“With the storm that’s raging,” Glenn said as he meandered through the cube maze. “I hope no one is outside.” Lightening strobed outside spreading light over the dim interior of the office.
“I gotta drive home in this crap,” David said as he passed Glenn.
“Be safe,” Glenn said with a wave. “Did you drive your SUV?”
“Nope,” David said. “I got the compact. Gonna be swimming by the time I get home.”
Glenn laughed twice. “It more bark than bite,” he said. “If you’re quick, you should be ahead of the deluge.”
“Thanks,” David said and moved for the elevator. “Good luck. Hopefully, no calls.”
“Yeah,” Glenn said, walking down the row labeled Knight Shift. He walked past three cubes waving to the people sitting at computers. “Ladies. Gentlemen. Get logged on and get the game fired up. Tonight we raid the tunnels under the Sky Fortress.” The three other people responded with mild shouts and furious keyboard typing. He sat at his own desk and logged into his work machine. The screen filled with his email and the side monitor with the vitals display. There were three members listed as on duty.
With a raised eyebrow, Glenn tilted his face up and called, “Hey? I have three members on duty. Anyone else have vitals displayed?”
Two of the other three people responded with no.
“I’ve got Digger,” Jessica said. “He’s been stable for the past five minutes.”
“OK,” Glen said. “We might have to delay the raid—”
“He just signed off,” Jessica said. “I’m clear until the four am check.”
“Well, crap,” Glenn said staring at his own screens. “It seems I’m not going to make the raid.”
“Too bad,” Vince said.
“So sad,” George added.
“Suckage,” Jessica chimed in at the tail end of the list.
“Right,” Glenn said. He skimmed his emails and deleted several. Three required responses, and he checked on a request for vacation.
The sounds of heavy keyboard tapping and quick shouts carried over the walls.
George let out a cry, “Medic!”
“Offline,” Glenn replied with a cheek in a hand. “Use the potions I put in the vault yesterday.” He sighed. “There goes making money on the markets.”
His eyes rolled to the vitals. Fringe showed as off line and a second later, her icon left the screen.
“One down, two to go,” Glenn said leaning back and putting his hands behind his head. “It would be cool if they were on the same mission and both clocked out at the same time.” He propped his feet up on his desk and watched the monitor.
Jessica let out a whoop and shouted, “We’re passed the first rock troll clan!”
Glenn rolled his eyes and let out a sigh, bringing his feet to the floor. “Great.” Leaning forward he put his chin in both hands and stared at the vitals monitor.
Lancet’s vitals blinked, then jerked to the top of the display. The color changed from blue to deep, pulsating red.
Glenn jerked back, banging his chair into the wall. “Dammit!”
“Cool it over there,” George said. “Just because you have clients—”
“Shut it,” Glenn said as he reached for the belt he kept hanging from his cube wall. “Lancet’s vitals are spiking. EMT First Class Wilson responding to call for Lancet.” Clicking his belt in place, he bounced his fingers over the keys and transferred the readout to his wrist panel. Snatching the helmet, he lowered the face shield.
“Good luck,” Vince called.
“Have fun storming the castle,” Glenn said and left his cube with a wave. As he approached, the large bay doors opened and the monitor over the archway flashed a message about air traffic and the current weather.
Stepping onto the landing, Glenn checked this wrist panel. “That’s about fifteen miles. Full power should get me there in about two minutes.” A flash of lightning lit up the sky and surrounding area as if it were midday. His red and white uniform glowed from the reflective fabric it was made of. “OK,” he said and activated the power he was born with. “Make that five minutes.”
Shrinking to the size of a dime, he touched the belt at his waist and small rockets propelled him into the rain-filled sky. Once he oriented, he leaned forward and blasted off in that direction.
Using his wrist panel, Glenn navigated toward the indicator on his map. “At least she only a few blocks from the ER.” Using his fingers, he zoomed in on the surrounding area. Lancet was in an alley behind Blaster’s Bombastic Bazookas. “What was she doing at a gun shop?” Breaking his eyes away from the map, he darted around an antenna and descended to rooftop level. “Just about there.” Completing a banking turn, he zoomed down the alley. “There,” he said as his indicator on the map got closer to Lancet’s
“Stupid bitch thinks she can just bust in on other people’s business,” a large shadow said. “I took her out barehanded.”
“You did Oxhide,” another form said.
Glenn approached and landed close to the wall. “Crap,” he said in a whisper. “The bad guys are still here.” He touched the side of his helmet and activated the light enhancing screen. The bigger form stood close to seven feet in height and almost that wide. He didn’t have on a shirt, but his torso and arms were covered in thick black hair. The shorter man was well under six feet in height. Spaghetti thin arms dangled form the wet baggy shirt. Heavy jeans covered his legs and feet.
“Take that mask off her,” Oxhide said to the shorter man. “Let’s see who she really is.” He pulled a cellphone from a pocket and positioned it close to the prone form of Lancet. A flash blinked from his phone. “Go on, String. Yank dat bitch off.” The smaller of the two reached forward with both hands and spindly fingers.
“Can’t let that happen,” Glenn said. Blasting from the wall, he zoomed at the reaching form. A quick tap on his belt made a snap-hiss sound and a translucent gray field appeared around the small figure. As his speed picked up, Glenn tucked his legs up and wrapped his arms around his knees. Pulling his chin down, he sealed his eyes shut.
Oxhide glanced up and saw a small gray sphere speeding toward String. “Whassat?”
The force of the collision on String’s jaw spun the thin man around and flattened him on the cold, puddle laden ground. A wave from the splash washed over Oxhide’s legs, adding more water to his already sodden jeans.
Glenn splayed his legs and arms. He reoriented and focused on Oxhide’s head.
Looking at his down companion, Oxhide called out, “String?” He leaned forward and shook the shoulder of String. There was no reaction from the thin man.
Glenn touched another button on his helmet. “I’m an EMT,” Glenn said. The amplifier bounced his voice off the alley walls. “I’m here to pick up Lancet and get her to an ER.”
“Who said that?” Oxhide said, his head darting around to different spots. “Show yourself.” His his big hand curled into fists. “You ain’t takin’ her no where. I earned this trophy.” He jabbed a thick finger at the prone form of Lancet.
“People aren’t trophies,” Glenn said as he hovered across the alley floor to the far wall.
“Shut up,” Oxhide shouted. “I get five grand when I bring her mask in.”
“Just ask her for it,” Glenn floated closer to Lancet. Glancing at his wrist panel showed blood loss and her heart rate was dropping.
“It don’t work that way,” Oxhide said. “It’d be like asking me to come quietly. Not happening.”
“Fine,” Glenn said as he landed next to the large man. Activating his natural born power, Glenn grew to his normal five foot six inches. His gray forcefield adjusted to encompass the change in mass.
With wide eyes and flailing arms, Oxhide shouted, “Shit!” as he floundered backward.
“I’m gonna take my patient,” Glenn said stepping forward. “And there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“Careful, little man,” Oxhide said as he regained his footing and composure. “I pack a punch.” In a smooth motion Oxhide’s tree trunk arm swung in a large arc. A pointy tooth grin smeared on the big man’s lips as the bowling ball sized fist careened at Glenn’s head.
Flexing both knees, Glenn lowered his entire body as one unit. He brought both fists up to cover his face as the hairy arm passed over his helmeted head. Extending his knees, Glenn resumed his full height and kept going. “Little is in the eye of the beholder.” Reaching forward with a dump-truck sized hand, he pushed Oxhide into the far wall.
Oxhide’s head and one shoulder poked over the webbing between Glenn’s finger and thumb. “How…what…?” His arms and body were pinned against the slick brick wall. His feet dangled a foot off the pavement. He shifted his head and saw a finger pushing into a hole the size of serving tray in the red brick wall and quieted. His entire body slumped as it was held suspended above the ground.
“Dispatch,” Glenn said, sticking a finger onto his helmet. “Have PD waiting for me at the nearby ER. I have two captives detained.”
“Understood EMT,” the electro-female voice said over the earbud.
Glenn pried Oxhide from the wall and closed his fingers around the hairy man. Scooping String in the other hand, he shifted both villains into the same hand. Pinching Lancet’s uniform, he pulled the woman from the ground and rolled her into his palm. She moaned and her eyes blinked as he looked down at her. “You’re safe now.” A wan smile appeared on her shadow covered face.
The next night, Glenn walked into his cube. The other Knight Shift team was there, and they were setting up their machines. Going through his normal routine, he sat at his computer. The white envelope sitting on his keyboard made an eyebrow raise. “This can’t be good.” He ripped the seal and pulled out the paper. Reading the form, he saw it was a reward check for the capture of Oxhide, which lead to the arrest of an entire ring of villains taking out low level heroes to steal their masks and release their identity.
Next he checked his email. It was full of the standard items, except for one. There was one that came from an anonymous email server. Clicking on the email, Glenn read it:
Thank you for rescuing me. I was leery about the Special Delivery service, but you have assured me of not only the value, but the safety you offer. It is a great comfort knowing people like you are out there watching our backs. Thank you again.
PS: My real name is Emily. If you respond to this email, I’ll get it. Please include your phone number.