Chapter 8: Heroes

This was going to be tough. Walter had explained to us the situation regarding Streamline, and based on what he knew, they weren’t content with the Ashes. While we had been sent to locate where they were operating, it seemed like Walter already knew about their command structure, but was missing key details that would allow him to know their plans. Well, now he knew their leader was a psychopath with superpowers, so he’d made a decision. We weren’t to go back into the Ashes for the time being, and Skyfire was to make a statement condemning the group, and insisting that no-one entered the Ashes. Then, he’d send down groups of soldiers to search the Ashes for anything related to Shade’s goal, which he had still refused to tell us, and to keep tabs on where Streamline was. I had tried arguing against it, and Lake had agreed with me. The brutes were far too strong, if we hadn’t had our armor, we would’ve died within seconds.

Which brought up the topic of the brute’s weaknesses, and their limits. From what we had seen, Streamline could have two brutes active at once, and could easily control one of them directly. The other would probably be acting on any prior knowledge it had of fighting, and an innate fear of what would happen to it if it didn’t do what Streamline wanted. That, and it seemed the one he wasn’t directly controlling would lose its power after a certain amount of time. Streamline also seemed to favor Nick, who was big enough before he was under Streamline’s control. It was quite a scary possibility that three people with near superhuman strength could be assaulting us at the same time. Walter recognized the threat, but decided instead that I should be taking a break for now, after being struck by lightning and fighting the brutes. I didn’t argue, I just left the Doughnut and went to sleep. It had been a long day.

*

I walked into the Doughnut the next morning to see my face on TV, or rather, my helmet. The text scrolling underneath my helmet said that I had sent a video to the news station last night, addressing the images that had been floating around online, and I had accidentally let slip the fact that we were going to take on Streamline. It wasn’t surprising that people were scrutinizing the video, or the fact that I had apparently demanded that the Ashes were not to be entered. What was funny to me though, was the fact that no-one had paid any attention to the voice in the video, and the voice that I had in any other videos that had been taken. It sounded higher than normal, like the filter hadn’t been adjusted for whoever had been speaking through my helmet when the video was recorded. It wasn’t much higher; in fact, it was just barely noticeable. But when you noticed it, it stuck out like a sore thumb.

Steadily, more people piled into the Doughnut, bringing with them platters of food. I’d woken up late once again, and it was around noon when I had. The TV was basically always on one of those twenty-four-hour news channels, because no-one had agreed upon what to watch. One of the perks of living up on the Sandman, I guess. May walked over to me and sat down next to me. She was grumpy once again, so I kept my guard up in case she wanted to break my arm.

Once everyone was seated around the Doughnut, Alan decided now would be a good time to ask me some questions.
“So, what exactly is it you did in that fight Edward?” He asked, grabbing at the food laid out on the table.
“Mostly? I took punches. The brutes hit hard, harder than you can imagine, but the armor can take it. I tried everything I could to try and knock the brute down, but I didn’t win until he got tired. So I tried shooting,” I reached down, and grabbed a slice of pizza off of the table.
“And because of the storm, you got struck by lightning?” Iris asked.
“So that’s what Lake told you. No, that was on purpose. I don’t have the longest range with my lightning, so I used an actual lightning bolt to try and bolster my abilities. I think it worked,” I said, and May punched me.
“So there’s the possibility that you didn’t need the lightning, right? That’s what you’re saying?” She asked.
“Not at all. It worked, but I’m not sure if it was enough,” May punched me again, but a little weaker this time.
“Well, don’t do it again. I’m no good with scars,” She said. Was I managing to change her opinion of me? That would be nice, to go back to the way things were between us before Dad had died.
“So, Walter says the Streamline operation will happen on the thirtieth. What do we do until then?” Lake asked. He looked to me and Riley for an answer.
“We’re superheroes, right? So we act like them. Alan, you’re a pilot, right?” I asked, and he nodded, pulling a piece of fruit off of the table in a gust of wind. That would certainly be helpful.
“Sweet. All we need is a drop-ship then,” Alan grinned, realizing what I was saying. The pods, although discreet, put us far away from the city. And while I loved riding in on a motorcycle, most of us didn’t have a license. In fact, only Alan and I had been old enough before we were on board the Sandman. That, and there was the fact that a bike wasn’t good enough to transport seven people.

My plan, in essence, would be that we would fly down I the drop-ship to wherever there was a problem, and deal with it as a team. It would give us some excellent publicity. We could start being the superheroes Walter had wanted us to be, and work of our own accord, rather than carrying out tasks for Shade, as I had done so far.
“An intense standoff has broken out outside of a Park Manufacturers office building as gunmen have attempted to take control of the building. According to police, the gunmen have shot at least three men so far. We’ll continue to report on the situation as it unfolds,” The report came in on the news, and the whole team turned to me.
“Suit up.”

*

The engines of the drop-ship roared in my ears. We were about halfway to our location, and I had had a radio broadcast of the news playing in my ears for a little while, but the information was coming in too late on that, so I’d hacked into a police scanner instead. The whole city had stopped to monitor the situation, and things weren’t going well. In the short time it had taken us to take off, two more men had been shot. They were part of security for Park Manufacturers, so I could at least take solace in the fact that no-one had shot a civilian yet, but I knew it was going to happen. The likelihood was that the gunmen that had been encountered outside the building were simply a front, while the larger armed force were heading inside, probably to steal whatever they could, or potentially, to kill. No matter what this was, this was a major terrorist attack, and stopping it would do an incomprehensible amount for us. That was a side-effect of course. Riley and May’s mother, Samantha Parkinson, was in charge of the company and that building. Unbeknownst to the attackers, they’d just made things personal.
“Landing in five!” Alan shouted above the engines, and I pulled open the door of the drop-ship. We were about twenty meters up, and kicking up dust in a crowd of startled onlookers and worried cops. I knelt on the edge of ship, leaning just out of it. I could survive a twenty meter drop.

I leapt out of the drop-ship, and landed hard on my knees. I planted one fist against the ground in the classic superhero way to make it seem like I had meant to land that way, and after making sure that the ship was safe to land, I walked up to the stairs leading towards the door of the building. There were three gunmen with automatic rifles, firing a shot every so often to ward off anyone who would think of trying something. As I walked up to them, they focused on me, and laughed. They didn’t seem to think I was the real deal. Once I had made my way up the steps, I watched them for a moment. They had stopped laughing, and now had their weapons trained on me. At a moment’s notice, they would fire, so I couldn’t give them any time to fire at anyone other than me.

I sprinted forward, going for the man at the center of the trio first. I punched him in the stomach, and elbowed him in the back as he doubled over in pain. I charged my fists as I ran over to the next man, and punched him in the chest as well. Three heavy thuds pounded into my back as the final gunman fired at me. It hurt like hell, but it didn’t pierce the suit. I spun around, and fired a bolt of lightning into his chest, sending him flying into a pillar. The crowd cheered as they watched me take down the gunman.
“Vent coolant waste,” I said, and steam shot out of my helmet. I did it both to show off and because my helmet was starting to heat up. The crowd cheered at my display, and the team ran up to me. The ship had landed around the corner, and I severely doubted anyone would try anything with it after seeing that.
“All right. Cherufe, Miracle, Thunderbolt and I are heading up to the top floor,” The team nodded. We would be the best prepared to take on any gunmen we would encounter, and I had explained their potential goals to the team before we left.
“Kronos, Atlantis and Tempest, you three need to clear the building. We’ll come down and help when we’re able,” I said, and the seven of us ran into the building. I didn’t say it, but I had a sinking feeling that something was going to go wrong.

*

I felt a slight twang of pain in my ankle as we ran up the stairs. The elevators had been disabled, of course, and so far we’d made it up about twelve stories. There were still another twenty-eight to go. I shouldn’t be feeling too much pain though. When I’d looked into the suit Isaac had built for me, I’d found that there were shock absorbers in the boots. A system of springs and straps that sent the shock into the armor, rather than into my leg. It would stop you from breaking your ankle if you dropped from fifty feet or more apparently, but I had no idea what that actually meant. I could understand if Isaac had used meters, but unfortunately I had to figure out the imperial system. And there really wasn’t a point in using a calculator, you learned basically nothing from that. The pain eased as we ran, probably thanks to Miracle, which made it easy for me to run to the front of the group, and sprint up the stairs. The more I thought about it, the more sense it would have made to land on the roof, but hindsight wasn’t going to help right now. I stepped onto the landing of the fourteenth floor, and turned briefly. Thunderbolt was lagging behind us, her cape flapping around wildly as she ran, and Cherufe looked scary as hell. The flames she’d created with the refraction field had a red tint to them, and the canisters on her belt looked scarily loose. They’d be full now, and that was an accident waiting to happen. Miracle was fine, as usual, and so we continued our sprint.

Even as fast as I could run, it took a good few minutes before we were at the top of the building, and when we were, it wasn’t a pretty sight. We’d seen a few doors on the way up that had scratches all over them, and deep gouges in the walls. They’d come open, and we’d had to run past and leave those to Kronos’ group. But this was worse. A heavy duty steel door, with the same gouges and scratches in it, but now with added dents. The door’s latch had been blown clean off, and the scorch marks around where the handle had once been told us exactly how that had happened. If we were operating on the assumption that there were no superhumans on the side of the enemy, then they’d be incredibly well armed, and we’d be idiots. So I instructed the team to operate with the possibility of both in mind. The door seemed loose enough on its hinges, so it was no surprise that I easily kicked it off of them. What was really surprising was how far it flew. It hit the ground with an annoying screech, and the four of us walked in behind it.

The office was large, not really an office, and more of a luxury penthouse in which the CEO conducted business. The room was decorated with carved wooden sculptures, some abstract, and some ornate carvings from ancient civilizations, or incredibly well done replicas. The entire room smelled of sickly-sweet roses, and it felt all too familiar. I was curious about how much Samantha Parkinson would know about us, if she knew anything at all. I rounded the corner onto a white shag carpet, and my team stood beside me. At the desk, backed against the window, stood a group of four men, one of which was shouting at Mrs Parkinson. I held a hand up for my team to remain where they were, and walked forwards. The carpet was thick enough to muffle the sound of my footsteps, but I still stepped lightly. I wondered how close I could get before I was noticed, and the moment the thought entered my head, the man interrogating Mrs Parkinson turned around.

“Well, well, well. Skyfire, is it?” He asked. He wore a long coat similar to Streamline’s but instead of the arrow on his back, he had a flame. A lackey, or a rival?
“I must say, I’m not a fan of the insinuation you can wield flames. After all that is my turf,” He grinned, lighting a small flame in his hand. His attention was wholly on me and he hadn’t seen the girl standing behind me, who was literally on fire.
“And you are?” I asked. I was mocking him, yes, but I also liked to put a name to the face I was speaking to, no matter how ridiculous it may end up sounding.
“I am Pyrus, of Streamline,” Oh. I’d heard about this guy. Even before he had powers, he was known for being an arsonist, and a pyromaniac. He’d supposedly been involved in multiple murders, in which the body had been found either charred, or burnt to a crisp. He was a pretty nasty piece of work, and now, he was bowing.

As he raised his head, I punched him in the face. He recoiled instantly, blood streaming down his face from where his nose had been broken.

“Gah! Fucking brat!” He threw a stream of flame into my chest, sending me flying back towards my team. I smashed into someone, and we both fell to the ground. I stood up, absent-mindedly extending my hand for whoever I’d hit to take, and, of course, Thunderbolt grabbed my hand. I lifted her up, and turned to the four men. Four of them, four of us. If these guys were Streamline, one of them would be a brute. That would probably be the shirtless man, who was about twice the size of the others. The other two, well one was showing off a nasty set of claws and teeth, and the last guy had a baseball bat. He must’ve been there just in case they really needed to hit something with a baseball bat.
“Cherufe, reckon you can take fireball here?” I asked.
“Easily,” she cracked her knuckles.
“Thunderbolt, you’ve got claws. Miracle, take the guy with the bat,” Miracle pouted at me, but also quickly grabbed Thunderbolt’s hand. She’d be nervous. This would be the first time she’d be in an actual fight. She was proficient in practice, so hopefully, she’d be good enough in execution.
“Fire,” I said, and streams of flame leapt from Cherufe’s fingertips. I ran forward to tackle the brute, but he took my oncoming force like a brick wall, and he barely moved as I hit him.

Seriously, fuck these brutes. He swung into my ribs as I tried to back away after my tackle attempt, and sent me flying into the wall. I crashed through a painting, and ended up covered in glass from the frame. I shook the glass shards off as I stood, and pulled out my sidearm. I fired a shot into the brute’s shoulder, and annoyingly, the bullet bounced off, dropping to the ground. I holstered the pistol, and ran at the brute again. I couldn’t fire into the brute with electricity, there was always the chance it would arc off of it and into someone else. If that someone else wasn’t Thunderbolt, that would spell trouble for us. I charged my fists, and ran at the brute once again. He, scarily, ran at me as well. He held his fist above his head, choreographing his upcoming punch, and swung at me when he believed I was close enough. His fist flew in front of me, but his incoming kick didn’t. It slammed into my leg, and it broke on impact. I dropped to my knee from the pain, and caught another incoming punch in my hands. His fist fit in both of my hands, which was absolutely terrifying. I pumped as much electricity as I could muster into the brute, and it screamed as it pulled away.
“Miracle!” I shouted. Unsurprisingly, she was already finished with her quarry, and she managed to heal my leg in time for me to jump out of the way of an oncoming fist.

His fist slammed into the floor, shaking the room, and wildly knocking Pyrus’ aim. A stray stream of flames hit Thunderbolt in the arm, and Miracle moved to heal her so she could keep fighting the clawed man. The two then moved to take him on together. I swung another punch into the brute’s face, knocking his chin up as he took the electrically charged punch. The brute rolled his head, and there was an audible cracking in his neck. The brute cracked his knuckles as well, and swung at me over and over again. I managed to move out of the way of the first two punches, but the rest hit me, and they hit hard. The onslaught finally let up when he knocked me across the room. I landed on my arm, with both arms broken and several ribs in a similar state. I tried to stand without using my arms, but it was taking too long. I couldn’t call for Miracle either, she and Thunderbolt were barely standing up to the clawed man as is.

“Okay Pyrus. Guess we’re playing like this,” The pain in my bones ceased as my weak healing powers took their hold in me, and I stood to face the brute. Judging by the last time, I’d have about twenty minutes until the wounds would reappear. That should hopefully be enough time, if I throw caution to the wind. The light on my chest slowed as I stood, and suddenly launched back to the speed it had being going for the rest of the fight as I launched into the brute. I smashed my fists into him as hard as I could, breaking my fingers in the process. The brute fell backwards, stumbling from the hit. What the fuck was this thing?

I hit it again, whipping out my sidearm once again, and firing the rest of the magazine into the very center of his chest. I tossed it away, and punched it in the bruise that had been created by the bullets. It grunted in pain, and grabbed the back of my suit. The brute lifted me off of the ground, and slammed me into the ground, picked me up and repeated the process. I hit the ground maybe, six times before Cherufe shot a stream of flame at the brute’s hand, forcing it to drop me. My body was screaming in pain, and the brand new spinal fractures didn’t help. I just had to keep up my assault and hope Miracle noticed soon.

Unfortunately, I was getting desperate. Lightning arced from my hands, carefully directed at the brute. It recoiled from the bolt’s heat, and stumbled back into the wall. I fell to one knee, lightning still streaming from my hands, as my leg broke once again. I was in an ungodly amount of pain, but it was still nothing compared to being struck by lightning. The brute screamed as the lightning flowing into its body intensified, and I turned to look at the fight taking place in the rest of the room.

Cherufe and Pyrus had lit several sections of the carpet on fire, and they seemed to be evenly matched. Cherufe had incredible stamina though, so she’d probably win in a battle of attrition, but I was going to collapse soon, and then the brute would be let loose on the three of them. Thunderbolt and Miracle were struggling with the clawed man, and even though Thunderbolt’s shots were hitting, they didn’t seem to be hurting. Miracle was all too focused on keeping Thunderbolt from being hurt by the clawed man’s slashes, and worryingly, muscle was building on him. Perhaps the brute I was facing had more power than he needed, and their master was choosing to give a little bit of it to another lackey. Either way, things weren’t going our way. Mrs Parkinson was hiding behind her desk, and wouldn’t be of any help to us at the moment. I was already fighting to my best ability, and against the toughest opponent in the room. But I couldn’t switch things up. Thunderbolt’s anxiety would easily get her killed if she went against the brute, and anyone else would burn against Pyrus. There had to be something I was missing. Miracle wouldn’t actually break their bones, as much as she might threaten to, and I severely doubted that would work on the brute.

So I made a stupid, split-second decision. I fired a bolt of lightning into the clawed man, just long enough to take the pressure off of May and for her to heal me. Unfortunately, it let the brute free. He ran out of the way before I could strike him again.

“Miracle! You’re going to have to take claws on your own. Can you handle that?” I asked, and she nodded. Non-verbal communication was best in this situation. She punched the clawed man in the face, and he grinned at his new opponent. Thunderbolt ran over to my side, and stared at the brute.
“They’re getting strong,” I panted, and she looked worried. Rightfully so, after all, I’d taken out multiple of these guys in the past. Perhaps their master underestimated me.
“What do we do then?” She asked. I saw Mrs Parkinson look over at us as she spoke, but Thunderbolt didn’t.
“Hit it with everything we’ve got, and hopefully, I won’t need another lightning bolt. Shit hurts,” I was still breathing heavily. There was smoke building up in the room now, and I needed to fix that.
“Excuse me,” I said, raising a finger. I fired a bolt of electricity at the window, and it shattered instantly. Hopefully, that would let the majority of the smoke out.

The brute roared again, and came barreling towards the two of us. He slammed into Thunderbolt first, which was actually probably better. I pumped lightning out of my hands and into the brute, and the creature fell to its knees, swinging wildly in front of itself as Thunderbolt got out of its way. Now she had a taste of what it could do, she’d be able to tune her powers accordingly. Well, that was what I hoped anyway. She ran over to me, and stood behind me.
“Thunderbolt you’re going to have to fight it or we all die. There’s no time to be a pacifist here,” I said, she nodded, but she obviously still had her reservations. It came to my attention that we may have to kill it. It came over swinging once again, smoke rising off its body as hairs burned away. Lightning would do that to you. I sprinted up to it, and punched it once more. I didn’t know what I thought the punch would do, but it let me pump as much electricity as I could into the brute’s body as I could. It roared as the electricity streamed into it.

“Hit it now, Thunderbolt!” I shouted, and she jumped. She shot at it, and her electricity met mine. The brute didn’t seem to feel much of a change.
“Thunderbolt!” I yelled. She wasn’t trying hard enough. The beast turned to her, even though I was so close to it, and it took a few steps forward, moving away from my fist, but the stream of lightning kept flowing from my hand.
“Oh no,” I grinned, and strengthened the electricity flowing into it. It lifted off of the ground, and for a split second, I think it smiled. A stream of flames hit me from the side, knocking my focus, and dropping the beast to the ground. It stood over me, and placed a foot on my chest. It pressed down on my chest, and I felt my ribs begin to cave in. A monstrous punch came from the side, knocking the brute off balance, and letting me stand up, with only major bruising to my ribs. Thunderbolt was finally hitting it like it mattered. But that didn’t exactly change much now. I was pissed off. Jets of steam flew out of my helmet as I pulled it off. I was wearing a mask underneath, I mean, I could lift the screen away after all, and so I was still technically unidentifiable. I threw the helmet towards Mrs Parkinson’s desk.

“Hold onto that for me,” I said, and launched into the brute. I drove my knee into its chin, which was high above my head, and knocked it on its back. It screamed, and pushed up off of the ground, spinning into a kick that sent me against the wall. Thunderbolt expertly placed an uppercut on its chin, and probably broke its jaw. A stream of flames hit it in the back, and another punch came in from Miracle. The other two girls had finished with their opponents, and were helping with the brute now. And Streamline had more of these things. I pushed off of the wall, perfectly fine now that Miracle was focused on me.

I smashed another fist into the brute’s stomach, and it flailed its hands around, knocking away the girls as it struck them. The brute grabbed my arms, squishing my shoulders as it picked me up off the ground. It looked around the room for something to hit me into, and it saw the window. My attempt to stop us from suffocating had turned out to be more useful than I’d anticipated. It was going to drop me out of the window, so not necessarily useful for me. It ambled over, taking strikes from Thunderbolt and Cherufe in its stride, quite literally, as it approached the window.

“Go. Splat,” It struggled. So they could talk. Its breath smelt of rot, and smoke rose up from its mouth as it spoke. It was holding me over the edge now, and Cherufe and Thunderbolt weren’t letting up. How could I solve this? If it dropped me, it would go back to fighting the girls, without my help, and I’d fall to my death. But if it came with me, well, I doubted even that thing could survive a forty story drop onto concrete.

“Push it!” I screamed, and suddenly the onslaught stopped.
“You’ll die!” Cherufe shouted back. Well, maybe. There was about a seventy-thirty chance in favor of my death, but hey, that was still a good thirty percent chance.
“Just do it!” I yelled, and the beast tumbled as someone struck it from behind. I pushed my way out of its grip as it fell, helped by the fact that the creature flailed in a terrible attempt to regain balance. I spun out of its grip, and pooled electrical power in my hands. This had better fucking work.

My hand slammed into the external wall of the building, just below where the window had been destroyed. I was holding onto a mangled piece of rebar that had been exposed as the beast fell, its weight taking a chunk of concrete with it. Thank god the cops had evacuated the area. I couldn’t stop myself from laughing.
“Magnets, bitch!” I flipped off the ground as I pulled myself over the edge, and back into the building. Thunderbolt let out a sigh of relief as I clambered into the building, and Cherufe came over to help me up.
“Well technically, electromagnets, but who cares?” I walked over to Mrs Parkinson, and she handed me my helmet. I pressed my finger to my lips, and she nodded. I slammed it back onto my head, and plugged the clips back in.
“So, Mrs Parkinson. What did these guys want?” I couldn’t help but smile. It had been a while.
“They wanted to gloat. Said they’d busted in downstairs and taken some high-tech equipment. But I’m more concerned about the fact that you just killed one of them,” She glared at me. So she knew then.
“Actually, it died on the way down. The power leaving its body killed it. Suppose that’s why Streamline likes Nick,” I was speaking more to myself than to the rest of the room. It could have been dead for even longer than that, judging by the smell that had come out of its mouth. I could find some solace in the fact that I hadn’t just killed someone, but it still felt wrong that that was what it had had come to. Working together, the four of us should have easily been able to beat it. I guess we’d have to work on that. The floor shook beneath me, and the room started to tilt. The harsh stench of smoke entered my helmet, and a very bad thought came to mind.

Pyrus had disappeared, presumably to burn us to death.

“Thunderbolt, get Mrs Parkinson out of here. Cherufe and Miracle, we need to regroup with our allies,” Thunderbolt took her mother’s hand, and ran into the stairwell, leaving the three of us. The floor cracked beneath us as they left the room.
“Cherufe, you need to control the fire, wherever it is. Miracle, you’ll need to make sure everyone gets out okay, or makes it to a doctor. As bad as it sounds, Cherufe, Tempest and Atlantis are your priorities. We need them to keep the fire under control,” she nodded, and we headed into the stairwell ourselves. Thick black smoke was rising up it, which meant bad things for the three of us. Thunderbolt and her mother were still stood in the stairwell, unable to get past the thick smoke. To my knowledge, this was the only escape route.
“Cherufe. Blow a hole in the wall,” I said. She pulled a canister off of her belt, and it detonated on contact with the wall, sending debris flying away as the smoke was let free. It still wasn’t moving fast enough though. The floor shook again, as the building became more and more unstable. I tried my radio, but something was interfering with the signal, and I couldn’t get a hold of anyone who outside of earshot.
“Miracle, we’re the only two who can get through the smoke,” I said, and she nodded.
“There isn’t enough time though, the floor would collapse before we can get help,” She said. She looked like she was about to cry.
“I’m going to need you to make sure I don’t hurt myself,” I said, and she looked at me with a quizzical look. We were on the clock.
“Climb on my back. I’m going to carry you down to Tempest,” I said, and she got the picture. There should be steel in the walls, and I could create a powerful enough electromagnet in my hands, so maybe I could get it to penetrate the concrete, and whatever else made up the walls.

Miracle climbed onto my back, gripping onto my shoulders tightly as I lifted her up. She was easy to lift, which was going to make this next part even easier. I ran out into the stairwell, and jumped over the railing, falling down. I pulled myself up, against the pull of gravity, and I grabbed onto the railing about three stories bellow the top floor. By now I would hope they’d made it through at least ten stories, which would mean another twenty-seven floors to go. I gave Miracle a warning this time, and we dropped down another three floors, slowing down and latching onto the railing once more. She buried her head into my back, terrified of the situation, even without seeing it. It must’ve been an instinctive response, but I tried to be a little safer with the drops.

We fell another three floors, but this time, I slowed us down much earlier, extending the electromagnetic field towards the metal in the walls and railings much sooner. We were still shrouded in smoke, and a whirring noise in my helmet got perpetually louder as the smoke thickened. We were getting close to where the fire had broken out. I dropped another three stories, carefully gripping onto the railing before I stopped the magnetism. The smoke was incredibly thick now, and the vents were struggling. I coughed as the thick smoke made its way into my helmet. I dropped once again, trying to get out of the smoke before I suffocated. As I fell, I fell past an open door, and caught a glimpse of the rest of the team. Kronos was struggling to get people to the door, while Pyrus threw flames a them. A fireball exploded as Tempest threw one of his pouches into it, and he ducked away. I jumped back up, using the electromagnets I had made out of my hands to propel me, and Miracle and I tumbled into the fight.

“Vent!” I coughed, and steam and smoke streamed out of my helmet. The sound of my coughing was mangled by the modulator, and made it sound like the deep growling of some fantastical beast. Miracle was okay, and was already moving to help Kronos.
“Tempest! You need to clear the smoke from the stairwell!” I shouted, and blasted a bolt of lightning into Pyrus, who hit his head on a desk as he fell. Tempest ran into the stairwell, and the sound of rushing wind filled the room as he cleared the smoke. My radio still wasn’t working, so I just had to hope for now. The damn brute must have busted something in my helmet when it hit me. That would have to wait though, Pyrus was standing up.
“Well if it isn’t Sparky,” He said, and shot a fireball into my chest. It exploded on impact, and I was thrown into a support pillar in the middle of the room. Dust crumbled off of the ceiling and onto me as I hit it, and the fire blazing above probably wasn’t much help. Atlantis ran over to Tempest, probably heading to take care of the fire, and Kronos and I engaged Pyrus.

Pyrus was thrown against the wall by an invisible force, leaving a massive dent in it as he pushed off of it. He smirked, and streams of flame leapt from his fingertips as he attacked us. I rolled beneath it, and sent lightning flying into his chest. He blew up a fireball in front of himself just before it hit him, knocking him out of the way of my attack. That was dumb, and only served to help us. He was desperate. His eye was twitching as he walked towards us, and he shot flames at Kronos and I again. Kronos sent him flying into the wall with that invisible force of hers once again, and he cocked his head to the side. His eyes went black, and suddenly cleared up again. He pushed off of the wall as his arms grew, muscles popping on his neck and on his arm. He was turning into a brute.
“Fuck this,” I said, and blasted him with everything I had. Dents appeared on the wall behind him as whatever force Kronos was wielding pummeled into him. The now brute Pyrus roared, and his body erupted into flames. Footsteps rumbled outside as a massive crowd of people ran down the stairs, trying to escape the flames that were engulfing the building. I turned to have a look, and saw the rest of the team gather around Kronos, who had a strange blur surrounding her hands. Flames leapt towards Pyrus, and a blast of wind rushed past me as well. Thunderbolt’s lightning joined my own, while Atlantis prepared a ball of water to extinguish the brute.

Streams of water blasted away from Atlantis, and the brute roared as they struck him. More and more dents appeared in the wall behind the brute, and he was starting to bruise. The water moved around him, surrounding his head and cutting off his oxygen supply. Now, we just had to keep pummeling him, and see what knocked him out faster. The brute roared again, and the water bubbled around its head. It pounded against the wall behind it, denting it even more, but it was struggling. I intensified the lightning to the point where it was starting to cause me pain, and looked around at the team. Everyone was trying as hard as they could to keep the brute pinned, but it was starting to take a toll on us. I could see Cherufe panting, and Kronos was as well. Just a few more seconds, and the brute wouldn’t be able to fight us anymore.

It roared. A deep, guttural roar, and suddenly, it fell limp. Bubbles flowed up around its water-encased head, and we let it fall to the ground. There was a rumbling above us, and I knew things were going wrong.
“The fire?” I asked, and Atlantis frowned.
“Unstoppable,” He said. That wasn’t good.
“Run,” I said. We took off, only barely making it into the stairwell before the roof of the room we had been in came down. Okay, now just to make it out of the building.