By Teddy B
Tay crouched atop a rigging of cables
and I-beams. He leaned forward with the toes of his new boots digging
into the partially melted metal beam of steel. Below him in the flickering
luminance of trash can fires was a large gathering, a palaver, of
Freakshow thugs. Listening with his attuned hearing, he picked out
the leader’s voice above the din of soft mutterings.
To Tay, the thugs
were faceless. Obstacles set in his path. Ones he would normally wade
into unhindered were they in smaller, more manageable numbers. As
it was, they would make short work of the fledgling hero. He only
needed to rest a hand over his stomach to remind himself of that.
It took all his will to keep himself from grumbling aloud at the memory
of the sickle blade slicing into his body.
Tay’s interest lay in the
man that had sliced him open. That man also happened to be the horde’s
headman. He had electric blue hair, spiked up even more wild than
Tay’s unruly hair. The freak was skinny enough to be considered a
walking skeleton. The exposed skin of his right arm was a deep tan,
showing the years of being under the sun. His body was covered in
years-dirty cloths, torn in several places to accommodate the cybernetic
enhancements. The cybernetics were what kept drawing Tay’s attention.
Attached to the man’s left arm was a large, outward curved sickle.
It didn’t look like Tay remembered, however. It looked as if the man
Tay had mistaken as a thug had several enhancements done on the weapon.
When the man was running away, Tay clearly saw that the cybernetic
implant was only attached at the elbow. Now the weapon was attached
to a thick cybernetic arm with joints at precise locations along its
aperture. The shoulder piece seemed to reach upwards along the neck
and left side of the man’s face, giving him the grotesque look of
a science experiment gone destructively wrong.
And Tay was the poster
child for miscalculated science experiments. After he had left the
Tribunal’s lab on his home planet, his life had never been the same.
His keen sense of hearing picked up the sound of an approaching airliner.
Not wanting to go deaf, he decided that it would be best to tune down
his hearing despite that he might lose important information the leader
of the Freakshow gang was spouting on and on about.
Though the plane
passed far over head, the sound was deafening. He bowed his head and
gritted his teeth, wanting the skull-splitting sound to stop. When
the sound finally abated, Tay returned his gaze to the assemblage
of cybernetic punks only to find that their gazes were on him.
Several punks grinned widely, all knowing that the lone
hero stood no chance against their hoard. The leader of the pack stood
behind them all, his thumb flicking across the pointed tip of the
sickle. A glint of recognition veiled his eyes for a mere moment.
He raised his arms above his head. The cybernetic joints and edges
of his right arm gleamed at Tay across the distance of the junk field.
“This is the Hero! He’s the one that released me from those Crey dogs!
Show the Hero our thanks!” The man cackled loudly to the army of cybernetics.
All at once, the Freakshow moved forward, like a wave threatening
the shore. Tay took a step back on the I-Beam. His fists opened and
closed as he considered his options.
He could run, but that would
require getting off the skeletal remains of the abandoned warehouse
he stood on. He could fight. But without back-up, he would no doubt
only get stabbed. Again. At that thought, his abdomen throbbed weakly.
The mob continued approaching, though now several were drawing out
guns from various holsters on their bodies. Tay jumped quickly backwards,
arching his body to back flip. His hands stretched outwards as he
fell, finding purchase on a horizontal rebar. Using his momentum,
Tay flipped up and over the bar. The airway was empty of obstacles
for his decent, as erratic as it was. He twisted his body and continued
Behind him, the men began shooting their guns. Bullets ricocheted
off the steel girders left after the warehouse’s destruction, but
many made it through the structure. Those that did clear the hulking
metal whizzed by Tay, threatening to disrupt his concentration.
gunshot was like a kick to the head. His hearing seemed to be working
overtime, and that was dizzying to the point of almost missing his
mark. He hit the lamppost full force, knocking the wind out of himself.
Wrapping his sleeved arms around the metal pole, he slid down to the
Three cars swerved into the street behind Tay. Two went in
the opposite direction of the first, spouting off gunfire of their
own. They were headed towards the advancing party of Freakshow. The
single car that had turned in his direction gunned straight for him.
All unnoticed by Tay who was nearly deaf from all the gunfire. The
passenger door of the car opened, and at the last moment he took notice.
He jumped up, only knowing a car was barreling towards him from behind.
He didn’t know the car door was open. Well, not until it slammed into
his lower back and legs.
The door dented in and slammed shut as Tay
was sandwiched between it at the lamppost. As he dropped to the ground,
he curled into a ball, holding his chest and sides protectively. The
door opened again and a huge arm grabbed Tay by the collar of his
jacket. Tay reacted immediately, turning up the heat around his body
to the point where a blast furnace would be envious.
The thick arm
twitched. That was the only outward sign of pain. Another fist arced
from the cab of the car and connected fully onto the back of Tay’s
head. Stars danced in front of the hero’s eyes as the large, suited
man shoved Tay into the concrete.
As he got out of the car his bald
head gleamed in the lamplight. He stood well over 7 feet tall, as
his muscles bulged, straining the tailored suit to its capacity. His
arms were slightly longer than his legs, giving him the look of a
muscle-bound gorilla. He cracked his knuckles as Tay struggled to
The heat Tay was radiating numbered into the 300s, but the
large man paid no notice. His arm cocked back, readying another concrete
Tay ducked to the side in time, but the move cost
him. He fell to a knee, still unable to gain his equilibrium. Something
was keeping him from concentrating. He couldn’t blame the punch, or
even the loud gunshots that were dying down.
His head swam, dropping
him to both knees as he tried to look past the behemoth into the car.
He knew the man behind the steering wheel. The many bruises identified
him as most likely the surviving member of the Crey group that tried
to run him down and kidnap the Freakshow.
The woman in the back, however,
Tay couldn’t place. She was small, almost child-like petite. Her hair
was long and straight, as black as the gorilla’s suit. She was looking
straight at him with the intensity of an animal ready to pounce. As
he stared into her ferocious gaze, his will was sapped from his body.
He crumpled to the ground, leaving a mass of dead weight for the gorilla
to heft up like a piece of paper, and toss into the trunk of the car.
- - - - -
His mind unraveled again. Substance had no meaning where
Tay’s consciousness swam. He perceived only the emptiness of everything.
To him, he was numb. Mind and body ceased to be. All he knew was that
he was alive, and he knew that because he felt no divine certainty
of death that had been preached on his planet by all the prophets
To the people of Tay’s planet, when one died they knew
it. They felt the coldness of death in the very depths of their Being.
But Tay felt coldness all the time. The experience of feeling nothing
was, to him, a relief.
In the emptiness, memories unraveled. He felt
drawn towards his past; as if a hand was guiding him to the images
it wanted him to remember; his mother and father’s face as he won
his first event in the World Games, Sayli-May’s competitive smirk
during their first opposing event, his journey to earth through the
stars, as well as many others. He struggled for control, but it eluded
him. He was lost in the turbulent stream of events that led him to
Paragon City. It was that thread that brought some modicum of control.
Paragon City had been Tay’s savior. He had been able to return to
what he did best: Stand up for those who needed the help.
seas of memories began to ebb as Tay gripped the line of hope. Those
icy blue eyes. Surprisingly enough to Tay it wasn’t the eyes of Sayli-May
that he “saw”. His anchor was none other than the face of Star Storm.
The woman was strong, having the mental powers his people only whispered
“Andrea…” he whispered hoarsely. He pushed the memory-filled
emptiness away, seeking the saving light of Star Storm’s eyes.
It was a woman’s voice; one he hadn’t heard before. Before
he could place its direction from his body, he was thrust back into
the depths of his mind. It was like a never-ending well, one in which
he screamed with thunderous silence all the way. His anchor was gone.
All that was left was Sayli-May, and the image of her walking naked
from her steam-filled observation room with the unmoving body of a
woman in her arms. The look on Kath-li’s face would be etched in his
mind forever. Horror at what had happened. Sadness at what he knew
Both she and Cayo-Tay would be kept under close guard
and their new “talents” would be honed. They would be assassins. If
they proved “difficult”, they would be eliminated. Kath-li knew this,
and the look on his face, as Tay thought in retrospect, showed that
he regretted everything.
Tay continued to fall. He saw mission after
mission Sayli-May and Cayo-Tay were sent on. Each ambassador to the
outposts on his planet’s satellites that they had to bully into decisions,
He dwelled on every day since that experiment, all the
way to his last day on the planet. In the twirling mist before his
eyes, he beheld Sayli-May stumbling to him, her hand holding a large
hole in her chest. Blood seeped between her lips and fingers. Behind
her stood two men, both disappearing into the blackness of the allyway.
Sayli-May had fallen before him, dragging a bloodied hand down his
chest. A discordant whisper fell from her lips just as she fell to
the ground, “Run, lover. They… fear… Run… while you can.”
she had died, wrapped in the arms of her wailing lover, Tay. He still
felt her frozen skin against his lips as he kissed her forehead for
the last time. However, he had heeded her.
He knew that no matter
where he went, he would be found. So he had fled to the nearest secured
Tribunal facility. There, he boarded a secret space craft and fled
the world. He had left everything behind. His parents, who had been
disappointed at Tay never returning to the Games; his fans, who had
all but tore the world asunder wondering where the athletic icon had
gone; and overall his life. A life that he wished he could rewind
to before he entered the contest that changed his existence.
he had put his life into the hands of the Tribunal again. He had sought
to land on one of the satellite moons and to dwell at the furthest
outposts. Instead, he found himself rocketed away from his planet
and into the expanse of the galaxy.
To him, the travel had only been
days, but in reality it had been over a million years. A day after
this ship passed from his solar system, the on-board scanner picked
up an anomaly. It classified the problem as inescapable. Tay only
had a rudimentary knowledge of the spacecraft, but he knew that was
a bad thing.
The anomaly caught Tay’s craft in a gravity well and
sucked it in. The gravitational sheer threw Tay around inside the
cockpit, bouncing him from side to side awkwardly. His head cracked
hard on the console, and Tay was out cold. By the time he came to,
he was clear of the gravity well and on a course that took him directly
to a planet that looked very much like his own, only more primitive.
As Tay entered the atmosphere, he saw several other much larger spacecrafts
hovering over several cities within range. Tay turned his ship towards
the outskirts of one of the bigger cities. He had marveled at its
size, thinking it best that if the Tribunal would follow him he had
better stay hidden. What better place than a largely populated city?
That thought died as Tay’s eyes strayed across the chronometer on
the console beside him. It showed that over a million years had passed.
Tay could scarcely believe it, and did his best to assuage his fears
that it was probably just a bug in the mechanics of the experimental
The large craft hovering over the city blasted his ship suddenly,
sending it in a spiral down into the smoldering ruins of a large section
of the city. Unbeknownst to Tay, that particular section of Paragon
City was called Baumton.
- - - - -
“And how is the subject?”
subject is alive. The psychic is keeping him within his mind so we
can continue to study him.” The female voice was cold, each word a
“It’s been two weeks since we acquired this
specimen. The Contessa is beginning to believe this much analysis
is beginning to become a disadvantageous to her business.” The man
stood at the door, his lab coat hanging like a cloak around his body
as he stared unblinkingly at the head of the Pyro project.
can tell Ms Crey that these things take time. You can’t expect us
to learn everything in one day and get things rolling the next. We
need the proper amount of –“
“The Countess has given you plenty of
time. You either show results or we discontinue Pyro. It’s that simple,
Doctor Vasques. And if you want my suggestion –“
“I don’t,” she interjected
“Well, in that case, I suggest you get on with your research.
The Countess is giving you one day to prove this isn’t a wasted effort.”
With that, the man turned and left Dr Vasques’ small office.
her fist on the table, and then stood up. She pushed her small glasses
up her nose while she looked through the one-way glass into the lab.
Heat Flux lay on the table, his lower body covered by the barest of
material. His eyes rolled back and forth beneath his eyelids while
his muscles twitched rapidly.
Vasques turned as a skinny man knocked
on her door. “Report.” She always held calm in front of her underlings.
In her mind, it was never good to show one’s hand, especially in a
business like Crey Industries.
“Word is Star and Lightning Storm found
the Freakshow gang that saw our people take the specimen. If they
were able to –“
“You don’t have to tell me what would happen if they
were able to make the Freaks talk.” Vasques turned again to the lab
and crossed her arms over her chest. “Have we gotten in the serum?”
“Yes. I had a chance to look it over. It’s the exact same as we found
in the subject’s blood stream with the exception of one element. We
had to replace it with Element 9.”
“Fluorine,” she said mostly to
“Correct. We expect the reaction to be less severe than it
would be if we were to try this on –“
“A regular person. Right. Have
them set up for the procedure. I want that chemical in his body in
“Yes, ma’am.” As the man turned to leave, he cast one
last glance towards his superior. As he left the office he cast a
saddened looks to his feet. She had dismissed him just as she always
had, never really seeing his devotion to her.
Vasques, on the other
hand, picked up the phone on her desk at hit “9”. It rang only once
before a perky, bubbly voice answered, “Yes, Doctor?”
“I want research
room 8 emptied in five minutes. I have important work that needs to
“Yes, doctor.” The line went dead quickly. Vasques pulled
on her lab coat, then picked up a petri dish from her desk and tucked
it securely in her pocket. As she swept out of the room, the paper
that the dish had been sitting on fell from her desktop and floated
carelessly to the ground. It simply read “DNA”.
- - - - -
later, a storm began to gather over the Crey Laboratory in King’s
Row. Thunder rumbled menacingly as small droplets of rain fell from
the sky. Within minutes, there was a pure torrential downpour. From
within the cloud emerged two heroes. Both wore masks of rage as they
blasted into the lab.
The guards hadn’t even stood a chance. They
fell to the ground, grabbing their heads as the woman hero glared
daggers at them. Two gargantuan men ran from the lobby at the two
heroes, but the man, who was making a charge of his own, stopped their
The man, who they recognized as Lightning Storm, threw
all his weight forward through his arms. His thunderous clap sent
both Crey flunkies flying head over heels into a wall. “Find Heat
Flux! I’ll deal with the goons!”
“Right!” Star Storm flew through
the corridors, mesmerizing everyone who happened within her line of
sight. Her long tresses chased her down the hallway, billowing tendrils
of smoke as a twisting hurricane of a fog began to form around the
Her face screwed tight as frustration filled her. There were
too many doors for her to even think about searching alone.
a small man rounded a corner and saw her. He froze in his tracks,
and she realized that the best way to get what she wanted was to force
them to give it to her. She locked eyes with the scientist and forced
her mind into his, completely dominating his will. “Tell me what I
want to know.”
And he did. He blurted everything, forgetting his adoration
for Dr Vasques. The man told her which room Heat Flux was in, what
was happening to him, and who was in charge.
A blue bolt shot past
her as Lightning Storm flew at top speed towards the scientist. He
had heard everything, and he was pissed. He threw a tremendous punch
at the mousy scientist. The small man flipped in the air effortlessly
from the momentum of the blow. He was unconscious before he even hit
Only five minutes had passed since their abrupt storm
of the lab and the alarms finally began to blare. Both heroes didn’t
even have to look at each other. They knew what had to be done. Both
took flight, heading directly towards the door marked “Project: Pyre”.
Lightning Storm busted the door to splinters with a single kick just
before they rushed into the room. The psychic didn’t stand a chance
against Star Storm. Both stared at each other, gauging their adversary’s
power while Lightning Storm discarded the three scientists that had
remained to observe Flux’s reaction.
The psychic woman was the first
to react. She lashed out, attempted to mentally confuse Star Storm
into thinking Lightning Storm was her enemy. This attack she shrugged
off effortlessly and attacked with her own will. Star asserted her
will and forced the psychic’s mind into a blinding terror.
wailed, the sound a shrill bloodcurdling wail of panic and fear. She
ran headlong into the door, forgetting the fact that there was an
extremely muscular man in the room. Lightning storm, however, hadn’t
forgotten about her. He simply clothes lined her. The woman’s momentum
carried her feet upwards while her upper body was stopped abruptly.
She fell, her head bouncing sickly off the floor.
the table carefully, peeking into Flux’s mind only enough to wake
And wake he did. His body burst into flames as he sat up screaming.
For a moment, he thought he was going to burn to death before he realized
that the flamed didn’t burn. He looked down at the many tubes that
had begun to melt. The needles, still inside his skin, stayed intact,
but the tubes attached melted like butter over a bonfire.
pulled the needles out and threw them across the room. He looked up
at the two heroes who had taken a step back from him. He nodded, knowing
their apprehension and closed his eyes. All the control of his powers
he had learned over the years he put into use and the flames began
to recede slowly into his body.
Gunfire belched in the hallway as
several guards began closing in on the room. Each shot was a warning
to scientists to get out of the way, but Star and Lightning new that
soon those bullets would be aimed at them and not the ceiling.
you walk?” Star Storm asked hurriedly. Lightning Storm threw Flux
a lab coat, the only thing that was currently unoccupied. Heat Flux
put the jacket on as quickly as he could, and then pushed himself
off the table. His feet hit the cold floor, but he wasn’t strong enough
to hold his own weight up. Before he could crumple to the floor, Star
grabbed him around the waist and held him steady.
“I’m sorry, I can’t.”
His voice was horse, discordant from the weeks of unuse.
smiled into Tay’s eyes, soothing him the slightest bit, “It’s okay,
Tay. We’re taking you home.” She turned to her brother who stood by
the door, waiting for the first guard to get the guts enough to rush
in. “You have to take him, Lightning Storm.”
“What?! Are you insane?
They have guns! Your suit,” he gestured uselessly towards her lycra
costume, “isn’t exactly made of Kevlar, Star!”
She glared at him,
“Maybe not, but I’m not Mister-Bowflex-set-at-1000-pounds either!”
Heat Flux cleared his throat and looked up at Lightning Storm. “We
should probably get out of here. All of us.”
“Mom’s driving down the
street now and she’ll be here any minute. Just get him out there,
Rick. I’ll hold the riff-raff off.” She pushed Heat Flux at her brother,
not giving him the chance to refuse again.
He looked worriedly at
his sister, and then nodded. “I’ll be back for you, Andrea.”
she smiled, it was the sweetest Tay had ever seen, and it touched
him like nothing on this planet ever had. “I know. Now go!”
Storm wrapped an arm around Heat Flux’s waist and picked him off the
ground. He nodded to Star Storm, and then lunged backwards out the
Gunfire erupted and Lightning Storm grunted as he felt each
bullet bounce off his skin. He rushed down the hallway, using his
body to shield Heat Flux. He bowled over any man or woman that tried
to stand in his way. His feet never touched the ground as he got closer
and closer to the door. He could see the car coming to a screeching
halt through the glass doors.
The bullets had stopped hitting him,
but he could still hear them firing. Star had taken their attention.
He poured on the speed until he burst through the doors, shattering
the glass and metal frames. The glass managed to cut Flux in several
places, but the damage was minimal, and to Lightning Storm’s surprise
each cut was healed by the time they closed the distance from the
door to the car.
Barbara threw the passenger door open and Lightning
Storm pushed Flux into the seat. “I’m going back for Andrea. Get him
out of here!”
The older woman threw the car into drive and hit the
gas. The door closed on it’s own from the force of the acceleration.
Lightning Storm didn’t even wait for the car to pull away before rushing
back into the lab. That was the last either Tay or Barbara would see
the two heroes alive.