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Fiction Science Fiction

You don’t rob a bank every day, but it is always special. The rush of adrenaline. The taste of fear and anticipation, from the patrons and yourself. Everyone wonders the same few things: What’s about to happen? Will help come? Will I make it out of here alive? Those were the questions Samantha asked herself every time her family started one of these. 

“Ladies and gentlemen. Boys and Girl. Children of all ages. Please stay calm and keep your hands interlocked on the back of your head. Failure to do so…” Shinny shoots off into the roof. “Well, it will result in things not so good for you.”

Shinny has always had a flair for the dramatic. There are fewer than a dozen patrons in the bank, the six person crew is almost at a 2:1 ratio. There is a getaway driver and two people in the vault. That left three to corral the rest. There shouldn’t be an issue. 

“They will come… They…”

“They will will they? Hmm,” Shinny said as he gets down on the level of the whimpering man. Fear dripping despite the bank being set to a cool sixty-six degrees. “Your fat ass? They are going to save you? Your porky, sweating, dripping face. Who in their right mind, on God’s green earth, would want to save you?” 

 Shinny and his crew, his family, used to be a traveling act. Their life was good until the circus declared bankruptcy and their lives went belly up. When business fail, no one really cares about the families affected. People may make a post on social media. They may send their thoughts, but that’s it. They came in the thousands to watch their family perform feats of daring and acrobatics, but when they tried to tour on their own no one wanted to pay. Two years of trying to be legit. But none of them had enough skills needed to keep a family afloat. Instead, the family turned to crime. 

“So tell me again porky, who is…” 

*Phmph*

Sound from the punch came second or even third. First Shinny felt contact and flew across the room. A second sound of drywall cracking. Even the feeling of air whooshing greeted the hostages before they heard the punch and the man who delivered it.

“I’m here. For every boy, girl, mom and dad. For every citizen and immigrant, for the people on the right side of good and to be the light in the dark. I fight for the weak and the empty. The weary and the weak. I am Salvation, and your plan has been thwarted.”

A man in spandex appeared. Outside of Shinny, the rest of the family had bailed. Something Salvation realized as he turned to find himself alone with hostages. Shoulders drooping, Salvation sulked away as he approached the arriving cops. 

“I’m here. For every boy, girl, mom and dad. For every citizen and immigrant, for the people on the right side of good and to be the light in the dark. I fight for the weak and the empty. The weary and the weak. I am Salvation, and your plan has been thwarted.”

Salvation said it again, and it still sounded stupid, dumb, vapid, long winded, and pointless. He had super speed, lighting vision, and super strength. Salvation may not heal as fast as his father and couldn’t fly like his mother, but he was a legacy who had never been hit. 

“Just wait your turn. Wait till you are called.”

Salvation struck and broke the sink. Water sprayed until he closed the valve. That was the third sink this week and he couldn’t afford that. 

Tony Vegas, aka Salvation, at 32 was the oldest junior member of the Guardian League. The group of heros who protected the world. The group his parents served on the overseeing council. A group he was only a part of because of his legacy. 

Tony had no illusions that without his heritage he would have been released years ago. He could do his job, but days like today were what happened to him. He stopped crime, but didn’t apprehend criminals. Tony’s career had been a comedy of error so far. That was why Tony would go to bed hungry tonight. He had to save his pennies for a new sink. 

They got away. It surprised Samantha that her family had escaped. More shocked that a cape showed up in the first place. They specialized in jobs that didn’t get you caught. When Capes showed up, bars followed. 

“Eddie, did we get anything?” Samantha asked her cousin, who had been working on the safe when things went wrong. 

“Nah… We got out though.”

“True. All but Shinny and that’s important. That is what mattered.”

Despite both their efforts, Eddie and Samantha saw through each others forced smiles. Without that job, their family wouldn’t make rent or ends meat. 

….

“Tony you okay?” 

“Velocity… I’m fine…”

“You sure?” 

“Yeah…”

“Come on man. What is it?”

Despite his desire, Tony couldn’t outrun Velocity. He was one of the few people faster than Tony. 

“Bad day.”

“You caught Shinny. He was a fish.”

“I’m still in purple and gold spandex.”

Velocity was in the real armor you received when you reached full member status. Bullet proof, flame proof, designed to augment and help your powers. Until then you wore spandex. Tony was in spandex. 

“Soon man. Soon you..”

Velocity trailed off. Even he couldn’t lie to Tony. Shinny was only on the capes radar because he gave a little speech at his crimes. At best he had the potential to become a low level Villan. Someone a junior member would make their bones on. Velocity stopped that before it could happen and failed to catch his crew. He essentially stopped someone the cops should have taken care of.

Velocity left. Tony clocked in and ran out the door. He would spend his entire day running. Running away from his legacy. Running away from his failure. Running around the city trying to figure out a better tagline. Running away from his reality. 

“Samantha, can you get cookies from the store?”

“Yeah… Sara.. Soon.”

Samantha’s younger sister, Sara, didn’t get it. She didn’t know that their family was out of money. She didn’t know they were criminals. All she knew was that their family used to live on a train and now they lived in an apartment. All she knew was that her uncle hadn’t come home. 

Shinny’s capture froze the family. They stole to make a living, not out of malice. They didn’t do it because they loved living outside the law. It was their way of living in a world that had left them behind. 

Shiny, despite his theatrics and devolution into some sort of Villain, had always planned the jobs. He had a second sense for a good job. A bad job. And a stupid one. 

Small jobs were cape magnets. Petty theft, purse snatching, etc. They were cutting contests for junior capes and mostly taken care of by capes on patrol. Big jobs, brought out the real heros and would shut you down. Shinny had a sixth sense for the right job. Jobs that would call the cops, not the capes. How to bob and weave so that the capes didn’t get on your trail. He knew the right way to mix it up to stay safe. Right now, they were without him and they needed him.

Samantha grabbed her keys before heading out the door. Wondering where they would get the money for Sara’s cookies next time. Was it time for Samantha to use her power? For her to pull the ripcord on what Shinny told her was a last resort.

“I’m here. For every boy, girl, mom and dad. For every citizen and immigrant, for the people on the right side of good and to be the light in the dark. I fight for the weak and the empty. The weary and the weak. I am Salvation, and your plan has been thwarted.”

Salvation looked around and was immediately disappointed. 

“Really Velocity?” Salvation said Velocity’s handy work on display around the jewelry shop. 

“Sorry man… I was on call. This business is a 1b and so.”

Salvation waved Velocity off. If the business was a 1b then it was Velocity, or another capes scene. Tony never thought it could be a 1b business. But that was just his luck. This place either paid a pretty penny or was owned by or someone related to a cape. Money, it greased the wheels of justice second only to power and nepotism.

“Why do you do the whole speech?” Velocity asked Tony after he had finished securing the criminals. “It wastes so much time.”

“You know the standards.”

Velocity gave him a pitying smile and a shake of the head. 

“I mean, I know I can’t tell you what to do. Especially considering who your parents are, but I would drop it. Even with super speed, you can’t waste that amount of time.”

Tony appreciated the sentiment, but Velocity didn’t get it. According to the rules, unless victims or yourself are in imminent dangers, in proportion to your abilities, you are to give notice of your appearance at a location and uniquely identify yourself. 

At one point, Tony didn’t have a long spiel. Then, at 25, after being passed up for promotion a half dozen times. Despite some of the best stats for crime reduction, arrests, and power, a single reason was cited against his promotion: Failure to uniquely identify himself. 

Tony worked on the speech for two years. With his parents and speech writers. This long thing was trademark, copyrighted, and was the best identification proportional to his powers that gave an adequate warning. If he had been a full member, Tony would have dropped it. Until then, he had to give it at each crime scene, hoping to give him that last little push past junior. 

“You don’t have enough.”

“Please… Try again… Please…”

“Sorry. I need to go to the next person in line. Please go or I will call the police.”

Twelve cents. That is what Samantha was short. Twelve cents. In a store of abundance. In a country built on wealth, she had none. 

They tried to get jobs. At one point Samantha had two, but it wasn’t enough. Rent was too high, utilities were through the roof. Even with eight people living in an apartment. Even though she still worked 80 hour weeks. Even though most of her family had jobs. It wasn’t close to enough. 

Samantha didn’t understand how in a country of opulence, a place of abundance, there isn’t enough to go around. The looks Samantha is receiving have changed. When she was shopping, it was indifference. Now pity, fear, and hatred greet her. Samantha tried. Her family tried to do what they were supposed to, but it wasn’t enough to survive. Now in the eyes of people around her she was just some minority not paying her way. It makes Samantha sad that in this great land she is the criminal. That is how the system and most of these people view her. Shouldn’t the real crime be creating a system that forces people to steal to eat? Criminals, because they dare to live. Survive.

“Tony, you know that-”

“Mom, thanks, but I don’t want to talk about it tonight. I know I could do something else. I get that. But unless I fail out it’s not happening.”

“But why honey?”

Tony sighed. 

How do I tell her that this is all I want to do? That I dream of real armor. The armor given and created once you get past junior. That I dream of being a real hero. Not following in their footsteps, but being enough of a hero to make a small name for myself. How do I say that there is nothing else. Nothing else makes me want to wake up. Nothing else that makes me want to live. 

“Because mom. This is what I am meant to do.”

“Is it?”

Two words shift Tony’s perspective. He has always wondered if his parents had stopped his promotions. Tony knew it was partially responsible for pulling them apart. Now he had Sunday night meals with his mom and Fridays at the movies with his dad. His failure was embarrassing all of them. Maybe his mom was right. Maybe it was his time to move on. 

“I’ll think about it mom… I’ll think about it,” Tony said as he took a big bite of pie. Honestly wondering if she was right. 

They needed money, and this was the best thing Samantha could come up with. All things considered, this was going well enough. 

They were at a chop shop selling five stolen cars. It had been a risk, but Samantha was pretty proud of herself. Each person had been on their own. Everyone got a decent car. Every single person knew how to hot-wire and pick a lock. They went out on their own and did it. Then they converged on the shop and now were negotiating a price. It had been a low risk, high reward. It wouldn’t make them rich, but it would give them enough money for bills. And cookies.

Salvation waited. Once he saw the money, he would go in. It was perfect. This was the crew who had been robbing the bank. He had spotted one stealing a car on his way home. Tony didn’t bust him, but followed him and it had paid off. 

They were at a chop shop. He had done his recognizance. They had one usable exit that would be closed once he entered. Once Tony saw money, he would go in. He would make his speech. Then would round them all up. If there was a shot. one gun shot, then Tony would incapacitate them and make his speech one last time. It was perfect. This would be his swan song. After tonight, he would live as Tony Vegas and Salvation would be no more. 

….

“I’m here. For every boy, girl,-

*Crack* boom * 

“Shit.”

Samantha dove for cover. They had been followed and in her bones she knew this was it. She knew that cape. He was the one who had caught Shinny. In a criminal’s world capes were the worst. A junior making his bones on a team who escaped or just getting revenge was even worse. 

So. 

Much. 

Worse.

….

Tony had all the criminals except one. The crew. Both crews except one. Tony had counted four times from his perch and now he was short one. His last job wouldn’t be unfinished. 

“I will find you…” Tony said as he crept around. “I will find you.”

…..

Samantha knew this was her moment. Her power. Risky. Unpredictable. But it was her chance. 

She could go back in time. More precisely, her power allowed this version of the universe to end. And everything would begin, in the past, in a different plane of the multiverse.

Her power had its problems. She could use it about once an hour. Samantha would be the only one who remembered the past, or the alternate future, and she could only loosely guide it through her memories and emotions. Right now they would end up at the original robbery because that is where her heart was. Where her mind was. If she used her power they would be there. 

The car she was hiding behind flew into the air. Samantha was out of time. 

“I’m here. For every boy, girl, mom and dad. For every citizen and immigrant, for the people on the right side of good and to be the light in the dark. I fight for the weak and the empty. The weary and the weak. I am Salvation, and your plan has been thwarted.”

Salvation smiled. He was done. His last job was complete and he could hang up his cape.

“Actually… See you soon…”

Feeling trapped Samantha closed her eyes, and reality ripped away. Like a cold shower, Samantha opened her eyes. She was back in the bank.

“They will come… They…”

“They will will they? Hmm,” Shinny said as he gets down on the level of the whimpering man. Fear dripping despite the bank being set to a cool sixty-six degrees. “Your fat ass? They are going to save you? Your porky, sweating, dripping face. Who in their right mind, on God’s green earth, would want to save you?” 

It was what Samantha thought. Samantha hoped she would have more time, but she had to let Shinny know. They had to leave.

“Shinny… I… “

He was angry as he turned away from the prisoner. 

“I was wor-“

Phmph 

Samantha was too late. Shinny didn’t move this time. Unlike last time Salvation wasn’t pulling his punches. Salvation was playing for keeps.

“Don’t hurt us… Salvation we will give up…” Samantha said, knowing she needed to buy herself time to recharge. 

“Little girl. You are a criminal. I am not Salvation. I am Vengeance. You have reached your end.”

….

Tony’s smile was huge as he greeted the world in his new armor. Parents beaming with joy, friends applauding. It had worked. The idea had worked.

Vengeance. A simple name shift, Velocity had suggested, came with a philosophy change and a new motto. It was what Tony had needed. The criminals had weapons and were pointing them at civilians. The tape supported Tony’s use of lethal force. That girl had been shifty enough to give him cause to use lethal force. Six lives, a little help from dad, and Tony had the purple and gold armor of his dreams. 

Six worthless lives. People who added nothing to this world. That’s who they were. Blights. Criminals. Lazy. Filth. If they wanted to survive, they should have tried instead of turning to crime.

Vengeance waved. The world was finally how it was supposed to be. 

June 24, 2022 22:37

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