“You can run, but you can’t hide. I have already found and extracted the powers from other, so called, super humans. Power that I now possess as my own. You will be no different.”
Gwen sat up with a gasp and dropped her head to her knees.
Ever since their run in with that fire guy two days ago, his words were all she could think about.
How many powers had the man taken? Was he bluffing? If he’d already taken others powers, then why had he only used fire?
And why hadn’t he chased them? Could he chase them? How did he find the other superhumans? Did he have powers before he started siphoning them?
She let out a groan as she lifted her head. “Too many questions, not enough answers.” Letting out a deep breath, she glanced over at her alarm clock only to let out a started yelp. “Seven-Forty!? I’m going to be late for school!”
She threw her covers back and scrambled to her feet. “Why didn’t someone come and get me!?”
She threw on some clothes, grabbed her flats from the foot of the bed, and a few seconds later she was tripping down the steps as she tried to put her shoes on, her toothbrush hanging out of her mouth.
She ran to the kitchen to grab a bagel and skid to a stop when a piece of paper stuck to the refrigerator caught her attention.
She grabbed the page, scanning it quickly as she grabbed her breakfast from the breadbox.
Your father and I had to run to the office early to deal with a licence issue
Masey is with me so you don’t have to worry about her
Have a good day at school
Well that explains it, she thought as she tossed the paper onto the counter and ran to the door.
Dylan was waiting, like usual. When he saw her, an amused smile pulled across his face. “Sleep in?”
She shot him a glare, unable to retort around the bagel in her mouth as she wrestled to get her mass of blond hair into a braid.
He ran after her as she hurried down the sidewalk. “Whoa! Gwen! Slow down, you’re going to hurt yourself!”
“No in nod,” she mumbled back, the bagel nearly falling from between her teeth. “Dodda urry.”
“Not that fast.” He stepped in front of her and grabbed her shoulders, forcing her to stop. “Just pause for a moment.” He pulled the bagel out of her mouth. “School doesn’t start for another seven minutes and we’re three minutes away. You’re fine.”
She let out a huff, gathering her hair into one hand. “Sorry, it’s just been a long week.”
“I know. But it’s almost over.” He placed her bagel into her empty hand and moved around to her back. “Let me see your hair.”
She let out a small laugh. “What are you doing?”
“I’m braiding your hair.” He tapped her hand. “Gimme.”
She shrugged and let it go, turning her attention to the bagel. “Since when do you know how to braid hair?”
“I was raised by my aunt and grew up with her daughter. Knowing basic hair styling is a requirement.” He chuckled as he separated the locks out into three equal parts. “I do have to say, you have quite a handful here.”
She snorted. “Why do you think I keep it braided? It’s the only way to control it.”
“I only know one other person that has this much hair, but she doesn’t try to control it. She just lets it fly everywhere.”
“It's a mess. But strangely… hair bow?” He took the scrunchie she offered him. “Thank you. It suits her.” He walked back around to face her and gave an approving nod. “Perfect.”
She popped the last of the bagel into her mouth and grinned. “You are incredible. Remind me to keep you around.”
“Gladly.” They turned and started walking towards the school. “So… are you ready for our date tomorrow?”
“Of course.” She popped up onto her toes and kissed his cheek. “Now, we need to run or we’re going to be late.”
“I’m home!” Gwen called as she tossed her backpack into its usual corner and walked into the living room. “Sorry I’m late but the Principal wanted me to help arrange an event.”
Her father nodded from his spot in his recliner. “That’s good.” He leaned forward to rest his arms on his knees. “We still haven’t heard anything about that man you saw the other night. Are you sure you saw right?”
“Yes, Dad.” She plopped down on the end of the couch. “It was a man covered in fire. And he apparently knows how to take our powers.”
“And you’re sure this wasn’t that boy.”
“Dad. Trydan saved me. It wasn’t him.” She shrugged. “I don’t know who he was but he’s dangerous.”
Mark gave a slow nod. “We’ll keep an eye out. I passed this information onto the sheriff, leaving out some details of course.” He motioned towards her for emphasis. “He said he’d keep watch. But he’s convinced it’s one of Trydan’s tricks.”
“That’s just because he doesn’t know him.”
“And we’re back to the living room,” Julia said as she entered the room, leading a man Gwen didn’t recognize. “Oh! This is our daughter, Gwen.”
Gwen stared at the man before shooting a look at her father. “I didn’t know we had a guest.”
Mark stood, walking over to clap the newcomer on the back. “Gwen, meet my good friend, Robert Calloway. Our new sheriff and the solver of all my problems.”
Calloway chuckled. “Well, I don’t know about that, but I certainly plan to try. It’s good to finally meet the daughter that Mark is so proud of.”
Gwen smiled. “It’s nice to meet you too. My dad likes to talk about your high school days. He was really excited when you took the job.”
“How could I say no to an old friend? Of course, my first job will be trying to find a way to imprison this boy who calls himself ‘Trydan’. He sounds like a menace.”
Gwen opened her mouth to argue but thought better of it.
“Speaking of which,” Julia said. “Trydan was spotted a few moments ago, doing graffiti on the side of the art school.”
Calloway turned towards the door. “Then I should go.”
“Don’t bother now. He’ll be gone before you get there. We have plans to discuss.” Mark shot his daughter a look to which she just rolled her eyes and stood.
“I’m going up to my room,” she muttered as she quickly slipped away.
He whistled quietly through his teeth as he pressed on the nozzle of the spray can, letting the stream of paint shoot out onto the brick wall. Once he was finished with that color, he dropped the can back into his satchel, which hung below his head, and grabbed the next one.
“How do you do that hanging upside down?”
He twisted around at the voice to see Menjie standing on the roof of a shorter building behind him. “It’s called art. You can do it in any direction.”
“Uh-huh. Then how about you do it right. As in, on paper.” She sank down to sit on the edge, letting her feet dangle towards the ground. “Although this is quite impressive, it’s also wrong.”
“It’s an art school. And this is art.” He readjusted his hold on the rope that was connected to the roof and allowed his feet to drop down so that he was hanging rightside up. “Besides, find me a canvas this big.”
“Buy a billboard.”
“Too expensive.” He kicked off the building to swing over the small gap between them and land beside her. “This is free. And I don’t have to clean it up.”
She shook her head. “Why can’t you just do what’s right?”
“It’s not my M.O and would ruin my reputation.” He dropped down to sit beside her.
“You’re going to get caught.”
“Let me know when they get a cell that can hold me.” He leaned forward so he could see her face. “Now, I know you came all the way out here to scold me, but what else is on your mind?”
“That guy that attacked us.”
“You know him?”
“No, that’s just what I’m calling him.”
She rolled her eyes. “You and naming people.”
“What? It means Fire Guy in Polish!”
“How do you know that!?”
“Google translate.” He chuckled. “What about him?”
Her shoulders hunched up around her ears as she let out a deep breath. “Why do you think he’s been quiet the past couple of days? Do you think he’s planning something big? Or maybe it was a big prank or… what?” She turned to look at the boy. “Do you really think he can take our powers? If he can, how many people has he already attacked?”
“I don’t know the answer to any of those questions,” he said slowly. “For all we know, it could have been a hallucination. Either way…” He got to his feet. “Not my problem.”
She jumped up after him. “What do you mean it’s not your problem? He’s after your powers too! What if he starts hurting people to get to us?”
He shrugged. “So?”
“Don’t you get it?” She took a step closer to him. “We need to work together, Trydan. We have to stop this guy and keep people safe!”
He let out a short laugh. “Not a chance, Princess. I’m no hero and I don’t plan on becoming one.”
“See you on the flip side!” And with that, he was gone.
She slowly sat back down. “Now what do I do? I can’t do this alone.”
It was a beautiful morning, perfect for a picnic.
The sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. A gentle breeze rustled the leaves of the large tree they sat under to enjoy their lunch.
The distant sound of children laughing ghosted by on the wind, adding a sense of joy to the calm.
But Gwen couldn’t seem to enjoy it, her mind a million miles away.
How do I stop him? How do I protect an entire town on my own? Do I even stand a chance?
“Do you want a cookie?” Dylan asked as he dug into the picnic basket. “My aunt made some. I threw them away and grabbed a batch from the bakery.” He chuckled. “Believe me you do not want to eat her cooking.”
When he didn’t get a response, he turned to the girl only to find her, once again, staring into space. He let out a deep breath. “You are really distracted today. Gwen!” He waved a hand in front of her face. “Are you in there?”
Gwen jumped and let out a short, nervous laugh. “Sorry.”
Dylan smiled. “It’s okay. I wish you would tell me what’s on your mind.”
“I wish I could.” She sighed and leaned back on her hands, enjoying the feel of the cool grass. “It’s… family stuff.”
“Ah. I guess I got lucky in the family department.” He flipped the lid to their picnic basket closed. “An Aunt who lets me do whatever and a cousin who just doesn’t care.” When a frown crossed her face, he waved his hands in the air quickly. “No no no! It’s a good thing! I promise!”
She couldn’t help but smile. “I don’t mind being the Mayor’s daughter, and I understand why I have to be careful when I’m out but… is it weird that I want to do something really embarrassing in public? Like… yell from the top of city hall or…” She shrugged. “Graffiti the side of a building.”
“Both of those things are very fun and you should definitely do them.” A slow grin pulled across his face. “In fact, I could-”
Dylan let out a startled yelp and scrambled backwards as a water balloon smashed in between them, sending a spray of water flying in all directions.
“Sorry!” A little girl cried as she ran up to them. “I didn’t mean to get you wet!”
Gwen chuckled, wiping the droplets from her face. “It’s okay. A little water never killed anyone.”
The child sighed with relief. “Thanks. Bye!”
Gwen shook her head and turned to find her boyfriend pressed up against the trunk of the tree they were under. “Are you okay?”
He gave a quick, jerky nod, eyeing the, now wet, blanket. “It just… startled me.”
Her mouth slowly formed an ‘O’ as realization sank in. “That’s right. You’re afraid of water.”
He let out a quick, nervous laugh as he got to his feet, shoving his right hand into his pocket. “Not really scared so much as… unnerved.”
She just sent him a smile. “Why don’t you go get us ice cream from that vendor over there and I’ll clean this up?”
“Sure.” He turned and jogged several feet before checking to make sure she was busy. He sighed as he pulled his right hand out of his pocket.
He had almost missed being hit, but the spray of water had caught his hand, completely dousing it, causing it to turn gray.
“Can’t imagine how I would explain this to her,” he mumbled as he shook it in an attempt to dry it quicker. “I doubt she’d believe it’s a medical condition.” He snorted as he continued towards the ice cream stand. “Boy loses color when doused in water.” A small spark flew from his hand but quickly fizzled out. “Not to mention his powers. I need something with electricity.”
He was about to turn towards a car that was parked nearby when an ear piercing scream echoed through the air.
He spun around, searching for the source. Then he saw her.
The little girl that had thrown the balloon was running as fast as her tiny legs could carry her, trying to get away from a raging fire that was trailing just a few feet behind.
Before he had a chance to move, his attention was pulled towards another figure streaking across the field, only this one was heading towards the fire.
His blood ran cold and his heart stuttered to a stop in his chest. “Gwen!”
Her heart pounded as she ran towards the child, blocking out the panicked shouts and screams that echoed around her.
She heard someone yell her name but ignored it as she made a dive for the small girl. They rolled across the grass as the fire flew past, leaving a scorched trail in its wake.
A deep laugh rumbled through the air as Strazak, as Trydan has called him, slowly approached them. “Such a pretty sight. People, trembling in fear at my very presence.”
Gwen kept an arm securely around the child as she scooted backwards, trying to put some distance between them and the fiery man, but he only followed.
“Back off!” Gwen snapped, her voice coming out stronger than she felt. “We’ve got nothing you want!”
“Oh but you do,” Strazak growled. “You have people in this town with powers. Powers that I want!”
“Then go find them and leave us alone!”
“Oh, but don’t you see, little girl?” He knelt down on one knee and reached a burning hand towards her. “The best way to get what I want is to cause terror and chaos. Sooner or later, someone always shows up.”
Gwen tried not to cringe as his hand came closer to her face, the burning heat becoming more and more intense.
I’m going to have to teleport!
“Back off, Strazak!” a voice shouted moments before a bolt of lightning flew into the man, throwing him several yards away.
Gwen let out a gasp of relief, but the feeling soon turned to shock when she saw who was standing in front of her. Trydan?
He glanced back, his bright blue eyes sparking. “Get out of here! I’ll take care of this guy.”
She gave a quick, jerky nod as she scooped the child from the ground and ran towards the nearby row of stores. I need to help him!
Trydan watched as Strazak slowly got back up and clenched his fists.
His right hand was still damp from the water balloon, rendering it useless in the fight. At least I still have my left.
Strazak chuckled. “Isn’t that just like a hero? Show up to protect the weak?”
“I’m no hero, Buddy,” Trydan snapped. “You just happened to ruin my day!” He shot into the air, electricity crackling from beneath his feet. “I suggest you leave before you have a chance to regret coming here.”
“Oh, but you’re just what I was looking for.” Pillars of fire pushed him up til he was level with the boy. “I want your powers.”
“Sorry, but I like them so I’m keeping them!” He dodged as a fireball flew his way and dropped back down to the ground. “You want my powers so bad, Strazak? Come and get them!”
“Why do you keep calling me Strazak!?”
“Because it’s stupid and it suits you.” Tryan zipped up the side of a building and shot the man a two fingered salute. “Catch me if you can!” With that he took off, running at top speed through the streets.
“Get him!” Strazak shouted. “I need those powers!”
Trydan raised an eyebrow. “Well, I’m guessing he’s not alo- whoa!” He skid to a stop as a wall of water flew up in front of him. “Shoot!” He spun around but came face to face with another watery barrier.
Strazak’s laugh echoed around him as he searched for an escape but found himself surrounded. “I know your weakness, boy. There’s no use running!”
Trydan opened his mouth to respond but stopped when Menjie appeared beside him. “Where have you been!?”
She shot him a glare. “Oh, zip it!”
A bright light flashed before his eyes and a second later, they were several yards away, hidden in an ally.
“Sorry it took me so long,” Menjie panted. “I can only teleport so far you know.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Why didn’t you just run through the water?”
She raised an eyebrow. “Why not?”
“If I get wet my powers become useless until I’m dry. Which takes forever.”
“But I’ve chased you through thunderstorms and you didn’t… oh! Lightning!”
He nodded. “I can be in thunderstorms because the air is electrically charged. But normal water will render me useless.”
The ground beneath their feet gaze a vicious shake, nearly knocking them over.
“I’m guessing he’s got at least one sidekick,” Trydan said once he’d regained his footing. “He was yelling at someone to stop me. And I don’t think he was controlling the water.”
“Okay.” She glanced towards the nearest roof. “I’m going to distract him. Since your powers are elemental based, you’ll have an easier time figuring out how to beat him than I will.” Her body glowed a hollow purple then she disappeared. “Sound good?”
Trydan jumped, his eyes going wide. “You can turn invisible!?”
She reappeared, one of her eyebrows quirked. “Duh?”
With a quick nod, she was gone again.
He shook his head. “How did I not know that?”
Menjie jumped across the rooftops, easily dodging the blasts of water that flew her way, relying on her enhanced agility as she ran the narrow ledges.
I can’t teleport too often or I’ll run out of energy.
She sprang off the edge of the roof, gracefully flipping through the air to the ground and ran again.
Where did Skrazak go?
As if summoned, the man appeared in front of her, forcing her to stop.
“Where did the boy go?” he demanded.
Menjie shrugged. “How should I know? We’re not partners.”
“No matter. I need your powers, same as his.”
She took a small step back but stopped when her foot landed in a puddle. “I think you’re confusing want with need.”
“And I think you’re underestimating just how powerful I am.” He swung one of his hands in the air, causing a pillar of fire to shoot towards the sky. “This is an accumulation of nearly two dozen fire wielder’s powers. It’s more than you could imagine and I could incinerate you with a mere snap of my fingers.”
“Then why don’t you?” she snapped. “Oh right. You can’t destroy me. Destroy me, destroy my powers. That puts you in quite the bind, doesn’t it?”
He chuckled, low and threatening. “Only temporarily. Once I have siphoned your powers there will be no reason to spare you.”
Her attention was pulled to a rooftop behind the man’s head, where Trydan stood, pointing towards the park they had vacated.
She gave a small nod. “Well, you’ll have to wait.” She disappeared only to reappear a few yards away. “You’ll never get my powers!”
With a growl of rage, Skrazak pursued. “You’re more trouble than you’re worth!”
She spun around and ran, in an instant Trydan was beside her.
“We need to get him into the lake!” he called. “Water has to be his weakness, like mine. At the very least it should slow him down!”
“Will do!” As he zipped away again, she glanced back at the advancing adversary to find him getting dangerously close.
She let out a gasp as a fiery torpedo slammed into the ground by her feet.
I’m going to have to start teleporting!
She closed her eyes letting the brief feeling of passing through empty space surround her… but Skrazak was still right behind, firing burning orbs in her path.
She teleported again… he was still right there.
She could feel her energy draining with every jump she made, but she kept going, knowing that she needed to get him as close to the lake as she could.
As the body of water came into view, she took a deep breath and made one final teleport. As she came out the other side, her feet caught on a branch and she crashed to the ground.
Skrazak laughed. “It looks like your powers are limited. But mine aren’t.”
“Are you sure about that!?” Trydan yelled as he dropped down from the sky. “You were lucky I was a little incapacitated earlier.” A surge of electricity sparked between his hands then traveled across his body. “But I’m back to full power now.”
He leapt into the air, sending a storm of electric bolts flying into Skrazak’s face, forcing him back towards the pond.
Menjie watched from where she was trying to catch her breath.
Skrazah didn’t have a chance to fire at the boy for trying to block the lighting.
She started to get back up but froze when she saw a huge tube of water soaring through the air, heading straight for Trydan’s back.
She scrambled to her feet and ran towards the unsuspecting boy. “Trydan, watch out!”
She skid between them making herself a barrier and held up her arms in an attempt to block some of the blow.
Her eyes were squeezed as tight as they could go as she waited for the impact… but it never came.
She slowly peeked open an eye to see her hands glowing, forming a bright purple and white oval taller than herself.
The center of the oval was pitch black and swirling, sucking in the torrent of water that would have undoubtedly washed her away.
“Menjie…” Trydan said slowly. “What’s happening?”
She looked over her shoulder to see a similar oval opening up in front of him.
The water shot out of the new portal, hitting Skrazak full on in the chest, sending him flying into the pond.
A moment of stunned silence passed between them as the portals disappeared and the realization that they were both still completely dry sunk in.
“How did you do that!?” Trydan finally exclaimed. “What was that!?”
“I don’t know!” She stared at her hands. “I’ve… I’ve never done that before!”
He let out a short laugh. “Cool.”
She chuckled as she turned to face the steaming pond. “Looks like your plan worked. Let’s see who this…”
Her voice trailed off as the man burst through the surface, gasping and coughing. A very familiar man.
The man let out an angry grunt, steam pouring off of his being. “This isn’t over!” The water beneath him began to move, carrying him away. “I’ll be back! And you’ll regret the day you were given those powers!”
“Shouldn’t we go after him?” Trydan asked slowly. When the girl didn’t respond, he looked down at her. “Menjie?”
She just stared after the man. My father’s best friend is… the villain!?
“Gwen! Are you okay!?” Dylan ran to her, grabbing her shoulders. “In all the ruckus I lost track of you and then I couldn’t find you and…” He let out a deep breath. “I was worried.”
She smiled. “I’m fine. Are you?”
“Yeah.” He let his hands drop to his sides. “Um… rain check on the picnic?”
A small laugh escaped her throat as she looked back at the park that was both burnt and flooded. “Yeah, that might be a good idea. I think I want to go home anyways.”
“I’ll walk you.”
“That is preposterous!”
Gwen sighed. “Dad you have to believe me! It was him! I saw him with my own eyes!”
“Impossible!” Mark exclaimed. “I know Robert! He would never stoop so low! It must be a shapeshifter!”
“Dad, that’s far-fetched. And that is coming from a girl who can teleport.”
“I don’t believe it! There is an explanation because I know Robert! It’s probably just that Trydan kid trying to get rid of him!”
Mark shook his head. “Before you say anything, I trust Robert a lot more than I trust that criminal. That is the end of this conversation.”
She wanted to argue. Wanted to push until he listened, but she could tell from the look on his face that it would do no good. He had made up his mind and there was nothing she could say or do that would change that.
With a sigh, she turned and ran up to her room where she collapsed face down onto her bed and let out an aggravated scream that was muffled by the quilt. “Why won’t he believe me!?”
“Because it’s hard to think a friend could do something wrong,” Julia’s gentle voice said from the doorway. “Your father has known Robert for so long. I’ve known Robert for many years myself and can hardly imagine it. ”
Gwen rolled over onto her back. “Mom, I saw him.”
“I know dear.” Julia sat on the edge of the bed. “You have to give your father time to process everything. Between being mayor, dealing with the press, Trydan, you, and now possibly Robert, I think he’s a little overwhelmed. And knowing how much danger you were in was the tipping point. You know, it’s not easy raising a super powered child. Especially since we don’t have any powers of our own.” She laughed. “I’m thankful everyday that it was you who ended up with those abilities and not Masey.” She reached out to gently push a stray piece of hair from the girl’s face. “I don’t know who’s right. But I do know that anything is possible. So just be careful and watch your back, okay? I’ll talk to your father and try to calm him down.”
Gwen let out a deep breath and smiled. “Okay. Thanks, Mom.”
Julia simply nodded then stood and left the room.
Calloway slammed his hands into the wall and let out an angry shout. “How did they defeat me!? I’m undefeated! I’m unstoppable! And yet…” He looked down at his hands. “They were able to overthrow me, even wielding the fire power of nearly twenty-four men! So how!”
“Because,” a voice scoffed behind him. “You’ve never faced someone with more than one ability before.”
He slowly turned. “What?”
“Did you not notice?” The woman clicked her tongue from where she was leaning in a dark corner. “The girl. She teleported, turned invisible and has enhanced agility. Not to mention she can open teleportation portals.”
“She used three different abilities,” Calloway said slowly.
“And, I’m not even sure the boy realized it, but he wasn’t using electricity to fly. He was using air.”
“But how!? Every other person only had one!”
“Well, there’s only one way to find out. And what’s even better is that they’re opposites. One elemental, the other physical.” She chuckled darkly. “Capture those two and learn how to harness multiple powers at once… and you will be the most powerful man in the world.”
She stared at the horizon, watching as the sun slowly disappeared.
Amazing how peaceful it is compared to earlier.
Menjie spun around at the voice to see Trydan standing behind her.
“What?” she asked slowly.
“I’ll do it,” he responded. “I’ll help you beat him.”
Her eyebrows raised. “Why?”
He sucked in a deep breath and let it out in a gush, his shoulders slumping. “Someone… I care about almost got hurt earlier. I can’t stand by and wait for it to happen again.”
“No, my family can take care of themselves. She doesn’t have powers.” He raked a hand through his hair. “I want to stop him before he really hurts someone.”
A small smile crossed her face as she held her hand out to him. “Truce?”
He grasped her hand in his, giving it a firm shake. “Truce. Of sorts. I’m still going to paint on buildings.”
“And rob places.”
He shrugged. “What can I say? It’s who I am.”
She laughed, giving his shoulder a shove. “Get out of here before I do have you arrested.”
He raised his eyebrows and backed towards the ledge. “Good luck with that.” He pulled an MP3 player out of his pocket and slid the connected ear buds into his ears. “Catch me if you can, Princess.”
She watched as he zipped away, a smile pulling across her face.
Somehow she knew that, despite his lack of morals, Trydan would have her back, and somehow… Someway, everything would be okay.
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