To All Things ...
(part one of three)
Thrilled by their mother's stories of sharing the night life with the famous Boy Wonder, triplets Abbey, Ashley, and Anna Abbots decide to put the meta-powers they inherited from their metagene latent, deadbeat father to good use by sharing the mantle of the Spoiler. Only this time, the teen vigilantes work for money, tracking criminals for the bounty, earning the necessary "buckage" for their educations. Each takes turns, enjoying thrilling nightly adventures in the crime-ridden streets of Atlanta.
But how can three overly competitive sisters manage to share a single identity when they can barely keep their own lives straight?
I'm looking for artists who would be willing to contribute art to go along with the Spoiler 2021 stories.Interested? Email me!
Okay, so maybe I wasn't off to the best start. At least my jaw was still connected to my face. But if I let that ape-face that Mo' Money Peterson called a bodyguard get another free swing at me, that just might not be the case anymore.
Still, without the extra strength and partial invulnerability dad's metagene had passed down to me, I'd be looking at serious reconstructive surgery. At least dad contributed one good thing to the family.
"Lucky shot, handsome and I do mean that in the sarcastic, yes-I'm-making-fun-of-your-ugly-mug sense. Care if I have my turn now?" I hoped I sounded more sure than I really was.
A quick, powerful roundhouse sent the man-ape careening back into a stack of cardboard boxes. Not enough to put him down, but the tripping over the boxes would put a few new wrinkles in his ugly, black suit. With any luck, it might keep him off balance long enough for me to get his boss under wraps.
Peterson must have figured it out himself, since he turned tail and headed toward the warehouse door like a comet. For a scrawny little guy, he could flat move when he wanted to. I had no chance of beating him to the door on foot.
"Not so fast, Mo'. I hear the FBI is offering quite a reward for hauling your scrawny butt into jail," I said. Drugs, urban terrorism, even murder. Mo' Money Peterson was definitely the licorice in the candy dish.
I tore off my cape and pressed the white button on the collar. Instantly, the cape collapsed and lengthened into a long purple rope. Nanite technology or something along those lines, at least that's the way my sister, Anna had explained it a few times. It was way too much for me to understand. Of course, most things Anna designed for us fell into that category. So what if she got the meta-brains in the family, I could still deck her if she got smug about it.
"And I could really use the buckage for a new prom dress."
"Save it, you purple freak," he yelled, whipping out a small laser, the palm-sized model, the "derringer of hi-tech" Anna called it.
His aim was as bad as his banter, and the shot buzzed safely past me on my left side. I threw the rope, looping it around his shoulders, pinning his arms against him, then pushed the red button, causing the rope to convert back to cape mode and cocoon him.
The footsteps coming up behind me meant that ape-face had recovered his balance, and I back-flipped out of the way, gliding into a perfect two-point landing behind him. He turned as quickly as he could to face me, but a jolt from my tazer took the fight out of him. As he fell to the floor, I stepped out of the way, letting him hit the ground with a dull thud. I wasted no time in cuffing him, before heading over to take care of Peterson.
I left Mo' and ape-face packaged for the Atlanta P.D. -- along with one of my calling cards, of course, so the money would be credded into the "Spoiler" account. After that, Anna could funnel it anonymously through a few dummy corporations and eventually work it directly into the three individual college accounts she'd set up for her, Ashley, and me.
Who'd have thought you could earn your education by showing up the bad guys? Life was definitely good.
With a biophysics test the next day, I knew it was time to call it a night, and I pushed the blue button on the cape to convert it into glider-flight mode. The skies were always so beautiful from a few hundred feet up -- the city always looked like Christmas from above, with the lights from the late-nighter corporate grunts and the up-all-nighters in the hi-rise apartments covering the streets with a bright white glow. Ashley was lucky to have gotten the power of flight from dad's metagene. I'd have traded strength for flight any day.
We all thought it strange that the gene had passed on to us split, instead of granting each of us all three powers. At best, it forced us to work together as a team, but it sure could be inconvenient on the nights when Anna wore the costume. I mean, sure, brains are good, but it never hurt to have a little something to fall back on, right?
As I coasted into the outer edge of the pipeyard where I'd hidden the bike, I scanned the area to make sure I was alone. Satisfied, I landed soft and easy, then pressed the red button again to return the cape to its natural state. I raised my mask a little, letting the cool night air tickle my lips and nose. We'd definitely have to come up with a mask that let us feel the air more. Besides, it should be a crime to completely cover a face as attractive as the one the Abbots triplets wore.
I found the bike in the huge concrete tunnel where I had left it, and dug my clothes out of the side storage box. Changing clothes in the dark without feeling like a fool wasn't my strong suit, as I had discovered during my two previous Spoiler excursions. It was almost as if I preferred the way the purple and blue made me feel. The funny thing was, it should have made me feel cheap, the way it looked almost painted on -- but it didn't. Even dressed like a holo-girl on a trash vid, I felt strong, in control, ready to shove my fist in the world's face and tell it where to go.
You know, the kind of things I'd never do as plain, old Abbey Abbots. I mean, even my name made me sound like the kind of girl doomed to become a librarian's assistant.
After slipping into the prairie skirt and sweater, I stepped into my ankle boots then grabbed the dark blue helmet and squeezed in onto my head. I wheeled the bike out into the dimly lit pipeyard and climbed on. After I typed the PIN to start the engine, the bike roared to life then instantly grew silent as I shifted it into silence mode. No sense in waking up the neighbors. It wouldn't do to have them think mousy, modest "Abbybots" -- as they called me -- was cavorting around in the middle of the night on a luna-cycle.
I checked my watch. 1:32. With any luck, Mom would be asleep.
I should have known better than to count on luck. As Mom had told us often before, luck wasn't in strong supply around the Abbots family. Even when she was simply Stephanie Brown -- before meeting that stranger we had once called dad -- her life hadn't exactly been Rockwell. Not with her dad being a psycho-criminal called the Cluemaster. He thought he was a big-leaguer, but he was really just a nobody who consistently got his pride handed back to him by Batman or Robin all those years ago. At least before one of the many prison riots in Blackgate went way ugly and stuck him in a wheelchair for the last three years of his life before going to the chair for killing some cops.
Mom was sitting on the couch, flipping through the channels on the holo-vid as I opened the door. She wore the same blue robe she always did at night. It was older than dirt, I was sure, but she liked it for some reason. When she noticed me, she flipped the display off.
"So, how was the action tonight?"
She always asked it as if she missed her adventures. But when I confronted her about it, she would always deny it, telling me that she was young and stupid and could have gotten herself killed.
"Pretty good. Captured Mo' Money Peterson and his bodyguard. The bounty should get us another few quarters of tuition money." I dropped the helmet beside the closet door.
"Good." She paused, looking more through me than at me. "Did you ..." she asked finally, "Did you run into any trouble?"
"The goon clocked my jaw once, but other than a bruise, I'll be okay, I think."
"You sure?" She stood up and came over to examine my jaw. When she touched it, I pulled away. "Now hold still," she said, "This is why I worry about you three pulling stunts like this. What would I do if one you got hurt, or worse, killed?"
I pulled away again. "So stop us. Forbid us to do it."
She glanced down at the floor and put her hands in the pockets of her robe, saying nothing.
"That's what I thought."
She looked up, took her hands out of her pockets and rested them on my shoulders. "There's so much of me in you. That's what scares me. Just be careful, okay. Promise me." She pulled me closer, squeezing me into a weak hug.
"Always, Mom. Always." I kissed her on the cheek, then squirmed out of the hug. "See ya in the morning. I've got some serious biophysics to study."
"Good night, sweetheart."
"Good night, Mom."
Leaping up the stairs, I took them three at a time, then headed to the bedroom I shared with my sisters. Both Ashley and Anna were waiting for me, sitting up on the edge of my bed. Anna in her purple flannel pajamas and Ashley in her "Superman" T-shirt. The classic of course. You know, the guy who fist-fought with fallen angels and radiated democracy and apple pie like nobody's business. Nothing but the best for Ashley, and that meant the classics, none of those so-called heroes that were currently popping up all over the place like pimples.
"So?" they both said without standing.
"So?" I teased back at them.
Anna cocked her head to one side and rolled her eyes. "So?"
"I'm back, aren't I? That should tell you all you need to know." I grabbed my plain, white, long gown from the top drawer, catching my reflection in the mirror. My straight, brown hair was stuck to my head in the shape the helmet had forced on it and the bruise on my jaw was bigger than I had expected. Looking behind my own reflection, I could see the impatient looks on both of my practically identical sisters.
Practically identical. Mom said it was probably dad's metagene that caused us to be identical triplets except for hair and eye color. People always told us it was really bizarre to see these three matching faces with such different hair and eyes. Then they'd ask us which of us were using hair dye and colored contacts. People can be such pains.
Like I said before, go figure.
"That's quite a mark," Anna said. He red hair was curly and long and, as usual, she had it up in a ponytail that bounced as she spoke. "How did Mom take it?" Her green eyes framed the question with a serious stare.
"Same way she always does. She looked at the floor when I told her to do something about it."
"Don't be so hard on her," Ashley said. She kept her bouncy, blonde hair short and her blue eyes were so big and doe-like that she was never hurting for a date. "She probably doesn't want to be like her own mom. You know what happened when Grandma found out all about Mom's stint as the Spoiler."
I plopped down into my bean bag chair -- it had taken me forever to find one made like the real ones I'd seen in the museum. The red plastic cushioned itself around me as I leaned back and crossed my legs. "Well, sometimes, I wish she'd try to forbid us anyway. At least we'd know she cares about something other than that stupid shelter she runs downtown."
"She cares," Ashley said, rising from the bed. "Why do you think she let us try the whole Spoiler thing in the first place?" She turned to Anna. "Right, sis?"
Anna curled forward and tucked her knees in tight. "Sure."
I grabbed a red pillow that was beside me on the floor and tossed it at her. "Don't go all fetal on us, Brain-girl," I said with a laugh.
"Ha ha. Very funny." She threw the pillow back at me.
I caught it, instantly recognizing it as "the" pillow. We'd had it handmade for Mom's 35th birthday as a surprise. After hearing all her stories about the glory days of exciting adventures with the Boy Wonder, we'd thought it would be nice to have the "R" from the old Robin costume stitched onto a throw pillow of her very own. When she'd torn through the wrapping paper and opened the box, she simply stared at it for a few moments, then said, "Thank you." Two days later, we'd found it hidden in the top of the linen closet under the beach towels, and we claimed it for our room.
"You guys hungry? I could really use some popcorn right now." I stood up and headed toward the door. "Last one downstairs is Two-Face's ugly love-child."
Surprisingly, I managed to pass my biophysics test. Eighty-four percent barely earned me a "B," but it would keep my GPA consistent, anyway. Not too smart, not too average. Just bright enough to get lost, coat-tailing behind the "A" students like Anna.
At least my GPA seemed golden next to Ashley's. Though, with her busy social calendar, she could have cared less.
"Did you see the school news today yet?" Keshon Dixon asked me as he peered around the door of my locker. His bald, brown head and big smile was always a welcome diversion to my moping. I always kidded him about looking so out of style. Like he was trying to fit in with that turn-of-the-century, ghetto-boy fad that had played out like a bad one-hit wonder on the music scene.
As he talked, he played around with the tiny, gold loop in his ear. He started doing that recently. It always weirded me out. "You're doing it again."
He looked at me with a confused, quick glance, then his face lit up with realization. "Oh, the ear thing. Sorry. I guess I'm just nervous or something."
"I don't see why. The biophys test is over now."
"It's not that. I mean, it's more like ... nothing. Just forget about it."
I checked the mirror in my locker to see if there was anything I needed to fix. As if mousy browns ever looked "fixed" anyway. "Let's see, weird, pointless conversation. Check. Forgotten already. Double check."
"Anyway, did you see it yet?"
"No, why?" To be honest, I was more interested in lunch that in the waste of fiber optics we called our school newsvid.
"They got a picture of the new vigilante femme who's been cleaning the local bounties."
"The Spoiler?" No need to get excited, I reminded myself. It wasn't as if we'd never been caught on digital before. The first time Ashley had dropped off her catch at the 54th precinct, she'd practically posed for the cameras.
"The one and only." He reached into his backpack and pulled out an old, hardcover book. "Here, by the way," he said, handing it to me. "That was actually pretty good."
I took the book. It was my copy of e. e. cummings collected works that I had loaned Keshon weeks ago. "Thanks. I figured you'd get a kick out of his absurdist take on words and stuff." I crammed the book between the wall of my locker and my Holo+ 3.2 programmers guide. One day, I'd actually have to open it and see what the heck Holo+ 3.2 was. "Have you seen it yet? The newsvid, I mean."
"I wish. I hear she's a real dream femme. And that her outfit is tight enough to "
"Keshon ..." I punched his shoulder lightly. It wasn't easy holding back all the time, knowing that if I didn't, I would probably shatter his shoulder completely.
"Well, it's what I hear, anyway."
"Whatever." I could almost taste the chicken salad and wheat I knew was waiting for me in my lunch pack. "What's it like?"
"We can find out after lunch. They're going to rebroadcast the vid then. Can you believe it? A re-broadcast of our stupid little newsvid. They never run it more than once."
"I wonder why people are getting so excited about a picture of the Spoiler." I grabbed my lunch from the locker and slammed the door shut. "It's not like she hasn't already been covered on the network vids. I mean, sure, she's good looking, but really, she's just another costume." I laughed.
Keshon didn't. "It's not just a typical picture of her, Abbs. They say it's of her changing from her costume into her normal clothes. And everyone's racing to try to figure out whose face it is in the shadows."
All the sudden, my lunch didn't seem as important anymore.
To All Things ... continues next month on DCU 2021!!!