It’s Friday Flash Fics time, and I’m doing another follow-up. Originally, the photo made me think of the guys from Fuca, but last week I felt like writing superheroes, and this week is no different, so I’m indulging my own whimsy and returning once again to my world from “Lesser Evil” (from The Lavender Menace) and its superheroes and supervillains.
This takes place after the other flash fiction pieces set post “Lesser Evil,” which were, in order: “Terrible Waste,” “Ready,” “All Aboard,” and last week’s “Out.” This week has the POV of Kyle again, the young metahuman who can control and sense water, who, alongside Jakub from “All Aboard,” has been working with Cinder and Quantum (but only for a couple of weeks thus far) to get captured metahumans out of the ever-worsening position they’re in the United States since the government there decided to crack down on who is allowed to have powers and remain free.
They were late.
Kyle stood at the edge of the lake, biting his lip. There was literally nothing he could do, and that was the worst part. He’d only been working with the underground for two weeks, and though there had been some photos taken at Pride—had that really only been a couple of weeks ago?—he hadn’t been identified, thanks to the downpour and the quick actions of Cinder.
Jeff. His real name is Jeff. He was still a little in awe of actually knowing the heroes. He himself only had the one name thus far: Kyle. They hadn’t decided on a codename for him yet, which was just another reminder that he’d barely begun what was likely to be a long training period before they’d let him get anywhere near the action.
After all, he’d only knocked Sturm off balance when he’d attacked at Pride because it had been a surprise. He knew that as well as anyone.
Still. It didn’t stop him from feeling completely useless. Maybe if he came up with a codename he’d feel better? Jakub had a codename—Railroad—and he’d only been working with them a month or so, they said.
Then again, what would you even call a guy who could sense and control water?
Kyle blew out a breath. It was a cold enough night that he had a jacket on, but it was more the wind than anything else. Not for the first time, he wondered how he’d explain getting to where he was if it turned out things had gone very wrong. He’d brought cash, and he had his ID on him—that was something Jeff had suggested he do at all times now, in case he was discovered and needed to cut and run—but he couldn’t imagine explaining how he’d ended up this far up north when he’d left work at the restaurant less than three hours ago.
He checked his phone.
Closer to four hours now.
There was enough mist in the air that he could spread his sense of water out around him, and he’d been doing so pretty much nonstop since the sun had gone down. It was good practice, and it gave him something else to focus on.
That was how he felt the shift before there was anything to see.
Kyle turned, pulled the hood of his coat up and covered the bottom half of his face with the mask Jeff had given him, and tensed.
Railroad’s portal opened a second later, a perfect circle that hovered just an inch above the ground or so, rippling at the edges, and beyond it an entirely different place. To Kyle’s sense of water, it felt like a vent sending out warmer, humid air.
Then came the people.
A pair of black women were first, then a tall, skinny white dude, and then two more—two blond girls he’d bet were sisters who didn’t look to be much out of their teens. All of them wore the same outfit: a bright yellow jumpsuit with words stencilled across their chests and backs and left legs.
Patriot Center Detainee. Kyle grimaced at the sight of the words, but forced himself to look behind the five former prisoners. The portal was still open, but there was no sign of Jeff or Colin or Jakub. Just woods, and, in the distance, something that sounded far too much like gunshots.
Kyle stepped forward.
“Follow me,” he said. “We’ve got a cabin nearby. There’s food and fresh clothes.” He eyed the portal.
No sign of them.
“They’re in trouble,” one of the black women said, her voice heavy with effort. Kyle looked at her, and saw the bruising on the side of her face for the first time. A quick glance at the group made showed similar treatment.
Kyle swallowed. “What happened?”
“Patriot metas,” the woman said, spitting the words. She turned and looked back at the portal. “The portal guy got us out while the other two held them back, but I don’t see him now. I don’t think he’s coming back here.”
Kyle knew she meant Jakub. He didn’t know how long Jakub could keep a portal open; they’d always used them and closed them fairly quickly when they were training.
Always? Dude, you’ve been at this two weeks. Kyle’s stomach clenched.
He handed her the cabin key. “Follow the shore of the lake, and it’s the first cabin you’ll come to that way.” He pointed. “Stay put. A woman will check in if no one hears from us in a few days. She’s French, really pregnant, and a telepath, so don’t worry, she’ll know you’re all legit.” He forced a smile, and the woman seemed to relax a little bit. “Can you do that?”
She nodded, taking the key. They all looked like they were on their last legs, exhausted and wan, but they got moving again.
He knew the Patriot Centers kept their metahumans borderline malnourished and exhausted. It was one of the few techniques that worked no matter the abilities of the metahuman in question: it took calories and concentration to use meta abilities, denying both left most unable to manage.
Kyle looked at Jakub’s portal. It was still open, still stable, and still showed the woods. And in the background, there was still the sounds of a fight, but he couldn’t see where it was coming from.
This was exactly the thing Jeff had told him not to do, but Jakub wouldn’t have left the portal open if he didn’t think they needed help.
“Kyle to the rescue,” he said, and stepped through.
He totally needed to get a codename.