Stickmaker

Masks 14: Part 8

Masks Fourteen: Part Fifteen

by

Rodford Edmiston

"We have gadgeteer and mastermind inventions," said Dr. Device, chatting with Energia as he worked on the old computer tape drive. "We have things reverse-engineered from alien technology, and gadgeteer and mastermind inventions. We have things developed through standard research... these are generally less capable but more reliable, and we have a lot more of them, since they're more easily reproducible.

Masks 14: Part 7

Masks Fourteen: Part Thirteen

by

Rodford Edmiston

Deep under a low mountain, in one of the most secure sections of the Assembly's base, a bizarre ritual was performed. A ritual days in the making, due to the esoteric and unusual preparations involved. The participants were both serious and uncertain.

"Frankly, this is beyond me," said Sharma, finally. She looked over at Dr. Piano.

"It's a god complex," he said, nodding. "Rather, a demigod complex. Indeed very much like a Gift, as Paula guessed."

Masks 14: Part 6

Masks Fourteen: Part Eleven

by

Rodford Edmiston

The two men were long-time friends, though they were normally separated by an ocean and a continent. It wasn't often these days that the Guardsman - who was based in California - and the very British Walrus met in person. This was one of those times and they were putting it to good use.

Masks 14: Part 5

Masks Fourteen: Part Nine

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Ugh," said Energia, as she considered the problem one more time. Then, more loudly, "Anybody here able to help me with an electronics question?"

"I thought you were electrical," said Alex, smirking, as she looked away from the wide screen TV in the common area towards the young super.

Masks 14: Part 4

Masks Fourteen: Part Seven

by

Rodford Edmiston

"That is one slick looking bike," said Mel, more than a bit envious. Coming from a super inventor type, that was quite a compliment.

"Yeah. The guys in the engineering college really did a good job on this. The design of the suspension and gearing and such are fairly conservative - and very reliable - but the materials..."

"Carbon fiber, most of it," said Alex, rapping the structural tubing.

Masks 14: Part 3

Masks Fourteen: Part Five

by

Rodford Edmiston

The return of Monstro from its trip for maintenance attracted a small audience. The car was actually a bit famous around campus. Most of those interested, of course, were simply checking up on their favorite way of bumming a ride.

"Ooh, shiny," said Alex, when Vic got back from her maintenance trip.

Masks 14: Part 2

Note that Masks 14 follows the characters through about a year, skipping long periods of time.

Masks Fourteen: Part Three

by

Rodford Edmiston

"'Teen defenders'?" said Energia, after hearing a local news segment that evening on her team's work at the factory complex. "I'm the only member still in her teens, and that just barely."

"Yeah, but I'm only twenty, and teach has regeneration, so we all look like we could be in our teens."

"Could they have confused us with another team?"

"Not likely," said Blue Impact.

Masks 14

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"Well, it's official," said Energia, sourly, as she and the others managed to enter the upstairs hall at about the same time on the way to breakfast. "I'm a C-cup. Knew things were getting tight around the chest, so I measured, first thing this morning."


Masks 14


by
Rodford Edmiston

Masks 14: Part 1

A partial timeline for the Masks universe:

http://www.dcr.net/~stickmak/Stories/MasksTimeline.html

This story runs around 50k words. As with Masks XIII I will post two segments per submission.

Masks XIV

by

Rodford Edmiston

Part One

Masks 13: Part 21

Masks Thirteen: Chapter Forty-One

by

Rodford Edmiston

Vic sat on the bleachers pretending a calm she didn't feel. She knew what Dorton looked like, of course, having seen photos of him. Vic was surprised, though, when he came on stage; he seemed older, more worn. Less energetic. Less there. Once he started talking, though, those changes seemed to reverse. He was one of those speakers who was energized by an audience, even an unfriendly one. This one started mostly neutral, but soon warmed to the speaker.

Masks 13: Part 20

Masks Thirteen: Chapter Thirty-Nine

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Looks like you got hit here, too," said Doro, removing the wire from Vic's costume while Ray bandaged her leg. "Here and here, too."

"Thought those were punches or something," said Vic, poking the holes with a fingertip. "They were all into the composite plates, fortunately."

"Those guys must have been shooting center of mass," said Ray, nodding. "Just like they're trained. Which is why trauma plates are put there."

Masks 13: Part 19

Masks 13: Chapter Thirty-Seven

by

Rodford Edmiston

Vic popped out of the hatch onto the roof of the dorm and took off running, quickly gathering speed. She leapt, pitching forward and straightening until her fingers pointed to her landing spot and her toes pointed towards the sky. At impact with the lower roof of the Hall Classroom Building she went smoothly into a tuck and forward roll. This was as much to prevent damage to the roof as to prevent damage to her.

Masks 13: Part 18

Chapter Thirty-Five

Monstro wasn't all that badly damaged, but it was ruled by both one of the FBI men and Vic herself to be unsafe to drive until repaired. Vic was pretty sure her insurance wouldn't cover that. She didn't regret her actions. She'd stopped the man who was stalking her!

Oddly, now that the van had lost its cameo pattern it appeared to be a sort of light gray.

Masks 13: Part 17

Masks Thirteen: Chapter Thirty-Three

by

Rodford Edmiston

The insurance agent replied in kind to Joline's texted message, saying he was glad they weren't hurt. He told Joline to bring the car by his office the first working day. That was one concern dealt with, at least partially. Meanwhile, Vic called Agent Gordon, who set up a conference call with Ray. Vic's call took a little longer than Joline's texting, but was still completed quickly. Another concern partially dealt with.

Masks 13: Part 16

Masks Thirteen: Chapter Thirty-One

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays!" Vic sang, as they walked towards the rear entrance to the mall.

"I swear, if you sing that the whole two weeks until Christmas - like you did when you were twelve - I will smother you in your sleep," said Joline, direly.

"Sorry. Forgot how much you hate that song."

"I don't hate that song. I hate hearing it over and over. So don't play it, either!"

Masks 13: Part 15

Masks Thirteen: Chapter Twenty-Nine

by

Rodford Edmiston

Vic was rather surprised when contacted by Dr. Feldman just before lunch on Sunday.

"I apologize for the lack of notice," he explained, "but I only found out an hour ago, myself. An old colleague who is an expert in certain areas of powers - she developed some of the tests I've given you - called to let me know she could be here today. If you can be in my office at One, she will be glad to spend the afternoon with you, testing and analyzing."

Masks 13: Part 14

Masks Thirteen: Chapter Twenty-Seven

by

Rodford Edmiston

As they rode along Ray called ahead. Vic was directed to an isolated townhouse in a failed subdivision. She drove the Corolla up the drive and around back, into the two-car garage built into the basement. By the time she shut off the car people waiting in the garage had hit the button to close the door.

Masks 13: Part 13

Masks 13: Chapter Twenty-Five

by

Rodford Edmiston

Vic wasn't surprised to be called out of her first class the next morning. Physically, she was feeling fine. All her injuries from the fight were healed, and she had actually slept well. Until the call, though, she had heard nothing from the school administration. Both the delay and the call - when it finally came - gave her some cause for anxiety.

Masks 13: Part 12

Chapter Twenty-Three

by

Rodford Edmiston

Vic wasn't surprised to see light coming under the door to her room as she approached. She was surprised to find more than Alex waiting for her.

"Well?" said the youngest of the three all-too-eager inquisitors.

Vic looked between her, Candy and Melanie. She sighed, stepped in, and closed the door behind her.

"Let's make this quick. I really, really want to take a shower."

"Wow," said Candy, shocked.

"Was it really that bad?" said Melanie.

Masks 13: Part 11

Masks 13: Chapter Twenty-One

by

Rodford Edmiston

Not surprisingly, the whole campus we still in a slowly diminishing uproar hours later. Those who had actually been at the scene of the fight were especially affected by the excitement. Though one of them for reasons not immediately obvious.

"This is so weird," said Vic, a bit frightened, as she sat on her bed, rocking back and forth a bit. "Standing there, with Cosmic Ray, talking to him, I was feeling all those girly things from the romances. I even felt my heart flutter."

Masks 13: Part 10

Chapter Nineteen

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Rex, just because you're strong that doesn't mean you can ignore proper technique," said Trujillo, firmly, and not for the first time. Not even the first time to Rex. "If you're fighting someone with matching or superior strength, you need superior skill to win. Now, get in a proper horse stance and let's see your reverse punch again."

"Yes, sir," said the large young man, a bit of surliness in his tone.

Masks 13: Part 9

Chapter Seventeen

by

Rodford Edmiston

"What's all that?" said Alex, a couple of days later, as Vic entered their shared room with a couple of large boxes. She was long past marveling at how Vic's strength and dexterity allowed her to carry multiple large, heavy items at the same time.

"Care package from home," said Vic, happily. "Two of them, actually. I assume this big one is my guitar. The other should be some clothes."

Vic carefully placed the larger box on the bed, then dropped the smaller on her desk. It landed with a clunk.

Masks 13: Part 8

Chapter Fifteen

by

Rodford Edmiston

A month and a half into the semester, Vic's parents finally were able to bring her car to her.

"Hello, Monstro," said Vic, giving the fender of the old car an affectionate pat. "Wow, you're looking good."

"She greets the car before she greets us," said Arnold, dryly, as he climbed out.

"Hey, it got here first."

She gave her Father a warm and very firm hug which lasted until her Mother walked over from her own car; then Vic switched targets.

Masks 13: Part 7

Chapter Thirteen

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Never thought I'd see you in a dress," said Alex, not bothering to cover her grin.

"Never thought I'd be in a dress," said Vic, glaring at Melanie and Candy. "These two can be very persuasive when they start tag-teaming someone."

"Oh, hush," said Candy, sitting at Vic's feet as she and Melanie stitched a baste in the hem. "You're the only one I know here who's my friend's size. You can bear it for a few minutes."

Masks 13: Part 6

Masks Thirteen: Chapter Eleven

by

Rodford Edmiston

"You look tense," said Melanie, during lunch.

"Yeah, well, this being my second day of classes at a new school, I think I'm justified," said Vic.

Alex slid in between them, her tray sporting her usual odd mix of food and near-food items.

"Did you hear about Tigerl? I mean, Cindy?

Masks 13: Part 5

Masks Thirteen: Chapter Nine

by

Rodford Edmiston

"So, have you had your first period, yet?" said Alex, as a freshly-showered (Finally!) Vic got back to their room.

"That's a pretty personal question," said Vic, in an irritated mutter, as she searched in her sock drawer.

She found what she wanted and sat on her bed to pull on the tube socks.

"A) Scientific curiosity, B) I saw you putting your hygiene products away, remember and C) we're rooming together so I qualify for fair warning if I have to help you deal with it."

Masks 12

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"The students from outside the mask community are a small but rapidly growing part of our campus," Eve added, nodding in turn. "The school wasn't really intended for them, though. Some of them never really fit in, there, since they weren't interested in becoming masks. They - or their parents - just wanted training in how to use their powers; not how to fight crime, wear a costume or maintain a private identity."


Masks 12


Masks 11

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The State Troopers waited at their roadblock. All other traffic was diverted. It was just them and the armed fugitives headed their way at high speed in a hot - in more ways than one - muscle car. The brigands could outrun the police ground vehicles, and even the helicopters, but not the radios. The Troopers stood in the afternoon sun, sweaty, tense and edgy, shotguns and assault rifles at the ready.


Masks 11


by

Masks 10

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The younger man quickly and concisely relayed what had been learned. The Captain went from mildly annoyed to very concerned. He turned to the radio man.

"We still got the long wire out? Good; prepare a message."

"Sir?" said the sonarman. "What is it?"

"Tritonicus is back."


Masks 10


by
Rodford Edmiston

Masks 8

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As I walked towards the deceptively simple cabin my hackles rose. There was a strange vehicle parked in front of it, a ridiculously oversized SUV. Before I could decide what to do about it, though, I saw someone. Someone familiar. I felt an odd mixture of relief and aggravation.


Masks 8


by
Rodford Edmiston

Masks 7

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"I know, you were told to come here to see if I could help you with a problem," said Piano, gently ushering her into a chair. "I believe we can help you while you help us do something good for the world."


Masks 7


by
Rodford Edmiston

Masks 6

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The Leader narrowed its pupils, just a bit... the equivalent of a slight smile for its species. The most important of the group were already supporting the plan. The others would go along, eventually. It sat back and let them plot and scheme, only occasionally asking a question or making a suggestion. Yes, this would work well...


Masks 6


by
Rodford Edmiston

Masks 13: Part 3

Masks Thirteen: Chapter Five

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Now that you're feeling better, your Mother and I have been discussing your punishement."

"Punishement," said Vic, blankly.

Her parents had called her down to the family room and sat her on one side of the coffee table, while they sat on the other. Vic was baffled, and even after hearing her father say this was still confused.

"For drinking and going to a strip club."

Vic was stunned.

Masks 3

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"I can feel the layers and swirls in the magnetic field," said Energia, voice full of wonder. "I can feel the plasma sliding through it, like sand through fingers. I didn't know space was so... alive!"


Masks 3


by
Rodford Edmiston

Masks 13: Part 2

Masks Thirteen: Chapter Three

by

Rodford Edmiston

As mentioned before, because this story runs short novel length I'll post two chapters per post.

The workout that afternoon was long and vigorous. Nothing Vic did seemed superhuman, but she could now do more, faster and for longer. She was so stunned when she finally tired and decided to get clean she was actually standing naked in the basement shower stall before remembering she was female.

Vic gave a thoughtful report on her workout discoveries at supper.

Masks 13: Part 1

While revising Masks XII before posting it on my Web page, I came up with an idea for a character whose story would begin late in that tale and continue in XIII. However, I soon realized the story worked better as a stand-alone. So, that idea and character became XIII and what would have been XIII is now XIV.

Masks XIII: The Other Half

by

Rodford Edmiston

Chapter One

"Vic! Do you have to come thundering down the stairs like a herd of elephants?!" said Alissa.

Masks 12: Part 24

Masks Twelve: Part Twenty-Four

by

Rodford Edmiston

The figure stopped at the limits of the forest, cupped hands around mouth and let forth with a perfect wolf howl. Long moments passed. There was a subtle shift in the mood of the woods, something the caller definitely noticed. Then, several small figures stepped into view.

"Why so formal?" said Pear, smiling at Tiger.

"I heard you had guests here on important business. Figured it was better to be careful."

Masks 12: Part 23

Masks Twelve: Part Twenty-Three

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Champions tend to be lucky," said Dr. Whiskers, nodding thoughtfully as she checked her patient again. "Even on my world, they were famous for avoiding or surviving what should have been fatal."

Masks 12: Part 22

Masks 12: Part Twenty-Two

by

Rodford Edmiston

Paula wanted to help with the cleanup and recovery at the keep, but Dr. Gorgeous had insisted she stay at the new base camp. She had also ordered Paula to return to the Assembly base on the first hopper going there. Given what had happened, Paula was not arguing.

"I don't look the same," said Paula, quietly, to herself, as she examined her new face in a shaving mirror. "Not the same as my Champion. Not the same as the new one."

Masks 12: Part 21

Masks Twelve: Part Twenty-One

by

Rodford Edmiston

The explosion wasn't all that large, but in the confined space of the crevice the effect on Champion was literally stunning. Dazed, coughing and blinking against the dust, she dragged herself to the opening with her hands and a bit of help from her toes. She almost collapsed with relief when she saw the gap was now easily large enough for her to get through.

Masks 12: Part 19

Masks Twelve: Part Nineteen

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Status," said Helvec, as he strode into the ship's command center. He'd had time to calm himself and think while composing the message to his commander, and moreso during the walk to the bridge. Of course, since he was a Shilmek, that still meant he was feeling quite a bit of outrage.

"I doubt the compulsion was meant for us, Captain," said his second, looking up from where he was working with the sensor officer. "More likely, it is a product of some local power play."

Masks 12: Part 18

Masks Twelve: Part Eighteen

by

Rodford Edmiston

Susan and Paul sat down at the small table in the break room closest to the security center at the Assembly base. There was a long moment of uncomfortable silence, as he waited for her to tell him what she wanted to talk about and she tried to figure out the best approach.

"Will you stop obsessing over it?" said Susan, finally, a bit aggravated but also obviously concerned.

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