Friday, June 22, 2012

GZ Legends 6: Into the Fire


Redeagle ready for action
            Commander Henry P. Larratus was a serious, heavy set, and gruff man. Whenever he got agitated his high balding forehead would turn bright red and a couple veins would stand out. He got agitated often. Henry knew his cigar habit and daily whiskey regimen weren't helping his health, but at this point they were the only things keeping him sane. Commanding the Federal Protection Agency was a very stressful job, but someone or something out there didn't think it was stressful enough. The world plunged in darkness and a city full of wrecked police departments had Henry’s stress meter working overtime.

            Commander Larratus leaned on a podium and stared at a blank doorway from the front of the briefing room. He clenched his teeth. No one could ever move fast enough for Commander Larratus. If two particular bodies didn't come through that door soon, he was going to have a coronary. Finally, Atomizer and Agent Redeagle came through the door and the Commander banged his fist on the podium.

            “Do either of you know what the word emergency means?” Commander Larratus shouted, “Never mind, sit down and shut up. We've got the most serious business this side of World War 2 going on!”

            Neither man said a word as they sat down. They both knew this was just Commander Larratus and his way. Saying nothing about it and just doing the job were always the best idea.

            “I trust you two have been next door?” the Commander said.

            “We have,” Redeagle answered.

            “That is the condition of every police precinct in New York city right now. Cameras didn't catch much but their weapons emitted enough light that we did get some views of what they were wearing. Take a look at these photo printouts.” The Commander tossed pictures to both men, “We are going to go out on a limb and assume that the field of darkness and their attack are not coincidence. What’s worse is that the dark is worldwide. The attacks, however, are not. We have no idea why that is. What we do know about this phenomenon is that it’s blocked all forms of radar. Every airport in the world is effectively frozen. We have no way of communicating with our satellites or seeing what is up there. Cell phones are useless, but land lines work fine.”

“So what do we do?” Atomizer asked as he looked over the photos. “Start looking for these shooters?”

“Not just yet. Gentlemen, right now this is being considered worse than the worst case disaster scenario. In the case that an event of the worst scenario occurs, we have an emergency protocol. It’s called the Emergency Draft Protocol and your first assignment will be to execute it.  The idea is to recruit the people with the biggest, baddest powers that we know of. While there are some registered parahumans that are signed up to be on call, we only want a certain crew, handpicked if you will. Unfortunately, I have just one file for you. You need to talk to this man. Lombard Ogleson worked for the CIA and quit a few years ago. He ran missions to Vietnam to retrieve P.O.W.s. He also did a lot of search and destroy missions.  Rumor is that he’s become a vigilante. You find him and see if you can get him to come back. See if he can connect us with any other parahumans that might be interested. If you really need something to motivate them, tell them it’s going to be the end of the world anyway. They have nothing to lose. There have also been reports of a newcomer to the city; a guy with the head of a dog, flying around healing and helping people. See if you can locate him and find out what he’s about. From what we've seen, he isn't part of the problem. There’s just one more thing I want you to know about Lombard Ogleson, don’t tick him off. He may not be long on patience because of the conditions he quit under. It’s all in his file. Any questions?”

“Yeah, boss, I have a question. I’m looking at his list of powers here and I wonder, if we should happen to make him mad, what do you suggest we do?” Redeagle asked.

Larratus rubbed his face with both hands and sighed long and loud. “Just don’t make him mad, okay? If you do, you might not be back.”

“Commander, have there been any demands?” Atomizer asked.

“No, and we find that particularly disturbing. Now get out of here!”

 ********

Lombard Ogleson stood in his backyard, surrounded by privacy fence and stared up into the darkened sky.  He moved some of his sandy brown hair back over one ear and strained to listen. He could feel deep within himself that this was more than just an absence of light. There was no wind and the temperature was already ten degrees cooler. Even from standing in his backyard, he could feel the thing above his world, he could feel its effects on the land around him. Lombard could feel these things because he was the most powerful elemental man on Earth. He walked as one with elements and the patterns of weather anywhere he went. In the CIA his codename was Sandstorm.

Lombard walked back into his house and turned on the television. Most broadcasts were disabled with exception of local channels by cable transmission. News reports permanently took over all that were left.

“There’s still no reason given or found for the darkness covering the Earth. Reports of police station attacks have come from all across the New York area. Meanwhile, looting clashes with vigilante justice and the Mayor calls for a State of Emergency. All remaining police have been called to duty. So far the President has had no comment, but we eagerly await some statement from the White House.  A new hero was spotted in New York today as he healed frightened people on Staten Island. Bystanders report that he was scary at first because he has the head of some form of dog. The hero has been unavailable for comment. Witnesses say he calls himself Anubis.”

Lombard snorted at the report, “It’s the head of a jackal, you idiots.” He turned off the television. “And I really doubt the President can do a blessed thing.”

Lombard sat in his favorite easy chair and stared at the silent television set. He knew someone would be coming. They would want him to come back. While he had no idea if he wanted to work for the government again, he definitely planned on doing something about the situation.

 ********

Nightfall
A fire crew scrambled into action as the flames licked toward the sky from the two story warehouse in the Bronx. They bombarded the building with heavy streams of water from five trucks. The fire defied them and ate away at the structure with abandon.  Lead firemen yelled orders over the sound of gushing water and hissing steam. Smoke spiraled into the darkness. One of the firemen took a second to look up toward the darkness and found Anubis hovering over him.

“Dear God,” the fireman murmured just loud enough to hear.

“Not quite, the name’s Anubis. Is there anyone inside?”

“We aren't sure. We can’t get close enough.”

“Okay, you can stop staring at me and get back to the fire. I’m going in to look around.”

“But the fire,” the man didn't have time to finish as Anubis darted through a broken set of windows.

The flames licked at him but did not burn him. He suspected he might be resistant to fire. 

“Bulletproof and fireproof too, very handy.”

 The warehouse was filled with burning crates and towers of fire loomed all around him. Suddenly, he could sense two things; the weakening of the structure and a rapid heartbeat that wasn't far away.

 “Far out.” He mused over his recognition of this power and dashed through the obstacle course of voracious flames.  At first, he stopped stunned at the sight of her. He had never seen such a beautiful blonde woman before. He snapped back to reality when he saw the metal beam lying across one of her legs.  In a millisecond he knelt over her. He barely gave her shocked expression a second glance as he grasped the metal beam and lifted it away. After tossing it aside with a loud clank, he stooped to look at her broken leg. She couldn't pull it away as he lay his glowing hands upon it. Bones knit back together and gashes sealed under shredded clothing. Her expression went from anxiety to amazement and he lifted her from the floor.

“Is there anyone else in here?” Anubis asked her.

“No, they left me to die.”

“Well that’s not going to happen today.” He thought of his revenge in the desert and the fire he summoned to engulf the terrorists.  “I wonder if I can reverse the process.”

“Reverse what process?”

He ignored the question as he concentrated on the flames. From him there came a wave of blue calm that washed through the building and the flames died away in its wake.

“Wish I thought of that sooner. Well, let’s get out of here.”  He lifted to the air and flew her out of the building through another window. As he flew he felt her touch the side of his face. When he noticed, she jerked her hand back, surprised at her own curiosity. He landed near the fire trucks.

“Can you stand?”

“I think so.”

He set her on her feet gently and finally took in the sight of her. Her eyes were a deep green and her hair gave her a kind of glow, even without the sun. She wore a bodysuit of blue that seemed like a uniform. The one pant leg was shredded and her face was patched with soot. Even so, he thought she was gorgeous. She studied his face with deep interest and then he realized why.

“I guess you never met a dog like me before?”

She smiled, “Don’t you mean a jackal? Anubis has the head of a jackal.”

“Hey, you’re good. Of course, I’m not the real Anubis. I was remade in his image.”

“I had no questions. You really scared me at first, but now I’m grateful. Thank you for saving me.” She brushed her hand to the side of his face.

When she touched him he felt his heart flutter. Then a wave of guilt washed over him. How could he feel this way after losing Ella? He only just lost her. He decided to try and change the subject.

“Oh, you’re welcome. Who left you in there?”

“They had on dark helmets and I couldn't see their faces. There were just too many and they had some high tech weapons. I guess they didn't want to leave any witnesses.”

A fireman interrupted them, “Hey, did you put that fire out?”

“Oh, yes I did. Sorry I didn't do it sooner, I just didn't think of it. I’m still learning all my powers.”

“Well, you’re awesome in our book. Thanks a lot.” The men clapped and cheered.

“Great thanks, guys.” Anubis looked around quickly, she wasn't there.

Back behind the building she stood, scrutinizing some of the burnt structure.

“Leaving so soon?” Anubis asked as he landed next to her.

She smiled sweetly, “Sorry, but I had to get back here.”

“Well, you just answered my next question anyway.”

“What’s that?”

“Why you counted as a witness to them. You’re with some law enforcement and they caught you. I thought that your jumpsuit looked like a uniform, but I don’t recognize it.” He looked at her pant leg and noted that it looked as good as new. “Hey, how’d you change so fast?”

“I didn't, they’re self-repairing.”

“Wow, okay, you need to tell me more. What’s going on here? Why didn't those guys just kill you with their high tech weapons?”

“Because the Professor wanted to punish me.”

“The Professor?”

“Yes, Professor Zombie. He’s who I was investigating. We hoped to stop him, but we’re too late.”

“Nice name, is he the cause of that?” Anubis pointed to the sky.

“No, but we think he knows who is. I hoped to use my power on him and find out once I caught him.”

“You have a power? Why didn't you get out?”

“You’re so cute,” she laughed slightly. “It’s not that kind of power. I’m called Nightfall because I can cause mental blackouts by skin contact. While I have a person knocked out I can read their thoughts. Zombie’s men grabbed me before I could get close enough.”

“Oh, sorry. I don’t know a lot of powers except for my own and the ones I read about in the paper.”

“And you don‘t know your own that well.” She teased.

“Okay, okay. So tell me more about the Zombie.”

“He was a brilliant scientist; a true genius in his fields of genetics, robotics, and medicine. He worked in Africa to cure diseases that were mutating. As the story goes, he caught a flesh eating virus that he was trying to cure in a village. In order to save himself, he had to cut off his arm and part of both of his legs. He stopped all work at that village and went into seclusion. He built himself cybernetic replacements and something in him changed. He didn't want to save any one anymore. He wanted to rule them instead. So he created what he called, the Immortality Formula to make people serve him.”

“That’s incredible. So his people are immortal?”

“In a manner of speaking. They’re immortal, but they aren't exactly alive anymore either. He started with the village that gave him the virus and moved on to countless others. No one has been able to get close to him since.”

Anubis thought he would be sick. “That’s why he’s called Professor Zombie.”

“Exactly.”

“So how do you stop them? Is it like the old horror movies?”

“We don’t know, but they all wear motorcycle helmets, so maybe you’re on to something. I do know that my power doesn't work on them.”

“How twisted. He doesn't deserve to be called a Professor. So, who are you with?”

“My team is called Caliber 5, we’re with Interpol.”

“International Police?”           

“Um, actually, that’s Intergalactic Police.”

“Wha?”

“Yes, it’s called Council Interpol. It’s actually rare that we get involved in planetary matters, but we found evidence that this could be bigger than Earth itself.” She looked up to the dark sky. “We were right.”

Jump to: GZ Legends 7
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