Authors: Jack D. Ferraiolo
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Cataloging-in-Publication Data has been applied for and may be obtained from the Library of Congress.
Text copyright Â© 2011 Jack D. Ferraiolo
Book design by Chad W. Beckerman
Published in 2011 by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS. All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher. Amulet Books and Amulet Paperbacks are registered trademarks of Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
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eighty stories above street level, watching from the shadows as one of my personal top five dumbest villains tries his best to wrap his mind around a hostage situation of his own creation. His name is Rogue Warrior, and he's six feet five inches of bad skin and steroid-fueled muscles. His hostage, an attractive woman (of course, she's attractive â¦ it's hard to get money for an ugly hostage), is going with the traditional “scream my way to freedom” attempt. It's not going well for either of them.
“No fancy tricks!” Warrior yells to the cops at ground level. “You get me my money, or I swear to God I'll drop her!”
Upon hearing this, Rogue's hostage finds a whole other screaming gear, one that threatens to tear a hole in
any eardrum within fifty miles. I quickly size her up: five feet seven inches, one hundred thirty pounds. Dropped from this height, she'd hit the ground in less than thirty seconds.
I check the clock on the top of the building a few feet to my left. 8:45. It's time.
“Do it or she's dead!” he yells. “You hear me!”
“Of course, they don't hear you,” I say, dropping from my perch. “They're eighty stories down.”
“Bright Boy!” he yells, and whirls to face me.
“She's screaming like a fire alarm, and I doubt they hear her,” I say.
His face scrunches up, as if he doesn't want to believe what I'm saying, but is aware enough of his own shortcomings in the brains department to know that he should. “They can hear me,” he says meekly.
“No, they can't. Listen, Rogue, I know you have a problem with the whole âplanning' aspect of planning a crime, but next time you decide to do this hostage thing, you might want to choose a location where the cops can actually hear your demands. Otherwise, you might do something stupid. Like this.”
“Shut up, Bright Baby. Where's your daddy, Phantom Justice? Huh?” He smiles, proud of his “joke,”
then looks to his hostage for some supportive laughter. All he gets is a shock-induced stare.
“I guess it's true what they say,” I respond, “steroids can make you strong, but they can't make you funny.”
His smile disappears. “Go ahead,” he snarls, “make another crack about steroids. You and your daddy will be scraping this lady off the sidewalk with a putty knife.” That wakes her up â¦ and she starts screaming again.
“All right, let's just drop the tough talk and calm down,” I say over her screams. Rogue Warrior is a plus/plus speed and strength like I am, but all the steroids have given him a distinct size advantage. On the other hand, he's ridiculously bulky. He may still be faster than the average person, but I'm not the average person. To me, it looks like he's moving underwater. I could hit him fifteen times before he could lift an arm to defend himself. But he's holding a hostage â¦ and I'm just the sidekick. My orders are to distract, not engage.
“Ugh,” I say. “Her screaming is giving me a headache.”
His face breaks into a big, dumb, evil smile. It's a bully's smile. “I like it.”
I feel myself getting angry, but anger isn't going to help me in this situation â¦ it's only going to get in the
way â¦ so I push it aside. “Right. Any way you could let her go, and you and I can settle this?”