power by the Hun Lords of the Feuer, Tropic performed their evil bidding:
the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, the Great San Francisco fire, the firebombing
of Dresden, the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and countless
other acts of war and destruction. Finally he freed himself from their
hold and fights the good fight for all mankind...
HIDING BEHIND A
By Josef Koelbl III
Colonel Commander looked out at the
rows upon rows of his men gathered in the great cavern. Uniforms crisp,
lined up and standing at attention, they looked ready for the coming
battle. The Colonel stepped forward, followed by his bodyguard, and
addressed his battalion.
“Men…Warriors…” The Colonel considered for
a moment before he spoke again. “Brothers! Our time has come. Soon
we will take this city. Units such as ours are everywhere! We will
take Talos Island! We will take Independence Port! We will take Atlas
Park! WE WILL TAKE IT ALL!!!”
The gathered minions cheered with every
declaration. Colonel Commander raised both arms high above his head.
The 5th Column soldiers fell silent immediately. “But we must rely
on stealth and cunning. To show our hand now would be ill advised.
Plans are formulated and the time approaches rapidly. The foolish
heroes have no idea what they will be up against. AND THEY WILL NEVER
The gathered soldiers raised their weapons and cheered
their leader. High above, in the rafters that supported the great
cavern, two eyes glowed white with the power of a thousand thousand
Tropic crouched there taking in the Colonel’s speech. He looked
down at the 5th Column soldiers and frowned. Of all the conquers he
had been forced by the Hun Lords to help in the almost 3500 years
of his long life; Alexander, Attila, Napoleon, he hated the Nazis
the most. They were simply…evil. This group had to be stopped. The
tunnels, offices and caverns leading to this spot were littered with
the unconscious bodies of 5th Column scum.
However, Tropic had come
upon them in groups of three or four. Easy enough to handle but here
was a cadre of well over twenty. Too many for even one as powerful
as he to attack and still be victorious. His eyes scanned the cave
trying to find anything that would give him some type of advantage.
Suddenly, his white eyes narrowed.
Towards the rear of the cavern
appeared to be a doorway carved into the solid rock. A germ of an
idea began to circle in Tropic’s mind. First he had to get there and
see where that door lead. Tropic glanced again at the Colonel and
the assembled men. Commander was still ranting and the soldiers were
still enraptured by it. Tropic stepped off the rafter and flew as
fast as he could to the back of the cave, skimming the rock ceiling.
When he arrived at the back wall he dropped like a stone to the floor,
flew to the doorway and inside. No one noticed and he breathed a sigh
Tropic immediately went on the defensive. Flying blind
into an unknown environment was not wise but there was no other option.
Luckily, he was alone. Tropic scanned the place and realized he was
in some type of storage room that was almost completely empty. A few
boxes remained stacked against the walls but for the most part the
small room was empty. Or perhaps it’s contents had already been moved.
“Mystery for another day”, Tropic thought.
However, the most important
feature of the room was another door almost diagonal to the first.
Tropic ran to it and peered around the corner. An empty tunnel stretched
out before him. He smiled grimly. “This could work”, he whispered
under his breath. “And I could die trying, too.”
He went back to the
entrance and looked out at the assembled soldiers still enraptured
by Colonel Commander’s speech. If Tropic could attract the attention
of a 5th Column soldier individually, that would be perfect. But things
in a heroes life rarely went perfectly. The hospitals were full of
superheroes whose plans went south in a heartbeat and Tropic himself
had experienced a few missions where events had gone horribly wrong.
Unfortunately, a hero is a hero is a hero and evil never takes a vacation.
Tropic sighed. “Let‘s get on with it”. .
Tropic stood at the entrance
to the storeroom and picked a soldier standing at the end of the row.
If things worked well he would be the only one attracted by Tropic.
Sometimes the tactic worked sometimes it didn’t. Tropic gathered his
energy, his hands began to glow with the mystic fire granted him by
the Hun Lords of the Feuer. The power of the sun itself flowed through
him and he unleashed a fire blast directly at the unsuspecting soldier.
The blast hit him directly in the back.
The soldier turned and saw
Tropic standing at the doorway. He rushed towards him firing his weapon.
“Come on”, Tropic whispered. And then the soldier standing to his
comrades left turned and then the one next to him, and then the one
next to him until the 5th Column gathered in the cavern were all rushing
toward Tropic. And Tropic thought, “Oh…Crap!”. And hell was unleashed
Tropic stood his ground, throwing fire blasts and fireballs at the
oncoming soldiers. Some fell quickly, others took damage, some were
missed entirely. Slowly he retreated into the storage room and waited
until the first 5th Column soldier reached the doorway. Tropic prayed
his timing was accurate and waved his arm at the man. Suddenly a rig
of fire surrounded the soldier at the threshold of the room effectively
blocking the way for the rest of the enemy. They bunched up behind
him and Tropic stood there throwing blast after blast at them. He
raised his arms high in the air and called down fire from the heavens
burning the men left in the cavern.
Tropic worked quickly trying his
best to cut down the soldiers behind the trapped man. He knew his
ring of fire would not last long and he had to “cull the herd” as
best he could and as quickly as possible. Bullets covered the storeroom
sending shards of rock from the walls everywhere. Most melted from
the heat that was being generated. Tropic felt a sting in his side
and another in his shoulder. He knew he had been shot but was too
involved in the battle to worry. He knew the bullets would melt in
his system not even leaving a scar. “One of the benefits of not being
human anymore”, he thought.
He had cut down about twelve of the 5th
Column when the ring of fire around his unwilling doorstop failed.
The soldier rushed in but the damage done by the ring was too great
and he dropped after a few steps. His fellows practically fell into
the room. Tropic sent one more great blast at them and rushed to the
doorway diagonal to the first. If the tactic worked once it should
work again. When he was outside the room Tropic turned and tried to
catch another enemy in the trap but it sprung too soon. The soldier
was caught just inside the doorway leaving room enough for the enemy
to get past.
Tropic stood out side the room firing blast after blast,
using the natural restrictive properties of the doorway to his advantage.
Only one or two of the soldiers could get past at any given moment
and they were caught in the wall of fire that Tropic set at them.
Their weapons seemed to be firing constantly but the flame and confusion
prevented their bullets from finding their mark. Tropic was lucky
in that regard but fatigue was beginning to become a factor. It was
taking longer and longer for his flame to regenerate and he was becoming
One solder fell and another rushed to take his
place. Tropic raised his arm to shoot down the advancing man and nothing
happened. The soldier raised his rifle and bore down on him. “Great”,
Tropic thought, “going to have to do this the old fashioned way”.
He rushed forward into the storeroom and grasped the barrel of the
rifle with his left hand, pushing it upwards toward the ceiling. At
the same moment his right fist connected, shattering the faceplate
of his helmet. Tropic struck the soldier again, driving his elbow
into the man’s face breaking his nose. He quickly grabbed the 5th
Column henchman’s uniform pulling the dazed soldier down into Tropic’s
rising knee. The unlucky soldier dropped like a stone.
gazed around the storage room. For the first time he realized he was
alone. This had been the last and the room was filled with the bodies
of unconscious 5th Column soldiers. He dropped to his knee and rested
for a moment trying to regain his strength. He still had to deal with
Colonel Commander and he vowed that it would end here, tonight.
Commander tugged impatiently at his uniform. The sounds of battle
coming from the back of the cavern were at last quieting and he wanted
to get his speech over and done with. There was still much left to
do and, as always, world domination left little time to do it in.
He was pulling his tunic tight when he heard his name.
A blast of heat blew past him hitting his bodyguard squarely. The
man dropped without making a sound. The Colonel looked towards the
back of the cavern and saw his enemy. Tropic stood there glowing,
engulfed in flame. “It ends NOW, Colonel”, Tropic said simply.
Nazi tugged at his gloved hands as he stepped off his stage. “So,
Tropic, I see that, once again, you have insinuated yourself into
matters which do not concern you.”
Tropic circled the man cautiously.
“Well, it seems to be becoming a habit.”
The Colonel snorted. “A habit
that will get you killed shortly.” He continued to pace around the
cave, pulling his gloves tight. “But really, Tropic, how will this
end? You’ll throw a blast of flame at me, perhaps it will strike me.
Perhaps not.” Commander brushed some imaginary lint from his sleeve.
“Where is the satisfaction in that?”
Tropic raised an eyebrow. “What
are you getting at , Commander?”
The solider smiled beneath his mask.
“You and I, of course. One on one. End it now with finality.” He paused.
“It really is the only way.”
“We fight, no powers or weapons, until…”
Tropic stood waiting.
“…Until it’s finished, dear boy.” The voice
Colonel Commander leapt forward, his boot striking
Tropic in the chest. “You see, boy, your time on this earth”, Commander
struck a blow to the side of Tropic’s head, “is almost at an end.”
Tropic staggered, his head ringing. Commander kicked him in the side
driving him back. Tropic saw another kick on its way. He managed to
get his arms up to block it but the Colonel dropped the leg and fired
a savage kick from the opposite direction. It caught Tropic square
in the back propelling him forward. Commander followed the kick with
a vicious right to the stomach. The air blew from Tropic’s lungs.
“You heroes always amaze me”, the Colonel calmly stated as he continued
his unrelenting assault. “You believe no one can stand against you.
You believe that you will always be victorious.” Each statement was
accompanied by a wicked blow to the head and body. “But in reality
victory belongs to those who take it. And luck is a commodity for
the foolish.” The pronouncement was punctuated by a spinning kick
that caught Tropic in the head lifting him from the ground and sending
him crashing to the cold hard floor of the massive cavern.
stood above Tropic calmly tugging on his gloves . “I hope you have
learned a valuable lesson tonight, hero.” Colonel Commander sneered
beneath his mask. “You will never win!”.
“IDIOT!” Tropic vaulted to
his feet landing directly in front of his enemy. He struck the madman
with both fists straight into his chest driving the villain back.
“Do you think I know nothing of war and destruction!?!” Jab, cross,
hook, uppercut - all four punches landed cat quick striking the Colonel’s
The Nazi swung with a right. Tropic ducked and hit him with
a left hook to the ribs and a straight right to the body. “I have
been alive for millennia! Do you know who I’ve learned from?!?” The
Colonel staggered as Tropic stood and hit him again with an overhead
left to the temple.
“The Spartans, the Greeks, the Persians!” He grabbed
the scruff of his foe’s uniform and pulled the Colonel’s head into
his upcoming knee. The Nazi fell back dazed. He threw a roundhouse
right which Tropic blocked easily. “The Romans, the Vikings, the Visi-Goths!”
Holding the Colonel’s arm Tropic delivered two hard strikes with his
elbow to the man’s temple.
‘The Huns, the Chin, the Japanese!” , Tropic
kicked at the battered villain’s thigh and with the same leg kicked
him in the head cracking the side of his helmet. “And do you know
what I’ve learned?!?” He stood in front of his beaten opponent.
sick of war.” The statement was followed by a straight kick to the
gut doubling over his enemy.
“I’m tired of fighting.” Tropic’s right
elbow came up and connected under the chin of the man all but shattering
“AND I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU!” And in that moment
it was as if someone had taken the sun and placed it in the cavern
with them. Blinding light filled the cave and every tunnel leading
to and from it. The light escaped from the sealed rock faced entrance
to the base and through the fissures of the rock walls themselves.
Seven miles away people traveling over the bridge from Talos Island
to Founder’s Falls saw what looked like a thousand searchlights blaze
for second then go dark.
Tropic, standing at the heart of a star,
clasped his hands together and sent a beam of intense white flame
at the Colonel. Commander crossed his hands in front of his face as
the white fire engulfed him. Then the light died and the Nazi fell
like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
Tropic looked at the twitching
body of his foe. He wiped his chin and stood over the defeated solider.
The Colonel’s helmet was cracked and broken. The pale blue eye of
the madman stared at him. “It’s finished.”, Tropic sighed.
Commander laughed. “Ha *cough* Finished? It’s only just started. *cough
cough* Events proceed apace. They cannot be stopped. *cough* Soon.
You think you have achieved anything? Ha *cough cough* You have accomplished
nothing! All you have done.. is waste your time!!” Commander’s eye
closed and he fell silent. Tropic waited for a moment then turned
and made his way from the base.
Outside Tropic willed himself up and
floated above the grassy hill which served as the entrance to the
5th Column installation. Soon the Paragon City police would arrive
to round up any soldiers left. Then the technicians would follow,
swarming over the Column’s computers and equipment.
But Tropic’s thoughts
were restless. His head still ringing with the Colonel’s words. “Events
proceed apace…Accomplished nothing…Waste your time.” Tropic frowned.
Something big was happening and he didn’t know what it was.
noticed that the night sky had lightened. He had been in the base
for many hours and now it appeared that the night was giving way to
the appetite of the sun. Looking upward he saw some of the heroes
of Paragon City soaring through the dawn. He smiled a small smile.
Whatever was happening he realized he could not be the only one investigating
it. With all the super powered folk in the city it stood to reason.
And when the time came they would band together and fight. And win
like they always did.
He rose slowly and faced east. Perhaps WillowWind
was home, or just getting home, or just waking up. She was a powerful
warrior in her own right and she knew many more of the cities heroes
than he did. If something was brewing she would know or at least know
who to ask. Besides, a cup of coffee sounded pretty good about now
and she was easy on the eyes and she was a lot of fun as well. And
if he was going to “waste his time” he was going to waste it having
a good time.
He flew in earnest now streaking across the new born
morning, leaving a contrail of flame behind him.
And he looked forward.