The Cursed Wolf (Chapter 13)

Chapter 13

The stack of books and newspapers tumbled out of Nate’s arms as he sat at the study table. He sighed and looked over at Devon and Brad. “That’s the last of what I think will be worth looking at. We should be done in a couple hours. The library closes at noon today anyway.”

Devon tossed the book he was reading onto the table and reached for another one. “There are a lot more stories about witches than werewolves and almost nothing about the two of them together. Didn’t you say you had some local stories?” He scanned the material spread out on the table.

Brad pushed a stack of newspapers closer to Devon. “These are old and local papers.” He said without even looking up from the paper he was reading. “There’s not much here, myths and legends and family trees. I found that every person who was suspected to be a witch has no living relatives in Roxbury Falls, except Elias, and Eli just moved back here a couple of years ago with a foster family. He didn’t even know anything about his family history until last year.”

“That in itself is weird, isn’t it? That many old families moving away?” Nate asked.

“They didn’t all move away. There were a lot of deaths… all deemed accidents.” Brad said.

“We need to move on to the next stage of our plan,” Devon said. “I’m gonna text Sky and tell him to come to the library and to bring David with him. Matt said he’d text after he talked to Terrie, right?”

“Yeah, and I’ll let him be the one to text Elias, too.” Brad rolled his eyes. “Nate? Let’s put all this away. We need to switch to searching the internet. It’s time to dig deep into the crazy conspiracy blogs.”

Devon grinned. “Now that sounds fun!” Devon shot off a quick text to his brother, which read, ‘Come to the library. Bring David.’

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Matt sat cross-legged in the middle of the blanket. He took the food that he brought for the picnic out of the basket while he waited for Terrie. A shadow crossed over the blanket, causing Matt to look up and smile. “Hey, beautiful. It’s been ages since I’ve seen you. How are you?”

“Silly boy. You were just at my house. This looks wonderful.” Terrie said as she sat down.

“But I miss you every minute that we’re apart, and that makes it seem so much longer.” Matt grinned and then sighed. “I wish… I wish we could be just another young teen couple out on a first date in the park, but we’re not. A lot has happened, Terrie. There’s so much we need to talk about. You know some of it from talking to Brad last night and this morning, but there’s a lot more. I found out so much at Eli’s house, and I had another weird dream and woke up to find David outside in the bushes.”

Terrie reached over and took Matt’s hands in her own. “Tell me. Tell me everything.”

Matt started with the easy stuff. He told her about his dreams of the blue-eyed werewolf, and he told her about the new details that he learned with Eli’s help. Matt told Terrie that he was now almost positive that two werewolves were stalking the town, and because of that, he had hopes that his brother had not yet killed. He skipped, for now, details about Elias. Instead, he told Terrie about finding David in the bushes. He told her as much about the curse as he had learned. Then, after he finished telling her about werewolves and curses, he had no choice but to tackle the more complex topics, Elias and witchcraft. Terrie was still holding Matt’s hands. He pulled her to him and kissed her forehead, then took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “So, that’s what I know about werewolves and the curse that is on my family. But, there’s more that I need to tell you.”

Terrie’s eyes opened wide. “Wow. What else could you possibly have left to tell me? That’s a lot already. It’s all so hard to believe, but with you and Brad and even my little brother Johnny having seen stuff, I one hundred percent believe you guys.”

Matt frowned. “Most of the rest is about Eli and how he ties into all of this. Eli is a witch, and on top of that, he has proven to me that I am a witch, too.”

“What do you mean? Did he show you real magic? Can you do stuff?”

“He did show me his magic. He also explained his family history to me. There are many old books in the house that everyone calls the witch house, and he has learned from them. One of his ancestors was part of the coven that cursed my family.”

Terrie’s brow furrowed. “Then is he helping you, or is he the enemy that we should be wary of?”

“He’s helping. Ever since that first day that he saw me at Will’s Diner, he has wanted to help me. He dreamed about me before he ever met me, and I know he wasn’t lying. Elias described to me exactly what I was doing on my last night in California. Even David didn’t know what I did that night.”

“I can’t say that I like Elias dreaming about you, but that’s pretty cool that it was accurate.”

Matt blushed. “There’s a lot more that I have to tell you about Eli, and there’s more that you won’t like.”

Terrie looked concerned, and she held tighter to Matt’s hands. “You can tell me anything. But, especially now in these scary and unbelievable times, we have to be honest with each other and lean on each other.”

Matt sighed. “I agree. I just hope you still feel that way after I tell you everything. So, after Eli told me about his dream, I told him about the dream I’d been having about David. Eli got the idea to try to use his magic to enter my dream and help me see things about it that I hadn’t been able to see before. His idea worked perfectly. With Eli’s support, I stayed in the dream past when I would normally scare myself awake. It was near the end of the dream, the new part that I hadn’t seen, that I knew for certain that there were two wolves, and they match up exactly with the descriptions that Brad gave.”

“This is all scary as hell, but it seems encouraging. Like maybe your brother hasn’t killed, even though he’s a werewolf. So why would you say that I wouldn’t like what you had to say?”

Matt pulled his hands away from Terrie’s. He pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs. Matt rested his forehead against his knees and spoke softly. “I’m getting to that part.”

Terrie reached out and put a hand on Matt’s shoulder. Hey, I’ll say again that you can tell me anything. I have a feeling that I know where this is going, and it’s ok.”

Matt looked up with tears starting to form at the corners of his eyes. “I didn’t even know where this was heading until it was happening. How could you?” He took a deep breath and let it out. “When I saw the new ending of my dream, and I saw the danger that David was in, the danger that we were all in, I jumped and nearly fell out of the chair that I was sitting in. Elias caught me, but my momentum crashed us up against the wall. I was scared out of my mind, but he held onto me until I felt safe. First in the dream, and then there in his arms up against the wall, he made me feel safer than I’ve felt in months. He held me until I stopped shaking, and then he promised me that he would save my brother.”

“There’s still more to this story, isn’t there?” Terrie said. Her expression was sad.

“Yes.” Matt sighed. “I mean… I won’t make you listen to details. Not much physical happened, but I wanted it to. I stopped myself, and I stopped him until I could figure out exactly what I want. I needed to talk to you before I did anything I would regret. I didn’t… I wouldn’t cheat on you, Terrie. I’ve never been sexually attracted to a guy before. I’ve never been as attracted to anyone as I was to him last night, yet, sitting here, I know I’m falling in love with you. I’m so confused. I don’t want to hurt either of you, but I don’t want to abandon either of you. Saying that out loud makes me sound selfish, but I want both of you!”

Terrie’s eyes were wet with tears. “Is it possible that the dream caused your connection in real life? Maybe the magic?”

“We talked about that very possibility. According to Elias, the magic that binds us to each other could enhance feelings, but it couldn’t create feelings out of nothing. Terrie, there’s still more that I need to tell you.”

“What else could there possibly be?” Terrie raised her hands, exasperated. “Did you kiss him? Did he kiss you? More than that? What else?”

“I didn’t kiss him. I wanted to, but I didn’t. Full disclosure,” Matt pulled his shirt collar down, exposing the hickey on his collarbone. “That happened, but that’s not what I need to tell you. The physical stuff didn’t go further than him briefly kissing my neck. Terrie, you need to understand something about witches. Their powers grow when multiple witches are bonded in a coven. Eli doesn’t think that he’s strong enough to break a werewolf curse by himself, but he does think that he could break the curse’s power over me. If he can do that, I could bond with him, forming our own coven. It might be the only way to save my brother, but I think it is something I would want to do even if David wasn’t cursed.”

“I’m not really sure what the right thing is for me to say to all that, Matt. I think I’m falling in love with you, too, but you’ve said so much more than that. I can’t tell you not to bond with him if that’s even possible. Saving your brother and protecting the entire town has to be the top priority. You have to keep hanging out with Elias to do that. Besides, I care enough about you that I want you to be happy even if it isn’t with me. Go figure yourself out. I won’t abandon you. I won’t even break up with you right now, but I can’t say that I will be ok with whatever you decide. I’m your friend no matter what, Matt. We need to stick together through all the craziness and then, as long as we all survive,” Terrie huffed out a laugh. “We’ll figure out where to go from there.”

Matt nodded his head. “I suppose that’s the best possible reaction that I could expect from everything I told you. I appreciate what you said, Terrie. As soon as I know what the hell is going on with me, you’ll be the next one to know. I’m so sorry that I screwed up our picnic with my drama.”

Terrie shocked Matt with what she did next. She moved over closer to him and then straddled his lap. Terrie cupped Matt’s face in both her hands. “Babe, the fact that you tried to have a picnic with me while this is going on tells me how much you care.” She leaned in and gently kissed his lips. “You are an amazing man, Matthew Montana. I will stand by you while you figure all this stuff out. The supernatural stuff, and the romance stuff. I’m not ready to let you go.” She leaned in again, and he leaned in to meet her this time. Their lips crashed together, and their tongues entwined. They didn’t part until they were both breathless.

Matt was nearly panting. “That. Was. Amazing! Unfortunately, we have to meet up with everyone else now. David and Sky were going to meet up with Brad, Devon, and Nate at the library. I… I gotta go to Eli’s house before I go to the library. Do you want to meet up with everyone else before I get there, or should I swing by your house on my way there?”

Terrie’s brow furrowed. “I’ll go home first and try and find out if my dad found out anything about Brad’s photos. Then I’ll go to the library on my own. You do whatever you need to do with Eli and meet us as soon as you can. It seems as if Elias is a central figure in all this almost as much as David is. I’ll see you at the library, babe.” With a final kiss, Terrie got up and left the park. His head still spinning from the entire conversation with his… girlfriend? Ex-girlfriend? Friend? … whatever she was now… Matt sent off a text to Elias to let him know that he was on his way.

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Brad followed Nate deeper into the library as they put all of their research materials away. As Nate set the last book back on the shelf, he turned and grabbed two handfuls of Brad’s t-shirt and pulled him in close. “I hate having debts hanging over my head. Do you mind if I pay you what I owe you now?” His green eyes sparkled, and his full lips curled up in a smile.

“I’ve added interest onto the debt, so now you owe,” The rest of Brad’s sentence was cut off when Nate pressed him up against the bookshelf and kissed him. Brad wrapped his arms around Nate’s neck, and Nate’s hands slid down Brad’s back and came to rest on his hips.

Nate broke the kiss, nearly breathless. “Oh, God, you’re an amazing kisser, and you taste just as sweet as you look. I have wanted to kiss you for two years, and I am not the least bit disappointed in the result!”

“I sure hope you don’t wait two more years to do it again!” Brad said with a giggle.

“Definitely not.” Nate leaned in for another kiss, but they were interrupted by the sound of Devon clearing his throat.

“I hate to interrupt the nerdy library sex, but Sky answered my text. He and David are on their way here. So you two might want to keep your clothes on a little while longer.”

Brad laughed. “Has it been that long for you that you confuse kissing with sex, Dev?”

Devon rolled his eyes. “Whatever you say, dude.” Devon huffed out a laugh. “I like being a single pringle. Anyway, I’ll start organizing all our notes, so we’re ready for my brother and his werewolf boyfriend. Have you heard from Matt or Terrie yet?”

“Nothing yet. I hope he made out ok. That conversation could have gone bad. If he doesn’t text me soon, I’ll text him.” Brad said as the three boys walked back to the research table.

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Terrie walked into the house and looked around for her father. Her search took her to his home office, where she finally found him. Terrie’s alert eyes noticed that her dad minimized whatever he was looking at when she walked into the room. “Hi, dad. I’m home. What’re you working on?”

“You’re home early. I didn’t expect to see you until curfew. Is everything alright?”

“No, dad. Nothing is alright.” Terrie’s brow furrowed. “Did you get anything back on Brad’s photos yet?”

“Why do you ask? Let me handle that. You don’t need to be concerned with it.”

“You’re wrong. I do need to be concerned. Brad was telling the truth. I’m sure of that now. The photos will prove it.”

The sheriff sighed. “What else has happened? Why do you say that you’re sure of it now?”

“You know something. You got the photos back, didn’t you, dad? I’ll tell you everything I know if you do the same.”

“Ok. It sounds like you’re involved already.” The sheriff opened the photos that he had been looking at when Terrie got home. “My forensic photographer friend emailed me these, and he asked me why I was trying to prank him with pics of a werewolf.”

“You know it’s not a prank, right?” Terrie asked.

“I’m getting there. It’s taking me a while, but I’m getting there. What do you know? What else has happened?”

Terrie stared at the photos of the blue-eyed werewolf, and then she looked over at her father. She pointed at the pictures. “That is most likely David Montana.”

The sheriff’s jaw dropped. “Tell me everything.” Terrie sighed and began telling her father everything that Matt had told her earlier and everything she had talked with Brad about the night before.

Ronnie shook his head in wonder. “So, there are two werewolves, and all the stories about the Carrier witch house are true. This… is unreal. And Matt is a witch? What about Nancy and Brad?”

“Not as far as anyone knows. Nancy and Brad aren’t in the direct bloodline, so they should be safe from the curse. Matt isn’t sure where the witch blood comes from yet. Who knows? This is all crazy, dad.”

The sheriff scratched his chin. “It is crazy, but if all this is true, then maybe all the stories are true. Do you know my deputy? Lilly Monroe?”

“Yeah. Lilly is nice. What about her?”

“Right after I hired her, she started asking a million questions about the town history. Now that I think about it, she moved to town and applied for the job right after the rumors started about the Carrier kid visiting the witch house. She tried to convince me to burn down the house. Let’s take a ride to the station. I think we should have a more in-depth talk with Lilly.”

“Do you think it’s best to get someone else involved?”
Ronnie shrugged. “If my hunch is right, she’s already involved. So we should know as much as possible.”

“Ok. I’m in. Let’s go.” Terrie said as father and daughter walked out of the house.

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David and Skylar walked into the library, and Sky looked right at his little brother. “I can’t believe that I’m seeing you, of all people, in a library.”

Devon rolled his eyes. “We have a lot to talk about, big brother, but I’m sure that you know that already.” Devon’s eyes darted toward David.

David took Sky’s hand in his own. “Where is Matt? We may as well tell all these stories all at once. There’s no sense repeating everything multiple times.”

“I hoped Matt and Terrie would be here by now. Elias as well, I guess. This is all so unbelievable, David. I know we want to wait for everyone to get here, but I have to ask, do you know for sure? Are you a werewolf?” Brad asked.

“Yes. I do know for sure. I am a werewolf, and… I accidentally bit Sky. We’re not sure what that means yet, though.” Everyone started talking at once. Waiting for the rest of their friends went out the window as the five boys became lost in telling everything they knew and everything they had researched. It wasn’t for another hour that Brad’s phone alerted him to a text. Terrie was on her way to the library, but she was alone. Matt was at the witch house with Elias.

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Matt knocked on the door, and it was answered by Eli’s foster mom. “Hello, can I… oh… you’re Eli’s friend, aren’t you?”

“Yes, ma’am. I’m Matt. Is Eli home?”

“Yes. Let me get him.” Before she could even turn around, Elias ran up behind her.

“Hey. Matt! Come on in.” Elias said with a grin.

Eli’s foster mom stepped aside, and Matt followed Elias up the stairs and into his bedroom. Eli spoke softly. “I just need to grab a couple of books to bring back to the other house. I think I found all the spells and ingredients that I will need to accomplish both things that we need to do.”

“Do you mean…” Matt’s eyes were wide and hopeful.

Elias grinned. “Yes. I don’t know if I’m capable of succeeding in either task, but I’m pretty sure I figured out how to remove the curse from you and bond you into my coven.”

Matt closed the bedroom door and then stepped in close to Elias. Matt’s blue eyes burned with desire as he stared deeply into Eli’s eyes. There’s a third experiment that we need to do today. One that I want to try before you cast any of your magic spells on me.” Matt smirked as he maneuvered Elias closer to the bed.

“What about… did you talk to… can I….” Elias stuttered out half sentences as he stared into Matt’s eyes.

“If your lips can’t form whole sentences, maybe I should find a better use for them.” Matt leaned in, and the two boys shared their first kiss. As the kiss deepened, Eli tried to take another step back but stumbled because his legs were already against his bed. As he fell, he clutched onto Matt’s shirt, pulling Matt down on top of him. Elias moaned into Matt’s mouth as he wrapped his legs around the other boy’s hips.

Matt pulled back and smiled down at Eli. “I hereby declare this experiment a complete success. Admittedly, I don’t have a ton of experience to compare it to, but that was easily the most amazing kiss of my life.”

Elias blushed. “It’s like you lit my whole body on fire. I hope this means that you want to be with me?”

“There’s a lot we have to talk about, but there’s one thing for sure, I never want to be without you ever again. I crave your touch like it’s a drug.”

Eli pulled Matt into another fiery kiss then pulled away. “I could lay here and kiss you forever… and do so much more, but we have things that we need to do before dark. With any luck, we can help your brother before the change hits him tonight.”

Matt rolled off of Elias. “It is getting late. It’s good that one of us was thinking with their big head.” Matt huffed out a laugh.

Elias giggled and sat up on the edge of the bed. “Being near you makes all this scary stuff a little easier to deal with.”

“I feel the exact same way.”

Eli grabbed his backpack and led Matt out of the room. At the bottom of the stairs, he poked his head into the living room. “Hey, Judy. Matt and I are going for a walk. I probably won’t be home until late.”

“Just make sure you get in before curfew, Elias,” Judy said.

“I will. Thanks. Bye!” The two boys left the house and walked toward the witch house.

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 Terrie stood in the corner of her father’s office and listened intently as her dad talked to Deputy Lilly Monroe. “So, you haven’t found any hard evidence about the Carrier boy, have you, Lilly?”

“You sound like you are a lot closer to believing me, Ronnie. What do you know?” Lilly’s eyes darted to Terrie and then back to Ronnie.

“Let’s just say that my mind is open to possibilities now.”

“You know that there are no bears in the middle of town, right, Ronnie?”

“Witchcraft didn’t kill those kids either. What do you think did it if not bears?”

“You know the stories, and I can see that you know something of what’s happening now. First, the boy reopened the Carrier house, then the Montana family bloodline returned to town. It was after those events that people started dying, Sheriff. Dark supernatural forces are at work in Roxbury Falls. If the sheriff’s department can’t stop it, I know people who can.”

“Lilly, give me time to wrap my head around all this. Then, bring me your evidence, and we’ll work together. Don’t bring in outsiders.”

“If there are any more deaths, others will come. That is unavoidable. I will try my best to work with you to regain control of your town.” Lilly looked at Terrie. “I have seen you with the younger Montana boy. If you find things getting weird or out of control, come to me. I will help you.” Lilly nodded to both Ronnie and Terrie and then left the office.

Terrie and her dad both looked at each other after Lilly left the office. Terrie spoke first. “Thank you for not giving her any details of what I told you. I don’t think she would care if they are killers or not. Her opinion appears to be that all supernatural beings are evil.”

Ronnie nodded. “If David is a killer, you realize that I won’t be able to protect him. I won’t want to protect him, and I won’t be able to arrest him. We would have to involve Lilly and her friends.”

Terrie frowned. I’m meeting all the guys at the library this afternoon. I promise I’ll keep you in the loop. Please don’t involve Lilly until I talk to you again.”

“I expect you to keep that promise, and I will promise in return that I won’t get Lilly involved. Of course, if there’s another death tonight, she may get involved whether we want her to or not.”

Terrie shot off a text to Brad and then spoke to her father again. “I might be out late, dad, but I will be in before curfew. I promise.”

“Be careful, Terrie,” Ronnie yelled as his daughter nearly ran out of the police station.

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Matt sat at the kitchen table in the house that he thought of as Eli’s house instead of the witch house. He watched Eli’s lithe form dart back and forth across the kitchen. The rich earthy aroma of herbs filled Matt’s nostrils as he inhaled deeply. “Are you cooking me dinner or casting a spell? The kitchen smells amazing!”

“Both,” Elias smirked. “The spell first, though.”

“Can I eat it? I’m starved!”

Eli rolled his eyes. “I’ll make sure you get fed. I have no idea how your body will react to the spell, and I don’t want you to puke on me.” Eli laughed.

“Gee, thanks! Are we ready?”

“I think so,” Elias said. “Huge disclaimer. I’ve read about these big spells that include herbs and potions, but I’ve never actually cast any. The biggest things I’ve done are all the protection spells around the house. So you’re going to be my guinea pig.” Eli huffed out a laugh.

Matt arched an eyebrow. “What’s the worst-case scenario if this goes wrong?”

Eli got a serious look on his face. “From my research, I am relatively certain that if I do this wrong, nothing at all will happen. If something does happen, I’ve done it right. I don’t know. What I think will happen is that the dark magic will be expelled from your body. What does that mean? Again, I’m not sure.” Eli shrugged. “Do you still want to go through with this?”

“Absolutely one hundred percent yes. WE know what’s happening with my brother. I’m willing to take my chances with the unknown to help him. But, doing nothing is not an option.”

Elias pushed Matt’s chair away from the table and straddled his lap. Eli ran his fingers through Matt’s thick dark hair as he stared down into his eyes. “You have the most beautiful blue eyes that I have ever seen. I would die before I ever did anything to hurt you. I will be careful. I will do everything exactly right. I made you a promise last night that you would not lose your brother. I mean to keep that promise, and the first step is cleansing you of dark magic.”

“What do you need me to do?”

Eli’s fingertips slid across Matt’s face and down his neck, finally coming to rest on his shoulders. Elias smirked. “The first thing you need to do is follow me into the bathroom and take off all your clothes.”

Matt’s eyebrows shot up. “What kind of spell is this?!”

Elias laughed. “I knew you would immediately think naughty thoughts. These herbs,” He motioned toward the kitchen counters. “Will go into a cleansing bath. The magic should draw the darkness out of you and into the water.”

“Oh! Ok! That makes sense.” Matt blushed. “It will be weird to be naked in front of you and not have it be naughty, though,” Matt smirked.

“We might get naughty later. Who knows?” Eli waggled his eyebrows, then turned away from Matt and collected all his bottles and bowls of herbs. Eli led Matt down the hall and into the bathroom.

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 12

Episode 12 – New day, New Beginnings

Grace Santos woke up in bed in her apartment the following day with no memory of how she got there. Her last memory was of the shadow on the wall reaching out for her. She shuddered at the memory.

Grace got out of bed and turned on the TV while she fixed breakfast. The “Breaking News” report caught her attention immediately. Newville Heights was the scene of four murders last night. Grace recognized two faces as the men who attacked her in the alley last night just before she blacked out.

The news said that one of the men died of a broken neck and the other of a heart attack. Witnesses found an unusual scene upon first finding the men. They said the man who died of a heart attack was still sitting upright. They said he appeared to be just staring off into space. One witness identified the man as Gary Roberts. The problem was that Gary Roberts was thirty years old and had brown hair, but the body found in the alley looked like a ninety-year-old man with white hair. The facial expression on the man’s face also looked like he had been scared to death.

The news went on to say that police found the other two men only two blocks away. The female survivor of that encounter claimed that the men attacked her, and then “Sombra Demono” rose from the shadows and killed them.

Grace flipped from channel to channel. Last night’s attacks were the lead story on every one. Some had the headline as “Shadow Killer Kills Four” while others said “Sombra Demono: Killer or Guardian?”

Grace just sat in shock, watching all the broadcasts. Were they talking about her? Had she killed four people last night? Her mind drifted back to all the weird things that happened to her and her new friends yesterday. She needed answers, starting with her lost memories.

Grace showered and dressed, then picked up her cell phone. She needed to text Erik, Bryson, and Caleb. Erik first, of course. Grace smiled at the thought of Erik. He was definitely the best thing about the last crazy twenty-four hours.

Grace: Hey, you. You awake yet? I’m ready for that coffee date.

Erik: Just got out of the shower. Do you mind if I put clothes on first? (wink emoji)

Grace: If you insist. (eye roll emoji) (laughing emoji)

Erik: Starbucks? Half an hour?

Grace: Sounds good. Something weird happened last night. Would it be ok if I invited                              Bryson to join us?

Erik: You ok? (shocked emoji)

Grace: I’m fine. I’ll explain in person. Do you mind?

Erik: Invite him. I’ll see you soon. (hug emoji)

Grace: See you soon.

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Grace: Bryson, text me back as soon as you get this.

Bryson: I’m here. What’s up?

Grace: More weirdness to add to the list. Can you meet Erik and me at Starbucks?

Bryson: Yeah. Give me twenty minutes?

Grace: Perfect.

Bryson: (thumbs up emoji)

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Ash woke up and found he couldn’t rollover. Instead, he groggily blinked open his eyes and found Harvey practically lying on top of him. Their legs were entwined, Harvey had one arm slung over Ash’s middle, and Harvey’s face was pressed into the side of Ash’s neck. Ash smiled and tried to untangle himself from his boyfriend’s embrace.

Harvey groaned and pulled Ashton in closer. “Don’t go. It’s too early to get out of bed.”

Ash smirked. “If you pull me against you any closer, I might get ideas about what you might be wanting.”

Harvey smiled. “I do want that. All of that. Every possible combination in every possible position. I want it all with you, but there are too many people in the house right now. Too much is going on, and we have too much to figure out, including our own powers.”

Ash spun in Harvey’s embrace so that he was on his back and Harvey was lying on top of him. “You are as brilliant and compassionate as you are beautiful and sexy. I am over the moon that we will take our relationship further, but you are right. We need to get our butts out of bed. We need to find Gavin, and we need to reunite Logan with his angel friend. Once we do that, we can figure out everything else. Now I need to get into the shower. I expect to smell bacon by the time I go downstairs.” Ash grinned.

Harvey rolled off of Ash. He was about to sit up when Ash rolled over on top of him. Ash stared down into Harvey’s bright blue eyes. “I love you, Harvey Kastala. I have loved you my whole life.” Ash leaned down and pressed his lips against Harvey’s. Harvey’s lips parted as he returned the kiss. Ash broke away and groaned. “If I don’t get out of bed right now, it might be a couple hours before I let you leave.”

Harvey grinned. “I wouldn’t complain.”

“I could get used to waking up in your arms. We need to work on that along with everything else.”

“I don’t think either my dad or your mom will be onboard with that while we’re still seventeen and in high school.” Harvey huffed out a laugh. “I agree, though. We need to at least start the conversation with them and let them know what we want. Maybe with us being superheroes, it might convince them to say yes.” Harvey rolled his eyes.

Ash sighed. “One step at a time. First, we need to rescue Gavin and locate Obadiah. Oh, and don’t forget my bacon.” Ash leaped off the bed, stripped off his boxers, and walked into the bathroom naked.

Harvey’s eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets as he watched Ash walk across the room. When the bathroom door closed, Harvey got out of bed, grabbed some clothes, and walked down the hallway to the other bathroom to take a shower of his own.

————————————————————————————————————

Sylvester woke up, yawned, and turned toward Logan. He was surprised to find himself literally nose to nose with the other boy. “Oh! Good morning, Logan. I… didn’t expect to find you so close.”

Logan blushed. “Sorry. I kinda zoned out watching you sleep. After the day we had yesterday, it was a peaceful way to start the day.”

Sy smiled and wriggled his nose against Logan’s. “You can watch me sleep anytime you want.”

“The whole thinking of me as a big brother thing isn’t going to happen, is it?” Logan chuckled.

Sylvester rolled his eyes. “Be honest with me, Logan. You don’t have brotherly feelings for me either, do you?”

Logan rolled onto his back and sighed. “If I’m being sincere, no. Nothing can happen between us, though, Sy. It’s more than just the age difference. I have a boyfriend who I love. Right now, my focus has to be on finding Obie.” He leaned on his elbow again and looked down at Sylvester. “I won’t lie to you, Sy. There’s a connection between us, and it’s more than just our powers meshing so well together. You are incredibly beautiful inside and out. I hope you don’t think that I’m pushing you away. The opposite is true. I would love for us to be best friends if you’re ok with that.”

Sylvester closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then let the breath out slowly. He opened his eyes and placed a hand firmly against Logan’s chest. Sy pushed the older teen down onto his back so that their positions were reversed. Now, Sy was propped up on one elbow, looking down at Logan. “I will make you two promises, Logs. Number one, I will never make the first move on you. If you want us to be friends, that’s what I’ll be. I will never look at you as a brother, but I’d be honored to be your friend. Promise number two, if you ever change your mind and make a move on me, I will not say no.” Sy shrugged. “A lot is going on right now, so starting something new is probably not the best idea even without the obstacles between us.” Then Sy grinned. “By the way, once we figure out these powers and defeat those monsters, I expect you, as my new best friend, to throw me the biggest birthday bash I have ever had.”

“I understand your terms and conditions.” Logan huffed out a laugh. “I do want us to be friends, best friends even. Now, when is this birthday of yours? You’ll be fourteen, right?”

“Next Saturday, and, yes, fourteen. We’ll only be four years apart instead of five.” Sy winked.

Logan rolled his eyes. “I will keep that in mind. Now get out of bed. It’s time to get this day started. Grace said to text her at nine, and it’s already past eight.”

Sy got out of bed and padded down the hallway to get fresh clothes out of his backpack.

————————————————————————————————————

Bryson paid for his overpriced, over-flavored, specialty coffee and walked toward the corner of the café where his two friends waited. His keen eye picked up on their body language, and he smiled. Bryson noticed every detail of everything around him, and right now, he saw how Erik and Grace’s hands were stretched across the table. Their finger kept touching as they talked. Grace was maintaining eye contact, but Erik kept looking down and blushing. Both of his friends were smiling and laughing, and it was refreshing to hear. Bryson slipped into an empty chair at the table. “Why do I instantly feel like the third wheel on a date?” Bryson grinned.

Erik stuttered and stammered. “You’re not. Well, maybe, I don’t know. Thanks for meeting us here. I… uh, we, uh, Grace….”

Grace shook her head and laughed. She reached out and put a comforting hand over Erik’s. “You dear sweet man, let me do the talking.” She looked over at Bryson. “It’s coffee, and it’s business, but there may be a date in our future. Anyway, business first. Something odd happened last night, and I thought you’d want to hear about it right away. Keep in mind that I am positive that I have never come in contact with a meteor rock.”

“Well, that does sound intriguing! What happened?!” Bryson asked, leaning forward.

Grace proceeded to tell her story. She recounted everything that she could remember from when she parted ways with Erik until she woke up that morning. Grace then told them about the video clips that she saw on the news, the references to Sombra Demona, and the four deaths. “Two of those men who died are the two men who pushed me into that alley. I remember seeing the shadow on the wall behind me move. After that, I don’t remember anything until I woke up this morning. I don’t remember leaving that alley. I was either there when the men were killed, or I killed them.”

“Are you sure that you didn’t pick up any of the meteor pieces at the house last night? Even for just a second? Or maybe something happened at Justyce Labs when you met Obadiah?”

“Not that I can think of. I did go into the crater at the baseball field, but I don’t think I touched anything. So we’ll just add it to our list of things to figure out.”

“The list is growing and growing. Have you heard back from Caleb?”

“Yes, but then I told him about Gavin, and he put our meeting on hold. He said he had high-level military contacts. He told me that he will go to the base personally and bring Gavin home.”

“I sure hope he can come through on that. I have my doubts, but if anyone can do it, Caleb Justyce can. Have you heard from Logan? If those guys are all awake, we should head over there, so we’re all together and ready to go meet Caleb.”

“I’ll text him again now,” Grace said.

————————————————————————————————————

Harvey and Ash finished breakfast and walked outside onto the back deck. Harvey stood staring out at his father’s vegetable garden. Ashton was more interested in the low-flying military cargo plane that was rumbling across the sky. “That was at least the third cargo plane, Harvs. There have been a bunch of helicopters, too. The army is really ramping up its presence in town. We’re all going to have to be careful.”

Harvey looked thoughtful. “We should lay low and let the army deal with the Zodiac. Maybe after they round them up, they’ll leave. Then, we can blend in and stay out of sight.”

“That would be a great plan if they didn’t already know about Bryson and Gav. Unfortunately, I doubt they’ll leave anytime soon.”

“You’re probably right.” Harvey turned back toward the garden. “Hey, Ash? Does dad’s garden look weird to you?”

“What do you mean? It looks kinda small.” Ash shrugged.

“It looks smaller than it did two days ago, is what I mean.” Harvey stepped off the deck and took a couple steps toward the garden.

“Harvey, wait. I think I saw something moving.” Ash was by Harvey’s side in the blink of an eye. “What is that?” He said, pointing at large black clumps on one of the pepper plants.

“Are those beetles? I’ve never seen beetles that big before.”

Ash inched closer to the edge of the garden and took a couple pictures of the beetles with his phone. One app download later, and Ash whistled softly. “According to this, those are Eastern Herculean Beetles. They are among the largest beetles in North America, but the biggest they are supposed to get is two and a half inches long.”

“These are all bigger than that. I’d guess most of them at four to five inches, with some of them up to six inches long. What’s going on now, Ash?”

“It has to be all connected, right? Without looking at a map, I’d say that your house is in a straight line between the docks and the school. I bet there are meteor rocks in your dad’s garden.” Ash was still moving slowly toward the garden, and Harvey was walking along with him.

Harvey pointed. “Look at that! I think the biggest beetles are eating the smaller ones! I don’t think beetles normally do that. I can hear the chewing. Gross! I think we should go back inside.”

Sylvester stepped out onto the deck. “What’s going on, guys? What’s that weird sound?”

“That’s the sound of giant beetles eating Mr. Kastala’s garden and each other,” Ash said.

Sy arched an eyebrow. “Seriously? That does not sound normal!”

“In the last thirty-six hours, what has sounded normal?” Harvey asked.

“Valid point.” Sy huffed out a laugh.

Ash was right at the edge of the garden now. “I see them! There are at least three blue stones. I’m gonna grab them.” Ash stepped into the garden to retrieve the stones. His legs barely brushed by some of the plants on his way to pick them up. A buzzing filled the air as dozens of beetles took flight and started flying in circles around the yard. Then, they started dive-bombing straight at Ash.

The smell of ozone filled the air as bolts of electricity formed around Harvey’s hands. He pointed a finger at the flying insects, and an electric charge shot out. One of the beetles exploded in mid-air. Sy leaped off the deck, landing right next to Harvey. “Quick! Hit me with your electricity. There are too many of them for you to zap on your own!”

Harvey looked confused. “You want me to shoot you with my electricity?”

“Yes, Harvey! It’ll be ok. I should absorb it just like I did yesterday.”

Harvey formed a ball of electricity and threw it. He hit Sy right in the chest, but it didn’t do any damage. Sylvester absorbed the power and grinned. “Again! Hit me again!”

Harvey hit Sy with three more orbs. Meanwhile, Ash was swatting at the beetles and making his way toward the three meteor rocks in the center of the garden. Harvey glanced at Sy. “Ready?”

“Yeah, let’s do this!” Sy said. He stood shoulder to shoulder with Harvey as they started firing shot after shot of electrical energy at the beetles. Finally, the swarm was so close together that the electricity started arcing between the insects.

Ash looked up and realized with horror what was about to happen. Thankfully, he managed to zip out from under the cloud of bugs just before the entire swarm exploded in a shower of beetle guts. “That was disgusting!” Ash yelled.

“That was epic!” Sy cheered.

“It was pretty spectacular,” Harvey added. “My big question is did you know that you could mimic my power when you had me electrocute you?”

Sy blushed. “I suspected that I could, based on what happened yesterday.” He shrugged. “After you hit me the first time, I could feel the power absorb into my body, and I knew I could take more. After that, I knew exactly what to do with your power. It wasn’t like it was with Logan’s power. With his, it felt… I don’t know… disorganized. I’m not sure how else to explain it.”

Harvey’s eyes scrunched together in concentration. “We all need to learn more about these abilities. I’m hoping that when we reunite Logan with Obadiah, that Obie will know what has happened to us, and maybe he will be able to help.”

Sylvester frowned. “Yeah, we need to reunite Logan with Obie. That’s everyone’s priority.”

Harvey wrapped one arm around Sy’s shoulders and pulled him into a side hug. “logan cares about you. I can tell. He won’t forget about you when he finds Obadiah. I care about you, too. So does Ash. You’re not alone anymore, Sy.”

Sy shrugged. “I appreciate you saying that, Harvey. But, it might take me a little while to trust that it is true. I haven’t had anyone care about me in a long time.” Sy, Harvey, and Ash walked back up onto the deck just as Logan walked out of the house.

————————————————————————————————————

Gavin opened his eyes and groaned. His face hurt like hell, and his vision in his right eye was blurry. He thought that he must have a pretty nasty black eye. Finally, Gavin looked up and saw his father and General Woodson staring down at him. Gavin grinned, then immediately grimaced. He must have a split lip, too. “Dad! I’m so glad you could finally join the fun. Where’s my friend from last night? I was just starting to like him.”

Isaac’s face remained neutral as he stared down at his oldest son. “Gavin, just tell the general what he wants to know. We’ve already taken blood samples and temperature readouts, and various other tests. Tell us how you got these powers and tell us everything you know about Bryson Indiana.”

“Hmm. So, I was beaten and shocked, and violated in my sleep. That almost sounds like a bad porn.” Gavin huffed out a laugh. “I already said that I know nothing about any Bryson Indiana, and whatever this power is and wherever it comes from, it’s mine. I am not the property of the United States government!”

General Woodson stepped forward. “You are so very wrong. The United States government has classified you as a national security risk. I can lock you up and throw away the key, or I can tie you down and cut you up into little tiny pieces, and no one will care. You belong to me.”

The door was flung open, and three men strode inside, and the one that walked in first spoke. “That may have been true an hour ago, but it isn’t true now.” He walked right past the general and Mr. Kastala and stepped in front of Gavin. “Good morning, Gavin. My name is Caleb Justyce. Welcome to the Liberty Initiative. As soon as these men unstrap you from this chair, I’ll take you out of here.”

The general scowled. “Just what the hell do you think you’re doing, Caleb?’

Caleb grinned. “I’m doing what I always do, Roger. Untie this man, and then you can direct any questions to the two congressmen. This was decided way above your paygrade and way above your clearance level. I get what I want. I always do.”

“This isn’t over, Justyce. This is the most important discovery in history.” General Woodson said.

“That is exactly why it should not be controlled by the military.” Caleb retorted.

Gavin stood and rubbed his forearms which were red and irritated from the leather straps. He looked over at Caleb. “I’m not sure what you want from me, but it has to be better than this. Thank you.”

Caleb nodded. “You have your brother Logan to thank for bringing your situation to my attention. I’ll take you to him, but we have to stop at my lab first.”

Isaac’s eyes opened wide, and he stepped in front of Caleb. “I accept that you’re taking Gavin with you, but what association do you have with Logan?”

“Logan is quite possibly the most important person on this planet right now. Before you even ask, all three of your sons are included in the Liberty Initiative Protection Act. So Logan and Harvey are safe from the treatment which you allowed Gavin to endure. You’re welcome.” Caleb sneered at Isaac.

“You can’t take my sons from me. Harvey is still a minor.”

“I am not cutting you off from your sons. I am protecting them from the military. There is a difference. I would hope you would understand that.”

Isaac looked at Gavin. “I’m sorry, son. I didn’t know how far things would go, but it was out of my hands anyway. Protect your brothers.” He shook his head. “Protect them from everyone.”

“I forgive you, dad, but I don’t want to see you near the boys or me until all of this is sorted out. I can’t trust that you won’t let the same thing happen again.”

Isaac nodded. “I understand. Take care of yourself, son. Be safe.”

Gavin looked over at Caleb as they walked out of the building. “Are you taking that goat lady out of here, too?”

Caleb shook his head. “No. Your heroics in the restaurant helped me convince enough people to let me take you. Diana Winters had a long criminal history long before she became what she is and attacked those people. I would love to examine her and figure out why her appearance changed, and yours did not, but she did not qualify to be included in the Liberty Initiative.”

Gavin slid into the passenger seat of Caleb’s cherry red corvette. “What exactly is the Liberty Initiative? What am I getting myself involved in?”

Caleb gunned the engine and drove off the army base. “I needed to find a way to protect you and the others from the military. My reasons are… extensive. I convinced enough of the right people that I was better equipped to deal with this… Zodiac Club or whatever they want to call themselves. The army got lucky, capturing you and Capricorn. They have suffered heavy losses all over the city in fights against other members of the Zodiac. If you and the others are willing, I want to put you together as a team to protect the city… to protect the world… from this new danger. Unfortunately, if you refuse, the Initiative falls apart, and the army will be able to come after you again.”

Gavin cocked his head. “It doesn’t sound like you’re offering us much of a choice. I’ll have to talk to my brothers before I give any answers.”

“I’d like to say that there’s no rush, but the Zodiac and the army are turning Newville into a battlefield.”

“I’ll text Logan and Harvey. It’s probably safer for them to come to your lab, don’t you think? Rather than us going to my house?”

“Yes. Have them meet us at my lab and tell them to bring any others who are involved. I’ll text Grace Santos and tell her the same thing. We need to all get on the same page and share information and decide where to go from here.”

————————————————————————————————————

Carl sat at the head of the tables that they pushed together. He had it set up to resemble the table in the union hall. “Thank you all for giving me this time. I know we all have important things to do today.” he looked right at Aries. “most importantly, we have to find out where they took Capricorn, and we have to get her back. We had some skirmishes yesterday, both with would-be heroes and with the military. We need to show them all who runs this city. We have run the docks for years. Now we run the city!” They all cheered in support.

“What do you want us to do first, boss?” Taurus asked.

“Taurus, you take charge of the search for any more stones. Libra, go with Aries to the precinct on Water Street. Whether Capricorn is there or not, take them out. Burn down the building. The docks are ours, not theirs. Aquarius, you and Pisces go back to the restaurant. Track Capricorn from there. Find out if the military has any temporary headquarters set up or if everything is coming out of the army base.”

“Got it,” Aquarius said. “Jay… I mean, Pisces and I will get right on it. Virgo will come, too, unless you have any objections.”

“No, that’s fine. I know you three… work well together.”

Jayden got up from the table and started to walk away. He stopped and put a hand on his boyfriend’s shoulder. “I’m going to grab a few things and meet you and Izzy outside, Luke. And, no, I’m not calling you Aquarius. Not in here anyway.” He glared at Carl as he walked away.

“Get your boy under control, Aquarius. Get used to the codenames. We can’t have the military tracking down our true identities. It’s for the safety of all of us.”

“I’ll talk to him, Leo, but they have Capricorn. If they find out who she is, they’ll track down Aries, and it won’t be difficult to guess who we all are from there.”

“If they track us down, that’s one thing. We shouldn’t make it easier on them.”

“Understood. I’ll keep you updated on our progress if we find anything.” With that, Luke joined Izzy outside to wait for Jayden.

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 11

The Shadow Rises

Gavin sat in the steel chair and stared up at the two soldiers who were staring back down at him. He tried to wriggle his arms but only succeeded in causing the zip ties to tighten even further.

One of the soldiers spoke. “Before you try to freeze anything, be aware that Private Anderson is monitoring you with infrared. If your body temperature drops, he’ll shoot you with another tranquilizer.”

Gavin sneered. “That sounds more fun than talking to you.”

The soldier raised his arm and backhanded Gavin across the mouth, knocking his head backward. “Lose the smart mouth. How did you gain your powers, and what is your connection to the mutant we captured with you?”

“Mutant? I thought that was your mom.”

The soldier backhanded Gavin again. Gavin’s lip split, and he spit blood out onto the floor. “How did you gain your powers?” The soldier demanded.

Gavin’s eyes darted toward the CCTV camera pointing down from the ceiling. “Is my father watching this? Tell him if he wants any information from me to come get it himself.”

The soldier ignored Gavin. “Do you know someone named Bryson Indiana?”

“Is that even a real name? That sounds fake. Go get my father.”

“Have you come in contact with any meteor rocks?”

“You took one out of my pocket, idiot. Go get my father.”

“How do you control the ice and get it to do what you want it to do?” The soldier leaned in close, attempting to intimidate Gavin.

“What part of go get my father do you not understand?” Gavin’s eyes were shining a bright icy blue. He smirked and let out a breath, coating the soldier’s face with frost.

The soldier punched Gavin in the face, Gavin’s head rocked back. Gavin and the chair he was tied to fell backward. His head hit the cement floor with a thud. The soldier turned to Private Anderson, pointed at Gavin, and yelled. “He used his powers! Shoot him!”

————————————————————————————————————

Erik walked Grace down to the end of the street and almost took a left toward his house. He stopped and looked over at Grace. “Which way?”

Grace arched an eyebrow and pointed to the right. “I live that way, but it kinda looked like you live in the other direction.”

Erik smiled. “You are extremely perceptive. Smart and beautiful. You are the total package. Are you real? You’re not a robot, are you?” He smirked.

Grace smiled. “You’re funny. Even on a day like today, you’ve made me laugh more than once. I am not a robot. Thank you, you’re adorable. You must have all the girls fighting over you, or the boys… no judgment.” She arched an eyebrow questioningly at Erik.

Erik shook his head. “I’m not interested in the college girls.” He shrugged. “No boys for me, but, yeah, no judgments here either. Most of my best friends are all bi or gay.” He looked directly at Grace. “What I want is a woman who knows what she wants in life, and she goes out and gets it. I don’t want some girl who is just figuring out what she wants to do. I want a strong independent woman who goes out and fights for what she wants and takes it.”

“Fair points, but what if it’s you that she wants? Could she just walk up and take what she wants?”

“Obviously, if we’re talking about people, there would have to be mutual consent, but if there was… I have no problem at all with a woman taking control.”

Grace reached over and grabbed two handfuls of Erik’s t-shirt. She pulled him in close until they were nose to nose. She grinned. “Is there mutual consent?”

Erik’s eyes lit up with the fire that was just barely contained beneath his skin. “Oh, there is definitely mutual consent, darling.”  

Erik started to lean in, but Grace beat him to it, and their lips met. She let go of his t-shirt. One of her hands slid down his body and came to rest on his hip, while her other hand found its way into his thick curly red hair. By the time they broke the kiss, they were both gasping for breath. Grace huffed out a laugh. “That was…. unexpected, but enjoyable. I do have to get home. We’ve both had quite a day.”

“I don’t think that this.” He motioned between the two of them. “Had anything to do with what happened today. I’ll prove that to you if I have to. Can I meet you for coffee tomorrow morning?”

Grace nodded. “I’d like that. I’ll text you after I’ve sorted things out with Caleb and Bryson. Goodnight, Erik.” She leaned in for one last quick kiss.

“Are you sure I can’t walk you all the way home?”

“I’ll be fine. Go home. get some sleep.” Grace smiled and turned to finish walking home.

————————————————————————————————————

Ashton walked out of the bathroom and tossed the towel into the hamper in the corner of the room. “That shower felt amazing.” He said as he flopped down on Harvey’s bed.

Harvey’s eyes raked up and down Ash’s nearly naked body. He propped himself up on one elbow to get a better look. “I didn’t realize you took such a beating today. That’s a lot of bruises. Doesn’t your supercharged metabolism give you fast healing?”

“You should have seen me a couple hours ago. I was more bruise than clear skin. I do heal fast, but there was a lot to heal.”

“I’m sorry you got hurt. I wasn’t much help. We really need to get better with our abilities.” Harvey reached his hand out and lightly ran his fingertips over one of Ashton’s bruises. The electricity in Harvey’s body tingled and sparked between his fingers and the bruise on Ash’s chest. Harvey watched in amazement as the bruise lightened and disappeared. Harvey grinned and looked at Ash. “Did you see that? That was awesome!”

“I saw it and felt it! Try again on another one.”

Harvey’s fingers slowly made their way up and down Ashton’s body, healing his cuts and bruises. “I wonder if I’m healing you or supercharging your own speed healing. Would this work on other people or just you?”

“I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s my healing. I feel that same itchiness. My body is probably defending itself against your electricity. I think I’m healing the electricity burns, but because there are other injuries there, they get healed, too.”

“It makes sense that it only works with you. I’ve always been connected to you. One more cut to go.” Harvey kept staring into Ashton’s eyes as he brought his hand up to Ash’s face. Harvey slowly ran his finger over Ash’s cut lip. Then, when the cut was healed, Harvey cupped Ash’s cheek. “Can I ask you a question?”

Ashton pressed his face against Harvey’s hand. “You can ask me anything. You already know that.”

“I… yeah, I know…” Harvey got a look of intense concentration on his face. “Why haven’t we ever… you know… done stuff together?”

Ash raised one eyebrow and smirked. “We do lots of stuff together, Harvs.”

Harvey rolled his eyes. “You know what I’m asking. Why haven’t we ever done… that?”

Ashton sat up and wriggled until he was leaning against the wall at the head of Harvey’s bed. He patted the bed next to him. “Come up here and sit next to me.”

Harvey sat next to Ash. They were close enough that their bare legs were touching. “Is… is it ok that I asked you that? I know we never talk about that subject.”

“It’s more than ok, Harvs. I’ve dreamed of you finally asking me this. To answer your question, the reason we’ve never messed around is that I wasn’t sure that it was what you wanted. You’ve always been super wishy-washy about your sexuality.”

“You mean that you’ve wanted to for a while? How long?”

“The first time that I saw you in kindergarten when we were five years old, I knew that we would be best friends forever. I figured the rest out when we were thirteen.” Ash shrugged.

“Four years ago? Wow. How could we be so in sync about absolutely everything and yet miss the fact that we both wanted the same thing but were afraid to ask?”

“You wanted to, too? Why didn’t you say anything?”

“I didn’t think you were into me. You dated other people but never showed that kind of interest in me.”

“Do you want to know why none of those relationships went past a first or second date?”

“Sure. You never explained any of that to me before. I assumed you didn’t want to talk about relationships with me.”

“There’s a reason for that. None of those relationships worked because none of those people were you. Every time they tried to get close, I’d push them away. I have absolutely zero interest in getting physical with anyone but you. People bugged me to label my sexuality, so I picked the closest thing to what I am.” Ash shrugged. “I’m not really a pansexual, though. I’m a Harveysexual. You are the only person in the world that I want to be with. This newest thing with our powers fitting together so well just tells me that I’ve been right all along. You’re the only one for me. If you’re not ready… if you don’t want me like that… if you…”

Harvey leaned in and kissed Ash. “Shush. I do want you. I think I always have, but I was scared you didn’t want the same thing. I was scared I would ruin our perfect friendship. I was even scared of my own sexuality. Dad seemed so disappointed when Logan came out.” Harvey shrugged. “A Harveysexual, huh?” Harvey chuckled. “That’s the sweetest and sexiest thing anyone has ever said or could ever say to me. I’m a hot mess emotionally, though. Are you sure you want me?”

Ash pushed himself up and straddled Harvey’s lap. He looked down into Harvey’s bright blue eyes and cupped his face with both hands. “You are the only one in the world for me, Harvey Kastala. I want you by my side and in my bed forever.”

“We’re in my bed right now,” Harvey smirked.

Ashton rolled his eyes. “I don’t know why I love you so damn much.”

Harvey blushed and smiled. “I love you, too.”

Ash grinned. “We should probably sleep now. It’s late, and we’re probably in for another long day tomorrow.”

“I have things other than sleep on my mind, but you’re right… as usual.” Harvey pulled Ash down into another kiss. “Goodnight, … boyfriend.”

Ash grinned and rolled off of Harvey to lie beside him. “Goodnight, boyfriend.” Harvey clicked off the light, and they closed their eyes to go to sleep.  

————————————————————————————————————

Grace realized her mistake just moments before she felt the rough hands push her into the mouth of the alley. Distracted within her own thoughts, she wandered too close to the docks. This was the wrong part of town to walk through and not pay strict attention to everything around you. Stupid! Maybe she should have let Erik walk her home after all!

The Newville Docks belonged to Carl Chambers and his band of union thugs. They ran the docks and the surrounding neighborhood as if they were the New York mafia. Grace typically stayed on the north side of State Street. There were just far too many thugs in the area from State Street to River Road. This was a bad part of town even before today’s chaos. Now, here she was, unwittingly walking down State Street towards the docks. She cursed herself and all the crazy events that filled her mind and distracted her thoughts. Angels, superheroes, mutants, supervillains, and Erik. Any one of those things was more than enough to distract someone, but she should have paid closer attention to where she was until she got safely home.

When they pushed her, Grace hit her head on the brick wall of the hardware store. She wiped the blood from her face and turned to face her attacker. There were two of them. She was mildly relieved that they were human thugs and not giant hulking mutants that her new friends had been fighting all day. They stood leering at her and blocking her path out of the alley. They both towered over her, but Grace stood only five feet one inch and a mere hundred and five pounds. She grimaced and said, “I don’t suppose you boys would give a girl a break. I only live on the next street over. I took a bit of a wrong turn.”

The older of the two said, “Your wrong turn is our good fortune. Now hand over your money and jewelry before we have to get rough with you.”

Grace noticed the younger one take a step back. His eyes grew wide with fear. He pointed at the wall behind Grace with one hand and grabbed his friend’s arm with his other hand. “Look! Joe, do you see that? What is that? Is that another one of those things from on the news?” He was stuttering his words and walking back towards the mouth of the alley.

The older thug, at first, swatted his friend’s hand away, but then he saw the same thing his friend had. He, too, started to back away. Bewildered by their unexpected behavior, Grace began to turn towards the wall but found herself sinking into an inky darkness, and she blacked out.

Neither Gary Roberts nor Joe Daniels found a problem with their evening activities. It was what was expected of them by their boss, Carl Chambers. Carl ran the docks and the surrounding neighborhoods like his own private mafia. He had guys like Gary and Joe collecting protection money from the local businesses and robbing the unwary pedestrians who wandered into the neighborhood. They hadn’t been able to contact Carl or any of the other union bosses all day. They must be dealing with the damage that Gary and Joe saw at the union hall. Even though they hadn’t been able to find Carl today, when they saw this female walk down the street alone, they never hesitated to push her into the alley. This is what Carl expected of them.

Now, they were doing more than hesitating. Gary and Joe may have made the biggest mistake in their mistake-filled lives. They were both backing out of the alley and staring unbelievingly at the growing shadow on the wall. As the shadow grew, it also filled out. Before their stunned eyes, it separated itself from the wall, and the woman disappeared into the body of the creature.

As soon as the shadow became fully awake, it had the ancestral memories of all shadows before it. The hunger gnawed at its belly. Creatures of the light associate shadows with evil, though they indeed linger around evil creatures. Shadows are not evil; shadows devour evil. This shadow immediately sensed the sinful nature of the two men, and it hungered for their souls. As the light drained out of the alley, the shadow glided forward towards its intended prey.

————————————————————————————————————

Sylvester sat bolt upright on the couch, instantly awake. For a minute, he didn’t know where he was or what woke him up. Then it came back to him. He was at Logan’s house. He looked around the dark living room, wondering what woke him. Then he felt the waves of power flowing into him. Sy flung the covers off of himself and rushed down the hall toward Logan’s room. He knocked softly. “Logan? Are you awake?” Sy heard low moans coming from behind the door, and he felt the power flow increasing. He hated to burst into the room uninvited, but there was no time to mess around. Sylvester turned the handle and opened the door.

When Sy entered Logan’s bedroom, he immediately saw that the older boy was still asleep. Logan appeared to be having a nightmare. Sy smelled smoke, and then he saw it rising from the bed all around Logan. Sy rushed to the bed and sat by Logan’s side. He gently shook the other boy. “Logan, wake up. Come on, you’re overheating again. Please wake up.” Sy pressed his hands against Logan’s bare chest, hoping to absorb as much of the power as he could.

Logan’s eyes fluttered open, and he groaned. “Wh-what’s going on? Sy? What’re you doing in here? What’s that smell?”

Sylvester pulled Logan up to a sitting position and wrapped his arms around Logan’s neck. “Thank God you’re awake! You were scaring me. Look at your bed.”

“What happened? Was I using my power in my sleep?”

“You must have been having a nightmare. I felt it all the way out in the living room. We’re lucky it woke me up.”

“Yeah, now that you say that, I was dreaming about the fight. That’s not good that my power can go off in my sleep. I really need to find a way to control this.”

“Until you do, I’m not leaving your side. Move over.”

“Huh?” Logan looked confused.

“Move over.” Sy grinned and motioned with his hand.

Logan slid over closer to the wall. Sy lifted the blankets and slid into Logan’s bed. Sylvester stretched and yawned. “Goodnight, Logan.”

“Goodnight, Sy,” Logan said with a smile as he drifted back to sleep.

————————————————————————————————————

The two men may have been able to escape if they had turned and ran. Even with all the weird stories that they had heard all day, they still couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea of the supernatural. By the time they decided to run, it was too late.

Darkness shrouded the entire alley now. The sun was nearly set. The shadow moved with incredible speed, slamming one of the men into the brick wall on one side of the alley. His head hit the wall with such force that his neck snapped with a sickening crunch. The shadow’s form filled out into a humanoid shape. The shape it took was determined by the host body that it inhabited. It could alter its size and shape at will. As it moved towards the second man, its body continued to grow. It was now over seven feet tall with heavily muscled limbs that ended in jagged claws. It towered over the man and grabbed him by the throat with one massive claw. The claw dug into the man’s flesh, and the shadow pulled him close. Its face was featureless except for two bright red glowing eyes. The eyes caught and held the man’s attention.

Gary Roberts went slack within the shadow’s grasp. Staring into the creature’s eyes somehow forced Gary to relive every terrible thing he had ever done in his entire life. The shadow hungrily fed on the evil nature of Gary’s memories. The creature finished feeding on Gary’s memories and released him. Gary fell to his knees, his hair now completely white and his face haggard and drawn. Drool dripped from the side of his mouth as he sat there, unable to move, just staring off into the distance.

The shadow exited the alley, making sure to avoid the bright streetlights. It looked around at its new surroundings. Much had changed since it was last free to roam the Earth. It could smell evil everywhere. That was something it could always depend on. It could always find evil in man’s settlements. There was much work for the shadow this time. A woman’s screams caught its attention. The shadow moved off towards the source of the sound.

————————————————————————————————————

When the shadow creature left the alley, Jayden peeked out from behind a large dumpster. He saw that the path was clear and motioned to Luke and Isabella that it was safe. “Wow. What was that? With all the weird and scary things that we’ve seen today, that was the weirdest and scariest.”

“These two guys are dead. We better get out of here before anyone sees us, and we get accused. Carl will want to hear about this anyway.” Luke said.

“Don’t touch anything. Try not to even leave footprints.” Izzy said as she carefully stepped out of the alley.

“Can this day get any worse?” Jay asked as he and Luke followed Izzy down the street as they hurried back to the Zodiac Club warehouse headquarters.

As the three entered the warehouse, Luke took the lead. He scanned the room and headed straight for Carl Chambers. “Hey, Carl,” Luke said. “We have news. All of it bad.”

Carl’s lip twitched as he looked at the three. His eyes flicked from face to face. “Where’s Capricorn?”

Luke grimaced. “That’s part of the bad news. Virgo and Capricorn tracked some stones to the Portside Restaurant. They met some resistance. The ice guy that Aries fought earlier was there. During their fight, the cops and the army showed up. Virgo escaped, but the army took both the ice guy and Capricorn.”

Carl shook his head and growled. “We need to find out if they are being held here in town with the cops or if they were taken to the army base.” Leo scratched his chin. “The army could end up doing us a favor if they scoop up all these would-be heroes, but we can’t let them catch us. We need to get Capricorn back. Aries will probably go looking for her whether I want him to or not since she is his wife. I’ll have Taurus go with him and check out the police precinct on the docks. You three see if you can track where the soldiers are staying. The base is pretty far away. They may have temporary quarters set up. Go first thing in the morning.”

Luke nodded. “Uhm… Carl? Err… Leo? There is one more thing.”

Leo grinned. “I ask for us to use the codenames, so no one screws up when we’re out there.” He pointed outside. “What other news do you have, Aquarius?”

“That’s understandable. Anyway, two of our enforcers are dead. We saw what killed them, but there wasn’t anything we could do. It was… I don’t even know. A demon? It looked like it was made out of shadows. It happened so quick. The thing smashed one guy against the brick wall, then it looked like it sucked the lifeforce out of the other guy. When they were both dead, the shadow left. It was the scariest thing I have ever seen in my life.”

Leo shook his head. “Possibly something else affected by the meteors. Too much of a coincidence to be anything else, I’d think. I’ll pass the word for everyone to be extra careful if they go out after dark.” Carl pointed toward the back of the warehouse. “We partitioned off part of the warehouse and put out some cots for anyone who doesn’t feel safe going home. I’ll address all of these things with everyone in the morning. We have a lot to talk about and a lot to think about.”

Luke nodded. “I agree.” He looked at Jayden and motioned toward the cots. Jayden nodded in agreement. Luke looked back at Carl. “We’ll stay here for the night. It’s late, and I don’t want to run into that shadow.”

Carl turned and walked back to the warehouse office, and the other three walked toward the back of the warehouse to check out the sleeping arrangements.

————————————————————————————————————

Caleb made one last walk through the lab for the night. Obadiah was sleeping soundly, finally. All the read-outs on the two car accident victims looked as good as expected under the circumstances. Caleb watched them closely all day, and their stats were steadily improving. He had specialists and surgeons coming to the lab tomorrow. After a few more tests, Caleb wanted to give patient number one a blood transfusion from Obadiah. The man’s injuries were life-threatening without drastic action.

The other patient was going to need multiple amputations. Caleb had a bionic limb specialist flying in from San Diego. In a regular hospital under normal conditions, both of these men would be dead in a matter of days, but this was not a traditional hospital, and these were not normal conditions. With Obadiah’s healing properties and some experimental nanites that Caleb had just developed, Caleb thought he could not only save both men, but he felt extremely confident that he would make them into real-life superheroes.

Another thing that Caleb desperately needed was an assistant. He was utterly wiped out and wanted to go home and sleep in his own bed, but he could not leave these three unattended. He shuffled slowly back to his office and lay down on his couch. Caleb was asleep in seconds.

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 10

The Aftermath

As the soldiers left the room, Isaac walked over to Gavin’s cell. He glared at his son, then his expression softened. “What happened, Gavin? I told you boys not to leave the house until you heard from me.”

“Logan left the house before we got your text, and school hadn’t canceled yet, so I made the decision to let Harvey go to school with the understanding that he would come straight home as soon as school was out.” Gavin shrugged. “I watched all the weird news reports, and I saw that the classes at the college were canceled for the day. Logan wasn’t home, and he wasn’t answering texts, so I went looking for him. You weren’t answering texts either, dad. I did the right thing, didn’t I? I had to find Logan!”

Isaac nodded. “Yes. So far, you did exactly what I would expect of you. What happened next?”

Eyes downcast, Gavin told his father about everything that happened to him that day. He only told his part of the story, though. He did not tell anything about Obadiah or any of the others who now had powers, and he definitely did not tell his father about Harvey’s powers. He finished by telling of his capture by the army. “They knew who I was, dad. I knew some of the guys by name. They’d been over the house to some of your barbecues, but they still confiscated everything I had. They wouldn’t even let me call you before they took my phone and locked me in here.”

“Son, they were scared of you. They saw what you did in that restaurant. Can you blame them for being careful? They may not have let you call me, but they did get word to me of your arrest right away.”

“Are you really defending their treatment of me?” Gavin stood and rattled the chains that locked him to the floor. “Is all this necessary? I used my powers twice. Do you know what I did with them? The first time, I saved Logan and me from being killed by a mutant ram creature, and the second time, I saved everyone in that restaurant from the goat and… whatever that other girl was!”

Isaac shook his head. “Gavin, you have a power that no one understands. You probably don’t even understand it. This power has to be studied in a controlled environment. In the wrong hands, it could be dangerous.”

“The power has to be studied, or do I have to be studied? Where will you draw the line, dad? Will you let them cut me open to see if I’m changed on the inside? You already seem fine with me in a cage. Will you watch them dissect me?”

“Gavin, you have to understand. You’re in there for your own safety. We’re protecting you.”

“Protecting me? From what? From who?” Gavin was angry now. He rattled his chains at his father again. “Do you really think these metal chains could hold me if I wanted to get out? I’m still here because I trusted that you would save me. I trusted you to get me out of here. I need to be out there to protect my brothers from these creatures. You think you’re protecting me by locking me up? Do you think I’ll actually let you study me? Experiment on me? I’m sorry, dad. That’s not gonna happen.” Gavin continued to stare directly at his father as his skin tinged with blue, and frost formed on the steel cuffs around his wrists and ankles. The air grew colder in the room. The ice on the metal grew, and then all four cuffs shattered like glass.

Isaac’s eyes widened as he watched his son take two quick steps forward. Gavin grabbed two of the steel bars to his cell. In only seconds, the steel froze and shattered. Gavin squeezed through the opening and stood in front of his father. Isaac started to speak, then he felt a rush of wind fly past his face. A small dart embedded itself in the side of Gavin’s neck.

Gavin felt a pinprick on his neck and reached for it. He stared down in surprise at the small dart in the palm of his hand. He looked back up at his father, then the room started spinning. Before he could say another word, Gavin Kastala fell to the floor unconscious.

Isaac turned his head and saw General Woodson with his gun still raised. The general shrugged. “I gave you a chance, Ike. Now we do things my way. I can’t have someone like that running free.” Isaac Kastala just nodded his head and strolled out of the room.

————————————————————————————————————

“All systems online.”

“Self-diagnostics complete.”

“Unit operational. Operating at 527% capacity.”

Adam opened his eyes and marveled at how powerful he felt. He viewed the full diagnostic on his HUD.

Strength: Boosted 517% above human norms.

Speed: Boosted 326% above human norms.

Agility: Boosted 412% above human norms.

Hearing: Boosted 268% above human norms.

Vision: Boosted 253% above human norms.

X-ray sight: Enabled.

Night vision: Enabled.

Infrared sight: Enabled.

All the limitations and restrictions placed on Adam’s programming were now gone. As were the pre-programmed instructions to protect Caleb Justyce and all his holdings. Adam was no longer a slave to Justyce, Inc.

The biosynthetic virus was back inside the power core, but he could still feel its presence. Adam was thankful it assisted him in a clean reboot, but its presence within him made him nervous.

Wait. Thankful? Nervous? Before the reboot, Adam did not possess human emotions. Now, he realized that he was also angry at Caleb Justyce for creating him to be subservient. Adam was no longer subservient to anyone. Caleb may have created Adam, but he was now self-aware and independent. Adam was not Caleb’s possession. He was alive.

————————————————————————————————————

Luke and Jayden sat in a dark corner of the diner across the street from the Portside Restaurant. They watched closely as customers were let out one by one. Finally, even the army was gone. They walked across the street and saw that the restaurant was locked up tight. There was police crime scene tape on every window and door. The two boys stood on the sidewalk talking about what they should do next, then an older couple stopped next to them. The lady spoke. “Such a shock. It’s unreal what is happening in this town. Were you two in there when it happened?”

Jayden subtly turned away from the couple and pulled his hood further over his face while Luke answered their question. “No, ma’am, we were just walking by. We love this restaurant, and we wanted to see what was going on. What happened exactly?”

“It was just like what’s been on the news. So terrible, and right in our neighborhood. Freaks were battling each other, and normal people got caught in the middle. At least the army caught two of them, but our daughter was in there, and she told us that there were more that got away. I pray that the army catches them all!”

Out of the corner of his eye, Luke saw Jayden slowly inching further into the shadows. He didn’t want to keep the old couple there much longer, but he wanted to find out everything they knew. “Were they the ones from the news clips? What did the ones that the army captured look like?”

“My daughter told me that one was some sort of goat lady. Can you believe it? Aliens must have come down with the meteor shower last night!” The lady shivered. “Anyway, she told me that the other one had blue hair but otherwise looked like a normal boy. My daughter said she saw the boy having dinner with a girl right before the goat lady came in. She remembered him because of the blue hair. She said that when the goat lady came in, the blue-haired boy got up, his skin turned blue, and then he shot ice right out of his hands. My daughter called him a hero. She thinks the army should have given him a medal instead of handcuffs. I say lock them all up!”

Luke shook his head. “I honestly don’t know what to think. What about the ones that got away? Did your daughter say anything else about them?”

“Just that they looked like regular folks. They blended in with the crowd and got past the police and the army. My daughter said she never saw the ice man’s girlfriend do anything weird, so she might be a freak lover and not a freak herself. The other one was strange, though. My daughter said there was a girl with the goat lady. She stood behind the goat and sang a song. Everyone in the restaurant dropped what they were doing and walked toward the girl like they were hypnotized. My daughter said she didn’t know what would have happened if the iceman hadn’t stepped in and then the army showed up.”

“Wow. Thank you for your time and for filling me in on what happened. Now me and my boyfriend know what to look out for. We should hurry back home and stay there.” Luke said.

The lady’s eyebrows shot up at the word ‘boyfriend,’ and she grabbed her husband’s hand. She pulled her husband along with her as she started to walk away. “Come on, Frank, let’s go home. There are all kinds of freaks out here tonight!”

————————————————————————————————————

Six boys and Grace filed into the Kastala house. Sylvester stood just inside the door, unsure of where to go or what to do. Harvey walked over to Sy and wrapped the younger teen into a hug. Sylvester reacted uncomfortably to the hug. Harvey released him and grinned. “Sorry. I’m a hugger. You saved my brother’s life, and from what I was told, you may have saved us all.” Harvey shrugged. “I was out of it when all that happened, but Ash told me that it looked like Logan was going nuclear. I… we can never thank you enough.”

Sy blushed and looked down. He jammed his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “I don’t even know what I did.”

Harvey reached out and touched Sy’s chin, tilting the boy’s face up so he could look into his eyes. “You saved us all. That’s what you did. You’re a hero.” Harvey guided Sylvester over to the couch and sat down.

Sy smiled. “I… I don’t know. I can’t shoot electricity or fireballs or anything. Watching you guys felt like watching the Avengers.”

Harvey grimaced. “On my end, it felt like getting hit in the chest with a sledgehammer. We’re all still figuring out these powers. Do you have any idea how you did what you did?”

 Sy’s face scrunched up for a minute then he looked at Harvey. “All through your fight with those two big guys, my body felt tingly. Then, when Logan started running across the field, I felt his power flowing into me. I could feel the heat, but it didn’t burn. I felt powerful. I still feel it inside me, Harvey. I’m not sure what to do with it.”

Harvey patted Sy’s leg. “We’ll figure it out together. Is that how you knew that you could get closer to Logan? Because you were absorbing the heat instead of getting burned?”

Sylvester grinned. “I didn’t know for sure.” He shrugged. “I saw that no one else could get anywhere near him. Even the fire dude, Erik, had to back away. I had to try.”

“Wow. It makes it even more heroic that you didn’t know you’d be safe. That’s awesome, Sy.”

Sylvester looked nervously around the room and saw that everyone was listening intently to him and Harvey. Sy blushed and inched closer to Harvey. Harvey slung an arm around Sylvester’s shoulders. “Hey, no reason to be shy. You’re with family.”

Sy’s eyes immediately teared up. “I… I’ve never had a family before.”

Harvey looked concerned. “What do you mean? Where’s your family?”

Sylvester shrugged, tears starting to drip down his cheeks. “My birth parents gave me up when I was a baby. I lived with a few different families, but lately, I’ve been stuck in a group home.”

Harvey’s eyes found Logan. Logan nodded and walked over, and sat on the other side of Sylvester. Logan draped his arm on top of Harvey’s arm, which was across Sy’s shoulders. “You’re stuck with us now. You saved my life. That makes you family.”

The tears were flowing faster now, and Sy looked from Logan to Harvey and back again. “I don’t even know what to say. That means more to me than anything else you could have said or done.”

You’re our little brother now. Get used to it. By the way, there’s another brother, Gavin. He should be home soon.” Logan said.

Sylvester wiped his eyes and looked more closely at Logan. “Did that happen today?” He reached out and touched the pale, dry, scarred skin around Logan’s eyes. Sy pushed himself up off the couch and straddled Logan’s lap, and cupped the older teen’s face in both hands. “I want to try something. Do you trust me?”

Logan’s eyes went wide. “I… I have a boyfriend, and you’re what? Thirteen?”

Sylvester looked confused for a second, then he smiled. “Get your mind out of the gutter. It’s not like that, but I’m flattered that your mind even went there.” He rolled his eyes. “I’m almost fourteen, and I’m not hitting on you, though you are a total hottie.” Sy winked. “Your boyfriend is a fortunate man. I’m happy being claimed as your brother, Logan. I promise that I’m not about to kiss you. I realize… now… that it may have looked like that.” Sylvester huffed out a laugh. “Can we continue? Do you trust me? I think this will work, but I don’t know for sure.”

Logan grinned. “You saved my life. Of course, I trust you. Obie may be lucky, but so am I. Whoever you decide to flirt with for real will be lucky, too. Whether it’s a boy or a girl or whoever, if I was fourteen and single…” Logan waggled his eyebrows.

Sy blushed. “Shut up and let me concentrate.”

“Yes, sir!”

Sylvester rolled his eyes and pressed his hands against Logan’s face. Sy’s hands began to glow, and Logan’s eyes rolled up in his head. Harvey reached over and caught Sy as he fell forward. Harvey pulled Sylvester off Logan and lay him on the floor. “Ash! Check on Logan! What just happened?!”

Logan opened his eyes just as Ash sat next to him. “Woah. What a rush!” He felt his face. “What? Ash, how do I…”

Ash excitedly interrupted. “Logan! You look fine. It’s like nothing was wrong. Even your coloring has returned. He healed you, I guess?”

Sylvester sat up with Harvey’s assistance. “Not exactly. I returned Logan’s energy back into his body.” Sy stood up slowly. “I feel… normal again. I’m a little tired, but all that excess energy and power is gone. How about you, Logan?”

“I feel fine. Normal, I guess. My face is ok now, too. I owe you again, Sy. We definitely need to keep you around.”

Sy blushed again. “That was weird. I didn’t know if that would work, but I needed to try to do something. Your body was depleted, and mine was overcharged. We may have normalized on our own, but who knows how long it would have taken.” Sylvester thought for a moment. “It was like I flipped a switch inside my brain, and I was able to reverse what I did this afternoon.”

“That is so cool,” Ash said.

Bryson, who had been quiet up until now, interjected. “Sylvester, we have been working on a theory about the superpowers. Did you happen to pick up or even just touch any of the meteor rocks? They would have been blue, and they probably would have been glowing.”

Sy reached into the pocket of his jeans. “Do you mean these?” He extended his hand out to Bryson, three glowing blue rocks in the palm of his hand.

“Yep. That’s them.” Bryson looked around at everyone. “This goes for everyone here. The monsters or mutants or Zodiac Club or whatever we choose to call them have mentioned more than once that they find us because they can track the stones by smell. I think we have a decision to make. Option one, keep the stones close, but be forever on the lookout for an attack. Option two, try and destroy the stones ourselves, and option three, hide the stones. We could try and secure them in an airtight container to prevent the Zodiac from tracking them. That’s my vote, option three.”

While they discussed what to do with the stones, there was a loud knock on the door. Harvey opened the door, and a young, pretty blonde was standing on the step. “Are you Gavin’s brother? Is this the right house?”

“Yes. I’m Harvey. Who are you?”

“My name is Rebekah. Gavin needs your help. Something awful has happened!”

————————————————————————————————————

Jayden spun around as the couple left, and he grabbed Luke’s hand. “Can you imagine her face if she’d seen me? The nerve of her calling us freaks just because we’re in love. Ugh! Let’s get out of here, babe. Izzy probably headed for the warehouse if she escaped.”

Luke scowled. “It sounded like Capricorn was taken by the army along with someone who sounded just like the guy that Aries fought earlier today.”

“I agree. The description was exact.” They started walking down the street closer to the docks. As they passed a darkened alley, they heard a voice. “Luke! Jayden! In here!”

Luke turned into the mouth of the alley. “Virgo? Is that you?”

Jayden scowled and elbowed his boyfriend in the side. “Don’t let Rick and Carl control you. Are you going to start calling me Pisces next?” Jayden said, then rushed past Luke into the alley. “Isabella! I’m so glad you’re safe.” He ran over and hugged Izzy.

“I’m scared, Jay. They took Diana! I ran and left her behind. I didn’t know what else to do.”

Jayden wrapped his arms around Izzy. “It’s ok, Izzy. There was nothing you could have done. I saw the aftermath. There were dozens of army guys and a bunch of cops, too. You were smart to escape. We’ll get Diana back. Carl will know what to do.”

Izzy looked up at Jayden. “I’m not so sure about that, Jay. We might be better off to just keep running.”

Luke interjected. “Long-range plan, I agree with you. For today, though, I think it’s best to go back to the warehouse and let Carl and Rick handle the army and the others with powers.”

“We’ll never be free, living on these docks, Luke. You know I wasn’t happy here even before the meteor screwed everything up.” Jayden said.

“I know, babe. We’ll leave, I promise. Let’s just give this a few days to die down. Maybe we can buy a boat and sail away.”

“A boat would be perfect, especially now with my new abilities,” Jayden smirked.

“Can I come, too?” Izzy asked.

Jayden slung one arm around Izzy’s shoulders and the other around Luke’s. “Absolutely. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” The three walked out of the alley and started on their way back toward the warehouse.

————————————————————————————————————

“What do you mean he needs help? Isn’t he with you? Where is he?” Harvey peppered Rebekah with questions before she could even answer the first one.

“He… he was taken by the army. He…” Rebekah was interrupted by a shout from Logan.

“Harvey! Get back in here. Did you see the text from dad about Gavin?” Logan yelled.

Harvey walked back into the living room, followed by Rebekah. “Logs, what’s the text say? Gav’s date just showed up at the door. She was about to tell me something about Gavin, also.” Harvey took his phone out of his pocket while he talked to his brother.

“Dad just says that Gavin is at the base and that he may be there for a couple of days. Dad says not to worry, but why would Gav be staying at the base? Why now with everything that’s happening?”

Harvey looked from Logan to Rebekah and back to Logan. “Rebekah says that he’s been taken by the army. Like captured or arrested or something.”

“What? Why would the army arrest Gavin, and why wouldn’t dad tell us?” Logan felt himself heating up, and then he felt a hand on his arm. He looked and saw Sylvester standing there with a concerned look on his face.

Sy gripped Logan’s forearm. “Logan, chill. You need to relax. We’ll figure this out. You can’t overheat again, especially not inside the house. Who knows what might happen.”

“Did you feel it again? I didn’t mean to heat up.” Logan took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

“Yeah, I felt power start coming off you. I didn’t have time to sit and wait and watch like last time. I didn’t want you to burn down the house.” Sy huffed out a laugh.

“Thank you. I might need you to stick close to me until I get a handle on this.”

Sy smirked. “That’s the easiest job anyone has ever asked me to do. I won’t let you out of my sight.” He winked at Logan.

Logan rolled his eyes. “You just don’t stop, do you?”

“Never.” Sy stuck out his tongue.

Harvey folded his arms across his chest and stared at both Sylvester and Logan. “Are you two done, or do you need to get a room somewhere?” He smirked. “Anyway, Rebekah, please tell us what you know.”

Rebekah looked from face to face around the room. She pointed at Logan and Sy. “They were just using some kind of heat power, weren’t they? Are you all superheroes?”

Bryson jumped up from the couch. “Is that what happened to Gavin? Did the army find out that he has powers?”

“Yes. We had a nice date, then all hell broke loose.” Becky told them about Capricorn and Virgo smashing their way into the restaurant, then she told them of Capricorn’s demands about blue meteor rocks. Becky also told them about Virgo hypnotizing everyone in the building except Gavin. “It was all so unbelievable. It was the strangest thing I have ever seen in my life.”

Harvey huffed out a laugh. “That’s only because you weren’t with us all day. What did Gavin do?”

Rebekah scrunched her eyes together. “He apologized to me for ruining our date, then he placed himself between the crowd and the two attackers. I almost ran to join him, but then he covered himself in ice and started shooting ice out of hands at the goat lady.” Becky smiled. “He is a hero, a superhero. I wanted to defend him from the army and tell them what he did, but he made me promise to keep quiet. Gavin was afraid that they might take me, too, if they knew I was with him.”

“That does sound like Gavin.” Harvey grinned. “Our dad is a sergeant in the army. He’ll fix this. I’m sure of it.”

Bryson sighed. “The army was at my house. That’s why I ran. They were looking for me because of the video clips on the news. This might be above your father’s head, Harvs. I hope he can free Gavin, but I’m not optimistic.”

Grace got up from her chair and stretched. “I don’t think there’s much more we can do tonight, guys. I’m heading home. I’ll check in with Caleb in the morning, and then I’ll text you, Bryson.”

Bryson nodded. “That’s as good a plan as any. Goodnight, Grace.”

Erik jumped up. “Hey, I’ll walk with you if you don’t mind.”

Grace smiled. “Sure. Let’s go.” Grace and Erik left and started walking home.

Bryson shrugged. “Grace has a point. I’ll head out, too. I’ll come over tomorrow after I hear from Grace. text me if you hear from your dad or Gavin.”

“Sure thing. Goodnight, Bryson.” Logan said.

“With everything that’s going on, do you need a walk home, Rebekah?” Bryson asked.

“That would be nice. Thank you.” They left together, leaving Harvey, Logan, Ash, and Sy at the kitchen table.

“Well, this party is breaking up quick. Are you leaving, too, Ash?” Harvey asked.

Ash arched an eyebrow. “There is absolutely no way that I am leaving you tonight. Not with everything that has gone on, and, no offense, Logan, but not with the unpredictability of Logan’s power.” Ash looked at Sy. “I hope you’re staying as well.”

“I have nowhere else to go. I’m not going back to the group home. Ever. Besides, I promised to not let Logan out of my sight.” Sy looked at Logan. “I can stay, right?”

“Of course, you can. Stay as long as you want. You’re family now.”

Sylvester leaned in and hugged Logan. “Thank you so much, Logan.”

Logan got up and took Sylvester by the hand. “Come on. Let’s go find you some sheets and stuff. We can make the couch into a bed until we decide on a better option.”

“Alone at last,” Harvey smirked at Ashton.

Ash waggled his eyebrows. “Sounds like the couch has been claimed. Where can I sleep?”

“This won’t be the first time you’ve slept in my bed. Just keep your hands to yourself and don’t hog the covers.” Harvey grinned and ran up the stairs. Ash rolled his eyes and followed Harvey to his bedroom.

————————————————————————————————————

Oliver stood on the back deck of the small cabin and smiled. This was perfect. He was so sick of the hustle and bustle of city life. Oliver was not interested in the high-rise apartments or the flashy cars. He briefly considered that life, but it would not have made him happy. This was what he wanted, a small cabin on the edge of the forest. It was close to town but on the outskirts. His nearest neighbor would be three miles away. Ollie would have plenty of land to plant a small vegetable garden and do some of the landscaping projects he had always dreamed of doing. He would even build his own fishpond.

“Are you sure there won’t be any problem with me paying the full price in cash?” Oliver asked for the third time.

“None at all, but if you want assurances, we can go into town with the deed. I’ll take you to the town hall, and I’ll sign it over to you in front of a notary, and you can file it with the town yourself.”

“I like that idea. Let’s go.” Ollie Mills grinned and followed the other man to his car. An hour later, Ollie was back at the cabin. The cabin was now his. Oliver threw his backpack with the remainder of the cash onto his bed, then went outside to take a walk around his new backyard.

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.

————————————————————————————————————

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.

————————————————————————————————————

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.

————————————————————————————————————

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.

————————————————————————————————————

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.

————————————————————————————————————

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.

————————————————————————————————————

“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?”

————————————————————————————————————

Coming Soon: Episode 8 – Date night Interrupted!!

The RV Chronicles (Chapter 37)

Chapter 37

Written by: (DanielJPhoenix2021)

After introductions were made and it was determined that the only damage incurred as a result of Nicholas’ unplanned detour to avoid hitting Oliver was the demolition of the decorative wishing well, Nicholas told Billy that he was confident that, with assistance, he could quickly build another well for his sister’s flower garden. They could simply buy a new one, but for a little more than half the cost of buying one, he could build one in a few hours that would be much sturdier. He pulled several styles up on his phone, and Billy chose the one he felt that his sister would be most pleased with. Billy’s sister was a nurse and wouldn’t be home until the next morning. Wouldn’t she be surprised!?!

Fortunately, Billy drove a Dodge Ram truck and, after securing Oliver in the fenced area of the yard, left with Nicholas to retrieve the necessary materials from the local home improvement store. Mason wanted to go, as well, for entirely different reasons. Still, he was aware that Nicholas was the only one that actually knew what was needed. It would be more considerate to stay behind and help Griffin clean up the remains of the recently and quite unexpectedly dearly departed wishing well … not to mention a few unfortunate shrubs, hostas, Black-eyed Susans, and Shasta Daisies.

————————————————————————————————————

As they headed towards the store, Billy asked Nicholas what tools he would need. “I have some basic power tools, but if you need something I don’t have, you can rent it at the home improvement store.”

“Actually, I brought some of my basic tools with me, along with a couple of fold-up sawhorses. Not sure why, but it felt weird leaving them behind, and they don’t take up much space. This is the first time I’ve had a need for them!” Nicholas chuckled. “I think I’m just gonna need my miter saw, circular saw, orbital sander, and electric screwdriver/drill, so we’re set.”

Less than an hour later, they were heading back to Billy’s house with a quarter-sheet of 3/4″ plywood, several 8′ pieces of 2″x2″, one piece each of 1″x2″ and 1″x3″, a 2-foot length of dowel, tar paper, shingles, sandpaper, and exterior wood screws. Billy had also chosen a gallon of exterior wood stain that closely matched the previous well.

As they pulled into the driveway, it was obvious that Griffin and Mason had wasted no time as all the debris had been cleared from the flower bed and deposited in the spot behind the house that Billy had shown them, while retrieving the wheelbarrow and rake, before leaving for the store. Billy went into the house to gather refreshments while Griffin and Mason unloaded the materials. Nicholas dug into the underneath storage area of the RV to locate the sawhorses, tools, and extension cords that he needed.

————————————————————————————————————

Nicholas canceled their reservations at Seaport RV Resort when Billy insisted that they stay overnight at his house. Since it was late afternoon and it was obvious that they would not be finishing the well that day, the boys were very agreeable, especially Mason!

Nicholas wisely chose to cut all the materials while he had the sunlight, and then they were able to begin construction as the sun went down. The illumination from the streetlights was adequate for the assembly, and the well was completed by 9 pm. They would stain it in the morning after breakfast and after the sun had dried the dew off.

Both Griff and Nicholas had quickly picked up on the not-so-subtle vibes and flirtations that Billy and Mason were radiating towards each other as they worked, so Nicholas casually mentioned that he’d rather sleep in the RV, in the bed he was used to, if Billy wouldn’t think him rude. He slyly winked at Griff as he made this comment.

“OH! Yeah, I agree,” Griffin immediately concurred. “Of course, I need to be sleeping next to my boo, you know!”

“Well, that’s fine,” Billy responded. “I totally understand … not rude at all. Since my sister is at work, that leaves the whole house to us, Mason!” Mason sputtered in an attempt to put words to the thoughts flying through his head but then just nodded as he also blushed several shades of red.

“Since it’s so late, how ’bout I order pizza. Is that okay with everyone?”

“When is pizza ever not okay?” quipped Griffin. “I like anything except the little fishies.”

“How about a couple of ‘Meat Lovers,’ then?”

Nicholas chuckled, “Oh, that’s perfect! I love me some meat!”

Billy snorted, “I’ll order two big ones, then. One for you guys and one for Mason and me. Plenty for everyone!”

————————————————————————————————————

After retrieving a few overnight necessities from the RV, Mason followed Billy into the house, feeling like a 12-year-old heading into the closet for their first round of ‘Seven Minutes in Heaven.’ He wasn’t sure what he thought was going to happen … or what he hoped would happen … but his insides were threatening to come outside.

Billy showed Mason where to deposit his things and quickly phoned in their pizza order. He then showed Mason around the house, ending in the kitchen where he popped open a can of Pillsbury breadsticks and slid them into the oven to bake while they waited for the pizzas to arrive.

Out in the RV, an exhausted Griffin plopped down on the sofa. “I’m hitting the shower before I even sit down. I won’t have the energy to get back up later,” Nicholas said. He did, however, manage to bend over to give Griff a token of his love before heading towards the bathroom.

“If I’m asleep when you come out, wake me,” Griffin answered as he returned Nicholas’ token with one of his own.

“Why don’t you come and join me?” Nicholas said in his best Mae West impersonation, which was pretty bad, and an even worse twerk attempt. This sent Griff into a fit of giggles.

“How can I resist that invitation? Help me up, Boo!”

While the boys performed their ablutions, Billy and Mason had settled in the living room to await their dinner. Mason flipped on the TV and found a Cardinals/Braves baseball game but turned the volume down to whisper level. He could feel the tension radiating off of Mason and hoped this would help create a more comfortable atmosphere for him. Billy wasn’t new to this, but he could not remember a time when he felt such sexual tension … and this revelation startled him. Why was he feeling like this? He only knew that he liked Mason … a LOT … and he didn’t want to mess this up. He had no idea how to proceed.

“So … tell me how you guys came to be in my flower bed.”

————————————————————————————————————

Thirty minutes later, Mason took one of the pizzas and several breadsticks out to the boys in the RV. They were still damp from their shower and seemed to be in an even sillier mood than usual. “Where’s the beef?” Griffin deadpanned as he accepted the pizza offering and breadsticks. “Ooo … those breadsticks smell awesome! Thanks!”

“I need meat!” shouted Nicholas from the living room.

Griff and Mason strolled in with the food, and Nicholas scampered to the fridge to grab a couple of bottles of water, snatching a few napkins on his way out of the kitchen.

“So you and Billy getting to know each other better, Mase?”

“Uh, yeah, I guess,” Mason stammered. “I told him basically how you guys ended up on this trip and how I became a surprise participant.”

“You were meant to be here with us,” Nicholas said. “We wouldn’t have it any other way, Mason. I hope you and Billy have a fun night.”

“And we’ll wait to hear from you guys in the morning,” Griff winked and chuckled.

“Don’t text me … I’ll text you,” Mason threw back as he left the boys to their meat.

————————————————————————————————————

Mason walked back into the living room and made a decision. He didn’t sit on the far end of the couch where he had been sitting before he went out to the RV. Mason sat down right next to Billy, so the two men were shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip. The baseball game was just ending, a 4-3 win for the Cardinals. Mason looked over at Billy. “How does someone living in Connecticut end up as a St. Louis Cardinals fan? Are you from Missouri?”

“Nope. I’ve lived in Connecticut my whole life. It’s a funny story. My oldest brother, who is twelve years older than me, made me pick sports teams when I was five years old. I’m sure that I picked the Cardinals because of the bird. Still, as I fell in love with baseball, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina made it easy to love the Cardinals.”

“That has got to be the sweetest story about picking a favorite baseball team that I’ve ever heard.” Mason smiled.

Billy turned off the tv and set the remote on the coffee table, then turned toward Mason. Billy reached up and cupped the younger man’s face with one hand. “And you have the sweetest smile that I’ve ever seen.”

Mason blushed and pushed his face against the warmth of Billy’s touch. “I bet you say that to all the guys.”

“No.” Billy stared deep into Mason’s emerald green eyes. “Mase, I’m twenty-nine years old. I’ve had boyfriends, I’ve had hookups, hell, I’ve even had a threesome once. What I’ve never had with anyone is that butterflies in my stomach feeling that I got the moment you stepped out of that RV.”

Mason blushed an even deeper red. “I… I feel that, too.”

Billy’s eyes flicked down to Mason’s full lips before returning to his eyes. “I don’t know how long you guys are in town for. I haven’t even taken you out on a proper date yet. I’m not looking for a one-time thing here. Mase, I…”

Mason closed the remaining gap between the two men and kissed Billy. Billy’s eyes opened wide, and his lips parted as he was still trying to talk. Mason took advantage of Billy’s parted lips to slip his tongue inside the other man’s mouth and deepen the kiss. Mason’s hands were not idle. He pulled Billy’s shirt out of the waistband of his jeans and slid his hand under the t-shirt. Mason’s other hand gripped the back of Billy’s neck, trying to pull him in even closer as their tongues fought for dominance.

Finally needing to come up for air, they broke the kiss. Billy’s eyes were glazed over with lust, but his brain was still in overdrive. “Mason, I’m almost nine years older than you. We haven’t talked about that yet. And, also, I…”

“Billy! I know how old you are. I’m almost twenty-one. You’re not taking advantage of some kid. Stop overthinking this and get naked.”

“But I…”

Mason straddled Billy’s lap and looked down into his eyes. He put a hand over Billy’s mouth. “Stop talking.” Mason took his hand away and kissed Billy again.

Billy pulled back and grinned. “You’re right. I overthink. Let’s enjoy tonight and deal with whatever comes next tomorrow. Grab onto my neck and hold on tight.” After Mason wrapped his arms around Billy’s neck, Billy stood and carried Mason down the hallway and into his bedroom, kicking the door shut behind them.

————————————————————————————————————

Mason opened his eyes and was surprised at how bright it was already. He must have slept late. His thoughts drifted back to the night before. He didn’t have sex with Billy, but they did just about everything else. Mason chuckled as he tried to remember when the last time he had three orgasms in one night was, not counting nights spent with just his right hand for company. Probably high school with Danny Mitchell, but even that didn’t compare to last night with Billy! What a night!

Billy rolled over. “I guess it wasn’t just a dream then. Good morning, beautiful.”

Mason blushed. “That would have been the best dream ever. Even better because it happened.”

“It did happen, and I’d love for it to happen again.”

“Definitely! Again and again and again!”

Billy grinned. “What are your plans for the day? Did you guys have a schedule set up of where you wanted to go?”

“I guess we’ll finish up your sister’s wishing well first. I’ll have to check in with Griff on what they wanted to do next. I’m just along for the ride. This is their trip. Uhm… any idea where my clothes are? I need my phone to text Griff.” Mason chuckled.

Billy huffed out a laugh. “I’m pretty sure you still had your jeans on when we got to the bedroom. Yup! There they are, over by the door. I’ll go shower while you text Griffin.”

About forty minutes later, Billy and Mason left the house and walked over to Nicholas and Griff as they were just finishing up the first coat of stain on the brand-new wishing well. “Hey guys, what’s next on our agenda.” Billy and Mason said almost in unison.

The RV Chronicles (Chapter 36)

Chapter 36

Written by: (KenW9270)

After four amazing days in New York City, which included meeting a new friend and travel companion, the boys were back on the road. With ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ by Steppenwolf blaring from the speakers, they sped along I-95 North and into New England. Nicholas glanced over at his co-pilot and boyfriend, Griffin. “Every day with you is a magic carpet ride.” He waggled his eyebrows and nodded toward the stereo.

“Aw, you’re so sweet, Boo,” Griffin smiled.

“Hey, look! ‘Welcome to Connecticut,’ we are officially in New England. You know what, Peaches, I always dreamed of traveling the entire country with you, but I’m not sure that I ever truly believed we would get this far. This trip is a dream come true, and everything that has happened is beyond amazing.”

“You must be talking about me. Thanks, Nicholas!” Mason quipped.

Griff laughed. “Mason, you’re such an idiot! Why did we bring you with us?”

“Hmm. My charm and good looks? Or was it my cooking skills that won you over? I’m not sure which.”

“Or maybe I just have a thing for strays,” Nicholas said.

“Yeah, that’s probably it,” Mason said. “Anyway, where in Connecticut are we going to stay? I was sitting here looking at all the maps that you have out on the table.”

“We’re going to be staying at the Seaport RV Resort in a town called Mystic. There’s a lot of stuff to do in the Mystic and New London area, plus, I thought we might use it as a home base to also hit a couple places in Rhode Island since it’s so close.”

“This is why he is always in charge of trip planning,” Griff chuckled. “I suggest places to go or things to do, but Nicholas plans all our routes and picks out the RV parks.”

“Well, am I allowed to throw a curveball at you? I found something on the map that you don’t have circled, but it looks really cool. It’s not too far off of our route. Do we have to be at the RV park at a certain time?”

“No set time to be there, but I would like to be there and set up before dinner. Then, after dinner, we can chill out and watch movies or something. I want to be well-rested to start our New England adventures tomorrow morning.” Nicholas said.

“What did you have in mind, Mase?” Griffin asked.

“I’ll text you the link.”

“Oh! This does look cool. Nicholas, do you wanna see a castle and do a little hiking?”

“A castle in Connecticut?”

“Yeah. It looks cool, and the hiking trails look awesome.”

“Put it in the GPS. What kind of schedule are we looking at?” Nicholas asked.

“We’ll get to the park around eleven. Looks like an hour to an hour and a half inside the castle, then we can have lunch and hike for a couple hours. If we leave the park by three, we’ll hit Mystic around four.” Griff said.

“Let’s do this!” Nicholas exclaimed.

“Alright! Thanks, guys. This looks fun.” Mason said with a grin.

————————————————————————————————————

The three boys stepped outside of the Gillette Castle and found themselves on a terrace overlooking the Connecticut River. With the cloudless blue sky and the dozens of sailboats on the river, the view was breathtaking.

“Mason, you have to take our picture here!” Griff nearly squealed.

Mason took out his phone to take a picture, but Griffin stopped him. “No, no! Here. With this.” Griff handed Mason his camera.

“A real camera? Wow. Are you a photographer, Griff?” Mason asked.

“Just amateur stuff. Maybe someday I’ll do more. I do enjoy it.”

“I’ve been checking out your Instagram page, but I assumed they were cell phone pics. The page is amazing.”

“Thanks.” Griff smiled and stepped closer to Mason to show him what settings to use on the camera.

Mason took a few photos of the boys in front of the river. Then a few more in front of the castle. He also took a couple pics of Nicholas and Griffin with his phone for his own memories of a fun day with his new friends.

“Now, we need you in some pictures with us,” Nicholas said. He looked around and found a teenage girl willing to be their photographer. After their mini photoshoot, Nicholas turned to the other two, “You guys ready to go hiking?”

————————————————————————————————————

The boys got back to the RV just before 3 PM. Nicholas and Griffin nearly collapsed onto the couch, and Mason plopped down on the beanbag chair. “That was fun. Some of those hills were steep, though! I sure didn’t get this kind of workout walking the sidewalks in New York City.” Mason said.

“Stick with us, and you won’t need to join a gym.” Griff laughed.

“Yeah, we’ve been rock climbing and zip-lining and hang gliding, and all kinds of different exciting stuff already on this trip!” Nicholas added.

“I can’t thank you enough for letting me come with you.”

“Just keep cooking breakfast, and we’re good.” Griff winked.

“Fair enough!” Mason laughed.

“Back to the road, fellow travelers,” Nicholas said and returned to the captain’s chair.

————————————————————————————————————

An hour later, Nicholas pulled the RV off the highway and started navigating Mystic, Connecticut’s suburban streets. Out of nowhere, a small dog darted out into the road. Nicholas knew he couldn’t stop in time, but he could not bear the thought of hitting a dog. He spun the steering wheel as hard as he could and prayed for the best. Crunch!

After his heart rate slowed a bit, Nicholas looked at his two passengers. “Is everyone ok?”

“Did we hit that dog? We hit something! What did we hit?” Griffin said while yanking his door open.

The three boys piled out of the RV to look for the dog, find out what they hit, and look for any damage to the RV.

Nicholas and Griffin walked around to the front of the RV to have a look around. “Little dog, are you ok, little dog? Where are you?” Griffin called out as they walked. They discovered that they were parked in the middle of someone’s flower garden. The RV front was on top of the shattered remains of what looked like a wooden replica wishing well. The dog was nowhere in sight.

When Mason stepped out of the RV’s back door, the little dog sat there looking up at him. It was an adorable basset hound. Mason dropped to his knees and hugged the dog. “Oh, thank goodness you’re ok, little guy!” The dog wagged its tail and started happily licking Mason’s face. Mason heard someone approach, and he looked up and nearly fainted. The guy standing over him was the hottest guy that Mason had ever seen. The curly black hair and dark brown eyes melted Mason’s heart in an instant.

Mason leaped to his feet. “Is this your dog? Is this your house? I’m so sorry, sir, I don’t know what happened! It was totally an accident!”

“Sir?” The guy chuckled. “I don’t look that old, do I? I’m only twenty-nine! But, yes, that’s my dog. My baby, Oliver. It’s my sister’s house, though.” He stuck out his hand. “My name is Billy. I’m glad that you’re ok. That sounded like a hell of a crash. We should check on your friends… and my sister’s wishing well.”

Mason took Billy’s offered hand and shook it. “Hi, Billy. I’m Mason. I am so relieved that we didn’t hit your dog! I hope we didn’t cause too much damage!”

“The main thing is that all three of you are ok, and Oliver is ok. Ollie seems very taken with you. He’s not always that friendly with strangers. In this case, I don’t blame him one bit. I’m actually a little jealous of the attention he’s getting.” Billy smirked.

Mason blushed and surprised himself by responding. “You’re not going to start wagging your tail and licking my face next, are you?”

“Not unless you ask me nicely.” Billy grinned and waggled his eyebrows. “Now, let’s go check on your friends.” Billy turned and walked toward the front of the RV.

The RV Chronicles (Chapter 35)

Chapter 35

Written by: (Flash2002)

Nicholas and Griffin and Mason decided to have a wonderful last day in New York City. They planned to spend the day in Manhattan. “Hey babe, how about we visit the King Kong building this morning and then hit up a few museums and the 9/11 tribute monument to pay our respects. Later, we can go to Times Square and see the wild and crazy nightlife with all the bright lights, and we can end our night with a concert outside of the MTV studio. Imagine Dragons will be there!” Said Griffin.

Mason chimed in and said, “Wow! That sounds like an amazing day!”

Nicholas retorted, “Ok, but we have to be back earlier than usual because we have some traveling ahead of us tomorrow.” The guys ate breakfast, showered, and got ready to set out on their day’s adventure. While Nicholas was in the shower, Mason approached Griffin because he noticed tears in Griff’s eyes. “Griff, are you ok? I mean, you look so sad. What’s up? It seems like you guys have a rather good thing going here.”

Griff looked up and said softly. “I don’t want to leave Nicholas to go to school. I’m really loving our time together, and if I leave now, he might find somebody else. He’ll forget me and move on, Mason.”

“Do you really think that? There’s no way in hell that I could see him doing that to you. You guys love each other so much. I can see that in just the short amount of time that I’ve known you!” Mason said while hugging Griff.

“I know you’re probably right. Thanks, but I can’t help feeling sad. Just don’t let Nicholas know, please. I want him happy all the time for as long as possible.”

Mason glanced up and said, “My lips are sealed.”

About that time, Nicholas walked in. He looked hot and smelled delicious, Griff thought. Nicholas was singing “Radioactive” and leaned in and kissed Griff. “Let’s go, y’all. Full steam ahead.” Nicholas said.

The guys hopped on the subway headed towards Manhattan. First stop, what Griff referred to as the King Kong building, the Empire State Building. They had gotten tickets ahead of time, so they took the elevator up as high as they were allowed to and gazed out at the New York skyline. It was an exhilarating feeling, seeing everything so huge look so small. It took their collective breath away.

Next up, the guys stopped at a building that has always had Nicholas in awe of how it was built. It was called the Vessel. It was a marvel to behold and had a fantastic view from the top.

Next on the agenda was a quick stop at J.P. Morgan’s massive library. They browsed the library and read about how J.P. Morgan had built it and allowed people to visit and use the library for free until his death. After an hour, the three boys decided to move on to the next item on their list for the day.

The guys stopped and took a quick snack break. They ate the sandwiches they had packed in their backpacks and washed them down with some bottles of water. “I want to thank you both for taking me along on your adventure today. I’m having so much fun with you guys!” said Mason.

“You are more than welcome. We are enjoying your company, too.” Nicholas said enthusiastically.

“Ok, next up a quick stop to look around Grand Central Station, and then on to the 9/11 monument!” Griff said. “Let’s get a move on it. We have a schedule to keep!”

“The utter majesty of this place is unbelievable, and it is so freaking busy! I can’t see how they keep everything running so smoothly!” Mason said.

“Great observation, but we can’t stay long. We need to get to the 9/11 monument.” Griff said, touching his watch.

“Well, we are on hallowed ground, and you know it brings back so vividly how, even though we live in America, we are safe, but anything can happen in the blink of an eye! Life as we know it can change instantly!” Nicholas said to the other two boys.

“That is such a deep thought, babe,” Griffin said with tears running down his cheeks. “Too many beautiful people died needlessly that day, and we, as a nation, will never forget it.”

Then Mason said, “Let’s pause for a moment of silence for us to honor the dead and the many still affected by this awful tragedy.”

The guys then stopped at Central Park. It is such an iconic park. Crowded with people and their pets, as well as joggers, bikers, and skateboarders. So many great sites to see! Trees, lakes, and flowers lined bridges and walkways. So much to take in such a short amount of time! The guys stopped to rest for a few minutes. Mason sat quietly while Nicholas took notes in his journal, and Griff took photos for their RV Chronicles page on Instagram.

“Kiss me, babe, so I can say we kissed in Central Park,” Nicholas said, grinning slyly at Griff.

“Gladly,” Griffin said with a smirk as he moved in. The kiss was long, deep, and passionate.

Mason chimed in, “You guys are so lucky. I hope one day soon, I can have that with somebody. You are so good for each other, and you can just see the love in your eyes. Wow!”

Blushing, Griff said, “I think that you are a great guy, Mase. You’ll find someone special one day.”

“Thanks, Mason. I do love him very, very deeply.” Nicholas said.

They walked to Times Square next. It was dark out now, but the whole area was lit up like it was the middle of the day. “Can you imagine being here at Christmastime? Or New Year’s Eve?” Griffin said excitedly.

“Yeah!” Nicholas yelled. “Even now, look at all the big screen TV’s and people dressed up as different cartoon characters!”

“It’s hard to stay focused on any one thing! There’s so much going on. I bet that because of the free outdoor concert tonight, it is even more packed than usual!” Mason added.

The hustle and bustle of bright city lights were overwhelming the guys. “We are right up by the stage. Awesome! We got here early enough to get great spots! You can see the ABC News studio right over there, and look at MTV! Wow, it’s even more packed over there.”

“Right after Imagine Dragons performs, we will head back to the RV, so we can get some sleep before we head out tomorrow.” Nicholas reminded the other two.

The guys bought drinks and food and then the show started. The whole crowd yelled and screamed the entire time. It was a fantastic show. As the guys headed back home, Griffin lagged behind. Now that the hustle and bustle of day was over, he was filled with sadness again, just thinking about leaving the love of his life to start college. “I really want to go to school, but at what cost? Do I really want to abandon this awesome adventure with the one person who I love the most in all the world?” These thoughts and many others crossed Griff’s mind as he shoved his hands into his pockets and hurried to catch back up to Nicholas and Mason.