Experiment #370

The Valiant Part 11

Hank stared back.

“You took my boy from me,” Mr. Hess said. His voice quavered with emotion and with the effort the stroke forced him to put into every word. “And I want to see you burn in hell for it,” he said. He looked down at the floor for a long moment. He turned to look at Mr. Sturgess, at Sarah and Jimmy sitting behind the defendant’s desk, and at the judge before turning back … Read More

Experiment #369

The Valiant Part 10

“I never turned back to help him,” Hank continued. “I went straight ahead, praying only for Catherine and the baby. And the next thing I knew, the place exploded, just like I said…

“I took Catherine to the hospital. The baby, Rachel, she…she never had a chance. Catherine almost died too, her womb…ripped open like spaghetti. It was a miracle she bore Sarah a year later.”

Mr. Sturgess stood and though he faltered here and there, went … Read More

Experiment #368

The Valiant Part 9

“Please answer the question,” Mr. Sturgess said and shook the bag for emphasis. 

“It looks to be my spare grappling gun,” Hank said quietly.

“How do you think it got there?”

Hank looked down.

“How, Mr. Wipple, did this get in Bobby’s hand? Did he take it from you? But you and I both know that didn’t happen. Why then, Mr. Wipple, was Bobby lying on the floor holding a grappling gun? Yourgrappling gun?”

Mr. Sturgess leaned forward onto his feet … Read More

Experiment #367

The Valiant Part 8

“I called my contact, Sammy Sparts. He was a third-rate gangster and a first-rate drunk. He told me to meet him in an old warehouse south of the city. So I went.

“Sparts held a gun to my wife’s head. He seemed high, souped-up on some drug. But he didn’t have any men with him. It seemed odd, but I was too focused on my pregnant wife to worry about it.

“I tried to talk him down, … Read More

Experiment #366

The Valiant Part 7

Mr. Sturgess suppressed a sigh. “Please be more specific.”

“As I was trying to explain, I had kept my identity secret. I was worried some criminal or nut job would come after my wife, my family. I’d just helped put away the two youngest sons of the Ganglia family, and they were champing at the bit to find something they could use to get me.

“But since my identity was secret, when the merchandising company tried to … Read More

Experiment #364

The Valiant Part 5

“No, Sarah! Listen,” Hank said. “It didn’t happen the way Sparts said.”

“Well, how didit happen?”

Without warning, the door opened. A police officer, one a few decades younger than the guards, entered. He passed Sarah and Jimmy, stepped to the side of the bed, and took off his cap. Under his arm he held a stack of papers. “I’m real sorry about this,” he said. “Are you Mr. Henry Alexander Wipple?”

Hank blinked at him and forced down … Read More

Experiment #363

The Valiant Part 4

As soon as word leaked that the police had found a guy in a Valiant suit, the news media, well-wishers, and protesters swarmed. He could have been a crackpot in a costume (and probably was). But given his age, his location, and the old, hand-stitched costume he wore, the court of public opinion made its ruling: he was The Valiant.

A few officers who’d been on the force since The Valiant’s glory days made it their … Read More

Experiment #362

The Valiant Part 3

The next day it rained again. When Jimmy got off the bus at the end of the day, Hank did not meet him with an umbrella. All Jimmy found was a hastily scrawled note about staying with the neighbor till his mom came home.

Hank wandered down a city street a few miles away. For hours he’d walked block after block, in the cold, relentless rain, listening. Finally he heard it: a scream.

He stepped into an … Read More

Experiment #361

The Valiant Part 2

The rain poured down as Jimmy’s bus pulled back onto the street after school. Hank headed for the end of the driveway with a wide umbrella, deflecting the slings and arrows of nature. He’d always had a knack for timing. Thirty seconds after he stopped at the end of the driveway, Jimmy’s bus arrived. Jimmy exploded out of the bus and babbled all the way to the front door.

While Hank started on supper, Jimmy banged … Read More

Experiment #360

The Valiant Part 1

Hank flicked lumpy muffin mixture into tiny baking cups. He shoved the pan into the oven and turned his head toward the living room. Raising his voice to be heard over the TV, he shouted, “Turn that old cartoon off already. You’ve got to get going.”

“It’s almost over, Grandpa,” Jimmy called back.

Hank didn’t approve of Jimmy watching TV, and he liked Jimmy’s choice of programming even less. The Miscellaneous Adventures of The Valiant, based (loosely) on … Read More

Experiment #357

Six Zeros Part 21

Cy stood in his dress uniform in front of Gerard, Pyrite, and Ox. Toliver stood off to one side.

“For your aid in bringing Colonel Kilmer to justice and in destroying the business networks of Boss Clawf, I have been authorized to suspend your sentences and to give you clemency for the offenses you committed while under Kilmer’s threat.”

“That’s not quite expunging them, Cy,” Gerard said.

“No,” he said with a defeated tone. “Nor can I give … Read More

Experiment #356

Six Zeros Part 20

Gerard and Ox ran down the hallway. Plasma fire singed the walls around them as Clawf’s underlings shot at them.

When Gerard reached the hangar, she ducked inside the door, waited for Ox to get through, then wired the door shut. “Ox, the yacht!” Gerard shouted, pointing to Boss Clawf’s pleasure cruise vehicle.

“It have guns?” Ox asked as he ran towards it.

“We’ll see,” Gerard said.

She could hear Clawf’s minions outside the door firing up a precidian … Read More

Experiment #355

Six Zeros Part 19

Toliver and Cy came to the exit door closest to where Toliver had parked their ship. They opened it to see Masq holding a tied Pyrite at gunpoint. “Any closer and he buys it,” she said.

“What if we don’t care about him?” Cy asked.

“You wouldn’t have come this way if you didn’t,” she said. “Kilmer locked the bird down remotely, so you won’t be getting off this rock that way.”

“He was our teammate. You were … Read More

Experiment #354

Six Zeros Part 18

Cy was a blur of red and landed between Boss Clawf and Gerard as Clawf pulled the trigger. His red skin absorbed the plasma shot as he lobbed the explosive at Kilmer.

He gathered Gerard in his arms and ran. Ox and Toliver followed them. Cy left Fishmonger where he lay.

Kilmer had gotten a deflector shield up in time, but the explosion still sent Kilmer and his tablet flying.

When they came to a wall, Cy punched … Read More

Experiment #353

Six Zeros Part 17

“While I’d love a shootout,” Boss Clawf said, “it’d be no fun cleaning your guts off the wall. My brother’s daughter deserves a better death. How about you all just give up your weapons and we can handle this without brain paint, huh?”

“You’ll regret it if I die,” Gerard said.

“No one’s left to mourn but me.”

“No one will mourn your business, but you.”

“You’ve got an angle, huh?” Clawf asked, half proud and half frustrated with … Read More