My first brush with a superhero- was when I was ten.

TR100 was an experimental artificial intelligence. It was twice the size of a man, fifty times the power of a tank. It was the most terrifying super weapon to ever go rogue- that was what the news feed told us. It was an unfeeling robot, ready to blow up the world at any moment. That’s what I was told. They called it Thunder, after the sound it made when it soared across the sky.
Fifteen years ago, we were all terrified of what it would do to us.

It was before regular contact with hostile aliens, or benevolent ones for that matter. The global space program had met two other races before, both who preferred to be left alone. We maintained diplomatic contact, but a project like Star Station was a distant dream.

Then a hole opened in the sky, and ships came pouring through.

We took to the stars to fight them, badly outclassed, just trying to keep them away from Earth. It was chaos, nothing less. They ignored us like flies on a rhino- it was soon clear they were warring with each other, and we were caught in the crossfire.

I was separated from my parents as the evacuation of Mod City began- they were at home, I was at school. We knew they were coming ten minutes before they arrived, and that was all the time we had to follow the drills and start our predetermined routes out of the city. They were herding us into buses as the sky went black. I started shaking, and as it was my turn to step into the bus, the first explosion went off in the distance. Over downtown. Where my house was. My parents’ faces flashed in front of me, and I bolted. Teachers gave chase, trying to drag me back, but all I could think was they were going to take me away, and if I didn't get home, I’d never see my parents again.

We didn't hear the thunder in the sky because our ears were skill ringing from the explosion.
We did see the silver streak of TR100, shooting over the atmosphere, and straight through the hull of a black, angular ship.

My teachers took advantage of my shock to drag me back to the buses.

Even the evacuation routes were jammed- for obvious reasons. We were sitting ducks for falling debris- most of the danger was from the low orbit explosions. The earth shook. Smoke and fire fell from the sky, the world seemed like it was ending.

We were almost into the tunnels when a chunk of burning building slammed into the freeway behind us. The bus lurched forward as it fractured and slammed into the back of us- we curled into our seats for protection as the glass in the windows shattered inward.

The tires screamed as Mr. Pullman tried to drive forward, but the bus just lurched in place- the back tires were spinning uselessly. Another explosion went off above us, and as he ushered us off the bus to run for the tunnels, it was hard to see through the fire and smoke.

We could see another chunk of steel and fire plummeting from the sky- some lost control and bolted- some froze with fear, staring upwards at death flying downwards.

Thunder rolled as it came for us, and then- it stopped.

TR100 shone like gold against the fire and smoke as it lifted the hunk of steel upwards, shooting through the atmosphere.

After that I don’t remember much. The teachers got us into the tunnel. We continued to the mountains outside of the city, spent the rest of the day in bunkers.

It was a day before we could leave, but at the end of the day, I saw my parents.

A week later, the ships were gone. TR100 fought with inhuman strength alongside the military- not to destroy the ships, but to protect citizens from the fallout. Like it did that day over Mod City.

I like to think we would have welcomed it as a hero when the conflict ended. When we closed the hole the ships were coming through. TR100 didn't see that day. They made a statue out of its remains, and honored it as one of the heroes of the war.

Anyone can be a hero. Anyone can be a good person. That’s what I believed.

A thing.

May. 9th, 2013 09:59 pm
The arranged meeting place was at the corner of St. Franco and 34th, where the warehouse district turned into downtown. Parked between a liquor store and an empty lot, a man with short blond hair appeared to be asleep in a flashy car- a custom 69 Thunderbird that would have attracted more than its share of attention, if the road and empty lot weren’t both filled with similar classic Fords- the whole street had been converted into an impromptu car show. The only significant thing about this one was that the hood was down and the apparent owner was in it instead of hovering around it- an enthusiast who’d turned up to show off his own ride and gotten worn out, perhaps.

He didn’t open his eyes when a slip of a dark haired woman knocked impatiently on the passenger door. He let her stew for a minute, then lazily reached over and unlocked the car from the inside. “Don’t draw attention to us,” he rebuked her mildly.

She slid in, and slammed the door behind her, making her partner wince. “And you call this not drawing attention to us? When I said a getaway car-“

He raised his hands defensively- “Hey, I think I showed some restraint- I could’ve taken one of the Cobras.”

“-It should be inconspicuous, Monty! Anyway, how’d you talk your way into one of the showpieces?”

‘Monty’ smirked. “You’d be surprised what I can talk my way into.”

Alex just rolled her eyes- rather eye, because one was buried beneath bandage and gauze. “Trouble, mostly. Now stop wasting time and let’s get onto the highway.”

“You don’t want to wait five minutes? The owner will come back and we can have a hostage.”

“No hostages. Now.”

She was a bit surprised when no one tried to stop them from leaving the show area. How exactly had Monty gotten his hands on this car? She knew if she asked, he’d never tell her, but if she didn’t show any interest, he’d eventually crack and start bragging about it.

“Any trouble with the Argonauts?”

“Really? Cyclops jokes?”
“Obscure intellectual Cyclops jokes. Give me a break, it’s not like I’ve had anyone to talk with all morning.”

As they moved onto the highway, Alex shook her head. “Nobody saw me coming or going-“

Monty looked sideways at her, “And by nobody you of course mean-“

“I mean I wasn’t noticed. And it’s not obscure if everyone reads it in high school.” Alex smiled a bit. This was fine. The job went off without a hitch, despite Monty’s weird need to steal a show car. It might even work better- they could split up a couple miles out of town, he could be seen in the car while she was stashing the goods, and

and

And police sirens.

“Alex, I am going to be very disappointed if those are coming for you,” said Monty, the humor gone from his voice. She glared at him, but he was looking down the highway and didn’t seem to notice.

“I’m sorry, did I steal a show car?” she snapped, whipping around to see if there were police lights on the horizon.

There were.

“Steal is such a strong word, really-“

“Monty we do NOT have time for bullshit-“

Monty shrugged, and nudged the car up to 90. “Gun’s in the glove compartment. Can you even aim straight?” When there wasn’t a response, he glanced over to the passenger side curiously. Alex’s eye was closed- she was counting under her breath. “Wasn’t the whole point of-“ he mimed poking his eye out, complete with making a ‘pop’ sound, “-to keep this kind of surprise from happening?”

Almost a full minute of nothing but sirens, and Alex collected her rage enough to talk. “…not entirely unforeseen…” she seethed, and then braced herself against the door.

Before Monty could ask, they rounded the curve across River Way and a wall of standstill traffic loomed- behind them, a second cop car was coming into view. Making a right angle so sharp it practically sliced the highway open, the T-bird tore sideways across the highway- then banked left down an exit ramp- when it hit the street that an idyllic sign declared was Waterlilly Avenue (crossing River Way) it was still at seventy and Monty immediately yanked it down a back road.

“Who taught you to drive, a PINBALL MACHINE?” Today was a yelling-rhetorical-questions kind of day, thought Alex as she furiously hand cranked the windows down. She could hear squealing tires coming from the car- but from behind them as well.

“You want to take the wheel?” snapped Monty, letting go long enough for the car to lurch towards an oak tree- and launching Alex into the half-rolled-down window. “Because I don’t see you passing any driving exams, one-eye!”

Alex swore and gingerly touched the angry red mark along her prominent cheekbones. “Stop being a little bitch and just drive, Mateo.”

“Sorry, are you going to start helping now?” he grumbled, “Maybe shooting? Warning me when you pre-cog a car chase so I can get a model made this decade? Letting me take a hostage? How about D, all of the above?”

“You know if you could just hotwire a Toyota like a normal goddamn-“ Alex drew out the gun, and despite her apparent handicap, opened fire on the police car that was gaining ground with enough accuracy that one of their rearview mirrors exploded. After the noise settled down, she was still talking. “-over the railway crossing up ahead, we can ditch the car and hightail it to the subway-“

“Aim for the tires, woman!”

“I am aiming for the damn tires!” Without turning around, she fired another two shots, both missing, and the T-bird swerved again- nearly pitching her out the window. “What actual hell?”

“There was a kid in the street! What did you want me to do, ramp him?”

“That doesn’t even make- why- “

“Because when we go to jail, they ain’t putting that I killed a kid on my goddamn rap sheet!”
With a bang, Alex finally got a solid shot on the first police car’s tires, and pulled her upper body into the car. Monty sped up as she did so, but as he tried to work up a proper speed, Alex lunged for the steering wheel. “For the love of God, slow down!”

The car swung wildly from side to side- “Fuck off!”

“You’ll get us killed!”

As the car’s momentum propelled it towards the railroad crossing at the end of the street, the ground itself started to shake. In the rearview mirror, the second cop car was closing in on them and a noise like unending thunder was filling the air.

Monty grimaced. “You’ve got to be shitting me.”

Alex shook her head, “The lights aren’t working-“

“Good!” He revved the car, and beside him Alex went very still. He couldn’t hear over the- everything, but at a time like this, she was usually muttering curse words in whatever former-Soviet-bloc-non-Russian language she spoke sometimes.

Now would’ve been a great moment to light a cigarette. Tragically, life usually happened to quickly to do live with any style.

As Monty gunned the engine and the car screamed forward across the train tracks, Alex looked back, almost surprised to see their police terrier doing a u-turn, but as she turned back and she caught a glimpse of the train bearing down on them exactly like 12,000 tons of black metallic death.

The car leapt across the tracks.

The train surged towards the car.

For the longest moment in her life, Alex was sure they weren’t going to make it- right up until the car slammed down onto the road and the train whizzed by behind them, suddenly no longer in slow motion. She was breathing again. She could feel her blood pumping, hear the sirens, the train, see the gun in her hands.

She could hear that bastard Monty cackling.

“Alex! Alex take me on every job you do, from now on,” he was saying, and she rounded on him enraged, dropping the gun.

“Fucking idiot!” he didn’t seem to notice being hit in the face. Adrenaline, probably, though Monty was a weird one. Alex punched him again for good measure, and kicked her door open. “You, you almost got us killed, you son of a bitch! Pizdabol!” She threw in a swear she’d learned from her mother, because it seemed to have more punch.

Monty staggered out of the car, stifling his laughter and, predictably, lighting up. “Okay. We bought some time. Did anyone get a look at us?”

“Not unless you made friends at the car show. Come on, I know a place where we can lay low around here.”

“When you say you know-“

Alex sighed. “I saw it with the eye, okay?”

Monty smirked. “Alright. But just so you know, so far it’s me: 1, Cyclops eye: 0.”

“Your legs are shaking.”

“’Cause I almost wrecked that beautiful car.” Monty slumped back against the T-bird. His sense of balance seemed to be draining out with his adrenaline. Not for the first time, Alex thought about just leaving him for the cops to deal with.

Instead, she pulled his non-smoking arm over her shoulder. “I always thought you were a Monte-Carlo type.”

Without acknowledge the help, Monty stumbled forward. “Was that a pun? Did you make a joke?”

“Shut up and keep walking or I’ll drop you by the tracks, pizdabol.”

“You know, I’ve been doing some reading-“

“You can read?”

“We have a word for than in English.”

“It’s not the same, though.” Alex plucked Monty’s cigarette out of his hand and took a long drag for herself.

“Never is.”

They walked the rest of the way in silence.
... I don't know what it is, but I can't get the hang of drawing lately. My style seems to have changed without me noticing. It's big and loose and sketchy now, and I'm not sure what it was before, but I seem to remember being very careful about my approach to drawing in the past, unless I was doodling.

Maybe that's the problem. I don't doodle much anymore because I don't have class. Without doodling, I don't have constant practice, or an outlet to just get ideas out without worrying about the end result. When I start drawing while being results oriented instead of process oriented, then I get sub-par work, and without distractions like teachers, I think way too much about how I'm drawing.

This new sketchy style seems to be an attempt to escape my own scrutiny and enjoy the same freedom as doodling- making lines for fun without focusing too much. Seems I have some shit to work out. I need an outlet to sketch nothing in particular for no reason, I think. Then I can be creative and take risks and not think about it, and I'll have whole pages of brainstorming and experiments to draw on when I set down to do specific pieces.

Uh. Well at least part of that makes sense. Hopefully.

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lifeofalimabean

June 2013

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