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Chapter 3: How To be A Hero

 

Gungir escorted Cherry, while Lord Daniel escorted the rest of the Vigilantes to Steel Canyon. Along the way they got to tour the sights of Crey’s Folly, and Brickstown. The sights included car jacking, break-ins, mugging, evil cult-like groups terrorizing the streets, and a giant prison.

“You know,” Kayain said as he held an unconscious Tsoo warrior by the shirt. “There’s something wrong with society today when criminals are as overt as this.”

“Too true,” said Lord Daniel. “That’s why we heroes have to fight the good fight every day. There’s few of us, and way too many of them, so we’re always glad to get new heroes to contribute to Paragon City.”

Kayain found a flagpole nearby and tied up the Tsoo warrior by his underwear and lifted him up. “Ah, this never gets old. Makes me think of my high school years.”

Kayain was not your typical bully back in high school. Every time he graduated to a new school, he would establish his dominance by being a bully to the present school bully. And if anyone defied him, there would be trouble. He wouldn’t let it go until total humiliation of whoever challenged him was complete. He would never bully nerds and band geeks; because he knew he could persuade them to do his bidding with no consequence. The school nerds would do his homework and buy his lunch out of respect, and not by fear.

“Ha! Sounds like you had an interesting childhood.”

“I always make things interesting,” Kayain said with a smile. He looked in the window of a store and saw a box of cereal called Hero-o’s. “Hey, who’s that group there on the box?”

“Them? That’s team is called The Legion of Valor. They’ve done much to help the community.”

“Like?”

“Well, they’ve lead many a task force against all kinds of villains. They are the biggest street sweepers, and have a record posted on how many villains they’ve put behind bars. They’ve been successful twice in rallying the heroes against the Hamadon.”

“What’s a Hamadon?”

“The Hamadon is a gigantic amoeba-like being, who’s origins are unknown. It is the overlord of a naturalist group named the Devouring Earth. Like the name implies, the Devouring Earth are a group bent on consuming everything on the Earth. Their minions are mutated plants, rocks, and even people. They stop at nothing to destroy every aspect of human technology in claim that we’re destroying the Earth. But in reality, they destroy more and more in the name of the Hamadon.”

“So basically, they’re a bunch of super-hippies eh?”

“In a manner of speaking, yes. They’re bunch of super-hippies who are literally made from the earth. And they follow the orders of a giant pile of jell-o with fruit in it. Their goal in life is to destroy the earth and rule the remains.”

“And all that’s missing is a freedom bus,” said Kayain as he shook his head. “Sounds wicked- Wait, you said they beat it twice?”

“Yes. Unfortunately after we defeat it, it revives itself. No one knows how it does, but it will regain strength. We have to stop it when it does, or it will continue to gain power.”

“And it cycles over and over. Hoo, that sounds like a pain in the ass. And once it’s planted itself, there’s no way to get rid of it.”

“Nothing we’ve found yet. It’s like an irritating weed, yes.”

“That’s awful. If that thing spawns and gets on another planet, there’s no telling what it could do. I’ll need to tell Cherry about that. But anyway about the Paragon guys, they sound pretty popular.”

“Yes they are. They make many public appearances all the time. Reporters, journalists, commercials, you name it, they’ve been there.”

“So they’d be the ones to talk to about endorsing Kayain products…”

“Ha! I’d doubt it. In my opinion they’re a bit full of themselves. But everyone loves them.”

“Now Kayain,” said Danyel. “Remember our mission here is to get your weapon and prevent the Rikti from invading. We are not here to make a big scene.”

“Well look who’s talking,” said Kayain as he grinned at him. “You were eager to stay and meet some wizards that you can talk your gibberish to. And me, I love just being me. Which means I must be more popular than– WHOA! Look at the Mazungas on that one!”

A lady hero came flying by in a leather bustier, and a bikini bottom. Kayain’s eyes followed her chest as she flew by.

Q’Hagians had 1 word for breasts, and Kayain had about 100. In Q’Hagian culture, when a woman is complimented on her hips or breasts, it’s a compliment on her maternal capability. Usually it’s a friendly gesture, but Kayain was just a complete pervert.

Danyel shook his head and said,” Kayain, I know about the little wager you made, and how this is something hard for you. If you keep staring at women like that, you’ll just end up going crazy. So for your own good, stay focused on task”

“But… But…” Kayain made a gesture with his hands and said,” Did you see the size of those-”

“Yes, as a matter of fact I did. Oh, and speaking of that, I’ve seen a pair that big last night… Oh that’s right it was your sister!” Kayain, in mid-breath stopped as he pointed his finger at Danyel. Very few people could make Kayain shut up, and Danyel was one of them. “And while I get to do your sister every night, you are left cold and alone.”

Kayain pinched his lips together and was at a loss for words. He knew Kayain hated hearing about that even more than Cherry did.

Kayain was a very protective brother. He had scared away all Diana’s dates she ever had. He and Danyel had always been best friends, and Danyel had always had a crush on Diana.

But like their father, both Diana and Kayain had gained the inherent ability to incorrectly take in signals that people use to let them know that they like them. Danyel was very friendly to her, and she was oblivious to it.

At the time she had a big crush on Danyel’s older brother Aaron, but he didn’t like her back. He broke her heart one day when he said he was marrying a woman they knew.

They found out later that the same woman he married was the one responsible for purposely exposing Cherry’s mother to the psionic material, and causing her genetics to be altered.

The heartbroken Diana decided to try and do blind dates, since she didn’t know any guys who liked her. And after Kayain was through with them, they would forever remain blind.

Instead Diana tried a hobby to keep her mind focused. She took up gymnastics and fitness. She found she was exceptionally good at it, and competed in events. Eventually Danyel took an interest in it, and asked for lessons.

During these sessions, Diana found him to be kind, smart, attentive to her, respectful, and funny. She started to really like him, and was still oblivious to the fact that he liked her back.

He found the perfect opportunity to confess that he liked her; she was a bit surprised at first. She was more worried about what their families would say. Danyel was especially worried what Kayain would say. At the time Kayain could snap him like a twig.

She decided to go out with him in secret, so no one would make a big deal. After a few dates in secret, she started to fall in love with him.

After many more secret outings, she finally took him to her room at night where they made love for the first time. Early morning, Danyel’s mother came to visit Kayain’s mother. They chatted for a while and had breakfast. She decided to say hi to Danyel and went to Kayain’s room. Kayain said he didn’t know Danyel was sleeping over because he never called. But the day before, he was with Diana at the gym. Danyel’s mother went to Diana’s room to ask her where he was, and caught them both in bed. Kayain heard a shout, came running in, and was scarred for life.

Kayain, now very pissed off, pointed a finger at him and said,” Well you… You’re… an asshole!”

“Well, my dear sweet brother, on that note,” said Diana. “I will take this time to inform you that me and Danny will be making love every night while you’re on your little bet. Rest assured I won’t be quiet either. Shall I give you the details, dear little brother?”

“NO! I don’t need to hear about- OH DEAR GOD I THOUGHT ABOUT IT!” he said as he ran around shaking his head.

“He’s too easy,” she said.

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After a short walk off the train station, they had walked down a staircase to see Atlas Park and all its beauty. There was a large, white house looking structure, with white columns all around the outside. The structure was elevated on top of beautifully chiseled marble surfaces. In the front, there was a giant statue, as tall as a 30-story building. The statue had Atlas as he carried the weight of the world on his back, signifying the hero’s glorious burden. There were many other statues dedicated to heroes surrounding the area. Each statue was proud looking, and full of life. Cherry had to stop for a moment at a statue to take in its beauty.

“This is beautiful. I’m a big fan of the arts myself.”

“Ah yes, they take good care of it,” said Gungir.

“But next to this Paragon City could use a lot of work. There’s street crime everywhere!” Said Cherry.

“Very true,” said Gungir. “They outnumber us greatly. And I am always grateful to see heroes such as you and your team. Every day we have to deal with these problems. And every day for me comes with great satisfaction that I knew I made a difference in the city. Remember, there is no deed to small, and no deed goes unappreciated. Heroes can always find-“

“I’m sure that’s all very nice, but is that City Hall?” she said, interrupting him.

He grumbles a bit and says,” Yes, that’s City Hall. It was designed like the White House with the city’s heroes in mind. Atlas Park itself is a hero haven. Supers from all over the city come here for their business. On top you’ll see a cape, decorated like a flag. That cape is Statesman’s cape. He and the Freedom Phalanx long ago- Hey, are you listening?”

“What? Oh sorry, no. I’m admiring everything in at the moment. I’m sorry I interrupted you to stare at something. I feel like Kayain now.”

He sighs and says,” Never mind, let’s just go.”

Cherry sees heroes littered across the plaza, each doing their own business. She sees a group of heroes all tuning in to a radio and dancing along the fountains. Some heroes are debating with each other, while others are showing off their powers to some of the rookie heroes.

Gungir smirks as he sees her expression and says,” Just business as usual. Traveling the galaxy, I’m sure you’ve seen worse.”

“Yeah I have.”

“Can you hear the broadcasts?”

“No I can’t.”

“Let me see your communicator. Now how do you adjust it?” Cherry shows him how to search for frequencies. “Ah! Here we go. This will help you hear important broadcasted information.”

Cherry puts the earpieces back on and listens for a bit, and makes a face in disgust as she hears the important information.

LEVEL 3 BLASTER LOOKING FOR A TEAM!!”

HOW DO YOU FLY?”

“WHERE IS THE TAILOR?”

“CAN ANYONE SPARE INFLUENCE FOR ME?”

“PARAGON DEFENDERS ARE RECRUTING! ALL DEFENDER SUPERGROUP! SEND ME A TELL IF YOU’RE INTERESTED!”

“WHERE IS THE TRAIN?”

“COSTUME CONTEST STARTING IN 10 MINUTES, WINNERS GET 10K INFLUENCE!”

“HOW DO I TURN ON TEAM CHAT?”

“DANCE PARTY UNDER ATLAS!”

“CAN SOMEONE TELEPORT ME TO THE TRAIN?!”

“HOW DO I FIND MY MISSION?”

“WHERE ARE THE CIRCLE OF THORNS? I NEED TO BEAT 10 OF THEM.”

“HOW DO I GET TO KINGS ROW?”

Cherry turned off broadcast chat, and gave Gungir a scornful look. Gungir surprisingly smiled.

“You jerk! You did that on purpose!”

He chuckles as he says,” Well, maybe.”

Raising an eyebrow she said, “Oh I see. So the gods do have a sense of humor.”

Gungir merely continued to chuckle. Cherry shook her head and continued toward the HQ, when suddenly a heroine in a skimpy costume suddenly approached her.

The lady was much taller than she was, and had a figure like Diana’s. She had blond hair, and blue eyes, and a huge Diana-like grin.

“HI!” she said enthusiastically. “My name’s Celeste Windbow!”

“Ah…Hi? I’m Cherry,” said Cherry, looking a bit surprised.

“I just started an exclusive all girl Super Group!”

“That’s…nice.”

“We’re called La Femme Liberte!”

“Good for you.”

“I couldn’t help notice, since you’re a girl and all-”

“Ah, you noticed too?”

“That you are a perfect candidate for my new Super Group!”

“Seems as though I meet all the criteria…One: A female.”

“Yes you do! And that’s why I’d like to personally invite you to our exclusive Super Group!”

“Why?”

“Because we need more members! And since you’re a girl, you’ll fit right in!”

“I see. Hey look… I’m sure that would be fabulous and all, but I’m currently the captain of a… Well, I guess you guys could call it a Super Group.”

“Aaw,” she said, looking genuinely unhappy. “Well, can I at least add you to my friends list in case you change your mind later? That is if you want to be friends.”

“I guess so. I mean you seem harmless.”

Celeste smiles again and puts a hand on Cherry’s shoulder.

“Gosh, you’re so nice Cherry,” she says as she runs her hand down Cherry’s arm. “And you’re so pretty too. Wish there was some way I could change your mind.”

Cherry, feeling extremely uncomfortable now, steps back and says,” OH! Well, umm… Saylookathetimegottago!”

“Ok Cherry,” She said as she pulls Cherry close for a very intimate and bone crunching hug. She puts one hand on Cherry’s bottom and says,” We’ll keep in touch.”

“Ok! Let me go now!” She says as she struggles free. “Okseeyagoodbye!” She says with a nervous smile and a wave with her fingers.

She runs to catch up to Gungir, but instead sees him stopped nearby with an odd expression on his face. It’s as though he’s trying to hold back laughing.

“What did you see?” demanded Cherry.

“Oh. Nothing.” He said, stifling a chuckle.

“It had better be nothing! And if you tell anyone about that nothing, so help me-“

“I won’t tell anyone,” promised Gungir as he held his hands up defensively.

Cherry shook her head and said,” This place really is messed up. The first person who hits on me is a woman. A woman! If Kayain ever found out he’d never let me live it down.”

Gungir, still holding back his laughter, neglected to tell Cherry that there was about 5 or 6 other heroes spying on that little scene. He continued to escort a shaken looking Cherry towards City Hall.

The inside was nicely decorated with hand crafted rugs, more commemorative statues, and white marble walls. There was clerks busy typing away behind their desks in the front. There was the Hero Registry, the Super Group Registry, Information Desk, and the Influence Network desk.

“Where is this science facility you were talking about?” she asked.

“D.A.T.A. is downstairs, and so is M.A.G.I.,” he said.

Gungir led her down the stairs to the Origin hallway. The hallway was spacious, and there were 5 double doors, 2 on both sides, and one straight ahead.

They went into the doorway labeled D.A.T.A., and looked for the person in charge.

“Hello, my name is Jared McCulley, nya, can I help you?” asked someone from a desk.

“Yes,” said Cherry. “I need to speak with whoever’s in charge. It’s very important.”

“I see. You’d be looking for Rick Davies of course, nya. And the boss, nya… he’s out at the moment. But, I can I be of some assistance to you? Nya.”

The man reminded Cherry of a native bug on Matronia called the ‘Dureig’, aka; the nerd bug. This bug resembles a stick bug, a shade of off white; and made funny noises when around the female of its species.

“I hope you can. You see, the Rikti acquired a very powerful energy source from us, and we need your help to get it back. We’re offworlders, and we’d like to share our knowledge in beating them.”

“Offworlders, eh? Well, Miss-“

“Cherry.”

“Thank you. Well, Miss Cherry, to be honest we were already aware of the Rikti situation, nya. But at the moment we need not worry about it.”

“Why?”

“Well, nya, as you can see, there is plenty to do around here. There is a lot of work to be done, and so little time to do it. I’m afraid that when it comes down to it, nya, we have to choose what kind of projects we work on next. And if it’s a choice between creating a counter weapon against some super villain doomsday device, or piercing a near impenetrable force shield, well I’d say, nya, we’re gonna go with the immediate problem.”

Cherry had dealt before with pencil pushers of this type before. And she knew that playing by their rules was the best way to do things.

“Yes, I’ve heard of your villain troubles and I understand the problem. And I know you guys are putting in a lot of work day after day in stopping those jerks. But I’m willing to go through the necessary paperwork to get this done. I’ll be back later with some genius friends of mine, and you guys can talk soup.”

“Excellent! Well, I look forward to meeting all kind of extraterrestrial people of all kinds. Oh Miss, are you a registered hero?”

“No sir, do I need to be?”

“It would help. The people here serve the members of Freedom Corps first. The other folks have to get an appointment, nya ha ha.”

“I suppose the appointment time is somewhere in next year.”

“HA! If you’re lucky!”

“Well I’d better get registered today.”

“It would be best. The boss, nya, is very picky when it comes to appointments. When you’re registered I can give you an appointment right away.”

“I’ll go do that now. Thank you for your time sir.”

Cherry walked over to Gungir, who was conversing with another hero.

“Well it turns out I need to register. And the boss wasn’t there today.”

“How unfortunate. Alas, let’s get you registered. It’s easier to go to Galaxy city to do that. I will take you there.”

Gungir escorted her back up the stairway to the office area, where they heard a commotion by a desk. A hero, clad in an orange and blue body suit with a visor over his eyes, was leaning on a desk and talking to one of the female employees.

“Come on! Give me another chance!” said the hero.

“NO! How many times do I have to tell you! NO!” said the female desk worker.

“Pleeeeease,” he begged. “It will never happen again! Promise!”

“That’s right, it won’t. So get lost!”

“But I didn’t mean anything by it. It was more out of flattery!”

“You tried to slip me a Spanish fly in my drink!”

“Oh wow, you know what it was?” He smiled and said,” So… you used it before?”

“What’s a Spanish fly?” Cherry asked Gungir.

“I believe it’s a sexuality stimulant. Like Viagra for females.”

“NO! I saw the bottle as I reached to pick up my napkin,” She said. “Now leave me alone, I’m working!

“Look,” he said. “Just give me one last chance. One more date, and I’ll show you the time of your life!”

The secretary sneered at him and said, “Drop. Dead. SECURITY!”

“All right, all right I’m going now! Sheesh.” He walks off and calls out,” Your loss babe! You could have ridden the Proto express!”

“GET OUT!”

He stepped away and immediately turned to some large breasted super heroine and smiled again.

“Hey there-“

“Get lost creep.”

He goes to another lady and says,” Heya sweetcakes!”

“Bite me.”

And another,” Is it hot in here, or is it just you?”

“Leave me alone looser.”

He snaps his fingers and points at another one,” Heaven must be worried; they’ve lost an angel.”

“Get bent.”

He slicks his hair back as he approaches another woman,” Bad girl, go to my room!”

“Piss off jerk!”

Cherry stops staring and walks faster,” Hurry before he sees me-“

“Hey Gungir!” they hear him call out.

“Oh no.”

Gungir turns to look to the man named Proto.

“Hey Gungir! You remember me?” said Proto.

Gungir rubs his chin as he tries to remember this man,“ Mmm… Vaguely. Where have we met before?”

“Task force delta! We were with Synapse’s Task force remember?”

“Oh yes,” he said. “I do remember you now. You were the one who wouldn’t leave poor Lady Darkness alone.”

“Yea! You do remember!”

“Yes, what can I do for you?”

“Can’t a guy say hi? We were comrades before.”

“Indeed. And it is nice to meet old comrades again.”

“Say, who’s your cute lady friend?”

“This is Cherry, captain of the Vigilantes. She’s an offworlder here on business.”

“That’s nice and all,” he says ignoring Gungir and approaching Cherry. “Pleased to meet you miss. Say, you got a little Spanish in you?”

Cherry knew this old setup, and said,“ Half.”

“Mmm… that’s nice. Come with me and I’ll give you the other half.

Cherry frowns and says,” Oooh, I haven’t heard that a million times already.”

“I’ve always had a thing for Spanish chics. Say, maybe I can show you around Atlas? You know, see the sights, have a few drinks.”

“No thanks. I’m busy.”

“Come on! You know, I’m an ok guy once you get to know me!”

“Really. I mean no.”

For a guy like Proto-man, the word No was just another way of saying,’ I’m playing hard to get. I want you badly. And when you keep trying I want you even more!’

“Maybe seeing the sights isn’t your thing. Maybe a movie? Dinner at my place? I live in a 5 star hotel!”

“NO! Can’t you see that no means NO!”

“Did I mention I’m also in a band? I’m a real rock star!”

“I have to go now.”

“Oh I see how it is. I was right about you,” he says with a smirk. “I mean I should have known better when I saw you with Celeste.”

Cherry freezes and slowly turns around.

“Yea I thought there was something fishy about you,” said Proto smugly. “I’m friends with Celeste, and she let’s me watch sometimes. You don’t mind if I watch do you?”

“Look pal, I don’t know who you think you are, but if you dare tell anyone about that I will hurt you! And stop looking at me that way! I am, in no way involved with Celeste! She just ran up to me and harassed me!”

Proto thought about it for a moment, and figured that there is no use listening to what women have to say, because he’s always right.

“I understand now,” he said. “You haven’t come out yet. Well in due time then.”

“I AM NOT-“ Cherry stopped when she noticed everyone was now looking at them. She calms down and says,” Nothing to see here. Everyone back to work.”

Her eye twitches irritably and says,” Listen you… I am not a lesbian. I am also not available. I wouldn’t go out with you anyway! Now get the hell out of my way before I REALLY HURT YOU!”

For a split second, Proto almost considered that Cherry actually meant No. It was a ridiculous thought and he shoved it away.

“I can see you’re a bit upset that I revealed your secret in public, so maybe I’ll call you when you cool down a bit? What’s your number?”

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The next few seconds for Proto-man was a blur. As he wakes up in the hospital, the only thing he remembers a very painful feeling in his mind. For some reason his whole body ached (his groin hurt especially). He does remember the look in Cherry’s eye right before he blacked out. He had to admit she was pretty cute when she’s angry.

He concluded that when women hurt you, they do that cause they want you. It goes back to grade school thinking (there is still a long drawn court dispute on whether Proto man passed grade school or cheated his way though). When a girl slugs you in the arm she does that because she likes you. In this case she knocked him out, and he figured she wanted to play hard to get.

And in Proto’s philosophy,’ All women are easy’. It just took some time, and you had them eating out of your hands. Cherry would probably be no exception to this rule. He was very sure he’d meet this hot little fireball again.

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Lord Daniel had lent Kayain, Biggs, Lu Bu, and Kat one of his utility trucks to pick up the food they wanted. Lord Daniel had picked out his hotel, which was a 5 star hotel. Lord Daniel really lives out in the country in a mansion, and he stays here during times when he’s fighting crime in Paragon City. They separated from the rest to let Daniel negotiate their rooms.

As Kayain went down the isle with his shopping cart, he looked up and down the isle with a blank expression on his face.

“Hey guys… anyone remember what was on that little list Cherry gave us?”

The list had mysteriously caught fire on the way.

“I’m sorry. I don’t remember,” said Lu Bu.

“I didn’t even get to read the list. Funny how that happens sometimes,” said Kat.

“Aye lad. Nor I,” said Biggs.

“Well shoot. Lemme try and remember.”

Having Kayain think about things was almost as futile as trying to start a building generator with a hamster in a wheel.

“Nope, not a darn thing,” he said.

“I do remember somethin’ though,” said Biggs. “Didn’ she say somethin’ about, oh… Beer?”

“Yes she did.”

“Aye, then that’s probably what she wants.”

“But she said Champaign too, and maybe some real food to go with it. You know, food you eat with Champaign, and candles…”

I’m going to try mind control now, thought Biggs. He’s not supposed to to be doing the whole thinking thing after all.

“Ya may be right, beer, but I also think she just, beer, wants a bottle for herself. Beer, I wonder what she’d say ifn we brough’, beer, too much food, while we will, beer, be gettin’ room service.”

Kayain raised an eyebrow at him and said,” But Cherry always makes it clear that it’s better to have and not need, then need and not have.”

This may be harder than he thought.

“Yea, beer, you’re exactly right. We’ll be needin’ some kinna supplies. An I, beer, would recommend the essentials. Somethin’ we need all the time, that goes well with our 5 star meals we’ll be, beer, eatin.”

He could tell Kayain was starting to look a little confused.

“Yea… wha? Whoa, wait up, back track a bit.” Kayain scratched his head and said,“ You’re speaking a little fast, and it’s distracting. Maybe to be on the safe side we should get nothing but beer, and go from there.”

It worked, thought Biggs.

“How much do you think?”

“Ah, don’ matter. Lord Daniel’s payin. In our agreement he gave me his credit card.”

“In that case we’ll need more shopping carts.”

Moments later, they all returned with shopping carts. Lu Bu had 2 carts in each hand.

“All right boys, let’s get busy!”

At that moment 5 gang members from the Hellions came in the store. One was wearing an overcoat with a concealed weapon inside. The store wasn’t very busy at the moment, so they approached the store clerk without notice.

“Listen up,” said one as he revealed the weapon in his coat. “Give us all the freakin’ money inside the register or yer dead. And don’t even think about calling security, cause we already took care of them.”

Kayain and his crew were unaware of the robbery in progress. Kayain however was looking at the many bottles they had. He took interest in the big bottles being sold, and decided to get some.

“Biggs! Heads up!” he said.

Kayain tossed a few bottles over to Biggs, which he caught easily and tossed them into his cart. Kayain sent a few more over to him and a few over to Kat. Kayain looked over to Lu Bu, who was calmly studying the hardest liquors he could find.

“Lu Bu! Think fast!”

Kayain tossed 2 heavy bottles as hard as he could at Lu Bu. Lu Bu stood up quickly and said,” OK! I’m thinking! About what?”

The bottles sailed over his head, over another isle, and smashed into the armed hellion and another, knocking them out.

“What the-“ Said one Hellion. “Who threw that? What dead man threw that?”

“Sorry about that!” they heard someone call out from around an isle. “I’ll pay for that!”

“Oh you damn sure will! Find him!”

The hellions split up and looked down a couple isles, and one of the three noticed them in the liquor isle.

“They’re here! They’re tights! Get em!”

Kayain paid no attention to this odd statement. He thought if they wanted to get tights they may have to go down to a clothes store.

“How about this for Cherry?” said Kat as he was showing a bottle of wine.

“Lemme see that, toss it here,” said Kayain putting his hands out.

Kat threw the bottle across the isle, and caught the Hellion in the side of the head, shattering the wine and knocking the guy out.

“Oh, my bad.” Said Kat as he goes over to the guy.

“HA! Look what you did!” said Kayain.

Another Hellion came running toward Lu Bu who was looking in the large chilled section. The guy charged Lu Bu with his knife drawn, while Lu Bu calmly continued his search.

“Ah, this ale will do nicely,” he said as he noticed a bottle of Liver-B-Gone brand liquor.

The hellion charged him as he opened the glass door, and ran straight through it, cutting himself all over. Lu Bu picked him up by his collar and looked at him.

“Hey you, I saw it first!”

The guy weakly holds his knife up at him. Lu Bu headbutts him and knocks him out.

“Humph. I said this ale was mine and I mean it.”

The last Hellion sees them and all the wreckage.

“Y-You’ll pay for that!”

Kayain waves his hand dismissively and doesn't look up as he says,” Yea, yea I know, charge it to our card.”

Meanwhile Biggs was climbing the shelves and trying to reach some liquor bottles from the top shelf. As he reaches the top, he pulls on the shelf too hard and causes the shelf to start toppling over. Biggs jumps off and knocks over the Hellion as he does. All the bottles smash on the Hellion, barely missing Biggs.

“Oh, sorry ‘bout that lad. Are ye’ all right?”

The stunned Hellion notices shelf wasn’t completely knocked over. It had been attached with a cord to the shelf in the next isle. He tries to mumble something as he sees a big heavy case on the riser falling slowly down.

“Hey pal,” says Kayain. “Are you ok?”

The heavy case falls off onto his groin and lower stomach.

“Oooh, that’s gotta hurt,” says Kayain. “Hey, I think we’ve done enough here… let’s get these guys some help then we’ll get outta here.”

Kayain and the rest of them approach the nervous looking clerk.

“Hey man, sorry about the mess. I think we hurt some gangster-looking dudes back there. And we’ll take all this booze, and pay for the damages.”

“You saved us!” said the clerk.

“Oh. Well I guess so, I mean buying all this beer probably would be good for business. And I promised I would pay for things.”

“Thank you sir! You’re a good man.”

“Hey, no prob. I’d be glad to buy even more beer from you guys. And about these guys on the floor… well just tell ‘em I said sorry.”

Kayain gets his stuff bought, and pays extra for the damages. The police come in, and see the Hellions on the floor.

“What’s going on here?”

“Everything’s under control officer,” says Kayain. “The donuts have not been touched yet. As a matter of fact you should get them now because they’re still fresh.”

“What? Oh, you’re a hero then. Have you apprehended the suspects?”

“Yup, everything is fine like I said,” he said as he held up a bottle of beer. “The ‘suspects’ have been detained.”

“Good. A fine bunch of heroes you are.”

“That’s me, a regular classy guy.”

The officer sees his carts as he goes out to load his truck.

“Having some kind of hero party?”

“Oh no sir,” said Lu Bu. “This is our snack.”

They all loaded up the truck and noticed the Police dragging out the 5 Hellions.

“You know guys,” said Kayain. “I can’t help but think we were missing something.”

The officers throw the Hellions into the back of the cars and drive off.

“Oh! Now I know. We forgot Cherry’s Champaign. Biggs, go inside and get it.”

Biggs trots off to go back for more booze. Kat smiles and says,” I think we’re on a roll today. Nothing important got set on fire this time.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Lord Daniel had suggested a nice penthouse suite on the upper floor. The suite had many bedrooms that could accommodate them and their crew.

Kayain requested a room all for himself. He didn’t want any distractions to make him loose his bet. Regina agreed to help bring the equipment down, and in addition he requested that none of his posters, magazines, or edible underwear be brought with her (unless she wanted to wear them, which was totally ok with Kayain).

“I like this room!” said Diana. “It’s so… fluffy!”

“I knew you’d like it,” said Danyel. “That’s why I picked it for you, love.”

Diana admired her new room. She really enjoyed fluffy objects, and this room was full of big fluffy pillows. The color of the room was appalling to any guy. Danyel found it especially appalling, yet he chose it because he knew Diana would love it. He also knew he’d be working hard, and would only really have to come in here for the basic needs; bathroom, changing, sleep, and sex (and by what Diana said, there will be a lot of that).

Diana jumps on him and hugs him. Danyel nearly topples over, being that she is taller, and stronger than him,“ You’re the best Danny!”

She pecks him on the lips and he says,” Yea… Ow! Ok, ok, but please don’t break my spine!”

“Sorry sweetie! I’m so happy!”

Danyel liked when Diana was happy. She had a natural curve in her lips that made her look like she was smiling all the time. He thought it should be a crime to ever make her upset. But on top of all that, when Diana is happy, she has ways of making him happy.

“And I know someone’s getting a little special something later tonight,” she said.

“Are you gonna make me a peanut butter, catfish pizza with extra pickles?”

“YES!”

Danyel smiled and moaned as he embraced her again.

Lord Daniel came in and said,” Hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

“Oh no, we were talking about the room,” said Danyel

“Good. I hope everything is in order?”

“Yes, everything is in order.”

Lord Daniel had used his influence to get them a very nice penthouse suite in the same hotel he was staying at. The suite had 8 bedrooms, a large living area, and 4 additional rooms. Lord Daniel was a little confused on rooms, and needed to clear it up with Danyel.

“There was something I wanted to ask. It seems to me that there isn’t enough rooms for as many people as you’re accommodating. You’ve got the extra rooms for equipment, and there doesn't seem to be enough rooms for everyone.”

“Humm… you got the list?”

“Yes, it’s here. There’s You, Diana, Cherry, Kayain, Lu Bu, Biggs, DeVall, Solo, Regina, Tylar, Ami, and Kat. Knowing you’re with Diana, that leaves you 3 rooms short.”

“Oh. It seems I haven’t explained things. You see Lu Bu sleeps in the bathroom.”

“He… what?”

“He prefers the dark, humid, smelly, awkwardly angled sleeping room. It reminds him of his old home in Aarrg. Back on the ship he sleeps in the locker room. More specifically the women’s locker room,” Danyel says as he smiles. “ He has a thing for lavender.”

“I see. What about the others?”

“Kat sleeps in the closet.”

Lord Daniel folded his arms and said,“ The closet?”

“Yea, the closet. He’s real deep into the whole meta physiological Zen bullcrap. So he sleeps in funny positions; diagonal, upside down, against all kinds of weird objects. He’s always been like that. He’s a bit odd that one.”

“Indeed. I suppose another one of your members sleeps on the pool table?”

“Nothing wrong with that. But no, I’m talking about Kayain and Cherry.”

“Oh,” he said, looking a bit awkward,” Are they-“

“Yea I’m forcing them to share a room. Kayain requested a room all to himself with no, heh, distractions from his bet. Normally I’d let him, but I’m paying him back for ruining my stamp collection. The bum kept trying to mail his farts to people he didn’t like.”

“So they’re not-“

“Well, I’m just doing what Cherry asked me to. She wanted to do this to make him loose his bet. Kayain hates to loose. He really does. I think she’ll make him loose.”

“What are you talking about?”

“They made a bet back on the ship. Cherry said Kayain can’t stay focused, and he thinks he can. So in order to prove it, she and him made a bet that he stays, well you know, celebrate, clean, pure and whatnot. If he can’t, then he is her personal slave for a full month. If he can, then he gets to take nudie photos of her.”

“Cherry is your sister isn’t she? You’re not bothered by this any?”

Danyel considered this a moment and said,” No. She brought it upon herself. It’s what she gets for being so competitive with him.”

“Well I did notice their constant bickering. I was under the impression that she couldn’t stand him”

“Yea, it seems that way.”

“But seriously Dan, you’re not conserned that she might loose this bet, and have to take naked pictures for Kayain?”

Danyel shrugs and says,” It’s like this… Cherry and Kayain have been at each others throats since grade school. They’ve both lost a lot of dignity through their silly bets.” Danyel chuckles and says,” Although I have to admit him loosing and having to take a shower in a storefront window was hilarious. But besides that, I know Cherry plays dirty sometimes. That’s why I’m putting them in the same room.”

“So you do care, in a way though.”

“In a way, yes. Plus she said she’d make Kayain wear a maid outfit. I wanna get some pictures.”

“So you put them in the same room so she can make him loose. I assume this means she’ll be seducing him and breaking his will. And you’re ok with this behavior?”

“Yes,” he said simply. “You see, unlike Kayain, I’m not as overbearing towards my sisters. They like to be problem solvers. I am still naturally protective, but I always try and do it respectfully.”

“But we’re talking about your sister seducing a man.”

“Given the circumstances I’m sure it’ll be very funny. And besides they- Ah you know what? I think I should just stop now. Too much information.”

“What? No, what were you going to say.”

“Nothing, just forget it. She would kill me if I told you. Let’s just say they’ve been rivals for way too long now. Funny story that goes with it, you know my mother and Kayain’s dad had the exact same kind of rivalry?”

“Really?”

“Yea,” said Danyel as he rubbed his chin. “Strange how those things turn out. When Cherry and Kayain started being rivals, my mom and Kayain’s dad just kind of stopped. Weird hua?”

“Maybe it’s genetic?”

“Didn’t know Rivalry was in the genome. But anyway, I think it works out. We have our rooms filled up, and everyone’s happy except Kayain. It’s a win-win situation for me-“

Danyel was cut off by his communicator.

“Hey Dan! What floor are you on again?”

“Twentieth floor. Just head left on the elevator and we’re the first suite on the right.”

“That’s a 10-4 good buddy.”

“Kayain’s on his way with hopefully the food.”

“I don’t see why you insist on bringing your own food,” says Daniel. “I mean you get food here served up professionally.”

“Actually it’s more for Cherry. See, she doesn't trust folks. Could be poison and whatnot. Nothing like a healthy dose of paranoia, eh Dan?”

“I suppose not. Have you made many enemies?”

“Let’s see… The entire empire of Aldonia, nearly every bounty hunter guild in the universe, not to mention the galactic rangers, half of the Terran colonies, and about 200, no 300 guilds. And how could I forget-“

“I get the point. You guys are very popular.”

“Oh and I believe the bounty on our heads is something like 5 billion credits. And 8 billion for Cherry.”

“Lovely. Say I’ve got to take care of some errands, so will you guys be alright till then?”

“Sure, I think I can handle it.”

Danyel was in fact third in command. Given time, he could handle most anything. Even a disaster waiting to happen, such as Kayain.

“Hey, open up! I’m here!” said Kayain.

Danyel goes to open up the door as Kayain lugs in grocery bags. When he puts it down, Danyel hands him a piece of paper.

“What’s this?” said Kayain.

“The grocery list. I made a backup copy.”

“Why’d you-“ Kayain looks at his bags. “Oh… how’d you know?”

“Always be prepared I say. I assume there’s absolutely no food in there whatsoever.”

“Well… we did get a bag of beef jerky.”

“Am I to assume we will all live off your one bag of beef jerky?”

“We’ll take tiny bites.”

“How about instead you go back to the store before Cherry comes back and starts taking big bites out of your face? And I put a small fire resistant seal on this list, so there will be no excuses.”

“Right… say when Cherry comes back, how about we just say there was a sale or something?”

“You can’t hide things from her, you know that.”

“Yea but if you say something, then maybe she won’t have to read my mind!”

“And why should I do that?”

“Cause! We’re like, in-laws now! We’re practically blood now!”

Danyel folds his arms and says,“ If you want to put it that way, then that makes you my younger brother. So I order you to tell her yourself as your superior officer and your older brother.”

 Kayain grumbles and says,” Only by 2 months…”

“And furthermore, I want you to help Regina out in carrying our stuff.”

“She’s just bringing a bag.”

“And do whatever she says.”

“Aaaw!”

“Now hurry off, all of you before she has you strung up by your ears. And Kat, I know you like that I was just trying to make a point. So get going!”

They all hung their heads as they left the room. Danyel closed the door and smiled to himself.

That went smoothly, he thought. Now to enjoy myself.

The bottle of Champaign floated out of the bag to him. He caught it as the top flew off. He took a big swig and coughed. He took a look at the year and remembered he had no idea what the current year was here. He also didn’t know how they calculated time here. And he usually went by Matronian time; 28 hour days, 492 day years.

Might be better if it wasn’t convenience store bought brand, he thought. Hopefully they’ll bring back some stuff on that list. And why is it so cold in here?

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Gungir said he had to leave on important business. Cherry knew better though, he didn't want to be stuck in the waiting room. She spent about an hour filling out paperwork in Freedom Corps HQ. She turned in the long paperwork and asked a few questions. So in turn they made her fill out another 30 minutes worth of paperwork for things that don’t even apply to her. And then after a 20 minute waiting period someone called her up to let her know she will have an interview in an hour. By now she was getting a strange idea that these guys didn’t know what they were doing.

She sat and waited for her appointment, glad that the rest of the vigilantes would have to suffer this fate. There was many different Freedom Corps members. She learned that there was a group who wore red and white tights was called Longbow. A group who wore funny shaped helmets, and used jetpacks was called Wyvern.

Suddenly 2 Longbow members approached where she was sitting. She looked up from her papers, and came into full view of their bottom half of their very tight tights.

“Excuse me miss, are you Cherry?”

Cherry, fully aware of the 2 bulges pointing right at her, blushed and looked up and said,” Yes. That’s me.”

“Greetings, I’m Warden Johnson, and this is Sergeant Longfellow.”

Cherry accidentally looked down again, and nearly burst out laughing.

“Is there something wrong?”

stifled” No,” she stifled a giggle. “Nothing at… Say nice outfits.”

“Thank you miss. They represent Hero corps finest. That’s us Longbow.”

“That’s not all that’s long-“

“Excuse me?”

“Nothing.”

“Anyway miss, your interview is with my brother, Dick Johnson.”

Still, she did a good job keeping her laughter under control.

“Take the elevator up, go left, and continue down the hall till you reach office number B207”

Then another man in tights, with a huge bulge comes up to them and salutes the warden.

“Ah, it’s Corporal Bona. What’s going on?”

“Sir, It’s a report from Officer Dickends. He says there’s been reports of a rapid temperature decrease in the weather. Meteorologists say it’s very unusual since winter is almost over, and all the cold fronts have been moving out. As a matter of fact, there was an approaching warm front that seems to have just disappeared!”

Cherry did happen to notice the colder weather today. While traveling, the weather seemed to be getting colder. But she was very distracted at the moment trying not to giggle like Kayain would have by now.

“Meteorologist Wang said that?”

Another Longbow man with a huge bulge approaches and said,” Sir! We’ve received reports about this unusual cold weather coming from the east.”

“Ah, ‘Slick’ Willie. You too? You’re getting these bizarre weather reports?”

“Yes Sir! I was with Corporal Peckerwood and-“

Cherry couldn’t help it this time. She sprinted down the hall as she laughed.

“Why do people do that? Every time I’m with my squad, people chuckle at something.”

“Warden, you have a stain on your suit.”

“A stain? Where?”

“On your shoulder.”

“Egad! That must be it! Why didn’t anyone tell me about that earlier? A stain! Now that's embarrassing.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Kayain and the rest of the crew took a short drive back to the store. Naturally, they got lost and circled the block several times. Eventually they stopped at a local restaurant for food. The restaurant was named Ding How, and Kayain wondered How Mr. Ding made such good Kung Pow chicken.

"It's weird," said Kayain. "I see a definite pattern in most Terran civilizations you know? Even if they're underdeveloped like these folks, they somehow develop the same traditions and foodstuffs as the Terran colonies back home. And this Kung Pow is awesome."

"What's a Kung Pow?" Asked Lu Bu. "Sounds like some kind of Martial arts move."

"Na, it's a style of cooking."

"Oh. Back in my homeworld all of our dishes are named after famous battles... and some not so famous. Like I enjoy 'Mount Blarg!' and I like 'Battle at Aaaouga!', and also 'Eve of AAAACK!'."

"Any particular reason you name food after battles?"

"A simple reason... we name our slop based on which most resembles the aftermath of a battle."

"Nice."

They finished their meals, and went looking for the car. Luckily Kayain remembered that they parked around the corner on a meter that they didn't pay for.

“Wonder if they'll give Lord Danyel a ticket,” said Kayain. “Sure would look bad on his record.”

“Na,” said Biggs. “They'll just give 'em a warnin'.”

They round the corner and see the truck, flat as a pancake and covered in water.

“Wow. They sure are strict about parking regulations here.”

“Ah, Kat,” said Kayain. “I may be wrong, but that huge thing probably isn't the meter maid.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Cherry knocked on the door of B207, and was told to enter by someone inside. The room itself was spotless. Everything in the room was perfectly organized, and tediously kept. If a grain of dust was found in this room, it was probably shot, hung, and burned for even daring to enter.

“Welcome Miss Cherry,” he said. “My name is Richard Johnson, but everyone here calls me Dick. Won't you please have a seat? There is a few things I need to go over with you before we give you your basic hero package.”

The man had a voice that could put people to sleep even if he were discussing the bloodiest battle in the history of the world. It also had a kind of nasal overtone, like Ben Stein.

“Thank you Miss Cherry,” he said. “Now, let's look at your application shall we? I noticed a few errors that I think need correcting.”

“Such as?”

“Your name.”

“What? I did not misspell my name!”

“Well I didn't say you misspelled it, I said it needs correcting. That hero name has already been taken, and you will have to choose another.”

“But... that's my name! I can't just change my name because you guys said so.”

“Well, under section 2.329ii, paragraph 2h, We respect the rights of hero privacy, therefore a made up name is necessary to keep your identification.”

“But, Cherry is my name. All I want is my name. I don't wanna run around like those folks in their tights who have silly names. I just wanna use my name.”

“How about your last name too?”

“No, I never use my last name. Neither does my team. We have many enemies. And I'm not using another name or code name. There was a disaster with my team last time that happened.”

Cherry remembers the time she made a code name for Kayain. He decided to make up his own name and there was plenty of confusion, resulting in the destruction of a small moon.

“No I just wanna use my name.”

“We could spell it different. How about Cheri?”

“No, spelling it with an insufferable I at the end makes it sound childish.”

“Good, because that was taken anyway.”

“What about Chery?”

“That would be nice.”

“Done.”

“If it wasn't already taken. Hum hum.”

The man had an arrogant laugh too. The kind of laugh that makes you wanna punch him out every time you hear it.

“What do you suggest then?”

“Well, I could put an L at the end of the name. Cherryl... it's cute.”

“I'm not trying to act cute.”

“I thought you were 22, you've still got to act cute at that age right?”

“I'm not 22, I'm 220!”

“Oh... I guess that wasn't a typo.”

“My people have invented longevity. Makes you live longer, and retain your youthful appearance.”

“So you're as old as dirt then, hum hum.”

“Why you-”

“Take it easy now, I'll make your name Cherryl, and that will be that.”

“Humph. What else did you want from me?”

“This part of the interview is the usual canned questionnaire.”

“Is this necessary?”

“Humm,” he thought about it for a moment. “No.”

“I figured.”

“Now why do you want to work here?”

“I didn't know I'd be working. I'm not getting a shift or anything.”

“No shifts, just working commission, Hum Hum.”

“I guess, I just want to save this planet and mine?”

“How did you get your powers?”

“I was born with them.”

“Ok mutie, in what way do you think you will be an asset to Freedom Corps?”

“Because... I have powers?”

“Well that's that then,” he said as he crumpled a paper away and threw it in the trash.

“What was that for?”

“Like I said. No particular reason.”

Cherry was getting very irritated by this man.

“Hey, can we get on with this already? This is wasting my time.”

“Now now, just a few more things. First off I need you to sign these papers.”

“More papers?!”

“It will only take you 30 minutes at the least, Hum Hum.”

“Why?!”

“It's standard process miss.”

Cherry grumbled as she started the paperwork. He had a smug smile on his face as he watched her write.

“It gives you some kind of sick pleasure to know you have this kind of power over me doesn't it?”

“A hero's misery is like first class entertainment to me,” he said as he continues to smile.

30 minutes later, Cherry finishes her paperwork.

“There, I've gone through all your stupid processes, your paperwork, your stupid rules... When do I get my Freedom corps badge or whatever...”

“When you're all done finishing out the paperwork.”

“Alright, who do I turn this in to?”

“I think you'll find that that doesn't matter, since the paperwork is outdated and useless anyway, Hum Hum.”

“All right you... I am THIS close to-”

“Is there a problem miss Cherry with a L?”

“You BET there is! I wanna talk to your superior!”

“Ah, Hum Hum, well you have to make an appointment,” He reaches in his desk and pulls out a huge stack of papers. “All you have to do is fill these out for a complaint request form. You fill out the request form and then you are mailed a complaint form. You fill out the form, and within 2 to 4 weeks we schedule you a meeting with the Chief. It's our most simple process, Hum Hum.”

Cherry, gritting her teeth, says,” Are we done yet?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact we are. Welcome to Hero Corps. Don't forget to tell your allies about our online registration.”

“What?! You mean you can do this online?”
            “Indeed. You skip all the outdated paperwork, and you fill out an application, and just come in for a short interview in the break room.”

“Why... didn't you say anything about that earlier?”

“Because the look on your face now is priceless, Hum Hum.”

“I will get you back for this.”

“You can try miss. I don't think you'll win.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------

            Fuming, Cherry comes out of Freedom Corps, swearing she'd do something about them. On her way back to the train she saw a restaurant, and decided to eat. After she ate she was still angry, and decided to get some ice cream to cool herself off.

            She stepped outside with her ice cream and was immediately covered in snow, from head to toe. She scooped her way out and looked for some joker who threw a large amount of snow at her. Her eyes stopped in front of a 4 story high snowman with a carrot for a nose, and coal as his eyes.

            Normally, Cherry would have called for backup. But today she was having a bad day. The Rikti, the paperwork, Freedom Corps employees, and now it ruined her ice cream.

            “That's the last straw!” she said as she pulled herself out of the snow.

TO CHAPTER 4 >






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