Stickmaker

Masks 11: Part 18

Masks 11: Part Eighteen

by

Rodford Edmiston

Rotary came charging out of the van in an obviously unnecessary hurry, to find Ray and Doro standing there, arms across their chests, glaring at him. He slid to a stop.

"Gee," he quipped, clumsily, after taking a moment to recover. "Thanks for waiting for us!"

"Don't you give me that!" snapped Doro, advancing on the gadgeteer in a menacing fashion. "I hurt all over! From the fight you missed!"

"Well, you should have..."

"Not one more word," said Doro, jabbing a finger in his face.

Masks 11: Part 16

Masks 11: Part Sixteen

by

Rodford Edmiston

Inside the odd aircraft the hastily assembled team was sitting tensely. They dealt with their tension in different ways.

"What is this thing, anyway?" said Blackjack, looking around uneasily.

"A Coandă Effect airship," said Helen Frye. "As maneuverable as a helicopter, but much quieter and as fast as a business jet."

"Why aren't we there, yet?!" said Die-Ox, sounding much less like a petulant child than a neurotic monster.

Helen leaned closer to Blackjack.

Masks 11: Part 15

Masks 11: Part 14

by

Rodford Edmiston

Naturally, the red alert came when it was least expected: In the middle of the afternoon.

"Why couldn't they come at Midnight!" raged Template, trying desperately to clean the residual milk from her breasts and put what she had managed to extract in the cooler while simultaneously pulling her costume into place. "Or Dawn! At some reasonable hour! Have they no respect for motherhood?! Damn! I bet I leak through..."

Masks 11: Part 14

Masks 11: Part Fourteen

by

Rodford Edmiston

As TAL and Tiger were in their guest cottage, packing to leave via the subtrain the next morning, they were interrupted by a knock on the door. They found one of the school security guards there, looking distracted.

"Excuse me," he said, hand to his ear as a message continued. "Principal Hind has asked if you could delay your trip and meet her for lunch, to discus something important."

The two supernaturals looked at each other for a moment. Then both grinned.

Masks 11: Part 13

Masks 11: Part Thirteen

by

Rodford Smith

The government issue helicopter landed near the two other aircraft. The clearing was getting a bit crowded; fortunately the pilot was very good. As the rotors slowed Brade stepped out. She definitely crouched well down to avoid the blades.

Masks 11: Part 12

Masks 11: Part Twelve

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Local sheriff's office has a deputy on the way," said Blue Impact, putting her cell back in its hidden pocket. "State Police are also responding but will be a while."

"The Assembly is sending some of their security people in a hopper," said Energia, likewise stowing her phone.

They turned to Gadgetive, who was still holding her cell phone to her left ear, looking perplexed.

"I'm not sure I've got the right number. I keep getting one of those automated call handling systems."

Masks 11: Part 11

Part Eleven

They took a security flitter to the Pioneers' reserve base, landing in the hangar where indicated by a staff member. A team security guard met them and escorted them to where the techs inside a circle of stand lights were working frantically on a very strange looking vehicle.

"That's one of the old Bluegar combat transports," said Blue Impact, alarmed. "You need special dispensation just to start the engines! Because they're nuclear!"

Masks 11: Part 10

Masks 11: Part Ten

by

Rodford Edmiston

"So that's what was going on," said Template, once the Black Mask contacted her that evening. "I wondered why they were calling on me for help when there were others much closer."

"Classic 'spread confusion' tactic," said her former teammate, sounding almost admiring. "They had anyone they thought might be able to help either in the dark or diverted to other concerns. Though why they went to the trouble of diverting messages to inappropriate individuals and teams instead of simply deleting them baffles me."

Masks 11: Part 9

Masks 11: Part Nine

by

Rodford Edmiston

Doro very enthusiastically piled out the rear door, with Freep close behind her. Thunderer - physically a normal human - was taking longer to recover from Mr. Rotary's Wild Ride. Rotary tried to exit through the driver's door, but found it and the front passenger door blocked by shrubbery, so he had to also come out the back. Which meant he was trapped behind the slower-moving Thunderer. Fortunately, his dramatic entrance with the Van had given them plenty of time for a less-dramatic exit from it.

Masks 11: Part 7

Masks: Part Seven

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Okay," said Beat Red. "That's new. What the Hell was it?"

"An area-effect burst neutralizer," said Brade. "I bet there's one in every room in this building."

"Wait... Why aren't we affected?"

Brade angrily shushed him, then looked over at a super in a full-face prankster's mask and a costume of hideously clashing primary colors.

"Emp? Time to shut things down."

Masks 11: Part 6

Part Six

The only official function that evening was a soirée which started with supper and lasted through cocktails and a nightcap. Brade was surprised that all the invited guests had arrived in time for this. She was even more surprised to realize just how much real socializing was going on, late into the night. There was still much unease and even suspicion on all sides, but those in each faction were making an effort to give the other the benefit of the doubt.

Masks 11: Part 5

Masks 11: Part 5

by

Rodford Edmiston

Template wiped Roy's face and carefully placed the already sleeping baby in the crib. She used the wipe to clean herself, tossed it, then climbed into bed. Karen rolled over to cuddle with her. As usual, Template wore just a pair of panties, while Karen had on panties and an oversized t-shirt. They rolled face to face and hugged. The size-changer thrilled a bit at the intimate awareness there was just a thin layer of fabric between her and the love of her life. Template, though, winced and drew back a bit.

"Tits sore?"

Masks 11: Part 4

Part Four

Ray landed on the roof of the old brownstone and went down the stairs. He could hear work going on below, complete with metallic clangs and bangs. As Ray passed the second floor landing he was relieved to see that the door had been secured and warning signs put up since he had pointed out the danger during his last visit. He wasn't glad for himself; he could fly. He could also, however, very easily imagine some unsuspecting guest - or Rotary - walking through that door into empty space.

Masks 11: Part 2

Part Two

After graduating from the Pine Island Academy, Gerry Rosen - better known to the other students as Cosmic Ray - had decided to go to work instead of college. He currently had a nice job as an assistant manager in a sporting goods store. He still kept his hand in as a super a few nights a week, but for now he was more concerned with building a normal life than making a Mask name for himself.

Unwanted Child

I originally wrote this non-Masks tale a few years ago with the intent of selling it professionally. Unfortunately, it's a size which few publications are interested in. Hope you folks enjoy it.

Unwanted Child

by

Rodford Edmiston

"Please, Josh..." said Horton.

"I think that should be Mr. Thompkins to you," said Josh, carefully keeping his tone neutral.

"Come on, Josh! We've known each other since you were a toddler!"

"We met fewer than a dozen times before I started legal procedures against my Mother. Let's keep this formal."

Masks 10: Part 18

Masks 10: Part Eighteen

by

Rodford Edmiston

Predawn at the besieged island was very late at night at the Intrepid's base. Those working in the Intrepids' Mission Command had - under orders - gotten sleep and meals in shifts so that most of them could be reasonably fresh on duty when Tritonicus was expected to rouse itself.

Masks 10: Part 17

Masks 10: Part 17

by

Rodford Edmiston

"You moron!" Dr. Herford yelled, throwing his arms wide and splattering salt water. "You and your stupid schedule!"

"You do not speak to me in such a way," said Helstrom, in a dangerous voice.

"Or what? You'll kill me? Look around; we're already minutes from drowning. You told me this base would be ready for anything by the time they found us!"

"They are here early," said Helstrom, almost petulantly. "We did not have enough missiles stockpiled, nor enough of your augments ready."

Masks 10: Part 16

Part Sixteen

"The thing is, I remember what it's like," said Paul, later, to the other original team members at the base. He shuddered. "I even remember how good the sex was."

"After a somewhat blatant start, she's being discreet," said Lucille. "Though far from chaste. Champions aren't fertile and are very resistant to disease, so besides propriety she has little reason to abstain. I'm not surprised she made a pass at you, but I thought you were attracted to her."

Masks 10: Part 14

Part Fourteen

Primary cleanup of the disaster took the rest of the day, and that was with help from several other supers, including the Assembly. There were more on the way, as well as firefighters and paramedics from neighboring communities. By early afternoon Energia found herself wishing more supers would get there soon; she was nearly at her limit.

"Hotfoot would sure be a big help with handling these fires," said Energia, who looked exhausted. "I'm about worn out."

"Sorry; he's in the infirmary," said Champion.

Masks 10: Part 13

Masks 10: Part 13

by

Rodford Edmiston

"I want him arrested!" Hotfoot yelled.

"Actually, you attacked him," said Buzz, smirking.

The heat manipulator was in the base infirmary, a significant percentage of his body in a cast.

"Look what he did to me!"

"In self defense."

Sharma stuck her head in the door.

"Buzz, stop teasing him."

Masks 10: Part 12

Masks 10: Part 12

by

Rodford Edmiston

Paul heard voices as he approached a crossroads in the Assembly base. Two of them. A man and a woman. Thanks to his "retirement benefits" he quickly recognized the man as Hotfoot, but the woman was a mystery. As he rounded the corner he saw why: she was a civilian. That is, someone who wasn't a member of the team and wasn't wearing the uniform of the support staff, as Paul was. She also wasn't wearing an ID badge.

"Excuse me, miss," said Paul, stopping to block their way. "Where is your ID badge?"

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!"

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