A brown haze filled the air, clogging the nostrils and burning the eyes. The aftermath of the cloud's birth rang on, incessant, filling the ear of a child who could not move. Pinned under concrete debris, glass shards piercing the shirt on his back and on through the flesh, the ringing soon faded away, but the encumbrances remained, as did the dust that kept his red eyes closed. The frightened child could hear it all. The screams of citizens, the sirens of badly outmatched emergency personnel, the grinding crumbling sound of entire buildings being reduced to dust and rubble – all the ingredients of Armageddon.
The air was beginning to clear, his eyes to recover. Managing to open his inflamed eyes, the child saw what looked like the shadow of a man. The boy yelled for help as loud as his lungs could bear, and the shadow turned to face him. Overwhelmed with relief, the boy began to cry, finally able to shed tears in the belief that here, at last was rescue.
But as the figure drew nearer, the boy’s tears stopped. The smile slid away from his face, leaving an image of fear. What emerged from the dust was no human. Before him stood a monstrosity of gelatinous goop containing the skull of a man. It was a Shivan.
It drew closer to the boy, reaching out to rip him from under the debris and then, doubt, to rip away his life. He cried out, again and again, his short life flashing before his eyes. Tears streamed down his face, and with every blink the Shivan drew closer.
Then he opened them to see a fist.
It was a small fist, but it was human, and as the boy's eyes opened and closed he saw it plunge into the side of the alien. And when he opened them again, the Shivan was flying away, and a feminine figure was standing in front of him clenching that small, improbably powerful force. Looking down at the boy, she knelt to the ground next to him, murmuring assurances. And then she reached under the debris that held him down and, like the Shivan, the mass of it was lifted with improbable ease and flung away, too far away to matter anymore. Salvation had found him, after all.
He climbed onto her back, and threw his arms over her neck, both holding her and hugging her, as he was equally inclined to do both. His consciousness was starting to fade, the strain of it all finally overwhelming him, but as his eyes closed he managed to murmur. “Thank you… Miss Luscious…”
It was as if the sky was falling. All through Steel Canyon, the infamous metal and concrete walls that made the place into such a warren of streets and alleys were slowly beginning to crumble, dumping great chunks of debris into the streets, already clogged with piles of twisted steel and stone.
Charles ran grimly, as fast as he could, clutching his son. He didn't know if there was anywhere any better left anymore, but to stay still was a death sentence, and so long as life still beat in him and in David, he would fight to keep it.
The air was filling with choking dust: he could barely see the obstacles in front of him, let alone dodge the ones above. He was desperately making his way by feel and by sound, praying none of the Shivans would find him.
He stumbled over the top of a boulder that he suspected had once been part of a statue on an office floor, lost control, skidded wildly down...and rebounded off the gelatinous flesh of a Shivan. He didn't even slow down – the Shivan was just another obstacle to avoid, albeit one that could move. Thankfully it seemed to move slowly, far more surprised than he had been. Perhaps a human had never bounced off its side like that before. He wondered, irrationally, if the Shivan would make a good trampoline for David.
The footsteps were heavy behind him, but also slow. No other seemed to be joining the chase. At this rate, over broken ground he could cross more easily, it seemed like there was hope yet. He could see the tunnel that connected Steel Canyon to Atlas Park, and felt a hard light enter his eyes. If he could cross that, could make it to the center, the safest place...if there was anywhere left to run, it was there. He put down his head, roared incoherently, and charged for the gate.
And then another Shivan – a flaming meteor born one – stepped out from the rubble to one side of the entrance. So did three others.
No wonder the chase had seemed easy. It was a trap. They were ambushing the exits.
For a moment, Charles slowed. Then an almost maniacal energy poured through him, and he charged on, screaming all the way. That tunnel was the only hope. If he couldn't make it through, he'd die trying, and he wouldn't fail for hesitating or holding back.
It seemed to work. The sheer sight of him charging in complete defiance of the odds seem to stun them just as his own encounter with the gelatinous one behind him had. As he approached, they only partially recovered, moving only slowly to stop him, as if they were still convincing themselves of what he intended to do. Charles reached fist distance, skidded one way, and then dropped and rolled, passing between the legs of the giant lava alien, covering his son with his arms and back. He scrambled back to his feet, hearing the vibrations of the Shivans shifting around behind, lunged forward – and tripped, rolled back to the ground by a treacherous rock.
The impact hurt him, and he heard his son, until then silent with a bravery that pained him, cry out and pain him even more. He rolled over to see the Shivan stand over, and knew, even as he tried, that he could not get out of the way in time.
There was a roar, part mechanical, part giant soft breath, and a fierce breeze blew behind him. Something settled into place just behind him with the chink of metal, and a bronze arm holding a glowing shield of mechanical arms and blue energy blocked out the world in front of him. The impact of the Shivan's fist didn't even make it quiver.
He'd have known who it was even without the tattered, bloodstained lab coat that seemed so out of place draped over the gleaming, powerful form of his powered armor suit. “Trinity! Trinity Force!”
“Get your son out of here!” Trinity said fiercely. “Head for City Hall. Don't stop for anything, we're barely keeping the zone clear. It will be the only safe place before long. Go!”
Behind him, Trinity set his feet, preparing to do battle with the Shivan ambush party. “I see Whiz Kid was right about why no one was coming from this direction anymore,” he said quietly. “I'll have to have you move.”
A calm breeze danced around trees, rustling leaves on its way over the clear surface of the lake: Perez Park was a picture of serene calm. The waves of waving branches in its wake extended throughout the forest, encroaching on and over crumbling towers and sagging stores, slowly drowning the memory of man under the mantle of Mother Nature. Until recently a battleground between gangs and mystical cults, the park's only remaining human beings were now a dozen or so members of some standard street gang, doing their best to avoid others, and succeeding thus far.
Their eyes, peering out from holes in their masks, flicked constantly from side to side, straining to catch the first sight of movement. The park was quiet, so quiet that they could hear their own heartbeat, but that was part of what was frightening. The park that once rang to the cries of birds, the speeches of the Lost, and the machinations of the Vahzilok, now knew only their own breath. Something had done it. And that something might not be gone.
They knew the odds of escaping unscathed were slim. And yet nothing seemed to be there. The suspense was frightening.
Then the ground trembled.
It shook, tried to leap free of the earth's crust: windows burst apart, stone rolled and cracked, and birds leaped free of the no longer steady trees. The gang members began pointing their guns in every direction, trying to spot the source, knowing it was no earthquake, but unable to pick out the direction.
And then one of the smaller members burst into a bloodcurdling scream that turned every head. That was their death. The stone fist that obliterated them came from the other way.
Different time, same place. Now there's a man clad in a leather trench coat kneeling over the gangster's decaying bodies, examining them, and the site in general. He seems to be trying to learn what went wrong. But the fastest way to find out is the hard way.
Suddenly he raises his arm over his head, generating a power force field. A giant stone fist still stained with dark spots crashes into it with the force of a tidal wave – but apparently the man's shield is a sea cliff, and holds up just the same.
It was the hard way, but not hard enough to break Graff.
The culprit was a Quarry, and a large one: a construct of stone made by one of the greatest threats to the world, Hamidon. Just one of the many dangers threatening to overrun all of Paragon City now. Simple and easily angered, the Quarry began to pound relentlessly on the shield. Graff gritted his teeth: even his shields had limits, and as the repeated heavy impacts reverberated through him he could feel those limits approaching. The Quarry might be simple, but simple brute force was something it had in plenty. Graff could feel his shields start to crack, the impacts penetrating throughout his body, making him feel like he would shake apart beneath his skin.
Then, from behind the Quarry, a small burst of light. A Heroine decked out in blue-green spandex with jagged black lines on her arms and legs leaped onto the monster's back and dug in with mystical claws, tearing out its innards and rending its life force. As the Quarry began to topple, she rolled over its shoulder, down its arm, and down to Graff, grabbing and pulling the hero out from underneath the falling corpse of solid rock.
The two caught their breath as the dust settled. Graff, as usual, was too shy to say things like thank you...but his companion was used to this.
“Don’t mention it,” the Claw said with a relieved smile. She'd been quite worried about him for a minute. “Come on, we have to get to Atlas Park.
“Y-Yeah… I know.”
One Quarry alone couldn't have emptied Perez Park – there were other such monstrosities all around them, and now they were the only prey for miles: both could sense the creatures converging. There was only one sensible thing to do in the face of odds like those. In unison, they began running for the exit. Unlike the gangsters, they had the speed to make it.
Blue Whizkid, on the other hand, had enough speed to scour the entire Perez Park and leave before one of the monstrosities could finish turning around. In the current disaster, he was one of the only ones who could freely investigate the various zones and carry messages to beleaguered heroes. So it wasn't entirely a surprise when he appeared running next to them, having apparently slowed down enough to drop back into visibility and not leave them behind.
“You guys okay?” Blue asked? He tried to hide it, but there was a strained note of worry in his voice: Blue was working overtime trying to keep everyone in touch and help find troublespots. And he was young: the horrors of the last few days were shadows in the sixteen year olds eyes.
“So far,” Claw said.
Blue cast a reflexive glance over his shoulder. “You need a diversion?”
“Not yet, thanks,” Claw said, feeling touched. Blue was a good kid with a lot of potential. If they survived all this, he might become a great hero himself.
“There was a really bad explosion down in King's Row. Even I can't go in now. I was afraid you'd been in it.”
That made Claw jump. There shouldn't be much that could stop Blue short of an actual barrier.
“Not at all? Really?”
“Well, I didn't dare at first – the footing, you see, unstable. At high speed, slipping can kill you.”
“Oh. Well, we're fine, there was a close shave but Graff's shields held up and...Nightlight!” Claw skidded to a stop. So did Graff, looking horrified. “Nightlight was still in there!”
Blue went white. “He's not with you?”
“No. We couldn't find him before we left, but you know, he can take care of himself most of the time so we just left...Blue, I hate to ask but—”
“It's okay,” Blue interrupted. “I know. I'll stop at the infirmary for Amerikatt and go look for him. If he's alive she'll be able to do the rest. You guys need to go to Atlas Park – we can't hold the rest of the zones, everyone's gathering there. Live or die, it looks like that's where it's going to happen.”
Claw reached out and put a hand on his shoulder. “We are going to make it Blue. Believe in that.”
Blue swallowed. “Yeah,” he said. “You should hurry.” Then he disappeared.
“He tries too hard,” Claw said softly. Graff nodded. “We all are,” he said quietly.
Kovacs - Leader of "The Titan Legacy" SuperGroup
The First SuperGroup In City of Titans History - Come Be A Part Of It!!!