For Blood or Justice
After a hundred years of heroes, gods, and monsters tearing the world apart, governments resort to extreme measures in attempts to regain control. The year is 1982. U.S. President Kirkpatrick has instituted harsh penalties against unlicensed vigilantism, while secretly funding a program to create an army of super-powered agents. After newly-registered hero Scamp is arrested for murder, he must choose to either reveal his true identity and become a slave to the state, or cling to the fleeting hope of redemption.
Sample from FOR BLOOD OR JUSTICE
Dan puked over the railing of the back loading dock. Scott kept looking over his shoulder, waiting for the door to open behind them.
“What just happened?” said Scott. “Did you . . . ” He bent down to look into Dan’s face. “Did you catch me?”
Dan wiped his mouth and took a deep, stuttering breath.
“I thought I fell into a net or something, but that was you, wasn’t it?” Scott said. “You caught me! . . . Dan?”
“Let’s get out of here,” Dan said. His legs wobbled as he started down the concrete steps to the rear parking lot.
“Dan! What happened in there? Did you fucking catch me?”
“Stop yelling,” said Dan, wincing.
“I’m not . . . I was like, thirty feet up!”
“Heck! You did get powers!”
“Shut up, Scott.”
“I fucking knew it!”
“Let’s get out of here before those guys come looking for you.”
Police sirens wailed in the distance. Dan fell to his knees.
“Heck, you okay?”
“Yeah. I just . . . help me up.”
“What kind of power is that?”
“Putting-up-with-your-bullshit power, now come on.”
They hobbled forward, and as Dan gained the strength back into his legs, Scott kept staring at him. By the time they closed the car doors, Dan was feeling normal again . . . whatever that meant. Parked beside the dumpster, they had a clear view of the loading dock door.
“So, tell me,” Scott said.
Dan laughed from deep in his guts. “Me? What the fuck was with those Mohawks trying to kill you?”
“Ehh . . . You know.”
“No, I for sure as shit do not know. What’s going on?”
Scott let out a frustrated sigh. “Okay, you know how I’m trying to rent studio space, right? For my music?”
“Yeah?” Dan said warily. His eyes jagged to the loading dock door, but nobody was there.
Scott followed his eyes and nodded. “Can we just go? I’ll tell you as we drive.”
“No. I need to hear this.” Dan said.
“Okay, so . . . I might have muled some stoke for those clowns, and I might have . . . misplaced it.”
“You . . . Okay, say again?”
“It was just one baggie. I had to give it to a guy at Zipperhead. It sounded easy enough, and I’d get some walking-around money. But when I got to South Street, I thought there were some cops shadowing me, so I stashed it in back of a dumpster behind American Pie. After I went around the block a few times, someone had taken it.”
“Scott . . . ”
“It was easy money. But now they want me to pay them what it’s worth.”
“ . . . Ah, don’t worry about it. It’s my problem.”
“Well, it’s my problem too, now.” A thought snagged in Dan’s brain. “Do they know where we live?”
“ . . . No?”
“DO THEY KNOW WHERE WE LIVE?” Dan bellowed.
“I . . . I don’t think so. No?”
“You don’t think—”
Three of the four Mohawks stumbled onto the back dock. They were limping from the thirty-foot fall, probably from broken legs or torn tendons, but all still walking, the stoke buzzing the pain away. Scott whipped his head around and saw them. “Can we go now?”
“How are you going to fix this?” said Dan.
“I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ll come up with something. Can we go now?”
“Idiot.” Dan started the car.
That’s when the shakes started. They began a couple of months before the incident with Scott and those Mohawks. And after that incident the following May outside Katarakt’s parking lot in the underpass . . . things had quickly gotten . . . even more . . . Stormkind-y, like he had gone through another set of mini-Wracks after each skirmish.
Fear of being discovered made Dan hide any hint of his powers in the daylight, so he had to disguise the fact that long boxes filled with comics had become a lot easier to pick up, and multi-storey staircases no longer winded him. For the first time in his life, his muscles gained definition, but that was easy enough to hide under the oversized geek-culture shirts he regularly wore.
Other than Scott, nobody had suspected a thing, and nobody else got close enough to him to discover anything was different about him. He thought more superheroes should try being geeks. It’s the perfect cover. The comics gave him the insights into the lifestyle to help him pick out that cheap apartment, and know where to buy a used police scanner without leaving a digital trail.
Dan had thought long and hard about what had happened to him. He scoured the forums for answers, and he had found some research into what was called altruistic duress—when circumstances presented themselves requiring the hero to suffer personal risk to help others. After seeing that knife threatening Scott, Dan’s altruistic duress must have made him faint, then kickstarted his powers to the next level.
Dan wasn’t able to clearly recall all the details of what happened after he dove to save Scott. It had been like trying to remember a dream. For the remaining two months he and Scott had been roommates, the details of that night had slowly reassembled within Dan’s mind. He had jumped down thirty feet to rescue Scott, landed on the floor in a tuck-and-roll, and carried his roommate out the back door of the club as if he had weighed little more than a bag of potato chips. Dan still had trouble connecting himself as capable of those acts. He had never done a tuck-and-roll in his life. How had his body known how to do that? All those parkour videos he had watched on YouVid? It was hard to believe that night was anything more than a power fantasy dream, but Scott had been there to remind him that it was not a dream. Scott tested him—like when he pushed Dan into a fight with drunk frat boys at a party.
Sure, they were drunk, but still, he had never been in a fight in his life. He had been able to dodge every one of their punches until they exhausted themselves and gave up.
Even after that second skirmish from rescuing Scott—the fight in the underpass Dan was still trying to fully remember—there had been no other events that stimulated any exceptional skills.
As far as Dan knew, Scott had left town, so there was nobody else around who could prove that any of that weird shit had happened at all. And now, hearing that far-off pinging of metal, another clue it wasn't just a normal meteorite that crashed. Dan got the same feeling in his legs as he did when he dove to save Scott from the lighting catwalk at Katarakt — the same buzzing, tingling heat.
He set his aim for a spot too far away for a normal human to jump. It was worth a try.
Dan crouched and jumped twenty feet up into the air.
The wind whistled past his ears and the dry spot he had aimed for was creeping out of range. “Oh, crap.” He crash landed in a tree and slapped into the mud.
He waited for the pain to come. He had felt the branches slap against his face and arms. His hand hit a thick branch pretty hard. Dan raised himself out of the muck. His sweatpants and shirt were heavy with mud.
“The Blind Flea fails catastrophically,” he muttered, scooping mud off his mask. “Shit.”
No longer obscured by a bank of trees, Dan could see the source of the steam. He now clearly heard the clicks and pings of cooling metal. Stomping mud from his legs and feet, he focused on his next landing spot—a cracked and cratered old parking lot beside the muddy crater.
He jumped again.
Clearing a three-storey wall, he landed in the exact spot he had aimed himself, but a wet slap hit his ankles.
His pants had slopped to the ground. The string holding his sweatpants had broken.
“Are you fucking kidding me?”