Thursday, 19 May 2016

Maths Vs The Gang: Dawn Of Heroes (part 3)

"We need names."
They'd been sat in silence for maybe twenty minutes. Chris' powers hadn't lasted that long; fifteen minutes at the most, and then he'd reverted to his usual self. Freya reckoned that was a good thing; imagine trying to explain to everyone at school why someone in their group of geeks and weirdos suddenly looked like Captain Jaffa Cake! Ali had then pointed out that if they had explained the change, they'd be sent away to the British Area 51- probably called something like Lot 42 or Blackpool- to be tortured and dissected. At that point, they'd all lapsed into exam style quiet. All apart from Steven, sat in the corner playing with the elephant he'd summoned.
"Why do we need names?" Sophie asked.
"To protect our loved ones from being ruthlessly murdered or repetitively kidnapped." Steven replied.
"At least they wouldn't be being ruthlessly kidnapped or repetitively murdered." Chris said.
"If we are going to get names," Ali decided, "I don't want Steven coming up with mine. Not after 'Captain Jaffa Cake'."
"I prefer Jaffa Cake Man." Chris said.
"You're fifteen. You should be Jaffa Cake Lad." Said Steven.
"I still don't see why we need names." Sophie said.
"So our loved ones-"
"She gets that!" Freya cried. "She means why would our loved ones being in danger?"
"Because superheroes' loved ones are always in danger unless they have secret identities."
"But we're not superheroes. We're just kids with radioactive anomalies!" Freya cried.
"It doesn't matter how loud you say it," Ali said, "it still isn't catchy."
"We're kids with powers and with great power comes great responsibility." Steven said.
"I become taller when eating Jaffa Cakes." Chris said. "What kind of responsibilities come with that?"
"Come on guys!" Steven said. "We have the ability to save the world! To protect the Cosmos! To look awesome and kickass! This is everything we've ever talked about. We can't turn it away because we've got exams!"
"Our exams are very important for our future."
"There won't be a future if we don't use our powers." Steven said. "I promise you that, whilst we're in here as superheroes, out there somewhere is a super villain."
"I bet it's Ellie Wright." Sophie said. 
"Or Bella." Ali said with a growl.
"Who it is doesn't matter if we're not there to fight them." Steven said. "Come on, please. We need to have names at least."
"I don't see what the harm in that is." Chris said.
"Wait till you see the Headlines regarding 'Captain Jaffa Cake'." Freya said. "Go on, Steve. Give us your name."
"You ready for this?" Steven said. "It's going to blow your tiny minds."
"It's a good job we're in a hospital; the suspense is killing me." Said Sophie, honestly not as unenthusiastic as she sounded.
"Here we go." Steven said. "I have the power to summon things so I was thinking: Summoning Man!"
"Summoning Lad." Chris said.
The others said nothing.
"Okay." Said Steven. "Maybe that wasn't my best idea. I've got another and this one includes my sidekick."
"We aren't even heroes yet. When did you get a sidekick?" Sophie asked.
"I was just meaning the baby elephant, who I'm naming Bert after the famous Theoretical Physicist."
"Albert Einstein?" Freya asked.
"No. Bert from Bert and Ernie." Steven said. "Here we go: the Summoner and Entropy Elephant."
"I don't know." Sophie said. "You don't look like an elephant in the slightest, Steve."
"Don't listen to her, Bert. The cruel lady doesn't mean it." Steve said, patting the elephant's head.
"Captain Jaffa Cake and the Summoner." Ali said. "The world feels safer already."
"If you're so amazing, let's hear your name."
She grinned. "The Flish."
"The Flish?" Steven asked.
"It's a contemporary statement trying to be both ironic and inspiring in a clean, articulate sweep."
"The Flish?" Freya asked.
"It's also a reference to a much forgotten members of the Justice League of Animals that I loved as a kid." (No, seriously.)
"The Flish?" Sophie asked.
"And it sounds like the noise I move really quick! Like a flick and a swish."
"The Flish?" Chris asked.
"The Flish." Ali said, nodding.
"It's a good job this isn't a publicly available short story. The CW would sue us to death." Steven said. He turned to Sophie. "Have you got a name?"
"Sophie." She grinned.
"It must be real hard being so funny." He said. "I mean a superhero name."
"No." She said.
"How about Probability Lass?" Steven suggested.
"Improbability Woman?"
"Uncertainty Girl?"
"What's your favourite animal?"
"How could you forget? I swear I must mention them constantly when we talk online."
"Which happens very rarely, ahem." Steven said, eyeing the other occupants of the room suspiciously. "Is it sheep?"
"Yeah. That's it."
"Odds Sheep." He grinned.
"'Oh help me Odds Sheep! Help me!'" Ali mocked. "Sounds heroic."
"Shut up Copyright Infringement Girl." Steven said. 
"I like superhero names that are only one word." Freya said. "Like 'Hawkeye' or 'Deadpool.'"
"Oddjob?" Steven said, falling back in laughter for a short while. He recovered himself then said, "How about Chancer?"
"Cancer?!?" Chris cried. "'Oh, Cancer. Save me Cancer!' Doesn't sound right."
"I said Chancer but I feel you've got a point. With buildings exploding, people might get confused." Steven said. His face lot up with a grin. "I've got it. Sophie, is your middle name still Catherine?"
"Middle names don't change, Willy." She laughed.
"Shut up!" Stephen William Bettany cried. A grin grew across his face. "Shut up, Lucky Cat."
"That's dorky." Ali said.
"Shut up, Flish." Steven grinned.
She rolled her eyes. "I'm never going to live this down."
"Captain Jaffa Cake, the Flish, Entropy Elephant, the Summoner and Lucky Cat." Chris recounted. "Freya, you need a name."
"You can have Rogers." Steven muttered.
"If you make more references to that, I'll eat a Jaffa Cake and punch you." Chris said.
"That is the world's best threat." Ali said.
"Have you got a name, then, Frey?" Chris asked, grinning.
"Tempus." She grinned.
"Trust you to have a fancy name." Ali said.
"You're only jealous," Sophie replied, "because you're called the Flish."
"It's not too late to change." Steven said.
"You make it sound like it's some deathly habit." Said Ali.
"We are the weirdest sounding group of superheroes ever." Said Captain Jaffa Cake.
Tempus, the Flish, the Summoner and Lucky Cat all agreed. In the corner, Entropy Elephant did whatever it was that baby elephants do.

About an hour later, the nurses got the results of the blood tests back and declared there were no radioactive abnormalities. Sophie grinned. "What were the chances of that?"
Their parents hurriedly entered the room, running their hands through their children's hair and kissing them on the forehead. Bert the Entropy Elephant hid behind the door, with Sophie controlling the probability of someone noticing him. With no elephant based highjinks ensuing, they were quickly escorted from the hospital room to their respective cars and an orderly procession of people carriers began the long drive back to Gilliam High School's catchment area.
Chris looked through the space between the driver and passenger seats in his family car. He wasn't particularly interested in cars; his interest was in computers and technology more than anything else, but his mechanic Dad had raised him to know what was what. The radio that he couldn't hear under the nervous chatter of his mother, he knew, was digital and the big bit of glass in front of that was the windscreen. He stared through it, at the back of Freya's car. He'd been in there once when Freya's dad had brought him home from an Awards Evening that his parents hadn't been able to attend. It was a lot more comfortable than his car and, even with the passenger seat pushed backwards there was still room for his legs. In this car, he felt the very definition of claustrophobic.
Before he could think any further of it, there was a loud creaking, like a monster stalking down a haunted mansion's hall. He frowned. Surely that wasn't the right noise for a bridge? The car pulled to a stop.
"Dad? Why aren't we moving?" Chris asked, looking towards his father. His father wasn't moving. He looked at his mother; neither was she. He looked at the clock. The hand was paused between one second and the next. "Freya." He realised.
Pushing the door open, he climbed out, running along the bridge. The wind that rushed along the river had paused, meaning his hair was blown upwards and simply remained. It was very strange. He reached Freya's door only to find it was already open and she was stood on the bridge, her eyes closed, her face screwed up and her fists clenched.
"What's going on?" He asked.
"Did you hear the creaking?" She asked, not moving.
"I think the bridge is collapsing."
A purple blaze exploded into existence at their side. Ali bent over, panting. "I had a look round." She said. "One of the suspension cables is beginning to snap. Looks rusty."
"Eroded." Sophie said, ever the chemistry student. Steven wasn't far behind, riding Entropy Elephant with a sword in his hand.
"Where'd you get a sword from?" Chris asked.
"I summoned it."
"Because this is a dangerous situation."
"How is a sword going to help?"
"I don't know, but I look cool!"
"Guys, I don't know how much longer I can hold this." Freya said, beginning to shake ever so slightly.
"Okay." Chris said. "We need a plan of action. Sophie, can you change the probability of danger?"
"Give me a second." Sophie raised a hand towards the snapping cable, her fingers splayed and her efforts concentrated. She willed it to not snap with everything she had but she felt a terrible electrical shock snap through her hand. "No." She said, pulling away. "It's too much. I don't have that kind of power."
"Okay. We're going to have to work as a team." Chris said. "Summoner, see if you can summon something to help. The fire department, the police, paramedics, a crane. I don't know what. Just summon something."
"He used my name." Steven grinned, climbing off the Elephant.
"Lucky Cat, change the probability of the cars being able to withstand damage." Chris said. "And Flish, if you see anyone in immediate danger: get them out of the way."
"What are you going to do?" Ali asked, getting ready.
Chris turned back towards his car where his Jaffa Cakes were waiting. "I'll think of something."
"I can't hold this much longer."  Freya said.
"Everyone ready?"
They all nodded.
"Oh, hang on." Chris said. "Steve, can you summon us all masks?"
Steven clicked his fingers and masks appeared on everyone's faces.
"Brilliant." Chris said. "Now, Freya, let it go!"
Freya relaxed her concentration and the universe exploded back into action. The creaking intensified and then there was a horrible noise as metal uncoiled. Chris turned and ran with everything he had in the direction of his parents' car. His lungs burnt and his heart raced but he kept going, vaulting into the air and hitting the side of the car. He reached inside and grabbed a Jaffa Cake from the open packet in the middle of his seat. He raised it to his mouth, took a deep bite and then there was a powerful explosion of energy. When the cloud of smoke wafted away, Captain Jaffa Cake was revealed. Six foot seven, wavy hair and a massive biscuit on his arm. He looked straight at his mother. Whether it was the miraculous transformation or the mask, he didn't know but he did know that she didn't recognise him in the slightest. "Don't worry, ma'am." He said, his voice ever so slightly more inspiring. "We're here to save the day now."
He turned to face the slowly unwinding suspension cable on the side of the bridge. It was maybe five or six individual iron cables coiled around each other for added strength. There was a hideous pinging sound as the penultimate cable snapped and there was just one left. He took the Jaffa Cake from his arm and flung it with all of his might. The disc spun around and around, spiralling through the air, until it hit the cable and exploded. The gooey, Jaffaery goodness spilt out and acted as a gluing agent. The cable would last a little longer.
A new Jaffa Cake growing on his arm, your friendly neighbourhood biscuit endorsement ran to join his friends.
The bridge began to tilt slightly, cracks forming in the tarmac. One or two forks of breaking road spread out from the sides. Drivers pulled their handbrakes, their cars smashing together to form a huge gridlock. Lucky Cat and Tempus leapt up onto the cars, climbing over their roofs towards the forming hole. The cars began to slide forwards regardless; teetering towards the growing chasm. Drivers and passengers desperately fiddled with their doors, trying to push them open, but the cars boxing them in prevented it.
"Tempus!" Sophie cried. "Jump!"
"Why?" Freya asked.
"Just do it!"
They both leapt into the air and Sophie threw her arms out, her fingers splayed. She concentrated as hard as she could and then a shimmering vortex of black and red energy blasted from her palms and hit the top of all the cars. For a second, chance and reality aligned and every car on the bridge became a convertible. It was a wonderfully sunny day; the roofs were down.
"Flish!" Lucky Cat cried at the top of her voice.
A purple haze exploded into existence to their side. Ali grinned, her mask slipping down her nose. "What?"
"Get these people out of their cars!" She said.
Ali erupted into a purple haze that swept throughout the cars. To Sophie and Freya, it looked like a blinding hurry of teleportation. To Ali, it was as if the world around her had slowed down. She leapt over cars, pulling people out of their seats and dragging them through the air. She tried not to go too fast; she didn't want the people to be hit with too many G-Forces or whatever the terminology was as she dragged them through the air. She continued, going into each and every car, grabbing each and every passenger. What had taken Ali a time span equal to hours appeared to everyone else to take mere seconds. With a blink of the eye, every driver and passenger on the bridge had been transported from their crashing cars to the other carriage, on the other side of the stone bollards. And now a truck was charging towards them.
They screamed, the heroes screamed, even Entropy Elephant gave out a trumpet of terror. But then Captain Jaffa Cake leapt over the bollards and ran. The crowd parted before him, allowing him to step forwards and raise his Jaffa Cake shield. The driver in the truck stared at him, completely terrified. He was going to kill a bloke holding a Jaffa Cake. He didn't know which victim was worse.
Chris took a deep breath and then the truck hit the shield. It came to an immediate stop, the back rearing upwards whilst the front stopped. The impact was absorbed by the sweet layer of wonderful Jaffaeryness. Chris stayed where he was and the truck dropped down. He let go of the Cake and walked around, tearing the door off and smiling at the driver. "Sir, may I suggest you get your breaks tested? I can recommend a wonderful mechanic."
On the other side of the bridge, the cars were still slipping forwards and the cable was beginning to snap once more. A car reached the edge of the bridge, where the tarmac had broken and was dangerously leering over the river. Tempus threw out her hand and made the pocket of time in which the cars were slipping forwards freeze. "I don't know if I can hold this for much longer!" She shouted.
"Don't worry. I've called the cavalry!" The Summoner cried, his sword glinting in one hand. "The seagulls are coming! The seagulls are coming!"
They all turned to face the direction of his other hand. It reached over the side of the bridge, in the direction of the horizon. Against the huge yellow disc of the sun were hundreds of black silhouettes, carrying a massive flapping shape. As they got closer, it became obvious what they were. A thousand seagulls carrying a massive net were being summoned by the glowing vortex of yellow and blue energy racing from Steven's hand.
The seagulls flew under the bridge and then began to fly out in the opposite direction of each other until the net was taut. "Release it, Tempus." The Summoner shouted.
Freya let go and the cars began to spill forwards, onto the net. The seagulls went down a little under the weight but then they began to flap more profusely and lifted it back up again. Within seconds, the net was in level with the bridge, preventing the cars from falling.
"I summoned the fire service." Ali said, stood with a phone at her ear.
"Well, that's just showing off." Steven said as about fifty fire engines pulled up.

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