It took two minutes to get down the hill. One minute to roll out the bushes to the lonely road. And another minute to stop rolling on the pavement and find his glasses.
One lens cracked, no bones broken, Alex's sense of gratitude was momentary but fleeing. As much as he would love to be thankful that his friend, which was a stretch at best, Victor Mancha, had saved him - he still had another problem. Standing up from the cracked pavement, Alex Wilder struggles to catch his breath as he looks up at the steep Hillside Victor just came down.
In the dense midnight, the orange glow illuminating the night sky, the subtle odor of burning wood, the top of the distant sound of firefighters and ambulance was exactly what Alex had visualized for days. He wanted to burn The Pride down. Down to a splinter. They were a plague. A plague that destroyed others. A plague that destroyed his Father. A plague that wiped out his entire family without conscience, without remorse.
Hence, it was only right that he Alex Wilder, the so-called next-in-line to ‘run’ the Pride, burn it all down before their very eyes. It was owed to him. It was physics. It was perfect poetic justice. It was all he had left.
However, the overwhelming satisfaction he relished, the contentment he yearned for, even the melancholic happiness he had anticipated to sweep over him in the coming days - seemed to be going up in flames with The Pride’s Estate. And all that was left, was guilt.
Lowering his gaze from the burning Estate, Alex watches Victor running over to the base of the Hill. It was like watching a movie. Surreal, unplanned and frightening. He caused this. He didn’t get the killer of his Father, he got everyone’s Fathers and mothers killed. He caused all of this and had the nerve to now feel an ‘out of body’ experience.
Crouching over to ten-year-old Molly Hayes, Victor tries to help her up. Her plain white dress tattered and covered in dirt, her hair tussled, Molly staggers onto her feet. Dizzy, Molly looks around confused, “Did I just fall up?” she asks, disoriented from her descent.
Before Victor could answer, the ground illuminates momentarily as Karolina Dean drops down like a bomb out the night sky in a flurry of colorful fiery light. Immediately Karolina snuffs the colorful luminescence radiating from her skin and hair and looks up the hill to the inferno. Her face washes over with fear and worry as she holds her head.
“Oh my Gawd, oh my Gawd this can’t be real!!” she shouts, anxiety filling her voice. She couldn’t help but see the resemblance between those pictures of volcanos projecting fiery lava into the night sky, except this, was Los Angeles and this was their house.
Everyone looks to the left and spots Nico Minoru stumbling out a thick border of shrubbery to the pavement in a cloud of dust.
As most of them were, they could hear Nico coughing more than anything else as she staggered onto her feet and pointed down the road, “WE NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE NOW !!”
“AND GO WHERE?!” Karolina shouts back, pointing up at the fiery home, “BECAUSE IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED, OUR HOME IS BURNING DOWN CAUSE OF HIM!” she hollers, pointing at Alex.
The accusation and unnecessary need to say his name snaps Alex to attention, as it does everyone. He could see in their faces, Karolina, Nico, Victor Mancha and Molly Hayes - unapologetic blame.
Alex closes his eyes and rubs his temple, trying to dispel his feeling and focus everyone off of him.
“Nico’s right…” Alex says, looking at everyone with a renewed focus, “...can’t stay here. We need to go.”
“OH, SO WE’RE NOT GONNA TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU…”
“CHASE IS TRYING TO KILL US!” Alex interrupts, “WE EITHER RUN AWAY OR WE DIE HERE! Simple as that!” he spits, “Be pissed, be happy, I don’t care what you are. But we don’t have time for this! I know where we can go.”
Karolina’s blue eyes subtlely glow with anger as she steps forward to say more until a bright spotlight turns on from overhead.
“CASE IN POINT!” Alex shouts.
Everyone squints and holds their hands over their brows at two hovering helicopters.
Squinting to see past the glare, Victor’s face drains, “EVERYONE RUN!” he shouts as a gunshot strikes the pavement between him and Karolina!
“YOU WANNA SHOOT!” shouts Karolina as her eyes frost over white, “THAN DON’T MISS!” she roars as a bright white laser beam shoots out her eyes, sweeps across the night sky, and strikes the rear propellers of both helicopters!
“ARE YOU CRAZY!!” Alex shouts, watching the helicopters spinning out of control.
Karolina glares at him from over her shoulder, “IM SORRY DID MISTER ‘YOU RUINED MY LIFE’ HAVE AN ISSUE MY CHOICES TONIGHT?!”
Nico points at the twirling helicopter spinning in the night sky, “KAROLINA! THOSE CHOPPERS WERE PACKED WITH TRAINED ROGUE HAND NINJA’S!”
“I KNOW I JUST SHOT THEM DOWN!” Karolina shouts.
Alex points up chopper crashing far up the hill, “WHERE NOW THEY CAN GO AFTER US ON FOOT!”
Karolina’s eyes open in revelation, “Oh!” she gulps, looking up at the helicopter crashed into the ridge of the hillside far above. Although dark and hard to see, Karolina and the whole group, could see the glimmer of swords being drawn from sheaths and quickly proceed down the hillside, towards them.
“To my credit, I didn’t see that coming.” Karolina gulps.
“I’m TEN and I saw that coming.” Molly chides.
Karolina rolls her tongue in her mouth, “Don’t make me punt you off a cliff!”
Karolina and the rest of the group spot Alex already running and pointing behind him, “FOLLOW ME OR DON’T, BUT I’M NOT GETTING SHISH KABOBED!”
Still angry, Karolina points at Alex, “I’D RATHER DIE THAN FOLLOW THAT…”
“BY KARI!” shouts Molly to a Stunned Karolina as she goes after Alex.
Seeing her go, Victor makes eye contact with Karolina and shrugs, “Yeah, Uh, yeah.” he says, bolting after Molly.
Karolina, stunned, looks for Nico, but sees her already sprinting after Alex ahead of everyone else, “FOR THE RECORD YOU ALL SUCK!” she shouts, running after them.
Marvel - The Beginning:
The Outstanding Runaways
CHAPTER 2 - NO HASSLE NIGHT
Part IV - RUN THE NIGHT
It had felt like hours. Throwing each leg in front of the other without regard for time, speed or direction; but arguing while you do it was just cruel.
Nico wipes the sweat from her face as she keeps after Alex. It was hard, he loved running track and it showed. Nico could barely keep up. The rest struggled but Nico could at least hear them, if only Karolina and Victor going back and forth like a bitter old married couple.
They all had successfully ran down the lonely road of the LA Hills, cut through LA forest and avoided whatever Mountain Lions that could have and should have ripped off their faces off and somehow, miraculously, made it to the streets of East L.A. And still, in all of this, Karolina never ran out of words.
“THAT'S WHY YOU SUCK. THATS WHY!!” Karolina finishes.
“POR FAVOR WILL YOU JUST SHUT UP!” Victor exclaims.
“WILL YOU ALL SHUT UP!” Nico shouts, turning on them all like a crazed lion.
Coming to a slow stop and leaning against the barrier of a bridge overlooking the busy freeway, Alex pants tiredly ready to drop. His clothes were drenched in sweat, his feet, ready to fall off and he was sure his lungs were going to come out his mouth if he kept breathing this hard.
“I’ve frickin’ HAD IT with all your FRICKIN COMPLAINING!” Nico shouts, “CAN I JUST FREAKIN DIE OF FRICKIN’ EXHAUSTION IN PEACE!”
Struggling to hold himself up, Alex watches the group come to a tired stop alongside the fence of the freeway, all of them falling to the pavement to catch their breath. Slumping to his ground, Alex wipes his face that’s soaked in sweat as his legs began to cramp.
“YOU CANT DIE IN PEACE IN EAST L.A.” Karolina exclaims, “IT'S FILLED WITH POOR PEOPLE!" yells Karolina.
Her statement garners a tired but raised eyebrow expression across his face.
“Are you…” Alex pants, “...frickin’ serious right now?” he asks, “That’s the LAST thing we need to worry about.”
Karolina points at Alex, "Good point! YOU’RE the one we should worry about. Thanks!" she says.
He had enough. Alex staggers onto his tired legs and points at her, "The day you WORRY about me, is the day you get an extra I.Q. point and become NATURALLY BLOND BUT MAYBE IT ISNT FROM A BOTTLE BECAUSE NO ONE COULD FAKE BEING SUCH AND IDIOT!”
Karolina’s eyes frost over bright white and her hair lifts, shimmering different colors, “THAT’S IT!”
“ENOUGH YOU TWO!” Nico shouts, jumping between them, “WE…” Nico exclaims, pointing at Karolina, “..NEED ALEX…”
“LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPE…”
“SHUT IT!” interrupts Nico, “You’re NOT helping!” she shouts, “We can’t do this right now! We can’t stop this bickering and frickin arguing I swear to every force out there I’m gonna MURDER ALL OF YOU!” she shouts.
Alex and Karolina grow quiet, seeing Nico’s eyes burn red and a subtle light glowing from her chest. Holding up his hand, Alex steps back as does Karolina.
“Yeah sure fine,” they say in unison.
“WE HAVE ZERO TIME FOR YOUR EGO TRIPPING!" Nico snaps, glaring at them.
"EGO TRIPPING!?!” Alex scoffs, “I’M..."
Everyone looks to Molly holding her hand up, “What does Ego-Tripping mean? Does that mean Alex's ego fell out his head?” she asks.
Karolina’s expression almost turns painful, “Oh my gawd shut up.”
"DON'T YELL AT HER!" yells Victor.
"I'LL YELL AT WHOEVER I FREGGIN WANT!" yells Karolina.
"OVER MY DEAD BODY!” Victor yells back.
Karolina’s eyes glow white, “HOW YOU WANT IT? FRIED OR EXTRA CRISPY!?”
"ALL OF YOU JUST SHUT UP!!!" yells Nico, causing the ground to thud and crack under feet.
Victor, Karolina, Molly, and Alex instantly look at Nico as her eyes glow red, "I just saw my father shot. Chase sold me out. I got blamed for Alex father's death, our home is burned down and more than likely in a few freggin minutes those stinkin ninja's Chase hired are gonna catch up with us!” she spits,
Nico continues, “SO I elect that we all put aside our freggin drama now and get to FRICKIN’ WORKING TOGETHER TO STAY ALIVE because I promise you that if any one of you say one more stinkin stupid thing I'm gonna PMS all over you all and wear your skins like a FRICKIN COAT ON A RUNAWAY!" she says
"yea yea yea sure. ``Whatever you say." they all say as they nod in agreement.
Nico glares at Alex, "You wanted to know who shot your father, NOW YOU KNOW. But you screwed us while trying to get your revenge! So as far as I’m concerned, VICTOR saved your butt from getting smoked, which means you owe us…”
“YES!” Nico says, shoving him back with her finger, “You need us because you have don’t powers an I don’t see you ‘outsmarting’ murdery ninja’s in red pajamas! SO, we protect you, but figure out how we can beat chase and NOT DIE TONIGHT!!”
“WAIT!” Karolina shouts but at seeing Nico’s red eyes lock with hers, she stammers, “I-I mean…” she says, clearing her throat, “...uh, why does he get to uh…”
“Because he’s a genius tactician!” Nico abruptly answers, “Remember those tests we had to take to show our parents how our ‘strategy planning was?” he asks, then points at Alex, “HE beat us all! We were planning against him!”
Victor folds arms, “I KNEW IT!”
Nico looks at Alex, “So, Alex Wilder, START the EFF talking!”
Alex draws a breath and looks around the area. It took less than two seconds, but he already an assessment, “Right now we’re strategically at every disadvantage.”
“Does that mean I can throw you off this bridge?” Karolina asks.
“It means we need to head more inland.” Alex says, “Chase is after us and we are in the middle of nowhere and he and the ninja’s when they catch up, we’ll be too tired and outnumbered to do anything.”
“So what do we do?” Victor asks.
Alex points towards Downtown L.A, "If we’re gonna survive tonight we need two people in my father's building."
"g-guys," mumbles Molly, noticing something in the darkness of the hillside.
Victor looks at Alex, "Free two people? Like, free, in that their trapt or held captive?"
Alex takes a deep breath, “Held captive. For some Cloak and Dagger project.”
“Oh, so you want us to do something EVEN MORE stupid in order not to get killed by ninja’s?” Karolina says sarcastically before looking to Nico, “You’re right, ONLY A GENIUS COULD THINK OF THAT!”
“LOOK!” Alex snaps, “I know this sounds crazy, but before I ambushed you all in the Penthouse I was warned.”
“I swear if you say by your conscious imma punch you right in the face!” Karolina spits.
“IT WAS BY A MAN!” Alex shouts but then starts to look awkward, “Well..sort of a man? Like, he was a small guy, some alien I dunno, but he told me not to free them until I had help and I would know when I was on a road of happiness!
Karolina throws her hands up in the air in frustration, “WELL WE ALL LOOK FRACKIN’ HAPPY TONIGHT DON’T WE!”
“KARI!” Victor shouts. Getting her attention, Victor simply points up at the avenue sign he gestures, “Los Feliz Boulevard!”
Alex nods, “Avenue of the Happy…” he says, “...or something like that.”
Nico pushes Alex back a step, “Are you lying to us? I swear to god if…”
Alex shoves her back, “I’M NOT LYING!” He shouts, “I didn’t think it was, I never SAW anything like that before but I ignored it because I saw my father died and everything went out the window. But I know what I saw and I’m telling you, this is the way. We’re not gonna last out here like this. Our parents are already dead...”
"THAT'S NOT TRUE!" Molly exclaims.
Everyone looks over at Molly, shaking her head with tears in her eyes, “Their bad but their not dead, they’re just, just…”
“Molly…” Victor sighs, watching her look to him with sadness washing over her, “...I don’t know, but unless your family has powers like yours, I think we’re on our own”
“Don't cry Molly, not now.” Nico says, “Later, they'll be enough time to cry." she says as she looks at Alex, "I don’t know about the rest, but you are right, we need to get off the street. So, how far are we away from your dad's buil…”
"WATCH OUT!" Molly screams, shoving Nico forward as a sword zips past her, inches from Molly's hands and into the ground!
“KILLER PAJAMA MEN ARE BACK!” Alex shouts, seeing dozens of red garbed ninja climb over the other side of the freeway bridge to the street.
“RRRUUUN!!” Molly shouts.
Scrambling onto her feet, Nico pushes Molly forward as they all start running for their lives. However, seeing the Ninja's climb over the sides of the bridge, Nico takes off running with the group but sees the Ninjas are too close. Then, in the distance, behind the Ninjas a black SUV roars on the road towards the overpass bridge. Shrubbery stuck in the grill, men in red ninja garb inside and of course a blond male teen hanging on the door on the outside, gun in hand.
Nico didn’t need to see him up close to recognize him - it was Chase.
Looking over his shoulder as they clear the bridge, Alex shakes his head, “We’re not gonna make it!”
“OH YES, WE WILL!” Nico shouts, stopping behind them as everyone clears the bridge to the street.
Turning around, Nico extends her arms forward. A bright light glows from her chest. Baring her teeth, Nico strains as the Staff of One slowly phase out her chest. Looking ahead to the road, Nico sees the fleet footed Ninja’s are close enough for her to hear their clean metal slide out the metal sheaths.
“NICO GET OUTTA THERE!” Alex shouts.
Grabbing her Staff, Nico raises it over her head like an ax, “NOT YET!” she shouts, striking it onto the pavement.
Victor glances over his shoulder as a sudden white flash flashes like lightning before ground shaking and ear-deafening explosion erupts!
Immediately everyone is sent forward off their feet from the shockwave!
Sent back rolling on the ground, Alex rolls on the pavement until he comes onto his stomach.
Groaning in discomfort, Alex looks up to see nothing but a cloud of dust and a glowing pulsating light within. Then, the light swings in a motion of left to right, making all the dust suddenly dissipate with a strong gust!
Karolina sits up, her mouth gaping open.
Standing in a cross-legged bow with her Staff held to her left, Nico trembles in place with blood dripping from her nose and sweat pouring off her face.
Lifting her head, Nico looks across the destroyed overpass bridge at Chase on his back next to the overturned SUV.
Standing erect, Nico draws a breath, barely able to stand as she glares at Chase from across the great divide, getting on his feet.
Nico narrows her eyes at Chase who wipes the blood from the side of his head and mocking points his finger at her like a gun.
“Go on and run Nico... ” Chase mumbles.
“...I'll see you soon.” Nico finishes.
To be continued….