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Authors: Drew Hayes

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Coming of Age

Super Powereds: Year 2

BOOK: Super Powereds: Year 2
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Super Powereds: Year 2

By Drew Hayes

Edited by Erin Cooley (cooleyrevision.com)

Cover by Barry Behannon (barrybartist.com)

Copyright © 2013 by Andrew Hayes

All Rights Reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Acknowledgements

This one goes out to Gordon Korman, whose books taught me that laughter, emotion, and fun characters can all work well when paired together. Without those novels, I’m not sure where I’d be today, but I’m almost positive it wouldn’t be writing. Thank you, for all you’ve created.

I also want to thank my beta readers for all the input and assistance. To E Ramos E, Galina and Charles, Priscilla Yuen, and Van Seunsom, your feedback helped take this whole thing to the next level. For realsies.

Foreword

(A.K.A. Some stuff you should know)

Yowza, Year 2 already. For those of you who read Year 1, this section is pretty much old hat, so feel free to jump into the story. For those of you who haven’t read Year 1, what are you doing? This is a series, you should start with the first book in it. Trust me. A lot happened. This book will still be here when you’re caught up.

If, for some reason, you are set on starting here rather than at the story’s inception, there are a couple of things you should be aware of. First off, this book was originally published chapter by chapter as a webnovel over the course of a year. That’s why there are so many chapters, and why their individual length is shorter than what one might see in most novels.

Secondly, just a bit of fair warning, there is cursing, drinking, and other college activities in this novel. Nothing above an R-rating, but don’t say I didn’t warn you when the first F-bomb flies.

Lastly, I just want you to know I appreciate you picking up this book and giving it a shot. Whether you’ve been reading these works for years, or got this on impulse, I really hope you enjoy the story. It’s been a blast to write, and there’s still two more to come after this. So, with no more fanfare or explanations: Welcome to Super Powereds: Year 2

Prologue

Mr. Transport could smell honeysuckle through the rough cloth surrounding his face. He felt the sunshine beating down upon the black fabric, causing a light film of sweat to simmer on his skin. An insect landed lightly on his right hand, delicately straddling the steel cuff encircling his wrist. It was, by far, one of the nicest places he had been detained in the past month. From the tranquil way Mr. Numbers was breathing alongside him, it could be inferred the shorter man echoed the sentiment.

The black bag draped across Mr. Transport’s face was peeled back suddenly, blinding him as the sunlight thrust into his eyes. After some moments of blinking, Mr. Transport gained the ability to make out shapes, and soon recognized that he and Mr. Numbers were in a garden etched in his memory for its vastness and beauty. The man sitting across the stone table from them was recognizable as well, though not for such aesthetic reasons.

“Care for something to drink?” Mr. Adair offered as he sipped his own cocktail. Today he wore a blue cotton shirt with white pants, and no shoes. He was at home and relaxing, not dressing to impress. Given the day’s temperature, Mr. Transport wished he were similarly adorned, rather than entombed in his own standard wool suit.

A large man with tattoos on his face undid the cuffs shackling both him and Mr. Numbers. Mr. Transport exchanged a quick glance with his partner, but there wasn’t much to communicate beyond the obvious. They’d spent the last several weeks being grilled and interrogated on their perceived failing from last spring. This, whatever it might be, was a welcome change.

“Gin,” Mr. Transport said unabashedly. He certainly wasn’t on duty, and he had no idea when an offer like this might come again.

“Water for me,” Mr. Numbers piped up. Mr. Adair handed them glasses, pausing only to alter the liquid in Mr. Transport’s, and then sat back in his chair.

“You two,” Mr. Adair said calmly, “have done quite an impressive job of pissing everyone off.”

Mr. Numbers and Mr. Transport merely sipped their drinks in response.

“Sincerely, it is quite amazing in its own right. Your immediate employers believe you incompetent at best, traitors at worst. Lander is also howling for your blood since you let three students slip away, but their protests are dulled by their own failings in the incident. You’ve angered nearly every person even remotely associated with you.”

“Nearly every person?” Mr. Transport asked.

Charles Adair looked away from them, redirecting his gaze to the impressive mansion that lay behind them. “As I have mentioned before, not only do I own a sizable portion of the corporation that employs you, but I also possess an arsenal of contacts with quite a bit of influence of their own. That is why you are here today, gentlemen. It took some doing, but I have wrangled myself the position of sole judge regarding your fates.”

Mr. Transport drank his gin a bit more enthusiastically, determined to see the bottom of the glass if it would be his last.

“On one hand, you two allowed my daughter, either through action or stupidity, to escape in a truly idiotic attempt to rescue her friend. The fact that she isn’t dead or being held somewhere could be taken as testament to a kind divine plan. On the other hand, Alice has returned from Lander with happiness in her eyes and a measure of pluck that is reminiscent of her mother. She has flourished there, and it is you two that I have to thank for putting her in the program.”

It seemed Mr. Adair was going to skirt over the fact that he had strong-armed them into that decision, a skirting neither of the captive men was inclined to bring to his attention.

“So, after considerable thought, I have reached a verdict regarding you two,” Mr. Adair said. “I am willing to overlook the lapse in judgment you showed and reinstate you in your post as guardians. However, I offer you this only on one condition.”

“Name it,” Mr. Numbers said.

“To quell Lander’s lack of confidence in you, a gesture of goodwill must be made. I happen to know they are seeking to replace the coaches who... let us say, creatively resigned. There is one man I know they are particularly hoping to take over George’s role, yet have had no luck in even locating, let alone convincing.”

“With Mrs. Tracking, I’m sure we can lend a hand,” Mr. Transport offered.

Mr. Adair reached under the table and produced a manila folder. He slid it across the table where it stopped at Mr. Transport’s fingertips.

“Finding him has been handled. It’s the convincing I think you two can lend aid in. If you can talk him into taking the position, even if only for a year, you will be able to reclaim your former posts.”

Mr. Numbers took the folder and flipped it open, reviewing its contents. “And if we can’t?”

“Then you no longer have any additional help to offer,” Mr. Adair said.

“We understand,” Mr. Numbers said, snapping the folder shut. “We’ll do it.”

“Of course you will,” Mr. Adair confirmed. “Now finish your drinks and get to it, boys. The clock is ticking.”

* * *

The elves clustered together, their ravaged ranks quickly dividing into scouts, lookouts, and defenders as their leader wracked his head for a plan. Elster Highrange, known as Elmer in the world outside, pushed a hand past the pasted-on ear and through his disheveled hair. He couldn’t believe the way they’d swept through his troops, executing traps like they were five moves ahead and striking with such inhuman precision. When he’d taken over this role, Elmer had been told his predecessor had been a master of strategy, but he’d never really believed it. That was why he’d refused to yield his role as leader when the man had returned for the summer. That was why he’d been unfazed when the man took up the mantle as leader of the orcs. And that, in truth, was why he was losing so badly today. That... and the demon.

“Did you see it take out the battalion of five?” His troops were whispering and he didn’t blame them. Practicality aside, a monster like what they had seen certainly deserved to be spoken of in hushed tones.

“I saw it take down the Cloudrage brothers. Those two were unstoppable, and it had them soaked in paint before they could finish drawing.”

Elster tightened the grip on his own blade. His “blade” was in fact a foam bat that had been soaked in a slow-drying blue paint. The spongy exterior was ridged, as were all his soldiers’ weapons, so a blow struck was easily identified and impossible to deny. The orcs wielded a different pattern and red paint, the same color splattered the tucked limbs of some of his men. Of they that remained, two were missing arms and one was on his knees, both legs taken in a scuffle with the demon.

“What was he like, Zithriel?” They asked him this again and again, but Zithriel had always only the same answer.

“All I saw was a flash of silver and all I heard was the whistle of his swords. After that I was down.”

It was curious that the demon had left him alive. In his telling of the story, Zithriel had once remembered to include the fact that he dropped his own sword in surprise. Elster had wondered, ever so briefly, if perhaps this specter of death lacked the ruthlessness to attack an unarmed man. He’d curtailed those thoughts almost immediately. No one who cut such a swath of carnage could hold to high ideals.

“Men,” Elster said firmly, trying to regain the confidence and subservience of his troops. “How fare we on all points?”

“Clear from the north.”

“Clear from the east.”

“Clear from the south”

“Not clear from the west.”

Elster blinked. That hadn’t been Armthimarge’s voice. He glanced over to see his loyal lookout lying on the ground, red paint coating the fallen elf’s neck where his throat had been “slit”. The attacker must have been fast: Armthimarge hadn’t even called out a warning. As Elster’s eye took in the man who had slain Armthimarge, that fact made more sense. He stood short for an orc, and though the war paint obscured his face, he seemed to wear a curiously placid expression. He wielded a blade in each hand, dripping flecks of red slowly pooling on the ground at his feet. A shock of silver hair and a set of blue eyes that would have looked more at home on an elf decorated his head, and as he stepped forward Elster had no doubt who this warrior was.

“The demon,” Elster whispered. The next time he spoke, it was with fury, hope, and desperation all rolled together like a burrito of command. “Attack!”

His men rushed their target; they still held enough respect for their leader to obey orders. Besides, there were fifteen of them left and only one of him. No matter how good this beast was, not even he could take all of them.

The demon twirled his blades once, then stepped forward to meet the first attacker. Yllsigard struck furiously, coming in overhead with all his might to power through the demon’s guard and take at least a limb. He swung true, but the demon slid around him like spilled mercury, taking Yllsigard at the base of his neck before he could recover from his missed blow. Rartical and Phiong came at the demon together, flanking him to split his attention. Their gambit proved futile, however: the demon simply pushed to Phiong’s side and dispatched him, then turned his attention on the remaining warrior.

Elster began backing away. The sum force of his remaining men were currently being sliced through; he needed an escape plan in the unlikely event this madman managed to hack his way to the last.

A wet, squishy sound splashed in his ear as a blade took his right arm, the one currently gripped around his weapon.

“Your first mistake was underestimating me,” said a voice from behind Elster.

Another blow cleaved away his left arm, before it even had a chance to reach for his lost hilt.

“Your second mistake was backing away when your men charged. A true leader does just that. He leads.”

One final blow took Elster’s legs, and he kneeled as was mandatory with the loss of those limbs.

“And your biggest mistake was forgetting that while a team may possess a valuable asset, that warrior alone does not make up its entire force.”

The voice spoke louder now, declaring its orders to Elster’s men.

“Your leader has had all his limbs sundered. You are completely surrounded. Throw down your weapons now and surrender, or face the inevitable.”

The elves looked around nervously, realizing that orcs were materializing out of the forest and that they were now vastly outnumbered. They glanced over and saw Elster on his knees, paint dripping from all four appendages. They set their blue paint-soaked bats on the ground and put up their hands.

BOOK: Super Powereds: Year 2
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