**So, it’s very rare that I do any sort of editing of the work that goes up here, but it happens. After a few comments, and a personal reread of The Diesel King, I decided to completely rewrite it. Less talk, more action. Enjoy.**
Sam hit the ground hard enough to bounce twice. She skipped along the asphalt of the road, and smacked face first into a compact car. Sam lay on the road in an undignified slump for a moment, before punching a small crater into the road, and swearing loudly.
She brushed down her skirt as she stood, and glared at the crowd in the streets. Civilians too brave and stupid to leave the area of a super villain fight snapped pictures of Sam with their phones. She’d added bike shorts to her Kidvincible costume years ago, but that didn’t mean that the internet wasn’t about to be flooded with up-skirt shots of her crumpled against a badly parked Hyundai.
An air horn blasted as The Diesel King charged down the road on truck shaped roller-skates. Sam ducked under his wide swing, and straight armed her attacker hard in the side. Sam’s fist left a sizable dent in The Diesel King’s big-rig themed armor, but didn’t slow him down.
The Diesel King spun on his wheels. “It’s going to take more than a slap and tickle to slow down the ole Diesel King, Lottie,” he announced as he sped towards Sam again.
Sam reached back, and closed her fist on the front of the car behind her. “I know exactly how to slow you down,” she stated. She’d considered going with something about cars and traffic, but she just couldn’t force the words out of her mouth. Sam hated witty banter.
The front of the Hyundai cracked in Sam’s grasp; a feeling she mistook for a firm grasp of the vehicle. She’d meant to hit The Diesel King with the entire car, and winced when she felt the bumper cover pop off. Already committed to the swing, Sam shattered the plastic cover harmlessly over the truck grill on The Diesel King’s chest.
The Diesel King looked at Sam, and the broken stub of plastic in her hand. He laughed a good strong belly laugh at her. Sam just exhaled slow, and sunk at the shoulders. “Fuck,” she said.
“Yup,” The Diesel King agreed, still chuckling. “That’s why you should always buy American” He tooted his horn proudly, just before he backhanded Sam off her feet.
Sam recovered quickly from the attack. She spun in the air, ready to fly fists first at The Diesel King. Instead, she turned around just in time for The Diesel King to show her how to properly hit a person with a car. He swung the vehicle straight down like he was killing a spider, and slammed Sam into the road. He hit her a second time just to be sure, before shifting his grip to the middle of the car.
The Diesel King held the car high above his head, ready to pestle it into Sam bumper first. “You’ll be signing off now Lottie,” he stated. “I can’t say it hasn’t been…”
Sam didn’t get to hear what it hadn’t been. Knockabout rushed up the road, and shoulder checked The Diesel King. The villain lost his grip on the car as he was punted up the street, and had it crash on top of him. The silver plugs that jutted from Knockabout’s triceps spun as he rolled his broad shoulders, and dusted off his hands as though that would be it.
Sam looked Knockabout over as she stood up. His favorite Sisters of Mercy tee hung from him in tatters. His skin was laced with a series of visibly healing gashes; some deep enough to expose the Kevlar knit underneath. He adjusted his thick black goggles, and shrugged casually as he caught Sam’s eye.
“He threw me through the window of a wine store,” Knockabout offered, pointing back up the road. He held up a bottle of wine as proof, before stashing it under a nearby Volvo. “So, what’s the plan?”
Sam looked about at the crowd. Actual news crews had arrived at some time, and were mingling in amongst the amateur photographers. She unconsciously tugged her suit straight by the hem of her skirt. “We need to end this now,” Sam told Knockabout. “I’m figuring a standard High/low.”
Knockabout nodded. The hydraulic jacks in his feet cracked the pavement as he loped at high speed towards the recovering villain. He buried a fist in The Diesel King’s stomach, knocking the air out of the mecha-trucker. Sam flew close behind, and caught The Diesel King with a beautiful flying uppercut as he folded over Knockabout’s fist. The Diesel King was rocketed into the air, and crashed on the streets nearly a block away.
“Yeah!” Knockabout exclaimed. He looked to Sam for a fist bump, figuring this was one of the few times it was warranted.
Sam left him hanging. “Follow through,” she commanded, flying after The Diesel King.
The Diesel King staggered to his feet. He wiped the blood from his mouth, and grinned stupidly at the oncoming attack. “You think you got The Diesel King on the ropes huh? Well, I got something for you Dirty Dans.”
The Diesel King thrust his hips forward. There was a wet noise from deep inside the suit, and a sudden geyser of used motor oil sprayed from his groin. The Diesel King laughed and gyrated his hips as he hosed Sam and Knockabout down with viscous black truck fluids.
Knockabout managed to give Sam a full ‘what the fuck’ look before he lost his footing on the oil soaked road. He kissed the ground with a teeth rattling thud, and slid to a stop at The Diesel King’s feet.
Sam choked on a face full of black oil, and tried to fly through. She barely dodged as The Diesel King kicked Knockabout at her, and only spared a quick glance at her partner sliding down the streets behind her. Sam tried for a wide haymaker as she closed on her opponent, but blinded by the continual spray of oil, she missed horribly. Sam’s clumsy swing left her wide open for The Diesel King’s retaliation. He snapped a punch straight into her chest, and sent her spiraling away.
Sam slammed into the wall of a nearby bank, and slid to the sidewalk. She gagged on the stench of spent motor oil, and spat out a gob of black goo. Oil dripped from her as she stood up. Sam looked back at the thick black spatter left when she’d hit the wall. Around her, people braved up close to get shots of her dripping with thick dark oil.
Don’t swear an inner voice tried to warn Sam. Don’t swear; people are filming. Sam floated into the air, feeling heavy from the oil and nauseous from the fumes. She sloughed a layer of oil from the front of her suit, and flicked it carelessly at the surrounding crowd. Don’t swear the inner voice pleaded again.
“You. Absolute. FUCK!” she screamed, shooting back towards the laughing Diesel King.
Sam tore a stop sign free from its mooring, and bashed The Diesel King hard up the side of the head. He staggered back, and put his hands up to block Sam’s attack. Sam screamed strings of obscenities as she smacked The Diesel King about the head and arms.
The Diesel King stopped laughing, and swore as well with equal creativity as Sam. He finally got hold of the sign, and ripped it from Sam’s hands. “Cut it out!” he insisted.
“What a wasted opportunity,” a girl’s voice chirped from the sidelines. “You totally should have said stop.”
The confused Diesel King was still looking for the source of the voice when he was hit in the chest by a bolt of lightning, and knocked clean off his skates. The Diesel King had barely hit the ground before an oil soaked Knockabout landed hard on his chest. Knockabout crouched over The Diesel King, and pounded on him relentlessly.
The girl that had thrown the lightning bolt waved a frantic hello as Sam stormed towards her. She pulled back the hood of her cloak, and smiled in a way that suggested she was blissfully unaware of Sam’s current mood.
“See, he should have said stop, because you were hitting him with a stop sign?” the girl explained without being asked. “And then he had the stop sign? But he still didn’t say it? It just feels like he missed out on a great opening there, y’know?”
Sam put her hand up; a clear signal for the girl to shut it. “Where the hell have you been, Lect?” The girl’s superhero name was Electromicon, but Lect was as close as anyone bothered to get. Lect was just happy no one called her by her real name, because that was Florida.
Lect’s frowned at Sam’s question. “I figured you guys had this under control?” she replied. She tugged nervously at a pocket of her cargo pants, and avoided eye contact with Sam. “I mean, The Diesel King, right?”
Sam stared at Lect, and cursed under her breath. The girl wasn’t wrong. “He’s having a particularly good day,” Sam explained though clenched teeth. “And he’s managed to make us look like fucking clowns doing it.” Sam rubbed her temples as Knockabout bounced past them. “My God. He’s a middle-aged Optimus-Prime cosplayer, and he is kicking our asses.”
“Plus he covered you with oil?” Lect offered in a helpful tone. “Like, he totally hosed you down in front of the press. I mean, that really couldn’t have helped your day, right?”
Lect’s voice trailed off as Sam slapped an oil-stained hand in the middle of her chest, and dragged it down the front of the younger girl’s light blue body suit.
Lect blinked horror at the thick black stain down the front of her only super-suit. “Ok,” she accepted in a small voice. “Now we’re all dirty. Total team building exercise.” Her smile had returned by the time she looked up at Sam. “So what’s the plan?”
Knockabout popped his shoulder back into joint with a metallic snap as he came to join the girls. “Our original plan was to punch Diesel Dick until we felt big about ourselves,” he explained. “But that’s fallen through.”
Sam nodded an agreement. “The new plan’s simple,” she concluded. “Lect, you shut The Diesel King down. After that, maybe we’ll go back to plan A for a bit.”
“Shut him down,” Lect repeated feebly. She gave Sam a sheepish smile.
“Shut. Him. Down,” Sam ran her hands through her oil drenched hair in frustration. “He’s wearing power armor. Shut it down with your magical-electrical-mojo-whatever crap.”
“Oh. Ok. Only; is there a plan C? Because I can’t shut him down,” Lect rolled her eyes at Sam’s incredulous look. “His suit is, like, mostly running on diesel?”
“You’re joking right?” Sam held up a hand before Lect could answer. “Yes, I get that he’s The Diesel King, but an actual diesel powered suit? That’s beyond stupid.”
“Well, like, there’s some electric components? Like, the headlights, and some of his joint articulators, and the radio, and some little inside stuff?” Lect chewed on her lip as she thought about it. “I mean, maybe I could turn his radio up real loud? Like, distract him so you guys can rush him and…”
Sam stared hard at Lect till the girl shut up. She looked over at The Diesel King. Currently he was flexing for the cameras like the winner of a rasslin’ match. She could hear him telling the crowd his life story. He was just at the part where his wife took the dog and the truck.
“You know what? Screw this,” Sam announced loudly. “We’re done here.”
The Diesel King stopped mid monologue, and blinked confusion at Sam. He took off his armored John Deere cap, and scratched his balding head. “What?”
“You heard me,” Sam replied. “We’re done. I’m going to go take a shower, and then find a bar and drink till I’ve forgotten this afternoon.” She gave Knockabout and Lect a glance. “You guys in?”
“Like, for the shower?” Lect asked sarcastically.
“Whichever,” Sam replied as she walked away. “I couldn’t give two tugs right now.”
The Diesel King sputtered like an angry fish. “You can’t just walk away from me,” he insisted uncertainly.
“Yeah we can,” Sam assured him. She waved a casual middle finger over her shoulder. Knockabout joined her, both in the walking and the finger waving. Despite being covered in oil, he lit a smoke, and took a deep drag before passing it to Sam. Lect hovered close behind the other two, but didn’t flip off The Diesel King. She was new to the superhero game, and wasn’t comfortable working blue just yet.
“But you can’t just,” The Diesel King called after them. “We’re in the middle of…” He looked about at the cameras, and cursed under his breath. “You think you can just walk away from me after you get in my face? After you stop my revenge against the company that…”
“We don’t care,” Sam called over her shoulder. “No one cares why you dressed up like a truck this morning.” She didn’t even bother turning around.
The Diesel King tossed his hat to the ground in a dagnabbit level of frustration. “That’s it!” he yelled. “I was going to go easy on you bubblegummers, but you’ve gone and A&Aed the ole Diesel King! Now I’m going to have to put the hammer down!” The Diesel King screamed, and charged down the road towards Sam, Knockabout, and Lect.
“A&Aed?” Knockabout questioned.
“I don’t know,” Sam admitted. “I don’t speak hillbilly.”
Lect chewed her knuckles nervously, but tried to stay as casual as the other two. “He’s coming up behind us awfully fast,” she whispered.
Sam grunted an agreement. She tilted her head, and listened as The Diesel King closed on them. “Alright,” she stated without looking back. “Lect, hit him.”
“I told you,” Lect whined. “I can’t shut him down.”
“Shut up.” Sam flicked the cigarette aside. “We have a fat man dressed like a truck roller-skating angrily towards us. You shut down what you can, and the rest will happen naturally; got it?”
Lect nodded, and flew high above the road. She did as she was told because she trusted that Sam knew what she was doing. She flew up high out of reach because she didn’t trust it would work. Lect muttered a quick incantation, and thrust her hands forward. A thick bolt of lightning shot from her palms, and slammed into The Diesel King’s chest.
The Diesel King had a momentary look of triumph as he skated seemingly unharmed through the blast. The look faded fast as everything suddenly went wrong. His knees locked as the articulation failed. His nipple head lights flickered on and off. A mariachi band blared from his radio, just loud enough to drown out The Diesel King’s screaming as he fumbled down the street on unstopping roller skates.
Sam smiled as The Diesel king flailed helplessly towards her and Knockabout. Both of them winded up, and waited for him. It had been a crap day, but Sam was pretty sure that this was going to make up for it. Besides; the media really only cared about who got the last hit in. A synchronized double uppercut was just the thing to make everyone forget exactly how much of a fiasco this whole fight had been. “This is going to be so sweet,” Sam insisted.
There was a sudden flash of bright light, and a beam of pure energy hit The Diesel King in the back, and sped his trajectory towards Sam and Knockabout. It wasn’t Electronomicon’s lighting. Instead, a man in a white business suit hovered over the battle, a nimbus of white energy circling his hands. Conduit, Sam recognized. He was a member of The Brigade of Heroes. If he was here, then so were the others.
“No,” Sam muttered, already recognizing how it was all going to fall apart. “Fuck no.” She broke into a run, hoping to hit The Diesel King before The Brigade muscled in.
“Look out!” A gruff voice warned from behind. Flagg Patriot, leader of the Brigade, shoved Sam and Knockabout aside as he leapt past them in the streets. Sam landed hard on her ass.
The warning, and the shove, made it look like Flagg Patriot had just saved Sam’s life, which was exactly how he’d planned it. Sam was left literally sitting on the sidelines as Flagg Patriot took her perfect upper cut away from her. The Diesel King was spun backwards by Flagg’s attack, right into the waiting fists of Pont, the Brigade’s ogre of a strongman.
Sam watched them all back pat each other for the whole three seconds she could stand it. Fists clenched, she stormed towards Flagg Patriot. “We had this,” she insisted in a whispered hiss.
Flagg adjusted his General Patton helmet, and looked down his nose at Sam. “Did you have this Kidvincible?” he asked snidely. “It didn’t look like you did, but we could have misunderstood what was going on.” His smile flickered, and his voice dropped low enough that only Sam’s super hearing could catch it. “Is that what we have here? Do we have a misunderstanding?” Behind Flagg Patriot, Pont cracked his knuckles. Conduit hovered nearby. All three smiled calmly at her.
Sam looked at The Brigade. Her day had been bad enough; adding a super hero misunderstanding to the mess wasn’t going to improve it. “Thank you for the assistance,” she managed through clenched teeth.
Flagg Patriot gave Sam a Flagg Patronizing smile. “I’ve told you before Kidvincible,” he offered in a calm tone, loud enough for the press, “if you need help, just call us.”
Sam choked down a few creative words. “Sure,” she replied bitterly. Even that was wasted, as Flagg Patriot had already turned to the crowd to answer a few questions and take full credit for the capture of The Diesel King.
Sam shook her head, and joined Knockabout and Lect along the sidelines. They stood in silence for a few minutes, watching as The Brigade chatted with civilians, press, and police. No one even looked in their direction.
“It’s not so bad,” Lect tried, breaking the silence. “I mean, like, at least…”
Sam pressed an oil stained finger against Lect’s lips. “Shhh,” she insisted before the younger girl could get started. “Just, shhh.”
“I think we’re done here,” Knockabout commented, patting Sam on the back. He held up the bottle of wine, and gave it a tempting little shake. “Back to base?”
Sam took one more look at The Brigade of Heroes, and pictured a creatively gory death for each of them. “Back to base,” she agreed finally.