So this chapter is a good example of how NOT to let complex chapters bring you down. If this was a chapter in Two Destroyers or Kingless Country this would be revised and polished. It’s lacking scene in parts and will likely be fleshed out later.
Notice how I stuck to the important bits, sort of like an outline. I’ll take the opportunity during an ‘easier’ chapter to check it over and make sure all the key details are added.
Hope you’re enjoying the read so far. WC 21,00 ish
Chapter Twelve — Crisis
Russ woke some time later to the sound of Kirin calling his name. The sun hung low in the sky and the air carried an unseasonable chill. He shook away the disorientation of sleep and sat up. Tears formed at the corners of Kirin’s hazel colored eyes. She shook him desperately, urging him to move.
“All right, I’m up. Where’s the fire?”
“There’s no fire. S-something bad happened. We need to get back.”
“Explain on the way,” Russ said. “I’ll need to go back to normal size, though.”
Kirin flew over to her piled clothing and nodded.
He focused, and returned to normal size, careful to keep his gaze away from Kirin. He tapped his com, sending a direct line. “Mac, come in. What’s going on?”
No response. He tapped the panel on his wrist and checked the recent log. He waded through the heads up display interface to find most of the Macro Corp. responded to a second surge of violent crimes. Russ hesitated on a line of the summary.
“Kirin. Get back to the plantation I need to get to the city, now.”
“But, I can help.”
“You’ll slow me down.” Russ turned in a huff. Kirin had hardly gotten herself decent. “I’m sorry, but you need to get back, now. Mac needs my help. Things have gone from bad to worse.”
He didn’t wait for a response. Instead, he launched straight into the air, getting to a safe distance away from the trees lined up his trajectory to the downtown area and broke loose. It was risky, but he had no choice.
The scenery sped by in a frantic blur and an unbearable pressure squeezed at his temples. Kari was one thing, but this could ruin everything. He pushed himself harder, setting aside the real threat of losing consciousness. He kept his mind on what could happen if Ray made the wrong choice a fatal misstep and dashed his image as a hero.
Sirens filled the air and, Russ blazed past police cars en route to the city.
Almost there, hold on Ray. Don’t do anything stupid.
Russ slowed just enough to activate a tracer. He landed and went the rest of the way on foot. Flying took too much out of him and he was already running on empty. He hopped the police barricades and came to the city center. There Macro Man and most of the Corp. made their stand.
Mac stood front and center, a nine-foot tall emerald clad giant, generating a wall matching green energy to protect his colleagues. Dozens of people surrounded them, slamming their fists against the barrier, shouting in disarrayed unity. Ray stayed calm, unmoving as his erected wall of kinetic force.
Everyone in the Corp. worked to lessen the damage. Matt, as his alter ego Bandit, commanded the shadows to pull people away from the wall. It was tricky business in broad daylight, but the tightly packed mob gave him enough to work with.
Jeb called upon nearby animals to distract the mob, while Rusty could only stand by helplessly, waiting to defend his master if things turned sour.
Kari was in a similar position; she could only fire off electrical charges to push people back, but they were unhindered by anything but crippling damage. Dave, or rather The Form, sat next to her, working furiously to find options to sedate them.
Joyce, in her purple and gold Medica uniform, poured to into Ray’s barrier. She triggered spikes of gentle force to shoo away their assailants from smashing themselves against the wall whenever possible.
The Macro Corp. held fast behind that barrier, boxed in by innocent people manipulated into attacking them. Ray turned to look at Russ, nodding quietly. I get it, his barrier blocked communications.
Russ approached the crowd. “Hey, cut it out. We’re trying to help you!”
They turned in unison, eyes glazed over with rage. The least Russ could do was lead them away, if that was even a good idea he wasn’t sure.
“Forget the small fry,” one of the mob said. “Kill the leader and the Macro Corp. falls.”
Russ scowled. It wasn’t anything like the wild animals in the bayou, or the assailant Russ put to heel. Many of them had tranquilizer darts sticking out of their flesh. They’re like Zombies?
Russ tried to focus, but only got a headache for it. In his current state, he wouldn’t be able to pick out Negator from the crowd.
Samantha. Russ raised a hand to his comm, but realized she too was behind the barrier with the others. She sat cross-legged and meditated. She’s probably trying a more mystical approach.
He had made a terrible mistake. They needed Kirin. His haste ruined what could have been their only chance to handle this peacefully. He should have brought Kirin, even if it slowed him down. Ray counted on him to make the right call and he failed. He was too exhausted to help and Kirin was now uselessly out of range. Even if he called her, she couldn’t operate any of the vehicles to get there in haste.
Every moment that passed, people threw themselves against Ray’s barrier, incurring more injuries. Like all good leaders, Ray did all he could— he made a call.
Macro Man abandoned the barrier, leaving it to his sister. He focused his power and the telltale green glow of his power infused into him. In the blink of an eye, he expanded, towering over his colleagues at a whopping fifty feet tall. The mobs did not relent, unimpressed by this feat.
As Russ had discovered first hand, size affected powers in interesting ways. Ray raised a hand to the sky and generated a large area of kinetic energy. Russ retreated to safe distance just before Ray gestured downward, bringing the mob to their knees and eventually prone to the ground.
Joyce abandoned her shield. Her power of mimicry was complex, limited only by her knowledge of the human and meta-human body and the strain of unnatural actions on her being. She instead stepped on top of the kinetic field and inspected the prone people below.
Russ hurried to them, stealing a quick glance up at Ray. “What the hell happened?”
“It was a trap,” Dave said. He typed furiously at the panel on his arm, seamlessly searching for answers as he spoke. “The first wave of crimes baited us here and the rest turned on us soon after.”
Kari stepped forward “Where the hell were you? You blew off the call to arms.”
“Asleep,” Russ said. “I stretched myself a little thin, sorry.”
“Any injuries?” Joyce said, returning from her assessment. Her alter-ego Medica had a slightly misleading name. Sure, she had the ability to mend wounds, but she did so by inspiring the body to do it naturally. In the same way, she could seamlessly imitate any biological super-power. “Mac should be able to hold them indefinitely, but some of them have broken bones. He can only be so gentle with something this large.”
Great. Liabilities. Russ sighed. “We need to get you know who here, she could help.”
“Not likely.” Sam said, coming out from her trance. “Whatever that fairy told you is optimism at best. Whatever Negator took from these people, it’s not likely they’re getting it back anytime soon.”
“We won’t know until we try.”
“What the hell do you think I’ve been doing? Worse, he seems to be able to do this from far away. There’s no way he could be in the city without me picking up on him.”
Russ looked up at Ray. “This is gonna hard to explain away.”
“Yeah,” Kari said. “Handy for the people trying to get us behind bars.”
“Anyway,” Joyce said, glaring at Kari. “Let’s split up and make sure things don’t get any worse.”
“I’ll go talk to the cops,” Matt said. “Man, even IB can’t even chill these people out.”
“Well I could,” Jay said, shrugging. “But you wanted them to bounce back afterwards, right?”
Kari knelt near one of the struggling civilians. “Jay’s right. He could remove their drive entirely, along with their will to live. I doubt the masses would tolerate that. Suppressing it won’t do anything, just like those tranq darts.”
Joyce clapped a hand on Russ’ shoulder. “Micron, you should rest up. You’re a mess.”
“Yeah, I know. Sorry.”
“Don’t blame yourself. Not much we could have done about this.”
Not one of the assailants calmed. In fact each of them sounded eerily coherent. They were furious in a rational sort of way, claiming it was their right to protest against the oppression of the Macro Corp. In many ways, this was much scarier than blind rage.
Behind the hysteria, their words made sense.
Russ ate a dozen or so nutrient bars and felt a thousand times better. That coupled with the nap got him thinking normally again. Agent Kringle assured the injured civilians would be treated and Ray’s handling of the situation was more than acceptable, but Russ couldn’t ignore the wary stares as they prepared to leave back to HQ.
Even those unaffected by Negator’s curse started to consider the possibility the threat the Macro Corp. posed. It reminded them how easily Ray could squash them like insects. It was easy to see them as more than human. Or depending on the outlook, less than human.
In that way, Russ suddenly felt glad he didn’t take Kirin along. If people caught sight of her wings, they may think of her as a monster rather than a savior. There was no guarantee she could even do anything about the people gone mad. The sickness had driven nearly a hundred people mad.
The number would only grow.
Dave settled on a make shift method to detain the affected citizens, containment fields strong enough to immobilize without causing injury. It took him a few hours to get it running though. They had to endure the shouts and insults as they worked.
“Ugh, it’s almost easier when the bad guys are as powerful as we are,” Joyce said.
Russ could only nod.
“Hey, cheer up. We can figure it out,” Joyce said, forcing a smile. He could always tell when her smiles were fake.
“Not much I can do to help. It sucks. I ran all the way here just to watch everything fall apart.”
Joyce shrugged. “Seems like the case for all of us. Negator has found a way to make us all useless. I guess we just need to do what we always do. Fix the problem.”
With the containment fields in place, Ray returned to normal size and approached rolling a stiff shoulder. “That could have gone better. So where do we go from here?”
“It’s only a matter of time before Vuhdis finds a way for us to track Negator, for now it’s just damage control.”
“That’s not good enough,” Russ said. “Sam needs help and I know just the fairy for the job.”