Afflictions: Part Twenty Four

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Jude rode in the back of a truck through the Iowan countryside, pulling a trailer behind them. The ‘Hammerston Heroes’ had given him a short rundown of the situation, and he’d agreed to get the long version along the way. He figured this was a thing that would be better to ask for forgiveness than permission, and agreed, leaving Zoey and Guillermo in the relative safety of town. From what he’d been told thusfar, it didn’t sound like a mission Zoey should go on.

The group had all donned some degree of body armor and helmets, and they offered Jude spare equipment. They seemed to be relatively relaxed about the whole thing, so they seemingly had a decent bit of field experience.

“So, there’s some group of people that are abducting supers, and strapping them down on temporary sites in the middle of nowhere?” Jude asked. That would explain what exactly these guys did out in the boonies as superheroes.

“More or less.” Casey, the woman who got out of the truck in town, nodded. “They’ve been popping up about once a month since the green light hit.”

“There was a few months after we took down the first couple of them that nothing happened, but since then they’ve been nearly like clockwork.” Jimmy added, adjusting the straps on his vest. “They keep getting tougher too.”

“So what do they do to these people, exactly? What’s the point?” Jude asked.

“Well, most of the people we rescue don’t remember much, besides waking up in a tent, usually strapped down.” Tim looked more somber than earlier. “We only have what they did to me to go off of, really. I just know they abducted me, and ran a bunch of pretty painful experiments on me and my tentacles.”

Jude nodded and thought for a moment. It was definitely plausible that someone would want to run experiments on supers. Hell, he was basically kept by Mr. Smith to watch him, but some things weren’t quite adding up. “So, why would they keep coming out if you keep stopping them? It sounds like they stopped for a little bit once they realized you’d be a problem, but they started back.”

“We’ve been wondering that same thing, really.” Casey nodded. “We don’t really have any good answers.”

“Really, as long as people keep getting abducted, I feel like we have to keep saving them, ya know?” Tim added.

Jude felt like it was something best left to them, since they had the experience here. He figured it would probably be best to move on. “So earlier, when you said they’ve been getting stronger, what exactly did you mean by that?”

“Well, when we started, it was guarded by a few pretty normal dudes, and we had a bit of a firefight. That’s when we rescued him.” He gestured to Tim. “The next couple of times, they just had more guards, and went a bit further out from town, but we still managed.”

“After that, they didn’t show up for a few months or at least if they did, we didn’t find them.” Casey nodded. “After their break, they showed back up, pretty close to town. This time they had some kind of body armor, a little bit like mine.” She gestured to the trailer they were hauling. “It didn’t seem to work well at first, but every time after that it’s gotten a little better. It’s been harder to fight them, but it’s been great for the salvage at least.”

“I think it’ll probably be a big help to have you along today, Jude.” Tim smiled. “We’ve been managing, but at this point, I’m starting to get a little concerned that we won’t be able to keep up for too much longer. I’ve been trying to talk Jimmy and Dale,” he gestured to Jimmy and the man who was driving the truck, “Into joining up with the DSR to get some reinforcements.”

“I’m not the biggest fan of the idea, but I’ve started to agree with Tim about it.” Jimmy nodded. “You’ll see what I mean today. These guys are getting strong. Tim and I can still hold our own, but I’m thinking our time is starting to run out. Not to mention, things in town have been getting a little weirder. Lately there’s even been talk of the devil going around town. I think it’s just something kids are making up, but…”

Jimmy opened his mouth to say something more, but stopped, and looked off into the distance. Jude looked and saw a black SUV driving towards them from the direction they were headed.

“Ah, shoot, I guess they saw us coming.” Jimmy nodded, and was silent for a moment. Then he seemed to have an idea, and pulled out a small bag. “Hey, Jude you can fly right?”

“Yeah, what’d you have in mind?” He raised an eyebrow.

“I want you to fly over, roundabouts to that sign,” he gestured to a roadsign off in the distance, about two thirds of the way between them and the SUV, “And try to toss a few of these out just to the side of the road. Just do something else while you’re up there so they don’t notice.”

“Alright…” Jude took the bag, and examined the contents. It contained about 10 ordinary looking acorns. He raised an eyebrow again, but Jimmy just nodded.

He jumped up out of the truck, and started to fly a winding path towards the sign. He imagined these guys would probably start shooting at one of the supers that they were presumably here to fight, so he thought it best to not fly straight at them. Sure enough, he soon heard gunfire. He touched down on the road, near to where Tim had told him to, and made a large flash of light at the SUV. As it veered out of the way, Jude tossed the acorns off to the side of the road, before turning back to the truck.

He hovered in the air about thirty feet above the truck, still weaving a bit as he flew, and saw Jimmy point out to where he had thrown the acorns.

The SUV had nearly reached the sign, and Jude looked up just in time to watch a tree sprout rapidly from the side of the road. It shot up quickly to be as thick as a fully grown oak tree, and jutted out into the road. This caused the SUV to swerve and roll off to the side of the road into a field. The tree then grew back straight to allow the truck to pass, and Jude moved to rejoin it.

They had some weird powers, so this was certainly going to be interesting. He felt a bit of pause about the likelihood of whoever was in that SUV surviving, but they did start it by opening gunfire on him. He figured he’d leave it to the DSR to talk to them about that if they decided to join.


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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

Greetings all! Everything is still on fire. On the up side, here comes labor day, eh? Pretty hyped about that. Not sure what I’m doing yet, but I ought to do something.

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