His parachute wouldn't open. When the ripcord came away in his hand, he had forced himself not to panic just yet. There was a back-up.
He yanked on the second cord and that came away in his hand as well. He stared at the bright yellow cord, both ends flapping in the wind.
He was approaching terminal velocity, he knew.
The flesh was rippling on his face and his hair was being dragged out of his scalp and his eyes were forced open, tears flying into the empty sky.
Earth was so very, very far below. At this height, even landing in a swimming pool or a giant marshmallow wouldn't save him. He'd splatter on impact like an egg dropped from the Chrysler building. Maybe he should have ignored Mom and stayed on the plane. Well, no chance of that now. Twisting around in midair, he caught sight of the burning wreckage far away and below him. It would reach the ground before he did.
He decided he was perfectly in his right to panic. He screamed and cried and thrashed but he couldn't slow down his fall for even a second.
The ground was getting much closer. He could see buildings.
Good bye, world.
The last eleven years have been pretty sweet. Might as well land on my feet.
He twisted around to get his feet under him.
Panic suddenly gripped him, his heart stopping for a moment.
I don't want to d--
Glass shattered all around him, the throbbing music stopping for a moment. People screamed and shrieked in surprise and glee, rushing out of the way as he landed on his feet on the dance floor. He blew kisses and winked at the crowd, striding off as they watched in envy and awe.
The music resumed and he plopped himself down at the bar, grinning at Bellicose.
"That was a spectacularly good jump, don't you think?"
She finished the line she was reading in her physics textbooks before looking up.
"Hmm? No. It was sloppy. There's glass all over the place." Freefall pouted.
"But that's what I was going for! Big entrance! Hey, Mumu, don't you think it was a good jump?" The nightclub's single waitstaff came over with a tray full of dirty glasses. She shrugged.
"I like all of your jumps."
"Then, hey, Baptiste--"
"Can't see 'em." The giant blind bartender said. "Sorry, Freefall."
The Super's pout grew. "You guys suck."
"If you're going to whine do it elsewhere." Bellicose said coolly, going back to her homework. "Or go study or something."
"Ooooooooh, you should!" Mumu said, eyes huge as she nodded vigorously. "The new professor can smell it on you when you don't. He knew I didn't and he asked me something about phases in front of the entire lecture hall and I didn't know the answer!"
Freefall flopped over the bar and sighed deeply. "No one appreciates me." Mumu bit her lip rather than say anything. She collected a new round of drinks and scuttled off around the pulsing dance floor and out of sight.
Baptiste slid Freefall his first Kamikaze of the night. "Drinks are only free when you're in costume. Bottoms up before they make you dance."
"I'm heading home." Bellicose shoved her books back into her bag and picked up her coat. Freefall drained his glass in a single gulp.
"Want me to walk you home?" Bellicose flicked her strawberry blond hair over her shoulder.
"No, I'm good." She said.
"You sure?" Freefall swiveled on his barstool to face her. "There's been even more Super weirdness lately."
"No, I'll be fine. Don't get home too late, okay? Night, Baptiste."
Bellicose left out the back door of the nightclub. It was a nice night. Only midnight, and plenty of people were still out and about in the party district. The night had only begun for the revelers, really. Fall term at the university had started, so the clubs were packed with moneyed students blowing off steam.
Bellicose Dawn, at the age of nineteen, owned one of the trendiest, most popular nightclubs in the city, the Aqua Vitae. Part of the popularity was due to how Supersthose humans with special powers who served the citydrank for free. The waitress MichelleMumuherself was an undocumented Super. One of her powers allowed her to tell the power of another Super just by shaking their hand. Mumu was a favorite amongst the Supers and should anyone ever bother her at the club, a Super was not long to toss the offender from the bar. Michelle knew all their secrets, and they guarded her well. They didn't worry about her revealing them, as she was a young, rather timid thing who was in the same boat as them.
The Dawn family owned half the city including the hospital, a number of companies, some apartment complexes, and an entire wing of the university. One day Bellicose would inherit it all. For the moment, she was working to fill requirements for her Pre-med program so she could then go on to medical school and become a surgeon.
Which was why when, even though she owned one of the hottest nightclubs in the city, she left by midnight to walk to her apartment and go to sleep. So she could attend class the next morning without a hangover or someone having to drag her butt out of bed, like Freefallmore commonly known as Tosh Braginski. Luckily he had Michelle as a room-mate and she had an internal clock which could be mistaken as a power but was really just a form of OCD.
Usually walks home at midnight were rather quiet, the only sounds came from the clubs and a few homeless people settling down for the night. This night, however, there was an extra set of footsteps.
Bellicose didn't look around. She just shoved her hands into her pockets and kept her eyes straight ahead. The hair on the back of her neck stood up when she heard a second, then a third and fourth set of footsteps join the first.
Don't speed up. She told herself firmly. She wasn't panicking. She was more than a match for any one or twelve men. She was just annoyed that her quiet walk was now being interrupted. Ten more minutes went by the men were still following her. How infuriating. She would have to end this quickly if she was to have any peace.
She took a detour through the closed parking structure of a company her family owned. The security appeared to have stepped out for a drink. Ass.
She walked through the empty level and went over to the last car in the garage, which so happened to be a Corolla. She rummaged around in her purse, swearing and fumbling. Out of the corner of her eye she watched a ring of men surround her. She finally looked up and raised an eyebrow at them. "Really. Could you be more original?"
"Gets the job done, sweetheart." One of them said. He was wearing a pair of orange sunglasses. They were all hammered yuppies or something, pretending they were wicked. It is a Commonly Accepted Fact that men grow stupider exponentially with each addition to their group. Add booze to the equation, and all bets are off.
"Seriously." Bellicose said. One of them was trying to creep up behind her but she ignored him. "What's your problem? Got bored at the gaybar?"
"They're too badly dressed to be gay. They don't match."
There was an anguished yell from behind Bellicose. She whirled around to find the man who'd tied to creep up on her dangling from the grip of a tall, lean man in a black, white, and gray bodysuit.
"I didn't quite know how to introduce myself." He said apologetically. He sounded British. He threw his captive over the heads of his fellows. "Woo. Bad throw." He winced at the thud of impact and cry of pain as a shoulder was dislocated. "Ouch. Anyway." He cleared his throat and stepped out into the circle of now very nervous, inebriated yuppies.
"My name is Shrike." He said, beaming and showing every single one of his perfect teeth. His hair was a pearly white. Though judging by the physique outlined by his bodysuit, it was not from age. "I'm the new Super in town. Pleasure to meet you. I hope we all get on famously."
Orange Sunglasses frowned. "A new one? And what do you do?" Shrike gave him a very predatory smile.
"I am the fashion police! Your suit is knock-off Armani and those shoes are not really Italian, but knock-offs as well. Your sunglasses? That drifting tournament logo is real enough. Do you go to pick up the umbrella girls, or the drivers?"
Orange Sunglasses was drunk so he had to be forgiven for running at the Super. His friends were also drunk so they ran at the Super, too. See the stated Commonly Accepted Fact above. Add to that how people don't like to have their sexuality mistaken on purpose.
Someone slammed into Bellicose and she fell, missing the action. All she heard were a number of shouts and thuds and by the time she looked up, the only one left was the Super. He sighed. "Dreadful manners. Didn't even say good bye." He turned back to Bellicose, a concerned look on his face. His eyes glimmered blue behind his bandit's mask. "I'm so sorry, Miss. Things got a touch out of hand. May I assist y--"
Bellicose slammed a physics textbook into the Super's face. He yelled out in pain and staggered away from her.
"Oh my God! What's your problem? You broke my nose!" he cried, blood gushing everywhere.
"You're a pervert!" Bellicose yelled.
"YES YOU ARE!"
"Pervert! Noun!" The Super said angrily. "A person whose sexual behavior is regarded as abnormal or unacceptable. That's not me!"
Bellicose stood up. Her lip curled in disgust. "What are you, a walking dictionary?"
"No I have a brain and like to use it, thank you!"
"Then DEVIANT! You! Adjective! Departing from usual or accepted standards, especially in social or sexual behavior!"
Shrike spat out a mouthful of blood. "Fine then! Pardon me for trying to help you!"
"Oooooh don't you start with that!" Bellicose snapped. She even stamped her foot in frustration. Her hair was messed up and she was turning red, she knew it. "I do not know you and I know all the Supers!"
"Oh and I bet you're really popular with them too, you ugly hag!" The Super yelled back. He strode away.
"I AM NOT UGLY!" Belicose screamed after him. She marched off in the opposite direction. "I'm fucking adorable." she muttered to herself, fuming. The nerve of some people! He better not come snooping around her club for free drinks. She would have him blacklisted and the bouncer could beat him into next week if he tried to show his ugly British mug anywhere near Aqua Vitae.