Donnie kept Mallory pressed closely to his chest as she started to cry, their captors yelling orders at the other museum patrons had upset her to the point of tears. He brought his free arm up behind her back in a comforting gesture and put his hand on the back of her head as he quietly spoke to her, trying to comfort her.
“ssshhhh, darlin’. It’s alright. Nuthin’ ta worry ‘bout, here soon everything’s gonna be alight. Ah promise.” While Donnie spoke Mallory responded by pressing herself even harder against him, but her still continued to cry.
As he ran his fingers through Mallory’s hair, Donnie considered his options. He knew his Slo-Mo would handle most of the gunmen with little trouble, the problem was the ones who wouldn’t be affected by it. He’d have no way of knowing who wasn’t affected by it until they drew down their guns and with the size of the people they’d gathered he realized he’d need some help. Donnie drew in a short, measured breath and focused his mind on the stone pendant he wore around his neck, a gift made for such a situation that was from someone he considered a friend.
~Zalman.~ Donnie focused the thought into the stone and hoped that it worked like he’d been told it would. That his thoughts would go directly to the mind of the reformed mage he’s been working with and if he was able, he would answer back in the same manner. Donnie didn’t understand the workings of the stone but it he knew it was something about spirits of the air carrying their words to the other.
Seconds went by before he received an answer in the form of an image of the resident mage of Project Freedom, Zalman, in Donnie‘s mind. ~I am here Curve. Speak and what aid I may give is yours.~
A slight grin replaced the worried frown that had only moments before been on Donnie’s face. ~Ah need ya ta make one o’ yer portals. Ah’m at the Super Museum an’ sum mooks have taken folks hostage. Me an’ Mallory got tangled up in it all.~
The illusionary Zalman in Donnie’s mind gave a brief nod as he listened. ~An easy spell that will only require a moment’s effort to cast, your charm allows me to know your location.~
~Thanks Zalman, but the portal is fer Mallory. Ah kin’t leave these folks just ta keep her an’ muh backside safe. Ah want ya ta keep an eye on her fer me til Ah get back ta there once Ah’m done dealin’ with these idits.~ Donnie worked to keep his face from showing the relief he felt, he didn’t need any of the gunmen getting the idea that he was trying to pull the rug out from under their plans.
This time the illusionary Zalman gave a small bow to Donnie when he was done talking ~Your child shall know nothing but security until your return to her side, walk your path without worry for her safety.~ And like that the mental image of the mage was gone.
~Ah know.~ Donnie had no idea if Zalman had gotten the last message he’d sent, but he hoped the mage understood the amount of trust Donnie had in him. He knew that Zalman would open his portal up without any doubt, just like he knew that Zalman would shake the pillars of heaven, and probably even hell, to keep Mallory safe. Just because Donnie trusted him enough to be able to do it.
While Donnie focused on his daughter and their situation, Jon was looking over the gunmen controlling the crowd. What he saw had him worried, he knew he could only deal with part of them before the others could possibly react to him and threaten the bystanders. Looking around at the people in the crowd Jon tried to see if he could see anyone that even remotely resembled one of the Freedom League, but after seeing nothing but the looks of confusion, fearful stares and parents comforting their kids he understood that he really was unsupervised by the League at this point.
Jon considered what he could do given the situation. ”Maybe if I ripped up a chunk of the floor and used it to bowl over these guys? Nah, couldn’t be sure the debris wouldn’t hit the folks who’d be trying to get away.” Jon was torn away form his thoughts by the sound of a different man yelling, in fact Jon realized as he tracked the sound of the new voice that it was Donnie who was the source. One of the gunmen was now holding Mallory by his side, holding his weapon only inches away from her head.
“Ya ain’t gotta do that!” Donnie shouted at the man, “Ah said Ah wuzn’t tryin’ nuthin’ funny!” The obvious anger the he felt was clear to all who looked at him, viens were starting to appear on his neck, his eyes were half closed slits and the intention of bodily harm was evident in them. The color of his face had become a somewhat purplish hue as Donnie was clearly struggling to control his temper as he spoke through clenched teeth. “Let muh kid go an’ Ah’ll do whatever ya want.”
The man holding Mallory simply shook his head as he moved the end of his weapon just a bit closer to her head as he spoke. “Then I’ll ask you again, WHO were you trying to call when I caught you? And why were you just smirking at us like there was something about to happen?” His black hair was greasy and slicked back on his head, leaving his face fully exposed for all to see. Under the thick mustache on his lip, his mouth was formed into a sneer while his eyes showed he was ready to back up his threat. “You work for the League or something? Or better yet, you’re one of the local capes here today out of costume?”
As soon as he heard the gunman’s accusation, Jon tried to match Donnie’s face with the pictures he’d seen of Freedom City’s other heroes. “Who could he be? Better yet does he have a plan of some kind? Why’s he waiting so long to do something?”
When Donnie stayed silent the gunman took several steps back form him, dragging Mallory by the arm along with him which caused her to struggle somewhat and try to reach for Donnie, yelling for him which brought a response form him in the process. “NO!!”
“Then answer me!!” The gunman snapped as he tightened his grip on Mallory, making sure he wouldn’t lose his one piece of leverage against Donnie.
Jon noticed that Donnie suddenly relaxed, the color of his face became more red than purple and the veins faded from sight slightly. Though his eyes still held their unspoken threat there was and intensity that had set in his face and Donnie now spoke in a very controlled, flat tone of voice. “Ah ain’t a hero outta costume and Ah sure as hell don’t work fer the Freedom League.”
“The who were you trying to contact on your bracelet?!” The gunman asked as he tilted his head slight at the object on Donnie’s wrist. “It wouldn’t break when I pulled on it and something like that should have easily snapped.” The sneer on his face grew larger as he spoke his next words, almost like they were something distasteful in his mouth. “Some kind of tracker or communicator that all the capes like to play with.” He locked eyes with Donnie at this point, “Right? So then who the hell are you?” His increased volume caused his voice to echo in the room and stunned what few people were murmuring amongst themselves in a stunned silence as the two men stared at one another.
“Who Ah am is sumone ya don’t wanna piss off.” Donnie’s hands had been clenched tightly at his side during the entire exchange until this point, with a deliberate motion he brought them up in front of him as the air around him shimmered briefly and he made a pushing outwards-like gesture towards all the gunmen. The gunman who’d been yelling at Donnie simply snorted out a short laugh as he shook his head. “That’s it? That’s who you are? Someone pissed off? And what? You’re gonna feng-shui me into giving up?
Donnie simply smiled a smile that could be called wicked while he spoke to Mallory. “Sweetie, Ah want ya ta cover yer eyes up an’ here inna moment Ah’m gonna give ya onna those “special” rides ya like me ta give ya. Kay?” His voice has changed to a soft and soothing tone that had an immediate reaction on the girl, he crying eased as she nodded her head in response and proceeded to cover her eyes with her hands as best she could.
It wasn’t until this point that whatever it had been that Donnie had done became obvious as the majority of them discovered that they couldn’t move their bodies. Most of them attempted to yell but the sounds that came out of their mouths were something comparable to that of an old cassette tape being slowed down. Of the ten gunmen only three were able to move themselves of their own free will, the others were under the effect of what Donnie called the Slo-Mo. He had basically drained all of their kinetic energy away from a while, they were only able to as fast as pancake syrup in December.
The leader of gunmen started to look frantically around at his men trying to figure out what had just happened to them, only two of the others along with him weren’t affected and they other men were just as confused as their leader was. As he turned his gaze back to Donnie he now saw that a portal of arching stone that was filled with a water-like center had formed just to Donnie’s left side.
“How?!? What?!? Where?!!? Was all he could manage to force out of his mouth as he looked from the portal to Donnie. Complete confusion plain on his face as he started to point his weapon towards Donnie.
For his own part, Donnie ignored the gunman as he once again spoke to Mallory. “An’ here we go!”
As the last word left his mouth the six-year old girl suddenly shot straight forward like she’d been fired from a cannon, out of the confused gunman’s grip and in the direction of the now standing portal. The whole time she never yelled or screamed, in fact any who got a good enough look at her face would almost swear that there were the beginnings of a smile on her face as she zoomed along her path, a path that led her through the portal and immediately out of sight.
Once it’s passenger had passed through it the portal began to disassemble, the watery center dried away, leaving only open air in the center of the archway which quickly began to crumble and fall back into it’s original place within the ground underfoot.
As the last part of the portal fell away into nothing Donnie looked at the gunman who’d just been holding his daughter in the eye while he spoke. “Ah’m glad ya fought off muh Slo-Mo. Now Ah get ta beat on ya til ya give up.” Donnie’s one eyebrow arched up as suddenly his feet left the floor and he hovered almost four full feet in the air. “As fer who Ah am, well muh workin’ name is Curve an’ Ah’m a member o’ Project Freedom.” His head tilted to the side as he let the name sink into the gunman’s brain. “Ya know? Those super powered parolees that work fer the city?” As he spoke, Donnie’s smile faded away and was replaced with a look that was best described as ruthless, the color in his face returned to the purplish color it had been just moments before. “An youse just had ta threaten muh kid.”
Jon stood in almost as much shock as the gunmen as he watched the whole scene play out in front of him. “What the hell is Project Freedom?!” As his mind raced to understand the events of the last few seconds Jon only had one other thought. ”How do I stop a pissed off, protective dad with powers?”
To be continued…..
Next Time: Geez! Ok, guest-stars I get! But Vega’ barely in this one! Where’s the editor?
I’d like to say a quick “Thanks” to Jalinth.
Zalman is his character that he plays in the Project Freedom PbP game along with me (clearly Donnie’s one of my creations) and he was kind enough to let me use Zalman for this part of the story. And even went as far to give me the editor treatment for how Zalman‘s part were written. Lemme know anytime I can return the favor Jalinth.