Field Trip from Hell

A Broker Story

The halls of the Black Roses Academy were quiet, even for a Sunday afternoon. There were no explosions, no cries for help, or even their mild mannered leader, Trayce D. King screaming "Lariat" at someone. Yes, these were the days, Russell T. Brokenworth, codenamed Broker, liked best about the school. As he made his way down the silent halls, his black boots echoed like a pep band; the sound of a heavy march with the spring of youth in their steps. Broker sighed appreciating the still-

"Professor Broker!" A commanding female voice rung up behind him.

Broker didn't bother to turn around, before he came to a complete halt he was joined by a tall, redheaded woman. She had a spray of carrot colored freckles on her face and a button nose which betrayed her cute appearance from her determined demeanor. Her name was Maggie Gracie, daughter of the deceased, but legendary mercenary Rico Gracie. She had her father's eyes, his brazenness, and to Broker's masculine dismay, her father's height. Broker cursed his average height of 5'10 and looked up Maggie and her 6'0 build. Broker would have found her intimidating if he didn't already find her annoying.

"Did you receive my letter?" Maggie asked.

"Yes and I'm considering it, " Broker continued walking and she followed.

"What's left to consider? I want to be your apprentice."

"Maggie, not all of the Roses want to take on an apprentice. Plus your letter didn't exactly make you stand out, no one told me anything new. Did you know that out of the 300 students that applied, no one likes terrorists?"

Maggie sighed, "Okay I underst-

"And did you know that no one likes evil either?"

Broker jogged up the stairs not bothering to make eye contact with her, Maggie followed him her stride rumbling up the wooden stairs after him.

"Careful," Broker warned, "These stairs are oak, they crack under too much weight."

Maggie sneered as they both reached the landing, "Professor Broker that was uncalled for."

"I'll tell you what's uncalled for, you being so damn tall. I didn't know there was a big and tall section in Macy's." Broker left her fuming as he began to walk down the hallway. They were in the boy's dormitory section, Broker began to read the names off the doors.

Maggie stalked over to him, "Professor Broker, stop the jokes. I just want a straight answer from you. You read my paper and you of all people should know terrorists, mercenaries, good, and evil, all words that are just thrown around. Mercenaries are just terrorist working for a different set of ideals."

For the first time today, Broker looked her in the eyes, serious. "Yes and my ideals are in the form of money. And what would you know about me? 'And you of all people should know', what is that a long six worded way of saying, 'you're not perfect?' Well, next time I think you should submit a paper saying all of the same two words "I'ma" "suckup"."

"I am a suck up. I believe that's five words."

"Two words "I'ma" "suckup". You of all people, trying to be my apprentice, should know I speak ebonics, I'm teaching a course on it next semester, consider you're first exam an F already."

Broker turned away from the stunned student and he moved towards a door at the end of the hall, "Aw here we are."

"Professor!" Maggie shouted.

Broker knocked on the door with his head, headbutting it a few times. He sighed and looked back at her.

"Professor?" Maggie turned her head curiously.

"Oh damn, I'm still alive, I was hoping to give myself a concussion." Broker knocked on the door again, this time with his fist, "Maggie, you sure get an A for persistence." Broker knocked again on the door to the would be student he was looking for.

Xero Nevermore, codename Deep End, opened the door to his dorm. He was face to face with Broker.

"Professor Broker?" Xero asked.

"You're saying my name like I'm bigfoot or something. Contrary to popular belief, bigfoot is over there." Broker shot a look at Maggie. Xero glanced out the door, down the hall to Maggie. Maggie pouted and crossed her arms.

"She shaved." Broker quipped.

Xero chuckled briefly, "Professor, I assume you didn't come here to just make fun of Maggie."

"No, no," Broker began, "In all seriousness I came here because you applied to be under Trayce's apprenticeship, and under it you mentioned that if there were any other Roses you'd like to work with you placed my name."

"Well yeah but I was hoping for-"

"I was wondering if you kids these days have a death wish? Or does the idea of going on missions with Trayce through hell fire and brimstone tickle your fancies more than Facebook used to?"

Xero turned his head to the side, "Was that even a question?"

Broker paused, "I don't know. I tend to ramble. Either way. You," Broker pointed at Xero, then to Maggie," Bride of Bigfoot, and five other kids have been chosen to be on my short lists for an apprenticeship with yours truly? Tomorrow we'll be providing security for the opening of the Westmoore Nuclear facility. Terrorist have declared their intention to destroy this quote unquote 'abomination to nature', and it's my intention to spur your intention to defend this plant, if the intention of these terrorists to follow through with their intentions to destroy this power plant, for if this plant is destroyed it will be our employers intention not to pay us, and it'll be my intention to expel your asses."

Xero looked at Maggie, then back at Broker, "Can I withdraw your name from my list of want to be mentors?"

"No. Be there tomorrow."

Xero sighed, "But I have stuff to do tomorrow."

"I know. You'll be working with us tomorrow. That'll be all."

Tomorrow came quicker than even Xero anticipated. After a few prolonged and nervous weeks waiting to be contacted by Trayce, waiting one night to prove himself to Broker seemed like only a few minutes. Xero and five other students, plus Maggie found themselves standing above the crowds of people in front of the sprawling nuclear power plant. The power plant was bigger than what Xero imagined it was. It was an entire solar system of cardboard colored carbon pipes, oak brown buildings, and sparkling gases that twinkled even under the light of the afternoon sun. The inhabitants of this mechanical nuclear planet were rich businessmen whose native customs included handshakes, toasting wine, cutting ribbons, and finding other ways to flaunt their money while not flaunting their money.

"Boring right?"

Xero was broken from his thoughts, as Broker came up behind him, sipping from a coke can. The two of them were on a scaffold overlooking the businessmen.

"Boring is good right?" Xero asked.

"Boring is very good, it's easy money. Shame though, I wanted to see you kids in action. Maybe if one of you impresses me enough, I'll make one of you an apprentice."

"What if I don't want to be your apprentice?"

"Look a lot of kids would kill, literally kill, to be in your position So take the shot as it stands now. I know you wanted Trayce, but you must have put my name down for a reas-

"I thought it was mandatory to name a replacement."

Broker jerked, crushing his coke can.

"Well either way," Broker said wiping cola off his suit, "The choice has to be mutual we're not gonna force anyone to be our apprentice."

"Why not give it to Maggie, she seems to want it so bad."

"I can't...she's a ginger." Broker snickered.

The two of them chuckled.

"But in all seriousness. I've had an apprentice before, just as determined as she was. Didn't turn out to well. So I'm quite hesitant to have another one. So whatever you do, don't go impressing me."

Xero rose from his crouched position on the railing, "Is that a challenge?"

"It's whatever you want it to -" An explosion ruptured above them, "Shit!"

Broker resolved himself and turned around as sirens and flames rung out through the plant. Figures in red cloaks dashed above them.

"I've heard of these terrorists," Xero hissed, "The Red Hand."

"Well boring just went out the window." Broker chimed.

Dozens of red cloaked attackers dropped down on them; an instant before they hit. One hundred fist , composed of spectral energy erupted out of Broker's back pummeling the men back into the air. Broker sighed then put a finger to his ear.

"All students," Broker spoke to them, "You have three objectives. One, Defeat these enemies. Two, Protect our employers and three," He turned to Xero, " Impress me."

The air was suddenly peppered with students as they intercepted their opponents.

Xero's skin warped into pure steel, and now included a steel tail which he split into wings. With a huge flap from his wings he shot in the air. He snapped in front of a red cloaked man, and with two slashes of his blade arm cleaved him in two. Curving his wings to catch a strong upward gust he parried past two other men, slashing them as he went. Xero dropped like a spiked cannonball down diagonally on his next target, riding him straight into one of the reactors...and lasting out the other side wearing the tattered body of his victim as his shield. The reactor exploded around Xero coating him in flames. Xero stood stoic amongst the blaze as it raged by him. His eyes caught his next target and he raced to meet him, blades drawn.

Broker speed at his next opponent, yet under a flash of black, Maggie got their first. Broker skidded to a stop and the assailant turned into Maggie's right hand. It hit him with the force of a train, leaving a visible shockwave in space where he stood a moment ago. Maggie flashed him a smile.

"Well damn."Broker gagged, if he had blinked he would have missed it. Broker watched stunned...and sort of impressed.

"Impressed?" Maggie asked

Without warning there was a ruffle of cloth behind her and a solid thwack, Maggie turned around and paused. Broker was behind her standing over the bodies of three men with fist shaped indents in their torsos. Maggie looked back and saw the apparition of Broker on the other side of the catwalk disappearing.

Broker grinned, "Ghost powers-"

Maggie reached through Broker's chest, as he quickly converted to a spirit, grabbed a man from behind her professor and flung him over her head.

"Muscle powers." Maggie chimed.

"Hmph." Broker responded, "Keep it up you might j-"

A blast of green light swept Broker off his feet and smashing into the earth.

"Professor!" Maggie cried out.

A man dressed in a white and red cloak dropped down, his face was young and carved from war, though this man is not one for introductions we'll call him Bearum. Bearum snapped his arm up and blasted a wave of green light at Maggie! Xero dropped down an instant before it hit and turned his blade arms to the flat side, making a crude shield. The blast was diverted to the right, blowing up another portion of the plant.

"Maggie?" Xero said lightly.

"Yeah I'm here." Maggie replied, "Thanks."

"That was a radiation blast, if I hadn't absorbed some of that energy we both would have died." Xero said, "This guy is using this plant to power himself."

"And they sent kids to fight me?" Bearum's body flashed green as he absorbed more energy.

"Not kids," Xero's brandished his swords, "Roses."

Maggie and Xero charged Bearum. Xero, being the fastest, reached him first and swung his blades at the big man. Bearum sidestepped and with a radiation powered fist blasted Xero backwards across the catwalk. As Xero bounced off the metal, Maggie caught his tail and swung him back at Bearum! Bearum caught Xero out of mid-air by the neck.

Bearum sneered, "Pitif-"

Xero snapped his mouth open and unleashed a blast of radiation from deep within his system! The catwalk rattled as a chunk of it was assaulted with steel tempering temperatures. Xero dropped to the ground and stood in front of a wall of smoke.

Maggie ran up to him, "You were able to absorb his energie-"

"And send it right back at him." Xero said

Maggie helped Xero up by the hand, "Looks like you got him."

As the smoke began to clear, their worst fears came true. Bearum was still standing!

"Oh, I'm going to enjoy hurting you." Bearum sneered.

Bearum lunged at Xero, Maggie leaped in his path, but was quickly met with a kick to the chest sending her spinning into the far wall. Xero swung at Bearum but missed and received a steel skin denting punch to the gut. Xero doubled over, gasping for breath.

"Ouch." Xero grunted.

Bearum lunged for Xero, this time, Xero threw his blade arm up and impaled Bearum through the shoulder. The mad man roared in rage, trying to pull himself back.

Xero's metal body began to radiate green, tearing the energy from Bearum's body. "You're not going anywhere."

The blade arm sprouted a number smaller blades, gutting Bearum to the blade. Bearum raised his arm's over his head, and began to create a dense ball of green energy. Xero shouted, pulling on more and more and Bearum's powers.

"This is tug of war!" Xero said to himself, trying to pull on the last reserves of Bearum's energies, that were being transferred to the blast above him.

Suddenly there was a helping hand, 100 of them. Broker appeared behind Xero, all 99 spirits, plus Broker's began to exercise their might in pulling on Bearum's energies.

"You know, this is a lesson for all of us," Broker began, " Terrorist never succeed, all they do is actually end up strengthening the resolve of what they're up against."

Bearum shouted as his dense ball of radiation disappeared and it's effects joined into the pool of energy growing within Xero.

"You all are just like bugs hitting windsheilds. You may slow people down with your sacrifices but in the end," Broker continued, " you're only destroying yourselves."

Xero returned all of the power to Bearum at once, blasting the now ordinary man with a radiation blast that exploded all along the plant in a straight beam of rolling green explosions! As the smoke cleared, finally Bearum was no more.

Broker and Xero dropped to the ground, sweat running down their bodies.

"So did we impress you?" Xero asked.

"Impress me? I had to save your ass." Broker snapped

"You're the one who got knocked out with one hit." Xero said

"It was a team effort." Maggie said crawling back to meet them.

"Well you know what you two can do as a team?" Broker asked, "You can STFU."

The two kids sighed. Broker rose and began to make his way down the rest of the catwalk.

"And by STFU I mean, " Broker turned back to meet their gazes, "Suit the fuck up."

The kids grinned.

"If you two wish to be my apprentice, meet me in the courtyard tomorrow at noon and we'll begin some exercises. And Xero, if you don't wish to be my apprentice, "Broker began to fade away, "I'll put in a good word for you for Trayce."