A city in flames : Perspectives





Nothing quiet ever happens in this town, not a moment of peace, of rest for anyone that looks with a wary eye. My cell phone rings, and I flip it open, answering :



“Voyager, go ahead.”



I listen to what the dispatch is saying, not really interested in the details anymore, I grew weary a long time ago of details. Bottom line was: Fire, Hellions Atlas Park and help needed. I take a few steps forward and let momentum do the rest as I start plummeting for the ground, fifty stories below. Activating flight, I feel weightlessness take over my 200mph fall, and I gently arc my descent, and head for Atlas Park.



I’m annoyed and resentful that dispatch decided to call on me, to go of all places, to Atlas Park. But, in my line of work, it’s rumored that we have to answer every call for help the city throws upon us. How I miss Firebase Zulu, the uncomplicated situation there made it easy to let loose and be powerful without restrains. Here, in Paragon, the laws and the rules of engagement makes it impossible to properly subdue an enemy, we are forced to arrest them. I hate paperwork.



As I look around, searching the sky, I see other heroes on their way, making all haste to save the day. What a joke this has become, for every threat, fifty heroes. This isn’t good odds for the bad guys, and pretty soon, we’ll be left with no one to arrest. I sure miss my glory days, when every mission I was sent on was a new experience, a new discovery into my own potential. Now, old and tired, at the height of my powers, nothing surprises me anymore.



Upon entering the district, the black billows of smoke can be seen right away. Anyone with an inkling of a clue can tell that’s where the trouble is. I can see ten, maybe fifteen heroes already rushing to the rescue. Truly, why did I come here in the first place, too many heroes per square mile for me to be of any use? I land on a close by rooftop, and simply watch the scene, as I listen to the screaming sirens in the distance. I take off my mask, and my goggles, passing a weary hand over my face, I need to shave.



Which brings on my next wandering thought, how long has it been since I went home? I hope Rita, my landlord remembered to feed Fluffy, my cat. My eyes drift towards Talos Island, as I am dreaming of my bed and sleep for a day. Maybe later on I could go bowling with some of the guys, get drunk and tell old war stories, while we ogle the waitresses and dream of young women to share our nights.



A noise brings me back to reality, coming from behind the building, the sound of raking metal on asphalt.



“Come on bro, let’s get this done, I ain’t gonna miss out on the big boom.” Says a male voice, probably early twenties.



“This is heavy man, real heavy. Just put that damned reefer out and help me out will ya.” Replies another voice, more baritone and aged.



“This is good shit man, have a haul.” Replies the younger one.



Putting back my mask and goggles, I walked to the edge of the roof, looking down on the pair. They were dragging a barrel with a timing device attached on top of it.



“I tells ya, when this baby goes boom, all them chemicals in there are gonna light up the sky.” Says the older one, still bent over trying to drag the bomb towards the loading dock access of the building.



Curious, I fly back to the front of the building, wondering why it would blow up like a nuke bomb. My answer comes fast enough. The building where I landed is the Paragon Petroleum and Rubber factory. That means a big boom. I fly back towards the back once more, careful to not attract any attention. I look in the city’s sky, maybe a younger hero saw this and will act. But no, all of them are still heading towards the original fire, towards the immediate threat. That means, no one to see me, or these tow down there.



The older, and now that I can see bigger one, finally managed to rest the barrel against the door of the building.



“Now, the boss says we have to pull this pin here, and it will go tick-tick. I says we do this and run like bats out of hells.”



“Ya man, ya, pull the pin.” Answered the stoner as he laughed sluggishly, brain hazed and confused.



As the older, bigger, dumber one reaches for the arming trigger of the bomb, I drain all of his endurance. It sends him on his knees, traits tired and pale, searching for breath. The younger one, slowed by the drug induced effect, simply laughs on. I siphon speed the big guy, then throw some cinder in his direction. He starts coughing and choking. For good measure, I put a fire cage around the pot head.



“Ah man, this is too much.” Says the stoner, as I land next to him. He pulls out a gun, and I smile ruefully under my mask, poor kid, bad mistake you just made. I grab his arm, faster than he can pull the trigger, and set fire to his shirt. I then punch him, for the fun of it. He lands on his ass, sitting in the middle of the ring of fire, holding his jaw with one hand, while trying to put out the fire on his sleeve.



I walk past him, and grab the older, bigger and might I add, dumber one by the hair. His eyes filled with water, throat hacking and coughing, he sees me not. I wait patiently for him to snap out of it, while I summon a fire imp to guard the reefer boy. I can smell the fear emanating from them now. I think the young one just recalled who I am.



Looking about, I notice some rope left in a crate, by the loading dock. Dragging the older one by the hair, I go to the wooden crate, and reach for the rope. Still pulling on his hair, I bring him back towards the bomb, the barrel of explosive material, still not armed. I punch him in the gut, he doubles over. I then knee him square in the face, and he falls backwards, back slamming on the barrel. Eyes ablaze, I look at the young one and say :



“Two ways you can come here kid. One, on your own like a big man. Two, with my help and very painfully.” As I say these lines, I turn off the cage that was preventing him from running, satisfied that I have him terrified. He runs…



“What the…??!!” I say aloud, truly not expecting him to try and run from me. I throw a double dose of cinders in his direction, just in case one would miss. He falls to his knees, gasping and choking, which gives me the time I need to tie up older, beaten and bleeding nose here.



Once I tie them both up to the barrel, satisfied that they would be unable to free themselves for a good while, I grab the contraption by the rope, and fly off into the sky. Towing at the same time the two Hellions, both unconscious and unable to react. Flying high, hoping not to attract too much attention, I head for the top of Atlas Statue. I don’t think anyone notices me, since they are so involved with the main event, living up to the name of heroes. I land on top of the old massive rock figure, dead center, where a modicum of balance can be achieved.



There I sit, with them, waiting for one or both, to wake up. It takes them a few minutes, first one about, older and dumber, then reefer head.



“What the hell man??!!” Says older, dumber and bleeding nose.



“You just picked the wrong day, of the wrong week of the wrong month to try and pull a stunt like that, man.” I reply to him, dead serious as I look over for reefer head, which’s showing signs of waking up.



“How long’s the timer on that bomb, hellion?” I then ask.



“T-t-t-two minutes… Why?” He asks, a bit shaken up. I think he recognized me.



“Just wondering.” I answer as I pull the arming trigger off the bomb.



“Enjoy the rest of your life, idiots.” And I fly off into the sky, going low, to hide between buildings as I race back towards Steel Canyon. About two minutes later, the sound of a resounding explosion reached my ears. I turn, see the top of Atlas statue in blaze, flames are racing down to engulf the globe. A few seconds after, with no fuel to burn, they go out.



I smile to myself thinking :



“Why do they bother me with these things?…”
TO "A CITY IN FLAMES: TALOS ISLAND"
by Josef Koelbl III
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