Hero Worship: Excerpt, Enter the New Guardians

Hero Worship: Exert, Enter the New Guardians

I joined a writer’s group recently, and while they’ve enjoyed the story, they suggested the first chapter needed some more action, so I wrote some in while introducing a couple of new characters, one of whom in some ways epitomizes some of the problems of superhero culture in the setting. This inserts to the first chapter just as the protagonist is seeing off his escorts. I thought I’d post this as both a tease of the larger story, but also since this part is very comedic I think it mostly works on its own.

Into: NYPD Lieutenant Ben Watson has just been installed as a provisional liaison with the Praetorians, the most powerful and famous super-team on the planet. Two members of a lesser team the Righteous Six, Michael Hunter and Medea, proved instrumental in convincing the Praetorians this was needed; however Hunter expressed disappeared unescorted near sensitive areas for several minutes to the consternation of Ryden Bolt a member of one of the Praetorian’s sub-teams. Ryden along with Ben are thus escorting those two back to their aircraft so they can leave.

Suddenly a vehicle raced up interrupting the conversation, and the New Guardians—who Ben could now identify by their paler costumes—jumped out of it while forming into a line. Most of the team seemed odd for Supers since they lacked the perfect physiques and showed signs of aging. Compared to normal people they remained powerfully built, but puffiness, wrinkles, beer-guts, and graying hair, and in one case receding hair, looked ridiculous in the colorful tights. Ben thought he recognized a couple of them, but they looked little like when celebrities who hadn’t worked in a few years who get arrested, and their mugshots hit the papers looking more than twenty years older—he partly hoped these were just other people no matter how unlikely that seemed. The two escorts from earlier looked the best preserved of the bunch, and that was likely the reason they would get an official duty like that—to keep up appearances. The only other one present who retained the superhero look was the leader whose status was obvious from the others forming into a flunky formation just behind him but all facing slightly towards him to emphasize his importance.

That leader was the first one Ben could not only recognize, but easily name: Duke Lazarus. While he was large and incredibly muscled—as was expected—Lazarus’s costume looked like it belonged to someone who’d stumbled blindfolded into a stripper’s dressing room, and put on the first several things he randomly grabbed. A purple fishnet unitard created a base layer, and over it he wore, knee-high boots, a kilt, a sleeveless biker-jacket, light blue elbow-high gloves with some kind of fin, a heavy red hooded cloak with a large design largely covered by the folds, and a purple feather boa. His beard was shaved into intricate shapes, and his curly hair formed a mass of foam over his head.

Ben Watson knew about him because he had to. This Super claimed to be the deadliest man to ever live, had founded the Black Dragon Combat Institute, and claimed to impart the deepest secrets of the martial arts through the diagrams and explanations in his comics; thus readers would become masters themselves with no need for hard training or paying large fees to ‘inferior’ teachers, by which he meant anyone not in his organization. So many people believed these claims, that police forces across the country started to include in their screening questionnaires a column asking if the applicant thought they could indeed learn the martial arts from such means. Despite Duke Lazarus’s waning popularity, a great many applicants still answered yes to that question.

Lazarus publicly claimed his various mail-order instructional materials, and dietary supplements, not to mention the incenses, and essential oils, motivational tapes, and licensed paraphernalia, would unlock his ‘students’ inner powers. There were plenty of others claiming they could make people into martial arts masters, or even superheroes, but his ad campaigns remained among the most ubiquitous. Claims of some great insight into instruction were especially odd since Duke famously gained his powers while watching a martial arts program on TV, while taking a bath. Trying to enact an energetic move he’d knocked the TV into the water thereby infusing him with all the secrets of all the martial arts masters who’d ever lived, while pumping him full of enough electricity to kill a rhinoceros. Upon his debut, he’d quickly made a name for himself by calling out many more prominent heroes, usually ones associated with the martial arts, claiming they were frightened of a master of his ‘Dim Mak’ death touch technique; however his star faded when word got around that he’d run for many of those fights and lost others in gruesome ways that should have even killed a Super.

Lazarus moved his lips, but a louder voice dubbing over him: “You have disrespected Chinese Kung Fu! My honor cannot tolerate such disrespect!” Hostility towards Michael would have been expected, but he seemed to be addressing Ryden.

Strangely Ben could see text in the air, floating just in front of and below Lazarus. One line was in Chinese characters, but the line below it was in English: ‘You think my style isn’t very good, but you’re too cowardly to challenge me!’

Ryden stood back confused as to why he would challenge her, but Michael stepped forward and tried to say something only to have the dubbing replace it with: “Ha ha ha, my Japanese Karate makes me the best fighter in the world, and I have magical powers!” His eyes fluttered in disbelief at his words being twisted beyond recognition.

The English subtitles read: ‘Why don’t you make me some noodles, funeral noodles: for your funeral!’

Confused, the group with Ben looked and listened at distorted messages that didn’t remotely match, while Lazarus stepped forward with an outraged expression.

Ryden appeared between the two men, motioning them away from each other: “Michael says Chinese Kung Fu is only good for show and doesn’t stand a chance against his style. Tee Hee!”

The text read: ‘You two should have an exhibition match to promote the school. Let’s see which style is really better.’ Silly girlish laughter. Ryden looked a little amused by the situation, but was far from laughing about anything, making that part of the dialogue—the only part in total agreement in both versions—even more confusing.

Lazarus still looked perturbed: “I’m going to teach you how to show respect to my Cantonese Dragon style!”

Which somehow translated as: ‘A fool like you could never have defeated my teacher, unless you cheated!’

Michael shouted loud enough to be heard: “YOU DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A TEACHER.”

But only slightly less loud came the dubbing: “HA HA HA, your master died like he had no style at all!”

And the subtitles made that: EVIL LAUGH. ‘To us Japanese cheating is just good tactics.’

Ben helpfully explained to all present: “I think someone has a malfunctioning universal translator. I’ve seen demonstrations where they garble communications, just never this badly.”

Unfortunately his words were drowned out by the dubbing: “Okay, let’s beat up these Chinese rats to show them who runs Shanghai.”

And his subtitles read: ‘A big demonstration should show them, it’s the only language they can understand.’ Even as Ben was dumbstruck as to where the mention of Shanghai came from.

Lazarus pointed at them belligerently: “I don’t want a fight, but if you keep provoking me I’m not going to have any choice.”

His subtitles for the same words read: ‘I’m trying to walk the stupid path of peace, but you’re forcing me to walk the path of pieces.’

Sensing an impending fight Ben took a couple steps back, but curious about the Japanese lettering on Michael’s jacket, he looked at it and instantly recognized his mistake as suddenly text appeared beside it reading: ‘No dogs or Chinese allowed.’ Once he read it a loud gong sound came out indicating terrible outrage.

Somehow everyone could see the text and the New Guardians all looked shocked, especially the one member who looked Chinese. They were about to charge, when a flash of electricity flew from Ryden to a device on Duke Lazarus’s belt shorting it out.

“Your universal translator was stuck on Kung Fu Slapstick… again.” Ryden exclaimed.

Lazarus still looked pissed: “Well I know what I was saying, and all those horrible things he said at me.”

“If I wanted to insult you I’d have…” Michael was suddenly cut off by Ryden putting her hand over his mouth.

“We didn’t hear you over that thing. What were you trying to say?” As Ryden spoke she gestured indicating people should back away from each other.

“You know what I was saying. That you’re trying to get my team in trouble, raising a warning these jerks were wandering around without being watched—and that we were somehow supposed to guard them. I won’t stand for such an affront to my team’s honor. This is all about me, about us.” Lazarus furrowed his brow while looking directly at Ryden. His original challenge had indeed been directed where he’d wanted.

“I didn’t see you sending out any kind of signal. Your control of electronics is getting better.” Michael smirked at Ryden.

Still facing the New Guardians Ryden shook her head: “I just put out that they’d been left alone, and that we might need a quick security review of their movements. No one’s found anything suspicious, yet, or I’d have detained Michael already.”

“Yeah there was nothing, wind over a mountaintop, and would be no cause for discord if you weren’t out to make my team look bad.” Lazarus tried to sound like some kind of airy wise-man.

“Except we still don’t know if there was anything.” Ryden retorted.

Michael stepped closer and spoke up: “Or maybe blame the culprits, blame me for looking for the restroom, blame your people for neglecting their duty, or maybe just maybe blame yourself for not running a tighter ship.” A blue flame like energy had started emanating from the ornate hilt of his sword, wisps of it reaching out to his hand pulling it closer. Michael continued with his manner becoming more aggressive: “That’s weird. Normally this weapon only switches on by itself if there’s some kind of family vendetta involved. I don’t know of anything involving you, so if you come clean I’ll be lenient on you.”

Duke Lazarus pulled out a pair of large elaborate knives that looked like paired intertwining crescents that crackled with electricity as he adopted a fighting stance: “You can’t scare me: take away that magic sword and what are you?”

With the tension mounting Michael stayed poised for action even as he removed his sword belt and lowed his weapon: “This is not the time or place for this, and I’m still not sure if a fight is even called for. Are you going to stand down too, or will you use those on an unarmed man, Steve Rogers?”

Lazarus chuckled from disbelief: “You’d call me one of the most honorable heroes in all the known realms as some kind of taunt?”

The slivers of knowledge of other worlds were fragmentary and often contradictory, yet for some reason many looked on those as every bit as valid as their own world, and made references to them like a masonic handshake.

With a sneer Michael replied: “Yeah, I called you the kind of hero who’d use twelve-year-olds as sniper bait.”

Confusion and rage came over Lazarus’s face, and he moved to strike in a dramatically telegraphed move, but Michael was faster, and from his crouch threw an uppercut into Lazarus’s groin as his limbs turned into blurs of offensive movement knocking a stunned Lazarus higher into the air with each blow before letting him fall to the ground, kicking him downward as he fell. Michael shouted something about “Northern Hooligan Style” amidst a stream of insults Ben could only halfway understand from unfamiliar terms delivered at high speed, and a suddenly much thicker accent. With all pretense of gentility dropped, they were once again separated by the common language.

For an instant it looked like the confrontation might be over, but then another Guardian moved forward—uncertainly at first but then receiving support from the others with renewed confidence. As a group they engaged their antagonist, but had trouble dealing with Michael’s speed, as to the naked eye he seemed to have become just a blur of motion, defined mostly by the tiny pauses where he became distinct for a fraction of a second before moving again. An archer was knocked out right away with multicolored arrows scattered over the tarmac with only a brief flash of movement in his direction.

It seemed like the fight might stay limited, but the bestial Guardian apparently frustrated by her lack of success against the much faster Super leaped at Medea. Ben could at least follow their fight, as the pilot pulled out a huge expandable-baton, broad and about four-feet-long, and started using it in turns like a staff or an oversized baseball bat. It felt a little familiar for Ben since SWAT teams used similar weapons in a vaguely similar way. Several times the Guardian used blocks that should have broken her own forearm, but they had little effect. A couple of times she slashed Medea with her claws, but the tight costume somehow blunted those. The Guardian was faster and stronger, yet the Sixer made full use of the reach and speed of her weapon. Back and forth they moved with one counter leading into another, many of their leaps and spins seemed theatrical, yet with their enhanced abilities they proved effective.

“Bashing each other around doesn’t prove anything!?” Ryden shouted over the din.

One of the two escorts from earlier broke off from the fight, his hands burning with energy ready for discharge, as he responded: “She’s right, Ryden started it, so to prove anything we have to beat her too! She’s the one trying to make us look bad.”

The turn made no tactical sense, the whole team had enough problems dealing with the two opponents they already had, but this man intended on widening the fight—possibly since he could not safely blast his shots into the melee but wanted to be involved somehow. As the Guardian unleashed his power at Ryden Bolt, Ben saw that his own position lay in the line of fire, but he didn’t have enough time to run for cover. Ben had only started to move when huge blasts of searing energy flew out, and as he feared one flew in his general direction. There was no time to try to figure out if it would hit—he just had to be as far away as possible. Time passed in microseconds as Ben’s legs carried him away, as if in slow motion, and he felt the blast hitting the nearby pavement, but then exploding outwards towards him singeing the hair off one hand and burning the skin as a corona of unleashed energy came closer. The effect sometimes came over people in car crashes, or shootouts, but perceiving things in a quasi-hyper-reality didn’t help his legs move any faster. Suddenly Ben found himself propelled away from it, fast enough to escape, and landed tumbling on the pavement a hundred-feet-away by a cargo truck. Looking up he saw Ryden sitting over him, smoke coming off one side of her from the near miss, yet it seemed no real damage was done.

“You okay?” She looked concerned, and then it all came together, that she’d grabbed him and pulled him away from the blast, even at her own risk. He saw the Guardian readying himself for another attack, and Ryden turned to see him too, but then Michael came out of nowhere and punched the man knocking him flying. Not satisfied by that, Michael spun under the Guardian and kicked him higher into the air and hammered him with a blur of additional punches. “Shooting near a civilian, you fucking doylem. Bloody Pikeys like you are the problem.” And there followed more insults that Ben couldn’t begin to understand.

The classification of civilian irked the police officer, but it was understandable: in their world he was an outsider and effectively a noncombatant. Only a few seconds had passed, but already it proved too long, and Michael was knocked into the air by a sudden blur of motion as a speedster on a bicycle ran into him while moving at what seemed like hundreds of miles an hour. Suddenly finding a second wind, Lazarus leaped to his feet and attacked. He didn’t seem disoriented from just coming to, and it was almost as if he’d intentionally stayed down once he realized he was outmatched. Medea had her opponent down when the cyclist knocked her spinning through the air and then falling to the ground. Ryden shouted: “Get behind the truck.” And Ben scampered around it as she flew into action. First she blasted the recovering feral, and then another nearby, using low powered shots that affected them like taser hits with the targets twitching in paralysis, bits of electricity crackling off them cartoonishly. Reaching the melee, Ryden started kicking and punching multiple targets combining the disabling electricity with the physical hits.

The multiple formidable opponents proved too much for the New Guardians, with Ryden dropping one after another, and very quickly only three remained standing. Aside from Duke Lazarus, who seemed resistant to the electrically enhanced attacks, they still had their speedster, and the Chinese-American who had grown into a giant rock monster with symmetrical lines as if he was a stone building. Ben finally remembered that one’s name: the Great Wall, and both literally and figuratively he seemed the largest problem. Not only was he dangerous with his surprisingly fast and aggressive sweeping attacks, but he provided very effective support for Lazarus. The four main combatants circled while the speedster kept racing in and out in flashes of movement, but his targets kept moving around Great Wall forcing the speedster to turn away for risk of impacting with his teammate while leaving great gusts of wind in his wake.

Medea slunk around from the other side of the truck.

“You okay?” Ben asked.

“Got my wind knocked out, but at this point I’m just a liability.” Medea shrugged and leaned against the vehicle to watch.

As the group fought Great Wall shouted out his catch phrase: “This brick does hit back!”

Floating in the air just above his reach Ryden protested: “Stand down, I don’t want to risk hurting you.”

At that he jumped up and grabbed the girl, only to get electrocuted by contact, and he fell down unconscious—reverting to his normal form while still smoldering.

Left by himself, Duke Lazarus suddenly seemed diplomatic: “Thinking about this, I don’t think a brawl is proving anything one way or another. You’ve all let your pride get in the way of your judgement. We… we should look at this just in terms of what we can improve…”

As Lazarus spoke, his speedster buzzed through the fight once again, but Ryden was too high up, and Michael spun out of the way. In the momentary distraction the ‘Fearless’ leader of the New Guardians turned and ran, only to have Ryden catch his cape as it billowed out behind him, displaying the Black Dragon logo, and yank him off his feet to fall to the hard concrete—and he lay still even though he’d shrugged off worse hits earlier.

Again a sudden blur of movement came by knocking Ryden sprawling, but she recovered and looked to Michael: “I might be able to outrun him, but he can turn faster than I can. Do you want to give it a go?”

“I have a better idea.” Michael grabbed several large cans of motor oil and dumped them across the ground. Instinctively following his lead Ryden joined in flying just above the tarmac fetching cans and emptying them out over untouched areas. With their incredible speed they covered a huge area in what seemed like just a handful of seconds, and in anticipation of the result Michael waggled his eyebrows mischievously.

Once again the streak of motion moved through, only once he reached the area covered by oil the cry of: “SHHHIIIIIT” reverberated through the area as the speedster fell, turning into less of a man on a bicycle and more into a tumbling ball of limbs and machine rolling end over end and crashing through a small prop plane almost like a buzz saw blade, before coming to a complete stop and laying still.

“Is he going to be okay?” Ben stepped towards the remains of the brawl. Other than the destroyed plane, the pavement was smashed or melted in several places, making Ben remember the devastation he’d seen on the way in.

“Ah he’ll be fine, but it looks like that sorted everything out.” Michael smirked.

“No it does not, we’ve been over this already. A brawl doesn’t prove anything.” Ryden asserted.

Stepping toward Lazarus’s still form Michael took out a pair of scissors.

“What are you doing?” Ben inquired as he walked over to the group.

“Oh, I’m cutting off his Jew-fro.” As Michael said it Lazarus’s eyes opened, and he tried to resist only to have his head pinned to the ground by the Englishman’s knee and then in what looked like a few quick motions Lazarus’s hair was reduced to a slightly uneven fuzz.

Lazarus continued to voice protests in the form of an unbroken chain of swear words, before they were suddenly choked off by increased pressure from the knee.

“While we were all fighting, I had time to think about what trouble might be between you and my kinfolk. So many of us Hunters you’d think I’d lose track, but there’s only one likely feud bad enough to make my weapon activate like this.” Michael held out his hand and the sword flew into it, and the flame flowed over his hand while staying in the scabbard. “One of my cousins: a true champion who actually deserved all the privileges we get, she was betrayed and abandoned by her right and honorable team, such honorable champions that they put up a psychic block to keep people from figuring out what they did. They were so honorable they just ‘retconned’ the whole thing, so no one would get the wrong impression that they’d ever do such a thing, and left others to pick up the pieces. You seem like just that sort of honorable type.” Some of that strange blue fire had started coming out of the youth’s eyes as he spoke, making him look demonic.

Ryden cautioned: “You know sorcery isn’t reliable. You might have set off that effect accidentally, or it could be about something small if there’s some other factor involved. Choking a confession out of him won’t prove anything.”

Ben didn’t understand how that sword was supposed to work, but earlier during the meeting he had at some point seen bits of flame coming off of it, although he hadn’t really processed it at the time—since he’d had little idea of what it might mean.

Michael stood up with the flames receding from his eyes, and then his hand as he replaced his belt: “With the psychic blocks weakened I’ll find the evidence: this isn’t over.”

At that moment Mean Fist rumbled up on a very large Harley Davidson with an enloudening muffler, instead of anything more advanced or more useful, and he received a quick rundown of the events as he nodded sagely along. Even though he wasn’t all that big, his presence carried weight and seemed to calm things down without him needing to say anything. As they all talked the Guardians started recovering, but they sat around looking downcast although there was no sign of movement from the recently and catastrophically crashed speedster—nor did anyone go to check on him or show any concern. While they talked Medea disappeared to her nearby airship to do preflight checks while Michael took part in the explanations displaying an increasing malice towards Duke Lazarus as he did.

Cracking open yet another can of beer, Mean shrugged: “You won the fight, so clearly there was no security breach and Lazarus was just looking for trouble. Shit, I remember before I joined the team him coming up to me with that translator making it sound like I was the one picking a fight with him. Something about cheating Chinese farmers out of the coal under their land, didn’t make much sense either way it came through.”

Ben blinked: “Wait are you assigning guilt based on who won the fight?”

Both Mean Fist and the Guardians gave the same resolute but confused look as Mean answered: “Yes, what seems to be the problem? We have two sides both claiming the other is the problem. So who ever’s more heroic must be in the right. Obviously it must have been a false alarm, and there was no actual security breach.” They all nodded along.

Ryden gave a sigh of resignation.

“Of course, it’s different if you’re up against a villain, but if both sides think they’re the good guys you have to sort out who’s right—and who embarrassed themselves.” Michael explained with obvious sarcasm, and latent hostility just below the surface. He obviously knew the idea was insane, but wouldn’t hesitate to exploit it.

Ben blinked: “And that’s it!?”

“Our new liaison here could have been killed by one of those stray shots.” Ryden added sternly.

Mean Fist shook his head: “No we have something way more serious to deal with: bullying. You can’t go around saying unkind things about people, it causes serious psychological damage. You can recover from a physical wound much faster than from insults that really burn, and cutting someone’s hair might sound like a locker room prank—but it’s not the kind of thing you can do if you want to be cool and tough like me!” While he had started addressing those gathered, by the end he’d started mainly talking towards a vacant area as if it held an audience.

Ben whispered to Ryden: “Is he talking to someone invisible there?”

“They do this sometimes, just let it go.” Ryden answered.

At that moment Michael moved to leave, but Mean Fist walked to intercept while saying: “Hey, I’m not done speaking, and this applies to you more than anyone.”

“That’s exactly why I won’t sit through your public service announcement. I won’t humor you while you try to turn this around to the benefit of your subordinates.” Michael took another couple steps as he talked.

Mean Fist moved to grab Michael’s arm but pulled it back when Michael shot it a look like he might swat it like a house cat. For all his high status among heroes Mean clearly did not want a physical confrontation with this B-lister, and Ben remembered earlier when Mean Fist directed a warning at him instead of Michael. Despite Mean’s tough guy persona he clearly did not want to fight this man where others seemed too eager to. Or maybe he’d just thought twice about physically grabbing someone whose blood was still up from a fight.

“If you’re not going to listen to what I have to say then I don’t need to come down on them at all if I don’t want to.” Mean puffed up his chest, but took a step back.

“You won’t really punish Lazarus because he earns, and you’ve already disregarded our restraint and their lack of it.” Michael’s tone and manner suggested the coals of a dying fire which might spring suddenly to life if prodded.

“I agree they were out of line, but I don’t see what you expect me to do about it. Fights like this happen all the time.” Mean gave a dismissive chuckle at the end.

“Are you taking responsibility here or not. If you won’t take action yourself, will you at least allow me to investigate Lazarus?” Michael said.

“The effect we saw does suggest something very serious involving the Hunters, but with how many of them there are, and all the rivalries, it might be useful to sort it out and defuse if needed.” Ryden suggested diplomatically.

While Ben felt curious about Michael’s allegations, he knew prying into it right there and then would be seen as taking that side of the dispute, and from everything he’d seen so far he suspected a new fight could easily break out.

“Sounds like a waste to time, like maybe a minor brawl or something, or maybe he hurt one of your cousins who broke bad. Has that even occurred to you? Duke Lazarus has been in this organization longer than me, and the crap he talked about: it’s not the sort of thing the Praetorians would ever do.” Mean answered forcefully and as he talked the New Guardians nodded their heads and murmured yeahs like a chorus line.

“My weapon reacting all by itself, that only happens when its something serious, but I won’t take any action without real evidence.” Michael gave an annoyed glance at the Guardians as he finished.

“I don’t see why you’d give any credence at all to that pansy supernatural crap. You’ve got to trust what’s real.” And again Mean’s words were followed by murmurings of mmm and uh huh, but even with his team buoyed Duke Lazarus had slunk to well behind the rest.

Michael raised an eyebrow: “Wait: you don’t think all our powers are based on magic!? That has to be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.” If nothing else his bemusement seemed to have partially defused the situation.

Mean looked confused: “What are you talking about. Most real Supers got our powers scientifically. Like me, I got tangled up in the chord of a radioactive jackhammer, gaining powers from that was science. Radiation: that’s science, and machines: those are science.”

With a dismissive snicker Michael looked past everyone else to Duke Lazarus: “Don’t think this is over.” And then he turned around and boarded the airship, which took off the moment his foot hit the ramp; although he turned around and watched them all as the craft moved into the distance; maybe it was the movement that forced him to stay tensed, but he looked like a pirate ready to jump back into action.

Ryden pouted at everyone left: “We still need to figure out if he was snooping around, and all that didn’t answer anything.”

“He only left my sight for a couple minutes.” Ben reported just loud enough for Ryden and Mean Fist to hear.

Ryden smiled and nodded as she watched the aircraft depart: “He only needs a couple minutes.”

Something about the exchange, and how Michael had jumped to one particular if ill-explained conclusion, piqued Ben’s worries. Like that was the information he might have been looking for from the start. All the dismissals had been geared towards embarrassing people from looking into it further, while pushing his disdain for the wider culture.

He’s cynical, but plenty of corrupt people use that as their excuse.

Ben knew he should appreciate the efforts Michael put in on behalf of the NYPD, and he had thus far been his best ally in his mission and had at least tried to avoid the confrontation, but Ben still resented the hell Michael had put him through in high school. Living it up on his family’s dime, dominating in sports, pushing people around, and hogging the cutest girls. Ben then caught himself wondering where that strange idea had come from since they’d only just met. Maybe it came from a resemblance to certain bullies from numerous movies, too too many high school movies Ben had watched usually with his friends over some beers. But it still felt strange to have come into his head with such a forceful feeling of truth that he didn’t discard it outright.

Though everyone else quickly left, Ryden checked on the super-cyclist New Guardian, since he’d yet to recover, and Ben came long. They found the Guardian in the trail of wreckage from the plane he’d destroyed, still unconscious in a pitiable state, with an arm sitting at an odd angle. Ryden quickly summoned a medical team to take care of him, and while he had multiple fractured bones, they didn’t seem too worried about a swift recovery. Of everything Ben had seen of the New Guardian this struck him particularly egregious, ignoring their duties, and picking a fight to cover it up were bad, but taking care of their own people was arguably worse. While they tended to the Guardian the team checked on Ben’s hand which had a burn from the near miss, and that medic moistened it down with some ointment and bandaged it expecting the small blisters to clear within a couple of days. Ryden for her part had minor burns on her left arm from pulling him away from that same blast, and she accepted some ointment for them, but that left Ben wondering how much worse his own injury might have been had she not pulled him away.

I would like to point out here that while I’m not obligated to follow Pokemon rules this scene nevertheless remains respectfully consistent with them as the Great Wall would be a Stone Type, and outside a mix up in the first season of the animated show they do not have the Earth Type resistance to lightning attacks.