Instincts
by:
David McFarland

“Your insurance is canceled.” The medical porters
weren’t working.
“Run!” Chillbain called as an ice blast flew from his
hand. It barely reached the targeted Clockwork
Knight. From his high vantage point, he could see
what was going on. Heroes’ powers were failing.
Miserably, their powers just stopped working.
Chillbain’s own powers were weakening. As a Zodian,
he could naturally fly. At least that was working for
him. But because his powers were not natural, they
were diminishing at a rate that scared Chillbain.
“Your powers are disconnected.” Everyone’s powers
were dwindling.
Far below, Sky Burn didn’t know that he was affected
until he tried to Super-speed to help another hero.
His energy cuffs in his wrists didn’t work. His gun
on the other hand, because it was much more simple
technology and used no electronics, did work. He
sniped a Clockwork Oscillator out of the air, which
fell and exploded when it hit the ground. Ryan was
glad he out-powered these clockworks by so far. A
skill-full sniper shot could take down even their
bosses. And their enormous Paladins were only a
little harder.
“Everything is now ours.”
Chillbain moved down to just above Sky Burns shoulder.
“We need to get out of here!”
“I’ll cover your retreat!” Sky Burn yelled to his
comrade. “My armor is still in great condition.
“Holy-” A Clockwork Oscillator fell down a few feet
away from them. “They’re failing too!”
“Come on!” Chillbain urged again.
“Don’t wait up for me!” Sky Burn moved closer to a
group of weapon-bearing heroes that was surrounded-and
getting cut down fast. “There’s a lot I can still do
here.” He turned and sent a volley of bullets into a
group of Outcasts. As he went to get closer to the
group, a huge Clockwork fell on them. Only a few of
them had made it just far enough away to escape its
bulk.
Of them were two Katana heroes, one carrying a
battle-axe, another with a broadsword, and the last
with an assault rifle. They grouped around the edges
of a large building. “Anyone got any ideas?” One of
the Katana using heroes asked.
“We can either stay and fight and help those
who are fleeing,” Sky Burn looked at the massive flood
of heroes leaving the scene. “or we can run as well.”
The six heroes ran out into the Outcast’s
slaughtering area, where the street gang was firing
their pistols and assault rifles at the helpless
heroes. In an instant, the six
descended upon them, and several groups were cut
down-literally- in minutes. Sky Burn and the other
hero stayed back and shot fatal slugs at their
enemies. Soon he didn’t here his ally’s gun. He
turned to ask if he needed ammunition, but the hero
was on the ground.
Sky Burn knelt beside him behind their bunker
of rubble. “What happened?”
The hero was in a fetal position. “So much death. So
much death. So much death.” He was in shock. He had
obviously never killed before. He had never seen the
look on someone’s face before you blast them into the
afterlife. Ryan had almost felt the same when he
first had to in the war. But he had been able to
rationalize with himself. The terrorist group they
had fought then was willing to die themselves for a
cause that seemed useless to him.
Now, it seemed eerie how easy it was to kill
for Ryan. Still, with every shot, he could almost
feel the pain that his enemies felt. Almost. He rose
again, with a second glance at the hero who was still
repeating the same words. “So much death. So much
death.” A pistol shot stopped his suffering.
Chillbain took one last look at his friend as he flew
away, then flew off, never looking back. He knew in
his heart that it would probably be the last time he
saw Ryan alive.
Sky Burn threw away his monocle; it was only
getting in the way since it didn’t work. In war he
learned not to think. He learned to go by instincts.
Instincts kept you alive. Over the drone of gunshots,
screams of pain of those who were dying and the
screams of victory of those were winning; you had to
learn to listen to those instincts.
Sky Burn surveyed what was happening while
controlling the recoil of his gun. Only the
battle-axe, the broadsword hero, and he remained.
Sky Burn rushed a group of Outcasts and smacked
several in the back of the head until the rest
realized that he was there. It didn’t help them
anyway. They, too, were soon dead.
A few feet away the battle-axe wielder was gunned
down, and soon the broadsword. Bullets smacked and
ricocheted off Sky Burn’s heavy armor. As he slammed
in his second to last magazine he realized he was
surrounded.
Outcasts fired at him continuously as they
closed in. Sky Burn put the gun at eye level and
fired. There were more of the thugs than he had
bullets. The last hero at the site of destruction
would have to get creative.


Chillbain could feel the tears in his eyes
cooling off as his powers finally were completely
gone. They now only had the temperature of a human’s
tears. Chillbain himself felt hot. He was used to
his body being ice-cold. As he flew he nearly had a
heat-stroke from the loss of homeostasis.
The hero flew to a restaurant. He rushed
inside as onlookers gazed. Chillbain jumped over the
counter into the kitchen and ran back into the freezer
room. It made him feel so much better. After a while
it came to his attention that he was cold. He hadn’t
felt cold. Ever. He was born with his ice-powers.
Chillbain walked out of the room. Fortunately, he
warmed up. The room temperature felt… good. It was
then that he realized that he was almost normal.
Almost. He could still fly. His hair wasn’t its
light-blue, anymore. It was brown.

***

Several weeks later, Chillbain still had no
sign of his comrade. He had even gone back the day
after they had lost their powers. Then, bodies of the
heroes-and Outcasts- were strewn about. But not Sky
Burn. For that, Chillbain still hope. Ryan was a
fighter, he always said if he died in battle, he would
go down in a blaze of glory.
The words on the war-walls came back to haunt him
day-in and day-out. They looked like weird symbols,
but everyone understood them. “Your insurance is
canceled. Your powers are disconnected. Everything is
now ours.”
Chillbain swore to himself that he would kill
whoever it was who did this to them even if he himself
died in the process. Most of the heroes now were in
New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, or other
cities that their powers still worked. Chillbain
hated those heroes who had given up. And those who
had forgotten them.

In the time since they had lost their powers,
Chillbain had buffed up. In the middle of his room
now hung a punching bag, and he had taken up martial
arts and kendo, a form of sword-fighting. At his side
hung an extendable, long metal bladed stick. It was

like a sword, but with no guard. It could collapse
down the size of a cell-phone.
As he walked to his new job he passed alleys
with Arachno-bots still cleaning up the wreckage of
the fight. They wanted the people to forget them.
Billboards of heroes like the Statesman were now being
painted over. The city seemed like a normal city.
A man ran toward him holding a purse. Somewhere
behind the man a woman screamed, “Stop him!” Nathan
stuck out his leg and caught his, sending him
sprawling on the ground.
“I hate punks like you.” Nathan kicked him.
“I suppose you think that some cape will come
and save you, huh?” The thug got up and flicked out a
switchblade. “Well they’ve left you! They left me!
They left all of us to suffer!”
“I was one. And I haven’t.” Nathan swung out
his metal sword, slung it through the handle-loop of
the purse and flung it back to its owner.
“Holy crud!” The thug said as he looked at
the three-foot weapon. A swift kick to the stomach
sent him to the floor. Nathan retracted the weapon
and went on his way.
He could still be a hero.

Nathan climbed into the bus and paid the fee.
Before he sat down he saw familiar faces of former
heroes, but said nothing. They didn’t give up on the
city. Neither did he. Chillbain got off at his new
job where he worked as an accountant. “Six hours of
pain.” He whispered to himself.

Nathan threw his suitcase onto the couch as he
entered his apartment room. He heard something

strange. Someone was in the shower. In his suit, he
swung out and extended his sword. The shower turned
off as its knob creaked off. A minute later the door
started open.
The only thing that ran through Nathan’s head as he
rose the sword above his head was that someone had
broken in. As the door opened, it revealed a man in
his boxers with a towel over his shoulders. “Hi
Nathan, your home.” Ryan said.
TO PART 2 >
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