Title: Crushing It
Author: Jordanna Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Archive Rights: Please request the author’s consent.
Characters: Leo, Zapp, glimpses of other Libra agents.
Summary: Zapp tries out a new blood battle technique.
Disclaimer: They belong to Yasuhiro Nightow. I’m just playing with them.
Notes: Written for the prompt of “Rock” at Fan Flashworks—because why not combine two definitions of rock? Ironically, the less literal of the two is what came to me first. I feel that this piece may be a tad bit silly… but then, there’s not much that isn’t implausible in BBB.
Truth be told, Leonardo Watch was completely unsurprised that a horde of rock monsters had decided to create carnage in Times Square.
He was only surprised it hadn’t happened sooner. Really, rock monsters seemed like kind of an inevitability in Hellsalem’s Lot.
They looked just the way he would have expected them to, as well: they were walking piles of boulders, ten feet tall and roughly humanoid in shape, like something straight out of the campy old Irwin Allen sci-fi his sister had loved when they were kids. The lumpy-headed, pot-bellied behemoths didn’t have mouths, but they did at least have menacing little glows of red light where one might expect eyes to be. However, unlike the painfully obvious rubber-suited stunt guys of 1960s television, these things most definitely weighed a couple of tons—which weight they currently seemed to be having a jolly time throwing around, flattening cars and plowing through storefronts.
Oh, and also, they could shoot twelve-inch-long stone spikes from their bodies. Because of course they could.
As was not uncommon with incidents of this nature, exactly why these creatures had shown up and started rampaging was unclear; and in this case, answering that question seemed even more unlikely than usual, because the rock monsters didn’t talk. They did rumble—a low, ground-shaking noise that Leo imagined was pretty analogous to the sound of a massive landslide—but there didn’t seem to be any discernible pattern to it. For that matter, it was hard to tell if the brutes were acting with any intelligent purpose at all. The one thing they seemed to want was just to smash stuff. And since this was not only destructive but highly dangerous to bystanders, what with the flying rock spikes impaling every car and wall in sight… well, that was why Libra had stepped in to deal with the problem.
“Behind you, Zed!”
A stone’s throw away (pun intended), Zed O’Brien thankfully managed to hear Leo’s shout above the earthquake-like din of battle. He ducked and spun, swinging his triton. It caught the looming rock monster at what the Libra agents had discovered was just the right point to cleave the stone they were made of. The creature shattered, chunks of its torso and limbs denting the concrete as they tumbled to the street.
…However, this only illustrated the real dilemma the agents were facing.
The separate hunks of rock shuddered and moved. At what seemed to be natural fracture points, new limbs split off from every single piece of stone, and they collectively clambered to their feet: now a dozen smaller rock monsters that ranged from several inches to two feet tall, instead of a single big one.
In a cartoon, this might have resulted in something harmlessly cute and comical. Unfortunately, in actual practice, it wasn’t such a good thing. Most of the miniature rock monsters were still heavy enough to do serious damage. They could still shoot spikes… and perhaps not surprising after being smashed to pieces, they seemed madder than ever. If anything, they only became more intimidating as a swarm of smaller, more numerous creatures. Leo had already seen one try to choke Zapp Renfro by physically attempting to crawl down his throat.
Speaking of whom, a half-sized rock monster was now stalking up behind Zapp as he tried—unsuccessfully—to tear apart the full-sized one he had lassoed with his blood strands. When he heard Leo’s warning yell, he was barely able to release those tethers and scramble out of the way before a volley of stone shards the size of railroad spikes carved the air where he had just been standing.
“This is starting to get old,” Zapp muttered, as he sprang up onto the recently de-statued concrete pedestal that was Leo’s current vantage point. “Can’t you at least take over their eyes and confuse ’em for us?”
“I already tried. They don’t have eyes!” Leo retorted, without turning his gaze from the panorama of devastation before them. The lenses of his own supernatural eyes were activated, focusing on half a dozen separate points at once—each of which was the epicenter of a battle between a Libra agent and any number of rock monsters. Watching the backs of his comrades was some help, anyway, but he felt frustrated at his inability to do more.
The pedestal suddenly shook beneath them as Klaus Von Reinherz shoved a monster into it from the other side. Leo yelped and nearly lost his footing. He was saved from a tumble over the edge only by Zapp’s hand catching the collar of his jacket.
Meanwhile, the lumbering rock-heap Klaus had thrown broke into several pieces—all of which promptly launched a fresh counterattack.
“…Okay. I’m gonna try something.” Zapp took two steps farther back from the edge of the pedestal, shaking out his arms as if he was limbering up. “You may wanna get down as low as you can.”
Leo had seen enough of Zapp’s destructive capabilities to offer no argument. He dropped flat on his stomach, twisting his neck to look back over his shoulder. Among his bloodline-wielding compatriots, Zapp’s uses of his talents always did seem to be the most creative… and in spite of the situation, his curiosity was piqued.
Stretching out his arms in front of him, Zapp muttered the name of a battle technique that Leo had never heard him use before. Shining strands of blood twisted together, congealing and hardening into a shape that would presumably become a solid weapon.
For a second, the younger man was baffled. Zapp had already tried multiple different configurations of blood-blades, and while some managed to smash the rock monsters into bits, it was already well-proven how little help that was. Leo was briefly tempted to protest that doing more of the same was pointless… but then he saw the form Zapp’s newest bloodline weapon actually took.
It was a guitar.
To be more specific, it was a thoroughly wicked-looking, luminous-red electric guitar—in shape at least. Of course there were no cables leading to any power source or amplifier, but the thing clearly did have strings. Which Leo supposed did make some kind of weird sense, after all, since extruding his blood into various sorts of thin strands was one of Zapp’s specialties.
The question was simply what he thought he was going to do with it. If he was planning on testing out that old chestnut about music soothing savage beasts… well, Leo was fairly sure those monsters didn’t have ears, either. And even if they did, an unmistakably heavy-metal guitar was probably the least ideal instrument to calm a bunch of rioting rock piles.
Zapp struck an outrageously over-the-top rock-star pose, and Leo gaped, torn between bursting into laughter or yelling at him that this was no time for his personal fantasies.
…And then Zapp violently strummed the strings of his blood-guitar.
Courtesy of his inhuman vision, Leo was able to see the mighty sound waves that rippled from the instrument-cum-weapon—an instant before they hit him. In that space of a heartbeat when he realized what was coming, he instinctively tried to cover his ears and flatten himself down as far as he could. Unfortunately, in his singular case, his reflexes were not quicker than his eyes.
What blasted over him was more than just a deafening screech of sound. It was an infinite number of nails scraping a chalkboard the size of the sky. It was ten thousand steam calliopes simultaneously colliding in a freeway pileup. It was every jackhammer on the planet pounding directly into his eardrums.
In short, it was a physical blow that raked across his body, reverberating through his bones until it felt hot. He thought it was going to peel his skin off, like a burst of scalding steam.
What the sound wave did do was have a visible impact on everything around and below Zapp’s position. It knocked the other Libra agents off their feet. It caused light poles to sway and trash cans to slide, as if caught in a gust of hurricane wind. It cracked glass and concrete.
It also made every last one of the rock monsters freeze where they stood, their glowy red gazes turning to the source of this strange new force that assaulted them. Some of the remaining larger ones shuffled forward, making the beginnings of an advance toward Zapp and Leo’s perch… but they didn’t get far.
The sound rose even higher as Zapp tried a different chord—or so Leo assumed, because he wasn’t exactly sure it was a sound at all now. He could only register the sensation of it tearing around and through him, and his unique view of its effect on solid objects and the air itself. As for his ears… well, they seemed to have given up completely on what was happening at this point.
He really hoped that only had to do with the pitch moving beyond a humanly perceptible range. Rather than, you know, with his being struck completely and permanently deaf.
At any rate, whatever it was doing to everything else, it was clearly making the rock monsters suffer the most. Whether small or large, they were all increasingly vibrating, trapped in a quivering paralysis as the crystalline microstructure of their stone bodies resonated. It looked like such a horrifyingly helpless experience that Leo might almost have felt badly for them, had he not gathered from his previous observations that these creatures seemed to feel no pain.
And, too, if he hadn’t been a little more worried about having a heart attack himself from the shockwaves pounding through his chest.
Finally, just when Leo was convinced his body couldn’t take any more, Zapp found the right note to bring his devastating concert to a climax. The younger man’s all-seeing eyes saw the last, most intense sound wave flash like something igniting; and he physically felt a pop, as if some cosmic rubber band had snapped.
As in the old parodies of bad opera, every pane of glass lining Times Square simultaneously shattered into a million pieces… and with one last convulsive shudder, the rock monsters collectively exploded, leaving nothing but crater-shaped mounds of sand and dust.
Then the sound waves mercifully died away, putting an end to the cataclysmic reverberation.
In the shockingly absolute silence that followed, Leo could see the other Libra agents dazedly beginning to pick themselves up off the ground. However, he knew he only imagined the sound of a few random shards of glass tinkling onto the pavement. If the shattered and dusty ruins around them were a scene from a movie, that poetic counterpoint would have been just perfect, and maybe it was actually happening—but he wouldn’t know it if it was, because he most definitely couldn’t hear a thing.
On top of that, he felt as if every fiber of his being had been beaten to a pulp by the ravaging vibrations. It was like the aftermath of standing directly in front of the speakers at a death-metal festival, except multiplied by a thousand.
Slowly rolling onto his back, Leo glared up at Zapp. The bloodline wielder had unmade his improbable sonic weapon by then, but he still had the nerve to take on another dramatic pose of victory, mugging complacently to an imaginary audience.
Leo promptly used some uncharacteristic language to tell Zapp exactly what he thought of the performance.
He didn’t mind doing it, either—because after all, at the moment, he couldn’t even hear a word that came out of his own mouth.
© 2016 Jordanna Morgan