There was never a better start to a morning then popping the bright yellow yolks of lightly cooked eggs, and seeing the golden goodness run all over sourdough toast. Complete the routine with a pot of black coffee and a morning cigarette outside in the Alaskan sun. Lance Walker, alias Starbound, squinted towards the horizon as he smoked a cheap cigarette. Shirtless and barefoot, he didn’t mind the cold. Compared to the exotic locales he had been to since donning the cape, Alaska in January had a welcome mildness. Minutes later, he reentered his dry cabin and began suiting up. The red, white, and blue ensemble again. People seemed to like it.
Once he was done, he stepped outside. His boots crunched in the snow. With but a thought, he mentally activated the alien computer contained in the scout ship he had rather recently acquired. Recovering some of his native Xarathian tech in the last year had been nothing but a boon. The powerful alien technology had several uses he had discovered so far. The ship’s computers booted up instantly, and began receiving, processing, and filtering news data from around the world. Nothing like a helping hand when coordinating superheroics worldwide. At the moment, his own super-hearing was enough. It was time to really start the day.
Starbound flashed through the sky at incredible speeds, zeroing in on his target. His brain, a hyper-complex cybernetic machine, would do the bulk of the sensory processing. This allowed the alien a nearly flawless control of his own body and senses. Starbound’s perfect spatial memory allowed him to intuitively navigate Earth’s sky without need for any other navigation tools. Descending rapidly from the upper troposphere, he saw the city’s tallest buildings come into view. It was not his favorite sight; he much preferred the snow-sprinkled timber forests further north. At heart, the man just wasn’t a traveler in spite of his own numerous adventures.
He zipped through the city’s skyline. Slowly down only slightly, he whipped and weaved through Calgary’s downtown towards one of the city’s poorer neighborhoods. Within moments, he saw his target. One blue gloved hand outstretched, palm open, the hero intercepted a flying bullet in midair. He had slowed down heavily in the meantime, once again perceiving the world a little something closer to what humans would consider to be “normal” speed. Starbound looked at the shooter. Some middle-aged chug on too many drugs desperately trying to score some pocket change from a morning runner. Even if he had shot again, the man’s hands were shaking far too much to get a clean shot in. Starbound righted himself, and floated towards the man. Snatching the cheap revolver from the bum’s hand, Starbound compressed the handgun into a useless hunk of metal. He put a firm hand on the addict’s shoulder, and with a slight bit of pressure forced him into an awkward sitting position on the sidewalk.
“Sit there,” Starbound commanded with a knifehand for emphasis. The poor man clutched the sides of his head as he chattered his teeth. Starbound looked over his shoulder at the stupefied jogger. “He’ll stay here, get out your phone and call the cops. They will pick him up,” he said. The jogger may have said something in reply, but Starbound was too busy listening. The alien superhero let his senses reach out for another moment, trying to pick up on something. He focused back on the jogger, and gave him a quick salute in goodbye.
“Have to go, someone needs me,” said Starbound, as he rocketed up and away.
A terrible screeching noise rang out in the valley as metal was ripped from its hinges. A bleary eyed man groaned in confusion as he tried to get his bearings straight. He was upside down. Shards of glass littered the cab of the truck. He tasted blood. It was hard to tell where his body was. That horrible sound of metal being twisted and torn. He was about to cry for help when he felt something grab him. A pair of unnaturally strong hands pulled the old trucker from his broken cab.
Starbound looked the man over. He had been too late to late to stop the semi from hitting the black ice and going over the side of the canyon. Fortunately, he had been able to prevent the truck from falling any further down the gorge. January was hell for teamsters, especially in the mountain states. The man didn’t seem to have any major injuries, mostly cuts and scrapes. A sprain and a fracture. There was definitely an upside to having N-Ray vision and medical training: it was that much easier to spot internal bodily harm.
“Hey,” said the trucker somewhat weakly. “Thanks. I didn’t think you capes came down this way.”
Starbound looked away from the gorge, where the rest of the trailer and its spilled contents had fallen. “I try to keep an ear out. I’ll drop you off at the nearest hospital.”
The trucker wheezed, the nearness of his own death starting to come to him. He offered to buy the super a beer sometime in the future, but Starbound had to decline for the moment.
“Another time, someone needs me.”
“I got this!” Starbound shouted over the commotion as a crowd of people began clambering out of their vehicles at the sight of a monstrously large, eel-like creature reared its finned head above the bay. The bridge seemed to lurch back and forth slightly. Starbound had taken hold of one of the severed suspension cables, and only his titanic strength was keeping it from collapsing. Unfortunately, the bridge design hadn’t anticipated either a giant monster attack nor a 6’2” man keeping the whole thing together. With at least ten thousand tons bearing down on him, Starbound gritted his teeth as he held the bridge together.
The eel-like monster looked at the lone superhero with one giant eyeball. It shrieked. Several of the crowd behind him screamed in horror at the ear-splitting cry. The three massive fins atop its head glittered in the ocean spray and the light of the sun. Starbound looked closer. It wasn’t just a trick of the light, it seemed to be doing something. A loud hum seemed to stretch across the bay. The monster was gathering electrical energy between it’s fins. It was going to attack!
Starbound braced himself. He could probably take the attack, but the electricity could very well travel through him and into the metal bridge itself. He couldn’t risk every person still trying to escape getting electrocuted. He would have to act fast. Before it could get its shot off.
The monstrous eel’s eyes glowed a deadly bright blue as it gathered the last of its bio-energy. Starbound did the same. His eyes became lambent, visible even through his solid white mask lenses. Fortunately there was nothing close behind the beast, because he didn’t give himself enough time to properly calculate how much force he needed. Only that he needed a lot to get rid of the threat as soon as possible.
There was a mighty crack, and a flash visible miles away from the bay. Starbound let loose with a staggering amount of extradimensional energy. Tiny devices hidden within his eyes opened apertures to one of the Xarathian Imperium’s private stores of energy. A deadly blue blast emanated from his eyes before the monster could discharge it’s own electrical force. The sheer concussive force tore the eel’s top half clean off its body. A good 40 feet of giant monster flesh went sailing into the air as the body sank into the ocean. The surface of the ocean near the blast had completely boiled off, and steam hissed as it rose into the cooler bay air.
Starbound blinked. He strained with the weight of the severed cables for a moment, as he pulled the two torn ends together. With a much more precise, almost gentle touch, he used the same blue Imperium energy from his eyes to temporarily weld the cable together. It wasn’t perfect, and the authorities would have to fix it later; it would do for now. It had to.
Someone needs me.
Sounds of a fair down below. Cheap rides, happy families, and even a few prize pigs.
Starbound floated downwards towards a crying girl, shaking his head.
“You lost this,” he said as he held out a balloon. He had found it meandering its way upwards through the air. The girl seemed shocked for a moment, as she realized what had happened. She eagerly grabbed for the balloon, only to gasp as Starbound pulled it away from her. “You need to tie it around your wrist,” the superhero said as he moved to do so. “That way, you don’t lose it next time.”
Starbound said these last few sentences just as much to the girl as her mother standing beside her. The woman looked emotional. He didn’t see a dad anywhere, which was a shame. Starbound stood up to his full height, briefly putting his hands on his hips, then giving the two of them a thumbs up. He was about to leave when the mom reached out with a cloth and wiped something off his shoulder. Starbound glanced down, noticing some leftover inert chemical sludge from sometime earlier during the day. Thanking her quickly, he made a mental note to check himself for any more of the ARGENT waste material before he made his way into space. He’d set up an observation satellite to aid in coordinating future superheroics, and then make his way further into space to help his Little Friends.
“Remember, tie it around the wrist,” he said as he tapped his wrist. “I have to go, someone needs me,” he said with a wave as he launched himself once more into the sky.
The Xarathian superhero crouched down in a low squat as he listened. His universal translator had made the necessary adjustments to communicate back-and-forth with the Little Friends.
Shockingly, the small lemming looking creatures had managed to carve themselves out a nice little existence way out here in the backwoods of the Milky Way despite having such a small amount of moon to work with. Even a normal human could walk across their whole world well within an Earth day’s time. Starbound’s concern for the Little Friends burgeoning society had led him to drag a small observation platform and shield generator far out here to ensure them a relative peace, free from any catastrophic damage from small space debris. The Little Friends had an endearing, Arcadian quality to them. They likely wouldn’t advance technologically very much further given the planets limited resources, but they seemed rather well content as farmers.
The Mayor of Friendly Town stepped up on his tiny podium in the town square. The portly mouse-like creature, the long hairs atop his furry head well-waxed into a double part, adjusted his monocle as he addressed the much more massive alien.
“Sir!” he cleared his throat, “The good people of Friendly Town are ever so grateful that you have taken the time to come to us again in our hour of need.”
Starbound had earned the eternal respect of the Little Friends deflecting a deadly, beach ball sized asteroid from wiping their civilization out. Their short generations meant that he had quickly become a folk hero, as the manifold statues of him spotted around the townscape would attest to.
The Mayor explained their predicament. Their farms on the other side of town had been failing, as a severe drought had dried up the river. Starbound nodded as he understood the problem. Carefully, he turned around in his squatting position, and stood up only slightly as he could very easily see the other side of town from his towering vantage point in the town square. His worst fear was moving too much and accidently destroying the Little Friends delicate structures. It reminded him of the train set that his father and grandfather had set up in the shop outside of grandpa’s house.
Starbound peered down at the farms, waving down at one of the farmers. The farmer twitched his nose at Starbound, looping tiny paws in his overalls as several brown-furred bodies spilled out of the nearby farmhouse.
“How’re you doing Attie?” Starbound smiled as he met the farmer. Attie dipped his head as he removed his straw hat, and placed it over his hearts.
“As well as we can be, what with the turrible drough ‘n all,” Attie said in a respectful but somber tone. “Ah got the wife ‘n three hunnert kids ‘n all, and we’re all starting to get mighty hungry.” Attie’s wife gave a curtsey. She had grown more plump since Starbound’s last brief visit, filling out the little pink prairie dress. He assumed it was in large part because of the 263 children that had been born since then. He reassured the two, and all of the numerous lemmingish children, that he’d take care of it.
Starbound looked carefully at the landscape, trying to find the source of the river. It seemed like it came from the nearby mountain. He stretched upwards to his full height, towering above the Little Friends of Friendly Town. He sighed in relief, as he clearly saw the problem. A landslide had dammed up most of the river, and the water had flowed to a trickle since then. A mere flick of his fingers later, the river was cleared, and water came roaring back down towards the tiny valley.
Starbound said his goodbyes to the Little Friends, though not after partaking in one of their feasts. Though last second, they had scrounged up a considerable amount of food given the circumstances. Not only that, but their cuisine was excellent, with several flavors unrecognizable to a human palate. Even though Starbound, as a Xarathian, had an extremely dulled sense of taste, the food on this little planet still was thoroughly enjoyable. But such small portions…
Starbound waved goodbye.
“Someone else needs me,” he said with a smile as he carefully lifted off into space.