The Annoying Ravens

Niranjan Deshpande
The Annoying Ravens Niranjan likes to write, read, and play video games. He enjoys playing with his cousins who are four and two years old.

“Gathering all his strength, James shot a white-hot bolt of energy at the cannonball and it exploded, instantly killing the artillery crew. Then, he fainted.”

James was getting tired of the exploding raven. The first time it had appeared, he had been in the shower. Then… boom.

The raven had appeared in an explosion of feathers. Nearly losing his balance, James stumbled backwards, hitting his head on the wall of the shower. Then, he grabbed the shower head, cocking it back like a baseball bat, and aimed at what looked like was the center of the explosion. To his surprise, a rather fat raven emerged. The shower head was already on its way. Then, the shower head suddenly stopped, jarring his arm. “Now, now,” the raven scolded. “It would be an awful shame if I had to kill you.” James was so surprised that he dropped the shower club. Then he punched the raven, and the world turned upside-down.

“Will he be okay?” he heard his mom ask in a worried tone.

“We don’t know,” he heard someone say. James thought of leaping up and saying “Ta-Da!” or pretending to be dying and then asking for infinite video game time. Then he realized that in the state his parents were in, they might take it rather emotionally. So instead, he just opened his eyelids. Then he fainted.

When he came to, he was scared to open his eyes. When he did, it was the same as before. His vision was different. At least he still had color, but his vision was like being inside Ironman’s suit. In other words, his vision was sharper, and had more detail. He was back at home. He didn’t know why, but he guessed the doctors thought he was better. Then he saw the raven in the backyard. His rage began to build up, except this time it felt like he was channeling something unearthly and powerful. He stepped out of the house and his vision focused on the raven. No, not the raven. Then he realized that his new ultra-vision 2000 was warning him. A orange glow was building in the beast’s maw. Then a beam of highly concentrated fire erupted from its mouth. Wow, James thought, Nice weapon. Then he concentrated extra hard on the beam of fire, pointed his finger at it, and lightning began pouring from his finger towards the beam of fire.

The lightning hit the beam of fire, splitting it in half. Fire kept on pouring from the raven’s mouth and lightning kept on coming from James’ finger. The lightning and fire were at a standstill in the middle.Then, James leaped up, and to his surprise kept on going. I got a really cool makeover, James thought and dived at the raven. The raven pointed its mouth at James again, and fired. Then James dived to the left and incinerated the raven with his lightning. Then, he saw a police officer point his gun at him.

“Hands up!”

James couldn’t control his rage. He just had a gut feeling that this man had helped tell the raven to attack him. He whirled around, dropped like a stone, and incinerated the policeman. Then he banked left and flew of into the sunset.

Congratulation, James, James thought, You’re now an official enemy of the USA! The US had declared war on him, calling him a mutant, a murderer and a terrorist. James thought this was an exaggeration. After all, he had only blown up three factories that were producing anti-mutant weaponry.

Then, James heard a slight sound, maybe a pebble dislodged, or someone breathing. He threw himself on the ground just as a jagged lightning bolt passed over him. It did not let up. Using his elbows and forearms, James dragged himself behind a rock. Peeking around the corner, he saw a boy around his age staring at the rock. He’s too focused on it, James realized.

Slowly, making sure that he couldn’t see the other boy, James crawled backwards to a distant circle of shrubs, then started circling back towards the other boy, being careful to stay out of his sight. Then, when he was behind him, James jumped on him.

James fell on empty air.

Whirling around in a crouch, James whirled around and took a bolt on the leg. James backflipped over a boulder. Then, in the few seconds that he had, he concentrated. To his surprise, the charred skin started to grow back, leaving him drained. James tried lightning, but it didn’t work. Flying didn’t work either. I’m too drained to use my powers, James realized. Then he had an idea. If the boy was like him, his senses must be as sharp. James threw a rock at a trunk. The boy looked back over his shoulder just one fleeting glance and James tackled him. They hit the ground rolling. Eventually, James had the boy in a chokehold, fist raised. “Who are you?” James yelled.

“My name is John,” the boy replied

“Why did you try to kill me?” James asked.

“Why would I not?”

“What do you mean, ‘Why would I not?’”

“Because the world hates us mutants. They fear us for our power.”

“But how does that justify you wanting to kill me?”

“I tried to kill you because I thought you were someone who wanted to kill me,”

James was so surprised that he dropped his fist. He removed his chokehold and extended his hand to the strange boy.

“It’s a hard and cruel world out there for us mutants. But together we can go further than we can alone.”

The boy took his hand and stood up. Then, an artillery shell exploded in front of them. James and John looked at each other and instantly knew what they had to do.

They flew low over the ground, (James didn’t know how he got his powers back) trying to stay under the sight of the people who were trying to kill him. As they got closer, they saw a large artillery cannon. It was aiming at John. “NOOO!!!” James screamed. Concentrating with all his strength, he put on an extra burst of speed and fired lightning. The artillery shell was already on it’s way. It had barely left the cannon. Gathering all his strength, James shot a white-hot bolt of energy at the cannonball and it exploded, instantly killing the artillery crew. Then, he fainted.

When he came to, James’ whole body tingled with power. “I want to go out and kill those people who took our lives away from us,” he growled.

John nodded sympathetically. “I have those moments too,” John admitted.

“I’m sorry, John.”

“Sorry about what? You saved my life!”

“No, I know that. But sorry for troubling you with my troubles,” James said.

“Your troubles are my troubles, James.”

“What do you mean? We’re different people!”

“Yes, but as far as we know, we’re the only mutants with these powers.”

James nodded. “You’re right. But we still need to find out what those ravens are, who they’re working with, and what we can do to stop them.”

The next day, John and James set out to explore the world and discover more about their powers, how to to focus them, and who gave them to them. The first thing that they saw was a long row of sensor triggered AA guns pointing at them. They were guarded by hundreds of soldiers. As they flew closer, the nearest AA gun pointed its long barrel towards them and fired with a high, whining sound. John and James dropped like stones until they were about halfway to the ground. They had evaded one shot, but unfortunately, 67 more barrels were pointing their way.

”Fall back!” John yelled. They whirled around and flew away at top speed. When they were far enough, they settled on a grassy knoll.

“We need a plan of attack,” James said.

“Maybe we could use a diversion?” John asked.

“Maybe, but I have a feeling those are seasoned warriors down there. They know there are two of us from a few hours ago, and if only one of us appears, they’ll keep a watch,”

“Maybe we could attack in force?” John suggested.

“No, no, no, and no,” James answered. “We can’t possibly take down a few hundred heavily armed warriors. We can’t even go above because of the AA guns,”

“Can’t we go over?” John questioned.

“Now there’s an idea,” James said.

It was D-day. James and John were ready, fully rested, and alert. They climbed as high as they could while still breathing. Then, they arrowed forward.

The plan went wrong almost immediately. As soon as they broke the cloud cover, they saw planes and helicopter gunships patrolling the airspace in front of them. Almost immediately, they all started firing.

“FALL BACK!!!” James yelled.

The next morning, on the knoll, James and John conferred.

“So. Guess we can’t go through or over,” John said.

“And I saw planes circling all around us,” James said.

“So that means we’re surrounded,” John let that hang.

“Wait… I might have an idea…”

The next day, James walked as close as he dared to the AA guns, wound up and hurled a rock really hard through the AA guns. As he expected, the AA guns’ barrels couldn’t turn fast enough.

James turned around and was about to run when he started hearing the soldiers talking.

“What was that??!!”

“I dunno. But did you see where that object came from?”

Then, a thin young man walked up probably a sentry.

“Yes, I did. It came from the east — the direction of the mutants,” the sentry said.

“Probably testing the rotation speed of the barrels,” someone grunted.

“Yeah. Worrisome.”

“Why?” a soldier asked.

“Kid, if a rock can fly fast enough straight through, so can they,” said someone with a gruff voice — probably an old-timer.

“Yeah. I’ll ask someone to start putting up a electric fence all around the perimeter.”

Hearing this, James flew back as fast as he could and explained the plan to John.

Then, John said “Good idea. Any deadline?”

“Yeah,” James said.

“When?”

“Tonight,” James answered.

“Tonight?” John yelped. “Why?”

“They guessed our plan when I threw the rock.”

James and John flew as close as they could without being spotted. Then, they zipped across the landscape. But as they got closer, they saw that the electric fence was already up. There was no going back now.

“SHOOT!!!” John screamed. James grasped the meaning instantly. Meanwhile, the AA guns were moving faster than they expected. There was an AA gun directly in front of them. They could see the inside of the barrel, the shell coming out… At once, lightning burst from their fingers, incinerating the shell and the AA gun. They kept the lightning up. Suddenly, James and John stopped, a shell passing and inch in front of them. Now there was nothing between them and freedom- except for one huge electric fence.

“Overload it!!” James screamed. They poured all their anger, desperation, and fear into these lightning bolts. The many streams of lightning hit the electric fence, which absorbed it. Sparks started to dance across the surface of the electric fence. James and John were getting closer now. 50 feet… 25 feet… 12 ½ feet… 6 ¼ … 3 ⅛ … the sparks on the fence abruptly stopped and John and James smashed through the fence and continued on. After they flew for around 50 miles, they set down.

“I can’t believe we made it!” John said

“Yeah, the overloading did it.”

“But now we should be on the move, or else we might get surrounded again.”

“Yeah. Wait — what’s that?” James was looking at a newspaper that was blowing through the wind. He snatched it out of the air and glanced at the headline.

Mutants discovered, president announces new factory in Ontario dedicated to the research of anti-mutant weaponry and armour will open on Friday, August 12, 2094. (5:00 p.m.)

“It’s Monday the 8th now,” John said. “We have four days to shut down that factory.”

“And we’re in Oklahoma right now.”

“Yeah, but we have to do it in a time when the factory is empty,” James said. “We shouldn’t use our powers to kill innocent people.”

“Innocent!!??” John asked incredulously. “They’re trying to kill us!”

“But you never know. This might the only job available for some people!”

“Fine,” John said in a tight and closed voice. “But only if it doesn’t delay our mission.

Tuesday,  August 9, 2094

(5:00)

(Oklahoma)

James and John woke up, bathed in a nearby stream, and started channeling their powers. First, they did target practice. James set up a target around 50 meters away, then 75, then 100, etc.

Then, John did the same thing, except around 50 meters away from the original range. John went first. He looked at the 50 meter target, pointed his finger, and fired. The single bolt slammed into the wood target, knocking it over. James jogged over and looked at the remains of the target, which were a few charred, smoking pieces of wood. James whistled and said “Sweet.” Then, he moved out of the way. John incinerated the 75 and 100 meter targets, but narrowly missed to 125 meter. John filed that away. Then, James went. His score was the same as John’s.

They were going to test their healing powers, but John said, “Maybe we should do this in the evening, so it will be easier for us to sleep.”

“Good idea,” James said. Then, they started flying.

The landscape was beautiful. They passed over neat rows of farms and crisp little villages, (They tried to go high over the civilized land, so they wouldn’t be spotted) and went around bustling cities.

Finally, John said, “That looks like a good spot. Let’s set down.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2094

(22:41)

(Missouri)

“We’re on the border of Missouri right now,” James said. “We’re making good time.”

James and John were lying down in the soft heather and pine needles, when James heard something. He was instantly alert. “What’s that?” he asked.

“What’s what?” John asked sleepily.

“I heard some leaves being crushed!”

“Probably an animal.”

“Okay.”

They went back to trying to sleep, but James just couldn’t. Then, he saw four dark, shadowy forms crouching over John.

“JOHN!!!” James yelled. John rolled to the side as a sharp object pierced the ground where he had just been. James sprung up. John did the same. Then, they started shooting the lightning. Within a few seconds, it was over. Four men in camouflage fatigues carrying daggers were on the ground bleeding from charred holes in their stomachs. John was panting, a wild animal-like gleam in his eyes.

“Are you okay, John?” James asked uncertainly.

“Yes! I’m feeling better than I ever have!”

“Umm, okay?” James said. “Well I guess we should search their bodies.”

It turned out that their assaulters were F.B.I. agents sent by the president of the USA to assassinate them. They were part of a company of 900, camped in the nearby woods.

“We’ve gotta move,” John said.

Wednesday, August 10, 2094

(7:27)

(Missouri)

John and James were getting better at target practice,  and destroyed the 125 meter target. Then, they started their new practice session: discovering new powers. That morning, combining their minds, they discovered something powerful, more powerful than the lightning, inside them. They couldn’t use or identify it yet, though. James was still worried about John though. The way he had looked last night had scared the wits out of James. It looked like maybe John liked the killing!

Just then, a tranquilizer dart whizzed past James; it was only his fast reflexes that saved him. Without a word, James and John took of into the unknown…

Wednesday, August 10, 2094

(21: 53)

(Illinois)

When James announced that they were in Illinois, John said in a closed and emotionless voice, “Let’s spend as little time in here as possible.”

When James asked why, John wouldn’t say. Then James started pestering. Eventually, John threw his hands in the air and screamed “Fine, Fine! I’ll tell you. I live in Illinois!”

“Ah,” James said in his wise voice. “That must hurt.”

“Oh you have no idea,” John said.

“I live in Arizona,” James said. “That’s where I first met the raven.”

“The raven?” John asked.

“Yeah,” James said. “That’s how I first discovered my powers.” When John gave him a curious glance, James elaborated.

“The raven first appeared in a explosion of feathers. Nearly losing my balance, I stumbled backward, hitting my head on the wall of the shower. Then, I grabbed the shower head, cocking it back like a baseball bat, and aimed at what looked like the center of the explosion. To my surprise, a rather fat raven emerged. The shower head was already on it’s way. Then, the shower head suddenly stopped, jarring my arm. ‘Now, now,’ the raven scolded. ‘It would be an awful shame if I had to kill you.’ I was so surprised I dropped the shower club. Then I punched the raven and the world turned upside-down.”

“Creepy,” John said.

“Yeah,” mused James. “But it’s curious how it could talk and stop the showerhead.”

“Yeah. Must be some kind of sorcery”

“Yeah. Anyway, we should catch up on our sleep. Be awake at 5:00 sharp with your gear.”

Thursday, August 11, 2094

(5:00)

(Illinois)

The next morning, the J team suited up, and did their daily target practice. They both still got 125 meters, but John singed the side of the 150 meter target. Then, they took off. At first, their flight was beautiful and peaceful. Then, they heard a soft swish and a whole carpet of surface-to-air tracking missiles rose to greet them. Using his huge brain, John solved a complex math equation in his head that mathematicians and soldiers had been puzzling over for centuries. (John+James)+Missiles=No More (John+James). Using inductive reasoning, James realized that John and him were the people in John’s equation. The missiles clumped together and became the bane of (J+J!!!).

James yelled “Follow me!” and dived towards lake Michigan. John understood James’ plan and followed him. With the missiles hot on their tails, they zoomed towards the lake. They splashed into the lake and the missiles exploded on the surface, instantly covering their backs in blisters. Being careful to stay low on the lake, the J bros zipped across the water towards Ontario, the factory, and their future.

As they zipped across the water, leaving a column of steam in their wake, clouds of steam gathered in front of them. Frowning, John dispelled the steam with a lightning bolt and the Imperial Michigan State Ani-Mutant Naval Force was revealed in all its might and glory. In front of them and blocking their way, were 2 aircraft carriers, 8 cruisers, 15 destroyers, and 4 submarines (don’t ask me how all this fit in lake Michigan). Over a loudspeaker a voice boomed,

Mutants! Surrender yourselves and we shall do you no harm. Fight, and we shall destroy you! Run, and we shall chase you down to the very end of the earth! Escape to land, and we shall call in the military! The US has declared war on you two, and they weren’t bluffing when they did it!”

At once, countless guns and missiles turned their way. “Oh shoot,” muttered James under his breath. Then, he and John backflipped and shot away, randomly shooting lightning bolts over their shoulders to cause confusion. Behind them, were a cloud of missiles and torpedoes chasing them like a nest of angry hornets. They burst out of the water, past the SAMs and continued on. The torpedoes tried to follow them, but they exploded on the shore.

“Phew,” James said. “That was close.”

“Yeah. Too close,” John said.

They continued on until they were on the Canadian border.

Friday, August 12,

(6:30)

(Ontario)

It was D-day.

John and James woke up and destroyed the 150 meter target. Then, they headed towards the factory. They were above and behind the fenced off factory. Long rows of people waited outside the factory. It was 15:00. The factory’s inauguration was supposed to be at 17:00. The factory was enormous. There were hundreds of armed guards milling around the factory. The factory’s front side was enormous, with four guard turrets. The back was less tall, but there were two extra towers on the front that could guard the back. There was a trapdoor on the front of the building. The front wall was made of glass, but James guessed that it was bulletproof. The back was made of reinforced, bullet proof steel. On the front roof, James saw a machine gunner and a few snipers. There was an enormous lightning rod. There were holes on the side, with guns pointing out. “There’s a lot of security,” James said. “We need a plan of attack,”

“Yeah,” John said.

“I suggest we take the back then take the front from the back.”

“Okay,” John said.

It was 16:15. James was sweating. The guards were looking bored, and not alert. Circling around, James and John were in position at 16:30. They were behind the towers. James held up a shaking 3 to John. 2…  1…  ZAP!!! 2 guards collapsed, stone dead. Quickly, J and J crept behind the ledge.

“We’ll take it by force,” James whispered.

With a fearsome shout, J and J rose over the ledge, lightning blazing from their fingertips. One tower collapsed. The machine gunner collapsed, never to rise again. Another guard tower bit the dust. One of the guard tower’s supports collapsed, knocking over both towers. Then, John collapsed dead. Screaming in rage, James killed the sniper then knelt over John. “NOOO!” screamed James. John eyes flickered open, then they closed forever.

James infiltrated the interior of the factory, but he felt a strange emptiness next to him. He encountered a few guards, but they didn’t live long. He got to the center of the facility and destroyed the core. Then, he escaped, his conscience plagued by the possibility that he could have saved John.

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