When faced with people whose skin repels bullets or who shoot lasers out of their eyes, cops don’t have a lot of options. From what I understand, standard policy is to stall them until someone with a chance of dealing with them arrives.

Officer Van Kley was doing her best. I could hear her talking again. I wondered whether anyone would arrive before Man-machine got bored.

“I’m going in,” I said.

Haley said, “With me.”

“Right,” I said. “Can you fight?”

From what I remembered, her grandfather, Night Wolf, had the ability to hide, could climb walls and had inhumanly good senses, but an enhanced sense of smell (no matter how good) seemed pretty useless at the moment.

“Yes, I can fight,” she said.

I looked up the wall to find her glaring down at me. Her eyes were slit like a cat’s and glowed slightly.

“Sorry,” I said.

From the parking lot, Man-machine’s voice said, “Time’s up.”

A red beam hit the nearest police car, melting the right side window and starting the front seat on fire. The two policemen crouched behind it ran to the next car.

“We better get in there,” I said and engaged the rockets, shooting across the parking lot toward him at full thrust.

I crossed the parking lot in seconds, readied myself to punch him, and missed. I’d misjudged how close I had to be and passed him about two feet to the left. I didn’t even try to blast him with the sonic weapons on my arms. I was too busy climbing to avoid the former factory on the other side of the parking lot.

That factory used to make bikes. Now it’s a store called “Lavender West.” They sell clothes and hippie paraphernalia. There’s a skate park on the fourth floor.

I’m told (though I’ve never had any reason to check) that they also sell bongs.

If I’d turned a little slower, I could have smashed into the building and found out. As it was I missed the wall by inches, flying directly in front of a third and then a fourth floor window. I could have reached out and shaken the hands of the people crowding to see the fight.

Of course, moving at 286 mph, I would have ripped their hands right off.

Once above the building, I gave myself a little spin, rotating so that I was facing the parking lot, and dove. I had a plan this time.

Grandpa used to tell a lot of stories about fighting Man-machine. Nearly half of them ended with Grandpa finding a way to smash the transparent faceplate. Sometimes he’d punch Man-machine unconscious. Sometimes he’d smash the glass without breaking it, leaving it in one piece but impossible to see through.

I was going to fire the sonic weapons directly into the faceplate. All I had to do was get close enough.

Three-quarters of the way down, I realized that Man-machine had turned to face me. Then I saw flash of red and felt heat on my chest.

Systems reported the damage as medium—suit integrity intact but heavy damage to that spot. I’d better not get hit there again.

The blast distracted me from my intended approach. I leveled off fifteen feet above the ground and some twenty feet away from Man-machine, beginning a tight circle that I hoped would put me on a near collision course with him.

It did.

He barely had chance to turn and had no chance to turn the cannon. I fired a sonic blast directly into the faceplate and then I was past him.

I managed to turn more quickly this time, not even leaving the parking lot. I didn’t know what I was going to do next, but I did want to see what damage I’d done.

Tactically that wasn’t such a great move and I probably would have gotten shot a second time except that Haley chose that moment to enter the fight.

By “enter the fight” I mean that she threw a Prius at him.

At least I assumed it was Haley. I never saw her do it, but cars don’t generally launch themselves into the air.

It knocked him over, but not out. He pushed the car off with one hand and stood up, shouting into the darkness.

Disappointingly, the sonics didn’t appear to have hurt his faceplate at all.

“Why of all the cowardly things…” He began, but couldn’t seem to finish the thought.

Beginning again, he said, “It’ll take more than that—“

I didn’t allow him time to finish. I gave the rockets fuel and flew toward him, arms outstretched. Once over his head, I dipped, pulling my forearms up in front of my helmet and using them to smash into the side of the laser cannon.

It broke off from the mount point on his shoulder with a satisfying crack.

The momentum took us both downward and I scraped across the parking lot, stopping a row of cars away from him.

I pulled myself up. He lay there, unmoving.

The Man-machine of my grandfather’s stories would have been on me by now, trying to crush the life out of me. His armor had always been stronger than Grandpa’s and in straight hand-to-hand combat, that’s what counts.

“Are you okay?” I edged a step closer to him. It could be a trick.

I could hear labored breathing over his speakers before he spoke.

“Damn…” He said. “Damn you.”

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About the author


Bio: Jim Zoetewey grew up in Holland, Michigan, near where L Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz and other books in that series. Admittedly, Baum moved away more than sixty years before Jim was even born, but it's still kind of cool. Jim didn't attain his goal of never leaving school, but did prolong his stay as long as possible. He majored in religion and sociology at Hope College, gaining enough credits to obtain minors in ancient civilizations and creative writing—had he thought to submit applications to the relevant departments. He attended Western Theological Seminary for two years. He followed that up by getting a masters degree in sociology at Western Michigan University. Once out of school, he took up the most logical occupation for someone with his educational background: web developer and technical support. Simultaneously, he finished all but three credits of a masters in Information Systems, a degree that's actually relevant to his field. He's still not done. In the meantime, he's been writing stories about superheroes and posting them online at He's still not sure whether that was a good idea, but continues to do it anyway. He's also not sure why he's writing this in the third person, but he's never seen an author bio written in first person and doesn't want to rock the boat.

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