STATIC MARK: UNSPOKEN RUMORS (Part Two)
By: Daniel Maher
CITY HALL, H.E.R.O. MEETING
"ORDER!" The man bellowed from across the large, circular room. "ORDER!" He bellowed again and the large crowd standing before him immediately fell silent.
The man sat in the middle of a long, wooden table that held about twenty other people. On his right side was Lady Liberty in a casual work suit; on the other hand the Statesman who was fully costumed, was grinning broadly.
The Statesman leaned next to the man who had calmed the crowd, murmuring something that was unmistakably ĎThank Youí. The large man passed the microphone to the Statesman, who paused for a minute before speaking into it.
"As you all know, the Ritiki have returned, and as Iím sure you all remember the devastation that they left. Luckily for us, leading scientists have confirmed the fact that it was only a scout craft, so we still may have days; maybe even weeks until the mothership arrives, giving us time to prevent them. Dr. Ashton already has a machine in the works, Dr. Ashton would you please tell us how your machine works." The Statesman finished his speech and nodded toward Dr. Ashton who stood up and attached a small microphone to the front of his shirt.
"Good evening, everyone." He said beaming at the crowd.
"My name is Dr. Ashton, and as you know the death of the dozen or so citizens has been a great tragedy that will never be forgotten. But these deaths (as the Statesman has already addressed) were caused by the main fleet of Ritiki, and unless we do something about it," He held up a photograph of Paragon City after the first Ritiki attack. "The city will once again be in ruins." He got up and paced the room. "Now as you all know I invented a machine to scramble the controls on Ritiki ships to send them crash-landing to their planet again--but it not only needs fuel, it needs liquid nitrogen."
"Thatís impossible, the city would never allow you to have any of that foul substance." The Statesman spat. "Now is there any possible way you can use another liquid for fuel?"
I stared at the Statesman in disbelief, here was his chance to save the city and yet he wouldnít give thirty gallons of liquid nitrogen.
"Until we make a final decision you must use a different fuel--Meeting Adjourned."
"NO!" Dr. Ashton screamed into the microphone. "Youíre a fool, you donít care what happens to the city the only thing you care about is your rep--" Dr. Ashton didnít have the chance to finish his sentence. Because, like a river, the tremendous amount of people rushing to get out of the door just pulled him along, away from the microphone. I too was pulled into the crowd heading outside. But a hand grabbed me out of the crowd and into the deserted part of the meeting room. When I looked to see who it was, I almost laughed but I forced myself to hold back.
The person was Ms. Liberty herself. When you have been an official superhero for over two years now, you learn things. But the most extraordinary thing that I have learned is that over 76% of the male superheroes in Paragon have had dreams of going on a date with Ms. Liberty and some nights I find myself wishing for that fantasy to come true.
"I need to talk to you about something extremely important--" I smiled, half knowing where this was going.
Thatís okay," I said. "I already know what this is about."
Ms. Liberty smiled, "You do?"
"Yes. And if youíre open for Friday, I pick you up at 7:30 for dinner and a movie."
She frowned. "Are you sure weíre talking about the same thing?"
"Oh yeah baby, I know exactly what youíre talking about."
"Right....well just to make sure weíre on the same page--" She scribbled something down on a piece of stationary and handed it to me. "--take this." And then she was gone, leaving me the only person in the conference room. I opened the note.
MEET ME BEHIND CITY
HALL IN 1 HOUR
I laughed it seemed that I would finally get my date.
One Hour Later, City Hall
I straitened my tie and grinned broadly as Ms. Liberty trotted up toward me. She finally got to where I was and panted.
"Listen.....sorry......to meet.....in a.....such......remote of.....and area." She said the last few words and sat down on the concrete.
I smiled at her. "Its fine."
"....thanks.....now the reason I couldnít tell you this in the conference room is because I was afraid of being overheard." She breathed in deeply and continued. "Listen, I know where you can find your fuel source--"
As she said the final words I felt the color drain from my face. My mouth was still curved into that devilish smile, but my eyes were full of pain and hatred--not for Ms. Liberty, but how incredibly stupid I had been to take in the situation in the wrong manner.
"--and I can lead you to their hideout if you want but....Static? Static are you even listening to me?" She put her hands on her hips. "Well its not very nice--Static?" She waved her hand in front of my eyes. "Static? Hello? Static are you alright?"
But it was no use, because my brain had already gone to war with my heart--destroying me from the inside out. Suddenly my eyes snapped open and I laughed.
"Right....the fuel." I said weakly.
"Yeah. Anyways please donít tell anyone that I met you today to discuss this matter, the mayor would probably send me to jail for conspiracy." She sighed. "Anyway I recently heard from my contacts that the hellions have stolen a large supply of liquid nitrogen."
"Can you help me get the fuel?"
She sighed again. "Unfortunately--no. The Statesman is piling work on me, thereís no way I could get away for even an hour. But the warehouse is in Galaxy City, B15. That is all I could dig up."
"Wait." But it was too late, she was already in the air.
I smiled and walked off toward my suite. Looks like the hellions are going to have a surprise visit soon, I thought to myself.
Perez Suites, Perez Park
"What!?" Dr. Ashton screamed from the couch. "They know about a large supply of liquid nitrogen and they donít even want to check it out?!"
"Calm down." I said casually. "Calm down? Calm down!" His eyes bugged out as he screamed the words. "How can I calm down knowing that weíre all going to die because of some E.T.-based scum!" He pulled small chunks of his hair from his already thinning head. I sat in an armchair opposite him and watched this explosion of red-hot emotions.
Dr. Ashton took in a deep breath and sighed. "Incredibly stupid.....it was a mistake to take this to the H.E.R.O. officials." Finally he stopped ranting. "So Static, did any other heroes agree to go with you to check the warehouse out?" I gazed at him and shook my head. "By the looks of it, I'm going solo."
"Well then," He said, as he extended his hand for me to shake. "I wish you luck." I gazed darkly at him and reluctantly shook his hand.
Galaxy City, Warehouse B15
I hovered in the air for a minute or two before letting myself drop to the ground. I then walked up to the side of the warehouse and inspected the blueprints of the building again.
From what Dr. Ashton hat told me the liquid nitrogen tank would be in the basement, surrounded by a metal cage. I snuck a look at the blueprints of the building one last time and stuffed them into my pant pockets. Finally, I tore off my jacket and Wranglerís jeans and threw them on the ground, revealing my super-suit.
Then I walked the length of the building, feeling for the creases of the hidden entryway. After six or so timed going the length of the giant warehouse, my fingers hit a bump. Gradually I pulled at the entryway until it had opened wide enough to let me slide past.
I squeezed inch-by-inch through the small shaft; because I was claustrophobic I willed myself not to cry out. Finally--after crawling for what seemed like hours--the shaft grew wider and a small light appeared at the end.
The light opened into an empty supply closet about three floors from the nitrogen. I smiled with satisfaction and leaped through the open entrance and onto the ground below. Well it turned out that the hellions were smarter than I ever expected: and when I dropped to the floor I set off three or four hidden laser alarms. In seconds ten hellion scum had rushed into the tiny supply closet. I considered attacking them, but erased that thought when they brandished guns. One of them advanced on me and pistol-whipped me. I blacked out.
I awoke to find myself strapped to an operating table with two hellions standing over me. I thrashed at the straps but soon stopped when they left bloody marks on my wrists. One of the hellions brought up a knife and said with a smirk. "Night, night pretty boy." I frowned.
"Sorry dude, but I donít swing that way." Then I spit on his vest. I figured if I would die, at least I'd die laughing. He looked at the blob of spit with disgust and after a minute of uneasy silence he said. "Youíve just pissed me off buddy!" He smiled and brought the blade swinging down. I squeezed my eyes shut and waited for the pain--but it never came.
I opened my eyes. The hellion still stood over me, his eyes and his mouth were wide open, allowing bits of drool to slip past. Then the thug dropped his knife and fell in a crumpled heap to the floor. In his place stood Ms. Liberty, in full costume and everything.
"Thought you would need a hand." She said proudly. I smiled. "First can you please loosen these straps?" She grinned sheepishly as her strength immediately broke the straps. She then helped me up from the table and onto my feet. "What took you so long?" I asked with a grin. "Had to do my makeup." She answered sarcastically. We smiled and headed toward the stairwell, wasting no time. On our way to the basement level we only met one hellion, which I gladly sent 200 volts of electricity into.
The basement door was unlocked and was easy to get through without making much noise. But once again twenty or so hellions had come to greet us. Ms. Liberty and I snuck a look at each other and began. Ms. Liberty punched ferociously at the thugs while I shot electricity into them to finish them off. Before I could shoot the last one, though, Ms. Liberty picked him up and used him as a human shield in the next room. And if the next room was anything like we expected it to be--which it most certainly was--then the thug shield is going to have a lot of dents in him.
When we stepped into the next room hundreds of bullets flew up to meet us. I used electricity on most of the bullets to make them stop in mid air and fall, but the others entered the thug like a demented monkey entering a butt crack. He screamed like a sissy girl until the last of the bullets finally killed him. Now that the thugs were out of bullets we dropped the dead man and rushed forward. Again and again we continually attacked the thugs until they begged for mercy. But even then we attacked them, making sure they all had lost consciousness.
When everyone was down I looked in the center of the room and saw nothing. The nitrogen was not here. "Where is it?" I screamed. She frowned. "I donít know--maybe Dr. Ashton was wrong about it being in the basement." She suggested. "No! The basement is where it is!" I paced the room. "Wait a minute!" I got down on my hands and knees and put my face close to the floor, searching for an air current. Finally, in the very center of the room I could feel a cold--no freezing--air current drifting upward. "This is where it is." I said proudly. "You think?" I nodded. "Yes. Do you think you can make a hole right here." She smiled and nodded knowingly. I took a step backward and watched in amazement as she pounded on the floor, again and again.
Finally the section of the floor splintered and broke open. Lying in the very center was a metal cage surrounding a single crate. Ms. Liberty leaped down and started attacking the bars but it was no use. The bars were impossible to break through.....unless. "Stand back." I ordered. She did as she was told.
I closed my eyes and concentrated. Finally after several seconds I was once again awarded with a tingling sensation that meant electricity was flowing through me. Then I concentrated on the metal bars and allowed the electricity to exit my body and flow into the cage. When I stopped the electrical flow and opened my eyes the bars were red-hot. "Now attack it." Once again she did as she was told, wincing with every punch. Finally the bars broke and crumbled to the floor, allowing Ms. Libertyís hand to pass through.
Suddenly there was the loud metal throbbing noise of reinforcements coming down the stairwell. "Hurry!" I urged. "Just one more second--gotcha!" She crawled out of the opening with the crate safely tucked under her arms. I quickly made a break in the ceiling with my electricity and took off into the air. At that second the reinforcements burst through the door, guns firing.
When they saw us flying into the air the turned their aim and fired. One of the bullets caught me in the leg, making me lose my concentration. I plummeted to the ground, lying face down in the middle of the street. Ms. Liberty touched down next to me and picked me up, taking off with me in one arm and the nitrogen in the other.
By the time we reached Perez Park multiple citizens could be heard screaming and pointing. We looked up to where they were pointing and saw hundreds of Ritiki ships--including the mother ship--entering orbit. "Hurry up." I said weakly. She nodded and increased her speed. Finally she reached Perez Suites and set me down, pushing the crate into my hands. "Here Static youíve got to take this to the machine. I have to stay here and hold them off." I nodded and she flew off toward the mother ship.
I rang the door bell and was relived when Dr. Ashton answered it. He gasped and helped me to my feet--or at least one of my feet. "Dr. Ashton...where.....is.....the.....machine?" I wheezed. "Right here." He said as he took a small cube from his pocket. "That?" He smiled. "Yes it is small, but it gets the job done." I smiled back and opened a small port that was supposed to be the fuel drive. "Well here goes nothing." I said as I unloaded a bottle of the liquid nitrogen into the machine. Suddenly the cube flew into the air and out of the door. Dr. Ashton and I followed. When the machine had a clear view of Atlas it shot out a small red beam of light directly at the mothership.
Within minutes the ships began to change course and head for the Ritiki planet. One minute after the ships had left, the machine gave a final sputter and dropped to the ground. Dr. Ashton put a hand on my shoulder and said. "Well looks like we saved the day." I laughed and nodded, enjoying the nice weather outside.