Instincts: Part Two

by: David McFarland


"So, how did you survive?"

"Well, let’s just say the butt of an assault rifle doesn’t bounce off an Outcast’s head without leaving a shattered skull behind."

"You mean you-" Chillbain was wide-eyed.

"Yea. I kinda had to. Either me or them, and they would of killed hundreds of civilians and heroes if I died." Sky Burn leaned into the couch and sipped his coffee.

"But you’re a hero, you’re not supposed to kill-"

"It was the lesser of two evils," Sky Burn cut him off again, "like I said, I had to put them down for the safety of the city and my own safety. I’m sure the Freedom Phalanx will understand."

"But… how did you survive in the first place with all of them swarming you?" Chillbain was still in disbelief that his friend was still alive after the large fight between the heroes, Outcasts, and Clockwork. The heroes lost their powers somehow, and by the same magic the Clockwork went down as well. With the Outcasts weaponry, it was a slaughterhouse and the heroes had to escape.

"My armor is almost totaled from that. It’s what kept me alive." Sky Burn held up his suit. It was pocket-marked with bullet-holes and sledgehammer strikes. "I’m just glad they use grade A Titanium and ceramics to make this."

Nathan still stared in disbelief. Ten minutes ago he though Ryan to be dead. Now he was sitting beside him drinking coffee in their apartment.

Ryan sighed as the hot liquid poured down his throat. "I’m glad to be home." Nathan looked into his comrade’s eyes. There was something… different. He guessed it was what people said soldiers had in their eyes after war, but Ryan already had that look before the loss of their powers. This was more of a look of sadness and grief; even more hardness filled Ryan’s blue eyes than before.

" I just can’t believe that you killed them."

"I had to."

"But-"

"But nothing. The arresting devices were as powerless as we were."

"Still… you killed them. How could you do it?"

"I’m a soldier remember? I fought in a war already! It was nothing like what we saw on Zodia. In Zodia most of our guys who died then were simply vaporized or burned to death. In my dimension our war was so bad that people’s bodies we torn in two right down the waist, but something let them live for a few more minutes to die in pain, letting them live through the agony."

Sky Burn stood up to emphasize his words. His eyes sparkled with a little moisture at the remembrance, but no tears ran down his face. "We had people wandering around the battlefields looking for their own arms that some mortar shell had flung hundreds of feet away."


"Sorry, man… I didn’t know."

"Do you know how I felt after I killed all those guys, how I feel now knowing I ended hundreds of lives right then and there? When I was the only person standing at that site, with hundreds of people dead laying around me… I- I cried. You don’t know what it feels like to have blood on your hands and not know which person it came from, or how many people it belongs to. Or having to kill teenagers- some of them too young to even drive- because they want your head on a platter. But your know you have to for the safety of yourself and innocent people." Sky Burn collapsed back onto the couch with his head on his hands. "And Hollywood rarely comes close to what it’s like… except for stuff like ‘Blackhawk Down’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’, they have no clue… And now that I have no control over energy I feel so weak. It was literally a part of me; my bond with it made it so that I couldn’t die without having to be blown apart… my loss of it made me… I was scared out there Nate."

"It’s ok man," Chillbain patted him on the back, sincerely sorry, but knowing that he really didn’t provoke his friends outburst, but was just a vent for the anger and sadness.

A minute later the former heroine known as Burning Barrier burst through the apartment door. "Nathan I got your call. What’s wrong?" Sky Burn’s girlfriend had been one of the hero’s fortunate enough not to be at the massive battle that had taken place.

"Nothing… I just thought you’d like to know that your boyfriend is still alive."

He pointed to the slumped over figure. The girl nearly tackled Ryan off the couch at the joy of seeing him, and Ryan himself lit up at her presence, with Nathan laughing in the background.

***


"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Chillbain was fully uniformed and swung around his metal six-foot staff he had made himself. He double-tapped a button near where his thumb rested on it when he held it and it retracted to the size of a pack of gum. He hit the button again and it extended out again.


His loss of powers required him a different method of defense, and that involved using his self-defense training from Zodia and the metal rod he now held.

"I’m never sure what’s a good idea, but this one seems logical. We can still be heroes." Sky Burn fingered the trigger of his rifle while watching the Freakshow members harass a citizen.

"But we won’t kill these guys… just take them to the Zig," Chillbain watched as Sky Burn attached a rocket to the barrel of the assault rifle. He gave him a stare as if to say, ‘That’s overkill.’

"Don’t worry, I’ll hit the tank with it." Sky Burn raised the rifle with the rocket attached and sighted the Tank Smasher. "Go." He said right before firing.

Chillbain lunged and hit the Chief Swiper with the pole across the neck, then hit him in the stomach with the other end of it.

Luckily these were the only two in their group. Before the tank could get up from the blast, Sky Burn put a sniper rifle rough through its torso coupling that held the legs of it to the chest part. He followed up by putting two more rounds through the shoulders of it keeping him from using his arms.

Meanwhile, Chillbain also had an easy time with his foe. With a few more hits to pressure points the Chief was unconscious.

"That was easy… almost too-"

"Don’t say it. We always get ambushed after you say it." Sky Burn retorted while heaving the heavy tank toward the Zigursky prison.

"Let go of me!" the Tank spouted at them. "Get your hands off me you capes!"

"Now, I wouldn’t be saying that if I were you," Sky Burn put his barrel up to the defenseless man’s head. "so shut up. I’m having a bad day as it is. You don’t want to make me angry."

Chillbain dragged the Chief Swiper behind him as they took them to the prison. "Yea, this guy killed over a hundred Outcasts. Single-handedly too." At that, the Tank was wide-eyed and quit talking.

"You shut up too, Chill."

"Right-o then."

***


"I guess we are just going to have to deal with having to go on small patrols. I don’t want to have to drag that many guys to the Zig again. No more six-villain groups for me." Ryan flexed his sore arm. He had gained a lot of muscle over the past two weeks, as had Chillbain. "By the way, could you teach me some of those moves you learned on Zodia? Or even make me one of those special staffs?"

"Sure. Which one first?"


"Teach me the self-defense moves first. Of course, I know a lot from the military, but it would be nice to know more." Sky Burn started to take off his armor, first unclipping his gloves, then taking off his chest plating. Neither Nate nor Ryan had noticed the small group of people in there living room.

"So, your not even going to say ‘hi’ to your girlfriend?"

"Wah- how did you get in here Kathy?" Nathan was surprised to see Sky Burn’s girlfriend there.

Knife Edge swung a key around his index finger. "You gave this to me in case anything happened to you guys. I decided we could make exceptions on its use."

Ryan sneered jokingly at him. "Why are you guys here?"


"We just decided to drop by," Kathy said. "Maybe all of us could catch a movie, take a walk in Atlas park…, go on patrol?"

"Oh no, we just got back from that." Chillbain said.

"Come on, where is your sense of adventure?" Fiery Ice asked playfully.

"I left it back at Zigursky with the three Circle of Thorns I had the drag there, along with a few Carnival of Shadows Iron Men."

Knife Edge smiled a little. "A heroes work is never done."
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