The punch landed somewhere downtown, around thirty floors above it. Next thing I knew the ground had vanished and I was snatched by gravity. I screamed before I remembered I could fly, and then turned on the power to halt in mid-air.
“Where the-?” I scanned the rooftops; Dr. Vortex was nowhere to be seen. What did he just do?
Before I could investigate I saw a shadow crawl, and looked up to see a semi-trailer whine as the carriage twisted in the air. Where did it come from? That didn’t matter as much as where it was going; straight through me and to the sea of commuters below.
I jerked to the side and scraped the hood as it flew by. How was I going to stop that thing? Maybe if I had super-strength…
Without thinking I shot after it and flew in tandem, and inside of seconds I was shooting light blasts at the pavement, bringing traffic to a halt and making room for the inevitable crash. I stopped, and the truck continued to fall; it smacked against the ground, splitting the asphalt and shattering glass with a deafening echo.
The scene was chaos; screaming, crying, traffic backed up around the block in moments, and whole lot of confusion stopping people in their tracks. I looked up again to make sure nothing else was coming, and then started for the street.
Suddenly I was struck from behind, and gravity rolled around me; I couldn’t make sense of what was up or down. The force struck me again and again, first across the cheek, then across my back, then into my stomach, and then finally swatting me to the ground like an insect. My powers clicked back for the second half of the beating, but even without the pain I was swimming in a haze.
“You’re going to have to do better than that if you want to put me in my place,” Dr. Vortex remarked. His shadow cast overhead with distant authority.
I rolled, pointed my arms right at his giant melon of a head and let loose. “See if you can dodge this!”
A blast moving at the speed of light; no way could he dodge… except that he did. Dr. Vortex hadn’t even moved and my shot, so close that missing the mark was impossible, went right by him. I paused and brought myself upright.
“You’re not thinking with portals, Mr. Cade,” the old man huffed. “You probably can’t see it, but there’s a hundred miles of curved space compressed between us, and I’m able to stretch and pull as much as I need. The universe is literal putty in my hands.”
I needed a new plan, and I needed time to think of one. Maybe if I got him talking…
“Congratulations. You’ve got yourself a superpower,” I scoffed. “Am I supposed to be impressed? You’re running around like a maniac, hurting people and wrecking the city. That’s not going to convince me to help you with… whatever.”
“It’s a demonstration,” he argued, “of what I can do. Should it come down to it I won’t need to convince you at all; though for convenience sake I thought you might appreciate if I asked nicely.”
“You’ve got weird ideas of what ‘nice’ looks like.”
Dr. Vortex sneered. “Listen, boy…”
“You know what? If we’re going to do this, can you at least gender me properly? I wear a dress, have long hair, boobs… kind of. And even if that doesn’t give you a clue, the name is Glimmer Girl. It’s obvious to everyone but you; well, you and my mother.”
“I’ve no time to argue the pretenses of your biology,” the villain seethed. “You have no idea what you have; what you’re wasting! The universe has offered you primatter, the building blocks of reality itself, and you’re squandering it by generating photons and playing at being a superhero. If you only knew what a precious gift you had…”
Gods, would this guy ever shut up? My eyes were locked with his, and the cocktail of hubris and fear he’d stirred was distraction enough for me to try and think this thing through… I hoped. Gods, what a time to know nothing about quantum physics.
I searched around my periphery, careful not to break eye contact. Charged up I was still able to see the whole spectrum; infra-red, ultra-violet, gamma, radio and x-rays. The visage of Dr. Vortex distorted them all, and I struggled to get a clear view.
He was still talking; gods, could he talk. That’s when I realized that he was talking from, what, a hundred miles away? Like, how would I have been able to hear him if he hadn’t shortened the space between us? Sound waves, especially at his volume, didn’t travel that far.
Somewhere above his head was a patch of space that didn’t fit; it seemed like my only chance. In a bolt I shot for the hole, cheered when Vortex reeled from feet away, and threw myself at the tear in space.
Vortex went down, and I wasn’t going to stop. I smacked him across the face again and again, because who knew when I’d next get the chance? My fists smashed against his cheeks until they hurt; I’d broken my concentration, but I didn’t care.
A force pulled me from behind and my body slammed into a wall. My ribs shook and the air was pushed from my lungs. Then the force let go and I fell to the ground, landing awkwardly and tripping onto a hard surface.
“Enough of this,” Vortex spat and brought himself back to his feet. “I can see that you won’t be convinced. Remember, what happens next will be on your own broken conscience.”
He stepped forward and landed a kick to the side of my head; it was the most pain I had ever experienced, like every one of Adrian Dempsey’s attacks rolled into one.
By the time I was back to my senses he was gone, and the wound I’d earned at the fire was open and weeping. Through the ringing in my ears I could only wonder, how did this happen to me? Just when it seemed like things were going my way, getting superpowers, standing up for myself, all that, the universe came along and sent someone to put me in place.
“Damn it,” I gasped, and fell to my knees.
On the street below I could make out the police forming a barricade around the crash site. I supposed it was a good thing the truck didn’t explode, or did that only happen in movies? Either way I was going to help with the cleanup; at least after my head stopped pounding.
To be continued…