Okay, so I may have been exaggerating when I told Elizabeth Stokes that the world was better off without Weston. I’m no fool — I know he plays a big part in every aspect of human/Post-Human relations.
That being said, he’s still a really bad guy, and he’d have to be removed from the outside world sooner or later. Weston is a criminal, and he belongs in prison — and yes, I understand how hypocritical that may sound coming from the guy who hijacked a military convoy yesterday.
Truth is, my bigger concern is not him being gone — it’s that someone made him gone. Weston’s got contingency plans for his contingency plans, and he’s got an army of Post-Humans at his beck and call. So anyone who got to him is someone who needs to be feared.
However, that doesn’t change my position that I’m not the right person to go snooping around for him. Yes, it would be different if it were Charles or one of my old teammates with Varsity Squad who’d gone missing. Those are people that I’d be willing to put my life on the line for, even if they hate me these days.
But I’m sure as hell not strolling into every lion’s den I can find to figure out where the world’s most nefarious string-puller has vanished to.
Elizabeth’s worried about everything falling apart, but Rome didn’t collapse in a day. I’d say it’s a safe bet that things will get sorted out before panic engulfs the streets.
I’m about to hop on the subway and head home to make up for last night’s lost sleep when I hear it: crunching metal and shattering glass from about a block away.
I’m figuring that it may just be a car accident when I see a giant ogre made of water towering over the top of the café on the corner. There are a few people who can control water like that, and none of them are on the side of the angels.
I remind myself that I’m retired just before I hear the screams. This isn’t just a heist — people are getting hurt, and I know I can’t just walk away.
My full costume would be extremely cumbersome to wear under my civvies, but I do always keep my mask with me. It’s tucked into one pocket or another; today I pull it out of my inside jacket pocket.
Back when I was LightBlast, I’d do this in case I need to spring into action at a moment’s notice. As DarkLight, I did it in case I needed to make a quick escape. Now as neither, I guess I’m regressing a bit to the former. I pull the mask on, light up and fly up over the café to get a better look.
It’s worse than I thought. The hydromancer is one of the Elemental Executioners. They’re a foursome, each one with control over a different element: water, wind, fire and earth. They can always be found working together, usually under Weston’s orders, but that’s not what I find.
Water Executioner is using his ogre construct to attack Earth Executioner, who uses his power to catapult a car at Wind Executioner, which was the crash I heard. Fire Executioner seems to be trying to play peacekeeper, but to little avail.
“Stop this!” Fire-Ex calls out to all of them. “You’re acting like maniacs!”
“What’d you call me?” Wind-Ex (not to be confused with the cleaning product) growls back.
“Since when did either of you become the boss?” Earth-Ex jumps in. “Neither of you are the boss! The boss is gone.”
“And you’re next!” Water-Ex yells as his ogre drives its fist down onto Earth-Ex.
There are two big problems I see here. The first is that these four guys are generally thick as thieves. Actually being thieves, this makes them very good at their jobs. The other, bigger problem is that this street is teeming with people who are now screaming and trying to escape with their lives.
I’m planning my first move, and it needs to be a good one since I’ve only ever taken on these guys when I’ve had back-up of my own. But, like I’m sure someone has said before, planning is what you do while innocent people suffer. And that’s what I’m faced with here.
In a matter of moments, Fire-Ex sends a flame tornado at Water-Ex, only to have it intercepted by Wind-Ex redirecting the fire at Earth-Ex. Earth-Ex uses his power to pull up an eight-foot length of sidewalk, which deflects the flame tornado. But as the cyclone disperses, the redirected flames set the nearest building on fire.
I can see the whites of the eyes of the people in the building, and I know that my first priority is their safety. I form an energy sphere around the flaming wall and squeeze it down until the oxygen is gone and the fire is extinguished.
By the time I try to make my move on the Executioners, the length of sidewalk that Earth-Ex pulled up has been thrown at Wind-Ex. Wind-Ex managed to slow the launched cement at him enough to get out of the way… only to be clobbered from behind by Water-Ex’s ogre.
I’ve now completely lost track of who’s fighting whom, and it just looks like it’s become a four-way death match. The length of sidewalk is about to crush a pair of young girls before I use extensions of my energy field as arms and pull them to safety.
I can’t just sit here trying to do damage control because I know that sooner or later, it won’t be enough. I need to draw the fight to me and try to get it away from the people on the street.
With two open palms, I fire four energy blasts, one for each Executioner. It’s a cheap shot, albeit a satisfying one, that knocks them all on their asses. Water-Ex’s ogre collapses, drenching them all. They look up at me with fury in their eyes.
“Alright, boys,” I say, pumping up my force field. “That’s enough rough-housing. Time to go sit in the corner for a few.”
“Son of a bitch!” Earth-Ex snarls at me. “You did it, didn’t you?”
“I don’t see any other energy-slingin’ superguy here, do you?” I retort.
“You took him!” Water-Ex follows, ignoring my jab. “I knew we couldn’t trust you!”
“Took who?” I ask just as the ledge of the roof behind me slams into my back.
The force field took most of it, but I still find myself landing face-down on the street. Stupid. I didn’t mind my surroundings, and now this fight’s gonna go down right here. I look up long enough to notice most of the people have fled the scene, so at least I bought them some time.
The water spraying from the nearest fire hydrant now looms over me in the shape of a giant snake. I send an energy blast through its face and manage to hit Wind-Ex, who was hovering in the air behind it. He couldn’t see me through the water construct, and I’m glad I haven’t forgotten all the training Charles gave me.
It’s a pyric victory, though, as a giant fireball hits me. Again, my shields keep me from becoming a charcoaled steak, but I still feel much of the heat on my face.
I launch myself into the air again, just in time to avoid being crushed by a truck that Earth-Ex and Water-Ex send at me. As soon as the truck hits the ground, I send crisscrossing energy balls at the Executioners.
Water-Ex takes it on the chest, and he’s thrown through a nearby store window. But Earth-Ex pulls up another chunk of sidewalk to block the one coming at him. I put enough oomph into the balls to break through the sidewalk, but it only puts down Earth-Ex for a few seconds.
I need to wrap this up before the numbers catch up to me. I fly fast and low and drive my right fist into Fire-Ex’s face, unleashing a low-powered energy blast at the moment of contact. My blast-punch puts his lights out, as it usually does against anyone without super-strength.
Next, I turn around and lift the still-dazed Earth-Ex about twenty feet into the air with a column of energy. I then make the column vanish, and Earth-Ex hits the ground with a thud, putting him out of commission as well.
I try to make my move on the others, but they beat me to the punch.
Before I know it, I’m spinning around in the middle of a water tornado. As I try to get my bearings, it begins spinning even faster. Water-Ex and Wind-Ex are combining their powers, and the gravity of the construct is limiting my movements.
I know there’s a way out of this, but I’m spinning too fast to even get my thoughts straight. I can feel my force field begin to fade, due to my lack of concentration.
Just as the first sprays of water break through my shields, I feel myself plummeting. I hit the ground, and a few hundred gallons of water drop on top of me. I get my head on straight just in time to see Dominatrix dropping the unconscious Water-Ex and Wind-Ex onto the street.
I hear the sirens coming as Dominatrix walks toward me. Before she gets too close, I roll over and vomit. Finally, the world stops spinning a thousand miles per hour, and she leans over me.
“Y’know, if you can’t hold your liquid, maybe you shouldn’t drink so much,” she sasses me in a strangely familiar voice. “Wait,” she says with a finger pointed up. “I can do better than that.”