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Chapter 6 (Flight to Freedom)

Lord Armageddon stretched out his hands and lightning shot forth, narrowly missing Big Jim and setting fire to the wall of the abandoned warehouse. Big Jim carefully began to work his way over to Kate, who remained tied but otherwise had been forgotten in the corner by the Skulls. As Big Jim moved from cover, he fired shots at Lord Armageddon; however, they were all deflected away by his shield of electricity.

‘Come on Wolfram, we’ve got to get in there and do what we can to help.’ I said as I dropped through the skylight I had been watching events from.

I landed behind and to the right of Lord Armageddon and in his attacks upon Big Jim he paid me no notice. I charged his back and leapt toward him when I was within range. My expectation to quickly put an end to his rampage turned was foolhardy as he turned toward me and hurled a ball of lightning into my path at the last minute. I collided with that ball of lighting in midair and felt all my muscles go ridged as the electricity coursed over me. The ball expanded to form a sphere of electricity with myself trapped in the center, like a fly in amber unable to move.

Wolfram’s attack was mere seconds behind my own. He yelled a fierce war cry, with his sword held high, as he charged the villain. However, again Lord Armageddon raised his hand and a bolt of bright blue lightning arc forward and struck Wolfram full in the chest. He was hurled back and knocked through the wall of the warehouse.

As futile as our attacks were, they did draw Lord Armageddon’s focus from Big Jim; thereby allowing him to reach Kate and begin to untie her. Above the popping and crackling of my electric cage I heard their conversation.

‘Kate! Thank god you’re alright!’

‘I knew you’d come for me Jimmy.’

‘Don’t worry little sis, I’ll always take care of you.’

It was then that I saw movement from a nearby patch of shadow on the floor. It was DeMarco, blood covering the entire front of his chest from Jimmy’s bullet that had tore through his throat. Obviously dying, DeMarco used his last reserve of strength to crawl to his hands and knees and raise the gun he had planned to use to assassinate Big Jim. Even though I saw it all happening, there was nothing I could do or no way to call out as I remained trapped and unable to move. With a hissing voice from his damaged larynx, DeMarco cried out, ‘Damn you Jim Sullivan! I’ll take you both to hell with me!’ He then fired his gun at Kate and Big Jim until it would no longer fire. With his evil task complete, DeMarco fell back into a puddle of his own blood and moved no more. Big Jim only had seconds to react when he heard DeMarco’s hissing voice followed by the gunshots. With no thought but to protect Kate, he threw himself in front of her.

It was then that the sphere of electricity around me began to fade and I was able to break free. I hurled myself at Lord Armageddon and renewed my attack. My claws sparked off his electric shield but I saw that some of my attacks were getting through. I began to damage his cybernetic implants and leave bloody cuts on his body. He returned my attacks in kind with powerful electrical blasts that burnt my flesh and very nearly overwhelmed my body’s regenerative powers. As we continued to battle, neither able to defeat the other, I noticed that a large portion of the warehouse was totally engulfed in flames. Lord Armageddon, aware that his plans had been thwarted, turned to me and said,

‘You may have won the day stranger, but you will never defeat me! I shall return and be ten times stronger than I am now. Count your days, for they are numbered!’

With that, he burst through the ceiling and into the night sky, flying away from the burning warehouse.

I knew that I had to get Kate, Big Jim and Wolfram out before the building burnt down around us, so chasing Lord Armageddon was not an option. I rushed to where Kate and Big Jim lay upon the floor, fearing that DeMarco had killed them both.

When I arrived, I saw Kate knelling by Big Jim, holding his bloody hand. DeMarco’s shots had been true; but Big Jim had taken them all, saving Kate’s life. The bullets had tore into his chest and there was no doubt, he was beyond saving. I stood silently while Kate cried over the body of her hero brother. After a moment, she noticed me and shrank back in fear, thinking that I was someone else sent to torment her.

‘Please ma’am, do not be afraid. I am here to get you out of this burning building before it is too late.’

‘My brother! You have to help my brother!’ she pleaded with her bloody hands and tear stained face.

‘I am sorry miss. It is too late for him. He’s gone; but we have to get you to safety.’ I say, taking her hand in mine. There is no smell of jasmine and springtime now. Only the smell of gun smoke, the burning building and death.

She numbly takes my hand, still in a state of shock, and we run toward the exit. When we arrive, we find that the fire has blocked our route of escape. I begin to think of an alternate way out when I hear a thunder strike and Kate disappears. I turn looking for a new enemy, but find myself alone in the burning building. Seconds later, I hear the noise again and feel a moment of displacement, like I’m neither here nor there. I materialize in the street in front of the burning warehouse. Wolfram and Kate are there as well.

‘Hey Havoc, that was a close one. It looked like you two needed a quick exit, so I recalled you both to safety.’ Wolfram explains. ‘Is this the young lady who was kidnapped?’

‘Yes, this is Ms. Kate Sullivan.’ I say.

‘A pleasure to meet you ma’am.’ Wolfram replies with a bow.

Kate takes no notice. Her eyes are fixed on the burning building that has become her brother’s funeral pyre. I begin to hear the sirens wailing in the distance.

‘Ms. Sullivan, the police and fire crews are on the way. You will be safe until they arrive. I am very sorry for your lose, but you know that your brother loved you very much and gladly gave his life for yours.’

She looks at me, simply nods, and again turns to look upon the fire. The lights of the fire engines are visible in the distance and Wolfram and I depart before they arrive.

A few days later, I go to the office. I’m no longer wearing the mask and costume; I’m just plain old Mike again. The office is vacant, everyone has packed up and left; however, there is a light coming from under Big Jim’s office door. I slowly push the door open and see Kate busy packing away pictures and papers from her brother’s desk.

‘Hello Kate. I’m glad you are okay.’ I say.

‘Oh, Hi Mike. Yeah, I’m in one piece thanks to a couple of capes and my brother.’

‘I heard about all of that’, I say. ‘I’m sorry about Big Jim.’

Her eyes mist up for a second but she quickly regains composure.

‘He was my protective big brother right until the end. Always looking out for his baby sis.’

‘So what are you going to do now?’ I ask.

‘Well, Jimmy left me quite a large sum of money. Seems he had set up a trust fund in case of anything ever happening to him, so I’d be taken care of. I’ve decided to enroll in the Paris Art Studies Program. My flight leaves tonight. I can’t stay here in Paragon City after all that’s happened.’

‘I am glad you are getting a chance to follow your dream Kate. Make the most of it.’

I turn toward the door, but she calls out to me.

‘Mike, wait!’

She comes around the desk and kisses me on the cheek. ‘Thank you for being a nice guy. If things were different, maybe we could’ve had something. I like you Mike. You are a good person and that’s a rare thing in the Row.

I smile and say, ‘Take care of yourself’, and walk out of the door. There’s just one last thing I need to take care of.

Later on the dirty streets of Kings Row

Harold had been pushing that hotdog cart on the streets of the Row for over fifteen years. Ever since he was laid off from the old King Garment Works factory. It never was going to make him rich, but it kept him feed and that was an important thing here in the Row. Back during better days, he would hide a quarter in some of the wrappers of the hotdogs he sold. The kids would buy his hotdogs and sometimes get the surprise of finding the coin. They started calling his hotdogs “Lucky Dogs” and the name stuck. Even though he can no longer afford to give away quarters, he still walks the dirty streets of Kings Row and sells his “Lucky Dogs”.

Today is just another day, same as a hundred yesterdays, same as a hundred tomorrows. Push the cart, sell some dogs and dodge the gangs. Here comes a guy now. He’s not a cop and he’s not a ganger, maybe he’ll buy a dog.

‘Hey mister. Care to buy a lucky dog? Best in the Row.’ I say.

‘Sure, I’ll take one.’ He says as he walks closer.

The guy looks familiar but I can’t place him. Little over six feet tall, black hair, hazel eyes, just a regular looking Joe. I hand him his dog and say,

‘That’ll be two bucks please.’

He hands over a couple of bills and says thanks.

‘Be careful out on this streets’, he says to me.

I go to answer him but I swear to goodness he’s not there anymore! In the split second I looked away, he disappeared. Things are getting stranger and stranger in this city I tell you. It’s then that I look down and see that the man has given me 2 crisp one hundred dollar bills to pay for his lunch. Maybe these dogs really are lucky after all.

The End


Author’s Notes:

Well there you have it. My first attempt at a CoH story. I hope you have all found it entertaining. Heck, this is my first attempt at creative writing since I was in school back in the mid 80’s.  The story has changed quite a bit from what I first envisioned, but I’m rather pleased with the way it has turned out. It almost seemed to write itself along the way. I spent a lot of time thinking about the plot during the day while at work and did my writing at home in the evening. I even skipped out on playing the game so I could write a few times! Anyway, it is done now and I am going to take a little break (and level my damn character!) before I tackle my next story. I have a couple of story ideas rattling around the old noggin that are dying to get out.

In a few books that I have read the author gives a bit of an insight to where his character ideas came from. I always enjoyed that and wanted to share mine with you.

Havoc
He was my first CoH character. His full name is Rex Havoc (I got that name from a garage band I saw in a bar back in 1986 btw), but I thought that Rex Havoc sounded a little to Saturday morning cartoonish for my story. I still have the character Rex Havoc (he is a science Claw / Regen scrapper) and he is a proud member of the United Internationals. By using a little artistic license, I combined him with another one of my characters, Mr. Denmark (mutant Claw / Regen scrapper), a proud member of The Internationals, and created Havoc for my story.

Big Jim Sullivan
I have no idea where I got the name, but he has always been a Kings Row Hellion boss. I used him in Rex Havoc’s background story way back when CoH first went retail. If you see Rex around give his background a read and see for yourself. Anyway, I picture him in attitude (not really appearance) as a character from the HBO miniseries Deadwood.
http://www.hbo.com/deadwood/cast/character...wearengen.shtml

Kate Sullivan
Inspired by my wife of course; ‘cause if I say anyone else she’ll hit me……hard. lol

Alexander DeMarco
When I created this character the person who immediately came to mind was that little wormy guy (Beni Gabor played by actor Kevin O’Conner) from the movie, The Mummy. You know the one who sides with the monster and helps him gather body parts.
http://www.imdb.com/gallery/granitz/2456/E...or,%20Kevin%20J.

Alexander Kole
I have been watching a lot of Smallville (the TV show) lately. My dad told me about it and I thought I would give it look so I picked up seasons 1-4 on DvD. So far it’s pretty good…anyway, Kole is straight up Lionel / Lex Luther.
Lionel Luther: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:LionelLuthor.jpeg
Lex Luther: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Luthorlex.jpeg

Lord Armageddon
At first he was just going to be a Freakshow boss; but as the story progressed he became a Darth Vader / Freakshow / Super Villain amalgam. Regardless, he’s a scary dude..who will be back. Muuhhaaaaa…sorry I couldn’t resist that.
http://cityofheroes.gameamp.com/coh/viewVi...iewVillain=true
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:DVader.jpeg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electro_(comics)

Havoc was originally going to be the sole protagonist of the story and I thought writing it in first person would be something different and fun to do. It would allow my readers to get inside the character’s head a little better and hear his inner monologue; sort of a tribute to all those old black and white film noir movies. But when I started writing the Big Jim Sullivan parts, I decided that he was the guy whose head I wanted to get in. Make him a “good” bad guy…much like the character of Al Swearengen from HBO’s Deadwood series. (WARNING: If you have never seen this show, be careful. It is an amazing show with great acting, compelling story lines and amazing dialogue; but it is most certainly one of the filthiest things I have ever watched. I felt like I needed to go take a shower after watching the first episode!)

So now, I had two protagonists, one against the other but both working toward common goals (protecting Kate). Oh, and don’t forget a storytelling point of view that jumped around more than a rabbit on speed. Nevertheless, it all came together in the end. The heroes win, the nasty guy dies, the sinner repents and is saved through sacrifice, the damsel is saved and the arch villain escapes to return another day. Oh yeah, and the hotdog guy gets two hundred bucks.

By the way, the hotdog guy…..that’s Stan Lee. If he can make cameos in every other damn hero movie, and even be a hot dog vendor in the first X-Men (2000), why can’t he be in my story too!


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