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Carry On, Cowboy (IC)


quotemyname

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The sun was beginning to fade over the forest to the west of the city. Colt stood on one of the less active street corners in the West End, leaning up against a street light, which was just beginning to flicker on. His Stellar cycle stood nearby, as well. His hat was pulled down over his eyes, and a long, thin, black, plastic e-cigarette stuck out from between his lips. When he inhaled, the tip glowed at bright blue color, fading when he exhaled the smoke he drew in.

Colt had been contacted by one of Freedom Cities newest heroes. Supercape as he called himself had come looking for advice. This wasn't the type of thing that Colt was used to doing, but according to the recent changes that Dr. Archeville had insisted they make, the team was supposed to be more supportive of the city's newer heroes that were trying to find a place between the younger and surprisingly powerful students of Claremont, and the more established Freedom League. This was the first time that anyone had actually contacted them for advice, however. Colt had volunteered for the meeting. He'd had a few ideas on how to handle this situation.

Colt took another long drag from his e-cigarette as he waited for the arrival of the Supercape.

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Mild mannered professor Quill stood quietly, unobserved, in the central park. He had never considered himself a heroic type, at least in deed. But everything had changed last year.

Now, he had power. And with it, comes a duty to use it.

Sighing deeply, he stroked his immaculate Tweed Jacket. It had taken him some time to forge it, made as it was from a quantum lattice of unstable molecules. Well, it was worth it. At least he would have something to hide behind.

In a pulse of green blue light, his tweed jacket and bow tie reformed into a magnificent blue costume, complete with fluttering cape, hood, and mask.

"I have no Idea how to do this" he muttered. Well, at least he had insight. What do the ignorant do? they learn. And the best way to start learning was a teacher.

The man known as Colt was his best bet. Contact had been made and a meeting arranged. So... up, up and away!

At least his cape looked magnificent fluttering as he flew off. It helped distract from his frightened and green face.

Supercape soon spied Colt over the West End, as agreed. "Time to make a good first impression", he muttered. He started to float down, hesitantly proclaiming "Behold the amazing SUPERCAPE!", complete with a splendid shifting of light and cloth.

"BLAST AND DAMNATION!" he cursed. His magnificent cape got caught in the Street light as he descended, leaving him spinning and swinging on his cloth...

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"Heh," Colt chuckled at Supercape's attempt at a fancy entrance. "Hold still, there, partner." Colt said, drawing a pistol from the holster on his leg. He fired a single bulled skyward. It cut through the very edge of the cape that was caught on the lamp, and freed the caped hero. Colt blew a wisp of smoke away from the barrel of the gun before spinning it on one of his fingers and dropping it back into its holster.

"Lesson number one," Colt said as he helped Supercape up, "Y'all don't always need'a dramatic entrance. I can almost guarantee you'll earn all'a th' same respect bein' calm'n composed." Colt help dust off the man's cape. "Lesson number two: Find yerself a nice seamstress who don't ask none too many questions. I reckon a cape this size'll get tore up more time's'n I been shot. An' I stopped countin' five years'go. Colt smiled at the man as he looked him up and down. Deciding that his enthusiasm was at least satisfactory, Colt thrust out his hand in greeting. "Name's Colt. Reckon it'sa pleasure't meet'cha."

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Supercape got up, dusting himself of sheepishly. "Thank you so much, kind sir. I do apologise for the inconvenience!". Looking around quickly to see nobody was within earshot, he leant in Colt's ear, whispering "I'm frightfully new to all of this, dear chap."

"As for the cape, never fear! They don't call me Supercape for nothing!" he intoned, perhaps a bit more loudly and booming that was really required. He concentrated for a moment, and the cape instantly reformed as fresh as new.

Colt looked every inch the confident, experienced hero Supercape wished he could be. Surely this was the man for the job. Shuffling his feet slightly, Supercape explained:

"My good Mr. Colt, I would be most frightfully grateful if you could give me some advice on this hero business. I am at your service and ready to serve the City!". Not knowing what else to do, he gave an uncertain, stiff salute.

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Supercape was very much Colt's elder. He had about 20 years on him, as far as Colt could tell. Yet for some reason the man had come to him for advice. Colt remembered his first days in the city. It hadn't even been a year yet. But thanks to Colt's veritable trial by fire, and thanks to the Interceptors, he had grown accustomed to the hero work rather quickly. "Well, ya sure are determined. I like that." Colt nodded his approval, "Now, I reckon the best way fer us't do this's gon' be'ta see what'cha got, first. Best place'ta do that'd be back't th' Underground, but seein' how's we've been more'n more concerned wit' security lately..." Colt drew a small blindfold from out of one of his pockets. "Y'all don't happen't have x-ray vision're nuthin', do ya?"

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Supercape took the blindfold. "X-Ray Vision? Um. No. Not exactly X Ray Vision. Not X Ray vision so to speak. "

Supercape looked Colt up and down. On the one hand, he didn't want to start lying. On the other hand, he didn't relish the thought of how he might be carted off to the base if he owned up. As far as he knew, there wasn't any practical way of forcibly turning off his ability to sense mass and energy around him. Aside from being knocked out. And it looked like Colt could be a man of just such pragmatic measures, and a mean hook.

"Well...." he paused. "It's not so much X ray vision. But, I don't think this will really do the job." He handed the small blindfold back with one hand, and started rubbing his jaw unconsciously with the other. "I don't suppose you could just trust me?" He gave a nervous smile...

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"Well unfortunately, I reckon that's part'a this here test. Findin' out if'n we can're not." Colt accepted the blindfold back and shoved it back in his pocket. "Fort'natly fer'us, there's more'n one way'ta skin'a cat'er so they say." Colt pulled a small gray box out of his pocket. It was the approximate size and shape of a cube, with about an inch on each side. "This here's, well, call't th' back door fer now." Colt laid his left hand on Supercape's shoulder, and pressed his thumb into the side of the box, depressing a button.

Seconds later, Colt, Supercape, and the Stellar Cycle all materialized in a large room with metallic walls. "This here's the garage." Colt explained switching off his e-cigarette and slipping it into the front pocket of his shirt. "It's where we house ma' Stellar Cycle'n the MAVERIC." He gestured to the large transport vehicle parked nearby.

"Welcome ta'th'Underderground, Supercape."

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Supercape was impressed. He was used to high tech stuff, working at the University. But this place had class even by his standards.

"Magnificent", he spluttered. "And thanks for the ride. Nice little Box you have! Interesting mechanics."

"This is the Underground, you say?", Supercape babbled, not really paying attention to Cape for a few moments as he spun around, taking in all the sights, sounds, and other impressions of the place that his extraordinary senses let him. "Impressive. Splendid. Quite a show!"

Feeling more intimidated than ever, he grasped at his cape that fluttered and expanded. Drawing it around his body, he attempted a display of more confidence. "Now then sir, how might I demonstrate my credentials?"

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"Follow me," Colt instructed with a wave of his hand. He led Supercape down an adjoining hallway. The decor was much the same. The hallway led to a central room. There was a multitude of equipment in this room. A large computer screen displayed a map of the city. It reminded Supercape of a convenience store security camera system the way it flashed between different views here and there. It seemed to be using traffic cameras currently. "This here's th' central control room. It allows us'ta monitor what goes on'n th' city. But we're headed this way." Colt gestured to the side.

The central room had more hallways branching off from it. Colt led Supercape through another one of these hallways. "This here's the trainin' room. It allows us'ta test our skils'n such. Like so:" Colt walked over to a panel on the wall. He turned a dial and hit a button, then faced the opposite wall. Supercape could hear the dial clicking down. He soon determined that it was a timer of some sort. When it reached zero, a small bell dinged. Eight clay targets popped out of slots in the opposite wall. Colt drew his gun faster than Supercape could even see. He destroyed each of the targets with one bullet each in nearly as short a time. If Supercape had blinked, he might have missed it.

Colt holstered his pistol, and turned to face Supercape again. "We c'n set all types'a scenarios'n this here room. So, what're yer strengths? 'Cape? We'll test'em out first."

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"Well", answered supercape, cracking his knuckles. "The mind is a wonderful thing... especially mine", he smiled and gave a wink. He felt more at home now, thanks to Colt's natural charm.

"I won't go into the math, but its all about how the mind can change quantum states of particles. If you want to call them particles. I'm not sure I do. "

"So, by doing so, I can create electromagnetic radiation. By directly exciting atoms". Untrue to his word, he excitedly started spieling out complex maths and physics that would be incomprehensible to all but post graduate level physicists.

"...So, pragmatically, this allows one to do THIS", he finished, exhausted by his monologue. And with a wave of his arm, and a blurring of the air, came a flash of green radiation at the end of the hallway, causing the remains of the clay targets to melt and burst.

Supercape was quite pleased with himself. "Its all electromagnetic radiation you see, from atomic energy. I can create it anywhere. Give me a target, and I can do all sorts with it. "

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"So, by doing so, I can create electromagnetic radiation. By directly exciting atoms". Untrue to his word, he excitedly started spieling out complex maths and physics that would be incomprehensible to all but post graduate level physicists.

"...So, pragmatically, this allows one to do THIS", he finished, exhausted by his monologue. And with a wave of his arm, and a blurring of the air, came a flash of green radiation at the end of the hallway, causing the remains of the clay targets to melt and burst.

Colt whistled in surprise, "Well ain't that something. Y'all're able't blow stuff up wit' yer mind. That really is somethin'." Colt rubbed his chin for just a second, "Hmmm, I reckon I got just the thing fer this."

Colt went to the control box once more, He pulled a small object away from it. The thing looked like a glorified TV remote with the amount of buttons on it. He punched a few of them in, and then turned to Supercape, "Alright, partner. In a sec, there's gonna be targets on'na wall same's before." Colt gestured to the melted targets that were now being carted away on a rail. "Tak'em all down'n ya pass this test."

Colt's finger hovered over the activation button, "Whenever yer ready, 'Cape."

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Out of the wall sprung 5 figures. Supercape scanned them. If nothing else, he couldn't be accused of recklessness. Quite the reverse. Whilst they looked human, their mass was all wrong. Mannequins, he realised. At least he wasn't being asked to shoot down real crooks!

He noticed that four were carrying firearms. The last was carrying just an umbrella. And a normal one at that, no James-Bond-Poison-Dart device. The set up of this place made him half expect "Q" to pop round the corner and discuss his latest gadget laden car.

Supercape wasn't quick, but he was methodical. Focussing his mind on each target one by one, and exciting the appropriate atoms, each of the gun wielding mannequins was bathed in a greeny-red radiation and exploded, disintegrated, or plain melted. Only the umbrella and its innocent holder remained upright.

He gave Cape a smile. "Jolly good show! I might just pull this hero thing off!" he said with a little pride.

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"Good." Colt approved, "Fer dummies, anyways. Just know't sometimes theres'a 'nother way." Colt pressed the button once more. The five targets that had been shot, were quickly replaced by five more. Colt quickly drew his pistol, emptied the spent rounds, reloaded, and fired four shots in less time than it had taken Supercape to analyze and fire. Supercape noticed that each of the targets was still standing. With the exception of the man with the umbrella, who Supercape noticed was now in a different location, the men were all missing their firearms. A quick scan of the ground, showed four plastic rifles scattered about. "If they'd'a been real criminals, I'm sure they wouldn't appreciate havin' their molecules're whatever ya call't melted." Colt holstered his pistol once more. "Look fer ways'a beat'em without killin'em. But I'm sure ya would'a don'at if'n they were real." Colt gave Supercape a smile.

"Naw fer th' next one." Colt began, placing the remote back on the table. "This one's'a little harder."

Colt cleared his throat before beginning to speak, "Sinister Simian's placed'a large Death Ray high up on'a buildin'n downtown'n Pyramid Plaza. Durin' yer fight wit' th' monkey, a nearby buildin's badly damaged'n begins't topple, threatenin' th' lives'a hundreds'a people. If you go'n help'em, ya give Simian time't activate his device, which may just threaten th' whole world. What'a ya do?"

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Just the sort of Ethical dilema that is so simple logically, but so hard emotionally. Supercape frowned, and massaged his forehead. "But there are so many variables. I guess its a judgement call, Colt. What is the fate of a few hundred compared to the fate of the planet?"

Supercape knew the logical answer, but he was still only human.

"I guess whatever I do, I'm going to regret it, Colt. Maybe that's the way it is to be a Hero. If you are asking what I think I should do, I would go for that death ray first. If you are asking what I would do, that's another matter. It's not easy to think calmly in that situation. I guess I will only know if I can hold true to what I should do under that kind of pressure. "

He looked away, unable to look at Colt directly. "But if I caused those folks to die. It would rest heavy on me. Very heavy. I... I'm not sure, Colt. How do you live with this stuff?"

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Colt smiled, it seems Supercape had gotten the message. "Well, I reckon that's the real test ain't it?" Colt asked, "Most'a th' time, ya just gotta hope't never comes ta that. A true hero ain't just measured by how many target'e c'n shoot'er how many banks'e stops from bein' robbed. I reckon ya gotta consider how'e feels 'bout all'a't." Colt looked away from Supercape, briefly. "I reckon't that there's somethin' that all'a us're always workin' on. It's th'one fight ya'ain't never gonna win." Colt turned back to Supercape. "But that don't mean ya c'n stop fightin' it."

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Supercape breathed out long and slow. "I really hope it never comes to that. I would like to be able to sleep easy. But it strikes me that doing anything, even in that situation, is worse than doing nothing out of fear. A man has to do, as I believe you American folk say, what a man has to do. What would happen if Supercape never turned up at all? Mr. Simian would just activate his death ray. "

"Yes, one has to do something. Even if its not easy. "

Supercape looked at Colt. "It's not going to be easy is it? But I have to thank you for letting me know. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. " He flashed a slightly nervous smile, full of a boyish charm that belied his years.

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"Ya cain't drive cattle if'n ya don't know where yer goin'." Colt nodded. "I reckon s'always better't know what yer up against."

Colt returned the man's smile. "I hate ta tell ya this, 'Cape," Colt began, "But that's 'bout all'a got fer ya. I reckon ya showed exactly the type'a concern I was lookin' fer. Ya passed, big guy, congrats. One thing I'll leave ya wit, however, is if'n Simian'er anyone else does pull somethin' like that, ya make sure ya call us. We might just be able ta help."

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"Well, I suspect that's enough to get me started", smiled Supercape. "And i'll be sure to call on you chaps if the Gorilla does turn up. "

Supercape still looked the same at first glance. But the perceptive would notice he carried himself just a little taller, his gaze just a little firmer, and his smile was no longer so tainted with insecurity. In short, he looked a little more like a superhero, a little less like a man in a large cape.

"Colt, I guess the only way I'll truly get to be a hero is to get going with heroic actions. I can't thank you enough." He took the experienced man's hand and clasped it with both of his, shaking it earnestly.

"Now, I'd best get going. Is it the front door this time, or are you still Mr. Security? That spiffing box thing again I suppose?"

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"Aw, shucks, Cape. I reckon we c'n dispense wit' all that there secrecy fer now." Colt smiled as he shook the man's hand, glad that he could be of some service at least.

Before leading him out the front door, Colt took the time to give the city's newest hero a tour of their base. Soon enough, however, it was time that he head off. Colt wished the Caped Crusader a fond farewell as he watched him fly off to do some good.


Elsewhere...

"Blast it!" Shouted the large ape, as he threw a wrench to the floor. "These circuits simply will not line up properly. No matter." He lifted a different wrench out of his toolbox, "My sinister device will be complete soon enough..."

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