Pride 2.2: Carter

Can you believe this?” I asked Shay, holding up the newspaper, annoyed. “It has been two weeks since our fight against Helioray made the news, yes I’m aware they didn’t use that name, and even though I’ve been fighting tons of crime, she’s the one who continues making headlines.”

From the couch, Shay threw the TV remote at my head.

Why?” I asked, my head now hurting a bit.

Because dude, you’re whining.”

I am not whining.” As I said it, I raised and lowered my arms, and my voice went pretty high. “Okay, maybe I am whining, but you can’t support this. Queen has robbed stores,stolen cars, and oh yeah, murdered a guy.”

Look, I’m not defending her or anything, but what would have happened if she hadn’t killed him. From the story you told me and the story she gave the news, it seems like Helioray was just taking everything you threw at him.”

Before responding, I put the newspaper down and walked over to my sewing kit. My costume had gotten pretty badly damaged during my fight against Helioray, so I’d been working on fixing it up. But between Queen’s media presence making crime in the city more rampant and trying to get anywhere on finding the guy who’d now murdered three women, I’d been pretty busy.

“You know what would have happened?” I asked rhetorically. “Joey would have arrived with the Demigod cuffs and Queen could have teleported them onto Helioray. From there, I could have found a way to try and help her. I know she’s not as evil as she’s acting.”

Shay scoffed as I said “Joey”, apparently ignoring the rest of what I’d said. “Yeah, Joey showing up was a great help. What did he do again?” She finished her statement with over the top fake excitement. “I remember! He got you shot in the leg!”

I didn’t hate Joey, and I honestly wanted him and Shay to become friends, so I spun the situation. “It wasn’t all bad. I mean, now we know I’ve got a healing factor.”

“Yeah, and finding that out was so worth getting shot.” She was less grumpy with what she said next. “Plus, your healing factor is mid level at best. It’s definitely not on the same level as the King’s or Bladeburst’s.”

Shay got up and put on a light, brown jacket. She’d volunteered to do this program at the library where she talked to kids about being a cop. While she did want to make children excited about the profession, she also wanted to make sure Joey, who’d jumped at the opportunity to do this, didn’t give kids the wrong idea about what it meant to be a cop.

“Oh yeah,” I said, changing the topic. “Did you ever find out from Troyan why he deployed Joey of all people to fight Helioray?”

“Yeah,”she said, looking around to see if she was forgetting anything. “Apparently, he was simply the best man for the job.” She popped her lips. “You want the real answer? Troyan’s superiors probably wanted their little golden boy to save the day. I’d say it was Troyan’s own decision, but he’s at least had the sense not to make Joey a detective.”

“I guess,” I said, not really meaning it. “I’d sure like to meet Troyan one day just so I could explain to him why you’re the best cop ever.”

“Do that, and the next time you get a shot, it won’t be by a crazy teenage girl.” She looked around to see if she was forgetting anything. “Alright, I’m gonna head out. You got any plans for today?”

I nodded. “It’s a little plan I like to call catching up on shows I’ve missed while I finish sewing up my costume.”

You really need to find some work, dude,” she said, clearly tired of having to cover both parts of our rent. “See ya later.”

She left the apartment and I opened up my laptop. There had been a robbery a few nights ago when the season finale of “Days of Old” had aired, so Shay watched it without me while I was stopping the crime. The episode was about Panda, the last member of the Guardianship to get an episode made about him. I thought Slimestream was the cooler hero, and that he should have been the one used for the finale.

I grabbed a bag of pretzels and got to work on my costume. I was thinking about adding a golden bee onto the suit as a chest insignia. My costume was a little bland and the bee would really spice it up.

I had bigger things to worry about than my costume though. All the criminals I’d fought in the last two weeks came as close to killing me as Helioray did, due to the new limitations on my powers. Guys with knives or even the occasional gun just weren’t that scary after staring down a rampaging Demigod.

Once the episode was over and my pretzels were finished, I figured I’d made enough progress on my costume that I could take the time to have a nap. I’d been taking naps in the middle of the day since middle school, generally in class, but since I’d started fighting crime, I’d been so tired they’d basically become a necessity.

I laid down on the couch and drifted off.

I was awakened moments later by the sound of the door to our apartment getting kicked in.

“Hey Lightning Bee! Get set and prepare to get decked!,” the man who’d just broken in shouted.

He was African American, had a gray afro, and looked like he was in his 60’s. He was wearing a pretty badass looking leather jacket with white stripes on the sleeves, jeans ripped at the knees, a gray tank top, and strangely, he was barefoot.

He was holding two pistols, but that wasn’t close to being the most intimidating thing about him. That attribute would be the fact that he was huge. If Joey was big without being muscular, then this man looked to be 200 pounds of muscle.

He shot at me as I ducked behind the couch. Shay probably wouldn’t be too torn up over losing this hard as a rock lump, but I sure was.

He stopped shooting and spoke. “Come on Bee. You brought this on yourself. Don’t make it any harder than it has to be.”

I had no clue what he was talking about, but I didn’t feel like waiting to find out. I wasn’t scared enough to make lightning though, so I came up with another idea.

I pretended to be frightened. “Dude, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m not Lightning Bee. I mean it would be awesome if I were, but I’m not.”

“Don’t play stupid. I came to this city looking for you. Then I got a tip that Carter Myers was an excellent PI who could help me find you. I looked him up, and I saw that he and Lightning Bee were one in the same. Carolina was really curious as to how no one else had figured it out.”

Who was Carolina? Not important. This didn’t make any sense. I’d had a conversation with Joey as Lightning Bee after I’d been shot, and he wasn’t able to see who I really was. This guy figured it out with a quick online search. He must have had some sort of power.

“And if I wasn’t sure before,” he started saying. “I can see your costume right over there.”

“I’m working on a cosplay?” I asked instead of declaring.

He resumed his shooting at the couch. If my powers were like most people’s, I’d be destroying him right now because he was really pissing me off.

I decided it was worth a shot, so I raised my arm and blindly fired at the old man.

The attack barely phased him. He didn’t even stumble.

That the best you’ve got?” He mocked. “Son, I’ve fought people with real super strength. If you’re really going to try to fight me, I recommend you go all out.”

He paused.

Or maybe Carolina is right. Maybe you’re just an enclenque who has gotten lucky so far.”

I still had no idea who Carolina was. Also, first Queen and now this guy? Why did my enemies keep having to use words I had never before heard?

“Whatever an enclenque is,” I said, probably mispronouncing the word. “I’m not one. And furthermore, why are you trying to kill me? Did I put away a buddy of yours or something?”

I don’t care about the criminals you fight. I just care about making sure we live in a world without people like you.”

I heard the sound of him putting down his guns. Still behind the couch, I raised my head enough so that I could see what he was doing.

He reached into his jacket pocket, and pulled out a peach. He was eating in the middle of a fight?

He didn’t see me as a threat at all.

After taking a few bites of the peach, he put it back in his pocket, and spoke. “You know what guys? I think I’m gonna beat him to death.” He then began laughing like a maniac.

He ran toward me and leaped over the couch.

I rolled out of the way, and fired what I hoped to be a stronger blast than my last one.

Once again he wasn’t fazed, and he kept coming.

He grabbed me by the shirt, pulled me close to him, and then repeatedly punched me in the face, blood now trickling down my face and into my mouth. He then proceeded to throw me across the apartment.

And he was still laughing.

On the bright side, while I was in enormous pain, I knew it would heal, and I was fucking terrified. He said he’d fought people with super strength, but his punches made me think that he had it himself. He didn’t have “move the planet” super strength like King Power, but then again, no one did.

He was slowly walking towards me, so I was able to try replicating a move I’d used against Helioray. I fired my lightning at the floor, and propelled myself toward the crazy old guy.

My head impacted with his stomach, and from the looks of it, I’d just done more damage to myself than to him. He picked me up, punched me a few more times, and then backhanded me to the ground, sending me rolling.

And he was still laughing.

I wiped off some of the blood from my face with my sleeve. Sufficiently terrified, I raised my arms into open palm position and fired what I hoped to be a powerful attack.

He sidestepped my blast, leading to it destroying part of the wall. He dived for his guns and started shooting at me from the floor.

My eyes squinted; I moved my arms and fired a blast at his bullets. It hit them, knocking them aside, and then made contact with the old man, who was once again disarmed, his guns flying out of his hands.

Carolina! Erica! Are you two okay?”

Was he talking to his guns? I knew that a lot of gun fanatics liked to name their guns, but he’d mentioned before that Carolina talked to him. Either he was being metaphorical, or he was crazy.

He growled and came running straight at me. I still hadn’t been able to get my tazer blasts to work right, but if I was going to get any answers from the old man, I needed him immobile. Then once he answered my questions, I’d hand him over to Shay.

I charged up my hands, trying to concentrate hard on making my lightning more like natural electricity. I fired at him, and from the looks of it, I’d completely failed.

He took the blast in stride and reached me without a problem. He unleashed a flurry of punches aimed at my face and stomach. Between this and his previous assault, my body was aching, and I felt like I just needed to crawl into bed.

When I’d cracked my ribs and when I’d gotten shot, I was in a huge amount of pain, but at least I’d had forms of relief to keep me going. When I’d fallen from the sky, I’d had the momentary bliss of knowing that I’d survived. When I’d gotten shot, I knew that the fight was over. Here, I was taking a beating, and I didn’t see an end to this in sight.

He spoke as he began choking me. “You’re really lucky they said they’re okay. If they weren’t, I’d have to make this a whole lot messier.” He laughed again, but only for a moment.

I grabbed his arms and tried to pull him off me, but I wasn’t even able to make him budge.

A thin layer of electricity emerged around my body. His hands were burnt, and his body shook as he held onto my static encased neck.

Blasts hadn’t worked before, but if he was being worn down by this at all, maybe they would now.

Lightning charged up in my mouth of all places, the old man’s eyes widening at the realization of what I was about to do. I fired, praying to God that I wasn’t going to destroy my tongue, and sent him flying back.

He panted heavily enough for me to hear him. Considering how much more of an effect my attacks were having on him than on Helioray, he evidently wasn’t a Demigod, but instead, just a really durable, normal guy.

The old man stood up, struggling, and walked over to one of his pistols.

As he bent down to get it I asked, “What do you have against me?”

One pistol in hand, he walked over to the other. “You’re a superhero. I’ve always thought you guys were bad news, but finally getting to meet one in person, you’re even worse.” He picked up the second pistol. “What do you mean his aura is blue?” I think he asked his gun. “That can’t be. If his aura is blue, then that means…you don’t want to kill him now?”

I wasn’t sure if I should say something, or maybe hit him with another blast. Rather than do either of those things, I waited to see how things played out.

You!” He shouted and pointed a shaking finger at me. “You did this to her. You and this crap hole of a city. You’re messing with her mind.”

So much for watching things play out.

I shook my head. “No one is messing with your gun’s head.” I felt really weird saying that sentence. “I think you just need to calm down.”

Why did I say that?

He opened fire with the other gun. The damage from my electricity had messed with his aim. This gave me the ability to get behind the couch again.

Erica doesn’t want you dead? Fine. Carolina can do the job just fine.”

He wasn’t laughing this time. Hearing his gun tell him that it didn’t want to kill me must have really pissed him off.

I may have told him to calm down, but I was far from calm myself, as evident from the remaining presence of electricity around my body.

I heard several crashes. He’d just put bullets through our windows.

He stopped shooting, most likely to reload. Seizing the moment, I charged up another blast in my mouth, jumped up and blasted him.

The blast knocked him through the doorway, and into the building’s hallway.

He didn’t get back up this time.

I walked over to him, and made sure that he was just unconscious.

I felt my face with my hands, blood getting all over them. I spat out the blood that was in my mouth.

I still had no idea what this guy’s deal was, or what was wrong with him mentally, but those questions would have to be left to Shay and the Bluejay Police Department.

I started dragging him into my apartment, not an easy task given his weight, hoping that I could tie him up with something.

Before he was all the way in though, I heard a voice that sounded a little familiar.

Carter.”

I turned and saw the cute receptionist I’d talked to at Panda corp. I didn’t remember her name.

Or, Lightning Bee, not sure what you prefer. We need to talk.”

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