Her powers are growing fast, and so is her enemy list.
Trying to balance her civilian life with her superpowered alter-ego Karma has become almost impossible for Silke. Now her past life is catching up with her as well. She’s about to learn that having shiny new superpowers comes with a heavy price.
Faced with threats both known and unknown, her strike force recruits new allies to neutralize them. But when tragedy strikes, Silke finds herself in peril with super-terrorists The Sin Squad closing in. Can Silke find the courage to be the hero the world needs? Or has the weight of being a superheroine finally become too much?
Kobra blends the over-the-top punch of popular comic book stories, with the literary nuance of an urban fantasy novel.
Book 2 in Silke's Strike Force.
They say when you’re about to die that your life flashes before your eyes. Silke saw nothing but the car hurtling towards her at top speed. No cherished memories flashed across her eyes; no highlight reel of accomplishments played in her mind. She just froze like a deer in the headlights, waiting for the moment of impact.
Since taking on the mantle of masked hero Karma, she accepted the fact that an element of danger came with the job. At first, when the vehicle fishtailed around the corner, she assumed The Sin Squad put a hit out on her. They’d been known to use auto accidents to cover for crimes involving their enhanced abilities before.
But she’d been so focused on super-villains like The Sin Squad coming after her she forgot all about the usual dangers lurking on the streets of Los Angeles. For instance, the driver barreling towards her was drunk.
Such a strange moment, knowing you’re about to die. What happened next proved even stranger. Silke braced herself for the feeling of unforgiving steel slamming into her flesh, but the impact didn’t come. Instead, her entire body lifted from the corner of Commerce Avenue and hovered there. The Honda fishtailed right underneath her and blew out both front tires as it caught the curb.
Silke hung in the air with her feet dangling beneath her, trying to find the ground. It reminded her of the time they had suspended her over the stage at Candy Girl Cosmetics' big unveiling of their Angel perfume line.
The stunt had seen her, and the rest of the models on the campaign, dressed as angels and lowered from a catwalk high above the stage. Ironically, each scent represented one of the Seven Heavenly Virtues. The publicity stunt had gone over like gangbusters. With safety tested harnesses, and test runs throughout the day, Silke felt perfectly at ease suspended in the air. That she was only in Melrose because of her ties with Candy Girl wasn’t lost on Silke.
With all the injustice she’d been exposed to learning about her father’s secret work with the government, Silke often wondered if it was a selfish move to continue her civilian career. She worked hard to get to that level of success, and she couldn’t bring herself to give it up just yet. But dreams of starring in her first big movie role shifted to the back of her mind while dangling over the city sidewalk with a smashed-up car smoking behind her.
Silke panicked. She tried to will herself to land, kicked her feet, and even flapped her arms like wings to get down to ground level. Nothing worked.
If anyone spotted her floating on air in the middle of Melrose, there would be too many questions to answer. Her cover would be blown and Joe would be really mad at her. He’d warned Silke repeatedly to keep her powers to herself. If anyone were to find out she was a Supe, they’d string her up like in the old witch trials. Because of her famous face, it would elevate things to cataclysmic proportions. Then none of the Enhanced they sought would ever be safe to lead normal lives.
Silke couldn’t allow that. She’d made a vow to herself to honor her father’s last wishes and help the powered people reintegrate into society. First, she needed to stop floating. A loud popping sound from the Honda’s engine startled Silke, and it was enough to break whatever surge of power caused her to rise in the first place.
She tumbled down to the ground, cracking the heel on her best pair of Christian Louboutin pumps. Heart still racing, Silke ran from the scene with an awkward gait. She made it across the street and then a nagging in her gut caused her to stop.
Looking back over her shoulder, she saw the Honda with plumes of smoke rising from the engine. The driver of the vehicle was nowhere in sight.
He’s still in the car, you know he is, her thoughts told her.
Silke looked around the streets, hoping to see someone who could help. She’d been spared exposure of her secret powers because of the early morning hour. That same blessing now became something of a curse. The streets remained empty without a soul in sight to help her.
You’re the only one who can help, her subconscious told her again. Have the courage to be a hero.
Silke kicked off her ruined Loubi’s and hurried back over to the busted-up Honda to find small flames licking out from under the hood. The driver collapsed over into the passenger seat and wasn’t moving.
Silke tried for the door but found it locked. Smoke started filling up the cabin of the vehicle, and she knew she needed to act fast. If the fire built too large, the car would explode leaving little bits of her and the driver all over Melrose.
She’d researched plenty of Enhanced with the ability to absorb extreme impact like an explosion. Sloth from The Sin Squad made quite an impressive foe to fight with that ability. But Silke had learned her powers were relegated to energy charges drawn from deep inside her and expelled from her hands. It was time to call upon that power.
She took two deep breaths, trying to center herself enough to tap into her energy stores. Instead, she swallowed a gulp of smoke, which started a coughing fit.
The flames on the car grew taller and Silke grew more nervous. She extended her arms towards the car door and tried to remember everything Joe showed her during training. As she thought of Joe sparks lit up across her fingertips. She felt the warmth spread through her chest and up over her shoulders. It continued to spread down, tingling across the skin of her biceps and forearms until it ended in a shotgun burst of light from the palms of her hands.
I’m controlling it! She thought.
Silke’s newfound pride at her accomplishment didn’t last long. Keeping her head on a swivel to watch for prying eyes, she found some staring back at her from an overturned trash bin. The face they belonged to sat twisted in a macabre, silent scream. Mouth agape, teeth and tongue missing, skin of ashen gray, and no body to be seen.
At first glance, the head could be mistaken for a realistic prop. They were near Hollywood, after all. But Silke realized the disturbing truth, and it canceled out the energy blast from her hands as though snuffing out a candle on a birthday cake.
Things were slipping out of her control. She saw a commotion in the distance and knew that the thick cloud of smoke was bringing attention. Detached head or not, she needed to get the driver out of the Honda and she needed to do it fast.
Silke shook out her hands and braced her feet in a wide stance as if she were a gunslinger in an old western. Her thoughts drew inward, and she held her concentration on the pressure building up deep inside the fibers of her being.
She sparked and sputtered out. With all the surrounding variables, the focus would not come easily. If she didn’t get it figured out in time, she’d become a permanent roman candle along with the driver as the car blew them both to bits.
Silke flexed her hands and tried again. This time she let herself sink deeper into the recesses of her spirit. A lot of memories rested in pockets she kept hidden from the rest of the world, but she needed to open those doors now to draw out her powers. She saw her father, her mother, and her sister Honey. The thoughts of Honey lingered more than the others and she saw her sister encouraging her.
“You’ve got this,” Honey was saying, though nothing audible came from her mouth.
Instead of words, energy traveled from Honey’s voice patterns and through Silke, culminating in the palms of her hands. The concentration of energy blasted the driver's side door from the car frame, giving Silke the opening she needed to pull the unconscious man from the vehicle. He weighed much more than she anticipated, causing her to use all the strength she had left to drag him away from the Honda as it became engulfed in more flames.
As soon as she made it across the street, the car blew knocking her backward onto the sidewalk with the driver landing in her lap. The severed head blew sky high along with several trash cans and the entire hood of the car.
The driver jolted awake as they fell on the pavement. He looked up at her with fresh blood and confusion spread over his face.
“Aren’t you Silke Butters?” he murmured.
“Nope, you’ve got me mistaken with someone else,” she told him, trying to turn her face from his view.
The noise from the explosion brought onlookers out of their homes and businesses. Soon the streets filled with people identifying international supermodel Silke Butters as a modern-day savior. The attention was great for her career as a model, but her vigilante superhero gig demanded discretion.
As a crowd gathered around to applaud her heroic efforts, and take pictures on their phones, Silke could almost feel Joe lecturing her from miles away. Exposure brought danger. She gave a small wave to the flashing cell phones and shifted the driver out of her lap.
“Thank you,” he told her.
The smell of the alcohol on his breath caused her to grimace. If her superpowers hadn’t taken control of her body, his selfish actions would’ve caused her severe injury or worse.
“Get some help,” she told him. “Before you kill someone.”
As Silke stood a basketball-sized chunk of humanity splattered down in front of her causing small bits of charred flesh to spit up onto her dress. The severed head stared back at her with a wink as one eye fell to the fire. Looking down at the mess, Silke felt a strange connection that told her she needed to find out the identity of this poor lost soul. Then she threw up.
Silke’s Strike Force Book 2
Copyright © 2020 Cynthia Vespia