The superheroes are back – and they have a collective name, at last! also, the world is about to fall on their heads.
The Foundling pt.2
by Lee Hulme
“Do you have a name?” Bonitas asked.
The winged man nodded stiffly, “They called me Colutis. I don’t know why.”
“Huh,” Millie said softly, clearly to herself, “Sounds Latinate.” She looked at the wall and mused quietly for a moment before shrugging. “Little rusty, have to look it up to be sure. Sorry. Go on.”
Colutis looked at her with faint bemusement, but said nothing.
“Don’t mind Millie,” Bonitas shook her head a little, “She’s not quite in the same world as the rest of us. How-how long have you been down here?”
Colutis looked at her blankly, “Always.”
“Always?” Bonitas repeated.
As long as I can remember,” Colutis clarified, his voice slowly becoming smoother as he continued to speak, “They told me they found me. Never said where or when, just they found me and saw I was special. Said I was in danger, they kept me safe.”
“By locking you in a vault your entire life.” Bonitas’ voice was dry and humourless.
“They tested me a lot at first, too. What I could do. What I was made of. How I worked. They did it less later. Think they found things they wanted to use, made new pets, forgot me mostly.”
“They used what they found in you to…ohh…” Millie’s ears had, as usual, picked up that which she deemed important.
Bonitas looked up, her conclusion the same. “Viscura?”
Colutis nodded, “One of many. The only one that worked, I think.”
“Judging by the mess everywhere else, ze didn’t work as well as they thought.”
“I wondered why people stopped coming,” Colutis frowned lightly. “Used to bring food and water, then nothing at all. Not for a long time.”
“But you survived…” Millie interjected, “How?”
“I can live a long time without food and drink. Don’t know why. Just as long as I don’t use any of my special gifts, I don’t need it much.”
“But your gifts use up a lot of energy,” Millie was talking aloud to herself again, “All the nourishment gets sucked into it so I bet a ton of fuel is needed to replenish. But the constitution is rock solid so at rest it barely uses anything.” She paused for a moment. “Wonder what they sourced to power Viscura…”
Colutis shook his head, “Don’t know.”
Bonitas opened her mouth again, but before she could speak there was a series of loud noises and the walls began to shake. Dust fell from shifting stone as cracks began to form in the walls and ceiling of the vault. Somebody very close by had set off some powerful, well-placed charges.
“Shit!” Millie sighed.
Bonitas grinned, “Concise and to the point as ever, Millie. We have to move – now!”
Colutis began pulling himself to his feet, “Where’s the nearest place to get food?”
Bonitas looked at him like he was insane, “What??”
“Food. Is there somewhere close?”
“I got some cereal bars,” Millie offered, “And civilisation is couple of miles away. Maybe three.”
“Good enough. Get down!” Colutis grabbed them both as they dropped to the floor, groaning in pain as he opened his stiff, dry wings, covering them as the walls buckled, the ceiling cracked, and the building collapsed into itself.
Two men in almost identical suits, one beginning to grey at the temples, the other with jet-black hair cut neat and slicked back, stood and watched a screen.
On the screen was something one might recognise as a collapsed building, if one were in the demolition business, which these men were. When necessary.
The younger man fidgeted slightly, wanting to move, to speak, but taking his cue from the perfectly-still older man, who could barely even be seen to breathe.
As they watched the screen, a section amidst the rubble seemed to collapse inwards. Dust puffed up from inside, followed by a hand. In moments, three bodies had emerged to stand in the fading daylight.
The younger man couldn’t resist any more, “They survived!”
The older man sniffed, reaching forward to push a button, “They’re out. See where they go then contain them.”
“Yes, sir!” a voice crackled in response.
The older man sat back and continued to watch the screen.
The younger, looking a little ashamed of his outburst, shifted uncomfortably and cast a sidelong glance his way before looking back at the screen.
“Here,” Millie practically stuffed a cereal bar into Colutis’ mouth as they set off. Bonitas was almost dragging him along as he fought to stay upright.
“C’mon, we gotta move,” Millie urged, passing him another cereal bar. “Much food as you like soon as we’re safe, promise.”
Colutis consumed the cereal bars at high speed and started to move faster, nodding at Millie, “They’ll be coming. Get me enough food and water and I can fly us out of reach.”
Millied nodded, “ We will. Gotta get there first!”
Colutis grimaced and stopped for a moment. Closing his eyes he took some deep breaths, seeming to grow taller with each one. After a few moments he opened his eyes again, their deep brown now tinged with red, “Let’s go.”
Millie grinned, “Alright. Welcome to the Freaks and Geeks club, Colutis. Super-powered freaks behind me!” She set off at an easy run, setting a pace she hoped she could keep up for a while.
Bonitas nudged Colutis ahead of her, and followed at the rear, turning her head constantly as she looked for signs of danger.
Long before they reached civilisation, Millie had slowed to a trudge.
“I keep telling you to get more exercise,” Bonitas shook her head with a slight smile.
Colutis stopped, out of breath himself, “I’m normally better than this. But I can do it. Millie?” he held out his hands, offering help.
Millie thought for a moment then heaved a sigh and nodded, assenting to being carried.
Paling slightly as he took the extra weight, Colutis started to move, painstakingly pushing himself up to a jog.
Bonitas followed on behind, her concern visible even beneath her visor. Every moment they weren’t attacked was another moment she became surer that they were running into a trap. But what could they do? Colutis was clearly burning up emergency reserves, even before he started to carry Millie. Would it kill him if he ran out? Bonitas didn’t know for sure, but it was possible. And she was sure that he would let it happen before giving in.
Even as she thought this, Bonitas’ comms device blipped and threw up a warning screen: “Enemies detected. Heavily armed. Moving east.”
“How close to the store are we?” Bonitas gasped out.
A map popped up with directions. Next turning.
“How close are they?”
The map widened to show a large number of red dots heading towards them at an angle which would intersect with the store they were headed for.
“Shit. Colutis!” Bonitas put on a burst of speed to draw alongside him. “Whatever you have left, use it. Follow me!” Without looking back, she pulled ahead, shot out a hand to stop herself from crashing into the wall as she turned sharply, then leapt a wall, raced inside and skidded to a halt. Turning, she saw Colutis come crashing in, protecting Millie with his body even as he collapsed to the cold tile floor.