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MATURE: Union City Angels

Misfit Angel

Normal is an illusion
Sep 3, 2013
Reaction score

Welcome! Union City Angels is a story that follows an organization of crime fighting super heroes as they contend with a range of opponents, from common criminals and corrupt city officials to psychopathic serial killers and rival super villains. While action is the main goal of the story, it won't just be fast paced, bad-guy-face-crushing action. There will also be some more relaxed moments in which the heroes are off duty, usually using their powers in an attempt to solve a mundane problem, only to be met with some rather hilarious consequences. In short, in addition to serious plotlines, the story will take the time to poke fun at itself.

One of my inspirations for this story is that I find the average super hero story put out by DC or Marvel to be utterly boring. They tend to feature heroes who are physically perfect, undefeatable juggernauts that usually win, regardless of the odds. They usually have powers that are vastly superior to those of their arch rivals, which highlights any failures they have as token defeats. The heroes are usually boring and one dimensional, or on the other extreme have some impossibly silly background; they're aliens, cosmic beings of unrivaled power, or gods lifted word for word from ancient mythology. I'm hoping to provide a more down-to-earth representation of the idea of super heroes: They're people with lives outside of beating up bad guys! They have problems and they have doubts. They're not perfect beings.

Table of Contents
  1. Chapter 1 - The Bank Job
    Four masked criminals enter the Union Financial bank with a plan and a goal: Money.
  2. Chapter 2 - The Abduction
    It's just another day in Union City... Or is it?
  3. Chapter 3 - The Angels
    After escaping from the Department of Homeland Security, Janine finds herself in the hands of another organization.
  4. Chapter 4 - The Ruse
    With agents from the Department of Homeland Security effectively blockading the Union City Angels HQ, Janine's fate rests with the fake ID card she was given.
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Union City Angels
Chapter 1: The Bank Job

May 7th, 2017

It was a calm and peaceful spring night in Union City. The day was winding down for most as the sun made its evening decline; the last of the day shifts were ending and the evening rush hour had started. The city streets were loaded with angry drivers looking to get home from a long day of work, and the pedestrians that filled the sidewalks brushed against each other without regard for personal space. Everyone just wanted to get home or to their next destination.

One such destination was the Union City Financial Institute, packed with eager patrons looking to cash in their weekly paychecks. The lines were long but they slowly began to thin out as the evening dragged on. With just ten minutes to closing time, about forty patrons were left inside. Everyone was antsy to return home; Two major television networks were scheduled to premier new shows that night, and the buzz and hype had been overwhelming over the past few weeks. They simply had to see what it was all about!

Everything seemed to be in order that night, but one thing stuck out. Parked just down the road from the bank was a black car, tucked away in an alley. Inside were four middle aged men, each wearing a nearly identical suit, the only difference being color. The driver was wearing a purple suit, the front seat passenger was in a bright orange suit and the two rear seat passengers were in blue and white suits.

They stayed in the car for several minutes, shaking in anticipation over what was about to happen. Purple reached into the glove compartment, grabbed a small bottle of pills and downed a few. Orange had his phone out, going over an improvised floor plan of the bank. Blue grabbed a duffel bag from the floor and opened it. Inside were four masks; A Guy Fawkes mask was given to Orange. White was given a Gandhi mask. A Nixon mask was handed to Purple. Blue himself donned a Stalin mask.

"Ready?" Orange asked.

"Let's rock this shit," Purple said, opening his door. The four stepped out of the car and walked towards the trunk.

Purple opened it to reveal a large collection of weapons, ammunition, an emergency first aid kit and a backpack with coiled wires poking out of it. He reached in, grabbed the AK-47 and handed it to White. "Can't wait to buy me a new house!" he said with glee.

White inspected his weapon. "Really? That's what you're gonna waste your money on?"

"What's your idea?" he asked as he grabbed a pair of Baretta M9s and slipped them into his belt. "I live in a god damn dump."

"I'm gonna be drowning in bitches when we're done here."

Blue pushed his way between the two and grabbed his own weapon, an AR-15. "Focus, you two. We ain't spending any money until we're back at the building. And don't think that this will be easy."

Orange grabbed the final weapon, an intimidating and deadly looking Saiga-12 automatic shotgun decorated with detailed engravings. "He's right. Let's roll. No mistakes. No mercy."

The four abandoned their car with the engine still on, ready for a quick escape, and headed towards the main steps leading into the bank. Orange took a clear leadership role, gesturing to his comrades to stay back while he scouted inside. The bank was quiet, with about thirty patrons inside left and no security in sight. The bank tellers weren't behind any protective barricades or glass, which signaled that the heist would be easy to start. He made more motions for his comrades to join him at the door, then kicked the door with enough force to shatter the glass and knock the frame off of its hinges. "Nobody move!" he shouted.

White charged into the lobby and fired a quick burst into the air, attempting to intimidate everyone inside. The effort was well rewarded, as most of the patrons fell to the floor and scrambled to hide behind the various desks and kiosks in the lobby.

"Get the cameras!" Orange ordered.

Blue did his part and identified where the security cameras were, taking each one out with a single, precisely aimed shot.

"Blue, Purple, on the corridors! I want to know if any pigdogs come for their prize! White, you're with me!" Orange slung his shotgun over his shoulder and rushed towards the front desk, sliding over it. Before his feet even hit the floor on the other side, his weapon was back in his hands, pointed at the bank tellers. "Hands where I can see them!"

The bank tellers huddled in fear on the floor, backing away from their booths. It seemed as if they were accustomed to the idea of a bank robbery, and knew what Orange's orders would be before he even said them.

"Alright, White. Your time to shine, get into the vault room! I've got your back."

"This is good so far! I don't hear any alarms!" Blue shouted, peaking his head around the doorway that led down a corridor to some offices. He caught some movement out of the corner of his eye on the second floor and raised his rifle. Before he could get a lock on his target, a bullet whizzed by his head and impacted into the granite pillar beside him. "Shit, security!"

"I got him, I got him!" Purple said, looking up towards the second floor's balcony and raising his pistols.

Two security officers were perched behind the railing, trying their best to visualize the situation. One poked his head above the railing, spotted Purple and aimed his weapon. Before the officer could fire, however, Purple returned the favor; with quick thinking and years of experience, he zeroed in on the security officer and fired two shots each from his pistols. Two of the bullets impacted the railing, while the other two sunk into the officer's chest and shoulder. The officer lurched back in pain and fell to the floor. The exchange of gunfire sent the patrons into a spiraling descent of terror.

"Bet you got a family back home, pig! Is this worth it?!" he taunted before ducking back into cover.

The remaining security officer took aim and emptied his clip into the pillar that Purple was hiding behind, but it was fruitless; the solid stone support protected him. Distracted by Purple, the two officers were unaware that Blue had ascended the stairs and flanked them from behind. Without even a word, he unloaded his weapon on them, cruelly executing them without a hint of mercy.

"Clear!" he shouted.

"You better fucking hope this works for us, killing people wasn't in the plan!" Orange chastised.

"Self defense!" Purple returned, emerging from his cover to retain control of the crowd. "You saw what happened up there, ladies and gentlemen. Anybody else want to be a hero?"

Blue stepped over the bodies of the slain security officers and made his way towards a door that opened up into the office section of the building. "While I'm up here, I'm gonna look around, see if I can't find the branch manager. I'll be on comms."

"Don't get killed. I won't be at your funeral."

- - - - -​

Meanwhile, White was in the back of the building, attempting to gain access to the vault. The security system on it was a basic mechanical system of locks and bars, yet still mind-bogglingly complex in its own right. His initial three attempts to gain access were met with failure, and since he was an impatient man, he skipped all of the methods him and his accomplices had meticulously planned beforehand. Opening his duffel bag, he dug through it and pulled out a tangled mess of bright orange wire and an explosive substance that resembled an adhesive clay. He painstakingly applied the explosives to the bars that locked the door in place, then jammed the wire into it. He hot wired the explosives to a small circuit board with an antenna on it.

He took several steps back, retreating around a corner as he pulled out his cell phone. He quickly dialed a number as if by muscle memory, then covered his ears and held his head between his legs. A roaring explosion ripped through the hallway, rattling the furniture and shattering the glass panes that decorated the cubicles and private offices. He returned to the vault to see the fruits of his labor, completely shocked by what he saw; while the vault door had been blown off of the wall, behind it was yet another vault door, this one looking even tougher than the last.

"Nyah shit. Should brought more explosives..." he muttered. He tapped on his headset and spoke into it. "Orange, we got a problem!"

"Orange here. What's your problem?" the radio buzzed.

"I blew the vault open, but they've got a backup door. No more explosives. These bank owners are gettin' smart."

"No, you're getting dumber. I told you not to waste the explosives!"

"Gimme a few, I might have better luck manually opening this one. If I were a bank designer, I'd--"

"Get it. DONE!" Orange roared.

- - - - -​

Back in the main lobby, Orange was pacing about, his demeanor shifting ever so slightly with each step towards panic. His carefully laid out plans were falling apart, and more importantly, his big pay day was slipping through his fingers. Calm gave way to irrational thinking. He thought about charging into the vault room to have an attempt at the remaining vault locks himself, but realized that he was even less qualified than White to do so. Another thought that crossed his mind was to quietly slip out through the back rooms and abandon his accomplices, but he was certain that they could pull a rabbit out of the hat, and all they needed was just a little more time.

His headset buzzed with Blue's voice. "Blue here, I may have found something."

"What is it?"

"You'll see."

"Better be a fucking key to the vault, or I swear to god."

A few moments passed before the doors on the second floor swung open. Blue dragged a man in a well fitting, custom tailored suit by his foot towards the stairs, past the fallen security officers.

"Sh-shit. You actually killed them!" the man bumbled.

"And you're probably next," Blue warned as he dragged the man down the cold, marble stairs. He pulled him to the center of the lobby for everyone to see, then knelt down in front of the man. "I found this fancy looking guy in the executive office, crying like a little bitch."

Orange perked up, his tension easing. He approached the man, keeping his weapon aimed at him. "Mr. Hodges, I presume?"

"No, Matthers. I'm the assistant manager." the man answered. "Don't think you're going to get away with this, pal."

Orange knelt down in front of the man and poked him with the barrel of his shotgun. "I ain't afraid of the cops."

"Oh, no. It's not cops that are coming. It's much worse. People who don't have to play by the rules. People you should be afraid of. You do know that this is Union Financial, right?" Mr. Matthers said as he looked around at the three criminals present. He studied their masks. "Nixon, huh?" he said with a laugh. "Not real original."

Orange brought the butt of his gun across Mr. Matthers' forehead. "I'm going to make this real simple, Mr. Matthers. You open that vault, or things are going to get fucking ugly."

Mr. Matthers pressed his hand to his head and shook it. "Ugly? What, gonna find my ex-wife and bring her here?" he defiantly challenged.

Blue laughed. "He's got spunk, at least." he said, before bringing the handle of his rifle down on the top of Mr. Matthers' head with enough force to make him see stars and chickens. "But we don't need spunk right now, we need a vault opened."

"I can't help you."

Orange shook his head and pointed at one of the hostages. "Blue, that guy in the black tanktop. Bring him over here."

Blue broke away from guarding Mr. Matthers and approached the man that Orange had pointed out, pointing his AR-15 at him. "Come on, center of the room." The man reluctantly agreed, whimpering as he slowly made his way to the center of the room with the barrel of Blue's rifle pressed against his back.

"Open the vault!" Orange commanded.

Mr. Matthers raised his hand in an attempt to garner some compassion from the increasingly unstable Orange. "Hey, hey, easy. Don't hurt that guy. I can't open that vault! Not even if I wanted to!"

"And why the hell not?!"

"I'm only an assistant manager, okay? I don't have that kind of clearance! You want that vault open, you're going to have to do it on your own, or wait for my boss to get down here. And I don't think he's coming."

Orange didn't believe Mr. Matthers and viewed his constant defiance as an effort at stalling for time. His emotions fumed within him, bubbling away like boiling water. He decided to up the stakes. "I didn't want it to come to this, but... Do it, Blue. Gentle."

Blue shook his head, then pushed the man down onto his knees and walked towards his backside. He raised his rifle and pointed it at the man.

"Come on, you ain't gots to do this. I gots three kids and, and, and a sick wife, dawg!" the man desperately pleaded.

With a loud bang, Blue let loose three rapid shots, tearing into the man's left leg. The man shrieked in pain and reeled to the floor as he flopped around like a beached fish, trying his best to scurry away. Blue wouldn't let him escape, however, and brought his foot down on the man's wound. He seemed to enjoy the act a little too much, smiling as he twisted his foot around, extracting every last ounce of pain the he could out of the man.

"One last chance!" Orange shouted. "Open. That. Vault!"

"I'm telling you, I don't have that kind of clearance!" Mr. Matthers pleaded, trying his best to reason with Orange. "Look, I'll get my boss on the line, just stop pointing those fucking guns at my customers!"

"I'm not dumb, and I don't have that kind of time!" Orange roared. "I know for a fact that all senior staff of this banking company can open the damn vaults!"

Mr. Matthers' frustration was palpable. "If you're going to kill anyone, do me in. Let everyone else be!"

Orange brought the butt of his shotgun against Mr. Matthers' forehead again. "I guess it actually came to this. Let's see his limits, Blue."

Blue let out a chilling laugh as the crowd began to moan, whimper and prepare themselves for what was about to happen. "Ah ha, more fun!" he raised his rifle and aimed at the injured hostage, slowly approaching him as he crawled away. His finger rested on the trigger, ready to execute the man in cold blood when he received the order.

"Do it, but be quick about it." Orange commanded. "Sorry about this, but we're in too deep. Nothing personal."

Just as Blue was about to pull the trigger, he felt a strange tug on his rifle. His aim was thrown off and he sprayed wildly just to the side of the injured man. He released the trigger and took a second to inspect his weapon, confused about what just happened. He returned his gun to a firing position and readjusted his aim again, but before he could line up his target, his rifle was forcibly ripped from his hands. "The hell?!" he shouted.

"What's the matter, shoot him!" Orange yelled.

The injured hostage skimmed along the floor towards the broken door as Blue attempted to retrieve his weapon, but it slid across the floor with every attempted grab and dive, like it were being pulled away by a fisherman. Orange and Purple looked on with curiosity, completely shocked at what they were seeing.

"What in the fuck..." Purple muttered.

Orange decided to take matters into his own hands and toggled the safety on his shotgun off as he chased after the injured man. Before he could approach, however, he too felt a strange tug on his weapon. The shotgun flew out of his hands and skidded across the floor, coming to a stop under a desk.

"Uhh, boss?" Blue said, pointing. "We got a big problem."

Orange stopped in his tracks and turned around to the strangest sight he had ever seen. One of the hostages, a young woman, was standing upright with her arms outstretched, her palms facing outward and her eyes closed. Her silky black hair was bobbing back and forth in a small localized wind current that swirled around her. Her hair's movement became much more violent and erratic as Blue's weapon began to levitate in front of her. Her eyes opened, revealing a bright lavender light where her pupils should have been. She threw her left arm to the side and the rifle sailed through the air in the same direction, smashing through the bank's window.

"What is that thing?!" Purple asked. He took aim at her with his dual pistols, but he was too terrified to keep his hands steady.

The young woman's piercing gaze snapped towards him. Once more, her arms were thrown out in front of her; this time she lowered them violently, knocking the pistols out of his hands. She pulled her arms back, sending the pistols sliding across the floor like they were on an ice rink.

"Nope! Nooooooope! I'm out!" Blue shouted, making a mad dash for the shattered window.

Meanwhile, White had emerged from the vault room, frustrated at his lack of progress, but that frustration quickly faded to surprise as he saw that the hostage situation had rapidly deteriorated. He quickly identified the young woman as a threat to the heist and raised his AK-47, taking aim directly at her head. His curiosity got the better of him and he hesitated for a brief moment. His bright suit caught her attention from the corner of her eye; she fixed her gaze on him and could see him aiming at her. She raised her arms out sideways above her head, and the wind blowing her hair about kicked up again.

White didn't take any chances and opened fire, spraying wildly and shouting at the top of his lungs. After a loud and extensive hail of gunfire, his rifle emptied, but she was still standing. He pulled the trigger numerous times, oblivious to the fact that his weapon was empty. He lowered his weapon and gazed in amazement; the bullets, despite being aimed directly at her, appeared to have surged around her, as if she were protected by a powerful magnetic field. Bullet holes littered the wall behind her.

"What in God's name..." White said in disbelief. "What's going on, boss?!"

"Fuck if I know! We lost Blue, we gotta get out of here! We ain't making our score today!" Orange shouted. He motioned for the shattered remains of the door.

"Hopefully Blue didn't take off with our car..." Purple said as he rushed out through the busted frame.

"If he did, we'll find another!" White added, quickly following behind.

Orange took one last look at the young woman. "What the hell are you..." he whispered to himself before following his two comrades.

The wind around the young woman died down and she lowered her arms. She looked around the bank to see the former hostages staring at her with a wide variety of looks on their faces. Some were on the verge of tears, others looked on in amazement. More looked at her with fear behind their eyes, uncertain of whatever just saved their lives. Even the man who had been shot in the leg was hesitant to thank her.

She backed up against the bullet-riddled wall and slumped over, questioning what she just did. She took a moment to calm her racing heart, catch her breath and to wind herself down over the fact that she could have been killed for making such a brazen stand in the face of four violent madmen. As emergency sirens began to blare in the distance, she squeaked, "You... You're welcome?"[/B]
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Oh, now this I like. The psychic chick just being there in the bank instead of flying in and being Ms. Saves-the-Day was a really nice idea, and to be honest it reminds me of the Conduits from inFAMOUS. The masked robbers were pretty funny when they weren't being utterly psychotic, and I hope they come back at some point. And one last thing... you may want to consider renaming the city and story, as there is a real-life Union City, New Jersey. I'll be following this; good luck!
I'll probably stick with Union City, as it's had a lot of prevalence in past things I've worked on and I want to keep the legacy going. If I switched away from Union City, I'd probably run into the same problem again when I choose a new name. As far as the masked criminals, I hadn't thought about bringing them back, but you're not the only one who requested that I do. I'll try to work them in somewhere again.
Union City Angels
Chapter 2: The Abduction

May 8th, 2017

The bell rang, signaling the end of another day of school at Union City High School. To many, it had been just another day, but to one young woman, it was a test of patience and a day of avoidance. The same young woman who had thwarted the robbery at the Union Financial the previous night was a student at the school, and she spent most of the day worrying that her involvement would lead to harassment. Fortunately for her, nobody seemed to notice and if anyone did, they left her alone. She was thankful for it, figuring that everyone was too wrapped up in their own self-love to have watched the evening news the previous night.

Still, she wanted to get home as quickly as she could. She slinked out of Room B-104, the school's chemistry lab, ready to rush out of the school as soon as she could. She weaved in and out of the crowd of meandering students, taking care not to bump into anyone as she made a beeline towards the stairwell. Just as she reached the stairs, she was confronted by two female students. She was so close!

"Hey, ready to go to the park?" one of them asked.

"Not now," the young woman said, pushing her way past and skittering away again.

They chased after her and grabbed her by the shoulder, forcibly turning her around. "What's the god damn rush? You said we were going to the park today to practice our tennis. Sarah really needs it, or we're not going to State."

"I'd love to, but I really have to get home. My mom is probably worried sick about me."

"What for?" the other student asked. "What's going on, anyways? You've been acting weird all day... Well, more than usual."

"I didn't go home last night. I did something she is not going to be happy about."

The blonde student's expression shifted and she gasped. "You didn't! So who was it, was he good?" The comment garnered a laugh from the other one. "You're not avoiding us just to go see him again, are you?"

She was taken aback by the questions. "No! Nothing like that! Just... look, I gotta go, I'll explain later. We'll practice tomorrow, I promise!"

As Janine rushed away, the two girls began to giggle uncontrollably. "Yeah, she totally got laid."

- - - - -​

The events of the previous night played over and over in her mind. The shattering glass, the thunder of the guns, the screaming patrons, the injured hostage, it was all too much for such a young mind to deal with. The memory that haunted her the most was Blue's chilling laughter as he executed the two security guards. "Why didn't I act sooner? I might have been able to save them as well..." she thought as she cursed her hesitation to act.

She continued down the road, instead focusing on herself rather than those around her. "Day one... done. But it won't be long before the news starts to spread..." she muttered to herself. Still, she was thankful that a day had gone by without people confronting her over the events that unfolded the previous night. She usually criticized people for being too self-absorbed and uninformed to care about current events, but it was a blessing today, and one that likely wouldn't last.

She contemplated what awaited her in the near future. The Union Financial wasn't the first time that she had used her strange powers; over the course of her young life, her powers began to manifest in ways she couldn't control, usually with disastrous consequences. A desk would be overturned, or all of the loose papers in a room would be scattered. Much worse things had happened, but those events were relatively few and far between. Even the most benign occurrences of her powers ended in the destruction of her social life and resulted in merciless bullying and physical threats. The only course of action after an outburst of her powers was to move to a new area, where she could avoid her past and start over.

But she was tired of running. She enjoyed Union City much more than any other city she had lived in. The idea of moving away from all of her friends again seemed over the top, especially since she was growing into a young adult who could take care of herself. It would only be a few months until she graduated from high school and was off to college and on her own. She figured she could tolerate a few months of torment and move on to the next chapter of her life, but the hardest part of that would be to convince her mother to not pack up and leave again.

As the thoughts swirled in her mind, she didn't even notice the black SUV that pulled up alongside her. She continued to walk, debating with herself, as the window of the SUV rolled down, revealing a middle aged man in a suit and sunglasses. "Excuse me, Janine?"

The young woman looked over at the SUV and stopped in her tracks. "Huh? How do you know my name?"

The man raised his wallet and opened it, displaying a card that identified him as an agent of the Department of Homeland Security by the name of Rick Walsh. "I'm a federal agent. I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't know who you were."

"Federal agent?" Janine whispered to herself. "You sure you have the right person? There must be a hundred women named Janine in this city."

Agent Walsh removed his sunglasses, raised a pair of reading glasses to his eyes and began to read off from a document on his lap. "Janine Karlis, born October 31st, 2000 in Salem, Massachusetts. Mother is Lisa Karlis. No known father. Black hair, violet eyes, 5'1''..." He lowered his glasses and shook his head. "Do I need to keep going?"

Each and every detail the agent listed off was correct, a fact that worried her. "Okay, what do you want?" she cautiously asked.

He opened the door and stepped out of the SUV. "Just wanted to talk about some things. You turned some heads last night... with what you did in that bank. A teenager thwarting a bank robbery by herself? Pretty impressive. More impressive is how you allegedly did it."

Janine instinctively backed off as he approached her. She was suspicious of his motives and was determined to keep her distance.

"Let's take a ride down to the district office, there's someone there who wants to talk to you. He even wants to offer you a job protecting the fine people of this great country. You have--"

"I don't think so, I have to get home. My mother's probably pissed off at me because of what I did last night." she said, taking a few steps backward.

"And you want to go home to that?" he said with a laugh. He took a few steps towards her and reached out. "Come on, this won't take long."

"Get away!" she shouted before turning around and running.

Agent Walsh rushed back to the SUV and jumped in. "After her!" he ordered. He grabbed his radio and shouted into it, "Subject is moving north on Harbor Street, we're just past Scarborough Avenue! Move to intercept, but do not harm her!"

Janine rushed down the street as fast as her legs would take her. She tried her best to avoid running into the other pedestrians, but some were unfortunately enough to be in the wrong place and ended up being steamrolled. The SUV remained in quick pursuit, doing its own dancing to avoid the heavily congested traffic on the street. As she neared the corner of Harbor Street and Saint Peter Lane, the SUV made its sharp turn and pulled in front of her and Agent Walsh opened the door, forcing her to rush through the traffic in the opposite direction.

She put considerable distance between her and the pursuing SUV, but she knew she wouldn't be able to escape on foot if she stuck to the main roads. As she looked around for a suitable hiding spot, she spotted another SUV pulling over on the side of the road in front of her. Three federal agents rushed out of the truck and charged at her, causing her to run down an alleyway with the hope that she might be able to lose them between the buildings. Her hopes were dashed when she found herself at a dead end, the agents slowly approaching.

"Stay away!" she yelled.

The agents ignored her and continued to approach. In a panic, she raised her left hand. Her silky black hair began to bob around in the wind and her eyes began to glow with a soft lavender light. Unsure of what they were seeing, the agents stopped in their tracks. It wasn't enough for her, she wanted them gone. She used her abilities to lift a crate of empty glass bottles from the ground and toss it towards the agents. The glass shattered into a million shards, sending the agents running for cover.

Agent Walsh and his driver appeared at the end the alleyway. He saw her hair whipping back and forth in the wind and the piercing lavender light surging out of her eyes. "So it is true..." he muttered to himself. He placed his hand on his driver's shoulder and pushed forward. "Give the boys some backup, I'll try to talk her down."

The driver's approach was quickly met with another piece of discarded rubbish being thrown at him.

Agent Walsh approached next, unafraid of similar consequences. "Janine, we're not going to hurt you! I swear on my position as a federal agent of the United States government, we just want to help you develop your amazing gift!"

Janine didn't believe it. She raised her arm and another box of glass bottles began to float beside her. "I'm not going anywhere!" she shouted. The federal agents continued to inch forward, and she responded by throwing the bottles at them.

Agent Walsh reached for his radio. "HQ, Walsh here. Subject is belligerent, how do we proceed?"

Before Agent Walsh could get his answer, the sound of shattering glass and twisting metal rang out behind him. He turned around to see the two SUVs that blocked entry into the alleyway had been rolled onto their rooftops. Where they once were sat a behemoth of a vehicle with six wheels mounted to it. Heavily armored plates that lined the sides of the vehicle showed that it had been through a lot over the years, as it was covered in numerous bullet impacts and scratches. Thin slats filled with bullet-resistant glass served as the windshield and the only window on the vehicle. Emblazoned onto the side of the van in gold lettering was 'Union City Angels'.

A sliding door on the side of the vehicle opened and out stepped a tall, well built man. The clothing he was wearing was just as peculiar as the vehicle he arrived in; a form-fitting navy blue jacket covered his torso, and similarly colored pants with numerous pockets covered his legs. Protective plating covered his knees, elbows and shoulders, and various belts and straps hung off of his clothing. Embroidered onto the left pocket of his jacket was a pair of angel wings, and 'Terraformer' was stitched onto his right sleeve. What little skin was showing was covered in hideous scars and pockmarks.

"Son of a bitch, it's the Angels!" Agent Walsh shouted. "Back off, this is government business! We found her first!"

Another, significantly more slender man jumped out of the armored vehicle next. He had a similar outfit as his larger companion, but his was black in color rather than navy blue. Likewise, it too had a name patched onto to the sleeve: 'Garandri'. "Agent Walsh! Why am I not surprised to see you here?"

Agent Walsh groaned in disgust.

Garandri turned his attention to the four agents that had Janine cornered in the alleyway. "Step back and do not harm the girl."

"Hold your positions!" Agent Walsh ordered. "We're taking her, Garandri. We gave you the last one, and look what happened there. She left your organization and now nobody knows where she is. I'm not going to let that happen again!""

"Amber had more issues than we had anticipated. Janine on the other hand..."

Agent Walsh shook his head. "No. As a representative of the Department of Homeland Security, I have superiority here. Don't forget, you're just a vigilante. People might tolerate you in this city, but things work differently in Washington. Stay out of this, or I'll have you arrested and your organization shut down." He turned to his agents. "Take her, but be careful. She's going to fight."

Garandri shook his head as the agents began to inch closer to Janine again. He figured that she wouldn't be able to take on all four at once and that he and his partner would have to intervene to prevent her from falling into their hands. "Richter? You may have the honors."

"You sure?" Richter asked. "These guys are serious business."

"Very sure. Walsh's men are poorly trained."

Richter nodded. His hands began to shine with a pallid, golden glow, flickering and falling from his fingers like loose sand. He fell to one knee and placed his left hand on the ground, taking a moment to focus himself. As his eyes closed, the ground around them began to quiver and crack. Small fissures began to form in the asphalt and snake their way towards Janine, and when they reached a halfway point between her and the approaching agents, they split apart and formed a vaguely linear shape. Suddenly, a loud crackle, like thunder, could be heard coming from under their feet and spires of solid stone began to shoot up from the ground, forming a protective barrier.

The agents were surprised by what they saw, but quickly regained their composure. They turned around and drew their weapons, pointing them at Richter and Garandri.

"Tear down this barrier or we will respond with force!" one of them shouted.

"What do you say, Richter?" Garandri asked. "Seems obvious, does it not?"

Richter stalled for time as he planned his next move. His hands began to glow once more, this time much brighter. The agents looked on with caution, ready to act on a moment's notice. They kept their attention focused on him, but could hear the stone barrier behind them crumbling. Just as they began to calm their nerves, the barrier broke apart and the individual stones that it was created from began to pelt the agents. Taken by surprise, all four were knocked down.

"Grab the girl, I'll distract them!" Richter shouted. As his partner dashed through the chaotic and dusty scene, he extended his arm outward and let loose a barrage of fine sand, directing it at Agent Walsh.

Garandri hurdled over the broken remains of the barrier that was meant to protect Janine and found her cuddled in a corner, between a trash can and a dumpster. He approached her slowly and gingerly, holding his hand out to signal that he wasn't a threat to her. "Janine, we must leave."

"Who are you?" she whimpered.

"Garandri, leader of the Union City Angels. I can explain more later, but we must leave now!" he said, offering his hand out to her.

"No, get away!" she shouted. She held her hand out and her pupils began to softly glow with a purple light.

He lunged forward and grabbed her by the wrist, causing the light to fade. "You have a choice, Janine. Escape with us, or surrender yourself to these federal agents. Considering they were sent to bring you in by force, I think the choice is an easy one."

She took a brief moment to think it over, but realized that she had no other way out. She wasn't ready to trust the strange men who had come to 'rescue' her, but at the same time she trusted the federal agents even less. "Just get me out of here!" she pleaded.

"Good. Now, Richter is a capable man, but he may need your assistance in dealing with the agents," Garandri said, leading her over to the destroyed stone wall. However, that would not be necessary, as Richter had already incapacitated four of the federal agents. One of the agents was suspended in a column of dirt and unable to reach his weapon, while another was on the ground, twitching in pain. The other two were covered in sand and rubbing furiously at their faces in an attempt to unblind themselves. Agent Walsh himself had been disarmed, but he was still standing. "Very good work, Richter!"

Richter chuckled.

"You're making a big mistake!" Agent Walsh shouted.

"On the contrary, we are making a wise choice this time," Garandri answered back, leading Janine up the alleyway towards the armored van. He slid the door open and helped her up the large step inside. "Have a seat in the back, you'll be home in time for dinner. Come, Richter!"

Richter approached the van and hopped inside. Before he slid the door closed, the golden energy that enveloped his hands returned and he swiped his hand through the air in front of him. The sand that had blinded the two agents evaporated away and the column of dirt that encased the other agent crumbled to pieces. He held his head out the door and saluted to the agents before closing the door. The van sped away shortly after.

Agent Walsh rushed out of the alleyway and spotted the vehicle speeding down the street. He raised his service pistol and took aim at the fleeing vehicle, but lowered it when he realized he wouldn't be able to stop it. Instead, he grabbed his radio and spoke into it. "Walsh here! The subject got away, the Angels took her!"
I'm not usually a fan of superhero stories, but the way you've set it up makes me think you'll do it more like an anti-crime unit than a group of overpowered superheroes. I'll look forward to seeing more in the future! I hope you live up to the promises you've given us.
So this is new...somewhat, I mean I like the idea of you doing another non Pokemon fic after that last one died out. This one is starting out pretty simple so far. I came into it thinking it'll be something a la watchmen with the whole group already formed but instead it seems like a rookie type of story with Janine. It's interesting but not exactly unseen, I mean you make a point in the first post to say how you hated classic hero stories but I've seen a lot of stories that are like this nowadays xD somewhat.

The chapters are relatively short but cover a specific ground so that's nice, there's not much to say so far except that I'm interested ins eeing how the whole concept of powers work, it seems like people with powers are commonplace fromw hat the last two chapters say but at the same time it kind of gives me a more uncontrolled type of feel as well. One thing though is that I'm still tyring to get used to the description of the action, it kind of drags a little bit in places.
Union City Angels
Chapter 3: The Angels

May 8th, 2017

"Here we are," Garandri said, parking the armored truck in a rather large and brightly lit underground garage.

Janine tried to locate a window to look at her surroundings. "And... where exactly is that?" she questioned.

Richter slid the door to the armored truck open. "Somewhere quiet so we can talk." He hopped out and offered his hand to help her out, but she refused to move. "Come on, I won't bite. Remember, we got you out of there unharmed. Maybe that's earned a little bit of your trust?"

"You assholes kidnapped me and now you want me to trust you?!" she shouted, huddled in the corner of the van.

He retracted his hand and sneered at the idea. "Kidnapped is a bit of a harsh term..."

"But it's a correct term, Richter," Garandri said, walking over to the door. "I'm sorry you were brought here under such circumstances, Janine. I did not anticipate that the Department of Homeland Security would make a move on you as quickly as they did."

"What did they want?"

"Come, we'll talk inside," he said as he offered his hand forward.

She refused. "I'm not moving until I know where I am," she demanded.

"We've brought you to our headquarters," he said. "If you want specifics, all I can tell you is that you're somewhere downtown."

"And why was I brought here?"

"For your safety. Those agents can be quite heavy handed at times, as you've seen."

"Hmmph," she grumbled, before making her first timid steps towards the door. She peeked out and gazed at her surroundings, but saw little more than a filthy garage. "This? This is it? Your headquarters?" she asked. She returned to the back of the truck and curled up again. "I'm going to end up a murder victim, aren't I..." she whimpered.

Richter rolled his eyes and groaned. "You sort this drama out, G. I was never good with stubborn kids." He took his leave and headed for a rather bulky looking doorway at the far end of the garage.

Garandri offered his hand towards Janine once more. "You will be safe inside our headquarters, you have my absolute guarantee. If you want to leave at any point, we will take you home. But please, hear us out first."

She shook her head at the situation and muttered quietly to herself, "Well, I had a good life..." She took his hand and stepped out into the garage. She cautiously surveyed her surroundings, looking for escape routes she could use if she needed and improvised weapons should the situation turn truly desperate. Unfortunately for her, there were none; the entrance to the garage was closed off by sturdy metal bars and the garage itself was mostly empty aside from a few cars. She realized she wouldn't be able to escape, so she decided to try her best to calm down. "What do you want to talk to me about?"

"Your powers, Janine. They're an amazing gift, a gift--"

"A gift!?" she shouted, then laughed. "You don't even know. Try a curse."


"Have you ever destroyed an entire room by accident? Have you ever hurt someone else because this 'gift' has a mind of its own?" she asked in a combative manner.

His silence told her everything.

"I didn't think so."

"Hmmph. You may say it's a curse, but others view it as a gift, others such as myself and the members of our organization."

"What do you mean?"

"When you were growing up, did you meet anyone with abilities such as yours?"

She shook her head.

"That changed today, as Richter demonstrated. You see, you are not the only one with such a gift. It comes in many forms... Richter, demonstrates control over earth and stone. Another one of our members is gifted with remarkable speed and reflexes..."

"What about you? Do you have anything special?"

He pointed to his shaved head and smiled. "All up in here. My gift is... less interesting, but no less important. You'll see soon enough."

"So I'm not the only one... I'm not just a circus freak..."

"If you are a freak, than so am I. But that is not our decision to make, that is for society to do." He gauged her reaction and found it to be negative. "My apologies. I am not the best with empathy at times."

She shook her head with disappointment and let out an exasperated sigh. "No, no, I'm used to it... You know, being a freak. I got that treatment in school as I grew up."

"Here among the Angels, none are considered outcasts. We are bound by the rules of our organization to accept and welcome all who wish to join us. We are a group of friends, and we will be your friends if you let us."

"I hope you don't say that to everyone you bring here, 'cause that'd get your ass beat in the real world," she jeered.

The two found themselves at the bulky door. Garandri lifted a panel on the frame of the door, revealing a screen, a keypad and a red laser scanner. He placed his hand on the screen and the laser immediately began to focus on specific sections of his hand before it turned green. The door made banging and grinding noises before it slowly slid open.

"Welcome home, Garandri," a mechanical voice echoed from the panel.

Inside, two armed men in uniforms similar to the one Garandri was wearing, but olive green instead, stood like sentries. Upon seeing Garandri, they slung their bullpup rifles behind their shoulders and stood at attention like loyal soldiers.

"Boss!" one of them said with excitement.

"Welcome back, boss!" the other added.

Garandri nodded. "Gentlemen. Anything interesting happen while we were gone?"

"Nothing to report."


As they continued down the hallway, Janine looked back at the two men, focusing mainly on their high powered rifles. After some distance had passed between them, she asked, "Uhh... who are they?"

"Members of our security team. So far, we have not had a need for them..." he answered. "They are a major reason why you'll be safe while in our headquarters."

At the end of the hallway was a stairwell that descended several floors down underground, a fact that worried Janine a bit. Even more were the multitudes of security devices she saw hanging from the walls; she wasn't sure if she was being led into a prison or the most secure haven ever. Their journey ended at another bulky metallic door, similar to the one they were at previously. "Why all this security, why so far underground? What are you hiding from?"

"We're not hiding from anything. We are merely putting space between ourselves and those who do not agree with our organization's standards and practices. Those government agents, for a start..." Garandri said. "We are not on the best of terms with the Department of Homeland Security... They think they are exempt from the rules."

Garandri placed his hand on the scanner next to the door and waited for it to analyze his prints. After a few moments, the light on the door shifted from red to green and the door began to open.

"Ladies first," he said, motioning for the doorway.

Janine entered the doorway and was surprised by what she saw. Inside was completely different to the dingy and dirty garage, or the monotonous, empty hallway they just left; the walls were crisp and clean with a fresh coat of white paint, with a blue stripe running across them. Large girders hung from the ceiling, likely to hold up the weight of everything above. Flat screens hung on the walls and were tuned to an impressive array of news stations in the United States and from around the world. Server racks lined the walls, the lights on them flashing quickly and almost to a rhythm. A fountain babbled in the center of the room. She was impressed by what she saw.

"Wow, this place is fancy looking. It's like a James Bond villain lair or something."

"Interestingly, that is exactly what the chief architect who designed this place said he wanted to achieve. All of this technology is also why we're so far underground. Satellite surveillance is a major pastime of the government these days, being underground protects us from prying eyes."

"I get the feeling that you guys don't like the government," she guessed.

"I personally have great admiration for it... I can't say the same for some of the other members," he answered. "Come, let's visit my office, we can have our discussion there."

- - - - -​

Compared to the high tech lobby, the office was relatively basic in design and quite cramped. A desk was in the center of the room, covered in papers, books and other junk. The walls were lined with cabinets and bookshelves. A printer and a computer sat in the far corner. A few chairs and a sofa occupied the last corner. Various awards, diplomas and other certifications hung from the walls, as well as an honorary Key to Union City.

Garandri motioned for the chair in front of the desk. "If you'd have a seat, please."

Janine did as she was asked and looked around, familiarizing herself with her surroundings. The tension she felt from being brought to this place against her will was starting to slide, but she was still finding it difficult to trust them.

"First, I would like to ask a few questions... If you'll just give me a moment, I--"

"No. I have some questions, first," she said, taking charge of the situation. "How did you find me?"

Garandri and Richter looked at each other briefly. "We had been watching you since you came to our attention when you were living in Kansas... We've also been watching the evening news. What you did last night made it very easy to find you!"

"Watching me... Kansas..." she mumbled. "What do you mean 'watching' me? You haven't been perving on me, have you? I wasn't even sixteen at the time!"

Richter snickered.

"What's so funny about that?" she demanded.

"It's cute when ladies get worked up about that kind of stuff, isn't it boss?"

Garandri shook his head. "You have a knack for being unhelpful at times, Richter. You know that, right?" He turned back to Janine. "To answer your question, no. We weren't 'watching' you by definition, just keeping tabs on where you were, I assure you. Until last night, I wasn't even aware of what you looked like." He took a moment to examine her.

At a glance, she appeared to be part of the goth culture. Shoulder-length black hair topped her head and extended down to her eyebrows, tied back in a loose ponytail. Thick eyeliner surrounded her eyes, and bat and skull shaped studs dangled from her ears. Black was just about the only color in her wardrobe; a black denim vest, embroidered with various skull and flame designs, rested atop a striped long sleeve shirt. Bulky, knee high boots covered her skin tight gray jeans. Dozens of leather and necklaces and bracelets adorned her.

"I must say, I'm quite surprised by your fashion sense."

"No kidding," Richter added. "People say that we dress flashy, they obviously haven't seen this girl."

She looked down at her clothing. "What's wrong with what I'm wearing?"

"Nothing! It's... different than what I'm used to seeing."

"Yeah, whatever... How did you know I was in trouble with those guys? With how quickly you showed... You weren't planning to do the same thing they tried, were you?"

"Our organization has eyes in the field at all times. One of our members, Mr. Stasiek, stumbled on some activity by federal agents earlier this afternoon. Coupled with the news reports of what you did last night, he wisely assumed that they were about to make a move on you. We originally intended to follow them to you... But they were quicker than I thought."

"So you were going to take me, too?"

"No. The intent was merely to introduce ourselves and our organization."

"I wanted to take you to a restaurant for a burger and fries. You know, a more comforting atmosphere." Richter said.

Garandri chuckled. "Yes, unfortunately it did not come to that." He cleared his throat and adjusted himself in his chair as he opened a notepad. "Now, onto something a bit more serious... I would like to get to know who you are."

She lounged back in her chair and raised her eyebrow. "Why?" she asked.

Garandri leaned back as well and lifted the notepad. "I will level with you. When word of your remarkable abilities came to us, we saw an opportunity to bolster our ranks. An opportunity to recruit you. An opportunity to guide you. You seem--"

"Recruit me? Oh jeeze... You don't want me."


"I'm just a kid! I'm not even out of high school yet!" she pointed out.

"We've had other young members before, have we not, Richter?"

Richter grumbled. "Don't remind me."

"Now, as I was saying, you seem committed to the cause of justice. A good Samaritan, unafraid to take a stand when needed." Garandri continued. "Would that accurately describe you?"

She was skeptical of the idea that she was a 'good Samaritan', but the more she thought about it, the more she began to realize it might be true. "I guess it would? I've put a stop to bullying and playground fights a few times over the years, I've helped old ladies cross the street, that kind of stuff... But what I did last night... Nothing like that, never. I'm not sure I could do it again, either... I was terrified out of my mind!"

"First time's always the worst," Richter commented.

"It is. Considering you are still standing, you handled it remarkably well." Garandri scribbled a few words onto the notepad. "Have you ever done any volunteer work or community service?"

"A fair bit," she said. "I've helped at animal shelters, participated in community outreach with the Emporia PD, done work in soup kitchens here in Union City... I've also done some volunteer work at a nursing home in Emporia and at the Kansas City Zoo for one of their Halloween events."

He continued to scribble down some notes. "Now, onto your life at home--"

"Next question, please."

"Sensitive subject?"

She nodded.

"Very well," he said, taking note of her reaction. "How about a criminal record... anything we should know about?"

"Should? I don't see why you need to know... But, no. Nothing."

He looked up at Richter. "What do you think?"

"We've had worse people," he said.

"Hmm, yes. It is rare that the people we interview are without some stain on their record."

Her curiosity was piqued by that comment. "How many people do you interview, anyways? How many are there like me, or... Richter, was it?"

"That is a difficult question to answer, as we simply don't know how many are out there that share our gift. At this time, I know of seventeen people, you included, who have some sort of superhuman ability. Fourteen of which have been members of our organization in its twenty five year history." Garandri answered. "However, most of our interviews relate to our more... mundane staff members, such as our analysts, our security and similar positions."

"Ya know, the grunt work. The stuff that lets us get the job done." Richter added.

Garandri pushed the interview along. "How would you describe your powers? What can you do?"

Janine thought long and hard as she tried to describe her capabilities in an easily understandable way. "Uhh... I can move stuff with my thoughts, I guess... not big things, just smaller objects." She leaned forward in her chair and focused on the coffee mug sitting on Garandri's desk. "Let me show you. Like this."

She took in a deep breath and closed her eyes, then extended her hand forward. The coffee mug began to wobble as it gently lifted off of the desk. She opened her eyes and revealed a piercing lavender glow around her pupils as she focused intently on the mug. She slowly moved her arm to the left, and the mug followed her motions. She began to lower her arm, gently bringing the mug down on the other side of the desk.

Richter crossed his arms as he watched Janine's display. "Nice. I can do similar things, but with stone only. You got any limits like that?"

She shook her head. "I don't know of any."

"Interesting," Garandri remarked. "You mentioned small objects. What kind of limitations are there on size?"

"I don't know exactly. My mom's discouraged me from using my abilities, so I don't really understand them that well. I don't think I could lift your desk if that means anything."

Garandri flipped to a new page in his notebook, then continued with the questions. "When we were walking in, you mentioned something that caught my attention. You asked me if I had ever 'destroyed a room by accident'. Does that happen often with you?"

"Not as often anymore, no. But as I was growing up... I spent more time picking up the pieces of my bedroom than having an actual childhood."

"Any idea why that happens?"

She shook her head. "No idea."

"Got any other tricks up your sleeve?" Richter asked.

Once more she shook her head.

Richter crossed his arms as he paced across the room behind her. "She's... interesting, I'll give her that. But is she really Angels material?"

Garandri flipped the page on his notebook and began to go over the notes he took. "I think she is. I understand that you are not keen on younger members, especially as young as her..."

"It's an experience issue, G. Kid's not even out of school yet, she don't know how things work out there." Richter explained. "Remember Decoy? He was an absolute disaster, and even he was out of college."

"I do. I wish he would have been less stubborn." he lamented. "Janine seems to have a bit more common sense, however. Even then, what do you suggest we do? Wait until she's had more experience with how the world works? By then, DHS would have their hands on her."

"She's still a kid, though, and we do dangerous work."


Janine's curiosity got the better of her. "What kind of work do you do?"

"We are an organization of philanthropists dedicated to furthering the greater good. We achieve this through a variety of activities including community outreach, fundraising for charity, speeches and public appearances... Of course, those are the easy ones. Our main mission is to assist the local police in dealing with criminals, such as those four that you dealt with last night. We also provide security for high profile people, such as foreign dignitaries who may be visiting the United States."

"And if I joined your organization, what would I be doing?"

Richter paced across the room again. "When we bring in new recruits, we generally keep them away from the more dangerous assignments. We need to know who we can trust."

"Yes. You would be involved in some of our community outreach programs, if you were to join." Garandri added. "You've proven that you're capable of taking on some of the less dangerous threats we face. On the other hand, as Richter continues to note, you're young. You're inexperienced. Many people would have a field day if you were injured or killed on our watch."

"And I wouldn't blame them," Richter added.

"So. Will you join us?"

Janine took a long time to think over the options before her. When it came down to it, she had little interest in joining. The thought of becoming a crime fighter seemed strange to her. She understood that her talents and remarkable powers would serve the public well, but she wondered if it would be worth it. She had her own life, her own problems to deal with, and she couldn't see herself sacrificing the time she could be using to fix those so that she may help people she didn't know. She did feel good about helping to thwart the bank robbery the previous night, but the price nearly ended up being too high. On the other hand, she realized that her talents shouldn't be wasted. She had an incredibly rare opportunity before her, the opportunity to benefit mankind in ways that most others could only dream of.

Mostly, she thought of her mother and how she would react. Ever since she was a little girl, her mother discouraged the use of her powers, even if they could quickly solve a problem. Her mother warned that her powers were not to be taken lightly and were in fact a curse and not a blessing. She remembered the constant reminders that using them would lead her down a dark road. It sounded silly, but what if she were right? Being a member of the Union City Angels would very likely necessitate the use of her powers. What would that mean if her mother's words actually meant something?

It all weighed heavily on her mind, and she couldn't come to a solid decision. "I'll think about it, and it'll take me awhile to have an answer."

Richter shook his head in disgust and left the room. "Risked our asses..." he muttered.

She watched him walk out the door. "There I go, disappointing people again..."

"On the other hand, I'm glad you're taking the time to think it through. This is not something one should rush to decide." Garandri said. "Regardless..." He wheeled his chair over to the printer in the corner of the room. He opened the top of it and reached inside, then pulled out a small laminated card and offered it to her. "I want you to have this. Carry it with you at all times." He handed a small laminated card across the table.

Janine grabbed the card and studied it. It appeared to be an identification card signifying her membership among the Union City Angels:

NAME: Karlis, Janine Rebecca

CODE: Dark Star

ID: S15-01

DOB: Oct 31 1999


EXP: June 1 2018

The holder of this card, if not expired, signifies membership within the philanthropy group Union City Angels. This card affords the holders all rights, privileges and protections established in Section III of the Angel Act of 1997, as granted by the Department of Justice of the United States of America.

Confusion overtook her. "Umm... I thought you said I had a choice about joining?"

"You do. That is merely a decoy. While you are not officially a member of our organization, those federal agents who confronted you today will leave you alone if they think you are."

She was skeptical. "Oh they will, will they?" she said with a snorting laugh. "And why would they do that?"

"We have an agreement with the United States government that protects our members from harassment by certain agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA and the ATF. Without that protection, we would certainly be turned into research subjects or weapons of war, used as pawns in foreign policy."

"How did that happen? Seems like a lot for them to give up."

"Have you ever heard of the attack on the World Trade Center? Not the one that happened in 2001 that most are familiar with."

"Uhh..." Janine said, searching the depths of her memory. She shook her head.

"February 26th, 1993... two individuals drove a truck bomb into the basement of the towers and shortly afterward detonated it. In total, 1042 people were injured, and seven killed... including one of our own." His expression changed to sorrow as he mentioned that fact. "She... she had decided to visit her husband out of the blue, and..." He took a moment to pause and compose himself.

"Must be hard losing a friend like that."

"It is. And it still hurts to this day, almost twenty five years later." he said. "Because we lost one of our own, we started our own investigation. Some of our members wanted revenge, but I wanted to find who was responsible so that the proper authorities could deal with them. We were granted access by the FBI to help comb through the wreckage when one of our analysts found the key piece of evidence that led us to the people who carried out the attack."

"What does that have to do with this fake ID?" she said, taking another look at the card.

"Our assistance in finding those responsible for the attack that day elevated us to national fame and it didn't take long before recruits started to flood in. It also didn't take long for some ethically bankrupt government officials to start poaching our members for research purposes..."

"Oh god..."

"It took four long years, and the sacrifices of many of our earlier members, before President Clinton had enough. The Angel Act was established in 1997, and we were pardoned of our past crimes. The New York City Angels, as we were known then, was granted legal status as a crime fighting organization. With that status came many of the rights we had been seeking since we formed, the most important being the protection of our members from being arrested by federal agents for the purposes of 'research'."

"I see..."

"With that card in your possession, you are protected by the Angel Act. Keep it with you at all times."

She slipped the card into her left boot. "Get out of jail for free, huh?"

"Yes. But don't expect that to last forever." he warned. "If you do decide not to join our organization, Agent Walsh will eventually grow suspicious and then that card will not protect you."

"If I don't join, I'll probably have a plan by then. Now, are we done here?"


She stood up and made her way to the door. "Good, then I'm outta here."

Garandri raised his hand to stop her. "One brief moment." He pushed a button on his desk and the screen above the door switched on. Security footage from the main entrance to the garage appeared on the screen, showing three black SUVs parked just outside of the entrance. Two were smashed up from their encounter with the armored truck earlier in the day, which hinted at how important Janine was to them; Rather than report back to their district office for replacements, they had followed in their damaged vehicles. "You can go whenever you choose... but would it be wise? Perhaps it would be better to wait until they leave."
Union City Angels
Chapter 4: The Ruse

May 8th, 2017

Tick... tick... tick...

Four hours had passed in relative silence. After her initial discussions with Garandri and Richter, Janine was directed to a conference room, where she had been waiting ever since. The TV inside was tuned to KUCI, the city's dedicated news channel, but it could barely hold her attention. The stories were utterly boring to her: a local restaurant was being honored for the charity work it was doing, a water main broke at the Harper Subway Station and flooded the rails, and the Union City Huskies dominated their opponent on the hockey rink. All of it was inconsequential to her, and she tapped on the table as she endlessly gazed at the clock on the wall, wondering when she would be home.

The door to the conference room opened and Garandri stepped in.

Before he could say anything, she gave him a piece of her mind. "Look, I've been here for four hours, can I go now? I don't think I can stand being cooped up in this room any longer, and my mom is only melting down even more as we wait."

Garandri reached up to the TV and changed the channel. Security footage from the main entrance to the garage appeared on the screen, showing the three black SUVs were still parked outside, with nearly a dozen agents loitering about.

"Hmm. Still here. I had hoped they would have left by now, but they are being unusually persistent. Agent Walsh was always a tricky one to predict..."

"They want me, and pretty badly. Why is it a surprise they're still here?"

"In my experience, bureaucrats like these agents love time off. A shift change has come and gone. Dinner time has passed, yet Agent Walsh still keeps them here..."

Her patience was thinning. "I have that fake ID you gave me. You said that was enough, or were you lying to me? I'm almost tempted to push my luck."

"It should be. However, I was hoping to slip by unseen, to avoid any confrontation..." He turned the screen off and motioned for her to follow. "Very well. Let's take you home. It's about time I got home, too."

- - - - -​

The engine of the Union City Angels' armored truck roared to life and let out a bellowing roar as it warmed up. The dashboard lit up, revealing an impressive array of buttons and levers, each tied to their own unique features. A screen in the center turned on, displaying a map of the surrounding area, with real time traffic dotted on the roads.

"So, where do you live?" Garandri asked.

With how much Garandri already knew about her, Janine was a little surprised to hear the question. "You don't know that already? You know pretty much everything else."

"It's quite easy to lose track of people. After you left Kansas, we weren't certain where you ended up, but luckily it was nearby."

"Flowergrove Street, in Harwood," she answered.

"Harwood, huh... rough place."


He shifted the engine into drive. "GPS, set destination to Flowergrove Street."

The screen in the dashboard focused on a neighborhood in the upper east side of the city and began to draw a route towards it. "Calculating route... Estimated travel time is thirteen minutes."

Garandri pulled the armored truck out of the garage and took a right turn. It didn't take long for the loitering federal agents to get into their vehicles and begin pursuit. He tried to lose them by weaving through the congested downtown traffic, but they remained closely behind, even putting other motorists at risk as they tried to keep up.

The armored truck slowly made its way across the city. At nearly every intersection they stopped at, the truck's commanding presence caught the attention of onlookers. Most marvelled at it as they had never seen it before, while others cheered. Other motorists honked their horns in appreciation, leaning out their windows as they praised the Union City Angels for the work they had done. The two inside were completely unaware, however, as the thick armored plating of the truck obscured their vision and hindered their hearing.

The truck crossed over an abandoned railway, the border between Harwood and the rest of the city. The convoy of federal vehicles stopped at the tracks and hesitated to cross them. The difference between the Harwood district and the neighboring Lincoln district was like night and day, and the transition cleanly followed the dilapidated rails. It was enough to make even a veteran law enforcement officer think twice, but with the risk of losing track of the armored truck growing by the second, they continued onward.

Lincoln was an upscale, well-to-do neighborhood, populated by brick-and-mortar establishments, cafés, bars and studio apartments. Despite being later in the evening, the streets were still populated by folks who were out enjoying the cool spring night. Jazz and soft rock blared through the neighborhood, and the smell of specialty and artisan foods wafting about helped to create a serene atmosphere.

Harwood, on the other hand, was the perfect example of urban decay. A majority of the houses were in disrepair if they weren't boarded up or destroyed by fire. Weeds and tall grass choked the sidewalks and empty lots. Tall brick buildings stood as ruins, former shadows of their once industrial past and were covered in decades of graffiti. In the streets, crime was rampant; drug use and deals were being done in plain sight, and arguments and domestic violence were on display for all to see. The streets were relatively empty compared to the neighboring Lincoln district, as nobody in their right mind would feel safe in such an environment.

Garandri took his eyes off the road for a brief moment to study Janine. "It must be very different here compared to Kansas."

She snapped away from her deep thought. "Huh?"

"The environment. The poverty. The anguish of the people."

She sighed. "I guess. My mom and I had a nice place back in Kansas. A little white house on Congress Street... It was definitely a lot nicer than this place. But... we can't afford anything better, and that's my fault. Every time I used my powers, she felt like we had to run, start a new life somewhere else. She couldn't keep a stable job because of me, and eventually we found ourselves in this shit heap."

"Was that really your fault? I fear that you are too difficult on yourself."

She shook her head. "Maybe not, but it probably is. She was always worried that I'd ruined my own life after my secret got out... Admittedly I usually did. Maintaining a social life was next to impossible once the game was up, especially if you hurt the people around you." She sighed again. "I wish my mother didn't have to deal with that, for my sake. I know she's willing to sacrifice a lot for me, but look where we ended up. I think she might have sacrificed too much this time."

A long silence drifted over the two as Garandri continued towards Flowergrove Street.

He hesitated before breaking the silence. "I want the decision to join the Angels to be yours alone and without pressure, but... we do offer accommodation for our members who have nowhere else to go."

"What does that mean?"

"You only saw a brief glimpse of our headquarters. In addition to the lobby, my office and the conference room, we also have small rooms that can be converted for a wide variety of uses. It might be a downgrade in terms of living space, but it would be a vast improvement of atmosphere."

"As tempting as that is..." she said, then shook her head. "I don't have an answer right now."

"I understand."

The truck turned onto Flowergrove Street, prompting Janine to point out which house was hers. "762, it's a single story house with yellow walls." She pointed out through the windshield. "That one right there, a few doors up."

Garandri pulled the truck over and pressed a button on the dashboard below the GPS screen. The screen faded to black, and a moment later, grainy footage from a camera on the back of the truck showed the three pursuing federal vehicles had pulled over to the side of the road behind them. He shook his head.

"Oh no..."

"Hop in the back and stay put. I will handle this." He turned the engine off and opened the door, then stepped out and waved to the congregating agents. "Evening! I'll assume Agent Walsh is still in charge, correct?"

Agent Walsh stepped out from the crowd of agents. "Where's the girl?"

"Is that all she is to you? Does her name hold no importance?"

"Where is she?" he sternly demanded.


"Can I talk to her?"

"Not until I know that you are aware of her rights."

Agent Walsh shook his head and laughed. "Rights. Funny things, those are. Yeah, I understand the rights she has. Similarly, I perfectly understand the rights that I have." He banged on the door of the truck and raised his voice. "Come on out, Janine."

Garandri silently opened the door and motioned for Janine to come out. She cautiously did, keeping a watchful eye on the agents gathered behind him.

"Well, here we are," he started. "Just wanted to finish our conversation."

She shook her head. "Conversation? I don't remember any conversation! I remember you and your goons chasing me through the city!" She slid her hand into her boot and retrieved the card that Garandri had given to her.

Agent Walsh's eyes lit up upon seeing the card. He swiped the card out of her hand before she could react. "Let me see that!"

"Hey! That's--" she started, jumping up to take it back. Before she could, Garandri stopped her in her tracks.

Agent Walsh reached for his flashlight to get a better look at the ID card. He was convinced that it was a fake, yet everything on it appeared to be legitimate. All of the information on it was correct, as were the shapes and patterns decorating it. It even contained the signature security hologram present on all Union City Angels identification cards he had seen. "So this is real, huh? You actually joined their organization on the first day?"

She nodded.

"I'm afraid you scared her into it. She might otherwise not have if she didn't fear for her future." Garandri said."

"Son of a bitch..." he muttered as he shook his head. He handed the card to Janine and turned his attention back to Garandri. "Well. You win again. Take better care of this one." He turned to his agents and ordered them back to their vehicles. "Come on boys, let's get out of this wasteland. I don't feel safe here."

Janine watched as the agents funneled into their SUVs and began to drive away. When they disappeared down a side street, she asked with heavy skepticism, "Take better care of this one?"

"It is a long story about one of our former members. We can discuss it later, if you think it will help you make a decision about truly joining our organization. But first, I believe you have an angry mother to speak to."

She sighed. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't considering joining just to avoid her... But I can't run away from my problems like that..."

"Seventeen and already so wise!" he said. "Before I forget, this will be important." He opened the door to the armored van and reached into one of the shelves behind the passenger seat. He grabbed a small card and handed it to her. "If I forgot to give this to you, then today would have been for nothing."

She studied the card, finding contact information on it. She couldn't help but laugh. "Super heroes have business cards, too, huh?"

"We do."

"Thanks for everything, I guess! Time to face my mother..."

"Do you need me to come inside? She may want to meet one of the men who protected her daughter."

She adamantly refused. "Absolutely not. Trust me when I say you don't want to be around for this. She'll go nuclear, and she'll be worse than anything you've ever dealt with."

Garandri chuckled. "I respectfully disagree, but I will take your advice. Do get in touch, and best of luck."

As she watched the armored truck pull away, she mentally prepared herself for the argument that was likely about to happen. Relations with her mother could never be described as anything but rocky, and she had rarely done anything terrible enough to warrant such a bad relationship. Admittedly, risking her life to thwart a bank robbery was certainly up there, but she couldn't help but think that her mother was going to overreact yet again. It didn't take much to set her off, after all, and when she went off, it was like a nuclear detonation.

She unlocked the front door to the house and pushed it open. The house was shrouded in complete darkness; all of the lights were off, even the kitchen light which had been on ever since the two moved in. In addition to the lights being out, the house was also silent, and eerily so. The ever-present, constant droning of her mother's new wave music was notably absent.

"Hello?" she asked as she turned one of the lights on. "You home, mom?"

No answer.

"Look, I know you're angry, and I get that. I screwed up bad..."

Still no response, and it was very unlike her mother. Concern began to grow as she checked the house room by room. The living room was empty, as was the kitchen. Both bedrooms were also empty. A quick check of the bathroom showed that she wasn't there, either. A journey into the basement turned up nothing. She peered out into the back yard, the last place she might be, but nothing.

"Maybe she's just not home..." she muttered in an attempt to reassure herself.

That reassurance was short lived, however; Her mother's car was parked in the garage, her keys, purse and phone were safely stashed in the kitchen, and all of the doors and windows were locked from the inside. There were no signs that she had left the house or that anyone else had entered. It just didn't make sense to her; it was as if her mother had vanished into thin air.

"This... this isn't happening," she gently repeated to herself. "I didn't do this... did I?"
All right! I caught back up to this.

Chapter 3 has so far been the longest chapter of the story by a large margin, a really large margin, it took me 30 minutest o read it....damn you.

Both chapter 3 and chapter 4 had some progress in the overall story but not a whole lot. I mean not that you need to do any explaining in regards to the characters or their powers, that's things that people can figure out on their own. I'm glad that you focused most of chapter 3 into explaining how the UCA works as well as their base of operations and what Janine would get out of joining.

I like Garandi so far, he reminds me of Charles Xavier from the Xmen kind of in his wiser in his years type of feel and he's pretty calm and undertandeable. I also like the way you explained the story of how the UCA became renowned, it's a nice piece of world building that works well to expand on the story.

Chapter 4 itself was shorter and didn't really do much in moving the plot, much like chapter 2 did to chapter 1, chapter 4 was more about settling the events that occured in chapter 3 and setting up the things that would lead into the next chapter. You did give more world building and explored Janine's character a little more (your characters have a lot of parent issues I noticed, particularly mommy ones) and to show that she hasn't led a very good life and why sh efeels the way she feels about her powers. Obviously she'll join the group but I'm curious to see as to how.

Other than that the chapters were pretty nice, I would like the story to move forward a little more though but it seems that'll finally happen in the next chapter. Pacing wise they were done well and were entertaining to read and easy to read too (thank god)

Anyways, I'm itching to
Chapter 3 has so far been the longest chapter of the story by a large margin, a really large margin, it took me 30 minutest o read it....damn you.
Be thankful that I cut it down, then :p I was going to clearly define and detail Garandri's powers in this chapter, but that part ended up getting cut. Mostly cause it felt wonky and out of place, rather than a length issue.

I like Garandi so far, he reminds me of Charles Xavier from the Xmen kind of in his wiser in his years type of feel and he's pretty calm and undertandeable.
Yes, he served as the inspiration for Garandri. I'm going to have to be careful that he doesn't turn into a carbon copy, though, as I'm already walking the line.

You did give more world building and explored Janine's character a little more (your characters have a lot of parent issues I noticed, particularly mommy ones)
I actually wonder why that is... I have a great relationship with my mother that I wouldn't trade for anything, perhaps this cropping up for practically every major character I've written is me wanting to explore what I haven't experienced. I dunno.

Anyways, I'm itching to
That might be awhile. I hit a brick wall with how to tie the Angels into the investigation regarding Janine's mother. Also, I want to move the focus away from Janine for a bit to explore the other characters, but I'm having difficulty coming up with a storyline for them that isn't over the top already. Maybe I could take the time to properly introduce that other member of the Angels that Garandri mentioned. *shrug*
Hey, so I've actually been following this for a while but never got around to dropping a review. It's mostly just a rush of first impressions that I got from reading it, so apologies if it's a little sloppy.

I'm a fan of the subversion you took from the typical superhero orgin story route--we watch a person get superpowers, be very excited about them, and instantly start fighting crime. That usually rubs me the wrong way, and it's gotten pretty old, so seeing Janine 1) already being aware that she's... abnormal 2) not entirely enjoying the effect that they have on her life and 3) not gonna jump into a life of fighting crime is a pretty refreshing thing, in my opinion.

That being said, some of the worldbuilding was a little vague for me. Superhumans aren't exactly common in this world (as far as I can tell?) (evidenced by a lack of adequate facilities for training young superhumans, and the fact that it's mostly just vague-Government vs Angels trying to pick up people), so it seems like Janine and her mother handle the whole "I have telekinesis" thing pretty, uh, oddly. I feel like that's something I'd get checked out pretty quickly in my kid, and that's totally something that I would've abused to no end if I were a younger Janine, too. It makes sense that she might resent these powers later, seeing as they basically precluded her from living a normal childhood, but I feel like if she's the kind of person to spontaneously stop a bank-robbery, she definitely wouldn't care if her mother told her not to play with her powers. I mean. Imagine that you're eight and one day you're psychic.
this is probably all explained in further backstory, I imagine

There were some typos/missing words sometimes.

I'm also not a big fan of the whole "the government is evil hurrdurr" setup, mostly because it's done to death in the superhero genre (ie: every X-Men film ever), and because there's rarely a deeper explanation beyond "we want to have the strongest military evur!" From the viewpoint of making an intimidating villain, yeah, having the entire country against you is a pretty good setup, but it doesn't really make sense for Walsh/friends to be such... assholes, I guess? Like. C'mon. You're talking to a chick who can move shit with your mind. You definitely want her on your side and even more so don't want to piss her off. There's no way he's gotten this high in the government without learning how to pretend to be nice even if he's not.
I guess what I'm trying to say was that I really liked the Chapter 1 dynamic, where we couldn't tell who to trust because both the Angels (aptly named) and the people in SUV's were both equally intimidating/scary. When that crumbled and Janine's decision turns a lot into "should I trust these cool, nice people, or this dick who yells in my face and insults everything he sees?", the decision is basically already made for her.

Anyway, this is a lot of vague rambling about worldbuilding and set-up. Point is, I love superhero stories, and I actually really like your set-up so far, for all the questions I still ahve about it. Looking forward to more.
I'm a fan of the subversion you took from the typical superhero orgin story route--we watch a person get superpowers, be very excited about them, and instantly start fighting crime. That usually rubs me the wrong way, and it's gotten pretty old, so seeing Janine 1) already being aware that she's... abnormal 2) not entirely enjoying the effect that they have on her life and 3) not gonna jump into a life of fighting crime is a pretty refreshing thing, in my opinion.
To say that she won't jump into a life of fighting crime might be pushing it. She just hasn't done so yet.

That being said, some of the worldbuilding was a little vague for me. Superhumans aren't exactly common in this world (as far as I can tell?)
That was the idea. One thing that bugs me about Marvel/DC is how saturated they are with pointless one-power-wonder heroes, who are completely irrelevant and only serve as padding. I wanted to get away from that, at least at the start.

it seems like Janine and her mother handle the whole "I have telekinesis" thing pretty, uh, oddly. I feel like that's something I'd get checked out pretty quickly in my kid, and that's totally something that I would've abused to no end if I were a younger Janine, too.
this is probably all explained in further backstory, I imagine
Yes. Specifically, Janine's mother knows exactly why she has her powers, and what consequences come with them. Furthermore, Janine is also aware of the consequences of heavy use of her powers, and why it took so long for her to intervene in the bank robbery, as well as why she didn't use them during her childhood.

What those consequences are should be explored shortly, and in fact I might have to completely rewrite the end of the last chapter so that her mother actually *is* home. It'll make things so much easier.

I'm also not a big fan of the whole "the government is evil hurrdurr" setup, mostly because it's done to death in the superhero genre
As far as the government being 'evil' is concerned, it's really just Walsh, a few of his fellow agents and a few superiors. We'll see other agencies who are very happy to work with the Angels. Homeland Security is really the only department that wants to take advantage of them. Walsh's motivation for being a tough guy will be explained later, as well.

I guess what I'm trying to say was that I really liked the Chapter 1 dynamic, where we couldn't tell who to trust because both the Angels (aptly named) and the people in SUV's were both equally intimidating/scary. When that crumbled and Janine's decision turns a lot into "should I trust these cool, nice people, or this dick who yells in my face and insults everything he sees?", the decision is basically already made for her.
Yeah. I'm considering going back and rewriting that little exchange so that she tries to take them all on at once and the Angels have to subdue her by force. But I dunno. I try to make a habit of not second guessing my writing decisions since that's a quick way to never make progress, but there's so much I already feel like I haven't done right.

I should really get back to work on this, as I genuinely enjoy writing it unlike a lot of my writing projects, but I've already hit a bunch of idea snags of where to go next. I have an idea of where I want to be down the line, I just don't know how to get there.
Alright, here is my review for UCA based on my assessment for the winter 2015 awards.

Interesting take on superheroes. Reminds me a bit of the Marvel's Agents of Shield series, or some takes on X-Men, but still its own thing. The DHS agent Walsh is hilariously heavy-handed in his approach at first contact. It's like he picked the most unsubtle, most suspicion-arousing, most uncomfortable method possible with the suit, sunglasses and black SUV getup. I understand why the choice was made, to put pressure on the protagonist and provide an imperative to join up with the Angels. It's a minor peeve at most, colored partly by my own forays into writing spy-fiction style stories in the past, and should be taken with that grain of salt. The buildup to meeting the protagonist's mother and her sudden disappearance is a nice touch. I was anticipating a big scene at the Mom's place where we'd see this mother we've been warned about all story long, and then she goes missing instead, which helps to further spur Janine to action.

Even in this short span that I've read so far, each character is distinct and memorable, and none are especially unappealing. As stated before, I find the agent's depiction to be a little heavy-handed, but I've already said my piece there.

For the most part it's a fairly smooth read. Sometimes though the pacing feels a bit rushed and clarity is lost. This occasionally happens in dialog-heavy segments, especially when it's naked dialog. Most of the time it works and I can determine who's talking, but occasionally the focus gets lost, and I have to go over sections again to make sure I got it right. There's a few errors here and there, with a particularly glaring formatting flop in the second chapter that made half the chapter bold. Otherwise, fairly smooth.

Overall, aside from the occasional awkward formatting/style snag, it reads very smoothly. It's also a refreshing deconstruction of the Superhero genre (which, granted, is actually fairly popular and mainstream these days). There's a few instances where I feel some character decisions were a bit awkward, but it's only a minor thing since that very awkwardness is in service to the story.

Congrats on the nomination and win btw!
Interesting take on superheroes. Reminds me a bit of the Marvel's Agents of Shield series, or some takes on X-Men, but still its own thing.
X-Men was a huge part of my childhood, and they continue to be a main source of inspiration for this project. Looking at it, that group just has the most interesting superheroes in the entire mainstream of the genre; Cyclops, Rogue, Gambit, they're all incredibly unique, have interesting downsides and aren't just "I win" figures. That's the kind of dynamic I was hoping to achieve here.

The DHS agent Walsh is hilariously heavy-handed in his approach at first contact. It's like he picked the most unsubtle, most suspicion-arousing, most uncomfortable method possible with the suit, sunglasses and black SUV getup.
I was mostly inspired by the real-life heavy-handedness of the DHS, at least during the Bush administration. They've calmed down a bit, now that they've had time to grow and settle over the years. However, I don't want them to calm down for my story, as future interactions with them require heavy-hands vs heavy-hands.

The buildup to meeting the protagonist's mother and her sudden disappearance is a nice touch. I was anticipating a big scene at the Mom's place where we'd see this mother we've been warned about all story long, and then she goes missing instead, which helps to further spur Janine to action.
If I continue this story (I might not, the passion for it has fallen by the wayside), this is the subject I'm most concerned about. I'm not sure how to link her mother's disappearance with what Janine does next. It feels like I have to push her straight into joining the Angels, since she has nowhere else to turn, but at the same time I was hoping to avoid that for now. Part of me wants to go back and rewrite the previous two chapters to the point where her mother isn't missing, but I always try to maintain a mantra of 'always move forward, never look back'. It's tricky.

This occasionally happens in dialog-heavy segments, especially when it's naked dialog. Most of the time it works and I can determine who's talking, but occasionally the focus gets lost, and I have to go over sections again to make sure I got it right.
This is something I've noticed myself and have been more careful about in more recent chapters of my other work, but good shout. If any aspiring writers are reading this (why?!), remember, naked dialogue only works in short bursts! It's something I forget all too often.

There's a few errors here and there, with a particularly glaring formatting flop in the second chapter that made half the chapter bold. Otherwise, fairly smooth.
Wow, I never even noticed that. Goes to show that I need to look these things over when I post them (I usually do, but I remember being in a rush to do something else after that one was posted). I can't even blame the forum shift for that one, that was truly an error on my part. Fixed.

Congrats on the nomination and win btw!
Thanks! I certainly wasn't expecting it.
Union City Angels

I liked this story. Not the most original idea: superheroes, but the way in which it is written made it very enjoyable.

Characters were great. Dialogue in particular. Could really tell each characters personality through their speech without being told who it was.

I also like how we learn about their everyday lives/downtime. This really helped out with the development of the characters as opposed to most superhero works which are basically all action and this leading up to the action.

Style and technical aspects were very good as well. I had a few qualms about things such as when the group is using the weapons in the first chapter: when they are pulling out their guns, the author is assuming readers know what AK-47's and MC-16's, etc. are. I would have liked to see some more description there.

Also, some of the POV shifting and time skips were a little awkward and confusing at times, but nothing major. Overall, I enjoyed reading this due to the very descriptive and well-flowing prose and the attention to detail with the plot.
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