Young Heroes in Love #4

YOUNG HEROES IN LOVE

“HUNGRY! HORRIBLE!” cries out Grundomu as he stomps towards the heroes.

“Monstergirl, armor up! Zip-Kid, grab Junior! Off Ramp, get ready to pull us out on my word and Thunderhead,” Hard Drive yells out, “Get ready to rock n roll, brother!”

ELLIE FAITH

As everyone springs into action, Thunderhead pulls a tree out of the ground by the roots and swings it around, smashing into the side of Grundomu’s face, staggering the giant beast backwards. 

“Great shot, dude!” cries out Off Ramp as he watches from the sideline.

ALASTAIR FROST

Grundomu strikes back by slamming his giant fist into the ground, causing everyone to be taken off balance and tossed to the side.

Junior, riding piggyback on Zip-Kid asks, “Wait a second. Do you smell that or am I crazy?”

“What are you talking about right now?”

“That smell.”

REMI FONTAINE

Zip Kid shakes her head frantically, “Junior, I don’t know what the hell you’re going on about but I’m about to lose my mind here.”

Zip Kid lowers them down onto the branch of a tree. “What do you smell, Zip Kid?” asks Junior.

DANIELLE ANDERSON

“I don’t know!” she cries out, but then pauses, “But, it’s kind of nice. It’s a nice smell.”

“I knew it.”

She turns to him, “If you don’t start talking now, I’m pushing you off this tree.”

YURI MOON

“Think about it. Grundomu is a giant animal! But, animals stink. Elephants. Horses. Pigs. They all have bad odor naturally. But this monster…” 

“He smells like fresh air,” interrupts Zip Kid. “He smells nice.”

Junior points, “Zip Kid, you gotta get me to Off Ramp.”

LEAH AGUERO

They fly off to Off Ramp and as they fly by Junior yells, “Off Ramp. I need you to trust me. You have to go back and find Bonfire.”

“But…”

“Please. Just do it,” pleads Junior.

“God dammit. You got it.” He opens a portal and slips through.

RYDEN LAUFFEYSON


Meanwhile, back in the city Bonfire is riding piggyback on Frostbite who is using her ice abilities to leap through the city. 

“You have to understand,” Frostbite says, “This is the most social interaction I have had. Ever.”

CHRIS CONSTANTINE JR.

“So this is…” Bonfire starts to ask. 

“It’s like you can read my mind,” Frostbite responds as she continues onward.

Bonfire grins, “You know I can.”

GUEST STARRING: TAPP ADDAMS

“You’ve tapped into something inside of me, Bonfire. I feel so alive. So strong,” Frostbite says. “I want to see just how this all will work. How active this link is between us. Let’s go back to HQ.”

YOUNG HEROES IN LOVE
CHAPTER 7
TREMBLE IN FEAR FOR THE BEAST HUNTS YOU

As they arrive back to HQ, Frostbite turns to Bonfire, “Stay here. I’m going to go into one of the other rooms. Listen for me.” She takes off and finds an empty room and slips inside. “Can you feel me?”

Off Ramp’s portal opens and he steps through surprising Bonfire, “You have to come quick. It’s an emergency!” he exclaims as he reaches for Bonfire’s hand and pulls her back through the portal as she protests. 

“Now,” he says as they disappear and the portal closes.

Frostbite’s eyes snap open and she runs back to where she left Bonfire, but as she gets there the portal is just closing up, “Bonfire!” 


Back at the tents, Doctor Tzu walks into the tent, “What on Earth are you doing in here, Jerry?”

Angrily, Renquist snaps. “Don’t call me Jerry!”

On the ground, a blow torch has been lit and continues to flame as Tzu picks it up and turns it off, “Why did you leave this torch on?”

He walks over to find Renquist is stacking a bunch of stuff up in a pile as he finds a computer monitor and places it on top of the stack, “What in the world are you doing, Jerry?”

As he pushes the heavy old school monitor to the top of the pile, Renquist grunts, “What does it look like? I’m trying to see how high I can stack these –”

Suddenly everything crashes to the ground. Getting to his feet, Renquist growls at Tzu, “Now look what you made me do! You’re a damn loser!” he screams as he storms out of the tent.


Meanwhile, Junior is speaking lowly to Zip Kid, “I’m watching it move and I can’t even breathe. Not because I’m scared. I’m proud. Can’t you just admire it? Aren’t you in love with it?”

While he’s talking the other heroes are battling it as best that they can, trying to hold it off.  Monstergirl is able to dig her claws into the monster’s flesh, drawing blood as the monster shrieks out in pain.

“It’s like I’m watching a dance. I know that sounds funny, but it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Junior continues his monologue as Zip Kid suddenly turns towards him as if seeing him in a whole new light.

She’s about to say something to him when a portal opens and Off Ramp and Bonfire leaps through. She immediately slaps him on the back of his head, “What the hell was that, Off Ramp? A girl likes to be asked!”

He turns back to her, rubbing the back of his head, “Look, I woulda asked if it wasn’t important!”

“I WAS BUSY!”

“I know the score, B. Cut me some slack,” he protests.

Hard Drive flies down, “I know it’s not the time, but Bonfire is right. You should have asked…”

“Are you shitting me right now?” Off Ramp exclaims.

“.. Bonfire, if you’re still a member of this team, we could use your help,” Hard Drive continues.

“… It’s a giant fucking monster! You wanted me to ask her?”

Bonfire, still not happy, turns to Hard Drive, “Of course I’m still on the team, Hard Drive.”

“Watch out!”

Monstergirl is suddenly crashing into the team, scattering them all over the ground. “That sucked,” she mutters under her breath.

“Um.. heads up again!” cries out Hard Drive.

Back at HQ, Frostbite is none too happy. “What was I thinking?” she asks, pacing back and forth, leaving frosty foot prints where she walks. “Why do I even do this to myself?  This is exactly why I didn’t want to join a team to begin with! I’m fucking helpless! Why won’t Off Ramp come and get ME?!?” an explosion of snow begins to fall inside the room.


Off Ramp is standing next to Monstergirl, “Get ready. I’m going to send you back in…”

“Let’s do it,” she says.

“Wait a second,” he asks looking at her. “Why don’t you change into something bigger?”

She’s already a monster, she screams at him, “That’s none of your business!”

“Can’t we at least talk about it?”

“No. Now open the damned ramp,” she demands.

“Kiss my ass,” he says as he opens the portal and she leaps through.

The portal opens up over the top of Grundomu and Monstergirl drops onto the back of its head.

Junior is trying to explain the situation, “That monster is filling the area with pure oxygen. I don’t think he’s exhaling it. I think he might be a plant form which makes him vulnerable to fire. However, the most important part is that he’s sentient. That means intelligent.”

“I know what that means, Junior.”

“If he’s bright enough, he might realize his danger. So you’ve got to maintain the initiative. Control the pace of the contact. Disengage when necessary and you’ve got to be extremely—”

“God dammit! Can’t you shut up for five minutes?!” she yells out. 

Hard Drive is shooting beams at the monster, flying through the air. Randomly, Thunderhead says, “Hard Drive is so cool.”

“What?” Off Ramp asks. “What the hell? I’m going back to get Frostbite. I’ll be right..”

“No! We need the scientists! Can you bring the scientists?” asks Junior.

Fed up, Bonfire shakes her head. “I’ve had it with all of you.” She suddenly flames up until she is completely engulfed. She turns to the monster, “Hey, asshole! You want some? Come get some!”

She charges in and begins to blast fire at the monster who recoils at the attack.  In defense, the monster lifts a foot as if to stomp on Bonfire but Thunderhead narrows his eyes and charges in, “To hell you will..”  

He rushes in and as the foot comes down, he stops it with his super strength. He grabs a claw and snaps it off and the monster cries out in pain.

“Thunderhead! That was amazing,” Bonfire says.

“Not amazing. Stupid.”


Back at the tents, Tzu is trying to reason with Renquist who is lying on the floor looking at his Magic: The Gathering cards. “This is a white onyx. It’s practically invulnerable to anything but undead and psionic spells. It costs me $550 because it’s so rare.”

“Dr. Renquist, your parrots are loose again.” 

“Hey, Tzu. What was your funding again last year?

Suddenly the portal opens up and Off Ramp peeks his head through, “Hey Professor..”

Renquist snickers, “He’s not a professor.”

Tzu has had enough, “Just shut up, Jerry.”

Ignoring both of them, Off Ramp continues, “We found the monster but we could sure use your help. You gotta have some…”

Renquist leaps to his feet, “I knew you couldn’t do this without me,” he says arrogantly.

Tzu turns to Renquist, “Fine, bright guy. What’s your idea? Let’s hear it.”

Off Ramp is impatient, “Someone tell me something!”

Tzu continues, “What’s your great theory, Renquist? What are you waiting for? How are you going to save the day,” he asks as they all three walk through the portal.

Back with the others, Hard Drive has Bonfire and they are floating above the monster. “It’s going to get rough, are you sure you’re…”

“I’m here of my own free will. So what’s the plan?”

“I’ll keep us protected with my telekinesis. I can protect us, but if he actually gets a hold of us, I may not be able to break us free.”

Bonfire nods, “What’s my job?”

“You?” Hard Drive grins, “Fry the hell out of him.”

They fly in close and Bonfire begins to lay in with her fire blasts, each one hurts the beast and it doesn’t seem to like it one bit. Hard Drive moves her in closer and closer, “Give it to him,” he says.

With all her strength, she holds her arms out and a barrel of flame begins to shoot out towards the monster.  He shrieks loudly as his head catches on fire, but he manages to reach out and capture the duo between his hands. 

The monster squeezes the telekinetic bubble, “You doing okay, Hard Drive?”

“I think so, the monster’s breath is made up of oxygen, so the flame is kept alive by its breath. But.. I am not sure how much longer I can keep this up.”

Bonfire nods. She turns towards the monster again and once more she blasts away. More of the monster is caught on fire.

“Great shot!” cries out Hard Drive as he struggles. “I’m glad you’re here! But, in all honesty, I’m disappointed that you took off like that without telling me…”

Annoyed, Bonfire turns to him. “Great pep talk, coach.”

The scientists with Off Ramp step through the portal. Renquist looks at all the devastation laid out by the monster, “This is great! It’s an ecological catastrophe! This proves that Grundomu is good for our planet!”

Off Ramp looks at him like he’s lost his mind, “Why did I have feeling this was gonna be your take away from all of this.”

Renquist turns to Off Ramp and poke him in the chest, “Listen you moron, do you want me to teach you or not? See anyone else around here with a 700 IQ who is interested in your current situation? No? I didn’t think so.”

“That was harsh,” mutters Thunderhead.

“Unlike Michael Bolton over here,” Renquist points towards Thunderhead, “Grundomu is intelligent.”

“Hey!” exclaims Thunderhead.

“And I believe he’s doing this because one, he wants to live. Two, the only threat to his living is man. Three, man is too tough to be destroyed. Four, he must prevent man from destroying him so five, he’s making himself indispensable to man.”

Zip Kid flies Junior in close, “He wants to replace the rainforest,” notes Junior.

“The way he’s exhaling oxygen, he could probably do it.”

Junior thinks about it for a moment then shakes his head, “It’s a great theory, except.. What in the hell are you talking about?”

Renquist begins to laugh, “Look everyone! It’s a toy scientist. Do accessories come with you? A little lab coat? A tiny test tube case? Listen genius, if my calculations are correct, Grundomu produces 850 million cubic tons of oxygen each time he exhales. More than enough to take the place of the entire rain forest! Since the rain forest produces about 67 percent of the Earth’s oxygen, if Grundomu continues to destroy the rain forest, he’ll be the main source of oxygen for the planet. Man destroys Grundomu, the planet dies.”

Junior shakes his head, “Assuming for one moment that any of the data you are spewing right now is accurate. Do you for one minute want us to believe that Grundomu is smart enough to concoct this strategy?”

“It’s not that far fetched! But then again my IQ breaks the sound barrier. To answer your question, yes, I think he concocted it,” Renquist answers in dramatic fashion.

Dr. Tzu steps in, “Jerry, that assumes that Grundomu has the knowledge of physics, meteorology, geography and human psychology. Where would he even get this knowledge?”

Renquist smirks, “First. Don’t call me Jerry. My name is Dr. Renquist. Dr. Jerome Renquist. Second. He could get it from me.”

Off Ramp chimes in, “I knew it.”

Tzu shakes his head, “When would you have given him this knowledge?”

Junior blinks, “Wait what?”

Renquist answers, “About a year ago. He was definitely smaller then.

Back near Grundomu, Bonfire is still blasting and finally the monster exclaims, “I yield! Grundomu surrenders!”

Hard Drive takes them out of range, “I thought you might reconsider.”

“Hey suit!” yells Renquist. “Wanna lift me up there? I can probably clear this up!”

“He just call me ‘suit’?” Hard Drive asks as he lowers himself and Bonfire to the ground.

“Well, you do wear a nice suit,” comments Bonfire as she steps away. Renquist gets near Hard Drive and he lifts them over and over towards a confused Grundomu.

The others are watching from a distance when finally the creature seems to become submissive towards the teenager. 

“Something doesn’t add up here,” says Junior as Hard Drive returns with Renquist.

“It all adds up perfectly,” insists Renquist.

“No. It doesn’t.”

“Papa proud?” asks Grundomu.

With a thumbs up, Renquist says, “You were great!”

Junior is lifted onto Thunderhead’s shoulders, “Grundomu! Your ‘papa’ steered you wrong.”

“Grundomu intelligent!” insists the beast.

“Sure, you’re smart and all, but you’re not that smart.”

“What are you saying here?” asks Renquist.

“I’m not saying that a brand new thousand ton sentient life form that breathes oxygen isn’t impressive,” starts Junior.

Renquist leans in, curious now, “Go ahead…”

Junior shrugs, “I’m just saying, there’s a difference between being intelligent and being smart. Your monster here has some pretty half baked ideas, if you ask me.”

“I don’t understand what you’re saying.”

Junior taps his chin, trying to find an easier way to explain this, “If you had simply asked someone with authority, someone would have been happy to host your plant-based oxygen machine.”

Renquist narrows his eyes, “Listen, simpleton, he’s not plant based. He’s far more complicated than that.”

“What Junior is trying to say is that there are nations who would have been happy to be the home of a creature who would single handedly replenish bad air on Earth,” Hard Drive finally chimes in.

A shocked look comes over Renquist’s face as if that thought had never crossed his mind and then he gets rather embarrassed, “I never thought of it that way.”

Hard Drive nods his head, “Let’s head back to the lab and make sure everything is secure. I’m afraid Dr. Renquist here will have to answer to the authorities for his actions.”

Renquist annoyedly waves him off, “Whatever.” Then under his breath, he murmurs, “How in the hell did I miss that?”

Dr. Tzu interjects, “Before you go, Dr. Renquist. I have to know. There’s nothing we’ve ever created that would serve to create this creature. What was the secret?”

Renquist grins, “Forget about it. You want my secret, you’ll have to…”

“I amoeba,” murmurs the creature.

Shocked, Renquist rushes over to the monster, “You shut up! You don’t get to share my secrets!”


Back at HQ, Frostbite is outside blasting ice all over. She’s obviously very pissed off at being left behind and as she finally stops, we pan back to see she’s encased the HQ in ice.


Off Ramp has opened a portal to Renquist’s lab.

“Wow, nice lab,” Hard Drive says as they exit the portal. 

Angry, Renquist snaps. “Shut up. I hate you.”

“Nice kid,” asides Off Ramp.

“Any sign of Frostbite?” asks Hard Drive.

“Oh shit!” snaps Off Ramp. He disappears into a portal and moments later returns, “I.. she’s not at HQ, but she left us a present. Got an ice pick?”

“See if you can send Bonfire back to HQ to try and find Frostbite, will you?” asks Hard Drive. Off Ramp disappears into a portal.

“You can go now,” says Renquist. “You’ve got no right to be here.”

Hard Drive turns to look at all the diplomas on the wall of the lab as Renquist continues to yammer, “You’ve got no idea what goes on here and frankly neither you nor your teammates are ready for this level of conflict,” as an evil look comes across the child’s face.

“We aren’t here for conflict. We want to make sure another giant monster doesn’t go rampaging through the rain forest.”

A large shadow creeps up behind Hard Drive.

“Yeah, but there’s plenty this town doesn’t need to know about,” mutters Renquist. “If you catch my drift.”

Renquist fires a gun. The bullet hits Hard Drive in the back of the neck.

Monstergirl, Bonfire and Junior are in another part of the building when the shot rings out. “That a gunshot?” asks Monstergirl.

Everyone rushes out the door.

Bonfire is in the lead, “Hard Drive! We heard a gunshot!”

She steps into the room and immediately covers her mouth, “Oh my god…”

As the others enter the room, they are all shocked as Hard Drive is down on the ground. A portal opens and Off Ramp steps back through, “What’s going on?” 

Scene opens at a playground, Frostbite has created an ice sculpture of Frostbite. She shakes her head as she puts the finishing touches on it, when it suddenly begins to melt quickly into a puddle on the ground.

Frostbite turns around to see Bonfire behind him, grinning as she pretends to blow out the flame on her finger. 

“You came back!” exclaims Frostbite as the two embrace.

After a long hug, Frostbite pulls back, “I can’t even tell you…”

“I know. Look, there’s something you should know.”

“What is it?” asks Frostbite.

“It’s Hard Drive.”

We flash back to earlier when everyone rushed into the room to find Hard Drive on the ground.

CHAPTER EIGHT
HARD DRIVE CRASHED

Monstergirl is murmuring, “This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening.”

“Shit,” mutters Off Ramp.

Thunderhead rushes to Hard Drive’s side, but as he kneels down Hard Drive moans under his breath.

“I’m calling 911,” yells Zip Kid as she starts to zoom off.

“I’m okay,” mutters Hard Drive. 

The heroes help him to a chair. “You scared the shit out of us, Hard Drive. What happened?” asks Junior.’

“I’m.. I’m not sure. I think I was shot.”

Thunderhead looks confused, “For someone who was shot, you look pretty good, boss.”

“I managed to throw up a shield at the last possible moment, but this hurts like hell,” he says holding the back of his neck. 

“That little fucker Jerry. I’m going to crush the smartest teenager in the world,” Off Ramp grumps.

“I guess he took off,” says Hard Drive.

Zip Kid starts to fly off, “I’m gonna find that brat.”

Monstergirl nods, “I’m on it too. Let’s split up!”

Zip Kid is long gone though as she swoops down a flight of stairs and another until she finds a basement. She sees a trap door in the floor already open and as she looks down, Renquist is climbing down a ladder to where a small submarine is waiting with the hatch open.  He appears to be on a cell phone, “Wait until I tell you what happened! It’s a funny story.”

Zip Kid zooms in front of his face, “You’re in so much trouble now,” she says, pointing a finger at him.

“You…?”

“You better come quietly or so help me God, I’ll blast a beam into your skull, do you hear me?”

Renquist starts to say a retort but Zip Kid takes aim and he stops immediately, then gives her a defeated look.

Moments later, Zip Kid is marching Renquist back into the room with the others. Hard Drive is still recovering, but Monstergirl rushes over as if to smash the kid, only to be stopped by Thunderhead who finally asks, “Well, whatcha got to say for yourself?”

“Well, I wasn’t anticipating a four inch woman who shoots beams and travels at 300 miles an hour…” Renquist answers smartly.

“You just shut up,” Zip Kid demands angrily.

Hard Drive slowly shakes his head, “Not even an ounce of remorse.”

Renquist sighs, “Look, I am really sorry I shot you in the head.”

“If I hadn’t gotten a shield up in time, you’d be a murderer right now. Can’t you see that?”

Renquist shrugs nonchalantly, “So, your force field isn’t up all the time?”

Hard Drive simply answers. “No.”

Monstergirl again tries to smack the kid, but Renquist recoils, “Wait! Don’t you see?”

Monstergirl stops, “See what?”

“I caught him by surprise. He didn’t hear it coming. You don’t realize what this means?” asks Renquist.  He points to Hard Drive, “He read my mind.”

Hard Drive looks surprised, “Wait, what?”

Renquist begins to laugh, “You have mental abilities too. How else could you have read my mind? You are also a telepath!”

“That doesn’t matter, kid. We’re talking about you,” says Thunderhead.

“You guys are so stupid!” laughs Renquist. “If he’s reading my mind. He’s reading your minds too!”

Monstergirl has had enough of the kid’s gloating and smacks him in the back of the head. 

“I’m a minor! You can’t hit me!” exclaims Renquist.

“You’re a damn nuisance,” corrects Monstergirl. 

“I can’t believe you guys didn’t know. He has mental abilities and you didn’t know,” Renquist says, pointing to Hard Drive who is starting to sweat, “Now wait a minute, Jerry…”

Renquist grins, “Know what else? He’s probably got mind control abilities too,” he turns to Hard Drive, “Don’t you? You can control minds, can’t you Hard Drive…”

Everyone was looking at Jerry and then all at once they turned their attention to Hard Drive. “I wouldn’t..”

Bonfire flashes back to her original meeting with Hard Drive and then later on after beating Cleopatra.

Junior flashes back to when he was about to tell the others about Hard Drive and Monstergirl.

Off Ramp flashes back to when he had just realized that Hard Drive could control minds.

All three get dizzy for a moment and hold their heads before turning to Hard Drive.

“Wait a minute,” starts Bonfire.

“I got an awful feeling..” starts Off Ramp.

“You son of a bitch,” points Junior.

“It’s not like I can…! I can’t do that!” explains Hard Drive.

“I remember it now..” says Off Ramp.

“What is going on right now?” asks Monstergirl.

“It’s all happening so fast..” from Bonfire.

Meanwhile, Renquist is laughing his ass off at it all. “He brainwashed you!”

Bonfire’s hands flame up, “You bastard. And for no reason!”

“You brainwashed the whole goddamned team?” asks Off Ramp.

“No! No! That’s not how it works!” tries to explain Hard Drive.

Renquist is leaning against the desk, tears flowing down his face as he laughs and laughs. “You didn’t even know it. This is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen!”

Monstergirl steps in, “It’s true! He does have mind control!”

Surprised by this, Hard Drive turns to her, “What are you saying?”

“He’s been controlling us all this time! I discovered it and he erased my memory!” she says.

“You’re a lying bitch!” he points at her. “I never brainwashed you! You’ve been trying to get control of this team since day one!” He lunges at her angrily, slamming her up against the wall.

Thunderhead jumps in and pulls off Hard Drive, “Get a hold of yourself, man!”

“Your little game is over, Hard Drive,” Monstergirl says.

“You would betray me like this?” Hard Drive accused. “Betray us?”

Monstergirl laughs, “There’s no us. Like I said, it’s over.”

Angrily, Hard Drive yells, “I don’t mean you and me! I mean this team! Why are you selling us out?”

Off Ramp grabs Hard Drive’s arm and spins him around, “Team my ass! What the hell do you even know about being a hero?!”

“I know it takes commitment and sacrifice! It demands the best we have to give!” answers Hard Drive.

“I don’t give a fuck about your intentions! Do you understand? You shouldn’t have done it. And you know it!” Off Ramp responds angrily. 

“That’s right! You tell him,” Renquist continues to laugh.

Junior leaps over onto Off Ramp’s shoulder, “I don’t know much, but a team is based on trust. We’re human beings.”

Renquist snorts. “I guess you could say that..”

Off Ramp has had enough. He turns and grabs Renquist by the arm. He opens a portal to a holding cell somewhere and throws the kid in and closes the portal behind him as Renquist yells, “Hey!”

“Fucking kid,” mutters Off Ramp.

“Thanks for that,” says Junior.

“Don’t mention it.”

“Look,” starts Hard Drive. “Let me explain. Our team exists to serve others! We gave our word that we’d be there if we were needed! Bonfire and Frostbite weren’t there when we were attacked by Grundomu! We needed them and they were gone.”

Bonfire looks shocked at the accusation, then angry.  She storms up to him, flame covering her head, “You leave Frostbite out of this!”

“This! All of this is because of Frostbite!” Hard Drive yells back.

Bonfire charges Hard Drive who tries to hold her back. “Go to hell, you bastard!” she cries.

“You’re angry because you know I’m right,” he says in response.

“DON’T TELL ME WHY I’M ANGRY!” she yells!

Bonfire goes after Hard Drive but he shoves her hard to the ground as the others look on in shock and move to help Bonfire. “Bonfire, all I can do is encourage feelings. I can’t make them up and if I was any good at it, you’d have been there when we fought that monster. Don’t kid yourself. When you finally get together with Frostbite, you’ll quit this team.”

Bonfire speaks up, “You have no idea what this team means to me. I’m not bailing for anyone. How dare you screw with my feelings.. My heart. I looked up to you! I admired you! I was honored when you chose me to be on this team. You helped me so much! But for what?”

Hard Drive points towards a window, “For them. It’s all for them. The people we protect. The people of Hub City.”

Explosively, Bonfire angrily screams, “Goddammit! We are the people of Hub City!” she blasts him with her fire blasts, though Hard Drive gets his shield up, protecting him from the heat.

“That’s enough!” Hard Drive declares as he envelopes her in a bubble. 

Thunderhead starts to interrupt, “Hey now! Put her down!”  He places a hand on Hard Drive’s shoulder with an angry look on his face.

Then he punches Hard Drive right in the face.

Monstergirl changes to monster form, “Stay down, Hard Drive. I’m warning you.”

“Maybe I haven’t made myself clear,” mutters Hard Drive as he lifts Thunderhead up in the air this time.

“What the hell?” a shocked Thunderhead asks before he’s thrown right into Monstergirl and the two tumble across the room.

Hard Drive starts to get to his feet, “I’ve given this lots of thought. We have gifts. We must be generous with them!” It’s almost a look of evil on his face. “It’s the least we can do.”

Off Ramp opens a portal under a laboratory machine and then opens a portal above Hard Drive and the machine drops through and crashes onto Hard Drive. 

As silence fills the room, everyone is in a state of shock looking at the giant machine that has crashed into the floor. 

Thunderhead is the first to speak up, “What the fuck, Off Ramp?”

“Are you kidding me? Did you see his eyes? He was off the chain!” responds Off Ramp.

“You didn’t have to kill him,” Thunderhead responds as there’s a rattling heard.

Junior’s eyes go wide. “Uh oh.”

Suddenly pieces of the machine explode all over the room as Hard Drive emerges from the rubble, “I accept that most teams will have a little friction. But you have crossed the line now.”  

All of a sudden, all the little pieces of the machine come back together into a giant cluster. 

Bonfire is explaining all of this to Frostbite, who is shocked.

“I can’t believe I missed all of this!” she says, “I should have been there. I’m going to kill Off Ramp when I see him for not coming for me.”

Bonfire places a hand on Frostbite’s arm, “He did come for you. Where were you?”

Frostbite suddenly smiles and places a hand over Bonfire’s hand. “I’m happy you’re here.”

They embrace and Frostbite asks, “When did he come for me?”

“Right after it got crazy.”


Thunderhead has picked up a safe and is looking to drop it on Hard Drive. A monstered out Monstergirl is charging in and Bonfire has flamed on as she screams to Off Ramp, “Go find Frostbite! We need her help right now!”

Off Ramp opens the portal, “Hang tight,” he says as he disappears.

“This is all very healthy as far as I’m concerned!” says Hard Drive as he deflects the safe and punches Thunderhead, knocking him down.  The safe flies over and hits Monstergirl, sending her backwards. “Team building! Can’t you see this is a good thing?”

Off Ramp quickly returns, “Yeah, HQ is still a frozen palace and ain’t no sign of her.”

“Where the hell is she?” asks Bonfire.

Zip Kid zaps Hard Drive in the cheek, “You’re scaring me! You stop this right now.”

Hard Drive turns to Zip Kid and uses his mind control on her, “We’re on the same side, Zip Kid. We are friends.”

She quickly falls for it as she says, “Hey everyone. Chill out. We need to relax and hear him out!”

“Why are you even listening to him, Zip?” asks Monstergirl. “He’s brainwashing you!”

The inner struggle between Zip Kid and Hard Drive continues as she finally snaps out of it and then suddenly Hard Drive unleashes a giant telekinesis bomb that knocks everyone and everything over. “Clever girl. It just might get you into trouble one day.”

Junior climbs over some of the rubble, “Just do it. Don’t hold back. Goddammit, just do it!” He yells at Hard Drive. “What are you afraid of?”

Off Ramp answers that,  “I’ll tell you what you’re afraid of.”

Hard Drive smirks, “This outta be good.”

“He’s afraid of winding up in a sanitarium bed doped to the gills,” Off Ramp says and immediately Hard Drive’s eyes go wild and he charges him.

“You shut the hell up!”

“Doped to the gills because he’s too unstable to be on the loose.”

“You take that back! I’ll make you take that back.”

Hard Drive grabs Off Ramp by the throat and lifts him off the ground.

“Stop it, Hard Drive! Look at you. You can’t even admit you’ve gone too far!” cries out Monstergirl. 

Off Ramp takes a couple swings at Hard Drive as he gasps for air. 

Monstergirl steps in. “Make your play, Hard Drive. Do what you’re gonna do or we’re done here.”

There’s a moment of silence as Off Ramp’s head starts to turn red. Suddenly, Hard Drive drops Off Ramp and looks instantly remorseful. “Funny. I remember something my grandmother used to say. If the whole room tells you that you’re drunk…”

He suddenly falls to the ground. “Lie down.”

And he rolls over onto his side and begins to cry, “I need help.”


Back to Bonfire telling the story to Frostbite, “And that’s it? They came and took him away? He’s gone?” says a surprised Frostbite.

“He’s gone. Off Ramp took us to a hospital and checked him in. Some kind of specialist looking over him now.” She looks at her accusingly, “So what were you doing anyway?”

“I was angry at being left behind.”

“It was all Hard Drive. He kept us apart. He played with our emotions.” Bonfire says as they embrace. “I’m happy to be with you.”

She pulls away suddenly, “What if this is a brainwashed reaction too? Oh my god. I’ll never know!”

Frostbite steps closer to her, “But what if it’s not? Maybe it’s for real? I know it’s real for me.” She walks up behind Bonfire and hugs her tight, “I don’t care what it is, it feels so damn good.”

Bonfire leans back against Frostbite, then slowly smiles. “I knew you were going to say something like that.”


HQ has been defrosted and Thunderhead walks into his room. He stops for a moment. He walks over to his bed where a large gift is laying on top. “What the hell is this?”

He slowly peels off the wrapping where he sees a note laying on top.

“Thunderhead, you have helped me realize my dream. I hope this token of my esteem may help you realize yours. I had it custom made for you. Hard Drive.”

There’s a bit of hesitation on Thunderhead’s part as if he might not fully trust what he finds inside. But curiosity gets the better of him as he slowly opens the box.

A look at Thunderhead as he finally sees what’s inside causes him to get choked up and his eyes tear up. We see him pull something from the box and as he turns around we see it’s a giant guitar.

“Hard Drive,” Thunderhead mutters under his breath as he strums his fingers across the strings.

TO BE CONTINUED

CREDITS

                       HARD DRIVE   Chris Constantine Jr.

MONSTER GIRL   Yuri Moon

               ZIP KID   Ellie Faith

                          BONFIRE   Danielle Anderson

             THUNDERHEAD   Ryden Lauffeyson

              OFF RAMP   Alastair Frost

                     JUNIOR   Remi Fontaine

            FROSTBITE   Leah Aguero

           GUEST STARRING

     DR. RENQUIST   Tapp Addams