Eye of the Beholder
by: David McFarland
Ryan boot clicked against the road as he dodged cars
through Paragon traffic. A few honked, but he was
moving so fast some drivers never even saw him. He
stopped in Kings Row district and grabbed the door to
the large warehouse, not waiting for his girlfriend
Kathy, a.k.a. Burning Barrier, to catch up. For the
moment, he had completely forgotten about proposing to
her, only occasionally being reminded by the pressure
of the box for the ring in his pocket. Proposing could
wait. Nathan’s life was a different story.
The door was locked. He backed up and rammed it with
his shoulder impacting the metal door and it gave-way.
As the door fell through and off its hinges, an
explosion sounded, throwing Sky Burn off course.
He landed on his back and got up in what seemed a
lifetime, ready to hit anyone who had shot at him. But
he was the only one there until Burning Barrier was
there several seconds later, out of breath. The
explosion had been from a trap.
“Sorry about that. I wasn’t thinking back there. I
should have stopped and waited for you.”
“Its ok,” she panted with her palms resting on her
bent knees as she leaned forward, “I understand, you
wanted to find Chill. Go find him, I’ll catch up.”
Ryan wrung his headband out and tied it back to his
forehead. It was drenched in sweat. He knelt down and
picked up a clipboard. The front few pages of the pad
attached to it were torn off visibly, clearly done in
haste. That left only the few remaining pages. Why
had the Malta group wanted the pages so badly?
“Ryan?” Kathy yelled.
“Over here!” He set down the pad of paper. It was
useless. “No sign of the attackers, but it had to be
Malta.” He pointed to the far wall. “See those burns
over there, the bullet holes beside them, and the
other scoring over there? Malta. Its all over the
place and parts are everywhere. I even found a memory
chip of a Hercules Titan intact. I scanned it, it had
no memory of anything that happened here. Malta knows
about the defectors.”
“Are you positive?”
“Yes. All the evidence here leads to it.”
“Well, Holmes, do you have any idea where he is?”
“Not a clue, Watson.”
“What was that you were trying to tell me back at the
“Not important at the moment.” Ryan looked through the
computer of known Malta owned buildings. They had
checked at least sixteen recently, none of which had
activity, so he marked them off. That left, what?
Forty more throughout the city? Eighty? This wasn’t
Ryan slammed his fists on the desk in frustration.
“We are going to have to pry the information out of a
Tactical Operations Commander.”
“How do you figure?”
“They are the only ones in normal Malta patrols that
are within the Malta’s most inner circle.” Ryan
wrapped the black tie around his forehead and secured
it, then put on his armor.
“I’m guessing this is where we split up?” Kathy
“Yea. In case something happens, I wanted to ask you
something…” Ryan stood in front of her with his hands
nervously in his pockets. He knelt on one knee and put
his took her hands in his left one. By this time, she
knew what was going on and her eyes were widening. He
flipped the little felt box out of his pocket and
opened it, revealing a shining gold ring. “Will you
“What were you doing at the warehouse with the
defectors?” The man delivered a smack to Chillbain’s
face, scratching it with the gloved hand, but no
answer came. “Answer me… now!” He smacked him again,
but Chillbain’s eyes stared coldly at the wall in
front of him.
The man frowned and glared at Chillbain, who would
have smirked, but was keeping his face as cold as his
ice-blasts. The man smiled slowly and whipped out a
taser from his pocket. He touched it to Chillbain’s
No reply. The Malta operative hit the trigger,
sending volts through Chillbain’s body, who resisted
the effects. “No?” The man looked confused as he
spoke, but it was just a ploy. The turned up the
voltage meter. Chillbain’s face finally grimaced a
little about halfway to the top, but he did his best
to remain firm. At about eighty-percent voltage, his
face broke, but he made no noise.
The man laughed loudly, and shoved the taser’s prongs
harder to Chillbains chest and turned it up to
ninety-five percent. Chillbain started to make a
low-pitched moan. It sounded somewhat raspy, obviously
holding pain. When the meter was at a full
one-hundred, Chillbain broke out into a scream. As the
man took the taser away, a feel of defeat replaced the
“Willing to talk, infidel?”
Chillbain kept his head hung, and no words exited his
lips. A scream, however, did, when the taser prongs
once again touched his bare skin. They had taken off
the top of his costume before Chill had awaken in the
present state he was in, strapped to a concrete wall,
something around his neck inhibiting the use of his
cold-mastery. Chill screamed until the device was
removed, leaving two dark scorch marks on the center
of his chest.
“My, my. Your stubborn, aren’t you?” He replaced the
taser to his chest. “You will talk.” The Malta
operative put an emphasis on ‘will.’
Chillbain spat out two words, finally giving in to
the man’s request of speech: “Bite me.”
“Where. Is. Chillbain.” Sky Burn held his hand over
the mans windpipe as the Tactical Operations Commander
gasped for air, laying on the ground helplessly. Ryan
eased up on the pressure a little.
The Commander breathed in. “I don’t know.”
“That a load of bull!” Ryan screamed. A few of the
residents of Peregrine Island stared at the
engagement, looking at the Malta operatives strewn
about the sidewalk, and the one conscious one with his
life in Sky Burn’s hands. “You’ve got three seconds
before I burn your head off.”
“Sky Burn…don’t” Ryan was a little taken back that
the man knew his name. And his anger.
“I know… who might know.”
“That’s better. Who?” Ryan lifted the man into the
air by his throat.
“Him.” The Commander feebly lifted an arm up into the
air with his index finger pointing to someone to the
right of Sky Burn. The man’s head cracked on the
pavement, turning him into an unconscious body.
The hand that dropped him now glowed red with latent
energy and faced a Malta Gunslinger. “So. Jimmy
“I didn’t catch his name.” Sky Burn said. “But I
think you know a friend of mine. Goes by Chillbain.”
“You mean Nathan.” The Gunslinger smirked.
“How did you?”
“Well, Ryan, he talked.”
“Impossible. Chillbain’s got a will stronger than
your ego.” Sky Burn said.
“Only if it’s written on depleted-uranium. By the
way, did he leave anything to me?”
“Very funny.” Sky Burn retorted at the play on words.
“Really, maybe I should be a comed-” He was stopped
mid-sentence by slug-shot from Sky Burn’s assault
“Maybe you should shut up.” Immediately after Sky
Burn said the words, several Malta soldiers flanked
him on either side, at least five in number. “Oh, come
- Give a guy a break.”
“If you defeat all of my men, here, I’ll tell you
where to find him.”
“That’s not fair. I mean come on, only five guys?”
Sky Burn burst into the warehouse. No traps, so far
at least. He debated calling Kathy, but his pride got
to him. His goal was to find Chillbain. That wouldn’t
be hard, considering said heroes screams were echoing
through the entire facility.
He approached a single Operations Engineer and put
his hand over the victim’s mouth and eyes until he
passed out. Ryan shook the spittle off his black metal
glove and continued on.
“Still, you say nothing of why you were there? What
about these notes about who the defectors wanted to be
a part of the CIA? How they wanted government funding?
How they knew all of this information on Malta’s
leaders?” The took a lighter and started to burn the
several note-book papers.
Chillbain looked wide-eyed as the notes burned. He
hadn’t gotten a good look at them, so any information
on them was now to be lost, only known to those who
originally shared the knowledge.
“You bast-” An explosion rocked the room, and the
door blew off it’s hinges, flaming. “Sky?”
“You rang?” Sky Burn straightened his pose and aimed
the gun barrel at Chill’s captor and fired, hollowing
his right lung cavity to a hole.
“No. But it’s good to see you.” As Sky Burn released
the restraints from Chillbain’s arms and legs, the
Zodian fell into Ryan’s arms almost limp. After a few
seconds Chillbain regained his strength and forced
himself to drop.
“Sorry about that, they hit me with a lot of
electricity, my body was still a little numb.”
“Its ok. Now let’s get out of here.” Sky Burn’s words
were emphasized by a loud explosion in the background,
trailed as a Zeus Titan bounded through a wall. “Why
are our missions always cliched like a movie?”
Chillbain simply lunged, still missing the top to his
costume and white wraps around his hands. As he hit
the Titan he plunged his Ice-sword into the right side
of it, detonating several of its rockets. “Crap!” The
explosion threw Chillbain back, who landed on his
Sky Burn fired a grenade into the new hole, tearing
the machine up even further, but it didn’t stop.
“This is the most adamant Zeus I’ve ever seen.”
A mechanical voice came out of the Titan. “Resistance
“That’s what they all say… now… shut up!” Chillbain
drove his ice sword down into the beast once more, and
its lights faded. As it fell.
“They really made you angry didn’t they?”
“Married? Yes.” Kathy said and kissed Ryan.
“And you want me to be your…?”
“Best-man? Yes.” Ryan answered him.
“About the bachelor party, Nate, no-matter how much
you want them, no strippers.” Kathy remarked, heavily