The youth stared intently at the Waffle House menu, not paying any attention to the text. He quickly shifted his gaze onto the blonde waitress (busy collecting half a coronary of hash browns) before returning his blank looks at the menu. He had been born Jasen Lawton, but as far as he was concerned, he was Plasma - heroic leader of the renegade superheroes known as Rhesus Factor, and he was practicing his inherent talents in order to better serve the team. As far as anyone else was concerned, he was trying to get laid.
Carefully, so as not to be seen, he let his influence snake out across the down-market restaurant and infuse the waitress with a faint purple glow. He had at first thought that his powers produced beams of different colored light, each with a different effect, but he had investigated that further and was now of an opinion that they weren't beams at all, and that the human mind just saw them that way for reasons he didn't even begin to comprehend.
He had wondered if the beams were something akin to auras. Other metahumans, especially those who had been infected with the mutagen known only as the rhesus serum, perceived his beams (e-beams, he sometimes called them, because of their effect on emotions), but ordinary mortals ('cannon fodder' as Emma affectionately called them) were often oblivious. The only problem with linking the e-beams to auras in Plasma's mind was that he thought all that New Age stuff was a steaming heap of bullshit.
As the e-beam took effect, Plasma conspicuously dropped his fork to draw her attention, and then nervously let his eyes meet hers.
"Can I take your order now?" she said, all business.
Damn, he thought, it's not working. "I'll have steak and eggs with grits," he stammered, "and a glass of OJ." He had hoped that the effect on her would have been a slight tweak in her hormones, to make her more sexually responsive. Plasma had studied all the text books and even tried it on himself, but he always got nervous around women, and he wouldn't be at all surprised if he'd fucked up again.
"You're not from around here, are you," the waitress said, her Texas accent almost as thick as Plasma thought she was.
It's working, he thought. "I'm just passing through," he replied.
"You gonna be in Fort Worth tonight?"
Score, Plasma thought jubilantly. "Could be. I'm staying at the motel across the road."
He was suddenly aware of a shadow falling across the counter, as Hemorrhage leaned across towards the waitress, her hand already starting to twist into sharp bone.
"He's staying with me," Hemorrhage said in slow, measured tones. She let her hand scratch the counter for emphasis.
"Steak and eggs coming up," the waitress replied cheerily, as if being threatened by customers was an every day occurrence. Perhaps it was.
"What did you do that for, Emma?" Plasma whined. "I was just practicing."
"I thought you got all your practice under the covers," she spat. "Or in the bath."
Plasma ignored her. "Anyway, you've got no right to get involved in my private life. It's not as if we're seeing each other any more..."
"We were never seeing each other, all right?" Hemorrhage's claws nipped at Plasma's neck. "We slept together once - and just that once - and only because I wasn't in my best frame of mind."
Yeah, Plasma thought to himself, you'd just seen my brother killed by Scandal, and as if losing your boyfriend to a psychopathic government-sponsored killing machine wasn't bad enough, she was coming after you. "Well if we're not involved, why stop me seeing other people?"
"It may have escaped your notice," Hemorrhage said in strained but subdued tones, "but we are a lead story on America's Most Wanted right now. We don't need you making us any more conspicuous."
"I wasn't the one who slaughtered all those cops, remember?" Plasma countered.
"Right now all you need to remember is that it makes me sick to think that I ever did it with you, and if I'm going to suffer, you're going to suffer with me."
Along with the rest of the country, Plasma mused. He decided not to say anything.
"Come on," Hemorrhage, "we've got to get going."
"We only just arrived the night before," Plasma complained, "no-one knows we're here."
"Blood Clot's gone missing," she said simply.
The huge lump of barely intelligent protoplasm was always going for a wander. It couldn't seem to get it into its head that people would consider a seven foot high blob of gelatinous flesh somewhat conspicuous.
"Well he can wait until after breakfast," Plasma said sternly.
The waitress, as if on cue, delivered his plate and juice briskly onto his table.
"He's your brother," Hemorrhage snapped.
"He was my brother; I don't know what he is now."
"He was only Ben's cousin and he's already gone looking for him," she chided.. "Don't be a dick all your life."
"Stupid freak," Plasma whispered bitterly. His cousin was the fourth member of the team, a pubescent teen going by the codename Hemogoblin. As far as Plasma was concerned, Ben was almost as much trouble as Blood Clot.
"Well?" Hemorrhage prompted.
"Well Clot can look after himself while I eat breakfast."
"He's going to get us all killed if we don't find him, so you can eat that on the go." She stabbed her index finger (distended into a razor sharp spike) through his steak, smashing the plate in the process. A sharp tug pulled her hand out of the mock-wooden table, bringing the steak with it.
Plasma sighed to himself as they left. And she was worried about him being conspicuous.
It was a dark and stormy night when we arrived in Fort Worth. Yeah, I know, but after a while you give up trying to think of new ways to say the same old things. I mean, it's pretty much always a dark and stormy night wherever I go; there are only so many adjectives you can roll through before you just accept that your whole life is a stereotype. That's me. The Human Cliche.
It wasn't easy getting registered under that name either. The DMR is only supposed to check if your name has already been registered, but they get so many joke registrations for superhero names that they have to check them out. They didn't believe anyone would want to be called something like that, but I'm full of surprises. Well, most of them aren't really surprising; what's surprising is that so many cliches could surround just one little guy.
My parents should have known better. When your surname is Smith, your parents have to be pretty sick fuckers to call you John. I almost changed my name to Doe just to spite them, but I didn't have time - I got swept up in my medical condition. I was born into the first generation of children to be born to two metahumans - not the Bloodchild, I should stress, smug bastard that he is. The scientists and doctors didn't really know what medical conditions would get passed down until it was too late.
I suffer from what is known in the medical profession as Ward's Disorder. In my line of work, it's called Sidekick Syndrome. It doesn't matter what I do, where I go, superheroes are drawn to me like flies on shit. Some of them try to protect and rescue me, and some of them try and kidnap, maim or kill me. You'd think that would lead to an exciting life, but most days the cliches run so thick and fast it's all I can do to keep myself from grinding my teeth to powder.
All this is complicated by the fact that until we arrived in Fort Worth, we didn't exist. Yeah, I know. Like most of the things Calculus says it sound like total bullshit, but he's the professor of quantum physics with spooky mathematical powers and I'm just another sidekick so I keep quiet. He says that the real world - where we are - comes to an end when some people known as Rhesus Factor accidentally sound the Apocalypse Chime (whatever that is) and that we come from a parallel universe that doesn't actually exist. It's just potentia. Never mind that I have memories of my life in the future, none of that is real. All my memories sprang into existence when I did.
Calculus is full of shit like that. Apparently everything that doesn't happen but could do exists as potentia. The universe only goes one way - only one set of potentia gets to be actua - but the potentia is all sat around in the quantum universe, looking for a way in. In fact, that's his schtick - he can choose between two different sets of potentia that have the highest probabilities. So like, he can roll a dice and choose whether it comes up one, two, three or whatever. He can't make it stand on its end though. I mean, that's a possibility, but it's not anywhere near a likely one.
That's where the requisite firm breasted, lycra-clad supervixen of our outfit comes in. She can actually flip all those probabilities around, so she can make it that the dice is no longer likely to land on its side, but more likely to balance perfectly on a vertex. Pretty spooky. According to Calculus, that's how my 'powers' work too - I'm subconsciously choosing the most hackneyed outcome from the quantum potentia.
Apparently the four of us - yeah, we have a generic strong metahuman with us. They're the easiest type to come by where I come from - or would come from if it actually existed. The competition to be the strong guy in a superteam is immense. Where was I? Oh yeah, I remember. Apparently the four of us arrived back here in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex when it became possible for Calculus to design a quantum time machine. Of course, he didn't actually build it - it only existed out there in the potentia, whatever that is, but because it potentially existed, we could actually appear back here, in what seems like the past. Even though I haven't actually been born yet, and in fact won't ever be born if we don't change the past. I tell you, it does my head in to think about it.
And yeah, I know. I sound like the narrator. Any moment now I'm going to say 'meanwhile, in another part of the city...' Well screw you. I do my best to keep you informed as to what's going on and you just make fun of my affliction. Fuck you all. It's not as if I can ever hear what you think, is it? I mean, for all I know, no-one can hear my thoughts and I'm talking to myself. But with the way my life has gone, that doesn't seem likely.
So I guess this is the point where I say, 'meanwhile, in another part of the city...'
When he had learnt that Blood Clot has disappeared again, Hemogoblin became extremely agitated. Not a good thing when you're a metahuman with an affliction that causes tiny imps to burst from your flesh any time you get emotional. The blue goblins weren't so bad - they tried to do what he told them - but the red goblins were pure chaos. He couldn't trust them to stay out of trouble - but he could rely on them to leave a trail of carnage in their wake.
Goblin wished his cousin was with him. Big cities scared the crap out of him, and even if Plasma did try and push him around all the time, his ability to transform red goblins into blue with his e-beams was often a life saver. Right now there were a dozen of the little bastards on the loose, and all he could do was keep an image of Blood Clot in his mind and try to influence them towards finding the demented blob.
They shouldn't have come to a city - they had trouble staying out of sight in the countryside, let alone in a large urban metroplex. Hemorrhage's craving for the rhesus serum had drawn them to Dallas. Rumour had it that someone was running a black market serum trade in the slums, and she hadn't had any of her own personal super-heroin in days. Plasma had agreed that they had to shut the racket down, because more metahumans couldn't be good news for anyone.
The red goblins had definitely been in the alley. Who else would have erected makeshift crucifixes to execute captured blue goblins. Three crude wooden crosses held the trapped bodies of struggling blue gremlins in place. He reached out a hand and absorbed their protoplasm back into his body, getting a little stronger with each one.
Come home, he thought as their forms blended back into his flesh. Come back home.
A trio of blue goblins appeared at the mouth of the alley, looking like refugees. He enmity between the red and blue tribes had been a constant feature of his relationship with his progeny, and if nothing else it kept the blue ones from causing any major mischief.
"Have you seen him?" he asked.
No, came the reply, clear and clean in his mind. But there's something else here.
"Something?" Goblin said uncertainly. "Like what?"
They ran up to his feet and saluted proudly.
"What are we going to do?"
A plaintive meow screeched across the alley. It seemed to be coming from both ends of the street. Goblin thought he could see the faint form of a ghostly cat making its way from one side. But for some reason, he also thought he could see the same shadowy cat watching at a distance from the other end of the narrow passage. It was practically transparent.
"Hello little fella," Goblin offered optimistically.
Death from above! rang in his mind. He looked up to see a squadron of six goblins descending from the roof on make-shift gliders. They were creative, you had to give them that. One of ramshackle aircraft was badly tied together, it's popsicle stick frame snapped under the weight of its goblin cargo, and it plummeted messily to the asphalt below. The sickly splosh was followed by the sound of firecrackers strafing the ground.
Where the hell did they get fireworks from? he thought as he dived for cover behind a dumpster. The cat was not so lucky. Caught in the open, it received the full payload of one of the red bombers. Goblin heard a brief scream and thought he could smell singed fur, but when he turned to look at the remains of the unfortunate feline, nothing was there. As the surviving gliders rode the thermals out of the alleyway, he thought he could see the twin cat at the end of the street looking with interest. It seemed to be somehow more solid than before.
He picked himself up and dusted himself down.
"Everyone all right?"
We lost Private Ryan the lead blue goblin announced. The splattered blue remains of one of his cohorts lay across the alley walls. Goblin dutifully absorbed it, and the impacted remains of the unfortunate flyboy back into his body. He still felt a little weak, and rested up against the wall. He turned back to look at the cat.
It had vanished.
The absurdly nubile woman walked into the bar and grill confidently, her jet black skin seeming to merge with the dark fur of the cat upon her shoulders. She ignored the glances and hooting of the truckers, seemingly oblivious of the fact that tight red lycra was not the usual attire for those of the allegedly fairer sex in these parts.
She walked over to one of the booths and sat next to the three men inside, the cat curling up on the table.
"No pets inside, dear," the waitress said in a friendly but authoritative voice.
"There are no pets here," the woman replied sternly.
The waitress looked straight at the cat but didn't seem to notice it. "Well all right then," she said uncertainly. She looked at the occupants of the booth. One seemed to be dressed in a white coat, a flurry of pens bursting out of his pocket, and sat next to him was a hulking monstrousity apparently decked out in full football uniform - complete with helmet and shoulder pads. The only occupant who seemed sensibly dressed was the ordinary looking man wearing jeans and a T-shirt. But there was something so normal about him she couldn't help but think he'd just stepped off the set of Happy Days.
"Well she-it, boys, that's some fancy dress party you goin' to."
"What is fancy dress?" the man in the lab coat said in a slightly nasal voice.
"A pastime of this era, Calculus," the lycra-woman replied. She turned to the waitress. "You didn't hear this exchange." She swept her hand across the woman's eyes.
"What will you be ordering, then honey?" the waitress said, suddenly oblivious to the outlandish nature of her customers.
"Coffee," The Human Cliche replied. "Hot black and sweet, just like you." He reached into his jeans pocket to check he had change. None of the others had chosen superhero costumes with pockets. It wasn't considered stylish.
"Oh I bet you say that to all the girls," the waitress replied before shuffling back to the counter.
"You didn't need to do that Quantum Bitch," the brutish footballer commented.
"That's witch, Touchdown, Quantum Witch." The recurring insult was growing tiresome to her. "And I shall use my powers as I see fit."
"Cool Jedi mind trick," Cliche said, hoping to break them up before they started.
"It is no trick to select only those outcomes in which the waitress found our attire normal, John." She couldn't bring herself to call him The Human Cliche. It was an insult to her dignity, and to the group's credibility.
"Hey! Sorry I spoke," John replied and turned his attention to the menu.
"I am getting something," Calculus announced, raising his index finger for emphasis. "There is a resonance between John and Plasma - he is doing something that Plasma did earlier today."
"Well that's useful," Touchdown muttered in his deep baritone voice. "The defense looked at a menu today."
"They're not the defense," the woman chided, "they are our quarry."
"Leave him alone, Bitch," John snapped. "All he has left are his fantasies."
"Quantum witch, damn you!"
"That's not what it says on your Department of Metahuman Registration," Touchdown noted.
"Slip of the powers," Quantum Bitch replied sourly. The chance of that exact typing error getting into the computerized registry were infinitesimal. She had to be more careful when she started thinking up 'what if...' scenarios. She decided to change the subject. "I can determine which restaurant Plasma was at, but..." Witch began.
"That should allow me to try something," Calculus said proudly.
"Still working on your thesis?" John asked. His English studies had fallen behind recently since his involvement with the League. Or would have fallen behind if he had existed before yesterday. Or was it after yesterday? He could never get the language right. It took a good postgraduate English student to get temporal linguistics straight, and he was never that good. He just fluked his finals.
"When I selected this establishment," Calculus began, "I did so by opening a random page of the phonebook and pointing to the first restaurant I saw."
"And you'd have been at it for hours if I hadn't increased your chances of actually hitting a page with a restaurant on it. It was like pin the tail on the donkey before I got there."
"Quiet, Bitch. I'm lecturing."
"You're always lecturing," she replied.
"Where was I?" Calculus asked, his nasal voice never sounding more irritating.
"You were talking about the phone book."
"Indeed," the professor continued. "I have made it equally likely that we could have come to any of the restaurants in the city, knowing that Rhesus Factor must have been to one at some point."
"How do we know that, coach?" Touchdown asked.
"I'm not the coach, Touchdown," Calculus snipped. "I am Calculus - Master of Probability, remember?" His voice seemed to echo around the gril.
"Coffees?" the waitress said uncertainly.
"Thank you," John said, handing her some dollar bills and hoping she went away.
"So you're going to try and make it that we selected one of those other options are you?" John asked.
"That is the plan. If my calculations are correct, it should be attainable within the current model."
"But you can only make those choices in the present," John observed.
"That is true. But my research suggests someone with Quantum Bitch's talents should be able to cause a temporary non-local connection between myself here and myself back then in the motel. I can then use my foreknowledge to select the desired path and change time back so that we attend the same coffee shop as Plasma."
"Brilliant plan," Quantum Bitch said scathingly, "but totally out of line with reality."
"I have done the math," Calculus protested. "My grasp of rhesus mechanics is unparalleled. Are you doubting my mathematics?"
"I didn't graduate from philosophy with honors for nothing," Bitch replied. "What you're attempting may look good on paper, but it won't fly with reality. Cosmic censorship and all that, remember?"
Calculus' measured tones melted into an irritating pleading. "Can we try it, please? I'm months behind on my thesis and if this works it would give me something concrete to put in it."
"Very well," Quantum Bitch sighed. She placed her hands at Calculus' temples and made the mental link with his previous self.
Calculus strained, looking to everyone as if he was struggling to get impacted stool out of a hemorrhoid-ridden anus, and then collapsed onto the table in defeat.
"I tried to tell you," Quantum Bitch said triumphantly.
"You okay coach?" Touchdown asked. "What's the next play?"
"Leave that to me," the woman stated haughtily. "Schrödinger has found one of our subjects."
"Who is it?" John asked.
"The one they call Hemogoblin. He is not far from here. Perhaps twenty blocks."
"We can walk it," John said enthusiastically. He hated sharing taxis with the rest of the League.
"It's first and ten," Touchdown said, a faraway look in his eye. "Let's huddle up."
"Do we really need him?" Quantum Bitch asked no-one in particular.
Blood Clot shambled through the drain. Scavenging for protoplasm was easy in the countryside where plants were everywhere. There were rats in the streets of the big cities that seemed like a plentiful supply of cellular material, but he hadn't quite got the hang of the idea that they could move. Plants and small animals looked the same to him - little bundles of tasty protoplasm - but the urban bundles didn't seem to want to stay in the same place for long. Catching them had not only proved difficult, but he had inadvertently oozed down a storm drain in his hunger.
Through his shattered senses, the drain seemed much different to the world above. Blood Clot couldn't conceptualize above and below very well, anyway. He wasn't too hot on 'up and down' and 'top or bottom' either. His companions had sat him in front of the glowing noise box on several occasions to listen to something he gathered was supposed to teach him something. But it was too full of complicated concepts like letters, numbers and brightly colored muppets, and he was unable to follow it.
They had trained him not to wander too far from them, and the one with the shiny lights coming from his hands (was it his brother? What was a brother anyway?) always punished him when he did. He stuck by them for some reason. Why was that? They were important to him for some reason. He hoped to find them soon. Either them or some (what was it called?)... grass. That was it. Nice grass. Stationary and plentiful.
He could sense protoplasm nearby.
When Goblin felt up to walking, he lifted himself up from the wall and made his way back towards the street. He looked and saw that the cat was there again, this time looking almost wholly corporeal. Perhaps he'd hallucinated its spectral form before.
"Hello again," he said.
"Hello Ben," said a warm female voice. The woman stepped around the corner looking like she had just stepped out of a hairspray commercial. She was perfect. Lithe and athletic, like a long distance runner. And not super-model skinny either, Goblin noticed. Ample breasts... He took a hold of himself. He didn't want to start acting like his cousin.
"Who are you?" he said nervously.
"A friend," she replied, taking the cat up onto her shoulder (did he see ghostly cats leaping off in other directions? No. Surely just a trick of the light) and striding towards him.
He thought he could hear distant voices from the end of the alley.
"Forty two..." one of them seemed to say.
"Quiet!" said another.
"Who's that with you?" Goblin asked nervously. He could feel his skin begin to blister. Never a good sign. He tried to press the budding forms of fresh goblins back into his skin.
"Just my cat," the woman said. "His name is Schrödinger. He's been looking out for you."
"Forty eight..." said the voice again.
The woman's breasts swung hypnotically and Goblin began to suspect he was being charmed. The realization didn't make him any less uncomfortable. He could feel the pressure in his shirt where a goblin was pulling itself free and, far worse, he could feel one emerging slightly lower down.
The approaching woman watched as Goblin's flies undid themselves from inside and a rosy faced demon emerged form inside.
"What the fuck...?" Quantum Bitch screamed.
The sound of a deep voice shouting "Hut! Hut! Hut!" could be heard, shortly before the towering bulk of Touchdown came powering down the alley towards Goblin.
"Oh Shit!" Goblin exclaimed as his flesh exploded outwards like popcorn.
"We'd go a lot faster if you'd let me drive," Hemorrhage snapped.
"You don't have a license," Plasma protested, pulling onto the I35, heading for downtown Dallas. They had been traveling around all the parks they could find, hoping to find Blood Clot quietly grazing. So far, no luck.
"What did you say?" Hemorrhage asked bitterly.
"I said you don't have a license."
"Like that's going to matter," she scoffed. "If the cops pull as over don't you think we'll be recognized, what with us being the number one cause of police fatalities in the Western united states?"
"Oh," Plasma said weakly. "That." Shouting. "Fuck you!"
"Don't you use that tone of voice with me," Hemorrhage replied, pointing a bladed hand at the driver.
"Not you," Plasma replied, gesturing with his head at the rear view mirror. "That jerk. He's right up my ass. If I have to brake suddenly he's going to cause a nasty accident."
Hemorrhage looked out the window to see a black pickup track, encrusted with stickers and go-faster stripes. "Well let's see if we can speed that up a little," she said angrily. Her patience was limited when supplies of rhesus serum were low. And they'd been out of it for almost a week now.
"Emma - wait!" Plasma shouted as she wound down the window and climbed onto the roof. Anchoring hooks protruded from her skin and fixed her firmly to the roof of the car. She lay down on the roof and gave the finger to the driver behind, the finger in question having been extended to a foot long knife.
She could see the driver behind mouth the words 'oh shit!' before spinning the wheel of his pickup wildly as if doing so would somehow get rid of the woman on the car in front. The truck struck the side of the interstate and went careening off into the barrier. Hemorrhage laughed as the sparks flew from the wrecked metal work as it skidded to naught from sixty in a few seconds. She climbed back into the front of the car, still laughing.
"You didn't have to kill him!" Plasma exclaimed.
"It's alright," she said smiling. "His airbag opened."
Touchdown was ploughing through goblins with impunity. The alley was packed with the little blue and red gremlins, except for a large patch of purplish ground where the dumb juggernaut had trampled vast numbers underfoot. In the back of his mind was the idea that the defense had way too many players on the pitch.
Goblin was barely conscious, lying in a crumpled heap watching the carnage. He tried to signal to any blue goblins around to regroup, but they were lost in the carnage and didn't seem to hear his thoughts. He noticed the trickling flow of dead goblin-flesh was flowing towards the gutter and draining away and tried to pull himself towards the drain cover in an attempt to save some of it.
Calculus was having a field day. Most of the goblins that were attacking him were torn between their desire to injure him and their inbred need to slaughter the opposing color of goblins. All Calculus had to do was use his powers to manipulate them towards each other. It was working, too. The goblins were piling up on each other in one ever-growing scrum in the center of the alley and all he had to do was watch.
Quantum Bitch had discovered an appropriate use of her powers on the little beasts as well. The protoplasm their bodies were made from was tightly bound together in little cell structures, but it wasn't like the protoplasm in ordinary living cells. She found that occasionally the structure would break down momentarily, and the goblin would temporarily lose form.
Furthermore, although it was unlikely (her favorite state of affairs), she could make two different goblins' cells break down at just the right moment for them to fuse into one entity. As Calculus herded them together, she was able to merge them all into one two-tone ball of colored protoplasm.
"Here comes the kick," Touchdown said, powering his enormous foot into the ball of goblin-flesh and sending it crashing into the alley wall. As it burst, there was the sound of tires squealing.
A car had pulled into the alley.
"Hey, what were the odds of that," Plasma said. They had turned into the alleyway at random, thinking it was a short cut to the next park on their list. The last thing they expected was to find Goblin in the street, along with a group of metahumans who looked like they were trying to kill him. "Looks like that rumour about the black market was true. They aren't any superheroes I recognize."
"You being an expert," Hemorrhage muttered.
"You just have to look at them to know they're up to no good," Plasma said, firm in his belief of his infallibility as team leader. "We'd better neutralize the big one first."
He slammed the car into Touchdown. The car stopped dead.
Plasma's seat belt and airbag saved him from death, and his beam powers would be able to repair his fractured collarbone and shattered ulna. Hemorrhage on the other hand was excited by the coming fight, and was bristling with spikes when the collision stopped them. She ripped through the seat belt, punctured the airbag and flew out through the windscreen towards Touchdown's head.
The brute had barely felt the impact of the car, but he could see the razor sharp woman flying towards him. As ignorant as he was, his reactions were impeccable. He held up his hand. "Offside, ten yards."
Hemorrhage felt the exchange of momentum between her and Touchdown. She seemed to come to a complete stop and drop out of the air, while Touchdown was sent recoiling away from her, about ten yards down the alley. She quickly pulled herself up to her feet and shot a harsh look around at her assembled victims.
"Alright, who's first?" she shouted.
John took a few steps backwards. The bad guys always went for the sidekicks first.
Hemorrhage decided that the man in the white coat looked like he could only be improved by some arbitrary amputation and she began to stride towards him.
"Not so fast, Emma," Calculus said in his whining yet somehow commanding voice. "We must have a role call."
"A what?" Hemorrhage shouted in disbelief.
"We must announce our registered names and exchange insurance details," Calculus explained.
"Insurance details?" Hemorrhage said, still not quite believing what she'd heard.
"There's no Federal Code for Metahumans here, remember?" John pointed out. "They don't know what that is. There's no Vigilante Insurance for that matter."
"Where the hell are you guys from?" Hemorrhage asked.
"The future," John replied calmly. "Or a possible future at least. We've come from the future to save the past, if you can believe that. Only we don't exist in the future, because you're going to..."
"Best not pollute the time line with too much information," Calculus chided.
Hemorrhage became suddenly aware that she wasn't feeling too violent. That was odd. Usually when she got this close to a fight there was no stopping her. She noticed that the woman in the unfeasible lycra suit was concentrating on her intently.
"Are you doing something to me?" she asked calmly. She didn't like the way that felt. Where was her anger? Just thinking about someone taking her anger away from her made her angry. "Who are you supposed to be anyway?" she asked. "The League of Scientific Supervillains?"
"The League of Postgraduate Metahumans, actually," Calculus explained.
"Why do you have such lousy costumes?" Hemorrhage asked.
John sighed. "We're not the League of Power Warriors, you know - it's not as if we have corporate sponsorship..."
"Like those stupid Crunch Squad geeks," Touchdown said. "I really hate those."
"It's hard enough to get funding for your research let alone decent superhero equipment," Calculus sighed, his voice at its most whiney.
"You're always complaining," Quantum Bitch snapped, momentarily losing control over Hemorrhage's state of mind.
"I've had enough of this," the psychopathic superheroine spat. Hemorrhage lunged towards Quantum Bitch (confident that she was the one influencing her moods), her hand sporting more spikes and blades that the cutlery aisle in a Walmart.
Quantum Bitch sensed that it was extremely unlikely that Hemorrhage would slip up on a tiny patch of goblin-flesh and miss her target, and so that's what happened. Calculus determined (using his lightning fast mathematical abilities) that on her new trajectory there was an equal chance of Hemorrhage's hand either slashing his carotid artery or plunging into his heart, and a 100% chance of death in both cases.
Suddenly his power didn't seem quite so useful.
Plasma's injuries had healed before he came around, but he still felt rough. He could feel that his collarbone had only recently healed, and the faint glow from his arm told him that it was broken. It was a side of his powers he only dimly understood. He knew he could accelerate healing with his e-beams, but he didn't understand the way it applied to himself. It wasn't the first time he'd recovered from being unconscious only to find that he had freshly healed wounds.
He looked out into the street. Hemorrhage seemed to be standing over the bloodied remains of a man in a white suit, but she seemed to be calm. She was talking to the... wow. Plasma felt the swelling in his shorts. She was beautiful. A black goddess, wrapped in skintight fabric. She couldn't possibly be a supervillain, could she? Plasma tried to get a hold of himself. She must have some kind of siren powers, controlling men with her evil wiles. Yeah, Plasma thought to himself. That must be it.
It was up to him to rescue Hemorrhage (or to get captured? Maybe tied up and... no. Concentrate. Must concentrate) and his cousin and... was there another member of the team? Yeah, Plasma thought to himself. That average looking guy was part of the team, wasn't he? Plasma couldn't remember what the man's name was, but he was sure that anyone in jeans and a T-shirt wasn't a supervillain. Why couldn't remember his name? Must be concussion, he reasoned.
The alley was covered in tiny blue and red speckles, as if a plastercene factory had exploded somewhere nearby. Plasma could see that Goblin was slumped in a corner - he must have made a lot of the little gremlins for some reason, probably trying to save his own skin. Plasma had a very low opinion of Goblin's valor. Actually, he had a low opinion of everyone but himself. As far as he was concerned, he was the only true superhero in the outfit. Well, him and that guy in jeans and a T-shirt whose name he couldn't remember.
Plasma began to sweep the alley with a wide beam. Tiny fragments of goblin-flesh twitched under its influence. He had spent a lot of time mastering how to influence the little creatures since they had left Music City, but he still only had a limited amount of skill. He could make red goblins into blue goblins though, which was generally useful. He hoped that he could coax enough of them back into Goblin's body. He didn't think it was safe for him to get out of the car and carry Goblin into it. Not that he was a coward. No, of course not. He was just being cautious.
Slowly, the shattered minions began to rise...
"I really didn't mean to do that," Hemorrhage said with strange calm as she stood over the gurgling remains of Calculus.
"That's all right," Quantum Bitch replied. "We never liked him anyway."
"Besides," John noted, "according to him we didn't exist until a few days ago. Not much of a loss when you think about it."
"What are you talking about?" Hemorrhage asked.
"Don't worry about it," Quantum Bitch replied. "All you need to know is that we're from a future that hasn't come to pass yet. We're here to make sure that it does happen."
"And how are you going to do that?" Hemorrhage asked.
"We were going to kill you," Quantum Bitch explained.
"Is it really sensible to tell her that?" John asked with apparent concern.
"Well we don't have to kill her," Quantum Bitch continued, stroking Schrödinger tenderly. "That was just Calculus' plan."
"He musta had a reason," Touchdown said, giving Hemorrhage a hard stare. He was looking forward to beating her to a bloody pulp. "I say we take her out right now."
"It's a good thing they didn't allow you into pro-football," Quantum Bitch sighed. "It would have been most unpleasant."
John felt a shiver pass up his spine. That was never a good sign.
"So what's the deal here?" Hemorrhage was getting extremely fed up of all the questions she was asking. She'd rather act than think. "Are you going to try and kill me or what?"
"They may not," said a booming voice from the end of the alleyway. "But we most surely will."
The three strangers had appeared as if from nowhere. It was a talent most metahumans seemed to have developed. The one who had spoken was dressed all in black, except for the white dog collar around his neck. A black cape swirled around his legs. To his side stood a nun, the left side of her body apparently consisting of cybernetic implants. The third one seemed to be wearing an all grey skintight suit with what looked like a fin protruding from his back.
"Who the fuck do you think you are?" Hemorrhage exclaimed.
"Watch your tongue, child," the nun said in a mechanical voice.
"We are the First Church of Christ Metahuman," the clergyman replied. "Allow us to introduce ourselves and exchange insurance details."
"Your from the future too," Hemorrhage sighed.
"I am Captain Confession, this is cybernun and the Ecclesiastical Enforcer. We're account four-oh-six-nine with Gecko Insurance."
"That's not my name," the grey suited metahuman complained. "Call me..." He threw his hands in the air, and lightning lanced down to strike him. "Shark of the Covenant!"
"Please, Hank," Cybernun said, rolling her eyes in disgust. "Not now."
"I get to choose my name, don't I?" Hank complained.
"Not if it's a stupid name," the nun sighed.
"Oh right," Quantum Bitch sighed. "And Cybernun is a name to be taken seriously, is it?"
"Hey," Cybernun exclaimed. "At least I have my own comic book."
"Well there's no point exchanging insurance details," Quantum Bitch explained. "They don't have Metahuman insurance back here."
Hemorrhage glanced around the alley. Goblin seemed to be sliding across the ground towards the car; she thought she could see a handful of blue mini-goblins trying to carry him. Why did she feel she'd drawn the short straw when they were handing out superteams?
Plasma tried to turn the key in the ignition. The engine made a faint spluttering sound. Damn modern American cars, Plasma sighed to himself. One crash and they pack up on you.
Goblin managed to pull himself into the back of the car.
"Are you okay?" Plasma asked.
"Not really," Goblin replied.
"The engine's not working - can you do something?"
"I can try," Goblin said weakly.
Can you get the engine working? Goblin asked his progeny.
Leave it to us, sir.
The blue goblins rushed to the front of the car and climbed into the twisted metalwork. The engine's tubes and pipes were split, but they were able to insinuate themselves into the workings. Goblin-flesh began to take on the tasks of the engine and slowly it began to sputter into life.
"Emma!" Plasma shouted as the car began to roll forward. Blue pistons seemed to be poking through the car's hood, driving up and down with deranged ferocity. "Grab him and lets go!"
Hemorrhage swept John up into her arms, not even questioning how she knew who Plasma was referring to. She was almost at the front of the car before Quantum Bitch and Touchdown knew what was going on. She tossed John roughly into the back and settled into her seat. "Let's get the hell out of here!"
The wrecked automobile's tires squealed and the vehicle tore its way back onto the streets. As it disappeared towards downtown Dallas, no-one noticed the shadowy outline of a cat, perched calmly on the rear parcel shelf.
* * *
You see what I mean? They ran off with me as if I've been with the team since they were first thrown together. This kind of shit is always happening to me. At first it was kind of exciting, but you get tired of it really quickly. Except I guess this is the first time this has ever happened to me, isn't it? Actually, now Calculus is out of the picture I don't care that I didn't exist before last week. I mean, who cares? I have the memories of my life, and that's about as real as it gets, isn't it?
I'm too afraid to say anything as I sit in the back of the automobile with Hemogoblin. I'm sure Hemorrhage isn't as psychopathic as she seems to be. Actually, I'm not sure at all. If I was that sure I'd start a conversation. After all, she's the mother of the Bloodchild - that's practically like the Virgin Mary or something. I was beginning to understand why the little tyke was such an annoying bastard.
Now I'm no expert on temporal mechanics, but I really don't understand how killing Rhesus Factor is going to help us. I mean, sure, if we kill them they can't ring the Apocalypse Chime (not that I know what that is, but there you go, never keep the sidekick informed...) but does no Rhesus Factor mean no Bloodchild? And what does that mean, because it can't mean that our future comes to pass. Call me selfish, but I don't see much point in saving the future if I can't be part of it.
So, anyway, I'm stuck in the back of this beaten up goblin-powered car, and it doesn't look like we know where we're going when suddenly Hemorrhage turns to me and says...
"Who the fuck are you?"
"Hi," John said nervously. "I'm John Smith - the Human Cliche."
"And why did we rescue you?" Hemorrhage asked.
"Yeah, sorry about that." John scratched his head nervously. "I have this medical condition, you see. They call it Sidekick Syndrome. It's a bit embarrassing really."
Hemorrhage gave him her best 'you don't want to piss me off' look.
"I'm sorry!" John exclaimed. "I can't help it. Weird shit just kind of happens around me, you know? You must know what I'm talking about, I mean you're Rhesus Factor. Weird shit happened to you all the time..."
"Happened?" Plasma asked. He was trying to make it look like he knew where he was going.
"He's from the future," Hemorrhage said, as if that sort of thing happened to them all the time. She was pretty much immune to weird shit since her boyfriend had merged into a gelatinous mount of cellular matter. "Blood Clot," she said aloud. "We still need to find him."
"He can take care of himself," Plasma pointed out.
"That's not the point, is it," Hemorrhage snapped. "If these psychos from the future are trying to kill us, we need to get to Blood Clot before they do."
"Do you really think they can take him out?" Plasma asked. He always saw Blood Clot as something close to invulnerable.
"You saw what they did to Ben," Hemorrhage observed.
"I'm all right," Goblin said weakly. "They didn't really do anything to me; they just kind of surprised me. You know what I'm like when I get caught off guard."
It's getting awfully hot in here, sir.
"We're going to have to stop soon," Goblin said. "The little guys can't run the engine forever."
"Well we better get a plan then," Hemorrhage stated. "How many parks are there left?"
"Too many," Plasma sighed.
"Why do you think he's in a park?" John asked.
"Protoplasm," Goblin explained. "He needs a supply of it periodically, and we'd been on the road for quite a while before Dallas..."
"Well it shouldn't be too hard to work out where he's going to be," John said.
"Oh right, have psychic powers do we?" Hemorrhage said bitterly.
"Not exactly. But while I'm with you, it's a safe bet he'll be in wherever is the most tediously obvious place. Somewhere with a lot of scope for a big showdown and with some kind of connection to either one of you or one of the people chasing you."
"And why is this exactly?" Plasma said skeptically.
"I know it sounds ridiculous, but you might as well trust me on this. The forces of cliche will not be stopped when I'm around."
"Your powers are based around cliches?" Goblin asked incredulously. "That doesn't make any sense."
"No, that's what I thought. I kept putting it down to coincidence, but after a certain amount of coincidence has pilled up you start to call it synchronicity. And when a certain amount of synchronicity has pilled up you start to call it weirdness. And then you get so familiar with how it all works and you don't have any choice but to call it cliche. That's why I picked 'The Human Cliche' as my name when I was registering. Nothing else fitted. Well, maybe 'Sidekick Boy', but I didn't want to play up my affliction."
"Okay," Hemorrhage said in a strained voice. "Suppose we take what you say at face value. We should be looking for a church, right? On account of those First Church of Christ Metahuman freaks, right?"
"I don't know who they are, to be honest. I don't think they're from the same future as me. It could be a church, though. I guess. But I'd be looking for something slightly bigger."
The goblin-powered car turned onto highway twelve. The skyline to the north was filled with by the largest structure in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The distant sound of crowds cheering could just be made out.
"Oh you've got to be kidding," Goblin said incredulously.
At that moment, the goblin-flesh powering the engine finally gave up the ghost, and the ramshackle vehicle skidded to a dramatic halt. Plasma ditched the car in the hard shoulder.
"Looks like this is the place," John sighed.
Reluctantly, they got out of the car.
"They're at some kind of sports venue," Quantum Bitch reported. She and Touchdown had given the First Church of Christ Metahuman the slip, using a little of her quantum magic. She had no time to fight other teams with their own agendas while John was missing: they had to get him back. In the back of her mind, she was dimly aware that she was being influenced by John's medical condition, but lost in the impulse, she didn't care. "We're going to have to be fast - you can bet that those bible-bashing bastards have got some tricks up their sleeve."
"Is it a big oval building?" There was a far away tone to Touchdown's voice.
Quantum Bitch looked carefully through one of Schrödinger's pairs of eyes. "Yeah, something like that. It's huge."
"Texas stadium," Touchdown said, his voice drenched in awe.
"Don't get any foolish idea..." Quantum Bitch's voice trailed off as Touchdown disappeared into the distance, stealing momentum from every car in the neighbourhood to accelerate his journey, following his dream.
"Well if you've just joined us there's seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and Dallas are tied fourteen to fourteen in what has to be one of the most exciting NFC Conference Championship games I've ever seen."
"Should that be NF Conference, Bob?"
"What? It's the NFC, Bill, everyone knows that."
"Yeah, but if it's the NFC Conference, isn't that like saying the National Football Conference Conference?"
"What? I think you've had one too many of those twenty-ounce beers, Bill."
"Looks like San Fransisco are lining up in a shotgun formation. That shoulder injury has been causing Joe Montana a lot of problems today, but it looks like he's ready to start throwing passes again; let's hope our boys on defense are up to the task."
"They'd better be, Bill, because Dallas really need to start pulling some big plays if they're going to win this one and make it to this year's Superbowl."
"And we'll have live coverage of the Superbowl in two weeks time, right here on the only Dallas station to give you all the action from the NFL's hottest games, all sponsored by Laxo brand laxatives."
"Remember, with Laxo, it's always good shit."
"Looks like there's some problem in the endzone, Bob. Some kind of gelatinous blob seems to have crawled onto the field; the officials are looking into it, but there's no flags on the play. Looks like it's going ahead."
"Dallas look to be a man short - no, here comes number eighty-three."
"I don't think that's number eighty-three, Bob. That'd be our very own Hayward Clay from Texas A&M, and he's, what, six-three and two hundred and sixty pounds? Whoever is out there must be seven feet at least, maybe four hundred pounds."
"Well it's no-one I recognize, Bill."
"Here comes the snap."
"Wow! Did you see that! Number eighty-three has surged through San Fransisco's line and forced a sack - that was lightning fast!"
"That's no sack, Bob, that ball must have come loose because number eighty-three is keeping rolling down the field - I'd say that was a fumble."
"Uh... I donno, Bill, does it count as a fumble if the whole arm comes off?"
"Jesus-shit, Bob, that's Joe Montana's arm holding the ball that eighty-three is carrying - it doesn't look like anyone's going to stop him. Why the referee hasn't called a foul, I don't know, I think he's got his own problems. I think that gelatinous blob is attacking the ref."
"What kind of foul would it be, I mean, is it unnecessary roughness if you pull the quarterback's arm out of its socket?"
"I don't know, Bob, maybe unsportsmanlike conduct?"
"It's hard to say, really, I mean, this has never happened before, not even in a Raiders game."
"Erm... do you think maybe someone spiked the beer, Bob? That's some freaky shit going on down there. It looks like the guy carrying the arm carrying the ball has been blocked by a man in a shark costume."
"Not only that, but there's a nun in the endzone."
"It looks as if the field has been invaded by some guys in Halloween costumes, Bob, I'm not sure what's going on any more. It looks like the shark is holding number eighty-three at the ten yard line."
"Is that a porcupine running across the field?"
"I think it's a woman, Bob, although she seems to be dressed like a porcupine."
"I'm not so sure those spikes aren't coming directly from her skin, Bill."
"Well the teams don't seem to know what to make of it, Bob. It looks as if San Fransisco are fleeing the field, while Dallas just seem to be plain stunned by what's going on in the endzone."
"I guess that means Dallas win by default, Bill."
"Well I don't know, Joe Montana is still on the field..."
"I don't think he's going to be doing much throwing with no right arm, though."
"The paramedics seem to be taking him off the field. One of them seems to be trying to decide whether it's a good idea to ask for the arm back. Looks like the fans are making a run for the exits - I think a lot of them are getting trampled in the rush."
"No, just the Fortyniner fans, no-one important."
"There's no clear winner between the man in the shark costume and number eighty-three - he's determined to get a touchdown, it seems. The shark doesn't seem to care about the ball, he seems to be trying to get to the porcupine woman and... are you seeing that too, Bill?
"Folks, there appears to be a crowd of - I can only describe them as red goblins, really - doing the wave in the front row stalls."
"They're making a real mess of the seats too."
"They seem to be fighting with a priest, Bob. Good to see the Church making a stand against vandalism."
"He seems to be losing the battle, Bill, I don't know exactly what's going on, but they appear to be carrying him towards the Gatorade - yes, they've dunked him into the cooler. He's struggling, but - I don't believe this, it looks as if a huge crowd of red goblins have just drowned a priest in the Gatorade."
"Never mind that - the nun appears to be making a run for the porcupine woman - and boy can that babe run."
"That's one hell of a cat fight down on Dallas' forty yard line. The porcupine woman seems to be trying to hack the nun up into ground chuck, but that nun is tough - she's giving as good as she gets."
"Looks like there's a commotion in the endzone. The gelatinous blob appears to have been joined by two men, they look pretty much completely out of place down there, and they seem to be talking to the blob. One of them seems to be shooting coloured beams at the blob, and the other, as far as I can tell, is just an average joe."
"And as if there wasn't enough weird shit going on, it looks to me as if a gorgeous babe has just, well, she just sort of appeared in the endzone alongside the two men. She seems to be trying to kidnap one of the men."
"I don't know about you, Bob, but if I was being kidnaped by a babe like that, I wouldn't be so quick to resist."
"Looks like the man whose dressed in jeans and a T-shirt is running upfield - number eighty-eight and the shark-man have seen him. They seem to be unsure what they should be doing. The shark is running after the average joe, and number eighty-three has seen his opening. He's running for the endzone."
"He's spiked the arm in the endzone, and that's a touchdown. There's no flag on the play, so as far as I'm concerned that's twenty-fourteen and Dallas are going to the Superbowl!"
"Looks like everyone's attention is turning towards the average joe. He's surrounded right now - there's a nun and a spiky woman on one side, a shark, number eighty-three, the guy who was firing beams from his hands, the gorgeous babe and the blob on the other."
"I don't know what's so special about the average joe, Bob, but everyone seems to want to grab him. All other fights seem to have gone out of the window as they all close in on him."
"We should really go to commercials, but I don't think there's going to be a break in the action long enough to make that happen."
"Let's just keep going until someone pulls the plug, Bob."
"They all seem to be rushing towards the average joe - I wouldn't want to be in his shoes right now."
"The nun appears to be trying to grab the guy, but eighty-three is having none of it. Here comes the kick - and she's flying towards the commentators' box..."
"What did ya do that for?" Hank, the Shark of the Covenant, asked. "She wasn't going to hurt ya."
"I hate nuns," Touchdown said simply, still wearing the number eighty-three shirt, which barely fitted him.
John watched the two token strong guys circling each other. It hadn't escaped his notice that the score was Rhesus Factor-Three, Everyone else-Nil. Given that seven of them had traveled back in time to kill a measly four, two of which were pretty damn useless when all was said and done, he began to realize that it was a foregone conclusion that Rhesus Factor were going to walk away from this whole incident unscathed.
It was obvious, he realized, as Hank began to throttle the life out of Touchdown (well, he had it coming - he kicked a nun into a building), that they couldn't beat Rhesus Factor. No-one could. They were touched by the same madness he was touched with. Chaos surrounded them, but they were immune to it. No-one could kill them - nothing could kill them.
It stood to reason, after all. In his timeline, which didn't exist, Rhesus Factor somehow managed to sire the Bloodchild, save the world from itself and somehow escape from the consequences of a lifetime of stupidity and bad behavior. In this timetime - the real world, apparently - Rhesus Factor somehow manage to overcome every cop, every metahuman, every cyborg, CIA agent and army brigade on the planet, despite being self-evidently the most incompetent super team to have ever existed.
They were untouchable. It was pointless to try and struggle. Maybe Quantum Bitch had already realized it, John thought to himself, because she and her metaphysical cat had apparently disappeared. You had to hand it to her, John mused. She was intelligent enough to realize that she had only dumb luck to thank for her existence, and she wasn't about to piss that away trying to kill people who quite obviously couldn't be killed.
Touchdown lay dead on the green grass of Texas stadium. It's how he'd have wanted to go, John thought. Hank seemed to have lost it. He was running around in circles, screaming at the top of his voice.
"Thou shalt not kill! Thou shalt not kill!"
Blood Clot, somehow sensing that the crazy man in the grey suit had to be eliminated, moved across the football field and surged over his huge body, as if it was only being friendly. Within seconds, the Shark of the Covenant was Blood Clot's chum.
"It's over," Hemorrhage shouted. "Let's find Ben and get the fuck out of here, John."
John mustered his courage. "I'm not going with you, Emma."
"Don't be stupid, there isn't time," Hemorrhage replied. "This place will be crawling with cops any moment now."
"That's right, so you'd better get going," John said firmly. "I'm staying here."
"You belong with us," Plasma said, still stunned at how quickly everything had resolved itself.
"No, Plasma, think about it. I didn't even exist last week and now you're claiming I belong with you? Don't talk shit. You're just under the influence of my affliction."
"Don't make me hurt you," Hemorrhage threatened.
"You couldn't hurt me if you tried," John laughed. "I mean, don't get me wrong, you're a total psychopath but somehow - and don't ask me how - you're also a hero. I guess it's like those people who go abroad and bomb women and children and then come back heroes."
"Shut up and get moving."
"I'm not going," John said firmly. "I'm going to try and start a normal life here in Dallas."
"People like us don't have normal lives," Plasma said, looking around at the hordes of red goblins that were unscrewing every bolt in the western stands. There was an ominous creaking sound coming from the stadium seating.
"Well I'm going to try," John said firmly. "I'm tired of being the sidekick cliche - I want to try and be the urban cliche. Maybe I'll get a job flipping burgers, date a cheerleader and knock her up by accident. I want to worry about income tax instead of which supervillain is going to capture me and how they're going to imprison me, or who's going to come along and rescue me. Superpowers suck."
"I know what you mean," Ben said, crawling out of the stand, seconds before it collapsed. He looked like he could barely walk. "Can you round me up some of those goblins, Jasen? I think I'm going to pass out."
The sound of a thousand sirens could be heard building in the distance. John had visions of every police car in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex chasing Rhesus Factor out of town. It was so cliche, it was bound to be what happened.
Hemorrhage gave John a hard stare, shrugged, and started to walk away. "Come on, we need to steal a pickup, load Clot into the back and get moving. We'll never fit him in a car after all he's eaten today". Blood Clot had eaten half the grass in the end zone, which now read 'Cowbo'.
John watched silently as Rhesus Factor headed out of he stadium, leaving him behind, alone. After they had gone, there was a deafening crash, and the stadium collapsed around him. He sat down on the grass, surrounded by dead metahumans, and laughed to himself. He had a couple of years before Rhesus Factor would ring the Apocalypse Chime. Maybe it was long enough to learn how to be normal.
Quantum Bitch stood on the top of one of the stadium lamps, stroking Schrödinger who purred happily. There was little of the stadium left, but she could see John sat in the middle, laughing to himself. She wasn't about to leave him. She couldn't. But she could let him try and live a normal life for a while, at least until he realized that it simply wasn't possible for people like them to live anything like a normal life.
In the distance, a beaten up pickup disappeared up the interstate, followed by a swarm of police cruisers. How they knew that Rhesus Factor were in that truck wasn't hard to work out: there was a giant quivering mass of protoplasm stuffed into the pickup's bed. They'd get away somehow, though. It was a foregone conclusion. She could always catch up with them in a few years time, if she felt the world was worth saving. She wasn't so sure it was worth the effort.
She tried to listen into John's thoughts. It was a useful talent, being able to eavesdrop the narrator.
Well, I guess there's plenty of time for a sequel.