Authors: Dee J. Stone
No Ordinary Hero
Dee J. Stone
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any form without written permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to real life, movies, television, games, or books is entirely coincidental and was not intended by the author.
Keepers of Justice Series
oung Adult Romance:
Young Adult Paranormal:
Table of Contents
That’s one hell of a fire.
X-Ray parks the jeep on the side of the road and the three of us pile out.
The heat latches onto my skin. Smothers me. Maybe this isn’t such a great idea.
g this?” Stretch asks, scratching his eye mask.
I stare up at the apartment building.
They’re alive, the flames. I’ve seen infernos on TV, but standing fifty feet away from one is something totally different. Saliva gathers at the roof of my mouth, under my tongue, between my teeth. But I don’t swallow, because I’m not afraid. I came here for one purpose and one purpose only: tonight, I’m going to be a hero. Yeah, I’m fourteen and saying that makes me sound like a little kid. But I can dream.
“Let’s go,” I say.
The guys follow me as I edge closer to the last place any sane person would think of nearing. They huff behind me. Some firemen stand around, others hose the place down, a few are on a ladder. A group runs inside. Bystanders are around, too, as well as the cops and news reporters. Lights flash from the trucks and police cars.
to X-Ray. “Anyone inside?”
steps forward and squints his eyes. They get as black as his uniform. Looks freaky, like he’s possessed. He raises a hand to the top floor. “A girl and a baby. Trapped in the bathroom. Firemen can’t find them.”
Is there a window?” I ask.
We’re not supposed to be here. If word gets out, we’ll be in a crapload of trouble. But the guys and I are sick of sitting on the sidelines. Tonight we’re doing what we were born to do.
“Hang on,” Stretch says.
He raises his arms over his head, stretching them along with his torso up the back wall while his lower body stays on the ground. X and I climb him like a ladder.
“Hey, you kids!” a fireman yells. But
we’ve already reached the top of the wall, so it’s not like anyone can stop us now.
Phase one, complete. Now on
to phase two.
I cough as smoke enters my lungs. Stretch slides over
to the bathroom window, with X and me hanging onto his shoulders.
Hurry up,” he says.
The heat makes me sweat in my uniform.
Ashes cover us. It might be a problem having to explain the conditions of our uniforms to the League’s housekeeper, but forget about that now. I’ve got to focus on the civilians trapped inside. The baby’s screeching and the girl’s yelling for help.
’ve got to do this, save them. Be a hero.
Sticking my fingers under the window’s ledge, I heave it open. The girl
is crouched in the tub with the baby on her chest, and the shower curtain is wrapped around them. There’s hardly any air in here.
I jump down and am about to push out my chest
and announce, “Kale Zenith is here to rescue you!” But I stop. Now’s not the time to show off.
take the girl in my arms and she clutches tightly onto the baby. Her eyes are big and terrified, but I’ve never seen anyone so thankful. Like I’m her guardian angel or something. I hand them over to Stretch, who makes a blanket out of his body and tucks them close. X reaches for my hand to help me up, but just as I’m about to haul myself out the window, the flames blast the bathroom door open with so much force that I’m knocked off my feet.
My back crashes
against the tub. Dammit! That hurt. My head rings like a million bells are vibrating against my skull. I can’t move anything. Are my bones broken? Crap. This wasn’t part of the plan.
“Get him out!” Stretch yells.
Too late. I’m burning all over. My arms, my legs. My face. I’m smoldering like the coals from last night’s barbecue.
least I did one thing right tonight. I was a hero.
shines in my face. I open one eye, then the other, and look around. A room filled with beds, machines, and chairs. The smell of antiseptic reaches my nose. I’m in a hospital.
A woman stands over me. Thin, tall, dark hair. Healer, the League’s nurse. Something about the way she’s scowling tells me I’m in trouble. The last thing I remember is burning up after I saved that baby and girl. My body’s in one piece. Must be because of Healer’s kickass powers. Whatever she touches, the bruise, or in my case burns, disappears. Poof.
Someone clears his throat. I
didn’t know there was another person in here. Face fuming like he wants to give my body another round of that fire. Geez.
“Hey, Dad,” I mumble, sitting up.
Healer leaves the room, smirking like I’m about to get my ass kicked. Yeah, maybe. The mission was a success. I don’t know why Dad’s got that pissed-as-hell look on his face. He pulls his chair closer to the bed. “Kale,” he begins, shaking his head. “What were you thinking? Never mind the fact that you stole a car and drove without a license. You could have died in that fire.”
“Maybe. But I saved their lives.”
their lives, Dad. If not for me, those kids would be ashes right now.”
“You never approve of anything I do. Those kids—”
“Are lucky to be alive, yes.” He looks at me closely. “What you did was brave
, but it was outside our jurisdiction, son. An unauthorized mission. The fire department made it clear that the Keepers would not be involved tonight.”
“That’s so messed up!” I slam my fist
on the bed. “If not for us, there would be two funerals right now.”
lays a hand on my shoulder. “I know, I know.” He sighs. “Our job isn’t an easy one, but you know how important it is to adhere to the government’s wishes. We are superheroes, yes, we protect the world, but we can’t take over. Citizens need to have faith in their safety officers. We are only called in for the impossible. You know that.”
Yeah, I know that.
Dad’s drilled into me that we work
the government. They fund us, and we can’t go against them.
“I’m proud of you, of what you did, but next time I’d like you to ask permission, all right? The last thing we need is the US government shutting us down because my own son can’t do what he’s told.”
“What a load of—”
His hand squeezes my shoulder. “I know it’s hard for you. You want to prove that you don’t need powers to be a hero.”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been trying to get my father to give me assignments like he gives everyone else. Last week some of the kids my age and the Elite members stopped a tsunami from wiping out an entire island. I tried to tag along, only to be told by Dad that it’s “too risky.” That I should “stay behind.” Screw that. I’m done staying behind while all the others get to do the cool stuff.
“I have an assignment for you,” Dad says.
“I’m not cleaning Central Park.” Like I did last month. Apparently, the League had to lead by example—showing all the kids how important caring for the environment is.
“No. This is bigger
,” he says. I look at him. “If you’re feeling better, come with me to the Conference Room.”
I flex my fingers and stretch my arms. No burns, no pain. I feel like new.
I hop off the bed and follow Dad toward the Conference Room, a.k.a the CR, where all the important meetings take place. The hospital is on one of the lower levels and the CR is on the top floor. We have to take an elevator to get there. Of course Dad can always use his powers to levitate us up, but he never likes to do that in front of me.
“Are we in major trouble?” I ask once we’re in the elevator. “Me and the guys?”
He doesn’t say anything, just stares at the ceiling. Then he sighs. “I have a meeting with General Higgins tomorrow morning.”
General Higgins is the middleman between the League and normal people. The president appointed that guy specifically for that. Yeah, because he and the rest of those big shots in D.C. think the Keepers of Justice will take over America, then the world, or something like that. My dad’s too
obedient. If I were the League leader we’d do things my way, and if they don’t like it, suck it.
But of course I can never be the leader, ‘cuz I’m just normal.
“I’m sorry, Dad,” I say, not that I really mean it. I just don’t like him cleaning up my mess. Sure, I could have screwed up real bad. But I didn’t.
Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.” Like he always does when we piss Washington off. Damage control—it’s part of his job.
We reach the floor and
exit the elevator. The CR is basically off limits, especially to the kids. But that never stopped Stretch and me from crashing the room when we were little. Every midnight we’d have piles of snacks and hang out here. Sometimes we’d break into the Control Room, test the machines, pretend to save the world. But all that stopped when Dad’s second in command, Lightning, caught us. I still don’t like that guy.
When we get to
the CR, Dad pushes the door open. Elite League members are there, sitting around the large table. Premonition has wires on his temples and forehead that are attached to the monitor on the back wall.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” a nineteen-year-old-girl named Accelerator says, glaring at me. “He can’t even dress himself right.”
Pssh. What’s she talking about? I follow her gaze down to my shoelaces. My untied shoelaces. Awesome.
“Samson, perhaps a better suited Elite member should handle this,”
pulls out a chair for me. “Kale is the only qualified minor.” He pushes me into the chair and bends close. “Don’t speak unless spoken to, okay, Kale?”
I flash him my famous fake smile, the one where I show all my teeth. “You got it, your highness.”
He gives me an I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-you face, but doesn’t say anything as he goes to his seat at the head of the table. “Premonition, please replay the vision for us.”
nition presses buttons on the machine, and the wires start moving and the machine makes noises. An image flashes on the screen, flickering for a few seconds before shifting into focus. A girl about my age stands on the roof of a building. Her face and eyes get red as her body swells and swells until she explodes. Fire shoots out of her, like she’s a volcano. Then the image zooms out to our solar system and Earth blows up, leaving tiny particles behind.
I jump to my feet. “
All heads turn to me
like I’m crazy. I slowly sit back down. I guess this isn’t their first time seeing this?
“The date has been pushed up,” Premo
nition says. “Three months. She’s worsening.”
“We’re running out of time,” Accelerator says. “Let me have this one, Samson. It’s an assignment I was born for. The poor girl.”
Dad shakes his head, staring at the wiped-out image of Earth. “And risk her powers growing stronger? No. Do you remember what happened on the last mission?”
or grunts. She hates her power because whenever she gets too close to people, their abilities magnify by a hundred. I don’t know why she gets so mad. I mean, yeah her powers suck sometimes, but I’d rather have hers than nothing at all.
“Kale, come here, please,” Dad says. I pull myself up and drag my body to the front of the room. I don’t know why I’m even here. “Do you understand what we’re talking about, son?”
Uh, something about Earth busting up? “Nope.”
“That girl.” He points to the screen. “Is going to destroy this planet. And we need you to stop her.”
Right. Like it’s possible for one girl to destroy the entire planet? Some people call the League a bunch of fakes. I’m siding with them right now. “Dad...” I can’t stop a chuckle from escaping through my lips.
gets to his feet. “You think this is funny?”
Premonition glares at me.
I hold up my hands like they’re shields. “Hey, man. I know you can see the future and all, but maybe you gotta lay off the donuts. All that sugar is screwing up your visions.” I mean, yeah I’ve seen lots of crazy powers out there, but to blow up the planet?
His eyes narrow and he looks like he wants to grab me by the collar, but Dad says, “I want everyone to leave the room.” His
blue eyes are on me. “Except for Kale.”
Once the room empties
out, Dad points to the TV. The same picture replays, ending with Earth in pieces. I can’t see the girl well. Is she hot? It’d be a shame for a hot girl to die like that. Although, taking the planet along with her is kind of badass...
“Kale, you’ve been with the Keepers all your life. You know how important our role is in this world.”
roles are important. Where does that leave me? To clean up after them?
lays a hand on my arm. “Ever since you were a little boy, you’ve wanted to save the world. You couldn’t wait for your powers to kick in.” I pull my arm away. “The years came and went. I told you to wait—your time would come. You hit ten, eleven, twelve years old. Nothing. You hit puberty. Nothing. You’re fourteen now. It’s unlikely you’ll develop powers.”
I grit my teeth. It feels like
he’s stabbing me in the stomach. “You already told me this. What’s your point?”
You don’t need powers for this mission, son. In fact, powers would only inhibit you.”
“What are you talking about?”
He stretches his hand toward the printer, and a stack of papers float to us. Using his power, he sets them in front of me. More pictures and some scientific info. Of the girl, Earth, and the future. “I don’t have a super brain like Brain does. What’s this mean?”
Dad presses his finger on the picture. I still can’t see the girl’s face because all the fire’s coming out of her. “We’re learning as much as we can. Who she is, why she’s going to do what she’s going to do.” He looks at me. “If we don’t stop her,
she will destroy Earth.”
. Let’s load everyone into spaceships and go live on the moon.”
shakes his head. “Maybe you’re too young for this.”
“For what? What
am I supposed to do?”
He picks up the stack of papers and hands it to me.
“We’ve been watching her for a while now. Read these papers carefully and come to my office when you’re done.”
I flip through the pile.
“I can’t read all of this!” There are like fifty pages in here.
Dad gets up
. “Read through it and report to my office. I’ll be waiting.” He turns and leaves the room.
I stare after him, wondering why I ever complained about
not getting any assignments.