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Trapped in Dark Astoria
Part One – A Return in Fire
City of Heroes Fan Fiction

By Eli J. Litzelman


    The sun beat mercilessly down on Atlas Park as the former hero, RoboZon, worked in his living room.  Since he rarely had visitors, he was able to leave all sorts of gizmos lying around.  Recently, he had been freed from his suit and, being tired of hero work, quietly retired.  After his leave of absence, he did not mess around with technology as much as he had.  Before giving up being a hero, however, he had come across a blueprint of an invention his father had made before he died.  Although the design was not complete, RoboZon felt it his duty to complete it.
   
He slid the last piece together and examined his work.  It was roughly three inches square, a quarter-inch thick, and glinted under the light.  Opening a large case, he found his suit inside.  He inserted the computer chip into the interior of the outfit and closed the compartment.  The container was made out of a sturdy, plastic-like substance that could be seen through.  Pressing a button on the computer next to him, he watched the monitor register the suit as active.
   
Under normal circumstances RoboZon would not have access to technology of this quality.  Inside the blueprints his father had given him, however, were directions to a laboratory Crey had abandoned.  RoboZon found the building mostly destroyed by what he took to be the Freakshow.  His father, having given forethought to this occurrence, had hidden most of the valuable machinery in safe confinements.   RoboZon found the items and took them to his house.  These were what he was now using to test his father’s idea.
   
RoboZon turned back around and looked at his suit.  His jaw dropped for the costume was lit with fire.  Even though the flames covered the metal exterior, neither the suit nor the flames themselves showed any sign of deteriorating.  After a while, however, the former hero noticed the flames did not truly consist of fire, because they were glowing white.  Overcoming the shock of the spectacle, he spun his chair around to look at his computer screen.  Scrolling down through the waves of information, he found most all of the functions working slightly faster and more efficient.  The computer also identified the suit as fully operational and safe to use.
   
He stood up from his chair and opened the case.  Hearing an almost silent noise from the machinery, he leaned closer to see if he could hear it more clearly.  The hum resembled the noise wind made when it rushed through tall grass.  It almost sounded like it was trying to whisper to him.  He removed a glove and reached for the suit.  Surprisingly, the flame was not hot or even warm against his skin.  He let it curl over his fingers.
   
Before touching the metal itself, he was interrupted by his cell phone.  He reached into the pocket of his jeans, shuffled through its contents, found the source of the ringing, and answered it.  “Hello.”
   
“Hello, RoboZon?”
   
“Serafina, is that you? I haven’t heard from you in forever.”
   
“Yes, it has been some time.  Listen, RoboZon-”
   
“Call me Carl.  You know I've retired from being a hero.”
   
“Yes, of course.  Listen, I need your help.”
   
Carl frowned.  “Only if it doesn’t require flying, using martial arts, or saving damsels in distress.”
   
Serafina sighed.  “It contains all of those.”
   
“No.”

“Just listen-”

“I said no. I'm done with being a hero.  Go find some other superstar to help you.”

The former hero prepared to hang up when the magician on the other end spoke.  “But Archer and DW…”

RoboZon froze.  “Go on, I'm listening.”

“I sent them into Astoria to rescue a friend of mine, Katie Blackwell, who was captured by the Banished Pantheon.  About two days ago they disappeared.  Both of their teleporters are shut off and there seems to be no way to contact them.”

“Where were they last seen?”

“They were last seen close to a mile under Moth Cemetery.  I was hoping you’d-”

“Don’t say any more.  I'm already on my way.”

RoboZon hung up the phone and turned to his suit.  The flames still danced on its surface and the light still shed an eerie pattern on the floor.  He removed it from its container and put it on.  Satisfied that it still fit perfectly, he launched out his door and flew over Atlas Park.  He glided to the train, road to Skyway City, soared down to Talos Island, and made his way across to Dark Astoria.  Landing at the entrance, he walked to the guards.

One of the guards looked up as he approached.  “Even though you look enough like a hero, I’ll still need to see your identification.”

“Sure thing, Jeff,” said the hero as he handed the guard his I.D.

The guard looked down at the card and jerked back up upon seeing it.  “Robo?  I haven’t seen you here in a while.  Checking up on the Adamastor?”

“No, I’ve come here on different business.”

Jeff handed the hero’s card back to its owner.  “Good luck in there.”

“Thanks.”  RoboZon tucked his identification in a pocket and continued through the gate.  Although he did not want to become a hero again, it still felt good to be back.  He passed the police drones on the other side of the wall and strode into the dense fog of Dark Astoria.  Going through here had been common while he was a hero and even though most people considered Astoria to be unnerving, RoboZon felt right at home.

Not wishing to fly in the near blindness the fog presented, he walked through the buildings.  Questions needed answers and his job was to find them.  Before getting far, however, he encountered resistance.

A shaman stood in his path and stared at him.  “You will attend the sacrifice with your companions.  It is your destiny, RoboZon.”

“Very well,” said the legendary hero. “I could use a warm up.”  He cracked his knuckles and assumed a fighting stance.

A demented grin spread across the villain’s face and he spread his hands wide.  The earth under RoboZon suddenly fell away and only his lightning reflexes prevented him from plummeting into darkness.  The flaming figure flew through the air for the astonished mystic.  Growling in frustration the shaman pulled his hands together and pushed forward.  Not only did the ground instantly come back together, but it also created a wave of gravel which rushed from the villain to the hero.

RoboZon tried to pull up over the wave but it was gaining altitude much faster than he.  Instead, he set a course parallel to the ground and gave all his power into increasing his speed.  With a muffled “whump”, the sand and the hero collided and RoboZon disappeared from sight.  For a moment nothing happened.  Silence filled the air and the villain prepared to recover the body.  A loud crash echoed through the city block and the flaming hero emerged from the gravel and rolled to the ground.  Before the villain could react, RoboZon was upon him.  Thrusting his arm forward in a punch, the shaman desperately tried to get in a hit on his adversary.  Before the punch could reach him, the metal master grabbed the villain’s wrist and pressed the elbow on the same arm back up toward the owner’s ear.  He then let go of the elbow and placed the edge of his hand in front of the mystic’s shoulder blade.  Lifting the wrist up, RoboZon straightened his opponent’s arm and shoved it up behind the shaman’s back, causing the villain to bend forward.

“Here’s the deal…” said RoboZon, “…you tell me where you’re keeping my friends and I won’t dislocate your shoulder.”

“It does not matter what you do to me.  I will never reveal their location.”

“Your choice.”  The metal master forced down on the arm and, with a loud pop, fulfilled his word.

Despite his experiences in pain and suffering, the Avalanche Shaman fell to his knees and screamed as the force of it overtook him.  RoboZon calmly walked around to the side of the villain and lifted up his other arm.  “Are you going to tell me now? Or am I to proceed with the other arm?”

Straining from the pain, the shaman replied, “It’s just west of here.  Behind a rusty five story building.  A cave entrance exists.”

RoboZon threw the villain to what remained of the pavement and slapped a teleporter to him.  “You better wish you weren’t lying,” grumbled the hero.  Leaping into the air, the metal master flew a ways before coming to an old five story building.  He landed behind it and found a cave entrance just behind a clump of trees.  Removing the outer cover he stepped into its foreboding interior.         


TO PART 2 >                         


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