Chapter 3 – Disturbing Behavior
Jun 1, 1996 – Jacksonville, FL – The Jacksonville Landing
“So, why are we here at the mall again?” Hank asked as he, A’Mora, Brett and Tyler walked around, window browsing at different stores.
“Dang man, we talked about this yesterday,” Tyler stated as he shook his head.
“Yeah, are you really that much of a scatter-brain or what?” A’Mora asked, looking at Hank as if he were crazy. “We’re here to find a birthday present for JT.”
“This is really a big waste of time you know,” Hank stated as he sighed and then stopped in front of a store, cupping his hands up to the glass, admiring a clothing item. “That looks nice, I would love that for myself.”
“What are you looking at?” Tyler asked, stepping up besides Hank.
“That,” Hank replied as body shimmered with light, a sign that he was using his morphing powers.
“Are you looking at the cool jacket over there, the black leather one?” Tyler asked as he nudged Hank in the side.
“Yeah, I am,” Hank replied as he looked over at A’Mora and Brett. “We could be doing something else with our time, instead of being here, looking for a birthday gift.”
“Is there something you would rather be doing than hanging out with us?” A’Mora asked, glaring at Hank.
“There are tons of things I could be doing right now,” Hank sarcastically replied. “And none of those things involve looking for birthday gifts for people that haven’t been around.”
“Man you need to lighten up a bit,” Tyler stated with a sigh.
“Why? No one has heard from JT in months,” Hank stated as he sighed and then folded his arms across his chest.
“Because we haven’t heard from him, it doesn’t mean that he’s not our friends and that we forgot his birthday,” A’Mora stated as she rolled her eyes, following Hank’s line of sight, noticing that he was eyeing some guys across the way. “When JT returns from wherever it is he is, I want him to see that things are still the same and nothing has changed.”
“Ha, things have changed A’Mora, but in a way you are right about that. We can all hope for him to return and things be normal, but that’s just wishful thinking. In reality, we all know that nothing has really changed. This is JT we’re talking about. He does the same thing all the time. When he’s pissed off, he runs off to Limbo and no one sees or hears from him for a while, like now,” Hank explained as A’Mora shook her head.
“If memory serves, had you not said the things you did a few months ago, he wouldn’t have left the way he did,” A’Mora stated, pointing her finger in Hank’s direction as her hair changed a lighter shade of purple as he sighed and then glared at her.
“Hey, you two need to cut it out, you’re drawing unneeded attention,” Brett stated as others started to gather round them.
“Babe, I didn’t start this, but for you, I’ll let this drop,” A’Mora stated as she turned to face him. “I wonder would JT like that jacket. Brett, what do you think about the jacket? Do you think he’d like it?”
“I don’t know,” Brett replied with a frown. “I’m not in the know about what he likes and don’t like. Why didn’t you just ask Drew to come with us?”
“I didn’t ask Drew, because he’s not feeling things right now,” A’Mora stated as she looked at Brett strangely. “For a telepath and being the sibling of a twin, you sure are clueless about your brother’s emotions.”
“I’m not clueless about his emotions ‘Mora, I try not to meddle in his life, like others do,” Brett stated as A’Mora shook her head and then rolled her eyes.
“I don’t see it as meddling, if you’re trying to help him cope with what happened in the past,” A’Mora stated as Hank sighed and then rolled his eyes as he walked passed his friends.
“When you two are done squabbling about mundane things, I’ll be on the second level, in the arcade, having some fun,” Hank stated as he walked towards the escalators.
“Let’s just pick up something and go,” Brett stated as he sighed. “I’m in no mood for being in this place.”
“Fine, we’ll get him the jacket, get it wrapped and then we’ll leave,” A’Mora stated as she walked into the store, went over to the display case and waved at the store sales person to get their attention.
The Second Level – The Food Court
What in the hell was A’Mora thinking, tricking us into going shopping for a birthday present for JT. Hell, she could’ve just used her magic and zapped up a present for him. There wasn’t really a need for this public outing of sorts. I would’ve been fine, just lazing around the complex in my room. Hell, he’s been gone for months, what makes her think he’s coming back for a damn present for his birthday?
Damn, he’s been gone for a few months and it’s like nothing’s really changed among any of us. There’s just too much damn drama. When he’s around, there’s drama around us. Hell, he’s gone and there’s still drama. How are we going to stop all the damn squabbling? I used to think he was the cause of all of our problems, but now that he’s not here, what’s really the cause? He’s not here for an argument to be started, so maybe something else is the fault.
“Hank, didn’t you hear me?” Tyler asked, walking up behind Hank.
“Ah no—no I didn’t hear you Ty, what’s on your mind?” Hank asked, looking at Tyler strangely.
“I asked did you want to get something to eat first,” Tyler stated as Hank shrugged his shoulders and then looked around.
“Okay, sure, why not,” Hank said as he looked over at one of the vendors. “I could go for a burger and some fries, maybe some pepper steak and rice.”
“Both sounds nice,” Tyler stated as he walked towards the food court. “I think I’ll get me a couple slices of pizza.”
“Pizza sounds good too,” Hank responded as screams could be heard nearby as people started running around them. “Oh come on, I didn’t get to eat.”
“Eating can wait, it sounds like something is going on,” Tyler stated as he rushed towards the level railing. “Something’s happening in the river.”
“What’s happening in the river?” Hank asked.
“It looks like there’s a giant hole in the river and all the water’s being sucked into it,” Tyler replied as Hank joined him at the railing.
“Man, that looks like some freaky…” Hank started as A’Mora and Brett appeared in a burst of light next to them.
“We have to get over there, something of a magical nature is happening,” A’Mora stated as she pointed out at the water.
“Oh that’s just great,” Hank stated as he shook his head. “Would you happen to know who could be behind that? Is it Setterwynd? Tallisman? Halloween? Is this really happening right now?”
“No, I don’t sense Setterwynd, Tallisman or Halloween around here,” A’Mora stated as she shook her head. “This magic is somewhat ancient, but it’s also new.”
“Meaning what woman?” Hank asked as A’Mora glared at him.
“It means that someone new to the craft is using old magic,” A’Mora stated as more screams could be heard as more people are observed running away from the riverbank.
“Do you have your communicator on you?” Brett asked, looking over at Hank.
“No, I left it back at the complex,” Hank replied as he glared at Brett. “What was the point of bringing it to the mall, we weren’t looking for something to happen.”
“But here it is, we need it to call in the others,” Brett stated as he shook his head.
“But yet, you’re a member of the team, just like I am, yet you don’t have your communicator either,” Hank stated as he shook his head. “To solve this problem, A’Mora, just teleport me back to the complex, I’ll send out a distress signal to the others and then I’ll come back here.”
“Works for me,” A’Mora stated as she gestured with her hands as energy enveloped Hank and he was gone. “Now the three of us need to go out there and see what we can discover.”
“That’s our biggest problem right there,” Brett stated. “When we go being nosey, trying to discover something, we end up getting our noses cut off, di…”
“Honey hush up, this is no time to be arguing,” A’Mora stated as she touched Brett’s shirt as his clothing changed into his costume as her hair color changed and she was wearing her costume. “Tyler, do you want me to change your clothes?”
“I’m fine with what I got on,” Tyler responded as he pulled some shades from his pocket and put them on. “I’m ready to go. Let’s go be nosey.”
A Few Miles Away – The Roof of a Nearby Hotel
“Where are we?” Tara asked as she and JT emerged from the portal.
“Apparently, we’re in Jacksonville,” JT replied as the light faded away from their bodies. “I’m sensing strange magical harmonics around here. I’m guessing Celestus is nearby and he’s responsible for what I’m sensing.”
“What about the kid?” Tara asked as she looked around.
“I can’t sense Ryan around here at all,” JT stated as he sighed and then spun around in a circle as his costume changed into his regular costume. “But we do have some old friends near.”
“We have some old friends near? Who?” Tara asked.
“A’Mora, Brett and Tyler are near Celestus,” JT stated as he gestured with his hand as a portal opened. “Come on, let’s go get them out of harm’s way.”
“Naw, I think I’ll fly on my own,” Tara stated as she cut her eyes at JT. “I’ve seen way too many demons, traveling with you is almost a heart attack in the making.”
“Those things can’t hurt you and you know that,” JT stated as he sighed again.
“They may not be able to hurt me, but just the sight of some of them is a bit too much to deal with,” Tara stated as she jumped into the air, taking flight as JT sighed and gestured with his hand again as the portal disappeared as he jumped into the air, taking flight also.
“The sooner we get to Celestus and stop what he’s planning, the sooner we can figure out what’s going on with the Ryan kid and what he has up his sleeve,” JT stated as he and Tara streaked through the sky, flying towards the river.
“Look, it’s Wonder Woman!” Someone screamed as Tara sighed as she landed on the deck of a yacht that was anchored in the river.
“I’ll be glad when people call me Amazon, I am not Wonder Woman,” Tara stated as she sighed. “It really hits a damn nerve when I get compared to some white chick on TV, that I don’t even look like.”
“I know Tara, but you have to remember, when I gave you the powers you have, I envisioned you as Wonder Woman and others see you that way as well,” JT stated as Tara shook her head.
“Don’t get me wrong bro, but I love saving lives and kicking ass, but I don’t like being idolized as some comic book, cartoon character you idolized as a kid when you were growing up,” Tara stated as she looked out at the water.
“You idolized her too, so come off it girl,” JT stated as he floated above the yacht, paying attention to the hole in the middle of the river that the water was flowing into. “There seems to be a portal on the river’s floor that’s sucking the water into it.”
“Where is all that water going?” Tara asked.
“I don’t know,” JT replied as there was a flash of light near him as A’Mora appeared on a floating disc with Brett next to her.
“Hi stranger, long time no see,” A’Mora stated as she smiled at JT. “Do you happen to know what’s going on here?”
“Not everything,” JT responded as Tyler flew up to where he and the others were.
“Hey buddy, long time no see,” Tyler spoke, waving at JT.
“Hi,” JT replied as Brett cleared his throat.
“What’s going on here? ‘Mora said she sensed a magical presence here. Now that you’re here, are you the presence she sensed?” Brett asked.
“Probably not,” JT replied as he sighed and then shook his head. “Look, I’m here to find out what’s going on and when I do that, I’ll be out of you guys’ hair.”
“There’s no need for that kind of talk,” Tyler stated with a frown. “We all just need to sit…”
“No time for that,” JT stated as he flew higher into the sky, putting distance between himself and the others.
“That went great,” Tyler stated as he shook his head.
“Well considering how things ended when we last saw him, I don’t think he’s come to terms with all that’s happened,” A’Mora stated as she looked down, noticing Tara on the deck of the yacht. “Wonder Woman, what are you doing down there?”
“The name’s Amazon and I was just admiring the scenery,” Tara replied as she flew up to the others. “My name is Amazon, remember it.”
“But we’re so used to calling you Wonder Woman,” Tyler stated as Tara glared at him.
“Why do you want to call me that? Do I resemble a white woman on TV that fights crime?” Tara asked, watching Tyler as he held up his hands and floated backwards. “I didn’t think so. Amazon is my name, don’t’ forget it.”
“Yes ma’am,” Tyler stated as A’Mora shook her head.
“You do know that everyone sees you as the character on TV, right?” A’Mora asked as Tara looked at her strangely.
“What do you mean?” Tara asked.
“When you are Amazon, people don’t see you for you, they see the image of Wonder Woman. They don’t see you as the strong black woman you are, they see you as the white woman that used to be on TV,” A’Mora explained as Tara cocked her head to the side and then punched her hand into her fist.
“That’s what he meant when he told me that no one would ever see my true identity,” Tara stated as she sighed. “When this is over, I’ll have to have him remove that from me.”
“Good luck with that,” A’Mora stated as there was a loud booming sound as they all covered their ears as JT and a tall creature came into view.
“You must stop!” JT screamed as he floated in the air, projecting beams of magical energy at the creature. “What you’re speaking will destroy this world!”
“What’s going on?” Tyler asked as there was another loud booming noise as they had to cover their ears again. “What in the hell is going on? What’s that damn noise?”
“Stop damn it! You’re using magic that shouldn’t be used on this plane of existence!” JT screamed as he continued projecting beams of magical energy at the creature as there was yet another loud booming noise.
“What’s going on?” Brett asked as he looked at A’Mora.
“That creature is speaking in an ancient tongue, one that could destroy us all,” A’Mora replied as she kissed Brett’s lips and then gestured at him as he disappeared. “Now that I’ve sent him away, I don’t want him to see what I can really do with my powers.”
“Stop it now!” JT screamed as he flew higher into the sky as he looked around and then stopped. “I’m not going to let you continue what you’re doing monster!”
“How can I help you with this?” Tyler asked as he flew up towards JT quickly.
“You can’t help here Stryker,” JT replied as he created a ball of magical energy and then threw the energy ball at the creature. “You need to leave, get as far away from here as you can.”
“You’re here, fighting this thing buddy, I am not leaving,” Tyler stated as JT shook his head.
“There’s nothing you can really do here, you have no magical powers,” JT stated as he created another ball of magical energy and then threw it at the creature as there was another loud booming noise.
“Whatever that thing is, I’m not going to let you face it alone,” Tyler stated as he grabbed JT’s hand, stopping him from moving away. “I’m here to help you buddy, I am your friend.”
“Friend or not, you have nothing to help in this matter,” JT stated in a harsh tone as Tyler frowned. “Again, you need to leave here quickly.”
“I am not going to leave,” Tyler stated as JT shook his head and then gestured in his direction as some strange energy wrapped around Tyler and then he vanished.
On Land – The Jacksonville Landing
“Hey Sarah, when did the Landing get another level to it?” A young man asked his friend as they stood on the sidewalk in front of the mall.
“It hasn’t gotten another level to it, why do you ask?” The young woman asked as the young man pointed at the building, noticing that it was growing in size. “Oh my God, what in the hell is going on with that?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t think that’s supposed to be happening. I think we should be going now,” the young man stated, grabbing the young woman’s hand as he drug her towards the parking lot across the street as Hank landed in front of the mall.
“Onyx here in front of the Landing and things don’t look right,” Hank stated, pressing a button on his communicator. “I sent out a distress signal to the others, but so far, I don’t think the signal is getting through to anybody else.”
= The signal is getting through, there seems to be a barrier around Jacksonville, keeping others out. =
“A’Mora, do you think that’s JT’s doing?” Hank asked as he shook his head.
= It could be his doing, but no one has established that just yet. =
“How are we going to stop this thing without help?” Hank asked as there was a strange phenomenon near him as Amy Ramsey appeared next to him. “Amy, what are you doing here?”
“I don’t know what’s going on. One minute I was at home, minding my own business and the next, I’m here, seeing you,” Amy replied with a frown as she looked around. “What’s happening that brought me away from my calm and peaceful existence?”
“Something of a magical nature,” Hank answered as Amy looked at him and then shook her head.
“So I guess me being here right now is JT’s doing. I guess I’m here to be Phantasma,” Amy stated as her hand sparkled with energy as her clothing changed and she’s wearing her costume.
“Look out, that damn thing is alive!” Someone screamed behind Amy and Hank. “It’s trying to get us!”
“What the hell is that?” Hank asked as he turned around to see what looked like a power pole grabbing people of the street. “Amy, are you seeing the same thing I’m seeing?”
“Yeah, I see it,” Amy replied as she sighed and then leapt into the air, taking flight as she headed towards the people that were in the grasp of the power pole. “So apparently, what I can gather, inanimate objects are coming to life because of all the ambient magical energy around in the air.”
“Yeah, whatever you say,” Hank said as he grabbed the pole, trying to hold it in place while Amy got the people from its grasp. “You might want to work a bit quicker.”
“Is there something wrong Onyx?” Amy asked.
“I don’t know, but something seems to be zapping my strength. I feel like I haven’t had sleep in days,” Hank replied as his visage changed, revealing his normal, everyday appearance. “Damn it, I’ve changed back to myself.”
“Are you able to change again?” Amy asked, looking at Hank strangely.
“I don’t know, I feel so weak,” Hank responded as he fell to the ground, passing out.
“That’s not good,” Amy said as she waved her hand at the pole, using her powers to slash through different sections of the pole as the people held in the pole’s grasp fell to the ground. “Run all of you, get away from here!”
= Phasing Girl, what’s your twenty? =
“I’m down by the bus depot, I’m trying to save people that are being dragged off by inanimate objects,” Amy spoke as she pressed a button on the communicator on her belt. “Onyx is down, I’m going to need some help out here, quickly!”
= I’m on my way, keep your eyes open for me. =
“Okay, Brett, I’ll be looking for you,” Amy said as she looked around as she stood there as a tree grew arms and then grabbed her, trying to hold her in place. “What the hell! Get the fuck off of me, you fucking tree! This can’t be happening!”
To Be Continued…