An Excerpt from The Man With Cups for Hands (Continued)

Lonnie Summers folded his hands. He stiffened in his chair. His features were gaunt, hard, aged, but still handsome. His deep tan mixed with the shadows of the coffee shop. He was wearing street clothes, but his size and posture betrayed his years of training. After taking a sip of tea, the Amazing Aqualion started again, “That was the last time any of us saw Reggie. One moment, we were questioning Michael Chambers, and the next we were getting sucked out of the courtroom.” He shook his head. “I mean, sorcery, right? You can account for mutants, gadgets, and madmen, but magic…” He turned to Magic here, “Not you, but like magic powers—it just always surprises you. None of us knew Cup Hands was that powerful. He just broke the glass floor of the station out from underneath us.”

The footage from trAIbunal shows Michael removing his power neutralizing cuffs. Then he touches the glass floor of the space station. Glass and steel give way to void. It tears apart like wrapping paper. Here, he is thrown into space with the force of the escaping atmosphere. The council is sucked out after him.

Magic and Aqualion tumbled over the table. With a quick spell, Magic caught a bare structural beam using an ethereal rope. Aqualion grasped onto his other hand.

The Immortal Reggie reached for them but spun away at the last moment. His fingertips brushed Aqualion’s. “I just… just barely missed. I can still feel his fingers skim across mine. Then he was gone,” said the veteran hero. He wiped at the corner of his eye and took another sip of tea. “He was right there. Aegis thinks he probably landed somewhere in the Atlantic. He was never seen again.”

Magic was able to secure the pair to the bottom of the council chambers. Their emergency oxygen fields ignited during the breach. There, they could watch Moonglow follow after Michael Chambers. The magician cut in here, “Eva was the real hero that day. Lonnie and I, we really aren’t much help in space. Moonglow, on the other hand, she was born for it.”

Eva Davidson was not sucked out of the chambers. She flew out in a burst of radiating pastel light. Her pale robes trailed behind her. In the light of the setting sun, she was a stark contrast in the inky void. Rainbow arcs of energy struck around Michael as he drifts away from the station. This would be her final victory.

In an interview before her death, she described the fight. The video was shot in her Citadel retirement home years after the incident. She is tired and has trouble using her hands. Her eyes were wide and alert. She said, “Even after years behind a desk, your training never really leaves you. It was muscle memory. The moment Cup went through the floor, I leapt after him. It was all I could think about. That close to the moon, I felt ten-feet-tall.”

The camera refocused, there’s a voice off camera, and then her daughter, Melia “the Minotaur” Davidson gives her a glass of water. Eva took it with both hands.

“Where was I?” she asked. “Right, right, Cup Hands. So I dive right after him. He flew like . . .  physics were broken. I felt like I could have taken on Isadore the Invincible himself right then.” Here she sat up straighter. Eva swirled the water in her cup. She is distracted by a thought. Then she looks right into the camera, “That’s when they arrived.”

An arm in the dark of space clotheslined Moonglow. She spun out of control as ten cloaked Centauri Raptors appeared out of the black. They dressed in traditional Centauri warrior battle suits. Oversized eyes, gravity fins, breathing apparatuses, and sharp claws were outlined by the lights of terrestrial cities below.

Magic stopped the interview here for a moment. He a was large imposing man. He wore a dark button-down, domino mask, and a pointed wizard’s hat. No one seemed to recognize him. His cup had ‘Jon Doe’ written on the side in black marker. I couldn’t describe him before or after the time we sat down for the interview. I could remember his words. He said, “They came out of nowhere. Pan’s Lost Boys.”

“Michon’s Raptors,” Aqualion corrects.

“Oh? Right. I first met him when he still went by Pan. Anyway,” Magic continues, “I’ve never figured out if the Cupped Crusader knew they would be there. At least, not the way he resisted.”

Three of the Raptors tried to subdue Michael Chambers. He threw punches that disabled their suits. Each jab made their battle suits flash and spark. One raptor deflected a blow from Michael. It hit his emergency oxygen field. It fizzled out and he lost consciousness. One Centauri caught him square in the jaw. The other two collected him and shoved him inside a single person escape pod.

Bloggers have debated whether Michael Chambers knew they would arrive or not. Some believe the attack on trAIbunal was a highly sophisticated plan that required expert timing. This theory is supported by the fact the AI did not detect the Raptors’ approach. Possibly another application of Michael’s powers breaking the system. Others argue Cup Hands and Michon made the plan for him to escape but did not settle on the details. This was based on the fact that three different Raptors had to wrestle the fugitive into the pod. Some researchers, however, believe Michael thought that, with careful aiming, he could reasonably have struck the witch’s cottage. In his state, he might have considered the prophecy to be more loosely defined as suicide.

Michael Chambers has never divulged which theory was correct.

–page flip–

This was the beginning of his empire with the Centauri. While sitted on the terrace of his palace, he surveyed a blueprint for a proposed orphanage. The golden city of Midas suffered a high population of orphans at the time. Mr. Chambers had his assistant make a few notes and nodded to have it handed to an advisor. He studied me intently for a few moments.

“You must think I’m a monster.” He states.

“No, just complicated.” During this interview, Michael would try to lead me with questions. He would attempt to sabotage our talks.

Michael held up his cup hands. He reached out to a nearby plant. It shriveled and turned to ash. “I can’t build anything. I only destroy what I touch.”

I gestured to the city below, “I would say you’ve built a lot.”

Michael shook his head. “No. I’ve built nothing. This greatness was in humanity all along. I just broke away what held humanity back. We overthink our problems. Right and wrong are not subjective. It is cruel to allow injustice in society.”

“Some people,” I said, “would say that Michon is a criminal.”

“And some people call him a patriot.” He replied.

Above the garden, Centauri patrols littered the sky. Their uniforms shined in the light of the city. They effortlessly soared and dived.

Moonglow corrected her spin in an instant. She bobbed and weaved away from her Raptor assailant. From her hands, light rays scattered at the three Centauri putting Michael in the pod. They launch the ship and scrambled apart. Eva scorched the sky with crackling rainbow bolts. Two Raptors catch her from behind. They landed blow after blow on the older woman.

The largest of the Centauri in a bright green suit swooped at her. He stopped inches from her. His iris guards swirled open. Michon, leader of the Raptors, floated in front of her. His signature silver claw emblazoned on his chest. He delivered an uppercut that threw Moonglow backwards.

Michon gave commands to his subordinates. They caught Moonglow and held her between each other as the green Centauri punched her over and over again. Eva took hit after hit till she went limp in their arms. They released her to float in space.

Magic has to take a moment in the story here to wipe his eyes. He says, “We were so helpless. Aqualion and I, we just… couldn’t do anything.”

Lonnie reaches across the table and gives Magic a reassuring shoulder squeeze. He says, “We have other strengths. It’s okay.”

“We knew Eva’s powers were strengthened the closer she was to the moon but,” Magic continues. “We weren’t ready for what happened next.”

Aqualion laughs, “It’s probably good we didn’t try to help her.”

In the video interview of Eva, she chuckles when she reaches this point in the story. Moonglow makes fists and holds her frail arms up. She says, “It felt like a rocket-powered enema. The moment the sun fell behind the Earth, I thought I was on fire. Everything became fuzzy. It was like a plane taking off from inside my chest. Those poor fools never saw it coming.”

Moonglow became a small star. Pale rainbows irradiated off her in every direction.The skies on Earth lit up from Freetown to Salvador. She lobbed a column of power at the Centauri as they escaped. Two Raptors evaporated. A third was cleaved in half. Eva dipped her head and erupted into a flash of energy. She caught one of the Raptors by the arm. Making a whipping motion, she tore it free. Michon turned to look only to catch a bolt directly to his face.

The Raptors disappeared into the blackness of space. Eva, however, continued to hurl bolts of power at them until she exhausted herself.

In her autobiography,Waning: Goodnight Moon?,Eva Davidson wrote, “It was one of my greatest failures but also one of my brightest.”

Michael Chambers is short with me about the incident. “I really wouldn’t know about that. You could ask Michon.”

At that moment, a tall dapper Centauri with an eyepatch touches down on the terrace and whispers something to Michael. He responds, “Yes, of course. Please excuse us, but we matters of state to attend to.”

End of Chapter… fOr Now!

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