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Marauder

By kameron_nettleton All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Action

Blurb

Jonathan Jackson has never had it easy. Gifted with abilities he barely understands, he becomes the superhero Marauder in a quest to set things right. Between the criminal elements of Prime City, his girlfriend, and his homework, JJ has a lot on his plate, which only gets worse when a new villain comes to light: the Maniac. More deadly than anyone Jonathan has ever faced and armed with knowledge that could mean the end of Marauder, JJ must overcome his own doubt as he fights to protect his city, his friends, and what remains of his family.

Prologue

There isn't anything better than beating the crap out of a thug who mugs people. At least, if there is, I certainly don't know what it could be. I’ll take a fistfight with a mugger over just about anything else.

I know that isn’t really what you expect to hear from a normal person, much less someone my age. You see, I'm sort of an extra-special kid. You probably hear that a lot, but in my case, it’s quite true. The story isn’t short, and it won’t be easy to hear, but I’m going to tell you anyway. Growing up wasn’t easy – basically, all my family left me. My mom packed up and ran away from our little family when I was six, and my two older brothers took off four years later. That left me alone with my father, whom I don't much appreciate. Something about his job kept him in a perpetual angry mood, and I couldn’t tell you how many times he stayed out late and forgot all about the fact that he had a kid at home, waiting for dinner. Sure, the money he makes is pretty nice, but it doesn’t make up for his attitude and his neglect. For most of my early life I tried my hardest to stay out of his way, and now that I’m old enough to know what’s going on, I’ve started to hate him. He’s never abused me or anything like that, because that would require him actually realizing I exist. It isn’t the most traditional life, and I learned pretty early on that if I wanted anything, I would have to get it myself. You grow up fast in an environment like that. I’ve spent most of my life fending for myself. Little did I know that my experience as a child would help prepare me for what happened when I became a teenager. We’ll get to that soon, I promise.

When I was fourteen I began to notice changes. I’m not talking about the typical puberty changes that happen around that age, although all that happened to me, too. I changed drastically. Most guys get stronger during puberty, but I doubt they get as strong as I did. I didn’t get much taller or much thicker, but my muscles were somehow supercharged; I was something beyond human. At fifteen, I could lift a full size truck over my head, and I know that isn’t normal. This startling revelation horrified me at first. I was afraid of what might happen if anyone knew of my abilities, and I swore that I’d never tell anyone, especially my dad. From the minute I lifted that truck, I knew my life would never be the same. It didn’t end with the enhanced strength, though. When the rest of my powers began to manifest themselves, I realized that I had been given something incredible.

Have you ever heard of the forty-yard dash? Well, if you run it in 4.3 seconds, you’re considered to be very fast. That would be professional-football-fast. I can run it in 3.5 seconds, easily. Not quite a blur, but certainly beyond what a normal human can do. My leaping ability became even more extraordinary; my vertical range soared from a pretty average twenty inches to well over sixty inches. And that's completely flatfooted, mind you – with a running start I can leap over my two-story house. Granted, I could only ever try it in the dead of night, but it was still an incredible rush. If nothing else, it did drastically enhance my value as a pickup basketball player.

The best part is that it was only the beginning. As I grew, my powers grew. I only got stronger and faster. Now, at sixteen, I'm running the forty-yard dash in barely over three seconds and jumping almost seventy inches standing still. Those aren’t huge improvements, but it’s still pretty cool to realize that my body may not be finished yet.

So, like any superpowered teen would, I figured I could have some fun with it. I stole money from my dad’s wallet one night when he was passed out drunk and headed to a military surplus store. There I bought some black combat pants made of thick, durable fabric, as well as a pair of boots that was originally designed for light infantry soldiers. I took those home, spray-painted the shoes black, and designed a hoodie on a Japanese website that promised to ship within two days. My design skills are not likely to earn me any awards, but the flashy blue and yellow hooded jacket would serve nicely as a superhero’s outfit. I ordered several, deciding it was important to have spares in case anything happened. Two weeks later, I made the same decision with the pants and boots. The mask was more difficult, and I had several flawed designs before I was able to sew together a mask that covered most of my face, but left my mouth exposed for easier breathing. I attached some Velcro to the part of the mask that wrapped around the back of my head and put some more inside the hood, hoping that would keep the hood up in a scuffle. More than anything, I wanted to hide my face from anyone I came in contact with. This secret was mine, and protecting it mattered to me.

Bear in mind that I never went out looking to be a superhero. If anything, I was the exact opposite. I was angry, and I finally had an outlet for my anger. Angry at my father for neglecting me, angry at my mother for leaving our family, and angry at my brothers for abandoning me. Anger and anonymity created a dangerous combination for me. The cocktail of my anger and my abilities made me feel as if I was unstoppable.

One day, when I saw a couple of thugs jump a man and start pounding on him just to take the few bucks he had in his wallet, I decided that enough was enough. I snapped, and ended up snapping both of the thugs’ wrists in the process. The look on the face of the man I saved was so unlike anything I’d ever seen before that I knew I needed to do something other than feel bad for myself. That’s when I started to take myself more seriously, patrolling downtown and looking for trouble to stop. Sure, I also was looking to show off, but I convinced myself that I was doing more good than harm. I’ve gained quite a reputation. The papers have taken to calling me by the name Marauder, thinking that my spree of apparently good deeds is only a cover for my attempts to find things to steal. Despite their misreporting of my intentions, I do think the name sounds cool, so I’ve adopted it as my own. It sounds good, and the lowlifes of the city are beginning to take notice. It’s always a rush when I catch some thug in the act and get a chance to beat his brains in. One thing I can’t stand is people taking advantage of others for their own gain, and this town gives me a lot of chances to prove that. But I have no false beliefs about my place in this city. I’m just using the Marauder persona as an outlet to escape from my miserable life.

My real name is Jonathan Jackson, by the way, but don’t tell that to the punks I beat up, because at least a couple have threatened to kill me in my sleep if they ever found out my home address. I'm sixteen years old, and I go to Millard Fillmore High—go Bull Pups. Rah rah. It's a boring place to be, and I'd rather be thrashing thugs than learning math, but I have to keep up appearances; no one except me knows of my dual identity, and I have to keep it that way. I won’t be anyone’s circus freak.

That’s the basic story of Jonathan Jackson. Just your average superpowered teen who gets his thrills by beating up criminals in the alleys of Prime City. What could go wrong?

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