Running In Circles

Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse!  Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!

Rita winced as another pyrotechnic went off from…somewhere? She still wasn’t entirely sure where the special effects were coming from as Balthazar the Black performed the resurrection ritual on Rosencrantz. Maybe Percival was just that good of a hype man. Across the floor she saw Ezekiel the Undying living up to his moniker as Titan punched him for the tenth time. General Mayhem and the other villains were beginning to make moves as if to escape or possibly intervene, neither of which were good. Crouching low, she ran over to Butch and knelt in front of him, eyes level with his.

She grabbed his hands, “Look, I know we’ve had our past. But we’re trying to do the right thing now, okay? I’m trying to do the right thing.”

Butch nodded wordlessly as Ezekiel went flying into a nearby wall, leaving a large crack behind.

“You need to call off your uncle, all right? Let him know we’re not the ones he needs to fight.”

Rita looked at him hopefully as Butch slowly raised his wrists showing off his manacles.

She caught his hands and pulled him closer, trying to hide what she was about to do from the rest of the room.

“Trust me.”

She grasped the manacles and tore them apart. She looked up quickly to see if Butch had noticed he was free and felt a sharp crack as their heads knocked together. Butch jumped back slightly, a red blush creeping up around his ears. Had he just tried to kiss her? One look at his face confirmed that he had. Rita felt the embarrassment radiating off of him. He wanted to melt into the floor. Her heart ached suddenly and she wanted to take the shame away, to pull it into herself and bear it for him.

“Sorry.” he muttered, looking away.

“Oh, it’s fine.” She tried to catch his eye, let him see her smile but he wasn’t looking.

Butch stood, rubbing his wrists, and glanced around the room. It was at this moment that the reporter, known as Wendy Gates, yelled something about borks and a giant robotic creature that looked like a cross between a hamster and a gumdrop landed in the middle of them.

“What the hell is that?” Butch asked, staring.

“I have no idea.” Rita answered, getting to her feet.

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed something dark fall out of the ceiling. Bending down, she lifted up a cloak made of the blackest black she had ever seen. Without thinking she put it on and felt her super strength surge. She was standing in front of Butch, partially shielding him from the fray. A figure hurtled toward them, skimming along the floor at an alarming speed. Teflon. Dumbest name for a super villain ever. 

Rita dashed forward and went down into a slide. She felt her foot connect with something solid and was pleased to hear a high pitched shriek as Teflon rocketed out of the hole Titan had left in the side of the building.  Standing, she saw something dart out from the wall toward her and Butch. She lashed out with the cloak, which apparently was a thing she could do now, but The Living Shadow was too quick. He blocked the strike with his twin swords and came into a fighter’s stance. He whipped the swords elegantly around his head before pointing them at Rita with a “come and get it” sort of move.

“Screw that.”

Rita punched him square in the nose. He went sailing out the hole Teflon had just left out of, into the glorious sunshine where he began cursing loudly. As he fell, she saw him throw his blades at her. She had just enough time to spin and duck before they sliced through her cloak. It fell into ribbons all around her before vanishing like mist.

Butch was getting angry, Rita felt it. He charged at the nearest villain and swung hard. He missed and struck the wall behind instead, leaving a huge open hole. He yelled in frustration and turned back, catching Rita’s eye. His face changed, just for a moment, a fraction of a second. Rita felt a shift in his emotions, like he was trying to control himself, to not let her feel his rage. But that was even worse. As Butch bottled up his anger, his frustration, his worry, Rita felt it grow and magnify. It was like someone had just slammed a spike into the middle of her chest and she nearly went down to her knees from it. She turned, struggling to keep calm, to keep breathing, and saw Titan. His righteous indignation, his justice driven fury, swept over her in a wave leaving her gasping for air. All around her people were afraid, were angry, were hiding things. She saw the rest of her team fighting as best they could while Balthazar completed the ritual. She saw the villains moving in for the kill. She saw Titan punching Ezekiel while giving an interview to Wendy. 

She saw Butch.

The fear and anger were almost overwhelming. Rita felt herself beginning to slip away, sounds becoming fainter as the blood rushed in her ears. She squeezed her eyes shut, clamping her hands over her head as she struggled to keep from screaming. Then everything went still and she heard a voice in the back of her head.

“I don’t want to fight you Abbi.”

Her eyes snapped open. She knew what she had to do.

At her feet was a large golden chain. She had no idea where it had come from and right now she didn’t care. She picked it up and hefted it over her shoulder. She looked back at Butch, who was staring at her with a confused expression.

“Trust me.” 

Rita took off running. She ran faster than she ever had before, making large circles around the entire room. She raised her hand and caught the attention of The Skinwalker.

One lap.

She wished she hadn’t bumped his head. She wished that she had told him that his attempted kiss wasn’t unwelcome, just unexpected. When the only other person who had ever kissed you looked at you like you were a freak after, you stopped trying. After a while you forgot what it was like to be looked at like that, so it was a surprise when someone did.

Three laps.

She didn’t even know what she was doing here. What was she trying to accomplish any way? Hadn’t she just wanted to be a normal teenager? Why was she doing this? Why was she risking her life for some superheroes who would probably throw her in jail tomorrow? 

Five laps.

She reached her hand toward The Skinwalker, who began stretching out to meet her.

Why had he called her Abbi? No one else ever called her that. Everyone called her Abigail, even her parents. The only person in her entire life who had ever called her Abbi was Butch Baker. He’d called her that the first time they met. She’d been so nervous she hadn’t bothered correcting him. Besides, deep down she liked that he had given her a nickname. She’d never had one before and it made her feel special. He made her feel special. Why had she forgotten that?

Ten laps.

The Skinwalker grasped Rita’s hand firmly and dug in with whatever their equivalent of heels were. Rita kept running, feeling the stretch of the arm behind her. She tried hard not to focus on the overall grossness factor as she wrapped more and more people into her ersatz rope. In her other hand she spun the golden chain as best she could before sending it sailing toward the large robot.

She made a mental note to not believe herself Annie Oakley just because she had read a few books.

The chain sunk deep into the metal of the mechanized creature and held firm. Rita took two more laps, each one getting closer and closer to the edge of the hole. When she was near enough she jumped. They sailed through the air, this wriggling ball of super hero and super villain life, and at the top was Rita. She waited until the very last second before releasing her grip on The Skinwalker. She heard the snap and for just a moment thought she caught a glimpse of Butch as he fell, a look she couldn’t read on his face. Sailing upward she tucked and rolled, coming onto her feet inside the cave. 

Standing alone in what remained of the evil hideout, Rita looked around. Tears stung her eyes and she let out a half sob. She didn’t want to die.

She didn’t think she was a hero, but she hoped she wasn’t a villain. She was never going to be normal, she understood that now. But she could at least not be useless. She could try. She could help.

“Bye Butch.” she whispered before letting herself slip under the anger into the rage beneath.

Her head roared. Her vision flashed red and she let out a scream that shook the windows, shattering them into a thousand tiny shards. The last piece of herself, the last piece of Rita trembled in fear and let go. The rage consumed her, there was nothing but the fury. But they would be safe. He would be safe.

All at once there was a perfect calm, a stillness. Abbi stood up in the eye of the storm and looked around. Behind her the room was in shambles, windows broken, furniture smashed, the smoking remains of Tommy Tsunami on the floor. A projection screen hung at an odd angle, the general’s Power Point slide still visible. Abbi smiled quietly.

“Boring presentation anyway.”

She brought her fist down.

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