"Where did they all come from?" Stormhammer screamed, whirling in
circles over and over again like a light blue tornado, her mace striking
one thug after another. Yet there really did seem to be no end to the
onslaught. They'd been tipped off to a gathering of Lost in the deeper
regions of Paragon City's sewer network, but apparently the Freakshow
had been tipped off to their investigation. Now the small band of heroes
faced the combined rage of both groups.
The Burning Star was the first to go down. A Mutate Gunner with a
Rikti assault rifle scored a lucky shot to the head as he leapt out of
the way of a Freakshow tank. Luckily, his flaming aura absorbed most of
the impact. He would survive the wound, but only if his comrades could
hold off the ambush long enough. As Burning Star fell into the sickly
green sludge, Docter WTF turned his attention to help. He had just knelt
down to administer the revitalization nanomachines when a Juicer Chief
flew up behind him and applied a strong current to the Doctor's
shoulders. He collapsed atop Burning Star, and then it really started to
With the Doctor went the generalized regenerative field. Stormhammer
became increasingly nauseated and knew without a look that their healing
support was gone. "Hurry, fall bac-KAI!!" she cried, getting a fresh new
slice along her forearm. Her mace fell from her hands and she was
suddenly lost in a haze of flailing baseball bats and knives as the
Scroungers moved in to finish the job. Without Stormhammer's support,
their tower of defense, Beergoggles quickly succumbed to his inebriated
knees. Suddenly, they all stopped.
The Freakshow and the Lost circled around the one hero still
standing, mutated shoulder to cybernetic limb. He was aware of a gap and
turned to it just in time to see the towering visage of an Anathema pass
through it. Within seconds, his mind felt like it was being torn in
half. Screaming, he dropped to his knees and the world went white.
Three days later, city workers under the protection of heroes worked
side by side to clear the mysterious ice blockage in the depths of
Paragon City's sewer network. The fact that it hadn't melted on its own
was curious enough to those involved, but the event gained higher
attention when the bodies of four dead heroes surrounded by several
fallen Lost and Freakshow gang members were excavated as well.
The funerary procession wasn't something the city was used to.
Typically, heroes are teleported to the nearest hospital if they should
ever find themselves incapacitated. While the signal is known to be
possible to hijack, never before had it been entirely blocked. Grief and
outrage stewed quietly while the only probably cause, the mysterious
permafrost ice block, was investigated.
With the advent of the internet, the media giant moves faster than
ever. Reports of the event were quickly circulated and soon it came out
that there were indeed five in the group. A massive manhunt went out for
the only survivng member, the only clue to the true fates of those four
heroes, and the only suspect.
Cardigan awoke to a sensation of burning light. The sun pried its
way in through bruised eyelids and beat the consciousness back into him.
Next came the sensation of floating. Not the usual flight he had grown
accustomed to, but with an added rocking element. Water, it must be
water. He wiped his face and spluttered off the salty water that his
hand had left behind. "Where in the hell am I? And what..."
The whiteness came back to him. The sudden chill, even for him.
Then, like a bursting dam, the memory flooded back to him. The Anathema
probing into his mind for the weakest point, the darkest fear. He'd
found it, but it would come at the cost of the Anathema's own life.
Cardigan's tenuous grasp on his mutant abilities failed. He lost all
control in his mind, in his fears, and so lost control in the outside
world as well. The full brunt of his capabilites was finally unleashed,
and the sludge, the bodies living and otherwise, and the very air around
him froze solid, crystalized by nothing but sheer power.
With his fear realized and the threat gone from his mind, Cardigan
briefly gained perfect control and clarity. He moved fludily,
unhindered, as though he were a part of the ice, the very prison that
now encased all combatants. He saw clearly the shock and dumbfounded
horror on the faces of his foes, and as he looked to his friends...
He felt once again as he had when his powers first came forward,
sitting by his comatose brother's hospital bed. Shamed, dangerous,
afraid. The ice, once so etheral, now began tugging at him, seeking to
embrace him as solidly as the others. Cardigan found himself doing the
only sensible thing that would come to mind.
Cardigan had lost his control, and through it gained perfect clarity
and total mastery. But only for that moment. Now, drifting through the
bay somewhere beyond the Baumton Canal, he could barely bring that first
flicker of his powers to bear that had hurt his brother so long ago and
started him down this path. Maybe now he could be accepted. It seemed
strange to him to think that being bereft of any special abilities in a
city teeming with super powered uber people would make life easier, but
still he believed it. But his friends...
His short months among the various heroes had taught him several
things, one of which was to take responsibility for what you do. He'd
already made up his mind long ago, and only now realized it. He had to
get back to the city. A ship bound for Independence Port was sure to
come by soon. All he had to do was wait. Then he could find out the fate
of his comrades and the consequences of what had happened.
Title: Cardigan Lost
Author: N. Bridget