Brains and Brawn
“You’re late Damon” said the woman in the alley. She wore baggy pants and a trench coat as she did her best to resemble a homeless person. It would have been more convincing if it weren’t for the bulging arms and chest of the coat which betrayed her inhumanly toned physique.
“Yeah I was being followed, figured it best to ditch them before coming here.” Damon O’Donovan was a curly haired man with bags under his eyes which struggled to stay open as he walked down the alley towards her. He also wore a long trench coat but despite their similar career choices he lacked the muscular frame of this woman. Not to say he was out of shape, far from it in fact, simply that his true strengths lay in other areas.
“It’s getting harder and harder to do our damn job in this trash heap of a city.” the woman complained as she cracked her knuckles audibly.
“Oh, hey now Casey! This is New Valor City, the capital of the Americas and home to the United Nations and their representatives. Not to mention I think the president lives here. I mean it’s like a festering beacon of feces to the corrupt masses, who are we to criticize such a fine place?” Damon feigned hurt indignance as he spoke.
He watched the her closely for a few moments waiting for a response. Finally, she sighed and said, “I see you’re still full of shit as usual.” He simply shrugged and reached into his jacket for a silver flask that he took a swig from. “So, what’s the mission, I’m guessing it’s big if they have us working together again. The big guy must be worried.”
“Wouldn’t know, no one sees him much these days. As for the mission we’re supposed to tail one of the fine patrons from that club over there and see if we can’t snag a recruit.” Damon sighed and leaned against the wall.
Casey crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow at her partner. “Seriously? Who are we recruiting? Valor’s undersecretary?” she snorted at the thought.
“Close, we’re recruiting Brigadier Medora Naren.” He said taking another swig from his flask. To the untrained eye they’d mistake him for an alcoholic, at least until they realized that it wasn’t alcohol but an energy drink in his flask. Damon chose the flask intentionally though, he found he had less people pester him when they mistook him for a simple drunk.
Casey Tetsu stared in shock at the mention of the name. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me? We’re trying to recruit the military’s swiss army knife?”
“I think the operative word there is ‘trying’, besides that’s why you and I were…” he trailed off for a moment as the door opened and a woman in her mid thirties with a long dark hair exited wearing an officer’s uniform. “Well, speak of the devil.” Damon grinned as he stowed his flask in his jacket once more.
They followed the Brigadier as she made her way down the street, civilians and military personnel both made a path as she approached. She had a reputation for being one of the strongest and most versatile members in the military. She also had an infraction record as long as her braid which reached almost to her belt. That brash attitude had prevented her from moving up past the rank of Brigadier.
Casey and Damon walked down the street along the opposite side from their target. Keeping her in the corner of their eyes but never overtly looking in her direction. “So, is it true than what they say about her?” Casey asked quietly, trying to smile sweetly so that anyone looking would think she was just whispering to her boyfriend. “I mean can she really give anyone any power they want?”
Damon returned the smile, “Technically no, she just awakens the powers someone would already have. Basically, it’s like a roulette wheel for anyone without a power. What makes her so useful is what happens when you already have a power. She basically cranks everything up to eleven, permanently. It doesn’t help the individual much right away as they still have to learn how to use the boosted power properly. What makes her dangerous though is that she can carbon copy of any of those boosted powers to use for up to twenty-four hours. Turns her into a real terror too since she can add up to five powers at once for that period until they reset overnight, hence the swiss army knife reference.”
The Brigadier turned a corner and continued towards the officer’s barracks a few blocks away. They crossed the street and followed her as Casey said, “That’s crazy, but if she’s so useful, what chance do we have at recruiting her? It sounds like she’s set career wise?”
“True. If we go only by the official reports and news articles she’s a paragon for the UN’s military.” The Brigadier turned down an alley shortcut to shave some time of her trip and the two sped up to catch her there. Damon continued in a whisper as they rushed forward, “The classified records paint a very different picture. One of an individual who has repeatedly refused to kill a single target despite orders, has gone out of her way to save civilians, and even went back into an active conflict zone to rescue a squad mate all without a single drop of blood being spilled. She may be strong but she’s pissed off a lot of higher ups with her irreproachable morals”
They reached the alley and quietly peered down only to find it empty, Damon raced to the other side to see where she had gone but she was nowhere to be found. Casey walked casually after him and said, “Let me guess, this bleeding-heart paragon of yours just vanished into thin air?”
Damon turned back towards his partner and his eyes went wide. “Shit!” he swore.
“Now, now, no need for vulgarities.” said a woman who was slowly appearing behind Casey. “I must say I appreciate my fans but I would prefer if you didn’t try to stalk me for an autograph.”
“We’re only here to talk Brigadier.” Damon said as he raised his hands to his head and peeled off a prosthetic mask revealing a black masked face underneath.
“Well!” the Brigadier said as she crossed her arms approvingly “if it isn’t the infamous Nightmare and Adamant, to what do I owe your illegal presence.” She looked at Casey and shot her a smug grin as she
“Don’t call me that” Casey said.
“Relax, she’s just trying to get under your skin.” Damon assured.
“Oh, I didn’t know it bothered you so much, how about the tiger tank? Or the pink rhino? Or what about the Busty Bulldozer?” the Brigadier added stone faced.
“I hate those names.” Casey said through gritted teeth, “I’ve told you people the name is Carbyne!” and with that she through a punch at the officer. She came close to a hit but the Brigadier conjured some kind of energy shield at the last second. Still the punch forced the bubble over a foot into the alley below.
“Well so much for plan A.” Damon said as his eyes glowed an iridescent blue. The world fell away around them and they found themselves standing in a forest clearing as the alley vanished around them.
“Interesting way of talking.” The Brigadier groaned as her shield was pummelled by Carbyne. “I was hoping your recruitment pitch would be a bit more civil than this.”
“Wait?” Carbyne paused her flailing fists, “You know about the mission?”
Medora Naren dropped her shield and brushed off her uniform, “Of course I know, who do you think has been sending your organization all that intel?”
“Makes sense,” shrugged Damon, “I suspected we must have a mole somewhere in the military given the accuracy of the intel. Though just so you know, I will trap you here in a dream far less pleasant than this one if you’re lying to us. Not to mention Carbyne here could pretty much take anything you through at her while I set it up too.”
“Thank you, Nightmare,” Medora sighed, “or should I say Mind Trip? I knew they would send someone strong to recruit me but this is better than I could have hoped.” Medora grinned sincerely. “But let’s talk about that later, for now you should know I’ve been found out as the mole and there is a team at the barracks waiting to take me in for questioning. That’s why I requested extraction and an alibi.”
Casey and Damon exchanged a concerned look, before Carbyne asked, “If what you say is true then prove it. Tell us how we know we can trust you?”
“Because of this.” Medora reached into her pocket and pulled out a piece of paper with a single name written on it. “My contact assured me this would prove my intentions. Of course, if the brute wants to go another round that’s fine too.”
Mind Trip unfolded the paper, eyes going wide as he read the name, before saying “That’s not necessary.” He turned to his partner, “Carbyne, give me your coat please.”
“What!” Carbyne protested. Then seeing the serious look in her partner’s eyes, she relented and handed over her coat revealing a pink and blue hero’s costume and a pair of grey sweatpants.
“Quite the fashion choice.” commented Medora sarcastically.
“Shut it Brigadier Barbie or I’ll shove those medals up every hole you have.” Carbyne shot frowning.
With a sympathetic frown Medora said, “I’m afraid he’ll need these medals as well. So, as they say, no dice.” she took off her jacket too and handed them to Mind Trip who sat and focused on them for a second, eyes glowing brightly.
He stood and threw the trench coat to Medora and handed the officer’s jacket to Carbyne. When I drop this illusion, I need you to punch that jacket into the wall with the same force of roughly a rocket blast. Think you can handle that?” He asked.
“Pfft, who do you think you’re talking to, of course I can.” Carbyne snatched the jingling jacket and readied her fist.
Mind Trip breathed deeply and then began to count, “Ok… Three…. Two…. One!” As he finished the forest dream evaporated and they were back in the alley. Without hesitation, Carbyne punched the jacket into the wall while Mind Trip manifested an appropriate illusion in the minds of those in the area. They would see a burst of fire and smoke as well and swear they had even heard the rocket fire before the impact. As soon as rumble dust had filled the air all three bolted from the alley, expertly becoming lost in the crowd as they made their way out of the city….
The following is an excerpt from Heroes in History 7th edition, published in 2976
Reports later stated that Medora Naren had been assassinated by the terrorist organization known as H.O.P.E. the body was never found. Some conspiracy theorist would theorize that the fugitive that appeared sometime after by the name of ‘Overpowered’ was some kind of relation to the departed Brigadier. It wouldn’t be until after the Great Hero War that the truth would come to light.
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This story is dedicated to two friends, one who helped me design the character Mind Trip, and the other who has been diligent in being the guinea pig and reading all of my stories to provide feedback.
So, thanks Dan and Happy Birthday Candi
J. S. Figment