Chronicles of The Star Corps: Legacy
Ferrous walked out of the high rise onto Steel Canyon’s clean, clearly
lit sidewalks. Around him, skyscrapers reached into the cloudless
night sky and what few pedestrians that were out at this time of night
strolled past while trying not to look like they were staring. Ferrous
was accustomed to this. Even in Paragon City, the sight of an eight-foot
tall, heavily muscled, metal skinned man wearing jeans, t-shirt, and
a leather jacket was enough to draw a glance or two.
The clothes were
not his norm, really. As one of Paragon City’s five thousand or so
protectors and the leader of The Star Corps, one of the oldest ‘Supergroups’
in the city, he could usually be found in his trademark black and
yellow uniform representing his team wherever he went. Tonight, though,
was different. Tonight, he was on his own time.
The average person
considered the life of a “Superhero” (Ferrous didn’t care for the
term) to be a series of epic battles, scantly clad damsels in distress,
and standing around basking in the generous gratitude of an adoring
public. To some extent, this was accurate, though incomplete. There
were long (often boring) patrols, frequent hospital visits, very real
danger pretty much all the time, and the constant fear of failure
and the tragedy that would follow. Sometimes there was a big victory
and all the good feelings that came with it but, most of the time,
you knew for every crime you stopped there were five that you didn’t.
With those kinds of odds hanging over his head, Ferrous had often
wondered what the point was. Why did he and all the others bother
fighting for nothing more than to hold their own? Why not give the
city to the scum and the villains and let them tear it and each other
apart? Why not give up and start someplace else?
was feeling that way he would hang up the uniform, put on some regular
clothes (regular except for the miniaturized radio sewn into the collar
of all his clothes), and walk down the street like a normal citizen
instead of jumping from rooftop to ledge to rooftop. Tonight, he had
attended a charity event for one of the local orphanages and spent
the evening meeting children, taking photos, signing autographs, and
giving displays of his incredible physical strength. The kids had
loved the show and it had made him feel connected to the people he
Besides that, Ferrous had a soft spot for the orphans,
being something of one himself. While most of the kids he had met
tonight had lost their parents in the Rikti war or some other supercriminal
fueled tragedy, he couldn’t remember if he had ever known his parents
or even if they were alive or dead. In fact, Ferrous had no memory
of his life prior to the day that he was found chained to a wall in
the sewers beneath King’s Row. He knew that his captors had been members
of a group called The Lost. According to a number of doctors and scientists,
he was undoubtedly a mutant whose body produced an organic iron that
gave him both fantastic strength and invulnerability while adding
very little in overall body mass. Beyond those two facts, he was a
mystery even to himself.
Not that it mattered much anymore. Shatterstar
and Nym, his rescuers and the late founders of The Star Corps, had
taken him in, trained him, and given him a purpose. Now, walking down
the city street with its chorus of conflicting sounds, deep shadows,
and urban scented air, he couldn’t imagine any other life. He couldn’t
imagine what it might have been like if the Corps hadn’t found him.
He didn’t want to.
Ferrous crossed at the light and made his way into
the section of Steel Canyon known as the Copper District. The Yellow
Line Monorail wasn’t far from here and he could have jumped there
in a quarter of the time it took to walk but it was a pleasant night
and he was making himself relax and enjoy it. He stopped at a street
vendor, bought a bratwurst with onions and a soda and continued towards
the rail. He’d taken two bites from his dinner when all hell broke
He heard the sputtering of automatic gunfire, the screech of
tires on asphalt, and a chorus of sirens coming from the intersection
that was perhaps a hundred yards to his right. With a glance, he surveyed
the buildings that were nearby, chose a ledge that was next to the
cross street, took three running steps, and launched himself into
the air while the remains of his dinner spattered onto the sidewalk.
He sailed high into the night and landed on the ledge with practiced
grace. Quickly, he surveyed the scene. A large panel truck was weaving
in and out of traffic dangerously. A man was leaning out the partially
opened back door firing wildly at the three Paragon City police cruisers
that were trying to catch up. Bullet holes already riddled the front
of the two lead cruisers and Ferrous could see at least three civilians
lying on the sidewalks, wounded or worse. He quickly formed a plan
and flexed his legs for another leap. Suddenly, a familiar low-pitched
hum caught his attention and he relaxed.
Coming in from high and leveling
off a few yards below his position, Ferrous saw the familiar gray
and white form of his teammate Gunstar flying in on a pursuit course
behind the PCPD cruisers. Ferrous keyed his collar microphone as Gunstar
approached and said, “Gunstar, Ferrous. On scene, setting up a road
block. Need EMS for non-coms.”
Gunstar’s even, electronic voice responded,
“Acknowledged. EMS already en-route.”
And that was it. With those
few words a plan was formed and Ferrous launched himself into the
air again, leaping ahead of Gunstar, the cruisers, and landing on
a lower roof top just ahead of the oncoming van. Another, smaller,
jump and he was in the middle of the street between the van and one
of Steel Canyon’s busier intersections. He landed with his feet set
and his body leaning into the oncoming vehicle.
Ferrous had planned
it perfectly. By the time the van’s driver realized that the person
in the road wasn’t someone he could just run down, it was too late
to stop. The truck hit Ferrous with his arms spread wide, as though
he were trying to hug the engine compartment. The thunderous crash
and screech of metal against metal quickly dispelled that illusion,
though, as the cab wrapped around Ferrous’s braced body and pushed
him back, digging deep ruts into the asphalt where he had braced his
feet. He had hoped the impact would stall the engine but it hadn’t.
Even though he was blinded by the truck’s grill and could not see
the driver, Ferrous knew that the man was still conscious by the fact
that the engine was revving louder, trying hard to push him back and
run him down.
Ferrous could feel the cracked asphalt collecting around
his boots as he continued to plow through the city street with the
truck, though slowed considerably, pushing him closer to the busy
intersection at his back.
The word crackled through his
collar radio and Ferrous smiled. A second later, a lance of blue-white
energy streaked in from the right and tore through the front of the
engine compartment. Ferrous heard the engine begin to rattle and screech
shrilly as the engine mounts shattered against the force of the attack.
A cloud of steam boiled out from under the hood and the engine sputtered
Ferrous took a moment to make sure the truck had completely
stopped and then stepped back from the wreckage. The front end was
indented with a twisted, smoking T shape where the truck had struck
him. He heard the police cruisers squeal to halt somewhere behind
the truck and Gunstar’s voice came through the radio again. “Are you
Ferrous looked down at his chest and arms. His
jacket and shirt were ripped near to tatters but he felt fine. “I’m
good,” he replied, “trashed another damn jacket, though.”
fly back to assist EMS with evacuation of any wounded that might require
“Okay,” Ferrous said, “I’ll help the cops round up
some bad guys.”
Ferrous heard Gunstar fly past overhead
and quickly disappear down the street, He walked around to the driver’s
side of the truck and, feeling more than a little irritated at having
his quiet evening disrupted, reached out and ripped the door from
the hinges, dropping it to the street with a clatter.
He leaned into
the cabin and said, “You interrupted my dinner, you lousy…”
The cabin was empty. Ferrous stood up with a confused look on his
gray, metallic face and turned towards the back of the truck. Three
PCPD officers were walking towards him shoulder to shoulder with a
fourth behind. The center officer had a radio in his hand and was
speaking into it while watching Ferrous closely. Ferrous was about
to warn him to hang back, that something was wrong, when he overheard
the cop speaking into the radio.
“…acquired. Deploying neutralizing
Suddenly, the three cops dropped to their knees and the fourth
shouldered and fired a rocket grenade so quickly that Ferrous didn’t
have time to brace against the attack. It hit him squarely in the
chest and exploded with enough force to knock him down. Dimly, through
the haze that had become his awareness, Ferrous noticed the thick,
gray mist that was settling over him and burning into his lungs, making
the world spin and blur before his eyes. He struggled to rise, felt
another, smaller, explosion hit him in the back and then collapsed
face first into the street.
Gunstar raced through the Steel Canyon
night with his sensors sweeping the sidewalks below for signs of wounded.
Gunstar was an android and one of, if not the, finest examples of
artificial intelligence on the planet earth. As such, he could multitask
like no organic being and even as his sensors picked up the cries
for help from a woman lying bleeding on the sidewalk, his radio frequency
scanners noted that there were multiple ambulances less than a block
from her position and numerous other civilians coming to her aid with
cell phones in hand. He was about to move further down the street
to the next victim when his audio receivers registered the sound of
a low yield explosion emanating from 1.16 kilometers behind him. The
exact spot where he and Ferrous had stopped the truck.
the thrust in his boot jets enough to reverse direction and simultaneously
radioed the exact location of the wounded civilians to the oncoming
ambulances. His boot jets flared brightly and he rocketed through
the night back the way he had come. His radio calls to Ferrous went
unanswered as another, and then a third, explosion echoed among the
It took less than thirty seconds for Gunstar to get back
to Ferrous. In that time, though, things had changed drastically.
Ferrous was lying motionless on the ground. A dark mask with two small
tanks on the sides was covering his face. Six police officers, obviously
imposters, were strapping him into a harness that was attached to
two floating machines that Gunstar instantly recognized as Steel Valkyries.
The Valkyries were automated aerial attack drones armed with dozens
of small but deadly rockets. As always, these bore the stylized winged
skull markings of The Fifth Column. Gunstar had faced, and beaten,
these villains before.
Gunstar brought two glowing fists around and
sent rapid pulses of energy at the nearest imposter while simultaneously
broadcasting a call for back up on the Star Corps emergency frequency.
The Valkyries holding Ferrous began rising into the air, easily carrying
the motionless hero with them. Gunstar hovered in place and began
targeting the nearest Valkyrie while allowing a massive charge to
build in his combat emitters. One shot like this would destroy most
obstacles but it took a few seconds to execute. Unfortunately, It
was a few seconds too long.
His sensors detected the rocket’s heat
signature an instant before it exploded against his back. The force
of the blast knocked Gunstar from the air before he could release
the attack he had aimed at the Valkyrie and sent him sprawling into
the street. Three more rockets hammered into and around him and dug
small craters in the asphalt next to him. Smoke and small chucks of
debris rained down from the explosions as more rockets whistled towards
The first blast had knocked Gunstar’s sensory systems off line,
the android equivalent of being stunned, but they had rebooted quickly
enough for him to protect himself from the second barrage. Though
he was durable, Gunstar knew there was a limit to the number of direct
hits he could take and remain active.
Still on his back, Gunstar fired
his boot jets and skidded across the ground, leaving a carpet of bright
sparks in his wake. The rockets impacted with a deafening trio of
explosions. He lifted off from the street and rose above the level
of the smoke. In a microsecond, his targeting sensors acquired the
three Valkyries that had ambushed him and calculated his range to
each target. His left arm arced out in backhand motion that sent a
wave of crackling blue-white energy sweeping through the air. It rolled
over the three targets and sent them spinning backwards, out of control.
Gunstar extended both arms and released a sizzling bolt from each.
Both shots struck true, hammering into two of the Valkyries. The weapons
erupted into fireballs and crashed to the ground. The remaining Valkyrie
rotated and fired at Gunstar.
Gunstar swept out another wave of energy
and destroyed the rocket before it had halfway reached him. The Valkyrie
dropped low, attempting to reacquire Gunstar through the smoke, and
was hammered into the ground as Gunstar flew over the explosion and
sent multiple bursts tearing through the Valkyrie.
The resulting explosion
must have come from some short circuit that set off all the Valkyrie’s
remaining rockets at once. Gunstar’s sensors were blinded by the blast
as a bloom of fire grew suddenly above the street amid a chorus of
shattering glass and terrified screams. The waves of heat and force
swept over him and shoved him backwards through the air into an aluminum
streetlamp that bent around him like wet clay. He struck the pavement
hard and all his sensors went black.
Five point nine seven seconds
later, according to his internal clock, Gunstar’s systems rebooted
and he rose to his feet, sensors sweeping the immediate area. Though
damaged, internal diagnostics told him he was operating at 73% of
optimal and that his defensive systems ready for any threat he might
detect. After five seconds of sweeping the area, he determined there
was no remaining threat. He immediately took flight and streaked along
Ferrous’s last known course at his highest velocity. He rocketed past
the twentieth floor of a skyscraper and rounded the side of the building
with the combat emitters in the palms of his hands glowing blue and
Steel Canyon opened up before him. There were no skyscrapers
beyond this point, merely a series of stores and brownstones that
stretched all the way to the massive wall that separated Steel Canyon
from Atlas Park. Gunstar extended his sensors to their maximum range
and started searching for any sign of Ferrous and the Valkyries. As
he continued his sweep, his internal radio activated.
Azurian and I are on scene. What is your status, Gun? Where’s Ferrous?”
Gunstar did not respond. He continued his sweep, combing every alley
and doorway in range.
“Gunstar, this is Ame’thyst, come in. Gun, Ferr,…one
of you guys talk to me, Dammit!”
“Ame’thyst, Gunstar,” the android
replied, “you and Azurian check for casualties, I am on my way back.”
“What about Ferrous?”
“He is gone,” Gunstar said, “The Fifth Column
has abducted him.”
There was a pause on the other end of the radio,
as though someone were about to speak, and then silence.
To Be Continued