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.

————————————————————————-

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)

————————————————————————————————————

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 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!!

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 6

Episode 6 – A Firefly and a Pocket Watch

The black van pulled into the Newville Community Credit Union’s rear parking lot, and the driver parked far away from the other cars. Carl Chambers shook his head, his golden mane flying wildly around his face. He glanced into the rearview mirror at Danielle Gordon, sprawled out on the middle seat of the van. “That was interesting. Even everyday things like driving will take some getting used to with our new bodies.”

“Yeah. We’ll have to customize everything. I can’t even sit properly with this tail. Some of us won’t be able to move around in public without attracting attention.”

Carl looked thoughtful. “You’re right. Especially once we begin our plans, we will have to find a new headquarters. Somewhere secret. They would find us at the union hall. We’ll move the meteorite and anything else important out of there tonight.”

“You ready for this, Carl? We’ve mugged people, robbed gas stations, and other small stuff, but this is big.” Dani pointed at the bank.

“I’ve been ready for this for years. Let our reign of terror begin.” Carl threw his head back and roared.

The lion and the scorpion walked through the credit union’s front doors, and everyone stopped and stared. One of the security guards sauntered over with a smirk on his face. “Y’all can’t come into a bank wearing those silly costumes. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

Dani sneered at the guard. “Silly costumes? How dare you address the Zodiac Club in such a bold manner!” Dani’s tail swung around and hit the guard square in the chest, sending him flying backward out of the front window. He landed on the sidewalk in a shower of broken glass. The second guard barely had a chance to move before Carl grabbed him and threw him through the window to join his partner on the sidewalk.

Carl looked around the bank. He pointed at the customers with one big furry paw. “All of you get on the floor facedown, and you just might live to see another day.”

As the customers laid on the floor, Dani walked up to the closest bank teller and set a pile of bags on the counter. “Hello. My name is Scorpia. My friend Leo and I represent the Zodiac Club, and we would like to make a withdrawal from your bank today. Fill up all these bags, and don’t try anything heroic. I don’t want to kill you, but I will.” To emphasize her point, Scorpia smashed her tail down onto a nearby desk, splintering it into kindling. The bank tellers quickly got to work filling the bags.

————————————————————————————————————

Gavin slammed the front door shut and locked it. He turned to his brother, “Logan, go to the family room. Stay away from the windows. We don’t know if that thing followed us. Hell. it might be able to track us!”

“That was scary, Gav, but you were awesome!” Logan said as he walked into the family room.

“I… I’m not sure what I was or what happened.” He looked down at his hands, which were still covered with a light frost. Gavin wiped his hands on his jeans to try and dry them off. He sat on the couch and picked up the remote. “Let’s watch the news and see if there are any reports of other creatures like the one that we saw.”

“Wow,” Logan said in awe as they watched short homemade video clips play on the television. “If we didn’t see what we saw, I’d think the footage of that minotaur was fake news!”

“Looks like the army is setting up checkpoints all over town. We should try and get in touch with dad and find out what’s up.”

“Ok. You text dad, and I’ll text Harvs. If the high school hasn’t closed yet, it will soon.”

————————————————————————————————————

Grace paced back and forth in front of the entrance to Justyce Labs, peering through the windows. She saw no signs of movement, and Caleb had not answered any calls or texts. She didn’t want to drive back home yet, so she decided to go for a walk while she waited to hear from her friend. She was close to the high school, so she decided to explore in that direction. Bryson had told her that he had seen fires near the high school last night. Maybe Grace could find a large piece of this meteor that was causing all of these problems.

The only unusual thing that Grace saw at the high school was that it was deserted. The school must have let out early today. She wondered if that was related to all the strange events going on. It had to be. She kept walking past the school but stopped short when she reached the baseball field. There were scorched patches of grass all over the area and a sizable crater right where the pitcher’s mound should be. Grace opened the gate and walked onto the field.

Grace didn’t see any evidence of blue stones near any of the scorched patches of grass around the field. Finally, she made her way to the crater. She guessed that someone else must have removed the meteor that caused the hole, but she didn’t see any tracks anywhere near the field. Grace knelt down and examined the indentation at the center of the crater. That’s odd, she thought. It looks more like the outline of a body than the shape of a rock.

As Grace stood up, she never noticed the other shadow that merged with her own. Just before she reached the top of the crater, Grace felt a cold chill run up and down her whole body. She shivered and rubbed her arms. Grace stepped into the sunlight and never gave the weird feeling a second thought.

————————————————————————————————————

Logan wandered into the kitchen, looking for his brother. “Hey, Gav, Harvey still isn’t answering texts. I even tried calling, but it went to voicemail.”

Gavin gulped down the rest of his Mountain Dew and frowned. “I saw on the news that the high school closed and sent everyone home. He should be here by now.”

“Any news from dad?”

“Yes, but just vague stuff. He won’t be home tonight. Don’t worry. Don’t leave the house unless absolutely necessary.” Gavin shrugged. “He’s probably not saying anything specific in case the army monitors his phone.”

“Should we be worried about Harvey?”

“If he’s not home in another half hour, we will go looking for him. In the meantime, keep texting him. Hopefully, he’ll answer soon.”

“Got it.” Logan wandered back into the family room to watch the news for more updates about the strange events taking place all over town. At the same time, he continued to text his younger brother.

————————————————————————————————————


            Oliver Mills was having a dreadful day. His girlfriend left him. His landlord was nagging him about his late rent. His car wouldn’t start. He missed the bus. Now, he’s walking to his job interview and running almost a half-hour late.  He was about to ask himself what else could possibly go wrong today when he heard the screaming. Great. Someone is robbing the credit union. Ollie ran across the street and hid in a clump of bushes. He peered out just in time to see two security guards flying backyards out of the credit union front windows. Ollie knew he should run in the opposite direction, but curiosity got the better of him.

There were more screams from within the bank, and then Ollie saw something that he couldn’t believe. A lady with a scorpion tail and a lion-like creature standing on two legs came out the credit union’s front doors carrying large duffel bags, presumably filled with money. Ollie took a step back, to hide within the bushes, and his foot slipped on a metal object. He knelt to look at whatever he almost tripped over. He dug it out of the dirt and brushed it off. It was an old pocket watch. Ollie doubted if it would even still work. He opened the front case and cleaned the glass face. The time looked right. He checked his phone, and sure enough, the watch’s time was exact.

He pulled the crown to check if he could still set the time if needed. The watch looked antique. Maybe it was worth something if it still worked perfectly. He was about to push the crown back in when he noticed something odd, well something else odd. Everything today was weird, but this was extra odd. A butterfly hung in the air right in front of him, just floating there, not moving. He looked up and glanced around him. He could move, but nothing else moved. He peered through the bushes. Even the monsters stood frozen in place. He absentmindedly clicked the crown of the pocket watch back in place. Everything roared back to life.

————————————————————————————————————

Caleb didn’t even bother knocking when he got to Christine’s house. He was too excited to see this boy she told him about. He rushed into the kitchen and found his sister sitting at the table drinking tea. “Where is he? You didn’t let him leave, did you?”

“No. Of course, he’s still here. He’s finally awake. He is in the living room. I turned the tv on and made him a couple of sandwiches. I don’t know if he’ll talk to you, but you can try. He doesn’t seem to remember what happened to him.”

“What about the wounds on his back? You said his blood is blue and glowing?”

“Yes, and he’s healing remarkably fast. The cuts were open and raw last night. Now, they look like they’ve been healing for a week!”

“Amazing! Let me go talk to him.” Caleb said and rushed out of the room.

Caleb crept into the living room and stopped just inside the doorway, his breath catching in his throat. At first glance, the scene could have been mistaken for millions of similar scenes worldwide. A teenage boy was sprawled on the couch watching tv while practically inhaling sandwiches and potato chips. Then Caleb noticed the boy’s eyes. He had the brightest blue eyes that Caleb had ever seen, but that wasn’t what caught Caleb’s attention. The boy’s eyes weren’t exactly glowing, but they were shining in the dim light. It reminded Caleb of how a cat’s eyes reflected low light allowing them to see in the dark. The boy turned his head and looked directly at Caleb. A momentary jolt of fear shot through Caleb, but when the boy smiled, Caleb knew right away that there was not one evil bone in that boy’s body. Caleb slowly moved further into the room. He didn’t want to spook the boy. Finally, he reached the opposite end of the couch, and tentatively sat down.

————————————————————————————————————

The trauma surgeon stormed up to the Emergency Room Nurse’s Station and slammed his fist down on the counter. “What happened to my patient. The guy with the two crushed legs. I expected him in my operating room fifteen minutes ago, and now I find out that he isn’t even in the hospital anymore! Why wasn’t I updated! Where did he go?”

The nurse took a deep breath before answering the angry surgeon. “Please do not yell at me or any of the nurses, Dr. Jackson. All I know is that two men in lab coats came in with paperwork from hospital administration. It that gave them permission to transfer your patient and the other guy that came in at the same time.”

“Where did they take them? They were in no condition to be moved.” The doctor said wonderingly.

“I’ll check the records and see if I can find out.” The nurse replied. She hit some buttons on the computer, clicked away with the mouse for a few minutes, and then looked back at Dr. Jackson. “Looks like they were transferred to Justyce Labs. That’s weird, isn’t it, doctor?”

“Very. There’s nothing we can do about, though. Caleb Justyce donates more money to this hospital than all the rest of the donors combined. I don’t know what he plans on doing with those two young men, but the hospital would never say no to him.” The doctor scowled and left the nurse’s station.

————————————————————————————————————

Erik nearly screamed, and he started beating at his body with his hands to try and extinguish the bright yellow flames. “What the hell? Why am I on fire, and why am I floating?”

cancer sneered and stepped closer to Ash and Harvey. “While your fiery friend is beating himself up, I’ll take care of the two of you. I can sense the blue stones. Give them to me, or the consequences will be severe.”

Ashton pulled Harvey’s unconscious body further away from the crab creature, then stood up between his friend and the terrifying monster. “You’re not getting the stones, and you’re not getting to my friends without a fight!”

“Ash! Duck!” Erik yelled.

Ash looked behind him and saw Erik with his arms out in front of him and a look of intense concentration on his face. Ash didn’t hesitate a moment longer. He dove on top of Harvey to protect him from whatever was about to happen. Just as he dove, Ash felt a searing heat above him. He looked up and saw a stream of yellow fire emitting from Erik’s hands and striking Cancer directly in the chest.

When the flames stopped, Cancer ripped his burned shirt off and threw it on the ground. “That hurt, boy, but I’m still standing. What else you got?” Cancer said, taking a step toward Erik.

“Damn! Those flames were hot, but they’re too light and airy. I wonder if I can adjust the heat levels?” Erik mumbled to himself. He was keeping an eye on the advancing crab creature and tried to take a step backward. He was still floating, so he lost his sense of balance and nearly did a summersault in mid-air when he stepped back. Erik growled and concentrated on regaining his balance. Once he was upright again, he threw another stream of fire at Cancer.

The crab slowed his advance. “That’s annoying, boy, but you’re going to have to do better.”

Erik clenched his fists and closed his eyes in concentration. He pictured himself creating a massive ball of fire to throw at Cancer. Erik felt himself fall, and his feet hit the ground. He stumbled, but he stayed upright. When Erik opened his eyes, the flames covering his body had changed from a bright yellow to dark orange, almost reddish color. Also, he was holding a giant ball of fire. Erik threw the fireball as hard as he could. It hit Cancer with a thud, knocking him off his feet and sending him twenty feet backward.

Erik glanced over at Ashton. “Get Harvey out of here and help the others down in the park if you can. I got this.”

Harvey was awake now. Ash helped him get groggily to his feet, and the two friends disappeared into the trees heading toward the main section of the park.

When Ash and Harvey cleared the tree line and looked down into the park, the centaur was still firing arrows at people as they tried to run away. Ashton put a hand on Harvey’s arm. “I’ll be right back. Let me go and help these people.”

“I can help. Just let me clear my head. I’m still a bit dizzy.”

“Sit down, Harvs. I’ll be right back.” Ashton said and was gone in the blink of an eye. Harvey looked around and then spotted Ash fifty yards away, knocking an arrow out of mid-air and helping a lady escape into the trees. Harvey couldn’t believe what he was seeing. His best friend was a bonafide superhero! He took out his cellphone and started taking pics and videos of the action.

————————————————————————————————————

“Hello. My name is Caleb. My sister,” Caleb motioned toward the kitchen, “said that you’ve been hurt. What is your name? Can you tell me what happened to you?”

“I…” The boy got a look of intense concentration on his face. “I think my name is Obadiah, but I am not sure. I can’t remember much of anything before last night.”

“That’s ok, Obadiah. Take it slow. How did you end up here at my sister’s house? Do you live nearby?”

“I woke up in the middle of a field. It was raining, and everything around me was burning. My back hurt. A lot. The only light that I saw led me here.”

“Can I see your back, Obadiah? I promise I won’t hurt you.”

Obadiah frowned, but he turned his back toward Caleb and gently lifted his shirt. Caleb’s eyes widened, and he nearly gasped. The wounds were still raw, but they looked like wounds that had been healing for days, not overnight. Glowing blue blood still oozed from several spots, but the wounds had mostly scabbed over. Caleb sat back and looked intently at Obadiah.

“I know that you don’t know me, and there’s no reason at all for you to trust me, but I would like for you to come to stay with me at my laboratory. I’m a research scientist, and I think that I can help you. If you went to a regular hospital, they wouldn’t know what to do. Hell, they’d probably ship you off to the army base, and no one would ever see you again.”

“No! I won’t be locked away by the soldiers!” Obie looked directly into Caleb’s eyes. “I think I can trust you. I will go to your lab.”

“Do you remember anything at all from before you woke up in the field, Obadiah?”

Obie thought really hard. “I was falling. IT felt like I fell forever. I think I was falling away from people who hurt me, but I was also falling toward someone. Logan! I was falling toward someone named Logan. Caleb, I will go with you, but only if you help me find Logan.”

Caleb nodded. “Of course, I will. Maybe Logan will know more about who you are and where you come from.”

“Thank you.” Obadiah stood up. “I am ready to go with you now.”

Caleb said goodbye to his sister and led Obie out to his car. Caleb glanced at his phone and saw about a dozen missed calls and texts from Grace Santos. After listening to and reading the messages, he pulled his car out onto the street and sped off toward Justyce Labs.

————————————————————————————————————

Cancer got up and charged at Erik. Erik tried to form another fireball, but the crab was on top of him before he could get one ready. Just before Cancer reached him, Erik tried to float up into the air, but he couldn’t get off the ground. Cancer struck Erik right in the midsection, and the two tumbled to the ground. Cancer knelt on Erik’s chest and raised his claw above his head, ready to strike. Erik raised both hands and shot a small fireball right into the crab’s face. Cancer rolled off of Erik, and Erik leaped to his feet. He willed his flames to get hotter again. His whole body glowed with yellow fire, and he rose off the ground. That was the key. The orange and red fire was heavier and better used for fireballs, and the yellow fire was hotter and lighter and perfect for flight. Erik was starting to figure out his power. He wondered to himself what else he could do. He’d have to do some experimenting when he wasn’t fighting for his life!

Now gaining a little control over his own body, Erik fired some shots of the yellow fire at Cancer, making the crab yelp in pain and roar in anger. Erik knew that he couldn’t defeat the monster this way, but he tried to lure the creature away from his friends and the innocent bystanders in the park. Erik led Cancer to the east, away from the high school and toward the docks.

Down by the lake, Ashton was busy dodging arrows and carrying people out of harm’s way. His confidence grew with each person he saved. Unfortunately, with overconfidence comes complacency. Ash failed to notice Sagittarius leap up on top of the boathouse to gain a broader range for her arrows. Ash set a small boy down inside the tree line and turned back toward the lake. Before he could move out of the way, Ash was struck in the left shoulder with an arrow. The force of the blow caused him to stumble, and then another arrow imbedded itself into his right thigh. Ash fell to the ground moaning in pain.

Harvey saw the scene unfolding right in front of him, but he couldn’t do anything to stop it. He yelled for Ash to turn around, but his friend was too far away and couldn’t hear him. Harvey stood up, sliding his phone into his pocket, and ran as fast as he could across the park. He reached Ashton’s side just as the other boy fell to the ground. Harvey looked up at the centaur, standing on top of the boathouse. “Leave my friend alone! What do you want? Why are you doing this?” Harvey barely noticed that his entire body felt like it was tingling, and blue electric sparks were running back and forth between his fingertips.

“I’m here for the blue stones and to kill anyone who has them. I will also kill anyone who stands in my way. That means your friend must die, and you too by the looks of things.” The centaur said as she notched another arrow into her bow.

“I won’t let you kill him,” Harvey said. As Harvey’s anger rose, the electrical sparks multiplied and were arcing in the air all around him. Harvey looked at himself in wonder, not understanding what was happening. Harvey didn’t even notice as Sagittarius let loose the arrow and let it fly directly as his chest.

————————————————————————————————————

Ollie scowled. No. It couldn’t be. It’s not possible. He pulled the crown back out, everything froze in place. No way. He thought to himself, “If giant scorpions and lion-minotaurs   are real, why not magic pocket watches that stop time?” He looked down and at the watch and back up at the scene in front of the bank. He spun the hands of the watch forward. Everyone moved forward at the same pace at which he moved the hands of the watch. They all stopped again when he stopped moving the hands.

Ollie noticed that, forward in time, the scorpion lady drove her stinger into one of the security guards’ chest. He stepped out from his hiding spot and twisted the hands in reverse. He watched as the tail pulled out of the guard’s body, and the wound closed. Even the clothes knitted back together. Oliver Mills realized that he was now in full control of time.

Ollie thought about his day and decided to take fate into his own hands. Luck and fortune had spit in his face for years. This changed everything. He left the crown, pulled out, and slipped it into his pocket. The first thing he did was pull the security guard out of the range of the scorpion’s tail. There, that was his good deed for the day. Now it was time for him to take care of himself. He found a pick-up truck parked on the street, the driver frozen in place just outside the truck. Ollie took the keys from the driver’s pocket and pulled the man onto the sidewalk. Then he went back to the front of the bank. One at a time, he took the duffel bags from the monsters, emptied them into the cab of the truck, and returned them full of rocks.

Ollie sat in the truck and then took the watch out and pushed the crown in. He started the truck and drove off. He was gone before the owner of the truck realized what happened. He never looked back, or he would have seen the scorpion strike the sidewalk full force with its stinger and yell in rage and pain.

————————————————————————————————————

Erik was still leading Cancer around the edge of the park when he caught a whiff of ozone in the air. “That’s weird.” He thought. “There’s not a cloud in the sky, much less a thunderstorm.” He shot another fireball at the crab and floated higher into the sky to have a look around. He looked toward the lake and spotted the female centaur on top of the boathouse. She had her bow raised. Erik looked to see what she was aiming at and saw his two friends. Ashton was on the ground, and Harvey was standing in between him and the centaur. Erik saw that Harvey was the source of the ozone smell. Blue electric sparks were dancing all around Harvey as he stood defensively in front of Ash. Erik noticed that Harvey was not making a move to get out of the way of the arrow, so he turned toward his friends and flew as fast as he could, shooting flames out in front of him the whole way there.

———————————————————————————————————–

Harvey felt the heat before he saw the fire. He looked up in time to see a flaming arrow disintegrating on its way toward him. Then Erik was landing next to Harvey, covered in bright yellow fire. The centaur cursed and reached for a new arrow, but Erik let loose another stream of fire. Sagittarius reared up to get away from the flames, causing her to lose her balance. She fell to the ground but quickly got to her feet. Sagittarius reached for her bow, but it was ablaze on the ground near the boathouse.

Cancer ran up, slightly out of breath, to stand next to Sagittarius. “You can’t beat us! The Zodiac Club will destroy you all!”

“Just watch me!” Erik said, his eyes glowing white. Erik floated even higher in the air as his flames got even brighter and hotter. The yellow flames first turned bright white then started to become tinged with a blue light. Cancer first covered his eyes, then gave up and jumped on Sagittarius’ back, and the two galloped off into the distance as fast as they could.

Ash and Harvey also had to back away from Erik. The intense heat drove them back, and they shielded their eyes from the bright light. Both boys were yelling as loud as possible, trying to let Erik know that the monsters were gone. He didn’t seem to hear them. Erik’s flames just kept getting brighter and hotter.

Ash looked at Harvey. “What will happen if he can’t stop heating up, Harvs?”

“I don’t know, Ash. I just don’t know.”

A voice from behind them startled the boys. It was Bryson Indiana. “Harvey? Ashton? What is going on? Is… is that Erik Reilly?”

“Yeah,” Harvey said quickly. “He can’t hear us. We were under attack by monsters, but they are gone now. We’re trying to tell him that he can relax and cool down, but he won’t listen! Can you help us?”

“Let me try,” Bryson said. He knelt down and closed his eyes. Bryson tried to focus on his newfound powers. He sent calming thoughts out toward Erik to connect with his friend.

Erik’s mind was awash in flames. He couldn’t find his way out. He frantically tried to regain control, but everything just kept getting hotter and hotter. Then a familiar voice called out to him. It was Bryson. Erik closed his eyes and let Bryson’s voice guide him out of the flames.

Coming Soon: Episode 7 – Puzzle Pieces

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 5

Episode 5: Frozen Fisticuffs

Erik didn’t really have a plan of action after he left Bryson’s apartment. He had decided that he wasn’t going to his class. There was just too much on his mind to focus on schoolwork. A pleasant stroll through the park might be just the thing he needed to clear his head. When he was about halfway through the park, he started to hear noises. He slowed his pace and left the path. From behind a stand of bushes, Erik peered into the big picnic area, which was situated right in the center of the park. What he saw, he could hardly believe. There were two… for lack of a better word… monsters terrorizing a family near the barbecue pit.

One of the creatures looked like a mythological centaur. The centaur was a female. Her long chestnut brown hair matched the color of her horse body exactly. The second monster was something like Erik had never seen before. It had the basic shape of a man, and Erik could see that it had human facial features, but the skin had a reddish hue, and things that the family threw at him bounced off as if the skin was a hardened shell. The creature’s left arm ended in a relatively normal-looking hand, but the right arm ended in what looked more like a giant claw. Erik wondered to himself if this could be his own fate. Were these monsters caused by the effects of the blue meteors? Would he turn into a monster? He’d have to find an alternate path to get home. Erik snapped a couple pictures with his phone, then turned and ran back towards the school.

————————————————————————————————————

Two ambulances pulled into Newville General Hospital and dropped off their patients. There was a flurry of activity in the emergency room. Both William Fuller and Brett Greene were in critical condition when they arrived. William had numerous broken ribs and internal injuries. Blood was dripping out of his mouth and nose. Brett had cuts all over his face and upper body. He also had a broken left arm and crushing injuries to both legs. Both men had glowing blue rocks in the pockets of their jeans.

————————————————————————————————————

“Ashton! Wait up!” Harvey yelled as he closed ground on his friend.

Ash heard someone yell his name and stopped. He turned around and saw one of his closest friends, Harvey Kastala, running to catch up to him. Ash took a seat on a park bench and waited for Harvey.

Slightly out of breath, Harvey sat down next to Ashton. “Hey, Ash.”

“Why are you here, Harvs? Shouldn’t you be in class right now?”

Harvey waved the hall pass in front of Ash. “I’m in the bathroom. Duh!”

Ash rolled his eyes. “Go back to school, Harvey. I’m fine.”

“What happened? I saw the vice-principal walk you off school property?”

“I… I’m not sure what happened. My desk fell apart, and they blamed me. Destruction of school property. It’s been a weird day, Harvs.”

“I know. My dad’s unit is on high alert because of the meteors. They think there’s more to it than that.”

Ashton’s eyes grew wide. “Do you know what they think is going on? Are the meteors dangerous?”

“Ash, what are you not telling me? What happened at school?”

Ashton sighed. “You know me too well.”

“You’ve been my best friend since kindergarten. Now spill it!”

“Ok. Alright. Well my strange day actually started before I got to school. I was passing by the antique store on Park Avenue, well where the antique store used to be anyway. It burned down in one of the fires last night. I stopped to check it out, and I noticed a bright blue rock in the ashes. It was stunning so I picked it up. The damn thing started glowing and made my whole body feel weird. I don’t know why, but I kept it.” Ash pulled the rock out of his pocket and showed it to Harvey.

Harvey started to reach for it, but Ash pulled it back. “No! Don’t touch it. At least not until I finish my story. Then you can decide for yourself.”

“It may be too late for that.” Harvey reached into his pocket and pulled out his own four small blue stones. “They’re a lot smaller than the one you have, but I felt the same energy pulses throughout my body that you described. So, please, I need to hear the rest of your story.”

Ash reached out and placed a hand on Harvey’s forearm and stared deep into his bright blue eyes. “Oh, Harvs, what’s happening to us. I hope to God that you don’t experience what I did today.”

“Tell me. Ash, what happened?” Harvey asked.

Ashton relayed his story to Harvey. He told him about the floor tile and about the pencil and finally about the desk collapsing. He explained, to the best that he knew how, that none of it was intentional. His body was vibrating so fast that he could barely follow his own movements, and he had no conscious control of it. “So, that’s my story. It can’t be a coincidence. It’s gotta be related to the stones, right?”

Harvey was about to respond when an older boy came running out of the park. Harvey thought he recognized him. Erik? Something like that. He thought the boy graduated with Gavin. “Dude, where’s the fire?” Harvey said as the boy ran over to where Harvey and Ashton sat.

“There’s not a fire, but there are two monsters in the park, and I think they’re chasing me! We have to get out of here!”

“Whatever drugs you’re taking, you need to quit,” Ash said just before an arrow flew out of the trees and stuck in the bench right between Harvey and Ashton.

————————————————————————————————————

Bryson was nearly out of breath by the time he reached Grace’s apartment. He took a few minutes to gather himself and then went upstairs and knocked on the door. He heard Grace from inside the apartment, yell out, “Come in!” Bryson opened the door and went inside.

 “Bryson, what happened to you? Your clothes are all torn. Are you okay?” Grace asked.

“I need your help, Grace. Even more now than when I called you. Have you seen the news yet this morning?” Bryson was pacing nervously as he talked. The events of the morning had him pretty freaked out.

“Are you talking about the meteors and the fires? Yeah, I’ve seen all the footage. What’s that have to do with the fact that it looks like you just went ten rounds with King Kong?”

 “Turn on your TV. Maybe you can see it for yourself. You gotta see this, or you won’t believe it. I don’t believe it, and it happened to me.” Bryson waited while Grace turned on the TV.

“What is this, Bryson? This can’t be real. Is this a movie stunt? Wait… is that you?” Grace looked from the TV to Bryson and back again. “What…what is that thing?”

“It’s not a movie stunt. I just fought a freaking minotaur or something close to a minotaur anyway. It called itself Taurus the Bull. It was after two other people, but I found myself right in the middle. It was looking for these.” Bryson pulled the blue rocks out of his pocket.

“Are they pieces of the meteor?” Grace asked, reaching forward.

Erik closed his fist around the rocks. “Don’t touch them. Something happened to me when I picked them up. I… I’m different now, Grace. I could read their thoughts, the two injured guys in the car, and Taurus. His thoughts were jumbled, but I know he came from the docks, and there was a big explosion down there during the meteor shower. It has to be all tied together. I think that the rocks turned him into that monster and gave me powers.” He lifted Grace’s coffee table up with his mind, spun it around, and set it back down.

Grace was in complete shock. She could not believe or understand what she was seeing, even though it was happening right before her astonished eyes. Bryson had been right. If she hadn’t seen it for herself, she would have never believed it. She didn’t want to believe it even now. “This is a lot to take in, Bryson,” Grace said, running her fingers through her long dark hair. “What else can you do?”

“So far, I can read minds and move things with my mind. If I can do anything else, I haven’t discovered it yet.”

Grace looked closely at Bryson. “Your eyes have changed. They are a much brighter green than they were before. You’re not wearing colored contacts, are you?”

Bryson ran to Grace’s bathroom and stared at himself in the mirror. He came back into the room and sat down again. “They are brighter. It has to be connected. My friend Erik Reilly found a meteor, and his hair changed color. Give me a minute to send him a text. I have to see if he’s experienced any other changes yet.” Bryson sent Erik a text, which was not immediately answered. “I have to go look for him. Will you help me find out what’s happening, Grace? The army showed up while I was fighting Taurus. I know you have high-level contacts in the government.”

“I’ll do what I can, Bryson. Go look for your friend. Keep me in the loop. Lay low. You were on that video clip. The army will probably come looking for you. You may want to stay somewhere other than your apartment.”

“That’s a great idea, Grace. I didn’t even consider that. I’ll find Erik and let you know if anything else happens.”

“Buy a new phone. Call me when you and your friend are both safe. I’ll contact my sources and wait for your call.”

“Thank you, Grace. I knew that I could count on you.” Bryson practically ran out of Grace’s apartment and down the street toward Erik’s house.

————————————————————————————————————

“Gav, I know we gotta check in with dad, but just promise me that we can come back and look for Obie. I know he’s close. I can feel his presence through the feather.” Logan said as he reached for the car’s door handle.

“Ok, Logan, I promise. As long as dad doesn’t say that we can’t, I’ll bring you back here.” Gavin started to go around the car to get into the driver’s side, but before he could, he heard a loud yell, and he looked back just in time to see a large shape hurtling toward the car. “Logan! Get down!” He yelled.

Logan looked around, and his eyes widened in shock and fear. He dove toward where his brother stood, barely getting out of the way in time before something big hit the car with a crash. The car windows all shattered at once as the car was hit with enough force to knock it onto its side. Logan rolled onto his back and looked to see what had hit the vehicle. He couldn’t believe his own eyes. What he saw stood on two legs like a man. From the waist down, it could have passed for human, with one exception, where its massive legs muscles burst through the jeans, long dark grey fur showed through the rips. The same hair covered the creature’s bare upper torso. The beast’s upper body was humanoid in shape. It was just over six feet tall with broad shoulders and heavily muscled arms ending in larger than average hands. Logan could see the once human face, which was now distorted and covered in the same grey fur. Its ears were pointed and closer to the top of its head than human ears, but the most shocking feature of all was the set of enormous, curved ram’s horns protruding from the sides of its head.

“W-what are you?” Logan said, his voice shaking with fear.

The beast turned toward Logan and snarled. “I am Aries the Ram, and you will give me the blue stones, or I will crush the life from you and take them anyway.”

Gavin leaped in front of his brother and faced Aries. “Stay away from my brother, you freak. If you want anything from him, you’ll have to come through me first.” Gavin turned his head to look at Logan. “Get behind the car, Logan. Hurry!” Logan scrambled backward and crouched behind the overturned car. Gavin set his feet and faced his foe.

————————————————————————————————————

After Bryson left her apartment, Grace Santos scrolled through her contacts. She almost clicked on one of her top government sources, but then thought better of it. She didn’t think that anyone in the government would give her a straight answer to this even if they knew. Instead, she called a number that he had not called in years. He called an old college friend, Caleb Justyce. She didn’t exactly hang out in the same circles anymore, but Grace knew that this problem was something that would pique the interest of Caleb. The call went straight to voicemail, but Grace left a message and waited.

————————————————————————————————————

Bryson ran the three blocks from Grace’s apartment to Erik’s house and banged on the front door. Erik’s father answered the door. “Hi, Bryson. What brings you here?”

“Hi, Mr. Reilly. is Erik home?”

“No. The last I saw him, he said he was going to see you. Didn’t he show up? That was quite a while ago.”

“Yeah, he was at my place earlier. I thought he’d be home by now. I guess I’ll walk through the park and see if I can meet up with him. He’s not answering my texts.”

“Is everything alright, Bryson? Is it something important?”

“No, Mr. Reilly, there’s nothing to worry about. When you see him, just tell him to text me.”

“Ok, Bryson. It was nice to see you again.”

Bryson was a little alarmed that Erik wasn’t home yet. He should have had plenty of time to get here by now. He turned and started walking quickly toward the park.

————————————————————————————————————

“You are either brave or extraordinarily stupid,” Aries sneered.

“I will not let you hurt my brother,” Gavin stated, fists raised in front of him.

“Gavin, come on! Let’s run!” Logan yelled from behind the overturned car.

“Too late for that, boy,” Aries said as he butted his horns against the car, pushing it further off the road.

“What do you want from us?” Gavin asked.

“The blue stones. Give them to me willingly, and I might let you live.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. We don’t have any blue stones,” Gavin said, slowly backing away from Aries.

Aries sniffed the air. “I can smell them. You can’t lie to me, boy. I’ve had enough talk. Prepare to die.” Aries lowered his head and charged.

Gavin dropped to his knees and raised his arms over his head in an effort to protect himself. He gritted his teeth, closed his eyes, and prepared himself for the impact. The impact never came. Instead, Gavin heard what sounded like breaking glass and then a loud thump which came from behind him. He opened his eyes and looked warily around. There were shards of ice all around him, and Aries was now between Gavin and Logan. Gavin couldn’t figure out what had happened, but he quickly sprung to his feet to place himself, once more, in between the monster and Logan.

Aries’ eyes narrowed. “I knew I smelt the stones. You’ve been affected by them, so now you must die!” Aries charged at Gavin.

Gavin side-stepped the charge and swung his fist at Aries. Before his punch struck its target, Gavin felt an extreme coldness run through his body. A cocoon of ice formed around his fist just as the blow landed. The ram was nearly knocked off his feet as he stumbled away from Gavin. Gavin looked down in awe at his ice-covered fist. He thought about how cool it would be if his whole body were protected by the ice, and then it happened. Gavin was now covered in an icy armor from head to toe.

Aries watched as the ice formed around Gavin. Hoping to catch Gavin distracted, Aries lowered his head and charged. He hit Gavin full-force in the mid-section with his horns. Gavin was thrown back and smashed against the car. He was unhurt, but the icy armor shattered into a million pieces. Gavin saw Aries closing in on him.  He tried to move out of the way, but he was pinned up against the car. Gavin raised his arms in self-defense, wishing he had something to throw at Aries. Streams of ice shot out of Gavin’s fingers and struck Aries square in the chest, knocking him backward. Frost continued to stream out of Gavin’s fingers until the ram’s legs were frozen solid.

Gavin leaped to his feet and rushed around to the other side of the car. “Logan, come on! That probably won’t hold him for long. Let’s get out of here.”

Logan’s dark brown eyes were wide open and staring. “Gavin, you’re a superhero!” He ran over and hugged his brother.  

“Whatever! All this might make me believe your story about angels a little more, though. We can talk at home. Let’s get out of here before he breaks free,” The two boys turned and ran down the road as fast as they could, leaving Aries behind.

————————————————————————————————————

Grace sat at her desk and thought about her visit with Bryson, trying to wrap her mind around not just what he told her, but what she had witnessed with her own eyes. He picked up her coffee table using his mind. An hour ago, she would have laughed at the idea. Now her focus was on trying to figure out how it happened and how to proceed. There wasn’t just Bryson to consider, there was also the monster that he fought. How many others were out there? She knew that Caleb was the best shot at finding answers. Grace glanced at her phone again. Still no return call from Caleb. After a while, she decided to go straight to Justyce Labs and talk to Caleb, face to face. Caleb was the smartest person that Grace knew. Caleb had graduated from high school when he was fifteen, and he had a master’s degree in mechanical engineering by the time he was eighteen. When Grace started college, Caleb was twenty-eight and working towards his third master’s degree. Now, he was thirty-seven had his own research lab. If anyone could figure out what was happening, that man would be Caleb Justyce. Grace left her apartment, avoided downtown, and drove as fast as she could to Justyce Labs.

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Harvey and Ashton both leaped off of the bench. “Dude! I thought you were joking. Who is chasing you?” Harvey said.

“Yeah, I thought you said monsters, not crazy bow-wielding maniacs?” Ashton quipped.

“I did say monsters, and I meant it. One is one of those half woman and half horse things from mythology. She has the bow. The other one is a guy who looks like he has a shell and a mutant claw for a hand! They’re not chasing me, but we need to get out of here! They’re in the middle of the park, terrorizing everyone in sight!” Erik replied, pacing back and forth.

“A centaur and a crab man? Are you trying to prank us? Where are the cameras?” Harvey said.

“Harvey, duck!” Ash yelled!

Harvey looked up and saw another arrow, this one heading straight for him. He didn’t even have time to react. Then something barreled into him, and Harvey landed on the ground on his back. The breath was knocked right out of his lungs. He coughed and blinked and tried to roll out from under whatever landed on him, then he saw that it was Ash. “Ash? How? You were way over there.”

“I… I’m not sure.”

“I was looking right at you, and I didn’t even see you move. One second you were next to me, and then there was a blur and a gust of wind, and you were on top of your friend.” Erik said.

“A lot of weird stuff has been happening today,” Ash said, getting up off of Harvey. “Maybe we should do like Erik said and get as far away from here as possible.”

Harvey leaped to his feet. “No! If they are hurting people, we need to try and help! I want to at least get a few pictures to send to my dad. These creatures may be the reason that his army unit was activated.”

“This is a stupid idea, but I’ll show you where they are. As soon as you see them, you’ll change your mind and agree with me.” Erik said in frustration, but he led the other two boys through the trees and into the picnic area in the center of the park.

“I thought you were exaggerating, but that does look just like a centaur,” Harvey said.

“She’s firing arrows right at that family. Harvey’s right. We have to at least try and help.” Ashton said and took a step forward, and then, in the blink of an eye, he was gone.

“Ash? Where’d ya go? Erik, what happened?” Harvey said, looking all around.

“It’s the same as when he tackled you. A gust of wind, and he was gone. Wait. Isn’t that him over by the pond?”

“It can’t be. That’s over a hundred yards away. How would he…”

Erik heard a thump and turned to see why Harvey stopped talking. The first thing Erik saw was the mutant crab monster, but then he saw Harvey lying face-first on the ground at the creature’s feet. Erik clenched his fists. “Get away from my friend, you freak!” To Erik’s surprise, the monster took a step back. Then Erik felt a gust of wind, and Ashton appeared.

“Harvs!” Ashton yelled and knelt by his best friend. Ash looked up at Erik, and his eyes grew wide. “Erik! You’re on fire… and you’re… floating!”

Erik looked down at himself, and his own eyes widened in shock and fear. Ashton was right. His entire body was engulfed in flames, and he was floating a foot off of the ground.

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Coming Soon: Episode 6 – A Firefly and a Pocket Watch

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 4

Erik Reilly rolled out of bed and turned on the television. He saw news reports on every channel about the meteor shower and the fires, but, oddly enough, there were no reports of any meteors being recovered. Erik thought that was bizarre. Surely, if he found one, others must have as well. Maybe, just like him, they kept it quiet due to the strange behavior of the rocks. Erik didn’t have any classes today, so he decided to text his friend, Bryson Indiana. Bryson loved mysteries. Hell, Bryson even had his own private investigator business. Sure enough, Bryson answered right away, and, as soon as he found out it was about the meteors and fires, he was interested. Erik turned off his television and practically ran out the door.

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Gavin drove up yet another street in his search for Logan. Finally, he spotted him. He drove past his brother and pulled off the road right in front of him. He got out of the car and walked right up to Logan. “What the hell, Logan? Are you trying to worry Harvey and me? With all that’s happening, you decide to just wander off and not answer your texts?”

Logan looked confused. “What are you talking about? What’s happening?”

“Didn’t you get the text from dad? Or any of the texts from me? Have you seen the news?”

“No. I didn’t watch any news? I left the house early. And I don’t have a text from dad. Shit, what time is it?” Logan looked down at his phone. “Dang. I never even turned my phone on. I’m a little preoccupied, Gavin. I’m sorry. I meant to go to my class. I didn’t realize it was almost ten o’clock already.” He said while turning his phone on. “Here’s the text. What does this mean? What’s going on, Gavin.”

“There was a strange meteor shower last night. The meteors were glowing with a blue light. It was strange, but I wouldn’t have been too concerned. What’s got me worried is that the army must be worried. With the text from dad, I just don’t know.” Gavin said. “Your turn. Why are you out so early and not in class?”

“They were glowing blue, you said?” Logan sighed. “You might think I’m crazy, even with all you just told me.” He pulled the feather out of his pocket and showed it to Gavin. “My friend Obadiah gave this to me. It also glows with a blue light. Gavin, Obie plucked this out of his own wing. He’s an angel.”

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Carl Chambers sat in quiet contemplation. So much had happened since last night. Most of the twelve members of his group experienced at least minor physical changes. For some, the changes were dramatic. They all felt different. After their strategy session this morning, he sent ten of them out into the town to search for the blue meteor stones with orders to kill anyone who had already touched them. Carl wanted their group to be the most powerful beings, not only in the town but in the world. He glanced over at the other remaining person in the room, Danielle Gordon.

“Dani, have you figured out how to balance and properly move with that.” He pointed at the six-foot-long tail that curved up and over Danielle’s head.

“Yeah. It pretty much just came naturally. It is surprisingly maneuverable.” She swung the tail around from side to side.

“If you’re sure, then we have a job to do.”

“Collecting rocks like everyone else?”

“No. If we are going to rule this town, and eventually, even more, we need cash. What do you think about robbing the Newville Community Credit Union?”

“That sounds absolutely perfect to me, boss man. Let’s go.”

Carl stood, shook out his golden mane, and led his scorpion-tailed companion out the door.

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Bryson rushed home to turn on the news and catch up on the stories about the meteors while he waited for Erik. He didn’t have to wait long. Less than ten minutes later, there was a knock on his door. “Come on in,” Bryson yelled.

Erik rushed in and closed and locked the door behind him. “I see you’re watching the reports about last night. Have they said if any meteorites were recovered yet?”

“No. Maybe the meteorites were too small to find or were destroyed in the fires that they caused.”

Erik grinned. “I find that hard to believe. I found one right behind my house last night!”

“Show me! Did you see it fall from the sky? Are you sure what it is?”

Erik took the blue rock out of his pocket and held it in his open palm. “Before you touch it, I have to tell you something. Yes, I saw it fall from the sky. I pulled it out of the charred remains of that big maple tree in my backyard. My dad is gonna be pissed. He loved that tree! But, anyway, as soon as I picked it up, it started giving off energy. It pulsed throughout my whole body. I… I feel different, Bry. I feel stronger. Hell, it even changed the color of my hair! Weird, right?”

“I noticed the hair. Bright red looks good on you.” Bryson winked.

Erik blushed. “Thanks, but you know I only like girls. You just don’t give up, do you?” Erik smiled shyly.

“You’re even cuter when you blush. Broaden your horizons, bro. Bisexual is the only way to go! So many possibilities!”

“Can we please get back to this?” Erik waved the meteorite in front of his friend.

Bryson smirked. “Ok. He reached into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out his own four blue stones. “I went for a walk to investigate the fires, and I found these. I felt the energy pulses that you described. I haven’t experienced any physical changes like you with your hair, but you’ve had yours since last night, and I just found these an hour ago.”

“What do you think it means? What’s happening to us, Bry? I’m scared, but I’m excited at the same time.”

“I have no idea, but it’s obviously going to be my top priority to find out. There’s a reporter friend of mine that’s helped me with a lot of my cases that I’m going to call. She should be able to help me. She has a lot of contacts in the government that I don’t have.”

“Reporter? Government? Can you trust her?” Erik thought for a moment. “Do you think we should turn these rocks over to the authorities?”

“To answer your first question, yes. I trust Grace about as much as I trust anyone. To answer your second question, no. I can’t tell you what to do with yours, but there’s no way in hell that I’m turning mine over to anyone until I find out what they are and what they’re doing to us. If we give them to the army, the best-case scenario is we won’t find out anything. The worst-case scenario is that nobody ever sees us again. Once they find out about the energy pulses, we’d be lab experiments forever.”

“So, what do we do now?”

“Let me investigate. Let me get Grace involved. You carry on with your everyday life. Go to class. Have fun. I’ll be in touch.”

“I knew you’d know what to do. That’s why I came here first. Thanks, Bry. I’ll text you if I notice any other physical changes or feel any other effects at all.” Erik said as he left the apartment.

Bryson was on the phone with grace Santos, and then out the door heading for her apartment before Erik had been gone five minutes.

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Gavin didn’t look convinced. “An angel? Are you serious? That’s impossible, Logan. Maybe he’s part of whatever is going on. The army is involved. You need to be careful. I think you should stay away from him until we talk to dad.”

“Come with me, please, Gav. Let me show you what I found.” Logan led his brother back to the crater in the field. They both walked to the center of the crater. “Look. Doesn’t that look like the imprint of a body? And look at the size of this crater. And the footprints only lead out of the crater, not in.”

“It is all very odd. I guess odd is the theme of the day. But an angel, Logan? I just don’t know. It could mean just what I said. He could be a part of whatever is happening.”

“Wait. One more thing. The feather was glowing a bright blue earlier and look at all these little rocks. They’re all glowing blue. Explain that! Touch one, and maybe you’ll understand.” He picked up a blue rock and tossed it to his brother.

“What the hell? It feels weird. Like it’s pulsing or something.” Gavin was now just staring down at the glowing blue rock in the palm of his hand. “Grab a couple more rocks so we can show them to dad when he gets home.”

Logan stuffed a few more blue rocks into the pocket of his jeans. “Gavin, I think Obie is out here somewhere. I’m worried that he may be hurt. What do we do?”

“Let’s go home and see if dad is there. If dad isn’t home, we can drive around and see if you see your friend. But, Logan, we have no way of knowing where he is… or even what he is. You have to understand that we probably won’t find him.” Gavin said.

“When I hold the feather, I can sometimes feel if he’s close. I can’t get an exact location. I appreciate you trying to help. I really do.” Logan said.

“Let’s go and see if dad is home yet,” Gavin said, and they walked back to his car.

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Ashton Connors sat in his math class, trying to calm his nerves. He couldn’t seem to sit still. His mind was in serious overdrive, and he hadn’t even had his usual latte that morning. Ashton heard a cracking sound, and he looked down. The tile underneath his foot had splintered as if someone hit it with a hammer. “Shit!” He thought to himself. “I hope Mr. Bailey doesn’t see that or he’ll blame me for sure!” In his nervousness, he started tapping his pencil even faster. Ashton watched, spellbound, as his hand moved so fast that all he saw was a blur. With another loud crack, the pencil completely drilled through the desktop.

“Mr. Connors, what is going on back there?” Mr. Bailey asked as he turned from the blackboard and looked directly at Ashton.

“Nothing, sir. Everything is fine.” Between the broken tile and the pencil sticking out of the desk, Ashton was so worked up that his whole body started to shake. He could barely follow his own movements as his desk started to vibrate.

“Mr. Connors, whatever it is that you are doing, please stop this instant!” You’re disrupting the class, and if I have to speak to you one more time, you’re going to the principal’s office.”

“Mr. Bailey, I…” Ashton started to say, but then… CRASH!

Ashton’s desk fell apart, and he landed amongst the pieces on the floor. The students closest to him leaped out of their seats and backed away.

“Ashton! What have you done? Are you ok?” Mr. Bailey rushed to Ashton’s side.

“I… I’m alright. I don’t know what happened.”

Mr. Bailey’s eyes took in, not just the disassembled desk, but also the smashed tile and the pencil impaled through the desktop. He shook his head. “I don’t understand why so many of you kids have to be so destructive. Come with me, Mr. Connors.”

Ash opened his mouth to try and defend himself but quickly closed it again. It was no use. He couldn’t even explain what happened to himself, never mind trying to explain it to someone else. He sighed and followed Mr. Bailey out of the room.

————————————————————————————————————

As Bryson drove through town, he took a right turn onto Sunset Street, and suddenly a car came flying out of nowhere and landed on its roof directly in front of him. He slammed on his brakes, but still smashed into the side of the other car

Shaken up but basically unhurt, he got out of his car and rushed to see if anyone needed help. Bryson got to the other car, looked in, and saw two men, both were unconscious. The vehicle lay on its roof, and both doors were damaged and wedged shut. Bryson peered in through the smashed windshield to see if he could pull the victims free. The driver was pinned in by the steering wheel and looked unconscious. The passenger was hanging upside down from the seatbelt and moaned softly. Bryson dialed it into 9-1-1 and reported everything he saw. After he hung up, Bryson crawled into their car to see if he could do anything while he waited for the paramedics. From out of nowhere, Bryson started feeling pain all over his body and then heard a voice. He looked at both men, and they were both unconscious. Yet a voice clearly said, “Oh God, please help me. I can’t feel my legs. I hope Brett is ok.” And someone different crying, “Oh my God, what was that thing. It looked like a bull. I can’t believe it picked up the car like it was a toy. Why can’t I wake up? Where’s William? I can’t see anything!”

Bryson shook his head. What the hell just happened? Was he hearing their thoughts and feeling their pain? He started to search and see if he could find the names William or Brett anywhere in the car, but then he felt a totally new set of feelings. Suddenly he was filled with white-hot rage and heard a roaring inside his head so loud it felt like his skull may bust in two. He fell to his knees and grabbed his head. Slowly he turned back towards the road and then wished that he hadn’t. He found himself face to face with something that should not exist outside of the movies.

The creature was at least seven feet tall and looked to Bryson almost like a minotaur out of Greek mythology. He could still see human features beneath the dark brown fur. It had a brown leather-like hide that completely covered its massive body. It’s head closely resembled that of a bull, except the muzzle wasn’t quite so prominent. The creature also had large sharply pointed horns protruding from the top of its head. Its arms and upper body would put the bulkiest bodybuilders to shame, and its tree trunk thick legs ended in hooves instead of feet. Bryson could not believe his eyes. He was almost too stunned and scared to react at all. He tried to slowly back up, but almost immediately hit up against the wreckage of the cars. Bryson nearly fainted from shock when the creature began to speak.

————————————————————————————————————

Harvey was staring outside, lost in thought, even though he should have been paying attention to his calculus teacher. He was startled out of his reverie when he noticed his friend Ashton Connors walking out of the school, closely followed by the vice-principal. They walked to the end of the parking lot where Ash kept walking off of school property, and the vice-principal turned and walked back into the school. “What was that all about?” Harvey thought to himself, then he raised his hand.

The teacher acknowledged Harvey. “Yes, Mr. Kastala?”

“May I go to the restroom, please, Mr. Sawyer?”

“Can’t it wait until the end of class?”

“Not really, sir.”

“Ok. Fine. Go. Make it quick.”

Harvey grabbed the hall pass from Mr. Sawyer’s desk and nearly ran out of the class. He ran right past the bathrooms and out the front door. When he got to the street, he looked all around, trying to see if he could find Ashton. Bingo. He spotted Ash across the street, just entering the park. Harvey dashed off to try and catch up to his friend.

————————————————————————————————————

“Stand aside or share their fate. The stones they possess must be mine.” The bull creature stared at Bryson with its red glowing eyes and waited for him to move.

The thoughts that ran through Bryson’s head were, “Could this thing be talking about one of the blue meteor rocks? Can he possibly know that I have one too? Can I live with myself if I just let him do whatever he wants to these injured men? What do I do?” The words that came out of his mouth were, “Are you really a bull? I called the cops already, should I call animal control instead?” 

The creature roared and charged right at Bryson. He reacted without thinking. He ducked under the creature’s outstretched arms and extended his own arms out towards the bull, palms outward. He felt a power surge through him, and he saw the beast thrown through the air back towards the center of the street. The bull was even angrier now. “Who are you, little man? You must have a blue rock, too. Taurus the Bull shall grind your bones to dust and take it from you!”

“Taurus the Bull shouldn’t refer to himself in the third person. It’s pretentious, especially for a heifer like you.” Quipped Bryson.

The bull lowered its head and charged again. Bryson tried to do the same thing he did before, but it didn’t work. Pain exploded in his right side, and he was lifted off the ground and tossed thirty yards down the street. Bryson smashed into a row of mailboxes. He looked back towards Taurus and saw that the bull was trying to pull one of the men out of the car. Bryson was scared, but he knew he had to try and protect the men from that monster. Bryson groaned and stood up. He thought about how he had thrown the creature using only his mind. He needed to access that power again. Bryson looked around at all the mailboxes and posts, broken and scattered at his feet. He closed his eyes and pictured himself picking up a mailbox with his mind. When Bryson opened his eyes, one of the mailboxes was floating in the air in front of him. He concentrated, and the mailbox flew at an incredible speed and smacked Taurus right in the back.

The creature snarled and turned to face Bryson, letting go of the man in the car. Taurus strode forward, head lowered, and yelled. “I’ve had enough of you, little man. I’ll beat you into a pulp and then finish what I came to do.”

Bryson crouched behind his pile of mailboxes and started sending them out at Taurus. Taurus, caught off-guard by the sudden rain of metal, stopped and covered his face with his arms. Seizing this as an opportunity, Bryson let his new weapons fall and sent his power out at the Taurus, sending the creature flying about fifty yards backward through the air.

Sirens wailed in the distance, growing ever closer. Bryson glanced in that direction. He saw two police cars blocking the end of the street, but not moving any closer. Bryson waved at the cops, trying to get them to come help. They needed to help the men in the car, even if they didn’t want to help him fight the giant nightmare bull monster. Bryson knew the cops saw him, but they moved no closer. While he watched, an ambulance drove up. The police initially stopped the ambulance, but Bryson heard raised voices, and then the ambulance pulled onto the sidewalk and drove past the police roadblock. Help was on the way. Now all he needed to do was distract the giant homicidal cow.

Bryson positioned himself in between the ambulance and Taurus. The bull was back on his feet and ready for a fight. He could hear the creature’s jumbled thoughts. “You’re from the docks? Who were you before you became Mad Cow Man?” Bryson asked with a smile.

“Get out of my head!” The Taurus yelled. “I’m gonna shut your wise-ass mouth for good.” Taurus charged at Bryson. Still listening to the bull’s thoughts, Bryson easily dodged the charge. He kept taunting Taurus and kept leading him further and further away from the paramedics and the two men in the car. By the time the bull realized what Bryson was up to, it was too late. They were three blocks away when Taurus noticed the ambulance driving away in the other direction. He turned to head back towards the scene of the accident when two army helicopters landed in the street.

Men poured out of both helicopters. The bull started forward, then thought better of it and ran off, roaring in frustration. Bryson considered checking on the men in the car, but he caught random thoughts from the army guys. They planned on questioning him, so he decided to leave before they could grab him. He darted down a side street and disappeared into the city.

————————————————————————————————————

Christine Justyce heard the boy stirring in the living room. She peered in to see if he needed anything, and she saw that he was already back to sleep. She picked up her phone and made a call. As soon as the other person picked up, she began to speak. “Caleb, it’s me. I need you to come over to my house right away.”

“What’s wrong, sis?”

“An injured boy showed up at my house last night. He’s hurt bad. Can you come over right now?”

“Why did you call me and not an ambulance or the police, Christine? What else is wrong?”

“He has two very large, very raw wounds down his back. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

“I’ll ask again. Why call me? What’s happening, Christine?”

“His blood is blue. Like a bright glowing blue. He showed up covered in mud right after that strange meteor shower. Caleb, I don’t think he’s human.”

“I’ll be right there.” Caleb Justyce hung up the phone and headed to his sister’s house.

Coming Soon: Frozen Fisticuffs!

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 3

Episode 3 – Monsters and Heroes

Bryson Indiana stepped out of the shower, still thinking about all the strange fires he saw the night before. He absolutely had to go investigate. After getting dressed, he checked his appointment calendar. No clients were coming in today, just a reporter that he had to meet up with later that morning. His private investigator business had finally started to take off. Three new clients in the last week! He really didn’t need a new problem to solve, but his curiosity wouldn’t let him not have a look around. Those fires were beyond weird. Besides, he needed to walk to Starbucks to get his morning coffee anyway. He finished tying his shoes and pulled on a hoodie. He grabbed his favorite beanie on his way out the door. Autumn had finally started to take hold in northern Virginia.

———————————————————————————————————————

            Carl Chambers woke to the sound of a crash. He opened his eyes, but his vision wouldn’t focus properly. Carl got shakily to his feet and stumbled into the union hall bathroom. His body felt weird, and he was having trouble concentrating. His head ached, and he put one hand up to massage his temple and felt a massive amount of thick curly hair. Hair that hadn’t been there just the night before. He looked down at his arms and saw they were covered with what looked like golden colored fur. The muscles in his arms were rippling and appeared to be growing right before his eyes. He rushed to the mirror and saw a face that he barely recognized. His appearance was still warping and changing. He rushed to the doorway and called out to his best friend and right-hand man, Rick Myers. “Rick! Rick, get in here! Something is happening to me!”

Carl heard the same clip-clop of hooves on the wooden floor that he heard last night just before he blacked out for the second time. Then, he heard Rick’s voice, but it was deeper and more gravelly. “Something has happened to all of us, Carl. Something strange and powerful.”

Rick turned the corner, and Carl jumped back in surprise. What Carl saw, he barely recognized as his best friend. He could still make out Rick’s facial features, but that face was now covered in brown fur and horns were growing out of the sides of his head. Rick was now close to seven feet tall, and his shoulders were broad enough where he would have to turn sideways to enter most doors. As Carl continued to gape at his friend, he noticed that Rick’s legs now ended in massive hooves instead of feet.

“Oh my God, Rick. What is happening?”

Rick waved a hand at Carl. “You tell me, boss man.”

“I think it was from the meteor last night. I felt the power emanating from it, but I never expected these physical changes. I don’t know for sure what is happening, but I feel incredibly strong!”

“Carl, I have horns growing out of the side of my head. It’s weird, but you’re right. I feel so powerful!”

“You said it’s happening to everyone? Are they all still here? I want to see.”

“They’re still here. Some are just waking up. Some are happy, but not everyone. I think we may need to finish that meeting that was interrupted last night.”

“You’re exactly right, Rick. This could end up being the best thing to ever happen to us.” The two best friends strode out into the union hall meeting room to assess what had happened to the rest of their friends.  

———————————————————————————————————————

Bryson walked to the edge of Newville Park, noting scorch marks on several trees. He knelt down to get a better angle to take some photos, and his trained eyes noticed a couple odd looking blue stones. He picked them up to take a closer look, and nearly dropped them again. He felt a surge of energy rush through his entire body. Peering at the rocks in the palm of his hand, Bryson observed that they seemed to glow and pulse with energy. He looked around to make sure no one was watching, and then he slipped the two blue rocks into the pocket of his jeans.

Bryson stood next to one of the scorched trees and oriented himself, so he was looking straight at the portion of the docks where he had seen the fire last night. Spinning around one hundred and eighty degrees, he was now facing directly at the high school baseball field. He still needed that coffee, but he was in an investigative mode now. Starbucks was too far out of the way; he’d settle for the Dunkin Donuts next to the school. He walked slowly, scanning all the buildings he passed for signs of fire.

By the time he reached the antique shop, Bryson had four blue rocks in his pocket. ‘Brett’s Antique and Thrift Store’ must have been the destination of some of the firetrucks that passed his house in the night. He was just about to continue on toward the school when he got a text message from Erik Reilly.

Erik: “Bryson, I need to come over and talk to you about something. It’s kind of important. Are you home?”

Bryson: “No. I’m on a case. Can it wait?”

Erik: “I don’t know. Something weird is going on. Did you see all the fires last night?”

Bryson: “Yes. That’s what I’m investigating. I’ll go home now. Come right over.”

Bryson slid his phone back into his pocket and nearly ran home.

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            The boy woke up lying on a wooden floor in front of a big fireplace. He was disoriented and couldn’t remember where he was at first, then the events of the night before came back to him. After he stumbled away from the muddy field, he walked towards the only light he saw. It led him to this house. He didn’t know what else to do, so he knocked on the door. A lady answered the door, and then the boy didn’t remember anything else. He must have passed out. He couldn’t remember much of anything. When he tried to remember before last night, all he could remember was the feeling of falling from a great distance. The boy was still exhausted. He laid his head back down and fell asleep.

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As soon as Logan was up, showered, and dressed, he ran downstairs. He wolfed down a quick breakfast and threw a couple pieces of fruit and some trail mix into his backpack. He wasn’t quite sure where he planned on going yet, but he could still feel Obadiah’s presence nearby. He slipped on his shoes, slung his backpack over his shoulder, and poked his head into the living room. “Harvey, I’m going for a walk. I don’t have a class until ten. Tell dad and Gavin for me, please.”

Harvey glanced up from his phone. “Really? Ok, bro. See ya after school.”

Logan left the house and started wandering up and down the streets of the town. It’s not like the feather was a GPS that gave him specific directions. He could only get a faint sense of direction and distance. About ten minutes later, he heard police sirens, and soon after that, he saw two army helicopters fly towards the center of the city. Thankfully, the feather was leading him in the opposite direction. He’d been walking for another fifteen minutes when he passed by the high school baseball field. The feather started glowing just like it had last night. Logan turned and walked into the field. Everything looked burnt, and he could still smell the smoke.

In the center of the field, right where the pitcher’s mound used to be, Logan found a huge crater. In the mud, he saw footprints leading away, but he didn’t see any footprints leading toward the crater. He crawled down into the hole and saw what looked like the muddy imprint of a body. The feather pulsed and flashed in his hand. Did something happen to Obie here? He was now even more determined to find his friend.

Logan crawled out of the crater and followed the footprints. A blue glow off near the edge of the field caught his attention. He walked over and looked down. He found two small rocks that glowed with the same blue light as the feather. He picked them up and felt them pulse in his hands. A wave of energy washed over his entire body. He felt different. Changed somehow. Maybe Obie could explain what happened when he found him. Logan put the two rocks in his pocket and continued following the muddy footprints.

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Carl walked out into the union hall’s meeting room and scanned the room. The creatures, his closest friends, were all spread out. Carl leaned his head back and let out a ferocious roar. All heads spun toward him, and he spoke, “Friends, gather around the table and let us continue our meeting.”

You’ll excuse me if I don’t sit at the table,” quipped Lisa Jensen.

Carl turned his head to speak, “I expect…” he stopped when he saw Lisa. From her head to her waist, Lisa looked exactly the same, but where her lower torso and legs should be was now the body of a beautiful chestnut-colored horse. Carl began again, “No. Take the end of the table across from me.”

Brent Irons pounded his fist on the table, a fist which now was more claw than fist. His hand was bright red and hardened into a shell-like substance. Brent’s fingers were fused together, and his thumb was elongated and had a serrated edge. “Do you really expect business as usual, Carl? Look at us! How can we even go out in public? We’re freaks! Jayden was suffocating for no apparent reason, I’m not even sure if he’s still alive, and you want to continue a business meeting?!”

Carl looked around. “Where’s Jayden now?”

“Luke took him into the kitchen,” Brent answered.

Carl tapped Rick on the shoulder, “Go check on them.” Then he turned to the rest, “Let me address the questions that Brent brought up. Can we go out in public? Yes, I say, and let them fear us! We are not freaks. We are amazing and powerful beings. Do I expect business as usual? Hell no! I expect that now instead of ruling Newville Heights… we can rule the world!” By the time Carl was done with his speech, the rest of the assembled group were pounding on the table and cheering.

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Harvey turned the game off on his phone to finish getting ready for school, and when he did, he noticed a text from his dad. The text was a group text which was also sent to his two brothers. The text read: “Boys, they activated my unit this morning. There are reports of strange activities and possible terror attacks in the city. I may not be able to come home tonight, or possibly for a few days. Watch out for each other. Stay safe. Dad.”

Harvey flipped the television on and turned to one of the twenty-four-hour news channels. He could hardly believe what he was watching. Could this be real? They were showing amateur film clips of glowing blue meteors racing across the sky and fires raging all over the city.

He was still watching when his oldest brother, Gavin, walked in and stood behind him. “Harvey, did you get a weird text from dad?” Gavin looked up from his phone. “What the hell are you watching?”

“The news, I think. Weird, right?” Harvey said.

“With this text from dad, I’d say it must be accurate, or at least the army thinks so. It sounds like the army thinks it’s more than just meteors.” Gavin said.

“Should I go to school?” Harvey asked.

“Yeah. Go ahead. I’m sure the school will cancel classes if whatever is going on gets bad. I don’t have a class until the afternoon. I’ll keep an eye on the news and watch for any more weird texts from dad. Where’s Logan?”

“He left already. He went for a walk. He said he doesn’t have a class until ten today.”

“Ok. I’ll try and get a hold of Logan; you just get ready and go to school.” Gavin sat down and sent a text to Logan, and Harvey finished getting ready for school and left the house.

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Rick Myers walked into the kitchen of the union hall. Whatever he was expecting to see what he saw wasn’t it. Luke Adams was standing by the sink with his arm outstretched. Luke’s hand was held out palm facing upward, and his fingers were extended. Luke had a look of intense concentration on his face. The first shock, for Rick, was that the water that ran from the faucet arched upward and rained down on Jayden Stone, who sat on the floor and leaned against the sink.

Jayden, himself, was the second shock, though, at this point, nothing should shock Rick, considering his own transformation. Jayden’s skin had transformed into what looked like bluish-green scales. His eyes were narrow and a deep amber color. There were two slits on the sides of Jayden’s neck that were slowly opening and closing. Rick guessed that they must be gills and that they must be the problem with his breathing. Rick stepped further into the room and cleared his throat.

“Luke, Jayden, is there anything I can do to help?” Rick asked.

Water started spraying all over the room as Luke looked at Rick and lost his concentration. “Wh-what… Rick? Is that you? What is happening to us?” Luke got the spray of water back under control, but Jayden stood up from the floor, not looking quite so out of breath.

“Shut the water off, babe. I think I got this under control now.” Jayden said, between deep breaths.

Luke’s green eyes shone with concern. “Are you sure, Jay? What about the gills?”

“Yes, I’m sure. I think my body got confused when the gills formed and tried to breathe through them. I seem to be able to switch back and forth between the gills and my lungs. It’s actually kinda cool.”

Luke switched off the water and rushed over to his boyfriend. He wrapped his arms around Jayden and pulled him close. Jayden took a step back and pushed Luke away. Luke had a look of shock and confusion on his face. “Jay, what’s wrong?”

“Look at me, Luke! I’m some kind of grotesque freak! I have gills and scales. You don’t have to pretend to still want to touch me.” Jayden said with tears streaming down his face.

“I’m not pretending, Jay. I love you. You are still you, and that’s the only thing that matters to me. You are still beautiful to me.”

“I… we can talk more about this later,” Jayden looked over at Rick and motioned towards the meeting room. “What’s going on out there with everyone else? It sounds like a party.”

“Carl restarted the meeting. He’s getting everyone fired up. We should get out there and find out the details for ourselves.” Carl turned and walked out of the kitchen, followed closely by Luke and Jayden.

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Harvey decided to take the shortcut through the park to get to school. On his way there, he noticed lots of burned trees and scorched grass. “Weird,” He thought to himself. “All the burned trees seem to be in a straight line.” The line of burned trees was, coincidentally, right along Harvey’s route to school. Right in the center of a burned patch of grass, Harvey noticed a bright blue stone. After seeing the news reports about meteors, Harvey bent down to take a closer look. He picked it up, and the stone began to glow and pulse in his hand. Harvey’s whole body felt weird. He shrugged and stuffed the rock into the pocket of his jeans. By the time he got to school, Harvey had found and pocketed three more stones.

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Gavin fixed a quick breakfast for himself and sat down to channel surf and see if he could figure out what was really going on. He was engrossed in all the news reports of the weird meteors and fires causing damage and the conspiracy theories about the army taking over the investigation. After he grew tired of watching the same video clips over and over, he got up to go looking for his Logan.

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.

Carl glanced over when Rick re-entered the meeting room, followed by Luke and a third figure who must be Jayden. “Good. I’m glad you three could join us. We were discussing plans for taking over the docks and then the entire town and beyond. We have to search the city and find as many of these blue rocks as we can. No one else must be allowed access to them.”

“What if others have already found them?” Lisa asked.

“Kill them. We can’t allow anyone else to gain the powers that we have. We should even name ourselves to strike fear into the people.” Carl said.

“Like individual names or the group?” Luke asked.

“Both. Let me think.” Carl answered thoughtfully.

“We could be The Freak Show,” Brent said with a laugh.

“No. No. Look around. It’s obvious now that we’re all here.” Carl said, looking from face to face. “We are The Zodiac. Literally. Look at us. Leo the Lion, Taurus the Bull, Cancer the Crab, all of us. We all fit the zodiac. That’s who we are… The Zodiac Club.” Everyone at the table looked around and nodded in agreement.

Coming Soon – Episode 4: Mid-town Mayhem!

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 2

Episode 2: The Meteor

Erik Reilly glanced away from his computer and looked out the window. A flash of light in the sky caught his attention. As he stared out the window, Erik saw what, at first, looked like a shooting star. This puzzled him. He shouldn’t be able to see any star, shooting or not, through this driving rain. Then there was another bright flash of blue light. He watched in awe as, just as the shooting star or whatever it was broke through the clouds, it exploded into several pieces. One fairly large piece fell towards the docks and the biggest one and a lot of little ones continued over Erik’s house and towards Newville Park. Little specks of blue fell like rain in the meteor’s wake.

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Carl Chambers pounded his large fist on the table. “Full house? How do you have another hand like that, Myers?” Carl threw his cards into the air.

Rick Myers shrugged his shoulders. “Lucky night I guess.”

“No one is that lucky.” Carl grumbled.

“I don’t know why we all even play. The two of you argue every single week.” Lisa Jenson complained.

“We’re here for more than poker. That’s why. You know that, Lisa. Now that he has all of our money, we may as well get down to our real business. We need to tighten control of our territory. I’m sick of these piddly little street thugs thinking they can come to my docks and rob people. If anyone is getting robbed, it’ll be by us!”

And then the meeting ended with a bang. A literal one. Carl was just getting warmed up with a speech about his plans for their next moves to take over more of the town. He was ambitious and wasn’t satisfied running Newville Heights and the docks. Carl wanted it all. Then, as fate would have it, a massive meteor smashed through the union hall roof and changed all their lives forever.

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Logan Kastala awoke, with a scream, from the worst nightmare he could ever remember having. He felt as if he had been falling for hours, and his back felt like it was on fire! The pain subsided now that he was awake, but he still felt it. That’s weird, he thought. He could never remember a physical reaction to a dream quite like he was feeling now. He was just about to fall back to sleep when he noticed the glowing blue light. He leaned over towards his nightstand to see what it was. The feather! The feather that Obadiah gave him was glowing! Logan picked up the feather and immediately felt that Obie was close by. Somewhere on Earth for sure. He desperately hoped that meant that he had not gotten into too much trouble with the other angels. Logan clutched the feather close and drifted back to sleep. Tomorrow he would begin his search for Obadiah. He never looked out the window or he would have seen blue streaks falling out of the sky right over his house.

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Erik went outside to get a better view. He ran to the top of a hill right behind his house. Drenched in seconds, Erik brushed the water out of his eyes and watched as tiny meteors fell all around him. He watched some of them hit the ground. Suddenly, a tree not twenty yards behind Erik exploded in flames. In his excitement, watching the tiny meteors hit, he lost track of the big one, but he thought it was still heading toward the park.  

“Wow!” Erik thought. The rain put the fires out quickly. Erik ran over to the remains of the tree. A small, glowing blue rock sat right in the center of the blackened and burned tree. Erik waited for the rain to cool the stone before he reached in and picked it up.

The meteorite was no bigger than a marble. When he finally picked it up, Erik almost dropped it again. It wasn’t hot anymore, but it started to pulse in his hand. With each pulse, he could feel waves of energy going right through his body. Erik wasn’t sure what was happening to him, but he immediately felt different, stronger. He liked the feeling. He put the rock in the front pocket of his jeans and ran back to his house.

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The meteor at the center of the storm hit the baseball field behind the high school with enough force to leave an impact crater and rattle the windows of nearby houses. A shockwave was sent deep into the earth, awakening an ancient supernatural force. The shadow peeled itself away from the wall. It could sense the power of the being directly above, but more importantly it could smell a world full of delicious evil just waiting to be devoured.

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Everyone in the union hall jumped to their feet and backed away from the glowing blue rock. Part of the ceiling collapsed, and the wall caught fire. Carl felt waves of power emanating from the stone and he leapt into action. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and yelled to his friends. “Don’t just stand there! Grab the rest of the extinguishers or buckets of water. We have to put this fire out and cool down this rock. I think it’s important!”

Water and chemicals were sprayed on the already glowing and pulsing meteor rock. The chemicals began to bubble and boil then the entire rock exploded into a cloud of blue dust and steam. The twelve people in the room were covered in the dust. They all began coughing as they breathed in the steam. Carl dropped to his knees and then collapsed onto the floor. He looked around, through blurry eyes, and saw all of his friends on the floor around him.

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The boy groaned as he tried to lift his face out of the mud. He felt disoriented by the overwhelming number of sensations he was feeling. The most immediate was the almost unbearable pain in his back. It felt as if someone was ripping his muscles right off the bone. He could not remember ever feeling such pain before. As that thought crossed his mind, it occurred to him that he could not remember anything at all. The boy had no idea where he was, how he got there, or even who he was.

The boy, with significant effort, sat up and tried to clear his head. The pain in his back made it nearly impossible to concentrate. He opened his eyes and wiped the mud, rain, and hair out of his eyes. The cold, driving rain that pelted his face and body helped to ease the burning pain in his back just a little and helped him to clear his thoughts. He was cold and wet. His clothes were torn, dirty, and smelled of smoke. The smell of smoke was also thick in the air. The entire field he was in was empty, burnt and in places, still smoldered. The rain helped to put out some of the small fires.

He got up and stumbled off into the direction of the one light that he saw. He hoped to find help, or maybe someone might know who he was or how he got here. All he knew right now was that he needed to leave this field and get out of the rain.

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Bryson Indiana was awoken in the night by the sounds of sirens. He stumbled out of bed and out onto his patio. The first fire trucks he saw were racing toward the school, but when he looked, the fires appeared to be past the school, maybe the baseball field or a house close by. Just as he turned to go back into the house, he noticed the other fires. There were small fires in what appeared to be a nearly straight line all the way from the school in the south to the Newville Docks in the north. Bryson’s curiosity was piqued, but it would have to wait until morning, right now all he wanted was more sleep.

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Carl rolled over and pushed himself up to a kneeling position. He felt weird. Strong. But weird. It was difficult to comprehend all the feelings that coursed through his body. Intense pain nearly caused him to black out again. He looked down and saw tan hairs sprouting out on his arms and hands. His hands were growing and changing, nails turning into claws. He tried to look around for his friends, but the blue mist still hung over the entire room. He called out for help, but his own voice sounded like a growl. He heard other growls answering his own, and just before he blacked out again, he heard the distinctive clip-clop of hooves on the wooden floor.

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(Coming Soon: Part 3 – Monsters and Heroes)