He was a Marvelous Man - preview

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Below is a preview of my superhero story “He Was a Marvelous Man.” You can get the rest (and more awesomely diverse superhero stories) by backing the HEROES! Kickstarter going on now at http://tinyurl.com/HeroesAntho

He was a Marvelous Man


Janine K. Spendlove

            I dove to the left, my rockets giving me just the boost of power I needed to evade the swath of fire he spat in my direction. My opponent circled back around me and sent another blast of flames my way, though this time I wasn’t quick enough. I felt the sweat bead on my brow as my suit worked overtime to cool me down. I thought I’d modified my armor enough to resist even the heat of re-entry from orbit but apparently this alien invader’s breath was even hotter than that.

            Cutting the power from my air compressor briefly I fell through a cloudbank. The moisture cooled the flames that had licked and scorched the dark blue and red paint of my armor. I knew he’d be waiting for me at the bottom of my fall, his piercing blue eyes, so deceiving in their promise of kindness, glinting in the Earth’s sunlight. I switched my compressor back on and directed the multitude of control surfaces on my armor to shoot me off to the side, toward another cloudbank.

            “You can’t hide forever!” His voice, like his classic, perfectly human good looks, was a lie. Even when fighting he managed to sound alluring, which, I suppose, should not be a surprise – he did manage to make the entire world fall willing into his subjugation, after all.

The clouds were thinning, but before I popped out the other side I heard his voice once again, ahead of me now, and so I turned around.

            “I can wait until you run out of gas, so why don’t you come out and face me like a man?”

Not likely, I thought, then glanced at the solar panels all over my suit, plus I don’t use fossil fuels, idiot. But I wasn’t about to say that now. There would be time enough for talking later, and I wasn’t going to give away my position by verbally sparring with him. My trap was not ready to be sprung yet.

            I checked my system diagnostics to make sure I was still operating above 80%. Satisfied, I inspected my cuffs and newly redesigned knee plates. The alien was nearly invincible and for years I’d bemoaned ever finding a way of ridding the world of his tyranny.

            A hand reached through the haze of the cloud and grabbed my arm, denting my armor and pulling me clear.


            I flexed my biceps, popping the spines hidden there right through his palm. He grunted in surprise and released me. As I fell back into the cloud I didn’t even bother to look back, needing every precious second to regroup and adjust fire. Besides, I knew the cuts to his hand would be healed before I’d even reset my spines.

            “One of these days you’ll run out of tricks!” he bellowed, and I smiled.

            That’s what you think. He wouldn’t be so confidant if he knew that I’d found his weakness. I could finally neutralize him by—

            A blast of fire seared away the cloudbank directly in front of me and pulling up short I spread-eagled my arms and legs to stabilize me in my hover.

            There he was, standing in the air “naturally” as if it were nothing, swathed in an obscene, bright yellow unitard with a long, crimson cape attached at his neck. If I hadn’t been suddenly concerned for making it out of the next five seconds alive I would have made some snappy comment about how he looked like a circus clown in that getup.

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