Stickmaker

Masks 10: Part 11

Masks 10: Part 11

by

Rodford Edmiston

"What do you mean someone stole Tritonicus?" said Eve, tone threatening.

"Uhm, dawn came, and instead of the iceberg with the monster inside they were towing an old barge," said Lori, quickly, actually a bit cowed. "Right now they're trying to track the origin of the barge but with no luck. Submarines and surface ships are looking for the iceberg or the revived monster or even any ship in the area large enough to tow it. So far, nothing."

Masks 10: Part 10

Masks 10: Part Ten

by

Rodford Edmiston

"I understand your powers were triggered by a blood transfusion," said Template, addressing Brade.

She and Colossa were sitting in beach loungers, in swimsuits and masks, little Roy between them, sleeping peacefully in a baby carrier with a sunshade. Several of the staff were with them, as well as their guest. The proud parents had already gone through the routine fuss over the baby. Template found the expression of social instincts the baby's presence stimulated to be rather unnerving, but Colossa just ate it up.

Masks 10: Part 9

Masks 10: Part Nine

by

Rodford Edmiston

My apologies for the late post. Yesterday was hectic all the way home from MidAmeriCon II, and once I was home I was really tired.

"Not bad for an nonagenarian, eh?" said Mary Alice, preening.

She now wore shorts and a t-shirt, and her hair was short and black. Without the bulky, old woman clothes and grey wig she looked even larger.

"Ah," said Eve. "Of course. Regeneration."

The principal looked over at the Deacon, who was smiling at the reactions of those who hadn't known ahead of time.

Masks 10: Part 8

Masks X: Part Eight

by

Rodford Edmiston

After all the work, all the tension, all the death and damage, the end of the problem was almost anticlimactic. Several supers with mind or animal control powers were quickly moved into the area. Those which could contact Tritonicus managed to persuade it to move back to the surface. They lulled it into a somnolent state - not difficult considering its injuries - and then the cold crew went to work.

Masks 10: Part 7

Masks X: Part Seven

by

Rodford Edmiston

"All right, here's the plan," said Dr. Gorgeous. "We work with civilian and military sources to find Tritonicus again. Mr. Limpet has finally agreed to join the effort, which should be a big help. Once we do find Tritonicus we lure him to the surface with a bait ship, then we use the same devices and supers we used to freeze the water around the Atlantis Seamount."

"That would work," said Bowman, nodding.

Masks 10: Part 6

Masks X: Part Six

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Something wrong?" said Lucille.

Paul had asked Dr. Gorgeous for a private talk. While she wasn't a therapist she usually had good advice. If only because she was so good at correlating data.

"Well... While I'm glad to be back, this isn't exactly me," said Paul, gesturing at his body with both hands. "I'm fitter, leaner, stronger... I think I'm even taller."

"Retirement benefits?" said Lucille, innocently.

Paul laughed.

Masks 10: Part 4

Masks X: Part Four

by

Rodford Edmiston

"I can't believe how good I feel!" said Carol, stretching like a jungle cat.

"It is a heady experience," said Paul, smiling as he remembered his own response to realizing the sort of potential his new body had. As well as enjoying her posing.

Carol sobered a bit, and looked at her friend.

"You still glad you made the exchange?"

"Yes. You?"

Masks 10: Part 3

Masks X: Part Three

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Now that is interesting," said Dr. Nagle, the super pediatrics specialist who was in charge of Template's case. She frowned. She normally worked out of New York; however, presented with the opportunity for an extended stay on a tropical island and an interesting case (with the likelihood of more on the way) had moved to the island for an indefinite sabbatical. "I suggest you simply hold the child and change back to your male form. I'm surprised you didn't try that already."

Masks 10: Part 2

Part Two

"Wonder if there's any significance to him being born on Labor Day," said Colossa, smiling at her spouse and child.

"God, I'm tired," said Template, with a melodramatic sigh. "Super or not, that is a lot of work."

"You two look so adorable, lying there, him sleeping on your chest."

Masks 10: Part 1

Masks X: Part One

by

Rodford Edmiston

Alterations and Additions

As Summer ended, things were stirring deep beneath the Atlantic. Not far east of the Bermuda Islands, the fast attack submarine USS Habu was on patrol. What the crew were about to encounter was in the book, as was what to do about it, but those procedures hadn't been needed in decades.

"Lieutenant?" said one of the sonar operators. "Got something odd, here. Sounds sorta like a whale, but unless I've got the range wrong it's much too big."

Masks IX: Part 12

Part Twelve

The President tried not to show it, but she was definitely nervous. This... person she was about to meet was one of the most physically powerful beings on the planet. She was also blindingly fast. If Template decided to attack Sievers even the hidden neutralizers Thurlin had installed in this room might not stop her in time. She couldn't just turn them on ahead of time, however; not only would that reveal their presence, it would definitely have an adverse affect on her guest's attitude. Supers didn't like giving up their advantage over normal people.

Masks IX: Part 11

Masks IX: Part Eleven

by

Rodford Edmiston

"The capture of Sung has earned us a lot of good publicity," said Eve, a few days later, as she met with Template and the Black Mask in her office. "The news media were just starting to twig about his activities and raise an alarm, when he gets turned over to the Hague. By an international - though mostly US - group of supers."

Masks IX: Part 9

Masks IX: Part Nine

by

Rodford Edmiston

Template's ear bud buzzed, indicating a priority message on her private channel. She felt annoyed; she was on her way to a meeting with Eve about some school finance matters, trying to get things settled before the end of the semester.

"What?" she said, making her irritation clear.

"Security Central. We have a call for you. I think you better take it here. It's from Sung."

That got her attention! She changed course towards the mountains, calling Eve as she went.

Masks IX: Part 7

Part Seven

"I've found my replacement!" said Champion, joyously, as the team gathered for their first briefing the next morning. "Well, she still needs to be approved by the Goddess, but..."

"Hold on!" said Buzz, raising a hand. "What's this about a replacement?"

"Oh, that's right; you don't know," said Champion, with a laugh.

"Do you think the two of us can handle a drunk Champion?" said Buzz, in a stage whisper, to Maciste.

"I am not drunk," said Champion, sternly.

Masks IX: Part 6

Masks IX: Part Six

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Welcome to the Keep," said Harris, sourly, as he and those he was showing around aimed their portable floodlights around the underground chamber. "Or what's left of it."

"My God..." said Champion, voice a stunned whisper.

"What hit this place?" said Dr. Gorgeous, as they looked at the devastation.

"We're not sure, yet," said Harris, with a tired sigh. He rubbed his short-cropped hair in a gesture of aggravation. "Some sort of dimensional destabilizer, we think. We'll know more later."

Masks IX: Part 5

Part Five

"No reports of radon thefts," said the Black Mask. "Sung is unlikely to have used any stored before his capture; the half-life is too short. That's one reason old nukes have to be kept maintained. We have no idea where he got enough for the nuke he used; maybe he combined everything he had left, though that would mean he had a surprising amount of it to start with."

"I don't understand why his old bases weren't found and destroyed," said Template, angrily.

Masks IX: Part 4

Part Four

At the mountain base of the Assembly the next day all the active members were present in the main meeting room, waiting for a guest. They filled the time until her arrival with small talk. Though some of it wasn't so small to those involved. Their current Chair was Champion by near-unanimous vote (with Champion, herself, voting for Dr. Gorgeous). She had been elected shortly after Dr. Piano announced he was going on reserve status to pursue personal matters. Even before that, she was the de facto leader for most operations.

Masks IX: Part 3

Masks IX: Part Three

by

Rodford Edmiston

"I do not want my class photo to be an autoradiograph!" said Doomster.

"Not a problem," said Albert Flash. "No hard stuff got in through the shield. I'd've felt it."

The assembly had been hastily called, but training and actual experience resulted in near-universal attendance in short order.

Masks IX: Part 2

Part Two

Paula was constantly amazed at how few people even gave her a second look when she wasn't in costume. Dressing like a normal woman meant that almost no-one connected her with Champion. She was currently wearing a peach blouse and matching skirt, and black flats. Her small, black purse (Purse!) was sitting on the table beside her latte.

Forget masks and the costume discretion, she thought, wryly. All you need is a different hairstyle.

Masks IX: Part 1

Masks IX: Business as Unusual

by

Rodford Edmiston

Part One

The meeting was a bit lopsided, deliberately. There were school and UN people on one side of the table and a rather worried-looking man in a contractor's coveralls on the other

Masks VIII: Part 6

Part Six

This was not the wizened gnome I had dealt with before. Indeed, that figure might have been a caricature of this man, who looked to be a fit and vigorous middle age instead of the century plus of Gaunt's known history.

"So that wasn't you in the desert," I blurted.

"I am astounded - not to mention insulted - anyone thought that homunculus was me," he said, seeming offended, his old-style Southern accent more noticeable than that of the gnome. "I _wrote_ the rule about never turning yourself into a giant monster!"

Masks VIII: Part 5

Masks VIII: Part Five

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Careful," said Simon, as Tulio and John resumed digging. "That roof doesn't look very stable. Just... move small stuff."

Tucked into the boot was the leg of a costume, again in Sonic Jett's colors.

"Should we really be disturbing this?" said Tulio, pausing in his efforts.

"I want to know if that's my Grandfather," said Greg, firmly.

"That's permission from next of kin," said John, with a shrug.

Masks VIII: Part 3

Masks VII: Part Three

by

Rodford Edmiston

The next morning was another "smack yourself on the head" moment. This time John and I were face to face, both his arms around me. The sensation was a bit claustrophobic. I was larger this time, but again female and still small compared to John. As I tried to free myself from his hug, he opened his eyes, smiled, and kissed me.

"It's almost time to get up," I pointed out. "You're in my room. You need to get to yours."

"I'm in no hurry," he said, nuzzling my neck.

Masks VIII: Part 2

Masks VIII: Part Two

by

Rodford Edmiston

It was one of those "smack yourself on the head" wake-ups the next morning. John was cuddled up behind me, with his hand on my breast. I sighed resignedly, moved his hand away and slid out of bed. He stirred, opened his eyes and looked up at me, smiling.

"You've still got it."

"You can change shape, too. Why don't I ever wind up being the man when we fuck?"

"You could be..."

"Guy-guy is not my idea of fun."

Masks VIII: Part 1

Masks VIII: Part One

by

Rodford Edmiston

Lest Old Acquaintance Be Forgot

Warning! Sexual situations and violence! Do not read if easily offended!

Part One

I slid on my furry belly down the muddy trough. The slide ended a bit above the current water level, giving me a slight drop, and a moment to position myself. My entry into the water wasn't quite without a splash, but it was very smooth. I was getting better.

Masks VII: Part 12

Part Twelve

He was dressed like an accountant; at first glance appearing quite innocuous. However, closer examination gave the distinct impression that something about him was... off. His proportions were just a bit wrong, his face slightly misshapen, his bland gaze backed by something chilling.

"That's the Big Bad?" said Buzz, sounding insulted.

"Fall back!" said Dr. Piano, sounding both frightened and determined. "We have to..."

Masks VII: Part 11

Masks VII: Part Eleven

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Fifteen minutes," said Champion, snarling. "We spent fifteen minutes on those two. We're not even to the mine shaft yet!"

"We still have over an hour," said Dr. Piano, reasonably. "Don't minimize what we accomplished, here. Even a late model Myrmidon like that is no easy opponent. To defeat it in such a short time is extraordinary."

Masks VII: Part 10

Masks VII: Part Ten

by

Rodford Edmiston

"I found it!" shouted Maciste, triumphantly, as he rushed into the briefing room. "I found where they are!"

"Slow down," said Dr. Piano, making settling gestures with both hands. "It's not that I don't believe you, but... How?"

Masks VII: Part 8

Masks VII: Part Eight

by

Rodford Edmiston

The next morning found the base subdued. After Dr. Piano left to return to his home the night before, the staff began pestering the rest of the team for details. This soon turned into an outright brag session and informal party. No small part of the unusual quiet pervading the base when the live-in team members assembled for breakfast was a general atmosphere of mixed satisfaction and regret.

Buzz was on his third helping when Paula - in civvies - slunk in for breakfast, trying to be subtle and failing miserably.

Masks VII: Part 7

Masks VII: Part Seven

by

Rodford Edmiston

They drove slowly past the gaudy mansion, one of a long row of unashamedly ostentatious structures on that side of the road. They also had an unobstructed view of what lay on the other side of the road; a private park, something so heavily managed as to be barely connected with nature. This was a gated community, but Dr. Piano had shown the gate guard something and he'd simply waved them through. Champion had no idea whether any magic beyond old money was involved.

Masks VII: Part 5

Masks VII

by

Rodford Edmiston

Part Five

"That actually looks like a real superhero team," said Paula, staring at the life-size print of the group in their finery. "Don't you think, though, that putting it in the back of the monitor room - where it will be seen by any one who video calls - is a bit... egotistical?"

"Just a bit of promotion," said Dr. Piano, looking at the framed poster with satisfaction. He turned toward the team Brain. "Speaking of promotions, Doctor, did all the envelopes go out?"

Masks VII: Part 2

The Assembly

Part Two

by

Rodford Edmiston

In the end they all signed on. That, however, was only the first step in establishing a team. They had a good selection of raw ingredients, but how those were put together would determine whether the result was a hearty meal or a fallen soufflé. Dr. Piano knew that constructing a sound framework for the team - not just command structure and duties, but how they would interact with the press and public - was vital. He presented some basic suggestions and then he and Dr. Gorgeous began filling out that framework.

Masks VI: Part 9

Part Nine

The meeting the next afternoon in the Oval Office was uncomfortable for all involved. President Thurlin had five of his people on one side of the low table which had been brought in; Vice President Gould had five of his on the other.

Masks VI: Part 8

Part Eight

Energia maneuvered hard, keeping the small ship between her and the large one. Since both craft were maneuvering to prevent this she was having a difficult, frantic time. Still, she not only avoided getting hit but managed to actively slow the small ship, delaying the rendezvous with the larger craft. She was giving a play-by-play of the action over her suit's radio in a near-constant transmission, almost babbling, only occasionally stopping to listen for a reply.

Masks VI: Part 7

Part Seven

"On your feet, Fergusson," said the guard.

Gregory looked warily out at the strangely-uniformed men waiting in the corridor.

"What's going on?"

"You're being transferred to a federal holding facility for supers."

"But all my crimes were local! I'm not even a super!"

"You confessed to being a super," the guard pointed out. "Now move; these men don't have all day."

"I don't have powers!" Gregory, panicking, backing into the corner behind the bunk. "Not now! They took the Wishstone from me! I don't have powers!"

Masks VI: Part 6

Let's try this again. First time Text Edit kept messing with my editing and I lost a bunch of stuff which I had to recreate. Then, when I was just about ready to submit, Chrome closed this tab during the final editing online and wouldn't admit it had ever existed. I am not happy.

Part Six

"So, first, let's get some legal issues cleared up," said Blue Impact, scowling down at the fake. "Are you a legal resident of that estate?"

"Yes," said the shapely young woman, looking distraught and miserable as she lay on the rocky ground, wrapped in a makeshift Faraday cage.

Masks VI: Part 5

Part Five

"They can't just call this off!" yelled Stevens. "Not when we're actually winning!"

"That's politicians for you," said Basil, scowling. "More interested in public opinion than getting the job done."

He looked thoughtfully at Stevens for a moment.

"Looks like you get a reprieve. The big guys are too busy spin doctoring and covering up to worry about you and your mistakes for the moment."

Stevens glared at him, but kept quiet.

* * *

Masks VI: Part 4

Part Four

"They did WHAT?!" Randy shouted into the phone. "Why, those..."

"Please calm down," said Eve, firmly. "They're not in any danger and our attorneys are already working on the problem. I understand your concern, but do not go flying off to rescue them. They don't need rescuing."

Randy took a deep breath, and nodded.

"All right," he said, realizing Eve couldn't see him and was too far away to read him. "I'll stay out of it."

Masks VI: Part 2

Part Two

"Ow!" Blue Impact yelled, ducking back out of the way and shaking her hand like Jackie Chan. "What's that thing made of?!"

Her best punch hadn't even left a dent. Or slowed it. Or caused it to change course. Blue Impact had hoped to disable the thing before the two youngsters could engage, but that wasn't working.

"Monocrystalline molecularly aligned iron," said Gadgetive, busy assembling something. "Energia, can you lift it off the ground for me?"

"Sure."

Masks VI: Part 1

Masks VI

by

Rodford Edmiston

Part One: Holiday Break

The first and second sections of this tale are actually set before Part V. The third section starts shortly after.

The Leader of the huRK and his council of advisors were in a closed meeting, discussing a follow-up investigation of something discovered by one of the Fleet Leaders some months earlier.

"If that is, indeed, Tolnar's son and heir this presents us with a potential opportunity," said the Leader.

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