“This exam will last approximately one hour,” Professor Logan droned as he passed out papers. “As usual, I grade on the entire work done, not just the answers. Show your work, people. If you can’t show me how you arrived at your answer, then you didn’t answer the question.”
Parker groaned inwardly. Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics was his least favorite course, even though he seemed to excel at it. Given the nature of his powers—or rather, the powers he used to have before his ‘accident’, he told himself wistfully—it was only natural that he develop a unique understanding of physics. In better learning to control his sonic powers, he’d learned a great about how things worked in general.
All things considered, this might even be a pretty fun class, if not we didn’t have freaking Ben Stein for a teacher, he thought as he took his paper.
Several of the other students let out audible groans as they received their papers, Veronica included, he noticed with a grin. Two rows behind him, the young ninja ground her teeth in frustration. Physics was her least favorite subject as well, though for her it was due to the difficulty of the course rather than the personality of the instructor. Not for the first time did she ask herself why the hell she’d signed up for this class. There were certainly easier courses she could have taken to fulfill her required science credit.
Bugger. Last time I try to impress my boyfriend with how smart I am, she thought glumly, resisting the urge to pull her hair out. Signing up for this bloody course is the stupidest thing I’d done in a long time.
“All right class,” the professor droned, “you may begin. You have fifty-eight minutes to complete the exam, and not a second more. I’ll collect your papers at that time, and anything not completed will be marked wrong.”
Sheesh. We know how it works, Parker thought back at his instructor. You’ve only gone over the rules for every single test you’ve given this semester, practically word for word. Just shut up and let us—hmmm? Frowning, Parker closed his eyes, concentrating. One aspect of his sonic powers still remained. Even though he could no longer generate or manipulate sonic waves, he was still remarkably sensitive to them. Though it paled in comparison to his previous abilities, it was still a gift, one that enabled him to help people.
And at the moment, it looked like he would have the chance to help again... if he could get out of class.
“Um, Professor Logan? I need to run to the bathroom,” Parker said, rising to his feet. “And I don’t think I can hold it for an hour.”
The teacher sighed deeply. “Mr. Albinn, while I sympathize with your plight, the timing of your request represents a lack of proper planning on your part—”
“Oh, Professor,” Veronica said, standing up as well, “I... I really don’t feel so good. I think... think it’s a stomach virus... the same thing Parker has. We were studying... urp together last night... oh God... I think I’m going to...” She swallowed, making deep gulping sounds.
“Oh! I, um... then go, please!” Professor Logan said, taking several steps back. “Both of you! I just recovered from a very nasty strain of the Swine Flu going around the other week, and I don’t want to go through that again anytime soon!”
Parker nodded, holding his stomach and moaning, as he made his way outside the class room, Veronica following close behind. Once they were away and out of earshot, he nodded to her. “Nice save. I should have thought of that. We’ll have to remember to try that in our other classes.”
Roni nodded. “Thanks. Not that I don’t appreciate you getting us out of that torture chamber, but was there something going on, or did you really have to use the bathroom?”
“Oh! Sorry. Nearly forgot... picked up an alarm and a distress call coming from downtown, near the business section.” He started heading towards the downstairs stairwell. “It’s Brawn and Hotshot. Looks like we’ll need to bring our A game for this one.”
“Hotshot and Brawn...” Roni said, slowing to a stop. “Um, Parker,” she said, causing him to pause and turn around, “don’t take this the wrong way... but maybe it would be better if you... sat this one out?”
Parker blinked. “Sit this one out? Did I hear you right? You want us to just let those two run amuck downtown with us just a few blocks away?”
Roni sighed. “No, luv. Not we. Just you.” Seeing his expression, she continued quickly. “I know you’ve been training with me, and you’ve come a long way. Your skills are really top notch... but for a pair like these two, it’s going to take something more. It’s going to take...”
“Power?” Parker shot back. “Was that what you were going to say? You don’t think I can pull my own weight in a fight?”
“That’s not what I meant! I—”
“What was the point, anyway?” he continued angrily. “Why bother with all the martial arts training? Why teach me how to be a ninja like you if you just want me to hang back where it’s safe when the time comes to put all that training to good use?” He shook his head. “And as far as powers go, you’re not exactly Omega Girl yourself, you know! You’re hardly invincible!”
“I just don’t want you to get hurt, alright?” Roni yelled back. “Look, you’re good, really good, but you’re not ready for this! Not yet. Hell, I’m not even sure I can handle those two... but I certainly won’t be able to focus on them if I’m worrying about you every step of the way!”
Parker glared for several minutes, fists clenched in anger. Then finally, he sighed, shaking his head. “You asked me the other day about how I really felt about losing my powers. I admit it, it’s been hard sometimes, being constantly reminded of what I’ve lost. I’ve been moody, irritable, even downright testy, but I dealt with it. I kept it in check. The reason why? Because powers or not, I could still help people. I could still make a difference. I said yesterday that it was like losing a limb. But I have to say, until now, this very moment, I’ve never felt like losing my sonic powers was a handicap.”
Veronica sighed deeply, watching helplessly as he walked away. Damn. That didn’t go nearly as well as I’d hoped. I didn’t handle this well at all. Still... I’ll have to settle things between us later. I need to get going if I want to stop Hotshot and Brawn from doing any major damage. Heading on down the stairs, she sighed again. I’m sorry, Parker, love. Hurting you was the last thing I wanted to do. I just hope you remember that.
The blonde TA turned at the sound of his name, then smiled grandly. He waited outside the electronics laboratory for his friend to catch up with him. “Ah, Tina, babe! Perfect timing! I was beginning to think you wouldn’t show up for my big day. Did you come to wish me luck, or to help me demonstrate my invention to the bigwigs? Thurgood said he’d invited the Dean of the Engineering Department, the President of the University, and some representatives from a few major business industries, including Frasier Technologies. If everything goes all right, my future will be set!”
“You fucking bastard.”
James blinked, turning back to face his friend, noticing for the first time the angry look on her face. She was carrying a small bundle of papers in her hand. “Um, Tina, that’s not like you. You’re the last person I figured would begrudge a friend success and happiness. I mean, just because I came up with something spectacular, and—”
“You mean, I came up with something spectacular!” she growled, punching him lightly in the chest with her free hand. “You stole my invention, you prick! I invented the Synaptic Interface! All you did was take credit for it!”
James blinked at her for a long moment, then laughed to cover the fear at his discovery. “Tina, babe, you kill me! Really, though, all joking aside, you know good and well that I came up with the Interface. Sure, you helped me, a little, here and there, but the idea and designs were all mine. This was my project, and just because you’re feeling jealous of the attention I’m suddenly drawing—”
“Bullshit!” Tina countered. “One of us was jealous, alright, but it wasn’t me! I created the Synaptic Interface... just like I created the Neural Inhibitor you stole from me as well! And you used my first invention to try to steal the second one!” She glared at him. “You hypnotized me... brainwashed me, made me forget what I’d spend all those months creating, then planted your own fake memories into my head. I guess I’m just lucky Dr. Thurgood came in when he did, otherwise who knows what you might have done to my mind!”
James’ smile had faltered, held in place by only the tiniest of margins. Still calm and cool on the outside, inside he was completely panicked. OH GOD! She’s figured out what happened! I don’t know how... the Inhibitor has always worked before! I’ve tested that thing at least a thousand times on a thousand different hot girls, and no one’s been able to break out of its control before! How the HELL did she remember what I did to her? Fingering the device, still hidden in his pocket, he considered his options. Well, even if she DOES remember, if I can keep her talking, and distracted, I can always make her forget again.
Out loud, he said, “Well, babe, you certainly have a vivid imagination. Me... brainwashing you, stealing your inventions. I know you’ve been working really hard these past few weeks... but maybe you need to take it easy for a while. You know, take a rest. I think the strain is starting to get to you.”
Tina’s eyes narrowed. “So, you deny it, then? Well, take a look at this!” she said, pressing the stack of papers into his hands. Still smirking slightly, James began skimming through the papers, then frowned, his eyes widening in surprise. “Not so flippant now, are you, James? Remember when I decided to use the laser printer to print out my homework? It basically printed out the assignments from my memories. And I was still wearing my headset when you entranced me with the Neural Inhibitor.” She crossed her arms defiantly. “As an unexpected side effect, the printer continued to print out my thoughts and memories while I was hooked up to the system. I guess it’s just lucky for me that you like to gloat, otherwise I might not have known just what a fucking son of a bitch you really are!”
The smile finally left James’ face. “Damn. Okay. You got me. So... now what? Security shows up to boot me off campus? The police show up and cart me off to jail? I suppose you’ve already shown these papers to Dr. Thurgood, the Dean, and President Johnson, as well as mailing a copy to the local papers?”
Tina shook her head. “Not yet. I wanted to give you a chance to do the right thing... to go to them yourself and admit that this was MY project, not yours. James, I wanted to give you the chance to ACT like the friend you’ve been PRETENDING to be all these years.”
“I see,” James said, with a sigh, sliding his hands into his pockets. “Then I guess this is really my lucky day.” Taking the device from his pocket, he activated the strobe, catching Tina by surprise. The look of surprise and shock on her face froze, then slowly melted away into a look of placid calm. James laughed evilly, tossing the Inhibitor into the air, and catching it easily, sliding it back in his pocket. “So fucking gullible, Tina. I mean, really! You had me, babe... you had me dead to rights. If you’d showed these print outs to anyone in authority, my goose would be cooked.” He chuckled softly, shaking his head. Tearing the printouts to pieces, he tossed them into the nearby wastebasket. “Believe it or not, hon, but you’re your own worst enemy this time, not me.”
Glancing at his watch, he sighed. “Well, I’d like to take the time to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again, but, again, I’m short on time. Still, I suppose I should at least make good use of you while I have you. Tina, listen closely. You no longer have a will of your own. You exist to serve me. You exist to please me. You exist to obey me. When we are alone, you will be my slave, docile and submissive, and ready to serve my slightest whim. And when we are around other people, you will pretend that you are still your old self, talking and acting exactly the same way that the old Tina acted before becoming my slave... with one small difference. No matter the circumstance, you will always obey any command I give you. Do you understand the instructions I’ve given you?”
“Yes, Master,” Tina replied in a flat monotone. “I understand. I will obey.”
“Good. Very good,” James replied, moving back to the lab door. “Now come with me. You can act as my assistant for this demonstration the way you did for the other one.”
Stepping inside, James smiled again. The equipment had been set up in advance, and his audience was already assembled and waiting. The one bump on his otherwise perfect road had been dealt with. His confidence and pride has been restored in spades. This was going to be his moment to shine.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he began, stepping up to the podium, “I’d like to thank you all for taking the time out to be here today. My invention—” He turned slightly at the sound of the lab door closing, and two security guards stepped inside. “Um, as I was saying, my invention... the Synaptic Interface, is a revolution—” At that moment, the lights, which had been dimmed, came back up to full brightness, and the two security guards began walking towards the podium. “Ahem... um... a rev... revolution... in, um...” he began stuttering, as the two men came closer to him. “Um, excuse me, what’s going on here?”
“Well, I’d think it was obvious by now, MASTER,” Tina said with a sarcastic smirk. “These men are here to escort you out of here and keep an eye on you until the police arrive.”
“What?” James yelled, jerking away as the first guard grabs for his arm, only to be caught and held tightly by the second. “Wait! Wait a second! What’s going on here! What the FUCK is going on here?”
“You screwed yourself, James,” Tina replied, taking off her glasses. “I got here early and told Dr. Thurgood and everyone else the truth. They were kind of skeptical at first, but they agreed to give me a chance to prove it. I set up the closed circuit TV cameras for the hallway, and just waited nearby for you to get here.”
“We all watched the drama unfold outside, Mr. Phelps,” Thurgood replied, scowling in disdain. “We saw and heard everything, up to the moment you walked inside, strutting like you were cock of the walk. Don’t even try to deny your duplicity.”
“I gave you the chance to come clean,” Tina continued, shaking her head, “to do the right thing... to confess that you’d stolen my research and my project. But you just couldn’t let go. You tried to just cover it all up and continue on with your ruse.” Placing her fingers gently in her eyes, she carefully removed two small silver contact lenses, holding them up for James to see. “I knew that if push came to shove you’d try and brainwash me again, and make me forget about this whole incident, so I came prepared. I invented the Neural Inhibitor. Once I remembered what you had used on me, it was simple enough to come up with a defense against the strobe effect. Then I played the part of a mesmerized zombie slave, just standing there, giving you more than enough rope to hang yourself with.”
James stood there in shock, unbelieving. She fucking tricked me! She set me up! But... how? I never saw it coming. She’s supposed to be naive, and trusting!
Tina shook her head sadly. “When I first realized what you’d done to me, I was angry. Hell, I was pissed. But now... seeing the way you just flushed your whole life down the toilet, I just feel pity for you. What were those words you said to me... something about being your own worst enemy? Words to live by, James. Words to live by.”
“You fucking bitch!” he screamed madly, lurching towards her. The two security guards held on tightly, keeping him from reaching his target, but just barely. “I’ll fucking KILL you for this! I swear it! I don’t care what it takes, I’ll get you back for this!”
Everyone stood in silence as the guards struggled to remove James from the lab. Finally, the door closed, and silence returned.
“Well,” Lance Fielding, representative for Frasier Technologies said after a moment, “I guess we all owe you an apology young lady. You were telling the truth about that young man after all.”
“Yes, well, I should have known myself,” Dr. Thurgood replied with a deep sigh. “Phelps was always a bit... shady, if you catch my drift. An ingratiating ass kisser, that one, always trying to butter me up to get in my good graces. I should have realized that something of this scope was beyond him.”
“Speaking of which,” Fred Grissom, from ArmsTech, Incorporated, replied, “are we still going to have a demonstration here today? I don’t want to belittle what just happened here, but I traveled quite a distance to be here today, and I have other appointments to keep after this.”
“Absolutely,” Tina replied, sliding her glasses back on. “Forgive me for the delay. If you give me a moment to retrieve the headset, we can begin shortly.”
“Give it up, sweetheart!” Hotshot yelled, hovering several feet above the ground, his body sheathed in a layer of fire. “You’re wasting your time. You can’t do squat to me, and you know it!”
“Yes, well,” Shinobi muttered, wincing at the slight burns on her upper arms, “I’ve always been something of a slow learner.” Flipping backwards, she let loose a barrage of shuriken, each aimed right for the villain’s face. Her fiery foe stood his ground, however, not even flinching as the razor sharp blades closed on their mark. Inches from the target, however, the whirling blades burst into flames, turning to ash before they could penetrate the corona of his fire. Hotshot laughed.
“I told you! You can’t touch me!” His expression turned sinister. “But I can certainly touch you. I think it’s time we turned up the heat!” Holding out his hands in front of him, Hotshot began generating intense heat, his orange flame turning red, then white as his temperature rose. Flames erupted from his fingertips like a flamethrower, streaking towards Veronica.
“Oh shit!” she cried, running away from the onslaught. Reaching the side of a building, she leaped, planting a booted foot down hard and spring-boarding off the wall even higher. Drawing her katana as she flew, she arched her back, flipping over the cascade of fire, landing safely out of range, near a fire hydrant. swinging her sword, she cut through the cap at the top, sending forth a geyser of cold water spraying in all directions.
“Water!” Hotshot hissed, throwing up his arms at the last second before the spray washed over him. Water turned to steam, evaporating under the heat of his flame, but he was effectively trapped for the moment; the instant he let up with his fire, the water would overpower him and he’d be put out. “Dammit Brawn, do something! Get this bitch off of me!”
Brawn? Shinobi thought dimly as a massive hand blindsided her, sending her sprawling into the empty street. Pain blossomed in a number of spots, most notably the point of contact, the side of her face. Damn. Typical. I got so involved trying to stop the fiery one that I forgot about the strong one. Should have listened to Parker and brought him along after all... another set of eyes and ears would have helped...
The massively muscled Brawn grabbed the top of the fire hydrant in a huge heavy hand, and squeezed. Metal groaned loudly as it bent, and the fountain of water faded to a small trickle as he squeezed the valve closed. Freed from his prison, Hotshot descended down to the street, joining his partner. Standing over the downed girl, they snarled.
“You have guts, kid. You really do. I have to give you credit for that. But I already told ya,” he taunted, creating a circle of fire around Shinobi, “you can’t touch me! I’m just too hot for you to deal with. Face it kid... you’re out of your league.”
A crack of thunder sounded, and a flash of lightning lit the sky. Two blue clad females descended slowly from the sky, landing between the trapped heroine and her assailants. “Then maybe you’d like to try someone that IS in your league,” the white haired goddess replied, electricity arcing from her in waves. The two villains leaped back in defense.
“Lightning,” Shinobi gasped, struggling to get back to her feet. “Thunder. Where... did you two... come from?”
“Just relax, Shinobi,” Thunder said, dispersing the flame ring with a loud clap of thunder, moving over to help her friend. “Samantha can keep those two busy for a while. Let’s get you out of here.” With Thunder’s support she regained her feet. “How badly are you hurt?”
“Oh... don’t believe anything’s broken,” Roni muttered, testing her limbs. “Scratched, scraped, scorched, battered and bruised... but not broken.” She placed a hand along her cheek, then winced. “I do believe I’ll be sporting a nasty bruise there in the morning.”
“You were lucky,” Susan chided her. “Fighting them one on one would be hard enough, but two on one is closer to suicide. What happened to your partner? Where’s Sonic?”
Shinobi sighed, looking away. “I... I came without him. I didn’t want to chance him getting hurt. Without his powers, he would have had an even harder time with these two than I did.”
“Tyyhhhhhhaaaa!” Lightning screamed from above, sending out an arc of electricity. Hotshot cried out as well as he took the full barrage to the chest, shuddering wildly. He let out a soft sigh as his eyes rolled back into his head, then, finally, his flame faded, and he fell down to the street below. Lightning followed him down, landing softly, then nodded, satisfied that he was out for the count. Then she walked over to her friends. “How is she, Susan? Not too badly hurt, I hope?”
“I’ll live,” Shinobi said ruefully. “For all the good I did. I should have stayed home and let you two handle the deadly duo yourselves.”
“Nonsense,” Samantha insisted. “You kept them from hurting anyone. You distracted them and kept them from breaking into the Gold Exchange. And you kept them busy and occupied until we arrived to help take them down. Believe me, you did great.”
“Thanks. I—” Suddenly, Shinobi twisted, pushing both girls away as she pulled free her sword, throwing it over her shoulder in the same motion. Sam and Susan yelped in surprise, wondering if their friend had gone insane, but an instant later yelped again as a large heavy weight slammed into the ground on the spot they’d been standing only seconds before. High above them, Brawn let out a strangled gasp, Shinobi’s sword embedded deep in his shoulder, and fell forward, tumbling over the edge of the roof to the street below. Shinobi stepped over to him and retrieved her sword, wiping away the blood, and sliding it back in her sheath. “Sorry guys. I forgot to mention that Brawn is as durable as he is strong. And he heals quite fast, as I found out the hard way.”
“You see? Lucky you were here after all,” Thunder replied, taking out a pair of reinforced restraints. Slipping them on Brawn’s wrists, she smirked. “You should head back home, get yourself checked out. Sammi and I have this covered. Go on, and take care of those wounds. And remember,” she said, as the young ninja turned to leave, “it’s not about power. Sometimes, it’s the person with the most heart that wins the day.”
Shinobi nodded softly as she headed back towards home. She’s right. I’ve been such a fool. It doesn’t matter whether he has his powers back or not. Parker has the most heart of any person I know. I need to go see him, and let him know.
James Phelps simmered silently in anger. Sitting in the back of the campus security squad car with his hands cuffed together, it was all he could do to contain his anger. He still couldn’t believe what had happened. In the space of five minutes, he’d gone from the precipice of success to the bottomless pit of defeat. But worst of all was the way in which he’d been brought to ruin. It rankled him. It galled him, knowing that naive, blissfully unaware Tina Patrick had beaten him. It was bad enough to have lost... but to have lost to her?
He growled in frustration. The two security guards stood just outside the car, smoking and talking amongst themselves. Their job was to keep an eye on him until the police arrived in the next half hour. Thirty minutes... and then it would be all over. He struggled uselessly against his bonds, shifting in his seat, trying to get free. Then he noticed an uncomfortable pressure digging into his thigh, and suddenly he remembered the Neural Inhibitor in his pocket, and a hastily thought up plan was put into motion. Rolling onto his side, he was able to slide the device out of his pocket an into his hands. Palming it, he slid fully into seat, and began banging on the door with his boots.
“Hey! Hey, pigs!” he yelled, stomping his feet. “Campus Five-oh! Neo Nazi scumbags! Let me out of here!”
One of the guards frowned, turning around to face him. “Shut the fuck up! You’re just making this worse on yourself. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll sit there quietly and wait for the police to pick you up.”
“You can both suck my dick!” he taunted, thrusting his hips towards the door. “Or better yet, just drop your pants and spread your asscheeks, so I can give it to you the way I gave it to your wives last night.”
“Mother fucker!” the guard yelled, surging towards the locked car door but being held back by his partner. James smiled.
“Mother fucker? Heh... I guess I am, since I paid your momma a visit before I visited your wife.”
“That’s it!” the guard yelled, pulling free from his partner’s grip. Jerking the car door open, he reached down towards James. “You’re fucking dead, funny man!” he snarled.
“And YOU,” James replied, pressing the button on his Inhibitor, “are fucking stupid.”
The flash enveloped both guards, instantly turning their minds to mush. Moments later, he was free, handcuffs removed, and reprogrammed guards Jake and Steve were heading off to go explore their newfound sexual relationship. Heading back into the Engineering building, he knew his career was over. Even the mind control, he wouldn’t be able to undo all of the damage that had been done. The police had been notified, and would be looking for him soon. No, fixing this wan no longer an option.
But at least I can get even with that fucking bitch for setting me up! he thought vehemently, as he went downstairs to the buildings to the building’s power room.
Parker slid his notebook into his backpack, and rose from his seat at the library study table. The anger had already faded away, leaving behind only the hurt. His partner had abandoned him, all but calling him useless. It stung. Worse, he almost believed she was right.
I mean, it’s not as if I’ve tangled with anyone really dangerous since Aphrodite. Yeah, I saved a few lives here and there, but mostly from car thieves, muggers, and the occasional bank robber. No one with any super powered abilities. Maybe... maybe I should just leave the heroics to the real heroes, and just stick to being a normal college student.
Heading over to the Engineering building, he frowned as a Campus Security car pulled out from the parking lot. Shaking his head, he turned and walked inside the building. Damn. Now I know I’m losing it. No way I saw what I thought I saw. Maybe I should go back to the apartment and lie down, I’m obviously way more tired than I thought.
Walking down the hallways, he paused for a moment, listening. Hmmm... sounds like someone’s working late today in the lab... no, a couple of someones. Oh... right! I forgot, tonight’s the night of Tina and James’ big demonstration of their final project in EE482. He briefly considered going to watch, but he still had work to do on his own undergrad project. Heading upstairs to the student computer lab, he paused again, frowning, listening intently as a name caught his attention.
“... noted Doctor did similar work at her practice over in Midas,” Tina was saying. “A lot of my ideas came from some of her early published works. But whereas Doctor Borealis focused most of her research on the physical melding of machine to biological matter, I’ve focused my research on the metaphysical, connecting the mental aspects of biological organisms to machines. My Synaptic Interface utilizes the human mind to control any machine its linked to, as I demonstrated earlier...”
Borealis?!? Parker frowned slightly. He knew Tina Patrick quite well. She was a gifted student, and a great Teaching Assistant, as well as an overall nice person. While he knew she wasn’t the type of person to misuse her scientific genius, he had serious misgivings about the source of her inspiration.
Not that I’m expecting Tina to go all evil on us, he mused, heading back up the stairs, but the fact that she’s unknowingly creating a new technology based on the past work of a notorious super villain... I feel like I should, I dunno, say something. But... even if I did, how would I explain how I knew who she really was? He laughed bitterly as he entered the empty computer lab, and sat down. It’s not as if I have any business getting involved anyway. It’s not my problem. He sighed. After that blow up with Roni, I’m thinking it might not be my problem ever again.
About three minutes later, he’d just began working on his Data Structure and Algorithms assignment when another sound caught his attention, someone mumbling angrily under his breath. ...fucking bitch, think you can cheat me out of my destiny? Hah... I’ll show you... and fucking Thurgood... I’ll show you all... just wait and see... Recognition stirred him to action, and cursing loudly, Parker left the computer lab, sprinting down the stairs back towards the main lab entrance, even as he heard the conversation going on inside.
“James?” Tina’s voice called out, sounding surprised. “Phelps!” Dr. Thurgood’s voice cut in, “what in the world? How did you escape from Campus Security?” Then laughter—the maniacal kind, the evil super villain, I’m-about-to-have-my-revenge kind. “Didn’t expect to see me back so soon? Well don’t worry, I’m not staying long. I just wanted to give you a little present... a little taste of what it feels like to watch all your dreams and aspirations go up in smoke in front of your very eyes!”
Parker reached the door then, and barreled through, not stopping. Inside the lab, he glanced around wildly for a moment, then spotting them all— James Phelps standing before a small crowd of people, holding some kind of trigger device in his hand. He ran towards the grad student as he saw the boy’s thumb descend, knowing he wasn’t going to reach him in time to stop him. Dammit! Useless, useless... if only I still had my speed!
James whirled around at the sound of the door bursting open, pressing the primer on the charge he’d wired into downstairs power grid. A tall, skinny, lanky kid tackled him to the ground just as a muffled boom sounded from somewhere below. Lights flickered on and off, then blazed abnormally bright as a power surge ran through the electrical grid. Several florescent light bulbs popped, and sparks flew from every electrical socket. A man screamed in pain as a computer monitor near him exploded, bombarding him with broken glass. People panicked, and began diving for cover, crawling out of the lab as fast as they could manage.
Then Parker heard a loud piercing scream, followed by a thud. Glancing up, he saw his friend, Tina, writhing in agony on the floor, shuddering as if she were being electrocuted. “Shit!” he yelled, climbing off James, crawling over to the stricken girl. He reached for her, then jerked back from an electric shock. He then noticed the metallic headband around her head, and the cord attached to it, still connected to the mainframe computer. The current she was receiving was severe enough that he hair was beginning to smoke. Not thinking of anything but saving the girl, he tried again, reaching for the headband this time.
“No!” Dr Thurgood called out from behind the component table. “You can’t pull it off. It’s fastened to her head through a bunch of pins. You have to disconnect it from the computer instead!”
“Gotcha!” Parker yelled, grabbing the cable instead. Electricity zapped him, but he knew how to work through pain. Holding on tightly, gritting his teeth, he pulled, and pulled, and finally the cord pulled free. Tina let out a gasp, then went still, eyes slamming closed, while Parker sagged to the ground as well, drained in every sense of the word. He glanced over to where he’d tackled James, but the man was nowhere to be seen, no doubt having escaped in the confusion he’d caused. Sighing, he turned his attention back to his friend.
“Tina? Tina? Are you okay? C’mon, girl, say something!” He pressed a finger to her neck, checking her pulse, Damn, she’s not breathing! “Somebody call 911! We need an ambulance here, now!” Ignoring the pain in his hands, he began administering CPR...