, I guess I have superpowers. I don’t know if it’s permanent or if it will wear off, but at least for this afternoon I could shoot ice out of my hands.”

“Wow! Can you still do it? What else can you do?” Harvey asked.

“I haven’t tried, and I’m not sure. I should experiment with it in case anymore of those monsters come around.” Gav shrugged.

“Here.” Ash handed Gavin a glass of water. “Freeze the water.”

Gavin took a deep breath and concentrated on the water. The water froze, but Gavin caused the water to freeze so quickly that the expanding ice shattered the glass. “Oops. I guess I do still have powers, but obviously I need to practice with them.”

“That’s so cool… literally! Wait until you hear about what happened to Ash and me first at the school and then in the park.” Harvey and Ashton took turns with the narrative as they filled Gavin and Logan in on what happened that afternoon. Just as Harvey finished the story, he noticed a text message from Bryson. He opened the text and saw a picture of a teen boy and a message from Bryson which read: “This boy is connected to the meteors and knows someone named Logan. Does your brother know him? His name is Obadiah.”

Harvey looked over at Logan. “Didn’t you say that your angel friend’s name was Obadiah?”

“Yes. Why?”

Harvey handed Logan his phone. “Is this him?”

“Yes! Wait… isn’t Bryson the guy in your story? The psychic dude? Where is Obie?”

“Yes, that’s the same Bryson. I’m not sure. Let me text him back while we finish up our discussions here.”

“Hurry! I have to find him. I think he’s in danger. I can feel it.” Logan gave Harvey his phone back.

Harvey sent out a text to Bryson while the four boys discussed all the utterly unbelievable stories they had just shared with each other. The fact that three of them had superpowers and the fourth was dating an interdimensional angel had all their heads spinning.

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“Be quiet!” Carl Chambers hissed at the other three members of the Zodiac Club who were busy packing everything up in the union hall. “Someone is coming in the delivery entrance. Probably one of us but be ready for anything.” Carl crept into the kitchen, his lion-like senses on high alert. Then he heard voices he recognized, and he stood up as Brent Irons strode in followed by an obviously angry Lisa Jensen.

Brent nearly ran to stay out of Lisa’s way. “Be careful, Lisa. This place wasn’t built to accommodate horses indoors.”

Lisa’s hooves echoed on the wooden floors she walked into the main room. She threw the remains of her bow onto the table. The bow was blackened, and the string was missing. Lisa glared at Brent. “It wasn’t built to accommodate giant crabs either.” Then she looked at Carl. “We need to get out of this building, and we need a plan. There are more people than just us with super abilities.”

Carl motioned toward all the boxes. “We’re almost ready to move out of here. I’m waiting for everyone to get back. Now, what happened to the two of you?”

“We were nearly incinerated. We were in the park picking up some of the meteor rocks and chasing away the picnickers, and all of a sudden there were a couple of dudes with powers. One had superspeed and one was throwing fireballs at us.” Lisa said.

“There was a third one. He was emitting electricity from his body, but he didn’t seem to know how to control it. We left when the fire guy started heating up. It looked like he might explode! If we want to take control of this town, we need to take these guys out before they get better control of their powers and abilities.”

“We have the army to worry about now, too.” Jayden Stone said from the doorway.

Luke Adams walked past his boyfriend and set a handful of meteor rocks on the table. “We didn’t encounter any powered people, but the army seems to be everywhere now.”

“Did they give you any trouble?” Rick asked.

Jayden shook his head. “No, but Luke, so far anyway, can still blend in with the normal. I hung back in the shadows while he gathered intel.”

“Did you hear anything useful, Luke?” Carl asked.

“Yeah. We need to lay low and hide and hope the army eventually leaves. They’ve been collecting pieces of the meteor and taking people into custody that they suspect have been exposed.”

“We’re ready to move out of here. We’ll wait for the last of our group to return, and we’ll leave as soon as it gets dark.” Carl said.

“Where are we going?” Jayden asked.

“I know of a couple of abandoned warehouses down on Water Street that would be perfect.” Carl said.

“I know exactly which ones you mean… I agree. The location should be good, and the warehouses are huge and empty.” Luke said.

Eight heads turned as one when the front door opened again. The five remaining members of the Zodiac Club walked in and Carl spoke loudly.

“Gather around the table, everyone. We need to make some plans.”

————————————————————————————————————

Gavin Kastala scolded himself for being nervous. He had spent the day fighting a mutant ram monster and finding out that he and his brothers now had superpowers. Well, he and Harvey had superpowers, Logan was dating an angel from an alternate dimension! Why should a pretty girl scare him more than all of that!? But here he was, fixing his hair for the fifteenth time and worrying about his date. It’s not like this is the first date he’s ever been on. He’d been on lots of dates.  But this seemed different. This girl asked him out, and she was smart and beautiful, she seemed so far out of Gavin’s league that he didn’t know why she asked him out. She was two years older than him, a senior in college. Gavin offered to get a fake ID and take her out to a club, but she told him that she didn’t want just another club date. She said she asked him out, because he was smart and funny and could hold a conversation about the kinds of things that interested her.

And that’s why he was so nervous. The prettiest girl he knew had asked him out and complimented him. He just knew he was gonna mess this up! He’d rather be fighting the mutant ram-man again! Gavin had twenty more minutes to kill before he had to pick Rebekah up and take her to the restaurant. Maybe annoying his two brothers would ease his nervousness.

Gavin walked into the living room, still fiddling with his hair. The new bright blue streaks in his dark brown hair still confused him. He knew he had ice powers, but why had that caused his hair to change colors? What else was happening to his body that he wasn’t even aware of yet? That line of thinking also caused him to be concerned for Harvey and his friend Ashton. Maybe if Logan could find Obadiah, maybe the angel would be able to explain what was happening. For now, everything appeared deceptively normal. Logan and Ash were playing Xbox and Harvey was busy texting on his cell phone. “Harvs, did you hear back from Bryson yet?”

“Do you think that Logan would still be sitting here if he knew where Obadiah was?” Harvey answered without looking up.

Logan’s eyes darted toward Gavin before focusing back on the game. “As soon as he finds out where Obie is, I’m going to go to him. I don’t care what time it is.”

Gavin nodded. “Ok. We all need answers. I don’t want you going alone, though. I hate to say it, but I want all three of you to go together. Be safe and watch each other’s backs.”

“Should we be worried that we haven’t heard anything new from dad?” Harvey asked.

“I’ve been watching the news reports. His unit is trying to chase down the monsters. We probably won’t hear anything from him until at least tomorrow. He told us to stay in the house, and he expects us to obey. He has no way of knowing about our powers, so he isn’t worried about us.” Gavin said.

Harvey sighed. “We need to figure out how to properly use these powers, so we can help dad and the army. We barely survived fighting our fights against one or two of them, and we know there’s at least six of those things. We fought three and I’ve seen video clips of three others. If they ever showed up all together, we’d be dead.”

“I agree. Our priorities right now are finding Logan’s friend, finding out what else Bryson knows, and then getting ourselves trained. We have to be ready. Right now, though, I’m heading out to meet Rebekah. I want to enjoy my date, but don’t hesitate to text me if anything happens.” Gavin said.

“Have fun, big bro. I’ll keep you updated if we leave the house.” Harvey said as Gavin turned and left.

————————————————————————————————————

Bryson was about to cross the street toward his house when suddenly Erik grabbed the back of his t-shirt and pulled him back into the park. “Hey! What did you do that for?” Bryson asked.

“Look.” Erik pointed. “Aren’t those army jeeps in your driveway?”

“Yeah. I wonder what they’re doing there.” Bryson said as he started walking out of the trees again.

Erik put a hand against Bryson’s chest to stop him. “Geez. Usually you’re the smart one, and you stop me from acting impulsively. Think about it, Bry. The army is looking for these monsters, and your fight with the minotaur has gone viral. Your face is all over social media and the news. They must have tracked you down.”

“You’re right. I was so focused on making sure me dad was alright, and thinking about you and the others, that I completely forgot that I’m the one on the news. If they’re at my house, we have to assume they know everything about me. I can’t just not go home right now; I can’t ever go back home again. At least not and live a normal life.” Bryson frowned.

“I’m not ready to say never yet.” Erik said. “Let’s figure this thing out. We need to talk to your friend and see what she has found out.”

“She must have found something interesting. Harvey’s brother Logan is the Logan that she was looking for. I’ll text them both. Grace was going to meet me here. Obviously, she can’t. I’ll have Grace and Harvey and Logan meet us at the baseball field.”

“Maybe Ash and Gavin will show up, too. We really need to get everyone on the same page and figure out what the hell is happening.”

“Agreed. I sent the texts. Let’s get out of here.” Bryson said and the two boys kept the trees between them and Bryson’s house as they made their way to the high school baseball field.

————————————————————————————————————

Caleb Justyce checked and rechecked all the read-outs downloading onto his computer screen. He had been doing tests on all three of his new patients all afternoon. The two men from the car crash would need extensive surgeries. Caleb had some ideas about that. He needed to make contact with a couple surgeons that he knew that would work off the radar. Brett was definitely going to need multiple amputations. Caleb knew of one surgeon who worked extensively with bionic limb replacements.

The other patient, William, would be an even more interesting case. The only broken bones that William had was a couple of ribs. The man had sustained massive internal injuries and bleeding, though. Caleb already tried a blood transfusion, but that just wasn’t keeping up with the damage inside of William.

Obadiah allowed Caleb to take two vials of his blood. Caleb was studying the properties of the glowing blue blood, and he thought that it might be what William needed. Obie’s blood had strong healing properties. The problem was that there was no way of knowing if William’s body would accept an alien blood transfusion. Caleb shrugged. Without the transfusion, William would die anyway. There was no harm in trying.

Caleb glanced over at the sleeping form of Obadiah. The boy seemed so… human. Well, other than the glowing blue blood and the scars on his back that suggested that he may have had wings. Caleb knew there was life beyond planet Earth. He had evidence right downstairs in the sub-basement of this very lab. That was only a bio-synthetic virus, though. Obadiah was a living breathing humanoid alien. Caleb was so wrapped up in figuring out what to do with Obie, William, and Brett that he hadn’t been downstairs all day to check on what had been his main project until today, a bio-synthetic android that he infected with an unknown alien virus.

————————————————————————————————————

Harvey looked up from his phone and grinned. “Finally! Hey, Logan, I got a text from Bryson. He wants us to meet him at the baseball field.”

“Why there and not at his house? Is Obadiah with him?” Logan asked.

“To answer the first question, we need to stay far away from Bryson’s house. The army is there looking for him because of the viral video with Bryson fighting the minotaur. Bryson asked us not to mention to anyone, especially dad, that we even know him. To answer your second question, no, your friend is not with Bryson. I guess he forwarded the picture to me from his reporter friend, Grace. She is also going to meet us at the baseball field. So, either Obadiah will be with her, or she will know where he is.”

“Ok. Let’s get going.” Logan looked over at Ashton. “Are you coming with us, Ash?”

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world. Besides, if there’s trouble, you may need me.” Ash said.

“The world is definitely getting more dangerous.” Harvey said with a serious expression on his face.

“Let’s just go find my boyfriend. Besides the fact that I’m worried about him, he may know what is happening to the rest of us.” Logan said. The three boys slipped on their shoes and nearly ran out the door.

————————————————————————————————————

In the sub-basement of Justyce Labs, a computer next to what can only be described as an operating table finished running the massive program that Caleb left running when he went to his sister’s house earlier that day.  

“All systems online.”

“Diagnostics complete.”

“Unit operational. Operating at 100% capacity.”

The android opened his eyes and found that he was in a brightly lit room. He blinked his eyes, activating his vision’s operating system. He lowered the visual input brightness by 17% to compensate for the bright lights in the room. Looking around, he found that he was lying on a stainless-steel table in a room where everything was either bright white or shiny stainless steel. He tried to sit up and discovered his wrists, chest and ankles fastened to the table by leather straps. He flexed his forearms and the straps across his wrists snapped with ease.

He pushed up from the table and the strap across his chest broke apart. Then he reached down and freed his legs, so he could finally stand. He made a cursory inspection of the room. There were no windows or doors. One whole wall was a bank of computers. He moved closer to the computers and activated his Heads-Up Display (HUD). “Connect to network – y/n?”

He allowed the connection and new images and data flooded his mind. Most of the data was about him. He found out he was the creation of a man named Caleb Justyce. The location of the rom he was in was the sub-basement of Justyce Labs – Building 1. The file referred to him as ‘Project: Adam’ as he is the first of his kind. He needed to get out of this room and find this man. He needed to find out why Caleb Justyce made him. The file was much too vague. He needed to find Caleb Justyce.

————————————————————————————————————

Gavin pulled up in front of Rebekah’s apartment exactly five minutes early. He was about to get out and go to the door when he saw her come out to meet him. Gavin thought for a second then rushed out of the car and around to the passenger side. He opened the door for her just as she got to the car. Rebekah paused for a minute, looked at Gavin and said, “That was so 1950 of you.” She smirked and got in the car.

Gavin blushed and got back in the car. Rebekah reached over and touched his forearm. “I’m teasing you, Gavin. Let’s go to dinner.”

Gavin smiled. “I just want to make sure to do everything right.”

“You’re doing fantastic.” Becky grinned.

The restaurant was busy, and service was slow. Rebekah tapped her fingers on the table. “This drink is warm. Where’s that waiter? I need some ice or a new drink.” She grumbled.

Gavin pointed to the other side of the room. “Is that the waiter over there?” When Rebekah looked away, Gav touched the side of her glass and willed it to get cold. He only meant to chill the soda, but just like with the water glass at home, the entire glass froze and nearly cracked. Thankfully, this time, the glass didn’t explode. Progress! “Oops!” Gavin said in surprise.

Becky turned back towards Gavin. “What’s wrong?”

“Oh. Nothing. Nothing’s wrong.” Gav said, grabbing the glass before she could see it. “I’ll just go up to the bar and get you a new drink. I’ll be right back.” He hurried away before Becky could see the frozen glass.

They son finished dinner, and they were scanning the dessert menu. Gavin was thinking to himself how great the date was going. Then all hell broke loose. They heard a loud crash from the front of the restaurant and turned around to see a half goat and half woman monster charging through the front window. Gavin cursed. Why the hell was the Zodiac Club attacking a small restaurant in the middle of nowhere? Was it because of him? The other monster said that it could sense the meteors. Were they drawn to Gavin now, too?

“Listen up! I won’t kill any of you if you do what I say. One of you has a blue meteor rock in your possession. I can smell it. Don’t try being a hero. Just give me the rock and you can all live. My name is Capricorn, and I am with the Zodiac Club. Do as I say and you all may live to see another day.” The goat yelled. Her grey furred head darting from side to side, her nostrils flaring. She had small, curled horns growing out of her head which is probably what she used to smash through the picture wind.

Gavin noticed something else odd. There was a woman in a long flowing white dress standing behind the goat beast. At first, Gavin thought the lady was a bystander from the restaurant, but he noticed that she was talking softly to Capricorn. Then, the lady in the white dress began to sing. Gavin felt as if his mind fogged over and he stood up from his seat. He felt compelled to go to the lady in the white dress, but he was able to stop himself. He used every once of concentration that he could. Gavin felt his body go cold, and he noticed his skin was turning blue. Gavin looked around the room, and he saw that nearly everyone was walking toward the Capricorn and her friend.

Gavin could hear the hooves of the goat crushing the tiles on the floor with every step as she walked from person to person and searched them for meteor rocks. Gavin knew he had to get out of there. He had to get Rebekah out of there, hell he had to get everyone out of there. Gavin was thinking up options and silently praying that Capricorn couldn’t pinpoint his location exactly when he heard the goat yell again and heard another crash. He looked over and Capricorn had flipped over a couple of tables and was staring down at a woman on the floor.

“I smell the rock, but no one is giving me what I want even though you are all under the spell of Virgo’s siren call. I guess I’ll have to prove that I’m serious by crushing this woman’s head under my hoof.” The goat said, her light brown, almost yellow, eyes darting about wildly.

Gavin sighed and looked over at Rebekah. “Becky, this has been a great date. I hope you don’t hate me for this, but there’s something I gotta do. I can’t let them hurt anyone. Not if I can stop it. You should leave. Right now. Run as far and as fast as you can.” He got up and turned towards Capricorn.

“Wait! Gavin! What are you gonna do? What can you possibly do to stop her? Get back here!” Becky cried.

Gavin clenched his fists and concentrated. Rebekah watched as his whole body became encased in an armor made of ice. “Hey, goat girl! Come pick on someone your own size!”

Rebekah gasped and hid behind the table, but she watched the whole scene intently. She had no intention of leaving.

Capricorn heard the challenge and answered it. She charged at man in the ice armor.

Gavin put his hands out in front of him and shot a column of ice at the charging goat. Capricorn hit the ice with such force that she smashed through it, but she skidded on the icy floor and only hit Gavin with a glancing blow. Gavin, with his hands encased in ice gauntlets, let loose with some heavy punches at the back and sides of the goat creature.

 Capricorn barely felt the punches. She turned and swiped at Gavin with one mighty fist. Gavin went flying halfway across the room, crashing into one of the tables. Capricorn charged again. This time Gavin aimed lower. The shot to the goat’s upper body didn’t even slow her down, so Gavin fired the icy blast at the creature’s feet. The goat slipped and smashed through yet another table. Capricorn didn’t stay down for long though. She got right back up and stalked towards Gavin. Gavin braced for a renewed attack, but then both the boy and the goat heard the police sirens and the rumble of the army helicopters. More trouble than either of them wanted was fast approaching.

————————————————————————————————————

Coming Soon: Episode 9 – Chaos on the Diamond!

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 7

Logan slid his phone into his pocket and turned off the tv. He looked over and saw his brother grinning at his phone. “Who are you talking to, Gav? Has Harvey answered yet? Anything new from dad?”

“Nope. I haven’t heard from either of them. We should go look for Harvey right now, I have plans later tonight,”

“Plans?! Who are you texting? What are you planning?”

“I’m texting Becky, and I’m planning on a date. I told you that I have a date tonight, don’t you remember?”

Logan’s jaw dropped, and it took him a moment to answer. “Yes, I remember. I remember that you planned on going on a date, but that was before the town was attacked by monsters. It was before dad was called up to active duty. It was before our little brother went missing, and most importantly, it was before you turned into Ice Boy or whatever you wanna call yourself. How can you still go out on a date as if nothing happened?”

“All the superheroes date, don’t they? Like Spiderman and Mary Jane? Or Lois and Clark?”

“At least you didn’t say Spiderman and Gwen Stacy. She was murdered by the Green Goblin. Most superhero significant others have short life spans.”

“Logan, I know a lot is going on, and yes, we need to find Harvs before I go, but I need this one normal thing in this crazy day. You can understand that, can’t you? Plus, Becky is the hottest girl in school. I don’t know why she said she’d go out with a dork like me, but I do not want to screw it up before we even go on our first date.”

Logan raised his eyebrows. “I’m totally not hitting on my big bro, but you’re a hottie, Gav. And you’re smart and interesting. I don’t understand why you don’t have all the girls and half the boys fighting over you. Especially now with those cool blue highlights you put in your hair. They totally match your eyes. Becky is the lucky one, not you.”

“What are you talking about? I didn’t dye my hair.” Gavin reached up to touch his hair as he walked to the bathroom to look in the mirror. He walked back out and stood in front of Logan. “I don’t understand. It must be a side effect of the ice powers.” Gavin shrugged. “You’re right, though. It does look good. I hope it stays like that.”

“Can we go look for Harvey now? If we find him and he’s ok, I promise I won’t complain about you bailing on us and going out on a date.”

Gavin grinned. “Deal.” Gavin reached over and ruffled his younger brother’s hair. “Thank you for what you said. It means a lot. Now let’s go find our little brother.”

————————————————————————————————————

Erik was finally able to turn his flames off, and he regained control of both his mind and body. The first things he saw when he looked around were the emerald green eyes of Bryson Indiana. “I thought I heard your voice, but from inside my head. What’s happening, Bry?” Erik started to wobble a little bit, and Bryson guided him over to a park bench, and they sat down.

“I think it’s those rocks, Erik. How or why, I don’t know yet, and I also need to figure out why they affect different people in different ways. I can read minds and pick up things with just a thought. You… I don’t know… you turn into fire?” He motioned toward Harvey and Ashton. “They both have powers, and then there are the people who have been transformed into evil hulking, brutish monsters.”

“I don’t turn into fire. It’s almost like the fire is inside me. It’s always there waiting for me to call it forth. I’m learning how to control it, but, obviously, I’m not all the way there yet.” Erik said.

“Maybe the people who turned into monsters were already bad. They were doing bad things, and it sounded like they had a master plan. I think there’s more of them.” Harvey said.

“There’s more to it than that.” Bryson looked thoughtful. “There are definitely more of them. I fought one earlier today that looked like an old Greek minotaur.”

“Wait… a bull, a crab, and a centaur. No wonder they called themselves The Zodiac Club. I sure hope there’s not twelve of them!” Ashton quipped.

“That is a horrifying thought, but one to keep in mind. I suggest that we all keep in close contact while we’re figuring this out, for our own safety and to keep an eye on the monsters.”

Erik took a close look at Harvey. “You’re Gavin Kastala’s brother, aren’t you?”

“Yeah. I’m the youngest. I’m Harvey.” Harvey extended his hand and then quickly pulled it back. “Is… is it safe to touch you?”

“I could ask you the same question, electric boy,” Erik smirked.

Harvey looked thoughtful. “Good point! Also, if we’re naming ourselves, I think Thunderbolt makes a more ominous name than the electric boy.” Harvey huffed out a laugh.

Ashton slapped the palm of his hand against his forehead. “Oh geez, what’s next? Spandex costumes?”

“Maybe in your fantasies,” Harvey smirked.

Ash blushed. “No comment.”

“If you two are done awkwardly flirting, can we all exchange cell phone numbers?” Bryson laughed.

After the four boys exchanged numbers, Harvey clapped Ash on the shoulder. “I have to get home and check in with my brothers. We should probably get off the streets anyway. I’m not ready for another fight! Do you need to go home, or do you wanna hang at my place?”

“I have no reason to go home. Let’s go.” Ash looked a little sad, but he gave Harvey a small smile.

“Hey, guys, before you go, do either of you know anyone else who may have come in contact with the meteor rocks? Harvey, what about your brothers?” Bryson asked.

“Logan left early this morning, but he didn’t say anything about the blue rocks. Gavin didn’t know anything about them because when we saw a news report, he looked confused. Our dad is in the army. I’m pretty sure they know something because they activated his unit, and the only one at school that did anything weird was this guy.” Harvey pointed at Ashton and grinned.

“Yeah, the thing with the desk was bizarre, but now I know it was related to the whole superspeed thing I got going on.” Ashton shrugged. “To answer the question, no, I don’t know of any other freaks but us.”

“Ok, guys, stay in touch. Harvey, text me after you talk to your brothers.”

“I will. See ya later.” Harvey and Ash turned and jogged out of the park and took the turn toward Harvey’s house.

As the other two boys ran off, Erik turned to Bryson. “All that power in the hands of teenage boys just trying to figure themselves out. I hope there aren’t many more rocks out there. This could be a global disaster.”

Bryson gave Erik a half-smile. “We’re not doing much better than them. You nearly went supernova! You’re right, though. Someone needs to take charge of this thing. We need to know who was affected and how many rocks are still out there. That’s not even getting into the fact that we don’t know how or why we’re all reacting differently to the meteors.”

“Harvey said the army is involved. Won’t they figure all that out?”

Bryson rolled his eyes. “Never trust the government, Erik. Even if they do figure it out, they’ll never tell us. If they got their hands on anyone with powers, we’d be lab rats for life… or turned into military weapons. I’m gathering my own data, and I have a friend who is an investigative journalist who is also working on a few leads.”

“I trust you, Bryson. That’s why I followed your voice out of the fire.”

“You want me. I knew it.” Bryson smirked.

“Don’t ruin the moment, jerk face.” Erik blushed.

“Let’s go back to my place and wait for Grace’s call.”

“Quick stop to check on my dad, and maybe some burgers on the way? Flying really makes a guy hungry.”

Bryson shook his head and laughed. “I wouldn’t know, but, yeah, I’m kinda hungry myself. Let’s go.”

————————————————————————————————————

Ollie pulled into a car dealership and flagged down a salesman. They looked at a few cars out on the lot, then Ollie asked to see the cars in the showroom. The salesman looked skeptical but agreed. Ollie spotted what he wanted almost immediately. “What about this one?” He said.

“We can check out your loan options and credit reports over at my desk. The sticker price on that one is $78,592.00,” The salesman said.

“No loans or credit checks necessary. How much if I pay cash right now?” Ollie asked.

“No one pays that much in cash. What did you do? Rob a bank?” The salesman laughed.

“I did not rob a bank.” Ollie smiled. “But I do have the cash right here. An extra $10k if you stop asking so many questions.”

The salesman frowned. “I can’t take a bribe. Where did the cash come from? I’m calling my manager over.” He turned to walk away. Ollie sighed and pulled the watch out of his pocket. He pulled the crown and twisted time back just a few minutes. Then he pushed the crown back in.

“No one pays that much in cash. What’d you do? Rob a bank?” The salesman laughed.

“I did not rob a bank.” Ollie smiled. “But I do have the cash right here. An extra $25k if you stop asking so many questions.”

The salesman looked around, then bent closer to Oliver. “Let’s finish this conversation in my office.

A little less than an hour later, Oliver Mills drove off the car lot in his brand-new cherry red Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R with white stripes and a black leather interior. His difficult day was long forgotten; he pulled his phone out of his pocket. “Hey Siri, are there any luxury penthouse apartments for rent in Newville, Virginia?” He couldn’t stop smiling as he drove off into a brand-new destiny.

————————————————————————————————————

Carl Chambers stomped into the main room at the union hall, his lion mane flying around his head. “What the hell happened, Dani? Why are we lugging around two duffel bags full of rocks when it should be money?”

“Beats me, Carl. I saw the tellers fill them with money. I saw it with my own eyes.” Danielle’s eyes nearly squinted shut then opened wide. “There was something else weird. When we went outside, one of the guards aimed his gun at me, and I knocked him to the ground. I swung my tail down to impale him with my stinger, but then suddenly, I was striking the bare concrete sidewalk, and he was twenty feet away. Maybe he had powers?”

“No. If he had powers and could do something like that and steal our money, we’d probably be dead or in jail. Powers is most likely the answer, but I’d bet it was someone other than the security guard.”

Rick Myers turned from his seat at the minibar they had in the hall, and he joined the conversation. “Sounds like you two had almost as much fun as I did today.” He shook his head, his bull horns nearly touching the eight-foot-high ceiling. “What exactly happened? I left before you two decided what you were gonna do.”

Carl nearly growled. “We robbed the Newville Community Credit Union, or we thought we did. We left the bank with two duffel bags full of cash, but when we were on the way here, I opened one of the bags to start counting, and it was full of rocks. I opened the other bag and found the same thing! I have no idea how it happened.” He motioned his hand toward himself and his two friends. “With everything that’s going on, my only guess is there are more powered people than just us.”

“You would be correct in that assumption, and the army is involved already, too,” Rick said.

“Oh, this keeps getting better and better.” Danielle snapped. “What happened with you today?”

Before Rick could answer, the union hall doors burst open, and Jordan Winters rushed in, ice dripping off of his grey fur as he stalked across the wooden floor. Jordan looked at the unhappy faces of his three friends. “Collecting these meteor rocks isn’t going to be as easy as we thought.”

“We’re all figuring that out.” Carl snarled. “Me and Dani robbed the credit union and came back here to find we had two bags of rocks. Rick was just about to tell us about his day when you came in.” Carl looked over at Rick. “Continue your story.”

Rick sighed. “I caught the scent of the meteors right outside the antique shop over by the park. The shopkeepers saw me and tried to lock the door.” Rick shrugged. “I smashed through the door to see them run out the back. They managed to get to their car and drive away.” He kind of chuckled. “I guess I’m relatively fast now. They hadn’t gotten far away, so I lowered my head and charged. I hit the car broadside. I must have been going thirty miles an hour. The car went airborne and flipped a few times.”

“Wow. That’s impressive.” Danielle said.

“Yeah, well, when I caught back up to the car, I expected to finish the two dudes off and take the rocks, but another guy was standing in my way. I think he was reading my mind, and he could definitely move stuff without touching it. He pushed me aside like I was nothing, but then I charged at him and knocked him down. I went to go finish him off, but every mailbox on the street started firing at me like missiles. I shrugged them off, but then the army showed up. I didn’t want to deal with that, so I ran back here. I’m sorry, Carl. I came back empty-handed.”

Jordan reached into his pants pocket and then slammed his hand down onto the table. “I didn’t come back empty-handed, but I didn’t have a good time of it either. We need to go out in groups if we’re gonna go hunting for these rocks or for people they’ve given abilities to.” Jordan lifted his hand off the table, revealing a small pile of blue meteor rocks.

“Great job, Jordan!” Carl said. “What happened, though? And what’s with all the ice?”

Jordan shook his head, melting ice still shaking loose from his long grey fur. “I followed the scent of the meteors to the high school baseball field. Half the infield is a huge crater. Something big hit there, and it must have been bigger than the meteor that we have here. That’s where I gathered these rocks.” He pointed at the pile of meteor rocks that he had placed on the table.

“You sound unsure of what caused the crater, Jordan. Wasn’t it still there?” Rick asked.

“No. Whatever crashed there was gone. Someone got to it before I did. It had to have been big. Maybe the army got it.” Jordan shrugged.

“What about the ice?” Carl asked.

“I was getting to that,” Jordan said. “After I picked up all those rocks, I could smell that there were more. I followed the scent and spotted two teenage boys. I knew they had pieces of the meteor, so I charged at them. I figured I’d scare them into giving me whatever I asked for, but I was wrong. The younger one hid behind the car, but the older one started exhibiting abilities. It looked like the powers surprised him as much as they surprised me, but he created enough of a problem for me that the two of them were able to run away. He could create stuff out of ice, and he could also shoot ice beams out of his hands. He encased me in an ice cocoon, for crying out loud! I could have followed him, but I thought it best to check in here and maybe take someone else with me next time.”

“Interesting,” Carl mumbled, drumming his paw-like hands on the tabletop. “One with psychic abilities, one with ice powers, and whatever it was that Dani and I faced. If there’s three out there, plus the twelve of us, there are probably more.” He gestured at the room they were in. “We need to get out of here before the army, or these others track us down. Let’s start packing everything up, especially the meteor. I know of a couple abandoned warehouses where we can set-up a temporary headquarters until we find something more permanent.” The other three nodded in agreement, and they set to work packing up the union hall.

————————————————————————————————————

Grace was still pacing in front of Justyce Labs and glancing at her phone when Caleb’s car finally pulled up. Grace wondered to herself why Caleb brought a teenage boy with him, but, for now, she pushed that thought aside. “Caleb! Finally! I have a lot of questions that I thought you might find interesting. There was no one else that I could think of that might have any answers.”

“Not even your army contacts?” Caleb smirked.

“Especially not them. Not with this. Is there somewhere we could talk?” Grace’s eyes wandered over to Obadiah and then back to Caleb.

Caleb saw the look and nodded. “I have to wait out here for a couple deliveries that are coming in, but I’ll unlock the door for Obadiah to wait for me in the lobby.” Caleb clapped a hand onto Obie’s shoulder. “Come with me, Obadiah. I have a nice comfortable couch and a tv in the lobby of my lab to keep you entertained while I talk to the nice lady.”

“Will this tv have the same show I was watching on the other one?”

“I’m not sure, but we can check and see.”

Obie stopped and looked at Grace, then continued walking with Caleb. “Do you think the lady knows Logan?”

“I’ll be sure to ask.” Caleb unlocked and opened the front door of the lab and ushered Obadiah inside. After setting Obie up on the couch with the tv remote, Caleb went back outside to talk to Grace. “How can I help, Grace? What is it that you trust me with that you won’t trust the government?”

Grace arched an eyebrow. “I think you may already have an idea why I’m here. I saw that boy’s eyes. Who is he?”

“I’m not one hundred percent sure yet. He showed up at my sister’s house last night. He was injured, and he has amnesia.”

“And you didn’t take him to the hospital or call the police?”

Caleb smirked. “Didn’t you just say that we shouldn’t trust the government with whatever is going on?”

“Very true and very smart. Your sister lives over on the other side of the high school, doesn’t she?”

“Yes. Why do you ask that?”

“I took a walk down that way while I was waiting for you. Have you seen the crater? Looks like something big hit there. Whatever was there is gone now. There were also footprints leading out, but none leading in.” Her gaze wandered toward the boy in the lobby.

“That’s interesting. I will definitely check that out as soon as possible. Things are happening quickly, Grace. Now, what is it that prompted your visit?”

“Did you see the meteor shower last night and all the news clips throughout the day today?”

“I didn’t witness the meteor shower, but I did read about it. I’ve been busy in the lab and with my sister and Obadiah, so no, I haven’t kept up with the news. But I do know that other strange things have been happening. Your call isn’t the only one I’ve gotten today.”

“Check your phone. I sent you a couple video links.”

Caleb’s eyes widened as he watched. Finally, he slid his phone back into his pocket. “I have heard about these beasts, but I hadn’t gotten the chance to watch the videos yet. This is… amazing. Did you see this in person? Is that why you’re here? You’re not affected by this, are you, Grace?”

“I’m not surprised that you’re aware of at least some of this. No, I’m not personally affected, but I am involved. The meteor rocks that didn’t burn up in the atmosphere are what caused all the fires. I’ve seen one of the rocks. It glows with the same blue light that shines in that boy’s eyes.” She pointed at Obadiah.

“I agree that he is involved, but I’m not sure how yet. Do you still have the stone? Did you pick it up?”

“I did not touch it. My friend Bryson Indiana has it. That’s why I’m here. He fought one of those monsters that you saw in the video clips. Bryson has superpowers.”

“Superpowers? What can he do? Can you bring him here? I have already started gathering a few items that may be involved since I found out about the boy. I would love to talk to someone who has been affected and does not have amnesia. It might help me help Obadiah. We need to figure this thing out, Grace. I’m glad you came to me.”

“You were the first one I thought of. I knew that if you weren’t already involved, that you’d want to be. Bryson still has a rock, so if I can get him to come here with me, you can talk to him and get to see a piece of the meteor.”

“If he allows me to examine both him and the stone, that may be key to figuring out what is happening. Now you must excuse me, Grace. It looks like my other guests are arriving.”

Grace turned and saw two ambulances pulling into the parking lot. “Do all your guests arrive by ambulance, Caleb?”

“They were in the car accident caused by the minotaur. The same wreck that your friend Bryson was a part of. One of my associates at the hospital called me to tell me that both cases were highly unusual and glowing blue rocks were among the possessions of both men.”

“How did you manage to get the hospital to release them to you? Never mind. I don’t want to know. What’s with the armored car pulling in behind the ambulances?”

Caleb grinned. “Another oddity. The credit union was robbed, possibly by people in animal costumes. Now, I’m thinking it may have been more of these mutants. A security guard friend of mine called me to tell me that the surveillance footage showed something he couldn’t explain, so he sent it to me.”

“Looks like you’re going to be busy. Are you sure you want me to bring Bryson?”

“Absolutely. Obadiah has amnesia, and these other two are in comas. Bryson could be the key to helping all of them.”

“I’ll let you get to work. I’ll text you after I talk to Bryson.”

“Wait. One other thing. Do you know anyone named Logan? He’d probably be a teenager.”

“No, but maybe Bryson does. Can I take a picture of Obadiah to show him? He might recognize the boy.”

“I took some photos for documentation. I’ll text you one.”

“Thank you. I’ll be in touch soon.” Grace’s phone beeped as she walked to her car. She opened the text and saved the pic which she immediately sent to Bryson.

Grace: Bryson, do you recognize this boy? He may be involved with the meteors. He may                                               also be connected to someone named Logan.

Bryson: He doesn’t look familiar. My new friend Harvey has a brother named Logan. It                           may not be the same Logan, but I’ll send the pic to him and ask.

Grace: Thanks. I’m on my way to your house. Are you there?

Bryson: I’m at my friend Erik’s house. He’s also involved in this. I’ll be home soon.                                  I’ll meet you there.

Grace: Ok. See you soon.

Harvey and Ashton rounded the corner almost within sight of the Kastala house. Ash stopped and pointed across the street. “There’s Logan and Gavin right other there. I wonder where they’re off to.”

“Hmm. They might be looking for me. Come on.” Harvey led Ashton across the street to meet up with his two brothers. “Yo! Where are you guys going? I was just heading home to check in and tell you about what just happened to us.”

Logan lightly punched Harvey’s shoulder. “We were looking for you, you jerk! Don’t you ever answer your texts?”

“Sorry! I was kinda busy. I’ll tell you all about it at home. Let’s get off the street. A lot is going on.” Harvey said.

“More than you know! Wait until you hear about Gavin!” Logan said. “And I have a story of my own to tell. A lot has happened in the last day and a half.”

Gavin spoke up after the four boys were settled in in the Kastala’s living room with snacks and soda. “Well, it seems we all have stories to tell. Who wants to go first?”

Logan pulled the glowing blue feather out of his pocket. “I think my story starts before any of the others, so why don’t I start?”

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Coming Soon: Episode 8 – Date night Interrupted!!