Well, right now we have Liza shot, Wolfgang traumatized, Fernsby evil and Maxine on the loose, not to mention many other problems.
How much worse can things get?
Let’s see how things go for Wolfgang this week.
If you’re behind, catch up with this unreasonably long chain of links below.
And part 26!
How the tables have turned
It started raining while I was driving. And, having done exactly not what Liza said to do, I’d left the top down. And I had no jacket.
But even from that brief call with Franklin, it was pretty clear that there was no time for ensuring my dryness.
Fernsby had his powers back.
And, to directly quote, he’d “gone psycho”.
Levelheaded, gentle, quiet Charles going psycho. With the powers of super strength and flight, no less.
And I just sent him into the center of the city to the SPI building . . . stupid, stupid . . .
I gritted my teeth and dug my fingernails into the steering wheel, pressing down harder on the gas. My headlights cut through the rain showering down on the road in two bright yellow beams. I could see the lights of the city getting closer. I was only a few minutes out by now.
And I could also see a very clear backing up of traffic near the SPI building. Police lights flashed in and out and sirens wailed.
I cursed, shoving one hand up through my wet hair.
Hopefully he hadn’t hurt too many people. Or gotten arrested. Or both. Was he even going to remember this afterwards?
Why the freaking hell did Maxine start him off today instead? She said . . . she . . .
Well, that was probably the preventative measures, wasn’t it? She knew Dallas had escaped. So the way to still go through with the plan and have a chance at discrediting him was to start things off early.
That overprepared, conniving little . . .
The rain spattered in my face as I turned a corner, coming around to face the wall of unmoving traffic. I wiped a hand over my face and jerked my car to a stop. My shirt clung to me from the wetness. Sounds of yelling, smashing and sirens came from up beyond all the cars.
I saw a figure, backlit by police lights, briefly rise up into the air before putting out a fist and going back down to smash something.
I fumbled to get my buckle undone, hitting the button to put up the hood while I was at it. Keep my car from getting even further soaked . . . I needed to just grab my keys and get out there.
I needed to try and stop him before he hurt anyone. Stop the police before they thought he’d actually turned evil in and of himself and ended up hurting him . . . I stepped out of the car and froze with the door still open. All the horrible possibilities flooded my mind.
And that probably means that all the superheroes all over the rest of the country are going psycho too.
Liza was still back there at Jay’s house with a hole through her leg.
There were police all over the place and I was a wanted criminal, so I’d probably end up having to use my fire powers to just defend myself from getting thrown in the back of a cop car
Franklin was the one that gave me the call so who knew, this might just be some sort of trap to get me to advance their plan anyway and they might end up just chucking me back in the freezer to die after this was over . . . I didn’t even have my jacket . . .
My breathing was catching in my throat again. My hands shaking and my heartbeat speeding up. The nausea and lightheadedness coming back to surface.
The way the cars packed together on the road with the cop lights flashing over them . . . just like when I came back to my dead family and the bombed town . . .
No, no, keep it together. Not now. Come on.
I leaned over, gripping the edge of my car and resting my forehead on the wet surface of the convertible roof. I bit down hard on my tongue and closed my eyes tightly, forcing my breathing to come evenly. This just . . . couldn’t happen right now.
Not that I didn’t have any reason now. I had plenty of reason to panic. Again. But this was just not the time to melt down by any stretch of the imagination.
The rain drizzled down, soaking through my shirt further and making me shiver. The wet trickled along my scalp through my hair and I rubbed a hand over my head, focusing on breathing. In and out. In and out.
There was another smashing sound and a scream up beyond the cars
I had my quota of hysterics back with News. I already had time to recover. I should be fine. Just keep going. Need to help Fernsby.
I pushed back upright with a deep breath, set my jaw and started weaving through the cars towards the front. Just keep the focus on the determination. What I had to do. It took a little while, but my steps steadied out so I didn’t feel as much like Gumby trying to walk into a hot oven.
The yelling and screaming got louder as I got closer. More smashing. The shadows around the center shifted and I saw Fernsby rise up off the ground again. I could make out more now, by the flashing lights. The ugly anger distorting his face made him almost unrecognizable.
Seriously, that was . . . well, that was a facial expression that I made. Not one that he made. Ever.
He turned, flying backwards away from the scene a little ways down the street.
I smacked my shoulder against the side of one car since I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going. I refocused and sped my pace.
One yell shrilled over the rest for a second. Closer than the others.
I stopped, blinking.
Hold on, that couldn’t be . . .
“Wolf! Over here!”
I turned and . . . yep, just like I hoped it wouldn’t be. The Fernsby kids. And Leif. Just a couple cars away from me. All sitting in the Fernsbys’ red suburban, packed in with the rest of the cars on the street like giant, metal sardines.
Leif waved his arm out the window at me. Beckett poked his head out another window and I couldn’t see Jilly.
I stared, barely noticing that my mouth had dropped open.
Holy smoke, did they know what was going on? Were they watching this? Was Angela here?
I changed course, sliding over a couple of wet car hoods and getting over to the car, leaning down to see the kids. There was Jilly. Down crying on the floor of the car and covering her eyes. Beckett had traces of tears around his eyes too.
A bit of heat started to radiate around my hands, bubbling up from inside my chest. I gripped the side of the window hard and spoke through my clenched teeth. “What are you guys doing here? Where’s Ang- . . . I mean Mom?” I directed the question towards Leif since he seemed the least emotionally compromised of the three.
“We were just shopping,” Leif answered, tugging at his hair with both hands and exuding enough nervous energy to power a small city. “And then Mom heard the news on the radio and . . . and we came here and Dad’s just . . .” his voice broke a little.
There was another smashing sound and we all flinched. Beckett and Jilly hid while Leif and I looked up to the front.
I cursed under my breath, pushing off the car. “I gotta go, buddy.”
“Wait!” Leif reached out, grabbing at my arm like he was going to grab my leather jacket sleeve that wasn’t there. He recovered from the surprising discovery and grabbed my wrist instead. “That’s not . . . actually Dad out there, is it? Did they send someone else? A clone who looks like him or something?”
I bit my lip and shook my head. “It’s him. Him under mind control. But it’s . . .” I took a breath. “It’s complicated. Sorry, I gotta go.”
I pulled away and jogged down the stretch between the cars that led to the front line that was blocked off by the police. The lights still flashed into the night, cutting through the rain. Thankfully, most of the people were getting the hint by all the smashing that was going on and they were starting to run off. But there was still a solid line of spectators there, yelling and taking pictures and generally freaking out.
Didn’t exactly make it easy for me to try and shoulder my way through to the front.
Aaaand there wasn’t even a good view from here anymore, since Fernsby had moved back, great. Further to go.
I stiffened. Oh great, I’d been recognized again. Man, I’d hoped it wouldn’t have to come to me flaming up in the middle of a bunch of people. I started to push harder, but a hand clapped down on my wet shoulder.
“Man, I’m glad you got here when you did,” continued Franklin, closer to my ear so I could make out the words over the commotion. “Things are getting crazy around here.”
He was touching me. He was touching me and I was trapped against a bunch of other people here and . . .
I just about lost it again. I swore loudly at him, ramming the rest of the way through the crowd to try and get away. Partially slamming myself into one of the barrier bars the police had put up.
Franklin followed effortlessly in my wake, a confused look wrinkling his smooth brow. “Dude, what’s up?”
“What’s up?” I shot back, keeping myself as far from him as possible. “What’s up is that I don’t have any time for you stealing my brain right now, thanks. I’m done with Silverwing. Don’t touch me.”
“You think I would . . .?” Franklin put a hand to his chest as if I’d wounded him. “Dank, there are things on the line here. I have a shred of human decency, man. Why do you think I called you?”
“I don’t know what sort of trap you’re trying to pull, but I’m not thanking you for it,” I growled. I swiped a hand over my eyes to wipe away the rainwater, then proceeded to search the area with what little view I had.
Yep, there was Charles down the street. Just ripping out parking meters and hurling them around the place at the moment. There were a few overturned cars. Aaaand a few police officers on the ground, great.
The others with shields seemed to be keeping their distance right now, just yelling out at him to stand down. A few of them were . . . pulling guns.
My adrenaline spiked. No, no, they can’t kill him . . .
I started to try and push past the barricade, but one of the few policemen left to guard suddenly materialized in front of me. “Sir, please stay behind the lines for your own safety.”
“But you don’t get it, that’s . . . I’m trying to . . .” I stammered for a couple seconds, then shut up. I’d been through this before and it wasn’t gonna do any good. And if I got any second glances, I was probably getting arrested.
Fantastic. Now what am I doing?
I felt the heat surging around my body again along with my frustration. Well, just light on fire and I bet people would clear away pretty fast . . .
“Well, I’m just going to pretend you didn’t say that,” Franklin said, his voice sounding injured. He leaned against the barricade, finger combing his wet, black hair out of his eyes. “Because I know you’re the mole. You’re not with them. And whether you like it or not, I’m helping you out. “ He eyed me for a second. “And I’m not with Silverwing anymore. I don’t even have my powers, so I couldn’t puppet you even if I wanted to.”
I gave him a look.
He raised his eyebrows back, tilting his head. “Plus, I know all of Maxine’s plans and you don’t.”
“You knew she was going to light this whole mess off a day early?”
“Well . . .” Franklin faltered. “Everything but that.”
Another movement caught my eye as a policewoman slipped past from behind the barricade, eyeing the street Fernby was on at the moment. A huge smash and a car alarm starting up made me jump.
Metal screeched against asphalt as another car skidded towards the police line. They retreated further.
A scream broke back from further down the barricade. “Let me through! He’s my husband! Charles! Charles, please . . .”
I whipped my head around and craned my neck trying to see through the rainy dark. By the flashing city lights, I could make out a crying woman, frantically trying to get past, while she was held back by another policewoman. Pleading and begging to get through to her husband.
“I can talk to him officer, please. Please . . .” her voice broke into a sob.
The other policewoman who’d just passed the barricade said something quietly to her before rushing over towards the line of police trying to keep Charles back.
“See, the plan was . . .” Franklin began again.
A gunshot cracked through the air and we both stiffened, staring at Charles.
He didn’t move, just standing there in the street and clenching his fists.
Angela had already dissolved completely into tears. A few more gunshots cracked, but they ricocheted right off, one hitting an officer who went down with a yell.
The invulnerability powers. The glitchy ones.
Holy smoke, he’d barely ever been able to get that function to work while I was fighting him. What were these bots even doing to his brain?
Even with that, he can’t hold it up forever. They’re shooting at him. They’ll kill him. I need to get out there.
There was some frantic chatter among the law enforcement about calling in more backup.
I turned back to Franklin. “Quick rundown. Give me what you can in ten seconds or less.” I got my gaze back to the police and Fernsby, clenching my shaky hands into fists and starting to collect the energy to get my powers to work. And work well.
“Right. Well, whatever Silverwing superhero that was assigned to the old Hero was supposed to let him wreak havoc for no longer than half an hour, then swoop in and save the day. Killing the Hero wasn’t part of the plan, but if they . . .”
Fernsby had picked up another car. And he was aiming to throw it right at the row of police.
“Time’s up, thanks.”
I shoved past the barricade, igniting my hands into flame. The rain hissed and fizzled into steam as it hit me. The fire show effectively cleared my path from anyone trying to hold me back. I had a clear shot right towards Fernsby.
Clenching my hands tighter, I broke into a run. Everything seemed to slow down for a few seconds.
Charles reared back to throw the car. I threw my hands up, mentally pleading with everything in me for my powers to work right.
And the policewoman I’d seen go running up to the line suddenly shifted into a different person. Her appearance rippled in a split second, changing from an officer holding a gun into . . . Angela Fernsby.
“Charles, please!” she cried out in the same heartrending voice she had before.
I was so surprised, I almost lost my aim as I tripped over my own feet. But the moment made Charles falter as well. I straightened up in my run enough to take advantage of it.
I shot twin fireballs out from both hands. They glowed through the air, sizzling over the heads of the police, over Charles and right into the car, slamming it backwards out of his hands.
I’d put more oomph into it than I’d expected. The car flew back almost half a block.
Charles stood there, stunned.
The Angela apparition turned to stare at me, horror overtaking her features.
The policemen seemed divided over exactly what to do in that second. About a fourth of them considered my appearance a bigger threat than the first insane superhero and spun around to re-aim towards me. The rest turned their aim on the vulnerable Charles Fernsby.
“Stop!” I yelled, putting on a burst of speed to reach them. “He’s being mind controlled, don’t hurt him!”
Somebody didn’t listen to me and fired.
Charles turned his head at that moment to stare back at the car I’d thrown from his hands. The bullet whizzed by his ear.
I skidded to a stop, igniting all up my arms and right up to my hair into flame. “I said don’t hurt him!” I roared out. “He’s under mind control! This isn’t him and you’d be murdering an innocent man!”
The fire, plus my trademark Wolf-The-Terrorist voice had the desired effect. In more ways than one.
Charles recovered from his shock enough to get his rage back into place. He turned back, his full attention on me instead of the police officers and civilians. His eyes were piercing, the pupils dilated down to just pinpricks, and his nostrils flared like some bull getting ready to charge.
Good. If he was focused on one person, the less damage he could do. And I could defend myself.
“Stay back,” I told the police, motioning with my flaming hands as I stepped forward. Not like I much expected them to listen, but they did as I said.
The Angela lookalike backed up a few steps.
I pointed in her direction without taking my eyes off Fernsby. “And arrest her, please. She’s Maxine Wellington, traitor to the SPI and the organizer of this whole thing.”
Maxine took off like a gazelle, but none of the officers made a move to give chase, still just backing up to save themselves. Not like I really have much free time to chase her instead. I cursed quietly.
Well, I couldn’t push my luck with how far my credibility went.
I took a few more steps towards Fernsby and he marched towards me. I put up my hands. “Hey . . . I . . . I know you’re in there. And your kids and wife are watching, Charles. Do you really want to . . .?”
By the way he grabbed me by my shirt and flew up into the air, he sort of answered that he did really want to.
I felt like I left my stomach down below a hundred feet. The rain slashed down hard around us for a few seconds, then Charles swooped back down, dropping us both in the middle of another street.
This one wasn’t cleared by police. People filled the sidewalks, and a few cars screeched to a stop in the road, honking their horns at us.
He dropped me onto the road before coming down himself.
My shoulder smashed against the ground and I rolled, gripping it and groaning.
The ground vibrated at Fernsby’s feet hit down on the road.
I scrambled to my feet, shaking the rainwater out of my eyes and putting my fists up in a fighting stance. Fernsby smirked, his upper lip curling. It wasn’t an expression I’d ever seen on his face before. There was murder in his eyes.
He’s Leif’s dad now . . . he’s Angela’s husband and my friend . . . I can’t hurt him.
Stupid mall shoppers were taking their phones out to take videos.
“Run!” I barked out.
Nobody ever listens to me.
I took a deep breath and focused my energy on putting the flames back up around my arms.
So I needed to take him down without hurting him. Or all these people around us. The panicked urge to burst into hysterical laughter returned for a second.
Oh, this should be fun.
Wheeeee lots of fun here.
Come back on Sunday for our stunning almost-conclusion!
See you guys later,