The Lohrman Building stood in the heart of Steel Canyon overlooking
Blyde Square. Built in the early fifties it was, at that time, a modern
marvel incorporating design and function unheard of in construction
The Lohrman brothers, Martin and Albert, had always
been at the forefront of development and business in Paragon City.
Lohrman Brothers Mercantile Trading had grown from a dry goods store
to its present standing as one of the premier precious stones venders
in the world. It was as great a source of pride for the brothers as
it was a temptation for the criminal element in the city. And with
the emergence of supervillains Lohrman Brothers Mercantile Trading
had become a very enticing target indeed.
On this day it had proved
irresistible to the Freakshow. Seven of them had made their way in
through a loading dock, into a freight elevator and up the fire stairs
until they reached the 40th floor offices of the precious stone dealers.
Visions of millions of dollars worth of diamonds and sapphires danced
in front of their eyes. It would be easy, they told themselves. Get
in, terrorize the people, get the goods, get out. But things went
bad from the moment they stepped onto the floor.
They hadn’t counted
on an emergency failsafe triggered by an alert guard, automatically
shutting the gems in a time locked safe that proved impossible to
They hadn’t counted on an alert secretary pressing the
They hadn’t counted on the Paragon City police cordoning
off the building and sealing every exit.
And they hadn’t counted on
Several members of one of the largest and most powerful Super
groups in the city descended upon the building. An explosion marked
their arrival as a hole appeared in the 40th floor wall. A Tank Smasher
and his gang of six stood transfixed for a moment, staring through
the gaping hole and into the sunny blue sky over Steel Canyon. Blocking
their view was a man and a woman dressed in blue leather, with yellow
accents, and a shield of that same yellow upon their chests.
leapt forward, landing directly in front of the Tank. He stood a head
taller than her and he looked at his men with a smile. He raised his
hammer hand high above his head and brought it crashing down, striking
her, trying to drive her into the floor like a nail. The smirk left
his face when he realized the blow had absolutely no effect.
smiled sweetly and, flashing brilliant white teeth, whispered, "My
turn." She jumped into the air and kicked the Tank squarely on the
side of the head. When she landed she unleashed a series of strikes
so fast and so powerful the eye couldn’t follow her hands and her
target was left dazed on his feet. His six henchmen, mouths open in
surprise, looked at each other and ran. She smiled and springing into
the air, struck the Freak boss with a back kick, knocking him into
Her partner threw his hands forward and a bolt of pure energy
surged through him and into the Tank, hitting him in the chest and
knocking him through the wall and into the office beyond, his back
nearly bending in two as he rammed into the heavy oak desk inside.
The woman, Buttercup, and the man, General Scrap, leaned in and looked
through the hole, watching as the Tank slid off the desk and onto
"Impressive," Buttercup said, nodding her head.
crookedly. "Not my first time."
They heard the sounds of battle around
the corner and began to make their way towards it when suddenly a
blast of white hot flame shot between them. They looked behind them
and saw the Tank, on his feet but engulfed in the fire. Slowly he
crumpled to the floor once more. The pair turned to seek out their
benefactor and in the sky outside the ruined wall hovered Tropic,
his eyes leaking red fire and his hands still smoldering.
he glided through the hole in the wall and landed in front of the
pair. Buttercup smiled in greeting. General Scrap just nodded his
"You’re late," the big man said.
Tropic shrugged. "It’s a big
city," he said in his low, gravelly voice.
The sounds of the fighting
beckoned them again and they rushed to join the fray.
corner they were greeted with the sight of a Freak Stunner hurtling
towards them and not under his own power. Tropic and Scrap leapt to
the side and Buttercup practically threw herself to the floor to avoid
being struck by the criminal. He flew past them and hit the floor,
bounced twice, and lay still.
Buttercup scrambled to her feet and
saw WillowWind grinning at her. The energy powers she wielded had
caused the Freak to careen down the hall. The dark haired woman yelled
to her three teammates as she turned back to battle, "Sorry!", and
looked directly into the face of a Freak Chopper, his axe already
arcing towards her head.
Before the blow could strike the Chopper
was knocked to the side, his head striking the wall with a crack and
leaving a large indent in the plaster. A huge blade came crashing
down across his chest and he fell unconscious to the floor. The tall
woman leaned close to the thug and whispered in a strangely accented
voice, "Broadsword beats axe."
She turned to WillowWind. "You OK?"
Willow smiled up at the tall blonde. "I was ready for him. It was
part of my plan, Temptations."
"Your plan to get sliced in two?",
Temptations grinned. "You may have to rethink your strategy."
ducked suddenly as General Scrap jumped over her. Buttercup ran past
them and said, "More to do!" She continued on, her gaze riveted to
the end of the hallway. The remaining four Freaks had appeared there
and had to be caught. Willow, Temptations and Tropic followed in their
Suddenly the four thugs were surrounded by a ring of
fire and a huge blast of flame engulfed them. Scrap turned to Tropic,
his long blonde hair whipping about. Tropic shrugged.
he said simply.
The trapped Freakshow dropped and from around the
corner Elendil appeared, his hands still glowing from the heat. Tropic
smiled slightly. Elendil’s powers practically mirrored his own and
he nodded his head in greeting.
Elendil stopped and bent over, resting
his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. He looked at the
rest of Top Ten and shook his head. "That’s a lot of steps," he breathed
General Scrap laughed out loud. The fire blaster had climbed
40 flights of stairs and still took out four of the enemy. "Better
late than never," he said as he helped the man stand up.
had been saved, the Freakshow were on their way to prison and the
police had taken statements from everyone in the city, it seemed.
When Top Ten was finally finished with the incident it was almost
eight o’clock and night had fallen over Steel Canyon.
They had gathered
on the sidewalk in front of the Lohrman Building and were discussing
what area of the city was in most need of patrol when a voice called
out to them from above. "Did I miss it?"
They looked up and WillowWind
smiled in greeting. Her good friend Valya had arrived accompanied
by Cadecus. Both were members of the Super group. Valya, a powerful
warrior whose control of the earth was absolute and Cadecus, a valuable
ally and friend, a fearless healer who had saved their lives more
times than could be counted.
They landed next to their friends and
Valya asked again, "Did I miss it?"
General Scrap shook his head.
Valya frowned. "It’s a big city!" She looked at Willow
and grinned. "I was all the way at the crash site when I got the call,"
she said, brushing her thick red hair back from the two horns that
sprouted from her head.
Cadecus nodded. "Yeah, I met her at the train
in Brickstown and we got here as fast as we could."
"You missed it! Elendil had to climb 40 flights and he still took
out four of…", her voice trailed off as she looked at her friends.
"Cad? Are you all right?"
The tattooed man looked up at her. "I’m…not
sure…," he said and fell dazed into her arms.
All around her, her
teammates were beginning to waver on their feet. But no, not all of
them she realized. Herself, General Scrap, Elendil and WillowWind
all appeared to be fine. She had grabbed Cadecus and was holding the
dazed man. Scrap supported Buttercup, Willow had Valya and Tropic
was holding onto a lamppost for dear life.
And as quickly as it happened,
it ended. The four affected heroes stood straight under their own
power, shaking their heads as if trying to knock water out of their
Elendil asked the question they all had on their minds. "What
the hell was that?"
Buttercup looked up, rubbing her temples. "I don’t
know. It felt like someone was standing behind me…breathing down my
"And cold. It felt cold," added Cadecus, turning his head from
side to side.
Valya frowned. "It was like something was trying to
take the strength from me. Like it was taking…sucking the…"
They all turned toward Tropic. He was standing at the edge of the
sidewalk almost in the street, staring off into the distance.
asked the General.
"Sucked some of the life out of us," he said quietly
and spoke no more.
"But why you guys?", Temptations asked. "How come
we all didn’t feel it?"
They stood in silence in the cool night air
until finally, "Magic!"
They turned to WillowWind, who said it again.
"Magic. Don’t you see? They all either got their powers from or use
or are magic." She looked at Valya, the concern plainly visible in
"I guess that makes sense for now," Valya said, smiling
at her friend, "but…". Her voice trailed off as she tried to think.
"I know," Cadecus nodded, "but what was it? And more importantly…"
"What could have caused it?", General Scrap finished the question,
a deep frown etched on his face.
"Something’s here that shouldn’t
be here." Tropic’s voice was quiet, no more than a rough whisper.
WillowWind looked at the rest of the team and then crossed to the
fiery hero standing at the edge of the sidewalk. "What do you mean,
Tropic?", she said from behind him.
He turned his head and spoke over
his shoulder, "Something’s here," and returned his gaze to the horizon.
Willow turned to the rest of Top Ten and finally they all looked in
the direction Tropic continued to stare in. An audible gasp slipped
from Buttercup’s open mouth and all the hero’s eyes widened in surprise.
In the distance the sky above Perez Park glowed a malevolent green.
It swirled and glimmered, not the reassuring, restful glow of the
force field walls, but a color that was uncomfortable and disturbing.
At that moment, two police cars headed for the park sped past the
gathered heroes, their sirens wailing like a child waking from a terrible
"Something’s here," Tropic whispered once more and then,
as one, they began to make their way to Perez Park.