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Fall From Grace
The Capt. Conduit Saga
by Brad Blanton

The cool night air rushed across his face as John Sinclair flew silently over the filthy neighborhoods of King’s Row. He called himself Capt. Conduit now, but he didn’t feel like being much of a hero tonight. He wasn’t even wearing his bright blue and white costume or cape that proclaimed him to be an avatar of justice. He wore a plain white T-shirt with a black lightning bolt painted on the front and a pair of black jeans. Justice was the last thing on his mind tonight.

He’d gotten a call from his friend, Barry in Talos Island. Barry had told him that Joey Marcone had just escaped from The Zigg, and the police needed his help in bringing Joey back in.

“What the hell do you mean he’s escaped, Barry? I just put him away 2 months ago!” John yelled into the phone.

“Take it easy, CC, I need you to keep your head on this one,” Barry advised. “This guy is dangerous. He killed 3 cops when he busted out and another one during the chase over to the King Garment factory.”

“He did what?” John asked flatly.

“Yeah, he knifed a prison guard and took his revolver” Barry said gravely. “Then he shot two more guards on his way out. You ok, CC? You don’t sound so hot.”

John’s mind raced. “I’m fine. King Garment Works, you said?”

“Yeah, he’s holed up there now. It’s a standoff. There’s cops everywhere,” Barry said.

John hung up the phone in a daze without another word. He thought about the prison guards that had been killed, and he remembered his life before he came to Paragon City. He had been a prison guard in Alabama. He’d been a Captain, no less. He remembered his friends and coworkers that he had grown up with in his rural southern hometown. Then he thought about the day of the accident that had given him super powers. He was the executioner, the person who operated the state’s electric chair, and this time there was a malfunction. When he threw the switch, he took the shock instead of the condemned man. That’s when he found out he was a mutant. The electricity had activated his mutation. He lived, but now he could create electrical charges right out of his hands. Everyone in his hometown, the same people he’d known all his life, looked at him as if he were a freak. Super powered people weren’t so common in their neck of the woods, and they didn’t know how to deal with him. His wife had even left him.

John had tried hard to never think about his past again. Whenever he did, he always wound up depressed for days. But this time, something happened that had never happened before. His pain, his frustration, his heartbreak all slowly began to take shape as anger. If it hadn’t been for that damn accident, he wouldn’t have these powers in the first place and he’d still be married living in Alabama. But it HAD happened, and now these cops needed him to use those same powers to re-catch someone they couldn’t keep locked up to begin with. And that little slime-ball Joey had killed 4 cops while escaping. Well, they were going to get him back, John just didn’t know what kind of shape Joey would be in when he delivered him to the police.

All of these thoughts echoed in John’s mind as he threw together this makeshift costume and during his silent flight toward the factory.

John approached the factory from above and silently landed on the roof. He didn’t want the cops to know he was there yet. He entered through a skylight and silently started looking for Joey. He found the gangster toward the back of the warehouse yapping on a phone in one of the offices.

“I’m tellin’ ya, there’s cops all over the place. Get me outta here now!” Joey yelled into the receiver. “Ok, just hurry it up will ya?”

After he watched Joey hang up the phone, John stood in the shadows and said “Give it up Joey! Its over.”

“Well, well. Capt. Conduit. I shoulda known they’d send a cape,” Joey looked around the room as he spoke, obviously trying to pinpoint where the voice had come from. “You got lucky last time, Sparky. I ain’t goin’ down so easy this time.”

“That’s what I’m counting on, Marcone” John said as he quickly dodged to the side. As he expected, bullets from Joey’s pistol ricocheted off of the crates he had been standing behind. John worked his way closer to Joey, keeping in the darkness. He knew he could drop Joey from this distance with one of his lightning bolts, but he was in the mood to fight with his fists.

“Yer quick, Sparky, but Mr. Revolver here is quicker than you are. All I gotta do is get in one good shot and yer goin down” quipped Joey.

John had worked his way around beside Joey and was close enough to charge at him. He took a quick breath and charged the gangster. “You won’t get that chance!” John’s electrically charged punch caught Joey in the side of the face. John had pulled his punch, just like he’d been trained to do by the Freedom Corps trainers. The punch was still enough to knock Joey senseless. The revolver skidded across the floor and John kicked it under some debris laying on the floor.

Joey shook his head and regained his bearings, then realizing he no longer had the gun, turned around and ran out the back door. John smiled slightly and stalked out the door after him. Outside the sound of police bullhorns still squawked demands for Joey to give himself up. The flashing red and blue lights bouncing off of cargo containers showed Joey ducking between two stacks of containers. John followed, like an animal stalking its prey, through the twisting, turning corridor created by the rusting metal containers.

As he turned a corner, he found Joey trapped at the end of a long dead-end corridor. He slowly stalked towards the gangster, arcs of electricity dancing all around his body as his rage slowly began to build inside of him.

“Its over Joey. Give up” John demanded.

“Why should I, cape?” Joey asked petulantly. “So they can throw me back in The Zigg? I’ll just bust out again. Maybe even off a few more of your cop buddies in the process, how would you like that?”

John knew he was right. Joey would just break out again. Even if he didn’t, Paragon City wasn’t like Alabama. They had no death penalty. Joey would be back on the streets some day, no matter how many times John put him away. His rage grew, deeper and stronger than ever.

“You’re right. I should just let you go” John said in a low, cold voice.

“What?” Joey asked, genuinely surprised. “I mean, yeah, that’s right. Hey, you’re not such a bad guy after all, Sparky. I might just have to send ya a Christmas card, heh.”

“I’d be running if I were you” John stated, even more coldly.

As he watched Joey run past, John’s rage grew even more intense. Joey represented everything that had gone wrong with his life. All the pain and anger he’d been caused welled up inside of him and his hands and forearms began to crackle loudly with electrical energy. Something inside John snapped. Just as he used to do before he put someone to death in the electric chair, he whispered one last message to the condemned.

“Time to ride the lightnin’, Joey”

John seemed to move in slow-motion as he whirled around. He watched as a blue-violet arc of pure electrical energy leapt from his outstretched arm and hit Joey squarely in the back. Joey was thrown forward 15 feet before his lifeless body lay twitching and smoldering in the dirt.

John slowly lowered his arm, took a deep breath and said “May God have mercy on your soul.” He wasn’t sure if he was talking to Joey, or himself

To The Captain Conduit Saga:
Breaking Point

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