"I'm getting too old for this."
Bullets whistled through the air a foot above the man laying on the ground. Staying as flat possibly could, he quickly rolled over and aimed the palms of his hands at his attackers. Soon the air started to ripple and shimmer, causing the bullets to deflect and ricochet off the walls of the buildings lining the street. The man of the ground tensed his arms, twisted his wrists, and then gave a slight push. The wall of air shot forwards, pushing all four of the gunmen off their feet and onto the hot pavement under them. Disorientated and angry, the men scrambled to their feet, only to see the man in the blue costume's cape disappear around a corner. Without a question, the men ran after the masked marauder. They approached the corner at full tilt, then skidded to a halt. In their path stood a stocky man in golden roman armor. The giant 'G' on his belt confirmed their fears: they were facing the Gladiator.
Shock consumed them. Not one of them said a word. Eyes flicked back and forth in desperation, hoping someone would have an idea. The Gladiator stood there facing them, with a small smirk playing on the corner of his mouth. The extended silence only caused their fear to increase. Any sudden movement on either side would cause an outbreak of chaos, probably resulting in four concussions and four arrests. Suddenly, the man at the back of the group panicked and turned to run, only to run into an invisible wall, taking him by surprise and knocking him to his feat. Panic then engulfed the group, as each tried to test their line of escape. An invisible bubble encompassed them, trapping them in front of their fate. One of the criminals pulled out his gun and made as if to shoot their invisible prison, only to be greeted with screams of defiance and a barrage of fists.
"Are you ready to do this, or do I have to wait all day?"
The gruff Brooklyn accent froze the four men in their place. Slowly, four heads turned in unison towards the Gladiator, who was now accompanied by the man in the blue costume and black mask, also known as Captain Incredible. His hands were out in front of him, just as they looked before when the men had been hit by the mysterious wall of air. It was this power that again jeopardized their mission. Not one of them could muster enough courage to say anything.
"Listen." This time, Captain Incredible spoke. The voice was soaked in a 1950's upper class air, with just a tinge of Canadian for good measure. "This force field is the only thing holding Gladiator back from you. I drop my concentration, he drops your sorry hides on the ground. Not a very pleasant thought, I can assure you."
One of the trapped men began to sweat nervously and shake. Another closed his eyes and whispered something under his breath, as if to ask for salvation before death. Captain Incredible gave a sideways glance at Gladiator, who returned it with a wink.
"But," he continued, "there is another option. Other than the ambulance, that is." He chuckled at his own joke. The audience, however, only swallowed a huge glob of fear. "You can always let us know who had you store all those weapons in that warehouse." The four men all looked at each other. Captain Incredible sighed. They were all the same. No matter how afraid of the pair of heroes they were, they were always more afraid of their boss. The worst thing, though, was the last several incidents were all connected to the same guy. But who?
"Very well," the Captain said, trying to conceal his disappointment. He turned his wrist slightly, then slowly lowered his arms back to his side. As soon as his arms started to move, the four men dashed behind the corner, followed closely by the Gladiator. Captain Incredible rubbed his left arm where he felt a cramp starting. He had been fighting crime for twenty years, beginning in 1975. Now 47, the joints would hurt more and more every time he made a simple force field. Behind the building, he heard the screams of the criminals and the wild, maniacal laughter of the Gladiator. Instead of intervening, he decided to give Jim some more time with them, and leaned against the wall, still massaging his arm. Ever since they had met in New Jersey, Jim had a strange love of violence. Wasn't the typical hero supposed to refrain from beating the living tar out of their victims? Weren't they supposed to only help the law, not take it into their own hands? Probably. Was that how they did things? Not once in their twenty years. The Captain was the brains, the Gladiator was the brawn. Of course, they recruited several people over the years and formed a powerful team for quite some time, but they had all gone now. In fact, this crusade wasn't even supposed to happen. They were supposed to be in retirement from crime fighting, financially supported by their respective cities. But Jim needed one last mission, and there happened to be a crime boss that was easily evading the police. 47 isn't that old, right?
As the last of the screams and whines died down, the Captain decided it was time to see the damage the Gladiator had done. He strolled around the corner to see the roman guard standing over four unconscious bodies. Two of them had bloody noses, one of them with a nasty crook in it and blood all over his face, another had an unnatural bend in the middle of his right arm, and the last had a large black eye and a split lip. Other than that, though, there was minimal blood.
"This guy's gettin' lazy," Jim growled. "These punks weren't even trained. Straight from the streets." He wiped some blood that oozed from his nose with the back of his hand and growled something unintelligible. Captain Incredible looked over the carnage and shook his head.
"Did you really have to break his arm?"
"What? Oh, yeah, him. Well...he came at me. We were fighting. Stuff happens."
Captain Incredible shook his head. Jim was getting more careless in his fights. A broken arm here, a broken leg there, soon there would be a fatality, and there was no coming back from that. But they wouldn't have to if they could finish the job quick enough.
Both heroes stared over the bodies. The Captain folded his arms, looking upon the men with pity. The Gladiator hung his arms at his side and was slightly hunched over and panting, giving more the appearance of an animal, as he recovered from his rage. Suddenly, Jim looked up at Captain Incredible.
"Ed, I just remembered. Before I broke that guys nose, he started yellin' and fussin' about some Zimmerman. Said he's who we gotta find."
Ed nodded slowly. "Then I know exactly where to look." You don't fight crime for 20 years and not pick up a few names and locations.
Edwin Rothe walked out of his front door and sat on his porch chair. It was old, but what it lacked in style it made up with in comfort and familiarity. The sun was just peeking out from the Rocky Mountains, flooding the landscape in a warm, golden glow. This was his favourite time of day. Always had been. With a cup of coffee, the moment was perfect. It was utopia for all he cared. A rumble far off let him know of the incoming mail truck. As it pulled up to the drive way, Edwin slowly stood up, shoved his hand into his jeans pocket and walked over to greet the delivery man.
"Morning Gerald," he said slowly, with a 1950's upper class air with a tinge of a Canadian accent for good measure. "How's the week been?"
"Morning Ed," Gerald replied. "It's been another long one, but I'm getting by. And I'm sorry, but I can't stay and chat much today. Just came to give you your paper...and this." Gerald reached into the passenger seat, pulled out the weeks newspaper and a large envelope with bold red writing. Edwin took it, thanked the mailman and wished him well, and slowly walked back to his porch chair. Though the paper usually took most of his attention in the mornings, Edwin was completely focussed on the envelope. Staring at the writing, he fumbled for his glasses in his shirt pocket. They were a burden, but the eyes just didn't work as well as they used to and he liked the distinguished feel they gave him. Adjusting the glasses on his nose to get the proper focus (and feeling very much like an old man), he checked when the package was sent. July 23, 2015, from Winnipeg. That was only two days ago. Nothing came to Rocky Mountain House that quickly unless it was extremely important. In bright red letters on the front was the word CLASSIFIED. Edwin popped open the envelope and removed the single piece of paper within, mouthing the words to himself as he read them. The letter was short and in a formal, governmental font, which emphasized the importance even more than giant red letters. As he read, each word brought a new intensity to his face, one of concern, intrigue, and fear. They read:
To Mr. Edwin Rothe, aka Captain Incredible,
Evil is upon us, Edwin. Our intelligence agency and its operatives cannot handle what is going to come. We have, however, kept it from the public eye. This problem is something none of us have ever dealt with, but we know you have. We need your experience, Captain Incredible. It is a great thing to ask, I know, but we are out of options. Lives will be in jeopardy. If you choose not to help, then all of ours will be as well.
Burn this letter after opening it.
Jack Allen, CIA
"I have to talk to Jim."