A note from J Pal

I'd like to thank Dr_Nemo, Actus, MeowMix for their wonderful reviews.

The love helps me survive the crap rating bombardment that comes with being high on Rising Stars. They put a smile on my face, too. I drift further from the top 500 with each passing day, though. Oh, well.

Threat Level: E
Destructiveness: E
Killability: D
Might: F
Survivability: E
Recovery: D
Mobility: E
Spark: D
Powers: Enhanced Sight and Hearing, Sonic Blasts, Durable Arms, Metabolic Regeneration, Desert Jackal’s Reflexes
Classification: Bruiser/Stalker

The size of Becca’s facility continued to shock Danny. The repair workshop alone was the size of a basketball court. Broken weapons, armour, and devices he struggled to make heads or tails of littered the workbenches. He recognised Talon’s equipment straight away, but the rest proved harder to recognise.

Devices in ten metres around Malfunction hummed and sizzled, spitting sparks. Electricity danced around them, caressing metal surfaces and filling the air with a sweet but pungent aroma and the smell of burning plastic. All the cameras in the workshop behaved similarly, pointing directly at Danny. He spotted a pair following his eyes as they floated through the air, revolving around Malfunction.

Two sets of metal feathers shot from the wings. The first missed their mark and planted themselves in walls, desks, and half-repaired machinery. The rest shredded a floating eye to pieces. Then both wings flapped and a double barrage came at Danny. He dove to the side, seeking cover behind a table covered in giant gauntlets in varying stages of construction. The feathers flew through where he’d stood a second ago and then more clanged against the table. He felt a sharp sting on his back just right of his spine. The wound didn’t feel deep, but still managed to hurt.

Danny thought back to what he knew about Talon. The super mostly used his feathers for cover fire or while pinning down enemies. His primary fighting style involved swooping by targets and slashing them with his clawed boots. They had a plasma-cutter setting and a stun mode. None of the details spoke about how many feathers the wings could hold or fire. Given the numbers he saw embedded around the room, Danny assumed it wasn’t enough for Malfunction to keep firing them endlessly.

Before he started his assault, Danny needed better vision. Malfunction no longer seemed bothered about the still airborne eye. It floated behind him, monitoring his devices and movements. The intelligence felt inadequate. So, for the first time since gaining his powers, he commanded his left arm to expel another eye.

The pain had Danny clenching his teeth. He felt the muscles in the hollow contort and spasm while forcing the eyeball out. He was sure the limb would’ve comfortably fired three more shots before giving up on him. Now, Danny doubted he could manage one, and his right arm felt the same. He expected to get two, maybe three out of it at most.

When the feather rain ceased, Danny sprang from his hiding place and raced towards Malfunction. Malfunction leapt from the ground, flapping his wings. The villain didn’t make it far. He appeared to lack the ability to coordinate the wings. They moved haphazardly, making Malfunction bob and spin as he neared the ceiling. Then sparks flew from the mechanical appendages and they ceased, leaving him to crash to the ground.

The bulky scrap armour held, and Danny heard a groan masked by a voice modulator. Unwilling to miss the opportunity, he pounced on Malfunction and struck his helmeted head with a right hook. Metal warped and glass cracked. Malfunction grunted, and the wings came at Danny, but froze just before striking him. They spasmed like organic muscles and more sparks flew off them.

His name makes sense, at least.

Before Danny could follow up with another blow, the information coming through his floating eyes demanded he retreat, and he did just that. A clawed, glowing bright yellow boot swiped through where he’d stood. The hooked tips missed him by an inch at most, and Danny felt their heat through his mask. The running and fighting had him drenched in sweat already and the increased temperature didn’t help.

“Get away from me!” Malfunction screamed. For the first time since Danny encountered him, the villain’s voice didn’t sound computer generated. It sounded desperate and scared.

A firearm emerged from the wings’ shadows. Malfunctioned fired, and the projectile struck home. A pained yell burst from Danny as he fell onto his back. He kicked the ground, pushing himself away from his opponent. The struck area burned and Danny felt something alien inside of him. He doubted it had dug deeper than an inch, but the foreign object moved every time he breathed.

The eye hovering overhead birthed panic inside of Danny. His body armour had caved inwards and glowed bright orange. He struggled to tell whether the projectile had punctured the abdominal area, but the pain made him think it had inflicted far more damage. Danny willed his body to move, but every time it tried to obey, blinding pain pulsed through him. Danny smelt burnt skin, and the pain spread, reminding him of a hot pan sticking to his hand even when he tried to release it.

Because of his current state, Danny struggled to feel relief. After all, the object trying to burn through to his stomach had made inhaling a challenge. However, seeing Malfunction writhing on the ground let him take a few more minutes to recover without worry. When he got up, the villain still hadn’t moved. Danny attempted charging him, but the pain kept him from running. He had no choice but to grip his armour with both hands and pull. The damaged section came away, and he felt a sudden wave of relief. Blood poured from the wound Danny but could finally breathe.

I hate Fabricators. Or whatever he is.

Danny didn’t try running. Electricity arced off Talon’s wings. They danced over Malfunctions armour. He shrieked and spasmed underneath, arms thrashing and legs kicking. The firearm lay an arm’s length from him. Danny doubted Malfunction had it in him to attack him again, but he refused to give him the opportunity. So, he kicked the weapon away and pried the wings apart. The electricity struck his coat, singing patches, but he didn’t feel it. His gloves appeared secured against it, too.

When Malfunction kicked at Danny, he caught the leg around the knee and pushed the glowing talon away from his face. The villains continued to thrash under him. He felt smaller and weaker. The armour that had protected him earlier now appeared to have turned into a trap. It looked like Malfunction had taken pieces out of several suits and patched them together. Talon’s armour was likely on its way to becoming the newest addition when Danny interrupted.

“Get it off!” Malfunction’s desperate voice warped further as the sparks and electricity intensified.

The electricity danced off the exposed patch of skin on his still-bleeding arm. It tingled. Besides burnt skinned and melting plastic, Danny smelt scorched leather in the air, too. His stomach turned, and he felt lightheaded but pushed the discomfort aside. He pressed a hand against Malfunction’s armour and let his senses take it all in. The vibrations helped locate the source of the issue. It was a face sized dome between his shoulder blades. The wings connected to it and something inside was shaking so violently, Danny was sure it would explode soon.

Because of the pain pulsing from his abdomen, Danny struggled to flip Malfunction on his front. He tried prying the dome off the armour with his hands but failed to get an adequate grip. So, he squeezed a panel on his glove and hooked extensions grew out of the tips. They struggled to squeeze into the gaps.

“Get it off!”

As far as Danny could tell, Malfunction had no weapons left besides the wings and claws. Since he straddled the villain’s stomach. The boots weren’t a concern. Taking the dome off wouldn’t just help Malfunction but leave him unarmed, too. He pressed his right palm against the dome and released a point blank sonic blast. Malfunction screamed as the entire arm rattled and creaked. The device’s dome covering warped, letting Danny get the hooks underneath.

The dome didn’t resist Danny any further. It came away, and he ripped the internal machinery off next. The wings spasmed once again before coming away from the armour. As soon as the sparks and arcing electricity ceased, he ripped the boots off, too. He flipped Malfunction onto his back and he didn’t put up a fight.

It was tempting to revel in the moment. Danny had just taken down his first villain. Malfunction wasn’t big or particularly infamous. The Freaks were a reasonably new group of super villains. They hadn’t made their motivations clear. However, the online rumour mill claimed they’d played a role in Dryad’s decapitation. Danny knew it wasn’t true, but the incident had made the group infamous. Now, he’d brought one of them down during his first outing in costume. He couldn’t help but feel more proud of himself.

The clawed fingers helped find a grip on Malfunction’s armour. Danny ripped it off with a single tug. Then he froze. Malfunction wasn’t an adult man like he had assumed. In fact, the terrified girl looking up at him didn’t look like an adult at all.

A note from J Pal

If you're enjoying the story please Rate/Review. The greater the following, more attention this story gets from me!

For the rest of the month I'll drop a post every day. The schedule will change from the 1st of July. The number of chapters readers get a week is in your hands!

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About the author

J Pal

  • London


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