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“Back off man,” Desmond stepped up to the figure, and placed his hand on the figure’s chest. “What’s your problem?” Desmond got close to the figure. He wanted to vomit when he saw what he saw. It was a reptile looking creature. Its face was balled up. Blood was stuck in unnatural pockets on its cheeks. The stench of iron burned Desmond’s nose. “What the hell.”
“Give me what’s in his pocket,” the raptor creature said. Desmond could see why the voice was so muffled. “I do not have much more time, children.” The raptor could only open his mouth an inch or two. Desmond’s stomach turned. The raptor creature grabbed Desmond’s arm and twisted it. A cracking noise followed by stinging pain ran up Desmond’s arm. “Please.”
“Ohh…oh, okay,” Jamie said. He was visibly. He cautiously stepped up to the raptor monster, with one foot next to the other like he was walking along a tightrope. In his mind it was a tightrope, anyway. If he made one wrong move, they could be missing or killed. He removed the claw from his pocket and held it out. “Just let my friend go, please.” He held the claw forward, as away from his body as he could. “This was just for a class assignment, please don’t kill me. I just wanted a good grade.”
Desmond smiled. “Nah J, don’t give this freak anything,” Desmond said. He looked down at the raptor creature. The raptor creature’s eyes narrowed and twisted his arm more. Desmond felt a crack, and a pop. He blocked out the pain. This wasn’t the worst his arm hurt. The worst time was football practice last year when he was on JV. He took a tackle the wrong way and broke an arm, and close to his shoulder. When he got up from the tackle his hand was twisted 180 degrees. The doctor said that if he did hit his shoulder he would have been done. “If he wanted this thing so badly, he shouldn’t have lost it in the first place.” He reared his head back, then whipped it forward. It collided with his forehead into the raptor creature’s mangled jaw. The creature yelped. It dropped Desmond and grabbed its jaw. “Let’s go!” Desmond turned around, spun Jamie back to the police tape. They ran for the street.
“I’m not giving you up!” the raptor creature said. It began to lurch forward. There was a bang on the roof.
“There you are,” said a robotic voice. Both Desmond, Jamie, and the raptor looked up to see an armored figure. The figure would have been hard to see against the night sky if they did not have blue neon lights across their arms, legs, chest, and faceplate. The armored figure looked down at Jamie and Desmond. “No,” the distorted voice said.
Inside the helmet of the Dieous armor, the British voice asked, “What is it Kyane?” The HUD scanned Desmond, and Jamie’s faces and displayed their freshmen school photos, class records, and images of Desmond as part of every possible sport Tower City High had.
“I know who they are, you don’t have to show me that. Those are my classmates,” Kyane said. “Wait… Did they just hear me say that?”
“No ma’am,” Dieous said. “There are two ways of communication.” Dieous brought up a closeup of a cartoon head. On the closeup there were soundwaves coming out of the mouth, with a microchip on the back of the neck. “You see-”
“Explain it to me later,” Kyane said. “I gotta help them.” Kyane stepped up to the edge and fell off the roof. She landed with a crunch between Desmond and the raptor creature. Shards of concrete exploded out of the ground.
The raptor creature held up its arm and blocked the shrapnel. “You again.”
“Yes, me again.” Kyane socked the creature in the chest with a jab. Dieous’s HUD brought up a graphic of the raptor’s chest cracking with the impact of the fist. The raptor creature’s rib cage broke to cause internal bleeding. The creature rag-dolled backward, rolling and tumbling like a boneless gel. Kyane turned to her classmates.
“Des- Sir, please have you and your friend vacate the area. It is not safe. Please heed the police tape,” the robotic voice said. She pointed to the neon yellow warning.
“Yeah, yeah, no problem, man,” Desmond said. He grabbed Jamie’s wrist. “Let’s go J.”
“Tha… thank… thank you,” Jamie said. Desmond dragged him under the police tape. He slipped his hand out from Desmond’s grip. A question bubbled inside him. An armored hero fighting an alien, dinosaur thing was a dream of his. It was like every TV show he watched as a kid. A smile stretched across his face. His dream was real. “What’s your name?”
“What should we say our name is?” Kyane asked.
“Well I am the Dieous armor,” Dieous said.
“Dieous,” the robotic voice said. “Have a good, safe evening,” Dieous nodded. Jamie’s smile grew and ran to catch up with Desmond. “I sound like such a tool.” Dieous turned back around. “Now as for y-” the creature was gone.
“Dieous, where is it?” Kyane asked. Dieous scanned the area.
“I do not see any sign of him.”
“Can’t you do that predictive tracking thing again? It worked just a second ago.”
Dieous scanned the area the raptor creature fell. A grid expanded out to the whole alleyway. A red bar saying “Inconclusive” popped up. “I am sorry Kyane. The creature’s blood seemed to dry up or come out in smaller drops than it is possible to scan for. Similarly, with any scratch marks he makes. There is nothing to track, in short.”
“Great.” Kyane sighed. Her shoulder dropped with a mechanical click. She walked over to the brick wall and sat down. She rested her arms on her knees. “I missed this extra credit, my bikes destroyed, I just found out there are evil dinosaur monsters are running around, and my parents made Power Ranger armor!” Kyane rubbed her face, but only heard the metal scrape against metal. “Right.”
Dieous ran the term Power Ranger through the internet and brought up images of the multi-colored spandex super-heroes in exaggerated poses. “Not correct. Their ‘armor’ is colored spandex with a motorcycle helmet. I am made from highly advanced-”
“I’m paraphrasing,” Kyane said. “Ugh.” Kyane stood up. “I guess I better get home.” On the HUD a lined map of building tops appeared giving her the fastest route home. “Can this day get any worse?”
“Can this day get any better?” Jamie asked. He and Desmond were a safe four blocks away from the raptor monster and armored dude. It was calm, well as calm as a busy street with cars constantly on the move, the endless lights giving a second life to those who thrive on the neon, and people bustling along in their own bubbles. The people who do not see the world of activity occurring in the darkest corners just outside their periphery. It would be better to say the streets were normal. “I mean super-heroes are real!”
“Shush dude, shush!” Desmond said. He tried to cover his mouth and looked at the passing faces to see if anyone heard what Jamie said. No one did, or thought it was about some new movie or TV show and ignored it. “If we actually have a hero here, we gotta keep it on the DL.”
“No, you’re right, you’re right,” Jamie said without a breath. “But holy cow this night was the best! We almost died, but got saved!Should we add that to our report?Also, should we bag this claw thing?I don’t know what to do.I hope Kyane is okay.She never showed up.I hate that she missed this.She really needed this extra boost to her grade.” He never came up for air to break his sentences.
Desmond grabbed the excited Jamie by the shoulders. “Calm down dude. I’m sure Kyane is okay. I’ll text her when I get home. In the meantime, put the claw in a bag so we can take it in tomorrow, and remember to keep all this quiet. Okay?”
Jamie nodded. “Okay, Desmond.”
“Good.” Desmond let him go and they continued walking. “Also, that Dieous dude isn’t so cool. He looks more like Iron Man, than Batman. Batman’s the coolest.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” Jamie said.