Dancers and Instructors at Harvey Zumbathon in Round Rock, TX

The Zumbathon for Harvey

I wrote this Pantoum-mime poem in honor of the many people inside and outside of Texas who have given any aid to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. by R. L. Copple - 9/4/2017 The call goes...

R. L. Copple's Blog

Power Hungry: A Virtual Chronicles Short Story

This short story is set to happen shortly after the events in Hero Game. This story does not appear in any of the books.


Bridget snapped her eyes open. She’d almost fallen asleep. She peered across their bedroom and examined her brother, Jeremy. The moonlight filtering through the blinds gave enough light to illuminate his face. Yes, he had fallen sleep, and yes, he didn’t have his mask on.

He’d declared tonight a night off from virtual superhero patrolling. Saving people seemed minor in comparison to saving two planets. Besides, Jeremy said we made only a small dint in the number of crimes around the globe. Earth would get along without them for one night.

Jeremy may have seen this as an opportunity to relax, but that made it a prime chance for her to do her own thing without worrying about Jeremy or Mickey looking over her shoulder. Being nine, they tended to treat her like a kid. She would show them.

She slid her mask from under her pillow and pulled it over her head. She glanced at Jeremy to make sure he hadn’t woken up, then pulled her covers over head, just in case he got up in the middle of the night.

“Suit, appear as Comet Girl,” she whispered. Darkness overtook her for a couple of seconds before the control room on Titan materialized. Banks of screens, five rows high and twenty across, flashed images of live TV news feeds from across Earth.

She skipped to the control panel extending along the width of the screens and seated herself. She wiggled her fingers over the buttons in anticipation. “First, I want to see what new superhero I can use.” She pushed a button and the screen in front of her lost its feed and a computer desktop appeared.

“Computer, display superhero list for Bridget Goodhue.”

A list scrolled up the screen and stopped. Bridget slid her finger down them as she read. “Buggy.” No, she’d tried that one before. Being a superhero gnat had limited advantages. “Duster.” Being able to turn into dust and reform was cool, but got old real quick. Throwing dust in people’s eyes was the worst she could do. How lame was that.

She scanned further down. Most of the options she’d seen before. They’re weren’t many choices. None of them had guns, rays, or such. Comet Girl came the closest to having any kind of real crime-fighting power.

She flopped back in her seat and crossed her arms. “No fair.” What she needed was access to the programing and add in some features, but she didn’t know anything about programing. Especially in Zorian.

She sat up. “Robert. He’s a help robot. Maybe he. . . ” She leaped from her seat and sped out of the room, down the stainless steel hallway, and into the bay. She picked an Eagle-class ship and entered. She stopped in the middle of the ship’s control room. “Help!”

A door slid open and Robert rolled out of his bay. Flashing lights dotted his metallic chest. Accordion arms extended claws into the air. The glass bulb atop him sparked with electricity as he talked. “Robert is here to help. State your question.”

“Can you access the programing of my superheroes?”

The flashing buttons sped up for a couple of seconds. “Affirmative.”

“Can you add a feature to one of my superheroes?”

“Negative. I’m not programmed to build virtual features.”

Bridget stomped her right foot. “How can I get more powers then? This sucks.”

Robert retracted his claws back into his body. “Transfer.”

Bridget met Robert’s globe. “Transfer? What do you mean?”

“Move established superheroes from one account to yours.”

“Move!” She smiled. “You mean, I can transfer Astro Man to my list?”

“Affirmative.”

She clapped. “Then do it. Move Jeremy’s superhero to my account.”

A claw extended and touched his bulb, ever so slightly tilted. Lights flashed. He pulled his claw back in and straightened up. “Files are moved to Bridget Goodhue’s account successfully.”

“That’s more like it.” She closed her eyes. “Suit, appear here as Astro Man.” Light dimmed to black and back again. Except now she stood taller. “Thank you, Robert. You can return to your bay.”

She gasped. Her voice. It sounded like Jeremy’s. She raced to the sleeping quarter and found a mirror in the bathroom. She swallowed. She looked exactly like her brother. “I’m a boy!” Her hand brushed against something on her side. “A boy with a raygun!” She slid it out and examined it. A sleek barrel widened to cover a stock. A cutaway section on the back held several buttons, with tiny code written under them.

How am I supposed to know what these do? Bridget holstered the gun. “Looks like I need a crash course on Astro Man’s gun.” She sped out of the ship, noticing how stronger her muscles pushed against the floor and longer her leaps. She returned to the control room and settled down into a chair to review Astro Man’s bio and weapons specs. Minutes ticked by as she attempted to memorize the button codes.

She pulled the gun out and stared at the buttons. “BL for blinding light. R for ray gun. G for gravity ray. Not hard.”

“Hey, Bucko! I see you couldn’t stay away either.”

Bridget jerked out of her chair. She spun around, her heart racing. “Mickey?”

Mickey, suited up as Blue Nova, frowned. “What’s the matter, Bucko? You’re as jumpy as Bridget? And what’s with the formality?”

Bridget sucked in a deep breath. Did she tell him the truth? She didn’t want to get caught. “Huh. . .you surprised me is all. Mick. I was. . .focused.”

Mickey glanced at the screen. “On Astro Man’s info? You know that superhero inside and out. He’s your favorite.”

Bridget shut the screen down before Mickey could notice it was under her account. “It had been a while since I looked at it. You never know if you’ve missed some little detail that. . . ,” How would Jeremy say it? “. . .you’ve overlooked before.”

Mickey slapped Jeremy on the back. “Always studying the instructions. I think you’re addicted to them.” He laughed.

Bridget feigned a half-smile.

A beeping penetrated the room. Bridget found the monitor whose light was flashing. “There.” The news cast covered a mine opening that had collapsed in India. A group of miners, trapped inside, struggled to live.

Mickey glanced at Bridget. “We’d better act. What’s the plan?”

“The. . .the. . .the plan? Uh, what do you think?”

Mickey focused on Bridget. “Bucko, you’re always barking out orders.”

Bridget shrugged. “I know. How rude of me. I think it’s time to not hog all the authority around here. Suggestions?”

Mickey shook his head. “Sometimes you surprise me, Bucko. My suggestion would be Astro Man uses his gravity ray to lift the rocks up. I’ll zoom in as Blue Nova and carry them out in less than a minute.”

Bridget smiled. “Good idea.” At least she’d identified the gravity ray. This sounded simple enough. “Let’s go.”

She entered the coordinates. “Suit, appear at coordinates as Astro Man.” The control room faded to be replaced by the bustle of emergency workers scurrying to remove rocks from the opening.

One man noticed them, pointed and began chattering in his native language. Some men clustered around a table looked up, then headed their direction.

Mickey glanced at Bridget, as if expecting her to do something. He faced the men. “Any of you speak English?”

Two men raised their hands. One of them stepped forward. “We know who you are. Are you here to help?”

Bridget nodded, realizing she needed to take charge like Jeremy would. “Yes. Have everyone stand back from the opening. We’ll take it from there.”

The man nodded and communicated her message to the others. Men barked orders and the workers around the opening cleared away.

Bridget grinned. Seeing everyone obey her as the authority sent a surge of energy through her. Have ray gun, will save the world!

She turned to see Mickey staring at her with a frown. “Anytime you’re ready, Astro Man. I’m sure those men don’t mind waiting a few more minutes while you bask in your glory.”

“Oh, yes. Of course.” She forced the grin off her face as she pulled the raygun out. She pushed the button labeled “G” and pointed it at the rocks.

Mickey zipped next to the rocks. “I’m in position.”

Bridget pulled the trigger. A blue ray erupted from the barrel and hit the pile of rocks. They quivered for a moment, then collapsed. More of the entrance crumbled down and onto Mickey. Mickey fell unconscious onto the ground as a pile of rocks pinned him onto the dirt.

Bridget gasped and let up on the trigger. Gravity ray meant more gravity. She’d not read how to reverse it. She ran over to where Mickey lay. What do I do now?

“I thought you know what you doing!” the Indian man shouted at her.

She raised her visor to wipe tears away. “I did too.”

“What you plan to do about this? Fix it or get out of the way.”

“Maybe I can help.”

Bridget knew that voice. Jeremy, dressed in blue jeans, sneakers, and a tee-shirt, stood before her. “Uh oh.”

“You better believe this is uh oh. Now, give me that gun.” Jeremy held out his hand. Bridget placed the gun in his palm. Jeremy hit a button on the gun and pointed it at Mickey. “First, we need to kill Blue Nova.”

The Indian man jumped in front of him. “Who are you? You can’t kill Blue Nova!”

Jeremy sighed. “I’m not really killing him. He’ll reappear in a few seconds if I shoot him.”

The Indian man focused on Bridget. “Is this true?”

Bridget nodded. “Yep.”

The man moved out of the way. “I hope you know what you doing.”

Jeremy pointed and pulled the trigger. Mickey’s body vanished in the flash of a red ray.

Bridget stood. “How did you know?”

“You never sleep with covers pulled over your head. Not to mention all my superheros are gone. That’s why I had to come here as myself.”

Bridget widened her eyes. “But I thought I only moved Astro Man over. Robert must have misunderstood me.”

Jeremy cracked a smile. “So that’s how you did it. Smart, Sis. Though I’ll have to have a talk with Robert about authorization protocols.”

Blue Nova appeared beside them. “Bucko and Bucko? What’s going on?”

Jeremy laughed. “You think that’s strange. I’ve been having a conversation with myself.” He punched a button and moved a slider bar at the top, then handed the gun back to Bridget. “I don’t need to attract attention to myself. You’ll have to do the honors.”

Bridget received the gun and stepped back.

“That’s good. Now aim and keep the trigger pulled until Blue Nova can get everyone out.”

Mickey backed away from the entrance. Bridget shot the gun. A green ray, wider in radius, engulfed the entrance. The rocks rose into the air. Bridget kept the ray aimed on the rocks.

Mickey disappeared, then reappeared every two to three seconds carrying a miner. Medical personnel scurried to attend to them. Once Mickey indicated everyone was out, and the entrance was clear, Jeremy told Bridget how to lower the rocks safely.

Once done, they hurried behind some trees and returned to the control room. Bridget hung her head in preparation for the rant.

Jeremy sat and crossed his arms. “Why, Sis?”

“I don’t know.” She huffed. Yes she did. “Just, everyone treats me like a kid.”

Mickey laughed. “You are a kid.”

She stuck her tongue out at him. “Am not!”

Mickey pointed at her. “Case closed.”

Bridget huffed. “I wanted a superhero with punch, like Astro Man. Do you know how much stronger you are than any of mine?”

Jeremy run a hand through his hair. “Sis, you’ll have superheroes with more punch eventually. But you may not be ready for them. Do you think you were ready to be Astro Man today?”

She bowed her head. “No.”

“You’ll be ready in time. Meanwhile, you’re an important part of our team.”

Mickey nodded. “You’ve saved my butt a few times.”

Bridget smiled. “I have to admit, Comet Girl is easier to control. I just think what I want the dust to do, and it does it. No buttons and dials to figure out.”

Jeremy rose from his seat. “Now that we’ve got that settled, I want my superheroes back. Time to pay Robert a little visit.”

Bridget smiled. “Suit, appear as Comet Girl.”


Read more about Mind Game and Hero Game, along with sample chapters and where they can be purchased.

About R. L. Copple
R. L. Copple enjoys a good cup of coffee and a fun story. These two realities and inspiration from the likes of Lester Del Ray, J. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, among others, caused him to write his own science fiction and fantasy stories to increase the fun in the world and to share his fresh perspective.
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  • Categories

  • Past Musings

  • Titles

  • Hero Game

    Second book in The Virtual Chronicles. A superhero space adventure!

  • Mind Game

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    First book in The Virtual Chronicles. Virtual reality has never been so real!

  • Reality’s Fire

    Third book in The Reality Chronicles. The exciting finale goes to Hell and back.

  • Reality’s Ascent

    Reality's Ascent Cover

    Second book in The Reality Chronicles. An adventure with consequences.

  • Reality’s Dawn

    First book in The Reality Chronicles. 15 adventures of Sisko to enjoy!

  • Ethereal Worlds Anthology

    25 short stories and flash fictions written over five years by R. L. Copple.

  • Strange Worlds of Lunacy

    Let's go there. It's a silly place. Two flash fictions in this anthology: "Shake, Rattle, and Roll," and "Baby Truth."