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Dispensing Justice - Chapter 4 - Zircon Man vs. the Demolition Squad

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When high school freshman Michael Gurrick's father is killed by supervillains, he takes up his father's supersuit and seeks justice (or will it be vengeance?) against his father's killers. (e)

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Chapter 4 — Zircon Man vs. the Demolition Squad

Penny's calm voice doused my anger like ice water to the face, yet I still felt a warm glow of virtuous anger smoldering somewhere deep down.

Before we could turn away from the monitor, the Demolition Squad had pried open the armored car's back door like it was a cheap tin roof. A red-and-blue supersuited figure with a golden exoskeleton and an equally golden full-face mask leapt out. He was immediately labeled Zircon Man by the system, so he must have had an active super-ID transmitter.

"That looks like a Cyber City Strong Man Mark III," Penny said, referring to Zircon Man's gold power-assist exoskeleton.

"Or an upgraded Mark II," I said.

"Could be. He doesn't stand a chance. He's not even wearing the Tough Guy armor mods."

"Definitely second string."

"He's got a cape," we said in unison.

Zircon Man was leaping about, engaging the four supervillains in a whirlwind of flying fists and kicks, his red-and-blue cape billowing up behind him.

"He won't last more than thirty seconds against the Squad."

"Unless they decide to 'play' with him."

"True. Corporate or rent-a-hero?" I asked, not bothering to look him up in the Supers Registry.

"Who cares? The League is busy dealing with the Robotic Horde at the plaza, so you've got your chance to do this without their intervention."

I palmed the lab lights icon on the console, instantly flooding the circular space with a daylight brightness. Penny wasn't discomforted by the sudden change in light levels, but I was forced to blink several times and let my eyes adjust. "I was wondering how I was going to arrange getting to the Squad before the League did."

We started moving to the north wall of the lab as I talked. Hanging six feet out from the middle of the wall there were four large, white backpacks, each with a thick silver umbilical cord arcing down from the ceiling. If you stopped and listened, you could hear the occasional heartbeat-like throb of pumps. Beyond the backpacks a half dozen suits in various states of repair were mounted on the wall. Each of them looked like a white full-bodied painter's overall, with hood, cap, goggles, and full-face rebreather mask. They each had two arcs in thick black lines inscribed on their chests, one curving up over one curving down. It was one of the standard diagrammatic symbols for a nozzle. At the mid-point of the nozzle where the curves almost touched was Dad's concession, or, perhaps, his acknowledgment of his membership in the Nova League: a red, eight-pointed starburst the diameter of a half-dollar. Looking at the suits, I felt my doubts surge up again. Was I worthy to wear any of Dad's suits? Could I ever really take his place?

Penny squeezed my shoulder with a hand that I was momentarily keenly aware was quite capable of crushing every bone therein. "You'll do him proud, Michael," she said, as if she had read my mind, which, as far as I knew, she still couldn't do.


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