I watched the window tinted barricade as it stretched from the research center to the interstate. It wasn’t just cops holding the line, but men and women in fatigues with rifles perched over their shoulders. Weird to think it was the same road Tanya and I would drive along on weekend trips to the lake.
Professor Danvers smiled and cleaned her glasses. “Have you ever been in a limousine before?” she asked.
I turned, sunk into the leather and shielded my smirk. “Only a regular one; not a stretch hummer like this.”
She hummed. “You could say it’s a perk of the job. We’re working on a more eco-friendly model, but the boys at the top aren’t fans of machines without grunt.”
My eyes sat on the outside, taking in the mysterious lights and empty streets. Skirting by the hub of Milestone City was the chill of absence sometimes interrupted by a pack moving from alley to alley.
The vehicle slowed and we turned into a string of buildings. Beyond them was tarmac reaching to the near horizon, and a line of planes and jets of varying models sitting parallel by open hangars. Teams and tankers visited each craft, loading them with liquid cargo; an energy drink for the entire city.
As if from nowhere we were swarmed by people with microphones and cameras. Flashing lights went off as Professor Danvers urged me through the buzz of questions. I stilled my breath, and pushed myself into the fray.
“Glimmer Girl! Did you have your own plan to stop the super-animal epidemic?”
“Glimmer Girl! Are you working with the city in an official capacity?”
“Glimmer Girl! Do you plan to establish a long term presence here in Milestone City?”
I blinked and shook my head, waving people away as security parted them. If it weren’t for the Mayor speaking over the loudspeaker I might have ran away into the sky.
“As you can see we’ve been working with private, albeit anonymous citizens in putting an end to this safety issue,” Ms Redfern smiled. “Glimmer Girl has gone above and beyond in her community work, and while our office are still negotiating terms regarding her future role we are more than happy to have her on board during this difficult time.”
She stepped from the podium and reached for my hand, all the while smiling, not once meeting my gaze. An arm around my shoulder turned me back toward the cameras; all I could do was stand and play along.
“So far, so good, hero, but there’s still a long way to go,” the Mayor whispered. “All of this is resting on you.”
No pressure or anything.
In all the activity I hadn’t noticed Professor Danvers until she guided me through the next security gate. All around were trained professionals; thinkers, soldiers, pilots, people who had a clue, and me, a teenager who lucked out with a weird superhero origin. I gulped and followed my cue to the tarmac, where plane after plane lifted into the air in synchronization.
“You remember your instructions,” the Professor hummed. She looked me up and down in search of certainty.
I nodded. “Fly east, take point, and clear the path so your people can do their work. Pretty simple, right?”
“Not quite so simple when you’ve got sparrows able to shred jet engines,” she continued. “Not to mention the number of domesticated animals who’ve suddenly gained the gift of flight…”
“I promise I won’t let you down.”
She furrowed her brow, turned to me, tightened her smile and ran her hand down my arm. “It’s not me that you have to keep happy. I know you’re doing your best. My only hope is that we can pull this back into one piece, together.”
My shoulders arched as I peered to my feet. The last of the planes were beginning to taxi, and they would soon be scrambling for a squad leader.
Professor Danvers nudged me to the runway. “Showtime,” she said. “Give them a show they won’t forget.”
Every eye from the other side of the barricade, and through them the entire city, rested on me. If I was going to convince them I was a hero then I had to give it my all.
Blazing with a supernatural glow I threw out my arms and rode upon the swell of force beneath my feet. I closed my eyes and lifted my head to the sky; it was all for show, but they didn’t need to know that. Next I pointed to the clouds and shot like a bullet into the beyond.
How was that for showmanship?
From high above I arched to spy the dozen specks passing over the landscape, each lining up toward the head of an arrow; it was only missing the tip. I darted to an even level and gained momentum, rocketing ahead and taking my place in lead of the formation.
Nothing could contain my smile. How cool was that? Leading an air squadron, saving the city from creatures gone wild; the adrenaline was doing more than stirring fear.
“Gold one to red leader,” I laughed to nobody; “we’re in position and ready to engage.”
In the distance a vortex started to churn, screaming ‘cheap, cheap, cheap’ as it thickened. There were all the colours of the rainbow, from sparrows, blue jays and canaries, all working in tandem to reclaim the sky their wings had inherited them.
The planes pulled into a dive, but I drove ahead. This was exactly what I’d been called in for.
Guided by instinct the birds swirled into a point, like a cataclysmic drill on a kamikaze run. It was almost as if they could read my intent; not that it mattered.
“Let’s do this.”
To be continued…