I can almost feel the cool night air on my skin. My armored suit prevents me from actually feeling the cold breeze. With hardly a sound I land on the roof of the Fort Orange Bank building, the glider wings on my back folding into place on my shoulders. They weigh almost nothing, but can support my weight plus 100 lbs with the right conditions.
I take a moment to enjoy the view from up here and drop to one knee. Count to 3 and I’m off, running toward the opposite side of the building. I reach it and kick off into the night. A half second of free fall and then the glider wings unfurl. I’m flying across a vast expanse of skyscrapers and highways. Another perfect landing on the Vanamo Tower North, and I’m almost at my destination.
St. Lievin Hospital, long abandoned. On the 3rd of 4 floors the windows are lit up, something which doesn’t completely surprise me. That’s where they are, the scumbag drug dealers, the rapists, the murderers. After a few steps back I take a running leap, the glider on my back once more unfurling, carrying me across the night sky one last time. I see the perfect place to land, a skylight in the center of the main building.
I glide over the top of the building once, circling back around to make sure I have the perfect angle of approach. From the gauntlets on my wrists, with barely a sound, 2 grappling hooks fire toward the roof. They find purchase in the parapet and I give them a good tug, folding in my glider wings at the same time.
Like a rocket I plummet toward the roof, the glass shatters around me, cutting at my armor, but it will not make it through. I’m perfectly safe, for now. Just as I’d hoped, the floor beneath the skylight is old, weak. There were no lights on the 4th floor because the floor was too decayed to support any wayward thugs.
My entrance on the 3rd floor is dramatic, cloaked in broken glass, shattered tiles and crumpled ceiling tiles. These idiots never even knew what hit them, I dispatched the 5 thugs in the room before they had a chance to react. I leave them, piled on the floor unconscious and bleeding. Their masks; resembling little, grey, aliens, fall to the floor next to them.
* * *
I make my way through the Martians several at a time. None of them put up any bit of a fight. That being said, I don’t take it easy on them. I leave behind a mess of broken bones and concussions. These lowlifes are not the ones I am after. I want the big fish.
I round a corner, facing a crumbling nurse’s station. He’s waiting for me.
They call him the King Martian. I call him a criminal. He’s sitting in a chair, facing the hallway. He knew I was coming. In his hand is a gun, one like I’ve never seen before. It’s shaped like a rifle, but the end is a vertical oblong. I take a step toward him, “Your thugs are no match for me.” The voice that echoes down the hallway is not my own, it is manipulated by my costume to sound much deeper than my voice naturally is.
He responds, but not with words. He fires his rifle. It barely makes a sound, but the muzzle flash is blinding. I am barely able to turn my face away in time. Not that it matters, I don’t know what hits me, but whatever it is, it hurts.
I take the hit in the ribs, the air is pushed out of my lungs, and everything goes black. I stay conscious long enough to feel my shoulders slam through something wooden, probably a door, and to know that it hurts almost as bad as whatever hit me in the ribs.
conciousness comes back to me slowly. I take in a deep breath and it hurts, bad. I’m pretty sure at least 3 of my ribs are broken. I’m on my feet, I realize. I’m being held up by two thugs, I know this before I even open my eyes. I can feel their grip on my wrists, dainty little hands.
I take a painfully deep breath, feel my strength returning. A voice is speaking, deep and highly distorted. I recognize it immediately as my own. That’s when I know they’ve pulled off my mask. There is no time to waste. Before they even realize I’m fully awake I pull the two thugs holding me toward each other. They have time to utter a howl of surprise, then their heads smash together. Their teeth make a horribly loud noise as they crunch together, then scatter across the floor.
My eyes come into focus, taking in the Martian King before me. He has discarded his goofy alien mask and replaced it with mine. “I dig what you’re doing here, man,” the now deep voice of the Martian King poured out of my mask, “I really do, but you’re fucking with my business.”
“That’s why I’m here,” I try my best to make my voice sound threatening, “Your business is killing people.” I take a step toward him, walking over his two unconscious thugs, and take a swing. I’m still weak, and slow, still feeling the sting in my ribs. I miss by a mile and stumble to my knees.
I’m still getting my bearings, climbing back to my feet, but the Martian King is off and running. We’re in a dark hallway, empty ICU rooms on either side. I stop to check each room, also to catch my breath in ragged gasps. He’s not in any of them, I know, but I welcome the chance to rest. At this point I’m sure that the majority of the ribs on my left side are broken.
He’s waiting at the end of the hallway, that strange rifle in his hands. I stop fully in my tracks and gauge the situation. I wait until I’m sure he’s about to fire and I leap to the side. I’m just off on my judgement and whatever it is that fires from that weapon grazes my leg. This time my armored suit holds up, saving me from what I’m sure would have been a broken leg.
I’m pretty sure he’s got me where he wants me, but it seems his weapon needs time to charge between shots, so I get my chance. I once again pull myself to my feet and charge at him, at least as fast as I can.
I throw my shoulder into him, hitting him mid chest. Lucky for me, he’s not much stronger than any of his thugs. He goes down hard, but pulls me down with him. I don’t let him gain the advantage, I drive my fists into his head hard. I know my mask will protect him from any serious harm, but I just need him to stop moving for a moment. I’m not getting what I wanted, and the pain in my ribs is growing to an unbearable level. I can’t take much more, so I punch him hard in the throat.
He stops moving long enough for me to pull my mask free. I’m shocked by how young he is, no older than 19. He begins screaming, swinging his fists wildly. None of his attempts connect and it only takes one good strike between his eyes to put him out cold.
* * *
116 stories above the city streets, the Martian King slowly returns to consciousness. His mask back in place, he again looks ridiculous. Beneath him is nothing but open air, above him one of my lines attaches him to a construction crane. I am standing on the ledge, waiting for him to come around. I carry a spare mask, though it’s not equipped with a voice altering mechanism, so the threatening voice is all up to me. It’s lacking, but I’m working on it.
“Martian King!” I have to shout to be heard over the wind. I know he can hear me though, he turns to look at me. Then he looks down and begins to panic. “Calm down. If you squirm, you’ll fall.” That gets his attention.
“We’re over 100 stories up, right now. I want to know where you got this,” I hold his rifle up for him to see. “This is way beyond the capabilities of some street gang.” I take a moment, then I smash his little weapon against the ledge. We both watch as the fragments fall to the street below. I let the time it takes sink in before I speak again.
“I’ll ask you one more time, then I’ll just cut you loose, scumbag. Where?”
He begins to sob, he’s just a kid after all. “I don’t know,” he screams, “Some rich dude gave them to me. He said his name was Meaney!”
The name strikes an immediate chord with me. Justus Oisin Meaney is the 3rd richest man on the planet, though most people don’t even know it. He’s also a close associate of the man that provides the funding that allows me to wage my war on crime. An associate I was assured was on the right side of justice. We must have words, my benefactor and I.
“Are you sure his name was Meaney?”
“Yeah, man, Meaney! Please, I told you what you wanted to know. Can I come down now?”
I tell him he can indeed come down and sever the line holding him up. He screams all the way to the cold pavement below.