Chapter 8:

Brightstar Arc 2 (Chapter 3)

Brightstar: The Rising Superhero

Pat. Pat. Pat.Bookmark here

“Wake up.” A familiar British accent greeted me.Bookmark here

A few moans escaped me as I gained my sight again. Immediately, I was bombarded with a splitting headache. After a few glances, I found myself sat on a stool inside a deck-out van with surveillance tech. One of the screens showed the interior of my living room, my mom is currently watching the TV while drinking hot cocoa. I doubt she knew about the surveillance cam in her home.Bookmark here

“Isn’t that my living room?”Bookmark here

“Yes, it is.” A brown-skinned man took a sip from his coffee then placed it on a small desk near him.Bookmark here

“Bradford?”Bookmark here

“One, and only.”Bookmark here

“Why am I here, did you knock me out?”Bookmark here

“I did. Judging from your reaction alone confirms you didn’t read the guideline I gave you.”Bookmark here

“Are you blind? I didn’t have the time. Don't you see the bunch of stuff happening right now?.”Bookmark here

“I told you to read the guideline… Kids, why can't they listen to me? Do you know what you did? You just broke a law.``Bookmark here

“Which law?”Bookmark here

“Section 4, No 21, helping and cooperating with a criminal is a high offence, and it may lead you to be apprehended, or your licence to be revoked by an E-HAD personal. Those people are criminals, and you are helping them, am I wrong?”Bookmark here

“Those people aren’t criminals. They are just people who are about to lose their home.” My sight dug deeply into his as I glared at him with furious intent.Bookmark here

Suddenly, I backed away as Bradford moved to adjust his tie. I was afraid he was about to hit me that’s why I dodge first, instead, he let out a sigh. “Listen to me, no matter how bad it looks, they are in the wrong, trespassing, and squatting on private property is an offence.”Bookmark here

“It’s their home. It wasn’t their decision to sell the property. The bloody landowner did and without their consent. You are the one who doesn't understand... What’s going to happen to me?”Bookmark here

“You don't understand anything, kid. Do you know why E-HAD was created? Of course not. So let me tell you a story about how it all started. Delta, you know Delta, right? Of Course, you do. Everybody does. When Delta appeared so did false hope. A hope that was created by the weak to tell themselves that the Heroes are to save them once more. True, it happened, Delta became our beacon of all that is good, but what they failed to acknowledge is positive attract negative. A Hero doesn't just bring hope, it also brings Villains. And the worst one at that.”Bookmark here

“Oni.” A name escaped my lips involuntarily.Bookmark here

“Yes, Him. They don't teach you about him in school, but everybody knows what he did through chatters and tall tales to keep the kids up at night. A cold-blooded killer, leaving nothing but death and destruction behind. Some even said the man once dropped a tank into a skyscraper just for shit and giggle. Some even said the man was immortal until Delta took care of him. However, His actions alone showed how dangerous a powered can be.”Bookmark here

“I'm not trying to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help them.”Bookmark here

Bradford shook his head disappointedly. “There are two choices laid out before you. Proceed and lose your licence, or go home.”Bookmark here

He pulled the handle and slid open the van door. The light poured into the dim-lit van revealing an empty car park. Bradford nodded his head at the exit, telling me to go out. As I stepped outside, the heat from the sun showered onto me. I turned around and met with Bradford’s gaze.Bookmark here

“Your choice, Brightstar.”Bookmark here

Bradford closed the door then knocked on the van interior causing it to drive away. I was left with my thoughts. I took out my licence and stared at it. It’s a plastic card with my superhero name on it. This card means so much to me because I was acknowledged. This thin plastic paper showed that I wasn’t some random guy who goes around trying to help people. Isn’t this what I want.Bookmark here

Is it?Bookmark here

“Excuse me?” A familiar male voice called out to me from behind.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

An army of hardhat wearing men marched down the street along with a row of police donned in riot gear. Behind them a ramming tank and two trucks. Ria overlooked the impending threat from the last building complex, she gritted her teeth and clenched her fist. The door to the roof opened revealing a distressed man.Bookmark here

“Ria, what should we do?”Bookmark here

She was unable to say anything. The overwhelming enemy forces were unstoppable. There's no way she could win this battle.Bookmark here

“Where is Brightstar?”Bookmark here

Finally, Ria answered, “He... He won’t come.”Bookmark here

“But, we need him.”Bookmark here

“We don’t!” An outburst of anger escaped her.Bookmark here

“Ria...okay, what should we do?”Bookmark here

“We fight.”Bookmark here

The impending army had arrived at their doorstep, this was it, no way out. A metal bat flew into Ria’s hand, and she immediately ran toward the door with the man behind her. As she overlooks the centre of the complex from the twelfth floor, a dozen gas grenades broke through the window and slowly encompassed the ground floor in tear gas.Bookmark here

“Get everyone up here! Quick!” He ordered the man and immediately ran toward the stair.Bookmark here

Ria backed away from the stone railing and leapt out then using her metal bat, she rappelled down the string of lights toward the fourth floor. The barricade broke apart as a tank rammed through it. An army poured in through the hole, the people who didn't manage to escape were beaten senseless and escorted out of the buildings. Ria’s comrade in the centre quickly made their way to the stairs.Bookmark here

Boom!Bookmark here

A ball of fire exploded from one of the apartment rooms on Ria’s level. The flame simmered down then a pair of Powered users walked out from the devastation, a man with a burn scar and a lizard woman. They turned their sight at Ria and raised his hand at her, the woman grabbed her partner's arm and glared.Bookmark here

“The boss said no casualty.”Bookmark here

“I know.”Bookmark here

The lizard woman releases his partner. A fire began to grow and flowed into the front of his hand. All of those flames compressed into a tiny ball. By creating a tiny hole behind the ball of fire, it flew forward at high speed.Bookmark here

Ria launched herself into a run before the ball hit, it exploded on impact like a grenade. The explosion shook the entire building. It finally dawns on Ria how overnumbered and outgunned she is in this fight. However, her spirit stood strong as she took cover behind a stone railing.Bookmark here

A battle between the resident and construction workers was blocking the stairs. Her friends and family were screaming and shouting at the cops and hardhats workers. They were fighting a losing battle. Gritted her teeth together, Ria left the safety of her cover and launched her metal bat at the cops and the hardhats workers.Bookmark here

Her metal bat swung and hit the cops along with the hardhats causing them to back away from the resident. Ria put herself between her allies and the enemy then kept her enemy at the bottom of the stair while her comrades made their way to the roof. She kicked one of the men closest to her then swung her bat at the next target as she started her ascend slowly up the stairs.Bookmark here

Suddenly, a slimy tongue wrapped itself around Ria’s forearm, and she was pulled into the common area. She crashed into a sofa and broke it apart. The tongue unwrapped itself then sucked into the lizard woman’s mouth.Bookmark here

As the resident reached the roof, they found themselves trapped while the tear gas rose. They looked over the edge, twelfth storey high and a gap too wide to jump over to the other building. The door bursts open, an army of police and hardhats poured through the small doorway.Bookmark here

A battle erupted, and they were pushed closer near the edge. Old, young, or in between? None of them was given mercy. The able-bodied residents tried to hold them off, yet no matter how much they fought, the overwhelming enemy numbers were stacked against them.Bookmark here

“Help!” A kid screamed as he ducked down and covered his head from all the violence.Bookmark here

The door leading to the roof on the other building slammed open revealing none other than Brightstar himself with a pair of extension ladders on his shoulders.Bookmark here

“Brightstar, present!”Bookmark here

The resident turned to the hero with wide eyes and newfound hope. Brightstar formed a smirk underneath his scarf as he ran toward the edge.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

There’s no turning back now. Using my heels, I held back myself from falling off the edge while releasing the extension ladder toward them, forming a temporary bridge for them to cross.Bookmark here

“Let’s go!”Bookmark here

The residents let the children and the elderly cross over first while the able-bodied hold off the police officers and hardhats construction workers. I glanced over them, looking for Ria when my expectation betrayed me, I turned to one of the residents.Bookmark here

“Where’s Ria?”Bookmark here

“She stuck on the fourth floor with The Powered.”Bookmark here

“Noted.”Bookmark here

I looked around me, trying to find a way across. As I looked over the edge, I found myself feeling a bit scared, but it could never stop my fiery determination to get across. I turned around and stopped when I came face to face with the slanted roof. Quickly, I ran toward it, climbing it before going back down and using the downward momentum as a boost.Bookmark here

“Stardust Leap!”Bookmark here

This was it, I could do it, I can make it across, I launched myself over the edge. My giant smile turned into a frown as I found myself slowly losing momentum even before reaching the minimum distance to make it across.Bookmark here

I fell, yep, definitely fell through the window on the eighth floor, breaking the glass, and crashed into the kitchen sink before rolling and falling against the kitchen floor.Bookmark here

Thump.Bookmark here

“Argh…”Bookmark here

After raising myself through the pain, I grunted even more before taking off into a run. Navigating through the apartment interior, I walked and stopped in front of a stone railing. Ria was fighting both of Powered by herself, I needed to help her, but she was on the fourth floor, and I was on the eighth floor. The string lights caught my attention.Bookmark here

“Idea! Probably a bad one, but there’s no time for a second thought.”Bookmark here

I grabbed the string lights as many as I could and pulled away before jumping out and swung across.Bookmark here

“Stardust Swing!”Bookmark here

The fire user wasn't able to turn around when my legs suddenly wrapped around his head. He was even more surprised when I pulled him toward the edge and we both fell into the third-floor balcony. It wasn't my intention to fall on top of him, but it happened. Both of us groaned in pain.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

During the chaotic moment, Ria was able to hear Brightstar’s voice but didn't manage to see him amidst the chaos around. A tongue flew past her. If she didn't see it coming, it would have been too late for her to avoid. A quick sidestep and she barely missed it. The punk goth girl rolled into cover then kept her back against it as the same tongue flew toward her.Bookmark here

“Come out, girl. Don't make this harder than it needs to be.”Bookmark here

With a loud yell, Ria popped from her hidden position then charged toward the lizard woman while wielding a long plank. However, the woman couldn't care less about the girl as she glanced around her surroundings. There it is a glint heading toward her. Using her tough leathery forearms, she blocked the metal bat and quickly grabbed it away.Bookmark here

Before the girl even managed to land a blow, the woman used the metal bat against her. It pulled her neck against the woman's chest, locking her in a tight hold. Ria tried to wiggle out by hitting her opponent's body but found her opponent's strength overwhelming.Bookmark here

“All of this trouble for a girl who doesn't realize she could comprehend the power that your opponent held. You are fighting a losing battle, Ria Rougham. Now you gonna drag all those people down with you because of this stupid building.”Bookmark here

There’s something else, isn’t it? You aren't just angry, you are scared. Scared of what, Ria?Bookmark here

Ria! You need to stop!Bookmark here

It wasn't always like this. I wasn't always like this.Bookmark here

“Ria!” a melodic female voice called to her. “Ria?” Again she called her.Bookmark here

Ria turned around causing the bottom of her skirt to flutter in the wind. Her hair was straight as the pencils while her face was clean and free of any visible scar except on her bottom lip. She gently patted her skirt down and raised her gaze at the woman in front of her.Bookmark here

The woman had a cute mole underneath her lip, her appearance is a lot similar to Ria. While she appeared to be in her late twenties. People sometimes mistake her for Ria’s sister, but in an actual case, she was her mother. She was the kind of woman who married young, but never once regretted it.Bookmark here

As Ria was about to reach for her hand, she suddenly disappeared into a cloud of smoke.Bookmark here

“Mom!”Bookmark here

A loud unknown screech can be heard in the distance, she turned, and somehow she ended up in her old classroom. A lot of commotion was coming from the window, Ria walked toward it and overlooked a baseball game being held.Bookmark here

“There it is! Another home run!!!!! He has done it again, and he will keep doing it---”Bookmark here

Again her scenery changed. She fell onto her butt then the cloud of smoke gathered around her from a wreck of a burning car. Her body felt heavy while numerous forms of pain coursed through her veins. Slowly she felt her chest tightening in the most excruciating ways.Bookmark here

“Don’t be scared, Ria...everything is going to be okay.” The woman gently patted on her head even though her legs were crushed under the car. Not an ounce of pain was shown on her mother's face as she comforted her daughter.Bookmark here

Ria knew this, she remembered it. Never again. Not this timeBookmark here

“Not like this. I’m going to save you, mom!” She frantically looked around her for a solution.Bookmark here

However, Ria stopped when her mom grabbed hold of her hand, “It’s okay.”Bookmark here

“It’s not okay…”Bookmark here

“Ria!” Her father's voice called to her.Bookmark here

“No!”Bookmark here

The back of her collar was pulled, she was dragged away from her mom, and she tried everything to stay behind with her. “I’m not going to sit back and do nothing. Not again!”Bookmark here

“Stop! Stop. Dad STOP!” She screamed, but it wasn't her time to rest in peace with her mom.Bookmark here

The scenes changed again. Her mom was nowhere to be found, except for a closed casket in front of her. She stumbled back, her butt landed on the floor. Again the scene changes, this time she was overlooking herself. She was different, the way she dressed and looked had come closer to what she looked now.Bookmark here

“Ria, what is wrong with you!? I can’t keep bailing you out whenever you get into a fight. Do you even know that your school wants to kick you out? Is that what you want?”Bookmark here

“Sure whatever. School is boring anyway.”Bookmark here

“Why can't you be like your brother?”Bookmark here

“Why can't you stop talking and shut the hell up? Ha?! Why… WHY CAN'T YOU SAVE MOM?!”Bookmark here

Something broke that day.Bookmark here

“I tried…”Bookmark here

“You never did.”Bookmark here

“I’m sorry…” The Ria inside the scene didn't even notice it, a tear that ran down her father's cheek.Bookmark here

The real Ria ran toward her father, but her body was thrown off when she slammed against an invisible wall. She raised herself and banged on the wall. Loudly and screamed.Bookmark here

“Dad! I didn't mean it! DAD! IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT!”Bookmark here

Ria’s father went through the door. That was the last day she even saw her dad. Her brother went out looking for him, but couldn't find him. Ria back then didn't even try. Afterwards, all she could remember was the empty fighting. Sometimes with delinquent, sometimes with gang members, and sometimes it’s with a completely random stranger just because they looked at her wrong.Bookmark here

She didn't care that her brother was trying his best to take care of her. However, she only made it worse for him. It was her fault they lost the house. The worst it all, she knew deep down, but she was...too afraid to change.Bookmark here

Suddenly one day, somehow in her twisted way she did a good thing. She helps someone, accidentally by fighting. An older woman who in return helps her and her brother. Fed them. Clothed them. Gave them a room in her small apartment. Even paid for her brother's education. Even went out of her way to treat them like her own grandson and granddaughter.Bookmark here

Then she met all these people who treat her like family even though she was hard to deal with. They never once turned their back on her. They cared for her day and night. Almost all the time, she felt like she didn't deserve it. Not after what she did. Not after what she lost.Bookmark here

Slowly, she changed, minuscule at first, but she was changing. She was trying to become a better person. Yes, she got baggage, but it never seemed to burden any one of them. They love her like their own daughter. She found a home.Bookmark here

Nevertheless, it was too good to be true. She needed to prove herself.Bookmark here

An opportunity came. A threat to her home and she could save them all.Bookmark here

That's what she thought.Bookmark here

“RIA!!!!!!”Bookmark here

“I TALKED TO YOUR BROTHER!!!!!”Bookmark here

“DON'T YOU DARE GIVE UP NOW!!!!!”Bookmark here

That voice. That boy.Bookmark here


“Who the hell was that?” said the lizard woman as she glanced around her.Bookmark here

The floor shook violently as flames rose to the roof. The lizard woman was worried that her partner might have gone a little crazy with his power. Without her noticing it, her grip had come undone a bit.Bookmark here

“His name was Brightstar!” Leaning forward, she rammed the back of her head against the woman's face, using not her strength but the support of her metal bat. The skin behind her head might have torn a bit when it ran against the lizard's prickly tough skin, nevertheless, Ria managed to knock the lizard woman unconscious causing her to lose her grip entirely as she fell on the floor.Bookmark here

Ria was about to fall with the lizard woman, but she took a step back and held herself from going down.Bookmark here

“I did it…”Bookmark here

“I did it!” The floor shook again.Bookmark here

Before she could celebrate to the fullest, she caught a full view of the surrounding dread. The building is going up in flames, and it seems more fire is coming from the bottom floor. She looked at the staircase, the police and construction workers were making their way out in a hurry, but she didn't see any of her people with them, so she turned her gaze at the roof. She also needs to help Brightstar.Bookmark here

However before she could go and do her things, the lizard woman made a noticeable groan while still being unconscious. She can't leave her here, not with the surrounding fire. Her sight stopped at the balcony and a devilish smirk appeared.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

A trail of fire flew across the room, one after another until I hid behind a half wall. The flame leaked over every edge, trapping me inside my defence. The man didn't seem to slow down with his attack, instead, he knew he had me in a bind.Bookmark here

I know my shouts earlier would get me into trouble, but I didn't expect it to be this severe. The temperature rises, and I have no way of fighting someone who could wield fire. I clasped my two hands together, trying to calm my own pounding heart.Bookmark here

You are going to die. They all are going to die.Bookmark here

“Who do you work for?” I asked the man.Bookmark here

Still, the man had no interest in sparking a conversation, instead, he raised his hand at the empty space. The flame grew from a tiny spark just in front of his palm and all of it converged into a compressed ball of fire.Bookmark here

He pointed his hand at my cover. A sense of imminent danger exploded inside me. Through the broken glasses laying on the floor, I saw the attack he was about to unleash. Quickly, I launched myself out of the cover and into a run.Bookmark here

Instead of a regular trail of fire, this flame was more precise. It formed itself into something as long as a spear that pierced through the concrete wall with intense heat. That was a close call, but it was too early to celebrate as the man swung his leg 360° and with it; followed a single pole of flame that extended to the end of the room.Bookmark here

Without thinking, I dropped at the last minute and let it flew above me. The intense heat singed the tip of my hair along with my jacket. I considered myself lucky to evade such an attack, but there’s no way I could do it twice in a row.Bookmark here

Another blast from the enemy, this time the flame enveloped me for a short moment. I have no way of dodging such an attack, so it left several small children of flame on me. I ducked and rolled, taking out the fire before it grew. Steam emitted from my skin, all my sweats had evaporated in a matter of seconds and I grew redder.Bookmark here

Are you afraid?Bookmark here

“Shut up,” I mumbled under my breath as my back leaned behind a sofa. There is nothing to do now, but to grimace at my demise while I ran my shaking hand down my face.Bookmark here

I am way over my head. There’s no way I could take him on.Bookmark here

You can...all you need to do is to kill him.Bookmark here

Shut up!Bookmark here

I slammed the back of my head against the sofa.Bookmark here

Think... Why didn't he use the other attack on me? Is there a limit? How do I get close to him? There must be a way to defeat him. I need a shield. One that can withstand the heat. It’s stupid, but a rush can cut the distance between him and me. One hit. Direct to the head will knock him unconscious, but I need to be fast, and I need a shield to take on his fire.Bookmark here

Shield. Shield. Shield.Bookmark here

I glanced at the burned cabinet. A plank of solid square wood with a handle on it, but what caught my eyes was its condition.Bookmark here

It had been burnt earlier, so my theory is anything that has already been burned can’t be burned again or at least has some resistance to it. Flimsy logic, but it’s the only plan I can think of right now. But before I charge at him, I need to test his power, especially the devastating attack that pierced my cover earlier.Bookmark here

“Surrender, please. I don't want to hurt you!”Bookmark here

He gritted his teeth and I knew my taunt worked on him. With the same motion again, he raised his hand. Readied himself to unleash another devastating attack at me. I took off running as fast as I could. Just as I thought, the man did not disappoint as he let his power out in front of my path.Bookmark here

The piercing flame melted through the wall, blocking my path and almost cut me in half. However before any harm befalls on me, I halted my advance and turned sharply before changing my path toward the man himself.Bookmark here

With the burned shield, I was able to protect myself from the coming flame. His attack had decreased significantly, that move must have cost him. Even his movement was a bit slow, but still fast enough. My shield had become hot over time after every successful block. The handle was searing a bit of my skin, but I had to withstand it.Bookmark here

I pulled back my fist then it began to glow. When I got near him, with all my strength I threw my fist at him. It flew, parting the air as it made its way at his face, but I noticed the man was still faster than me. He was readied to evade and his hand was propped at my chest while a ball of fire grew. I just need to close the distance.Bookmark here

Faster! Faster! I need to be Faster!Bookmark here

My wish was granted when suddenly, my entire arm began to glow and became light. A literal hard light that formed the shape of my arm. My arm was lighter and my speed tripled.Bookmark here

Push your limit! Kill Him!Bookmark here

No!Bookmark here

I am not a Killer.Bookmark here

“They called me: Brightstar. In the deep darkest place, I shall shine brightly like a Star! STARDUST PUNCH!Bookmark here

My speed declined once more. The power of my punch had decreased. I felt my straight slipping away from me. However, when his cheek was against my fist, I never had celebrated so damn hard in my mind. It even caused a smirk to appear on my face.Bookmark here

The man went down like a sack, hitting the floor hard. That punch alone cost me tons of my stamina, I recoiled back until my back was against a drawer. My breath was dire and short, but I somehow managed to keep myself upright.Bookmark here

However, my luck had finally run out when the man started to groan as he raised himself back up with a massive throbbing headache. He glared at me with intense anger. After raising his hand, a fireball grew.Bookmark here

Move, Kenn! Move god-damn it! Move! No! No! I can't move. This can't be it! Damn it!Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.