Allison Ashton smiled sadly at her naked baby girl as she fumbled with her father’s boot. It was hard to tell which was brighter: the yellow of her husband’s old fashion fold-over footwear, or the sparkling golden radiance that surrounded her daughter, Jenny, like a second womb. This translucent energy felt solid to the touch, like thick rubber, and emitted a slight hum whenever the little girl moved. The phenomena was not uncommon among the population of Earth's New Humans, and was usually referred to as a force-field. It was this force-field that was causing Jenny’s difficulty with Daddy’s boot. Her little hands pushed against the protective radiance trying to grasp the yellow treasure, but it prevented her from getting a good grip, so the boot kept slipping away.
Jenny seemed anything but vexed by this, her playful giggle floating over the faint hum of the field with each failed attempt. Jenny looked over at her mother with her big blue eyes, shifted slightly green through the candlelight wall. With a wide-mouthed coo she smiled at Mommy, which filled Allison’s heart to bursting and she smiled back with a ducky wave prompting more little giggles from the girl. Jenny’s attention turned back to the boot, her brow crumpling in focus. Lightly stroking her fingers over Jenny's bubble, Allison’s thoughts wandered back to her daughter’s birth; nearly a year ago now.
Allison possessed great strength, the upper limits of which had never been tested by the meta-physicians that both studied and provided medical treatment to the New Humans. The meta-doc's that had studied Allison estimated that she could lift the equivalent mass of a small mountain. She had recently moved a supertanker in the Aleutians after it had run aground in a storm, ruining the shorelines and fishing grounds of some Unangan Islanders. Regardless, It had still been full of oil and was pretty heavy. She wasn't too sure about the whole “can lift a mountain” idea after that.
It was Allison’s incredible strength which was likely the cause of little Jenny's force-field. The steel crushing muscle of Allison’s uterus would have doomed any fetus that could not protect itself somehow, and nature had provided. However, it provided too well. The dilemma facing Allison now was how to help her daughter turn the force-field off.
Allison had never been able to touch her baby girl, who had been wrapped in the golden cocoon since before she was born. The meta-physicians told her that Jenny’s metabolism was sustained by the same energy that powered her force-field. They called it bio-mutant energy and many of meta-doc's believed it was this energy that fueled the extrodinary abilities of all New Humans.
The force-field kept Jenny quite safe. She had never gotten sick, she did not need to eat, so she never needed to be changed, and she hardly ever cried. Despite this, her daughter's condition was painful to Allison, who rarely felt pain at all since her body was tougher then a tank.
Despite all of her New Human abilities, Ally reacted to the birth of her child like any other woman. Allison would trade all her might to just be able to touch her little girl. Her longing to cradle Jenny in her arms was ocean deep and her breasts ached for want of suckling. Sadly, all of this was denied to her just as daddy’s boot was denied to Jenny.
Brushing away a tear Allison bitter-smiled as she considered what her husband, Marty Goldstar, had to say about it: “Look at it this way, you can’t feed her, but I won’t have to change her diapers! Personally, I think we made out on the deal.” Marty had a force-field similar to Jenny's, though he could turn his off. He seemed to like that his little girl had a power like her old man, and with his customary optimism just assumed she would figure out how to control it eventually. Allison prayed that he was right.
Allison Ashton was known to the world as the country music star, Ally Ashton, fondly called the Lady from Texas, she certainly lived up to the name. Towering two inches over six feet with a thick athletic frame, Allison had full blond hair to her wide shoulders and piercing sky-blue eyes. Allison had also been openly known as the American New Human hero Miss Liberty since she started making use of her great strength and invulnerable body to try and make the world a better and safer place. Now, as a mother, she felt the need to do so even more deeply.
Allison's efforts had made a significant impact since she donned the mantle of Miss Liberty. In addition to her physical poweress, she could use her immense reserves of bio-mutant energy to rocket herself through the air up to supersonic speeds. She could also project this same energy from her body in destructive flares when needed. As a result of these remarkable gifts, Allison, and those with abilities of similar magnitude, were among the first New Humans that had been designated as omega class New Human. A more powerful generation of New-Hums that had began appearing across the world since the 1970's.
Allison was suddenly brought out of her musing by a popping sound and a bright flash that filled the room. Her hand, which had been resting on Jenny's force-field now held empy air. Looking over at Jenny, who was cooing with glee, she saw that her husband's yellow boot was now inside Jenny’s golden force-field with her. Jenny took the top of the floppy boot in her bare hands and stuck her head in the top, as if exploring a small leather cave.
“Jenny!” Ally gasped with delight “How did you get that in there?!” In reply Jenny just cooed into the boot. Allison sat down next to her glimmering child on the floor, running a hand over the resilient barrier that divided them once again. “Huh,” she exclaimed, finding that the force-field was as intact as ever.
Jenny’s head popped out of the boot and she smiled at Mommy, holding her daddy's boot towards her as if to share it. Mommy melted and said “Oh... thank you Jenny, you hold on to that for now.” Allison’s hand pressed against the field, more then she had ever dared before, until she felt it spark slightly below her hand. The boot on the other side remained out of reach. Six inches of solid steel would be no barrier for that hand, but this bright radiance held her at bay. Ally feared it would harm Jenny if she forced her way inside of it. Jenny held the boot out for a few more moments, then with a shrug went back to exploring it, perhaps the first thing other then her own body that she had ever touched.
“Well Jenny,” Allison said softly. “If you can manage to get the other boot in there too, just hold onto them, I’d rather your father got better looking boots anyway. Those have been out of fashion so long cavemen had more style” she smirked and shook her head in resignation. She loved her husband, Goldie, as she called him privately, very much. However, Goldie thought the height of human culture was reached with Saturday Night Fever and he therefore saw no reason to leave the 70’s behind. He was a disco dinosaur in a hip-hop world.
Ally sighed, looking up at her trophy wall where several framed gold records hung on either side of an enlarged photograph of herself. In the picture she was dressed in her specially made cowboy boots (a gift from the state of Texas), M-Tech gold bracers, blue jeans with a big-buckle belt and the patriotic top of Miss Liberty shaking hands with the last President. Allison had a few different beta-cloth uniforms for Ms. Liberty, but this simple one was her favorite.
On the other wall was Goldie’s vinyl collection and a large photo of Allison and Marty. He was a handsome man with tanned surfer good looks, dressed as the hero Goldstar: a white and yellow outfit that could have come from the Krofft Supershow. In the photo he had his arm around Miss Liberty and the two made quite a pair; Allison was 4” taller then Marty, including the heels on his boots. They both had blond hair and blue eyes. The picture was from shortly after they met and Allison gazed at it fondly for a long moment before returning her attention back to Jenny.
“Hopefully your father’s good looks and force-field are all you inherit from him, Jenny. Otherwise I can’t be held responsible for what may happen,” she smiled and hugged Jenny, getting an armful of humming golden orb, then left her to play with the boot.
Miss Liberty, Allison Ashton, country music star and one of the world's first known omega class New Humans. Goldstar, Marty James Goldstar, her husband, also an omega class New-Hum. They were two of the hundred or so omega class New Humans identified so far. Jenny Goldstar, their daughter, was the first known child of two omega class New Humans.
'What a family I have here' Allison mused, glancing back at the joyful star at her feet. The strongest person on Earth wondered if she would be strong enough to get through the days to come. That is until she looked at her daughter's beautiful face, then she knew she would have to be. What other choice was there?
Cricket was mad. Slowly, she got to her feet. Her torn dirty street clothes and tangled blonde hair were now even more of a mess then usual Still-numb muscles responded sluggishly and under considerable protest. She steadied her 15 year old body, finding her footing and looked up. A short distance away there was a man in a black jumpsuit and body armor, groaning on the ground. Near his outstretched hand was a device that resembled a large remote control, with two thin wires that spiraled out the top, snaked across the pavement, then up into the air to where they were planted in Cricket's chest like harpoons.
With a grimace she pulled out the thick sharp barbs. They had only barely penetrated her armor-like flesh, but it was enough to take her down. "That HURT," she breathed, walking with zombie steps towards the man. He was still groaning, barely conscious, bleeding freely from where his head had scraped across the pavement. Behind him was a small red car covered in more Bondo then paint. It had a noticeable dent right in the middle of the grille. Tangled on the front bumper was the man's squawking communications headset, still connected to the man's equipment belt by a thick black cord. The driver of the car was a young man with long windblown hair. He was standing next to the car in shock. "Oh my gawd! Hey are you okay, dude?!" He looked down at the man in black, horrified. "Dude.. oh god... dude, are you a cop or something?" The driver knelt down next to him and put a hand on his shoulder. The man groaned again. "Are you okay, dude?!" Just a grunt in response. "Hey, help! HELP! I just hit this dude, I think he's a cop!" The young man was yelling into the air, an edge of panic and desperation giving added weight to his plea.
"He's no cop!" Cricket spat with venom.
She had almost reached where the man lay, still walking with awkward slowness. The young driver looked up, seeing Cricket for the first time. He opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted as someone barked a sharp command "One-Eight-Seven, step AWAY from the agent!" Cricket turned her head to see another man in black... taking aim with another remote control. "Sir!" The agent commanded the young driver. "Get out of there, she is dangerous!" With that, the agent had gotten close enough and activated his remote. Two harpoons shot out of the device towards Cricket. They flew fast and true, but not fast enough. This time Cricket dodged them, the wires arcing over her shoulder as she ducked. The harpoons hit a concrete building behind her, penetrating the wall until they were well out of sight, leaving two cracked holes. A puff of blue smoke came out as the device delivered its charge uselessly into the structure.
Cricket reached the man and grabbed him by his Kevlar vest, her fingers tearing easily into the fabric. The man gasped and looked at the girl in horror. Cricket, numb, afraid, angry and in pain, reacted violently, lifting the man into the air and throwing him across the street. The agent cried out in alarm as he tumbled through the air. He flew over the traffic that had stopped to witness the spectacle on this side of the divided city street, over the median, over the traffic on the far side until he came to an abrupt stop when his body crashed into a city transit bus on the opposite side of the road. The metal side of the bus caved in and the windows exploded out of their frames, showering over the street and into the bus like a thousand razorblades, cutting faces, hands and arms of the passengers. The agent stayed implanted in the side of the bus where he impacted, at the center of a metal and glass crater. He let out a single gasp as his life left him. His neck was at a twisted, unnatural angle and his body was broken, frozen in a lifeless scarecrow pose.
Cricket saw what she had done and stared wide eyed at the man and the bus. Fearful cries of the injured passengers echoed across the street. She felt sick inside as she saw the man's corpse leak bloody tears from the eyes in his crushed head. Her throat tightened and her eyes stung. "Holy... hey... you KILLED that dude!" Cricket heard the red Bondo car driver yelling at her. She turned to glare at him, feeling sick and ashamed. The young man paled, then turned and ran for his life, fearing he was next. Cricket just watched him go, then turned away, feeling sicker. People were starting to call out to the passengers on the bus, rushing to help them. A few people who saw what happened were looking across the wide street, pointing at Cricket and then turning to each other with disbelief and shock. Cricket could not hear what they were saying, but the look on their faces told her all she needed to know.
The sickness in her gut was like a cold rock, weighing down everything inside her. Cricket felt tears starting to come. She was still not recovered from the jolt the first agent had delivered to her. She stumbled down into the subway, breaking the view of her accusers. She sought refuge below the streets, the squeal of train brakes below drowning out the echoes of tragedy above.
In a parking place a short distance away was a black Cadillac DTS. Inside there was a spooky man with a sharp crew cut, sunglasses and a black suit. He watched with a dignified frown as the young short-haired blond girl ran down into the subway. With a dry sigh he pressed a button on his armrest and his face disappeared behind a tinted rear passenger window. The man tapped a communicator earpiece and spoke in a low flat tone. “Get me Welkowitz, the 1-8-7 situation has gotten too public, and we need bigger guns.”
The spooky man sighed into the muted sound of the car. He was looking at the back of a much larger man who was sitting in front of him listening to a quiet sports news-show brodcast. The top of his head brushing the ceiling of the car. There was several long moments of silence between them, the radio show droned on in the background. The smaller man started tapping his fingers on his armrest as his patience wore out. He finally spoke to the big agent. “So, you were right”. “Mmhmm.” “Its OK you can say it.” “Nope.” “We needed more then four agents.” “Yup.” “...” “Hows your team doing?” “Better then us.” “How long you going to do this?” “What time is it?” “Five past Four.” “Little bit longer then.” “You know what? You're fired.” “Fine, then you can drive your own skinny ass home.” “Good point.” “Mmhmm.” “Lets go get some coffee, then head back for debrief.”
The big man started the Caddy and pulled out into traffic. The sounds of sirens and frenzy drifted into the shaded windows as the good people of the city came together to manage the scene across from the agents. He deftly drove away from the chaos, safe into the anomymity of rush hour. The big man said “I hear they are going to be issuing us some bullet-proof sunglasses soon.” “Only bullet-resistant actually, they're made in China.” “CHINA?! Well, shit, guess I'll have to avoid gettin' shot in the head then.” “You're out of luck, no one could miss a head that big.” “What time is it now?” “Four eighteen.” “Mmhmm.” The big man turned right unexpectedly, just making the light. “Hey, the coffee place was down there...” “Yup.” “A little bit longer then.” “Little bit.”