Death of a Hero, Chapter 55

Laura’s face went white. Well, whiter than usual. “Zach, I think it’s Kitten.”

My stomach clenched. Now? It’s Christmas Eve and she picks now? I was up and had the phone before I even had a thought. “Did you hurt Cassie?” Another thought hit me. “What about her family?”

“Hmmm~ that depends.” I could hear her smiling and tilting her head in that fake-cute way. “Which answer gets you here faster?”

“You don’t need to touch her.” It was true, but I didn’t know if her lie detection worked over the phone. “This is between us, she doesn’t matter. You can let her go.”

“Don’t worry, I didn’t do anything to hurt Cassie.” I would have felt better if I believed her. “I just invited her over for some girl talk about our favorite boy-toy. She was a little nervous at first, but a little gentle persuasion and she wouldn’t shut up. We’re bestest buds, now. But she had to take a nap, poor girl doesn’t have our staying power.”

Oh god, fuck, dammit, shit! This can’t be happening. “Where are you?”

“And spoil the surprise?” Kitten laughed. “Nope, I’m giving you instructions on how to get here. I know how fast you can move, so you just follow my lead, one minute at a time. Think of it like a scavenger hunt. Oh, and if anyone’s following or helping, I’ll be very disappointed.” Her voice got low and sultry. “This is a private date.” With that, she hung up.

I felt bile rise in the back of my throat. My phone beeped at me: a text from Cassie’s phone, giving an intersection and a time. She was giving me a bit over four minutes to make it a mile. I could move a lot faster than that, and she had to know it. She wants me in costume. “GL, you heard that?”

“Every word,” he rumbled. “We need to form a plan.”

“You form the damned plan, I’ll buy time.” I grabbed my costume and went for the bathroom, using my power to change as fast as possible.

“I don’t think Kitten knows about Muwth.” I realized that was stupid, everyone knew about our mystery precog. “Or how she can track me with her power, maybe. Let them know we need Anima.”

I knew GL could hear me through the wall, probably see me, too. He was smarter than me, and Muwth was smarter than all of us. I had to trust them to do their part while I did mine. I’d changed and was running for the door.

“Zach, what-” Mom started.

“No time!” I rushed past her and jumped down the stairs. “Ground me later!”

I landed hard enough to break my feet, and ignored the brief shudder of pain the way I always did. I was too busy thinking about what that monster might have done to Cassie. Once out the door, I was on a dead sprint south. I knew my power could keep this up forever; only fire and weird energy draining powers were a threat to me.

I was in eyesight of the intersection when I got another text. Another address, about two miles and only another four minutes. I wasn’t going to make that without some extra speed, so I pulled my knife and slashed my hand. Each duplication was another few feet per second, an extra couple miles an hour. I made it to the intersection only seconds before my next set target.

The words ‘silent night’ passed through my mind as I rushed down the cold, empty streets. Any other time, it might have been peaceful, beautiful even. Or as beautiful as these shithole neighborhoods ever got. She was leading me north and west, but I couldn’t be sure where that’d take me. I had to cross the river, maybe she was just seeing if I was truly alone or not.

It took ten minutes of running before I found myself in a series of warehouses outside of town. They were abandoned, not for being old, but for being too new. Some of them weren’t even warehouses yet, just concrete floors and steel frames.

I got one more text: #6.

I counted down the line. Six was one of the more finished buildings, and I didn’t waste time, just teleporting the door off its hinges. With any luck, I just set off some silent alarm that’d bring the heroes.

The inside was pitch black. “Whipping Boy! I was afraid you wouldn’t come!” Kitten’s greeting echoed across the empty building. She could have been almost anywhere, I was blind and the echo made it impossible to follow her voice.

I have to buy time, as much of it as possible. There was no way to lie to her, I knew that, so I had to find a way to stall without being obvious. “You didn’t have to worry. I’ve been thinking about you ever since our first meeting.” Every word of that was true.

“Really? What about?”

About how many ways I’m going to kill you. I almost said it, but I wasn’t sure how she’d respond. Based on what Flux said, she’d probably like it, but I didn’t want to take the chance. “Destiny.”

She clapped excitedly. “So you do get it!”

No. “Maybe. I think it’s one of those things you can never be sure about until it happens.” Anything to keep her talking. My eyes were adjusting to the dark, but they could only do so much in near pitch blackness.

“You’re not ready yet,” Kitten sounded annoyed. “How can you hope to beat me if you can’t even understand destiny?”

“I don’t know how to program, doesn’t stop me from using the computer. If destiny or whatever wants me to win, I’ll win, right?”

Something slammed down on my shoulders, causing me to respawn. I twisted to look at my disintegrating copy, only to take a boot to the face. This time I was ready. In the dim light my power offered, I slammed into Kitten from behind and fell with all my weight on top of her. Or, at least, I tried. Something stabbed me in the gut, and she rolled out from underneath the third dissolving copy.

“You have been practicing!” Kitten exclaimed as she hopped to her feet and bounced up and down like a happy child. This time, she’d decided she wanted to look Asian, or maybe Hispanic, it was too dark to tell. “I mean, it’s not gonna be enough, you’re still only a stage three. You have to accept your destiny before you’ll be on my level.”

“I thought I was only stage two?” I only surged once, right?

“Nope, definitely three.” The light was almost out, but I could make out her patronizing look. “You can see it in your colors. Stage one has a color.” Blue light started swirling around her, replacing that from my now vanished copies. Claws of ice started forming on her hands. “Two gets another color.” Her eyes started glowing red. “Three…” she trailed off as the sources of light blended together into a whirlwind of purple that drew the ice up her arms.

“Stage four, can do this.” Her light darkened, making her all but invisible. Spears of ice stabbed into me, returning my own light to the battle. I got a look at her, now covered in a costume made of blackened ice, and hoped that armor meant she was slower now. I called my knife to my hand and stabbed myself, closing the gap between us. She dodged, but not quite fast enough to stop me from hitting her in the shoulder.

I pulled the trigger on my gauntlet, and the explosion took my arm and sent her rolling. I duplicated and rushed her, only to slip and fall face first on the ice trail she left behind. I respawned on my feet, but she was already standing and ready, ice growing into the hole I put into her armor. Her arm dangled useless at her side, but her giggles echoed through the building.

“What’s so funny?” I recalled my knife, the light giving me a chance to see again. There’s an idea. I started summoning the knife to my hand without ever letting it go, making something sort of like a torch.

She smirked at me. “You blew your load too early.”

What. I didn’t speak, I just stabbed myself and teleported. Fuck buying time, I’ll kill her myself. I slipped a few times on the ice, but that just meant some copies probably looked stupid before breaking down. She jumped back and brought her hand up, putting a wall of ice up in my way. I hit the ice with both gauntlets at full power, but it didn’t break.

“If you’d just waited a while longer, maybe you’d have had a good shot, but now I know about your weapon and you’ll never have another chance,” Kitten berated me. “You don’t trust in destiny, and that’s why I outrank you.”

I dived to the side, landing hard on my shoulder. “Fuck destiny!” I stepped on my own duplicate for the traction to jump forward. “Fuck rankings!” Kitten casually ducked under me and threw me forward. Ice covered my chest. I fired the gauntlets down at her, duped, and fired again.

She casually avoided the first shots, then blocked the other pair with her ice armor. “And fuck you!” My next copy was too close for her to dodge, and I fired both barrels at once. Nothing happened. I pressed the triggers again and again.

The ice over her face cracked and broke off. She was breathing hard, but otherwise didn’t seem to have a care in the world. “Delicate electronics don’t do well in extreme cold.”

“How?” I respawned them and pulled the triggers again, but nothing happened. I looked into them with my power, seeing where the ice had formed inside and cracked wires and even some of the metal.

“I know it worked on that cutie from your school, but it’s not good enough for me.” Kitten stepped forward, running her hands along my gauntlets. We both knew I had no way to win now; I couldn’t even summon my knife. “You’re close, though. So close to embracing our destiny. You didn’t even ask about that girl.”

I took a slow breath, she was right, and now she wanted to gloat. I swallowed, looking for ways to buy time. I only had one desperate move left up my sleeve. “She doesn’t matter to me like you do.”

“Such a smooth talker,” Kitten wrapped her arms around me. “She said the same thing when we talked, you know. That you didn’t care about her, and wouldn’t come for her. She was right, wasn’t she?”

I want to save her from you bad enough to do… this. “She’s a backstabbing bitch.” Is that true enough to beat Kitten’s lie detection? “All I want is you.” It was the first thing that came to mind that didn’t sound like a death threat, even if it was stolen from a shitty Christmas song.

She smiled up at me, and if she was any other human being I’d have said the look was loving. “Alright, I guess you’ve earned your Christmas present.” My stomach churned, and not in a good way. The stupid part of my brain wondered if I’d ever be able to enjoy Christmas again in my life. “Now undress me.”

“I, uh, don’t think you have a zipper on that thing.”

“Aww,” she pouted. “Don’t pretend you don’t know, or I’m going to think you like her better.” The threat in her voice was tangible, and I could only imagine what sick shit she might do to Cassie.

Slowly, I reached out, trying to force my arm not to tremble. My gloves had holes in them so I could touch things for my power. I touched her cheek and tried very hard to make it look like I was enjoying it. My power mapped her body, with all the stuff I now knew to look for.

She was absurdly healthy, without a scar or old injury, and only minor bruising from the one good hit I got on her. I tried to think of ways to hurt her like this, some spot nearby I could teleport her to that would do the job, but there wasn’t anything that would work.

A shimmer of light, and her ice suit shattered against the ground. She was naked now, illuminating herself with her own blue light. She stepped back and ran her fingers along her chest and down her stomach. “Like what you see?”

I couldn’t lie my way around that question. I was too busy being disgusted by the person to care about her figure. “Honestly, I kinda have a thing for older women.” I almost said ‘sorry’, but that would have been the biggest lie of my life.

“Sorry, I can’t shapeshift that much.” She looked almost self conscious for a second before her smile returned. “But I promise I won’t disappoint!”

Does that mean she really is the age she looks? I might throw up. “Trust me, I’m not afraid of that at all.” Just don’t ask me what I am afraid of. “So, umm, about that gift you mentioned?”

She licked her lips. “Boys, always so eager. First, it’s your turn to strip.”

I didn’t argue with her, and I couldn’t risk making her mad by playing dumb a second time. My costume dropped beside me in a shimmer of green. I didn’t try to cover myself, but I didn’t do a display like she did. She could see through walls, and thus probably clothes, anyway.

“Wow, you really have filled out since last time,” Kitten’s compliment only disgusted me. She stepped forward and pressed her body against mine, then pulled me down and started kissing me. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine I was kissing Cassie, but a traitorous part of my mind didn’t take long to realize how much better at it Kitten was.

Her hand trailed down my chest, to between my legs.

NEXT

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15 thoughts on “Death of a Hero, Chapter 55

  1. This chapter… damn, this chapter… it squicked me the fuck out, not gonna lie. Won’t be surprised, or blame anyone, if this costs me readers. All I can say is… sorry… I tried to make chapters 1 and 3, and if not those then 40, enough to scare off anyone squeamish so they would bail before we got to this one. I knew it was happening in this story.

    I tried to stay in the realm of good taste, while being honest to the emotions. I know, this is a fucking hard bullseye to hit. Hopefully I at least did it the proper justice.

    On a directly personal note, a friend of mine was the victim of rape by a woman. He’s one of the ones who came forward, and I was one of the people who supported him. Heard his story, even when the police didn’t even bother to press charges against the woman in question.

    Tried to offer comfort… but what could I say? Really? I didn’t have answers then, I’m not sure I have them now. All I can say to those who’ve dealt with this is… I believe you. And if this all this story ever does is make one more person in the world believe you, too, then every word was worth it.

    PS- there’s probably still typos somewhere in this chapter, so, point those out if you please?

    Like

  2. Damn, he’s only 16 and he’s going through all… this. I recall myself at 10th grade, and you’ve really written a character.

    I hope Anima shows up quickly, Zach doesn’t need more mental trauma.

    And I can’t decide what’s worse, being raped and not being believed or not taken seriously or being accused and not being believed that you’re innocent. The first you would feel despair, the second anger? I’ve read a few accounts of both over the years and it makes me wonder at night, or just stop browsing when I do, go out, think about stuff. Like you said, how do you comfort someone in that position?

    thanks for the chapter man, and the comment

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. One of my greatest fears from even the beginning of this story was always “don’t fuck this scene up, for the love of GOD when you get to this scene, do not fuck it up”. It’s good to know at least some people think it was done well.

      Like

      1. Fuck, that was not easy to read. I agree that it was incredible well written though. I think you did a stand up job of making it very apparent that no, Zach is one hundred percent not okay with what is going on here.

        Zach is stuck in just the worst kind of situation. I’d say something about rocks and hard places, but my usual witty nature is currently huddling in a corner and rocking gently. You conveyed how disgusted he was with himself and the situation perfectly though. Anyone who reads this as inappropriate because Kitten is so much younger than him has to seriously lack reading comprehension skills.

        I almost hesitate to bring this up, but Zach is still a high school aged male, with all of the raging hormones that that entails. There is a very real and tragic possibility that if the next chapter starts on the obvious note this one ends on, his body will betray him despite his obvious disgust. I remember being that age, and how it didn’t take a whole lot of anything to get that whole arousal process going. If anything could scar Zach even worse than the current situation it would be that moment of doubt when his body started to react, and he had to really question himself because of it.

        It would also make any sort of rescue mission incredibly awkward. If Anima shows up and see the two of them naked and Zach visibly aroused it is going to lead to some very serious tense questions. Same applies if they call in the white hats and someone like Com appears on the scene. Probably worse in that case, since at least Beth is on good enough terms with Zach to hear him out and probably give him the benefit of the doubt.

        At this point I am almost hoping that Zach has another surge and loses some portion of his sexuality. If erections trip his respawn, or something similar, it would be a poetic bit of a fuck you to Kitten. Like Destiny saying that her plans for him were never meant to be realized. He already can’t touch another person without getting a perfect map of their body, losing access to even more intimacy seems like it would fit the theme of his losses.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This shit is intense and i dig the reverse gender role, especially in this age of PCorrectness and post feminist movement. That strength and ability is not tempered on gender and that the antagonist can be a relatively small innocent looking girl while at the same time being a total Hannibal Lecter is a refreshing twist on things.
    All that being said your characters are engaging and fun read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually roll dice on a lot of things, including the sex, sexuality and names of the characters. I feel this forces a level of *fairness* to the story that bypasses any subliminal bias I as an author might have.

      Zachariah could have been Tamara (going by “Mar”, because all things “Tammy” would fill her with annoyance, and Mar fills her mother with annoyance). Her relationship with both Erica and Laura would have been somewhat different. With Laura being a much more “mother figure” role and Erica filling the “big sister” role. The start of the story would have gone much the same.

      Much of the internal conflicts would have differed- with Ferne taking a much more active role trying to groom her, instead of trusting Alex to handle it. Long story short, Ferne would have taken Alex’s mentor role for the story.

      She would have the mother of all crushes on Alex (after all, rolled as hetero). And yeah, she’d have perv’d on him where possible. That’s an aspect of personality stemming from being part of a broken home and self worth issues, not a matter of one chromosome.

      She wouldn’t have killed Ferne in their fight, and Ferne wouldn’t have tried to kill her. Talking would happen. Moral quandary would happen. Alex would seduce her as a means of manipulating her. She’d figure it out. Yeah. Actually, that “civilian” side of the story would have been a lot different.

      Cassie wouldn’t really feature, save as background character that Mar is jealous of because she’s constantly flirting with Alex and is so much better looking.

      The rest of the story would have stayed much the same… Kitten’s sexuality is “obsessed psychopath”, and things like “consent” don’t really matter to her… so she wouldn’t act all that different. Powers are personality based, not gender. Plus, I roll for the powers, so there’s that.

      Beth wouldn’t have gotten that kiss, I guess. No Mazer Leghorn (speaking of, gotta bring him back sometime… he’s fun…) because her dad wouldn’t be all “join teh armiez!1!”…

      And… umm… think that about covers it. In case someone wants to alt-U fanfic this or something. :p

      Like

  4. Fuck… brilliant chapter thats all im going to say about it, because words fail to describe the exact amount of brilliance of this chapter.
    Oh and if anything this chapter should gain you readers not make you lose them you’re dealing with some serious subject matter and doing a good job with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The only odd thing is that he hasnt verified with his eyes that Cassie is ok and doesnt need immediate medical attention. He cant be killed by Kitten and he isnt afraid of her as to himself. So allowing himself to be coerced only makes sense if he is worried about Cassie or others. While Kitten doesnt appear to lie, this hasnt been established (only that she can spot lies). Moreover, her answers were very ambiguous, indicating that Cassie has been hurt to some degree. So I would have expected him to pull the, “I dont think I can do this knowing someone might be injured bad enough to need medical attention. Let me see her and then things can get crazy.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He might one day blame himself for not thinking of that at the time.

      Then again, if he thought of it, he might also be afraid that talking about Cassie too much would make Kitten jealous. And, given that she’s psychotic, who knows what she’d do?

      Like

  6. Wow he actually just gave in. For the first time since I started reading I thought dangerous words. “What the fuck am I reading”. Trust me nothing good ever comes after those words.

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