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My Dearest Angelica (IC)

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April 30, 2017 

Freedom City 

Riverside Park 



It was a quiet enough afternoon for the Cline family, or at least one part of it. Richard Cline had always been an involved father (sometimes to Holly and Will's frustration) but he'd made a special point to step in and get involved in their lives after they'd all brought home baby Bryant Cline. Paige hadn't actually objected to adopting his infant father rather than see him put into the foster system - but he also knew her well enough after decades together to know what it meant for her to open their home like that. So he'd made a special point to be the father to Bryant that Bryant had never been to him, and if it was all strange and dysfunctional, well their family had always been that at least a little bit and they'd gotten through all right. 


Tonight, the day before the big May 1 charity Race for the Cure that he and Will had entered along with some other Freedom City heroes, he and his kids were sitting around a picnic table in Riverside Park, waiting for their fellow racers to arrive. Holly had Bryant out from his carrier and had laid him on his stomach on a blanket on the ground - but he wasn't staying there! Now a chubby nine-month-old full of energy, the bald-headed tot kept 'dashing' his way off the blanket, clutching his lovey in one hand and pulling himself along with the other arm and both his knees. <Go Bryant!> thought Holly, snapping some pictures with the new phone that had been her recent twelfth birthday present. <No more babies in chains!> 



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Tyson and Emily Masters had meant to show up early. It had meant a lot to Tyson to get to do any event with not one but two of his idols! All day he had been nervous about meeting his personal hero, Fast Forward, but the rest of the day quickly made that the least of his worries. He'd spent most of the last half hour trying to work out the Waco end of things with Druid and Alan Alchemy over the phone. It was a matter of personal pride, and city pride. 


"Well I guess we just have to make sure that we get all hands on deck with this job." Emily said squeezing Tyson's hand. "Tyson baby, how dumb would someone have to be to pick a fight with four Speedsters at once?"

"You've met Noun Master." Tyson sighed. "It would just be... embarrassing to go through all this trouble only to have it get attacked."

"Only if you don't stop them." She remarked before pointing out a group that Tyson had already seen. A face that was well recognizable to him from having watched it on tv all while growing up. The young couple strode over. 

"Mr. Cline? Ikaika Akala, Hyperactive." He grinned from ear to ear. "It's an absolute honor sir." 

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Will, Thoughtspeed, was lounging around at the picnic table, having some light snacks. Which, for his metabolism, meant a couple of sandwiches and a lot of chips and vegetables. Just to tide him over. His mother had said he couldn't dig into the best dishes until folks got here, but why was it taking so long!


He did chuckle at his baby "brother's" antics, along with his sister's encouragement.


<Careful with that revolutionary talk there, Holly. Wouldn't want a baby free of both chains and diapers running around your bedroom, would you?>


When he noted the arrival of Hyperactive, he self-consciously reached up to ensure his mask was carefully affixed, though at times he wondered why he bothered. He wasn't wearing his full costume this evening, didn't see a need, but the mask was an affectation he was reluctant to part with. It was a weird neither-here-nor-there situation...

Either way, he sat up straighter, dusted off his hands, and waited to be introduced, like a dutiful son.


Hey, everything happened at least some of the time, right?

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"Nice to meet you!" said Richard, springing to his feet and shaking both their hands with just a trace of nervous energy. He was in his fifties but his powers made him look twenty years younger, with just a scattering of grey in black hair cut in a New Wave style that had been out of fashion before Tyson had been born. "This is my son Thoughtspeed, my daughter Holly, and -" was there a tiny bit of hesitation as he pointed at the rapidly crawling baby making his way through the grass? It was hard to say. "this is Bryant, our youngest." Holly waved a hello and actually was moved to say a cautious "Hi there" while Bryant crawled up and hung onto her pant leg. Richard gestured to Tyson and Emily to take a seat around the table, the basket from which . "I know your people and my people have already signed off on the race and everything, but I wanted to actually meet you and talk with you before we do our bit. It's good for people in the club to know each other." 

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"It's an absolute honor to meet you." Part of the club. Somebody had better pinch him. Emily rolled her eyes and nudged Tyson. "And I'm not sure what you heard but the Waco Warriors are going to make sure that the event and venue are safe. Believe me my people are totally competent. You have nothing to worry about sir." 


"Thoughtspeed." Tyson said before extending a hand to him. Emily meanwhile gave a polite nod to the young man. It was odd to meet another speedster of about the same age. A good odd, like discovering a delightful flavor combination. But still, odd.


"Oh good the two of you can bond over having a speedster parent later." Emily joked and gave Tyson a light jab in the ribs. "I'm surprised your mom isn't joining us babe."

"Sunset Speedster didn't want to slow the race down." Tyson said, that and she still mostly remembered the criminal exploits of Richard Cline. She was happy Tyson got to meet an idol of his, but it wasn't like she was going to run all the way to Freedom for the race. 

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Thoughtspeed was on his feet and smiling in a couple normal eye-blinks (which meant that Hyperactive and Fast-Forward saw him smoothly but swiftly stand up and start smiling). He put his own hand forward to shake the other speedster's.


"Hyperactive, it's good to meet you! And good to hear your friends are pitching in! Lets us focus on the important thing: running! By which I mean, me beating the pants off of both of you."


His grin was nothing but the confidence of a young man in his prime.


"Too bad we couldn't meet her today. We'd have two slowpoke parents. They could talk about boring old people stuff."


His parents could tell Will was feeling his oats today. 

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"Careful, boy, your mother can still hear you across town," said Richard with a grin his son's way. "My wife, Thoughtspeed's mom, is going to be meeting us tomorrow morning on the Freedom City side of the race, but she's seen the two of us racing since the boy here was in diapers." That was literally true, but probably not anything Will wanted him dwelling on. "With three kids in the house, she appreciates a chance for some peace and quiet. Yes, I heard you were second-gen too," said Richard, loading up paper plates with reasonably warm fried chicken. "We're third-generation, but the doctors don't know if it's because the chroniton-things are actually being generated internally, or if it just comes from all the exposure I had from my ma, and Thoughtspeed had from me. We'll find out if the boy here ever settles down, in, uh, ten or twenty years." 


"Holly Cline, a pleasure to meet you," said Holly, who was doing her best to act mature for her age despite grass stains on her jeans. "Aaah!" declared Bryant, who had stopped trying to crawl away and was just sitting on the ground by his big sister, watching the new arrivals curiously. 

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"Well... Second gen speedster. But my grandfather was a pyrokinetic, and well legend has it that we were blessed generations ago by the gods of old Hawaii. We have powers that match another family." Tyson shrugged. Mythology was fun, but he wasn't sure if the old legend was true at all"You actually did an episode on one of my Grandfather's enemies, you figured out how the mind control worked."


"If it is magic, it could mean that if we're unlucky our kids won't have powers anything like ours." He grinned at Emily before looking at Bryant. "Hi there!" He waved and gave a huge smile. He wanted kids eventually, and the whole powers thing had been something Emily refused to talk about before they got married. 


"Hi Holly." Emily said. "Did you get powers like your brother?" 

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"No, I got better powers," said Holly with a big grin. "I'm a psychic like my mom - telepathy, telekinesis, precognition, the works. It's a pretty sweet deal. If I had my costume, I could even fly." 

"Not out where everyone can see you," said Richard, a touch more seriously. "Yeah, we have experience with mind control and telepathy - it was actually Hologram who figured out that trick even before our team got on it." Changing the subject quickly, he said, "So Hawaii and Texas, huh? Your family must get around. Do you make the run back home much? I commute myself now that Holly's in school out here - I run the family back and forth to LA every day. Makes for a good morning jog." He grinned. "You ever go global?"

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"Doesn't mean you two aren't old, Dad. Her hearing's always been better than yours."

He settled behind a loaded-up plate with a grin, rolling his eyes at his father's comment about how soon he would or wouldn't settle down.

"Yeah, twenty years, sure, when I'm old like you? I'm just picky, that's all"

He took a few bites before continuing his conversation. 

"Super powers seem wacky no matter how you cut it. My kid could be one of those standard flying bricks, or someone who shoots punch-beams out of their eyes. Who knows?"

He waved a half-eaten roll in the air as emphasis. 

"Just look at Holly and I. On the surface we're like mirrors of our folks, but my powers don't work quite like my dad's, and Holly's don't work quite like my mom's, though I think they're closer than Dad and I are."

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"You definitely did." Emily replied to Holly with a wide smile. She looked over at Thoughtspeed. Tyson said nothing, he knew that look. She was trying to see if she had known him. She just smiled. "I'm glad this one isn't too picky." She reached out and took some food for herself. 


"A mom who can read your mind?" Tyson shuddered at the thought looking at Thoughtspeed. He turned back to Fast Forward. "I guess I don't have much of a reason to do global runs. But I do go back to Chicago pretty often. My sister is at Claremont. She dorms there, but spends three out of four weekends at home. I'm the cheapest way to get back. I make the run to Waco daily though. Gotta get to class." He laughed. "The Warriors don't like doing work outside of Texas. The Midwest has the Barnstormers and well super crime in the south tends to affect Texas at some point. A global threat is a threat my peers would rather let others deal with until it knocks on our door. I wish we moved on things earlier but I'm-"

"Impatient." Emily finished with a gentle smile. 

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"I've been to Texas a couple of times - not since I was a little older than Thoughtspeed, though. Have to make it back there sometime." Eventually the topic of the conversation turned to routes - a pretty standard Waco-Knoxville-Freedom route through the Appalachians that both Hyperactive and Fast-Forward were familiar with, for various reasons. Richard had brought along an actual paper map of the route, carefully sketched out by marker, while Holly illustrated the same on her tablet for the benefit of the more technically-minded of the group. More technically-minded than Richard, anyway. "Okay, the mountain route isn't the most exciting, but it's got fewer interruptions and it's safer, as long as you can handle heights and some rough terrain. As long as we hit the cameras in Roanoke, Knoxville, and the other cities, the kids back home'll get to see more than just the occasional blur at the finish line. Any questions?" 

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Hyperactive glanced over the map. It was a good route and he'd run it before, so there was little chance of getting lost. 


"Well the Warriors would love to have you visit if you decide to come down." He smiled up as he looked the route over. There might be a few places to cut a little time out. "We could use some pointers from someone like you. Any other cities we need to hit?"


"In any case Safer is good, less chance of the Master Epidemic trying to make a scene." 

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Thoughtspeed gave Hyperactive a flat look when the other speedster brought up the "psychic mom" problem.

"You have no idea." 

He gave an exaggerated shudder.

"Having a psychic sister is just icing on the cake."

He subtly stuck his tongue out at his sister at super-speed. When the maps came out, he got a bit more serious, poking and prodding at the route to familiarize himself with it. 

"So, what will we have to keep ourselves on the correct route? GPS headsets or something? And we're not trying to just run on the roads, right?"

He quirked his head at Hyperactive's comment.

"Master Epidemic?"

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"We've been having issues with a bunch of bad guys calling themselves some kind of Master. Drone Master, Ring Master, Dungeon Master, Noun Master, etc. More of a nuisance, but they cause serious enough trouble and like to go for big publicity." Hyperactive said before smiling. "Eh but the Warriors should have that under control. They're honestly the Warriors villain bench. I'm not that worried." 


"Then so far as paths and nav, I've got my helmet, I've wired in a screen." It wasn't combat or tactically useful, but it helped for navigation on long distances. "Emily was going to be giving me directions,"


"As best I can at your top speeds." Emily added letting her attention break from Bryant. 


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"It's a Texas thing," commented Richard to his son. "Your gramma and I used to know this guy named Master Man that-well, that's a story for another time." When Emily's attention wandered from him, Bryant waved his arms and started yelling "Aaah! Aaah!" as if worried he was being missed. 


"That's a stupid name," commented Holly, her pale face darkening into a scowl. "Nobody should be anybody's master." She stuck her tongue out at Will, though, and lost her momentary anger as she scooped up Bryant again. "Come on, baby, what are you doing? Do we need to play 'Mind Games' again?" Bryant did indeed want to play 'Mind Games', and Holly demonstrated what that was by summoning shimmering pink images between her hands for the baby's entertainment. 


"As for the route, we stick to the roads when it's the better route and we've got the checkpoints, but after that it's all off-road here through the Appalachians and the Deep South." He pointed to east Tennessee and north Mississippi, among other places. "You kids can use the GPS stuff if you want, I only have the tech so the sponsors can stay in touch." He grinned. "Back in the old days, I used to do that whole distance with nothing but a Walkman and a road map." 

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"Back in the old days you had to churn your butter by hand and wipe with corncobs, blah blah uphill both ways blah blah. We get it, you're ancient, dad. Mom's the one that's, what, 29 and holding?"


Thoughtspeed's smile was wicked. He was clearly enjoying teasing his father. The smile faded a bit and he shrugged.


"But yeah, GPS sounds fine. I don't know the area well, and if we're going off-road, it's hard for me to follow the roads, isn't it? Besides, this isn't a survival test, it's a race. At least we're not, like, running in circles for three days or something."


Some people might enjoy car races but for a speedster like Will, they were just...boring. They didn't have the cool, flashy, stylish cars! 

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"Sounds good to me. I can coordinate the general route with the other warriors." Hyperactive looked over the map, yeah he could drop Mystery Master there, Doctor Orion here, and the Angels there and there. It could cover most of the ambush points on the race. Why was he worried? An attack would be a dumb idea in general. Which didn't rule it out. 


"So I know Hyperactive was paying attention, but what time do we have to be out at the starting line by?" Emily asked. "I can't imagine you not wanting to sign autographs before and after the race." She said before turning back towards Bryant and Holly. "Neat trick." She smiled, she could do that too, but it wouldn't be safe to be anywhere near it. Her magic had been forged in war, it had one real purpose.

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The next morning, the speedsters, their families, and friends turned out bright and early at the starting line in Hanover, HIT being one of the major sponsors of the race. The setting was pretty familiar to Richard at this point in his career; the bleachers on either side of the temporarily blocked-off state road, the fans and press in the bleachers and lining the street, the sponsors and symbols, and of course his lovely wife and kids. Maybe we sold out, he mused without regret as he looked over the starting line for the race, but I'm damn glad we did. The product labels sewn into his leather jacket (not his actually favorite one, but the one he used for sponsored races) were gonna pay for his kids' college, for his mother's house in Florida, and for everything else that was good to have when you could honestly earn the money for it. 


"See, you're just not gonna get this in LA," he said significantly to Will as they stood there and made a father-son picture for the cameras. "There's no place like Freedom for something like this - or for crowds this big. Or girls that pretty!" He blew a kiss to Paige and Holly in the stands as they waited for the competition to show up.

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Hyperactive carried Emily over to the rest of the Masters Family. He gave her a quick kiss before having a picture taken with his parents and sister, who was wearing her own sleek pink visor.

He then snagged his girl up and ran over to where his adoptive sister Drone Master II was sitting. 

"2.0!" He said as DM2 put up a fist to bump. "Are my two favorite girls ready to help us win?" 

"Well after we do this." Alexandra, AKA the Drone Master 2.0, got up and placed an Archetech decal on his helmet. "Now I'm ready to help you win." She flashed two thumbs up. 

Hyperactive dashed on over to Fast-Forward and Thoughtspeed.

"Mind if I hop in on a couple pictures?"

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23 hours ago, Avenger Assembled said:

"See, you're just not gonna get this in LA," he said significantly to Will as they stood there and made a father-son picture for the cameras. "There's no place like Freedom for something like this - or for crowds this big. Or girls that pretty!" He blew a kiss to Paige and Holly in the stands as they waited for the competition to show up.

"Out in Cali there's not as many speedsters, though! I'm more unique. Or is this actually about the ninja thing again?"

He didn't quite have a scoffing tone in his voice at that, but it wasn't far off.

"I mean, come on! You know I know all the Ninja Watch Signs. Besides, I can totally come back here for weekends and stuff. After all, if I can smoke you today, just means I can get out here even faster than you and mom run to the studio, yeah?"


23 hours ago, Kolohehonu said:

Hyperactive carried Emily over to the rest of the Masters Family. He gave her a quick kiss before having a picture taken with his parents and sister, who was wearing her own sleek pink visor.

He then snagged his girl up and ran over to where his adoptive sister Drone Master II was sitting. 

"2.0!" He said as DM2 put up a fist to bump. "Are my two favorite girls ready to help us win?" 

"Well after we do this." Alexandra, AKA the Drone Master 2.0, got up and placed an Archetech decal on his helmet. "Now I'm ready to help you win." She flashed two thumbs up. 

Hyperactive dashed on over to Fast-Forward and Thoughtspeed.

"Mind if I hop in on a couple pictures?"


Thoughtspeed beamed and gave a thumbs-up.


"I'm always up for pictures! 

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The pictures were signed and the autographs made - and a few short speeches recorded for the benefit of the camera. And then the boys were off! From Fast-Forward's perspective, everything seemed to slow down to a crawl - slow enough that the cheering crowd, the flashing lights, and everything else around them were frozen in immobility. A moment later, he pushed his powers the other way and his own perceptions sped up to fantastic, superhuman speed. He started running even as the frozen echoes of the starter horn echoed around him, a smirk on his face as he took off at supersonic speed down the streets of a Freedom City frozen into almost immobility. He'd be able to talk to Paige on and off through the race, but at these speeds, Will would be his primary contact point telepathically. 


Of course, they had other ways of talking. Into his radio headset, he called to the other racers, "Hey! Delaware Bay in five! You boys ready to get wet?" They'd temporarily veered off the roads for the opening stretch of the race, planning to cut across Delaware Bay, the Delmarva Peninsula, and then the Chesapeake before they hit land. The empty beach path Richard had chosen flew by in a blur, ocean and land so many shadows. 

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Hyperactive heard the horn and sprung forward. The world went slow. So so so slow. It was a great feeling, seeing the world freeze as he took off. He had his racing playlist going in the background, but he was also at this moment just keeping up with the rest of the racers. 


<Focus, you can fangirl later big bro> the text appeared on his HUD. Hyperactive smiled at 2.0's writing. When he heard the announcement over his headset Hyperactive tapped his earpiece again to switch to the channnel with DM2 on the other line. 


"Copy that 2.0?" The girl was quick, made her an asset. She had the brains of a super computer and Hyperactive was counting the days when she'd be switching from the Seasonal's dopey red and orange to the Attometer's sleek black and green. That would be a great day. 


There was a flash in each upper right corner of the helmet as the best route DM2 could come up with. The text appeared as well. <Got it boss!> she couldn't speak at this speed, but she was doing her best to get everything set up. It was good having the technopath on his bench. She'd also be unavailable when they hit the far parts of the states, but he'd deal with that when he got there. Hyperactive adjusted his course and kept pace with the other speedsters. 

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When the horn sounded, Thoughtspeed was a blur of black and green, racing forward and leaving a trail of fuzzy green dots behind in his wake. The air currents he left swirled the barely-there dots about in frantic patterns...


"The only thing I'm getting wet is my feet, but if you feel like eating my dust when we go over the water, feel free!"


Thoughtspeed's voice is joyous, the young man losing himself in the undiluted excitement of just cutting loose. He wasn't at his top speed, not yet. He did, however, pour on a bit more speed, seeking to make sure he didn't drop behind "dead even" with his father, his whole body having fallen into a hyper-efficient rhythm of movement that allowed him to keep this pace up for a good long while. 

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The speedsters ran, crossing ocean and land in an eyeblink, then were back on solid ground for the long cut across the southeastern United States. Washington, DC, where President Cahill was probably watching the live feed right now - northern Virginia with all its history, then slowing (relatively speaking) when they hit the rougher terrain of the Appalachians. With a marathoner's intuition, or maybe just an older man's caution, Fast-Forward hung back slightly and let the two young men take the lead, confident that Thoughtspeed and Hyperactive would give the audience quite a show through their mutual competition. 


Good kids, he thought with a smile as he watched the young men race. Bet my boy's faster in a clinch, though. The mountains were a low mockery of the real peaks of the Rockies, but the terrain was rugged enough that speedsters used to urban running had to be careful about choosing their footing. Enhanced reflexes greatly cut the likelihood of plowing into the ground at hypersonic velocities - but one certainly couldn't be too careful. Richard couldn't help remember the last time he and Will had raced through the southeastern United States, chasing dinosaurs when he'd taken the family back in time sixty-five million years. Good times, good times. 

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