Jackal and Turbo #1 : A New Kind of Justice

Turbo zipped through the back streets, laughing as the wind rushed past him. He was a blur of color to the people on the streets, but a shadow high above on the rooftops tracked his position. Jackal always knew where his partner was, always kept one eye on him to make sure he was alright. After all, they’d been together a lot longer than they’d been doing this hero thing, long before they’d made the change from friends to boyfriends. Jackal adjusted his jet black armor and lowered the visor of his helm. It was the best way to hide the glow from his eyes as the night grew darker. It was almost time to call their patrol for the evening. There were other heroes out there who stalked the night more effectively than a pair of inner-city teens who had to go to high school in the morning. And anyway, they had a nice stay-at-home date planned for tonight. Jackal began making his way down one of the fire escapes, pulling a phone out of his pocket.

“Hey, babe, ready to bounce?”

Turbo touched a button on the headset he wore under his light helmet and grinned when he heard Jackal’s voice.

“Ready. Just need a minute to get back to base. Meet you there?”

He was already turning, changing course with ease. Honestly, he’d probably be there before Jackal had a chance to respond. That was the upside to his powers. There were downsides of course. Heightened metabolism was a bitch and a half for a teenage boy. When you already want to eat everything in sight and then you need to eat even more everything? Yeah, it gets hard to explain and harder to manage.

“Yeah, sure. Mind if I borrow your jacket for the walk home?”

Turbo laughed, skidding to a halt in front of the abandoned warehouse they used as a homebase.

“Do I want my super hot boyfriend wearing my letterman? Does the moon orbit the Earth?”

Jackal was laughing as he came walking up a few minutes later. Turbo, now in his normal jeans and a t-shirt and known as Terry Walker, was leaning against the wall inside waiting for him. Jackal changed quickly, stowing his armor back in his duffle bag to take home and turned. With a grin, Max Jackson pulled Terry’s letterman jacket on and reached for Terry’s hand.

“Let’s go, babe. I’m so ready for movie night.”


They were on the train home when they heard the crash outside and exchanged a look. There was someone hovering over the tracks ahead of them. Terry sighed and unzipped his backpack.

“Looks like we’re going to have to postpone movies, handsome.”

Max looked out the window and nodded, reaching for his duffle bag.

“Yeah, this looks like the real deal. Give me a second to suit up and I’ll be right behind you.”

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Sanctum Annual #5 – The Fall of Crusader

“Hey Photon, catch!”

Crusader grinned brightly behind the faceplate of her helmet and chucked the mugger upwards with all her considerable strength. Photon grabbed the petty criminal around the waist and laughed.

“Got ‘im, hun. I’ll go drop this one off at the precinct. Meet you in a flash.”

Crusader rolled her eyes as her husband and crime-fighting partner raced off across the sky in a blur of light. Then she glanced at the time in her HUD. It was almost time to go get Jessica from school and go through a few rounds of training. Spark was almost ready to take to the streets as a new hero and Crusader wanted to be absolutely sure her daughter would be ready. This life could be tough, as the many scars crisscrossing her body could attest. Well, either way, she had some time to finish their patrol and check in with the Sanctum.


Patrol done, Crusader dropped her armor off at the Sanctum and had a quick chat with Maria at the desk.

“Yeah, it was a quiet enough day. Photon should be in soon. I’m headed out.”

“See you tomorrow!”

Then she was Angelica Morrow once more and headed off to go pick up her daughter, Jessica, from school. Her subcompact was in the employee lot for the Sanctum, where her papers said she worked in a medical capacity. Which was, of course, technically true. She just also happened to be a hero. Pulling out of the lot, she waved farewell to the young man in the security booth. He waved her through with a smile.

“Have a nice evening, Doctor Morrow.”


She was a block away from the school headed through a four-way intersection. Her hands were both on the wheel, her phone away. That didn’t do a thing to stop the truck that came careening through the intersection and slammed into her car, knocking it into a telephone pole.


They had to say it on the news. Even though she had died out of uniform, even though it was Malcolm Morrow and his daughter, Jessica, who stood at the funeral. They had to say that Doctor Angelica Morrow was Crusader. They had to say what this had truly been. Because the city had lost one of its heroes that day and they deserved to know. She deserved to be remembered. And if anyone noticed that Malcolm and Jessica disappeared just before Photon and Spark arrived to pay their respects, well, no one said a word.

Photon and Spark – Issue #2

Spark didn’t like bleeding. It wasn’t something she had a lot of practice in, after all. So having a trickle of blood coming from her nose after a punch left her more than just a touch cross. Jackal growled low in his throat and launched himself off a building at Photon, aiming to grab him. Photon moved out of the way but Turbo was there with a blinding series of punches. It did nothing. They could barely land a hit on him. He was the greatest superhero the world had ever known, a paragon of good and right and justice. How were a group of teenagers supposed to beat him? Spark wiped the blood off her face and threw a shield around Turbo before her dad could do anything to hurt her friend.

“Dad!” She hovered in the air, cape flapping behind her in the breeze. “Is this what Mom would want?”

Photon rounded on Spark, abandoning his pursuit of the smaller speedster.

“She wouldn’t want you fighting me, pumpkin. You know that as well as I do.”

“Would she want you doing this?”

She gestured around at the city. The three teens had been trying to contain the damage, keep the civilians clear of Photon’s rage. It had only worked so well. A fire was ripping through the city now, started by one of Photon’s attacks, and there was nothing Spark could do about it. The time it would take to fight the fire was time taken away from stopping her father from causing more of the same in the pursuit of his mad goals.

“I get it, Dad. I really do. I miss Mom. I miss her like crazy. But you can’t just…what? Kill people until you get killed or get her back? That’s not how it works.”

“You don’t know what I’ve done, what I have to do. But I will get your mother back home with us, Jessica. Even if I have to go through you to do it.”

Spark froze in midair. He’d used her real name. In costume. Her real name out where anyone could hear it. And who wouldn’t be watching the throwdown of the century? Photon and Spark, everyone knew they were father and daughter, and here they were brawling at high noon over the city. Then a fist connected with her chest and Spark flew backwards, slamming into a building. She smashed through the window, glass spraying everywhere. And this time, she didn’t get up. In all her years of combat training, in all her experience with villains and heroes alike, nothing had ever hit her like that. Laying there, Spark was pretty sure that she had broken something. What, she didn’t know. She’d never broken any bones before. The sensation was wholly new and she didn’t like it one bit. Then a new thought slammed into her mind fully formed. What Photon had said. She couldn’t think of him as Dad right now. Not until this was over. But he’d said something. What he’d done. He’d made a deal with someone, that had to be it. Gritting her teeth against the pain, Spark tried to focus on the list of names. Who could have the power to raise the dead? Or at least be powerful enough to convince Photon that they could. Then one name rose to the surface. The sorcerer who called himself Faust. Slowly, Jessica called Spark got to her feet and winced, one hand holding her side where the pain was focused. She would have to find Faust. And hope Photon didn’t kill her friends while she searched. As she flew out and zipped off, she coughed and stared in horror at the blood on her hand. It looked like she would have to worry about a few more things than that. Like not dying before she stopped Photon.

Too Small, or The Tale of a Hat

Bran and Charlie were in no way big enough to help with building the new barn. Lily Everett was absolutely sure of that. She was also sure that she was, despite only being a few years their senior. So when Papa had gotten the neighbors out to help and sent his eldest son, Stefan, up a ladder to help ride the roof-tree into place, he hadn’t been expecting his eldest daughter to scramble up the ladder as well and get into position opposite her brother. He’d been expecting her to stay on the ground and mind the twins. Stefan raised an eyebrow at his younger sister.
“You sure you can do this, Lils? Don’t you think you’re a little small?”
She nodded, holding tight to the wood.
“I got it, Stef. I can do it.”
She remembered what Stefan had taught her about riding a horse, about using your legs to hold on, and hoped it applied to really big pieces of lumber. It had to, right? It wasn’t like lumber was going to buck. Either way, she had to. She had to show she was as big and tough as Stefan. The roof-tree moved suddenly, the people on the ground lowering it into place. She held on tight, locking her eyes on her brother as they moved. The wood jolted suddenly as it fell into place and she moved to go and make sure it was wedged. The ground was a long way off, but that didn’t bother her at all. Truth to tell, Lily kind of liked it up here. It was exciting.

Lunchtime rolled around and people were excitedly eating and talking about the rest of the day of work they had ahead of them. Stefan Everett lay in the grass with his eyes closed, resting. That was when his sister decided to strike. If he was going to say she was too young, even after earlier, then there was only one thing left she could do. She grabbed his hat right off his head and bolted. She’d noticed that they’d left a ladder propped up against the unfinished roof so folks could get up later and finish up the work. It wasn’t a bad climb at all, even with a hammer slung in her belt and his hat on her head. When she got up to the top, she lay on her stomach and reached, nailing the hat into position on the underside of the roof-tree, right where everyone would see it.

Years passed, and seasons with them. Until the day that the undead came. The day that Lily called to the goddess of death and heard her answer. She had run to the barn then, hoping to find something she could use as a weapon. As she pulled the scythe down off the wall, she had looked up and seen the old hat still up there. She grinned at the sight. She hadn’t been too small then. She certainly wasn’t too small now.

Photon and Spark – Issue #1

Spark hovered over the city, uncertainty showing behind her mask. This was one of those turning points where you have to make a decision. Are you the hero or are you the villain? When the chips are down and your father is holding out his hand to you saying he has the power, with you at his side, to fix everything. He can bring your mother back, he can put the city to rights. Photon’s cape fluttered in the breeze and Spark took a deep breath. He could probably do it too. She knew his powers inside and out, they were the same as hers after all. For a long moment, Spark looked at her hands.

“Dad…”

“Just think about it, Princess. We could have your mom back. We could have everything back.”

His hand was still outstretched, hoping she would take it. She could see it in his eyes behind his crimson mask. Then she flew back a bit.

“You hurt people, Dad. Innocent people. You told me heroes never do things like that.”

Photon’s hand dropped to his side and he sighed.

“Spark, how can you call them innocent? They took your mother.”

Electricity flared around Spark for a moment.

“They didn’t, Dad. It was an accident. A stupid accident. And you’re scaring the shit out of me right now.”

Photon raised his hand again, flying towards her. But Spark pulled back again.

“Are you turning on me?”

“What?” Spark’s voice cracked on the single word, confusion evident on her face. “Dad, you’re… you’re not acting like you.”

“I don’t want to fight you, Spark.”

There was lightning whipping around Photon now and light building up around both of his hands.

“Fight? What?” Spark threw a translucent shield up just in time as Photon swung his electrically charged fist at her. “Dad! What are you doing?”

He bounced off her shield, spinning for a moment in the air before he righted himself.

“The right thing.”

He growled the words before throwing himself at her again. Spark dropped out of the air as quickly as she could, positioning her shield over her head. She couldn’t take Photon in a straight fight. He outweighed her, outclassed her in experience. But she had one advantage he didn’t have. She was fast and she had friends he didn’t know about. And today, he was going to learn what she had really been doing on Saturday nights when she said she was out partying. Spark spiraled in the air, using it to control her speed as she dove between buildings at breakneck speed. She had to make it to the south side. She had to find…. There!

Slamming into the ground, Spark barely caught herself to prevent a crater and ran.

“Jackal! Turbo! I need backup and I need it now!”

The two young heroes exchanged a look and then looked at Spark.

“What’s up?”

She looked into the sky nervously.

“My dad. He’s…gone rogue. I can’t get ahold of anyone at the Sanctum. I tried that earlier. It’s just us.”

Jackal’s eyebrows shot up, his glowing red eyes wide.

“Well, shit, Spark. We gotta fight Photon?”

Turbo shoved Jackal teasingly.

“Yeah, hot stuff, and we gotta win. You ready?”

Jackal took a breath and adjusted his armor before stopping to check Turbo’s equipment. Turbo was a speedster, sleek and muscular in his lightly armored spandex. When he was certain that everything was settled right, Jackal leaned in to kiss Turbo gently.

“Don’t let him hit you, Turbo, or you’re gonna be a skidmark.”

“Yeah, I know. Duck, dodge, weave, right?”

The three teens exchanged a shaky smile and looked up into the sky as a shadow fell over them. Photon was here.

Phone Calls

As the door to the White Elephant opened, I looked up half making a silent bet with myself. Tourist, God, or wayward soul? I hadn’t bet on a teenage girl being escorted by a large dog.
“Um…” I hesitated for a moment, uncertain. I didn’t interact with the boss’ daughter much. Usually Mel was out on the beach with Spots or off in the city with her dad. “Hi. Is…um…?”
“Spots knows how to behave.”
Mel took my stammered question the wrong way, but I didn’t push the matter. She slipped behind the counter and the Great Dane settled onto a cushion in the corner. I watched him for a long moment, wondering if I could get her to teach me her tricks for dealing with her parents’ guard dog.
“Mother told me to tell you call your parents and say we’re taking you for dinner tonight. She wants you to meet Father.” Mel grinned wickedly. “Don’t worry, he’ll like you. Oh, and Mother said if you want Hermes’ number after all, she can give it to you. Apparently he likes you a lot.”
That was a whole lot to take in and I took a deep breath, leaning on the counter.
“I’ll go call them.”
She flicked a piece of paper in my direction and I blinked, taking it.
“His number. Seriously, Uncle Hermes likes you. Like…like-like. Date territory. Carpe diem, mortal girl.”
I crammed the paper into my pocket and just about fled out the back door to take my five and make a phone call. Or maybe two.

Magic Powers and Vigilante Justice

The morning was still dark with the pre-dawn haze as Marcy sat up. She wasn’t overly surprised to see that the spiders were there, not really. She was surprised when the woman strode into the room. She was clad in an odd white garment that Marcy was hesitant to call a dress. Certainly, it bore a remarkable resemblance to one, but at the same time there was something much more ancient about it. With dark brown, nearly black hair, and olive skin, she was a wonder to behold. But the part that made it the oddest was that the door she’d come in through was very much closed.

“Who-“ but the question died on Marcy’s lips as the woman sat on the foot of the bed and the spiders went to her.

“Dear child, dear sweet child, you who have protected so many of my children. I am here to meet you. In answer to the question you did not finish, I am Arachne, the mother of spiders.”

Pulling her knees up to her chest, Marcy watched this woman for a moment and then smiled.

“I’ve heard stories about you. And not just the human ones, either.”

“Good, my little ones followed my instructions. Dear girl, you who have risked so much for my young ones, you have not let me down once. Even in meeting you, you are everything my children have described and more. And for that, I would give you something.”

She stood again then, beckoning for Marcy to come to her. Marcy obeyed, but still she argued.

“Its the right thing to do, I don’t need a reward for doing the right thing. And anyway, they saved me.”

But Arachne was having none of it. She touched a hand to Marcy’s forehead.

“Already you could hear my children and speak with them, but now you will also be able to work thread as we work our silk.”

Marcy blanched and pulled back a little.

“W-wait…um…”

The woman laughed cheerfully.

“Don’t worry, my dear girl, you won’t have spinnerets. Merely the ability to work thread by means of magic.”

“Oh! Oh wow. Magic? Magic is…is real?”

“You who talk to spiders question if magic is real?” Arachne laughed again and tousled Marcy’s hair. “Dear Marcy, yes, magic is real, as are the gods of old. But, you will learn.”


 

I’m late. I’m late. I’m late.

Marcy chanted the words in her mind as she ran, heels click-clacking loudly on the stone floor of the courthouse. She cradled the heavy leather briefcase in her arms and ran into the prosecution counsel’s office.

“Sir, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I had to grab these and…the traffic…and…”

Jared, one of the senior partners, stood near the window and didn’t even turn to look at her. Pausing, she looked him over, noting that his shirt was rumpled…and the same one from the day before. His tie was sitting on the table beside a half-empty glass of what looked rather like bad scotch.

“Its alright, Marcy. We don’t have a case any more.”

She blinked a few times.

“But…but…Sir?”

“Our key witness…he’s dead. Without him, we’ve got nothing. This guy’s going to walk.”

She blanched and set the briefcase on the table.

“Maybe there’s another angle, Sir? Something we haven’t tried?”

Jared turned and grabbed his glass, not even looking at her as he downed the rest of it.

“Marcy, we already tried everything. Even DNA is circumstantial with this guy…Dammit, I know it was him. And now the bastard’s gonna walk.” With a long sigh, he slid the case over to him. “Well, I’m going to work out the best defense I can manage…but…you might as well not suffer too. Take the rest of the day off, go relax or something.”

“Sir…?”

“I mean it, go on. I’ll make sure you get paid for the day. Go have fun.”

She was reluctant to leave him alone like this, but well…he was the boss.

“Yes, Sir.”

Once she was out of his sight, she leaned against a wall and wondered what she could do. Then she had an idea. A crazy, stupid, possibly suicidal idea.

I’m either gonna get in so much trouble, or this is going to be awesome. Now I just need to find the Little Ones.


With a glance into her bag to make sure everyone was still alright, Marcy got off the subway. It wasn’t until she got to the neighborhood where the perp lived that she realized she probably shouldn’t let herself be recognized. Ducking into an alley, she sat and called on her new powers. Slowly, she reshaped fabric of her clothing into an entirely new outfit. But…she needed a bit more to make a mask. With a sigh, she took the whole thing in, tightening the weave until it hugged her figure. Then she pulled on her new mask and held her hand out to her Little Ones.

“Come on.”

She’d promised them a meal, and a good one. They climbed all over her, taking up a perch wherever they could as she climbed up the side of the building. Again, the blessing of Arachne benefitted her. Her fingers clung to the tiny cracks between bricks as she climbed, pulling herself up with an ease she never could have imagined. She swung herself up onto the roof and stretched, bouncing idly.

“That was fun. Everyone still alright?”

“We are fine, Protector.”

“Great! Then, off we go.”

She was glad she’d swapped over for her old Skechers, even if it meant her shoes were hot pink. They were a lot more comfortable as she ran over rooftops. Part of her was surprised how easy it was to fall back into the old pace, but then, she had been a runner for most of her life. Periodically, she glanced down into the streets to make sure she was going the right way, making her way to the house. Finally there, she grinned wickedly and climbed down. Happily for her purposes, a window was open. She climbed inside and started to look around for the man. She found him quickly enough, sitting at a table laughing and playing cards with his buddies.

“Hello, Mister Richardson.”

“What the fuck?! How the hell did you get into my house, you costumed freak?”

“You killed your daughter, Mister Richardson. And then you killed her boyfriend so he could testify against you.”

The other men were starting to stand now, moving towards Marcy, but she held her ground. Then she grinned wickedly.

“I’m here to make sure you never hurt anyone again.”

The spiders all moved at once. And not just the ones Marcy had brought with her. All of the ones in his home too. She flicked her hand and his clothing started to stitch itself together. The others were screaming, but she did nothing to stop them from leaving. Stepping out of their way, she moved closer to him.

“Confess, Richardson.”

“You’re a psychotic bitch!”

“Now, now. You really should get caught up with the times, we don’t call people that anymore.”

And the spiders began their real work. Marcy didn’t watch. She just thanked them and made her way back out. Pausing for a moment on the roof, she wondered what people would say when they only found his bones the next morning. Then she just sat down to wait for her spiders to return so they could all go home together.