Last time: Together with Kate and Marina Tesla, local hero Cliffhanger set out to rescue Emilie Tesla from her archenemy Asylum. On the way, however, the threesome was distracted by a dangerous gang drag race. Unfortunately, Cliff’s attempts to stop one of the cars ended with him thrown from the hood!
Part Three (of Five)
The weed-cracked concrete of the rainage ditch sped towards Cliff’s face as he plummeted from the now-convertible racing car. Tucking his head, he prayed that his leather jacket would protect most of his skin from being flayed upon impact. His mother kept telling him to fight crime in a helmet, and while he had thus far ignored that advice in favor of being able to have his brown hair blow in the wind, he was starting to think she might have a point…
He struck the ground with a tingle.
Wait, he thought, as he rolled to a stop with only minor scraping… tingle?
Sitting up, he noticed two things.
One, Marina Tesla floated above him, the flickering aura of electricity coming from her chest stretching out to surround him. There was a vague exasperation on her face.
He only had a second to parse her annoyance, though, because the second thing he noticed was an out-of-control Ford Mustang with an unconscious driver zooming straight at him. He somehow knew that the flickery tingle-field around him wasn’t going to protect him from two tons of misused Detroit steel.
He made the last decision he expected he’d get to make and refused to shut his eyes.
As reward for his bravery (or perhaps hubris), he didn’t miss the most amazing sight he’d ever seen.
Three floating silver eggs struck the car, one-two-three. The first slammed into the front left side at incredible speed, knocking the car off-course. It missed Cliff by two feet. The second flew in from the front, striking the silhouetted horse in the center of the car’s grill. The car slowed, but did not stop. It was headed for the concrete wall of the arroyo. Before it could crash, though, the third and final egg flew high into the air, turned around, and smashed straight down onto the hood where Cliff had been standing. The downward pressure was strong enough to overcome the shock absorbers and the egg continued pressing down as sparks flew like mythic hoofbeats from the underside of the remains of the racer. The car came to a stop a foot away from the side of the ditch.
In the distance, Cliff could see Kate Tesla, still on the overpass, Universal Remote in one hand, the other flashing them a gloved thumb’s-up.
Marina put one finger to her wireless earpiece, listening to something as she floated slowly to the ground next to Cliff.
“Kate ran a biocheck on the driver. He’s unconscious but okay,” Marina said, not reaching out a hand to help Cliff up. “She says that she did it all with vectors and physics and crap. You’re so glad you don’t have to hear this.”
Cliff clambered to his feet, brushing the dirt off of his once-awesome leather jacket, now scuffed and shredded beyond coolness.
“Thanks,” he said. “For, uh, saving me.”
“Whatever,” Marina said. “Sorry I couldn’t put a stronger field around you, but the Electric Heart only works as much as I care about stuff.”
Cliff wasn’t sure how to respond to the… apology? Insult? He decided to shrug it off; at least the car had been stopped without any injury, except to himself.
Adrenaline suddenly grabbed his heart as he realized what they had forgotten…
The other car.
Turning around, he looked down the arroyo to where the other racer had been speeding towards the police blockade.
“Marina!” he yelled. “Tell Kate… the other car…”
Apparently Marina had forgotten it too, because a stricken look washed over her usually-emotionless face. “Kate!” she yelled into her earpiece. “Stop the Nissan Skyline GT-R! And don’t smash it up! It’s an import!”
Cliff was running towards the inevitable crash between the unstoppable force and the immovable object. There wasn’t any way he could get there in time to help, but he had to do something. Before he could feel guilty over his inability to save anyone else, there was a sudden blur from the sky, like a comet aiming to make the crash a three-way. Instead of a Hollywood fireball, though, both the comet and the Nissan took to the sky, flying over the blockade and coming to a stop in mid-air. Slowly, the car turned around and slowly flew overhead, towards where Kate watched from the overpass.
“She did it!” Cliff said, turning back to Marina.
“We wish,” Marina said. “We’d better go help her.” The flickering electric shield around her reached out to hoist Cliff into the air. There was something about the energy that didn’t feel like it had a very strong grip on him. He wished he had his grappling hook, trusty, solid, made of physical matter grappling hook.
As they got closer, the image of Kate standing on an overpass talking to a floating import racing car clarified into an image of Kate standing on an overpass talking to a costumed hero holding an import racing car over his head with one hand. He was dressed in a tight green wifebeater and an even tighter pair of black jeans. An unnecessary cape at least twice as long as it needed to be flapped dramatically even in the lack of wind.
“Is that… Big Shot?” Cliff asked, unable to swagger the awe from his voice. Big Shot was one of the three most powerful heroes in America. He hardly ever dealt with anything short of earth-threatening meteors or mole people invasions anymore. Meeting him was on Cliff’s bucket list, right above “ride the Simplon-Orient Express.”
“I’m afraid so,” sighed Marina as they set down again on the overpass. Big Shot didn’t seem to notice them, he was too busy smiling and chatting up Kate. And holding a car over his head with one hand.
“You know him?” Cliff asked as they approached Kate. The redhead was frowning at her Remote as she pressed buttons that didn’t seem to do anything.
“Yeah,” Marina said. “He’s Kate’s ex.”
© 2013 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.