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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Jiminy Cricket - The Sea Support Line

Chapter 1

“Today European Union announced a new strategy to deal with the recent refugee crisis. Called Oversea Refugees’ Support Line (ORSL), it will be formed by a line of bases built on decommissioned oil platforms in the middle of Mediterranean Sea. Those bases will be commissioned by transnational specialized NGOs personnel to triage and help people to get into Europe with everything ready to get asylum status at European countries.

The initiative, however, hadn’t passed out without critics: far-right politicians said it was a shame to deploy NGOs that ‘certainly will open Europe for the terrorism and globalism’, while some far-left said the ‘ORSL plan is to send people back Africa without even a bread’s morsel’.”

CNN News

“Alright, Altayr, gave those cables to Andre connect them to the antennae.” said the somewhat chubby boy, passing some cables through a small hole in the platform.

“Roger, Joshua.” said the Tunisian boy, flying outside the platform, some meters over the sea. That was easy for the former refugee, as he was an Atlas breakthrough, someone with the traditional super-heroic powers as people thought on them before The Event: flying, super-senses and superstrenght. In fact, Altayr chose his capename Djanni based on the strong Djinn from the Arabic mythos. Joshua, otherwise, was a Mastermind, with more mind-enhancing and will-bending powers. His Pretty Please! power could call people conscience and heart, making them doing what he wanted. Because of this, and as a Disney fan, he chose himself the capename Jiminy Cricket.

Albeit they both are underage, they were capes for Herós Sans Frontières, and so they were sent to help implementing the ORSL solution.

“I still don’t see why we should do all this.” said Eileen via Earbug, his friend, while double checking some cargo deployed by helicopter. “Why not just leave this for Sea Patrol? After all, is their work.” she said, while doing some of her magic to levitate the cargo crates from the helicopter to the platform ground. As Joshua and Altayr, Eileen was also a Cape, in her case a Merlin, someone that controls magical powers. She could fly and shrink into a little Tinkerbell-like form, but she chose to stay into a bigger size where she could work better her magic, as many of this equipment was sensible. As a ballerina that turned into a cape during a Nutcracker presentation, Eileen took as capename the character she was performing at the time, Sugarplum.

“The idea behind ORSL is to provide a kind of safe haven for people that are trying to get into Europe as refugees and, at the same time, provides a place from where troops could be deployed to fight pirates and other scum that attacks on the Mediterranean.” said the dandy nearby her, that was using a torch to oxy-weld some new antennae over the control room. Even on the hot and humid Mediterranean weather, Andre would wear for sure the same outfit of his personal hero and heroic namesake, Alberto Santos Dumont: formals with black tie and trousers, starched shirt and the iconic fedora hat, now added with a leather apron and gloves for the weld working, his steampunk goggles turned black to avoid the worse from the oxy-weld hurtful lightning. Albeit a Verne, a kind of super-science hero, he was not like Iron Man, his super-tech all steampunk based and themed: lots of brass and steam and so could be saw everywhere. But even with all this, his super-tech was still super: the oxy-weld he was using was small as a big beer can, but powerful enough to cut and weld big steel plates, like the one from the control room.

“So,” said Eileen “we’re being used as a kind of border police for European countries? This sounds so fishy!”

“I agree.” said the Japanese men, on a blue overall suit, white baseball cap and a pair of old-fashioned 80s mirror-shades. In his right arm, a big clock-like device could be seen. Seiji was a policeman from Keichisou, the Tokyo police, until he undergone a strenuous test and training to be a kind of after Event new police force: the so-called Twenty-First Century Police Force, capename Soldaire. Doning his Vernetech SolArmor, he could be as fast and strong as an A-Class Ajax, and could also use all kind of tactical support provided by a computer system on it, all the intel being shown on a HUD in his helmet.

However, he couldn’t use it all the time: using the SolArmor was really strenuous for the body, having a time limit to be used before health risk. And albeit this time limit being long enough, it would be better for them that Seiji doesn’t used the SolArmor by now, doing the leadership he normally does. And leaders normally feel when something is not right. “I don’t think this is the only reason they asked Herós Sans Frontières to support the ORSL project. Even giving us the platforms as bases, looks like that, at least, there’s some PR on all this. By showing the pubic that there will be breakthroughs here, specially those from HSF, they could avoid any PR backlash by deploying troops on the ORSL platforms.”

“So, the cabróns from the local government are not at all on this support to refugees thing.” said a man with a yellow and black mask that remembered a lot a stylished face of a badger. Juan, normally called by his capename Hufflepuff, was taking some of the big crates and unloading them, specially those from UNHCR, as their payload were heavier. “They are pushing things on us, and if everything goes okay, they take the profits. And if everything goes to the dogs, we’ll be the ones to be blamed.” while taking one of the crates. As a Luchador, he was almost as strong than an Ajax, but slimmer, leaner and more agile than one. And there was the Kayfabe, or, as Hufflepuff calls, La Passion por La Lucha, the kind of feeling that pump up their powers. Boastful, Hufflepuff have anyway a good smile for kids and so. It was very rare to see Hufflepuff without his mask, though: some says that a Luchador who loses his mask lose his powers with it, at least temporally.

“That’s what I fear” said Seiji, while checking some of the hardware before people install it. “But this will not happen if I can do something on it. At least, not in my watch.”

“We need to think on our own job.” said the other guy helping to unload the crates from the helicopters. Irish looking, red haired, and too much freckled for his age, Richard ‘Ric’ McInroy, capename LionHeart, was now part of the fixed roster for the Herós Sans Frontières. But, until some years before, he was a convicted guy transfered to the HSF, as previously known as The Bronx Shoulder, an Ajax that gave too much problems for NY Police. As an Ajax, he was super-strong and super-tough. But he had some smiling face for his friends and for kids. The only thing that could denounce him as a convicted under parole was the small bump behind his neck, where was implanted a small Vernetech chip device that generated a small signal that could be traced if he tried to get away from his parole, as if. “No matter what the Big Kahunas think, we should just do our job nice and smooth, and the rest can just go to Hell.” he said, while placing the crates into a elevator, to be deployed at the warehouse.

“Let us forget this. There’s lots of work to be done and supplies to be brought. And the distance from mainland is enough to tire even our best Atlases. Even Kuntur could not bring all we need from the mainland, crossing half the Mediterranean.” said other of the team guys. Kabba Bangura, callname Cabby, is a Paragon, someone that had gone almost as perfect a human being can be without superpowers. In fact, Kabba can drive or pilot anything that has a motor. Kabba was transfered from Roque Santeiro refugee camp, where Jiminy’s team were, to the team as a reinforcement after the ORSL project HSF agreement. With him, came also other three reinforcements: Dr. Lesley Dimantas (capename Squirrel Girl), Robert ‘Bob’ Nsele (capename Panther) and Josephine ‘Josie’ Nondaba (capename Kilimanjaro). With another Paragon, Leon Leclerc (capename Cajun), and the Bolivian Atlas Jose Marti Poma (capename Kuntur), they were the team deployed by HSF at ORSL 1, the first of the ORSL bases, into a decommissioned oil platform.

“Alright.” said Andre, finishing the antennae welding and plugging the cables Altayr passed him. “Joshua, turn the comms on.” said him via Earbug

“Roger.” said Joshua, turning on some keys and hitting some commands into a keyboard at the communication room. After setting some knobs, he took the radio mic and said. “Herós Sans Frontières BP1, here is ORSL 1, QRA Jiminy Cricket, QSL H5F1Q, QSS 402.005. Basic deploying on schedule, emergency deploy for recommission done. QSL? Copy!”

“QSL, Jiminy Cricket. BP1 here. QRA Geppeto, QSL H5F1J, QSS 405.230. QLB 5 by 5. We’re on you ORSL 1. Copy.” said the other side of the talk. QRA Geppeto was the radio-amateur callname his father took. As Joshua was Jiminy Cricket, his parents took callnames based on Pinocchio, his father being Geppeto and his mother being Figaro, the black cat owned by Geppeto (and after that, by Minnie Mouse).

“Copy. We’ll get back Italy for resupplying before everything is ready. We’ll give news as soon we finish recommission the platform. Over.” said Jiminy, finishing the connection.

“I don’t know why you’re still using this radio crap, Jiminy. Quantum-Links are way better than that.” pouting the little fairy “in front” of Joshua. And the weirdest thing is: normally only him could see her.

Capename Blue Fairy was a weird adding for the team roster. Some weeks before, Joshua was kidnapped by a really bad guy called Alsyf Alayat, the Sword Verses. A Mastermind like Joshua, he was instead trying to raise an army against Roque Santeiro people, calling them Zindiq, heretics, or Kafir, infidels. He would be killed if it wasn’t the intervention of Teatime Anarchist, the one who people believed was THE Super-Villain. In fact, he was doing what he could to avoid a dictatorship and totalitarian state rise in US and that could grew all around the world, and he tried to push things to avoid this agenda, against his evil quantum twin called Dark Anarchist.

And Joshua was part of this, his death potentially bringing problems for T.A.’s agenda. To avoid it, T.A. gave Joshua a bioseed, a special 22nd Century Vernetech device that “seeded” his mind with a Quantum Link to a 22nd century computer. In this computer there was the quantum mirrored personality of a girl that killed herself, jumping to death while origin chasing. Shelly Boyar was her name, and Blue Fairy was the third “active” copy of her personality. One of the other works for Chicago Sentinels as the “remote operator” for the Gynoid Galathea built by Vulcan, and the other acts into the Ouroboros Project, part of Kahle Conspiracy, as Shelly Boyar, “resurrected” thanks to Ozma’s Wish Pills, based on a wish done by Astra.

As a Quantum Ghost, normally Blue Fairy could only talk and be seen by Joshua, but by “downloading” her temporally into some special Vernetech devices she could interact with others.

“You know that this radio can operate into a triple-failure circuit: it even has a small internal battery that can power it under the direst situations so we can ask for help. Besides, calling help via Quantum Link would be a problem, as there’s only three other people we could ask for help using it: Astra, Shelly and Shell. And this could be a problem into a real time action.” said Jiminy, after finishing the basic communications setup, while getting out to the main level in the platform.

“I know, you boring kid.” giggled her, putting her tongue out “But, where are you going now?” said her.

“I’ll go with Cabby back the mainland.” stated Joshua “We’ll take more supplies to bring back, mainly food and other basics. And I’ll copilot the helicopter.”

“What?” gasped Blue Fairy “Who was the smartypants that had that idea?”

“Seiji.” said Joshua, shrugging “As a Mastermind, my powers are not too much combat focused. So, he think that I should train on all things for supporting the team: piloting helis and boats, radio operation, electronics… So, I’m training to take my heli pilot brief. Cabby is training me. And, need to say, with the Mastermind powers, this is easy peasy.”

“Cheesy!” said Blue Fairy, while he sat at the copilot “But I understand.”

“Alright.” said Kabba “Ready for the next lesson? Now you’ll take this off by your own. I saw your training into the simulator, and you did well, but now is real life. Remember: there’s at least 200 meters until the sea, and a crash would not be good at all.”

“Right.” said Joshua, gulping a little. He now is more accomplished with stressful situations, but he still doesn’t like them. So, he thought a little “Blue Fairy, don’t talk to me until I take this off, unless things goes dangerous, okay? Need to concentrate myself on this.”

“Roger!” said Blue Fairy, before getting out of his sight into a POOF! of virtual pixie dust.

Joshua put the headset over his ears and started the procedure.

“Turning on pumps… Fuel and Oil pressure okay. Turning on the turbine and the engine. Activating Gas Producer, NG getting up… Temperature operational… Engaging power, raising NG… Propellers on operational rotation… Lift off!” said Joshua, reciting each step like a kid doing the A-B-C.

The helicopter start to get out of the helipoint and started to get away from the platform, until all Joshua could see only the waves of the Mediterranean Sea below them.

“Good work, Joshua. Need only to double-check some things during the takeoff, but you did well… Think you can go till Malta?” said Kabba

“I think so.” said Joshua

“Okay. I’ll observe you doing the piloting and, if there’s any problem, I’ll take over command, alright?” said Kabba “Let’s go!”

And this way Joshua had gone until Malta, to take some extra cargo for their new home, the ORSL 1.

Chapter 2

“To be fair, the ORSL 1 base was a weird place to live: an old decommissioned oil platform, we took at least one week to do all the main job to make it habitable again. It was smelly and moldy, and it was difficult to put everything nice again, but some time after, we are almost as good there as at Geneva or Roque Santeiro. And the Vernetech Dumont put on it make things even better: we grown the base for our use until we could even get below the sea! We could even see the fish!”

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

As the base was not that big, it was like being back Roque Santeiro’s Barracks. In his quarters, Joshua lived with Altayr, Eileen and Lesley.

It was when the sun rose and they could see the sea. Joshua yawned and looked through the window to see the seagulls and waves.

“Alright, Joshua!” said Blue Fairy, showing into his sight dressed on pyjamas, even a sleeping cap over her virtual hair “Rise and shine.” she said, while everyone woke up.

“Okay.” said Joshua, yawning. “And now?”

“Now, for shower. And don’t be a whining kid: Altayr is already woke up.” said Blue Fairy

“Altayr is doing the Fajr praying, he should be.” said Joshua, looking for Altayr, his mattress pointed to an specific direction and him doing, silently and discreetly, the first of the five prayings of the Salat, the Muslim mandatory prayings. He got to the bathroom and took a shower while Altayr was finishing the prayer. As soon he got out, Altayr finished his prayer and Eileen and Lesley had woke up.

“Alright, Joshua.” said Altayr “School today?”

“Only afternoon.” said Joshua “I’ll have some breakfast and then I’ll need to go for some supplies with Cabby. I need to take hours piloting to get my pilot brief so Soldaire and Cabby are pushing me to fly as much as I can. After getting back, I’ll have school and then some extra lessons for my radio operation license by Dumont. And you?”

“School now, then patrol with Kuntur and Dumont and fighting training with Kuntur, Cajun and Hufflepuff. And Qu’ran studies with my father and some Imam from England.” said Altayr.

“And you Eileen?” asked Joshua, while he saw her getting back from the shower while Lesley gone to it.

“I’ll work at my final essay for the post-grad now, and then work with Lesley on triaging the refugees we rescued yesterday and then some Arabic class.” said Eileen.

“And I’ll work all day, and tonight I’ll read some of the new papers on breakthrough and refugees psychology.” said Lesley.

“Okay… Think everyone will have a full day.” said Joshua, a little down “Sometimes I miss the Roque Santeiro time, when we did everything together.”

“It’s temporary, sport.” said Eileen “We’re all working hard to recommission ORSL 1, and all the ORSL project. As soon things goes calmer, we’ll have shifts and so and then we can work back together.”

“Alright.” sighed Joshua, while dressing into his Jiminy Cricket costume, the simpler one, without the weapons and armor from his flying costume Iron Cricket. After put the costume, aside the hat and mask, he gone for a breakfast at the cafeteria, where the cater was all by LionHeart. Today he did pancakes and some bread and egg, coffee and milk and so. They all ate together and talked a little before each other going for their work.

Cabby was on his “costume”, so to speak: a military fatigue, with a straitjacket and a belt with two pistols, a dog-tag over his neck with some Leonean charms. He was checking some of the things at a big helicopter into a kind of parking lot for the helicopter, just below the platform main level.

“Hey, Kabba.” said Joshua.

“Now, kiddo. I know this is just a simple thing, but a mission is a mission, so let us do this fair and square. Alright, Jiminy Cricket?” said Kabba, smiling

“Oh! Right, Cabby!” said Joshua, or better, Jiminy.

“Alright. Today we’ll bring some big provision crates, so we’ll need to use one of the big helis. We’ll take the Mi-26T2.” said Cabby and Jiminy gasped.

In his training, since he came to ORSL, he was flying as much he could and also training in the simulator, but he only had flown real life small helicopters, like the AS355-NP Écureuil 2, nicknamed Twin Squirrel. The Mi-26T2 was the biggest helicopter all the world, and even with Atlases all around, this helicopter was still useful, because his speed and cargo capacity.

“Any problem?” said Cabby.

“No… I think I can copilot.” said Jiminy.

“In fact, I’ll copilot: I want you to be the pilot.” and that made Jiminy gasping even more “I did the pre-flying check and I’m just waiting the heli to be fueled. I have the flight plan here.” said Cabby, showing Jiminy a small clipboard with a flight plan, that Jiminy just skimmed very fast, understanding it fast thanks to his breakthrough-powered mind.

“Okay.” said Jiminy breathing heavily to calm down from the pressure he was feeling.

“Jiminy, I know you didn’t flown the Mi-26T2, even in the simulator, but we need to take the last supplies very soon: there’s a weather report for strong storms coming, and we need to be ready. Some the supplies we are bringing are vernetech materials Dumont need for reinforce the ORSL 1 enough to support the weather changes here at the Mediterranean. The plan is to go straight to Italian HSF base at Siracusa, take a time while the cargo is loaded and the heli refueled and then straight back. Maybe you’ll be late for school today, but hope there’s not too much time lost. However, the weather can change very fast and we could need to take a detour or even landing at Malta for a time. And this is not the only problem: we have a report from Interpol and Italian Sea Patrol of sky pirates in the region. Dumont had adapted our heli so we just need one pilot and the other could take a .50 machine gun the deployed, but I hope things are easy and we don’t need them, anyway.” said Cabby

Sky pirates: people that undergone breakthroughs with flying powers and gone rogue, or people that bought vernetech ways to fly and use them to rob airships and their cargo. They are a bigger menace on the Chinese States, but in the Mediterranean they are a pesky nuisance also. Djanni and Kuntur had already defeated some of them easily. All the contact with them that Jiminy had, however, was via intel and After-Action Reports he read or written.

“Alright. We’ll have any support into an emergency?” said Jiminy

“I believe so, we can ask for help. We are not to engage into combat, understood?” said Cabby, while they were getting into the big helicopter. A parking system took the helicopter from his place below the platform top and lifting it, while Jiminy did the starting procedure, double checking each pass while the big turbines and rotors were activated. So, as soon they got outside, they were ready for takeoff. Jiminy pushed the control lever, while pulling the power lever, so the power could be applied under the rotor and turbines, and the helicopter got away easily.

“Nice smooth takeoff, Jiminy. I little bumpy, but good for a first time with this big guy.” said Cabby. His “power”, so to speak, as a Paragon, was his driving and piloting skills: as far a thing had a engine and wheel or lever, he could pilot it easily. “Now, let us follow the plan as I did, right?”

“Right…“ said Jiminy “Blue Fairy, could you help me?”

“Oh, captain, my captain.” said Blue Fairy, showing herself on a kind of Navy uniform.

“When Cabby says next destination, could you plot a line into my line of sight?” he said.

“Sure. Easy peasy!” said her.

“Now, Jiminy, 400 knots NNE to our next reference.” said Cabby, and Blue Fairy heard it also via the quantum link she have with Jiminy’s brain and sensorial neural circuits.

“Route traced.” said Blue Fairy.

“Called your little cyberpixie helper?” said Cabby, and Jiminy nodded “This is very useful, but try to focus on the real instruments.”

“Alright.” said Jiminy, looking for the instruments.

“Cheapskate!” said Blue Fairy, putting her tongue out for Cabby, but only Jiminy could see her: as she wasn’t downloaded on some visual device, she only appeared into Jiminy’s visual field as an image the Quantum Link produced into his brain.

“Blue Fairy, Cabby is right: but a help is always welcome.” said Jiminy, looking to adjust the helicopter, until the compass would be in the correct place and the line Blue Fairy did was straight in front.

“Nice. Now… It’ll take at least one hour on this. Lock the autopilot and maybe you can take your French lesson.” said Cabby smiling, while Jiminy hitted a button in the panel and started with another to hear the French lesson.

The flight was a good one and the weather helped, so in somewhat two and a half hours they were at HSF base at Siracusa, and they took a meal while the Mi-26T2 was refueled and the supplies loaded to full cargo hold.

“The flight back home will be slower, because all our cargo.” said Cabby, hitting some keys on an epad where he was doing the flight plan back ORSL 1 “And looks there’s a chance we take a big rain in our way back ORSL 1. The Mediterranean weather is a mess, need to say.”

“Maybe we should ready some alternate routes.” said Jiminy, that took away his tails for a moment, as Siracusa was very hot. “This could help.” he said, taking a sip of his cold milkshake.

“I’ll put some alternate routes, so be ready to take action if needed. I think you can do well with your Bellax Analytica and with Blue Fairy help.”, said Cabby, looking for the small holoprojector Jiminy had placed over the table, while they rested and he did some class on Chemistry.

Blue Fairy was “downloaded” into it: this way, she could be seen by everyone and talk straight directly with them, as if she was a kind of cybernetic pixie. All that Jiminy needed to do is to touch a device time enough so she could do the job of “downloading” herself into it. She didn’t need Jiminy to touch the device again to be “uploaded” back Jiminy’s mind: this was taken by granted by the Quantum Link system that was the base of everything Blue Fairy.

“Now you want my help? You cheater!” said Blue Fairy, smiling, to Cabby “But it’s okay.”

“Okay.” a guy using green overalls with HSF logo on it said “The cargo had been loaded on your helicopter and it was refueled. I think this is the last cargo for the ORSL 1 recommission. We’ll talk with Geneva and ORSL 1 for more stable schedules for ORSL 1 resupplies. And I think that this kid can help us, if he was good enough to pilot a helicopter this big by himself.” said the man, looking with a smile for Jiminy, that was not too much a kid anymore. Being now twelve, he grew a lot and lost some of the childish chubbiness, but now he was a little gangly on the walk, and he was still using his costume like something straight from Disney Magic racks.

“Alright.” said Cabby, while he and Jiminy finished their refreshments and get into the helicopter. They could saw, while sitting in the pilot and copilot spaces, that the cargo was put into the helicopter: some big crates full of supplies.

“The voyage back will be slow.” said Cabby, looking back “We are too much heavy, most of our power being used just to push everything. And there’s also the chance of storm in the way.”

“I think I can deal with this if you need.” said Jiminy

“Sounds sensible. Better you use Bellax Analytica all the way: remember, there’s some nasty gossip about sky pirates. The flight plan was done to avoid as much as possible the bad weather, but maybe we should think on the issue: IMHO, between sky pirates and a storm, I go for a storm any day.” said Cabby, while they started the power-on and liftoff procedure, Cabby and Jiminy hitting buttons and pushing levers and seeing the instruments until the big helicopter got out the ground and they gone to the Mediterranean Sea.

The first hour was okay, even both of them trying to not talk too much: the weather computer, receiving information from the same system airplanes uses real-time, was showing the storm just tangentially in the route Cabby traced and inputted into the flight computer system.

It was when Jiminy felt the same weird tingling when his Bellax Analytica engaged, when he foresaw something creepy:

“Cabby, sounds like we’ll have company soon. I know the radar doesn’t show anything, but…“ said Jiminy.

“I understand.” said Cabby “Hope you’re wrong, but better safe than sorry: which side? or both?” said Cabby

“Looks like they’ll go port side. They are coming from someplace from Tunisia or Algeria.” said Jiminy.

“Okay… I’ll take one of the turrets. Stay on pilot. If we have a situation, as soon I need to open fire, call ORSL 1: certainly there’s someone ready for action there.” said Cabby, pulling a little VR helmet-like device: a vernetech deployed on the heli by Dumont, when engaged turned the lever on copilot (Cabby’s) seat a control for one of the twin .50 turrets put as a defense system below it. There wasn’t too much ammo, just less than 100 rounds of bullets each: the idea was just buy time until the cavalry arrive.

“You’re right Jiminy, they are coming, I don’t even need the radar. I have them on visual, somewhat 10 knots from us.” said Cabby

“Changing route through the storm!” said Jiminy “Blue Fairy, trace me the route: 10 hours, 440 knots.”

“Roger!” said Blue Fairy, showing him the line. “Hope this one is not a nasty one.”

“Sounds like.” said Jiminy, seeing the black clouds and the blur made by the rain “I’m rerouting the heli to just get into the storm enough to make them lost our scent.” said Jiminy, when he felt the first impacts of bullets hitting the heli.

“There’s ten of them: at least four of them fliers by themselves, at least one of them a B-Class electrokinectic, the others two C-Classes Atlases and an C-Class aerokinetic. The non-fliers are using ‘commonplace’ Vernetech ornithopters. Heavy weapons: they think we have Ajaxes or Atlases here.” said Jiminy, when he hit the comm button for ORSL 1 frequency. “ORSL 1, Transport 2, Jiminy Cricket here. We have tangos on our port side, less than five knots. We’re under attack and request help.”

“Here’s ORSL 1. Soldaire here. Sugarplum and Kilimanjaro are a go! Hold the transponder engaged no matter what. Djanni and Kuntur are a go ASAP. Hold your situation.” said Soldaire, while Jiminy could hear the BUDDHA-BUDDHA-BUDDHA from the turret

“Cabby, are you safe?” said Jiminy

“I can held myself, if you need to push on.” said Cabby.

“I’ll try to gain some speed.” said Jiminy, focusing his Bellax Analytica on the helicopter flying and pulling the speed lever as far he could.

“Jiminy, take care, don’t push too much!” said Cabby.

“I’ll do!”, said Jiminy, leaving the hand as soon the speed was okay, when he gasped!

“Cabby, be ready for a Charlie Foxtrot!” said Jiminy


“They’ll try to flank us! Some of them were flying low and now they are coming from the star side!”

“What the…“ said Cabby, when they felt a strong hit, the heli shaking a little, Jiminy didn’t believe he held the control.

“RPG!” said Jiminy, holding the control lever like he was riding a wild horse in a rodeo “We didn’t lost a shaft by luck, as it didn’t hit us straight, exploding in the air thankfully, but we were hit just by the shockwave, very luckily.”

“We should not take this for granted!” said Cabby, controlling the turret. “I don’t think I can hold them too much. Be ready for a crash landing if needed: better alive than dead. Take us out of the storm it would be safe.”

“Right!” said Jiminy, pushing the lever to get away from the storm, losing the cover.

“Alright… I’ll make them pay dearly to blown us!” said Cabby.

The combat was intense, and even Cabby making two of them fall in the sea, they were hitting the heli hard.

“C’mon Sugarplum, where are you?” said Jiminy, trying to not follow the ways where his Bellax Analytica showed the helicopter down and/or each of them being shot strong by the pirates, but even with his training he was starting to despair, and even Blue Fairy tips on what to do are doing little to avoid this.

“Jiminy, the cavalry had come!” said Blue Fairy, when he saw two bolts of energy crossing the sides of the heli, hitting some of the attacking forces.

He could see Sugarplum, that was not on Tink mode, but into on a cloud blue costume, pointing the wand to the tangos Jiminy could see below him. He could hear a strong BOOM, like the air was pressurized below them, and he could feel the aftershock sent by Sugarplum attacks.

“Jiminy, go! We can stop them.” said Sugarplum via radio

“No way! We’ll help.” said Jiminy, pushing the engine lever to a halt position, making the helicopter stops all of nothing.

“Hey, Jiminy! Be calmer next time!” said Cabby, while Jiminy hit the autopilot to ensure the helicopter would stay on position.

He could see the lighting bolts getting from Kilimanjaro’s hands. A very impressive woman, she left her tribe, the Nondabas, that she should be leading as successor after her mother and grandmother, Mabinty and Masseray, passed away during an attack by the Undying Caliphate some months before. But the people from her tribe disbanded, joining other tribes, and she had now responsibility for only two people, the brothers Sawie and Senesie, the last one a B-Class Merlin Jiminy and the others helped to avoid goes crazy during a drug induced psychotic breakthrough and was now living in ORSL 1.

“No, Cabby. They brought us the Foxtrot, now they’ll dance!” said Jiminy, taking his hand to the same VR device Cabby was using.

“No, Jiminy, Cabby is right!” said Blue Fairy. “Let me do this: I can engage the VR system, just touch it time enough I can configure myself!” said her “Focus on take all of us out of this and back ORSL 1!”

“Alright.” said him, sighing, while just touching some of the contacts on it.

He knew the weird feel when he “downloaded” Blue Fairy on other devices. Normally, he could “download” her to any device with wireless connections to let her go loose. But the helicopter was all wired and shielded, so he needed to do this via some device. He just waited time enough until he hear her voice via radio, like she was somewhere else.

“Alright. Deployed! Let’s go!” said Blue Fairy, when he felt the other turret being engaged.

Jiminy pushed the hand back to the handle and disengaged the autopilot, pushing the helicopter back front, while he could see Kilimanjaro and Sugarplum doing some shots against the sky pirates, and he could see Kuntur and Djanni going to join Sugarplum and Kilimanjaro.

“We should slow a little…“ said Jiminy

“No, this will only ease things for the tangos.” said Cabby “Trust on them, they know the drill…“

“Maybe I should too…“ said Jiminy meekly.

“They trust you know your drill.” said Cabby smiling, below the VR headset “Make their trust worthy, and trust them.”

“Alright.” sighed Jiminy, when he heard Djanni saying something on the radio

“Jiminy, open the cargo bay. The tangos are down or flew away.” he said

“Alright.” said Jiminy, hitting a button while the cargo door was opened, and they entered the helicopter on flying. “Let us get back ORSL 1.”

Everyone could see Jiminy was uneasy while he was doing the After Action Report: he was almost the clerk of the team, and for him doing this was like breathing after all the time at Herós Sans Frontières.

“Bees on your bucket, short stuff?” said Sugarplum, looking for him, in the small desk at his bedroom where he was filling the After-Action Report.

“I’m not too much short anymore, you know.” said Jiminy, albeit being the shortest of the team, even Djanni being bigger than him. “I’m pissed off on being treated like a kid in field.”

Sugarplum looked to him.

“Look: first of all, you need to understand that your powers are NOT FOR COMBAT AT ALL. All times you engaged combat, you were defeated or needed to be saved somehow or had gone very hurt.” she said “I know you want to be useful on field, and you are more than you think.”

“I’m not so useful…“ said Jiminy

“I know what are you thinking on. You’re still thinking on the events from your last time at Newark.” said Sugarplum.

Last time (at all, if you ask Jiminy and his family) he got back his birth city, Newark, he was asked to give an anti-origin-chasing talk for his former school colleagues. He then was attacked after the speech by some of the bullies that almost killed him, making him passing through breakthrough. They also undergone breakthrough during a riot at the youth detention center, and Jiminy had to fight them to avoid civilian casualties. They came to ‘tag’ him and get a kill on for them as a way to build a fame as Super-villain. He was very injured and, even dropping one of them and convinced the other to help him, he was almost killed. In the process they damaged the school foundations, making it go down, and just the help of Presto, the one of them that defected to help Jiminy, avoided lots of fatalities.

But more than the body injury (reduced for some scars from leaf-made cuts), the worst ones were the injuries in his mind: he could deal with being almost killed by a very powerful super-villain as Alsyf Alayat, the Sword Verses. He still could not cope being almost killed by someone his own age.

“Not just this… Looks like all time I get into combat, I got injured.” said Jiminy, frustrated.

“I know.” said Sugarplum “I can’t say this will be easy for you to deal with, but you need to remember…“ she said, doing the Rock-Paper-Scissors gesture.

“If you’re scissors,” said Sugarplum, doing the scissors gesture “you need to fight paper, not scissors or rock.” she complemented, doing the gestures with her pretty hands “Fighting scissors is difficult, as you did when you fought Alsyf Alayat, as your powers as similar and so difficult to fight each other. But fight rock is totally impossible: he’ll almost certainly break you 100% of the times. I understand that you felt yourself useless on that time at Newark. But, in fact, you weren’t: you gained time and survived, and even saved Presto from get into the same fate of the others, to go for Detroit SuperMax, after he helped you saving the people in the school.”

Presto was one of your attackers: a B-Class Merlin, his powers were based on invoking and using powers from Dungeons & Dragons game. And, Jiminy looked after, it was a big source of creepypasta if brought to real life. Now he was under a parole back to Hillwood Academy, while the others are in a prison for super-villains. The fact he helped to save people was put into accord to allow him get back Hillwood instead going for a Juvenile ward at Detroit SuperMax.

“I know you had no option beside fighting: they came looking for you, and you felt that you could be dead. But now… You’re with us. You’re our scissors. You can’t win just with scissors, but we can’t win just with paper and/or rock. You need to find the best combination.” said Sugarplum, looking for Jiminy: she knew normally he took out his Cricket-shaped half-mask while doing the After Action Report, but now he was on it, and she knew why.

He was crying.

“I just…“ sobbed Jiminy, tears starting to form in his eyes.

“I know… You want to be useful. Cabby said me what happened, and I know that he and Soldaire retorted you when you got back ORSL 1.” said Sugarplum, holding his hands. “But look: you need to understand that Cajun, Soldaire and the others, when teach you combat skills, they expect you can survive a situation, but not win it. Your powers are more useful when helping others to extract the 110% of what they could do. This is the scissors, this is your power. None of us can win alone, and I need to say fortunately: if you ask me, as soon you think you can solve all kind of situations all by yourself, you’re just a itty bitty tad to go super-villain.”

Jiminy took his mask, and Sugarplum took a little handkerchief from a pocket from under her tutu and petticoats and passed it to Jiminy.

“Sorry… I… I just don’t know…“ said Jiminy, while using the handkerchief to dry his tears.

“It’s okay: you had a lot in those times. You’re still a kid, and you want to prove yourself, even more that you’re growing into a teenager, so you felt frustrated when you start to see and feel your limitations. But this is part of being adult: to know that (a) you’re not self-resilient and (b) you’re not alone.” said Sugarplum.

“Thanks, Su… Eileen.” said Jiminy, somewhat breaking a kind of cape social protocol: you normally don’t use a cape real name when he’s on costume, even if you know it.

“That’s okay, kiddo.” said Sugarplum, when they heard someone knock the door. It was Dumont

“Jiminy, Sugarplum, I just finished an important thing, and the supplies you brought, Jiminy, were critical for this. Want to take a look?” he said, and Joshua nodded, putting back his mask.

They got until a place where one of the original spars were. Those spars were reinforced with a net made of carbon fiber and graphene nanotubes, made by Dumont and a task-force of Vernes, using the physical structure from the spar as a vine scanders a liana or other trees and structures to hold itself. The original spar was now almost empty space that the same task-force was reinforcing for turn it into useful space, for more accommodations and supply stores. In the one Dumont brought them, there was a elevator, like those from shoppings, althought real big.

“Alright, let’s go.” said Dumont, hitting a button, and they felt they were going down… And down… And down…

Until the could see the elevator getting into some water that was in the spar, and then, sometime after, going transparent, when they saw they where under the sea. Jiminy could not avoid go WOW, looking the vibrant sea life all around, with all the fishes and octopuses and mantas and stuff, even some small sharks passing near and there.

“They can’t get in: this is glassluminum, a vernetech alloy, stronger then carbon fiber and graphene, and more foldable. And, even better, transparent and almost without ecological impact. ORSL 1’s ecological footprint is very low.” said Dumont, proudly, when they saw on a side a big block of something like concrete that was connected to a place below them.

It was when, after 3 or 4 minutes on the elevator, they gone somehow 750 meters below the sea line, at the sea bed, and the elevator connected himself to a door. He needed to wait a little, and they could hear some kind of pressure system engaging.

“Just correcting the pressure to avoid an explosive decompression.” said Dumont, when the door opened to what looked like a very hi-tech base, that could not be humbled by Chicago Sentinels’ Cave. There was still lots of empty space, but the Star Trek-like design and all the equipment that was placed on it showed that things were really super-tech, as all Vernetech should look.

“Sorry not talked about this with you before. This was a classified project from Herós Sans Frontières, part of ORSL project. We call this Atlantis.” said Dumont, looking for Sugarplum and Jiminy amazed faces.

Chapter 3

“Project Atlantis was a classified project in the time: even I didn’t knew all the details from it then. The idea was, via Vernetech, to create a submarine infrastructure in deep waters. The experiment was the basis for other deep water bases used all around the world by CAI teams that needs to work into places with too much ocean nearby, like Fiji, Japan and, obviously, nearby the Mediterranean Sea.”

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

The “official” event for Project Atlantis was small: as a classified project, they could not disclosure the details at the time. But there was some capes and even non-cape officials from UNHCR and HSF, including Jiminy and Djanni’s parents. It was incredible for Jiminy that some of the Chicago Sentinels came: Vulcan, the team Verne, was one of the minds behind Project Atlantis with Dumont.

“As soon people talked about the ORSL project, and EU accepted the recommission of ORSL 1, we implemented Project Atlantis, as an extra base for Herós Sans Frontières.” said Vulcan “Your numbers are really big: at least 150 fixed capes, beside all the volunteers from around the world. Looks like Geneva base was a little cramped, or so Dumont said me.” he said smiling “And the idea behind Project Atlantis was also good to look as a way to deal with convicted super-villains. We are into a surge of super-villainy recently, and the recent resurgement of The Ascendant and his breaking into Detroit SuperMax are making us looking for alternatives on how to deal with all the super villains in the system.”

“And how Project Atlantis could help on this?” asked Jiminy, that was drinking some soda and eating small tuna sandwiches, their parents taking some finger food and wine or sake.

“You see: deep water and the oceanic Benthic Zones are still a great problem for sea operations, the real Final Frontier. Even with all the resources that can be exploited on the sea mantle, using just ‘normal’ tech for doing this exploration is not only costly, but very dangerous. And even for breakthroughs, trying to get down the deep waters is risky: by doing it, even A-Classes Ajaxes or Atlases risk their lives, as even this level of power can be not enough to cope with the abyssal pressure and the absence of breathable oxygen that far below the sealine. There’s some Metamorphs that can go this below by turning into fish and other water creatures, but even they need to change in the meantime into some of the abyssal creatures that are able to cope with the pressure and absence of air, and this is also risky, because a failure in the shape-shifting could result into instantaneous death.” said Vulcan

“So, by creating something like this Project Atlantis somewhere in the Benthic Zones, you could insulate the worst criminals into a hostile environment.” said Mr. McCarthy, after eating some sushi “But, why not doing this on space? The technology for it is somewhat common and already dominated. And with Vernes, we could build space prisons easily and cheaply.”

“But there’s lots of Atlas and other capes that could cope with the void vacuum, hold their breath time enough to resist the oxygen absence, deal with the almost zero kelvin temperature, cope with the hellish temperatures and friction in the atmospheric re-entrance and so. And there’s a risk component: think on Iron Jack, one of our reserves. He’s a Metamorph that can change his body into cast iron. If a villain with his powers goes to a space prison, he could just do some impulse and turn himself into a denser material than the prison walls to easily break it away, and this would be bad enough, because the prison could blow because the catastrophic depressurization.” explained Vulcan

“Then, without friction, he would gain more and more speed, by the acceleration and inertia, and with so he could gain even more momentum and kinetic energy. The denser material would, at least theoretically, allow to him to cope the re-entrance and so. And, if you think that the median human has 110 pounds of mass, and almost all the Metamorphs could change his mass, or at least 90% of it, into another kind of matter, you could have at least a Hiroshima-like explosion, beside the radiation, as soon he hit the ground, thanks all the kinetic energy gathered in the process that would be dissipated in the hit. Think this getting into Chicago, New York or San Francisco. It would be a catastrophe for sure. A hit in the sea could create a tsunami big enough to heavily damage coast cities” said Vulcan, which made the McCarthys gasp

“In the sea, the water could be a really discouragement factor. Bruce Lee was right to see water as a versatile, strong and deadly element: some megatons of water with lots of pressure is enough to deal with even the worst A-Class Ajax/Atlas villain, even Ultras being somehow manageable. Even considering our hypothetical Iron Jack-turned-evil scenario, the water pressure and mass would hit him pretty hard as soon he broke the prison. He would be not able to resist a re-arrest, even more as there was ways to detect soon, as he would be exhausted with coping with so much punishment the water would deal on him.”

“And so, water could be a easier way to contain them.” understood Jiminy

“But where you would deploy this SuperMax?” asked Mrs. McCarthy

“The Project Atlantis is still under a test: this base is the first prototype, built by Herós Sans Frontières, Chicago Sentinels, UNHCR and lots of countries as a proof of concept. The economic viability is still being put into accord… but we already had some results and it’s promising. We are into talks, classified of course, to do this somewhere into international waters in places like the Atlantic or the Ring of Fire. Some studies are even considering explore the Mariana Trench, as it’s very deep, 11 thousand meters.” said Blackstone, coming around, lifting discreetly his hat. As always, he was a kind of dandy, but those who underestimate him because this normally pay dearly: his stage magic based powers are strong, and he was an US Marine before the Event, a great intel specialist, and one of the last founder members of the Chicago Sentinels. And as an extra factor, beside him, he was with Seven, the super-lucky hero. His power was officially the enhanced serendipity: almost all time, if he wanted, he got it.

“How are you, Mr. and Mrs. McCarthy, Jiminy?” asked Blackstone, smiling

“We are fine, thank you Blackstone.” replied Jiminy the cumpliment by lifting his hat. With Blackstone, Seven and Vulcan, there was also The Harlequin, discreetly sassy on her party dress; Chakra, into her half Indian half Gypsy clothes, and Astra, that left her big bell-shaped mallet, Malleus, behind. “And thank you for all the help you gave me last year. I would be dead now otherwise.”

“Shelly and Shell are the ones you should be thankful for, Jiminy. And Blue Fairy also, as she was the one who alerted us where you were after all.” he said “But you’re a good kid after all, and we need more kids like you, as a new generation of capes is coming. And need to say for you, Mr. and Mrs. McCarthy: I liked what I’ve read in ‘Superdads’.” said Blackstone, looking for a pocket from where he took, by his stage magic, a hardcover copy of the book.

Superdads: Parenting kids, breakthrough or not was the book Jiminy’s parents written based on the experiences on raising him, with extra opinions from other breakthrough parents and psychologists and other specialists. It was a New York Times Best-Seller and had raised some money for HSF and awareness on how to deal with breakthrough children. There was the fair share of criticism, sure, but it was okay for Jiminy as lots of people liked it.

Blackstone showed it like he wanted it signed and while Jiminy’s parents signed the book for Blackstone, Jiminy’s Earbug beeped.

“I’ll left you for just a minute, excuse me.” said Jiminy, getting a little away, before hitting the Earbug. “Jiminy here.”

“Jiminy, Soldaire here: we have some information about a big schooner-like boat in the middle of the sea, nearby Algerian sovereign waters, already into international waters. Looks like the kind of people we need to rescue after all, here in ORSL 1. But the weather there is a mess, and there’s a chance they sink before any Sea Patrol boats, Algerian or otherwise, get nearby.” said Soldaire, that was on duty in the Control Room, so in the Dispatch.

“Right. Just a minute.” said Jiminy, looking for his parents and the Sentinels. “Sorry, I’m on duty today: need to answer Soldaire’s call.”

“It’s okay, sweetie.” said Mrs. McCarthy, kissing him in the cheek, which made Jiminy blush. “Just do your job fair and square and take care and we’ll be okay with this.”

“Alright.” said Jiminy, going for the elevator and hitting back the Earbug “I was talking with Blackstone and my parents, I just could not leave them out of nothing.”

“It’s okay.” said Soldaire “The radio comm says they’re really overloaded, with at least 100 people.”

“What?” said Jiminy, and he looked that Djanni, Kuntur, Sugarplum and Dumont were going too.

“I already deployed Transport 2 in action with Cabby and Kilimanjaro. They are going first to start the rescue and double-check the weather. You’ll go with Transport 1 for support and deploy the rest of team. Simple drill: we’ll send you at the site. Kuntur and Sugarplum will be the ones to rescue anyone in the sea. Djanni and Dumont will take the ones in the boat. Cabby and you will hold the helicopters only high enough so they can use the platforms we built to put everyone in the helis. As soon you finish it, get back: the sea is troubled and they are in the middle of a storm.” said Soldaire, while they were going back to ORSL 1 via the elevator.

“Alright. Any tangos or potential ones?” asked Jiminy

“AFAIK, no.” replied Soldaire “Anyway, it’s better to act with caution: all the terrorist nuts nearby are trying to take a tag on us and take ORSL 1 as their possession.”

“Right.” said Jiminy, getting out the elevator straight to the helicopter.

Transport 1 was a Mi-171A2, a little smaller than the Mi-26T2 he already flown out, but still a big helicopter.

“Okay, everyone in the back. I’ll pilot and Blue Fairy will help me.” said Jiminy, getting into the pilot post, activating the basic avionics and radio putting the headset over his head, his hat in the copilot seat. “Soldaire, Jiminy here in the Transport 1. Starting the liftoff procedure. Need the coordinates for the target.”

“Sending you.” said Soldaire, reciting the coordinates, while Blue Fairy, that was in her Navy uniform, heard it also through her Quantum Link.

“Right!” confirmed Blue Fairy, while Jiminy hitted the coordinates into the flight system “Tracing Route.”

“OK. Sounds this will be a rough rodeo if the intel is right.” said Kuntur. “Jiminy, I think you know the gig.”

“I know it. And I have Blue Fairy as copilot.” he said, while touching the headset time enough to “download” her into the helicopter autopilot system. Then he finished the liftoff process

“So, take us there.” , said Sugarplum

“Alright. ORSL 1, Transport 1 departing!” said Jiminy, pushing the levers to liftoff the helicopter.

The helicopter got the right direction and some time after they could see, as a little point in the horizon, Transport 2, the Mi-26T2, being piloted by Cabby.

“Transport 2, Transport 1 here.” said Jiminy “We have you on visual, and we can see that the weather is rough. What can you say?” asked Jiminy

“Transport 1 here.” said Cabby in the radio “It’s a rough weather here: storm and big winds. I took Kilimanjaro with me, but even her can’t stop the rain enough. So she’s doing her weather control to reduce the risks, specially the thunder and strong winds ones.”

“Right.” said Jiminy, passing forward the information for everyone.

“Dumont,” said Kuntur “do you still have that Faraday Cage-like jackets you built?”

“Yup!” said Dumont

“So, we’ll put them on the refugees. Me and Djanni could stand a thunder direct hit, even getting hurt. You and Sugarplum, take care. Kilimanjaro will do her best to hold the weather condition stable enough to be safe, but be alert.” said Kuntur, pushing some pallets and mounting the caddy to hold the refugees to be brought to the helis.

“We’ll start with Transport 2 as it is bigger, and so we can ensure more people be rescued.” said Cabby. “Then we’ll load the Transport 1 and we’ll get away together ASAP.”

“Right!” said Jiminy, and they got into the place, just a little below and nearby the Transport 2. “I’m getting down a little to ease things.”

He was 10 meters above the water, and the sea was really troubled.

“I’m opening now. I can’t get down anymore: the winds and the waves could hit us and throw us in the sea!” said Jiminy, hitting a small button and opening the helicopter back. The winds crashing against the inner walls made Jiminy finch a little while holding the control lever to make the helicopter stable. “Go go go!”

The other capes got out: Sugarplum did some charms to avoid everyone and the caddies being wet, while Kuntur and Djanni got down to rescue the refugees.

“We are from Heroes Without Borders team at ORSL 1 base. Please, evacuate the boat orderly. Women and Children first. Follow the orientations from our capes and we’ll rescue you. Nous sommes des Héros Sans Frontières équipe à la base ORSL 1. S’il vous plaît, évacuer ordonné le bateau. Les femmes et les enfants d’abord. Suivez les orientations de nos caps et nous vous sauverons. nahn min ‘abtal bila hudud fi fariq ORSL 1 qaeidatin. min fidlik, ‘iikhla’ alqarib almunazama. alnisa’ wal’atfal ‘awla. atabae tawajuhat min alruwuws ladayna, wanahn sawf ‘iinqadh lakum.” said Jiminy, using the megaphones at the helicopter, and he could see everyone being put with some of Dumont’s jackets that worked also as life jackets.

“Blue Fairy, on radar and comms. Anything weird, say me. I need to concentrate on hold the helicopter attitude. Not too easy with all those winds, and the shafts are not giving all the power thanks the water and low air temp.” said Jiminy.

“Aye aye, sir!” said Blue Fairy, while Jiminy could see via the camera the first refugees being sent to the Transport 1.

“Alright, we are okay…“ said Jiminy. when he felt something tingling on him.

“Everyone, be ready! Looks like we have some tangos coming.” said Jiminy, looking for the radar.

“I confirm tangos!” said Blue Fairy via Earbug

“Alright! Sugarplum, Dumont, hold our position. Jiminy, make Blue Fairy take the turret on Transport 1, I’ll take Transport 2’s.” said Cabby.

“We had already put 40 of them on Transport 2.” said Djanni. “One of them talked me they are 90, inclding the already rescued. ETA for the tangos, Jiminy?”

“ETA 180 seconds.” said Jiminy

“I think we can rescue the last ones before the tangos came. Hurry up, Kuntur!” said Djanni

They brought the caddies back and rescued another 40, 20 of them into the Transport 1.

“There’s blankets and some hot drink for you to heat yourselves in the rack at the left side. Please, take them and hand them out to everyone. Il y a des couvertures et de la boisson chaude pour vous chauffer dans la grille sur le côté gauche. S’il vous plaît, prenez-les et distribuez-les à tout le monde. hnak albitaniaat wabaed almashrubat alssakhinat balnsbt lk litaskhin ‘anfusakum fi alrafi ealaa aljanib al’aysur. yrja ‘akhadhaha wataslimuha ‘iilaa aljamie.” said Jiminy, making his French and Arabic lessons pay their profits, and he looked everyone taking the blankets and the thermos with hot cocoa that were deployed before they got out.

“Jiminy, ETA for tangos 30 seconds!” stated Blue Fairy

“Djanni, Kuntur, speed this up!” commanded Jiminy “Cabby, take Kilimanjaro and Dumont and get out!”

“I’ll gain some seconds, kid!” stated Kilimanjaro.

An ex-villain, now a HWB cape as part of her parole, Josephine ‘Josie’ Nondaba was a weather controller: she could change the weather and use it also for things like flying and shooting thunderbolts. She started to make the sea even more troubled just after Djanni left the last ones, sending some thunderbolts in the air nearby.

“I can’t do too much more!” hurried Kilimanjaro “Hurry up!”

“Alright! Did it!” stated Djanni

“They are coming!” shouted Dumont, when they saw a RPG being shot. Sugarplum did a small swish with her fairy wand and put a magic shield in front of them where the RPG exploded.

“Go, Jiminy, Cabby!” said Sugarplum. “Kuntur, Djanni, Dumont, Kilimanjaro, let us make those tangos get away!”

“Right! Blue Fairy, back to me! Provide me radar intel and a traced route back ORSL 1! Need to focus on piloting!” said Jiminy, when he saw the small fairy-like quantum ghost “showing” herself “into” his eyesight.

“Aye, aye, captain!” said Blue Fairy, the line pointing general direction.

“Djanni, Sugarplum, protect Transport 1! Kuntur, Kilimanjaro, on Transport 2!” said Dumont “I’ll give you cover!”

“Be ready to get out!” said Kilimanjaro “I’ll undo the weather control… Be ready!”

Kilimanjaro did a move and Jiminy felt the storm intensifying.

“Let’s get out, Jiminy!” said Cabby, when they started to hear the bullets flying.

“Hold yourselves! Tenez-vous! eaqad ‘anfusakum!” said Jiminy, pulling the shaft lever for full power, after closing the door. He could hear the refugees somehow scared on the reaction. “Blue Fairy, any chance you could do a radar like those on video-games into my line-of-sight?”

“Well, I can.” said Blue Fairy “But I fear you get too much information to focus, so you lose the focus on either piloting and helping the others with your Bellax Analytica.”

“I had worst before… You don’t know how much I felt at Nondaba village during an information oversurge that send my Bellax Analytica amok. But less talk now!” said Jiminy

“Okay, but if it goes overload, ask me to disengage ASAP!” said Blue Fairy, making a gesture and making the radar shows into his line-of-sight, on bottom-right of his visual field.

“Everyone, they have big weapons, probably lots of RPGs!” said Jiminy “Sugarplum and Kilimanjaro, use your powers to provide defense. Dumont, use the flares on Demoiselle to meddle with the RPGs’ electronics. Djanni and Kuntur, go for them. If needed, ram them!”

“Right, Jiminy!” said Sugarplum, and he saw her doing some magic on the helicopter back. He could see the RPGs launched exploding into the defense barriers lifted by Sugarplum and Kilimanjaro, or being take off course by Dumont’s flares.

“Jiminy… They’re using torpedo boats!” said Djanni “And there’s at least six or seven tangos each boat. Looks like that also at least one breakthrough per boat.”

“Alright!” said Jiminy “Don’t try to do the Super-Man by throwing the missiles back them, they activate on touch. Deal with as much of them you can, but safely! Cabby, full power forward!” said Jiminy, pulling the lever even more forward

“Jiminy, slow down! You’ll stress the turbine. There’s a chance of a blast, and losing it or the shaft would result into a crash.” said Cabby, and Jiminy brought back the lever to the safety power level.

“Right!” Jiminy said, hitting the radio button in the control lever “ORSL 1, we need reinforcements. Six torpedo boats, at least 50 tangos, estimated BT-ratio 1:5” BT-ratio, or Breakthrough Ratio, was the number of breakthrough per common tango.

“Roger!” said Soldaire “Squirrel Girl is taking my post. I’m getting there with Seven under Transport 3. Bring the tangos to the Inner Defense Line.”

The Inner Defense Line was the region from half an nautical mile radius from ORSL 1, and was accorded as a kind of extra-national sovereign line for Herós Sans Frontières.

“Everyone, we have to get into IDL. ETA 300 seconds from now!” said Jiminy.

“We’ll need to hold those tangos for FIVE freaking minutes?” said Sugarplum

“And the weather is growing worse. Looks like they have their own weather manipulator. B-Class like me, or even A-Class.” said Kilimanjaro.

“On it, Kilimanjaro! Dumont, help Kilimanjaro! Djanni, Kuntur, go for the boats! Sugarplum, use your magic to destroy the boats’ engines. Blue Fairy, get into the turret system!” said Jiminy

“Jiminy, I’ll go too far away from my computing capacity.” said Blue Fairy “If you want me on the turret, I’ll need to take either the radar or the route tracer off.”

“Take the tracer.” said Jiminy “And engage the system. Focus on disable their boats engines and to drop the fliers. No Havoc Protocols, still.”

“Aye aye, sir.” said Blue Fair, when Jiminy touched with his right hand a XLR connector for the copilot, “downloading” Blue Fairy. The turret engaged and started to shoot the boats.

“Go on!” said Jiminy, when they saw the weather going cleaner.

The reason was just coming.

Seven was piloting Transport 3, a Mi-8 helicopter, and they could see Soldaire into his SolArmor, holding a kind of high-tech energy bazooka on his shoulder, locked to the Mi-8 by a magnetic air hook from SolArmor on a base reinforced by Dumont.

“The cavalry is coming!” said Jiminy

“Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful!” screamed Djanni in the comms.

“Anyone need some help?” said Seven, nonchalantly on the Mi-8, and they could see also Blackstone, Chakra and Astra on it.

“I’ll reinforce your defenses now.” said a suave voice into Jiminy’s head, and he knew it was Chakra, the Tantric Merlin from Chicago Sentinels, that was maybe into the Mi-8, working via Astral Plane.

“Sugarplum, Kilimanjaro, help Djanni and Kuntur!” said Jiminy

“Right!” said both of them

“Astra, would you please do the honors?” said Blackstone

“Right!” she said, jumping from the helicopter and flying straight like a missile against one of the torpedo boat, that gone like a BOOOM! and exploded into smithereens.

“Jiminy, Cabby, stick to the plan and go forward. Italian Sea Patrol was already alerted and they are a go for extra help.” said Soldaire, taking his bazooka-like weapon and shooting a bolt of solid energy, that exploded another of the boats.

“Right!” said Jiminy, while the others got and engaged into the combat. “Full power on!”

Jiminy pushed again the thrush for the turbo-shafts over operational power. Cabby understood.

“How much we have until ORSL 1?” said Jiminy

“ETA 90 seconds until IDL!” said Cabby

“Right! Let us go!”

The turbo-shafts screamed like Cerberus, the three-headed dog from Hades, but Jiminy took confidence on his Bellax Analytica and push over.

“The tangos are disengaging!” said Sugarplum “One boat rescued some of then and departed!”

“Don’t follow them!” said Soldaire “It was enough. Let us get back ORSL 1.”

“Jiminy, it’s over. Disengage the full power!” said Cabby.

“Right.” said Jiminy, giving a whew and pushing back the lever back to operation power. “ORSL 1 in line of sight! We are at IDL.”

“Alright.” said Dumont

“ORSL 1. Here are Transports 1 and 2. Some rescued refugees for processing with us.” said Jiminy

“Roger, Jiminy.” said Squirrel Girl, via radio “Welcome back.”

He engaged the autopilot and gave a weak smile and took a breath.

“That was intense!” said Jiminy

“In fact… Too much intense…“ said Blue Fairy “Why the Caliphate was so eager to kill those refugees?”

“Beside the wrong idea of Jihad?” said Djanni “They are murderers, murtadd that thinks they are working for cleansing the world for the Mahdi. They doesn’t need a reason to kill: for them, they are Zindiq, heretical to be killed.”

“Well… We did our job right.” said Cabby “It’s enough for me.”

“For me too.” said Jiminy, while they could see the two heliports: the one for Transport 1 and the other for the other helicopters. “We’re back home.”

Chapter 4

“The ORSL project had lots of critics, and some of them sensible: to be fair, recommissioning oil rigs as a kind of island for refugees sounds like a good idea, but just SOUNDS LIKE. In fact, wasn’t the Vernes, people would be cramped as sardines there: think that they were good for 2 or three hundred workers, and now needed to be recommissioned to receive, sometimes, 10 times this on civilians, beside all the crew, heroes, corps AND infrastructure. I don’t believe this would be even possible pre-Event.”

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

Joshua got out the meeting room he was using as class room: it was his last High School test, on Biology, and he also had another batch of French and Arabic classes. He got to his room and to the shower.

“How it was the test?” said Eileen, getting back.

“It was okay. Think I had graduated High School now.” said Joshua, in shower “But need to say, sometimes I feel I’m lacking something.”

“In fact, you are. The experience on the college, dealing with classmates and so, bullies and friends, the good and bad.” said Eileen “You had the High School curriculum and the content, but, for good and ill, you hadn’t the experience. But there’s no way to see if this is good or not.” said Eileen. “But now, let us focus on what we have to do now. Are you going for triaging?”

“Yeah, just taking a shower before getting into costume.” replied Joshua, while getting out the shower and drying himself. Then he put himself into a fresh costume and finished by putting his mask.

The refugees were triaged into a special group of rooms that were built at the sea line level, that was grown into all directions to make it almost half mile sided. They had almost finished in the triaging and was sent via boats to Italy and then for other European countries. The last ones were People of Interest for Herós Sans Frontières or other organizations, either by history and situation.

While Jiminy was getting down to the refugee center, Squirrel Girl came to him.

“Jiminy, can I ask you a favor?” she said, wagging her squirrel tail back and forth with anticipation, like she was a little puppy.

“How can I help you?” he asked, while he saw she had some of the refugees profiles with her.

“We found this girl that maybe have some good intel about the Caliphate, specially related with those people kidnapped from Roque Santeiro. And any intel we can obtain can help. I think you understand this is a stain at Roque Santeiro Diana wants to clean ASAP. “ she says, passing Jiminy a folder with the girl’s profile. “We think that, either your powers, skills and even age can make her open herself to you.”

“So, you want me to Pretty Please her to provide us the intel?” asked Jiminy

“Your discretion. I just don’t want to break her up. She looks very panicked by all what happened with her. Looks like some of the refugees you rescued were Caliphate runaways and defectors, which could explain the attack. So, we need to work them as much we can to milk all possible intel.” said Squirrel Girl, while Jiminy took a look into the folder.

There was some information they already gathered: she was a Libyan refugee at Roque Santeiro and her name was Wahiba Cissé. She was listed as one of the 50 girls kidnapped by the Caliphate during the first attack against Roque Santeiro. She had given no more information about how she get away from the Caliphate into that schooner: according the profile, looks like she had some kind of memory loss.

“Alright. Think I can do this.” said Jiminy.

“Thanks. This will help us to talk and process the last refugees. I think there’s more people coming, and we need to finish the ORSL deployment. ORSL 2 to 4 are already online, but 5 to 7 are still under recommission. Soldaire want us to help them.” said Squirrel Girl “Now, she’s on Room 4.”

“Alright.” said Jiminy.

Interview Room 4 is one of the 10 Interview Rooms where some POI under the refugees were sent to be interviewed more accurately by the capes or UNHCR personnel. Jiminy got into there and saw the girl: she was as young than himself and even more smaller, dressed into a kind of local vest and looked worried all around.

Jiminy read the profile and started to talk.

“Ms. Cissé,” he said, talking in Arabic, as she’s more comfortable on speaking it according the profile “I’m Jiminy Cricket, from Herós Sans Frontières. I think you know where you are and why you are here. Sorry if my Arabic is not good enough: if you want, I can ask for a translator if I’m not clear enough.”

“No… Your Arabic is good for a non-Muslin.” said Wahiba “I’m at ORSL 1, the first base in the newly created ORSL line. I’m being processed to be accepted as a refugee at Europe.”

“Exact. Looks like you had been before at Roque Santeiro, and was kidnapped by the Caliphate… We need to know all we can on how you evicted yourself from them.” said Jiminy

His Bellax Analytica engaged just at this time, when he felt someone trying to get into his mind.

It was that girl!

“Why are you doing this?” gasped Jiminy, trying to protect his mind from the sheer power of her, looking for her. She doesn’t looks like the frighted fugitive she looked before: there was rage and fanaticism into her eyes.

“Murtadd, this is our Jihad. We are the new Seif-Al-Din, risen by the Sword Verses Alsyf Alayat.” she spat, trying to use her mind prowess against Jiminy.

“She’s a Mentalist, at least B-Class!” thought Jiminy, hitting the button on his Jiminy Cricket-shaped crest to gave a red alert on his position

If she was an Atlas, Jiminy would be at real trouble. But as a Mentalist, her attacks were based on trying to exert her will against others. And Jiminy had a great mind and will as a Mastermind.

“No chance to Pretty Please! her, at least by now!” he thought. He was feeling her getting into his mind. “So, this is your game? Trying to get into my mind?” said Jiminy, a little worried. “You want to undermine my will, by trying and find my fears?”

“You are as clever as said, Jiminy Cricket, but you have no chance against me.” said the girl “I’ll bring you Allah’s Justice that you avoided when you killed Alsyf Alayat”

“He was meanie with me, with all of us from Roque Santeiro. And he was killed by someone his side’s action: that Suleiman guy invoked a demon, Valac, and he almost killed us all in the process.”

“You’re lying, as always Zindiq like you do.” said her, forcing even more her will against his. “I feel your fear. I can smell your fear: you’re as weak as a girl, a meek murtadd girl.”

Jiminy snapped, when that girl pushed his memory back to the alley where he almost died.

“Do you want to see my fears? Okay, but as someone said me, sometimes Allah (SWT) punishes us by granting us our wishes!” said Jiminy, doing quite the contrary he should do.

Normally on a mind attack you should fog and close your mind as much as you could. A common technique, teached to them by Chakra and Ozma, capes from Chicago Sentinels that worked with mental powers, was mind chanting something to create “noise” so a mind attacker could not read or mess with his mind. In that moment, while the girl tried to attack Jiminy’s mind, he was mind singing Give a Little Whistle from Disney’s Pinocchio to protect himself from the invasion.

It was when Jiminy, feeling their mind connection, inverted the attack: he gave her as much of his memories he could, at once, forcefully pushing his worst memories for her.

He gave her at least 4 years of bullying and spanking. The memories with Derek Kwazani. The power overload at Nondaba Village. Fighting against a crazy Senesie under a psychotic breakthrough. The attacks from the now super-powered bullies, either Kyle and after that by Razorleaf, Ballistic and Presto.

And the earthquake, the aftermath of it, the Humanity First attack, the house he lost, the process.

All the suffering he could remember, all his fears, all his pain, he pushed against her into only a mind blast, condensing all of it into a split second.

It was what he needed.

He felt her forced mind link being broken, as her mind was blasted by the memories he sent to her mind, and she screamed in pain, her hands into her head. Just at that time, Squirrel Girl and Djanni came into the room to both of them.

“Djanni…“ said Jiminy, still disoriented, sitting back in the chair to avoid fall in the ground like the Wahiba girl did “Hold her… Looks like she was a sleeper agent! Maybe a victim from the Sword Verses.”

“What?” said Djanni, holding the girl “She was under a hypnotic suggestion from that murtadd?”

“Sound like!” said Jiminy, panting “Put her under a Sandman.”

Djanni putted a sandman bag over her head and closed it, inducing her into a sleep.

“What happened, Jiminy?” said Squirrel Girl

“I’ll talk soon. Just give me an Aspirin and my cocoa thermos.” he replied, while they give them what he asked, the Aspirin coming from a first-aid kid nearby.

He shoved the Aspirin down and gave a big gulp on the cocoa to put himself back on his feet.

“And now…“ said Squirrel Girl

“Looks like she was targeting breakthroughs with any kind of mental power.” said Jiminy “I believe she suffered a breakthrough under the Caliphate. I felt some of her feelings when I inverted the attack: hate and fear. I feel that they made really really bad things with her, and she didn’t undergone a psychotic breakthrough just by sheer luck.” he said, taking another really big gulp on the thermos, almost emptying it. “She was trying to put me back in the worst moments of my life, locking me into my mind… Maybe she would try something else after getting fully into my mind. But I gave her some of her medicine: I pushed all my worst memories to her on just a blink… It was too much for her.”

“She looks really flinched.” said Squirrel Girl “Shouldn’t you take lighter on her?”

“If I did, I would be killed or rendered under her control.” said Jiminy “I had to solve this fast and sound.”

“Okay.” said Squirrel Girl, looking through the Sandman bag “Looks like she’s having a hell of a nightmare!”

“Maybe she’s fighting something.” said Djanni

“Looks like she’s trying to overcome the post-hypnotic suggestion. The pain she suffered by Jiminy attack loosed the Sword Verse’s ties.” said Squirrel Girl “Jiminy, can you help me? As soon Djanni removes the Sandman, use the best Pretty Please! you can against her to make her calm down and goes sleepy, and to her hear only my voice. I’ll try to remove the post-hypnotic suggestion. I want you and Djanni nearby all the time, right?”

“Right!” said Jiminy, Djanni nodding while slowly removing the Sandman.

Jiminy could see the suffering face of the girl but he could not go weak, as soon Djanni removed the Sandman.

“Pretty Please!, calm yourself down, Ms. Cissé. Rest yourself and trust us.” said Jiminy, with the best studied Pretty Please! he could, all the words and voice tone studied to do the effect.

They looked to her and she looked a little angry… But she felt herself drowsy.

“Now, Ms. Cissé, Pretty Please! listen to my friend Dimantas here and only to her. Everything will end well. Rest and hear only her voice by now. Soon you pain will be over.” said Jiminy

She looked even more calm and drowsy, when Ms. Dimantas, into a rare all human form, started to talk into a good, studied, tone “You can only listen my voice now. You feel yourself bathed into a so good feeling, you feel yourself now so good, so calm, so comfy, so relaxed, that you’ll go to sleep when I snap my fingers and you’ll only hear my voice and only when speaking to you.” she said, and then she snapped her fingers, which made Miss Cissé goes limp like a ragdoll, closed eyes, but into a kind of alert state that scared Jiminy.

“Hypnosis doesn’t work as people think, making people sleep, but by putting the person into a high alert mind-frame, one that normally he only listen the hypnotist, in fact, me. Weird thing: looks like she understand English enough. I didn’t thought on this before: she should had some difficult on understanding the hypnotic triggers… But whatever. Normally I would work a little more before doing this, but there’s no time for a full gig, so I’ll need to somewhat MacGyver it. Think this will work, but I’m not 100% certain.” said Lesley to Jiminy and Djanni, and then she looked back to the girl “Now, Ms. Cissé… I want you to talk with us on everything that happened since you were kidnapped at Roque Santeiro.” she said, while taking a recorder from her utility belt pocket and hit the record button.

And she talked about how she was kidnapped, and put into a dark SUV, and how she and other girls were sent to a Caliphate camp, where almost all of them were systematically raped by the Caliphate men, one of them tried to rip her breasts out. It was when he menaced her and was raping her that she had her breakthrough, pushing all the pain she already had against him, rendering him almost crazy, and then she was brought to Alsyf Alayat, that used against her the Sword Verses, turning her into a sleeper agent to be sent by the Caliphate and to be used by the Caliphate men. She was trained as a suicide bomber but was not to be used as that, and her “mission” was to enter into Europe and work a cell with another Caliphate man in Italy, the same one that raped her into her Breakthrough, that got there before, and to whene she was took “as wife” under Caliphate’s authority. She then started to cry, a lot. Djanni and Jiminy were very uneasy, but Squirrel Girl look to them.

“It’s alright… Now she almost had the post-hypnotic suggestion removed… She’s crying now because she’s scared, as she remembers somehow what she had done under the Sword Verses.” said Squirrel Girl

“Never saw this before.” said Jiminy, feeling queasy “This made me feel bad for her.”

“Don’t.” said Squirrel Girl “She’s relieving herself. I’ll just finish remove the suggestion and wake her up back on her own mind.”

She then looked to the girl and said.

“Now, Ms. Cissé… I’ll start to count from 10 to 1 and when I finish, you’ll wake up, refreshed and freed from the post-hypnotic suggestion you were put under. No matter how and which triggered you, you will not be under it anymore, as you’re freed from it, and they don’t influencing you anymore. 10…“ said Squirrel Girl, starting the countdown. When she came into 1, she snapped her fingers and Ms. Cissé woke up, astonished.

“Alright, Ms. Cissé. We know what happened with you. Don’t worry, you did no damage to us and you’re safe here at ORSL 1.” said Jiminy, on Arabic

“What?! I… Attacked you?” she said, and started to cry “Sorry… I didn’t…“

“It’s okay. You weren’t on your mind when you did it.” said Jiminy

“We need to talk dearly about all you could say for us about the Caliphate, from where you were and about the other girls.” said Djanni, into his perfect Arabic “First, however, let us go pray for Allah the Most High and praise his forgiveness, now that you are free from their hands, and then we’ll take a meal and talk, right?”

She gave a meek smile, while Jiminy and Squirrel Girl took some carpets and putted it, pointed them to Mecca, so Djanni and the Wahiba woman could pray.

After that, Wahiba talked all her history.

Chapter 5

“The basic concept of a Breakthrough Camp is that you put people under death risk, but a controlled one. This sounds like a good idea: if you can control the circumstances, why not try to push people hard enough to trigger a breakthrough, but under a safe environment? This could provide Armies with the now so needed Atlases and Ajaxes and other breakthroughs for the modern battlefield, mass producing them, right? However, no matter what, this is a oxymoric concept: breakthroughs are a SURVIVAL triggered instinct and so there’s no safe environments for this. There’s still no data backing this, as all the information about breakthrough camps are classified, but the concensioury theory is backed by some recent events: breakthrough camps are potential nightmares, and by pushing people hard like in the military conditioning and putting them under a so big mental stress, there’s a incredible potential for psychotic breakthrough.”

Dr. Lesley Dimantas, “On Artificially-triggered breakthroughs: Origin Chasing, Breakthrough Camps and their consequences”, World Health Organization

Two days passed after Wahiba event, and things were a little low in ORSL 1: as her situation had gone to worse after the attack against Jiminy, her refugee status was denied. However, as part of a super-powered organization, Herós Sans Frontières adopter her as part of their roster, at least by now, by putting her as part of their sidekicking program, and that helped her to have a Safe Haven at ORSL 1 as a refugee from the Caliphate. They found that Wahiba had already a good control on their mind powers: she just needed to master it and learn on how to use it under the law and the Rules of Engagement.

“This is good and bad news.” said Lesley, as the breakthrough specialist “Good, because she had a good training in the time she was under the Sword Verse. Bad, because this means that the Caliphate has some breakthrough camp, or at least some kind of training camp.”

“Wahiba, what could you say us about this?” said Seiji, as always dressed on his best police uniform.

“I don’t remember too much: my memories on the time I was under the Sword Verse are fuzzy and foggy.” stated Wahiba, dressed on new, clean clothes “To be fair, I know how I can do somethings, but I can’t remember were I learned them. For example, I can’t remember how I learned a too good English.”

It was true: in two days, after the post-hypnotic trigger removals, Wahiba showed lots of knowledge beside her mind-powers as a B-Class Mentalist, like a very good English and Italian and how to use some pistols and do other personal defense techniques.

“Well… The good news on this all is that Wahiba is no more under the Sword Verse: our experience at Roque Santeiro says that, after the triggers are removed, the Sword Verse victims had a fuzzy, foggy memory on the events in the time they were under it. This is coherent with hypnotic trance situations, and so it was not that weird.” said Lesley.

“And now, could I get back my family at Roque Santeiro?” asked Wahiba.

“It’s not that wise by now.” said Seiji “At least until we are 100% sure your powers are under control, we could not just allow you to go away and put people at risk. We’ll just double check things and then, after you take your CAI certification and we know your powers are okay, you are totally free to get back Roque Santeiro and to your family if you want.”

“And?…“ was saying Wahiba

“Your powers?” said Altayr “They are yours, as Allah provided them to you by reasons only Him, as The One Who Knows All (SWT) knows. If you just choose to go and be a good woman on your community and never use again those powers, it’ll totally up to you.”

“Altayr is right, Wahiba.” said Joshua “Everyone can choose what to do with the powers received during the breakthrough, as long you don’t do bad things against others. Each of us had been under critical situations on our breakthroughs and it’s fair to choose what to do with the powers. I almost had been lynched to death by some bullies. After getting comatose for 6 months while recovering from the damages, just saving myself by using my Bellax Analytica to find someone to bring me back my parents, I chose to put those powers under service for others as a way to thank God I was alive.”

“He’s right.” said Lesley “I remembered my breakthrough was just 3 or 4 years after The Event: I was in the field, working at time with Doctors Without Borders as a psychologist into a war-field at Tanzania, and there was a big animal stampede. I had slipped on my foot just in time to be stomped by some of the big beasts. It was when a hippo passed over me, because I was a meerkat at the time. I ran to the team and tried to say what happened: took me good two weeks until they understood I was now a Metamorph, and this only happened when I turned into a skunk, so stinking mad I was at time.”

“So…“ said Wahiba “Everyone was at big risks?”

“Yeah.” said Lesley. “Breakthroughs are survival mechanisms every human being have, and they are triggered under stressful circumstances as a way to survive them. There’s some very rare breakthroughs that achieve them naturally or under good, epiphaniac circumstances. Otherwise, the road to breakthrough is too much nearby the road to death.”

“Understood.” said Wahiba, when everyone heard a alarm all around.

“All the capes on their positions. This is not a drill. Repeat: all capes on their positions. This is not a drill! This a Yellow Situation alert!” said the pre-recorded voice, into a monotone, synthetic, robotic voice.

“Let’s go!” said Lesley, while all of them start to run for their positions, and they saw Wahiba. “It would be dangerous to left her behind, even with the post-hypnotic triggers lifted.”

“She come with me…“ said Joshua

“Fat chance, short stuff.” said Eileen “We don’t know how they could had influenced her, even she now being freed from the Sword Verse.”

“Another reason for her to be nearby some of us.” said Richard “If she still has any post-hypnotic suggestion on her, it would be better to be nearby, so we could contain her. And also, it would be harsh to put her on a cell just because. It would be that kind of Minority Report pre-crime thing we should avoid. What you say, Jiminy?”

Joshua looked for Wahiba and did a little concentration on his Bellax Analytica and then he looked positively.

“I think she’s clean and clear to get with us.” he said

“Alright. She goes with you.” said Eileen, smiling even being outvoted “Let’s go!”

They split into three groups in a corridor. Jiminy and Wahiba got front into an elevator, while the others split themselves into two groups.

“Dispatch, Jiminy here. I’m getting there. I’m with Wahiba Cissé, a civilian to be held safe, but civil. Copy?” said Jiminy via Earbug.

“Copy. Jiminy, Soldaire here. I’m getting into with Team 2 on a heli. Get to Dispatch. Cabby and Cajun will be our pilots.” said Soldaire

“Copy. I’ll be in a jiff there.” he said, lowing his Cricket shaped mask, and for the first time Wahiba looked for him as Jiminy Cricket for real.

They got into a small room, and two UN Berets gave them passage.

“Wahiba, stay here.” said Jiminy putting her into a chair while he got for the Dispatch chair and logged into the systems, opening window after window, three big screens with all the maskcams and tactical maps he needed to do his job as a Mastermind.

“Dispatch, this is Transport 1 departing. Cabby piloting. Team is: Djanni, Kilimanjaro, Squirrel Girl, Panther, LionHeart.” say Cabby

“Dispatch, Transport 2 departing. Cajun on pilot. Team is: Soldaire, Sugarplum, Dumont, Kuntur, Hufflepuff.” said Cajun

“Transports 1 and 2, Dispatch here. Jiminy Cricket on it. Support is Blue Fairy. Deploying her for IDL system.” said Jiminy, touching a spot to allow Blue Fairy to deploy herself into IDL defense batteries. “Sounds like some tangos are getting nearby ORSL 1, and they are too much nearby IDL. No need for Havoc protocols by now, but be ready, as sounds like they want to bring the Foxtrot. Maskcam everyone, and non-lethal weapons until further notice.”

“Roger…“ all of them said, when Jiminy looked to the weather controls and the cams from the helis.

“Everyone, be cautious! There’s something is fishy on the weather.” said Jiminy

“Confirm here, Jiminy! A weird fog is getting nearby…“ said Cabby

“There’s no fog! The weather system shows clean sky.” said Jiminy, when they felt the first attacks

“They are doing some mojo, I can feel it!” said Sugarplum “Illusory Magic! They have some supernatural breakthrough, and they’re powerful, at least on this mojo. Need to find them!”

“Working on it! Djanni, Kuntur, drop Hufflepuff and LionHeart on some of those boats. Dumont, on Soldaire. The others, rock and roll on them.” said Jiminy, passing intel to them.

It was when he looked and Wahiba was silently into a kind of mediation.

“Wahiba…“ said Jiminy, when he heard her voice into his mind.

“I think I can find him via Astral field. Let me try it.” said Wahiba’s voice into Jiminy’s mind.

“Alright, I’ll try to get time for you. Blue Fairy, what can you do to gain time for Wahiba and the others?” said Jiminy

“Not too much: the IDL is for self-defense, not long-range attack… I think I can try to give some called shots, but nothing bigger than this.” said Blue Fairy, without showing herself, as she was “deployed”. She started to attack with the weapons in the system.

“Okay. Do the best you can.” said Jiminy “Everyone, give Wahiba time to work to find this supernatural guy…“

“I found him: he’s in a big boat a little after the first line.” said Wahiba’s voice.

“Found it! Get back, they can have someone with your type of power there.” said Jiminy, looking into a tactical map and clicking some point and hitting some keys into your keyboard. “Tagged the tango on the map, put the intel on your maskcams as a pointer. Kuntur, Squirrel Girl and Djanni, go for it. Kilimanjaro and Sugarplum, support them. Dummont and Panther, help the others to break the tangos line! Bring them the Foxtrot!”

“Roger!” said everyone, getting into the action

“The guy is protected by some breakthroughs.” said Wahiba, still into her Astral form “None of them supernatural, thankfully. Sounds he’s B-Class: he can create that illusion, but needs to stay concentrated to hold it. The other guys sounds like Ajaxes and at least one Verne, with a weird bow.”

“Okie-Dokie!” said Djanni, flying to the guy. “Kilimanjaro, Sugarplum, send some gust of wind against those guys!”

“Roger!” said both, using their powers to make wind to hit the Illusory guy protectors. Kuntur, Djanni and Squirrel Girl got on it.

“Have a funny and effective idea!” said Djanni “Kuntur and me will fight the rest of the rabble. Squirrel Girl, he’ll be all yours!”

“What should I do?” said her, with a bird-like voice tone as she was now an albatross.

“Do your worst, you’re the Metamorph here. If it was me, I would get near enough and turn into a really small critter and run all around his shirt to break his concentration and then I would use my powers to give him a lesson he would never forget.” said Djanni, giggling. Jiminy gave also some kid giggle on his own before got back serious.

“Alright, sounds a fun idea. Just give me time.” said Squirrel Girl, while Djanni and Kuntur removed the guy guards. “Let’s go!”

She turned herself into a white mouse, getting into the guys shirt. “alkhuruj manya, ‘ant alfiran laenat!” they could hear him screaming, trying to remove Squirrel Girl, that run around him, breaking his concentration and making the illusory fog fade away like a dream.

“Now, everyone! Bring them the Foxtrot! Squirrel Girl, knock this guy out! Djanni, Kuntur, acquire him!” said Jiminy

“Roger!” said both, while Squirrel Girl got out the man’s clothes.

“Yuck!” said her, back to her human form, only using his preferred weapon, a skunk’s tail, turning to him “He stinks so much I don’t think my aroma will make him get even worse.” she said, and then she sprayed the guy straight in the face. She took her tail, gave a whiff and said “No… I think this will do. Although I don’t get queasy on my own stink.”

While the guy was puffing, trying to breath fresh air without the cloud of skunk stink, Djanni gave a dash and blasted against the guy, taking him out of it and giving a punch on his stomach. From the utility belt everyone used, he took a pair of the special Blacklocks for supernatural users made on Fake Orichalcum “Alright, target acquired!” he said, taking him to the helicopter.

“Look like he was the boss. The other are retreating. Dispatch?” said Soldaire, after shooting a guy unconscious.

“Don’t pursue. Acquire the tangos left behind and bring them to processing at ORSL 1.” said Jiminy “I’ll write the After-Action Report after having some talk with them. I want everyone with me.”

“Can I get into this?” said Wahiba

“No… You’re not…“ said Jiminy

“I know that I’m not officially part of your team…“ she said timidly “But maybe I can help somehow.”

“Soldaire…“ said Jiminy, while everyone was back into the helis

“I think we can use some of the knowledge on the Caliphate Wahiba have. Until we clear her, however, she’ll only get there with someone else.” said Soldaire

“Alright.” said Jiminy, while waiting for the guy coming back

Chapter 6

“People criticize Herós Sans Frontières for accepting into their rosters some of the undesirable breakthroughs in the world. In my team itself, we had LionHeart, Panther and Kilimanjaro, all of them convicted under parole, in LionHeart’s case a life sentence. And we have Djanni, a refugee kid. And me, a kid that should be at Whitlow or Hillwood or other super-kids school… And there’s lots of similar cases on HSF rosters. But, in fact, we can’t spare any hero. For our work, any hand we can put on it is an extra hand to help it. Obviously, all of them is double-checked and so, and HSF faces the responsibility associated on having so uncommon heroes on their rosters. But, as by our motto, Super-help for super-needs also applies there: many of them just wanted a better way to use their powers, and HSF provides them”

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

“So, let us made this straight: you knew were Wahiba was and used her as a bait.” said Soldaire for the man in front of him.

“You’ll never…“ said him when Jiminy didn’t waited

“Pretty Please! I know you want to kill yourself and us if possible. Don’t! We are not your enemies! You’ll be treated well and everything provided to you while detained here will be halal. But we need you to help us: those girls could, and probably are, in the same position than Wahiba was, being raped and raped.” said Jiminy

“They are our wives. If you experience rebellion from the women, you shall first talk to them, then deserting them in bed, then you may beat them.” said the guy

“This is haram!” screamed Wahiba “You know it: you are distorting The Prophet’s words (PBHU). As always, you’re abusing on Verse 34, Sura 4. But in truth I say, Sura 3, Verse 195, that Allah the Merciful states: ‘I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work you do, be you male or female, you are equal to one another…’ Rape is never about sex or law, it’s about power. They disgraced me! And used me.”

“So…“ said Jiminy, while Djanni consolated Wahiba on her sadness “You know about it, right?”

The man gasped: in his gloating, he didn’t noticed he fell under Jiminy’s Pretty Please! “Sihr!”, he screamed. Jiminy knew what this means: “Sorcery”

“No… Breakthrough.” said Jiminy, calmly

“Enough.” said LionHeart, snapping his fingers “I don’t have too much patience for wannabe villains that f%$k it up with women lives. I killed myself at least a dozen of those wannabes. One more into the account would be just some therapy.”

“No way, murtadd. Allah is merciful…“ he saw, when LionHeart just punched the table, blasting it into smithereens.

“Allah can be merciful with good-for-nothing guys like you, but I’m not.” shouted LionHeart “If you don’t start to spill it out, I’ll f#$king smash your head to a pulp, capiche?”

“Menaces will not take us forward, murtadd.” said the guy

“Not if I put some bacon on your food or even some drops of bacon fat on your water!” replied LionHeart, which made everyone there gasping, Djanni looking very badly for LionHeart.

As part of the cooking team for ORSL 1, LionHeart was the one responsible for making the food for the team. And he knew enough about Islam to know that they would never eat anything that even came in contact with pork and so. The fear of conpurscate his soul by eating haram food would be enough to press him.

Jiminy gasped: it was harsh, but his Bellax Analytica was showing him that it could be effective.

“Pretty Please!, sir. We are trying to be civil with you, but we need to you to show some civility also and give us something to compensate. You were acquired. If you be civil and pass us the information we need about the Caliphate training camp, I’ll ensure you’ll be treated well on all your needs.” said Jiminy

“How you know about…“ said the guy

“… the camp? Wahiba was too much well trained for whatever mission she would had in Europe.” said Soldaire, into his SolArmor, but without the helmet: this way, he could exert some of the benefits on it with an indefinite time. “So, it’s just a matter-of-fact to know she had on a kind of training camp. And also, we know that, after Wahiba had undergone breakthrough and the post-hypnotic suggestion by Alsyf Alayat, she was there, to be trained on self-defense, weapon shooting, and all she needed to build a terrorist cell at Italy, maybe resulting into a suicide attack.”

“So…“ said Hufflepuff “Are you ready to talk? Or you’ll risk to cross my friend Corazón de Leon’s wrath? Believe me, you’ll not want to bet you own soul to damnation just to see how far he could go. Violadores are one of the few things that made him go mad enough to even think on try to violate his own parole.”

The guy crossed eyes with LionHeart, and the steel and fire of the wrath in LionHeart’s eyes was like almost burning him.

“Alright!” said the guy, looking away from LionHeart, worried, and Jiminy smiled as that the bad cop/good cop thing had worked, with a little Pretty Please! help “But I want all my food halal, and not served by this crazy guy.”

“No problem:” said Djanni “I’ll double check everything. I’m already an Imam here. So, I’ll make sure all your food will be halal.”

“So… Let us get business, now that you are okay with all this.” said Soldaire “First of all, about the people the Caliphate abducted from Roque Santeiro last year: where they are?”

“Many were brought to justice: they were killed, brought to justice under Allah. Only the kids and women were spared: we need Mujaheddin for the Jihad. But all the men were killed.”

“So, you know that you are under capital punishment by international law for multiple manslaughter and genocide.” said Soldaire “But we are not the ones to judge you: if you will get this, it’s up to the International Criminal Court. Let us stay on the topic: and the women and girls? And the camp?”

“They are at Sudan, nearby the desert, in Darfur…“ said the man

“Alright… Darfur… Always a powder barrel, even pre-Event, but seems legit: with all the mess on the Caliphate War and Eretz Israel, they had come below the radar.” said Soldaire “Now, I want you to say everything you know about the place: troops, numbers, main guys, all the stuff. Everything you can remember. And I’ll remember you this is being recorded and will be used by ICC as part of your prosecution. If you are collaborative enough, you can take some benefits, or at least avoid a capital punishment.” said Soldaire.

And the guy started to spill the beans, while Jiminy, Djanni, Wahiba and LionHeart got out the room.

“You should not took that harsh with him, LionHeart.” retorted Djanni “Say you kill him, not to put him under haram! We were lucky he reconsidered, but this kind of murtadd could try something really nasty after being confronted to be under haram, even unintentionally!”

“Sorry, Djanny, but I was being business when saw I don’t have patience with women-abusive guys. In my Bronx Shoulder’s time, I had really killed some guys that tried to abuse woman. This is one of the reasons I’m under a life sentence, you can check this on my profile. My own mother was abused by my so-called stepfather, the guy that ‘cared’ for her while my father was dying on a heart stroke. He took me as a sissy because I loved my mom… Until he tried to kill her, I’m already a breakthrough, and I hit him hard enough so he could no more get nearby my family. Six-feet under no more a problem, if you understand what I mean.” said LionHeart “And all the times I was a bouncer in nightclubs, I always protected those who are being abused, either women or LGBTQ+ people. In fact, it was just into one of those times that I was acquired by police.” said LionHeart, talking his story.

“I was in my work as bouncer at a club, as always, and a guy was trying to rape a woman. I thought ‘Easy, just a good-for-nothing punk that is high on meth and wants to have some so called fun and is a big of piece of shit to get laid with a woman as people should’. But the problem is that this guy was a rising star as a super-villain in one of the local gangs, a B-Class Atlas with also some Laser Projection powers, A-Class as a whole. I had hit him hard from the start, and even thought I killed him, but the guy just gave a maniacal smile and came to fight me, shooting lasers, crazy for a tag against the famous Bronx Shoulder… Our fight brought the local Super-Police to action, and the rest is history. What I can say is that I avoided the escalation as much as I could, but that guy deserved to be killed, I had the satisfaction to just see his empty eyes when I snapped his neck like a twig. It was when I offered my wrist so the police could put the Blacklocks on me.” he said, and Jiminy noted on how much old LionHeart’s face had gone, how tired he looked, and how scary he could be.

“Sorry kids… I didn’t wanted to show you this side of me.” said LionHeart, getting back his normal stance

“It’s okay.” said Jiminy

“Yeah!” said Djanni “And, if he was so extreme under the Shar’ia, he should know that, if you killed him, you would be fair.”

“But this is not how we should do things. We comply with international law, not Shar’ia or Leviticus law.” says Squirrel Girl “I understand your rage, LionHeart, but next time please contain yourself.”

“I’ll try.” said LionHeart, meekly.

“And about this guy, what we have?” said Jiminy, trying to exchange topics.

“He’s a B-Class Illusionist: a Merlin with some discreet powers.” said Squirrel Girl “His name is Afeef Nagi, 32, and if his history is true, he was part of old Lebanon Army during the Caliphate War and was nearby Tel-Aviv enough to feel the power of the atomic bomb. I think this triggered him the breakthrough, so he could survive the nuclear dust by pushing it aside with his magics. He and his family were expelled from Lebanon as part of Eretz Israel and he swore vengeance against them: his parents died in the diaspora while he got to Karthoum and some of his comrades at the Lebanon Army came into contact with what would became the Undying Caliphate. He was in the action against Roque Santeiro, and he send the women and kids to a camp somewhere in Darfur. We can’t take any action, however, until we confirm the intel.” said Squirrel Girl when they saw the anxious faces of them.

“And maybe we’ll not do it even after that.” said Soldaire, while some of the MaxBerets took the man to send him to a cell “We have a mission on ORSL that is more important than exert revenge. We’ll do our job and send the intel for the big kahunas on LDS and UN, and they choose what to do.”

“I would want to go there if I could.” said Wahiba

“You’re not a military cape and not a CAI-trained one.” said Soldaire “If you want to help you and your people, I can say we can have a use on your talents as Mentalist here in ORSL: extra communication lines and intel gathering capabilities are never enough. This is what I can do by now for you.”

“I accept this: I don’t want others suffering as I had.” said Wahiba

“For me it’s okay: I’m just waiting the red paper to be solved to put you as sidekick on our team. But we need a capename for you…“

“Marjanah!” said Wahiba “She was a Slave for Ali Baba, and saved him from the Forty Thieves in the story in the 1001 Nights. I thought on Scheherazade, but is so obvious. And Ali Baba recognized her loyalty and his son fell in love by her and married her in the end.”

“Alright… Marjanah. I’ll send everything for HSF ASAP. I just need the papers that UN are readying for you as a Stateless, so we can put you under our responsibility and perhaps try the refugee status for you at Switzerland, HSF HQ. Are we okay?”

“Yes!” said Wahiba, or better, Marjanah, happily.

“Sorry about all this, kids.” said LionHeart, meekly “I lost myself.”

“No problem, Ric.” said Jiminy “We know this… But maybe you need to clean his mouth with soap.” he giggled a little

“Yeah… And Djanni… Sorry about…“

“No problem… As Jiminy said, we know you lost your mind.” said Djanni which made LionHeart give a small meek smile.

Chapter 7

“If you think a CAI team life is like what is shown on The Sentinels, I’m sorry to be the one to break your illusions. We fight villains, sure, but this is exception, not rule. There’s few really powerful villains I had fight, like Derek Kwazani and Alsyf Alayat. The biggest problems we deal with normally are things like natural disaster or humanitarian catastrophe. And the red paper: sometimes I wanted to have more super-villains and less bureaucracy to deal with.”

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

“Thank you by coming with me, Joshua.” said Richard, on the plane, with a special tracking device in his ankle, two guys behind them with some special Vernetech laser weapons.

“It’s okay: Soldaire was called to have a talk with the Warriors and Protectors in Japan about HSF, and if more muscles got out ORSL 1 it would be a problem. And for me it’s okay to get with you to your parole officer.”

Richard McInroy, capename LionHeart, formerly known as The Bronx Shoulder, was a special case in many levels: as convicted by manslaughter, he was under a life sentence, but he was given a parole and put under Herós Sans Frontières. He had a Vernetech tracking device implanted under his neck to be used if he tried to run away. But he never showed any will to run away, even when he should: he was the only one that didn’t directly worked into the black-op to extract him from Alsyf Alayat’s grasp and so he also didn’t fought Valac, the Goetia demon invoked by a deceased Merlin from the Caliphate, because he didn’t wanted to break his parole.

LionHeart normally talked with his parole officer monthly via video-conference, but he was obliged by the parole terms to at least once yearly to get an in-real-life encounter with him. Joshua then was asked to be the one the go with him to New York for it: even being underage, as a CAI-Certificated breakthrough, he had legal power to escort a “criminal under parole” to his parole officer under the terms of LionHeart’s parole. It would be easy: just leave him at a previously accorded police district where he would encounter the guy and then take him back some hours after.

“And about that Presto kid?” said Richard, while they where adjusting their belts for the landing. “I heard he had applied for sidekicking at HSF.”

Carlyle Galatas, capename Presto, was part of the bullies that made Joshua undergoes breakthrough. However, he was there because of peer pressure: he worked against the leader of those who attacked Jiminy after his talk at Newark, Razorleaf (real name: Jonathan Leaf). Thanks this, he was put under a parole that allowed him to get back Whitlow and then finish his schooling. He then got under Hillwood, but he wanted to go for sidekicking at Herós Sans Frontières.

“Look that the big guys liked the idea of putting people under parole into HSF. They approved Presto as sidekick for our team: ORSL is a very important project, and we need all capes we could put into it. I’ll escort him back ORSL 1 with us.” said Jiminy, while they saw JFK airport growing and felt the wheels touching the track. Then, they got ready to get on.

Joshua had lots to do while waiting LionHeart does his talk with his parole officer: he got back to HSF NY HQ to give some papers and disks for archiving and to talk about Presto. He was received by the local clerk, a woman called Cynthia Williams:

“Hey, Jiminy, long time no see!” she said

“It was really a time, Cynthia. We were really busy with ORSL 1: I had no time to get to Disneyland Paris and so. Think last time I had on any Disney Park was just after the process.” said Joshua

Joshua was put under court, accused of attempted manslaughter, because an attack some Humanity Firsters did against his former home at Newark. During it, he shot a guy with the laser part of his Jiminy Cane, in his hand and leg. The process was somewhat easy to be won, as he did everything fair and square, and his After-Action Report was put under the scrutiny of lots of people, including Chicago Sentinels’ Blackstone. But it was a time that Joshua would like to forget: without his house, his tree-house sanctum and with all pressure on him and his parents, he was just a pinch to freak out.

“So, I believe the ORSL archive data is with you, including the last After Action Reports.” she said

“Yup.” he said, taking from his side a Pinocchio-themed mailbag, and from it taking a set of Digital Tapes. “All our last 6 months at Roque Santeiro, including Alsyf Alayat actions, and all the missions under ORSL 1, even the resupplying ones. Everything fair and square.”

“Wow, such a nice boy we have here.” said Cynthia, making him blush: she knows he was the, unofficial clerk, and he double-checked all the After-Action Reports for his team. “Alright: I’ll ask the guys to load the data on our systems and then give you the tapes back. It will take a time, so do you want to have some lunch?”

“I’ll go soon: I just came to see Presto. Think he is now officially under HSF, as part of his parole on the Newark High School. I’ll take him and them we’ll get and take LionHeart from his parole meeting and then, back to ORSL 1.”

“Yeah, I know: but Presto is still in some red paper, and the tapes will take some time to be processed and loaded at our systems. I think you should at least eat something.” said Cynthia.

“Okay.” he said

While a guy, who looked like a common clerk, took the Tapes and gone with them to a room, Cynthia ushered Joshua to the internal restaurant: HSF had a internal restaurant because all the superbads that wanted to tag the HSF heroes. He saw lots of the capes that used NY HQ as headquarters for their operations for HSF.

“Callisto!” said Jiminy, looking for a woman into a psychedelic painted costume, like a tie-dyed leotard, a purple domino mask over her face and a kind of electric rainbow painted hair, that Jiminy still doubt it was a wig or her hair.

“Heiya, Jiminy!” said Callisto, an A-Class photo-kinetic.

“Hey, Marie!” said Joshua, while taking a tray and putting on it a plate, a fork and a knife “How things are on Honduras?”

“Same, same… Being so near that Narcos nuts from Mexico is a bore. And now there’s the ultra-right guys that are forming militias, some of them origin chasing. Lesley don’t hear us, but if those nuts just killed themselves on origin chasing I would be glad, but some of those morons are really undergone breakthrough. Last one was the common Ajax, but the ones that doesn’t deserved the name: strong as the original, but smart… quite the contrary. C-Class, but enough to being inconvenient and try to pull us out… But not enough to do the thing.” she said, while they were going to the cater “Heard you had took some Caliphate dumb-os some days before.”

“Yeah.” said Jiminy “They tried to ‘tag’ us at ORSL 1, but we had an extra help: one of the girls that they abducted from Roque Santeiro. She’s now a sidekick for us: A-Class Mentalist, and very smart, she had undergone breakthrough on her time with the Caliphate , and then she put under a suggestion by that Alsyf Alayat guy and trained by them to do some terrorist job at Europe, but got into us before. Now she’s clear, and she chose the capename Marjanah. She’s a good girl.”

“Heard of. Those Caliphate bastards are the worst: I hate them as much as the Narcos or the Militias. Need to say: if we were like those pre-Event comics, with super-villains that only had some henchmen to deal with, I would love. Those morons uses people as meat-shield. They are even worse because they though on themselves as the new Castro or Stalin or whatever, but they are just a bunch of good-for-nothing guys.” said Callisto “I can respect a real real Cause Villain like Seif-al-Din or Alsyf Alayat, because I can understand, even not agreeing with them: they have motives, many of them somewhat sensible. Those Narco morons are just bullies.”

“Agreed.” said Jiminy, when Cynthia looked to him and said:

“Take some veggies, Joshua!” which made everybody laughs, and Joshua blushes.

“Okay…“ he said, taking some veggies.

Some after he sat and started to eat, he saw Carlyle getting into the restaurant: he was dressed into a brand-new costume, like Presto from the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, his belt changed to the default utility belt for CAI-certified capes. He wasn’t using mask: as part of his parole, his Presto identity was just a Private one, the only protection being a wig changing his hair from his normal black to auburn and his new rounded Vernetech glasses that worked as Maskcam.

“Hey, Jiminy!” said Presto, looking for him

“Presto!” said Joshua, when he came with food tray

“It was nice Herós Sans Frontières accepted me at their sidekicking program: things were starting to grew nasty at Hillwood.” he said while sitting in another chair.

“How?” said Joshua.

“You see: I was convicted by attempted manslaughter. So, the other capes-in-training looked to me as just a little better than a real super-villain. But I realized how much on me was just poise. I tried to look cool, to be with the so-called cool kids, like Kyle and Jonathan… Never thought before on this, even after what we did with you. It was in front of that situation at school that I thought really on what I was doing: was I really ready to throw my future in the bin?” he said “And I though that I would not do this. I had to accept myself. As I said, things were not easy at Hillwood: people started to bully me, even the nerds being reticent to accept me, they only looked at me as a D&D Dungeon Master, what I used as a way to have some social contact. I held myself, and it was when Grendel came and talked with us: him and Ozma are the most known alumni from Hillwood, as they are now part of Chicago Sentinels.”

Joshua agreed: he knew from some time before both Grendel and Ozma, part of the Young Sentinels, the young super-team supported by the Chicago Sentinels. They were part of the heroes that somewhat rescued him when his old-time main bully, Kyle Montague, tried to attack him at Metrocon.

“He said that we always pay the price for our choices, but we should pay the price and only it, and people should not make other’s burdens even heavier, because they can be already heavy enough…“ he said, eating a little, “and we should just be judged by what we did now, not by our past. I chose then to ask for sidekicking training at Herós Sans Frontières, and they approved it. Just finished to register my definitive capename and my crest.” he said, proudly, showing the badge with a green magician hat on it, like the one he was using over his head. “And when we’ll go?”

“Just let us finish the meal and take LionHeart back…“ said Joshua, when his cellphone called. He looked worried, as it was his “hero line”, the number used when he wasn’t on Earbug like that time. “Jiminy Cricket…“

“Jiminy, it’s me, LionHeart…“ LionHeart said, with a tired and worried voice “We need your help ASAP!”

“What happened?” he said

“We were attacked: some punks with very powerful weapons. My parole officer was kidnapped!”

“What?! Just a minute!” said Joshua, looking for Cynthia “I need to put my costume: LionHeart’s in trouble. Presto, I want you to come with me. Callisto, if you can help…“

“Sure!” said Callisto, while everyone was leaving their half-eaten meal behind. Not a uncommon vision at HSF: they always were Super-Help for Super-needs, and almost all HSF permanent heroes lived under that effigy.

“You can use the dressing room just beside the restaurant entrance.” said Cynthia

“And I need to borrow a Ecureuil heli.” he said while getting to the dressing room, taking his bag with his spare costume. “I’ll take Presto and Callisto and deploy them as near LionHeart we can.”

“Are you sure?” said Cynthia

“I have a helicopter brief that allows me to pilot a Squirrel.” said Joshua, while getting into and dressing hastily. As he did this so much in his life after breakthrough, it was almost like Superman: in just 5 minutes he was ready.

“Alright! Let me just double-check things.” said Cynthia for Jiminy, as soon he put the Earbug “Okay, sounds everything okay. Granted you authorization: take the NYH 02 at the garage. The boys there will be waiting you with everything pre-flight ready. Dispatch will update you with any intel needed.”

“Right…“ said Jiminy, getting out, and looking for Callisto and Presto. “Presto, if you wanted to know what is a cape life, it’s showtime.”

“Roger…“ said Presto, going with them.

Chapter 8

“I had lots of enemies, but one of the worst one was Alsyf Alayat. Even after his defeat, his powerful Sword Verses, the post-hypnotic trance he laced on people, had worked his way in more than an action. I don’t know how much sleeper agents he made and how many is everywhere… But sometimes I still have nightmares with him. About other villains, normally I could deal with them. But always there’s one or two that surprised us on his fierceness or recklessness.”

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

“Nevada-Yankee-Hotel 02 to ATC. Jiminy Cricket on the lever. I’m getting nearby the lockdown airspace. Asking for access granting. Copy?” said Jiminy. He was with Presto at his side and Callisto on the back, near the door, ready to jump. Her photo-kinetic power allowed her to fly as long there was light: she used photon winds as propulsion, and also made a kind of board where she surfed the light, so flying in the sky. But sometimes she preferred to stay in the ground or in vehicles, as when she was flying she was vulnerable because some limitations on how much light she could bend to do her mojo.

“Copy. Colonel Masters here. I don’t know what the f$%k they wanted with this friend of you, but he messed with the wrong people. NYC airspace is at a total lockdown, even the capes needing to be authorized to flight. You are okay. But need to say that’s weird to see a 13 year old kid like you piloting a helicopter.” said the man by the radio

“Occupational Hazard.” said Jiminy, and this made the man at the other side laugh “How is LionHeart?”

“Not good: those guys knew what they wanted to do and what they would need to deal with. He is alive and in a whole piece, but he’s still flinched. Are you taking him?” said Colonel.

“Can you open a space in some junction I can touch down the heli? The streets per se has not too much space and there’s no clear heliports nearby.”

“I think that I have a space: take the next junction and go there. My boys are cleaning the space for you.”

“I promise it will be super-fast.” said Jiminy, going there.

He never did a touchdown on a so cramped space, beside at simulator, but he had a good help, albeit a little pesky.

“Right… Right… Come on… Now just get down…“ said Blue Fairy, dressed into a airport marshaller uniform, pointing some sticks.

“Alright… I can do this!” said Jiminy, trying to not yell with her.

“Sorry… I…“ said Blue Fairy, when Joshua said meekly

“I’m to be sorry… I don’t like when things goes this overboard.” said Jiminy, when the helicopter touched the ground and he shut it down.

“We’ll just stay as much as needed, right? We need to free traffic ASAP.” said Jiminy for Presto and Callisto

“Right.” he said, going for the building where LionHeart and the parole officer.

Or better, on what remained on it.

There was a big hole in the wall, debris all around, police officers and even people on custody being treated by the EMT teams. LionHeart was into a stretcher, with a no-friends face.

“Are you okay? What happened?” said Jiminy, really worried, when looking on all the stretches and spots over LionHeart body. He was on civil, as by the parole terms.

“I still want to know.” said LionHeart “Looks like those guys were against Darius, my parole officer. I just noticed a weird flash in the streets by the window, and looked: it was a guy on those ninja costumes, holding an RPG, just beside a black van. I just had time to take him from the way and receive the worst on the hit. I just blacked out a little after the guys coming into the room.”

“Breakthrough?” said Jiminy

“Can’t say, didn’t saw…“ said LionHeart, when some officers came.

“I think you’re Jiminy Cricket. Officers Jefferson Papalliounous and Suzan McDaggert. Call me Jeff and her Suzan.” said the officer, bald headed with black beard and a beak nose followed by the woman, that looked strong and very beautiful on green eyes and a flame red hair. “She’s my partner, and she’s a B-Class Ajax. She is one of the officers that follows LionHeart’s parole.”

“Thanks. Those with me are Callisto, a HSF cape that came on help for us, and Presto, our new sidekick.” presenting the officers to the other capes. Joshua was trying to not thinking on assuming front-line command of a team, even a improvised one. “Do you job now, freak later.” he thought “What you have? Any cameras?”

“Some local security cameras got some images.” said Suzan, pushing a small device, while LionHeart sat in the stretcher. It was a small video player, with a flash-drive on it.

“Blue Fairy, be ready to try and see all you can and use any information source you can provide us.” he thought

“Roger!” she said, after changing instantly to a police officer costume.

They started to saw and there was the van, and some guys getting down from it, going to the café next, taking some Starbucks lattes. Some minutes after, one of them, on a ninja costume, got down and pushed fast the RPG launcher. The warhead was already armed and he should be really strong: just needed to catch it and put it over his shoulder like it was a towel and pressed the button for the shoot. It didn’t took more than half a minute. He dropped the launcher and got at the van, while two guys, using some ornithopters got and took a man in the room, leaving LionHeart behind.

“I think I have some clues, Jiminy!” said Blue Fairy “Ourobouros Files register this event as part of a plot to try outlaw capes once and for all, even in police forces.”

“Alright, and…“ thought Jiminy

“Darius Menard is a first-time cape supporter: in fact, he and his family were passengers in the plane Atlas saved first time at all during The Event. He turned into a police officer and was into Bronx Shoulder acquiring operation. When he saw that Ric tried to avoid casualties, he put into his report this, and this was a crucial proof to allow Ric to be under a parole, not at a SuperMax. He is a first-time breakthrough supporter, and is a breakthrough laws specialist.”

“Anything about the tangos?” thought Jiminy, when the officers looked to him

“Kid, anything…“ they started to say, when Jiminy shooed them and said

“Please, I’m trying to think and see if I can have anything.” said Jiminy “Have something about the tangos?” he asked for the guys, while thinking “Blue Fairy, just a minute.”

“The van was stolen, and looks like the guys are smart enough to not show their faces. But what we know is that they gone East Side.” said Jeff “And what you can say?”

“Nothing too much… But they had internal knowledge.” said Jiminy “They came prepared to deal with an Ajax. A HEAT RPG warhead is not like buy a Nintendo. One of those is really big investment. What you can say about this Darius guy?”

“Breakthrough supporter.” said Suzan “He is a pro-Mask, he even gone to a law course to prove his point, saying how in his vision, the Mask question doesn’t violate any legal problems about testifying in the court. Need to say, Jiminy, he is a first-time supporter on your case against those Humanity First nuts. This make us think if our tangos are an anti-breakthrough militia.”

“Maybe.” said Jiminy “But they are not against use Vernetech: they had ornithopters. And where were the Super-Police from this district.”

“This is the problem: this is a special no-breakthrough district. Need to say that is the most moronic idea all the time. The ones who had it will be IgNobel nominees for sure. We have super-criminals, we need super-police.” said Jeff.

“Alright… LionHeart, is that the place where you normally have parole meetings, right?” said Jiminy

“Yeah.” said LionHeart, flexing a little his arms to see for spraining and so. “He was always afraid about his security.”

“Well…“ deducted Jiminy “Looks like they had internal intel. But we need to deal with we have now, and we think later on the no-breakthrough thing. Jeff, Suzan, put all speedsters and flying capes from the police you can to search East Side. If you have any Metamorph that can change into aquatic animals, put them at the East Side for action. I think they are trying to get away. LionHeart, how are you?”

“Hurted and sore, but I’ll live. The shooter was either a Star Wars Stormtrooper or wasn’t trying to hit us directly. If so… Maybe the question would be the biggest piece of both of us you would find” said LionHeart. RPGs, specially HEAT ones, had enough power to put an Ajax like him down easily. “Need just to put my costume.”

“Okay… I’ll give some support from air and also try to find him. And forget the costume, LionHeart, we have no time and we don’t know what they want for real. So, you go CAI under Civil! I take the responsibility!” said Jiminy

“Be careful, Jiminy. Sounds like those punks are business.” said Jeff

“We are too. As we say: they brought the Foxtrot… Now they’ll dance.” said Jiminy, getting back to the heli

“Why didn’t you said about the intel?” said Blue Fairy.

“How could I say them: Hey, look, I have this cyber-pixie into my head that can access a database from the Big Bad Teatime Anarchist and she saw that those guys wants to put New York City against breakthrough once and for all.” thought Jiminy, while they got back to the helicopter.

“So, the only thing we know is that those punks are going to East Side?” said Callisto

“There’s lots of hiding places there: even The Event destroying lots of the warehouses there, there’s still too many of them.” said LionHeart

“Any gang?” said Jiminy

“Not of anti-breakthrough people. Maybe those are some radical dissidence from Paladins or something else.” said LionHeart, while getting into.

“Let me see something before we go.” said Presto, doing some magical passes “Where are those guys? VISION!” he said, closing his eyes…

“They are… I can see… I hear something about the Statue of Liberty… And cleansing… And a new American Age.” said Merlin, opening his eyes. “looking they will try to do something with that guy and then run to International Waters. They want to publish some manifesto… They look like totally anti-government.”

“And, if I’m right,” said Callisto “They’ll do it at the Statue of Liberty.”

“Any group that could be doing this?” said LionHeart

“Maybe some crazy nuts like the Pure God Work Fraternity.” said Jiminy, remembering the KKK-wannabes that attacked him when he was just visiting a partner on a clown school at a hospital. He fired the engine back and then talked to radio

“Nevada-Yankee-Hotel 02 to Dispatch. We are going for the Statue of Liberty. We have a hunch that the tangos are going there.”

“Dispatch here, Nevada-Yankee-Hotel. Don’t engage the tangos, as they have a hostage.” said someone on Dispatch

“Here is Jiminy Cricket, with LionHeart, Ajax, under Civil; Callisto, photo-kinetic; and Presto, a Merlin sidekick.” said Jiminy “Our plan is try to get ahead and wait the tangos there. I believe they are using some boat, maybe even a sub, to get at the Statue of Liberty. Don’t engage them until there: they have HEAT weapons, enough to almost drop our Ajax LionHeart dead. Just track them. I’ll need free airspace.”

“Airspace’s still in lockdown, Nevada-Yankee-Hotel. You have freeway. Godspeed and good luck.” said Dispatch

“Thanks.” said Jiminy, cutting the radio off “Hope they doesn’t see us!”

“I can assure this!” said Callisto, holding her hand in the helicopter door, when Jiminy started to feel like he was under a kind of spell or something like this “I’m changing the refraction factor on all the matter external of the heli: they will not see us. I can’t warrant they’ll not notice a kind of flick in the sky, but it’s the best I can do by now.” she said, holding the door. “I need to hold the power up, though, I can’t help too much otherwise by now!”

“Great, Callisto.” said Jiminy, pushing the power lever and flying as fast he can “Blue Fairy, any route you can give for us?”

“Straight ahead!” said her “To the second star to the right, and straight on till morning!”

“Stop clowning around, Shelly!” he said “We have a big problem here!”

“Sorry Jiminy.” she said

“Don’t go over-pressured.” conseled LionHeart, looking for Jiminy

“We need to deal with this now… Or they’ll do something with that parole officer and this will not be good at all.” said Jiminy.

“I know… But the last thing we need is you pushing yourself too hard. We need you 100%, not 1000%.” stated LionHeart.

Jiminy thought on what he was doing…

“Sorry everyone…“ said Jiminy

“It’s okay: being the leader is not easy task.” said LionHeart “Focus on the situation, stay calm, stay sharp, and let us help you.”

“We are getting nearby the Statue… Looks like the tangos are already there!” said Jiminy, as the saw a submarine next it.

“They noticed us! RPG!” yelled Blue Fairy, when Jiminy just put the lever enough to just get away from it.

“Callisto, you’re our flyer. Go on them while I land the heli. Presto, magical support for Callisto! Defensive magic on your discretion! LionHeart, be ready for rock and roll!” commanded Jiminy, pushing the lever to do the fast landing he trained so dearly with Cabby at the simulator, and he did it nice and smooth, while Presto already ready some magical missiles he shot as soon he got out the heli, hitting one of them straight in the chest.

“They have the higher ground, and our only flyer is Callisto.” said LionHeart

“And the SPAT team will take time, according what Blue Fairy passed me.” complimented Jiminy

Superhuman Powers and Tactics, SPAT for short, is the main tactical team New York City used. Differently from CAI-teams, SPAT are more focused on crime-fighting and public security than in crisis resolution.

“Alright. Callisto, any symbol or something that identify them?” said Jiminy via Earbug, while Presto shot some extra Magic Missiles.

“Something Nazi… With the Stars and Stripes, stylished under the Nazi colors.” said Callisto

“Shucks! The Pure God Work Fraternity!” gasped Jiminy.

“Those morons again?” spat LionHeart

“Looks like. And, if they are now strong enough to have internal intel on a place like police, certainly they are growing popular.” said Jiminy.

“Jiminy, SPAT said we have just the time until they arrive to deal with things, and then they’ll bring Havoc Protocols!” said Blue Fairy.

“Okay.” said Jiminy for the others “We have somewhat ten minutes, or SPAT team will arrive and hell will break loose for sure.”

“So, let us deal with them.” said LionHeart, snapping his fingers, ready for action.

Chapter 9

“The Statue of Liberty action was something really, really, stressful: they knew we could not act straight against them without consequences. They gloated themselves as Freedom Fighters, heroes from common people. However, in the end, they were nothing more or less than terrorists, no better then the Caliphate guys. But we needed to fight them without dance the Foxtrot, as soon as possible.”

LionHeart, “Life under a Super-Parole”

“I’ll try to gain time: Presto, go as support for LionHeart. Callisto, get out. I’ll try to negotiate.” said Jiminy

“Roger!” said Callisto, while LionHeart and Presto run, avoiding machine gun shots and Jiminy got back to the Heli. He turned on the speakers, and he took the radio mic.

“Hey, you!” said Jiminy, getting out the Heli. “If you wanted to deal with us, you should go for us! Didn’t you learned? Pretty Plea…”

It was when Jiminy felt his Bellax Analytica engaging just a split second before a HEAT powered RPG being shot against the helicopter. He rolled away and just felt some of the shockwave from the blast, that turned the helicopter into half a ton of melting steel scrap.

“JIMINY!” LionHeart screamed.

“I’m okay!” he shouted, tumbling in the ground, avoiding the machine gun shots, his Bellax Analytica showing him where they would hit some split seconds before. “They are not for talk. And my Bellax Analytica shows they want to go full power against us. So, we’ll need to fight our way through them to rescue. Rules of Engagement still applies until otherwise, though. We’ll deal with them. Specially you, LionHeart, as you’re under Civil, stay compliant on this!” said Jiminy “Setting the Cricket Pistols for stun. Every one, ready yourself. Sounds like they are prepared to deal with any kind of capes, including Ajaxes. We don’t want to escalate things, but at the same time we should not play naïve with them! LionHeart, Callisto, on front to tackle them out of way as fast as possible. Presto, as much defensive spells you can do! Non-lethal attacks if you need! Drop as much of them unconscious as you can. I’ll be nearby you to help! Go go go!” commanded Jiminy, running nearby Presto.

They started to climb the Statue’s stairs up, fighting the Pure God Work Fraternity’s minions: they were good armed, but they doesn’t had combat experience, and even Callisto and Presto being working with Jiminy on a emergency, they were powered enough and know enough the basic strategy to deal with those small fish.

In the past, as a chubby kid, Jiminy would be panting, but he had already lost some of the kid chubbiness, albeit he wasn’t still a Mr. Universe. Now he was able to deal with running and so, readying himself to shoot, using either his Bellax Analytica and some training he did under Soldaire and some guys from Scotland Yard and BKA, or Bundeskriminalamt, the Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office.

“Need to say, Jiminy, Soldaire would be proud!” said LionHeart, punching some guys, while Jiminy shot other guys almost on a one shot, one down ratio, with his Crickets on stun.

“Right…“ said Jiminy “But let us try to recover Mr. Menard ASAP… Sounds they had really precise and up-to-date intel about your parole. They knew about me, so, unless some of them are fanatic breakthrough data hate-readers, they had intel about who were going to be your HSF escort as parole.”

“Okay… Let’s go! Blue Fairy, had you saw all those guys? Any intel?” asked Jiminy

“Beside being 4chan supporters, right-wingers and out-of-closet incels… Nothing. They are not catalogued at TA’s Future Files or Ourobouros Files, so they are small fish. But I have a hunch: I got some intel looking on some Dark Net sites, with a little help from my sisters, and got some intel on the Pure God Work Fraternity. And their big kahunas are more or less linked each other.” she said int Jiminy’s head

“Seems legit. Any potential leader or target we should be wary on?” thought Jiminy

“There’s a guy… Curiously, he lived in Newark last year, until the earthquake: Joseph Smith Williams, Jr. His father died during the super-heist spree at The Event aftermath. He was a cop and was killed by a super powered bank robber called Shaytan, or at least one of the 4,237 morons that got under this name until now. Our Shaytan killed Joseph Smith Williams, Sr. when he was on duty on a bank robbery some days after The Event, before the capes being deputized. He literally ran through him: C-Class Metamorph, Ajax and Speedster, A-Class as a whole. Somewhat a small fish for breakthroughs, but a hell of a big fish for common cops. He could run very fast, change his arms into metal blades and literally splitting people in two using both his speed and the Ajax strength to sushi people with his metal blades. Gross!”

“So Joseph Smith Williams, Sr was a cop and was killed by a crazy breakthrough. And the son?” said Jiminy

“The son got to Army, and to SEALs, but seeing he would never be in the same league of the MaxSEALs, the new super-powered elite military, he grew disgusted and turned into a survivalist tutor, teaching shooting and martial arts. It was when he became a Paladin , leaving them some time after to create a militia against breakthroughs. He posted into some forums that they should be more active after the action they did last year that you stopped.” said Blue Fairy

“Any personal grudge between him and mr. Menard?” thought Jiminy, while they still were halfway to the crowd.

“Indeed… Mr. Menard was listed under a blacklist/target list for the Fraternity. As a vocal cape supporter, and as a cop, he was saw as part of, sic, ‘a corrupted system that thrown out the REAL Americans for the globalist swines.’ To be fair, a lot of balderdash, and the only thing I can say without needing to soup my mouth after. They were under an event about Breakthrough police enforcement some months ago, and things just didn’t got rough because people intervened, they almost getting into a fistfight.” said Blue Fairy

“Alright… So, there’s a personal component on all this. Okay… This changes everything.” said Jiminy, when there was just some stairs left.

“What we should do?” said Presto

“Callisto, Presto…“ said Jiminy “I don’t think we can negotiate with him, at least without bring his henchmen down before. So, first of all you use some light powers to whiteout them enough we can knock them out. Then… I’ll see if we can do something about it.”

“Right!” said Presto and Callisto, readying some light powers and going up the stairs.

Jiminy could only see the flashing lights they shot and hearing the screams. He gulped, thinking he did a disaster, but entered the Statue’s crown, shooting some of the henchmen with his Cricket pistols, stunning them enough to make them get down. LionHeart punched some of them to knockout, when Jiminy saw Mr. Menard and a guy, using the same uniform he saw the year before, the same Nazi pastiche he dealt before. He had an AR-15 on his hand and he was pointing it to Mr. Menard. Jiminy pointed his Cricket pistols and said.

“Down! It’s over, Williams! SPAT is coming!” said Jiminy

“You’re dumb, kid! SPAT can’t do anything here. This is a federal site!” said the man. gloating to catch Jiminy offhand

“He’s right!” gasped Blue Fairy “NYC police can’t do anything here without federal authorization. And I don’t think Touches Clouds would give an authorization now: only if things escalates Himalaya-level she would give in.”

“No matter.” said Jiminy “You are the one who kidnapped and is putting someone under a gun. This is enough for attempted manslaughter!”

“Pfah!” said the guy “Manslaughter? He’s not a man for a start! He’s part of an oppressive system! He’s a dog of corrupted guys that didn’t did anything against the real danger, the so-called capes, before anything! Capes are just chicanos or negroes that use the so-called capes to do their mess!”

“Are you sure? Do you know me?” said Jiminy, taking out his mask “I’m the kid that stopped you last year!”

“So, you’re the pesky kid that send Maurice to jail.” said the man, with a smirk “So, let us see: first of all, drop your weapons, including the ones on your gloves, and your cane. And the brick with you, I want him under Blacklocks.” said him, throwing a pair of Blacklocks. “This is non-negotiable: don’t do that, and the brains of this guy will decorate here.”

“Alright.” said Jiminy, dropping his weapons and removing his gloves. He looked for LionHeart, that gave him a little frown, but nodded. He took the Blacklocks and, even being very heavy for him, he put it on LionHeart’s wrist.

“Okay… So… What you want?” said Jiminy

“And no powers: no magic, no lights, no Pretty Pleases, no nothing.” said the guy

“I can only talk about us.” said Jiminy, while he thought “Blue Fairy, send this to your sisters, and if you can, to HSF and SPAT.”

“Right!” she said, now dressed as a camerawoman, with a video-camera over her virtual shoulders.

“Not that easy! I know you have contact with Dispatch. Make clear that if someone from SPAT came here, you all will die!” he said, pushing a detonator. “They came, it’ll be a signal that the government gone corrupt to the core, and America had already be invaded by the globalists! So this statue would be a rotten symbol, and should be destroyed!”

“He is totally nuts!” said Blue Fairy. “Should I send this for SPAT?”

“Yes!” thought Jiminy “They need as much intel we can provide on the situation!”

Jiminy focused on his Bellax Analytica and the situation was grim, almost all the futures resulting on Mr. Menard, or him and his team, or both being killed. But he saw a potential way. It would be a dangerous gambit, though, specially for him… He trusted his power, and he trusted his experience under this kind of situation, including his first encounter with the Fraternity and the time with Alsyf Alayat.

“Hey… He’s not useful for you… I’m a more useful target!” said Jiminy, and the others gasped “You can have me, if you want, but Pretty Please!, release him!” he said, using his Pretty Please! on a calculated, trained, non-chalantly tone to pass over unsuspected on his talk. Jiminy knew that he needed to play with the guy’s anti-cape prejudice: a target like Jiminy would be a juicy morsel than a common cop, and a safer one. Even that guy knew that, as soon he killed a cop, he would be hunted by all the good capes, vigilantes and cops, supers or not.

“Okay, come here! You, you piece of shit, just get out!” he said, pushing the Menard guy in front, but the weapon still pointed for it.

Jiminy was almost to use the Pretty Please! to deal with the guy, but he forgot one of the Bellax Analytica caveats as a power: it was not a fortune telling power, but a future evaluation one.

He can’t foresee too much the moves from other people if he expands the future time slice he can foresee. And he needed to see if HE could be able to deal with the man, but he forgot to foresee the others’ actions.

As soon he was pushed, Mr. Menard run back to grapple the guy. He was surprised enough to not shoot immediately, but things escalated quickly.

As soon Mr. Menard got near, the guy brought the gun back, but LionHeart was already advancing against the guy, while both Callisto and Presto were working some shields to protect all them. Just a split second before the guy could target either LionHeart and Mr. Menard, LionHeart launched himself against hte guy, what made the guy freaked out enough to shoot against LionHeart, that fell in the ground, screaming. Mr. Menard got back, avoiding the shoots, using the cover LionHeart provided to run back.

Jiminy run fast enough to take back the Cricket pistols and gave some shots, two of them straight the guy head. He saw the guy falling like a potato bag…

“Jiminy!” shouted someone and she looked around. It was Suzan the Ajax cop.

“Jiminy, go for LionHeart!” shouted in his mind Blue Fairy.

Jiminy got till there: LionHeart was screaming, bleeding. Even an A-Class Ajax, the depleted uranium shot, even into the shoulder, provoked lost of punishment. Jiminy run into his pack for a special patch that could stanch the bleeding and relieve the pain for some time until a EMT came.

The cops came and looked for the guy and then for Jiminy.

“Jiminy Cricket, it’s sad, but we need to say: you’re under arrest on manslaughter!” said Jeff the cop

“Wha…“ was saying Jiminy, when he noted what he did.

He shot the guy dead, parts of his brain out of his head splattered all around.

The overload of things for his brain to process made Jiminy puke out beside LionHeart, trembling and almost freaking out, when Suzan came and put the Sandman bag over his head, making him go asleep.

Chapter 10

“We are weapons, in the end. All breakthroughs are weapons. This is an inconvenient truth. Our powers can always result on deaths, in a way or another, by action or inaction. No matter if we kill by our own hands, or we kill indirectly, by shooting or saying to shoot. Sometimes, I think that for us, Ajaxes and Atlases, it’s easy to deal with this fact: we can kill by our own bare hands, so we need to deal with this dark truth all time. Other breakthroughs, like Vernes, Merlins and so, tends to suffers on this even more, as their actions normally can be used without so big fatality risks, so they doesn’t need to deal with this fact all the time. But when you see a kid dealing with the fact he killed someone, even on duty… It’s a heartbreaking thing.”

LionHeart, “Life under a Super-Parole”

Joshua was sat into the cell: even he having no super physical prowess, he was put into a super-cell. He was with a emaciated pale face, red eyes on crying, dressed into a default white shirt and orange pants for prisoners. He didn’t ate or slept too much. For him, worst than being on jail was to deal with the fact: he killed someone. Even a criminal, even trying to save people and not escalating people, a kill was a kill.

“So you’re Joshua McCarthy?” said someone outside the Vernetech force-field that somehow was used in the cell. He nodded meekly looking for the one that asked.

The man outside had a big, rounded belly, like Santa or Friar Tuck from Robin Hood for Joshua. He was using the typical Catholic Cassock, and had a little smile. He was holding a small brown paper parcel on a hand and an opened pack of Double Stuffed Oreos at the other. A local guard, that Joshua knew was a B-Class Ajax, opened a space in the Vernetech cell energy field, by hitting some buttons at a panel.

“Can we talk a little?” said the man, entering the cell

“No problem.” said Joshua, a little contemptuous, when the man came and sat in the other cement haddock in the other side of the cell, while the guard closed the cell again.

“To be honest, the one who asked me to came said you were a cheerfully little boy.” said him

“Who are you? And who sent you?” said Joshua, a little more contemptuous. Jiminy was totally out of the mood for anything in the last days, so he was not too much for talking.

“I’m Father Nolan, from Chicago’s Saint Christopher’s Church. The one who sent me said you’re Catholic and that you were feeling really bad, needing help. The one who asked me to be here can’t be see, but always looks for you.” said the man

“And, there’s the tip, it was not Jesus!” said Blue Fairy, giggling. For the last four days, after the arrest, Joshua didn’t talked with Blue Fairy. He used his call to ask HSF NYC HQ to ask someone to go with Presto and LionHeart back ORSL 1 and to update everyone on his situation. He didn’t even talk with his mother and father, as he knew that, as soon NYC HQ passed the information about Joshua arrest for Soldaire, he would pass it for his parents.

“Alright… So it was you, Blue Fairy.” said Joshua, sighing.

“Now, don’t be mad with your little cyber-angel. She asked for some help, as she knows you are really down.” said Father Nolan. “As she’s connected with their sisters, Shelly Boyar and Shell, she asked them help. It was, in fact, Shell that came to me and ask for help.”

“Sorry… I don’t want to be rude and so, but unless you’re a lawyer there’s nothing you can for me do by now.” said Joshua

“I’m the one to be sorry, but I really have help to you.” said Father Nolan “You see, I also forgot to say that I’m the Chicago Sentinels’ chaplain. Unofficially, of course.”

“I understand this, but…“ said Joshua, when Father Nolan stopped him with a small gesture.

“I know what you can do and what you had done: in fact, I’m really impressed with your history, being so young. Henry was a wise man to provide me some reports on your powers and actions and background. I know what happened at the Statue of Liberty…“ said Father Nolan

“So, you know I killed someone… You know I’m a…“ said Joshua

“You’re not a murderer.” said Father Nolan, suave “I’ll just ask a question: how did you feel when discovered it, that the man you tried to stop was killed?”

“I couldn’t believe I killed him: you see, I thought I set my pistols to Stun, as by our protocol, not to Hurt or Kill… I… I…“ tried to say Joshua, but it was when he snapped. He started to cry like a kid.

“I know…“ said Father Nolan, hugging Joshua “You see, being friends with Blackstone is an honor and a privilege, that come with some responsibilities. When Shell asked me help, she downloaded a copy of the action video Blue Fairy sent to them for me to see. From what I saw, I think you were trying to gather intel and register your action.”

Joshua nodded.

“Then, you tried that gambit to exchange yourself on Mr. Menard, right?” said Father Nolan, and Joshua nodded again. “If I understood, you used that power you call Bellax Analytica to find a way to reduce casualties and still acquire that crazy Fraternity guy, right?”

“Yeah… But… How could I…“ said Joshua

“‘But He said to them: “It is not yours to know the times or the moments, which the Father has set by his own authority. But you shall receive the power of the Holy Spirit, passing over you, and you shall be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”’ This is Acts 1:7-8, and it was said when the apostles and disciples asked him when he would free Israel from the Roman oppression. But they didn’t understood that there’s nothing to him to try to anticipate things and to force God to do their wishes and change Fate. Here, eat some, you’ll fell yourself better” said Father Nolan, showing him the Oreo package. Joshua took one and start to nibble, meekly.

“By what I saw, you tried your best, but things had gone havoc. Maybe you failed in the worst moment. This kind of thing happens with everyone. It’s not pretty. It’s never easy to deal with. But happens. You should not blame yourself on this: you are trained on this, and very well, as far I saw, but you are imperfect as everyone.” he said

“But when I fail, people can die! I was remembering all the actions I had and how near on them people were to die. My failures don’t result in damages only! People can. die.” said Joshua

“But how many people had died? And how many would die if you didn’t acted…“ said Father Nolan

“This is no excuse.” said Joshua “I killed someone!”

“Yes… But… Remember that Our Lord Jesus had died in The Cross, with two criminals, and He pardoned them.” said Father Nolan “I think that he would pardon you because, and I hope I’m not wrong, you didn’t liked to kill, right? I can say you don’t accept the it was my job trump to relieve your conscience on what you did, even this being right. Am I right?”

“Yes… I try to sleep, but… I can see my hands in sleep… Blood red!” said Joshua, crying again, and again Father Nolan hugged him

“Hush, hush, boy… It was nightmares. It’s okay to have nightmares, as long you either don’t let them consume you or you don’t revel on them.” said Father Nolan, again looking for him

“Sometimes, people need to do things they don’t want. Sometimes, things goes havoc. That guy was playing a dangerous dance with you, and unfortunately things had gone south. But you are not guilty on blood, at least under Our Savior, because you didn’t want to do it, you didn’t like it, you didn’t revel on death. ‘The thief does not come, except so that he may steal and slaughter and destroy. I have come so that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.’ From John, 10:10” said Father Nolan.

“I understand, but…“ said Joshua

“It’s okay, Jiminy Cricket.” said Father Nolan, talking his capename while Joshua was on civil “It was like Astra when she dealt with Seif-Al-Din. She didn’t felt okay with that. She knew that, even killing Seif-Al-Din, this would not bring back Atlas, Ajax, Nimbus. And she didn’t revel on killing. I heard somewhere that the worst on the first kill is when people starts to relativize death, as there was people that deserves to be killed. ‘You have heard that it was said to the ancients: ‘You shall not murder; whoever will have murdered shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, that anyone who becomes angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment. But whoever will have called his brother, ‘Idiot,’ shall be liable to the council. Then, whoever will have called him, ‘Worthless,’ shall be liable to the fires of Hell.’ Again, this is Matthew 5, 21:22. And, I need to say, this also applies to those who thinks some people deserves to die, no matter what.” he said

“It’s not from now, but from sometime, that people mismatch Justice with Vengeance. And I see that, in those, the Buddhists and Hindi have some reason, because Jesus came to do this: to break the rage cycle, the vengeance cycle. ‘You have heard that it was said: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil, but if anyone will have struck you on your right cheek, offer to him the other also. And anyone who wishes to contend with you in judgment, and to take away your tunic, release to him your cloak also. And whoever will have compelled you for one thousand steps, go with him even for two thousand steps. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and you shall have hatred for your enemy.’ But I say to you: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. And pray for those who persecute and slander you. In this way, you shall be sons of your Father, who is in heaven. He causes his sun to rise upon the good and the bad, and he causes it to rain upon the just and the unjust. Therefore, be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.”’ Again, this is Matthew 5, 38 to 41 and 43 to 45 and 48.” said Father Nolan

“Looks like you memorized the versicles you needed to talk with me.” said Joshua, smiling meekly

“Occupational hazard… And now we have you back to your own.” said Father Nolan, looking for the smiling Joshua “In fact, I knew you understood this: God didn’t gave you powers to kill, but to protect. But we are all imperfect, and we always can fail in the worst times. I know that failures when you are a cape can result in casualties: remember, I’m Chicago Sentinel’s chaplain, so I was the one that did the funeral mass for Ajax, Atlas, Nimbus. I became spiritual counselor for Astra and, between us, to all of them eventually, even Chakra, that is a Hindi. And when Jesus says “Therefore, be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect”, he wasn’t saying this on if you are not compliant with Father’s perfection, you’re going straight to Hell, but as Look: I know that you’re imperfect and seeking perfection is a big of a burden. Do your best, improve every day and don’t look aside. He hopes we do our best and we don’t revel on the evil and on death. Like Yoda says when Luke Skywalker says the Dark Side being stronger: “No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.”” said Father Nolan

“I don’t know why this…“ said Joshua

“It’s easy to be tempted to deal with problems by trying to tackle them down as fast and strong they doesn’t problems anymore.” said Father Nolan “But this is the catch: they still are problems. You didn’t solved it, you didn’t coped it, you just shoved it aside, probably with even more resentment, anger…“

“That leads to hate…“ said Joshua

“That leads to suffering.” replied Father Nolan. “Looks like you’re not just a Disney fan kid.”

“I heard this a lot and saw Star Wars.” said Joshua

“Now… You know you’ll need to deal with the consequences of your actions, but I’m here to say you that things will get well somehow, and that you shouldn’t be that grumpy or despair on situations like you are now.” said Father Nolan “You killed a man: this is a fact. Maybe you did some great mistake, and you’re suffering on your heart on this. But, by what I saw and by what we talked, I can say, and that is the point, you don’t revel in killing. You still have your conscience, that little Jiminy Cricket inside you that says that killing is wrong, PERIOD. No buts, howevers, anyways. Killing is killing is killing. Remove this from you, remove THIS Jiminy Cricket, and you’ll be no better than Seif-Al-Din or Alsyf Alayat or any of those guys that thinks that, after the breakthrough, they gone the Nietzschean Übermensch, the Super-man, beyond Good and Evil, forgotten and bereft from all morale and ethics to others. I don’t know you, but I would not like to live on a world Might is Right would prevail.”

“I understand… This is the danger of nihilism.” said Joshua

“Now I understand what they say about your powers: you have a great mind, being sage beyond your age. But in heart and soul, you’re still a kid, and this make you suffer. But suffering is not the end. Jesus suffered at the Golgotha, in the Cross, as a man in fear, screaming for God why He was forsaken in this pain and suffering, but in the end of his human, earthly life, he just said: ‘It is consummated’, as said in John 19:30. This will pass, and you’ll be healed, and you learned, and you’ll grow better in all ways thanks this experience. The nihilist would say, and pardon my french, f%$k off, because for him suffering is a sin. But we understand that suffering is the bitter on the sweet of life.” said Father Nolan, when the Ajax guy came, using some kind of earbugs: Joshua knew they were special Vernetech against his Pretty Please! and other kinds of audiotory suggestion powers.

“Sorry, Father, but your visit time is almost over. Please, I need you to leave.” he said.

“Alright, I almost already finished.” said Father Nolan to the Ajax. Then, he looked back to Joshua “This little parcel is some dibs I brought you from the Sentinels to cheer you up. Don’t worry, people had already screened them and is all okay. And… I need to say that this is difficult for me, but… Take the Oreos. I liked them a lot, to a vice to be frank, but looks like you need them more than me now. And… Could I finish my visit here blessing you?” said Father Nolan

“Sure.” said Joshua, going into his knees, when Father Nolan said, laying his hands over Joshua’s head.

“Our Lord, help this small son of you in his troubles, free him from his burden and pardon his sins, so he can get back to action and help people with the Powers You Conceded Him for Your Glory. In the name of Your Son and Our Lord Jesus Christ.” said Father Nolan

“Amen.” both of they said, and they finished praying “Our Lord”.

“Thanks, Father Nolan, and thank everyone at Sentinels in my name.” said Joshua, while Father Nolan crossed the Vernetech force-field and he he sat back in the haddock, a lot better than the visit started.

He opened the package and saw some trinkets: a go board that was a gift from Shelly/Shell/Blue Fairy, a deck of cards branded with Blackstone crest, a copy of the Holy Bible and a small Scapulary (Father Nolan’s gift, of course), some sweets and an almost mint-state copy of Wizard of Oz, 1st Edition, with a dedicatory by Ozma saying “don’t let the Nomes to take you down. Kindness is a powerful weapon, in the correct times and rightly used.”

He took some of the Oreos and sat, starting to read the Wizard of Oz book, trying to relieve his mind from the Revision Board that would be soon.

Chapter 11

“Any superhuman action that resulted in casualties or fatalities should be subject of a Review Board. The Board would be compounded by the involved cape(s) team leader (or his superior, if he is also subject of the Board), a local CAI-team representation, a local government representation, a superhuman registrar representation and a society representation, the last one being a breakthrough of recognized knowledge on the issues of the Board and untarnished reputation. They should review either the After Action Report and any and all proofs and testimony related to and then communicate the results to the cape(s) under the review, also communicating all the results to the local law enforcement and justice bodies.”

Interpol’s protocols for Review Boards and After-Action Reports

Jiminy was already bathed and dressed into his costume, ready for whatever would happen with him. It was three days since Father Nolan came to the district where Jiminy was acquired, and in the meantime his parents and Sugarplum came to there.

“They put your action under a Review Board, and they are reviewing it. Hope everything goes well: if they see you had done things wrong, they can even revoke your CAI license, even permanently. So, it would be no more Jiminy Cricket.”, she said, worried.

Jiminy was already ready, just waiting for his escort, as the Review Board would happen at the same building. It was when his parents came, with Sugarplum and two SPAT members, and he also saw Seven with them.

“Mom, pops!” said Jiminy

“Alright, darling!” said his mother “Everything will end well.”

“OK, Jiminy.” said Seven “We’ll need to put some locks on you. It’s protocol.”

“Okay.” he said, when the Ajax guard granted Seven access.

Seven came and put the handcuffs on Jiminy’s hands.

“Okay. Let’s go.” said Seven, in a non-chalantly tone, like he was going to Disneyland’s Splash Mountain, not to a Review Board that could remove from Jiminy all he did in the last three years or so.

They got an elevator and into a big room. He was in front of the Review Board:

“Review Board for the After-Action Report # HSF-20XX-19302, subject for the Action involving the kidnapping of Darius Menard by the Pure God Work Fraternity that resulted into the death of their leader, Joseph Smith Williams Jr., by Joshua McCarthy, capename Jiminy Cricket. After-Action Report filled by the same Jiminy Cricket. This Board Members are: Seiji Shirou, capename Soldaire, as Jiminy Cricket’s team leader; Lieutenant Suzan McDaggert for the New York City Police, as local CAI representation; Agent Elijah Williams, from the Department of Superhuman Affairs, DSA, as government representation; Eleanor Sinclair, from Herós Sans Frontières, NYC HQ, as superhuman Registrar representation; and Henry Roix, capename Blackstone, from Chicago Sentinels, as society representation. As clerk, Willian McIntyre, from NYPD.” said the little guy with a salt-and-pepper hair and a face of a clerk.

Jiminy looked for the board, all of them in their best clothes and costumes. Soldaire just undone his helmet, but he was under his SolArmor also.

“Let us start to review the operation from the beginning…“ said Blackstone, that was the one chosen as speaker. They looked for all the things he talked with everyone, even with Blue Fairy (that was listed as a Netrunner cape, which was REALLY weird), and double-checking all the action. Everything was smooth until it came to the Statue of Liberty.

“Jiminy, why didn’t you left the action command for capename LionHeart, as he was more experienced as a cape than you?” asked Agent Williams.

“Sir, LionHeart is a cape under parole. In fact, as quoted in the Report, all the action started when Mr. Menard was kidnapped, and he’s LionHeart’s parole officer. By putting him under command, we would risk being questioned on the fact he’s a convicted criminal under the system. Any problem, no small we had, would be put under a severe scrutiny.” said Jiminy

“No more than what is happening now. However…“ said Blackstone

“And about he acting on a CAI Under Civil situation? Why didn’t you gave him time to gather his costume?” asked Suzan

“As the tangos had a hostage, I thought we could not expense more time than needed. As LionHeart has no need of equipment, putting him on CUC could save us precious time.” said Jiminy

“Let us stay on the topic… You set your Cricket pistols to Stun, right? The Maskcam is clear on this.” said Blackstone, continuing the Report analysis.

Jiminy was hearing all of the report, growing tense as the event that called the Board was near and near.

“So, you had him under gunpoint.” said Williams “Why didn’t you shot straight on that time?”

“Sir, I knew, by Blue Fairy intel gathering, that Mr. Williams, Jr and Mr. Menard had a grudge. He would shot for sure the hostage as soon I started to push the trigger. In fact, that was what my Bellax Analytica shown me.” said Jiminy

“Alright. And you did the gambit, by offering yourself as hostage instead of Mr. Menard. What you had in mind?” said Blackstone

“I thought on stay with my Bellax Analytica engaged, just waiting a breach on his defenses or a moment of naivety on him to put him down. In the worst case, I at least would save the hostage.” said Jiminy

“However, your Bellax Analytica didn’t showed Mr. Menard going against Mr. Williams, Jr. Why?” said Suzan

“Ma’am, my Bellax Analytica is a power that depends on two factors: time depthness and details. I chose to expand the time depthness so I could see if my gambit would warrant the hostage safeness and freedom.”

“By doing, this, however, you lost details. And, if I understood correctly, this means you didn’t saw Mr. Menard getting back and trying to attack Mr. Williams, Jr.” she said

“Yes, Ma’am. It was when this gone Foxtrot. To try to protect Mr. Menard, LionHeart put himself as meat-shield for him, even Mr. Williams, Jr armed with a AR-15, depleted-ammo gun, standard anti-Ajax weapon. I had gone and shot him as a way to neutralize him as a Tango.”

“Had you changed the Cricket pistols settings?” said Soldaire

“No… I didn’t!” pleaded Jiminy

“Because, and this is important here, the Cricket pistols telemetry shown a setting change before this shot, from Stun to Kill.” inquired Soldaire, looking incisively.

As most super-weaponry or weapons used by capes, the Cricket pistols had a kind of telemetry registry that shown every setting change and shot fired into a memory system on it. This was always made as an accountability on the weapon use.

“I didn’t changed the setting! I swear!” pleaded Jiminy again, starting to freak out.

“In fact, I believe him.” reassured Blackstone “By what I read about the Cricket pistols, there would be no way for him to exchange the settings without consciously go and change the setting. This, in fact, is a good thing, as it acts as a safeguard to recklessness action. And the Maskcam doesn’t show him looking to the setting system, what would mean he would change settings.”

“Sure.” said Soldaire “The Cricket pistols are designed similarly my own SolPistol. You can only exchange settings by looking and turn the settings on, as a safety mechanism.”

“But…“ said Eleanor.

“Sounds like we have a mystery here, but one simply solved.” expressed Agent Williams. “While processing the acquired Fraternity members, we found a C-Class Telekinetic on them. He even tried to remove the Blacklocks, but wasn’t able to. But, by what I saw, it would be sensible to think that that guy used his telekinesis to change the Cricket pistol setting. Even it being a Vernetech pistol, almost one-of-a-kind, thinking that pushing the setting knob all the opposite position would result on the setting going from Stun to Kill.”

“But why?” said Suzan

“They had the interest to provoke an anti-cape feeling on population, so they could get into a way as Saviors of Country.” said Blackstone “We have the intel collected by Shell, and this is classified by now, of course, but we know that the Pure God Work Fraternity is a dissidence from Humanity First, but more nationalist than racist: they are against non-US breakthroughs. Mr. Williams, Jr. specifically expanded their targets to those that worked with the government, that they think is lenient against their primary target of foreigner breakthroughs, and international NGOs. LionHeart and Jiminy Cricket looked like a good side effect on their vendetta, as they works to Herós Sans Frontières.”

“And why they would kill their own leader?” said Suzan

“By creating a martyr. Crazy breakthrough kid kills American good citizen. Put this headline on the correct groups on Internet and slow cook things: it is obvious that they would use Mr. Williams, Jr., quote-unquote, martyrdom as a way to show that breakthroughs that are not part of good citizenry are evil. As a matter of fact, some ultra-nationalist used to have a periodical called The Good Citizen, between 1913 and 1933. This kind of speak, easy and emotional, are staple on any system of disinformation and fake news, specially those focused on extremist or fascist philosophies. It’s not unlike the speaks from both sides at Cold War, or like some of the speaks from the Caliphate and, shame on us, our own government sometimes does.” said Blackstone, as easy as he was lecturing everyone into trivia

“So, the guy saw Jiminy taking back the gun and exchanged the setting to kill his own leader?” said Soldaire

“Maybe…“ thought Suzan “Or he just changed the setting waiting for someone of his own take the gun or that Jiminy could kill some of his own as friendly fire. No matter what, he tried to somehow profit on the situation and thought that messing with the Cricket pistols would be a good way to do this.”

“So…“ said Blackstone “We could say that Jiminy hadn’t on purpose killed this man.”

“This is clear…“ said Agent Williams “But it is still a kill: there’s lots of social pressure to give Jiminy some punishment, even more the guy being a ‘common’ person, not a breakthrough, killed by one.”

“However, take his CAI certification, even temporally, would be overkill.” said Soldaire

“On the other side… if we just left Jiminy run free, people will call us lenient, and those crazy nuts like Humanity First or Paladins would go for our throat! No matter security forces, justice or capes.” said Suzan

“I think we had discussed this before…“ said Blackstone “And as the senior member of the board, I think I have the best solution for our situation.” he said, looking for Jiminy

“As you didn’t purposefully killed that man, the manslaughter accusation will be dropped and you will not be judged in the Court. Also, your CAI certification will not be revoked by now. However,” said Blackstone, looking very serious “I believe, and I think that my Board fellows agrees, that you were reckless on take action, and you should had waited for more intel. We know that they had a hostage, but the fact is that you were reckless, even more taking action as team leader being so inexperienced as a cape. I don’t want to just suspend you, as we are also under social scrutiny: this review board will be validated by NYC Justice. So, your CAI certification is on hold, with all implications on this, by the next three months.” said Blackstone, and everyone gasped.

Jiminy was no strange to be under the knife with his CAI Certification: last year, he suffered a trial on attempted manslaughter. But that time, he was put on bench because of the PR. This time things were really serious. By having his CAI-Certification on hold means that he couldn’t even be in the bench: it was even worse than being put as a sidekick or on bench because, on both situations, he could act as a cape in emergencies. Having it on hold means that he couldn’t act even on a serious catastrophes, even if his own life was in danger.

“After the three months hold, your CAI-certification will be revalidated via an Action Test, to be held under the Chicago Sentinel’s Dome. The terms of this action test will be determined and send to you later. This Board will be the revalidation Board for this effect. If you fail to achieve the expected levels, your CAI-certification will be revoked, but, if Herós Sans Frontières still wants you as cape, you will be allowed to restart the CAI-certification process as a sidekick, after at least another 6 months period.”

This would be really harsh, thought Jiminy: he could be turned into a sidekick again if he fails the revalidation!

“Everyone agrees? Jiminy?” said Blackstone

“I have no talk on this. I agree.” said Jiminy, resigned, while the Board agreed with this. Jiminy was so hopping mad if he was another kind of kid he would snap now and swear everyone in the room, but there was nothing he could do by now.

“So, let us sign everything.” said Agent Williams.

Jiminy tried not to think, and he signed his documents as best he could, almost on autopilot, but their parents and Sugarplum, while their own signing everything (Sugarplum was chose as Board testimony), looked and could see the frustration on him. Blackstone also looked, but he tried to be as a dandy as he always was.

After they all got out of the room, Blackstone came to him:

“I know you’re frustrated… I’m this frustrated too… But we need to deal with all the external pressure on capes. This is not just PR or so: the anti-cape movements is growing and they’ll try to put us against the corner. This could be enough to deal with this by now.”

“I understand… Although I wouldn’t say I’m liking it.” said Jiminy

“I would not ask you for this.” said Blackstone, smiling “But, and I have big hopes on this, you’re a clever good kid, and in three months you’ll be back to action. If you want some advice, take at least a week to put your hair down: you had under big pressure and stress for too much time. Even me would not be able to deal this all, and I’m an ex-SEAL, intelligence specialist, beside my powers.”

“And I’m just the pesky hero-playing kiddo.” said Jiminy, sighing

“Beside the hero-playing, the rest is true. Because you never played hero, You always was a hero.” said Blackstone, smiling, while his mother and father got to him. “After that, study all the procedure manuals you can and ready yourself and train more your powers. Beyond everything, be ready and stay focused.” said Blackstone, when Seven came to him “Now, if you excuse me, mr. and mrs. McCarthy, Jiminy.” said Blackstone, lifting the hat.

“And now?” said Sugarplum “As you’re on hold, you’re not even part of our roster.”

“Money will not be a problem.” said Mrs. McCarthy “We used Joshua’s wage to pay the Geneva house’s mortgage and we have our work, he would be not at need.”

“But he can’t use the communications lines with ORSL 1 or HSF.” said Sugarplum “He’s like a civilian now, and civilians can’t contact ORSL 1 via the comm lines! How he’ll prepare himself for that Revalidation Action Test?”

“Well…“ said Jiminy, while he had the handcuffs removed and his bag with civilian clothes that was held since his acquiring was returned to him “Look I’ll need to deal with this all alone, at least until the revalidation test.”, he sighed while getting into the cell one last time to change into some civilian clothes.

Chapter 12

“The Revalidation Process was something that really stressed me out: as I was on hold, I had no way to practice. I was neither considered a sidekick. I saw and read all CAI procedure manuals I could put hands or take from Internet, from Chicago Sentinels to Herós Sans Frontières to Interpol to Japan Superhuman Self-Defense Force. I couldn’t train, so the best way to ready myself is to gather all knowledge I could, focus on tuning my powers on other ways and then hope for the best.”

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

“Joshua, it’s Seiji on the phone.” said Mrs. McCarthy “And come on. Time for dinner!”

“Right!” said Joshua, in his room at the second floor. He got down and took the telephone. “Jiminy.”

“Jiminy, it’s Soldaire.” said the man at the other end of the line. “How are you?”

“Okay, or as far I can be now… Trying to see the glass half-full: I don’t think I had this time with my parents since the time after the Process last year, or even before breakthrough. But I’m still worried with the Revalidation.” said Joshua, trying not to show his frustration

“It’s just about this I’ve calling you: they send me an email with the Revalidation Test terms and I’ve already approved. I forwarded it to you and I want you to look them and confirm it ASAP, because of some of the caveats on the test.” said Soldaire “I’ll be there also, as I’m part of the Board.”

“Okay… I’ll look it after dinner.” said Joshua, calling the call off and getting into the dinner room on his home at Geneva, Switzerland.

“What Seiji wanted with you, Josh?” asked Mr. McCarthy, while he and his mother placed the table and he finished him some fish and rice.

“It’s about the Revalidation Test. They sent me the terms for it… Think I’ll study it after the dinner: sounds like they need me to answer it ASAP, maybe they need me to know if I need some asset or so.” said Joshua.

“Alright. So, let us eat, and then you can go.” said Mrs. McCarthy, while they sat for eating.

After the dinner, Joshua took a small thermos with some chocolate milk and got it back to his room. After a quick shower, he put some of his Jiminy Cricket pyjamas from Disney and fired the email system on his common laptop. After logging in, he saw the email from Soldaire. He looked it and saw that it was in fact a forward one from blackstone@chicago-sentinels.cai.

He saw that there was a document attached on the email, that he downloaded and opened, starting to study it. After some minutes, he closed it and stored a copy encrypted into his special Asimov-powered flash-drive. He then created an email and sent it to Soldaire and Blackstone with some information they asked him about on the document. He got to the bed, and looked to his costume, neatly placed in a hanger, like a prized item, thinking on if he’ll be Jiminy Cricket after the revalidation, or he’ll need to get everything from scratch, getting back to basics.

And then… He got to sleep.

A week later, he got with his parents to Chicago, to the Chicago Sentinels Dome, the big dome that was the base of the Chicago Sentinels. On the main gate of it, there was The Harlequin, an old time circus artist that turned into a living doll when she almost felt to dead at Cirque Du Soléil during an acrobatics show. She was under her traditional harlequin costume and mask. The weirdest thing is how glossy she looked around: it was like a living Barbie.

“Hello Jiminy, Mr. and Mrs. McCarthy.” said her, and people started to look those guys that The Harlequin was receiving. They should be capes, or at least one. Joshua could feel some flashes from cellphones and photo cameras, making him blush, while The Harlequin shook hands with them. A guy or another, cape nerds for sure, pointed him, and they know that, even he on civil, he was Jiminy Cricket. She continued to talk while ushering then into The Dome.

“I think we had saw each other before, but I never gave you my real name: I’m Jacquin Torres, and I’ll take you to where will happen your Revalidation Test, Jiminy. Mr. and Mrs. McCarthy, there’ll be some seats you can see him, but I need to ask you to avoid comments during the test, as you’ll be nearby the Revalidation Board.” she said, while they get in “Tom, these are the McCarthys, and they’ll have full guest clearance until further notice, alright?”

“Ma’am. Sirs.” He said, taking some glances on the McCarthys and looking into their bags.

“Also, provide them some guest room. Even in the worst case, I think they could be given a day into it.” said The Harlequin

“Yes, ma’am.” said the Tom guy, with a Droopy voice, while she conducted them to the elevator, while acting as a kind of tourist guide for them, until they got into the elevator. Jiminy could see it’s not the “normal” elevator, but certainly one exclusive for the Chicago Sentinels: she looked to a kind of iris scanner and the elevator came. They got into the elevator and start to get down.

“We have lots of acquired artifacts that we need to ensure they’ll be safe: the Dome is build to resist anything up to an Omega Attack. Even launching a nuke wouldn’t be enough to compromise the Dome’s structure enough to create security breaches. And we like to make this clear.” she said, while the got out the elevator, she ushering through the corridor until open form them a special room, that looked like a big family room from some of the high-level Disney hotels, at least in comfort.

“You’ll take the night here after the Test. Things going okay, there’ll be a little happy hour after the test. Jiminy, I think you brought your costume.” she said, and Jiminy nodded. “I want you to be ready in at most half an hour. All the assets you asked for the test, including your new costume, are ready, and you’ll be presented to them at the right moment. Are you okay?”

“Yes… I think I can do it.” said Joshua

“Right. I’ll be back soon. Be ready.” said The Harlequin. While Mrs. and Mr. McCarthy unpacked their clothes, Joshua got to the bathroom to ready himself, taking a shower and after drying himself going for his bedroom, were into a big cardboard box was his new costume.

He dressed carefully, looking for all the gizmos and checking everything: he chose to get into his normal Jiminy Cricket costume, a fresh one with an extra gizmo he asked Dumont to do. He never tested it, though, and he hoped things would not go wrong in the worst time.

“Son, are you okay?” said Mr. McCarthy, while Joshua got Jiminy.

“As okay I can. There’s nothing too much I can do, though. I’ll do my best and hope things goes okay.” said Joshua, or better, Jiminy, while finished to put his costume by placing his cricket shaped mask and Top Hat. He got out the bedroom and his parents looked to him. Her mother came and adjust his scarf cravat, when they heard a knock knock on the door.

“Jiminy? It’s time.” they heard The Harlequin saying, and they opened the door.

“Now, let us go.” said The Harlequin. They walked through a corridor until The Harlequin knocked another door. A guy that looked like the Tom guy from the entrance opened it, and Jiminy could see it was a kind of amphitheater, where his Revalidation Board were.

“Now, Mr. and Mrs. McCarthy, please. You can see all the Test from here, but I’ll ask you to avoid comments during the test.” said The Harlequin

“Go on, son. Everything will be alright.” said Mr. McCarthy, while Mrs. McCarthy just lifted his mask a little and kissed him in the cheek.

“Okay.” said The Harlequin. “Let’s go.”

She take Jiminy to an elevator and she get into a special room with him.

In the room were already into their costumes Djanni, Presto, Sugarplum and Marjanah, into a generic sidekick costume, a white jumper with an overall and a dark green domino mask, a common hijab over her hair and a niqab being used to somehow hide her face and provide her with a secret identity.

“Jiminy, are you ready?” said Presto

“As ready as ready I could be.” said Jiminy

“Doesn’t sound too confident for me.” said Sugarplum

“Alright.” said The Harlequin, explaining the revalidation test “Some of our roster will fight against you while you’ll try to do a rescue mission to test Jiminy’s capabilities.” she said, passing some Earbugs “Those Earbugs are into a special frequency: only you and the board will hear your talk. Obviously you will not be able to hear our side comms. Our roster will be under a kind of ninja black costume, so you couldn’t identify who’s who to difficult your planning. And, Jiminy, an order from Blackstone: Blue Fairy should not be consulted during the test. And I know she can see and hear me, I’ll make it clear: you’ll not join this one, right?”

“Cheesy!” said Blue Fairy, on a costume that remembered a Japanese preschooler, putting her tongue out.

“Alright, Blue Fairy. We know that I need to do this by my own. And, I need to say, they’ll have by sure Shell or Shelly at their side somehow to see if I not get for you.” said Jiminy

“Okay…“ she pouted, getting out of Jiminy line of sight.

They saw the door opening and what’s looking like a big basketball court. The intense white light was already there, and there’s some flags over the other side. He could see four people on black ninja like costumes, and using black masks.

“Welcome, Jiminy Cricket,” said Blackstone via the speakers in the room “to the Sentinel’s Danger Room, where we train some joint tactics for actions. As a Mastermind, your Revalidation Test will be focused on your tactical skills, but you’ll be also attacked and your combat skills will be also looked upon. If you look around, you’ll see that’s some black ribbons. Each ribbon represent a hostage for our ‘villains’. Your mission is simple: you need to rescue as much of the hostages from our villains in 20 minutes. Bonus points if, after the Test, you identify the capes that are our villains now, and points will be taken for each of your roster that fall in the combat. The villains have orders to not take easy on you, to take you out for sure if they have the chance. And, to turn things even more interesting, I’ll be the Supreme Overlord commanding my own minions. As you can see, there’s four minions against five heroes… But will you be strong enough to defeat my Legions of Doom? BWAHAHAHAHAHA!” said Blackstone, when a counter showed over the room.

“This was really cheesy!” pouted Marjanah

“I believe that he always wanted to say that.” replied Presto

“Don’t worry. We’ll deal with them.” said Djanni.

“For sure.” said Sugarplum

“Be ready… As soon the counter starts to run, they’ll came to us.” said Jiminy.

The counter started to blink, and them the countdown started.

It was in a blink that one of the “villains” flew against Marjanah, trying to knock her out, being avoid by Sugarplum that made a special shield that made him get back.

“Atlas-type… Sound like Astra… Or maybe Shell?” thought Jiminy, starting to coordinate the actions. “Marjanah, Presto, reinforce our defenses. Sugarplum, magical ranged attacks at your discretion. Djanni, go for the hostages and tag all the tangos in the way!” commanded Jiminy, using his Jiminy cane to show them what to do

“Roger!” replied everyone, when Jiminy felt his Bellax Analytica almost screaming.

He tumbled aside just a second before someone him the ground… Leaving a small crater in the ground where he hit.

“Yikes! Ajax… Maybe Metamorph. The worst is that they all are using black clothes, turning them almost undistinguished.” thought Jiminy, when he felt his Bellax Analytica engaging again. He felt a small bullet crossing the side of his face, the needle point almost touching his skin below his mask.

“Okay… Sounds like we have the unknown Ajax/Metamorph, Astra/Shell and maybe… Artemis! She’s a kind of Supernatural cape with Vampiric powers, but she fights with guns: maybe she has some narcotic ammo to knock us out as soon we are hit!” thought Jiminy, when he felt some cloud solidifying and a small pistol almost getting nearby him, a needle passing through his costume when the gun was fired. Jiminy took his Cricket pistol and started to shoot, running through the room.

“Presto, help Sugarplum and use your Magic Missiles to split them! Marjanah, think one of them is a Vampire-like supernatural: use your mind-blasts to attack her where she’s vulnerable!” said Jiminy, running.

“Right!” said them

“Catched one of the hostages, but this pesky Atlas is difficulting things to us!” said Djanni, avoiding the Atlas attacks.

“Sugarplum…“ said Jiminy

“Sorry, hands full. Looks like the Tango other side is a Mentalist like Marjanah, but very experienced. She’s helping the Ajax and I’m trying to debuff him as much as I can.” said Sugarplum

“Alright: Cricket Wings engaging!” said Jiminy, hitting a small button on his shirt wrist. His tails opened like insectoid wings.

The Cricket Wings were created by Dumont based on his Demoiselle and were part of his Iron Cricket costume, a combat focused costume he used during Derek Kwazani acquiring operation, and Jiminy asked Dumont to put them on his common tails. He took off and flown to nearby a place where there was some “hostages”, taking the black piece of cloth, while the flying one was getting nearby. Jiminy set the gun for Hurt and shot. He could hear the Atlas giving a yelp and flown down a little.

“How much hostages we have?” said Jiminy

“I took one!” shouted Djanni

“Me too!” replied Sugarplum

“Getting near another, but I need help!” exclamed Presto

“Marjanah?” questioned Jiminy

“That Mentalist is very powerful, skilled and experienced! I’m in trouble to fight her in the Astral Plane! I’m doing my best, but I can’t help you by now!” exasperated Marjanah, still not accomplished on this

“Presto, I’m going to…“ say Jiminy, when something tackled him, making him get down in the ground.

It was the Ajax.

He felt some pain, but had time to roll his body outside the danger, still holding his cloth, and getting in his feet.

He noticed a Tango getting nearby thanks Bellax Analytica. He noticed a Tango getting nearby thanks Bellax Analytica. He took his Jiminy Cane and hit him with the Taser, which made the tango scream and fall.

“Alright…“ he said, when he felt his leg wrongly…

“I dropped one of them, this is good news. Bad news, I’m with a sprained ankle!” said Jiminy.

“I’m going to you!” said Marjanah, doing what looked like a teleport “Presto, gain me a minute or two!”

“Roger!” said Presto.

Marjanah got out the guy and lifted Jiminy’s trousers leg.

“Look like you really sprained your ankle this time.” said Marjanah… “I could make you some magical healing…“

“No…“ said Jiminy “Everyone, take the hostages to me. Marjanah and Presto, I want you to make our defense. Sugarplum, Djanni, you’ll rescue the other hostages!”

“Roger!” said everyone

“I’ll expand as much I can my Bellax Analytica and help you!” said Jiminy, focusing.

He had trained his Bellax Analytica in the time he was on hold, and now he could preview between 2 to 5 seconds on actions. Time enough to turn his power useful in combat.

Sugarplum, Djanni and Presto gave him the cloths

“Four hostages and we still have some time. Go go go!” said Jiminy, looking that there’s passed 5 minutes

The problem is: the more “hostages” they took back, the more the tangos difficulted their lives. It took 7 minutes to rescue another 2 hostages, for six.

“We are growing tired!” said Sugarplum

“Presto, change places with Sugarplum!” said Jiminy, almost beet red, sweating a lot. He never focused so much in battle on his Bellax Analytica, when he thought on a risky business, and the sprained leg didn’t help

“Sugarplum, Marjanah! Leave me now with the hostages!” ordered Jiminy

“What? But…“ replied Sugarplum

“I know, they’ll came to me… And this is what I want!” countered Jiminy

When Sugarplum and Marjanah got away, they started to come. Jiminy lifted using his Cricket Wings and flew away.

“C’mon…“ thought Jiminy, shooting the tangos with his Cricket pistols and Tesla Arc Gloves and flying away. “This needs to work!”

Seven minutes after, he heard what he wanted to!

“Jiminy!” said Marjanah “We rescued the remaining hostages! Come back! Me and Sugarplum will give you support!” said Marjanah

“No! Stick to the plan!” said Jiminy, when he felt the tangos came to them

“No!” said Jiminy, taking his hand and loading his Tesla Arc Gloves “Sugarplum! Shield on max!”

“Roger!” said Sugarplum

Jiminy shot the Atlas straight in the chest with an all-out shot to stop him. Then he felt his Bellax Analytica alerting for a mind attack by the tango Mentalist, but he felt Marjanah came to him, and Presto did a good Magic Missile shot to take him down.

It was when the countdown zeroed and a bell rang.

“Alright… Sounds you did okay for us. But let us see: Jiminy, who were the Capes that were your tangos?” said Blackstone

“Think that the mentalist was Chakra… There was also Artemis… And I think either Astra or Shell… The only one I didn’t recognized was the Metamorph/Ajax.” he said

“It was a little cheat I did.” said Blackstone “He’s Iron Jack, one of our veteran reserves. He can turn his body into steel, so growing extremely massive and hitting people hard. In fact, by surviving an attack of him without being an Ajax or other combat-focused cape is an honor, Jiminy.”

“I think that this is enough.” said Soldaire. “Harlequin, please bring Jiminy and the others back us. I think we’ll have a decision as soon they arrive.”

“Alright.” said The Harlequin “I think you did well. Are you okay to walk?” said her, looking for Jiminy’s ankle and help supporting his body while he supported his weight on the Jiminy Cane as always.

“Just limping… Think I fell over my knee after Iron Jack’s attack.” said Jiminy looking to him “Are you alright?”

“I’ll live.” he said “Being hit by electricity is a bad thing, but I’ll survive. Clever idea: as I’m metal, electricity is a bane for me.”

“And now I see why Blue Fairy like you so much.” said a voice a little robotic behind him “I’m Shell, one of Blue Fairy’s ‘twins’. In fact, I just ‘don’ the Galathea suit as a ‘remote operator’, if you understand.” said Shell, shaking her robotic hand with Jiminy.

Harlequin ushered all of them for the same room his parents came before the Test. They entered and he saw the board, Soldaire on his best Keichisou uniform instead of his SolArmor. Blackstone had a pokerr face and looked for everyone:

“We had saw your actions, Jiminy Cricket. You still had sometimes gone reckless on some moments. If our ‘villains’ had gone really all out, maybe you could be defeated. They had orders to shoot or rip the ‘hostages’ cloths if they were rescued and they had a chance: this would be a person being killed.” said Blackstone, and Jiminy gulped.

“However, you acted as a great leader on this action: we did the Test setup on purpose, by not allowing you to take your original team’s roster best guys for your Test team. All of you,” said Blackstone looking for all of them “did very well, putting aside your common lack of combat experience. I like how you used Marjanah to fight Chakra back in Astral Plane and she reported me that you, Marjanah, is a great Astral fighter. Presto and Sugarplum, you did a good job on supporting the team, even considering the lack of super-combatants on it. Djanni, you technique still lack some polishing, but you remembered me Astra or Atlas on their beginning. And you Jiminy, you did what you could, under pressure, even more after being hit by Iron Jack. You didn’t falter and I think that you improved your Bellax Analytica during the time on hold.” said Blackstone.

“So…“ said Agent Milligan, DSA representative “We are glad to say that your CAI-Certification was revalidated and, as the Revision Board for the After-Action Report # HSF-20XX-19302, we grant back to you, Joshua McCarthy, capename Jiminy Cricket, you CAI Certification, and with it the authorization to act as Cape under Herós Sans Frontières Situation 2 Team 10 roster, represented here by the team leader Seiji Shirou, capename Soldaire. We acknowledge this by giving you back your Cape Crest.” said Agent Milligan, while Soldaire took a small dark green button with the Disney’s Jiminy Cricket head silhouette.

After Soldaire pinned the crest back on the chest of his tails, Jiminy Cricket touched it like a very dear charm or amulet. He would never admit, but he tried all the time to not think if he could lose this crest. He just came back to reality when Djanni gave him a so strong hug that almost left him without air or unbroken ribs. Sugarplum, Presto and Marjanah joined them, while he felt his Top Hat going to the ground and everyone there cheering and applauding him.

“Now…“ said Blackstone “I think that you all are hungry from the effort you did on the test. I think we can get to our dining room for some fun and a happy hour. I believe that Grendel, Crash, Megaton and the others had just bought the last copies of Just Dance and Street Fighter. However, I think you’ll want to take some bath before, to be more refreshed.” he said, and everyone chose to take a bath before.

The fun and games were good, after being too much pressured on his test.

And Jiminy could say that the food tasted incredible. The taste of relief.

Chapter 12

“We came back ORSL 1 in two days. Sure, we had lots of gifts: books, tools, supplies, even some videogames. But a hero’s work never ends, someone said, and sooner than ever we discovered this.”

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

“Jiminy, get out there!” said Sugarplum, when the weather suddenly changed to a furious torment.

“No! We need to evacuate the refugees to Atlantis before the torment came. And the others are on a rescue mission in the middle of this torment. They need me!” said Jiminy… And he were looking for all the systems, seeing the screens for all the intel: radar, weather, comms, all the things. “We need to light out things for them, so they can get back ORSL 1. They need some visual reference even with the flying instruments”

“I go…“ said Sugarplum

“NO!” shouted Jiminy “Trying to fly will be dead for you! The ormstorm is strong and the winds fast: you can’t fly into this weather. I’ll go for the lighthouse. Stay into the evacuation!” he said, running from the control room.

Just a split second after he got out the control room and got down the stairs to the platform deck, he felt a bout of wind and ran to hold himself into a steel bar fixed into another structure, locking a hook on his costume into it to avoid the bouts of wind.

It was what saved him: the bout of wind grew so strong that he saw the control room being blast away like Dorothy’s house.

“Sounds like our control room had gone to Oz, Sugarplum.” said Jiminy

“Alright! When we get out of this, we just need to ask Ozma to bring it back to us.” said Sugarplum nonchalantly, which made Jiminy give that childish giggles he givess sometimes and he felt ashamed of.

“I’ll go to the lighthouse!” said Jiminy

“Take care: this doesn’t look like a natural weather change.” said Sugarplum

“I will.” said Jiminy, running throught the platform, using his Bellax Analytica to foresee bouts of wind, waves and water puddles that could make him trip. This would be fatal: he would be thrown in the raging sea, and even he survived the fall, there was the water and the sea.

It took some minutes until he got to the lighthouse, that was stronger than the control room, made with lots of steels pillars and so. He got up the ladder, avoiding the worst bouts of wind and entered the lighthouse.

“I’m in. I’ll light the lighthouse and then I’ll go for the emergency war-room. You go for Atlantis with the refugees and so. I’ll get there as soon I can, with the others” said Jiminy

“Alright! Good luck and godspeed!” said Sugarplum, when he felt his Earbug goes mute, as Sugarplum was going down the sea via the elevator for Atlantis.

“Jiminy, I’m looking for all intel I can about this with my twins!” said Blue Fairy, dressed as the Morton Salt Girl, virtually wet from the tempest. “But it was a so sudden change that they are dealing with this as a possible Ultra Event.”

“An Ultra weather-controller? That would be good other places…“ emphized Jiminy

“Yeah, but here they are just trying to damage the ORSL line.” said Blue Fairy

“What is known about the other ORSL bases? And about Transports 1 and 2?” asked Jiminy, while filling the generator tank with some diesel from a small gallon.

“The other bases were already evacuated, and they are under a better situation. Sounds like the worst is on us, and the others are finishing the rescue they did. I sent the intel for them that we are offline until further notice via our twins. Sounds like Blackstone is not happy to see Shell being used as telephone girl.” she said

“He knows we need this line as much as possible AND I’ll use it as much as need. No more, no less.” said Jiminy, while puffing a little after igniting the diesel generator with an old-time flintlock. “Yuck! This stinks!”

“But helps!” said Blue Fairy, as they saw the light being lit. “Alright. Engage the rotation engine and let us get out here!”

“Alright!” said Jiminy, pushing some levers and running back to the ladder.

He soon was out, and a wave hit him for good, only being fixated to the ladder by his costume hook avoided him being in the sea now!

“Are you okay, Jiminy?” asked Blue Fairy

“My Hat had gone away, and my tails are almost going also, but I’m okay. I’ll let it go: better lose the tails than the neck.” said Jiminy, when another bout of wind take his tails. But he was able to get out the platform and close the trapdoor to external world.

The normal lights were out, but the red lights from the Code Red were blinking all around. He was trained on all this, but this didn’t mean he felt better, still feeling queasy. He ran as fast as he could, as the platform was being shaken like a rubber duck on a bathtub where a kid was into tantrum to not take his bath.

He ran to the door he wanted and put a keycard into the lock and waited until it lit green. As soon it did, he entered and, while taking his gloves off, he started to engage some circuit breakers and starting everything. This room was not as equipped the one that gone to Oz, but had what he needed, and was supplied by a vernetech battery made by Vulcan.

Jiminy took away his soaked waistcoat and shirt:

“You’ll get a cold, Jiminy!” said Blue Fairy

“There’s the same chance to by staying with all those wet clothes!” he said, also taking away the mask “No need for all this. At least I’ll do things comfy!”

“Alright!” pouted Blue Fairy “But when you take another penicillin shot, I’ll say ‘I warned you!’”

“Hope we’ll be alive to you say this!” said Jiminy, taking a headset and looking for the systems. All of them old-fashioned, but he was trained on them as part of his support training.

“Transports 1 and 2, here’s ORSL 1.” said Jiminy, via radio “Jiminy on it!”

“Jiminy!” said Cabby, obviously one of the pilots

“Dieu Merci, Jiminy Criquet!” said Cajun “We thought you were dead or ran to Atlantis!”

“The main control room had gone to Oz. But I will not need to walk the Yellow Brick Road. I lighted the lighthouse and I’m in the backup control room.” replied Jiminy

“Alright!” said Soldaire, on the comms. “Any tangos?”

“No… Although Blue Fairy said their twins are looking into the web for intel. Sounds like an Ultra Event.” replied Jiminy

“Seem legit…“ said Kilimanjaro “This weather change is not natural and is not something I could achieve at all. I doubt even that Nagi guy would be able to do this, at least as fast.”

“We had the refugees rescued, but we need to get there… And with this wind, as soon we touch the place, there’ll be a chance a bout of wind throw us in the sea!” said Cabby

“Let’s us try the new magnetic locks Dumont built into the platform… I’ll open the platform and left it just a little down. You engage the maglocks as soon you touch down and I’ll bring you back inside. You evacuate everyone to Atlantis. As soon both transports are down, I’ll disengage and we get to Atlantis.” said Jiminy

“The best plan we can work by now!” said Dummont, while Jiminy saw the heli getting nearby by the radar and transponders.

“Okay, you’re into IDL, this is good news.” said Jiminy

“Any bad news?” said Cabby

“Beside the weather, nothing.” said Jiminy, working some buttons “Engaging the platform first for you, Transport 2. Transport 1, do the orbit in the meantime. Don’t try to stay still in the air: the bouts of wind will throw you in the sea like a ball of paper!”

“Alright.” said Cajun, while Transport 2 touched the ground and the maglocks did his job, by holding the helicopter still while he was brought below the platform to the “garage”, another platform closing over them

“Now, be ready to get down, Transport 1. When touch and lock, full shutdown!” said Jiminy

“Alright!” said Cajun in the helicopter.

“Dumont, be nearby if the system fails. Maybe you can MacGyver something.” said Jiminy

“Right.” he said.

It was when the Transport 1 touched and the maglock engaged, or at least on one of the skids.

But the other skid had not been fixed, and a bout of wind just made the helicopter fell aside in the platform while it was retracting, bringing back the helicopter, the main rotor blades being blasted of its mast, just the platform retraction saving the people in the helicopter of being hurt from the blades’ debris.

“Everyone okay?” said Jiminy, his heart almost going out

“We are okay.” said Kuntur. “Beside the damages in the heli, and some small bruises, we’re all okay, including the refugees.”

“I’m getting there as soon we finish here.” said LionHeart

“I’m going too.” said Jiminy, getting out the room

He ran to the Transport 1 “garage”, while LionHeart and Djanni pushed the helicopter back on their skids.

“Alright. Everyone, Pretty Please! follow our capes instructions to get orderly to a safe place! S’il vous plait suivez nos instructions de capes pour être ordonné dans un endroit sûr. aljamie, yrja min fadalakum aitibae ‘iirshadat alraas ladayna lilhusul ealaa makan amin.” said Jiminy, while they run and put everyone into the elevators to Atlantis.

Jiminy got with his group and Djanni with them.

“Are you okay, Jiminy? You’re almost naked.” said Djanni

“My clothes were all wet. I thought it would be better to just take them off before I got a… AAAAHHHH… AAAAAAHHHHHHH… A-TCCHOOOOOO!!!!” he said, and he sneezed

“I warned you!” said into a singsong chirp Blue Fairy, still as the Morton Salt Girl, but his umbrella closed.

“And I said I would be glad to hear you say this… A-TCCHOOOOOO!!!!” said Jiminy, while they got down.

“I think we all need some hot shower, dry clothes and good hot cocoa.” said LionHeart, on another of the elevators, while they got down to Atlantis.

Things were not that good, though. After a hot shower and a new costume, Joshua felt himself very sore, his muscles sore and painful for some reason. Also, he could not speak too much, his throat sore and fever was growing on him. Dr. Lesley Dimantas looked for him and asked for some exams. The Vernetech provided the results very fast:

“Well… Well… Not too good news, Joshua.” tutted Lesley, while Joshua got over an hospital bed in Atlantis’ Medical Wing “Sounds like you had a very bad tonsillitis, combed with a strong cold thanks the rain. Your immunity was a little low recently thanks to the stress thanks to the stress and you got some bad viruses that made your tonsils grow inflamed.”

“But… I’ll be okay, right?” rasped Joshua, trying to speak the better he could with the sore throat.

“We’ll start with some antibiotics, adding it to the penicillin you already took, and look on how things will evolve, while the extra exams will show us what what really caused the tonsillitis. For now, I’ll put you on a liquid diet: basically juices, soups and broths. No solid food to avoid pain and maybe some hurt that could make things grow worse. Maybe tomorrow or the day after you’ll be able to deal with some purees, porridge and other mushy food…“ said Lesley “I’ll avoid the tonsillectomy, the tonsils surgical extraction, as I don’t know if there would be impacts on your immunological system, and as you’re a breakthrough without healing powers and that deals constantly with refugees that, unknowingly by them of course, can be vectors for all kinds of infections and so, doing anything that could compromise your immunological system would be a bad idea. Don’t talk too much until your throat got okay.”

Joshua nodded.

“I’ll ask Richard to do a good strong soup, that reinforce your immunological system: I want to avoid put you on strong antibiotics, this will be last resort. We already entered meds on you with the penicillin shot I gave you before. We’ll enter with some oral antibiotics also, so we can use weaker antibiotics on injections and on the drip. As I don’t know what kind of virus we have here, I’ll ask everyone that came here to talk with you using masks and gloves. Looks like a common viruses or bacteria, but I don’t want to take chances: Atlantis is an insulated environment, a cross contamination with a weird virus could be an incredible bad issue. I hope we have good news soon.” said Lesley, while turning on the TV, a weird cartoon called Masha and The Bear on it, and getting out the room.

“Wow! Sounds like really bad news.” said Blue Fairy

“I know you want to play the ‘I warned you’ card.” thought Joshua: the great advantage to talk with Blue Fairy is that he didn’t need to really talk, as she was linked straight to his brain via the Quantum Link. He just needed to think on what he wanted to talk. This made talking with her even better now, as he doesn’t feel pain.

“Yes, I wanted, but… Tonsillitis is horrible! I remember when I had some of them: it was really painful. I just never complained because it was more or less thesame time that Hope, Astra, had cancer.” said Blue Fairy

“Astra had cancer?” thought Joshua, abashed

“Duh… Do you think that, because you had undergone breakthrough as a kid, everyone else had? Hope wasn’t always Astra, you know. In fact, we could say that my original self, Shelly Boyar, didn’t saw her friend undergo breakthrough. We know about this because the Future Files and because Shelly and Shell had searched for this information when they were activated into Astra’s mind, more or less like I did with you. And this information was downloaded back on T.A.’s database, and so I could access it.” said Blue Fairy

“Wow…“ said Joshua “Never thought on this.”

“I know.” said Blue Fairy “But let us see that cartoon in the TV. Looks fun how that girl looks like she’s on a Red Bull overdose!” she said giggling.

Joshua was always felt weird on hearing Blue Fairy laughing into his head, but it was good on those situations where he was all alone. He always thought, and he knew Blue Fairy knew about it, that she was what allowed him to cope when he was kidnapped by Alsyf Alayat, the Sword Verses, a Caliphate nut with the same kind of powers of himself, although the Sword Verse, his Do as I said! power, was really stronger than his Pretty Please! as he even could put some Post-Hypnotic Suggestion on others, like he did with Marjanah.

Some time after, Richard and a small man with a brunette hair and a Mexican face came with his dinner. For some reason, he was familiar for Joshua.

“Hey, Pepito Grillo, sounds like you got really sick.” said the man, and it was when he recognized the voice.

“Hufflepuff?” he tried to scream, but that resulted only on a rasp whisper and Joshua coughing in pain because of the tonsillitis, and Richard came and making Joshua drinks some water.

“Don’t talk by now.” said Richard “Medical orders. Lesley said me to bring you some reinforced food and I did a kind of soup. Some ideas from Andre, some from Juan and them we made a good something that could help you.” said Richard, while Hufflepuff pushed the table for the bed where Joshua was, while Richard put a tray with a salver over it. Removing the top of it there was a steaming hot bowl of a good smelling soup.

“I did it using some ideas from Andre, from some kind of Brazilian soup called canja, by using rice, potato and Peruvian parsnip. And we put some powerful spice from Mexico and some chili con carne on it, as Juan suggested.” said Richard, while Juan lifted the bed head so he could eat the soup.

He took a spoonful of it and almost cough: he did a gesture indicating it was too hot.

“Richard said you it took chili con carne. And good chili con carne is always very hot.” said Juan, the brunette man, while Joshua took a gulp from a glass of water. “That was what my abuela gave me when I had any kind of cold: a good broth made with lots of chili con carne.”

“Okay… Just cool it out a little.” said Richard, while Joshua did it.

The next spoonful, a little cooler, got down easily, without hurting more Joshua’s throat. He smiled and gave a thumbs up, showing that it was really good.

“Liked it? We are glad. We know that maybe your health had gone to the dogs thanks to all the rain and cold winds you took outside.” said Richard, and Joshua gave a small shrug.

“Too much difficult to express yourself without talking?” said Juan “Maybe Blue Fairy could help you.”

“Hey! I’m not his translator.” said Blue Fairy, although no one could hear her.

Joshua did a gesture showing his hand and then he pointed the TV.

“Oh, yeah! You should need to touch the TV so you could download Blue Fairy.” said Juan “And, as you’re all sore, maybe today this could be not a good idea.”

Joshua nodded, and then he pointed Juan’s head and made a gesture like someone wearing a mask

“Oh, my mask? You see… As a Luchador, I avoid as much as possible show myself without the mask, so people doesn’t associate me me to Hufflepuff me. In fact, I’m both, but as Hufflepuff I’m more than myself to everyone else. But I forgot my other masks were with my dirty clothes, and so I have no masks after my own being so wet. I put it to dry a little into my room, but until it dries, I have no access to my powers as a Luchador, as I’m without La Passion Por La Lucha. If a enemigo saw me this way, I could not affect him or even no one, but as things are more okay here, I chose to take it away and be just Juan Acierdo for some hours. Need to say that’s a little weird for me, as I’m Hufflepuff almost 24/7/365.”

Joshua’s eyes went wide and Juan understood the question: “Aren’t you afraid? You have no powers now!”

“Beside the refugees, no potential tangos could get here: remember we are at least 750 meters down the sea line, over the sea mantle. So few breakthroughs could get here without any kind of support, I think we are safe by now.” said Juan

Joshua nodded while taking the food.

“You were very courageous, Pepito Grillo.” said Juan “The tempest was really strong: if you didn’t light us the way, we would had lost ourself in the rain, and probably we would crash in the sea as soon the fuel ran out, and probably we would die. We couldn’t see a nothing in front of us. And also you had gave us all directions and had the idea on to get into the platform and bring the helicopters in ASAP. I can’t imagine how you walked on all this.”

Joshua gave a small nonchalantly look, like he was saying “I was just doing my job.”

“But now you’re this sick.” he said

“Occupational Hazard.” said Joshua by looking, while finishing his food. He finished the soup and they brought him a glass of chocolate milk as dessert.

“Alright, let us go, or Lesley will come and kick us out your room. And she can do this as a Metamorph.” said Richard, while they got out the room.

“Never saw Hufflepuff without his mask… I say, for real: all I know about this is based on information I gathered on your mind before show myself to you.” said Blue Fairy.

“He have no power without his mask, and, by what I read about his Power-Type, if the mask is destroyed or if he’s shown on civil to big crowds, he can lose La Passion Por La Lucha, and with it his powers, even forever. Because of this, for a Luchador cape, a Lucha de Apuestas is a big business, as the prize for the winner is the mask of the loser, that the winner could do whatever he wants to do, even destroy it, making impossible to recover La Passion Por La Lucha.” thought Joshua.

“Wow… Sounds like big business… So, the idea is that he could walk as civil without being noticed by others…“ said Blue Fairy.

“Yup…“ thought Joshua “And this is why he’s almost all the time with his mask, even in shower: as we could be called to action fast, he could not be naïve enough to be unprepared, and for him, being unmasked is being unprepared.” thought Joshua, when Dr. Lesley entering his room and she said, smiling.

“Good news: looks like your tonsillitis is from a well known bacteria. We’ll stay with the antibiotics for some days and see. If the evolution in four days is not enough, I’ll ready everything for the tonsillectomy. Looks like that tango doesn’t want to let us get up for sometime: there was still the torment over us, but beside the control room there was no significant damages for ORSL 1. By now, we’ll stay here at Atlantis, until we can go up. Sounds like some tangos are readying themselves to try to tag us and claim ORSL 1 for them,” said Dr. Lesley and she continued when he looked for Joshua face of anticipation “but you’ll NOT. GET. IN. ACTION. You’re on bench by medical orders. Rest and be good for get back. Don’t play naïve with tonsillitis: any -itis disease is an infection, and ill-treated infections could result on a sepsis, and this would be REALLY. BAD. NEWS.” she said, and Joshua gulped, which made a little pain in the throat.

“So, I’ll ask Wahiba to change your medication: she was ready as a campaign nurse. Maybe she could even get into Red Crescent if she doesn’t want to stay with us after her sidekick.” said Lesley “Now, take some sleep. Tomorrow, I want you to avoid talk still. If you want to, you can ‘download’ Blue Fairy in the TV to help you… But now, sleep. Pip pip.” she said, getting out the room while Wahiba got with his new medicament flask.

And, just a little after Wahiba got and exchange the medicament flask, Joshua dozed off.

Chapter 13

“The tangos were persistent, but they suffered a lot: as soon the others got over back ORSL 1, they pushed them back hard. I didn’t took action, because the tonsillitis wasn’t healing that fast and I was very sore and had fever. But some time after, I was healed enough to get back the cape.”

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

It was a good sunny day. Which was good, as Joshua was still recovering from the tonsillitis. After the Ultra Event, they had pushed back the tangos that tried to invade ORSL 1. However, they didn’t discovered the Ultra that did all that mess. In the meantime, he needed to repair the damages ORSL 1 suffered.

Joshua was into a dark green combination of shirt and overalls, working on the replacement for the Transport 1’s main engine, that lost his main blades and damaged both engines in the last rescue.

“How are you doing, Joshua?” said Kabba, who was working on it with him.

Joshua gave a thumbs up: as he was still recovering from the tonsillitis, he was avoiding to talk. he discovered that his Pretty Please! is voice-dependant. So, with his voice still rasping and hoarse and his throat still sore, he was down on his Pretty Please! as power. This way, it was better for him to help on other things, like repairing ORSL 1 damages.

“Now… Let us see how things are.” said Kabba, while Joshua finished to screw the engine close. He also put some oil on the places it was needed. “Alright, back now, Joshua!” said Kabba, while they looked to the engine. Kabba just fixated it in a special test platform, connected some test equipment, and both put some ear protectors before Kabba gave the engine power on.

The Kerberos’ howl the engine gave was familiar for Joshua, after all the time piloting helicopters, going to and from Siracusa and Malta, bringing supplies and sending refugees and so. Kabba looked satisfied also.

“Sounds like our little baby here is okay. Let us wait just a little more, but as far I looked, the engine is correctly built.” said Kabba.

Jiminy gave that look on “Why not bring this thing assembled?”

“We need to be as self-dependant as possible, so the equipment maintenance should be our own. We’ll only send equipment to others if they need some regimental inspections, like the helicopters. Otherwise, all the maintenance and inspections will be on our own as much as possible.” said Kabba, when they heard Wahiba into their minds.

“Everyone, come to the conference room. Sounds like we have some intel on the tangos from the Ultra Event.” she said.

“Right, we are going.” said Kabba, while shutting down the engine. “Later we can ask help for Altayr or Ric to assemble this one in the helicopter. Let just remove the worst on the oil and dirt and get on. Seiji hates to be left waiting people.”

“We discovered some intel about that tango from the tempest.” said Soldaire, as soon everyone sat down in the ORSL 1 “war room”, where he was showing the intel he received “He also interfered on lots of operations on a region nearby Darfur where UN and LDS suspects is the main Caliphate site.” he finished start to rolling out a presentation.

“This is Yussuf Al-Hadq, and we still are gathering some intel on him. But what we know is that he was born at Romania as a Coptic Christian, but he had converted to Islamism and gone radical very fast. Some of the gossips and intel we are digging about him says he lost his family into a black ops from Romanian’s government and that was what triggered his breakthrough. He gone totally psychologically broken, after suffering this black op and being discharged with dishonor.” said Soldaire

“And this is the kind of situation that people that want to enlist people against governments and other cultures likes…“ said LionHeart “Say a doctrine, religion or philosophy, and I can say you a, pardon the french, son of a bitch that wants to take this kind of people, broken and fragilized, to use as cannon fodder for their own causes. Saw that a lot in Bronx: Left, Right, Christian, Islam, Fascist, Socialist, you name it.”

“You’re right, Ric.” said Soldaire “He had converted to Islam and then radicalized: initially, he worked with Red Crescent and helped a lot, but it was when he had gone under a certain Imam called Saladin Al-Hadith that worked as a Caliphate recruiter and indoctrinator, and then he had radicalized.”

“And so he gone against other religions and so…“ said Djanni disgusted “Those murtadd are the worst.”

“Well… From the lose of his family to re-emerge as part of the more important Caliphate guys it took 3 years. Beside being an Ultra weather manipulator, he’s a incredible strategist and a incredible combatant: before the black ops, he served as a special operations officer for Romanian army, passing through all kind of bad times you can think in his life, from the falling of the Iron Curtain to the Event to China secession to the Caliphate War.” said Soldaire.

“Do you know anything about him, Blue Fairy?” thought Jiminy, while seeing Blue Fairy, dressed into a blue-colored Sherlock Holmes costume.

“The game is afoot, Jiminy. I’m trying to get all intel I can, but the Future Files are murky on this topic. I’m doing my best, and my twins are helping, but I’ll need time.” said Blue Fairy.

“Right…“ thought Jiminy.

“Looks there’s an Asimov that is double-crossing the Caliphate by leaking information about it. The data is still small and unprocessed, but looks like he had gathered lots of intel and is leaking it as soon is safe and checked on truthness…“ said Soldaire “How he’s doing this undetected is a mystery. There’s some talking about he being a TRON, an artificial entity created by a Verne that achieved consciousness on his own. He uses the capename Hudhud…”

“The Hoopoe that shown Suleiman, Peace upon him, about the Queen of Saba, Bilquis, and his sun-worshipping apostasy. It was when Suleiman asked her to see the truth and accept Allah, which she did after seeing Suleiman’s wisdom.” said Djanni, as a kind of trivia.

“So… Looks like this Hoopoe wants to show us something rotten on Caliphate, like the original did about the sun-worshipping.” said Kuntur

“And what you have?” asked Panther

“Lots of intel…“ said Soldaire “But Interpol and LDS are still working them to confirm or deny their validity. So, I’m still holding this on until we have things more confirmed.”

Soldaire took a sip of a glass of water, and then restarted.

“Looks like the Caliphate structure isn’t that centralized as everyone thought: they are more a concept than an organization. They have cells all around the Mediterranean countries, and they are expanding to places as far as Indonesia, Vietnam and the Nordic countries.” said Soldaire “And they are not to fight a ‘conventional’ war: they noted that they would lose this way.”

“So… They’ll go for a kind of world guerrilla war?” said Sugarplum “That’s insane!”

“We agree, but sounds that, for them, this is a valid way to deal with their, quote-unquote, cleansing the world from the apostasies and heresies to the to-soon coming of the Mahdi. In fact, the same old kind of balderdash since always. Crusades had done this, fascism had done this…“ said Soldaire

“We could lose hours lecturing each other on all this.” said Marjanah, first time with her “official” costume, as he had into a simple domino mask and overall suit into his revalidation, a common hijab over her head. Now she was using a dark green tank top and pants with a veil-like hijab covering her hair, a niqab on the same color covering his face, leaving only her eyes out and a pair of Fake Orichalcum Janbiya daggers on her wrist with her standard toolkit every Herós Sans Frontières cape wear and should learn to use before taking the CAI-certification. He could see also her Crest: some lines that formed a kind of shape into Arabic style, like a fox or a fast wind, with Arabic text that he could recognized as Qu’ran’s Sura 3, Verse 195. “But this doesn’t change the fact they use the Holy Qu’ran, with Allah the Most High (PBHU)’s words, for hate. And this would not be.”

“We need to be alert, also.” said Soldaire “We have some intel that says that the ORSL line, specially ORSL 1, are on their list of Alpha priority targets. This explains the intensity they pushed us last time. No matter what, we should not allow them to get into the platform.”

“And this take us to the logistics: Transport 1 is crashed under repair. Transport 2 shouldn’t be used for supplies. And the other two helis, 3 and 4, are small ones for patrol and small deliveries. Our supplies are dangerously low: we’ll soon get into emergency levels.” said Sugarplum.

“We still have the boats if needed, but we’ll need to work it smoothly: a sea like the one in tempest, and it would be doom for anyone on them.” said Dumont.

“Maybe we should haste the helis maintenance. How things are, Cabby, Jiminy?” said Soldaire, but looking for Jiminy.

Cabby looked to Soldaire “Jiminy is still recovering from the tonsillitis, but I can say that we are ahead on the schedule. We just finished to assemble the main engine and we are to build it back to the helicopter. We just need to finish then the tail reassembling and give some check before a test flight.”

“Okay… Do it ASAP!” said Soldaire “Reconstruct our defenses and repair our equipment is Alpha Priority.”

Joshua and Kabba worked hard on the Mi-171A2, Transport 1, and two days passed until everything was ready. The new Vernetech avionics were deployed and they had a new kind of avionics and weaponry for both Transport 1 and 2. The Transport 1 was deployed at the platform, as they would do a Test flight.

“Okay… Altayr, I want you to help us and be ready to take us if we need to jump out the helicopter.” said Kabba.

“Right.” said Altayr.

“And, Joshua, I want you to be the copilot.” said Kabba, looking for Joshua, that was finishing to recover from the tonsillitis, so he gave a thumb up. “If at anytime you see things is growing dangerous with your Bellax Analytica, please alert me before it’s too late. If you’re still with problems with your voice, I think that Blue Fairy can help us.”

“Alright.” said Blue Fairy although no one could hear her beside Joshua

Joshua nodded and got for the copilot position, touching the contacts “download” Blue Fairy into the system. Kabba sat into the pilot seat.

“Nervous?” said Kabba.

“A little.” whispered Joshua, while fasting the seat-belts.

“As soon I start the takeoff procedure, use your Bellax Analytica as far you can.” said Kabba, starting the takeoff procedure.

Things started as okay as ever, but when he was almost to give full power to takeoff, Jiminy felt something and passed the information through Blue Fairy into thinking speed.

“Kabba! Stop now! Something is wrong with the Main Rotor Blades!” said Blue Fairy, and Kabba slowed it down a little and get out the heli.

“Altayr, can you see anything?” said Kabba

Altayr concentrated a little, using his super-duper-vision and hearing, he saw something:

“Looks like the main rotor dome is a little loose. The blades are vibrating. Just a little: I can just notice the vibration and the weird sounds of it because my super-senses.” said Altayr.

“This vibration would make the dome collapses, so the blade basically would fly off the dome and so we would have no power or sustentation for the helicopter. It would fall like a rock in the sea.” said Blue Fairy.

“Humm. Joshua, cut the power off and shut it down.” said Kabba while running to the warehouse to catch some tools.

He came and asked Joshua for help while fixating correctly the main rotor. As soon they finish, they started again, asking Altayr to see if everything is alright.

“It’s stable!” said Altayr

“It’s right!” whispered Joshua “My Bellax Analytica shows no problem!”

“Alright, taking off.” said Kabba, making the helicopter got up just some centimeters. “Now, testing the tail rotors.”

He moved the lever to push it star side and port side.

“Nothing, Joshua?” said Kabba

“Nothing.” he confirmed.

“Nothing here too.” said Altayr “I’m using my super-senses and the tail is stable as rock!”

“Now, let us try a small flight, just to the IDL and back again.” said Kabba, pushing the lever to the sea direction, Altayr starting to flight aside.

It was a quick flight, and then they got back. Kabba did some check on structure and saw nothing that would displease him.

“Okay… Everything sounds nice!” he said, satisfied. “Think our Transport 1 is back.”

“So we have some need on supplies.” said Seiji, that got nearby “Go for your costumes while I’ll send the list for Siracusa. We were operating on emergency levels. And I don’t want to be catch off guard in a potential attack.”

“Roger!” said Kabba and Joshua, running to put themselves ready.

Chapter 14

“All the mess about that guy made some crazy guys got out of the radar. We are not like the people in comics that have that kind of super-power to be ubiquitous and know everything. We are limited, as are our resources…“

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

The Red Alert was alarmed everywhere. Jiminy just recovered himself from the tonsillitis and was doing some training on the boats when he heard Soldaire on his Earbug:

“Jiminy, get back! We have a Code Red for the ORSL and for all the CAI and SPAT teams in the Mediterranean!” said Soldaire

“What?” said Jiminy, maneuvering the boat so fast that Cabby wasn’t sent out in the sea just by sheer luck.

“Hey Jiminy!” said Cabby “Take care when doing this kind of maneuver.”

“We are on a Code Red. Soldaire just said me.” said Jiminy, pushing the power lever to the max. “Alright, we are a go, Soldaire!” said Jiminy in the Earbug.

As soon Jiminy and Cabby got there, they found Sugarplum, Djanni, Presto and Marjanah waiting them.

“Okay, let’s go!” said Jiminy

They got into the meeting room at ORSL 1, where the others were seeing some maps and TV news in the screens.

“Alright… That’s a weird situation: there was an Earthquake that almost turned the Hagia Sophia at Constantinople into shambles, and also affected the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Also did lots of damage at Constantinople State and some regions of Kurdistan, but didn’t was detected just a little far away from that points, somewhat 100 kilometers or so. This is an physical impossibility, so for sure this is an Ultra Event. Almost immediately the Caliphate had said it was not their work. Well, I don’t think they would try to destroy a mosque, but there’s something fishy on all this.” said Soldaire

“Could they be lying?” said Jiminy

“I can’t see…“ said Djanni “The Mosque is an important Sunni mosque, and many on the Caliphate are so.”

“In fact… Even the shi’a would always respect the Sultan Ahmed Mosque as holy ground.” said Marjanah

“So…“ said Jiminy “Even with a pinch of salt, should we take this as truth?”

“Sounds like.” said LionHeart “But… In this case, there’s a third force acting all around… This sounds no good at all.”

“Whatever… We’ll have not too much time to speculate.” said Soldaire “We are into Code Red, Alpha Priority situation, defined by Herós Sans Frontières. Sounds like many people lost their homes and are potentially getting away. Some of them even trying to get into Cyprus and Italy via Mediterranean. So, ORSL line is on a lockdown: no one getting in without previous granting. In ORSL 7 will be established a triage site, and they’ll need all the cape support needed. However, we can’t weaken the ORSL defense. We chose to send just some of you to help there. In fact: Sugarplum, Jiminy Cricket, Djanni, Marjanah, Presto, Squirrel Girl, you’re the ones to be sent from our team. Sugarplum, you’re the team leader for this, as beside Squirrel Girl, you’re the only adult of the team. Your mission is to provide support at ORSL 7: they were just recently commissioned, and they are still a very small site.”

“Right!” said Sugarplum

“So, you’ll take Transport 4, the Twin Squirrel, to get there. They would have no space for other helicopter, anyway. I think you’ll need to stop at ORSL 3 and ORSL 5 before getting there.” said Cabby “Jiminy, you’ll be the pilot. Presto can work as copilot, as he have some basic piloting training.”

“Roger!” said Jiminy

“Now, go for your rooms, take what you need and go.” said Soldaire

“And is what you really need.” said Jiminy “The Twin Squirrel has not too much space or cargo capacity.”

“I can go by flying, if needed.” said Djanni

“No way.” said Jiminy “Too much tiring. Spare you strength for the action. I think we need all strength we need.”

“Alright. Go go go!” said Sugarplum

Everyone got to their rooms: they knew the drill. They should take some costumes, maybe some civil clothes for off-duty time, all needed equipment, including the standard rescue belt all HSF capes uses and so.

Jiminy closed his bag and got to the Transport 4, their AS355-NP Ecureuil 2, and opened the cargo place and put his bag on it. Then he started to look the helicopter to check if everything’s okay, while the others came to the helicopter garage.

“Everyone, put your things on the luggage compartment.” said Jiminy

“Roger.” the others said.

“Jiminy, I’ve calculated a main route and some alternatives. Avoid to get too far from continent: just go more to the sea when approaching the legs. I’ve calculated the extra routes and marked all our friendly posts in the African Mediterranean seashore. Good news is that the weather will be good all time.” said Cabby “I’m transferring all the data for your epad, and Dumont installed some new vernetech HUD on Transport 4 recently.”

“Okay. Pre-flight check okay, all green.” said Jiminy, going for his position as pilot. “Presto, in the copilot seat.”

“Right!” said Presto, sitting on the Jiminy other side.

“Everyone, get up!” sighed Jiminy “Starting the departure procedure.”

Everyone got up, even being a little cramped, specially because Squirrel Girl’s tail

“Hey, we don’t need this tail here!” said Djanni

“Oh, pooh!” pouted Squirrel Girl, shrinking her tail

“Now, everyone, there’s some videogames the Chicago Sentinels gave us when I was revalidating my Certification. Play some Mario Kart to pass time, okay?” said Jiminy

“Never thought I would be retorted by a kid.” said Sugarplum, smiling, taking the small bag with the games below the seats

“Alright… Let’s start. Presto, double check me.” said Jiminy, pushing the pilot headset

“Right.” said Presto, taking out his hat and putting the other headset

“ORSL 1, Transport 4, readying for departure. Do the de-parking procedure while we do the departure checks.” said Jiminy Cricket

“Alright, Transport 4.” said Cabby, that was the responsible for the system.

It was as smooth as it could be: in few minutes, the Transport 4 had departed for his 6-hour flight.

“Are we nearly there yet daddy?” said Djanni, mocking a spoiled kid

“No, Djanni!” said Jiminy, frustrated. He was taking a small rest, while Presto was piloting the helicopter. He was sore and tired and had not any time to have fun.

“Calm down, Jiminy.” said Sugarplum

“Sorry… I’m really tired. Never pilot that much, even putting on account the stops for refuels and food and go to bathroom.” said Jiminy

“Alright… Think we are almost there, right?” said Marjanah

“Sounds like: the map is showing we are getting nearby. And the fuel is below a third.” said Jiminy

“There it is, right?” said Presto, pointing a place in the sea with his empty hand.

There was another recommissioned oil platform. It was a bit smaller then ORSL 1, but the flag with the Herós Sans Frontières’ banner on it could not be mistaken.

“Alright… It’s there!” said Jiminy, when he pushed the radio button “ORSL 7, here is ORSL 1 Transport 4, calling for arriving procedure. Copy?”

“Copy. Go for frequency 455.840, encrypt level 1.” said someone in the other side.

“Roger.” Jiminy said, setting the radio with the encryption mode and frequency determined.

“Here’s Jiminy Cricket, from ORSL 1. With me are Djanni, Atlas; Sugarplum and Presto, Merlins; Marjanah, Mentalist; Squirrel Girl, Metamorph. We are sent to reinforce ORSL 7 after the Hagia Sophia’s Ultra Event, as asked for by ORSL 7 to ORSL 1.”

“ORSL 7, here. Prop here. I’m the team leader. Thank you for the capes. We asked also for some medical supplies.” said the ORSL 7 leader, and Jiminy recognized the voice: Prop was one of the guys who saved him in the first time he crossed with the Pure God Work Fraternity people.

“We had.” said Squirrel Girl “We brought some emergency supplies.”

“And as soon we deploy the team, our heli will be able to transport some supplies from Cyprus and from ORSL 5 and 6. We are under an AS355-NP Ecureuil 2, so we don’t have too much cargo by now. We chose to bring ourselves and some emergency supplies from your list. But the helicopter can be adapted easily to deal with cargo.” said Jiminy, while approaching.

“Roger. Go for the main heliport. We’ll bring you inside via parking system.” said Prop, while Jiminy was flying over the heliport. He touched down the Ecureuil 2 and some local Berets connected some hooks to hold the helicopter to the parking system. Jiminy started to shut down the engines while they were brought back.

As soon they arrived at the helicopter park, he saw again Prop: big and, albeit American-born, cut as an English guy, he was a B-Class Atlas, weaker than Djanni, but very experienced. He also played rugby at college, and he had his breakthrough during a game that happened just in The Event. As he was a Prop in The Game, he chose it as capename.

“Nice to see you again, Jiminy.” said Prop, shaking hands to everyone, while two Berets started to unload and refuel the helicopter “Soldaire said me you would get soon. I didn’t believed when he said me you were the one piloting the heli, but need to say it’s a nice surprise to see you able to do this.”

“Nice to see you also, Prop.” said Jiminy “Those are the capes ORSL 1 could send by now: Djanni, Presto, Marjanah, Squirrel Girl and the team leader Sugarplum”

“Nice to see you.” said Prop, shaking hands with everyone “Now, I’ll show you the quarters and then we’ll talk our situation.”

The quarters were somewhat below the platform: ORSL 7 hadn’t an Atlantis-like extension and so it grown in the sides of the lianas from the platform, all the extensions connected to the lianas. In one of those extensions was their rooms:

“Two rooms for you: one for boys, other for girls.” said Prop. “Hope they are okay: we are not as big as ORSL 1, so things here are a little cramped.”

“It’s okay.” said Sugarplum “It’ll be three for room, think we can go comfy enough.”

“And think there’ll not be too much time for sleep.” said Prop “We need you ASAP, as there lots of refugees, some of them casualties from the Ultra Event. And we are in need of supplies: ORSL 5 and 6 will be our proxies for supplies.”

“Okay… Squirrel Girl, I want you to be with me to see about the refugees. Djanni, Marjanah, with me to see for security improvements and work with internal security. Jiminy, Presto, as soon Transport 4 is refueled, go for ORSL 6 to bring some supplies. Looks like we’ll need as much of it as we can.” said Sugarplum

“Roger!” said everyone, joining their functions even without some rest

Chapter 15

“From that time up, I lost track on how much I flown. It’s weird to say this, because I’m a non-flyer breakthrough, but after four days I could start the Transport 4 almost without looking.”

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

After some days, ORSL 7 situation was more stable, supplied on all it needs. Jiminy passed almost all the time between ORSL 7, the HSF base at Cyprus where some of the donations and supplies for ORSL 7 were, and ORSL 5. The Transport 4 was adapted quickly as a transportation helicopter, removing all the seats for passengers and leaving all the back as cargo space, as the AS355-NP, the Twin Squirrel, with its the maximum load of 2,800 kg, allowed them to bring over 1 ton of cargo per travel. As he as the pilot and Presto or Djanni as copilot were slim, they could bring lots of supplies.

It was an exhaustive time for Jiminy, that flew there and back again a lot, at least two supplying missions every day. He took Presto as copilot so he could either relieve himself occasionally and offer some in-field training and flying hours for Presto.

“This is a bore.” said Presto frustrated, while taking the helicopter a little after they take off for another resupply mission, going to Cyprus “Thought we would fight super-villains and so.”

“This is not Sentinels show. In fact, even the real Sentinels doesn’t fight super-villains on a frequent basis. Normally, we capes show ourselves as symbols of power. And, in Herós Sans Frontières, we are also symbols of hope: remember that we are” said Jiminy, showing the Herós Sans Frontières crest, with the motto of HSF “super-aide pour les super-besoins, super-help for super-needs.”

“Yeah… But…“

“But you thought that we would use our powers to fight super-villain over super-villain. It’s normal: the films, shows and comic books show this as a cape life. However, a cape life is more about helping people as far you can than about kick butts.” said Jiminy, while they are getting nearby the Cyprus HSF base.

They got down and took a meal while waiting for the heli being refueled and loaded with the supplies.

“How are things, Sargent Pearson?” said Jiminy

Sargent Allyson Pearson was the Cyprus HSF base commander. After some time at US Army, she chose to discharge herself from it and gone to HSF after too much wars and so. A Caliphate War veteran, she came back to Cyprus as volunteer and took the commanding station after the former commander retired.

“Tense, Jiminy…“ said her “After that Hagia Sofia mess, almost all military troops from everyone in the Mediterranean gone Code Yellow, ready to action. As Cyprus is an independent country, but with a love/hate relationship with some of their neighbors, like what was left of Turkey when Constantinople state rose, Kurdistan and Greece, people here is tense with the chance of an attack.”

“Do you think Greece could try something?” said Presto

“Better safe than sorry, kids. War is always part of international politics: we are not ready yet to deal with things without a big stick, even speaking softly between each other… We are all reflexes on the past politics: Monroe Doctrine, Cold War… We were made by those.” said her, when they hear a BOOM! somewhere nearby.

“What was that?” asked Presto, worried

“We’re under attack!” said Jiminy, using his Bellax Analytica “Someone is trying to bring us the Foxtrot!”

“Caliphate?” shouted Allyson

“Doesn’t look like.” replied Jiminy “No identification, 100% breakthrough, the weakest C-Class!”

“What?” gone flabbergasted Presto

“Forget it!” shouted Sargent Pearson “Leave this to us! As soon the heli is refueled, go away on emergency takeoff!”

“No chance!” said Jiminy “Looks like they are looking for any weak spot to get in! Let us at least help before the heli is ready!”

“Okay.” said Sargent Pearson, when the sirens started to wail.

They could hear the BUDDHA-BUDDHA-BUDDHA from the military weapons, but they saw lots of guys coming.

“Presto, be ready for defensive spells, as strong as you can!” said Jiminy “Look out for Speedsters!”

“Roger!” confirmed Presto, concentrating himself

Jiminy felt his Bellax Analytica engaging like a Danger Sense when a guy came to him, very fast. He had time to ready himself and, using Savate techniques and his Jiminy Cane, he dropped the guy as fast as he ran against him, a good kick and the taser on Jiminy Cane being enough to drop the guy.

He heard another guy screaming when some of Presto’s Magical Missiles were shot against him.

“Dropped one, but they are strong! Shot other four, they didn’t felt it.” said Presto, doing some magical gestures “Warding us!”

“Okay!” said Jiminy, setting the Cricket pistols for Stun “We’ll help the capes here!”

“Havoc protocols?”

“Not yet!” said Jiminy. “Use the Magical Missiles: they are weaker than other attacks, but provide us with the direct hit to stop Speedsters or Teleporters.”

“Roger!” said Presto

They continued to fight and dropped two other guys, Jiminy’s training on Savate paying the profits. They were making their best to resist until the heli to be refueled.

But they didn’t counted with some old skeletons from them.

A rain of leaves were shot directly against both Jiminy and Presto. Both rolled out, but felt a vacuum sound which made them split. Jiminy also dodged a heated energy blast.

“What?” thought Jiminy, feeling something wrong by the power combination

“They! Here? What the …“ said Presto

They looked to their attackers: Kyle Montague, Razorleaf (real name: Jonathan Leaf) and Ballistic (real name: Sturm Williams)

But they looked stronger than they were before.

“How they…“ thought Jiminy.

“Long time no see, shrimp.” said Kyle “Now… Less talk more action. Me, Razorleaf and Ballistic came for a tag, but never thought we would be so fortunate to find you two little goody two-shoes!”


“Shut the f$%k up, shrimp. I’m Fusion now.” said Kyle, or better, Fusion

“Blue Fairy, anything?” thought Jiminy, trying to multitask his actions

“Bad news. This kid is registered as a very powerful super-villain on the Future Files and Ourobouros Files. On some realities, he got even Omega!” said Blue Fairy

“And about the others… They look stronger! A-Class at least!”

“In fact, they are. And this is weird, because the Files doesn’t show them so powerful….”

“Jiminy!” said Presto, using one of their Fireballs against Ballistic, that Teleported himself away from the attack. Razorleaf used his vines to attack Jiminy, that dodged again the attack. Fusion shot some plasma energy, but both Jiminy and Presto dodged.

Problem is: they were split and would be ready to be flanked.

And the inexperienced Presto felt the worst: Razorleaf made an explosion of sharped leaves pass through Presto, even his reinforced cape uniform being not enough to stop him to being badly hurt!

“PRESTO!” screamed Jiminy, seeing Presto screaming and falling in the ground, his Bellax Analytica confirming the real damage. Jiminy then put the Crickets back his tails and prepared to use the Tesla Arc Cannons on his hand. His first target was Razorleaf, but his Bellax Analytica showed him that Ballistic was trying to get behind him.

All he needed was his Jiminy Cane.

He unlocked the Taser full discharge mode and hit Ballistic straight in the chest after rolling aside. The electrical discharge was so strong that even he being now a B-Class Ajax, he felt spasms and started to have a seizure.

“Not enough to kill, but enough to take him out!” thought Jiminy, when he felt his Top Hat being hit by plasma, a smoke smell coming from the burnt tips of his hair.

“Okay, shrimp!” said Fusion “Now… It’s you against us… Do you think you can Pretty Please! us? Fat chance! I’ll crisp you to bacon, fat sissy!”

If it was Jiminy Cricket from Metrocon, Jiminy would be froze now again.

But not this Jiminy Cricket.

Razorleaf attacked with leaves again, while Jiminy ran away from Presto. He rolled from the attack, when Fusion get nearby. He almost hit Jiminy with his plasma beam again, but Jiminy was now experienced on combat.

“Need to say: I fight a A-Class Atlas and survived. I fight a Seif-Al-Din wannabe and survived. It’ll not a bunch of bullies that will drop me down!” said Jiminy

“I’ll broke Presto neck, if you try anything!” said Razorleaf, getting near Presto with his vines almost getting nearby his throat.

Jiminy reaction was to give two shots with the Cannon and dropped Razorleaf, in pain. But this was enough to make Fusion hit him with some fire blast, enough to make his tails burns and his Cannon connections haywire, shutting down as a safety protocol placed by Dumont.

“Now… Let us see if you can go without those gizmos.” said Fusion, while Jiminy thrown away his tails and, with them, his Cricket pistols.

Fusion started shooting Jiminy with lots of small fireballs made of plasma, making him getting away, avoiding the attacks by just. Jiminy them got and run with the Jiminy Cane, sacking the swordcane from the cane hilt and hitting a clean hit on Fusion’s chest as soon he got nearby, making a small trail of blood getting out Fusion. He tried to counter with a big plasma shot, but Jiminy rolled away, putting aside and giving another good hit against Fusion side.

“I’m not the kid you punched almost to death, Kyle. I’ll bring back Presto with me and you’ll get back to Hague or Detroit SuperMax, where is your place.”

“I’ll never get back that place!” said Fusion

“I would hope so: Cyprus has capital punishment for villains gone rogue under his territory. If you are acquired by Cyprian forces, this will be your destiny. Cyprus has no extradiction accord with US.” said Jiminy

“All I need to do is kill.” replied Fusion, shooting Jiminy again. And again Jiminy rolled away.

Jiminy ran to a place, while Fusion shot him again and again, but no shot hitting Jiminy.

It was when Jiminy got what he wanted. His Cricket pistol.

“Do you think this can make something against me?” said Fusion, his voice exchanging into something from Hell while he was turning himself into a plasma body “I’m SO. MUCH. MORE. THAN. YOU. sissy. I always was, and always will be! I’ll kill you, and kill that raghead kebab carpet kisser of friend, and that little Tinkerbell, and everyone that remember you. Your parents? Dead! Your friends? Dead! Your team? Dead!”

“You did the only thing you should not do…“ said Jiminy, changing the Cricket pistol settings “Menace my parents and friends.”

He started to shoot the plasma balls, while Jiminy run for his life.

But it was when he stopped, noticing Fusion was losing his power.

“You’re tired.” said Jiminy “Your power is consuming you. Stay too much on this, and you’ll burn like a candle. Stop now, and we’ll be nice.”

“The f$%k I’ll.” said Fusion, when he shot a bigger plasma shot.

Jiminy counted with this, his Bellax Analytica showing the broken defense.

He gave a straight shot in Fusion’s head.

It was enough: the thin laser blast passed through his head and he fell like a rotten fruit from the tree, getting back his human form. He ran to put the Blacklocks on him and Razorleaf, Ballistic frozen in the seizures induced by the taser. Then, as fast he could, he looked for Presto.

He was a bloody mess, and Jiminy gone really worried.

“Dispatch, cape down on my position! Jiminy Cricket with a fallen cape, capename Presto! We need rescue ASAP. Massive loss of blood!” said Jiminy.

“Alright, we’re with a Speedster getting there!” said Dispatch “Any tangos?”

“Three, all down. Two on Blacklocks, one with taser induced seizures, B-Class Ajax.” said Jiminy, while taking the Vernetech first-aid kit part of his mandatory utility belt. “Starting first aid: I’ll need some help.”

“Roger: just a minute, we are hands full.” said Dispatch, while Jiminy took away Presto’s costume rags, and opening his shirt: he had lots of wounds into his chest and arms, and he started to close as fast and good as he could all the wounds over Presto’s body. He cleaned and closed all the wounds he could, when someone got nearby.

“Okay, Jiminy Cricket. Let this for us now and care for yourself. The tangos are getting away…“ said the speedster, while a man aside, with a Mediciéns Sans Frontières badge over his arm started to check Presto for some vein to punction him. He took a small flask and put it some medication on a drip for Presto.

“A Vernetech med from CADUCEUS we are testing: a synthetic blood replacement. Not good enough to replace a real transfusion, but enough to avoid him going into a shock that could send him into a real bad situation.” said the medic “And you?”

“Hurt, but I had worst before.” said Jiminy. “They gone stronger somehow: I fought those guys in the past and they weren’t as powerful as they are now.”

“Forget it by now. Our people is collecting the garbage. Care yourself.”

Jiminy looked his arm: he had some blisters starting to form over the burns Fusion provoked. He took a faucet and opened it to place some water, also passing over his head and so. Jiminy saw Presto being put into a stretcher when an Atlas came to take him with some harnesses.

“How are he?” said Jiminy, trembling.

“Not too good: he lost lots of blood. This is the bad news.” said the medic, with made Jiminy trembling even more “The good news is he’s out of life danger, at least by now. He’ll need some blood transfusion and we’ll take a look on all those wounds, so he can get back to his best: he’s unconscious by now, and maybe we’ll induce coma so his body can have sometime to readjust itself. However, you did well to call us as fast you could and to treat the wounds you could. Now, we’ll treat him: the guys will provide you some meds to treat yourself, and a place to take some sleep. Maybe tomorrow you’ll get back ORSL 7.”

“No… I’ll stay here until Presto is okay.” said Jiminy, while the Atlas took Presto to the local hospital for treatment.

“Alright… By now, talk with people at ORSL 7 and take some sleep. There’s nothing you can do by now.” said the medic, while the Speedster took him and they zipped away.

Chapter 16

“Seven days was what was needed to Presto heal the worst on his damages, being comatose during them. After that, he took some extra days for double check… I didn’t wanted to get back, but there was nothing to do.”

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

“So…“ said Jiminy, back on ORSL 7, talking with Sugarplum

“I’ve on the interrogatory for those three at Cyprus.” said Sugarplum “They said they were here for some diversion… They were paid by a guy to bring some havoc to Cyprus’ HSF base. If you remember that Cyprus is now part of a humanitarian corridor for Europe and part of our supply lines, trying to disrupt it would be interesting for some terrorist.”

“Problem is:” talked Dr. Lesley “Their profiles doesn’t match their power: I asked for intel to HSF NYC HQ, and they send me those kids profiles from Detroit SuperMax: they had evicted it when The Ascendant done that Prison Break at the SuperMax. Their power level doesn’t check with what we saw on your Maskcam and on the damages Presto suffered… They all were listed as B-Class, except that Ballistic kid, that was listed as C-Class Ajax with Jumping, in fact, teleporting capacities… But they were stronger: A-Class certainly.”

“And we took some extra information with Chicago Sentinels, and crossed with some of the intel Blue Fairy provided us.” said Sugarplum “Looks like The Ascendant used his breakthrough power on them, as his power involves improve or demote, at least temporally, others’ breakthrough powers. The Sentinels registered that Astra lost temporally her Atlas powers after being kidnapped by the Ascendant.”

“What kind of power is this from this guy?” asked Djanni “Supernatural?”

“As far we know, not.” said Sugarplum “Sounds like a new, undocumented power set… Looks like Mentalism, but it’s not like anything on Barlow’s, and there’s no records enough to make a registry or even a more comprehensive evalution on his power. After Cyprus attack, the Sentinels and DSA chose to pass forward all intel they had on him that would not be treated as classified to all CAI teams around the world. Soldaire received himself a copy of the report, and passed me it. But I think there’s nothing we can do by now, except wait for more turbocharged super-villain and do our best.”

“And how is Presto?” said Jiminy

“I’m okay now…“ said Presto, entering the conference room. “Albeit below my costume I’m looking like a mummy. Squirrel Girl just changed the bandages and now I’m cleared to get back if needed.”

“Great!” said Jiminy

“Presto, I want you on the bench for a week.” said Sugarplum “You need to learn more on self-defense: relying only on your magic, no matter how powerful it is, is dangerous, as shown on the event. I asked one of the capes here to give you some Jeet-Kune Do basic classes during this week.”

“Can I join him?” said Jiminy “Maybe this could help us. At least, Presto would not be alone on training. I know how much boring is this from my time with Cajun.”

“As far you stay on his duty of resupplying… But… They chose to cut the Cyprus line while things goes tidy. ORSL 5 and 6 are now our supply routes, and they are the ones sending us. I think this will do: I’ll talk with Colocation.”

Some hours after, both Jiminy and Presto were at the improvised Dojo on ORSL 7 academy. The tatami were the same used on other martial arts practices, but in a corner there was a photo of Bruce Lee. Either them and Colocation, a slim and otherwise common Chinese-looking cape, were on civil, beside the training clothes: Presto on some comfortable clothes from Hillwood P.E helping holding his bandages. and Jiminy on his aide-moniteur integrale, the clothes of a Savate auxiliary instructor, aside the gloves. She, otherwise, was into a Kung Fu like clothes, with a red and white belt that she tied at the front, on traditional style. She bowed to them, that replied accordingly.

“‘Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water.” she started lecturing, looking to Bruce Lee’s photo “Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.’ This is one of the most famous quotes of the Jeet Kune Do creator Bruce Lee.” said Colocation “You may know him from old martial arts flicks, but he was more than an actor or a fighter: he was a philosopher, majored on it at University of Washington, studying all he could about how to fight and, above all, how not to fight. This is one of the his quotes I love the most: I could say it saved my life. Understand what he wanted to say with ‘Be water, my friend’ showed me, even before my breakthrough, a way to fight.”

“Now… I’m Susan Ma, capename Colocation.” said Colocation, or better, Susan Ma “Here you are not the capes Jiminy Cricket and Presto, but Joshua McCarthy and Carlyle Galatas, and above all, I’ll be your Sifu, your mistress. Did you understand?”

“Yes, Sifu.” said both

“Nice… You both has some discipline: this is good. From tomorrow on, I want you to be on Jeet Kune Do uniforms: I asked Sugarplum to provide it for you and they are coming with today’s supplies. I want you to be always clean and presentable: Jeet-Kune Do is about flexibility, but is also about respect and discipline. I know you both has some fighting skills, but you’ll start from the very beginning. Don’t think that you’ll become masters so soon: I took good five years to become a licensed Sifu, and even since I learned lots of new techniques. Sifu Lee praised flexibility and adaptation: it’s said he even incorporated ballet moves and boxing flinches on his martial arts skills. Because, he says, the other martial arts systems gone rigid around the attack/defense formulae.”

“What do you think made Sifu Lee see this?” said Susan

“Because, Sifu,” said Joshua, after thinking a little “a real fight is not conventioned?”

“Right.” said Susan “For teaching, the attack/defense formulae, kata, are useful and important, by teaching the student why each move is done and what kind of move would blow or intercept the opponent move. The Wax On, Wax Off thing. It works for someone without any previous combat experience, like, I would say, 70% of people. But in real life, the first thing someone will do is to go away from the formula: if you know that I’ll block your punch to my belly with my arm, why should you punch me to my belly? Why not to feint and give an elbow blow, or maybe a hand chop, or even give a step and kick, or… You know, hit me where my defenses are open. But, at the same time, I could ready a kick to give against you and so…“

“And here came the ‘Be Water, My Friend’: eastern cultures, specially Chinese and Japanese, focus in Five Elements, instead of the Four from West. Three are common: Fire, Air, Water. Earth, we could say, are split into two others: Metal and Wood. But why Water was so important?” asked Susan

“Because, Sifu,” said Carlyle “water is flexible and destructible: anyone that saw a Typhoon or even a flood could see how much some damage tons of water could do. But, at the same time, water can go through any small slit.”

“Correct, Galatas.” said Susan “‘Water, as life, finds a way’, my Sifu always said. This was the very first thing he said for me, and the very last one: I was training with my Sifu before I would help him teaching others, when the Event happened. In the Chaos of the Event, we thought on go help people, when a bunch of neo-nazi came to try to destroy our Dojo. We thought we could deal with them peacefully, but one of them just came and stabbed my Sifu with a big hunter knife. I became water, a tsunami. It was then, in the stress of the Event, I’ve gone breakthrough. I jumped to this guy, teleporting to the front of him into a blink of an eye, and punched it. I certainly did even more than breaking his sternum: I collapsed his solar plex chakra, his heart exploding into his chest like a bloody balloon. The others tried to run, but I jumped again and gone to them, messing with their chakras to make them goes unconscious while the police came… But this didn’t saved my Sifu: even using my recently developed Dragon powers, trying to stabilize either the damage he suffered and his Chi flow, he lost lots of blood and died.”

“But as he said, “Water, as life, finds a way”. I was his heiress on the Dojo, and Prop and the others came to form the Guardians for our city, in the same model of Sentinels. With time, the team grew and recently it grew enough we could go overseas, as we were all Herós Sans Frontières reserves. When ORSL 7 was commissioning, they asked for capes, and here we are.” she said

“Well… Enough chit-chat: let us start with some calisthenics.” she said starting the strenuous training session.

And there it was: they started to train the basic punches, kicks and so. And they trained lots of defenses.

“Jeet-Kune Do means Way of the Intercepting Fist. Focus on this: your fist needs to intercept the attack. Your eyes needs to intercept the attack. You need to intercept the attack. No get ready, no postures. Like water. Water gave no warning when explodes. Water came from the skies suddenly, break the waves in the shore without alert. This is water as destruction. But water also goes into all the little cracks, even crossing the microscopic space into earth, to grow into a water veil. This is water as life.” said Susan, while they trained their own punches and kicks and all the techniques.

In three days, both Joshua and Carlyle were trained in the basics, trying to develop the stop hits and straight punches. Both were tired and somewhat frustrated, but it was when Susan came to them.

“Three intense days and you had understand the basics.” she said “You are into a good way. Specially you, Carlyle: you had no contact before on martial arts, just the self defense training for the CAI certification. I’m not here to teach you all the Jeet-Kune: after all, Jeet-Kune is hybrid and based on the idea of each one has his own capabilities, and so should be martial arts. The basics are the basics, as a punch is a punch and a kick is a kick. However, after you learn the basics and mastered it, you’ll need to start to develop yourself in other ways, looking for new techniques and skills on other sources.”

Joshua and Carlyle continued by the other three days, and it was when Susan said that the last day would be a exam to see how good they learned.

“Normally it would took three months, but you were dedicating yourself on this so much I think we need to see how much you improved. Let us see how you learned the basics.” said her next day, both of them showing her what they learned.

It was impressive: albeit a kata exhibition was normally a no-no in Jeet-Kune Do, they did it as a way to show how much they learned. And it was impressive: fast, precise, simple. Susan looked satisfied.

“There’s lots of improvement to be done. You’re green and beginner. But you did very well in only one week: you learned the basics and improved it for your own styles. Carlyle looks someone stronger, but Joshua compensates being faster. None of you is better, but none of you is worse, than the other. This is Jeet-Kune Do, to adapt the basics for their own in the same framework: your techniques are similar because they follow the same framework, but they are unique because you adapted it for your own.” said Susan, offering them the new yellow-white belts, that they changed in front of her and the others from their team.

However, the red alert sirens shown then the time they would be needed came

“Code Red! Code Red! We have a situation, an aftershock at Hagia Sofia! Code Red!” said the system.

“Presto, Jiminy, put yourself under costume. Jiminy, be ready to transport us to Hagia Sofia. In the meantime, everyone goes for your basic kits. Djanni, take Jiminy and Presto’s. I’ll help.” said Sugarplum

“We’ll check the information. Take a shower, go into costumes and we’ll provide you intel as soon we could. Your rendezvous will be at HSF HQ at Constantinople!” said Colocation

“Roger!” said everyone, while Jiminy and Carlyle gone for shower.

Chapter 17

“The Hagia Sophia aftershock was something we didn’t expected: it was stronger than the original event. Presto was still finishing to heal his wounds against Fusion and his gang. But we needed to go, it was your job after all. So, in fifteen minutes, we were at the ORSL 1 Transport 4, going to Constantinople.”

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

ORSL 1’s Transport 4 just arrived at HSF base at Constantinople, an old Turkey military airport decommissioned and recommissioned as base by HSF. Squirrel Girl stayed at ORSL 7 as support: they knew the worst cases would be delocated to ORSL 7, either via helicopter and via Atlas capes. In their place came Colocation and Split/Second: one of the weakest spots on Jiminy team was not have someone able to deal with Speedsters, something just compensated by Presto’s Magic Missiles that hitted his target by sure, even slightly, but enough to slow down Speedsters for the rest of the team.

“Alright, let us see the situation.” said Sugarplum “We’ll take some transport and establish a forward post at the city. Otherwise, this will be like Newark some months before.” she said, when the local commander came.

“Commander Bahadir, HSF, ma’am” said the man on military fatigues, an old-fashioned one that still had on it an old Turkish flag. “The earthquake was again at Hagia Sophia, but this one was even more powerful, 8.0 on the main site. The temple had not collapsed just by Allah (SWT) will, but there’s lots of damage and casualties. There’s still people below debris, our teleporters and other capes working hard to detect and rescue them.”

“Alright… We’ll help: we need two SUVs for transport our teams. We’ll try to find some place we can use as an outpost for first aid and triage. The worst cases we’ll send here and to ORSL 7 for help: we have a surgery team and capes ready for the job there.” said Sugarplum

“All the local mosques are open for us: we just put a Red Crescent flag in the SUVs.” said Bahadir.

“Right!” said Sugarplum, while came two white SUVs, ready for them with the Red Crescent on it. They split the team into both of them and loaded them with their kits and some extra supplies Djanni flew from the heli.

“Jiminy, Presto: establish our outpost where you find it’s good. You know the drill: do the comms first, ASAP with ORSL line. The others, for the rescue. Marjanah, looks for people under the debris with your Astral form. Djanni and Split/Second, help on cleaning the debris. I’ll be on first care and contact with NGOs.” said Sugarplum, while stopṕing the car in front of a local restaurant that looked a little better, without cracks and too much debris. They entered and the owner was cleaning things a little.

“Sir, we are capes from Herós Sans Frontières.” said Djanni, talking Turkish “I’m Djanni, and those are my fellows. We need a place to establish an outpost to attend the survivors and the needed. Could you help us lending your restaurant? As soon everything goes better, we’ll take our things and leave.”

“Right, right… I see you’re from Red Crescent, so at least some of you are with Allah (SWT). That’s okay for me: anything you need, just ask me.” said the man

“Alright. Mister, those are Jiminy Cricket and Presto. They’ll start to deploy our things, while the rest of us will go look for survivors. Could you help them? Me and the others are going to rescue people under the debris.” said Djanni

“They speak Turkish?” said the man, and Djanni made the question in Arabic for the others.

“No… But I speak some Arabic.” said Jiminy “I’m Jiminy Cricket, sir.” he said, doing the salaam

“Looks like you’re infidel, but a very well educated one.” said the man, smiling, replying the salaam “I’m Kaan Erbakan. You can do what you need.”

“Alright:” said Sugarplum, on English “Jiminy, Presto, Alpha Priority on comms and emergency room setup.”

“Roger!” they said, while the others got back to the SUVs after Djanni unloaded a small crate inside the restaurant

“Is that woman your leader?” said Kaan

“Yes, mister. She’s capename Sugarplum” said Jiminy, as Presto didn’t speak either Arabic and Turkish “She’s very competent.”

“Looks so, if all of you trust her.” he says “Alright, what you need me first?”

With the help of Mr. Kaan, they built the communication station, using the Vernetech transmitters and antennae supplied in their emergency crate. They contacted local Police and Dispatch and started to act with them. They also built a small base on Mr. Kaan restaurant, that was helping people providing some Doner Kebap, slices of lamb into bread.

Djanni started to bring people to the outpost, where Presto and Jiminy could help with triage with other people. Some of them were okay, just scared and dirty: a moist water towel to clean themselves and a samovar of tea helped them to be back on their own feet again, and then they could go for some of the emergency accommodations at local schools and mosques. Some also receive small hygiene kits, water bottles and small packages of crackers and biscuits.

Others, however, needed to be treated: the smallest cases, being scratches and bruises and other small damages, were dealt by Jiminy and Presto, as both of them, as part of basic CAI-training, where also EMT trained. Jiminy even could do some stitches on those who had small damages, using the Skin Stapler part of the CAI kit.

There was, however, those who needed special care, and for this a team of Red Crescent and Mediciéns Sans Frontières doctors used a room ready by Presto and Jiminy as a special surgery room, at least to stabilize those who were on real serious conditions.

One of them, however, needed to be transported to undergo a more serious surgery, as the local hospital were totally cramped.

“Jiminy, Presto, Split/Second and Colocation, you will transport him as soon the doctors finishes to prepare him for transportation. You need to go for ORSL 7: a medical team is prepared to ready him and do the surgery as soon you got there with him, as they already have all the information on the situation. Colocation will go with you, as she has special EMT training.” said Sugarplum “The Transport 4 is already prepared: you’ll take this guy with you. Go and come back as soon you came: you’ll be refueled there as soon you touch and loaded with some critical emergency medical supplies. Get back as soon you are refueled and loaded. Be cautious with potential new breakthroughs and scroundrels that show on those times. I can’t free Djanni, we need him here because his Atlas strength. And if it wasn’t a serious case, I would not left Colocation too: her teleport power is crucial.”

“Alright.” said Jiminy and Presto, getting into the SUV they came, that was soon adapted into a makeshift ambulance.

“This is a mess.” said Presto “Where’s all the doctors?”

“Hands full, as almost everyone else.” said Jiminy “It’s commonplace on this job.”

“Understood.” they said, while they helped the doctors to put the stretcher into the SUV.

“Right.” said Colocation “Split/Second, you’re in the wheel. Jiminy, want you into the passenger seat, Bellax Analytica all the time. Me and Presto will be beside the doctors, to protect and help them till we get at the base. There, Split/Second and the doctors will get back and it’ll be with us.”

“Roger!” Jiminy said, seating and fastening the seat-belt, readying himself by engaging Bellax Analytica to see the route they were going and just that.

“How many time you can foresee?” said Colocation

“After all the training I did, I think 10, 15 seconds, when totally focused on this.” said Jiminy

“That will do… Any weird things, say in the Earbug. Split/Second is trained to drive using his Speedster power engaged, so he can use this to avoid some problems. We need a smooth travel, right?” asked Colocation

“Right.” said Jiminy

“So,let’sgo.” said Split/Second, already into Speedster mode.

The first two minutes were okay, until Jiminy said

“Wait! There’ll be someone crossing there, maybe a new breakthrough.” said Jiminy

“Bad one?” said Colocation

“Can’t say, unless we stay into our way. If we detour, we can go safe, but never know.” said Jiminy

“Detouringbettersafethansorry.” said Split/Second, turning the car.

“This is common? People under breakthrough in places like here?” said Presto

“Yup. Breakthrough is a survival instinct. Being triggered on places and situations like this one is very common.” said Jiminy, when they got near the base.

And Jiminy screamed:


Some guys came to attack the SUV with weapons, trying to shoot them and/or rob the SUV.

“Jiminy, Split/Second, go! Presto, with me!” said Colocation, touching Presto.

“Roger!” said Presto, while Colocation teleported them out of the SUV.

“Full on pedal, Split/Second!” said Jiminy

“Roger!” he said

They got into the base and ran fast until they got to the heliport where ORSL 1 Transport 4 were.

“How are things, Colocation?” said Jiminy on the Earbug.

“Easy peasy. Small fish. Go for the heli and ready everything ASAP! We’ll join you as soon we deal with this rabble.” said her

“Roger!” said Jiminy, running for the helicopter “Split/Second, help the doctors to put this guy in the heli while I do the check and start everything!”

“Okay!” said Split/Second

Jiminy sat into the pilot position, and touched the XLR contacts

“Blue Fairy, be ready. I’ll download you into the electronics. If we need, I want you to work the HUD and turret!” said Jiminy

“Okay!” said Blue Fairy, with a shirt with a logo of Hagia Sophia, like she was a tourist, going to the system.

Jiminy made all the checks while Split/Second and the doctors transfered the guy, with lots of damages and a leg into a weird angle, that was sedated into a coma, connecting him to the support systems and devices in the helicopter.

“Jiminy, you’ll need to go fast and smooth.” said Split/Second, out of his speedster mode.

“Right!” yelled Jiminy, as he almost couldn’t hear Split/Second, with the helicopter engine engaged. Colocation came with Presto, that had a sore eye.

“Are you okay?” said Jiminy

“Okay.” said Presto, getting into the copilot place, while Colocation sat in the medic post. “They had the worse, believe me.”

“Presto was really good in combat: he used his magical shields like Doctor Strange or something like that!” said Colocation proudly, while the doctors finished to connect the helicopter’s monitoring devices and oxygen tubes on the guy and closed the door, getting away from the helicopter back to the SUV with Split/Second when he gave some small taps in the door, showing it was closed.

“Alright: takeoff!” said Jiminy, pushing the power lever to get away. “HSF base, Constantinople: ORSL 1 Transport 4 on emergency takeoff. Jiminy Cricket on the lever. Destination ORSL 7”

“Roger!” said the tower. “We are calculating a route…“

“No need for: we have our means. Just stay with us until we got into ORSL.” said Jiminy

“Roger!” said the tower

“Blue Fairy, route to ORSL 7, as fast and straight you can.” said Jiminy

“Roger!” said Blue Fairy.

And then, they flow as fast they could.

They took the fastest route Blue Fairy calculated, and Jiminy pushed the speed as fast as he could, but avoiding bumps in the helicopter to avoid extra wounds on the man they were transporting.

And it was when Jiminy felt his Bellax Analytica acting as a Danger sense

“Presto, shields all around the heli, NOW! As big as you can”

“Roger!” said Presto

It was just a split second after Presto ready the shield, they felt a small bump from the air delocation made by a rocket exploding middle air.

“Sky pirates!” said Blue Fairy “And lots of them!”

“Any badges?” asked Jiminy

“No… But looks Caliphate!” said Blue Fairy

“Use the turret to shot them to the water: their ornithopters have parachutes. Don’t engage even more them. Presto, be our defense: your discretion in magics. Colocation, be ready for shoot as I’ve said for Blue Fairy. I’ll push over the heli!” said Jiminy, forcing the power lever for extra speed.

“Right!” said Presto, opening the copilot door and using his hands to invoke some Magic Missiles.

For Presto, Magic Missiles are a staple for some reasons.

First, even being weaker, he didn’t need to focus on the target: they were a pursuing weapon. Even A-Class Speedsters or Teleporters could be hit by them as soon they were locked on the target.

Second, they are a extremely viable way to neutralize tangos without killing. Like he was doing now.

The Missiles targets were not the tangos, but their ornithopters: by shooting them, he made them fall, making them use their parachutes to save themselves.

He cleaned part of the worst rabble, the common criminals and some of the weak breakthrough. But still there was two or three of them, one of them strong enough to hold an RPG launcher with them while flying.

“I can’t use my Missiles again! Exhausted my supply!” said Presto, tired

“Leave this to me.” said Colocation, putting a parachute “Jiminy, Presto, no matter what happen, stick to the plan.”

“What will you do?” said Jiminy

“Just see…“ said Colocation, taking a pair of brass-made Vernetech tonfa from her belt and Teleporting.

“What the…“ said Presto, when he looked “She’s using Jeet-Kune against them in the air!”

Colocation was a Teleporter, but was also a Dragon, which allowed her to fight them. But they never believed she could use martial arts in the air. But now they could understand better Sifu Ma, and how much they underrated her.

“What kind of water she is now?” asked Presto, looking her kicking a guy and teleporting just a second before fall with the guy she kicked to the sea.

“A waterfall.” said Jiminy, smiling, when he looked to Blue Fairy, that was shown in the HUD “Blue Fairy, what you have about this man we are transporting?”

“I’ll check the Files.” said Blue Fairy, going into a POOF.

Fast, Colocation got back to the heli with a little BUMP.

“Okay, the rabble is out.” said Colocation, fastening herself back. “I don’t know who is this guy, but looks like those guys wanted him dearly dead or alive… Likely dead…“

“Had put Blue Fairy to see for him. She has access to certain files that provide us intel from time to time.” said Jiminy

“Blue Fairy?” said Colocation

“Long Story… Let things cool down and I’ll explain.” said Jiminy, when Blue Fairy got back, dressed as a cheesy Sherlock Holmes gender-swap cosplayer.

“Jiminy… I have good and bad news…“ she said, pushing the pipe to her mouth

Jiminy finished the arrival procedure at ORSL 7, and a team of doctors and capes came to them.

“Alright, the surgery room is ready.” said one of the Doctors “We take from here.”

The capes and HSF operatives started to refuel the heli and put the needed medical supplies crates and boxes.

“Wow…“ said Squirrel Girl “So this was one of the Caliphate big kahunas and he defected them some time before the earthquake?”

“Yeah!” said Blue Fairy, again “downloaded” into a holographic device occasionally Jiminy Cricket uses to make her visible for others “Samet Mardin, 24, one of the main non-breakthrough guys in the Caliphate. He has a major on Engineering at University of Constantinople, and also had some formation on the Hanafi madhhab, a common school of jurisprudence under Islam at the old Turkey, now Constantinople. He wasn’t a warrior, at least no more than anyone on mandatory military service, but he was a good orator. Ourobouros and T.A files lists him as a target, but not for neutralization: looks like he’s too much moderate to be someone ready to explode himself. However, he knowledge on Engineering make him someone that potentially develop plans for destroying buildings?”

“So, is he a POI?” said Colocation

“Yes… But he was low-profile, so no intervention from CIA or others.” said Blue Fairy

“And where he was doing?” said Presto

“Well… He was at home after some time with the Caliphate: he have woman and two kids there, none of them linked to the Caliphate. Looks like he decided to defect the Caliphate during this time.” said Blue Fairy

“Well… For now, Mr. Mardin is a patient and we’ll heal him.” said Squirrel Girl “Send this intel for Sugarplum. Find his family and, as soon things calm down, bring them here. This could ease any information we could extract from him.”

“Roger!” said Jiminy, while they saw all the supplies loaded at the helicopter

“Okay. Go back and explain what is happening now.” said Squirrel Girl “Soldaire will be called also. If you can, see if Marjanah know him from the time she was under the Sword Verse” she said, referring to the post-hypnotic trance one of the worst villains they crossed with, Alsyf Alayat, was able to put people under.

“Okay.” said Presto, while Jiminy fired the helicopter engines back.

Chapter 19

“The Hagia Sophia situation was a big mess: an Us vs Them combat is already a messy, bloody thing, but when you split things in a multi-front situation, things grows even worse. And that was a times that even Sun Tzu would be worried.”

Seiji Shirou, “The Art of War and the post-Event situation strategy”

“So… The thing grew really worse on the Caliphate?” said Seiji, via video-conference, with Jiminy

“Yeah… I was in the interrogatory, and Mr. Mardin confirmed us that the Caliphate is fracturing itself into factions. At least three big groups are now developed: one, that Mr. Mardin was/is part of, is working to get back to legality and try to dispute their agenda as part of democratic forces and are about to become a political party, and were holding conversations with local governments for this. The second is what we know as the Caliphate, that still wants to make Shar’ia a legal system and to expel or kill non-Muslins and enemies. They are also against work with zindiq or murtadd, in fact with foreigners. And them came a third faction is one that are not against work with foreigner and non-Muslins as far this help them to advance their agenda, even hating them.” said Jiminy

“And this group somehow got under The Ascendant’s radar?” said Seiji

“Looks like: sounds like The Ascendant offered support for The Caliphate, by triggering some breakthrough and raising the power of the breakthroughs they already had. With this, the third faction is growing into power and co-opted the second one against the moderates, pushing a pogrom against them.” said Jiminy

“And then…“ said Seiji

“There’s lots of guerrilla fights at the Balkans, specially in places like Kosovo, where the Muslin communities are bigger.” said Jiminy. “The Caliphate fracturing is a big problem, right?”

“For sure: fighting a big strong group is a problem… But fight three groups as strong the first one is a bigger mess: the big kahunas on UN and LDS are freaking out. The Ascendant is almost to turn into the big menace since Acar, the Caliphate founder. And the biggest problem is that he always works via proxies: in Chicago, he got some super-villains and super-duds like some of The Crew, and now he’s working via The Caliphate.” said Seiji “Fighting via proxy is a dirty, but effective, way to fight, as Cold War proved: neither USSR and US suffered the pain Korea, Vietnam, Latin America, Afghanistan suffered. The political profits on this were all cashed by the big countries, and the costs were all externalized for the developing nations, the so-called Third Nations. The Ascendant is a result of The Event AND of the lessons we didn’t learned on the Cold War.”

“And about us?” said Jiminy

“By now, nothing changes: we’ll be ready at ORSL 1. You and the others will stay at ORSL 7 until Code Blue is back. Stay on your job: everyone is going well, by what I’m reading on the After-Action Reports. I’ll also talk with Sugarplum for extra intel for the team leader. By now, stay on job and we’ll deal with The Ascendant later. Over.” said Seiji, closing the video-conference connection at ORSL 7.

“Well… Let’s go back Constantinople.” said Jiminy for himself, while he got back to the Twin Squirrel, where Presto was already waiting him.

“How it was with Soldaire?” said Presto.

“He is worried.” said Jiminy, while looking Presto turning on the helicopter “Super-villains are always a problem, but The Ascendant is a big problem, the biggest since The Event now that Teatime Anarchist and Seif-Al-Din are deceased: you saw Fusion, Razorleaf and Ballistic. They gone stronger than they were before, and that was obviously an artificial grow. Think now that you could turn people superpowered at whim. This is the biggest problem on The Ascendant: he can give or take powers on anyone, and this would be a dangerous power balance shift. There is very few limitations on his powers: looks like he need to have a non-hostile target, as he needed to knockout Astra before blocking her powers.”

“And how could we take him down?”

“By now, there’s nothing we can do.” said Jiminy, shrugging, while Presto took of the helicopter “The only thing is that The Ascendant can’t change powers and also can’t apply his power against himself. So, he could not turn himself into an Ajax, Atlas or something like this out of nothing. This means he’s a ‘common’ human for damage”

“So, he could be killed by a common bullet?” said Presto, looking a little disappointed

“As easy as any of us.” said Jiminy “In fact, beside Ajaxes or Atlases, few other breakthroughs is really super, if you take the old comics as reference. We just have our ways to avoid or cope damage: I can precog bullets or attacks. You and Sugarplum can use magical shield and healing. Dumont has armor under his formals and so on.”

“Alright.. But if we could find him, we could just put a bullet on his head and it would be over?” said Presto

“Yes… But I don’t think that would be that easy to take him down: I believe he have some security principles. But, anyway, he’s not our problem.” said Jiminy

“Why not? He could create other Ultra tangos like the guy who did this to Hagia Sophia.” said Presto

“Yes… But there’s CAI and SPAT teams enough doing their job trying to find him… I heard that even some Ultra Mentalists are trying to find him, but no one found him yet. And, to be fair, I think we need to do our job, and it is help people at Constantinople and then back to ORSL 7 for some more time and then, back ORSL 1.” said Jiminy

“Okay…“ said Presto, when they saw Constantinople

The worst on removing debris and deal with the fatalities and casualties had gone. Constantinople was now Code Yellow, and that means that the CAI teams were working on shifts for finishing the cleaning work and so. Sugarplum was looking for her epad when Jiminy came.

“Oh, sorry, Jiminy.” she said when they both almost crashed on each other.

“No problem. Looks like you’re with lots of problems. What’s happening?” he said

“Is that Mardin guy: he passed some intel on some guys, most of them ready to defect the Caliphate, and they want to negotiate with LDS and UN a way to get out and get into the next elections.” she said

“So, they really want to put their agenda under democratic scrutiny. They are not radicalized?” said Jiminy

“No… In fact, by the interviews LDS conducted on a classified site, they are really reasonable. They have their religious practices and agenda, but they aren’t too much different of the right-winged guys in home. In fact, when you think on those morons from Pure God Work Fraternity, these guys looks really sensible, and this is a thing.” said Sugarplum

“And what’s the problem?” said Jiminy

“As they want to negotiate, LDS needs to create a security structure, and they had put us into this one… But we can’t put our full power on this one: we still have some problems here, so we can’t put the best ones, and we are short of bricks and hard hitters, as we have only Djanni… And I’ll need him as translator…“

“Can I help? I had learned some Turkish, and I speak Arabic and some North African dialects. I can be the translator and help with my powers…“

“Sounds good: this can free some hands for security. Okay… I think we can solve this one.” said Sugarplum.

A week after, Jiminy was into a room with some guys, some of them on traditional desert clothes, other on suits. He was looking for one of the main guys on suits, a UN pin on his tie. Jiminy was focused on his translation job.

“So… Mr. Mardin, I think those are the ones you said are leaders of a group into the Caliphate that are ready for giving away the guerrilla war against Constantinople and other places in North Africa, Maghreb and Middle East, right, for going legitimate and work on democratic ways?” said the man

Jiminy did his job by translating and then translated back the response

“He confirmed and says those are some of his comrades at the Caliphate: Emarat Wassef, one of the main engineering guys; Samer Abo Hassoon, a tactician from the Sudan front; Marwan Alshamandi, part of the propaganda; and Mounir Fakhry Al-Yousif, from the politics.” said Jiminy, presenting the guys

“So… Let us start talking about this: I believe you have some intel. We already took the flash-drives, papers and notes you brought us and they are being availed by our guys. So, let us discuss some terms.” said the UN man

Jiminy needs to work his best with his powers: some of the topics on this all were really sensitive, things like Eretz Israel and the situation of the Diaspora after the Caliphate War. Once and another Jiminy needed to use his Pretty Please! to avoid the escalation on the negotiation. But, otherwise, everything was going okay.


Jiminy felt something wrong: his Bellax Analytica engaged out of nothing.

“Everyone, be ready!” he said.

It was when he heard a BADOOOM and the room trembling, some of the MaxBerets in the place helping everyone going safe.

“Jiminy!” said Sugarplum “What is this?”

“Someone is looking for those guys. Sugarplum, go on and help them get out. They are the target.” said Jiminy

“No way I’ll leave you behind…“ said Sugarplum, when they heard the ceil collapsing, and Jiminy being below the debris.

“JIMINY!!!” screamed Sugarplum, and this was the last thing Jiminy heard before passing out…

… except someone saying: “So, this is the Jiminy Cricket the Boss want to talk with.”

Chapter 20

“When captured by the Ascendant, I was on one of the most terrible situations I had: I think that, at least for 4 years, I couldn’t remember what was REALLY to be caught off-guard…“

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

Jiminy woke up, full of pain into what looked as a camp barrack, without his hat: the hot, dry weather shown him he was no more at Constantinople.

“Looks like a tango took me.” thought Jiminy “Blue Fairy, any intel?”

It was when Jiminy started to panic: he didn’t heard the small, familiar voice on his mind.

He tried to focus on his Bellax Analytica, but he couldn’t see the now familiar “shadows” of anyone or anything passing around.

“What is happening?” he shouted

A voice on some speakers started to talk

“You’re our prisoner. Don’t try anything weird if you want to stay alive.” said the voice, with a thick Arabic voice “You had your powers removed, by Allah’s (SWT) honor, by one of your own, Zindiq.”

Jiminy froze.

“You have some time to undress yourself and put the clothes on the box on your left. There’s water on the gourd nearby the entrance. No talk with anyone… I believe you understand what happened!” said the voice

Jiminy understood.

He had fallen under The Ascendant’s hand. And on the Caliphate ones, by proxy.

“Engaging Emergency Protocol Aleph-One!” said a synthetic voice on the helicopter speakers.

“What is happening?” said Presto, that was sat into it, while everyone was put the guys safe on the bulletproof SUVs.

“Presto!” said the now familiar voice of Blue Fairy “God, or better, The Teatime Anarchist be glad! Something happened with Jiminy!”

“We know… But I thought you were with Jiminy.” said Presto

“The Aleph-One protocol is something I hid even from Jiminy. Never thought I would need to use it.”

“And what is this?”

“No time: ask Sugarplum to be here, now!” said Blue Fairy, with a tense tone on her voice.

She were there in moments, including all the ORSL 1 team at ORSL 7.

“What happened with Jiminy? We just found his hat over the debris… Why you’re still here, Blue Fairy?” said Sugarplum “Jiminy downloaded you?”

“No, and this is bad news: Aleph-One protocol was something the Teatime Anarchist put on my programs as an emergency. On laymen terms, I can download myself automatically into the last device I was downloaded if, for any reason, Jiminy was cut from his Quantum Link access.” said Blue Fairy

“Is he dead?” said Djanni

“No… And this is the good news: if he was dead, I would not engaged Aleph-One. The Quantum Link would be broken, and I would be irremediable ‘dead’ also. Albeit he was cut from the Quantum Link, it is still operating, so it is still connected to Jiminy’s brain, and so I’m here.”

“Too much confusing…“ said Presto

“I know, and I’m the one made by T.A. And, before you talk, I’m not Shelly or Shell or even Shelly Boyar, the original one. Each of us has, or had, her own mind, although we share some knowledge, personality quirks and so.”

“Alright…“ said Sugarplum, trying to not freak out “So, Jiminy wasn’t just kidnapped, but somehow unlinked from you, at least temporally. So…“

“This mean that, somehow, they messed with his mind, cutting him from access to certain areas…“ said Blue Fairy

“His powers!” said Squirrel Girl “Bellax Analytica! Pretty Please! And, on some level, you, Blue Fairy!” she said

“This means…“ said Djanni

“Jiminy is under the Ascendant’s hand! And the Caliphate!” said Sugarplum “And, unlike Alsyf Alayat’s time, he’s under his own, and without his powers!”

“I’ll pass this to Soldaire.” said Sugarplum “I know it will be difficult to ask Soldaire for an authorization for an extraction: all Blue Fairy affair is classified, and we would need to reveal her to perhaps have an authorization. I’ll try to ask for information, before we do something.”

“We should do something now!” said Djanni

“No chance!” said Sugarplum “Unless we go supervillain, there’s no way to try to rescue Jiminy by now: it would be a war declaration against the Caliphate, and we all know how this would end.”

“But…“ said Djanni

“We’ll find a way to take Jiminy back. But we’ll not give those nuts a reason to fight us back. Not in my watch, anyway.” said Sugarplum

Jiminy had already received some food and allowed to get into toilet and take a bath. Those guys were rougher than the ones with Alsyf Alayat, and now he doesn’t have his powers for some reason, or better, thanks the Ascendant. Now he needed to be double careful on dealing with them.

It was when, while he was sat into his small bunk bed on the tent they put him as a prison, two guys with scimitars and AK-47s at the door, a guy came into. He was dressed into a big desert walker set of clothes, some Lawrence of Arabia-ish clothes and using a kind of pair of glasses over his eyes. Jiminy couldn’t distinguish him from anything he remembered from his breakthrough-powered mind (the only thing The Ascendant could not block from him), but he look someone Caucasian, or at least not someone from the region.

“So, you’re Joshua McCarthy…“ said the guy

“And you are The Ascendant.” said Jiminy, noticing who was this guy

“You’re right.” said the guy “I have nothing against you, Jiminy Cricket, or Herós Sans Frontières, per se. In fact, I like you somehow: you’re not that kind of crime-fighting heroes from the old time comics, but you’re more like public service.”

“But you’re not trying to play fair: on this one, you’re even worse than Alsyf Alayat. And why you took me? And why blocking my powers?” said Jiminy

“Think this as a safety measure: I would have problems with you using your powers, but those guys outside would kill you as soon as they noted your Pretty Please! But, as now they saw you had no powers anymore, they chose to allow you to stay alive, at least by now.”

“And why you are working on this for them?”

“What do you think about Eretz Israel?” said the Ascendant

Jiminy knew enough about Eretz Israel, even more that half his time on Herós Sans Frontières was dealing with the consequences about it.

“I think that all of this was a great problem and that people should discuss more and kill less.” said Jiminy

“For a kid that killed someone in the past…“ said The Ascendant

“I know… And I think on and regret this all the time.” said Jiminy

“Even now? Had you thought that all breakthroughs are, in fact, a source of power?”

“This is fact. After all, ‘a breakthrough…” was saying Jiminy, when The Ascendant said

“…is a natural response against a stressful or life-threating situation’. The Barlow’s yadda-yadda. But I’m not talking on this. Breakthroughs are a real power, and no matter what, they can be exerted for political things. The original Caliphate was an example: it was a Breakthrough that manipulated the military and political forces against Israel that time. And Israel fought back.”

“Monroe Doctrine?” said Jiminy “And what about The Nuke?”

“No one knows what really happened on Tel-Aviv: what is known is that it was a dirty bomb, and that it destroyed Tel-Aviv, that now is forbidden zone, and it will be for the next 30 years.” said The Ascendant

“And do you believe that the Israeli did this?” said Jiminy

“This is what I want to ask you, Jiminy Cricket.” said The Ascendant. “And remember you’re being monitored.”

“So, his idea is to make me killed by the Caliphate as an enemy warrior after saying that it was one of them, but also to turn me against Israeli guys if say the other way. Seki”. thought Jiminy, thinking on the go situation where playing could result in defeat “Great trap… Nice try, The Ascendant.”

“What I can say is that was a humanitarian crime, no matter who did it. I think the one who did this could also be a lone wolf, to be shunned to anyone that has the minimum of civility, and also think that, no matter what happened, we have the here and now to do what we can to help the people who suffered on all this. And this is my mission as a Herós Sans Frontières cape. This was the decision I did after almost being killed by bullies, after six months under a coma, in that hospital bed.” said Jiminy, calmly, and he was happy to see that he catched The Ascendant red-handed on his intentions.

“Well… Looks I could not suppress your breakthrough-powered brain totally.” said The Ascendant “Looks like I found a limit on my powers…“ he said before stopping abruptly.

“No need to stop… After what you did with Astra this was an open secret.”

“Maybe I should had killed Astra… Maybe I shall kill you to avoid this secret to leak… Maybe not…“ thought The Ascendant.

“I know your philosophy.” said Jiminy “Read your profile enough: you think breakthrough is a way to ‘natural’ selection for a new kind of mankind.”

“So, you know…“

“…you can trigger the breakthrough on those who you want, and enhance or suppress breakthrough powers.” said Jiminy

The Ascendant looked a little worried.

“Sounds like it’s the first time you are taken off-guard.” said Jiminy

“Yeah… To be fair, I like this. You see, I believe we are somewhat likewise: we work into the realm of soft powers. You see, the lion’s share of all breakthroughs are based on hard power: Ajaxes and Atlas can destroys things by their own hands, like Dragons also. Merlins and Mentalist can kill people manipulating subatomic energies or other invisible ways and so. But you, and me, we don’t need to kill… Killing is dirty and counterproductive, you know: we can extract the better of everyone, just pushing the right buttons and turning the right knobs. We are soft power. This gave us an edge to go off-radar for the big bricks, but we are shunned on what we can do, until we do.” said The Ascendant

“And now… Why working with The Caliphate?” said Jiminy

“I just made the same offer I did for everyone else: power, no strings attached.” said The Ascendant “Yeah, I know about all the events involving Grendel and Ozma, and I know you know both of them and their breakthroughs. But I noticed it was very counterproductive to just let people develop powers that way. What we need now is to give power and let nature works…“

“So, you believe evolution is based on power? Just by that?”

“‘Survival of the fittest’, as said by Darwin.” said The Ascendant

“But even Darwin recognized that ‘fittest’ was a environment-based feature. So, someone on a certain environment can be extremely fit and could be on trouble on another just some kilometers away. Australia is one the greatest examples on how this idea of stronger equals fittest is nonsense: Australian native fauna has lots of problem to live outside Australia.”

“And how could you solve those problems?” asked the Ascendant

“No simple answer, unfortunately: believe me, I would love to have some off-the-shelf answers, it would make my life so much easier… But, in fact, we are humans, and our variety is what, in my opinion, turned us so important, if so, in nature. I know that this brought war and problems, but I read somewhere that those are our world’s birth pain… And…“ said Jiminy, feeling a heartache “This is why I became a Herós Sans Frontières cape: because I could not accept that people suffered what I suffered on that alley years ago. I don’t believe in Might makes Right. And if this is the fate of the world, I’ll fight it until I die, but I’ll not be part of this.” he say

The Ascendant could see his look: he was a still a kid, had some tears on his eyes, but has a powerful voice and a determination that was not part of his powers.

“You’re somewhat a marvel.” said The Ascendant “Hope they allow you to live…“ he said, while going way from the tent, leaving Jiminy thinking by himself.

Chapter 21

“I still believe that the tango taking Jiminy was not just because he is the least-powered one of us, but because they fear his power: he can call upon your conscience, and lots of things would be difficult or even impossible to be done if you think too much on the odds and/or consequences. This is an incredible power, and give this to a kid just turn things even worse for the bad guys.”

Andre “Dumont” Macedo, “Histories from the Demoiselle - My Breakthrough Memoirs”

Just 24 hours passed until Soldaire called everyone for video-conference:

“Alright.. Just had a video-conference with the LDS and HSF big guys and they decided The Caliphate had gone too far, crossed all the lines while brought The Foxtrot and decided to go to a scorched land strategy.” said Soldaire “LDS and UN had a meeting some hours ago. They’ll go for Darfur Caliphate guys…“

“Great…“ was saying Djanni

“But we’ll not be allowed to get with them.” said Soldaire “And I had some report on this: it will be a storm operation. They think they already had intel enough for a suppresive action against them.”

“But… Jiminy is without powers! He’ll be killed for sure!” gasped Sugarplum

“I hope not…“ said Soldaire, and everyone could see he was tired. “I said them they had one of us hostage, and they said they’ll do their best to rescue Jiminy, but I don’t know… I already talked with the McCarthys to prepare them for the worst…“

“Let us think positively.” said Marjanah “Jiminy is smart: even without his powers, he is experienced by what you talked about him.”

“But… With Freaking Ascendant with the Caliphate it’ll be a blood bath!” said Squirrel Girl.

“Yeah… And it’s The Ascendant presence there that made the UN and LDS forces choose for an all-out attack now.” said Soldaire “There’s a chance to catch some big fish on the process.” said Soldaire.

“But…“ said Djanni

“I was outvoted.” said Soldaire frankly “In fact: we from HSF was outvoted. Some of us will be delocated for nearby Darfur to give help. I asked Diana for it, and I think Prop and Colocation will be on it. I asked to put some of you, but they decided it would be risky. Hufflepuff and Kuntur will be there for us…“

Hufflepuff and Kuntur were two of the main Bricks from ORSL 1 team, beside LionHeart, Soldaire and Djanni.

“To finish, let us hope for the best and be ready for the worst…“ said Soldaire “Off..”

Djanni looked worried

“He’ll be saved, Djanni. Believe in Allah The Most High (SWT). Even he being an infidel, Allah will be with him, as he is one that always worked for and by peace. ‘We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you. Had God willed, He would have made you a single community, but He wanted to test you regarding what has come to you. So compete with each other in doing good. Every one of you will return to God and He will inform you regarding the things about which you differed.’ Surat al-Ma’ida, the fifth Sura, Verse 48. Jiminy had done lots of good… Allah The Forgiving (SWT) will relieve him on his suffering. For us now is to pray for the best.” said Marjanah.

“Thanks… I was a fool…“ replied meekly Djanni

“No, Djanni… You are someone fearing for his friend.” reassured Marjanah “But this is just the kind of time we need to trust Allah The Forgiving (SWT) even more, as He Is The One Who Knows All”

“Maktub.” said Djanni

Some days after, Jiminy was dressed on the same desert clothes he was forced to use since the time he came there. He was given a fast tour all around, to show him he could not escape, even if he had his powers: there was almost a battalion of the Mujaheddin, the fanatic warriors there, places and places full of warriors in training. He saw then something to save in his memory: into a big tent there was a lot of women, many of them just a little older than himself.

“They are our wives.” said the one who conducted him, with the AK-47 on his hand “They are war spoil for us.”

“From Roque Santeiro?” asked Jiminy in Arabic, avoiding English to not cross this guy

“Some… Other from some stray groups we took in the desert.”

Jiminy thought on reply about the man dead, but he remembered he could not precog the guy reaction without Bellax Analytica.

He could not believe how much he felt naked without his powers.

It was when, while he was eating that day, he heard a siren calling attention, and some distress everywhere. He heard voices exclaiming “The Crusaders had come!” in Arabic, Berber and other Northern African idioms.

And one of his guards came to him:

“Come with me, now!” said the guy, on an accented english.

“What…“ Jiminy was saying, when he saw a FAL rifle pointed to him.

“No talk…“ said the guy, and looked worried and angry, showing him the point of the rifle

Jiminy just got out the tent, and he saw that all the men were going to the front. The guy touched his back with the gun point, showing that he would be pushed to the battlefield…

And it was when he heard a small whistle, and his experience made him made a movement getting out the way. The bomb shrapnels got the guy straight into the chest, Jiminy alive and unhurt just by experience and sheer luck.

He just looked to the guy in deadly pain and asked:

“Your name?”

“Ahmed Nader Maroun…“ said the guy, surprised by the last gesture of charity, when his eyes gone opaque, devoided of life.

Jiminy closed his eyes, did a small prayer for him, and looked around.

“A probability window!” he thought, taking the rifle and the ammo from the fallen Mujaheddin and running to the opposite side.

He was walking fast, avoiding the most the way the other Caliphate Warriors were using. He didn’t need his Bellax Analytica to remember the site structure: his memory was enough.

He got and walk through, looking for the women tent and for a way to get away there. He knew there’s two choppers somewhere, and he could catch one of them with some luck.

As he got to the women tent, they looked for them. Some of them were really scared:

“The camp is under attack. If you want to try to run, it’s time.” he said in Arabic.

“Who are you?” said one of them

“No time to waste now: I’m a friend, so to speak.” said Jiminy “Take your clothes, water and let us get out of here.”

The women start to run with small bundles of clothes and some canteels of water.

It was just when Jiminy start to hear the screams “yuhribun mae alnisa’!”

“Let’s go!” said Jiminy, using some of the tactics he learned at the BKA, using the auto-fire mode to make some suppresive fire, forcing them to take cover, even the rifle being so heavy and provoking recoil enough to almost make him fall, had he not prectice in the past at BKA.

They were going to the place were the helicopter was, when they found some Mujaheddin and they start to shoot. It was when one of the woman look for them worried and, for some reason waved her hands like she was doing some belly dance to them, sent a small sand storm against them, making them cough and go blind, while the others ran away screaming “Djinn!”. She looked worried for some reason.

“Who are you?” asked Jiminy

“Mirian Cissé” blurted the woman, flabbergasted

“First things first: how you did this?”

“Don’t know!” said Mirian “I just thought on the stories and did like Scheherazade!”

When Jiminy saw the women going for them, he said:

“Just knock them out. Take weapons, ammo and water, but no kills! Let them here, LDS will deal with them.”

The five Mujaheddin were knocked out.

They got nearby the heliport.

“Now, Mirian, let us take those guys away. We’ll take the helicopter, and we try to run away.”


“I was trained as a helicopter pilot. I’m from Herós Sans Frontières cape. Jiminy Cricket is my capename.”

“Alright!” said Mirian, locking on the ammo from her rifle.

They started to shot and pushing those guys away, and Mirian used her recent breakthrough power to push those guys away using their sand attacks.

“Alright!” said Jiminy, when all those guys had ran away, and they gone to the helicopter. “Let’s go!”

Jiminy sat into the pilot seat, Mirian on the copilot.

“I miss you, Blue Fairy.” said Jiminy

“Blue Fairy?” said Mirian

“I’ll talk later… If we survive this.” said Jiminy, starting the helicopter and simultaneously doing some Morse Code into a greeting LDS frequency.


“Hope they find the message.” said Jiminy, while lighting the motor on…

“We have a message on greeting frequency, sir. Morse code, small power.” said one of the man in the command center

“What?” said the man “Who would use Morse Code into our greeting frequency. And small potency means it came from the theatre.”

“Right… The message says JIMINY CRICKET. IN THE HELI. NEED COVER.” said the man with the radio

“Jiminy is there! And alive!” said the man with the big Andine costume.

“Yeah… But we can’t take this for sure.” said the commander to the guy “This can easily be a trap. We can’t put any afford on this.”

“And leave Pepito Grillo for death? Fat chance, señor.” said the other guy, dressed into a Lucha Libre costume

“Commander Williams,” said the black, statuesque woman, in military fatigues and holding a big and heavy spear as weapon “can you lock the signal? And send back the message in Morse Code USE ORSL 1 FREQ.”

“Lt. Matheusź?” said the Commander.

“Sir, the signal is from somewhat 3 clicks from here, 10 hours.” said the man “I’ll send the message back, ma’am, but I…“

“Don’t worry with us.” said Diana, looking for the other HSF capes there “Our mission here is to rescue our cape Jiminy Cricket, acquire the rogue breakthrough The Ascendant and fight the Caliphate, this order. We’ll not interfere on your main mission of acquiring the site and neutralize the tangos.”

“Hope so.” said Commander “If you interfere, you’ll be considered tangos as much the Caliphate guys.”

“Believe us… We don’t want to mess with you.” said Diana, while the communication guy send the message back.

Jiminy heard the Morse Code message getting back and had a smile, while the rotor got speed

“ORSL 1 frequency!” said Jiminy in english, while taking the walkie talkie. “They are coming for help us!”

“What?” said Mirian

“We’ll have help!” said Jiminy, in Arabic. “My friends are getting here.” he said, while adjusting the frequency.

“ORSL 1, LDS forces, Jiminy Cricket here!” he said on english “I have some Caliphate hostages with me on a MI heli… Looks like a Mi-38”

“Right.” said the potent woman voice.

“Diana!” said Jiminy. “Take care: The Ascendant is here.”

“We know: if possible, he’s a designated target.”

“We need a safe pass… We’ll takeoff now!” said Jiminy, when he looked for the instruments, showing he’s on operational speed.

He started to take off, when he felt a bump trying to push him down.

“Look out!” said another woman, and they felt some heat.

Jiminy looked outside, and there was a guy very strong with weird flames around him, big and bold. And somewhat away:

“The Ascendant!” said Jiminy, trying to avoid roll over “He upgraded this guy!”

“What we should do?” said one of the women

“Miriam, shoot some sand on him!” said Jiminy

“Right!” she said, and shot the sand…

But it wasn’t effective: the flames on the guy turned the sand into micro-glass

“We’re in trouble here!” said Jiminy to the walkie talkie. “If you want to help, we need your help NOW!”

“We’re a go, Jiminy!” said Diana “Stay on your position!”

“We’re doing our best!” said Jiminy, when the guy turned a little more the helicopter. “Hold yourself!”

One of the woman screamed, and pulled her hand to protect herself from the flames that the men was trying to push into the helicopter.

It was when they felt the heat reducing!

“What is happening?” said the woman, looking her hands glowing into a blue light, looking like sucking the flames.

“Breakthrough!” shouted Jiminy “Think on push the flames back to the guy, or better, against him and the man behind it!”

“Okay!” replied the girl, and the flame that gone from the woman hit the guy on the side.

But it was a blue fire that, by the pain reaction the guy had, was really hurtful. The Ascendant had time to get away, but this broke the amplification he did and he ran away.

“Let’s go!” said Jiminy, controlling the helicopter and flying away as fast he could, with the guy run behind them, shooting flames. “Close the doors!”

The women closed the helicopter doors and they felt some of the flames crossing aside them.

“Jiminy, we have you on visual!” said Diana

“Diana, The Ascendant had evaded, 6 hours on our direction… This tango we have on our tail looks like an Ajax/Pyrokinetic. Total A-Class, upgraded by The Ascendant. Take him as Ultra or even Omega!”

“Roger… Just get away: you have rescued people. Let the tango for us.”

“Okay.” said Jiminy, pushing the heli

Diana could see the Helicopter get over herself. She changed to the LDS frequency.

“Diana here: don’t shoot the heli that just crossed us. I repeat: don’t shoot it. It is one of us!” said Diana

“Roger.” said Lt. Matheusź “Sending it a route back safely our side through the accorded frequency.”

“Right. We’ll drop this monster.” said Diana, switching the comms back HSF frequency

“Need to say, muchacha, it’ll be easier said than done.” said Hufflepuff

“¿Amedrentado, Hufflepuff?” said Kuntur

“Me? ¿Hufflepuff, Hijo del Estupendo Tolot? ¡Kuntur, nada me amedrenta! I’m afraid of nothing, Kuntur!”

“No time for bravado, you two.” said the British-American guy, using a green jersey with a kind of antelope on it, a H and a rugby ball ove it also as a Cape crest. His head had a scrum cap used on rugby, his teeth protected by a black mouth-guard. “Let us drop that thing down and get home.”

“For sure.” said the Chinese woman with him, holding a pair of brass tonfa, with some sparkles of electricity getting out. “Now, let us go.” said Colocation, giving the honors by attacking first.

She used her teleporting and gave some kick, that made some of the flames getting away from him, him being hit straight in the side.

“Okay… Sounds like my powers are somewhat effective to him.” said her.

“Let now to me!” said Prop, running ready to tackle the guy, but he had just pulled him away with his arm.

“Prop!” said Colocation

“I’m okay!” said Prop.

“My time.” said Diana, hitting a button on her spear. “VENTO GÉLIDO!”

She threw the Vernetech spear that hit the guy in the shoulder and sent a bout of frozen air.

“Alright…“ said Diana “Looks like this will do with the flames: Kuntur, Prop, Hufflepuff, he is all yours.”

Prop ran back and held him on a tackle like lock, passing to his back.

“Let’s go!” said Kuntur, going like a missile and hitting the guy straight in the chest, making him lose her breath, when Prop broke the hold.

“Now, Hufflepuff!” said Kuntur, getting back and tagging his hand.

Hufflepuff looked for the guy and said:

“¡Usted está condenado! ¡Yo, Hufflepuff, Hijo de Tolot, le daré tu condena!” he said, running to it and punching him again in the same spot Kuntur did. The guy tried to reignite his fire, but it wasn’t successful, and Hufflepuff took him.

“¡És hora de tu condena! ¡EL TÉJON VOLADOR!” he screamed, throwing him to the air.

The guy tried to protect himself from the attack, but it wasn’t successful, when Hufflepuff locked his throat with his powerful legs, and he smashed him into a lariat in the ground.

The guy was stopped.

“They are coming!” shouted Kuntur, that was flying over everyone, looking around. Lots of Mujaheddin from the Caliphate where coming. Then they looked for the Zindiq that were there, and for the guy in the ground, knocked out.

“Alright.” said Diana, in Arabic “I’m pissed off enough to kill at least two or three of you morons if you give me reason.” snapping her fingers. “So… This will be simple: I’ll count to three. Everyone here after that will be tangos to be neutralized. Each of you that shoot against me will be considered a target to be took down. So… One…“ she started to count

On three, some smartyguys stayed, and Diana took one of them to use as a baton against other four. Hufflepuff throw one of them against a small group that was running away. Kuntur flew around and used his arms to pull some of them out of the way, while Prop tackled a lot of them, breaking their lines like if he was on a rugby game, and Colocation used her combination of teleporting and Jeet-Kune Do to drop the remaining rabble to the ground.

“Diana here.” said her in the Earbug “We cleaned this sector. Where are you, Jiminy?”

“Already in the command center.” said him “Need a ride?”

“It would be good, thanks.” said Diana, almost smiling with her ivory white smile, her afro hair shining with the sweat from the fight “Need to say, I need to thank those Mujaheddin: it was so good to do some anger management with those guys. I was so pissed off with those guys since Roque Santeiro attack it was good to kick some asses.”

“Alright: there’s still some fuel for a there and back again travel.” said Jiminy

Jiminy was being checked by a LDS doctor for his condition after his debriefing, while talking with the others.

“So, The Ascendant took you just to talk?” said Diana

“I don’t know: maybe he wanted to use me as guinea pig, or needed to take me to prove what he could do to the Caliphate.” said Jiminy “Anyway…“

“And in the chaos you got away.” said Prop

“Yeah… But need to say that I had help… Those two girls, including Ms. Mirian Cissé, had breakthroughs in the right moments. And the others were very helpful too.”

“Right…“ said the LDS doctor “You’re cleared to go. Please wait a minute while we get some clothes for you.”

They were getting out, after Jiminy dressed some soldier clothes (obviously baggy for him), when he saw Mirian Cissé getting out from another medical tent.

“Hey, Ms. Cissé…“ said Jiminy, and she looked to him “By chance: have you a parent named Wahiba?”

“My sister! My elder sister!” said her “But… How you…“

“Long story. But good news, you’re going to see her back.” said Jiminy “We are with her!”

“Lo, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful!” she said, crying “She was taken forcibly as a wife in my place. She was raped a lot…“

“I know…“ said Jiminy “She had a horrible story. But now, she’s better, and she’s a cape, a breakthrough like you.”

“Cape? Breakthrough?” said Mirian

“She has powers, like you and me and some others… We’ll talk better when getting back to her.”

“But how?” said her

Jiminy thought a little and saw that the Commander of the operation was there:

“Sir, please, have you a time? I want to ask you a favor.” said Jiminy.

The man looked for him curiously. And he would grew even more curious and even flabbergasted on the favor Jiminy asked him.

“I still can’t believe you asked this for them.” said Diana, smiling

“Well… It wasn’t like I wanted a gift: we could take this as war spoil. Salvage rights, you know.” said Jiminy, on the lever of the same helicopter he got from the Caliphate.

“This will be way cool in ORSL 1, you know.” said Kuntur.

“I was just thinking on this.” said Jiminy, when he felt something weirdly familiar growing on him.

“What’s happening?” said Kuntur, noticing Jiminy

“Just… Pretty Please!, Kuntur, could you give me a chocolate milk?” said Jiminy

Kuntur ran to the rack and took a thermos, when he noticed what happened.

“Your powers! Are they back?” said Kuntur

“Yep… At least my Bellax Analytica and my Pretty Please!” said Jiminy, when he felt another good presence, a giggling one. “Blue Fairy!”

“Hey, short stuff, long time no see.” said the small Fairy, in the same costume he saw her in the first time.

“You can’t believe how much I missed you.” said Jiminy

“I can see… Remember: I can read your mind somewhat.” said Blue Fairy

“Cheater.” said Jiminy

“How this is happening?” said Hufflepuff.

“Think he didn’t push too much on me: as my powers are not for direct combat, he took me as a kid.” said Jiminy “Well, being small and meek has some advantages sometimes…“ he said, and everyone laugh.

It was when they saw the HSF base at Constantinople.

“Home sweet home, Jiminy!” said Blue Fairy.

“Home sweet home, Blue Fairy!” said Jiminy “Constantinople HSF Base, Jiminy Cricket with the Darfur HSF team and some Caliphate hostage rescued.”

Chapter 22

“I lost my powers for just some days and I really felt myself naked. Being back into the field with my dear friends was a relief.”

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

Some days passed while Jiminy and the others finished their job at Constantinople, the Hagia Sofia situation now back to a Code Blue situation, some international Crew teams working to rebuild the collapsed buildings. There was two girls with some mild Sword Verses post-hypnotic suggestions in the rescued ones, but Squirrel Girl undone them and they were free to get back Roque Santeiro for their families. Mirian stayed, with the other breakthrough woman, to reinforce ORSL 1 team as sidekicks while learning to control their powers. Scheherazade (real name: Mirian Cissé) was a sand projector/kinetic, B-Class at least. The other girl, that choosed the capename Lahab (real name: Khadija Rezgui), was a thermal projector that could suck and redirect flames and other sources of heat at will. She was not a kinetic, so she needed a source of heat, but as long as she had something to provide the heat (in extreme cases, living things), she could project it away in many ways.

“Two good powers for our team.” said Soldaire via video-conference “And is very cool that Scheherazade and Marjanah are sisters.”

“Yeah.” said Jiminy “And we rescued many of the people that were alive from the Roque Santeiro attack.”

“Sure…“ said Marjanah “But I think this is not the last time we heard about The Undying Caliphate and The Ascendant.”

“I don’t think so.” said Sugarplum “We still didn’t find the Ascendant and some of those guys he certainly gave or upgrade powers: the Ultra weather controller from the ORSL 1, the Terrakinetic that did the Hagia Sofia earthquake…“

“But this is not for us…“ said LionHeart “We already have our mission at ORSL 1.”

“Yeah…“ said Presto “But how we’ll take those helis back home?”

“Presto, I believe you took your helicopter brief, right?” said Jiminy.


“So, you take Transport 4 and I bring our new Trasport 5.” said Jiminy

“Right… Just because we have a smaller autonomy than you” said Presto, sneering

“I’ll have the bulk of the things to bring back ORSL 1, including the rescued women. And you’ll go more confy, as just Hufflepuff and LionHeart will go with you.”

“Right, right.” said Presto, laughing

Back to ORSL 7, it was time to farewells.

“Thanks everything, Jiminy.” said Prop

“Just doing my job, Prop. Hope you have a better time. And if you need us, just ask.” said Jiminy

“Stay training, Presto.” said Colocation “Remember you need this to be better for your team.”

“Yes, sifu.” said Presto, while putting his headset.

“Right, Blue Fairy.” said Jiminy “Give me support, while LionHeart give support for Presto.”

“Aye, aye, Sir!” said Blue Fairy, while they started the helicopters

“ORSL 1 Transports 4 and 5 departuring.” said Jiminy “On levers, Jiminy Cricket and Presto.”

“ORSL 1 Transports 4 and 5, ORSL 7 here. Godspeed.”

“Thanks… Out.” said Jiminy, while both the helicopters were in the air.

“Now… Six hours until home?” said Presto

“Yep.” said Jiminy. “Lucky the weather is good: normally we would never do a thing like this, but it’s necessary. Blue Fairy will help us both. I’ll go straight to ORSL 1, deliver everyone, and encounter you at ORSL 3, to split the remaining cargo and passengers.”

“Alright.” said Presto

“And maybe I’ll bring Cabby with me: he can help us a lot.” said Jiminy “If I knew what would happen, I would bring Cabby with us.”

“No one could think all this would happen.” said Djanni “By now, we need to get back, take some time to relax a little and then… Back to action and our life.”

“And you, Jiminy?” said Sugarplum “I think you want get back some time with your parents.”

“Right… And need to look for my University grads.”

“Thinking on what, Jiminy?” said Squirrel Girl

“I was thinking on a major on Law, with minors on IT, Electronics, Languages, Politics, and Philosophy.” said Jiminy

“WOAH, kid!” said Sugarplum “Easy! You’ll not have time for all this! You’re taking a too big of a bite on this.”

“Hey, I’m 15 and already finished college.” said Jiminy “I can take my time. Besides, all this will help us in the field, and this will be easy peasy with my mind. In fact, all this Ascendant thing shown me that my brain is what I have to cherished the most, as my intelligence and memory were breakthrough-amplified, but they are my own now…“

“Yeah…“ said Sugarplum

“Hey, you boring kid! Don’t fawn over your so mighty brains and stay looking forward. There a storm forming!” said Blue Fairy.

“Alright… Just 10 degrees and we are out of the way, by the avionics.” said Jiminy “Let us go back home.”

“Yes.” said everyone, happy to a mission accomplished.

The End?
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