Thomas Zlavievic, Tanoshita no Senshi Foolster

A vida de Thomas era absolutamente normal, ou ao menos tão normal quando se nasce em um circo, até que, a pouco mais de dois anos, ele foi pego por algumas entidades pentadimensionais chamadas simplesmente de Guardiões, que o converteram em um paladino da diversão e alegria, Tanoshita no Senshi (Defensor da Alegria) Foolster. Ao retornar, descobriu que teria que enfrentar criaturas perigosas que tentam destruir a felicidade e tudo de bom. Armado de sua Armadura Foolster, que ele pode invocar usando seu Tanoshi Belt, ele procurou enfrentar o máximo dessas criaturas que pode, até que foi enviado para Occultar.

Seus objetivos em Occultar são: aprender Ocultech, que ele descobriu ter relação com sua Tanoshi Belt; entender porque é inseguro para ele sair de Occultar; e enfrentar as entidades de fora de nossa dimensão.

E para isso, nada melhor que Aquele que foi provido com o poder da felicidade, diversão e justiça! O Guerreiro Dimensional da Diversão! Foolster!


  • Student ID # AXF03-5555
  • Nascido em Arcologia de Praga, República Checa
  • Data de Nascimento: 5 de Maio
  • Altura 1,43m
  • Peso 48 kg
  • Olhos Azuis Elétricos
  • Cabelos Amarelo Berrante (caneta marca-texto)
  • Características: Rosto redondo, parcialmente careca
  • Tipo Sanguineo: B+
  • Gosta de: Doces em geral, pregar peças bobas, piadas em geral
  • Não gosta de: Gente séria demais, gente que não é séria no momento certo


Tipo Aspecto
Conceito Um paladino interdimensional da diversão
Talento Conhecimento sobre tecnologias pan-dimensionais de diversão (occultech)
Estudante Sabe explicar coisas de maneira divertida
Drive Defender nossa realidade dos perigos que querem destruir tudo de bom
  Diversão é tudo na vida… Desde que não machuque outros


Abordagem Nível
Ágil B
Cuidadoso D
Esperto C
Estiloso A
Poderoso C
Sorrateiro B


  • Tanoshi Henshi! - Uma vez por sessão, pode asssumir uma forma combatente mais poderosa, Foolster. +1 em todos os testes de Estiloso enquanto nessa forma. Dura até o fim da cena
  • Tanoshi Belt - Como Meta-Tools, sempre tem as ferramentas apropriadas para usar Ocultech
  • Tanoshi Fight - +1 ao Atacar e ao se Defender de Maneira Estilosa, desde que possa fazer isso de maneira engraçada.


Na verdade, os Guardiões procuram defender SUA dimensão. A diferença é que as criaturas destruídoras de diversão que ameaçam os Guardiões só podem entrar na dimensão DELES através da nossa, a Terra servindo apenas de “rotatória interdimensional” para chegar até lá. Foolster pode se ver em um problema se por um acaso se mostrar incapaz de impedir tal invasão.

Jiminy Cricket II - pt 2

Chapter 12

“The Undying Caliphate should not be taken as a Muslim organization as much as KKK should not be seen as a christian organization. In fact, both shows the worst side of religious over-zealousness: as far KKK had gone away from Jesus’s path, Peace be with Him, the Undying Caliphate turned away from Allah the Most High and the Prophet’s (PBUH) teachings, as expressed in the Holy Qu’ran, by bringing Jihad as a bloodsport, not as a self-purification process.”

Altayr Bashir Tahan, “Musings on the Holy Qu’ran and the Event, from a Breakthrough Muslim”

It was a tense flight: even seeing all the Disney shows in the flights entertainment system, Jiminy was worried, as he didn’t knew what would be waiting for him at Roque Santeiro. The intel on his epad was only matters-of-facts, things that he could discover with 5 minutes of Net-Fu, not the real situation at Roque Santeiro. He also knew that there was nothing he could do by now, in a flight between Amsterdam and Freetown, beside study the intel into the epad or rest, hoping his recently uncasted leg get better when arriving at Sierra Leone.

The plane had touched down and he saw a known face when got out the gate: Dr. Lesley Dimantas, capename Squirrel Girl.

“Jiminy, I’ll brief you while we get at Roque Santeiro. We can’t waste time: there’s a helicopter for us. Cabby is waiting us there.” said Lesley, today using rabbit’s ears, moving all around trying to find some weird sounds, and a skunk tail.

An A-Class Metamorph, she was able to go Chimera, so she could do partial metamorphosis, and combine multiple ones to somewhat “choose” the best natural features she needs in any situation. Normally she just uses squirrel ears and tail, as fashion, so Jiminy saw that if she was using those parts by their features, this means business.

Kabba ‘Cabby’ Bangura was a Paragon guy: like Cajun, he didn’t had a breakthrough in the strict sense of the word, but he was a hell of a driver that could pilot anything, from a VW Beetle in the dirt roads at Sierra Leone to an helicopter to a fighter jet to a Dallara Indycar open-wheel at Indy 500. He was the local agent for HSF that supported Jiminy and others in the Derek Kwazani operation. Jiminy thought he was an incredible guy.

Jiminy got out the airport to a heliport where a helicopter was ready for them. Two guys, that looked like Atlases under civil, where looking around while some airport crew loaded the helicopter with his things, including his clown trunk. Jiminy got into the helicopter and Lesley passed him the helicopter headset and a little box. When he opened it, there was a small Taurus 9mm pistol and two extra magazines into a holster. Jiminy worried looked to Lesley and she just shrugged.

“Superior orders. Diana doesn’t want anyone unarmed when outside Roque Santeiro.” said Lesley, taking a submachinegun.

“It was that bad?” said Jiminy, putting the holster and loading the pistol. As much he doesn’t like shooting, he had training on them.

“Had you read the intel?” asked Lesley, and Jiminy nodded “They came like a storm, with many breakthroughs, breaking into, kidnapping some of the refugees and killing others. We had lots of casualties, even some of the low level breakthroughs being hurt. They also published a video at ViewTube with a fatwa against Roque Santeiro and Herós Sans Frontières.”

“Fatwa?” asked Jiminy

“A statement about about something under Qu’ran and Islamic law, Shar’ia’s, context. Some Islamic places and populations, specially those overzealous on Islam, take them as law. Problem is: technically any mufti can issue fatwas. Only his fame can say if people will look his fatwa as something halal, ‘good’, as far they never go against some of the pillars of the Islam.” said Lesley, while Cabby took off from the airport.

“So… This guy is respected enough?” said Jiminy

“Looks like. The fatwa wasn’t signed or aligned with any of the main Islam groups, Sunni or Shia, but they are calling some people to their cause, because the clerics signataries are all linked to the Undying Caliphate in a way or another.” said Lesley “As a matter of fact, Djanni and his father read the fatwa and did the translation, and they said it was a great piece of bullshit. Not in those words, of course.”

“So, people who believe that fatwa had gone and attacked Roque Santeiro?” asked Jiminy.

“Yes… You need to understand that people on Islam take those fatwa very seriously, and some people thinks that those Caliphate nuts are right on scourging everyone else.” said Cabby “And those guys declared that Roque Santeiro were full of Kafir, infidels, Shirk, idolaters, Zindiq, hereticals and Murtadd, apothates. So, they should be expurged, based on a radical, violent view on Qu’ran.”

“And they had declared Jihad against Roque Santeiro. Things just grew worse when they distorted the camp name origin to show us like a kind of heretical cult.” said Lesley “They came and took at least 50 families, and kidnapped a class of young girls. They killed the refugees that resisted, those that saw the Caliphate ways and were against them, and they just got out when our capes decided that they should dance the Foxtrot.”

“But at least 1000 people were directly or indirectly affected, and the Caliphate said that this was just the beginning. Some of the analysts says the Caliphate are looking to the sub-Saharan African countries as a way to regain the lost power after the War, getting into Mali and Guinea and other Muslim majority countries, and so Sierra Leone is one of their targets. The control of the sub-Saharan Africa would provide them with resources for an all-out war against Israel. Problem is: Israel certainly would go all-out also, and this would end badly for everyone.” said Cabby.

“So, what we’ll do?” said Jiminy

“First of all, the Camp is on Code Red: until we remake the lost infra and equipments, no one get in or out without Diana and the other big guys knows. Everyone in Cape until further order, and rebuild the camp is priority Alpha. Your team is already deployed, Jiminy, they got yesterday on the field. Soldaire say me this order for you: as soon we arrive, you are to get on our costume and go for Dispatch and be always armed, either with the Cricket pistols, the Tesla Arc Gloves and the Jiminy Cane. Dumont had corrected the glove project and put some batteries for them on your standard Costume.” said Lesley “I myself will get for the perimeter: I can turn myself into a meerkat or a orangutan if needed.”

“Sierra Leone is also under an Alpha situation: the Caliphate had expelled some people and pushed them out of their homes, including Nondaba’s village.” said Cabby

“What?” said Jiminy. The Nondaba village was the place where Jiminy lived some of the most important and difficult experiences in his life, when a fight between Josephine Nondaba, capename Kilimanjaro and his team almost resulted in him going crazy when his Bellax Analytica gone haywire, and where he saw a kid, Senesie, undergone a drug-induced psychotic breakthrough. His actions and his team’s were crucial to the kid survival and recovery. Now he was a B-Class Merlin developing healing powers, training under Kilimanjaro and other Merlins.

“The Nondabas are animistics, from the old Yoruba religion, so for radical Muslims this make them Shirk. The Caliphate attacked the village, and expelled them. Both Kilimanjaro’s mother and grandmother had died in the process.” said Cabby.

Jiminy felt some sadness: he remembered them, Masseray and Mabinty, caring him when he was crazy on the Bellax Analytica oversurge that haywired his mind into a grim multiple potential futures nightmare. They were very old and wise, like those sage woman from the fairy tales. Jiminy would always remember Mabinty looking to him and saying he had a kind face below the cricket mask.

“Where they are… I mean, their bodies, they were buried?” said Jiminy

“No: the Nondabas cremates their dead. I think Kilimanjaro is with their ashes.” said Cabby, when Jiminy saw the Roque Santeiro camp.

“I would like to show my respects before getting in the field.” said Jiminy.

“Alright, but be fast.” said Lesley, while Cabby touched the Roque Santeiro heliport “We need you ASAP in the Dispatch.”

Just half an hour after, Jiminy was in Dispatch, already back into his costume, armed with their Cricket pistols, energy pistols made on the SolPistols design by Doctor Shokichi Hisagawa, the same Verne that developed the SolArmor Soldaire was donning in the field now that Jiminy freed him from the Dispatch work. In his gloves, two small circles showed the (now deactivated to avoid problems) Tesla Arc Gloves, energy weapons based on the Demoiselle’s Tesla Arc Cannon, made by Dumont. Jiminy just took a rapid shower, put his costume and gone for give his condolences to Kilimanjaro and do a little prayer for Mabinty and Masseray’s souls.

“Jiminy, had you saw the fatwa text?” said Diana

“No… It wasn’t in the epad HSF gave me at NY, and Lesley didn’t show me the contents.” said Jiminy

“I’ll pass you it, and as things are a little calmer now, you should take your time and read it to know what we are dealing with. Mrs. Zahan translated and commented it under the Qu’ran for our allies in the Islamic States, like Guinea and Sierra Leone.” said Diana, sending him a file via the Dispatch system to his station “Need to say, this is classified intel: LDS had not made an official statement on this one yet, this was the reason it wasn’t into the epad at NY. Obviously people are finding this on the Internet, but officially we still treat this as classified intel.”

Jiminy just took two minutes to read, and other two to get out from the flabbergasted state he gone.

He almost expelled some bad words!

“What a pile of…“ said Jiminy

“I know, but it was done for their audience. They are doing all they could so people gets radicalized after what happened with the Caliphate War and Eretz Israel. For them, Roque Santeiro, by promoting integration and helping the refugees under HSF and MSF organizations, are part of the so called ‘Crusader Forces from LDS’. They totally ignores that Red Crescent, the Muslim arm of Red Cross, is through and through with us! We are and we’ll never be associated to any side in any conflict: our side is the refugee side, is on our mission. To be bluntly frank, as long they doesn’t mess with people, LDS and the Caliphate could just nuke themselves into oblivion and I would not give a single damn. But the Caliphate is working the same rhetorics every totalitarian regimen did in the past.” said Diana

“And now?” said Jiminy

“We are even with a bigger problem: LDS is calling back their troops, maybe to prepare for an intervention against the Caliphate, so we’ll be at minimal forces from them. UNHCR, via UN, will reinforce our security using the Blue Berets, but we needed to call almost all the Situation 2 teams from HSF. And the big kahunas at HSF doesn’t like this.” said Diana “To be fair, you were the last team ‘in the bench’ avaliable, and we are all praying for no Omega Events by now, or things will go really Foxtrot worldwide!” said Diana, and Jiminy could see, by her voice in the Dispatch comm, that she was really tired.

“Are you okay, Diana?” asked Jiminy

“Just tired…“ said Diana “Hadn’t too much sleep since the Attack: just 8 hours in 72.” said Diana

“If you want to take some sleep, I assume the Dispatch!” said Jiminy

“Kid, it’s a big of a bite for you…“ said Diana “But… Let us do this way: Colonel Carlos will take Dispatch for the Berets, and you’ll help him by dealing with HSF, okay? Really could have a use for some sleep.” said Diana

“Okay!” said Jiminy and another voice, that he saw as Colonel Carlos, that he knew during the previous tour at Roque Santeiro.

“Good. Carlos, Jiminy, Dispatch is yours. Remember: we are at Code Red, Alpha Situation. Any serious event, wake me up. I’ll be here in my room.” said Diana

“Roger!” both said

Jiminy was very useful, by coordinating the cape teams to rebuild the local infrastructure and defense lines. He was doing the best for his job when one of Roque Santeiro’s intel guys called him.

“Jiminy Cricket, Corporal McDaggert, Irish Army, sir!” said him, in a window from Dispatch video-conference system. He wasn’t on the same room, but into a big barrack with a big, green-white-orange flag at his back. “We received a video that sounds like Caliphate propaganda from our guys that monitors the Deep Web. One of them felt strange after seeing the video, and another send me it. Didn’t saw it and remembered you have some Mastermind powers and could help us on this. Could you have a look on it?”

“Right. Colonel Carlos, Dispatch is all yours for some minutes, okay?” said Jiminy

“Roger!” said Colonel Carlos while Jiminy received the video via a secure, Asimov-encrypted link.

The video started with a kind of ethnical fanfare, and many things written in Arabic. Some of them he understood from the basics on arabic Djanni teached him while he was casted after the Kwazani operation. Things like Crusaders, and Pigs and Heretics where showed in the screen. Then he activated the subtitles and noted that the Irish guys did a good job on translating this thing. There was a little man into a turban and traditional Arabic clothes that started to talk.

“We had success into breaking into the Crusader’s hideout called Roque Santeiro. We freed some of our brothers and took 50 girls to provide us new soldiers, Mujaheddin for Allah the Most High, to smite the unbelievers and bring them the words of Muhammad the Prophet (PBUH). But there’ll be even more. We’ll take all our brothers around the world and will raise our arms in the Holy Jihad against the Crusaders, to free our brothers in the sub-Saharan countries, to unify the followers of The Only God Allah and shows the world he’s the Only One. I thereby urge, in name of the Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful, to all the Muslim, all the brothers part of the Ummah around the world, to act against the Crusaders and join us in the Holy Jihad to show the infidels that Allah is the One, and that the Mahdi is coming to cleanse the world from the evil!”

Jiminy noticed a kind of compulsion trying to get into his mind, specially in the last part of video, and had to shield his mind against it.

“Someone else saw this video, Corporal McDaggert?” said Jiminy

“Our translators and some of the intel guys.” said McDaggert.

“If you can, quarantine them for a day or two. Take some excuse to see how they act discreetly. This video is laced with some kind of mind-bending compulsion. I felt like he was trying to put me under his will, and the tone he used looked similar of my Pretty Please! power. I think this guy is an unknown Mastermind breakthrough like myself.” said Jiminy.

“Alright, I’ll do as you said.” said Corporal McDaggert. “We’ll try to find some intel about this guy too. Looks like he’s under the radar by some time.”

“Alright.” said Jiminy “I’ll show this for Diana and Lesley as soon as possible. By now, asks the Asimov guys to do their best and block this video. I don’t know which could happen people saw this here.”

“Roger, we’ll do it ASAP. Out.” said the Corporal McDaggert disconnecting from the video chat.

Jiminy made a copy of the file into a special flash drive he had, Vernetech and Asimov encrypted so they could not be used by others, his own DNA and brain waves acting as key to encrypt and decrypt the files. A very new Vernetech trick, but useful.

“Had you heard our talk, Colonel Carlos?” said Jiminy

“Yeah. Didn’t saw this video, but looks like something dangerous. Is this guy that powerful?” said Carlos

“Looks like: Masterminds that have will-bending powers like me and him have some kind of restrictions. As you know, I can’t use Pretty Please! to make someone go mean or violent. Looks like this guy have not this restriction. Maybe the message was weak on me as I’m not a Muslim…“ said Jiminy “Maybe I’ll need to try this with Djanni, albeit this would be risky.”

“Do you think that this power using could be more effective against Muslims?” sound Carlos

“Maybe… I don’t know, however, if it’s his power or just his rhetoric… I’ll need to see more about this. I made a copy of this one on my special flash drive as evidence if needed.” said Jiminy “I took a snapshot on the guy, maybe we should work with intelligence people to find more about him.”

“Send me this, I’ll send for LDS and UN people to work surveillance for extra intel.” said Colonel Carlos, while Jiminy send the image.

“Right. Let us focus on the job and then get some rest when the shift goes.” said Jiminy

“So, you received that video?” said Diana

“The Irish intelligence guys took it from the Deep Web. Looks like it was laced with some kind of will-bending suggestion, like my Pretty Please!, I felt it.” said Jiminy, when everyone was together at the meeting room “I need to say, Djanni, that looks like this guy is trying to radicalize Muslims, and not only by rhetorics: looks like his will-bending power is like mine.”

“Could we test this?” said Soldaire

“This is the problem: looks like his Pretty Please!-like power is focused on people from his own faith. The only way to test it is to see a Muslim reaction for this video.” said Jiminy “But I don’t want not do this with you, Djanni, if you don’t want, because I don’t know how strong his will-bending compulsion can be on you. In fact, I felt myself worryingly susceptible to get into his compulsion, and I’m originally a non-follower Catholic and a cape that knows how his power works, this should make me immune.”

“I have no issues to do this.” said Djanni “I’ve been well educated in the Qu’ran, I can see any haram very fast. And we need to stop this perversion on the Prophet’s words (PBUH). Those guys and that fatwa were from the same kind, and I passed through it… I think I can deal with this.”

“Okay.” said Dumont. “But we’ll have Kuntur and LionHeart nearby you if needed. We can’t be naive enough to believe that this could not affect you. Also, Jiminy, I want you to be ready to Pretty Please! him as strongly as you can if needed.”

“Alright.” said Jiminy, putting the flash-drive and playing the video in the meeting room screen. While everyone looked to it, as flabbergasted than he was, Jiminy looked for Djanni, and he saw his face growing angry and angry, until…

He punched the screen with all he could, his face into a strong rage, smashing the TV into smithereens, scraps of it all around the room:

“Shut the f–k up, you murtadd!!!!”, screamed Djanni, “You Zindiq!”

“Pretty Please!, Djanni, calm down yourself!” said Jiminy, and Djanni got back his own feet, trembling.

“Are you okay, Djanni?” asked Sugarplum

“No… It was… Evil! It’s haram! Haram! Haram! What this guy is doing is haram!” said Djanni “I just didn’t felt under his poisoned honey words because Ozma and Chakra tricks!”

When in Metrocon, Herós Sans Frontières team gave and saw some lectures from other teams. One of those lectures, given by Chakra and Ozma, was about psychic invasion, suggestions and hypnotic trances, on how detect and avoid them. The trick was to choose something that could say or sing mentally when suspecting someone was trying to put you into hypnotic suggestion or invasion. Jiminy chosen When you wish upon a star and Give a little whistle, from Pinocchio, and for Djanni was reciting all the 99 names of Allah and the Shadahah, the testimony of “That there is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God”.

To be so strong that, even using Chakra’s tricks, Djanni almost felt into that trance, this guy would have a really strong will-bending power.

“That’s okay, Djanni! You’re now with friends. Pretty Please!, get calm again.” said Jiminy, thinking he was needing another Pretty Please! to get back to his normal stance.

Djanni got back to his calm, albeit was shaken.

“This guy is using the Allah’s gift of power, the breakthrough, to bind the will of others, for hate. I could hear he asking me to hate everyone and everything that was impure under Allah, everyone that wasn’t part of the Ummah! To kill the Kafir, Shirk, Zindiq, murtadd! He justify himself as the Mahdi , he treats himself as the Mahdi!” said Djanni, shaken, crying while talking “He’s seeing himself as powerful as The Prophet (PBUH)! And I almost fell under his sweet poisoned words!”

“Easy, Djanni!” said Dumont, while Jiminy was going to give him a little hug.

“Yeah! It’s not your fault! Jiminy was right!” confirmed Sugarplum “Looks like this guy is a Mastermind like Jiminy. Jiminy, how strong he is, in your opinion?”

Normally, heroes with the same set of powers can somehow avail each other based on their own relative strength. So, Ajaxes avail themselves, like Atlases or, in Jiminy Cricket case, Masterminds. With training, a good breakthrough, or even a common person, is able to do a somewhat precise power grading, but the best ratings are done by those with the same power set.

“B-Class at least… I think, hope I’m wrong, that he can even be an Ultra based on Djanni’s reaction. I could say that we should take him as A-Class like me, possibly an Ultra, but fortunately not an Omega.” said Jiminy, saying, looking over Djanni’s shoulder, that needed a friend’s hug “The biggest problem is his Do as I said power is less limited.”

“Do as I’ve said?” asked Diana

“All will-bending powers Masterminds have are taken as a single power at Barlow’s, called Do as I’ve said.” said Jiminy “My own is called Pretty Please! because this is one of my restrictions: I need to explicitly use the words Pretty Please! before my power engage. And this is important: any Do as I’ve said power some kind of restriction, limitation, trigger or setback, normally a bunch of them. One of the ways to know how much powerful a Mastermind is puts on accord how many or few of them his Do as I’ve said power have: the less he has, the more powerful he is. I suspect that this guy doesn’t have a trigger word, like me, I’ll try to see this again to understand his power better. Djanni, now I need you to remember what you felt while hearing his discourse.” said Jiminy “This will help us to understand how this guy’s powers works and how powerful he is.”

“Alright!” said Djanni, breathing, trying to focus his mind “I felt him talking with power and authority, and I could hear something in the back. I can’t say if this was subliminal or it was my mind playing tricks with me, but he started to scream ‘Jihad, Jihad, Jihad!’ all the time, and also Kafir, Shirk, Zindiq, murtadd. This was making me hating everyone non-Ummah, non-Muslim, around me. And, when I almost felt into his power, ready to bring death to infidels… I felt myself getting back when I gone into the Shadahah, and noted that he was tricking with my mind. And… I feel myself dirty!” said Djanni, almost crying “Almost attacked you all. I could had killed you, Jiminy, and Sugarplum and Dumont and Soldaire. You were the main targets in my mind when in rage against infidels…“ he said, crying.

“It’s okay, Djanni. You were out of yourself. I’m sorry.” said Jiminy, starting to cry together “It would be my fault if you gone a killer.”

“No, Jiminy… It’s…“ tried to say Djanni

“It’s no one here’s fault.” pouted Sugarplum “Those kind of hate guy is the worst kind of people you could see. Those guys of the Undying Caliphate, Humanity First, Paladins, NAWB… There’s no talk with them: they took Law of retaliation, Lex Talionis, to their heart. Eye by eye, the world will be blind.”

“Mahatma Gandhi.” quoted LionHeart “This is like those gangs from the Bronx. They looked Bronx Shoulder as a weapon to cleanse the neighborhood from cops and so.”

“Like the Pure God Work Fraternity.” said Jiminy

“At least,” said Diana “you helped us, Djanni. What could you say, Jiminy?”

“His power is B-Class at least. Sounds like a kind of psychotic breakthrough, because he can induce hate on others via his Do as I’ve said Mastermind power…“

“Call them Sword Verse. I heard it into my mind.” said Djanni

“Sword verse?” said Jiminy.

“‘Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful!’ It’s the fifth verse of the ninth sura of the Holy Qu’ran. Those who are against the Qu’ran says this is a warn cry against infidels, considering the first part, about sieges, slaying and ambushes… But the next verse is even more important, that made me choose how to use my powers: ‘if any of the idolaters seeks of thee protection, grant him protection till he hears the words of God; then do thou convey him to his place of security – that, because they are a people who do not know.’ We are not here to be judges, but helpers, for glory of Allah the Forgiving and Merciful.” said Djanni “And I think this guy is just looking on the first part of the Sword Verse.”

“So,” said Dumont “Sounds as appropriate to call it this way.”

“Okay…“ said Jiminy “So, the now named Sword Verse can induce hate in people, and affects even more Muslims, as it is focused on them. Looks he has no kind of trigger words, like my Pretty Please!, so we need to be cautious when dealing with this guy’s videos. Any video from this guy can be laced with his powers: without a trigger word, only a Mastermind could detect it.”

“Looks coherent, as the original post-Event Caliphate was formed by a guy, Armagan Acar, that sounds like was an Ultra Mastermind. Maybe they somehow were able to recreate those powers, or another Mastermind took his place. This guy could be the one we were trying to find.” said Diana

“So, we’ll need to deal with this creepypasta?” said Sugarplum

“And soon: LDS and Israel patience is growing small. Some people said that Mossad is already mapping POI targets for nuclear action… And don’t say me ‘they don’t have nukes’: it’s an open secret that Israel is a nuclear power. Some conspiration theorist even thinks that Israel had nuked himself Tel Aviv to justify an action against the West Bank and Gaza. I don’t believe it, but for the ones that associates Israel with ethnical cleansing and straight powermongering, this all make sense: they would only need an excuse to restore Eretz Israel and the Caliphate gave it. There’s no saints in politics.” sighed Diana

“But how we’ll find this guy?” said Jiminy

They all heard a siren and the Earbug of all of them ringing.

“We have a Code Red situation! This is not a training!” said Dispatch “There’s some tangos coming!”

“What?” said Diana

Chapter 13

“Two attacks in less then a week… Those guys were persistent, and we were in extreme situation. And in extreme situations, real heroic acts happens.”

Diana Souza, “Report on Roque Santeiro attacks by the Undying Caliphate”

Everyone got into their positions. The new improvement in SolArmor, called Gen3, have a bigger using time, coming for two hours, although it would be risky to overuse it, and Soldaire donned it as soon they got out the meeting room.

“Djanni, stay nearby Dispatch!” said Soldaire “Jiminy, on Dispatch. Cajun, out the bench and near Djanni. Sugarplum, Dumont and Kuntur, fly now. Hufflepuff and LionHeart, on me. Everyone armed and ready. Looks like they want to bring us the Foxtrot, so we’ll make them dance it!”

“Everyone to their positions. Lesley, Corin and Cabby, I want you in the near the Dispatch. Lesley, support on medical teams. Corin, deal with internal security. Cabby, any emergency, you engage the evacuation protocols. I’m going to the field. Carlos, Jiminy, Dispatch is all yours. Situation is a go!” said Diana.

“Jiminy, let me stay with you… I’m not that confident that I was not manipulated.” said Djanni, fearing something.

“Okay, Djanni… Pretty Please!, stay with Cajun. Cajun, if you think there’s anything weird with Djanni, call me ASAP. But I believe he’s not a weak one to get into this guy poisoned words.” said Jiminy, entering Dispatch

“Oui, Jiminy Criquet!” said Cajun.

Jiminy took away the Top Hat and put the headset and hitted his login information. “Diana, are you going for field?” said Jiminy when he saw Diana information on Dispatch screen.

“Yeah! Those guys brought the Foxtrot again and this pisses me off. They want to dance the samba? Hope they have the hips!” she said, and by the tone Diana looked business.

“Jiminy, there’s a Deep Web live-streaming this thing. And looks that somewhere else is that guy. What should we do?” said a Jovert Pienaar, from South African National Defense Force.

“Put our Asimovs to try and track this guy’s IP down… No matter where, he need to connect somewhere in the Internet before get into Deep Web. We’ll take the chance and try to find him.” said Jiminy “For now, block the IP access for the site, NOW!” said Joshua.

“We’re working on it, but looks like there’s no way to block that aside a total shutdown.” said Jovert.

“Forget it so: internal security, be ready for a Code Red, even a Charlie Foxtrot.” said Jiminy, while seeing the screens in front of him “Soldaire, Jiminy on Dispatch: looks they have a big army before you.”

“You don’t say!” said Soldaire, trying to reduce the grim situation with a joke. Jiminy knows why: he feared Jiminy’s Bellax Analytica could go haywire again and make him useless.

“Alright, let us see our actual situation!” said Jiminy “They are bigger than us 10 per 1, and they have 4 breakthroughs per 1 of ours, mainly Ajaxes, but you can think on them having all the kind of powers. Also… They are live-streaming all this on Deep Web.”

“What? Jiminy, you can…“ said Diana

“Cut this? Yes… But we need to find that hatemongering guy, and so, it’s better to take a risk and find him, putting our Asimovs to search the Deep Web for the streamer.” said Jiminy

“Okay, hope you’re right.” said Diana “Those guys are coming for the barnstormer dance.”

“They are bringing the Foxtrot. So we’ll make them dance!” said Jiminy. “Let’s go!”

They got in front, Soldaire, Hufflepuff, LionHeart and Kuntur at the ground, Dumont and Sugarplum at the air, Sugarplum as a Tink: she was faster in this mode, and she could go and ward almost everyone in Roque Santeiro in moments.

“Jiminy, what about changing the weather?” said Sugarplum

“No! They have their own Merlins for sure! Better to use the weather control as aggressively you can. Think you ready some tricks before.” said Jiminy

“Yeah! Ozma said me we need to be as prepared as possible.” said Sugarplum “And already had some ideas.”

“Okay!” Jiminy said “Dumont, Sugarplum, give them our greet!”

“All the troops! Lock and Load! Let us make them dance the Foxtrot!” said Carlos.

“Dumont, I’ll need you for the long range shoot.” said Jiminy, when the first guys were at fire range “Fire!!”

“Alright! Tesla Shot Barrage!” said Dumont.

Lots of small needles, made of a kind of Vernetech aluminum alloy, got from behind Demoiselle and gone to the targets hitting many of them straight, some energy pulses being saw: the electromagnetic pulse doing a powerful recoy and making them gone unconscious and in pain.

“Good one, Dumont!” said Jiminy “That cleared some of the tangos! Already designated your targets! All of them looks like Ajaxes, B- or C-Class!”

“Now is with us, Pepito Grillo!” said Hufflepuff “It’s time for LUCHA!” he screamed, running to the biggest tango he could, grappling them into instants and punching it.

“Now it’s time for justice! Twenty-first Century Police Force… SOLDAIRE!” said Soldaire, doing a flamboyant sequence of gestures and poses before engaging fight.

LionHeart and Kuntur just shrugged and engaged their designated targets.

Sugarplum recited something and pointed a special wand made of holly she prepared recently to somewhere in the middle of the tangos. A ball of yellow lighting gone to the ground, working like a kind of gigantic concussion grenade, disabling lots of the tangos.

“Great, Sugarplum!” said Jiminy “Good news: almost no more common tangos on your range, Diana. Bad news: the breakthrough tangos are trying to flank you!” he said, looking for the ghost-future images from his Bellax Analytica overlapping his own present time.

“How many, Pepito Grillo?” said Kuntur, after throwing a tango Atlas against other tangos

“Not too much, but things will grew worse: the rabble already fell, but they are still 3 per 1 and at least B-Classes!” said Jiminy, when they heard something via the Earbug.

The Shadahah being played into a way Jiminy recognized easily.

“Jiminy, I’m not well!” said Djanni, desperate “I feel that hate voice growing on myself!”

“Everyone, prepares for a Charlie Foxtrot, a big one!” shouted Jiminy “What about that location, Sargent Pienaar?”

“Found a potential place!” said the South African intel man “But they are doing countermeasures: looks like they have their own Asimovs!”

“Get out!” ordered Jiminy “Code Red situation: blackout on outside comms! Only Earbug!”

“Jiminy Criquet, Djanni is going crazy!” said Cajun

“Hold him, even with Blacklocks if needed! Corin, give Cajun help!” shouted Jiminy

“What is happening?” said Diana

“I know: I’m feeling it… It’s a post-hypnotic suggestion! That Sword Verse is a very strong power!” replied Jiminy, feeling even more worry as he was into a fight in two fronts, his Bellax Analytica splitting and multiplying and dangerously growing more and more difficult to control.

“Jiminy, I’ll take the battle!” shouted Carlos, seeing Jiminy’s uneasiness “Focus on the Code Red!”

“Alright!” said Jiminy, getting out the station and running to Djanni

“He’s growing crazy!” said Corin. Cajun and Djanni’s parents were nearby. Djanni was screaming in pain and hate, while being held by Corin, the only one able to stop Djanni as an A-Class Ajax himself.

“Pretty Please!, Djanni! This is not you! This is a crazy guy that believes himself the Mahdi, messing your mind!” pleaded Jiminy.

Djanni was screaming: “Murtadd! Murtadd! Haram! Haram! Kafir! Shirk! Zindiq! Murtadd!” and looking in rage.

It was when Jiminy looked for him and, crying, slapped Djanni’s face: “PRETTY PLEASE!, STOP IT!!!”

Djanni looked for Jiminy furious, and tried to advance for him, but it was when someone else slapped him.

It was his father.

“Stop it! In the name of the Compassionate, the Merciful, the Forgiving, Allah the Most High! No matter what others says: we are not and were never a warmongering faith!” commanded Zayn Tahan, while looking his son feeling both Do As I’ve said powers, Pretty Please! and Sword Verses, fighting inside him “And if the Most High gave you the power of being stronger than the lion, you should also be peaceful as the sheep and wise as the serpent!”

Djanni fell crying, but Jiminy noted he was back to his best.

“Cabby, engage evacuation protocol, but held the run. Corin, take Dispatch in my place. Lesley, help medical support, look like we’ll need them.” shouted Jiminy, trying to hold himself the best he could “Djanni, Pretty Please!, help me! I REALLY need you now, we need you now, we can’t defeat them without you! Remember Ozma and Chakra’s tips! I need you to get over this mental control! This guy is trying to take you to their murderous forces, and we need to stop them, to avoid even more suffering!” begged Jiminy

“Son, hear Jiminy Cricket. No matter what this hate guy says, no matter Jiminy being an Infidel, Jiminy is more with Allah the Most High than him. He helped you and was with you and with us from the very beginning. He’s your friend above and after all, and he never took you as a terrorist, as you never took him as a Crusader. Now, son, free yourself and release this burden from your mind.” said Mr. Tahan with a wise voice.

Djanni felt over his knees and praised, still crying. “Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful!” he shouted almost crying, before going into his feet. “Sorry about all this…“

“Let us do what we need to and we’ll cry together later.” said Jiminy, cleaning his own tears, while Djanni done the same with his.

It was when they heard Corin at the Earbug “We have rioters all around the camp! Some of them took the radio station! Looks like they were sleeper agents!”

“They will use it to play a Sword Verse-_laced record to radicalize people!”_ said Djanni

“Let’s go!” said Jiminy, showing a hook getting out his costume’s collar, part of the harnesses he uses in the costume as a way to be flown away by the fliers from the team.

“Let me go with you!” said Squirrel Girl, turning herself into a small meerkat and getting into one of the big pockets front Jiminy’s tails.

One of the recent modifications made by Dumont on Jiminy costume included a new hook inside his costume that Djanni could use to take and lift Jiminy, bringing Jiminy to the skies with him.

“Give us the fast route to the station, quick!” said Jiminy

“Alright!” said Corin “Sending you! The Berets can’t hold too much! We can’t open fire, but they want to pass over, even by killing the Berets! This can grow into a bloodbath!”

They flew very fast, Jiminy holding his hat and eyes close to avoid problems, when he saw four guys, all of them looking like refugees, with knives and clubs, and the Berets were not able to stop them. Squirrel Girl dropped from Jiminy’s pocket, changing from a meerkat to a skunk.

“Alright, Djanni, let get down! We need to stop them!” said Jiminy “Don’t abuse on strength, but go all out with speed!”

“Roger!” said Djanni, looking a little better and more focused.

When Jiminy and Djanni dropped, Squirrel Girl already sprayed the front guys with her skunk perfume, and Jiminy used his Jiminy cane to avoid the tangos’ attacks and attacking them with his Jiminy Cane in the Taser mode, knocking two of the attackers out. One of them tried to run into the radio, but Djanni put itself between him and the door, and punched him straight in the belly, making him gasp and get down, unconscious.

The last one, unfortunately, got inside, running to the controls. Jiminy used his Jiminy Cane laser and shoot him straight into his hand, which made him yelp, while Squirrel Girl got and sprayed also him. Djanni got nearby when Jiminy looked his Bellax Analytica!

“Suicide Bomber!” shouted Jiminy, and he jumped, ignoring Squirrel Girl’s skunk perfume, hitting his Jiminy Cane straight in the man’s right hand, before the man could activate the explosives. Then, he attacked the man with the Taser in maximum strength, hitting him in the hand and making him feel the spasms on all his body, the lethal contacts from the bomb away from each other.

Djanni looked and wooed: “Wow… Jiminy, you saved our lives!”

Jiminy got in a corner, almost trembling, when the Berets came and removed the guy carefully.

“Things are still escalating!” said Corin in the Dispatch “We need to stop this craziness!”

“But how?” said Jiminy, exhausted

Djanni looked for him

“We’ll do what they want, but quite the contrary!” said Djanni

“What?!” asked Jiminy

“Let us send some message of peace, lacing it with your Pretty Please! C’mon Jiminy, I lost the account on how much I saw you doing this!” said Djanni

“I don’t know if I could this… Never tried to do this using radio transmission!” exasperated Jiminy

“If that guy can do the Sword Verse this way, you can do the Pretty Please!. I saw you doing this using megaphones, FM radio is more or less the same.” said Djanni

“Alright, but I need the words: Pretty Please! will not work without them. That guy power is focused on raising hate based on ill-directed, misguided Qu’ran quoting. I don’t have any word to counter this, so I can’t stop everyone more than I could stop Humanity First to put my house down!” snapped Jiminy, crying, feeling the pressure.

Djanni came and look to him, serious.

“Look at me. I’m of the Ummah! I can do the words. I need you to use your powers to pass those words through it, convincing them we are right, reinforcing our message. We can’t be defeated by this guy, he’s only one delusional guy. We’re two, and Allah the Most High, the Compassionated, Forgiving and Merciful One will be with us.” said Djanni, taking a little green book from the pocket of his Simbad-like waistcoat. Jiminy knows it was the Holy Qu’ran. “We’ll show them what Jihad really is!” he said, taking a little notepad and pen and starting to write his own message, while Jiminy and Squirrel Girl turned on all the FM instruments.

“Jiminy, Soldaire here! We’ve pushed the wannabe invaders, but still have the local Code Red situation. If you can do something, for all that is Sacred, do it NOW! We are with problems to do the crowd control, this will go very fast into a for-real riot!” said Soldaire

Djanni finished to scribe the note, and then Joshua took it and sat in the speaker chair, placing the headphone, locked into the sound proof room, while Djanni and Squirrel Girl, back into his common human shape, except by rabbit ears and haunched legs and skunk’s tail, got to the sound table. Jiminy breathed longly, putting himself as calm as he could, concentrating himself on what he need to do, and Djanni did a countdown with his fingers beyond the soundproof room, when a light with ON on it lighted up.

“Everyone hearing this, Pretty Please!, stop the fight!” started Jiminy, knowing that his powers depends on the voice and tone and words, adjusting those correctly “You are being misled. You are being used by someone whose ambitions are haram, are against the Qu’ran, and that would only hurt the Ummah, the People of Islam. In the sixth verse of the ninth sura, Mohammad the Prophet (PBUH) said: ‘if any of the idolaters seeks of thee protection, grant him protection till he hears the words of God; then do thou convey him to his place of security – that, because they are a people who do not know.’ You are all in the same place: you were forgotten by people that ignored Allah the Most High, Mohammad the Prophet (PBUH), and Jesus, or Isa, Peace Be with Him. They are the ultimate idolaters, because they know, but seek and idolize power, not Allah’s justice. They are the ultimate unbelievers, because they know, but they doesn’t follow Mohammad’s words. They are the ultimate aposthaste, because they know, but distorts the High One’s words, revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) by Gibril, to their own means. They treat you like dirt. Stop your fight now and hear the words of Allah the Most High, as revealed by Mohammad the Prophet (PBUH)” said Jiminy, while he started to say the quotes from the Qu’ran chosen by Djanni.

“Incredible!” said Cabby, looking to the people around stopping the fight.

“Sacre Bleu!” said Cajun via the Earbug “You’re doing a miracle, you two!”

“Dispatch! Here’s security! There’s almost no more fight!” said someone “Some focused brawling, but the lion’s share just stopped, those staying on fight being well-known troublemakers.”

“They are getting away! We’re doing it!” said Djanni

All those came to Jiminy thanks the sound monitor linked to his Earbug, but Jiminy thought that this was not enough.

“Now,” said Jiminy “This is the words from Isa, Peace be with him, Jesus, as said by Him into the Mount of Galilee.” Djanni looked a little surprised, but Jiminy started “This is me, Jiminy Cricket, for everyone at Roque Santeiro, saying that hate should not have space here. We’re all suffering, we’re all in the same boat, no matter each one’s origin or creed.”

“Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God.” said Jiminy Cricket, calm and suave.

“Jiminy, Corin here! They stopped! Almost no one is fighting now! They’re stopping!” shouted Corin via Earbug, which made them cry.

“Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful!” praised Djanni happily “We did it! We did it! We stopped the Sword Verse!”

They looked to Jiminy, that wasn’t well, almost falling in the chair

“Jiminy?” said Djanni

“Just… Exhausted… Need to… Rest…“ whispered Jiminy, trying to get out the chair, but almost falling when trying to stand on his own feet.

Squirrel Girl turned back to his normal squirrelly girl fashion and said: “Now, Jiminy, rest a little!”

“No time for…“ said Jiminy, trying to get over his feet.

“Jiminy, here’s Dispatch. The tangos retreated. We have some casualties, but no kills under our side. LionHeart had the worst, but he’s just with a dislocated arm, not too much for an Ajax.”

“Now, Jiminy. Take some sleep. You and Djanni did very well.” said Diana

“And we have some intel about this guy!” said Corporal McDaggert “The Asimov guys did their drill in the meantime and took some intel about them. The tangos disconnected and maybe will try to move away, but we had them locked into target!”

Jiminy gave a little smile and nodded off, Squirrel Girl carrying him, her tail as a pillow for him, while they got out of the radio.

Chapter 14

“One the things I like the most in our CAI teams at Herós Sans Frontières is: we have people from all origins. In fact, my team is basically a mishmash of people from all around the world: a Brazilian Dandy, a convicted under parole from Bronx, a ballerina from North Carolina, a Japanese super-armored hero, a Tecnico Luchador from Mexico, a flying condor from Bolivia, a flamboyant swordman from Quebec, and two kids, a Tunisian Refugee and the messy Mastermind from Newark that wrote those words. Mixing so much kinds of breakthroughs, powers, skills, and origins, we could do things that others couldn’t. As we did in the Sword Verse attacks’ aftermath.”

Jiminy Cricket, “From Dress-up to save up: an underage breakthrough story”

“So…“ said Jiminy

“People are still into a terrible mood.” said Diana “Two attacks in less than a week… There’s lots of people going to other refugee camps, like Dadaab or Kakuma, feeling that Roque Santeiro is no more safe. And I can’t blame them, to be fair: they fear that those post-hypnotic thing from Sword Verse could get back, even the Muslims are fearing to do the wrong prayer and trigger other post-hypnotic triggers and gone amok trying to kill people, even on their own.”

“Understand…“ said Jiminy “So, you want me to do this job with the Clowns Without Borders guys.”

“Yeah!” said Diana “I think that we can use this to do some covert surveillance: as far I understood, Pretty Please! and Sword Verse are similar and opposite powers, that Do as I said thing. So, I think you can detect those that could be under a post-hypnotic trance, or at least those that could react weird against your Pretty Please! And by doing this while being Spotty the Clown, you could take people unguarded: they would get themselves guarded against a cape like Jiminy Cricket, but a little clown like Spotty could be seen as inoffensive and so people could let their guard down, even those with the triggers. Besides, after all that happened, I think that everyone needs a laugh: we don’t need Boggarts or Dementors here, and we don’t have a werewolf Defense Against Dark Arts teacher to help, so we’ll do this with a little clown.” she said, smiling

Jiminy smiled… He though on who could do this and who could help him, besides the Clown Without Borders guys.

He talked with his team. Sugarplum, Dumont and LionHeart proposed to help him with other things: Dumont said he could do some limelights, while Sugarplum could use some little magic sprinkles to make everything more beautiful and LionHeart could go for some juggling show or other things. Hufflepuff said him to do a makeshift lucha show: everyone knows that some of lucha fights are scened, but there was always Kayfabe, or La Passion por La Lucha as he said. By doing this, Hufflepuff could use LionHeart’s old supervillain alter-ego, The Bronx Shoulder, and do something nice and fun.

Djanni accepted the role of Jiminy’s, or better, Spotty’s clown partner: Mrs. Tahan made his clown costume, as the Tahans and McCarthys got back for Geneva after the second attack against Roque Santeiro for security reasons. She would send him from Geneva in the next cargo freight for Roque Santeiro, while he would share some of the makeup Jiminy brought from the clown camp. To avoid the language issue, they would adapt some of the skits and do physical comedy skits.

“But which ones we could do?” said Djanni

“We can see some skits at ViewTube and see if they are funny and there’s also the skit book I gained at clown camp.” said Jiminy, opening the book and his notebook to see the ViewTube videos “We have 15 days to do the show. And to do what Diana asked us.”

“Alright!” said Djanni.

They rehearsed all the free time they had, and they had a fundamental support: Brick-A-Brack and Mimi helped them while rehearsing and designing Djanni’s clown face via video-conference.

And Jiminy found a good way to detect people that could be at the post-hypnotic suggestion from Sword Verse:

“Djanni, we’ll go and I’ll use my Pretty Please! in the middle of the parade to detect people that could be under a post-hypnotic trance like you were, then we’ll indicate them for the others. The idea is that they’ll be sent for double-check to Squirrel Girl. She would remove the triggers from those that would be under that suggestion.” said Jiminy, after one of their rehearsals.

“Great! That thing was horrible… Need to say, I never felt so much rage and hate when that time.” said Djanni

“I think we can find people that are consciously working for that Sword Verse guy. I said Diana to publicly publish our report, specially my analysis on his power. This guy is full on hubris, he would make people try to find me. And if they did their job really good, five minutes of Net-Fu and they’ll discover that Joshua McCarthy IS Jiminy Cricket IS Spotty the Clown.” said Jiminy

“But you’ll be at risk!” said Djanni

“As by the Go proverb: ‘Your life point is enemy’s one’ If we don’t show them we are after any intel on them, they’ll not be feel endangered. If they feel that way, they’ll sooner or later make mistakes. And on those mistakes we’ll gather more intel on them. We’ll play sente, with initiative and pro-activity, and they’ll play gote, just doing what we are expecting them to.” said Jiminy, getting ready for next skit rehearsal.

They did their best and, in the last rehearsal, they showed the full show for Brick-a-Brack and Mimi, and they approved the skits, including the finishing one, Dead and Alive!

“This is very classic, and Joshua, as you’ll be the ‘dead’, Altayr will not have problems on moving and supporting you, as he’s an Atlas. Altayr you’ll just need to remember the timing for all things.” said Michelle.

“And remember to play silly and play safe.” said Tammy.

“Alright! Thank you! Tomorrow will be the day.” said Joshua. “They’ll show this live on ViewTube. Diana thinks that this could be good PR for Herós Sans Frontières, to show we are people as everyone, except by the powers.”

“Sounds like a nice idea.” said Tammy “Now, go take some sleep. Remember: clowns needs to be on their best to make people laugh.”

“Right. Thanks for everything. Out.” said Jiminy, finishing the talk.

Djanni and Jiminy woke up early next day and, after a good breakfast, they gone for a barrack that was near some of the Clowns without Borders people where they left all the things from them as clowns, Spotty and Almuhraj. They dressed on their clothes and made their makeup, when LionHeart and Sugarplum came in.

“Dumont said everything is ready for the stream. Are you ready?” said Sugarplum, into his best ballerina attire, just a small V-line in the back so she could open her wings if needed.

“We are. Are you Almuhraj?” said Jiminy, or better, Spotty.

“Ready! Bump a nose, Spotty!” said Djanni, or better, Almuhraj.

“Diana said us to assure you you would be under Earbugs: we never know someone could try any weird thing.” said LionHeart, in his old-timey Jacket and black mask as The Bronx Shoulder.

“Okay.” said Spotty, putting the Earbug.

“Okay! Let’s go! Bump a nose you two!” said Sugarplum, that knew that Bump a Nose was the clown’s Break a leg

Spotty and Almuhraj took their Kazoos, high-fived for luck and support, and gone into a small car, while Sugarplum put a little charm on them before Cabby started to drive it all around Roque Santeiro, Spotty and Almuhraj playing silly renditions of musics and calling people for the show.

“Pretty Please!, come to ‘Roque Santeiro together’ show, it will be very funny! S’il vous plaît!, venez à ‘Roque Santeiro ensemble’, Ça va être très amusant! Jamilat min fidlak!, watati ‘iilaa ‘ruk santiru maea’ almaerid, wasawf yakun madhakaan jiddaan!” said both Spotty and Almuhraj all around the camp. It was Almuhraj, or better, Djanni’s idea: Jiminy never tried his Pretty Please! in other languages. Maybe, by using the same trigger in other languages, he could lace people easily into his Pretty Please!

And Diana’s and Djanni’s ideas paid profits: here and there Spotty, or better, Jiminy, saw some people that didn’t fell in the Pretty Please! or react weirdly for it. He just did a little weird gesture to them: this could pass as part of the zaniness, but, in fact, was a pointer for Sugarplum amd the others show, via Mask-cam, the affected people.

Squirrel Girl, Cajun, Corin and Dr. Derek Stiles, a small and timid doctor from CADUCEUS allocated at Roque Santeiro, then gone to them and discreetly asked some questions, to find if any of them was under the Sword Verse post-hypnotic suggestion. They could take whose to Squirrel Girl remove their triggers.

When they arrived to the big show stage, Spotty and Almuhraj had gone for the backstage: there were already some musical shows, including ethnic music from some Leonean people, a show from some of the Leonean that played pop music, and other shows into a big festival, the so-called ‘Roque Santeiro Together’ show.

To start Dumont did his Steam and Steel Show, a kind of steampunk stage magic and performance show full of lights and things moving at the sound of Carmina Burana and TRON soundtrack. Then came a ballet presentation with Sugarplum, doing the Sugarplum Fairy Dance from Nutcracker ballet with some of the refugees that were ballerinas or had interest on dancing.

And it was followed by the Lucha challenge between Hufflepuff and The Bronx Shoulder, a big Rudo that was, in fact, LionHeart under his old mask (all approved by his parole officer). They simulated a Lucha de Apuestas, but it was done into a way to make Bronx Shoulder lose, having his mask ripped apart by Hufflepuff, after that LionHeart talked about himself (as people knew about him), and how there was always a way out of crime.

By the end, Soldaire, into a very beautiful ringmaster-like costume said:

“And now!” Soldaire said, and some local translators did the real-time translation in French, Arabic and some local dialects. “To finish our ‘Roque Santeiro together’ show, a small comedy show with two little clowns from our heroes roster. Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, give a big cheer up for Clowns without Borders and our little clowns Spotty and Almuhraj!”

The people gave the cheer and all the clowns got there, and the zaniness started. Skit after skit they made the public roar in laughter, until came the last one, Dead and Alive!

They did all the intro, including the moment that Almuhraj gave a fake slap in Spotty (with all the safety precautions) and all the moments with Spotty ‘dead’, being moved and supported by Almuhraj, until, when they were in the last move, where Almuhraj took Spotty and held him over his shoulders, Spotty, or better, Jiminy, while making a zany face and waving for the crowd, saw something with his Bellax Analytica.

A guy with a weapon, a small one, that could kill him, even don’t making more than a scratch at Djanni!

But they had thought all the time on this possibility during the rehearsals:

“If someone could attack us, we need to provide some codes that could indicate danger is coming, using them the presentation without changing things. When I’m in the ‘board’ moment, I could gave a little extra push into your legs… When you lift me, I could discreetly tap your side and so on. And you also could provide some codes like that, so we could be safe from any Sword Verse-_induced potential tango.”_

Jiminy just gave the taps into Djanni’s side at the right time: when the guy shoot the gun, Djanni turned out and, using his Atlas’ reflexes, took the bullet into his hand, that felt no more than a wasp sting, and discreetly pointed to the man. Joshua felt something and he discreetly said via Earbug.

“Suicide Bomber. Seize him!” said him. The guy was with his hands on the detonator, but Cajun was smarter and faster: when he saw the guy trying to ignite the bomb, he had gone and cut the detonator wire and one of the man’s hands in the process. Everyone screamed, but the action was luckily timely: two Speedster came and took the guy away from the public.

“Let us finish the show!” said Jiminy discreetly for Djanni “Plan B ending!”

Djanni put Jiminy at the floor and both of them bowed to the crowd, but then they looked at each other, Jiminy faking fear, Djanni faking anger, and they run out of the stage with people roaring out laughing!

“Jiminy, are you two okay?” said Diana, via Earbug, while Djanni cleaned some of the metal chips from his hand left by the destroyed bullet.

“We’re okay. Djanni just like if a wasp stung him when stopping the bullet. And the guy?” said Jiminy

“We are profiling him now, but he’s a recent arrive.” said Diana “Didn’t looked like someone that could be a suicide bomber. Two options: sleeper agent or someone under a very powerful Sword Verse post-hypnotic trance.”

“Alright: any other intel? And the people Jiminy pointed?” said Djanni

“All under the Sword Verse, but already put under treatment” said Diana “Now, go and take the greeting from the crowd: you deserve it more than they and you know.”

Hufflepuff and LionHeart took them over their shoulder and brought them to the stage, and everyone that was in the show looked for Soldaire that chose for some reason to sing Heal the World from Michael Jackson as the last song, but with a slight touch of Enka music, he dressed into a stylish yukata, with all the others going as a choir for him. In the end, all the people in the crowd was singing with them, and Dumont’s fireworks blasted over Roque Santeiro, finishing a very important show, and action.

“Hope people learn on this all and help each other after this show.” said Jiminy in the backstage, while everyone was getting there, cheering and greeting each other, taking a little bottle of water and, after taking a gulp, passing it to Djanni

“Sounds like they’ll did. They loved the show and I think they understood the message…“ said Djanni when Sugarplum came, taking her cellphone from the ballerina tutu.

“Kids, look to this!” said her, showing some video reactions and hashtags from social networks. #roquesanteiro, #healtheworld, #spotty and #Almuhraj were all in the trending topics, but the best was see the video reactions from their parents (that were in Geneva) and from Mimi and Brick-a-Brack (that recorded on clown in a very zany way) praising the quality of their show.

“Need to say that were also the kind of crap that creepy people say those times, but they were not even .1% of all the reactions. People all around the world loved it! And look! Rolling Stones said this is the Post-Event Live-Aid, with breakthroughs instead of musicians! We brought the house down!” said Sugarplum

“Indeed, you made the donation site goes slashdotted!” said Diana, looking happy “They needed to upgrade the hosting service to deal with the donations overload! Roque Santeiro will be easily reconstructed will all the extra donations Herós Sans Frontières and Mediciens Sans Frontières will receive!”

“Great!” said Jiminy while Djanni gone for “Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful!”

“And, extra good news: we now know who is this Sword Verse guy. He sent a challenge for us full of hubris and we gathered enough intel about him to profile him, and gather even more intel!” said Diana, showing she was business.

“So… Challenge Accepted!” said Dumont, doing a meme-like face.

Chapter 15

“The Kafir, the infidel Crusaders, mocked our ways and disrespected us, and the Zindiq and murtadd, the hereticals and aposthate, turned their back for the Ummah, working with Shayaten and Iblis to bring the profanity in front of Allah the Most High. By talking about ‘tolerance’ and ‘respect’, the Crusaders only repeat the same heresies and hypocrisies they professed since Adam (Peace with Him). They can say sweet words, but only dung insects could be seen beyond them. We will accept this no more. In the name of Allah the Compassionate and Merciful, I hereby urge the Ummah, the people of Islam, against the Crusaders from that profanity den called ‘Roque Santeiro’ passing those that doesn’t recognize the time of the Mahdi is coming under the sword! We are the ones sent to cleanse the harvest for the time of the Mahdi and the fall of the Kafir. Those who joins the Holy Jihad will be the ones to join The Prophet (PBUH) at the Firdaws. Those who stay with the Crusaders will have less mercy under Allah than the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. We are the new Seif-al-Din, the Blades of the Faith, to provoke more pain and hurt to the infidels and glory for Allah the Merciful. I’m the Sword Verses, Alsyf Alayat, to urge the Ummah!”

From video posted on the Internet by the supervillain Alsyf Alayat (Sword Verses), report from Herós Sans Frontières (translation and comments: Zayn Tahan)

“There’s no much effort to see he’s in kibria’, in Hubris: by urging the Sword Verse, he is showing himself as over the Mahdi and all the Prophets from the past, from Adam to Isa, or Jesus (Peace with Them), to Mohammad (PBUH), saying what everyone in Ummah should do. We were never in past so cruel even with ours. If we are that cruel with our ones, how could us ask for peace and understanding from and with the infidels? Converting the infidel to Allah the Most High and show him the way of Peace after surrending yourself under Allah the Forgiving’s voice should be the real reason of our lives, the real way to Praise the Most High, to do what is pleasing for the Most High. Otherwise, even the infidels would be better than us, because they can and would show mercy under Allah the Most High’s eyes.”

Zayn Tahan, ‘On the Sword Verses (Alsyf Alayat)’s fatwa and his words under the Holy Qu’ran’, Herós Sans Frontières.

They were all flabbergasted after looking the video.

“So it is this? He wants to bring war against us?” said LionHeart

“This kind of guy is the worst.” said Sugarplum, disgusted “It’s not different from what KKK and Humanity First does. There’s no talk here, even with those ‘like them’: my father gave some alert shots against some guys that gone against us in Jiminy’s proccess afterwards, including a neighbor that was a Humanity First_er. He said them next time they tried to trespass our home, he would shot them to drop dead.”_

“And that’s exactly is the problem:” said Jiminy “They are crazy, and they want to make people grow resentful against those they see as impure. It’s like Kyle, it’s like Humanity First, it’s like KKK, One Land… They are people full of hate and/or that can profit on all this! I don’t think we can show them their errors and misunderstandings.”

“No chance:” said Diana “If those were one of those cheesy pre-Event comics, they would be now ‘bwahahahahaha’ and we would being SOCK BAMF BIFF WHACK each other now.”

“Problem is:” said Zayn, via video-conference, from Geneva “the Islamic people suffered a lot in the past. I’ll not judge, but Occident forgot the Islamic people for too much time before and after the Event: this gave rise for nuts like Seif-al-Din and Alsyf Alayat, the Sword Verses. However, they aren’t innocent also: they are deluded, in the best case, or warmongers, in the worst. They like violence and pain, and blood and cries are their food and music.”

“Jiminy, this video was laced?” said Dumont, worried “The last thing we need now is another surge of crazy people.”

“Doesn’t look like.” said Jiminy, shaking his head “I think this is one of his flaws: he can induce hate, but not when himself is full of it. He need to convince himself and other he’s doing ‘the right thing’, otherwise his Do as I said power malfunctions. It’s somehow like my own Pretty Please!, but reversed: I can’t induce hate on others, even if I want. He can, but only if he’s not himself full of it.”

“But how he can do this?” said Djanni “Islam is not about violence.”

“Some people disagree with you, Djanni.” said Kuntur “Looks like this guy need to bring the idea of ‘righteous violence’ and ‘vengeance’ as a way of Justice, like in the Egypt Plagues and so, to make people hateful. And looks like his interpretation of Islam is all about violence. He’s like KKK or Humanity First, that cherry-picks what they want, either in the Bible or in the Qu’ran to justify their nonsense.”

“There’s another problem:” says Zayn “Democracy, self-empowerment and individualism, for good or ill, are very occidental concepts. The oriental religions and philosophies, like Jews, Muslim and those from Far East, are more focused in the community. Look how Japan deals with their breakthroughs, with compulsory indoctrination and training. No offenses, Soldaire.”

“Apology accepted. But you’re right.” said Soldaire “I had a strong, albeit respectful, debate about this topic with the Protectors and the Heroes during Metrocon: the HSF volunteers from Japan are mostly ronin, unregistered breakthroughs and the nearest thing we have in Japan similar with the western concept of villain, and we still have problems to bring the best ones to us, as they normally go for Yakuza. I said Japan should contribute with more capes, or powers, as we call capes in Japan, to HSF, to show our force for peace. But then they said me they live for the country, that they, and the most into the Japanese powers, even putting the ronin into the account, are focused into defending Japan against potential menaces. Only a few ronin, like the deceased Three Remarkable Ronin and Kitsune, are okay on working overseas. To be fair, I’m an exception into exceptions, being a registered Japanese power that works overseas.”

“So, outside the Occident, the community’s value is bigger than the person’s. This could be a good way to achieve consensus, but they can also be a trap for fascism and other philosophies that suffocate the individual. And normally is used by those that thinks that their way is the best for everyone: many people goes into herd behavior very easily…“ said Zayn “And, in such a situation, people like Alsyf Alayat goes and flourishes.” said Zayn, a snapshot from the guy into another video in the screen. “See this video: I found it a little after the challenge video was posted: a mullah friend of mine send this for me after the recent declaration against Roque Santeiro by Alsyf Alayat. I’ve already subtitled it and send it to everyone I thought that could need this knowledge. This, however, is still being treated as classified into HSF.”

The video started: the first thing Jiminy noted was he was using a kind of veil over his face, like Djanni did, but thicker than Djanni’s, so he could see no facial traces, except by the eyes, full of hate and fanaticism.

“I’ve heard about the Zindiq that doesn’t accept my words under Allah the Most High. I will say it again: I’m Alsyf Alayat, Sword Verses, to bring Allah the Most High’s Justice to the Kafir and Zindiq. I’ve seen the eyes of Allah, my face transfigured like Musa and Isa, and like Mohammad the Prophet (PBUH) after being visited by Gibril. I can’t show my face anymore, because I had seen the Glory of Allah the Most High: my face is anathema for those that is not from the Ummah. My look is enough to burn the Kafir and Zindiq_ to ashes straight to_ Jahannan, for glory of Allah the Most High! Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful!”

Djanni was really angry.

“This is the biggest murtadd I’ve ever saw.” spat Djanni, disgusted

“He could does like he said? Burn others by his own look?” gulped Jiminy, scared

“I don’t think so.” assured Squirrel Girl “There were similar events registered, but only with some Ultra or Omega guys, and you can count in a hand’s fingers how many of them could actually burn people just by their looks. About mentally do this, it’s another story, as there’s reports about Psychotic Breakthroughs so horrid that shattered people’s minds, what we call Cthulhu events. Fortunately, they are very very rare also, albeit many times more common than what this nut says he could do.”

“I can say for sure that this video is not laced.” reassured Jiminy “It’s safe, beside the hate speech.”

“The biggest problem is: people listen to him.” said Zayn “The Caliphate War scars hadn’t healed yet: we can see this on Roque Santeiro. And, to turn things worse, Israel is not giving a word about the Undying Caliphate rise in the sub-Saharan Africa, beside the ‘Caliphate is terrorist’ thing. But we all know how this will end in the long run, and it will not Israel or the Caliphate that will suffer. It will be us all.”

“Alright.” said Hufflepuff “So, our only option is to deal with this cabrón. And what we know about him? Any intel?”

“We had already gathered some intel about him, but in too many places, so much scattered and with so many security levels we needed to exert some influence, cash some debts and asks some favors to compile enough intel to create a profile: looks like our ‘friends’ in intelligence community are trying to profit on this mess. Anyway, we had gather enough intel to build a profile already downloaded into your epads.” said Diana, activating the vernetech holoprojector, showing some pictures.

“This is Rahul Musa Al-Gazzawi, now 36, at the time 18, an intel operative trained by CIA as a double-agent for Mossad into the Palestinian Liberty Organization. He worked during the Second Intifada until The Event, when he was taken as KIA, Killed In Action, until the beginning of the Caliphate War.” said Diana, showing some photos and videos from the guy. Albeit younger, everyone could recognized him as the Alsyf Alayat, the Sword Verses.

“In the beginning of the Caliphate War, he was acting under the name Mufti Musra Hussein Al-Gazzawi. I know, very Cliché. He was a freelancer intel seller, using his contacts to buy and sell some juicy intel that leaked from the Chinese and North Korean shambles during the Event aftermath for both sides in the War. Until them, he was took as just a common guy, with lots of training, money and contacts, but otherwise normal.”

“During the Caliphate War, a black op was ordered against a Caliphate skunkwork, a kind of hedgy loosened think-tank, to enhance the chances of breakthrough on Breakthrough Camps. Looks like the project was coordinated by some of the Caliphate’s big kahunas, trying to get an edge on this Cold War involving mass breakthrough.” said Diana “The action happened at Lebanon, as some of the main guys were from Hezbollah.”

“The operation had three big objectives: acquire and/or destroy the research data, acquire the less radicalized elements, neutralize the others. The action was very successful, as many of the researchers defected to LDS side. And our man was in the ones acquired. He joined the Caliphate ranks to do his double-crossing.” said Diana

“So.” said Dumont “He escaped death. Again.”

“Yup. But not too much time after, he defected US again, getting again into the old Caliphate region via Kosovo and Kurdistan. After that, until now, LDS intel lost his scent, until some time before the Roque Santeiro attack.”

“Could he be the big boss into the Undying Caliphate?” asked Djanni

“Not the big, but certainly one of the biggest ones: Kurdistan intel operatives discovered that he undergone breakthrough in Kurdistan, when a black op to neutralize him gone to the dogs, five Mariners dead by a local mob, not before killing dozens of them. It was the biggest post-Event military fiasco and the biggest military fumble from US since Operation Eagle Claw.” said Diana

“Sounds like a Slash movie version of my own breakthrough! He felt menaced and thought on revenge against those who were pursuing him, and he thought on how to manipulate people to do this. And maybe he thought into the Sword Verse and this triggered his breakthrough. So much hate and anger turned it into a psychotic breakthrough, with him dominating the mob to go against the Mariners. They had undergone a so strong Do as I said that they just thrown their own safety to the dogs.” said Jiminy, shivering “That was very terrible.”

“You’re right, Jiminy. The only survivor was also under the Sword Verses, and he killed himself just after reporting back. It was a message from Alsyf Alayat to his old friends to not mess with him.” said Diana

“The good news is,” said Jiminy “I don’t think his powers are still that great. We all know breakthroughs has an immediate power surge, before he can fine control his powers. I didn’t had this kind of thing because I’d gone comatose before.”

“And we know where he is?” said Dumont

“This is the main problem: he is hidden very well, like all the main Undying Caliphate guys.” said Diana “But I think we need something to bring him to a trap.”

“Or… Wait until his next try.” said Jiminy “I don’t think they’ll stop by now. The time they gave us is that perhaps they are themselves under personel shortage: think we had done some good show.”

“But looks like the next one will be the worst.” said Soldaire “They’ll certainly have help and will try to put us into shambles. All that Sodom and Gomorrah language shows their intention: he wants to go full war against Roque Santeiro. So we can’t wait him take the initiative and attack us.”

“So, we’ll need to investigate his last stop.” said Jiminy

“As far we know, he was found last time in somewhere at Cote D’Ivore, Ivory Coast, but we can think he didn’t gone that far. From what we profiled, he’s not the main brain in the Caliphate, but he’s someone that like to be in the front-line, even being risky: as an old time intelligence worker, we can assume he has at least basic military training, and can defend himself from breakthroughs weaker than a C-Class combatant ones or even more.” stated Corin

“Yeah:” said Diana “He was trained as a double agent and infiltrator, and also had some training as a saboteur. It’s also sensible to believe he can deal with breakthroughs. The good news is: as far the intel collected shows, he doesn’t have a Bellax Analytica-_like power. So, his strategies are based only on his field training and experience, not into precognition.”_

“I think he can be somewhere in Guinea, Mauritania, or Liberia, as the nearest countries, by the moves the Caliphate did.” said Jiminy

“From those contries, Mauritania is the biggest sympathizer with the Caliphate. Liberia should be discarded, as a Christian Majority country, so hostile to the Caliphate, although can be more accepted at the north, in Lofa County, near Guinea. And Guinea is a secular country, so maybe hostile to the Caliphate. It’s sensible, however, to think that he can be somewhere farther as his base and crosses those countries when needed.” said Diana.

“Now, we need to find him… And monitoring the videos on Deep Web. I think he’s publishing more and more of those videos: if he laces them with Sword Verse, we can see a spree of violence not only here, but everywhere.” said Jiminy

And it was as Jiminy previewed: some seconds after Zayn showed himself in the main screen.

“There’s a riot report at Tripoli.” he said “And the Caliphate is claiming responsability on it. I just received a video from a friend of mine. It’s again Alsyf Alayat”

They saw the video: things were so hasty that Djanni had to do the translation job, even some of them, like Diana, Jiminy and Squirrel Girl knowing the basics.

“Lo! The Ummah, the People of Islam, is raising his blade and joining the Holy Jihad against the Kafir and the Zindiq! Tarabulus al-Sham will soon be cleansed from the stench of apostasy and blasphemy against Allah the Most High! Our Brothers and Sisters from the Undying Caliphate are insurging against the infidel’s slavery! Down with the Crusaders! Down with the Iblis’ followers! We, the Ummah, believers in the Allah the Most High and Mohammad his Prophet (PBUH), we’ll bring fire and brimstone to the heretic, fire and brimstone to the aposthate, fire and brimstone with the infidel. We’ll smite them first in Libya, and them we’ll smite them in Africa and we’ll smite them in the world, for the glory of Allah and of the Mahdi!”

“He’s going even more radical.” said Djanni

“This can be good news if Jiminy is right.” said Diana “Jiminy, this thing was laced on the Sword Verse?”

“Just in the beginning. As soon he came on all that Down with the Crusaders thing, the power has faded.” said Jiminy. “As I said, I can see him having just some kind of control on his power. He has a bigger sheer power then me, but, and I’ll not humble myself on this, I have more, as Cajun says, finesse on my power control. He can, when calm, put some strong post-hypnotic trances on their targets. In the first video he was calmer, and see what he did on Djanni, even myself feeling the compulsion. In those last ones, his power is weaker.”

“Looks like he’s praying for their lot.” said Dumont “He’s trying to unify the Muslims under himself…“

“And himself being the Mahdi!” said Djanni “I felt this in the start of those video, but I didn’t fell under this balderdash that time. And as Jiminy said, looks like he’s going somewhat weaker. Not weaker in strict sense, but with less finesse, less subtlety.”

“Alright.” said Diana, that received some telephone calls in the meantime “We are now under Code Red. Looks like there’s a big exodus of people coming from Libya, some evicted, some expelled. Basically the Christians and some secular Muslin, not affiliated to the main school of jurisprudence. In fact this is a pogrom. We need to ready ourselves: in four days or so they’ll start to arrive. UNHCR already asked for local countries to help enforce a humanitarian corridor for those coming via Maghreb or Sahara. Some of the Berets will join local forces to enforce it, the details being passed soon to you. We’ll need to ready everything so people can join us as soon they are triaged. I think you can help people to join here being well-received. Already asking HSF and UNHCR for extra supplies, mainly barracks and hygiene items, clothes and food that will came ASAP. Sugarplum, I want you, Jiminy and Soldaire to help Squirrel Girl at the triage as soon they came: Lesley will train you in the main drill. Hufflepuff, LionHeart, Kuntur, Djanni, you’ll help Dumont, Cabby and Corin to put everything ready, manage everyone, and occasionally help into security. Roque Santeiro is known on the integration rating, 95%. Now, let’s go: there’s more of 65 thousand people coming, it’s a diaspora, and we need to be ready. This is Alpha Priority: we’ll think on the Caliphate and Alsyf Alayat later.”

Chapter 16

“The worst thing in the Alsyf Alayat issue was that people always looks for a savior, and the only Savior is Allah the Forgiving. People should not put faith on man, no matter what. This is a kind of apostasy that people doesn’t talk about. It is difficult to accept we are all failable. We always looks for inspiring people, and we always end idolatrize them, when they should stay being inspiration, not devotion. They were as imperfect than anyone else, and should not be praised, no one should be beside Allah the Most High. But as all the Prophets, from Adam, Peace be with Him, to Mohammad the Prophet (PBUH), passing by Musra and Isa, Peace be with them, people should be source of inspiration, not focus of praising. Either by good deeds and bad ones, no matter is one from the Ummah or an infidel”

Zayn Tahan, ‘On the Sword Verses (Alsyf Alayat)’s fatwa and his understanding under the Holy Qu’ran’, Herós Sans Frontières.

Two weeks had passed, and there was still having some triage. A kind of temp camp was mounted outside Roque Santeiro as an emergency, and people were getting into it while triaging into Roque Santeiro. The security measures were enhanced after all the attacks against Roque Santeiro: Alsyf Alayat menaces and the Tunisian Diaspora, as called by the news, made things even worse.

Some people were saying why the Breakthroughs didn’t nothing against Alsyf Alayat, some of them, like Mal Shankman, looking for political profit, saying “where is the so called capes, the false idols, when people were attacked at Tunis?” So Varekai had enforced a PR lockdown at Roque Santeiro: all communications involving local personnel would be screened to avoid PR problems.

Not that Jiminy was involved on all this PR thing: in the time between his shifts at triage, he was always studying and talking with his parents at Geneva, as they were worried with him since the video were Alsyf Alayat revealed himself. Jiminy was not that calm, but he knew his strenght and his team’s.

“And, to be fair, mom,” reassured Jiminy, in the video-conference call “we are as safe here than we could be anywhere else: lots of Berets and breakthroughs, and everyone helping into the security. If this guy really wants us, he will move Heaven and Hell to find us. Here, at least, I have the team and they have me. And, after all, they’ll came against me, Jiminy Cricket, at least if he wants to play by the Rules. And if not, there’s nothing I can do besides stay safe.”

“Are you sure, sweetie? Fathama is also worried with Altayr.” said his mother worried.

“Djanni is strong, and he can, with us, deal with Alsyf Alayat. Okay, he fell under his power once, but he will not get under this again. And, as far I have him, he have me. It’s like rock-paper-scissors: we cover each other. We can deal those meanies.” said Jiminy.

“Alright son:” said his mother “but do your job, rest and don’t let this guy win. We’ll be praying for your safety.”

“Sure, mom. Thanks… Now, need to go: my triage shift will start.” said Jiminy

“Alright, son. Take care.” said his mother.

Jiminy took a ride with Djanni to Roque Santeiro’s entrance and got into the triaging tent outside the camp. Some local Berets were there, doing the security and helping the first screening, while the others did the profiling: by using some connections with intel personnel, the local Asimovs had built a database of possible POI involving the Caliphate and organized some questions that could help them to find people that could be under the Sword Verses, that were send for extra screening with Squirrel Girl and to have any post-hypnotic triggers removed. Took time, but was effective.

Jiminy was now seeing interviewing a little meek but young guy. He was dressed into some of the common clothes for desert, so he came via the Maghreb/Sahara humanitarian corridors. He looked very simple.

“Do you speak English? Parlez vous Français? Hal tatakallam arabiya?” said Jiminy.

“I speak all them, but if you feel better, I’ll speak English.” said the man, with a strong Arabic accent.

“Alright.” said Jiminy “So, what’s your name and from where you came from?”

“I’m Saleh Tamir Abdul-Samad. I’m from Tataouine.” said the man

“Are you single? Have kids?” said Jiminy

“No for both.” said Saleh, while Jiminy was filling a little form into a notebook connected to Roque Santeiro system. It was a prodigy on Agile Development the local Asimovs did, to build in less than a week a system crossing thousands of terabytes of data. There was systems that did this and even more easily, but the feat was to do so much in so little time.

“Okay… Just a minute.” said Jiminy, waiting some data to be retrieved.

It was when things gone to the dogs.

Bellax Analytica has some flaws:

First, he can’t preview too much without risking go haywire: to foreview the actions of many people, he needs to restrict it to some seconds, or even fractions of a second. If he want to foreview more time, he need to “remove” people from the analysis.

Second, even after all his training, Bellax Analytica was not a kind of all-time power: when he wanted to use it, he need to somewhat consciously “boot up” it. Otherwise, he isn’t on. After “boot up”, Jiminy would not need to engage consciously, except to fine tune the time/event relations.

But, in the case, Jiminy was not with it engaged, as it was strenuous in the long run.

Exactly when five people cried together “Allahuh Akbar!”

Three of them engaged the local MaxBerets, while another gone for Djanni, when he saw the last one going for Jiminy.


Jiminy just had time to think “Sleeper Agent?” and holding his Jiminy Cane in his hand before the guy jumped and hit him straight in the belly, making him lost his air. “Not Atlas.” thought Jiminy, and the guy said: “Sorry kid, but there’s someone that want to see you.”, before Jiminy felt something wrong while going unconscious.

He felt the vacuum that formed when teleporting.

“JIMINY!” cried Djanni, when he saw Sugarplum blasting some magical energy blast against one of the guys that engaged the MaxBerets!

“We have a situation!” said Squirrel Girl, spraying another of them with her skunk tail perfume, before changing her arms into a bizarre cross between wallaby and honey badger’s “Sleeper Agents!”

“We’re dealing with them!” said Soldaire, engaging his SolArmor to fight the last guy, while the Berets secured the safety of the other refugees “Engage camp lockdown!”

“Roger!” said Diana, in Dispatch

The fight was rapid and furious, the four guys had been defeated very fast.

When they noted that Jiminy was no more there!

“Dispatch, Jiminy is not here!” shouted Soldaire

“We are checking the video…“ said Diana

“I saw them: the last guy was a teleporter! He took Jiminy!” said Djanni, worried

“We are crossing intel based on the last guy!” reassured Diana “Looks like the name of that guy was fake, the system is showing.”

“Those Zindiq! Murtadd!” screamed Djanni in frustration

“Calm down, Djanni! Being furious will not help Jiminy.” said Soldaire, disengaging the SolArmor.

“Those guys are crazy! They… They’ll… They’ll behead Jiminy!” said Djanni, desperate.

“We’ll work on find Jiminy ASAP.” said Dumont “Looks like he took his Cane. If so, there’s no way someone hide Jiminy from us for too long.”

Jiminy woke up into a cell like place, still a little flinched, and he saw through the window: there was some desert nearby, so he knew he wasn’t at Roque Santeiro no more, maybe even at Sierra Leone. He was on his costume, but his mask, hat and cane were took from him. His head was supported on an old pillow and the mattress were he was laid was rough, but at least he was alive. His head was spinning while he tried to reassure himself.

“Hope they didn’t discarded the Jiminy Cane before came here.” thought Jiminy

In the aftermath of the second attack against Roque Santeiro, Jiminy asked Dumont to put on his things some active trackers that sent his location for a special system at Geneva. Only five people could get his location: Dumont, Soldaire, Diana and his parents. He started to double check himself and his situation.

He was feeling some aches on his body, but he looked otherwise okay: the wooziness had gone, nothing hurt, broken, sprained or twisted. His cell was small, but clean. He had been put unconscious over a bunk bed like those from military facilities, a kind of latrine and a little old fashioned shower also in the room. A mirror and an old sink with a faucet were nearby, and a small table with a stool was fixed in the opposite wall from the bed. There were bars in the window and the door was heavy bolted and made of steel.

“Okay, I’m not hurt, so those guys have some interest on me. In fact, if they just wanted me killed, they would did this at Roque Santeiro, it would be easier for them than teleport me.” thought Jiminy, when a guy entered into the room and, before Jiminy could even speak, he commanded, pointing a pistol to Jiminy.

“You talk and try to use your Pretty Please!, you die, simple that. Nod if you understand.” ordered the man, with a very accented and bad English, and Jiminy nodded.

“Right. No talk or get out from this room without some of our group. You’ll be treated well for a Kafir. Food three times a day, shower has warm water for a good shower per day. You can drink water from the faucet, it’s clean. The latrine slab is over the shower, so clean it during the shower. You’re responsible by cleaning the cell, and will be punished if you left things messy or dirty. The things are in that corner. We took your devices and mask. Understood? Nod.” commanded the man, and Jiminy nodded.

“We’ll put the food and clean clothes through that wheel.” said the man, pointing it. “You have half an hour to eat. Put back the tray to the wheel when finished. No talk to anyone, except when asked. Nod if OK.” Jiminy nodded again.

The man got out the room and closed the door, when Jiminy heard the wheel being spun. He saw a little tray with food, basically Arabic food, a Couscous with some fish and potato. Jiminy felt hungry, and he didn’t know how much time had passed. He took the tray and sat near the small table, taking the stool, and started to eat, taking a glass of water to make it go down. It was not exactly what he wanted, but it was food, it was somewhat good, and he needed to stay calm to deal with them.

Just a little time after he put the tray back the wheel, the wheel had spun again and there was a small package. As soon as he took the parcel, the wheel spun again, and again, and another time, each time with another parcel, every time spinning after Jiminy took the parcels. In the last one there was a little piece of paper. Jiminy took it and read in English, French and Arabic.

“These parcels are all that you’ll need here. No need to stay on costume: we know you.”

Jiminy opened the parcels: there was some Arabic fashioned clothes, big robes and dresses, some underwear and a pair of traditional looking shoes, some towels, a small necessaire with shampoo and a somewhat good scented soap bar. A pillow and some blankets were next. The pillow was still a little rough, but it was ok. Next came a little box where was a small block of paper and a common pen, and a copy of the Holy Qu’ran, very beautiful. There was an inscription in the box: “may Allah have mercy on you, Kafir”. Anyway, Jiminy couldn’t do anything beside think by now.

“If they left the Qu’ran here, they are trying to convert me. Not because my soul, but because my power. They want me to their numbers as a second source for Sword Verses. So, let us play under their own game by now. It’s not too much different on what dad did with that preachers that messed our Sunday getting in front of our door.” he thought, and he took to read the Qu’ran. “If this cell is monitored, they’ll know if I read the Qu’ran or not. So, better cooperate by now, until I have more intel about where I am.”

“We need to rescue Jiminy, and we need to do this NOW!” demanded Djanni, frustrated.

“It’s not this way.” said Diana “But we can’t take Jiminy and gave those nuts what they wanted. And this IS exactly what they want.”

The meeting was called ASAP, and in the meantime Roque Santeiro was into a total lockdown: no one got in or out. All the main capes were there, and there was also Cajun, Cabby, Corin, Squirrel Girl, Kilimanjaro and Panther (real names: Josephine ‘Josie’ Nondaba and Robert ‘Bob’ Nsele), the last two ex-villains helped by Jiminy to get out from a problem with Derek Kwazani, now under parole at Roque Santeiro.

“We detected very fast were he is. The good news is: we know were he is, at least by now. The bad news is: he’s under Alsyf Alayat’s hand.” said Dumont

“We discovered who were those guys.” said Cajun “Canada intelligence reported them as five Islamic radical from Montreux. The four we fought were not that good as breakthrough and they were all second generation Muslims, so Canadian Born. Their leader, Rashid Bahri, however, is a Pakistani veteran from the Caliphate War. He was registered a POI by the Pakistani Intelligence, but he was clear, so no Interpol information. As far as Pakistani intel says, he is a B-Class Teleporter, and has some combat training in things like Philippine escrima and so.”

“The system was not fast enough to catch him before he got Jiminy.” said Sugarplum “It was like they foresaw our plan. That creepy Alsyf Alayat has a Bellax Analytica power?”

“This is a non-issue.” said Soldaire “This kind of plan is something anyone could try to see if pay profits without big costs. It was our fault to not ensure Jiminy to be always under his Bellax Analytica. But, if Alsyf Alayat was really this clever, and we need to suppose he is, he would put a plan like this: no risk and big profit. In the worst scenario, he could always plant a sleeper agent.”

“Now… What can we do? Where Jiminy is?” said Djanni

“Djanni, if our intel is correct, based on the tracking devices at the Jiminy Cane, Jiminy is somewhere at Tataouine, south of Tunisia, nearby Algeria and Libya, both of them with Caliphate sympathy. The LDS is now pressing both those governments to help fighting the Alsyf Alayat insurgence at Tunisia, but both are being morose, in the best case. As a little more secular one, Algeria looks like a more probable help.” said Dumont

“And we don’t know how much time we’ll have. I had already made clear to the big kahunas: we’ll give 72 hours to LDS find out Jiminy, or our team will go supervillain” informed Soldaire, making everyone gasp

Go Supervillain was the breakthrough term for going black-ops: it’s a big deal for any CAI team to go this, and if he’s ready to go this far, Soldaire was business.

“He crossed all the lines.” said Diana “I need to say that I’ll formally stay with LDS, but they brought the Foxtrot, so they’ll dance. No matter what, Jiminy was a non-combatant. Taking him is a big no-no, they should not do this. Now, it’s certain we need to give a response, and now we should go Havoc with them.”

Everyone was pissed enough with this.

And they would be even more pissed:

“Everyone, new video from this guy at the Deep Web.” hushed Mr. Tahan “They are commemorating Jiminy’s kidnapping.”

The video was played and the Alsyf Alayat was on the video with his veiled face:

“Lo! Allah is Merciful! Our brothers had put the hand into the asp’s nest, and the asp didn’t bit them. And they brought with them one of the asp’s brethren, the Demon Spawn, the one who messed with the hearts of our brothers, the infidel with honey and poison in his mouth, the face of a kid and the vileness of Shayaten himself, the so called Jiminy Cricket. In some days, he’ll be judged by his apostasy, his heresy, his disbelief. And we’ll bring him Justice under Allah the Most High, and Allah will have no Compassion on the infidel, and the forces of Shayaten, the infidel Crusaders will be smitten in glory of Allah the High One! Lo! Allah is Merciful!”

Djanni just screamed: “MURTADD!”

Sugarplum looked to him and said: “Now, Djanni, we need to calm down and be into our best mind. Jiminy is strong.”

Kilimanjaro agreed: “She’s right. You saw him crazy during our encounter in the home of the Oya. He was touched by the Oya and survived. He saved Senesie and our souls, and my grandmother and mother had him under good opinion. We need to trust him being okay, and we need to do our best to stay calm, ready a good plan and take him back.”

“We just received some intel.” said Corin “If this is the place Jiminy is, he’s nearby the Tataouine old French Foreign Legion base. Looks like the Caliphate took it as their own. We’ll confirm the intel, but there’s nothing what we can do by now.”

“For now, we’ll sleep and ready ourselves. We’ll think on this as a team tomorrow.” said Diana, dismissing the meeting “Take some sleep. There’s nothing more we can do now, and being tired tomorrow and in the next days will not help Jiminy.”

In the end of the day, Jiminy heard a man shouting something somewhere a little far away. He knew, by a kind of Islam for Dummies crash course Djanni gave his team, this was the muezzin from the local mosque asking the faithful for the prayers. By the light dimming, Jiminy knew it was going to be night. The wheel span and there was again a paper, this time just in English: “Alsyf Alayat, Peace with Him, will came to talk with you after the Isha, the last prayer. Clean yourself, and make yourself respectable in respect of him. Put your costume on the wheel as soon you dress out.”

Jiminy chose to not cross them, at least not until he have information enough to deal with them. Also, he was messy and dirty, so would have a use on a good refresing bath and on put clean clothes. So, while they were praying, and he could hear the last of the mandatory salat prayers, he took a bath and put clean clothes, changing his costume to a set of Bedouin-like clothes from the parcels he took throught the wheel. The clothes were traditional and clean. Then, he folded and put his costume at the wheel.

While waiting the prayers to end, he read the Qu’ran, until he heard the door opening. A small guy, with a veil hiding his face, came in and took a little LED lamp as the night fell.

“Sorry. This old infidel base had no light in the cells, and we didn’t had time to install light bulbs.” said the man, into a unbelievable polite tone.

Alsyf Alayat was looking Jiminy Cricket.

“Let us not play games each other: we know how much each of us can do, or at least some.” said Alsyf Alayat

“So, are you Rahul Musa Al-Gazzawi?” said Jiminy “I know you know my name is Joshua McCarthy. You did your intel gathering on me, otherwise you would not attack Spotty the Clown, you wouldn’t know I’m also him.”

“Right about us knowing about you. You’re a very clever kid in fact. Hope the Qu’ran illuminate you and you surrender yourself under the Shadahah, understanding that only Allah is God and Muhammad (PBUH) his only Prophet.” said Alsyf Alayat “But, answering you, I’m no more Rahul Musa Al-Gazzawi. I’m Alsyf Alayat, the Sword Verses. I’ve saw the Djinn and the Prophet, and my face can burn those who’s not from the Ummah. But you’re somewhat right because, as from the larvae came the pupa and came the butterfly, from the materialistic and almost Zindiq Rahul Musa Al-Gazzawi came the Faithful Alsyf Alayat, that was blessed by Allah the Most High with the power to urge those from the Islam to the Holy Jihad.”

“And what about me: I’m not a combatant, never was. I just wanted to avoid people to hurt themselves.” said Jiminy

“No, kid… What you did was apostasy by refraining the arm of Allah from cleansing that unholy place called Roque Santeiro. But you are an infidel, at least by now, and you don’t understand. Maybe you’ll surrender yourself under the Shadahah, and then you’ll see how wrong his supposed friends are. If not, there’s nothing I can do for you, because, as by Allah’s will, I will not have compassion on you.” said Alsyf Alayat “You’ll have from now seven days and nights. During this time you’ll be treated well. If you not surrender yourself under the Shadahah, by free will and pure heart, you’ll receive Allah’s justice, and them you’ll sent to Fire and Brimstone at Hell’s Slates in the Reckoning. Think well, and ask Allah for illumination.” he said, before getting out, leaving the LED light behind.

“So… Those are their terms: ‘join me or die.’” thought Jiminy “Hope the others came soon, or there’ll no more Jiminy Cricket. I’ll not accept turn myself into something like him: he’s crazy.”

Jiminy got to the bed and nod off…

Albeit he woke up in the night… And saw there was someone else there.

Chapter 17

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually — from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint — it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly… timey-wimey… stuff.”

The Doctor, Blink

The guy had a dark curled hair, with a tired gaze and a five-o’clock beard, beside the bed. He wore a long evening coat, cream-colored with a soft texture that looked almost like velvet, over gray slacks and shirt with a darker vest and tie. He put a small index finger over his lips before Jiminy could scream.

“Calm down, Jiminy Cricket.” said the man with a strong British accent “I came here to talk, and it is important you hear me.”

“Who are you? How do you know my name? Are you a teleporter?” said Jiminy

“No, Jiminy Cricket. I have saw about you in the future. I am the Teatime Anarchist.” said the man, making Jiminy gasp.

Teatime Anarchist: the buffoon turned into one of the Biggest Super-villains after The Event. Some even considered him The Big Bad Guy overall. A death toll of thousands was credited to him.

But, why he looked so meek for Jiminy? And…

How he came back from the dead? He died into an explosion just some days after The Big One, he saw in the news.

“Now, I don’t know you believe me or not, and I will not try to convince you anything I will say is truth, except two things: first, I am the real Teatime Anarchist; and two, I have no harmful intention against you.” he said, putting a little device in the ground, that looked like a thin hockey puck. The device released a light blue hue that expanded until cover all the cell as soon he hit a small button over it.

“A little humming device from 22nd century. They will not hear us talking outside, but it is better to be in a place where you, and better, me, can’t be seen outside the window.” said the Anarchist, going to a corner back the window “Now, let us talk.”

“Why me?” said Jiminy, going legs crossed over the bed.

“I saw your future, or better, your potential futures. I need to say that you brought some interest for me, but it is a good one. And I am able to time travelling, before asking me how I saw them.”

“You’re what? How could you have any good interest on me? And what about the people you killed?” said Jiminy

“It was not me, but my, you could say, evil twin. I can’t explain all this by now. Maybe later you’ll have all the answers you want. I need to ask you if you think it was weird Blackstone have any interest on you during Metrocon.” said him, and this made Jiminy understand he was a really a time traveller.

“I can’t say I wasn’t honored. I just didn’t understood why one of the founder members of the Chicago Sentinels, the superhero team by definition, and an ex-US Mariner would be interested into a little kid from Newark.” said Jiminy

“It was because my Future Files.” said Teatime Anarchist “I know that in your time I am already deceased: in fact, our talk is happening under just some time in my relative future before the events of my death. You may ask about free will, but in fact I have the free will: I don’t know how I will die, but I know where and when. I can postergate this a lot into my relative future, but I can’t avoid this.”

“But…“ said Jiminy

“I can’t spend time to explain you all the physical and philosophical impacts on time-travelling, I don’t have the time. I am here to talk about your futures, or at least the most potential ones, and those from some of your allies, and why everything is at risk.”

“What?” said Joshua

“In all your potential timelines, you have become a breakthrough. In all of them, you have more or less the same power set you have now, but your capename and power uses differed a lot.” said the Anarchist, starting to lecture him on his potential futures.

“Let us start with those futures that could no more be, mainly because you have undergone the breakthrough later on your life or had gone to Whitlow or Hillwood instead to HSF: the first one was called Ambassador and your power was called Let’s Talk. You could make people agree with you on things, as far you could talk with them directly, being in the same room with them. Your power could not make people change their mind totally, but you could somewhat bend a little both parties to agree on something. This turned you into a very important person at UN and LDS, and you even, in one of those futures, arranged a peace agreement between the Caliphate, there a political party, and Israel. Sadly, in all those futures you were killed by someone that wanted to use you as a martyr or a scapegoat for war.”

“Another one was called CEO. In those futures, you were an undercover breakthrough that used his power Do as I’ve said to make people Consume! You could induce anyone to buy or do what you want, at least if it was a single action that would not demand them to go against some boundaries, like go violent and so. You made great money using them, but in many of those futures you tragically killed yourself, either into a single stroke, by shooting himself or something else, or gradually, by abusing on drugs or meds, because your life always became empty, specially when you lost or severed voluntary your connections with your family and friends, going ultra-capitalist.” that one made Jiminy shiver.

“Now, the third potential future, and a possible one somehow, is called Dominion. Yes,” said the Anarchist looking Jiminy gasping. “I know that was one of that Kyle kid for ‘good’ Mastermind names. Your power on this was called Sovereign, and it was very simple: you could use it only once ever against someone, but as soon you did, the person got totally under your will and would execute your order 100% no matter what, to the point to ignore his own safety and freedom to do what you want, more or less like the Sword Verse, no willpower being able to resist you power. In this one, many times you were killed by some other breakthroughs, including your friends from Herós Sans Frontières, and in others you were killed by revolted normal people. At least in one of them, you were the final reason to a dictatorship goes under US.”

“And, the fourth and most probable one, is your actual one as Jiminy Cricket. Curiously this is the only one that I could not see you being killed in action. In all of them, you turned into a kind of mentor for new heroes, taking the mantle of Blackstone or helping others at Herós Sans Frontières or other CAI Teams in your relative future.” said the Anarchist. “Problem is that, at least in four of them, you forfeited being Jiminy Cricket, either by retiring early, or by assuming other of the names, normally after some tragedy, like losing your parents or friends or seeing some of them going supervillain. In those cases, you normally became CEO or Dominion.” said the Anarchist

Jiminy was in the verge of crying: why this guy was there, talking all this dreadful things about his future, when he was trying his best to not panic and snap after being kidnapped?

“You’re full of fear, even panicking. This is good.” said the Anarchist, to Jiminy’s abashment “If you heard your own future and all the possible ways to die you had, and you wasn’t full of fear, you would either be insane, cold-hearted or arrogant, none of them a good idea.”

“But why are you telling me this all?” said Joshua

“To somehow protect you.” said the Anarchist “You think they kidnapped you just to convert you to Islam and make you radicalize? That’s nonsense. Your powers are the exact opposite of them: in fact, in some of your futures, after getting in contact with Djanni, you and your family did the Shadahah and converted into Islam, sure, but in almost all of them you stayed as Jiminy Cricket. Just in one of them, you had radicalized, the only one that you took the Alsyf Alayat mantle. Curiously, in this one, you were killed by Djanni. In one of them, you exchanged places, you acting in the operation to neutralize Djanni, then called Ifrit.”

Jiminy was flabbergasted on all of this, and really scared.

“Don’t worry: this is just potential futures. Your REAL future is your own. It is like me: I know I will die and how and when, but what I will do in the meantime is my own. Knowing your potential futures doesn’t remove your free will. What you will do with this knowledge is all about you, and you only, no matter what people like Alsyf Alayat believes.” said the Anarchist.

“But, if he doesn’t want me to be at his side, why he kidnapped me?” said Jiminy

“What do you know about Derek Kwazani and his Breakthrough Enticing Drug?” said the Anarchist. Jiminy just gasped.

“What? He wants to…“ said Jiminy

“Alsyf Alayat wants intel about Derek Kwazani’s whereabouts. In fact, he developed his powers after using the BED.” said the Anarchist, and Jiminy gone even more flabbergasted. The Anarchist ignored that fact and continued: “In some of the grim potential futures I had saw, either Kwazani or Alsyf Alayat used BED to create a country-sized supervillain team, which resulted into an all-out war and with almost all sub-Saharan Africa being sterilized using nukes until it was reduced to calcinated land and dust. In others, the nationalist forces released dispersed themselves, nations fragmented and gone into local fight, shattering Africa back to tribalism and ethnical conflicts. No matter what, politically speaking, in those futures, and potentially in your own, BED was a bigger power-balance shift event than The Event itself, because it had not only privatized force as The Event did, but also commoditized it: given enough money, anyone could be a cape. In one of them, this result into a drug-induced psychotic breakthrough pandemic that create a kind of super-powered version of a zombie apocalypse. Curiously, in this future, your associate called Sugarplum became a supervillain under the name Morrigan, with a Succubus-like Supernatural power set.”

“Stop saying this meanie things!” shouted Jiminy, almost crying.

The Anarchist stopped and looked for Jiminy face, that was full of fear and almost panicking.

“Sorry…“ said the Anarchist “Normally I deal with adults. I forgot that, no matter what you are, you are still a kid.”

“Don’t patronize me!” pouted Jiminy “Just stop saying me and my friends could go meanie!”

“No… you are right. I should not had pushed you too much. But I need to say, Jiminy Cricket, that this event with Alsyf Alayat will be an ordeal for you in so many things.” said the Anarchist “If you want my help, I can, but it can be very dangerous, even potentially lethal.” he said, pushing him a kind of box. Looking into it, Jiminy saw a little pearl-like small ball, like a pill.

“This is future technology like my humming device, from the 22nd century I came from. I can’t give you all the details, I have no time. But I can say that this is a kind of a quantum link to a computer in the future that will connect you with other people all around the world. They can help you and you can help them: remember that is not just Herós Sans Frontières that wants Alsyf Alayat.” said the Anarchist

“You said it would be dangerous.” said Jiminy

“There is another device on this that you can use to call me if needed. You can activate it by hitting your own belly. This will activate a time-space beacon that will let me found you no matter where or when. Never tried to use this one with a so small kid. I can say that the last one that tried to use it as a beacon was an A-Class Atlas and it hurted, or will hurt, as hell on her. Otherwise, this will link you with people that can help you. I can’t say too much more, because I don’t know if you want this help. Sorry about this, but I have not too much time. However, it’s now or never, your choice.” said the Anarchist.

“Okay: just take this will be hurtful?” asked Jiminy

“Maybe. As I said, I never gave this bioseed for a so young person before. In the adults, it was like take a med pill. I don’t know the impact of this in someone like you.” said the Anarchist

“Alright: let us take this. I don’t have too much time anyway. Those Caliphate guys wants to turn me into a weapon for them, and I’ll not let them do this.” said Jiminy, taking the pearl-like thing and going to drink some water.

“At least, if we are lucky, this will grow in time to provide you help.” said the Anarchist “This bioseed will dissolve into your guts and then will connect itself to your brain, providing you access to the help, and installing also the beacon on you. In adults, this took some time until being activated, as they are bigger than you. As a kid, I think this will grow before the six days time gave to you by Alsyf Alayat.” said the Anarchist, while Jiminy was swallowing the pearl-like ball. “Remember, the beacon should be your last resort, as it is something painful even for an A-Class Atlas.”

“Okay…“ said Jiminy, when he fell his belly aching.

“Looks like it will start fast.” stated the Anarchist “Let me help you to the bed.”

The Anarchist gave Jiminy another glass of water and removed one of the blankets, as Jiminy grew feverish, sweat running from his forehead.

“You are growing hot: think that is the start of the bio-seeding. Don’t worry: this not too good start is common. But tomorrow morning you will be okay.” said the Anarchist “Now, rest. Have a good dream: it is the best way to defend yourself against the nightmares of the reality.” he finished, while getting back to the center of the cell, taking the puck-like humming device.

As soon Jiminy closed his eyes, everything gone back dark, like the Anarchist was never there.

Chapter 18

“It was really weird to talk with the Teatime Anarchist. That made me understand that sometimes people goes supervillain for noble causes. It’s sad, but at least those people were honest, by assuming the evil role. I don’t know if I would be able to do this, though.”

Jiminy Cricket, “From Dress-up to save up: an underage breakthrough story”

In the next two days, Joshua made all he could to not cross the guys. The good news is that, the morning after the contact with the Anarchist, he was as good as new.

He was left all the time with just the Qu’ran, with almost no human contact, so Jiminy read it, at least to memorize and extract what he could to argue about when asked by. It was in the third day night when Alsyf Alayat had came to give some talk with him, asking what he was understanding about the Qu’ran. He was harsh, but not aggressive, when Jiminy said he didn’t saw why Christians and Muslims couldn’t live without fight.

“You’re a child. Children should not get into the adults’ affairs and in the realm of politics, and to try to understand the Jihad…” said Alsyf Alayat

“But, if I remember, some of the Greeks and Romans old books were saved and studied by the Islamic philosophers in the past. Plato, Socrates and Aristotle just came to West thanks to the effort of Islamic philosophers and mathematicians.” said Jiminy

“It was for glory of Allah that we took the infidels’ knowledge. It’s not wrong to took what the infidels did as ours. It’s wrong to partake with them.” said Alsyf Alayat

“Like you did?” asked Jiminy, and he saw Alsyf Alayat blushing red, so the Anarchist was right. “I’ve read some intel about a unconfirmed thing about you, that you undergone your breakthrough by using the Breakthrough Enticing Drug. This could explain why your Do as I said power, Sword Verse, only can induce hate on others.”

“First of all, it’s not hate: I urge those of the Ummah, the believers, for the Holy Jihad against the infidel. I saw Gibril and the Prophet (PBUH), while I was agonizing after taking that thing. And now, I’m the Sword Verse incarnate, Alsyf Alayat. Second: it’s justice. Since the Crusades the West ignored us. The Christians and Jews, albeit being part of the People of the Book, they assume they are the Chosen One’s, but they have their heresies under Allah: and they tried to suppress us because they can’t see Allah gave us the main resources in the world.” said Alsyf Alayat

“So, after all, it’s about money, not about faith.” said Jiminy, calmly.

It was when Jiminy saw he almost crossed the line.

Alsyf Alayat lifted his hand, almost slapping him, but he gave a smirk and said: “You’re just a child, and an infidel one. You can’t understand how much my people suffered.”

“Don’t patronize me.” said Jiminy “I was lynched almost to death when undergone breakthrough. I saw Djanni being picked by other bullies in Roque Santeiro. Christians, Jews, Muslims… no matter what, bullies are always bullies. This also applies for governments and so. My friend Djanni always talked me about Jihad, and said that, as he learned from his parents, the Greater Jihad were even more important than the Lesser Jihad.”

“You are wiser than you look: by hearing the words of your friend of the Ummah, you started your path to surrender yourself under the Shadahah. But there’s no Lesser or Greater Jihad: this is saying from the sheep and from the Zindiq. There’s only the Jihad. Your friend is deluded, as his parents, by believing that live under the infidel would bring them happiness.”

“‘But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou also incline towards peace, and trust in Allah; for He is One that hears and knows all things.’ Verse 61, eighty Sura.” said Jiminy, showing him the Qu’ran “It was not me that said this, but the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) itself enlightened by Allah the Most High.”

“At least, you’re wise to try to see your arguments into Allah’s Words. But soon you will see your errors and surrender yourself under the Shadahah. And then, you’ll give us the information we need to provide even more Mujaheddin for Allah the Most High. Or, your sacrifice will call the Ummah for us, cleaning their ears from the infidels’ lies”. said Alsyf Alayat, doing the salaam, the ritual greeting, leaving Jiminy’s cell.

“So, the Anarchist was right.” thought Jiminy “This guy wants me to provide him information about Derek Kwazani and his Breakthrough Enticing Drug. He doesn’t know that this was embargoed by the UN and CADUCEUS as classified intel, just it’s existence bringing a problem into this Breakthrough Cold War that is happening since the China and Caliphate Wars.” thought Jiminy. “But now… How much time until that help came to me? My time is growing short.”

Jiminy thought it was a good idea just sleep, but he heard a little giggle somewhere.

“Who’s there?” said Jiminy, trying to not raise his voice enough to be heard outsite

“I’m here, Jiminy Cricket.” said the fairy girl in front of him…

In Chicago, Shelly looked worried to Astra during one of their evening patrols.

“What happened?” asked Astra

“Didn’t you felt?” said Shelly “Looks like another TA’s bio-seed was engaged…“

Shelly was Astra best friend, an origin chaser that killed herself trying to fly over the window, thinking that would made her goes through the breakthrough. In her last moments, the Teatime Anarchist made a deal with her: to be quantum-duplicated into a future computer system, and sometime after put back in contact with her best friend, Hope Corrigan, capename Astra.

In the adventures they had, she first was a quantum-ghost inside Astra’s mind, then a conscience downloaded to a Vernetech gynoid called Galathea, then a resurrected girl with an extraordinary learning capacity, thanks Ozma’s Miracle Pills, and them BOTH the girl and the quantum-ghost that operated Galathea “remotely”, both at the same time and with some conscience sharing. In fact, she was at that moment gestalted into a single conscience with the quantum-ghost.

“How could it be if he’s dead?” said Astra

“Duh!” said Shelly, in her best Shelly-face “Fact: the TA is a time-traveller. In our present he’s dead but for his own timeline maybe not. It’s a paradox, sure, but in the end it doesn’t violate any kind of ‘time-travelling physics’. And fact: as I’m linked with Shell, my quantum-ghost twin sister, I can feel if some of them would be activated.”

“Do you think that TA could give bio-seeds for others?”

“The Future Files and the Ourobouros Files shows this as a possibility: the TA is like a Bene Gesserit, even being a man. He always had, or has, plans inside plans inside plans.” quoted Shelly

“Looks like his MO.” stated Astra. “But why now?”

“Looks like it’s a real business.” said Shelly “I think I know now!”


“It’s another quantum-ghost twin sister!” assured Shelly

“What?!” exasperated Astra “How much of you TA could do?”

“It’s a quantum-ghost, duh!” said Shelly “A digital copy of myself at my ‘last moments’. It’s like a music CD or downloading music into an iPod: as far you have the media and the means, technically you can copy them indefinitely. Morally it’s other history. I don’t think he could do too much of them, but certainly he have some extras for any need.”

“And where it is…“ said Astra

“Somewhere in Africa, Tunisia.” said Shelly. “It’s like she’s trying to contact me for some reason… It’s about that hero kid!” she gasped “Jiminy Cricket, from Herós Sans Frontières!”

“The one that Blackstone was talking with during Metrocon?” said Astra

“Yup. The Future Files about him were really complex. Looked like he was okay, but now… Maybe we should go for Blackstone.” said Shelly

“Okay.” stated Astra “But, unless your other quantum-ghost twin sister says he’s in real real danger, let us finish the patrol. I don’t want Blackstone to waste his preciously few free time with Chakra for nothing.”

“Alright, but as soon we get back the Dome, we’ll talk Blackstone ASAP, even if he and Chakra are…“

“SHELLY!” yelled Astra, entertained and ashamed.

“Astra, looks like something really serious, and Blackstone would like to know.” stated Shelly

“Okay.” said Astra “Let us finish the patrol, so.”

Jiminy looked to the weird girl flying in front of him, dressed like Blue Fairy from Disney’s Pinnochio, wings and tiara and even the fairy wand. Jiminy was accomplished with tiny girls in fairy dresses and wings: heck, Sugarplum was basically this way in combat. But the problem is he doesn’t recognized her from all things he learned about capes and, heck, one of the main powers of Masterminds, those like him, was a kind of Eidetic Memory: as for an Atlas was fly, and for an Ajax was punch, and a Merlin was magic, it was natural for a Mastermind being a memory and mind power many levels beyond the “common” one. And Jiminy read the Barlow’s Guide to Superhuman end to end, back to front and back again, and memorized the main cape team’s rosters around the world, and none of them included the Blue Fairy.

“Who are you?” said Jiminy, trying to touch the woman like he did with Sugarplum, but he felt his hand passing through her: no mass, no nothing touching his hand. “Are you magical?”

“Well, you can always says that ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ FYI, this is the Third Clarke’s Law. I think the Teatime Anarchist said you that help would come for you, right? Well, I’m the Cavalry!” said the weird Blue Fairy taking a call trumpet that showed out of nothing and playing it like in those cheesy western movies.

Jiminy was a little worried, but he calmed himself enough to get more lucid: being mingled with so many kinds of capes make this on you, and HSF assured that all teams had almost all kinds of heroes he could. So, he could understand that somehow that Blue Fairy was linked with the Teatime Anarchist.

“Hey, liked this name: Blue Fairy. Blue Fairy and Jiminy Cricket. We just need Pinocchio, right?” said the girl, smiling

“How do you know about this?” said Jiminy

“I’m linked to your mind, duh!” said the Blue Fairy “I’m a quantum copy of a girl that, in the past, did a great mistake trying to origin chase. Shelly Boyar was her name, and is my name now, if you need something beside a capename for me.”

Jiminy recognized the name:

“Wait: Shelly Boyar, Galathea’s remote operator?” said Jiminy “But how…“

“Hey, kiddo, had heard what I said? I’m a quantum copy of her, duh!” said Shelly, smiling “I’m like an avatar into a videogame: run it into two different consoles or computers, with two different players and, even the basic capabilities being the same, they’ll go through different paths and different ways, doing different things. And fact: I’m a copy of her just before dying a death-by-origin-chasing. Albeit I can contact them, I’m not either Shelly or Shell, my twins.” she said, while Jiminy sat into his stool

“During the bio-seeding, I had looked for some data and memories on your brain to mold myself into a better construct experience and to know you better, so the communication would be eased. Don’t worry, got no dark secret or anything mean you did… Well, maybe except the day you got to the fridge and ate that ice cream pot during the night and woke up next day with a very big painful laryngitis. But, if this is the worst thing you ever did, your parents had a nice good boy. And you deserved that penicillin shot.”

“What? How do you… You will not talk about this to anyone, will you?” said Jiminy

“How? I’m connected to your brain, duh!” said Shelly, laughing like she heard a incredibly funny joke “If I talk this to my twin sisters, they would think this as really really funny and on how cute you are when taken red-handed after stealing some cookies at night… Or better, some ice cream.” said Shelly, with a sweet smile. This made Jiminy blushes.

“Now, let go back to business, because there’s not too much time. I’ll take contact with my twins at Chicago ASAP. As I just booted up myself now, it will take some time until I can contact them via the quantum computer in the future. I’ll explain this better as soon we get out of this.” said Shelly as soon Jiminy looked flabbergasted. “And avoid speak ‘normally’. No one can see me: what you’re seeing is a kind of… how they call now… Ah, Augmented Reality avatar of me that the bioseed connections project directly into your brain’s visual center. Neither your eyes are really seeing me. Just a whisper will do by now, and with time just think will be enough.”

“Alright.” whispered Jiminy “But… Have you any kind of blueprints for this base?”

“Not yet, but working on it.” said Shelly.

“So: do you want me to call you Shelly like your ‘twins’? And why you are this way?” said Jiminy

“You can call me Blue Fairy to differ me from them, albeit somehow we are all the same. And, about my look: I chose to take a look that could be comfortable to interact with you. I looked for a clown one, after all that Mimi & Spotty thing, but I saw that you chose the capename Jiminy Cricket based on how much you liked Pinocchio and on your powers. And I thought it would be funny to be your own Personal Blue Fairy.” said Blue Fairy, doing a curtsy. “Someone to hear your complains and someone who will be always here.”

“Alright.” whispered Jiminy, when he heard the wheel. It was the dinner.

“Better for you to take your dinner and bath, and then go to sleep. I’ll try to contact my twins in the meantime.” said Blue Fairy, while Jiminy got to the wheel to take the food tray.

“So, even dead, the Teatime Anarchist can act?” said Blackstone.

“Well, for him, he’s not dead.” said Shelly

“And now, he gave Jiminy Cricket one of those bio-seeds, like the one Astra used.”

“Yeah… And my new twin, that called herself Blue Fairy, just booted up and now is with him. She gave me a kind of vision of the cell where he was. Looks like one of those Lawrence of Arabia things.” said Shelly

“So, looks like this confirms the intel about the decommissioned Légion étrangère, French Foreigner Legion, base, took as war spoil by Alsyf Alayat, the Sword Verses, during the actions Caliphate provoked. Shelly, if you can talk with Blue Fairy, say her to take all sounds and images nearby. All information we can gather that can help to trace his position is important. If you have news, bring me ASAP.” said Blackstone “Our friends from Roque Santeiro will need this dearly to take some action against Alsyf Alayat, the Sword Verses.”

“Alright, Blackstone.” said Shelly “And I’ll try to see for it in the Future Files.”

“Do it. Everything can help now.” said Blackstone.

Chapter 19

“Being patronized just because you’re a kid is a bore, but sometimes is good: no matter you’re a hero, violate the Rules is a big no-no, even more if you’re just a kid.”

Jiminy Cricket, “From Dress-up to save up: an underage breakthrough story”

It took six days to ready the operation, and it would take some hours to take Jiminy back.

The airplane, flying in the night over Africa, was getting near the Tunisian Airspace, but its transponder was off: after all that was a black-op.

“They brought us the Foxtrot… We’ll make them dance.” said Soldaire, as they were entering Tunisian airspace. A crate that would be dropped by and took by Hufflepuff held everything they would need. Dumont, Kuntur, Sugarplum and Djanni, the flyers from team, would be ready to take the team before they hit the ground.

It would not be safe enough to just get into Tunisian airspace. Algeria was a little more okay, because Red Crescent, but Tunisia was closing himself as a Caliphate base, local secular forces from Army trying to take back the country from the radicalized forces that took it.

“This is a simple extraction mission.” said Diana via radio “We’ll take Jiminy and bring him back. The rendezvous will be some kilometers after the Algerian-Tunisian Frontier, in Algerian territory. You have 48 hours to do this.” said Diana, on the Earbug, remotely talking with them from Roque Santeiro “Now, this will be a HALO drop - High Altitude Low Opening. You’ll drop now and open your parachutes just 300 feet before the ground. Soldaire, as you’re not a flyer or have great constitution when not at the SolArmor, you’re the weak spot in the drop. Kuntur, I want you to be ready to rescue him if anything goes wrong. As soon you get into ground, send the signal to the transport get out and then you’re at your own.”

“Roger!” said everyone. This was the first time they gone all this on being supervillain.

“I hate this so much!” said Sugarplum.

“I know.” said Hufflepuff “Even more that LionHeart could not go with us because of his parole, and will stay with Cajun and Corin to secure Cabby and the jet at the rendezvous.”

“Alright, you lot.” said Cabby via the Earbug, when they saw a red light going on. “Time to drop!”

They pushed the crate and launched it, them they dropped, parachutes at their backs. First the flyers Kuntur, Djanni, Dumont and Sugarplum. Then Hufflepuff and Soldaire. As soon all of them had dropped, the jet take a turn back to Algerian space and got back.

This first step was okay: they dropped and Djanni and Kuntur, as fliers, activated the parachutes on the crate, to make it dropped safely. Sugarplum got down and used his tricks to charm the region with Glamour under an invisibility spell. Dumont, Hufflepuff and Soldaire finished the drop and got out. They took the crate, opened them and beside some bags with their things, and a special thing developed by some Japanese Vernes that Soldaire got as a favor: a small box full of little aligned and numbered capsules. In a paper were marked in Japanese characters what each number means. Soldaire took one of them, pressed a button and launched it as it was a grenade. The capsule made a POOF and a big black SUV, without identification, had gone in the place. They took and put the crate in the back of the car.

“Now… We’ll get on: if the intel Blackstone gathered us is correct, we are four hours far from the old French base, and Jiminy has no much more time before being executed. The plan is very simple: Kuntur, Hufflepuff and me we’ll do some diversion. Djanni, Sugarplum, Dumont, you’ll recover Jiminy. As soon we do this, we’ll get out and go for the Algerian frontier ASAP.” said Soldaire

“Right.” said Dumont “This is so much Delta Command, many things can go really Foxtrot.”

“Jiminy is counting with us. No matter what, we’ll bring him back with us, alive!” said Sugarplum while she, as everyone, were readying themselves. They put the things in the car and got on.

Jiminy tried to stay calm, as he knew that Blue Fairy passed all the information about where he was and the guys that kidnapped him for Blackstone, that forwarded it to Roque Santeiro. But that was his last night for the time Alsyf Alayat gave him. If he was not rescued, he would die or got into Alsyf Alayat trap. He knew that, if he converted himself to Islam, as soon he did the Sword Verse would be used against him to try to put him under Alsyf Alayat’s control. And he made his mind: even if everything failed and help didn’t came he would not fell into his hateful lure.

In those days, Jiminy did his best to take some good look the people that came to him: this provided Blue Fairy with images that, took from Jiminy’s mind, she could send via quantum communication link (‘better accept it just works.’ thought Jiminy) to their quantum twins, that could sent it for Roque Santeiro, with any juicy intel Blackstone and Shelly/Shell could provide.

It was when he woke up into his last day, and he saw they passed through the wheel a package, with his costume, cleaned, folded and perfumed, almost as new, and a paper:

“We’ll get in into an hour. No talk. Take a bath and eat, then dress up yourself with your costume. Put the Holy Qu’ran in your pocket.” the flamboyant calligraphy said.

“Looks like it is your ‘Last Meal’“ said Blue Fairy.

There was when the wheel spun again and he saw a tray with ‘common’, American, food. Not the Arabic food he was eating, but a big, honest-to-gosh bowl of Cheerios and milk, and some toasts with butter and chocolate milk.

“Sounds like they want to do this by the book: if they kill you, they don’t want to just kill, but to do all the execution ritual.” said Blue Fairy

“You don’t turn this easier, you know.” thought Joshua, going for the shower.

He did as he was saw to do, and then he cleansed himself and dressed into the costume. He felt they had removed everything that could be helpful to him trying to escape, including the contacts that provided energy for the Tesla Arc Gloves. His mask-cam was also broken, but they gave back him his mask and his Top Hat.

Just a moment after finished to dress himself and put the Qu’ran into a pocket from his tails, Jiminy heard the door unlocked. He saw four guys: Alsyf Alayat, the Teleporter that took him at Roque Santeiro and two others. Everyone were dressed into black ninja-like fatigues with lifted hoods. Only Alsyf Alayat was dressed another way, into a pure white traditional tunic. He was also the only one without firearms: he had a kind of dagger, with lots of crystals engraved in the gilded, guardless, handle.

“Come with us.” said one of the other man. Jiminy just nodded calmly, and he goes out. They started to talk into Arabic

“They are saying that you are so calm because they think you saw Allah and so he’ll do the Shadahah, surrender yourself for Allah, and, in fact, for them.” said Blue Fairy, doing the translation. “By the way, the ‘unknown’ guys are Tarid Zawahi, B-Class Ajax, and the meek one is Sayd Al-Ankari, ‘capename’ Suleiman. He’s qualified as a C-Class Merlin, and it’s said he controls some of the Djinn, as his namesake, King Solomon.”

“So…“ thought Jiminy “He does Goetia, formulaic invoking.”

“I don’t know…“ said Blue Fairy “But maybe it is, by what I found on Wikipedia about this.”

Jiminy almost gave a giggle, but he controlled himself.

The sun already rose, and he was brought to a place outside, and a car was expecting him.

“Get into!” said the Suleiman man.

Joshua was growing panicking. Where they were bringing he?

Soldaire and the others got somewhere nearby the base without being seen. Sugarplum got Tink and flew high to look around and over the base.

“Weird thing, there’s a big space they could use for execute Jiminy… But no movement at all by now.” she said

“They normally wants this to be very dramatic.” said Djanni “Maybe they’ll get out with him for a special execution site. Maybe a dune…“

“They doesn’t even gave people a burial?” said Sugarplum

“For what? In their idea, they are Kafir, infidels, so they don’t deserve a burial. In Islam, we believe that, once someone dies, he or she will have a demo on what will happen with him or her in the Reckoning. Some people believe that the infidels, in fact sinners in general, will be cooked in marble tables during the eternity.” said Djanni

“So… Basically, sinners are Devil’s Happy Meal?” said Sugarplum.

“Like this, except by the ‘happy’ part.” said Djanni, seriously.

“Sorry, Djanni.” said Sugarplum, ashamed “I didn’t wanted to mock Islam.”

“It’s okay… We are all very nervous.” said Djanni, when Sugarplum saw something.

“There’s a car getting out the base, going North. I’m shooting the tracker.” said Sugarplum.

A kind of weird, pointed, Nerf shaped, device was shot by Sugarplum. It hitted a little below the car bumper, while Sugarplum got back for the car and Soldaire gone and turned the car on. Dumont turned a device on.

“Let’s go. I’ll shadow them. Dumont, says me if they turn themselves another way.” said Soldaire. Sugarplum sat over Dumont’s fedora, holding the trim to avoid being lauched back and forth like a moth.

They got and gone shadow the car.

“Jiminy, looks like another car is shadowing you… I can’t take any comm, and neither can see it directly without you move yourself.” said Blue Fairy.

“Still try talk with them.” thought Jiminy, with his eyes closed.

“Kid, open your eyes now!” said the Tarid guy.

“Forget him.” said Alsyf Alayat. “Hope Gibril is illuminating him and making him see the sins in his ways against Allah. Maybe this will make him surrender himself to Allah, and reciting the Shadahah, he goes and says that’s there’s no other God and Muhammad (PBUH) is his only Prophet.”

“Stay calm, Jiminy. Sounds like the cavalry is coming.” said Blue Fairy, when the car stopped in front a place where there was a camera and a small cushion.

“Get out from the car.” said Alsyf Alayat

After get out the car, the Tarid man gave a strong push that launched him to the ground, making Jiminy kneel over the small cushion. “Alright, Jiminy Cricket. It’s time to chose if you want to go to the Hell or you’ll surrender yourself to Allah.” said Alsyf Alayat. Jiminy saw that the camera was recording or streaming what was happening.

“This is pointless.” said Jiminy “You would never accept me as part of Ummah. In fact, you would always look me as an infidel, and you would try to kill me first chance, even turning me into a suicide bomber as soon I gone useless. So, I say no!” shouted Jiminy, when he felt the Sword Verses slapping him hard.

“We gave you the chance to surrender yourself to Allah, saving either body and soul.” said Alsyf Alayat, angry, putting Jiminy knelt in the cushion, holding him by his hair, his hat aside. “But you revealed yourself as a Kafir, an infidel, and a Crusader that mocks our faith. So, I proclaim you enemy of the Ummah and sentence you, in the name of Allah the Most High, to Death. And Allah will give you justice in the Reckoning!” said Alsyf Alayat, sacking his Janbiya, reading to cut Jiminy’s throat.

Jiminy felt despair like the first time he was attacked by Kyle and undergone breakthrough, as soon he could see the silvery light from the Janbiya dagger in the air.

He prayed for his parents.

And Alsyf Alayat passed the dagger through Jiminy’s throat…

“They stopped, Soldaire!” said Sugarplum “Let me get out. I can buy some time for us if needed.”

“Alright.” said Soldaire, stopping a little far away from the other car. They could see the camera and the four guys getting out the car with Jiminy. “Be ready to get out of the car as soon as possible. Djanni and Kuntur, as Atlas you’re the fastest ones. Engage the Teleporter, Rashid Bahri, and their Ajax, Tarid Zawari. Me and the others will engage Alsyf Alayat and the Suleiman guy.”

“Roger.” said Djanni and Kuntur, when they opened the doors from the car, in the same time Alsyf Alayat slapped Jiminy and readied himself to cut Jiminy’s throat.

“No way you’ll cut Jiminy’s throat!” said Sugarplum, pushing her fairy wand and shooting the best ward she could, and putting it as discretely she could. When she saw no blood spilling from Jiminy’s throat, her saw she did her job good.

“Go go go!” said Soldaire, while engaging the SolArmor and everyone ran to engage the tangos.

… and Jiminy didn’t felt anything.

Alsyf Alayat looked worried when he saw no blood spraying from Jiminy’s throat.

Jiminy then reacted instinctively, by throwing his elbow against Alsyf Alayat, and hit him straight between his legs, which make Alsyf Alayat scream and drop the Janbiya dagger, which Jiminy took, taking with the other hand the dagger’s sheath from his hands.

“Hey, Jiminy, look like your Sugarplum friend is really powerful.” said Blue Fairy “She did the protection magic that make your throat stay as it is now!”

“Okay, but let us fight my way out this!” he said, when he saw the teleporter guy trying to get near him, blocking his way.

But before he could touch him, he saw a shadow hitting him straight in the side.

“Maybe you need a Jiminy Cricket to put you in a good way, Jiminy Cricket.” said someone, smirking

“Djanni!” said Jiminy, smiling.

“Talk later. We’ll take you back home.” said Djanni

“And…“ was asking Jiminy

“Forget those murtadd. We’ll deal them another time!” said Djanni, when he felt someone shooting to him.

“There will be no other time for you, Zindiq!” said Alsyf Alayat, already recovered from Jiminy’s attack, and really furious

Jiminy looked around: he saw Soldaire and Kuntur engaging the Ajax, while Sugarplum and Dumont joined themselves on Suleiman.

And the teleporter woke up and took Djanni, jumping away from Jiminy, while Alsyf Alayat was looking to Jiminy.

“Now, without the Zindiq… I tried to at least give you a clean death. But important thing, you’ll have brimstone in the Hell, you Murtadd!” said Alsyf Alayat, unlocking the submachine gun for a new magazine and pointing to Jiminy.

It was when, again, Jiminy felt a great surge of grim futures on his Bellax Analytica. Wasn’t his control improvement since Kilimanjaro’s village events, he would be screaming and rolling in the ground like a kid in pain, but the headache was growing big. Even Alsyf Alayat could see something was really wrong…

And it was when the sands started to raise…

Sugarplum and Dumont were engaged on the Suleiman guy, that fought by launching fireballs against both of them. Sugarplum protected them with her Geasa magics, while Dumont used his Tesla Arc Cannons to shot lighting and plasma against him. He jumped away, gracefully floating based on his magic powers, while the ground where he was just moments before were calcinated and turned into glass by the powerful electric and plasma shots.

“This will never end!” said Dumont “Even B-Class, this guy is really experienced in combat. Maybe a Caliphate War veteran.”

“Looks like he is growing tired…“ said Sugarplum when she saw him reciting something and cutting his own hand palm with a knife, dropping some blood in the sand.

“Everyone, be ready for a big Charlie Foxtrot!” Sugarplum screamed in the Earbugs

“What?” asked Soldaire

“He’ll try to use Goetia!” said Sugarplum while the guy chanted and scribbled an invocation circle in the sand with his own blood “And a big one, by the magical resonance! Be ready for any kind of creepypasta!”

“Soldaire, Pepito Grillo is not well!” said Hufflepuff “Looks like is being affected by this Brujaria.”

“Go for him!” said Soldaire “Everyone, we’ll take him and get out as soon as possible!”

Hufflepuff ran near Jiminy and Alsyf Alayat. He took Jiminy and just gave a little push aside Alsyf Alayat.

“If you want to get alive, tarugo,” said Hufflepuff, pulling Jiminy with him ny his arm, while running “run now!” when the sands intensified

“It’s a sandstorm, you fool!” said Alsyf Alayat, taking his submachine gun again “Allah is enraged with you. A Djinn is coming!”

“This guy is in trouble! Looking like he gone too far on his Goetia!” said Sugarplum, when they saw Suleiman looking flabbergasted and terrified, as the big mass of sand rose and assumed the form of a hideous man, with horns and a bat-like wing, made of sand, and that made a terrible face.

He tried to run, when the sand demon took him with his sand-made hands, lifted him and just “ate” him, letting him fall inside his sand made body, everyone seeing Suleiman’s body being grinded by the high speed sand inside the demon, his meat and blood growing into a big red mess inside the demon’s body, Suleiman’s body grinded to dust in seconds!

“This thing is crazy!” said Hufflepuff, getting nearby Jiminy, that looked uneasy. They could see Djanni getting back with the Teleporter guy knocked out.

“Sorry, I took some time to find you back, but was easy to deal with this guy!” said Djanni, looking for the demon “What the…“

When they saw Alsyf Alayat looking for it also.

“It is Valac! You fool, Suleiman! You were never as strong as the real Suleiman (PBUH)!” said Alsyf Alayat. Then he saw that either his teleporter and his Ajax were also defeated: the Teleporter was with a Sandman bag over his head, and his Ajax was knocked-out and under Blacklocks.

“No way you’ll catch me alive!” said Alsyf Alayat, trying to run to his car, while the Valac thing took him also, and lifted, while he was saying, desperate. “I’m Alsyf Alayat, the Sword Verses! I’m the prophesied Mahdi to cleanse Earth from the infidel’s stench!”

That made no difference for the demon, the Djinn, when it released Alsyf Alayat over his mouth, and they could hear him scream panicking, passing through the sand mouth and throat, until hitting the sand thing’s guts, a whirlwind of sand, fast enough to skin and mince Alsyf Alayat into mincemeat and grinding his bones, almost disintegrating him. It was when the creature looked for the Légion étrangère base turned a Caliphate bunker and started to give steps on its direction.

“And this is what happens with those in kibria’.” said Djanni, about Alsyf Alayat’s fate.

“It’s not over yet!” said Jiminy, horrified, when looking the monster, that looked for them.

Everyone dispersed, but Jiminy froze like a deer looking to flashlights, while the big sand hand gone and took him!

“JIMINY!” screamed Kuntur and Djanni.

Jiminy broke the freeze and start to move himself, trying to get out the sand hand, until he felt the Janbiya and, for some reason, he used it against the demon’s hand.

The demon felt the hit and released Jiminy, screaming in pain. Jiminy was took in the air by Djanni, still shaken…

“Let’s get outta here! Go go go!” commanded Soldaire, still on his SolArmor, in the pilot seat, everyone getting into the car.

“What we should do?” asked Dumont, while Soldaire hitted the gas pedal on the SUV “We are in enemy territory, but that Valac thing will kill everyone nearby.”

“And looks like he grows in power after each kill. It’s like he grows absorbing human life force… Or souls.” stated Sugarplum

“We can’t just get out!” shout Jiminy, shaking like he was thrown into cold water “This is a potential Omega Event! If we want to stop it, we need to stop it NOW, or God only knows how big and dangerous this thing can grow!”

“Hey, if they hadn’t took you, this wouldn’t being happen!” said Sugarplum “To be honest, I’m for just get out and save our own bacon… Sorry, Djanni!” she said, looking that Djanni was angry “We need to take care of us: and we have less then 36 hours to get back Algeria, or we’ll lose our rendezvous.”

“But I think Jiminy is right.” said Soldaire “No matter what the Caliphate did, and even we being here as villains, under black-ops, they need our help, even doesn’t deserving it.”

“‘If anyone fulfills his brother’s needs, Allah will fulfill his needs; if one relieves a Muslim of his troubles, Allah will relieve his troubles on the Day of Resurrection.’ The Prophet (PBUH) teached us to help others, no matter what.” assured Djanni. “They can’t deal this one by their own: Suleiman and Alsyf Alayat were the strongest ones on their lot. Besides, using Suleiman’s magic to control Djinn is not an easy task, and that guy messed things hard by invoking one of the most powerful djinn, one that became himself a Lord in Hell!”

“Alright.” said Soldaire “Anyone against besides Sugarplum?” he asked

“Looks like I’ll be outvoted…“ sighed Sugarplum, shrugging “OK… But that Goetia thing is a big creepypasta, and I can’t work my magic against him directly, I know a nothing of Goetia. So, at least let us try to do something with him, at least to gain some time for help to come.”

“Okay!” said Soldaire “But first, let us care for Jiminy.”

“I’m okay…“ said Jiminy, better, just panting a little “I did some concentration and the worst of a potential oversurge already faded away.”

“How did you escaped that creature?” asked Kuntur

“I used this dagger Alsyf Alayat tried to use on me.” he said, showing it. Sugarplum reacted a little worried. “What?”

“This is Orichalcum! It’s a kind of magical anathema.” gasped Sugarplum “It’s a Vernetech or Merlin material that is used to fight and sever the magical energy link on all Merlin or Supernatural capes… Or things. Just sheath this thing back, it gave us Merlins the willies.” trembled Sugarplum, and Jiminy sheated the dagger back.

“This is good news.” smiled Dumont “If he can be affected by Orichalcum, powerful energy fields also can do some damage. Gain me some time and I’ll MacGyver something to catch that guy and destroy him with the things we brought.”

“Sugarplum, do you think you can help Dumont?” said Soldaire

“I don’t know… Mixing Merlin magic and Vernetech is like mixing hot water and boiling oil, not something safe to do.” said Sugarplum “But if needed, I can create a strong enough Geasa to contain it for a time. I don’t know how much, but I think it will be time enough.”

“Alright… Looks like the best plan we can do now. Let us get back to the bunker.” said Soldaire, changing the route, when he saw some guys getting away from the place, using jeeps and SUVs

“They are leaving people behind!” said Sugarplum

“They were never with the Ummah. As soon they saw they had a problem, they ran away.” said Djanni.

They arrived at the empty base when they started.

“Okay… Sugarplum, you and Dumont works into your gigs. Jiminy, I want you to coordinate our moves with Bellax Analytica. The others, let us buy time for them.” said Soldaire

“Now, in the trunk there’s some swords and other weapons made on fake Orichalcum: a simpler version of Orichalcum and not too powerful, but good enough to deal with this thing by now. Besides, Soldaire, your SolPistols are energetic enough to deal some damage on this thing.” said Dumont, while collapsing the trunk, a Vernetech one that was, in fact, a kind of portable workbench for Vernes.

“I forgot to say: they had broken my maskcam and the Tesla Gloves!” gasped Jiminy

“We thought on this and brought you a costume change if you want to engage. Take it.” said Soldaire, giving Jiminy a bag with a new costume exchange

“Maybe it’s a good idea, for the Gloves and the Cricket pistols.” said Jiminy.

Jiminy changed his clothes, besides his shirt, waistcoat and pants. He now felt more confident, and when he took the new Jiminy Cane, he was ready for action.

He was back as Jiminy Cricket.

“Alright! Let’s go!” said Soldaire

“Jiminy, let me engage your mask-cam! And I want to present myself for the others.” said Blue Fairy.

“There’s nothing you can do by now. Let us do this on a better time, okay?” said Jiminy

“Pinky-finger promise?”

“Yes! Scout’s honor!” said Jiminy, doing Cub Scout’s salute

Jiminy looked around in the now empty base and saw a tower that gave him enough vision. He asked Djanni to fly him to it before he could go with the others engage Valac, except Sugarplum, that could be heard humming some chanting to do her magics, and Dumont, that was frantically working into something, using the tools and materials into the Verne trunk.

Jiminy took a look all around when gone in the top of the tower and said: “Right, there’s three news: good, bad and even worse. Good: this guy is slow. Bad: there’s not too much distance between the city and it. Worse: we are in his way.”

“Okay, Pepito Grillo!” said Kuntur, while slashing the thing, but the thing doesn’t look like gone weaker, when the cut was regenerated.

“It doesn’t work!” said Djanni, slashing a lot “He’s too much massive: no matter how deep we cut, he grew it back!”

“He is going slower!” reassured Jiminy “Just take care, looks he will attack you.”

And, in fact, it turned to them and started to attack.

“Jiminy, there’s comms from the local Army. What we say?” said Blue Fairy.

“Say them to simple ‘GET THE HECK OUT OF HERE!’” said Jiminy

“Who are you talking with, Jiminy?” said Soldaire, shooting his Power Cannon, a big RPG like weapon that gave big energy shots and looked be the only thing that hurts Valac a little more.

“Later, Soldaire. No time to talk. We deal with this thing and then I’ll talk you all my story.” shunned Jiminy

“Alright… Sounds sensible. Deal with monster now, talk about imaginary friends later!” said Soldaire

“Hey, I’m not an imaginary friend!” pouted Blue Fairy, hearing via auditory nerves Jiminy comms “Asked them to get out.” said Blue Fairy “They said they’ll make a circle if we fail.”

“Okay…“ said Jiminy. “Sugarplum, Dumont, how much time?”

“I’m almost ready, Jiminy.” said Dumont “Just finishing some energy stabilization: we don’t want to do the Tel Aviv here, right?”

“Okay. Sugarplum?”


“Looks like we need just a little more time. Sugarplum is finishing her mojo!” said Jiminy.

“We can’t contain it too much more!” said Djanni

“Get back!” shouted Sugarplum “Just get back: I’m holding my magic shield, but can’t do this for too much time.”

“Okay!” replied Soldaire “Retreat. Back to the bunker!”

They retreated, and Jiminy saw Sugarplum releasing his magic, doing a big circle with her fairy wand, a bright green shade showing the magical shield engaging.

“And you, Dumont?” asked Jiminy

“Almost there!” said Dumont

“How much time?” said Soldaire

“Two minutes, and then I need Djanni or Kuntur to bring me where Jiminy is.” confirmed Dumont.

“Alright.” said Soldaire

The sand monster stopped when hit the shield and started to punch it, small pieces of green dust-like energy shards getting away.

“This thing is too much strong. My spell will hold not too much time! Dumont, go on!” stressed Sugarplum

“Done! Djanni, bring me there!” said Dumont, holding a kind of mishmash of electronic and steampunk-like things.

“Okay!” said Djanni, taking him

Jiminy was looking for the sand monster.

“Let this to me.” said Jiminy, taking the weapon Dumont MacGyvered so fast.

“Hold it, Jiminy!” said Dumont “This is a high-powered plasma weapon! It’s like Ghostbusters weapon, real life. And, considering the power, it will have a hell of recoil! And if this thing explodes, you’ll be crisp to atoms!”

“So, even you could not handle this.” said Djanni “But I’m an Atlas, and this is where we shine.”

Djanni held the weapon.

“Kuntur, now I need you take me and Jiminy down in front of the field, nearby the monster.” said Dumont

“What? Are you crazy, Dumont?” shouted Kuntur

“Sounds a better idea than let that creepypasta loose.” said Sugarplum

“Alright.” said Kuntur, and place them where he was needed.

“Now, Jiminy, as soon he opens a big enough hole in Sugarplum’s shield, say us. Djanni, this weapon will release a big concentrated energy field. Use it against that thing. As soon he’ll be shot, he’ll go crazy. Jiminy, I’ll need you to use your Bellax Analytica. As soon he opens some holes nearby his feet or somewhere else, give the sign and launch this device I’m giving you.” said Dumont, giving Jiminy a small steampunk version of the Ghost Trap from Ghostbusters. “When the sand looks like engulfing the device, hit the switch. Hope this works.”

“Hope?” said Jiminy

“Well… To be fair, our fate if this thing goes amok wouldn’t be worse than be devoured by a demon thing.” said Dumont

“You are not helping, you know.” whined Jiminy.

Jiminy looked to the big sand demon and waited until he putted his head into a space in the shield and started to stomp it and screamed like hell.

“Now, Djanni!” said Jiminy

Djanni activated the thing, that looked and was sized as a Gatling gun. The recoil was strong, but he held himself and directed the energy to the body of the sand thing, that punched two big holes in the ground.

“Now, Jiminy!” said Dumont, throwing his trap thing against one of the legs, Jiminy to the other.

Both hit the switches at the same time, and the energy field released started to push the thing like he was being pushed by a wheel, until his body was split aside in half, the energies flowing to the traps, a small dust of sand being the remaining of his physical body.

“Is that thing… finished?” asked Jiminy, looking for the traps that were releasing lots of steam and some bouts of static.

“By now, at least.” sighed Dumont “Hope that it for once. But we can leave this for some local Merlin deal with him. I think he’s angry and frustrated enough to just want to get home.”

“Like me… I just want to catch the clothes they made me use as memento.” replied Jiminy

“Okay… And we want to know about that Blue Fairy woman that helped us… And… To be fair, where she is?” asked Sugarplum.

“She’s looking for us, we could say… But I’ll explain while going back home.” said Jiminy

“Jiminy, the Tunisian Army is asking who you are. They saw the Caliphate operatives running away and they decided to take this base back to regroup and preparing a counter-attack against them.” said Blue Fairy

“Say we’re from Roque Santeiro, Herós Sans Frontières. And that we’re going home.” says Jiminy.

Chapter 20

“Alsyf Alayat’s situation was solved very quickly, and lucky for us on this. I believe that, if he didn’t pushed so hard on us by trying to kidnap me, he could had won us. He was really strong, in a different way. People can understand and fight super-powered Atlases or Ajaxes: Seif-Al-Din was one of them, and there’s lots of police and military training focused on deal with super-powered villains. They are boasty and their powers so visible that they could deal with it. But the Sword Verses was a different thing: he could, for many people, looks like a meek guy, and then he could launch minions, even people beside you, as sleeper agents. I can somehow understand those most paranoid people: many of the most dangerous breakthrough are those whose powers are not that obvious.”

Jiminy Cricket, “From Dress-up to save up: an underage breakthrough story”

“So, the main objective of Alsyf Alayat kidnapping you was to take intel about Derek Kwazani and BED.” said Diana, while Jiminy debrief back Roque Santeiro.

“Right. At first, I believed he was interested into my Pretty Please!, but the Teatime Anarchist was right: he wanted BED. I believe that the Teatime Anarchist wanted us to deal with him, directly or not. This is why he gave me the bioseed that generated ‘Blue Fairy’-Shelly. By doing this, he could put me into Shelly/Shell radar, and the quantum-link could be used either as a 24/7 tracking device and as a way to take some extra intel from inside.” commented Jiminy

“And,” completed Blue Fairy, now ‘downloaded’ to a special holographic device provided by Dumont “this way, using the quantum-link network, I could send images for Shelly/Shell and so they could, with Blackstone and Artemis help, gather intel on those tangos.”

“Incredible.” smiled Soldaire “And now? Because, we already dealt with Alsyf Alayat. So, looks like you finished your job, right?”

“I don’t know.” said Blue Fairy “The TA’s Future Files are not clear about what happen now… Besides, as far I know, I could not just shutdown now, as I’m integrated into Jiminy’s mind. Need to say that I’m not detectable by common exams from your time.”

“So, would you like to still with me?” said Jiminy

“There’s no other way…“ said Blue Fairy “Besides, I don’t think a good boy like you could be difficult to deal with.”

“We just need to set some privacy boundaries.” said Jiminy

“I know… Boys are boys. Hope you doesn’t make me see any gross…“ said Blue Fairy with a fake disgust face, when they saw Jiminy Cricket blushing

“Hope you didn’t…“ said Sugarplum, half disgusted, half entertained

“NO!” shouted Jiminy in despair.

“Don’t worry, Jiminy.” smiled Djanni

“Calm down, muchacho.” laughed Hufflepuff “We are not asking about this. You’re a kid, after all.”

“Well…“ said Jiminy, trying to exchange topics “So, I think we’ll still together, Blue Fairy”

“Yeah, Jiminy Cricket. And your parents, can I know them?” said Blue Fairy

And she knew them and they knew her: it was weird to explain that a quantum copy of a formerly-deceased-now-resurrected origin-chaser girl from the time she tried to origin chase had implanted into their 11 year-old kid via a 22nd Vernetech, by the Big Bad Super-Villain Teatime Anarchist, but after all they heard, they were happy that Blue Fairy was there to help Jiminy.

“Now, sweetie, what do you think coming back to Geneva for your days off-duty? And someone looked for a certain request for you.” said his mother.

“What?” said Jiminy

“It’s Mrs. Loretta.” said his father.

Mrs. Sally Loretta was his English teacher on school until the day he had undergone breakthrough, and she was the one that defended Jiminy and other kids that suffered bullying the most. But she was always outvoted when she asked for more rigid rules against bullying at school.

“What happened?” said Jiminy, worried

“Calm down… She’s fine. In fact, she now knows about you: looks like some paparazzi gone to your old school when you were being sued. Now… They had a lot of problems with origin chasing. She want you to give a talk for the other kids.” said his mother

“Are they trying to origin chasing? Any nasty thing I need to know beforehand?” said Jiminy

“Well… Two other kids from earlier classes gone blind trying to use some kind of meds cocktail and got overdoses, and a kid almost killed himself by jumping from the school balcony. Now he’s in the Hospital, recovering as much as possible from a spinal cord injury that left him paraplegic.” said his mother, a little down, and that made Jiminy gasp

“They are trying to do this after what happened with ME?” said Jiminy “This is crazy! I didn’t asked for this! I’m only glad to undergone breakthrough because the option would be death!”

“We know.” said his father “But… They’re kids, doing kid stuff. They don’t believe that a breakthrough is something totally life-changing and that happens only in the direst circunstances!”

“I know.” said Jiminy “Say Mrs. Loretta I’ll go ASAP.”

Jiminy then took his days off and bought himself (or better, his parents bought) the tickets for a Freetown/Lisbon/New York flight, from where he gone to Newark. As his house was now down (and they didn’t had time, money, or guts to rebuild it), Mrs. Loretta accepted him at home, when he came with a bag of clothes and a notebook into a backpack.

“Need to say that you had grown nice and strong, Joshua.” said Mrs. Loretta

“Thanks… What can you say me about those origin chasing spree?” said Joshua

“The kids are all proud of you, but some of them are grown jealous. I know you didn’t asked for this, but they don’t understand how complicated this is, and that is easier to win Indy 500 AND Charlotte 600 SAME YEAR than undergone breakthrough.” said Mrs. Loretta “I know this is a sensible topic, so I will understand if you just say no, but…“

“I understand. I’d talked with a friend that study breakthrough and origin chasing, and she gave me some help on what to talk about with the students.” said Joshua, while drinking a glass of juice and taking the notebook from the backpack.

It was a commotion when Joshua came to the school next day. To call even more the attention, he had gone in cape, and entered by the main door. A lot of the kids saw him and came with Jiminy Cricket’s Top Hats and photos so he could sign up. Even some of his former bullies asked for autographs “for my little sister”. He gave all the signs he could, but he needed to go to the Principal’s room where he had a little chat with the Principal, that was happy on how he grew and about him helping them with the origin chasing problem. Then, he gone to the school theater and it was the time for him to talk.

“Well, everyone, I know that recently there was lots of people here that were searching about, looking for and trying to origin chase. So, I asked someone that, until undergone breakthrough somewhat 3 years before, was in our circle, to talk a little about this. Please, some cheers for Joshua McCarthy, capename Jiminy Cricket.” said Mrs. Loretta, and then Joshua gone to the pulpit from the theater room.

“Hello, everyone. I think some of you never saw me in this school, but until somewhat 3 years ago, I was one of you, in this same school. Getting in here for the first time in… three years, at least… I remembered the classes and playgrounds where I studied, played and learned, and the good time where all my worries were my homework and funny things, like what to wear at Halloween and so. I had my problems, sure: you can see, I’m not exactly big or strong like Atlas or Astra or Ajax, quite the contrary. But that time I was even smaller and weaker. Didn’t help that bullies always liked to pick me up as an easy target. Sometimes, and I would be a liar to say otherwise, I thought on how I could deal with the bullies if I was strong as Ajax, or could fly like Astra or Atlas, or even if I could do magic tricks like Blackstone. I know that you all, specially those that are always picked by bullies, thought on this at least once, because I had thought the same before.” started Jiminy

“It was when, more or less 3 years ago, a group of bullies picked me outside the school and pushed me to an alley. I said them this was not a good idea and asked to them to leave me alone, but they just laugh on me and started to lynch me. I don’t know how much time passed, and even today I have nightmares that wake me up in the night remembering that alley, and my bones being cracked one by one. I just passed by this alley coming here, and it was painful to remember, to even look to it. It was really painful, and I can say for sure to you: even after fighting Super-villains I wasn’t hurt as much as I was that day.”

“If you look on Barlow’s Guide to Superhumans, and I think there’s a copy in the school library, it’s said that ‘A breakthrough is an unpredictable survival mechanism’. The keywords here are unpredictable and survival. Because, and this is very important, 90% of all capes undergoes the breakthrough after a life-threating situation. There’s some fortunated ones, like 9.9%, that just train hard or meditate or otherwise undergoes breakthrough after some epiphany, like Chakra from Chicago Sentinels or my Paragon mentor Cajun. There’s a so-rare .1% that is just being born as breakthrough, normally Paragons that goes human-peak on their skills. But, for the other 90%, the way to breakthrough is too much near the highway to death.”

“As I said, on my case I heard many of my bones being broken, one by one, when something triggered into myself. I can’t say exactly when I developed my powers, but I screamed to the bullies to stop hurting me. ‘Pretty Please!’ sounds like a stupid name for a power, I know, but it was the first words I asked to them, before they could give me the final blow, to stop hurting me and going away. They froze when they heard these words, and I asked them to no more being meanie. And they did exactly as I’ve said, at least that time…“

“But I was still hurt: I was not fortunate enough to receive healing powers, like Atlases or Ajaxes. I was still hurt, still bleeding, almost dying, and then I discovered another power… I saw a kind of ‘shadow’ from a woman coming nearby and gone to her, that came just some seconds after. It was her that took me home, really hurt. When I came into home, I passed out…“

“Do you know what is to wake up from coma? That was exactly what happened to me: one moment, my dad was with me on his lap at home running to the local ER when I passed out. In the other, when I woke up, I was in a bed, plugged to machines, a tube through my mouth and throat. I saw the doctors coming before really coming, and so, my Bellax Analytica precognition powers screaming into my mind. I almost lost my mind that time, when I was freed from all the machines but the doctors and nurses and I couldn’t control my mind from seeing parallel futures where my heart stopped and so on, they being obliged to sedate me back to sleep to avoid the worst. I still stayed some weeks casted because all the bones were still repairing and mending themselves.”

“That was the ‘price’ I’ve ‘paid’ to be a cape. In fact, I didn’t asked for this: I would love to be the little kid I was then, maybe on your place, hearing someone else talking about origin chasing to me as I’m talking to you now, thinking on homework and scout meeting at weekend and on Halloween or other fun things. But, after what happened with me, I believe that, as for some reason I didn’t died, I should put those powers into service. I couldn’t just forget them and left all this behind, getting back the school. It wouldn’t be fair. And it was when, 7 months later, I arrived at Zurich airport, with my UN Lassez-Passer, the so-called UN Passport, to report for duty at Herós Sans Frontières.”

“I know that some of you envy the capes, the breakthroughs, and I need to say you: don’t. Remember that, beside the fortunate ones that gone under some epiphany, the breakthrough is stressful, painful, dangerous, or all of them. Sugarplum, one of my teammates, shrunk to a Tinkerbell size when put under gunpoint by some anarchist robbers. Hufflepuff just survived the Event by growing super strong and lifting the rabble from the Lucha gymnasium where he was under. His father was not that lucky, dying after being trespassed by a steel bar. Djanni, one of my best friends, had undergone breakthrough while running away from some meanie kids from the refugee camp that wanted to do bad things with him. Soldaire undergone a strenuous training to be able to don the SolArmor that is his main power source. And so on.”

“By trying to origin chase, you’re risking yourself: almost certainly, if your body doesn’t undergo the breakthrough, and there’s no warrant that this will happens, you’ll die. With luck, you’ll survive this if you don’t undergo breakthrough, but with harsh side-effects. And, even if you go through breakthrough, there’s a chance things goes even worse.”

“I heard some of you are trying to use drugs, legal or not, for origin chase… I’m not here to judge you, I’ll not call you stupid or crazy and I don’t want to know which of you are doing this and how. I’m not here for this. I’m here to warn you. Using drugs, specially those normally used for origin chase, is dangerous. They have lots and lots of side effects, and can have even more when randomly used together. And even if you undergo breakthrough this way, there’s a good chance that you go crazy in the process.”

“Using origin chasing drugs is dangerous because they mess with your mind in dangerous ways for you and others. This is even cataloged at Barlow’s as psychotic breakthroughs, breakthroughs where the people goes crazy and dangerous. In fact, many of those breakthroughs kills people during their breakthrough, as they lose control on themselves and their powers, their risk so great that normally and unfortunately they need to be killed.”

“I once saw a guy, a kid like us, even younger than me, undergoing a psychotic breakthrough, and it was difficult to stop him without killing him. We were fortunate into doing so, and he was fortunate to not lose his life and even more fortunate by passing through this with his sanity. He is an exception under exceptions under exceptions. Those that undergoes psychotic breakthrough normally can’t be restored to their right minds, even if they can stopped without being killed to avoid casualties.”

“By just a moment, imagine feeling physical and mental pain, for real, so big that looks like you would explode. Think that this makes your mind shatter, and make you feel so much rage and pain and suffering and anger that all you want is to relieve it by breaking down everything nearby.” said Joshua “This is what can happen with you if you try to go breakthrough using those drugs. It’s very, very, very risky.”

“If you ask me if I like being a breakthrough, surely I’ll say yes. But sometimes, I would like to be just a kid, like you. In the last years, since I became a cape, or better, a CAI-certified breakthrough, I have just very precious few moments of peace with my parents. I had a broken leg, twisted another, had been shot, thrown by a crazy monster against a wall, almost roasted to death by one of my old time bullies, put after gunpoint lots of time, had frozen in pain when my power gone haywire, held hostage by some KKK-_wannabes and kidnapped by a heir of_ Seif-al-Din. And if you think your homework are a problem, think that, even with all this, I still have to do homework when I’m not ‘saving the world’, or daddy, mommny or Sugarplum takes my dessert!” said Joshua, what made people laugh.

“I had good times too, to be fair: known lots of people, including my best friends. Turned into a inspiration. Known the world and protected it. Did lots of different things. Had lots of fun. And even helped Herós Sans Frontières collect some donations. To be fair, I can’t say I would exchange all this by being with you, hearing other cape talking about all this. But, at the same time, I could not say otherwise also. What I want to say is that, as someone said me and I knew beforehand, breakthroughs are not gods. We eat, drink, sleep, sweat, piss, cry, laugh, learn, teach, love, hate, live, dream, can do some things and can’t do some other things. Beside our powers, we are exactly like anyone else.”

“One of the best things about breakthroughs is: you can’t do everything alone. For example: I’m not a flier, but Djanni is, and when I need to go somewhere by flying, I need Djanni’s help. But, when he needs help to see if he should go and fight goons or not, he counts on me, as my powers and my training ensures him that I’ll take the best decisions, based on his capabilities and safety. At the same time, Dumont is our expert on supertechnology, as our Verne. I’ll put into account when he says that a small needle-like weapon is really dangerous. As I put into account Sugarplum’s knowledge and instinct about magic and so.”

“To finish, you don’t need powers to be a hero. This is cliche, I know. But cliches are so because they bring some truth on them. My job at Roque Santeiro is based more on my training and experience than on my powers. Sure, my powers helps, but I was trained to use them to do my job. Without that training, my powers could be useless at best case and misleading at worst. I also learned lots of other things and helped lots of people even without making use of my powers. You can do good things even without being a breakthrough: when I lost my house after a Humanity First attack, people came and brought us food and comfort. There’s lots of non-breakthrough people that helps others in bad events: policemen, firefighters, nurses, doctors, teachers, lawyers, even someone like Brick-a-Brack, my clowning teacher.”

“So, if you want to help people, you don’t need to be a cape, you don’t need to be a breakthrough. You just need to be good with others. You just need to crave for help other. If you do so, if you care for others, you’re ALREADY a hero. Even without powers, you’ll be as Atlas, Astra, Ajax, Blackstone… And like Djanni, Sugarplum, Dumont… And like Jiminy Cricket too.” said Joshua, finishing his talk.

“Now… Anyone have questions?” said Joshua.

And they started to ask questions about Herós Sans Frontières, Roque Santeiro, his powers and villains he fought against, like Derek Kwazani and Alsyf Alayat. And they liked to hear all the stories that Joshua had talked to them.

“Hope you all now understand why you shouldn’t go origin chasing. This is dangerous.” said Joshua, and the kids agreed with him, clapping hands for Jiminy.

Then, while they were getting out the theater for going to some fun time, Jiminy felt something weird, as he re-engaged his Bellax Analytica.

“Mrs. Loretta, take everyone out the theater, if possible to the parking lot, and call for help!” said Joshua, going almost full Jiminy Cricket and running to the school’s playground “Don’t let people get to the playground.”

“What?…“ she was saying

“Looks like there’s people getting here and there’s the chance of a ‘tag’.” said Jiminy, while getting to the playground “No matter what, don’t let the kids get out to the playground!”

“Had you asked for a demonstration ‘tag’ to your school?” said Blue Fairy, showing herself into a blue-tinted Mary Poppins cosplay, carpetbag and parasol and all.

“Not at all…“ said Jiminy “Contact local Dispatch: sounds we’ll have a situation here and soon!”

“Alright. Spit spot!” said Blue Fairy, doing a curtsy and ‘disappearing’ from his line of sight.

He saw then three guys and recognized all of them.

They were some of the bullies that tried to kill him when he gone breakthrough and than were sent to reformatory.

“Let me see…“ said Jiminy, as he looked they were under a combat stance “You had undergone breakthrough also, right?”

“Right, crappy.” spat one of them, called Jonathan Leaf “And you know how it happened, right?”

“Yeah… As for Kyle, you were spanked during a riot at the reformatory.”

“Sure… But our powers were not as offensive as Kyle’s, and we were smarter than him.” said another guy, a big Slavic one called Sturm Williams “We gone low profile after the riot and than we had gone to Whitlow’s. Now we are at Hillwood.”

“So, what you want to do something here? Just get back Hillwood, do your CAI Certification and live your own life. I never wanted to be a breakthrough and I don’t want to deal with you.” said Joshua

“You don’t understood.” said the last one… It was the only that looked to him when he was almost killed at that corner. He was somewhat nerdy now, and looked like Presto from Dungeons & Dragons. His name was Carlyle Galatas, his parents a couple of Greek delicatessen vendors.

“Jiminy…“ said Blue Fairy, back into his line of sight “Have bad news for you… They all are in the Future Files. And need to say: except by that Presto-looking guy, they are really bad sport.”

“Carlyle, you still have a chance… You can go back to Hillwood and live your life freely. There’s kids in the school: an attack here and you’ll go to a SuperMax, perhaps Detroit!” said Joshua

“No bodies, no problem.” said Jonathan, launching some razor sharped leaves from his hands.

Jiminy just had time to evade the attack, just saying a yelp after one of the leaves opening a scratch in his face, when he felt a vacuum back of him and his Bellax Analytica engaging. He had time to avoid the punch the Sturm guy tried to gave him using his Jiminy Cane, but he was pushed back by the punch. He saw Carlyle also doing some kind of magic, holding a somewhat stylish rod.

“Okay, Blue Fairy, what we have?” whispered Jiminy

“The Jonathan guy is, or will be, known as Razorleaf. B-Class flora projector: he can make razor-sharp leaves and vines from his body. The Sturm guy, Ballistic, is a B-Class Teleporter/Ajax, and uses the teleport for punching successively his targets. The Carlyle kid shows under various names, according the Ourobouros Files from Shell and the Future Files, like Presto, Elminster and even Vecna. B-Class Merlin, with Dungeons & Dragons-_eque powers and theme.”_ said Blue Fairy, while Jiminy avoided two vines. He had no way to get away from nearby the main building.

“They know the Rules of Engagement if they study at Hillwood.” thought Jiminy, when tried to tasered Ballistic, avoiding his punches “Had they already sidekicked with other heroes?”

“No… Just Whitlow’s Hero 101 by what I found.” said Blue Fairy.

“Any suggestion of creepypasta coming?” asked Jiminy “For some reason, I can’t read Carlyle moves!”

“Hope not… If he can take things from the D&D Monsters Manual, he can bring creepypasta enough to make Italian Cthulhu happy!” corny-joked Blue Fairy trying to lighten things, when Jiminy felt a big lighting bolt hitting him straight in the chest, making him scream in pain, while felt some seizures by the static shock.

Jiminy had clashed against the wall pushed back by the lighting. Even in pain, he rolled aside to get out the building and to avoid Ballistic’s attack, that jumped to smash him and hitted the ground.

He looked for all of them, and he saw that Carlyle was very scared on the power he just released, and by how Jiminy felt.

“Looks like he didn’t understood how deadly his power is and how weak your body is.” said Blue Fairy

“Pretty Please!, there’s people there: if the building fall, you’ll hurt them, even kill them.” panted Jiminy, trying to use his Pretty Please! power, even know the chances of it engages were small.

“Not our problem.” shooed Razorleaf. “Now, you are the hero here.” he mocked “If you can’t stop us using that Pretty Please crap, then they will die, and Kyle will sound stupid.”

“Jiminy, I know you don’t want to hurt people, but there’s no way to avoid escalate this just by talking. You saw your Pretty Please! isn’t working. They aren’t here for a hero vs villain ‘tag’. This is just a bonus. They are not even to just kill you, they are here to kill everyone!” shouted Blue Fairy.

Jiminy rose, standing on his feet, and pointed his Jiminy Cane to the guys.

“Carlyle looks like the only one slightly affected by your Pretty Please! This can ease things for you.” said Blue Fairy.

“Carlyle… If you kill them, you’ll be hunted as you would never be. Kill innocents, and even some villains will want your head. This is the time you need to do your own choices.” informed Jiminy

“Shut up, you little faggot.” said Razorleaf, using his vines to encircle Jiminy’s throat.

“Jiminy! If you don’t fight back, you and all those kids will die!” said Blue Fairy.

Jiminy needed no more stimuli.

He sacked the sword from the cane and used it to cut the vines, making Razorleaf scream. He felt the vacuum formed by Ballistic’s teleporting, but using the cane size, he hitted the button for the taser and hitted Ballistic straight in the chest, making he goes unconscious.

“One down, two left.” he thought, when he looked Razorleaf screaming.

“YOU. F—ING. FAGGOT!!!!” Razorleaf screamed, making leaves projecting from all his body, many of them hurting Jiminy for real. “PRESTO, DO SOMETHING AGAINST THIS FAIRY!”

Jiminy was hurt, and he looked for Carlyle.

“Presto… Carlyle… It’s up to you.” said Jiminy in pain, lots of bleeding cuts on his body.

Carlyle was doing some magical gestures, readying some magic when four Magic Missiles showed over his head…

…and got away to Razorleaf’s chest, that making him growling in pain.

Jiminy, ignoring the pain over his slashed body, got nearby Razorleaf, tasered him with his Jiminy Cane and sacked from his pocket a Sandman bag, part of his kit. Presto was about to running away, when the local Newark heroes came.

“Alright, what happened here…“ said one of them. Jiminy knew him: he didn’t used masks, as almost all Newark breakthroughs. Johnny Mascherano was a B-Class Atlas, and one of the main staple for local heroes. “You again, Jiminy Cricket?”

“Not… My… Fault… They just… Came… Attacked… School…“ said Jiminy, when he fell over the ground in pain and Presto was being chased by the other local heroes into the playground.

“Sylvia, do the first aid on Jiminy… I’ll talk with school people…“ he said, when Jiminy screamed.

“DON’T! TAKE… PEOPLE… OUT! THEIR ATTACK… COMPROMISED… STRUCTURE!!!!” he shout all he could, even with his pain, when they heard the foundations starting to collapse.

Presto used his power and made some vines get out his magical hat and reinforce a little more the structures.


The professors and kids got out from the building while Presto and the local heroes did his best to hold the building time enough to people get out. Everyone had time to get out before Presto needed to release the magical vines and the structure collapsed, the building fell down.

Jiminy was exhausted physically and mentally.

“You did your best, Jiminy. For a non-combatant, you did very well.” said Mascherano, while the woman Sylvia, called Sylvia Day, did the first aid job, using her Dragon powers to reestablish his Prana lines to improve his healing. “It was just sad the school had fell… You studied here before become breakthrough and gone to Herós Sans Frontières, right? Mrs. Loretta said me you came for a talk and those other kids came and attacked the school. Do you know them?”

“They were part of the bullies who thrashed me almost to death and made me go under the breakthrough. Then they had their own medicine at the reformatory. They had gone to Hillwood and then came to take me into a ‘tag’.” said Jiminy, still feeling a lot of pain.

“Okay.” said Sylvia, still touching in a kind of chiropractic treatment. “I did my best for now. Just doesn’t breath too heavy or does fast movements. Two weeks and you’ll be as good as new.”

“Thanks… I feel a little better.” said Jiminy, while he saw Presto being blacklocked. “Sir, he helped us in the end.”

“I know.” said Mascherano, seriously “But we need to do these things fair and square: he’ll be processed back into the system. I think he’ll take a good parole, as he did his best to save people, but I think that he’ll need to go for SuperMax… Or…“ said Mascherano. “Do you think that Herós Sans Frontières would like another hero under parole?”

“I think so.” said Jiminy, while being lifted to get to the ambulance.

Presto looked to him and said: “I didn’t understood you until now. I think I was ashamed to be what I am, in the end. To be somewhat nerdy. It was weird to develop those D&D-_based powers. I was the local DM at the reformatory, and then at Whitlow’s and Hillwood…“_

“That’s okay. Take care. Maybe we work together in the future.” said Jiminy, while being sent to the ambulance. In there, Mrs. Loretta was being cared also:

“Are you okay?” said Jiminy

“Just a sprained ankle during the run.” said Mrs. Loretta “In some days I’ll be good. You were incredible.”

“Thanks… But, if Carlyle didn’t changed his mind, maybe there would be no Jiminy Cricket to talk now.”

“I saw… But you did what you could, and no one would blame you. And, in the end, you convinced Carlyle to get back to the good side.” said Mrs. Loretta “Now, go sleep a little, while people care for you.” soothed said, sitting beside the paramedic while Jiminy was put in the stretcher, and he got back to the hospital.

Chapter 21 - Epilogue

“Sometimes people confound our lives with the comics. We don’t live in the comics, fighting a supervillain every day. We do, in fact, a lot of other things, as important or even more important. So, if you think the breakthrough are glamorous, don’t. Our life can be as harsh as everyone else, only in other ways. So, for us Carpe Diem, Enjoy your Time, is so important.”

Jiminy Cricket, “From Dress-up to save up: an underage breakthrough story”

Joshua visited the kids that tried origin chase based on himself and had some good talk. Also, he gone for the reopening of the school, into a new building lifted by the local Crew team and using pre-built foundations. Jiminy donated some items for the school do an auction to rebuild the school, including a complete, honest-to-gosh, albeit without the functional Vernetech, Jiminy Cricket costume, and some other items donated by his team.

But it was time to get back Roque Santeiro. A week at Geneva and then back to action at Sierra Leone.

“Joshua!” said Mrs. Loretta. “I heard you’ll not come back Newark. Is it true?”

Joshua looked for her and she could see eyes of someone that suffered a lot.

“My home was burned down. I was sued by the one who tried to kill me. I fought again people that tried to kill me before. I brought danger for you. Maybe it’s no more safe for me to come. And there’s people with super-needs in the world. And as we says in Heròs Sans Frontiéres, Super-Help for Super-Needs.” said Jiminy.

“You’re right.” said Mrs. Loretta. “But… If you want to know: the new building will be called Joshua McCarthy.”

“I’m glad!” said Joshua, taking his bags when the flight was announced. “Well… Need to go back Geneva.”

“Your family is there, right?”

“Some of them: my team is also my family and vice-versa. But taking some days without worries with my parents is all I need now, after all the things that happened since the Metrocon.” said Joshua, hugging Mrs. Loretta “But I’ll miss you.”

“Me too… If we need more talks about origin chasing, can we count on you?” asked Mrs. Loretta.

“Sure. But it’s time to go.” said Joshua, taking his UN Lassez-Passer and going to the departure gate.

And know he has the feeling he’s a world citizen, above all.

                          THE END...
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Jiminy Cricket II - pt 1

Chapter 1

“Metrocon is a great experience for every cape… You know, is the Breakthrough Mecca, and is nice to see, for us from Herós Sans Frontières, that we are inspiration for fans and new capes also.”

Jiminy Cricket, “From Dress-up to save up: an underage breakthrough story”

Jiminy was back to the Herós Sans Frontières booth at the Metrocon, the biggest cape fandom event all around the world, limping a little, supporting his weight in part using a beautiful cane with a Jiminy Cricket head Dumont made him. Part of National CAI Conference, the biggest CAI training and expo event, Metrocon was part confraternization, part fanservice, part festival, part headhunting.

This year, the team allocated at the Herós Sans Frontières booth was Jiminy’s one. Jiminy Cricket (real name: Joshua McCarthy) was still limping from the leg damage he was sustaining since they acquired Derek Kwazani, a crazy A-Class Verne that developed a Breakthrough Enticing Drug that was very dangerous. In the action, he was launched against a wall and had broken his left shin bones. As a A-Class Mastermind, Jiminy was somewhat super-intelligent, could precog actions via his Bellax Analytica and also could use his Pretty Please! to somewhat call people’s heart for good things.

But his powers doesn’t include fast healing, and he just hadn’t hurt himself even more thanks the Iron Cricket, his combat focused costume, that absorbed some of the impact. He was almost healed, 5 months after the event, but he still needed to use a cane, because his leg was still casted. The good thing is, as a kid, he was still growing and, so, he could recovery even faster than other people.

“Need any help?” said his best friend, Djanni (real name: Altayr Bashir Tahan), the other underage hero from Herós Sans Frontières.

“I’m okay, Djanni.” said Jiminy, today on his common Jiminy Cricket costume: green pants, dark green tails, blue scarf around the neck passing as a cravat for his white starched shirt topped by green waistcoat, black boots, a half mask shaped as a cricket face and a top hat. He looks always like a kid that took some Dress-Up Game costume as hero costume. He just sat in a chair and looked for the people going. “Hope this can help Herós Sans Frontières to receive extra donations, either from people and from other super-teams.”

“Think this will do. Need to say: they looked for you two as good curiosities, being so young capes, and this is helping on the funds.” said the other guy with them, in his civil clothes, although for Soldaire (real name: Seiji Shirou) being in “civil” was something rare. When not doning his Soldaire armor, he was always on his best Keichisou (Tokyo policemen) uniform, except in the most private times, when he liked to dress himself into 80s biker attire. Lent by the Japanese Superhuman Self-Defense Forces to the Herós Sans Frontières, almost permanently, Soldaire acted as Team Leader, including PR. The team was specifically invited by the Chicago Sentinels after the events at Roque Santeiro, specially for the NCAIC. Being at the Metrocon was Soldaire with the HSF big kahunas’ idea to raise awareness for Herós Sans Frontières and the Super-Help for Super-Needs motto, gather some donations, make some money with merchandising and trying to recruit.

“No new capes?” said Jiminy.

“Nothing. There was that B-Class aquakinetic that had potential, but we said him to get into contact with some of the local CAI teams. I put him in contact with Saint Louis CAI teams, so his power could be more useful, as there’s too much floods there, natural or not.” said Soldaire “How it was with the Sentinels?”

“It was fun. They are all cool as in the shows, but more fun because they’re real, imperfect, quirky. And the Young Sentinels are cool too. I say: with all that happened, it was fun to know them. Artemis was a little creepy, but she looks like a dark version of Sugarplum.” said Jiminy. Sugarplum (real name: Eileen McRae) was a ballerina until, during a Nutcracker presentation were she was the Sugarplum Fairy, some anarchists robbed the show cash and made this putting the cast under gunpoint. She gone so stressed that shrunk to the size of a fairy, and discovered she could fly using some fairy wings that magically shows on and off and do some kind of Glamour magic. Albeit her appearance, people should not take her for a little Tinkerbell: her magics could mess with the mind and bring the Nature’s wrath. “And where’s she?”

“She’s talking with Ozma, from the Young Sentinels. Astra presented her.” said Soldaire “Sounds like some of the magicks Ozma uses could be used by Sugarplum to improve her repertoire of power. She’s a little frustrated to not, on her opinion, be too much useful in combat after the Roque Santeiro’s tour. And how it was with Blackstone?”

“We talked some about what I thought on all this, and about what happened in Roque Santeiro. He said we avoided an even bigger disaster we could imagine, and then he gave me this magic card deck.” said Jiminy, showing the card deck branded with Blackstone’s crest, like a nice souvenir. “And about you Djanni, how it was?”

“They were cool: I need to say I was a little afraid because, you know…“ said Djanni, blushing bellow the veil he uses as mask. As a Tunisian Muslim refugee, Djanni thought they could take him as a new Seif-Al-Din, but he was not a radical, as he was teached on the Qu’ran by his dad, Zayn Tahan, and her mother, Fathama Tahan, on a good vision of Islam and the Qu’ran. He has the religious practices, but he was fully with the Herós Sans Frontières against the Islam fundamentalists from the Undying Caliphate if would be needed. “But it was really fun: Astra was really incredible and respectful with the Islam, and she said she believes that Seif-Al-Din was delusional, and he didn’t represented Islam as a whole, and Blackstone said the same. And she gave me good tips on how to improve into my powers’ control.”

“This was really good.”, agreed Jiminy. As Astra, Djanni was an Atlas, but as he had the breakthrough somewhat an year before, he still needed to develop some finesse on his powers. As all Atlases, Djanni could fly, was super-strong, and had super-senses that he just started to control. It was really awkward when he felt ashamed to see Sugarplum form into heat signature behind a wall.

“Where are the others?” said Jiminy.

“Dumont had gone for a talk with Vulcan and other Vernes:” said Soldaire “he wants to learn some new tricks he could do with his steampunk Vernetech. Hufflepuff had gone for a talk with the El Paso Guards. Need to say that they give me the willies, but I understand what they need to do. LionHeart is giving a talk on breakthroughs under parole like him, and people was also expecting him for a kind of Breakthrough Masterchef presentation the Sentinels are arranging as part of the show for cape fans. Kuntur had found some guys from Bolivia, Colombia and Peru and they are talking about how things are there: looks he’s too much time with us and is a little homesick and this talk can help.” said Soldaire

The team main muscle, LionHeart (real name: Richard ‘Ric’ McInroy) was a convicted ex-Super-villain, A-Class Ajax, called in the past The Bronx Shoulder, that was “lent” by New York Justice as part of his parole (he was convicted by multiple property damage and manslaughter, life sentence). In HSF, he assumed a new cape identity, and also practice all kind of new abilities, even some hobby, like the one in which he was incredible, cooking. He’s big and red haired, with Irish blood, even being risen at Hell’s Kitchen. And has an easy smile for kids like Jiminy. His costume was something that looked like a lion costume, with the a Heart crest over the shoulder, but without a hood: instead, he uses a maroon Zorro-like mask.

The dandy Dumont (real name: Andre Macedo Luis) is a Verne hero whose costume and capename was a homage for his inspiration and hero, Alberto Santos Dumont, one of the first Aviators around the world (the first, depending on who you ask): black formals pants and jacket, a white shirt, black tie, the iconic white somewhat wrinkled fedora hat he uses in field, and the goggles he uses while in field as mask. Anachronistic like his Vernetech devices, it was rare to see him using epads, even knowing on how to use them: instead he took notes using an old fashioned, honest-to-gosh, Montblanc fountain pen and a paper notepad.

Hufflepuff (real name: Juan Manuel Acierdo) was the son of a Tecnico Luchador from Mexico that died at The Event, when the shockwaves from an airplane crash next the Lucha arena had made everything goes down, his father hit straight at the heart by an steel pole from one of the arena’s columns. Juan, then a little nerdy kid that was, weirdly, training to be a Luchador, had gone Breakthrough, turning someone as strong as an Ajax, but with more flexibility and powered by La Passion de La Lucha, that boosts even more his powers and fighting techniques. It’s very rare to see him without his Mask, an yellow and black mask that emulated a badger’s face. Although strong, boasty and fierce in battle, he always have, as LionHeart, an easy smile for kids and good people. Even when into civil suit, he was always on his Mask, that have holes for eyes, nose and mouth, so he could eat with his mask.

And Kuntur (real name: Jose Marti Poma) was a cape from La Paz, Bolivia, an old time hiker guide on the Andes Mountains, until he fell into a rift at the biggest of those mountains, the Aconcagua, and before he hit the ground for death, he flew his way out the rift. An Atlas, he chose his cape name based on the word in the old Aymara language for Condor. He dressed into a suit styled on his indigenous people clothes.

“The Eight Excellent Protectors and the Nine Accomplished Heroes are also here at Metrocon,” said Soldaire, thoughtful “so I want to talk a little with them and show my respect to them. I’m just waiting some of the other adults to get back. I don’t want to leave the booth just with you, and your parents are also on some talks.”

Which was true: Jiminy and Djanni’s parents were on a panel about breakthrough parenting with parents from other breakthroughs, like Astra and Shelly/Galatea, so Soldaire was the only adult on the place.

“If you need to go, Soldaire, let this for us.” said Jiminy “We can take rounds and care for the booth until someone get back. And send them my respects about the Go board.”

“Hummm…“ said Soldaire “Alright. Maybe it’s a good idea to go: the Heroes and Protectors have a very tight schedule and will soon go back to Japan, and it would be disrespectful to let them get away without some greetings. I’ll get back soon. If you need anything, I’ll be at the Earbug.” he said, getting away.

It was fun for Jiminy and Djanni: although small, the booth had a fridge with some juice, cola and cocoa (provided by the Sentinels), and the anime-like promotional video, made by a friend of Soldaire, was fun, and included Anime-like Relectures from all of them. People stopped on the booth, and asked about Herós Sans Frontières: they showed people some pamphlets about the HWB, talked about their recent gig at Roque Santeiro, took some donations in money and also talked with some weak breakthroughs that asked for a chance, passing them business cards with Heroes Without Borders New York HQ contact informationn while receiving some curriculum. Some CAI teams also left old but good equipment as donation for other teams in places like Angola, Rwanda, Croatia or Sierra Leone.

Jiminy even discovered he had some fans, even smaller than him.

“Mommy, look! It’s Jiminy Cricket from Herós Sans Frontières, the kid hero!” said a 4 years old kid, cosplayed into his costume (Disney had the right for selling Jiminy Cricket’s costumes for fans, as his costume was based on Jiminy design from their Pinocchio animation. However, some of the profits on it were donated to Herós Sans Frontières) “He’s even cooler than when he was at Sesame Street, Blue Peter and Disney XD. And who is this guy? Is a new cape?” said the kid, pointing Djanni.

“Hey, chap, want to hear my friend Djanni here and me telling his story while you get an autograph on your Top Hat?” said Jiminy and the kid nodded, astounished, and Jiminy and Djanni started to talk how some mean kids picked on Djanni and he felt that he needed to run and actually flied and how they know each other and how Djanni helped to capture Derek Kwazani, while Jiminy autographed his Top Hat with his capename.

“Wow! You’re really cool! Djanni, can I have your autograph too?” said the kid.

“Only Allah the Most High should be praised, but I think I’ll autograph your hat too. Hope this will be inspiration for you to be a good kid, in The Prophet’s name (PBUH) and in Isa, or as you call Jesus, too, Peace be with Him and with you too.” said Djanni, doing a draw from his Crest (a Crescent Moon with the word Virtue in Arabic) into the kid’s hat inside, also autographing his capename. The kid got the Hat and put on the head, while his mother took some pamphlets and left some tips as donation for Herós Sans Frontières. The kid and mother then had gone, the kid waving his hand for both of them.

“It was fun know that kids are growing good by looking on us as example.” said Jiminy, smiling, and Djanni nodded.

It was when Jiminy felt a shiver from his Bellax Analytica engaging.

“Djanni, be ready… Something wicked is coming.” he whispered.

It was when he saw a guy that he didn’t saw by at least two years.

And that the last time he saw, was the one the guy almost walloped him to dead and was forbade by Jiminy’s first Pretty Please! use.

Kyle Montague was a bully that always picked Joshua, as he was the smallest and meekest kid in the school, for some thrashing. The last thrash he gave has induced Joshua’s breakthrough, and resulted on Joshua gone comatose for six months. In the meantime, Kyle was sent to Juvenile Reformatory. As Joshua had gone to HWB for training at Geneva, he didn’t though a bit on Kyle in the time.

“So you’re Jiminy Cricket? You should had chosen a better capename, you shrimp. With those powers of you, I would call myself Mastermind, Dominion or The Master.” said Kyle, looking for Jiminy. Jiminy didn’t know what to do: although many paparazzi revealed his identity before, it was not a good policy to, under costume, talk about himself using civilian name. He would not go, however, on the “I don’t know what are you talking about” trope.

“Hey, Kyle, want to know about Herós Sans Frontières?” said Jiminy, giving him a pamphlet, that he pushed aside.

“Do you think I want to join your bunch of little goody two-shoes? No… Not after what happened with me in the Reformatory. And, if wasn’t for you, you little shrimp, that would not had happened.” said Kyle, and Jiminy could see a wicked light in his eyes.

Flame-like lights.

Jiminy had just a blink of a second to avoid the plasma energy blast that Kyle somewhat launched from his hand. Even as an A-Class Mastermind, his body was as strong and resilient as a ten years old boy, somewhat chubby, and with his leg casted. Only his field experience saved him to be hit straight in the face by the flame blast. Djanni just jumped it like he was playing hopscotch with a salamander. The flame blast almost destroyed the Herós Sans Frontières’s booth.

“Hey! What had you done?” said Jiminy.

“Are you crazy, guy?” said Djanni, ready to engage into combat if needed, floating a little over the ground “There’s people here!”

“Avoid an encounter-with-force if at all possible; Use only powers that can be applied without collateral damage; Use all powers that can be applied without collateral damage; Do not escalate; Stop any escalation; And neutralize civilian risks as quickly as possible.” though Jiminy, thinking on the Rules of Engagement from Chicago Sentinels, adopted by almost all CAI teams, including HWB ones.

Jiminy looked everywhere, and people was only panicked, but unhurt. Some small CAI teams nearby were helping to neutralize the civilian risks by pushing people away and isolating the place. Now they needed to reduce the escalation

“Kyle, you don’t need to do this… Pretty Please!, stop now!” he said using the special voice accent to activate the Pretty Please! power.

However, Pretty Please! has two main flaws:

First, he could not make people do violent things, like “Kill them all!” or “Fight!”

Second, and most effective, he could not make people do something that they would not do even for a chance.

And, by Kyle’s face, he just wanted to hurt, or even kill, Jiminy Cricket!

“You’ll be my first tag, shrimp! This will be so easy! People will love to see me burning you like Pinocchio did with the Cricket in the real, non-Disney-sugar-coated, tale!” said Kyle with a sadistic smile, while readying some more plasma shots with his hands.

“He gone super-villain!” thought Jiminy. Many people that get into super-villain culture, mainly the breakthrough ones, likes to go into a tag against a hero. And so, for Kyle, Jiminy was a good target: easy to deal with and with an “old-time vendetta”.

The next plasma shots put some of the other booths on fire, which engaged the sprinklers system, Jiminy had again just a second and his Bellax Analytica to avoid the deadly flames.

Djanni got down and ran to Kyle and tackled him with a Rugby-like tackle he learned at Geneva CAI training.

But it was not effective enough to stop Kyle: he gave another blast straight in Djanni chest, making him goes to about, hurt and shouting in pain.

Jiminy then screamed: “Taser! Taser!”

One of the things that Dumont put on the Vernetech cane he was using, that he called Jiminy Cane (“Dumont and his flamboyant names for things!”, thought Jiminy), was a little taser in the point of the cane. The energy from the Vernetech battery in the cane head was not too much but, Jiminy hoped, would be enough to make Kyle stop for time enough to be contained.

Jiminy used some technique he learned in Geneva by training the french Savate martial art (a thing that Soldaire didn’t waited for Jiminy recover back 100% before made him study it) and, using the cane as a sword, touched its tip straight on the back of Kyle’s neck. The energy discharge was not enough to knock out Kyle, but enough to made him go in pain enough to make Djanni pin him at the ground. As a A-Class Atlas, Djanni needed to control himself to not simply turn the mean kid wrists into puree.

“Jiminy! We need to use some Blacklocks on him!” said Djanni, trying to hold Kyle without hurt him.

“We have none!”, said Jiminy, worried “The donated ones were put in the HSF truck!”

Kyle take his time to just give another plasma shot to send Djanni again to the air, almost hitting the roof.

“How he undergone breakthrough?” thought Jiminy “He’s a Projector now, at least C-Class!”

Djanni felt in the ground by the damage, feeling some pain. And Kyle looked for Jiminy.

Jiminy started to feel himself again like in the alley where he almost lost his life, pointing the Jiminy Cane to Kyle while feeling frozen in fear. He couldn’t see a way to get out with his Bellax Analytica, and also he had no way to fight Kyle: his powers were all about support, not fight. The only one he could use against Kyle directly, Pretty Please!, hadn’t worked.

It was when he saw someone with a baseball bat getting from the crowd and hitting Kyle straight and sound in the side making him scream in pain.

“So, you’re the kid that almost killed my son that time.” noticed Jiminy’s dad, Michael. “Did not you done enough trying to kill my son? Lucky you I’m not your lot or, believe me, neither God would stop me to turn you into mincemeat.” he completed, lowering the baseball bat.

Kyle got hurt and was angry, readying another plasma shot, when some vines entrapped him. A Fairy-like girl got nearby a little over him, growing for the size of a young woman size, with a dress with big petticoats and pantaloons.

“If you try to use this plasma thing again, you’ll just barbecue yourself to death.” demanded Sugarplum, looking for the kid.

“Get me out of this, you bitch.” shouted Kyle, when Jiminy Cricket looked into his eyes and said, into a very studied voice.

“Pretty Please!, don’t react. You’ll just hurt yourself.” whispered Jiminy, and Kyle felt himself into Jiminy’s power, that stopped Kyle enough to prevent him to do any trick to get out.

The other HWB guys came. In the meantime, Djanni was being treated and his power working.

“How you came here?” asked Jiminy for the others.

Then a guy on GQ blazer and khakis came to them.

“Lucky I was with Sugarplum, Grendel and Ozma.” said the GQ blazer guy, that Jiminy recognized as Seven, ex-_Hollywood Knights_, now part of Chicago Sentinels. “When the sprinklers got on nearby you, Sugarplum thought on go straight for you, but I said Grendel and Ozma could ask for help and I said her to get to your father.”

“Now, kid, you were lucky to attack goody two shoes boys like Jiminy or Djanni. If you had tried this with me, the question everyone would be asking now would be the biggest part of you they would find.” sneered the guy in the side, that looked like a monster, but had a smile in his face for Jiminy. “Grendel.” thought Jiminy

“No need to waste your energy with him, Grendel. It’s obvious he is like a Nome King servant.” said Ozma, the girl who said was the real real Ozma, Queen of Oz. And Jiminy felt her royalty strong enough for him to take his hat and do a bow for her, Djanni also showing niceties by doing the salaam, the ritual Muslim greeting, to which Ozma did a discrete curtsy. “Distrustful, cheater, meek. In fact: useless.” spat Ozma looking to Kyle with disgust, which made him mad, trying to untangle himself from Sugarplum’s vines.

“Alright, guy, why this? What you have against Jiminy?” questioned Seven

“He was the one who punched me almost to dead when I had my breakthrough. He was sent to reformatory because of this. Looks like he gone breakthrough and super-villain there.” explainged Jiminy Cricket.

“Then I don’t know if I thank you or I punch the crap out of you for this.” joked Seven to Kyle “So, you’ll have two options: go for Detroit SuperMax, as you had attempted mass manslaughter and so you can be judged as an adult, or go for Hillwood High. Your choice.”, said Seven.

“And if you think you are strong, kid, let me give you the news.” said Grendel, taking the enveloped kid like if he was a big burrito “I’m an alumni from Hillwood and, although I was in top tier, I wasn’t the strongest one there.” he said, getting away.

“Thank you, Seven.” said Jiminy “Your power is really cool, you know.”

“How do you know about my power?”

“Barlow’s and the Knights show.” said Jiminy.

Seven’s power was the total serendipity: in layman terms he was extremely lucky and his luck could extend for others.

“You’re welcome, kid.” said Seven, tipping his hat “But, need to say, you two did a good job containing him for time enough. You two just need to be more confident.” he said to Jiminy and Djanni, while the crowd clapped for them.

“They are thinking this was all scened.” whispered Ozma, smiling, for the kids, while royally waving her hand to the crowd “Just wave a little for the crowd, you two, they’ll love it.”

And, blushing, Jiminy and Djanni did.

Chapter 2

“Parenting a breakthrough is not a too much different thing from parenting a common kid. I know their powers can be really spooky: my son could force his will against me, if he wanted to. But YOU are the adult and need to make it clear: even with their powers, you’ll be always respected if you put yourself on their side and show them the right way to grow up and deal with their powers. More than ever, breakthrough kids needs support from their parents: the great powers bring them great responsibility. And this could only be achieved with the parents’ support.”

Michael & Selena McCarthy, “Superdads: Parenting kids, breakthrough or not”

After Metrocon, HWB gave Joshua’s team some days off duty. They discovered Kyle was lynched at the Reformatory during a riot and gone breakthrough, at least other 3 kids died because the plasma he shot from his hand after his breakthrough. He was considered a dangerous breakthrough and had ran away before Hillwood guys could take him, and got to Metrocon to rob people, when discovered about Joshua. So, he chose to use a possible kill from Joshua as a banner for criminal agenda. He now would be sent to the juvenile section of Detroit Supermax.

“That was so stupid!” said Eileen. After getting some days in Charlotte, she got back to Joshua’s home in Newark. “If you kill some of those more hero capes, like Astra, it would be bad enough, but killing someone from CAI teams not involved into law enforcement like Herós Sans Frontières would put you into bad vibes even with the bad guys.”

They were just chilling down into Joshua’s tree-house, the old tree-house he didn’t saw for two years since the fated day he undergone breakthrough. His dad doesn’t had too much money for everything, but at least he built a place that could be Joshua’s Sanctum, his place where he would be protected when he needed time, to play safely and let his imagination fly. The big tree-house was one of the things the other kids were jealous on Joshua: his dad was good with wood, being a hobbyist carpenter, as was both his grandfathers and they helped to do this in a big old tree that were in their backyard.

In the tree-house, Joshua could leave many of his preferred things: some books, including fairytale books, some of them very old. Other nerd story books, like The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, The Little Prince, The Neverending Story, some Dr. Seuss and, his most prized items, original copies of The Wizard of Oz and Pinocchio. Here and there some toys, comics and games were neatly placed into some shelves. And in an improvised rack there was some of Joshua’s old time Halloween costumes: rabbit, clown, pirate, dog and zombie, that needed to be dusted and washed again. A telescope was in the nearby window and a baseball flag was into another place.

Joshua and Altayr were there after a good barbecue his parent put into, as a farewell party for their relatives in US, as they would soon get back Geneva. Eileen’s and Altayr’s family came too. Also Soldaire, Dumont and Hufflepuff (with his mask, as always) were there. The only absence was LionHeart: as a convicted under parole, he had gone for a encounter with his parole officer at NY, where he would join the team to get back Geneva.

Joshua, Altayr and Eileen were in his tree-house, reading some comics and exchanging some stories, over some of the sleeping bags that were in the ground or folded into an old circus trunk (some said that was from Mrs. McCarthy’s mother). Eileen brought her music player and left some of the Nutcracker ballet playing. Eileen still loved Nutcracker, even she turned into a fairy-like breakthrough when she was put and gunpoint by some anarchist during a presentation, and now they could see why: it was fun, soothing and relaxing, and brought peace for them.

“But I think he never accepted the fact I turned into someone, in his concept, more successful. He was always mean with everyone. I just was the one he picked because I was always the smallest, but he was bad to the core with everyone.” said Joshua.

The day before, Joshua was allowed by the HWB doctors to remove the cast in his leg. Only this allowed him to go to the tree-house, that was dusted and dirty from all the time Joshua got out. Some birds even did a nest in the old clown costume shoes and they carefully empty the shoes, putting the nest into a small place in a corner when papa and mama bird were out.

After a little cleaning and some new things on it, the tree-house looked like Jiminy Cricket’s Fortress of Solitude (Eileen’s words). Now there was some photos from actions (specially from Roque Santeiro) and a place for the Go game he used to reinforce his Bellax Analytica. Also there was some of the photos with other heroes, mainly in the Metrocon: even Artemis looking like a Evil Snow White, he liked all them. He put some cool photos with Astra, Blackstone, Ozma, being over Grendel’s shoulder, and even with Artemis and Riptide. Obviously, there was a photo with his team and Chicago Sentinels and the Young Sentinels.

“Hope I can get back here more times.” said Joshua “I love this tree-house.”

“It’s nice.” said Altayr “Somehow I envy you. Hoped I had this kind of thing in Tunisia.”

Altayr was a refugee from Tunisia, and his breakthrough happened at Roque Santeiro when trying to run away from some bullies, like Jiminy himself. As Djanni, he was important on acquiring Derek Kwazani and shut down his operations by defeating one of his lieutenants, Adze, a vampiric-like Merlin that walked in the Shadows and used them as tentacles.

“Maybe now, that your parents are living in Geneva, you’ll have your own place. Your Sanctum, as my grandparent says.” said Joshua, while putting a Holy Qu’ran copy that Altayr gave him into a shelf, together with the Holy Bible, Pinocchio and Chronicles of Narnia

“Sanctum?” asked Altayr.

“Latin for Holy ground.” said Joshua “My Granddad said a Sanctum is somewhere you could go to get away from world and somehow put your hair down and take your time to think and be just yourself. His Sanctum was an old shack where he left his fishing tools, nearby a lake in Montana. My dad put his on the attic where’s all his woodworking tools. And this is mine.”

“Hope in Geneva I can have a place like that.” said Altair, when he looked worried, feeling something with his Atlas-enhanced senses.

“Everyone, get out! There’s an earthquake coming!” he said.

Eileen had gone Tink and got out flying outside. Altayr just jumped through the exit trapdoor, and Joshua took a little rope and got down.

When he put his feet on the ground, Joshua felt it shaking.

“Joshua, get in.” said his dad, ushering everyone into the basement. Joshua just ran like he did in action and got into the basement.

“There was no alert, warning or forecast!” said Seiji, into his best 80s biker clothes, the Civil Civil clothes for him. “I talked with local Dispatch before and nothing.”

“An Omega event like the Big One with that Tremblor chico?” said Hufflepuff.

“Don’t know.” said Andre. “And it’s not our concern by now. Let us get alive from this first, then we can worry about Omega events.”

Joshua and Altayr hugged with their families: they were kids, after all, powers or not.

“This vernetech radio can be tuned into the main Dispatch frequencies.” said Andre, while they heard some things falling in the rooms over them. “As soon this all pass, I’ll use it to contact local Dispatch if needed.”

“This house is strong, don’t worry.” said Joshua’s dad, trying to calm down the kids “And we have some capes here to help.” he completed, while Mrs. McCarthy and Tahan huffed their sons’ hair

Some minutes after, the tremors stopped.

“Alright, let’s get out.” said Joshua’s dad, looking out seeing everything is safe. The neighborhood, although somewhat poor, was made of sturdy homes: there was very small damages.

“Looks like we don’t have gas or light by now. I’ll light again the barbecue oven and we’ll improvise some food for everyone nearby.” said Joshua’s mother, and the other parents gone for helping.

“We can help!” said Mr. and Mrs. Tahan

“Count with us!” said the McRaes.

“Go on… Work, dammit.” said Andre, after pulling a little radio-like thing, made on brass, from his pockets, turning some of the knobs in the thing, until it started to sound.

“All local CAI teams in the region! This is Dispatch for a Code Red Emergency call! We need all the available CAI teams to report! We had a Natural Charlie Foxtrot!” they heard the radio echoed.

Seiji took the annexed microphone from the radio and said

“Dispatch, here is Seiji Shirou, capename Soldaire. Me and my CAI team are in the city. Our resident cape is capename Jiminy Cricket. We’re from Herós Sans Frontières, Situation 2 team. Can we help?” said Seiji.

“We need all support we can. There’s potential for lots of kills and casualties. We need all hands that can help. Come to City Hall for information and Earbug equip.”

“Roger, we’ll be soon. We’ll get under Civil. Out.” said Seiji and he looked for everyone. “Mr. and Mrs. McRae, McCarthy, Tahan, stay here and help your neighborhood. Use Dumont radio for emergency. Everyone, we are into a Natural Charlie Foxtrot, and no second can be lost. So, we’re under CAI Under Civil until further order. There’s no time to lose wearing costumes, just Dumont should take his Deimoselle as we’ll need its flying capability, as well Sugarplum should take her wand and magic stuff. The others, only the utility belts.” said Seiji, opening his backpack and passing some Heroes Without Borders badges for everyone, with their cape crests on them.

“Alright. Go on, kids, do your best.” said Joshua’s, Eileen’s and Altayr’s parents in unison.

Chapter 3

Natural Charlie Foxtrot (NCF): Dispatch code for a big natural catastrophe that could provoke so much damage like a fight between capes. See Also: Code Red. In case of a Natural Charlie Foxtrot, Herós Sans Frontières’ Situation 2 team leaders can engage CAI Under Civil at their discretion.

CAI Under Civil (CUC): exceptional situation where a CAI team that was on bench or otherwise out of field can be deployed without the cape identity being ready. This situation can be engaged by Herós Sans Frontières’ Situation 2 team leaders under discretion in some very specific situation, like in a Natural Charlie Foxtrot. See Also: Hero Under Civil, Naked Cape. Only capes that need extra preparation and equipment, like Verne, Merlin and so are authorized to take equipment and costumes under a CUC. Even into CUC, all Herós Sans Frontières’ capes should be badged with their crests and HSF badges and should communicate under capenames. This applies only for those capes with private identities: those with secret identities can circunvent this, as long they can ready themselves without too much time expensure”

Herós Sans Frontières’ Field Operations and Protocols Manual.

Kuntur, Djanni and Dumont flew, respectively, Hufflepuff, Jiminy and Soldaire (Sugarplum could flew herself) till the City Hall, Jiminy giving the directions. They could see that some of the most old constructions were almost into dust, and some streets were broken, water flowing from the cracks showing the plumbing also got broken. Some small fires cause by gas leakages were being fought by civilians, and here and there some D-Class breakthrough were helping in the first action.

They arrived in front of the City Hall and a Dispatch clerk was waiting.

“We are under CUC as protocol for Herós Sans Frontières. We are Soldaire, Sentai; Hufflepuff, Luchador; Sugarplum, Merlin; Jiminy Cricket, Mastermind; Dumont, Verne; and our Atlases Kuntur and his sidekick Djanni.” said Soldaire, presenting themselves by their capename, even everyone being on civil, besides Hufflepuff (because his mask) and Dumont (that needed his formals because the Demoiselle).

“I’m Olaf Steffonson, your Dispatch contact. We didn’t believed you first, but we checked with HSF your profiles and we cleared you for the time.” said the clerk, that looked really strong “We are normally not compliant with CUC actions, but we don’t have too much time for choice. So you’re welcome aboard.” he said smiling. “Are you the team leader, Mr. Shirou?” he said, shaking hands with all of them.

“Yes. Can you also provide some contact with Geneva for us so we can obtain information if needed?” said Soldaire.

“Sure, just ask via the Earbugs and we’ll do the comm-link.” he said, showing them their Earbugs, that they took and put into their ears.

“Now… Kuntur, Hufflepuff and Djanni, cleaning and rescuing. Work with local capes to clean routes for civilian evacuation and emergency services repairing. Djanni, remember you’re a sidekick: do as Kuntur says and stay compliant with his actions. I’ll work with Dispatch and other teams leaders. Dumont, Jiminy and Sugarplum, surveillance, first aid and crowd control. Work with the police and other capes. Jiminy, at your discretion on Pretty Please! Now go.” said Soldaire while they split themselves and gone.

“I read about those kids and never believed this would be true. Is they ready?” said Olaf

“As ready as ready can be.” assured Soldaire.

“Dispatch, Jiminy Cricket here. Any riots that need some containing?” said Jiminy, being driven by Dumont via some harnesses he was using.

“Dispatch here: we have some people looting on a market nearby you. Sending you the location.” said Dispatch

Jiminy pointed the direction for Dumont, that needed to put his costume and, with it, Demoiselle, his so-called backjet, so he could fly with that Steampunk jet pack he produced himself. Jiminy, otherwise, was being held by some harnesses that allowed him to be lifted by Demoiselle or any other of the team flyers.

“Jiminy, I’m seeing them. It’s a big crowd.” confirmed Dumont, looking the using his Vernetech super-binoculars called OmniSpecs.

“Pass us some of your OmniSpecs.” said Sugarplum “I’ll go Tink for some surveillance.” she finished, taking the goggles and putting them before getting into her Tink form, small and fast as a little Tinkerbell. In this mode, she could only be heard because the Earbugs and by almost sitting on other’s ear, otherwise only little chirps and squeals could be heard.

Jiminy also put the OmniSpecs, readying himself.

“They are just doing this because the Earthquake. They gone desperate with this and gone for looting the market for food and other emergency things. My Bellax Analytica shows no big problems in the crowd.” reported Jiminy. “Dispatch, please put me in contact with the chief police officer from the riot control squad there.”

Some seconds gone until he heard a strong voice.

“So, you’re Jiminy Cricket. Lt LaRusso here.” said a strong man behind a wall of shielded policemen, looking high to the chubby little kid on harnesses being lifted by the guy with a jetpack.

“Yes. Had you secured the perimeter?” asked Jiminy.

“Yeah. Men in all main routes, including some of our own breakthroughs.” he answered.

“Give me two minutes and a megaphone and I think I can deal with the big share of the loot crowd.” pleaded Jiminy

“Alright, kid, but not an extra second.” said the lieutenant

They gone down and one of the policemen handed Jiminy a megaphone. Dumont rose again to gave Jiminy best line of sight for his powers.

“Engaging some wards, just for sure.” said Sugarplum, doing some little chanting, while Jiminy saw the little blue light circling them.

“Okay, Jiminy. Showtime.” said Dumont nonchalantly.

Joshua focused his mind and them he shouted through the megaphone: “EVERYONE HAD SUFFERED WITH THIS EARTHQUAKE! PRETTY PLEASE!, STOP THE LOOTING! NOW!”

Almost everyone stopped with all the things they had in their hands, like they were trying to understand what they were doing.

“Pretty Please!, there’s no need for looting! Leave everything there, go away and get back into some minutes when Goodwill and Red Cross set themselves and then they’ll help you and provide food and clothes.” said Jiminy, using a more light Pretty please!

People looked to each other and left the things they were pillaging in the ground and just get back to their homes.

“Woah! Great job, kiddo!” gasped Lt. LaRusso

“Don’t commemorate yet!” said Dumont, turning a little his own OmniSpecs, like it was a pince-nez “There’s two people still in the market. A man and a woman.” said Dumont “Looks like the man is armed, big weapon, probably military-grade and he’s still looking for things in the market. I have them in my thermoscan.”

“We’re getting in.” said the Lt. LaRusso

“No, Mr LaRusso.” said Jiminy “Let me try to negotiate him first. Just circle the market.”

“Alright kid, but anything funny this guy does, we’ll get in!” he said

Jiminy adjusted the OmniSpecs for some extra thermal information.

“Dispatch, could you show me the market blueprint?” asked Jiminy

“Transferring it by Earbug now.” assured Dispatch.

The blueprint was shown over by the OmniSpecs, like an “extra layer” over the reality and thermal views.

“Looks he’s looking for the drugstore… And the woman… Looks pregnant?” said Jiminy

“She is, Jiminy.” said Dispatch. “By your thermal info… 32 to 34 weeks. Looks like the stress from the earthquake had pushed the deliver early. Proceed with caution.”

“Alright. Dispatch, I’m getting in. Dumont, officers, stay as backup. Sugarplum, follow me on distance, Tink size. If you can, do wards on both of you to avoid risks.” oriented Jiminy, just getting in the ground and disengaging Dumont’s harnesses, putting his OmniSpecs in his pants pocket.

Jiminy entered and looked everywhere.

“Sugarplum, go as high you can see and provide me any tactical intel and view via maskcam.” whispered Jiminy

“Roger!” confirmed Sugarplum

Jiminy walked through the messy market, lots of things in the floor, like an elephant stampeded all around. He was going to the drugstore, when he heard a BANG! and he jumped behind the computer racks, his Bellax Analytica saving him just by a bit, the big sound system behind him turned into smithereens by the ammo power.

“Jiminy, he have an AR-15, depleted Uranium ammo! Confirmed your intel, Dumont!” screamed Sugarplum through the Earbug. “Dispatch, I’m zooming his face. Check if he’s framed and/or a Person of Interest in the System.”

“Roger! Hold your position!” repleid Dispatch “Should we take this as a situation?”

“Not by now. Just hold the isolation.” said Jiminy as calmly as he could after almost being shot to death.

“I know who you are, you freak.” said a bossy voice “I saw you messing with everyone outside. I will not fall on your trick.”

“Looks like he’s a Paladin or Humanity First supporter. This explains his military ammo.” thought Jiminy “Also, he didn’t fell under my Pretty Please! uses outside, so he has something important to do or is very strong willed. Maybe both.”

“Get out, freak. There’s nothing here for you.” said the guy.

“This guy is Albert McNamara, 36, married, construction worker. Listed as a POI Paladin supporter, but not framed. No police record. Just some transit fines.” said Dispatch, showing in Jiminy’s OmniSpec all the info “His wife is miss Laura McNamara, 30, kindergarten teacher.”

“Get out, Jiminy. This guy is a Paladin. No way you could convince him.” ordered Lt LaRusso “We have a sniper ready to take him down if needed and our negotiator is coming.”

“No! You can take the woman and the baby in the fire! Just give me support. I’ll negotiate. Sugarplum, can you engage wards on me for safety?” said Jiminy.

“No chance. I’m too far away, should need to get nearby, and he’s using a telescopic target, I would show into it and he could shot me before I get down. Besides, my wards are not that good to stop depleted uranium.” said Sugarplum

“Alright…“ sighed Jiminy and then he shouted to the guy. “Mr. McNamara, can we talk?”

“Get out from your cover, hands up!” he shouted.

Jiminy get up and showed himself, hands up.

“A kid? A freaking kid freak? What do you want here?” demanded the man, looking to Jiminy through the targeting system. He looked like a salt-and-pepper haired man, a brunette woman at his side.

“Sir, it’s dangerous to stay here. There’s an aftershock risk. Just let get out.” pleaded Jiminy.

“Right. And this would be one of you lot again, like in the Big One.” shouted the man, the woman really panicked.

“He’s paranoid. He doesn’t see this was a Natural Charlie Foxtrot. He thinks this was an Omega event.” thought Jiminy, thinking on the situations were things goes really Foxtrot and are provoked on purpose.

“Sir, you can hate me or the government, but, Pretty Please!, think on your wife and kid and just get out of the market.” said Jiminy, calculating the voice tone so his Pretty Please! could pass undetected.

The Pretty Please! looked like didn’t engaged totally, but the guy looked a little more on talking.

“First rule: any funny thing and I kill you. Second rule: just you, no other Freaks here. I know you have support outside. Third rule: no police here also! Those are nonnegotiable! If you agree, nod.” said the guy.

Jiminy nodded.

“Jiminy, you’re turning yourself into hostage!” said LaRusso “We can’t accept…“

“Let us do as he said by now. Sugarplum, go to the entrance and don’t let anyone get in. If needed, do some wards. Lt. LaRusso, stay on position, but no action.” said Jiminy.

“But…“ said Sugarplum

“I think I can deal with this one by myself.” said Jiminy

“Alright, kid. But if this guy just try to shot against you, he’ll be shot. Our sniper is a D-Class Speedster.” said LaRusso

“Okay. I don’t think you will need to do this.” said Jiminy, getting into the lion’s cave.

Chapter 4

“My Pretty Please! is not totally reliable: you see, I can’t make people goes violent or does this that they could not have a minimal chance to do otherwise. So, half the success of Pretty Please! involves know the target and his motivations. After that, it’s easy to use my powers.”

Jiminy Cricket, answering a question at Blue Peter, BBC

“First of all, sir, let me see your wife. I’ll talk with Dispatch for medic support.” said Jiminy, hands up, looking for mr. McNamara.

“Right. Come here!” said the man, gesturing to Jiminy come nearby with the gun.

“Jiminy, I’m getting out.” said Sugarplum, via Earbug.

Jiminy got nearby under the gunpoint.

“Who are you? Your name and age?” spat Mr. McNamara

“I’m Joshua McCarthy, sir. My capename is Jiminy Cricket. I’m 11.” said Jiminy, breaking the protocol by giving his real name, not just his capename.

“How can you help my Laura?” chortled Mr. McNamara “You didn’t got out from diapers!”

“Sir, I work for Herós Sans Frontières, Heroes Without Borders. I’m CAI certificated, have also EMT training and I can talk with Dispatch to put me into contact with anyone we need. And if you help me, we can get you, your wife and your little new kid out of this safe and sound.” said Jiminy, trying to be calm

“Right, like a freak kid could do something.” snubbed the guy, not believing Jiminy’s words.

“Let me look your wife with this.” assured Jiminy, showing the OmniSpecs “Those special Vernetech glasses are linked with Dispatch: they also works as CAT scan and X-Ray, and I can monitor the life signals from your woman with them. This can help. Had she contraptions?” said Jiminy.

“Yup.” said the guy “This thing is safe for her?”

“Totally: I use a similar one in my mask when in normal action. That helped a lot when I was in Africa.” said Jiminy

“Had you in Africa?” said the guy.

“Yup, at Roque Santeiro.” said Jiminy, when their heard a shout in the Earbug, and felt something on his feet.

“Jiminy, get out of there! Go Safe! An aftershock is coming!” said Dispatch

“Let’s go, it’s an aftershock!” said Jiminy, hurried.

The guy looked like having military experience, as he run while taking some of the drugs and materials here and there. They run to the bakery when everything had crashed down. The bakery high ceiling was the only reason they were not smashed like potatoes now, being into a safe place under the debris. They coughed a little, panting by the run and some of the dust they breathed

“Jiminy, Dispatch here! Report status!” said Dispatch, some seconds after.

“Are you okay kid?” said the guy.

“Yea…“ and then Jiminy yelped

The guy looked to Jiminy and saw his right ankle.

It was bleeding, swollen and full of dirt on it.

“Looks like your ankle is twisted.” said him “What kind of hero you are you don’t heal yourself?”

“I’m not an Atlas or Ajax.” pouted a little Jiminy, feeling a little pain while massaging his right ankle, cleaning it with a handkerchief “They are the ones with super-healing… I’m what is called Mastermind: I’m more for support.” he continued “Dispatch, how is Sugarplum? And how is outside.”

“Jiminy, Sugarplum is okay: she escaped before everything going down. Your GPS shows you’re safe by now, but we are in talk to rescue you ASAP. The market had gone down. You?” said Dumont

“Twisted ankle, can work by now.” said Jiminy, mentally blocking the pain and focusing on what he had to do “We are safe in the bakery, nearby bread aisle. Dispatch, need CADUCEUS US HQ contact ASAP. There’s a pregnant woman here with contraptions. Livestream and signals in my OmniSpecs.”

“Wait, we’ll take their help.” said Dispatch.

“You’re not CAI certificated? Or your training is for punching others?” shouted the guy

“CAI certification isn’t a silver bullet: it covers lots of specializations. I never brought someone to birth before. But some basic things I know. Take some pots, and all paper you can. Also see if there’s gas leaking. And please, stop shouting: your wife is growing nervous and this doesn’t help us at all. I already asked for help via Dispatch.” said Jiminy focusing on being calm and putting his OmniSpecs.

“Alright.” said the guy, while into a little screen in his OmniSpec augmented reality system, a nice blonde woman shows itself.

“CADUCEUS US, emergency line. Angie Thompson, certified nurse.” said the blonde woman

“Jiminy Cricket, HWB, under Civil, working as support for Newark CAI teams. I have a situation here: pregnant woman. We are under debris and she had contraptions and no capes to rescue us by now. I’m using an Omnispec pair as maskcam, and it is livestreaming her data for you. I’m CAI and EMT trained: with some support I think I can deal with the birthing.” said Jiminy

“Looking there: constant and crescent contraptions, some hormonal readings are growing showing pain… Yeah, it’s for real. Take warm water, a pair of scissor and all clean cloth and towels you can.” said Angie.

“Here kid.” said Mr McNamara, bringing some kitchen apparel. “There’s no gas leaking, some water leaking.”

“If they have gas, please boil some water to a little warmer than ambient temperature and bring it there. I saw you’re a survivalist: have you scissors? Sterilize them.” said Jiminy

“Right.” said Mr McNamara

“Need you to show me her cervix to see how much it is dilated.” said Angie

“Need to look her…“ says Jiminy, and blushed “There…“

“Are you some kind of little pervert, kid?” shouted Mr McNamara.

“Is for our support at CADUCEUS! They are a medical nonprofit that supports Dispatches and CAI teams all around the world. I could asked Doctors Without Borders, but it would be useless: certainly they are with their hands full now.” said Jiminy

“Right, whatever.” said the guy.

Jiminy looked over the Mrs McNamara’s vagina.

“Okay… It’s dilating…“ said Angie, when Mrs McNamara screamed, and Jiminy looked and saw a liquid leaking out.

“Her water had broken.” said Angie. “Now, clean your hands very good and go for their vagina. You’ll see the baby head. Just touch it and hold it enough to let her does the job.”

“Jiminy, Soldaire here. Remember your training, do you job. This is yosei. Everything will end well.” he said.

Jiminy started to clean his hand on the warm water and focused on his Bellax Analytica.

Bellax Analytica (Loosely translation: Tactical Analysis, Translation: War Analysis), is based on the idea that Jiminy can somewhat “precog” the immediate movements of everyone, more precisely on how much information he have.

But the recent events in Roque Santeiro, Jiminy started to gain more control at his power by playing and studying the ancient game of Go, called also Baduk or Weiqi, according to the place in the world you came from. The game was basically played by putting stones into a grid and circling regions. For Jiminy, this training was done to make him better on focus and uses of Bellax Analytica without the power goes overboard, crippling him. As the standard Go board was made of 19 lines crossed by 19 columns, giving 361 possible places to put on a stone per turn, the exponential variables were great enough to push over Jiminy’s Bellax Analytica power so he would need to understand his power and avoid the traps that it brings.

One of those traps was the fact that many future options could (as happened in the past) make the power goes overboard and make him goes amok, screaming in pain.

However, his power also brought the solution: recently, Jiminy started to “switch through” the possible futures and see how to go through it and the results.

By his Go training, he improved his Bellax Analytica specially in the endgame, the yosei, where the possible paths were less numbered and clearer to foresee.

And now, by focusing himself into what he was doing, he could try and find the best one. And go through it.

“Sir, let us spread her in the ground. Put some of the towels there. I’ll need you to support her head. I’ll do the birthing.” said Jiminy

“What? What are you… “ said Mr McNamara

“You’re bigger than me, so you can support her head more comfortable for her. And she’ll need all your support on comfort, either by talking and by cleansing her sweat. Your hands are also big, strong and clumsy. Holding a baby is not like holding a military level weapon.” said Jiminy, focused “Now, Pretty Please!, let me help your baby to born. You can hate me from all your heart if you want after that, but I know you want your baby to born, so let me help her.”

“Right, kid.” said Mr McNamara, then she looked for the woman, holding her hand, while making her got down over the towels “Laura, we’ll do this.”

“And you, miss, Pretty Please!, I’ll need you to be calm, strong and brave. We have no anesthetics here, but with my help, if you are calm and strong, everything will end well.”

“Okay, kid.” said her, panting “Let’s go!” she said, starting to push, screaming.

After discreetly using his Pretty Please power over both, Jiminy got back to the birthing process.

“Okay, Nurse Thompson, and now?” said Jiminy

“Now you’ll need to look her. As soon the baby head get out, support it and the baby body as he’ll get out from her body. Don’t pull it, just support it: trying to pull will only turn things worst and potentially dangerous for everyone. Need to say, it’ll be messy. I’ll be your nurse in this, right?” said Angie

“Alright. Let’s begin!” said Jiminy

And they began, and the screams could be heard over the debris.

5 minutes passed and nothing.

“Nothing yet, kid? Don’t lie!” said Mr McNamara.

“Noth… Wait! The head! I can see it’s babyfur!” said Jiminy

“Are you?” said Mrs McNamara and she gave another push and a scream.

“Now! Just one more! You can do it! Pretty please!, just one more push!” said Jiminy, while she gave a big push.

And she screamed…

…and a baby cried, while going through her birthing cannal. Mrs. McNamara looked exhausted, but very happy.

Jiminy took one of the last cleaning towels and showed Laura and Albert McNamara their baby.

“It’s a little girl.” said Joshua, sweetly “And, look, how she’s really a cute thing.”

“Kid, it’s not over yet. Wait the placenta get out and put the placenta high over the baby.” said Angie.

As soon the placenta got out, Jiminy put it into a small bowl and lifted it over the baby head.

“Right, kid. Now you just need to clean the baby the best you can with warm water and wait for medic. You did it well.” said Angie.

When Jiminy got the towel and the water, Mr. McNamara said, with a very suave voice tone, different from the angry guy when all that started, taking the towel while putting the bowl with the placenta somewhere else. “Let me do this, kid. You already did enough. Take care of your ankle now.” taking the towel and cleaning his daughter.

Jiminy just sat and removed his Mickey Mouse Converses and looked for his right feet: the ankle was really swollen, and a small red line denounced the blood. He soaked a towel with warm water and placed it over the ankle. The pain was uncomfortable at first, but there was some relief when the swell reduced a little.

“Jiminy, Dispatch: a jumper is here ready for rescue you. And there’s some EMT trained to deal with this baby.” said Soldaire.

“Alright.” said Jiminy, looking for the McNamara “We’ll get out. A teleporter will get us.”

“Alright… And police will get me.” said the guy

“What!? No, you…“ was saying Jiminy when Mr. McNamara stopped him

“Kiddo… I putted someone under a gunpoint, and this is attempted manslaughter. After shooting you, being you a kid, this will make things worst. Even more that now they know I’m, or better, I WAS part of the Paladins. Jackie here showed me how much wrong I was. “ stated Mr. McNamara.

“You were desperate. Maybe this and some collaboration can help you.” replied Jiminy

“I know kid… But let see what will happen.” said Mr Albert McNamara when they felt the teleporter showing himself to rescue them.

Jiminy sat in a place in the market debris, his leg into a half cast the doctors that came with some Speedsters did. The local Starbucks made coffee for everyone and served it with some of the perishable food that would be lost anyway thanks the power shortage. They gave Jiminy a beautiful thermos full of cocoa with some hint of coffee, and a big slice of fruitcake. Mr. McNamara was waiting to his wife and newborn daughter, now having her first breastfeed, to be transferred to a hospital as soon an ambulance (or an Atlas) would be available. He sat on the rabble beside Jiminy with a little latte and a bagel.

“I’ll be put under parole: they understood I was desperate, and they don’t want to fill jails by now, so I’ll have to do some hours in the hospital. Also, I’ll lose my right to carry. In the balance, I’m okay with this. And I’ll support the Paladins no more. I thought all breakthroughs were potential Seif-al-din. I was wrong. How is your leg?” asked him, looking for the half casted leg

“Hurts, but I had worse before. At most, in a week I’ll be okay. As soon I’m cleared by the doctors, I’ll get to Dispatch and change places with our team leader, that will get to the field.” said Jiminy looking for the green half cast they made around his leg

“Why you do this? You’re so young… You should be playing ball, not doing adult work and saving people.” said the man, looking kids playing baseball even with all the chaos.

“Do you know how I had undergone breakthrough?” said Jiminy

“No… But I wonder.” said the man

“I was took by bullies and punched and kicked. I could hear my bones being broken, until that I used my Pretty Please! to make them stop just before they could hit me the final blow. Under big pain, I used my Bellax Analytica to be found and brought back home. When I arrived, just exchanged some words with my parents and got comatose for 6 months. Some time after I woke up, I was visited by HSF people and that sounded a better way to put my powers in use.” said Jiminy

Jiminy took a big gulp on his cocoa thermos: talking about his past always gave him the willies.

“Our motto in Heroes Without Borders is ‘super-help for super-needs’. And this is how we live. We are not like the Chicago Sentinels and Hollywood Knights, with all the glamour. We are in the field, helping people from everywhere when needed. Earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, humanity catastrophes, you name it. I thought that, after almost dying, this could be my way to thank God by being alive.” said Jiminy.

“You’re really a weird kid, but weird in a good way.” smiled the man “And courageous also: I can’t think what could happen if I just had shot you… That could put an A-Class Ajax down.” frowned him

“Well, at least you had understand that people are not good or bad because their powers, but regardless their powers. The breakthrough is something that happens with you and what you’ll do with your powers is up to you, as it is the consequences of those uses.” said Jiminy, when they heard the ambulance coming.

“Alright, looks like we split now. But I’ll look for you. Looks like not only wood boys needs a Jiminy Cricket.” said the man, shaking hands with Jiminy before joining his wife and little kid to get into the ambulance.

It was when Dumont and Sugarplum get nearby.

“Ready to go back the City Hall, short stuff? The CUC status will be left, and you’ll have time to take a bath before go full Jiminy Cricket.” asked Sugarplum

“Let us go. Hope she could grew nice in a better world.” said Jiminy, while the ambulance got to deliver them to the hospital.

“It was what all of us wants, Jiminy.” wondered Dumont, engaging Jiminy’s harnesses on his Demoiselle.

Chapter 5

“Stressful situations always shows the best and the worst of humanity. It would not be different with breakthrough.”

Richard ‘LionHeart’ McInroy, on “Musings from Herós Sans Frontières Breakthroughs.”, Herós Sans Frontières

Some days had passed and now the city was recovering and they were put into the rotation with the other CAI teams until the Code Red situation would be lifted. As an emergency, the McCarthy house was turned into a makeshift of a HWB base for the team, so it was very crowded.

So they used some of the new prototype HWB sleeping bags, developed by some of HWB Vernes, to open space in the house for the extra people. And because of this Jiminy Cricket, Sugarplum and Djanni were using the tree-house as their sleeping place, which freed Jiminy’s room for others, in case, LionHeart and Hufflepuff. Dumont MacGyvered an elevator on the tree-house’s trapdoor so Jiminy could get in and out with his swollen, twisted, half-casted ankle.

Jiminy and Sugarplum were sleeping when they felt the sun getting into the tree-house through its windows. They yawned and looked around.

“Everyone, wake up. Rise and shine.” said Sugarplum. She saw that, in fact, Djanni was already woke up and was already praying the salat, his head turned to Mecca.

Jiminy got up and, after Djanni finished his prayers, they folded back the sleeping bags into tiny packages and put them into a rack. While Sugarplum just flew through the window in her Tink mode, Djanni helped Jiminy to get to the trapdoor and hit a button nearby to make the brass elevator works.

Jiminy got down and looked for some water to clean his face, before going to the breakfast. And he was surprised: his mother did pancakes.

“Wow!” he said, looking for the big pile of golden pancakes over the table. He saw everyone getting out and joining the table for some breakfast.

The city cleaning effort was almost over and soon they would get back Geneva, but they are still needed there. It was exactly because this Jiminy felt weird when Soldaire came to him and said “Okay, Jiminy. Today you’re in the bench, off-duty.”

“What? But my leg…“ started to say Jiminy when Soldaire cut him

“I know your ankle is okay now, and you’ll remove the cast. But we need you trained into combat. You’re still our weak spot on this. So, unfortunately, I can’t wait you recover 100%. Cajun is in the city to help you with some Savate training.” said Soldaire.

Cajun (real name: Leon LeClerc) was previously a crime-fighter vigilante, but now was a HWB reserve and part of the Saint Louis Guardians roster. A Paragon, he was not a breakthrough in the strict sense, or some people considered that way, but as a Paragon in fact he was the nearest on the super-nornal concept from the old time comics, someone that is the expression of the perfection without powers. Big, bold and boastful, he was a Savate Professeur, someone that teaches Savate, and also a extremely good fencer, and that was what turned him into a vigilante first time.

“Jiminy, I want you to train with him as much as you can.” said Soldaire “And also I want you to train using the Jiminy Cane and using your Bellax Analytica to reinforce your physical defense and attack using your powers.” and Jiminy nodded, while he finished his breakfast “You’ll also do it under costume. I want you to do this real life, and I asked Cajun to do this way.”

After breakfast and a shower, Jiminy removed his cast, got into his costume and waited for Cajun. He didn’t waited too much.

Cajun got out a taxi front of Jiminy’s home. He was dressed into an integrale, the Savate practicioner clothes, in black, with a Zorro mask hiding his cajun face, just the green eyes and some locks of his strawberry blonde hair, styled a La Louis XV, being shown. His Toledo sword was into a sheath locked to his belt. He used a blood red honest-to-gosh velvet big heavy cape.

“Bonjour, mon ami. Ready for your practice?” said Cajun, shaking Jiminy hand

“First, let me present you to my parents.” said Jiminy, presenting Cajun to his parents.

After this, Cajun and Jiminy ran a little as part of warming, until they found an empty corner some blocks away where they could do their practice undisturbed. They started with some basic warming and basic move training. Then he reinforced the basics of La Canne de Combat (stick), Le Bâton Français (staff), Le Couteau (knife), Le Poignard (dagger), La Chaise (chair) and Le Manteau (overcoat) for Jiminy, also including some fencing practice.

Jiminy was exhausted after all this training, and Cajun took some water bottles and said, while passing one for Jiminy.

“Jiminy, you have a good training and very solid basics. But you’re still an initiateur, a beginner, and need to be pushed over. Even me, without any real power beside my Savate skills, could defeat and even kill you if needed.” lectured Cajun “Soldaire said me you frozen in front of a enemy breakthrough at Metrocon, and then I saw the videos. Quelle honte, freeze yourself under a bully kid with just power and hate!” retorted Cajun, ashamed on Jiminy “I know you’re still a blue glove, but you need to grow over fast, or you’ll be a nuisance for your team at field, and a dangerous one.”

He cleaned his sweat, and while Jiminy cleaned his own Cajun unsheathed his sword and pointed it to Jiminy, in combat posture.

“What…“ said Jiminy, worried

“Consider this, Jiminy Criquet, your exam for green gloves. This will be for real, though. I’ll try and hurt you for real if I can. You have to disarm me or, at least, remove my cape.” stated him, still showing his blade to Jiminy “If you surrender, go unconscious or be disarmed, I’ll be your professeur no more. If you do what I’ve said, you’ll receive your green gloves. En garde!” said Cajun, thrusting his blade against Jiminy.

He had just a split second to get his face out of the way and unsheathed his swordcane that was part of Jiminy Cane, two feet of slim silver blade held by a trembling hand.

“Nice blade. Designed as a rapier, a light weapon that you could use based more on your skill and speed than on strength.” stated Cajun, stopping for a moment, still in combat posture, blades crossed, looking to Jiminy’s blade “Dumont did it to you?” Jiminy nodded, trying to recover his pose “Now, think on why Dumont did this blade this way for you!” and he broke the swords clinch, thrusted again and again, Jiminy avoiding the attacks because Bellax Analytica foresaw them, but being pushed back, until he got against a wall.

Cajun then gave an attack and cut Jiminy left arm, making him yelp, while he got out the wall, back to the alley. Just a scratch, but enough to show him Cajun was business. He just had time to avoid the disarming attack, and he looked worried. He thought to use his Pretty Please!, but then Cajun looked to him, as he almost read Jiminy’s mind, and said.

“Forgot to say, using Pretty Please! will be your defeat. This is a fight between Gentlemen, so no mind-bending!” retorted Cajun, thrusting again.

Jiminy was growing tired fast, getting back and back. It was not fair: Cajun was bigger, stronger, and more experienced either as a Savateur and as a cape than Jiminy, and Jiminy just removed his cast from the twisted ankle and could not use his Pretty Please!, neither to ask him to take easy on him.

“If you always get back, you’ll be defeated. There’s only one way to win.” shouted Cajun, in a hit that scratched his hand and almost disarmed Jiminy, only his pain tolerance and experience avoiding this.

Jiminy than understood: he needed to use his big suits to fight Cajun and win. But which they were?

“I’m smaller, but I’m certainly faster than Cajun, even if by just.” thought Jiminy “Also, he’s more experienced and skilled…“

But he saw the solution: he have Bellax Analytica. If he was brave enough and use it, he could go into offense and find a weak spot.

Jiminy stopped to get back and exchanged some bouts. He felt Cajun exerting even more strength.

And it was exactly what Jiminy wanted.

The Toledo sword Cajun was using was guardless. By getting into a sword clinch, he found the weak spot: he hit Cajun in the wrist, using the cane-sheath, and then into his hand with the blade, getting behind the guard. Using the traditional circular movement, he pushed Cajun’s sword off his hand. Then he pointed the sword to Cajun’s face.

“No regrets?” said Jiminy, smiling, putting the swordcane back the cane.

“No regrets. You did it well. Let us treat those scratches before getting back your home.” said Cajun, sitting back the same stairs they started all this.

Cajun started by treated first Jiminy scratches and, after treated their own, took a pair of green boxing-like gloves from his bag and put Jiminy’s hands inside them.

“Think you’re worthy of these ones.” he assured. “Your powers are nothing without courage and, why not say, some panache. This is why Soldaire wanted me to push you over this way. I knew you recently removed a cast from a broken leg and had the other casted until today, but I could not take easy with you. It would be disrespectful with me, with Soldaire, with your team, and with you.” he said

“I understand…“ said Jiminy, when he heard the Earbug engaging.

“Jiminy, get back your home now!” shouted urgently Soldaire via Earbug “There’s a riot getting there! We’ll evacuate the team ASAP!”

“What?” said Jiminy

Chapter 6

“I’ll never understand Paladins or Humanity Firsters. They call us breakthrough freaks, but they attack not only us, but our families and everyone else even remotely connected with us. They think they have the right to kill us. Why? I have no answer. No matter how much we help people, they believe we should get away. It’s sad that they think on us to people to be slaved or, worse, killed.”

Jiminy Cricket, “From Dress-up to save up: an underage breakthrough story”

Jiminy and Cajun ran to Jiminy’s home, and he saw there’s already some rioters breaking through the house and setting it on fire. They were not protesters, but rioters, with lots of baseball bats, machetes and molotov cocktails.

“No chance to stop them with my Pretty Please! They’re insane!” said Jiminy, and he hitted his Earbug “Dispatch, we have a riot in my position. Engaging now, will need firefighters and riot control here.”

“Sending support ASAP. Riot control ETA 2 minutes, firefighters ETA 5 minutes.” said Dispatch

Jiminy tried to open way through the rioters with Cajun, using his Savate technique and Bellax Analytica to passing through them.

One rioter pulled Jiminy by his cravat, lifting him and said. “One less freak kid today!” he said, lifting a machete to head off Jiminy, when Jiminy hit the taser from his Jiminy Cane against the rioter, that screamed in pain.

Another rioter got and tried to attack Cajun, that cutted the rioter’s Achilles’ Heels, making him dropping in pain in the ground. “I know the Rules of Engagements, but don’t play naive with them. They don’t give a merde for those.” said Cajun, combing his cape and Savate punches to knock out another rioter. Jiminy got other two with taser hits, when the taser battery ran out and he get into the house. He gave some hits with Savate techniques and his cane to break through the rioters outside the house.

He got into the house and looked around: “MOM! MRS. TAHAN! MRS. MCRAE!” he shouted

“SON, WE ARE IN THE BASEMENT!” said Jiminy’s parents.

“Right, getting there! Djanni, need help here!” said Jiminy.

“Roger! I have my hands full by now, but I’ll get there soon.” said Djanni, and he heard Djanni was worried.

When he tried to get out, he felt a shot almost getting him in the face, only his Bellax Analytica allowing him to avoid the shot.

“A sniper! And military action weaponry!” said Jiminy, looking for the bullet hole “Dispatch, we need support here NOW!”

“Sorry, Jiminy!” said Dispatch “We are hands full now! We’re doing our best to send reinforcements ASAP!”

Jiminy looked around and saw Cajun and some speedsters dealing with the rioters. So, he engaged his OmniSpecs mounted into his Jiminy mask and used his Bellax Analytica to shot the sniper.

Looking on the ghost-like image foreseeing from it, he set his Jiminy Cane’s laser for minimal energy and shot on his hand.

It was enough to make the guy goes down enough to give him another shot in his shoulder to make him scream and leave the weapon down.

“Cajun! We have a sniper down in backside, somewhat two or three homes back! Send a speedster there, but take care: AR-15, depleted uranium ammo! Anti-Ajax weaponry, they could blast my head out!” said Jiminy.

“Roger! Go for your parents! The upper side of your home started to collapse. It’s almost falling down!” said with urgency Cajun

Jiminy run to the basement door and saw it was blocked with some chains.

“Son… The smoke is getting in by the chimney!” said Jiminy’s dad

“Get back!” said Jiminy, setting the laser for maximum power, cutting the chains. He took the chains out to unblock the door.

“The door is unlocked! Get out, quick! The house will fall!” said Jiminy

“Jiminy, Dispatch! Reinforcements getting there!” said Dispatch

“Dispatch, Cajun here! The rioters had gone! Probably they are on your frequency.” stated Cajun, while everyone got out and got near the backyard tree.

It was just at the eleventh hour: the house fell just some seconds after Mr. McCarthy got out the basement, being the last one to do this.

Jiminy ran to the tree and catch a little Vernetech Breathalyzer, part of his hero kit, to help people to breath out the fire smoke and got down.

“Here, everyone!” said Jiminy, pushing the little tube-like brass device for Mrs. Tahan, that looked the worst one on breathing. “Take a deep breath and pass to the next: it will clean your lungs and put clean oxygen. It was made by Dumont.” said Jiminy, while they heard the firefighters getting there.

The firefighters needed two hours to take the fire out, even with the help of a local aquakinetic to blast extra water and a pyrokinetic to extinguish the fire. Jiminy helped as much as he could, to avoid the fires to spread through the neighborhood. In the end, the only place still unscathed was the tree and the tree-house.

When he looked around, to the ashes and debris where his house previously were, Jiminy snapped and just cried, physically and mentally exhausted:

“Why, daddy, mommy? Why they did this?” said Jiminy, hugging his parents as much as he could. No matter his powers, no matter his experience in war-stricken places, he still was a kid, and some people took his house down. This could be enough to make any kid broke down.

“I don’t know!” said Michael, as flabbergasted. All the HWB team was called back to Jiminy’s home, or better, its debris.

“It was Humanity First.” stated Soldaire, while talking to Dispatch “That guy you helped bring the daughter to life Jiminy denounced them for the Police just some seconds before their action. He didn’t heard about it before, and Police and Dispatch had no time to avoid this…“

As the sun started to go down, Djanni looked to Jiminy very sad and said:

“Jiminy, it’s time for our prayers, and me and my parents will pray now for Allah the Most High to help you on this moment. Even you being an infidel, that’s not right! You had helped lots of people at Roque Santeiro… It’s not fair what happened with you. You are in our prayers always, even more now.”

They put some carpets in the scorched grass and gone for their prayers. In a corner, Dumont removed his fedora and was also praying, looking for something into it: Jiminy knew Dumont was a Catholic, and certainly he was praying for the Holy Mother of Aparecida, Brazil’s Patroness, looking the holy picture he had at his hat. Everyone did what they could to help them on spiritual support and comfort on that time. As Jiminy saw lots of Merlins and Supernatural breakthroughs, like Sugarplum, he knew that this was good, at least to comfort them and show them they are not alone.

“We have no more home here, Joshua.” said Michael, down, to his son, Jiminy, and they all gasped, as it was not common to ask a cape common name when he was wearing the cape. “I’ll make sure those guys will pay dearly!”

Jiminy was down, really down. “After all we did to help people!”

Some of the neighbors came with some food, spare blankets and things for McCarthy family… And the police sealed off the neighborhood, as some anti-cape people gone to picketing against Jiminy, banners saying he was a community risk. Soldaire was in the Earbug since that situation, and some capes came to do a circle in the region. But there’s nothing people could do otherwise.

The neighborhood was flabbergasted: they knew the McCarthys from before The Event, and their neighbors respected Joshua. He was cherished as a very nice good kid, a nice dedicated Cub Scout with lots of badges, that was in all civic events, even more when he gone through breakthrough and gone for helping people overseas.

Jiminy got down back the tree and removed his hat and mask, crying a lot.

“We have a report…“ said Soldaire “Police crossed information and discovered that one of your neighbors had gone out the city after the earthquake. Surprise… he was a Humanity First supporter.” and this made Jiminy even more flabbergasted. “NYPD got him some minutes after a warrant was got for him. He said he did this by revenge.”

“Revenge? Like I did this?” said Jiminy, sad.

“People goes crazy on situations like this, Jiminy! I thought you learned it at Roque Santeiro.” said Soldaire “HWB had said that you will have full support. First of all, we are going back to Geneva ASAP. There’s nothing more we can do here. Our work here is finished as the event situation now is Code Blue, back to normality. I’ve already asked Sugarplum and Kuntur to take all you have at the tree-house.”

“But… My…“ said Jiminy, and he understood

“This city isn’t safe for you no more: you don’t have a secret identity, but a private one. They know about you, and just some minutes on Net will be enough to take a good profile on you.” said Soldaire “You and your parents aren’t safe here: Humanity First supporters are worse than professional villains. They believe they are right and they can bring their Crusade against breakthroughs to your parents. So, sadly, no more sanctum for you, at least here.”

Jiminy looked for the tree-house and cried, taking out his mask and Top Hat, as he remembered as much effort his dad and grandparents did to build that tree-house. Sugarplum, Djanni and Kuntur got down with everything into the tree-house into a big crate: the games, the Cub Scouts uniforms, pins and badges, costumes, books, everything.

“Let’s go, son…“ said his mother, her hand over his shoulder.

“Mom… Maybe I should had heard you and not…“ said Jiminy, crying disconsolated, when Mrs. McCarthy gone and hugged Jiminy as much as he could.

“No, son. It’s not your fault. You’re a very good kid, always had been. You did great things for people. Those people are mean, crazy people.” consoled Mrs. Selena McCarthy, hugging his kid. She took also his mask and Top Hat. “I’m very proud of you, Joshua. And I’m also proud of you as Jiminy Cricket.” she reaffirmed, putting his mask back, after cleaning his son’s tears.

“The police just asked for an After-Action Report.” reported Soldaire, disengaging his Earbug “They said the guy you shot with laser claimed you shot first. He just filed a suit against you.”

“What?! But…“ said Jiminy, when Soldaire looked him

“We know… But let us do this fair and square, and we’ll catch them hard. I think there’s no way they say you did first. I was in Dispatch and saw your maskcam. It was fair and square.” said Soldaire.

“We need to go now.” stated Dumont, looking his OmniSpec “The anti-cape protesters are menacing the neighborhood and some of the neighbors are ready to clash against the protesters, things are escalating very fast, even with police here. No good can be done by staying here. HWB already arranged the NY HQ for us until we fly back Geneva.”

Jiminy breathed and said downcast: “Let’s go… We can’t make things grew worse. Rules of Engagement: don’t escalate the events.”

Two SUVs took them, and when they got out the block, for some reason Jiminy felt he would never get back, and he would not see his tree-house, his Sanctum, again. He looked the crates with all the things he had into his tree-house.

And, after taking his mask and hat off, he just rested his head on his mother’s shoulder…

And cried like the kid that, in the end, he always was.

Chapter 7

“Sometimes, people thinks that, when you do good things, it’s just your obligation. But if you fail, you’re incompetent or, worse, ill-intended. How difficult is for us to also praise the good things? I know that you should do good things just because they are good and right… But why not say about good examples?”

Jiminy Cricket, “From Dress-up to save up: an underage breakthrough story”

Jiminy was just looking through the window, while the freighter airplane was getting down Geneva. He was melancholic, thinking on what happened.

“Dad… That was so unfair!” said Joshua

“I know, son, but there’s nothing we can do by now.” said Mr. Michael McCarthy

The things had grown worse for Joshua: a lawyer had put an injunction against Joshua, questioning his CAI training and pledging he violated all the norms about it by shooting the sniper with the laser. HWB’s lawyer pledged that the maskcam record and After-Action Report, both filed as evidence, showed he used the laser shots at minimum power with the only objective to neutralize a life-threating tango that was obstructing a rescue operation, and that without this, his life and six others (McCarthys, McRaes and Tahans’) would be lost.

However, the judgement would be in some weeks, and until there, he would be in the bench. There was also the risk that Jiminy could be treated as a national risk and sent to some Military Boot Camp, just the kind of destination his parents tired to avoid to him from the very beginning.

The case was being debated all the time in news, cooking public interest on Joshua: even Blackstone said that Jiminy was a little temerary on his actions, but “an attack against his family, made by rioters, some of them armed with military-grade weapons acknowledged as anti-breakthrough and putting on risk civilians, demanded an action to be stopped, and even on this situation Jiminy Cricket acted as a cape and done all he could to avoid escalation.” This conforted Joshua a little, after all the bad vibes.

He knew lots of people were trying to profit on all this: the McRaes had gone to the old farm in Indiana where Mr. McRae’s parents still lived, Sugarplum Grandpa all the time with a rifle to avoid the newsies and paparazzi. The Tahans had gone back with them to Geneva, and Joshua knew that people were trying to trace them to the Undying Caliphate because of their creed. Their own grandparents were found and asked things in Nevada and Wisconsin. Newsies tried to talk with everyone that had contact with him: teachers, neighbors, school friends, even his Cub Scouts former leader.

They even gone to Kyle at the Supermax, and even him said that “that sissy wouldn’t kill a butterfly.” He took this as a compliment, even a weird one. Someone even took somehow a photo of him without mask and hat, sat in the old tree crying like there’s no tomorrow and published it on Internet, and people was either taking him as a poor little kid or as a brat that deserved what he received by “playing hero”.

When they arrived at Geneva, one of the local PR guys, called Varekai (real name: Thomas Flüus), a C-Class Metamorph with a circus obsession (he could turn himself into all kind of circus character or animal: he just needed to see some photos), called them in his civil.

“Joshua, we have a great issue!” hushed Varekai

“What?” whined Joshua, thinking that things could no go worse.

It was when he understood what sometimes Dumont said about Hell having a basement.

Varekai showed him an opt-ed from New York Times, signed a well-known anti-breakthrough Chicago politician called Malcolm Shankman, was in fact a big boasty rant about what he called “a villanious action” by a “crazy breakthrough kid” that should be “contained and constrained for the society best interest”.

That rant was a so big vitriolic pile of political diatribe that even Hufflepuff, not too much concerned about politics, sweared some very bad words in Spanish.

For some reason, Joshua could not think at all:

“It’s like I took that guy and launched him against the Empire State Building! As I ever could do this!” said Joshua.

“He’s a known anti-breakthrough guy… Some people says he’s connected with the Paladins and Humanity First, and other anti-breakthrough people all around the world.” said Varekai “I was looking for reactions, and some people is at your side, Joshua: no matter you’re a breakthrough, you’re a kid, and exposing a kid like you is a big no-no, even more like he did, by nominally citing both your capename and real name! But there’s some negative reaction of people that either are with Mr. Shankman or against your parents, saying all kind of horrid things. Need to say I almost had gone sick.”

“What?!” asked everyone.

“They said your parents, Joshua, were famemongers that exposed you for money! And this is the BEST thing those people have to say about you and your parents, and to be fair, the only one I can say for you without your mom making me washing my mouth with soap!” shunned Varekai

“But…“ said Joshua, when Varekai stopped him

“We know! We have all the forms and documentation showing you had joined HSF by your own will! But people are crazy, even more in America: need to say, America concept of democracy is a little weird for me. They can say all kind of terrible things and destroy others lives acting totally under the law, and when framed on this they just cry 1ST AMENDMENT!” exasperated Varekai “An arrivist like this guy shows their claws just on those kind of moments, and take you is just the best prize he and their lot wants: by painting you as a bad kid, they are trying to milk some political gain.”

“So, it’s all about this? Politics?” shouted LionHeart

“Not just this. They are trying to put HSF in the corner. Our position against some of the humanity crimes that are undergoing at Eretz Israel, Balkans and Constantinople put us into the radar of those nuts, and they are using this to cripple us at US. And, no matter my criticism on them, HSF needs their money. Unfortunately.” pouted Varekai

“And now… What could we do?” asked worried Joshua

“By now, let him distill all the vitriol he wants: a rebutt is just what they want. They’re looking for anything that allow them to cry wolf against you, Joshua, to show you as a crazy kid, so every action you do now could backfire against HSF.” said Varekai “So, until everything cool down, you’re in the bench here in Geneva. Djanni also, as he is not full CAI-certificated, and this could put even more mud on all this. We are talking with the big bosses and contacts at LDS and UN to not split your team. But maybe you’ll need to depart, at least for some time. I asked Cajun to reinforce the team and train you and Djanni in the meantime, and you will help us by readying Djanni for his CAI Certification. But…“ said Varekai

“I understand: HSF needs to think on the reputation of the NGO as a whole.” said Joshua “I’m okay with this: I can help Djanni receive his CAI certification and train with Cajun in the meantime. And Disney?”

“After all the documentation we shown for them, they said they are with you through and through. They believed 120% you did your best. They only needed to go out of the radar for sometime, but I think they’re waiting everything cool down so this mess don’t splash on themselves.” said Varekai

Joshua looked around and everyone was as astonished as himself.

“There’s nothing we can do by now.” said Joshua, sighing “If you need to be deployed somewhere, go without me. I’ll join you as soon as possible.”

“That’s the spirit, Joshua. We’ll get those guys.” said Varekai while they got into the HSF HQ

Those were stressful days for Joshua: without his sanctum, after losing his house and with all those things, Joshua was even more pressured and was almost breaking and going crazy.

At least, there was things that he could do to relief a little: Djanni preparation for CAI-certification and Savate training with Cajun. In two weeks he just undergone another glove up, the strenuous Savate training helping him to not think on all this and go crazy. When he wasn’t on one or another, he was into video-conferences with Legal Eagle, Chicago Sentinels lawyer that took his case pro bono, as it had HSF involved.

In the meantime, Mal Shankman had put some more opt-eds, trying to slow cook Joshua as much as he could against the public opinion, but people were seeing also some publicity helping Joshua.

First was the Metrocon video from Kyle attacking Joshua as a cape that leaked to ViewTube. At first there was some very nasty comments, but those who were with Joshua showed their power: in just a few days, the thumbs up had toppled the thumbs down 2 by 1.

Lots of comments and even some videos supporting Joshua were in the ViewTube. He saw the little kid he signed the hat doing a cute video on Instagram that gone viral saying “Go go, Jiminy!” and the hashtag #freejiminy rose very fast in all the social networks, from the big ones to those obscure like Mastodon.

Joshua was studying all he could and preparing himself for his defense, because he knew the stakes: it wasn’t just about his CAI license, or even about being sent to a Boot Camp. It was about attacking Herós Sans Frontières’s reputation. If they fail, HSF would fall. And this would not be what he wanted to do.

And then came the day: he would be judged at Newark Court Hall. He was going there with a HSF car, escorted by some of the super-policemen from NYPD and some well known capes, like Blackstone, Seven, Chakra and The Harlequin. He was not in cape, but dressed on a nice dark green formal suit: they chose to use the fact that, as his private identity was already busted, he would go as Joshua McCarthy, not as Jiminy Cricket, to gain some sympathy. His parents were with him also.

“Calm down, son. The truth is with you.” consoled Mr. McCarthy.

“I know, dad.” pouted Joshua

“We know that you did everything fair and square.” reinforced Mrs. McCarthy, when they arrived at the Justice House parking place below the Court Hall. He saw all the picketing people, either pro- and anti-Jiminy Cricket. The escorts left him as soon he got into the basement parking lot.

When he got out of the car, he saw some people, including a weird-looking guy.

“Hope you have no problem we brought Veritas here.” said one of them, showing a DSA badge. Probably a support breakthrough that worked for them.

“Not at all.” said Legal Eagle (real name: Tommy Brannigan, esquire), Joshua’s main lawyer. “In fact, I’m very aware on this.”

“Joshua, we’ll ask some questions before you get at the court, and Veritas will check it for us. By the way, I’m Agent Leon Milligan and my partners here are Agent Williams, Jarreau and DuBois.” said Agent Milligan, nodding a little, the others confirming, and Joshua nodded back as a courtesy. “First of all: are you Joshua Clemens McCarthy, known as capename Jiminy Cricket, resident at Newark, but with hometown at Geneva, Switzerland?”

“Yes.” said Joshua

“Are you an A-Class Mastermind hero whose powers are Bellax Analytica, a kind of future foreseeing; Pretty Please! a light will-bending power; and a super-enhanced learning capability?” said Agent Williams, that looked meek, but certainly was a Mentalist, by the weird look he gave to Joshua.

“Yes.” said Joshua

“Are you here to be judged on attempted manslaughter on action by shooting a rioter with a Vernetech laser weapon under action?” said Agent Jarreau, that used some kind of magical charms, probably a Merlin.

“Yes.” said Joshua

“And are you about to use your powers, specially your Pretty Please! one, to affect the Jury?” said Agent DuBois, a strong looking woman, probably an Ajax.

“No, not at all.” said Jiminy “Besides…“

“We know: we read your profile. You can’t change the mental state totally. You can only make people does things if they are inclined to do it, even remotely.” said Agent Milligan smiling “Veritas?”

“Truth as water were his responses.” said Veritas, smiling

Veritas, Jiminy knew, was one of the very few known Ultra-class breakthroughs, even more powerful than the A-Class ones like Joshua himself. Veritas was a Mentalist that almost could smell lies, according himself literally. He works for DSA, the Department for Superhuman Affairs as a kind of human lie detector. And as a breakthrough with mind-bending powers, Joshua knew he would be checked by Veritas.

“Alright. Now… Hope you understand, but we need to handcuff you, until you’re presented to the Court.” said Agent Milligan, showing him some common police handcuffs.

“No, no one will do this with my son.” said Mrs. McCarthy, when Joshua gestured for her.

“Mom… It’s okay. They are only doing their job.” said Joshua, hugging her mother a little before showing him his wrists. Agent Milligan took the handcuffs and put it on Joshua’s wrists, under Legal Eagle look. And he got to the Public Court Hall.

Chapter 8

“One of the worst experiences I had was being judged after I lost my house. Even knowing I did everything fair and square, I feared people would found me guilt just because I’m a breakthrough, my recent experience on Humanity First fogging my judgement. Sometimes, I still think on why I didn’t forfeit my US citizenship and accepted the refugee status Switzerland offered me… But I think that I chose to fight the Good Fight. There was too much in game, the stakes were very high. And I could not let this ruin myself as a cape or HWB.”

Jiminy Cricket, “From Dress-up to save up: an underage breakthrough story”

Jiminy entered the room when the clerk said.

“Court Case Number 203: Williams versus Jiminy Cricket.” said the clerk, ritually.

“How the defendant declare himself?” said the Judge.

“Not Guilty, Your Honor.” said Joshua

“I’m his lawyer, Your Honor.” said Legal Eagle “I want to ask Your Honor why is the defendant being judged as an adult…“

“He’s being accused on attempted manslaughter and vigilantism, felonies which allow him to be judged as an adult.” said the Judge

Vigilantism: acting as an unauthorized cape. New Jersey was a No-Mask state: actively working as a cape unregistered was a felony. Illinois, from were Legal Eagle was, was a Mask state, where wearing the cape without a previous governmental registry was legal, as far no felony happened in the process and the cape was part of any CAI team. And Jiminy wasn’t registered as cape there.

“However, Your Honor, Joshua McCarthy, capename Jiminy Cricket, is a CAI-certificated cape on an overseas organization, Herós Sans Frontières, recognized internationally, and he was acting as CAI during a recent natural catastrophe, the 7.3 earthquake that hit Newark, so he was on duty at the moment of the events that will be judged today. The State vs HSF recognized Herós Sans Frontières as a certification organization and registrar for capes overseas when the No Mask legislation issue came into accounting, as HSF’s heroes roster profiles are all available when demanded by justice, not being classified as some registries from some US agencies. So, I ask Your Honor to drop the vigilantism accusation as unfounded.” said Legal Eagle.

“Your Honor, no minor should be accepted as cape. State vs Construct states that, no matter what, no underage is recognized as a CAI cape.” said the accusation lawyer, a guy with a seal-like moustache but almost no neck and intimidating green eyes.

“As HSF is responsible for the defendant as a cape, and his profile is available under request, and HSF had given full access to his profile when formally asked by the Justice, the vigilantism accusation will be dropped.” said the Judge “However, it was just an aggravating factor. The main accusation, attempted manslaughter, stays. Am I clear?”

“Yes, Your Honor.” said the lawyers, when they got to their table, and Jiminy avoided to look the guy with accusation lawyer: bald headed, tattooed with symbols from the Humanity First, as white as white can be, ice blue eyes, and a smirk that could make someone not as trained as Joshua faint. He was smiling and he could see why: Joshua saw in their side of the court audience crowd Malcolm Shankman, the politician that did all that vitriol against Joshua. He looked to Joshua like a wolf that was about to eat a little lamb, and the lamb was Joshua. He gulped a little in fear, when he heard a vibration sound.

Joshua looked for Legal Eagle’s cellphone vibrating. Then Legal Eagle looked to the cellphone screen, gasped, and passed discreetly for Joshua to see: someone somehow had put on Internet a photo of Joshua being handcuffed by the DSA agents. The legend said: “the first criminal”.

“Your Honor, I want to put the accusation under suspicion. I just received from a friend a post from social networks with a photo showing the defendant being handcuffed at the Court parking lot and the caption ‘the first criminal’.” when Legal Eagle said this, showing the judge his your cellphone, lots of people had gone for their cellphones, while he gone to show his own to the Judge. “As the only ones the defendant came with were his parents and me, beside the escort that left him immediately after we entered the parking lot, the only one that could did this were the plaintiff or some of their team, or a paparazzi. If the later, I ask for an injunction on this.”

“There’s nothing we can do by now about this, Mr. Brannigan.” said the Judge “We’ll ask for an injunction for the image later, but let us begin.”

The first hours were just the accusation looking for some people that could say that Joshua was psyched as the rioters (that, according the accusation, doesn’t included the plaintiff) tried to put everything down and so over-reacted. It was fast, as they just pushed on the idea that Joshua was a crazy kid that gone vigilante after gone breakthrough. Joshua was very nervous, even with all the preparation and so, as every of the accusation witnesses stayed on the crazy kid quotes as much they could. Legal Eagle, however, was as cold someone could think he was cryokinetic, not the C-Class Atlas he was, able to fly but nothing else.

“There’ll be a lunch recess. The Court will get back in an hour with the defense.” said the Judge.

Legal Eagle and Joshua gone to their designed room, where Mr. and Mrs. McCarthy were already waiting them with some sandwiches and chocolate milk for Joshua and a Schweppes soft drink for Legal Eagle.

“The good news: they have no sustentation on their accusation. As soon we show the maskcam images and the Dispatch registry, we’ll demolish them like a card castle. Bad news: they know this and will try to push you very hard, Joshua, to make you lose your composure.” said Legal Eagle “I know this is horrible, but this is how things works. You’ll need to be as calm as you can, Joshua, or we can lose the case.”

“Alright.” said Joshua, drinking his chocolate milk and eating his ham and egg sandwich “They are creepy.”

“I know. They have no case, to be fair: for me, from the photo until now, everything is being done to play mind games specifically on you. Use your Bellax Analytica here and you can see, if you take time enough, that this is all being made to make you snap and go crazy and try to do something stupid.”

“Understood…“ said Joshua, when he tried a little and he foresaw at least two times where he snapped and screamed against them or cried like a baby or otherwise showed weakness enough.

“So… Let them push you and let the objections with me. They’ll try to gnaw you, but stay calm and firm.” said Legal Eagle “As you are the last to be heard, if we do things right, we can kick their asses hard… Sorry, Mrs. McCarthy.” he said, looking to Mrs. McCarthy’s face.

They finished their meal and gone back to the Court.

Legal Eagle showed all he could to dismantle the crazy kid thesis from accusation, using the maskcam video to show how the action was conducted under all the Rules of Engagement standards and protocols. He even talked with some people from Roque Santeiro, like Diana, Panther and Kilimanjaro, that stated he did his best to stay all the time into the Rules of Engagement and under all CAI standards. He asked also questions for the Dispatch operators and for Mr. McNamara, that denounced the Humanity First riot attack against Joshua’s house.

It was when it was time for Joshua to give testimony.

“Are you Joshua McCarthy, 12, from 17 McKinnon Street?” said Legal Eagle

“Yes, sir.” said Joshua

“And you are also a CAI-certified and registered breakthrough known as Jiminy Cricket, part of Herós Sans Frontières, Situation 2 Team 12 roster?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Could you say for the Jury why you were at Newark three months ago?”

“We were sent for working at National CAI Conference, at Chicago, Illinois. The most of the audience knows this event as Chicago Metrocon. After that, we had some days off and, as a resident, I chose to take those days off here for visiting people and just relax. In our last day off, before we get to Geneva, my father had a farewell party for some of the other team members’ parents, including the ones of my team-mate capename Sugarplum, from Charlotte, North Carolina. It was when the earthquake happened and we put ourselves at service for Newark, after an call for a Code Red. As it happened so fast we started to work as CAI Under Civil circumstance, a rare situation that only the Team Leader, in our case capename Soldaire, could declare. We had worked in all kind of situations under our time in the event until we are cleared by Newark Civil Defense, which happened immediately after the events in this judgement.”

“Could you say how you could help, as a cape? This, Exhibit A, is the folder with your profile provided by Herós Sans Frontières, but could you declare for the Jury your powers and how you use it in a situation like the earthquake?” said Legal Eagle, taking a folder and showing for everyone.

“My powers, as it’s stated in the profile sent as Exhibit A, are from the Mastermind type, as catalogued by Barlow’s Guide to the Superhuman. In my specific case, my main powers are Bellax Analytica, that I can use to foresaw the results of events, in a some seconds scale, and Pretty Please!, that is catalogued as a mind-bending power, and that can be used to somewhat convince people to do things that I want them to do. I can’t use this power to make people do what they wouldn’t do at all, or take violent actions. My training on them is focused on riot control and tactical analysis for Dispatch, and sometimes in the field.”

“So, where were you when your family and house was attacked?”

“I was training with one of my combat mentors, capename Cajun. He’s a Savate master, and was teaching me some extra fighting techniques. Dispatch called us via Earbug, saying that my house was being attacked by rioters. While Soldaire were asking for evacuation for our team, I had gone to look for my parents and the other non-breakthroughs. I was almost killed at least another time, when a guy tried to chop my head off with a machete and I tasered him. I entered the room and asked for them. They had hidden themselves into the basement.”

“Until then it was fair and square and the Jury had saw the video and audio from action via maskcam, our Exhibit B. And?” said Legal Eagle, putting over the Exhibit table a DVD with the maskcam record

“When I tried to get to the backyard to open the basement, I avoided a shot against me thanks my Bellax Analytica.”_

“You can describe the ammo?”

“.45 caliber, 5.56 bullet. Made with depleted uranium, based on the hole produced by the bullet on a very sturdy wall. The information was confirmed by our maskcam system.”

“Could be one of those from Exhibit C?” said Legal Eagle, showing a photo with an assault rifle and some ammo, including a fired bullet recovered. “Those, Your Honor, were seized with the plaintiff when processed into the system in this event aftermath.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And the shooter?”

“I used my Bellax Analytica and foresaw his position: he was at least 100 feet beyond me.” said Joshua

“What you did?”

“I set my Jiminy Cane’s laser system for minimum power first. I knew that I would have no more than a split second to shoot him before he shoot me, probably aiming for my head.”

“This so called Jiminy Cane is this one? This, Your Honor, is Exhibit D.” said Legal Eagle showing the Jiminy Cane for everyone “Could you describe it for the Jury, including all the Vernetech gizmos put on it?”

“Yes: it’s made from redwood, with an ebony-made head, painted on green and styled as Disney’s Pinocchio Jiminy Cricket design, same as my cape crest. This is a swordcane whose blade is made with the Verne metal alloy known as fake Orichalcum: silver, cold iron and some salt. Also, the cane tip acts as a contact taser and the head also has a laser weapon, both Vernetech developed and deployed into the cane by my teammate capename Dumont.”

“So, you used your laser to shoot the shooter, in fact, the plaintiff. Which were your targets?” said Legal Eagle

“First the hands, to disallow him to shot, and after that on his shoulder, so he could drop his weapon out in pain.” said Joshua

“And this confirms the Exhibit E, the forensics results from the plaintiff.” said Legal Eagle. “After that, when the plaintiff was down in pain, even that it was not really hurt…“

“Objection! The plaintiff was hurt, very bad.” said the seal-moustached guy

“Your Honor, Exhibit E proves there was no permanent damage for the plaintiff.” said Legal Eagle.

“Overruled. Go on.” said the Judge

“Your Honor. So, after shot the plaintiff…“ said Legal Eagle

“I got to the basement entry, where my parents and four other civilians were, and saw the basement was locked by the outside, probably by the plaintiff or one of their associates. I don’t know and it wasn’t my concern at time and now.”

“As by these chains, Exhibit F?” said Legal Eagle, showing the half melt chains.

“Yes, sir. I used the laser, now for more power, as a cutting tool. I cutted the chains and took them away. After that, the civilians got out at the eleventh hour before the house collapses. In the meantime, the rioters got away. And I helped the firefighters to avoid the fire to spread over.” said Joshua.

“And it was when Exhibits B and G stopped to register. Exhibit G, Jury, is the After Action Report, registered by the defendant and approved by either Newark Justice and Herós Sans Frontières’ review boards with some caveats.” said Legal Eagle, showing a folder for them.

“Yes sir.” said Joshua

“No more questions.” said Legal Eagle

It was when the real test started for Joshua.

The seal-moustached lawyer looked to him.

“So, Mr. McCarthy, you’re 12, so, underage. Is this correct?” said the lawyer, trying to look intimidate

“Yes, sir.” said Jiminy, focusing on the answers, remembering the counseling Legal Eagle gave him.

“And, even being underage, you didn’t went for Hillwood or, in fact, to Whitlow’s Academy or our local Saint Agnes Academy or other local schools for underage breakthroughs.”

“Yes, sir.”


“Herós Sans Frontières came to me at hospital and made an offer to study and develop myself and my powers overseas that appeared interesting. My parents authorized it, as showed by the express authorization documents part of Exhibit A.” said Joshua

“But as far I understood, you recently did a 6 month tour at Roque Santeiro refugee camp at Sierra Leone, after a year of CAI certification training, and did a big operation against an A-Class Verne that developed a kind of super-drug. Is this correct?”

“Yes, sir, but barely. The action against Derek Kwazani was not predicted by or part of our mission designation. We needed to investigate him after a Code Red situation at Roque Santeiro with some origin sellers whose supplier was Derek Kwazani. This put us on Priority Alpha on acquire him after an attack against that refugee camp. Our action at Roque Santeiro were first focused on general help, as part of a HSF protocol of regular team rotation.”

“And your specific action for the first time was?”

“Dispatch coordination, sir. As a non-combat cape, my powers were more useful at the Dispatch, by foreseeing dangers so everyone could avoid them, as I said before. In the events I cited, I helped into riot control also.”

“So, with all this work, you didn’t studied at all.” said the lawyer, smiling.

“I did, sir. I did my studies in my time out the Cape, almost all of them. To be clear, when I wasn’t on duty, I was studying. In fact, we in Herós Sans Frontières uses a lot of correspondence course and Internet classes, and I had some homeschooling with my associate, capename Sugarplum, that is a certified teacher and now is doing a post-grad on Correspondence Education. I studied classes from some MOOC programs from United Kingdom and Germany and got even faster through my studies, somewhat thanks of my powers…“

“So you’re a cheater.” said the lawyer, with a smirk.

“Objection! Assumption and false accusation!” said Legal Eagle

“Sustained.” said the Judge

“Mister, my breakthrough powers somewhat improved my mind. Even being 12, I have the same knowledge, acknowledged by our local system, as a sophomore high-schooler.” complimented Joshua

“Are you saying about Exhibit H? The report from local educational system acknowledging your school profile based on your results at HSF programs?” said the mustached lawyer

“Yes sir. My worst grade, when made the equivalence on our school system, was a C at Arts. My average grade is B+, and my English and STEM grades are average A.”

“Sounds like very good grades…“ said the moustached guy, but looking upset, as Joshua just fumbled one of his line of action to win the case. “Now… Back to the case. Your lawyer said that your After-Action Report for this action, Exhibit G, was approved with caveats. Could you please say the Jury which those caveats were and the one who raised the caveats?”

“The caveats was ‘Use less force that could result on potential casualties’. The one who cited the caveats was Henry Roix, capename Blackstone, from Chicago Sentinels.”

The audience gasped, while the seal-moustached guy smiled and Legal Eagle looked worried: a caveat of this kind from Blackstone, that, even before The Event, was an US Mariner and an intel specialist means business.

“How you dealt with this after the action?” said the moustached guy

“I had no time to improve it yet as, after an injunction on my CAI certification, I was put at HSF bench, and this jury came. I still had no time to really work into the caveat with HSF.”

“And do you think that could have a chance of you applying deathly force against the plaintiff, even unintentionally?”

“Objection! Assumption!” said Legal Eagle

“Overruled!” said the Judge, and then Legal Eagle looked for Joshua. The attack was somewhat surgical: by showing that Blackstone himself said that Jiminy could use, even by accident, deathly force, and forcing him to admit this would be a problem. “Answer the question.”

And he knew how Joshua would answer, as he oriented him to do this. He would say “Yes!”

But it was when Joshua surprised even Legal Eagle, as he didn’t had rehearsed this kind of question.

“Beside my training, it would be a possibility, to apply deathly force against the plaintiff. But I was trained to use the Jiminy Cane in the time I was recovering my right leg’s shin bones that were broken during Derek Kwazani’s arrest. I trained a lot to know how to do the settings for each of those elements as fast as I could, preferably by not even looking for the setting system. But, to make sure I would not apply unnecessary force, I looked to the cane to double-check and confirm the right setting before deal with the plaintiff.” said Jiminy, and it was Legal Eagle time to smile: Joshua used the truth and cut his way straight out the trap the accusation made.

“Could you just didn’t just ignored him and helped the civilians?” said the lawyer

“No… As I said, and confirmed by the exhibits, including fingerprints found in the weapon from Exhibit D by forensics, the plaintiff was using an assault rifle with military grade ammo, powerful enough to drop down dead even a C-Class Ajax or Atlas cape, even stronger ones could being hurt by it. If I just tried to ignore him, I and six civilians would be dead. My powers, as listed at Exhibit A, doesn’t comply super-healing or resilience, like those for Atlases or Ajaxes.”

“So… You said there was six civilians in the basement. Could you confirm me that into those civilians were two Muslim Tunisian Refugees whose son is an A-Class Atlas…“

“Objection! Irrelevant!” said Legal Eagle

“… that could be, as far people know, the heir of Seif-Al-Din, and this guy is an associate and, witnesses confirmed, a friend of you.” shouted the moustached-guy, before the Judge could say anything.

It was a very dirty move, and even Legal Eagle was angry with this, but was a effective one: he felt that some in the audience and, worse, the Jury, were sympathetic to him now. Go and play the Seif-Al-Din card was somewhat effective.

“Sust…“ would say the Judge, when Joshua made a sound and looked to the Judge.

“Your Honor, I want to answer this one.”

Legal Eagle was going amok! What Joshua had in mind?

“Mr. Horatio.” said calmly Joshua to the moustached-guy “If you’re talking about capename Djanni, he and his parents were approved and screened by CIA, DHS and DSA before entering US as tourists, based on the Refugee status Switzerland granted them. He was a very important cape in our action against Derek Kwazani, defeating his lieutenant, capename Adze. He also helped us to deal with Kyle Montague, a rogue B-Class plasmakinetic that attacked us at Metrocon, avoiding civilian casualties and lots of material loss. He was in our team acting as a sidekick under capename Kuntur’s tutoring and as part of our team’s roster in the cleaning and rescuing teams after Newark’s earthquake. At least 120 lives were saved during his actions with Kuntur and other capes, at least 10 lives directly saved by Djanni. So, I would not compare him with the deceased assassin - and I’ll not call him terrorist because he just liked to kill people - called Seif-Al-Din. He was not different from other capes that did their job during the earthquake aftermatch. Besides, saying that I should leave them, or in fact any people in need, behind because their creed or origin is against all we CAI capes takes as principles in our action and over any civility principle.” finished Joshua, in an almost lecturing tone for the moustached guy, virtually waggling a finger for him. The crowd and jury wooed.

The moustached-guy was fumbling and Legal Eagle was screaming in joy inside: this was a very strong and direct blow that Joshua gave, and he could see that, aside some of the Humanity First supporters in the crowd, the tide had turned.

“How you explain, so, the caveat Blackstone put?” said mr. Horatio, accusing the blow and doing a last try, getting back to the After-Action Report.

“He has, and reasonably I can say, questioned why I wasn’t better prepared and equipped to deal with non-breakthrough rioters like the plaintiff. As I said, there could be really a chance to accidentally incurred into deathly force, but my training was really hard to do this with minimum risk. In fact, we are in talking at HSF to provide some extra resources to deal with rioters, not just to me, but for everyone.” said Joshua, basically burying the case for the accusation.

“No more questions, Your Honor.”

After the final considerations, where Joshua saw that Mr. Horatio was still fumbling and almost like he wanted to kill him by his own hands, the Judge said.

“The court is on recess for the Jury deliberation.” said the Judge

They didn’t had to wait too much: in less than 10 minutes, the Judge came back.

“So, the Judge have a unanimous verdict?” said the Judge.

“Yes, Your Honor. We the Jury declare the defendant, Joshua Clemens McCarthy, not guilty.” said the Jury president.

“Thank you, Jury. The State is glad for your time. The Jury is excused. Court is Adjourned.” said the Judge, before declaring Joshua innocent.

Joshua gave a small smile and gave a breath, exhausting, sitting in the chair while the court got empty and his parents came to hug him…

“Whew… Think this is over, now.” said Joshua for Legal Eagle.

“Yeah. Now you’re free to get back to action. With the innocence, the injunction against your CAI certification is automatically lifted.” said Legal Eagle.

And it was when their parents gave big smiles.

“Good news from Djanni also!” said Mr. McCarthy, showing a video into his cellphone. It was Djanni, and smiling under his veil-like mask.

“Joshua, I did it! Now I’m CAI-certificated! No more sidekicking, I’m a full fledged cape now!” he said, and he could see Sugarplum as a Tinkerbell dancing around his head.

“Great!” said Joshua.

“Let us go?” said Legal Eagle “Is good practice the winning side give a talk for the journalists…“

“No… No more newsies…“ said Joshua, looking exhausted although smiling “I just want to get back Geneva ASAP. I want no more newsies or paparazzi for some months… HSF will publish a statement about all this situation soon. I would not say I wanted a super-villain action because I don’t… In fact, all I want now if I can is to go to Disney World and then Disneyland Paris before getting on Geneva.”

“I would say you need it, to be just a little kid for some time for a change.” said Legal Eagle, getting out from the Court Hall with Joshua, who looked tired.

Chapter 9

“It was fun the time I had after all this, at Disney World and Disneyland Paris. Two weeks of fun and no worries after three months of pressure was all I’ve asked for. And it was fun to have lots of freebies from Disney and so, and even engaging some parades aside Mickey and others, including the real Jiminy Cricket. But I had to get back Geneva, to get back my life from where it stopped some months before.”

Jiminy Cricket, “From Dress-up to save up: an underage breakthrough story”

Now Jiminy’s team had grow with Cajun gone off the reserve and joining the team, as a way to train either Jiminy and Djanni into combat. Djanni needed not too much training, as his powers are combat-focused, the combat only needed as a way to improve his effectiveness. The main combat training was focused on Jiminy.

“Now, I want you, Djanni, to fight Jiminy Criquet.” said Cajun.

“What? But I can kill him with a pinch!” said Djanni, which was true: as an Atlas, Djanni was really, really strong and resilient. He was so strong that he could kill almost all common people just by hugging a little stronger. And Jiminy was, beside his powers, a common person, that could be killed by a good shot or, in case, a too much strong of a hug.

“I want you to exert your speed, but not your strength.” said Cajun “You’ll start with somewhat 20% of your speed and normal strength. This is good for you, to fine-tune your power control. And it will good for Jiminy, so he could learn how to deal with Atlases. Need to say, Jiminy, I don’t expect you to win: your objective is to push over and somewhat survive as much as possible against Djanni.”

Joshua looked okay with this: he was accustomed with the “crazy” training sessions Cajun send time and another.

“Alright!” said Jiminy.

“Are you okay with this?” said Djanni, readying himself, into Savate boxing posture. As an Atlas, his punches and kicks were weapons of mass destruction.

“If you’re alright with me trying to balance things by going with my swordcane…“ said Jiminy, taking his swordcane.

He knew that he could not win Djanni: as an Atlas, he was stronger and faster than Jiminy. Even 20% of his speed was a little above the Olympic level, and Jiminy was just a chubby kid. But he also knew, by his experience after the fight with Cajun that he should focus on using his Bellax Analytica to help him foresaw the blows.

However… Cajun was a Paragon, a peak human breakthrough, the so called Super-Normals: peak, but still human-level. Djanni was another matter: even a D-Class Atlas would be as fast as a Paragon. An A-Class is was even more faster: only Speedsters would be faster.

As Cajun gave the combat start, Djanni run to kick Jiminy. The speed was fast enough to make Jiminy gasp, but his Bellax Analytica acted as a Danger Sense and he avoided the first kicks. A punch form Djanni came nearby hit Jiminy, but he blocked using the cane from the swordcane, as by La Canne de Combat. But the punch was strong enough to disarm him from the cane, leaving him only with the rapier he sacked some moments before.

Jiminy felt that would be risky for him to stay using the rapier, but Cajun looked to him avoiding the attacks and said: “What Djanni is?”

“He’s an Atlas, Professeur!” said Jiminy, panting.

“So, Sacre Bleu, use you rapier!” said Cajun “It is the best you have to use against Djanni now. Think this a first blood match!”

First-blood match: if Jiminy hit a clean blow against Djanni, he could win. And even not using his strength, Djanni was naturally resilient, so the chance of Jiminy cause any real damage against him with his rapier the same he had to do it with a toothpick. He had not to worry on hurt Djanni.

So, Jiminy choose to try to get into close quarters and hit him.

And he felt Djanni hitting him in the stomach. He lost his air by an instant and Djanni gave a kick at his side, putting Jiminy in the ground.

Jiminy panted a lot… But Cajun stopped the fight and looked to Djanni.

“This is what you call a ‘normal’ punch?” Jiminy said, faking nervousness.

“Well… It’s the common one as Kuntur teached me on my Control your powers 101.” said Djanni

“Let us stop by now and get back to the basics training. Need to say, both of you did well. Jiminy, get into a straight attack with someone like me is a thing, going against an Atlas like Djanni is another business. But you did well: you took more time to be hit by Djanni than I could imagine. And Djanni, I think you power control still needs some fine-tuning, but it’s okay for a start. You need to learn to control your power so you can avoid problems at CAI actions.” said Cajun, pulling some carton boxes for them, full of chocolate milk for Jiminy and Orange Juice for Djanni. “Let us take some minutes, then more basic moves, then another try on this.”

In the next days, it was this the main training for both. Jiminy’s parents were worried: he was accumulating bruises all around his body, but Jiminy said he’s okay with this.

“I think this will be important: lots of the guys we fight in field are combatants, Atlases or Ajaxes. Although we have the main combatants, I have to learn to deal with those guys too, and so not being a weak spot.” said Jiminy, while bathing to relax his hurt body.

In the end of the week, Jiminy was already using his Bellax Analytica totally unconscious of his power to avoid Djanni’s blows. His fights were taking more than ten minutes, and Djanni was growing a little frustrated. It was when…

Djanni gone into a sequence of blows, that Jiminy avoided using his cane and getting out of them. And his Bellax Analytica showed a weak spot at Djanni’s defenses. Jiminy just got into it and thrusted his blade against Djanni’s cheek, making him yelp.

“Okay, stop!” said Cajun, when they looked Djanni. There was a thin scratch at his face, the bloodstain just closing.

“Alright! It was good, Jiminy. You found your way through Djanni’s defenses and stroke a good blow. Good work!” said Cajun

“Are you okay, Djanni?” said Jiminy, looking worried, taking a piece of cloth and cleaning his rapier tip from Djanni’s blood.

“Alright. You can’t hurt me for real, you know.” said Djanni, the scratch starting to close “But this doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.”

“Right… Take the rest of day to rest and recover, you two. Tomorrow, Djanni, we’ll stay on this training, but with 50% of your speed. This will push you even more, Jiminy.” said Cajun, which made both kids gasp.

It took 10 days for Jiminy put a blow at Djanni at 50% of his speed. And then 15 days to put a blow with 75% of his speed.

“Great job, you two.” said Cajun, while Djanni put a band-aid to help into the scratch in his right hand that Jiminy gave with his rapier, while Jiminy cleaned the blade.

“Now, without too much ado, I want you, Jiminy, to hit a blow against Djanni at full speed. And Djanni, I want you to put also 15% of your strength in your blows.” said Cajun

Both the kids gasped: 15% of Djanni strength was somewhat over a common MMA fighter strength, even a heavyweight lifter. A well-delivered blow could make Jiminy’s bones shatter like a toothpick.

“Are you against this?” said Cajun, raising an eyebrow.

“Professeur,” said Djanni, timid “I don’t think Jiminy could resist a blow against me at 15%, even more now: he’s tired from our fight… Why not 5%?”

“Because,” said Cajun “I want to put Jiminy in REAL danger!”

Cajun took a breath and said, looking for both, but specially to Jiminy

“In field, you’ll be always at real danger: your enemies will never put into accord you’re a kid if they want to kill you. Here the fights are simulated, but in real life people will not contain themselves like I’m asking Djanni to. If you just run away and scream like a kid, you’ll be just a nuisance for your team. You need to see the danger face to face and deal with it, to laugh from it.” said Cajun, giving one of his laughs full of Panache “You need to fight it, at least for time enough the team bricks came to do their job. Do you understand this, Jiminy Criquet?” said Cajun

Jiminy looked for him and, even full of fear, nodded.

“Good. You’re full of fear. I would be worried if you’re not, it would be a signal of naivety or insanity, neither of them good. But let us do this and everything will be well.” said Cajun

And then Cajun gave the command to start.

The time Jiminy was in the bench by the process really did the difference: Djanni just gave blows in a blinking eye speed that Jiminy could not follow if not his Bellax Analytica almost becoming a Danger Sense when engaged. He stopped two or three blows using his cane and avoided others, but the speed was great.

He gave some side steps to try to get momentum for an attack, but Djanni turned his body in a incredible speed! Jiminy started to fall into his bad habit of getting back into a fight.

“Remember about our fight, Jiminy Criquet!” said Cajun

And then Jiminy did, and stop to get back, just working into sidesteps. By doing this, Djanni got a little slower because the movements he needed to do, but not enough to open a defense. And both Djanni and Jiminy were locked into a kind of weird rondo of blows, spinning around each other, Djanni failing in hit Jiminy and vice-versa.

It was when Jiminy got a weak spot in Djanni right side and gone to thrust his blade against it.

But he failed to check for his defenses, and Djanni gave him a mighty blow at his side, he almost hearing his rib cage bones broken.

“Stop!” said Cajun, worried.

Jiminy loosed his grip from the blade, falling aside, breathing a little painfully. The blade didn’t fell, as he somewhat had pushed it into Djanni’s side. Djanni yelped in pain, and Cajun removed the blade from Djanni before getting to Jiminy.

“Are you okay…“ said Cajun

“Not… Too… Much… Breath… Difficult… Just a time.” said Jiminy

“Let me send you to the infirmary. Looking not that serious, your blows, you two, but need treatment.” said Cajun, hitting a button into his crest. “Need medical support at Training Room 2.”

“You did well, you two. Next time, just don’t go so crazy on your moves, but think you two are worthy on a glove rating raising.” said Cajun “And this makes you, Jiminy Criquet, an yellow glove and an aide-moniteur, an assistant monitor, to help teaching Savate.” he said, smiling, while the local Doctors came.

The portable Vernetech MRI machine showed that Jiminy was not that bad: his side was swollen by the blow, but the rib cage had not broken. In two days he would be okay. Djanni, as an Atlas, just needed some first aid to be okay from Jiminy’s blow.

But now Jiminy understood what Cajun wanted with this crazy training, and knew that he now know what he needed to do in field.

Chapter 10

“People wouldn’t believe how much things we train. Even us, being a non-combat focused CAI team, we train A LOT: combat, yes… But also EMT, first aid, basic electronics, civil construction… All the kind of skills, even cooking, music, theater and ballet. Because, specially in Herós Sans Frontières, we never know what we’ll need to do in the field. And so the better CAI cape for us is a duck: not an specialist on anything, but a generalist, and a very good one, armed with all kind of skills!”

Jiminy Cricket, “From Dress-up to save up: an underage breakthrough story”

The rib cage hit had raised some concerns into Jiminy and Djanni’s parents, but they understood Jiminy needed some training for surviving fights in field. But Jiminy and Djanni stopped that training and got back for simulated fight and moves at Savate training.

So Jiminy had gone for the European CAI Conference, at Paris, to give some lectures on their actions and his situation as an underage cape, and how they should be taken as one-by-one cases. At the same time, one cape came to him and talked about his actions. He was a B-Class Redux, called Limelight, that acted as an one-man theater group. He was a HSF reserve that was at Haiti until some weeks and now was in the bench, before going somewhere else.

“So, you had worked recently at Haiti.” said Jiminy

“Yeah.” said Limelight “I did lots of support job like you. In fact, it was fun to do some funny activities with the kids, including some clowning. They are bereft of everything, you know. They are still feeling The Event’s consequences. UNHCR has defined Port-au-Prince as a humanitarian catastrophe since The Event Day. They are still restructuring themselves, and the Big One had affected them also, albeit indirectly, and doesn’t help they are into a route for twisters and cyclones. They are in constant need, as since before the Event they were ignored by the rest of the world. They had dictatorships and all kind of bad things. I think we need to support them, in fact.”

“So… You worked in the field?” said Jiminy

“Of course: Haiti has one of the biggest breakthrough rates, and also death-by-origin-chase rates, they need some breakthroughs to help them deal with all this. And there’s the rise of guerrilla groups like the so-called Heirs of Papa Doc. They are the worst, a bunch of psychotic breakthroughs, Merlins and Mentalists whose powers are linked with Vodoun. They are the local troops main issue. They deal with Darkness and Death and Dominion. Curiously, one of the biggest opposition for them is the guy known as Baron Samedi. An A-Class Merlin linked with the Loa of the Death, he chose to go vigilante to deal with them by himself. Sometimes he was a pesky problem, even not going against us, at least by now. So, we will not go against him.”

“And so, your work is to…“

“Deal with all this situation, try to make people goes on all that craziness as good as we can. And there’s lots of people that help us too. Not only MSF, but CADUCEUS and Clowns Without Borders.”

“Nice…“ said Jiminy “And did you clown there? Why?”

“Yeah, I did!” said Limelight “I think that a CAI-certificated cape needs the biggest repertoire possible on powers and skills, specially if you’re not a combatant one, so you need to do your best to ease things for your partners and, at the same time, to put yourself useful at the field. By helping making the kids laugh, I can also put myself useful.”

“Should I try?” said Jiminy, before he could stop himself “I had a Cub Scout badge for theater, from a Peter Pan presentation. Sounds like somewhat similar.”

“I don’t know… It’s not the same thing: be a clown is not the same as being an actor.” said Limelight “But I think that, if it does no good, no ill will be done too.”

“How you know about this?” said Jiminy

“I was an thespian even before my breakthrough, during The Event.” said Limelight “The Theater where I was rehearsing A Midsummer’s Night Dream collapsed in The Event… And I had my breakthrough by splitting myself into many copies of me: some of them doing first aid, others comforting people that lost parents, some trying to find a escape route, even one that ‘died’ while trying to hold a passage for others escape before it collapsed. Just some time after, I joined the first Situation 2 roster for the recently created Herós Sans Frontières, we weren’t even called that way, it was defined after. Soldaire came some time after, and he turned into what we called a seeder. This is why he never got back to Japan, even being called back sometimes by the Japanese Superhuman Self-Defense Forces: Herós Sans Frontières needs him dearly and he likes it.”

“Soldaire is a Seeder? What this means?” said Jiminy

“We call seeder the kind of guy that can work a team and, after a time, leave it when they can walk by themselves. Think on those old-fashioned comics: sometimes a guy got out from a team to establish another and then got away from this one for another and so on. Half the HSF teams had Soldaire in their rosters one time or another…“ said Limelight

“So… Soldaire could leave us?” said Jiminy

“I don’t know… At least, I can say that he’ll not leave you by now. I talked with him: your team is still very young and inexperienced.” said Limelight “But he feels that your team is very balanced: the bricks are very good, as the support is: your powers are very rare, and, need to be frank, not too much common in good capes. Normally the Masterminds tends for the villainy, but you’re a very good kid. The PR is good also: more than a half of non-US capes, two underages, a convicted under parole, and a Japanese policemen.” said Limelight “And you have a very active par of Merlin and Verne, an uncommon roster. I saw some of your maskcam operations: you’re one of the best CAI teams in the world, for me. Put on context, there’s not too much Chicago Sentinels or the Parisién Citoyéns can do and you can’t. They have bigger resources, just that.”

“Understood.” said Jiminy.

“Thinking now, maybe you should try the clowning thing. Think that, if you combo this with your powers, you can ease things into places like Roque Santeiro. At least, it’s an extra repertoire you’ll have on you. Believe me, learning is never too much and in the field, anything can be useful.”

Jiminy thought on this talk with Limelight and, when back at Geneva HSF HQ, talked with Soldaire and his parents about the idea Limilight gave for him to go clown in the field. They thought it would be good, and so greenlit him to go for a clown school. It helped that they were slotted back as the “bench team” for the next two months, and there was a good clown school opening classes in two week at US.

So, he applied himself and paid from his own money to get to US for the Clown Camp. His parents could not go with him, but gave him express authorization to get in the school. He had gone with few things: some light clothes, a change of costume and an Earbug (mandatory for emergencies), some money and his debit card for any clown costume or material he would need.

The Clown Camp was happening in a not too big city and the teacher was a famous clown that worked in The Greatest Show on Earth and now teached people on clowning. Besides, she was a breakthrough friendly woman by what he read, and after all the bad experiences with Paladins and Humanity First supporters, the last thing Jiminy wanted is to deal with breakthrough hostile people. By what he looked, there’s people there that already had some clowning experience, and those, like him, totally green on clowning.

“First of all, let us present each other: who you are and your objectives on this camp.” said the clown woman, on her full clown attire, that called herself as clown Brick-a-Brack, real name Michelle O’Mara. “I can see that we have a good mix of people, in age, clowning experience and kind of work… Let us start by the youngest one.” she said, pointing her gloved hand to Joshua.

“My name is Joshua McCarthy. I think some of you read about me in news after the Newark Earthquake, but anyway, I’m a cape that works for Herós Sans Frontières, capename Jiminy Cricket. I’m here to learn more things that could help us in field: as we deal in catastrophes places, and I’m not a combatant, I think that learn how to clown around could put me into a way to help more, by dealing with scared and sad people, specially kids like me.”

“Very sweet of you.” said Brick-a-Brack “Hope you learn a lot in your time here and your clown can help people everywhere in the world. Now, for the oldest.” said her, pointing for another woman, that looked over her 50s.

“I’m Tammy Wilson. I’m from Fort Lauderdale, and I already clown into church.” said her “I want to help people into the church.”

Joshua knew their companions in the clown school, and they looked like good fellows: a firefighter, two Scout Leaders, a soldier and other people. There was then the first class, makeup, and Joshua started learn.

And fast he learned: he gone through the classes learning very fast. Makeup, character development, skits, physical comedy… He learned very fast. It took just a day for learning the basics, impressing Brick-a-Brack.

“This is part of your powers? Never saw someone totally green grew so fast.” said Brick-a-Brack.

“I don’t know… My powers had somewhat improved my mind, and I can learn very very fast, but I never thought this would be effective on clowning.” said Joshua, cleaning the “pie”, in fact shaving cream, in his face, part of physical comedy class. He was made up into a cute Auguste face that had enhanced his smile and eyes, as clown makeup is not to hide, but to show up. He put himself the makeup during the clown makeup class.

“Nice to see a nice good kiddo like you with this kind of powers.” said Mrs. Wilson, also made up, but as a big Auguste clown, the partner of Joshua in the physical comedy class.

They were studying also some skits for the graduation show at a local theater. Joshua learned well many things that time, but the best thing for him was the comedy and the paradabilty. And he given Mrs. Wilson, or Mimi The Clown, to partner with Joshua, and she had christened him as a clown with the name Spotty.

They were rehearsing for the show, learning many skits. They would go with classic ones, like Ring Ring, Banana Bandana and I’m a Little Teapot, with lots of antics. As the graduation show would be a free one for the community and the local orphanage, all the new clowns, Joshua included, where rehearsing dearly, so it would be very funny.

It was when Joshua noted Mrs. Wilson was panting after the rehearsals, when they got back to their shared room.

“Are you okay, mrs?” said Joshua, looking for Mrs. Wilson.

“I’m okay, sweetie.” said Mrs. Wilson, giving some deep breaths “Just need my meds. The rehearsal was tiring and pushed me a little too much.”

“Wants me to take you some water or a sandwich?” said Joshua

“It’s nice from you. Please, take me a bottle of water from the vending machine.” said Mrs. Wilson, taking her pulse and giving Joshua some money.

He ran to the vending machine and chose the water bottle, and brought it back to Mrs. Wilson.

“Thanks, my dear.” said Mrs. Wilson “While I take my meds, what do you think about taking a shower and removing all this mess on your face? Then we can get down and took a good dinner.”

Which was true: there was still some of the shaving cream used for the “pie” on Joshua’s face, and there was also his makeup.

“Okay. But if you have anything you need, say me.” said Joshua, getting to the shower.

That was his routine way during all the week they had on the Clown Camp, as Mrs. Wilson was Joshua’s roommate. They studied and rehearsed a lot during the day, and talked at their room or during the dinner a lot at night. She gave him many tips and shared lots of stories about clowning, while he shared with her all his adventures, including Djanni’s breakthrough and the judgement.

The last day, the Graduation Show day, started with both of them taking a good breakfast, as they would be all the day “on clown”, and getting back their room, for some shower. When Mrs. Wilson finished her shower, Joshua was already dried and dressed into a white pair of boxer briefs, shorts and t-shirt, in front of the clown trunk where he put all his clown stuff.

“It was a great idea to buy one of those. It will be great in the field: I can leave everything here and then just put it with the team stuff. I’ll just put a Jiminy Cricket crest on a corner, so everyone knows this is mine.” said Joshua, pushing one of the drawers and lifting a mirror, and another with the little pots of clown makeup.

“This was how the clowns did in the circus in the past: each one had his own trunk with costume and all he needed, so he did not take too much things in the train that transported them. The trunk were put in the alley, each clown with his own corner. So in their bedroom in the train or hotel they could go with a small bag with some clothes changes.” said Mr. Wilson, drying herself and opening her clown trunk. “Those trunks are not cheap, you know, and I saw you needed to buy everything brand-new, and it was not cheap stuff also. Are your parents okay with this?” said her

“I used part of my allowance, you know.” said Joshua, organizing things before get made up “As a HWB cape, I have a wage, but I gave the lion share of it for my parents. I just spare somewhat like 300 euros a month for myself as allowance. And, as I don’t have too much to spend on while on duty, I had four or so months of them saved for those things in my account.”

“How much you earn at HWB, monthly? Looks like real money?” said Mrs. Wilson, astonished

“Three thousand euros monthly.” said Joshua, passing a cloth in his face to clean it “It’s not too much, if you put this on perspective on what Chicago Sentinels pay for their capes, but as I’m on the field or in our HQ most of time, I don’t have too much expenses. This allows me to give my parents the lion’s share of my wage. They are actually living in Geneva, on a house they bought recently, that is where I live when not in field. We rented it at first, and when his previous owner chose to to get back to US, he sold us the house and my parents and me are now paying the mortgage with my wage lion’s share help.” said Joshua. “My mom is a paralegal at International Justice Court, my dad is a clerk and translator for IJC too.”

“Wow! Looks like you are a really hard-working nice family.” said Mr. Wilson, while both of them ready themselves for the show.

Joshua painted his upper lip, his muzzle, and an area covering and over his eyebrows in white, and used the sock filled with powder to fix the makeup by gently powder it. After this, he used the flesh toned makeup all around the upper half of his face, and used a Q-Tip swab to clean the region below his lower lip and the tip of his nose. Then, he used another flesh toned makeup, a little darker, on the lower half of his face and neck, and blended the place where both tones get together, to make it smooth.

After another powder makeup fix, he cleaned the powder excess with a brush and used the red makeup to make the clown smile on his lower lip and some place below it. He also took a little of red makeup and passed on his cheek, to give it a hint of pinkish red blush. Another powder fix, and he passed a black pencil to drawn the lines around his lips and eyebrows, and to put some cute “freckle dots” in his cheeks.

He also put some red in the tip of his nose, then took his clown button of nose and put some spirit gum on it and over his own nose. He pushed the clown nose over his own for some seconds and then looked at the mirror, where there was a little cute clown face looking for him. He smiled while cleaning his hand on a piece of cloth.

“Had you already done your makeup?” said Joshua for Mrs. Wilson

“Almost, little Spotty.” said Mrs. Wilson, calling Joshua by his clown name.

Joshua started to dress himself then: first, a red and white t-shirt with long sleeves, then a pair of men thighs, yellow and white, a polka-dotted pair of boxer briefs and a blue overall with some silly patches stitched on it. Then he put a big white bib with a rainbow colored bowtie and adjusted it over his t-shirt. He took a green jacket with some silly patches to put over him. And after that came a little green bowler with a rainbow colored ribbon on it and put it over his natural hair. To finish, some fingerless gloves.

He took also some silly stuff from a drawer: some balloons to fill up with his pump, an yoyo, a little slingshot that was just to be shown into his pocket, some stickers with hearts, Care Bears and so, and his juggling scarves and balls that gone also into his pockets. He took also his juggling rings and clubs and put them into a little colorful letterman bag he put aside while he took his clown colored and a little bigger than normal Converses, one blue, the other yellow, both with some red details and opposite color strings and put and laced them on his feet.

He looked to himself into the full body mirror in the room and smiled: it was the first time that he saw himself full Spotty the Clown, as he bought the clothes without his makeup and vice-versa. He took his cellphone and took a picture to send for his parents, Altayr, Eileen and everyone at Geneva. After the photo, he heard a goofy voice saying:

“My my, what a cutie little clownie we have here!” said Mrs. Wilson, or better, Mimi the Clown. She was on a kind of pink, lemon green and white granny dress, a big purse on his side, which Joshua knew there’s lots of the silly stuff to be shared into a parade. She had also an Auguste makeup with a big balled clown nose and over her naturally white hair she had a lemon green wig with a big lace over it. Her gloves were opera gloves one, that gone up until get into the hem of her dress sleeves. Her skirt have some petticoats to gave her a little fluffiness over it and to make show some of the pantaloons she was using below her dress. She also took a cellphone and said: “Look like we need a Granny Mimi and Spotty photo!”

They took some photos making funny faces and poses, including one were Mimi was looking for Spotty like retorting him and he done a kind of “It was not me!” pose, and finishing by one where each other looked like they love each one as Granny/Grandchild.

They had a good fun, but they heard someone knocking the door.

“Heyia, you two! Ready make some people happy?” they heard Brick-a-Brack talking. They opened the door and she was the same way she did in the first day, looking like a neat whiteface woman, with a very elegant dress and bloomers. “Let’s go! It’s time for the show!”

They got down and they know that they would do a little parade from the hotel where they were to the local theater where the show would happens. Joshua took from the letter bag a kazoo instrument he did, and when Brick-a-Brack lifted her baton, he and the some of the clowns started to play some silly enactment of musics like Yankee Doodle or Mary had a little lamb. Some of the other clown started to greet and waive hands with the crowd in the street.

Some time after they started, Mimi came to exchange places with Joshua, or better, Spotty, taking from his big purse a melodica and joining the band, while Spotty gone to greet people and done some trick with his yoyo and juggling rings. He also gave cute stickers and high-fived some of the kids nearby.

After this fun but short parade, they got into the theater and gone for the backstage. As everyone Joshua was thirsty, and he got a little water from a squeeze bottle, passing it to Mrs. Wilson, that also took a med pill and swallow it with the water. He got and took their big foam cellphones linked by a rubber string that were the props for the Ring Ring skit, as they were next.

And it was when they gone into the stage, and they started his skit.

“Grams! Look at this! I did this LONG CALL PHONE!” said Joshua, or better Spotty, being very sweet and innocent, but in fact, looking a little mischievous.

“Wow! Nice one, Spotty!” said Mimi.

“Now I want to test this with you, Grams Mimi! You’ll stay here, I’ll get there! And I’ll say: ‘Ring Ring!’ And you’ll say: ‘Hello!’ Then I say: ‘I have a message to you!’ And you say: ‘Let me have it!’“ said Spotty, giving one of the fake cellphones to Mimi

“Right Right!” said Mimi

But then, when Spotty got away to his place, Mimi gone behind him.

“Oh, no, Grams! You stay there!” said Spotty, pointing to where in the stage they had. “And I’ll be here, and I’ll say: ‘Ring Ring!’ And you’ll say: ‘Hello!’ Then I say: ‘I have a message to you!’ And you say: ‘Let me have it!’“ said Spotty

“Oh, right right! said Mimi, going to there, being pushed by Spotty.

Then the same thing happened and Spotty said again.

“Grams! You stay there!” said Spotty, pointing to where in the stage they had. “I’ll be here, and I’ll say: ‘Ring Ring!’ And you’ll say: ‘Hello!’ Then I say: ‘I have a message to you!’ And you say: ‘Let me have it!’“ said Spotty

Then Mimi gone for the place where they were and stayed there. Then Spotty did, very sweetly:

“Ring Ring!”

“The telephone you called has been…“ said Mimi, and then Spotty started to gone angry

“Oh no! Grams, you’re ruining my experience! Remember. I’ll say: ‘Ring Ring!’ And you’ll say: ‘Hello!’ Then I say: ‘I have a message to you!’ And you say: ‘Let me have it!’“ said Spotty angry

“Alright, alright!” said Mimi, nonchalantly

Then Spotty did, a little less sweetly:

“Ring Ring!”

“Hello!” said Mimi, very sweet

“I have a message to you!” said Spotty, on a sweet and somewhat mischievous tone.

“What? The calling is not good…“ said Mimi, like the phones were bad.

And then Spotty looked to her, very angry!

“You should had said ‘Let me have it!’“ said Spotty, pouting angry

“What?!” said Mimi, like she was not hearing

“‘Let me have it!’“ said Spotty, angry

“What?!” said Mimi, like she was not hearing

“‘LET ME HAVE IT!’“ said Spotty, stomping his feet while almost getting into a tantrum

“Why didn’t you said it before?” said Mimi, releasing the phone and releasing the rubber string, which made the phone gone and hitting Spotty straight into his head, that looked silly and astonished and faked a little crying.

“You mean granny!” screamed Spotty while getting out the stage with the cellphone in a hand, the other going pushed by the string, Mimi getting out also. The crowd was roaring in laughter and cheered and clapped hands a lot for both.

“Wow! It was amazing!” said Brick-a-Brack “Never saw Ring Ring being so well done. It’s a classic skit and doing this on a different way is an art. You did very well.”

“Thanks!” said Joshua, when he looked and saw that Mrs. Wilson was very tired.

“Is your heart?” said Joshua, looking worried

“A little… This is a very strenuous thing for me… The next skit will be easier for me.” said Mrs. Wilson.

The clowns gone and did each their skits, and it was when they would do their next skit, I’m a little teapot!

Mimi got to her chair and then Spotty came with the slingshot ready to shot something:

“Spotty! Stop!” said her, before he shot a little lamp in a table. “You’re a so messy kid sometimes! I need to teach you some manners!”

“Manners? But I’m a well behaved kid!” said Spotty

“And well behaved kids tries to slingshot things? I don’t think so!” retorted Mimi, and Spotty looked sad. “Now now, don’t be sad. Tell you what, let us do a little funny thing. Had you ever heard ‘I’m a little teapot’?”

“No, grams!” said Spotty

“Okay… I’ll show you, and then I want you to try it.” said Mimi

“Alright!” said Spotty.

Mimi lifted from her chair and started to sing:

“I’m a little teapot / Short and stout” said Mimi, squatting and doing like she was bigger than she was

“Here is my handle” she said, putting one hand on hip

“Here is my spout” she said, putting the other arm out with elbow and wrist bent

“When I get all steamed up / Hear me shout,” she said, puffing her cheeks like she was pouting

“Tip me over and pour me out!” she finished, lean over toward spout “Do you think you can do this, Spotty?”

“I think I can do…“ said Spotty and started…

“I’m a little teapot / Short and stout” said Spotty, squatting and doing like he was bigger than he was

“Here is my handle” he said, putting one hand on hip

“Here is my…“ he said and looked like he forgot what he had to say, and then he said “handle.”, putting the other hand in the hip

“No no no…“ said Mimi sweetly. “It’s the spout… Not another handle.”

“Alright, grams…“ said Spotty “Let me try again.”

“I’m a little teapot / Short and stout” said Spotty, squatting and doing like he was bigger than he was

“Here is my handle” he said, putting one hand on hip

“Here is my…“ he said and looked like he forgot again what he had to say, and then he said “handle.”, putting the other hand in the hip

“Oh, no no no!” said Mimi, a little angry “It’s the spout… Not another handle.”

“Alright… I’ll try it again.” said Spotty

“I’m a little teapot / Short and stout” said Spotty, squatting and doing like he was bigger than he was

“Here is my handle” he said, putting one hand on hip

“Here is my…“ he said and looked like he forgot what he had to say, and then he said “spout.”, putting the other hand in the hip

“Alright…“ said Mimi, growing worried “You did the song okay… But you’re still doing another handle, not a spout!” she said, exasperated

“Alright… I’ll try it a last time.” said Spotty

“I’m a little teapot / Short and stout” said Spotty, squatting and doing like he was bigger than he was

“Here is my handle” he said, putting one hand on hip

“Here is my…“ he said and looked like he forgot what he had to say, and then he said “spout.”, putting the other hand in the hip

“Stop stop stop, STOP!” said Mimi, exasperated “What are you think are you doing, Spotty?”

“I think…“ said Spotty, like he dawned something “Grams, I’m not a teapot! I’m a sugar bowl!” whined him.

The crowd gone “Aaaawwwwnnnnn!!!” when Mimi gone and huffed Spotty’s hair, and they got out the stage.

“It was so sweet.” said Brick-a-Brack. “People loved you. Now, rest you because there’s the grand finale dance!” she said for them both.

Joshua passed the squeeze bottle for Mrs. Wilson and she took a big gulp.

“It’s a little hot here.” said Joshua “Maybe you should take at least your wig by now.” he said.

“No problem kid… I came from Florida. It’s not that hot here.” she said “I just need to take some rest before the dance and playing at the end…“

Joshua took some water and looked for his kazoo instruments. The other clowns looked for Mimi and they were as worried as Joshua were. But Mrs. Wilson grew better as she had some rest.

It was then the last pair finished their Dead and Alive! skit and Brick-a-Brack started to give the certification, by saying the common and the clown name of each one. After Josephine Lawrence, Rosie, Brick-a-Brack said:

“Joshua McCarthy as Spotty the Clown!” said Brick-a-Brack, and Joshua entered, walking zanily as Spotty the Clown and greeting the audience that cheered and clapped for him, while Brick-a-Brack gave him his certificate and a little button from the World Clown Association and other from the local clown alley. “Now you’re a full-fledged clown!” she said, while pinning the buttons at Joshua clown jacket and shaking his hand funny.

Joshua had stayed in the other side of backstage, looking clown after clown receiving their certificates, when Brick-a-Brack said “Tammy Wilson as Mimi the Clown!” and Mimi gone, as the last one. She received her certificate and put it into her purse, while Brick-a-Brack took her baton again.

It was the code for all the clowns gone back to stage and started to do the mischievous and funny dances and playing their kazoo instruments, funnily enacting silly and funny musics until they ended with Gangnam Style, while Spotty and Mimi did a little trick by pulling Brick-a-Brack’s gloves, that extended, both of them looking like it wasn’t just her gloves, but her arms, where growing, until the gloves ran out and they fell silly in the floor. The crowd roared and this finished the presentation. Everyone clapped while starting to get out the theater and the clowns bowed for the crowd.

The clowns looked exhausted, but there was some cleaning to do, although the skits didn’t used too much messy things. Some of then passed a broom to clean everything. Joshua took some of the props and put into the bags each one had placed for them in the backstage. Mrs. Wilson was resting, as she was exerted herself too much in the last gig.

After they finished cleaning the theater and put everything in the bus they had located toget back the hotel, Brick-a-Brack asked for a photo with all the new clowns, and it was a funny photo where Joshua, or better Spotty, got his head over Mimi’s lap, all the other clowns circling the Clown school logo making silly stances.

“Now, let us go for the restaurant for a confraternization!” said Brick-a-Brack

“What? This way? On clown?” said Joshua

“Right! It’s no shame to go this way with a bunch of clowns!” said Brick-a-Brack, smiling “And I think you’re hungry, as all of us. Any issue?”

“No, not at all.” said Joshua “I think I can go as Spotty for the restaurant.”

“That’s the spirit.” smiled Brick-a-Brack, while they got to the restaurant.

In the restaurant, Brick-a-Brack gave some silly stuff for some informal awards between the clowns from the class. Joshua received a good skit book as “Cutest Little Clown from the Class” award, and he and Mrs. Wilson a CD with silly music each as “Cutest Clown Couple from the Class” award. Everyone had received an Award or another, and they had an incredible time with delicious food, soft drinks and lots of laughter.

When they got back to the hotel, they were all exhausted, but needed to clean themselves to go to sleep. Joshua undressed himself at the bathroom and got back with a robe and his clown clothes to put them back in the trunk.

When he got back, he saw that Mrs. Wilson was not feeling good.

“Mrs. Wilson?” said Joshua

“Joshua, please, gave me my med.” said Mrs. Wilson, almost without strength.

Joshua took a capsule from a little bottle and she put it below her tongue.

“Maybe you should go for the doctor.” said Joshua

“I don’t think I need.” said Mrs. Wilson, a little reticent.

Joshua didn’t thought too much.

“Pretty Please!, mistress Wilson, you’re not that good. I’ll put my clown clothes again and we’ll take a taxi to get you to the hospital.” said Joshua

She felt a little weird, but smiled when she noticed what happened:

“You used your power on me?” said Mrs. Wilson.

“Yup.” said Joshua “Sorry doing this, but…“ he said, while hastily redressing himself into his clown clothes.

“No problem, kid. You’re right.” said Mrs. Wilson, a little weak “I’ll need you to support me.”

He supported Mrs. Wilson to get out the room, and it was when Brick-a-Brack saw them.

“She’s not well.” said Joshua “We need to get her to hospital now.”

“I’ll drive you, my car is near and is comfy.” said Brick-a-Brack running for the hotel parking lot. When Joshua and Mr. Wilson got at the Hotel entrance, Brick-a-Brack came with her colorful SUV. Mrs Wilson got in one of the back seats, Joshua run to got in the other and place her head over his lap.

“Okay, let’s go!” said Joshua.

They got very soon in the hospital and called for the stretcher, that came soon.

“She was almost without strength. Looks she has heart issues. I’m his roommate in the clown school.” said Joshua

“I’m the Clown School teacher.” said Brick-a-Brack.

“Looks like she’s having a potential heart attack: you did well by bringing her soon. This will easy everything. Just wait a little here and I’ll came soon with news.” said the doctor

Joshua gone for the vending machine and chose a hot cocoa for him while waiting. When he was to put the money, Brick-a-Brack took a dime and put on the machine.

“It’s up to me, kid.” said her, while the cup dropped and was filled by the vending machine.

Joshua took the cup and thanked for it, while she took a latte for herself

“I never had breakthroughs into my classes before. Or at least not after undergone the breakthrough.” she said “It was fun, and you helped and learned a lot. I like this on kids.”

“Thanks, but it was another guy that talked me to do this.” said Joshua “I want to make kids happy with this. I know some common guys that clowns at refugees camps at Africa and sounds like a good way to put my powers in use.”

“I understand.” said Brick-a-Brack “I had a good friend that tried to origin chase, and almost killed herself with a gun. Now she’s blind and trying to live as a teacher and audiobook actress.”

“Oh… Sor…“ would say Joshua

“Don’t be sorry.” said Brick-a-Brack, condescending “You can’t control others’ destiny, no matter how powerful you are. But you can do good things, like you did with Mrs. Wilson. I knew she had heart issues: there’s on her subscription for the classes, it’s mandatory. But I didn’t believe she would be so stubborn… Your power helped us to get her for the doctor… Hope there’s no problem with her.” said Brick-a-Brack, when the doctor came back.

“OK. Bad news is: she’ll be checked in for observation. She looks like having a heart condition and we need to double check things as much as we can. So, she’ll be here at least for two days. Good news is: you had brought her here very soon. She was growing into a potential heart attack, but now she’s more stable. She’s conscious and lucid, but tomorrow we’ll do an angioplasty and some extra exams. Could you tomorrow bring her clothes? And also contact her family.” said the Doctor.

“I’ll bring her clothes tomorrow.” said Joshua

“And I’ll contact her family ASAP.” said Brick-a-Brack.

“Alright.” said the Doctor “There’s nothing you can do by now. Go back home and take some rest. Tomorrow we’ll have good news, and maybe you can visit her.”

They got back the Hotel, and Brick-a-Brack said “Where do you go sleep tomorrow? You’ll need to check-out the Hotel.”

“I’ll take some more days in the hotel by my own. I still have some spare money and I’ll exchange my plane tickets to Geneva.” said Joshua.

“If you want, I have a spare room at my home. You can use it for some days.” said Brick-a-Brack

“No, I don’t want to…“ said Joshua

“You’ll not give any trouble.” said Brick-a-Brack, and Joshua nodded, accepting her offer

Joshua closed the clown trunks for Mimi and his own for Spotty, after undressed and taking a good bath after cleaning his makeup. He then put a pyjama and slept.

Next day, Mrs. O’Mara joined him after the breakfast to put their trunks, his and Mrs. Wilson’s, and bags into her SUV, and then they gone for her house. The house was not too big, but it was comfy and remembered Joshua his own, that the Humanity First supporters arsoned. Some tears rolled from his eyes.

“What happened?” said Mrs. O’Mara.

“This remembered my old house.” said Joshua, drying his tears

“Your old house?” said Mrs. O’Mara

“Yup…“ and he talked about how the rioters from Humanity First had arsoned his house, and how they almost killed his family and his friends’ ones, and how he was painted as a crazy kid.

“Wow…“ said Mrs. O’Mara “And now…“

“And now we are living at Geneva, and my parents were even thinking on stay there definitively. We like US, but we can’t think we could live here anymore. I felt weird that people didn’t knew about me in the Clown School after all the media coverage in the process I had. My private identity was fumbled, and I know that everyone that follows capes knows now that Joshua McCarthy IS Jiminy Cricket.” said Joshua, finishing some chocolate milk and cookies that Mrs. O’Mara served over the table.

“Need to say: some of them did. I know some of the other clowns knew you are Jiminy Cricket before you said.” said O’Mara “However, you and your parents should have more faith in people. I know that you had suffered with all that Paladins and Humanity First crap, but there’s lots of people that supports capes. I know that there’s crazy people that lost their own in catastrophes and gone crazy, even without going breakthrough. But people, sooner or later, understand a maximum from the old comics: heroes aren’t gods. They can do lots of things common people can’t, but even they can’t do everything. Only God could do this, and I don’t think that any breakthrough could go God, as long I heard about some that says this.”

“I know…“ said Joshua

“You’re a good kid, and God had pushed you a lot, but as far I saw you’re like bamboo, not like oak. The oak is strong and the wind can’t bend it, but a great enough wind could take it, roots and all, from the ground and send him away and with this, make it wither and die. The bamboo, otherwise, looks feeble and fragile, and even the a gentle breeze bend it a little. However, no matter how strong a wind is, the bamboo will bend, but never snaps or flew away. The bamboo stays strong into its roots and never, ever breaks.” said O’Mara.

“So…“ said Joshua

“You’ll never break.” said Mrs. O’Mara “You’re a whole kid. You’re not Joshua McCarthy OR Jiminy Cricket OR Spotty the Clown. You’re them all as a whole. You are a fortunate kid because, thanks your breakthrough, you understood your life mission. Some people take years to understand this.” she said, sipping her coffee “I myself had took some time before goes for the Ringling Bros Clown College: I had gone for College before seeing that a 7-11 life was not for me. And I rose my kids into the circus, even none of them staying on circus. And then came the Event.”

She said drinking the Coffee:

“I have saw lots of breakthroughs, as my son is in the Army, and some of them were creepy. I had read Barlow’s to understand what was happening, and I know that almost all breakthroughs had undergone some kind of life-threating experience, beside those who had undergone some epiphaniac event, like Chakra. I don’t know what happened to you to had undergone breakthrough, and it’s not my concern, but need to confess that somewhat I feared breakthroughs until know you. If there’s a kid like you in the world, there’s hope for good living between common and breakthrough people.” she said, then looked to Joshua, who was very pensive “Sorry, I didn’t want to bother you…“

“No, you’re right.” said Joshua “I myself had saw many creepy breakthroughs, like the psychotic ones that used origin chasing drugs and shattered their minds, and some supernaturals that emulates bad myths like the vampires. And even for us they were creepy. I hope that my job can help people understand that we are not different: there’s no breakthrough gene. Anyone, given the right circumstances, can go breakthrough.”

Mrs. O’Mara gave the same sweet smile Joshua loved when she was Brick-a-Brack and said: “Hope you’re right, Joshua. So, after you put your things at guest room, let us go see Mrs. Wilson.”

“Alright.” said Joshua, pushing his cellphone “I’ll just call my parents and my team leader and explain them I’ll take some more time here.”

After calling home and explained what happened, Joshua got to the hospital with Mrs. O’Mara and looked for Mrs. Wilson room.

“Hi, kiddo. Looks like you’re right, I should had came before.” said Mrs. Wilson.

“How are you?” said Joshua

“Not too good, but it could be worse: I was in the process to get on an heart attack. It was diagnosed as an angina crisis and now need to get rest and meds, after the angioplasty. My son said you asked them, Michelle?” said Mrs. Wilson

“I could not avoid this: medical order. Your things are at my home: Joshua here brought them there.” said Mrs. O’Mara

“Now… Joshua, I know you are a cape, so, you can go now back your team. They need you.” said Mrs. Wilson

“I’m okay: my team is still on bench, I can take some more days here.” said Joshua, when they heard something weird. Then Joshua felt the familiar feeling when his Bellax Analytica was alerting him about danger by showing him what would happen.

“Mistresses, stay here. Looks like something is wrong, I can feel it with my power. Stay here and be quiet… I’ll see what’s happening.” whispered Joshua.

Joshua gone a little away from the room and saw two guys under hoods and black clothes, pistols in their hands.

“Alright kid, hands up and no fun…“ said one of them, pointing to him

Chapter 11

“The professional villains are not bad at all, as they play by the unwritten Rules about not engage on you when civil and so. Those really pesky are the Thrill ones. Many of them aren’t even breakthroughs, but common people ‘playing villain’ trying to ‘make a name’ by a ‘tag’, a fight against a cape. The biggest problem is: if you play light, they can hurt other people. If you play strong, you can hurt them. It’s never a good thing to be against thrill villains, even more if they know who you are.”

Jiminy Cricket, “From Dress-up to save up: an underage breakthrough story”

“Alright, I surrender.” said Joshua, just raising his hands. “But don’t do anything against the women at that room: one of them is still convalescing herself from a heart condition and need rest and peace.”

Joshua could easily make them do this via his Pretty Please!, but he chose to hold his trumps by now: they should not discover, as much as he could, that he was a cape.

“Okay, kiddo, but no funny moves!” said the other guy, that looked meaner, Joshua read by their eyes. “Let’s see the women, and you’ll say them to not mess with us.”

Joshua got back to the room and both Mrs. Wilson and O’Mara looked worried when they saw Joshua with those guys pointing pistols to his back, his hands lifted.

“Mistresses, those guys are…“ was saying Joshua.

“We are from The Pure God Work Fraternity.” said the first of them, they showing themselves, the weapons at Joshua’s back “The kid here said us to not do anything against you, and he was wise enough to surrender at once, so we’ll do this as a favor for him. But no funny things.”

“You heard them, so Pretty Please!, stay calm. Everything will be okay.” said Joshua, lacing discreetly his talk with his Pretty Please! to assure they should stay calm and doesn’t make any mistake.

“Alright, kiddo, you had your talk. Now move!” said the meaner guy, pushing Joshua while they closed the door.

Joshua was a little worried: no matter how calm they would be, he didn’t put their into a Pretty Please! to not talk about the situation to outsiders. He knew that Police sooner or later would be there, but for Joshua, or better, for Jiminy Cricket, later would be better, as he could try to juice intel about those guys.

He was pushed to the hospital entrance and said to sat in the floor with the other hostages:

“Now, hands back your neck, and no funny moves.” said the meaner one. He saw at least other eight armed people, all of them using Celtic Crosses into a layout that Joshua recognized while doing some hastily intel gathering:

“Neo-nazi… Probably anti-breakthrough too… Or maybe just anti-non-aryan-breakthroughs. All of them armed, but only two armed enough to deal with capes, military grade weapons and ammo. But looks like all of them are armed well enough to stop non-brick breakthroughs like me. And one of them…“ said Joshua, looking for one of the guys, that looked a little meeker than the others, but was using a notebook linked with a device that looked like an external HD.

But then Joshua remembered one of the gizmos Dumont made he always carry with him: he made a little glasses box fell in the ground from his pocket while sitting in the ground.

“Hey, kid! No move!” said a third guy, one that was with a heavy machine gun and looked very strong and mean.

“It’s my prescription glasses, sir, sorry. Hope there’s no problem.” said Joshua, hoping none of them had any information about him. If one of them was a little clever or a hero follower, he would be doomed.

Joshua put the old-fashioned pair of glasses and looked around: those glasses were called by Dumont Tesla Flux Level Detector, or, in layman terms, Field Detector. By using this, Joshua could detect some weird energy flows that could show if there was any unconventional energies, like created by some Vernetech fields or similar.

And it paid the profit: Joshua faked looking around astonished with the guys and noted that the HD-like thing was generating some kind of energy field. “I don’t think they are trying to jam cellphone signal. Looks like they are a combo of Cause and Thrill Villains, so they want everyone outside know their demands and maybe some manifesto. Maybe a ‘normality’ field? If so, one of them is a Verne or has contact with one to provide him the generator.” he thought

Normality fields were a recently discovered Vernetech tech that some Vernes uses to restrict somehow the region to be accessed by breakthrough powers like teleporting or via Hypertime by Speedsters. It doesn’t work against Atlases or Ajaxes, as they just run against the field like anyone else, and are imperfect, but no one would try to pass it if can avoid: it’s known that a Normality Field clash is very painful for those who suffers it. So, Joshua should not take for granted a super-rescue involving Speedsters or Jumpers.

“Alright… So look like those guys are not new kids on the block. But how I didn’t know about them? If they were so good, probably they already did something big and HSF would have some intel… Or maybe DSA or CIA or FBI treat them as a domestic problem. They also could go low profile and this is their first real big gig. Okay, let us try to milk some intel.” thought Joshua, faking being just a little fearful kid.

“Mister, who are you? I was just visiting a friend! What you want?” whined Joshua

“We are The Pure God Work Fraternity.” said a fourth guy, who looked more haughty than the others below his mask: he was using a khaki uniform with their symbol over his right arm, look like their leader.

“So Nazi, So Cliche!” thought Joshua.

“We are looking for freaks. The government knows how and who they are, like those swine Jews and Muslims: the government knows and just do nothing. They took our houses and jobs and money and real Americans are suffering. Those chicanos are hiding themselves as capes, and the government knows.”

“Okay… Nazi-like propaganda speech, check.” thought Joshua while he said “And why here?”

“We heard there’s some of those freaks in this hospital: looks like some of them are being treated here. We want them. As soon we put him under God’s Justice, we’ll free you. And the world will know that God is with us: the Real Americans, the Pure God Work, will be the only allowed to be supermen.” said the leader.

Joshua then avoided to gulp: he was one of their targets, without their knowledge.

“If those freaks doesn’t show themselves, I’ll use some bomb to deal with it.” said the leader “No more swine with powers!”

“So, they are trying some kind of ethnic cleansing against non-American breakthroughs.” thought Joshua, when he heard the police coming.

“Sir, they came.” said one of the guys with the bigger weaponry.

“Alright. Place the bomb. Take all the Americans and left behind those that doesn’t look American.” said the leader

Joshua could wait or hide no more: this would be a massacre, Joshua chose to do something.

“Sir, you’re wrong with something.” said Joshua “I’m a breakthrough.”

“What?!” said the leader “You? A kid? Don’t make me laugh!”

“Search for Jiminy Cricket in the Internet.” he said.

It was a risky gambit the one Joshua was playing, but it was what he could do by now.

“Sir!” said the one in the notebook “It’s true! He’s Jiminy Cricket, from Herós Sans Frontières!” he said, showing the photos from the judgement, and the one showing him crying against the tree.

“So… You’re that brat that avoid some cleanse from our Humanity First brothers…“ spat the leader

“They destroyed my house and tried to kill my family!” said Joshua, playing the spoiled kid card.

The slap he felt on his face was really strong.

“Shut up, kid! We should kill you here and now! But I think you’ll be useful before receiving your deserved justice.” said the leader guy, when Joshua heard the police outside saying

“Here’s police! Get out with hands up! You’re surrounded!” said the Police.

“Now, kid, do as I say, or everyone here will die!” said the guy “Hey, Paul, this brat has any useful power?”

“He’s not an Atlas or Ajax, so forget firepower… But he’s a Mastermind: he has some kind of tactical analysis power and mind bending powers!” said Paul, reading the internet available profile.

“Now, kid, say us how much of them there’s outside!” said the leader

Joshua did as they said, using his Bellax Analytica to reveal the positions:

“They have four squads, all military grade armed, and four snipers, all of them C-Class Speedsters.” said Joshua. “If you try anything…“

“I think you should be the one worried here. Paul, how much for you shield?” said the leader

“Sir, 55% available. I’ll tunneling it through our Normality Field. We can go undetected if you don’t…“ said the meek Verne

“Shut up and do the shield and portal, dammit. If you’re so weak a breakthrough, even a swine like this brat could deal with you.” said the leader. Joshua felt him holding his weapon against his head side. “Now, you’ll negotiate with them for us… As an incentive, those women in that room are your responsibility. Mac, Donovan, if something happen wrong, go to that room and kill them!” said the leader for the two guys who came with Joshua.

“Gosh… Now I’m in real trouble. The guy is so deluded that if I try Pretty Please! him I will just make things goes even worse!” thought Joshua.

“You’ll use your powers against the police. You’ll make them gave us weapons, money and a helicopter. Remember: all those people here in the Hospital are your responsibility: if they try anything against us, your hand will be blood-soaked with them.” said the leader.

Joshua tried his best to stay calm under this pressure, and his training under Cajun helped.

But the leader looks like doesn’t know how Joshua Bellax Analytica worked. His mind was overclocked now, looking for a way to get out of this with minimal causality, as by the Rules of Engagement.

“Hey, Police! We have a friend of you with us, and he’ll be our negotiator!” said the leader, cackling, pushing Joshua to the door in his front, using him as meatshield for any sniper.

“Who is you, kid?” said the operation commander.

“I’m Joshua McCarthy, capename Jiminy Cricket!” said Joshua “They have lots of hostage here, and they’re…“ was saying Joshua when the leader of the guys muted him with his hand.

“Now, guys, it’s very simple: our little friend here said you have snipers. So, the first BANG we hear, you’ll hear a lot of them here, enough to make OK Corral looks like Disneyland.” said the leader

“He isn’t blabbing: he’s arrogant enough to turn this into a bloodbath if needed.” thought Joshua, while his mind was going into his Bellax Analytica.

“Okay, chap… But first, some exchange: I want some of your hostage freed now.” said the commander

“Deal: one hostage per sniper.” said the leader of the Fraternity “And no playing games with me: this kid here will say me if you didn’t did as I said.”

The leader chose four of the hostages in the hall and send it outside.

“And now, your snipers.” said the leader

“Alright.” said the police commander

“And another thing: no capes, the kid here will say me if you try to mess with me!” said the leader for the commander. Then he looked for Joshua and said. “And now, kiddo, they did what they said?”

“Yes. They removed the snipers.” said Joshua

“Now, negotiate our escape… And remember: those two women will talk with Saint Peter if you fail.” he said

“Alright. No more snipers!” said the police commander “And now?”

“Use your power now, kid, and ensure we have what we want.” said the leader

It was when Joshua saw a good way out of this…

“Pretty Please!, those guys wants some money, a helicopter and weapons, and also a way to get out the hospital. Gave them what they want and everything will end well!” said Joshua, feeling nauseated inside by what he was doing notwithstanding.

The commander felt the compel Pretty Please! induced.

“Okay, but I want some extra hostages!” said the commander.

“Right, right!” said the leader non-chalantly. “Everyone healthy enough, get out!”

The hostages got out, and Joshua felt his Bellax Analytica showing on a good route for this when a small school bus came for, a police officer getting out of them.

“There’s money, weapons and the helicopter keys in the bus.” said the commander

“If you do any weird move or follow us, this kid will die! There’s also a bomb in the hospital, linked with myself. If you try to knock me out or kill me, the bomb will explode.” said the leader.

“Alright, alright!” said the commander, nonchalantly

“Go, kid!” said the leader, pushing Joshua front of him “Paul, shut down the field, we’re getting out!”

“But sir!” said the meek Verne.

“Shut the f— shield up!” said the leader.

Joshua was thinking on this situation, as they got over in the bus, himself always under the gunpoint. They started to follow the directions in the map to get to a heliport nearby… Looked like they had got away unscathed, with a juicy morsel of a “freak kid” for their hate sacrifice…

When the local capes acted.

The first signal of their action was when they felt a sonic BOOM explosion below the bus lifting it in the air: Joshua held himself at the chair, his Bellax Analytica showing hte event just a split-second before it happened, while the leader could not do this because his pistol. The man tried to shot Jiminy, but the movement made him friendly fired one of his own!

“Paul, the f—ing field!” said the leader, in pain, when the bus stopped to barrel roll

“No time!” said the meek Verne “There’s a time to engage the Normality Field!”

“Now, kid, you’re toast!” said the leader, trying to shot Joshua with his pistol, but Joshua was in advantage.

He saw his position using Bellax Analytica and gave a Chasse Italien, a Savate kick straight between the leader legs. He took the leader’s cane as a weapon to deal to one of the shooters, hitting him straight behind his knee, with strength enough to make him kneel in pain. He felt a teleporter that looked also a Dragon, kicking the shooters, and an Atlas that took the leader guy and bend a steel bar around him. Joshua looked for the Verne guy that booted up his notebook and he felt the cane he took was in fact a swordcane, unsheathing it. Joshua then took the cane from the sword cane and used the cane to hit the man in the hand. cutting the cable that linked the notebook to the Normality Field Generator with the swordcane blade.

“Not today.” said Joshua, pointing the sword into the Verne guy neck. “Now, don’t try anything weird!”

“You would never do this! You’re a little goody two shoes!” said the Verne guy

“Are you sure?” said Joshua, advancing the sword just a little, just a small space between the sword tip and the guy neck. “You’re not professional villains. You violated all the Rules. If you have any problem with breakthroughs, you should go against them, in cape. Not go against them while on civil or against civilians, using them as meatshield. From the time you place my friends and all those people in risk, you forfeited the Rules, for good or ill.”

“Which Rules? Are you insane?” said Paul, crazy

“You should had read comics from the past: no villain goes against capes in civil, even when they are known. Looks like you knew I was a breakthrough.” said Joshua

“No! Just some people said us that a breakthrough was there yesterday!” said Paul.

“Anyway…“ said Joshua, when he felt a hot sting crossing his leg.

Someone shot him!

It was the leader!

He was so naive.

Joshua felt the blood getting out the hit and looked for the leader: he had a little Derringer-like weapon.

“You’ll save no one, kid! This is my victory!” said the leader, turning the gun against his head.

Joshua ignored the pain as much he could and run, thrusting the sword into a slash.

It was by just: Joshua cut the man hand back, enough to hit the tendons, the pain making him pointing the weapon to the ground, blood splatting the ground.

The local capes came: beside the Teleporter, there was an Atlas and guy that looked like a aerokinetic with some sound projection powers.

“Are you Jiminy Cricket?” said the Atlas

“Yeah…“ said Joshua, painfully going prone in the bus wreck

“I am Prop, leader of the local Guardians CAI Team. Police talked me about you. Colocation, care for him and send him back the hospital. This guy too.” said Prop, putting a Sandman bag over his head and removing the bar. “The others are already acquired and are okay. Me and Sukhoi will take them for the Police to br processed. Your action was well done.” said Prop looking Jiminy

“I thought on a way to make them get the Normality Field deactivated.” said Jiminy, in pain “So, they should believe they would have what they wanted. I knew that my Pretty Please! would worn out sometime after they got out the Hospital, and the policemen would be able to work a way to catch them out the Hospital.”

“You brat! You betrayed us!” said the Verne guy, and Jiminy put her tongue out for him “All those hostages…“

“… will be okay. We have a Speedster that had his breakthrough when he failed to disarm a bomb. Split/Second would not repeat the same error again.” said Prop “The bomb was disarmed just a little before Sukhoi did his Sonic Boom attack.”

Joshua was weak, feeling the blood loss.

“Colocation, take Jiminy. He needs help ASAP.” said Prop for the slim woman at his side. Joshua felt her putting himself into her lap and the void effect when you’re into a teleportation. As soon he got back to somewhere, he passed out.

Joshua had undergone a procedure to clean and close the bullet injury. Somehow the bullet didn’t hit tendons, bones or big veins, albeit there was a good loss of blood, so Joshua needed to be checked in for some days for a blood replacement. The hospital people were calmer, but the newsie movement was intense some days after the situation, even more after discovering Jiminy Cricket was there. Both Mrs. Wilson and O’Mara (and Mrs. Wilson’s parents) where oriented to not talk with the newsies, and so they did.

But they talked with Joshua a lot during that week of recovery for both Joshua and Mrs. Wilson (both in the same room, the doctors put). Soon they were cleared, and the local CAI team provided a black SUV to take them away. The teleporter, Colocation (real name: Susan Ma), was useful to provide some diversion so they could go to Mrs. O’Mara’s home to get all their things and got to the airport without the pesky newsies.

“It was so exciting!” said Mrs. Wilson happy somehow, that now had some stents on her left arm, looking really better. “Hope you always remember Mimi, Spotty!” said her.

“For sure. And remember: I’m not the teapot! I’m the sugar bowl!” said Joshua, smiling, after hugging her and seeing her go through the airport gate for her flight home to Florida.

“Now, Joshua.” said Mrs. O’Mara, looking for him “Are you sure there’s no problem to you get home without help?”

“No problem at all…“ said Joshua, limping on the leg he was shot, supported by the Jiminy Cane (there would still have some 2 days until everything got okay and he could remove the cast on his leg), when he looked to the TV.

The newsread showed the news: “REFUGEE CAMP ATTACKED!”

“Please sir, raise the volume!” said Joshua for the airport cafeteria owner.

“There was an attack for the Undying Caliphate against the refugee camp Roque Santeiro at Sierra Leone. The local cape forces repealed partially the attack, but some of the refugees were kidnapped…“ said the news anchor, when Joshua felt his cellphone ringing. It was Soldaire.

“Joshua, I know what happened to you, but need to know how ready you are to get back to the field?” said Soldaire “Be honest, because…“

“I know. Just saw the news. I think I’m 75% ready: I’m limping, but I think I can do the job at Dispatch and so.” said Joshua

“Where you are?”

“In the local airport: I’m to take a flight to NY and then back to Geneva.” said Joshua

“Forget Geneva. Go for NY and there someone will expecting you with some tickets for your flights to Freetown. We are taking your stuff with us. We are just going there now, I’m already in the Hercules. Go straight and try to get ASAP.” said Soldaire, while he could hear the noise of the turbo engines from the Hercules “In NY someone will provide you an epad with your briefing intel, except by any classified things, but need to say that things are growing hot very fast!”

“Roger. Anything I can help remotely, ask me.”

“Okay… We’ll try to get 1st class flights for you: I think you’ll need all the sleep you can until came to Roque Santeiro.”

“Okay. See you in Freetown.” said Joshua, hanging out.

“What happened?” said Mrs. O’Mara “Are you…“

“Yes… I’m going to that situation: I don’t know if I’ll fight the Undying Caliphate, but I can’t let people at Roque Santeiro helpless. They need Joshua McCarthy, they need Spotty the Clown, and they need Jiminy Cricket.” said Joshua.

Mrs. O’Mara looked to Joshua and said. “At least, can you take a selfie with me and sign a photo?” said her, smiling, taking her cellphone.

Joshua and Mrs. O’Mara took a selfie making goofy faces and she showed him a photo from his clown class. Before he took the flight, he signed the photo before getting through the Customs to go board his flight to NY.

“Good Luck, kid! Godspeed!” said Mrs. O’Mara while she saw the plane starting the takeoff procedure and looked to the photo.

In the photo, the graduation one, Joshua signed as “Joshua McCarthy, aka Jiminy Cricket, aka Spotty the Clown”

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