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Supercape

Hot Shot

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Oh cr##

 

If there was one thing that Cass knew he couldn’t deal with, it was ice. He’d made enough near-death experiences with it already, he didn’t need to add one on top. As he realized what CP was about to do, he tried to move backwards, possibly to get out of range.

 

One of the big drawbacks of his fire form was that movement was a bit more difficult. Which meant that even if he tried to, he couldn’t move from the spot until the fire had spread properly. Which, in turn, meant that the only thing he could do as the wave of cold raced toward him was close his eyes and hope for the best.

 

It was cold. So, so cold. Even the fire inside him only did so much to warm him up. Still, usually when he was dealing with attacks like these, he wasn’t a literal living flame, and he could feel that. He could fight back against the cold, he could still feel his body being there. He could push back against it enough to survive this attack at the least.

 

Once he’d found his strength again, he spoke, his voice distorted as it usually was in this form, his tone angrier and more violent than usual. “Now look what you’ve done! Attacked an innocent bystander. Is that a hero move? Hell no. Right now you’re nothing more than a thug with powers, so live up to what you claim to be and stop being a little b####. “

 

With that, Bonfire shot upwards into the sky, leaving a trail of fire behind him. Even if he only moved for the blink of an eye it would already transport him quite a distance. Which, in this case, was alright. Creating some distance would probably save his ass in the short and long term.

 

Now, he was essentially yelling, his powers amplifying his voice. “’Cause as it stands, it’s my duty to stop you. “

 

He took aim. At this distance, it took some consideration when attacking, in order to not hit anything other than the target. It was only a small fireball, so that was a risk worth taking still. He looked downwards, as a flame, first the size of a fist, split off from his body. It moved downwards at a rapid speed, growing even as the air counteracted it, flying straight towards CP. This one looked like a hit...

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The fireball burst onto Chill Pill. Of the lovely blue spandex costume he was wearing, little remained. He was dressed in charred rags now, his flesh red and black, but still alive. Very much quite alive. 

 

He staggered back a little and waved the smoke away somewhat ineffectually. 

 

"Hero! Pfah! Hero is risking your life on some medical treatment when you have brain cancer!" he said, rather incorrectly if one stopped to think about it. Which he was surely not doing. "I am going to be a STAR! I won't let some little fireball thrown by some kid who get lucky with fire powers stop me!"

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“Eh, alright, you win that one. There’s some heroism involved in that. “

Cass had to concede as much. It was somewhat heroic he guessed, probably involved a lot of uncertain factors and risks. Selfish in the end, sure, but … yeah, no that was fair. Still, that didn’t change the situation as whole.

 

Part of him did feel a bit bad about hitting him from outside his range and slowly burning up his clothes, that didn’t look nice. But CP had made his intentions very clear, and Cass couldn’t risk that much just to get a fair fight in. Not against him.

 

Once again, a part of his body split off into an independent flame. This time it was much larger than the last time around though, and it soon split into more and more smaller flames, which themselves grew and split again.

 

“Well, unless you want to be known for collateral damage and threatening innocents, you’re not doing a good job at it. “ The first fireballs began to move downwards, as more took their place. “And boy, let me tell you, being known for those things suuuuuuuuucks. “ That was the signal, as all the remaining fireballs shot forwards at once. Perhaps he’d emphasized the words collateral damage too much, because judging from the looks of it, that was what was about to happen.

 

Whoops.

 

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"Burning down the central park?" scoffed Chill Pill. "I just bet you would!"

 

He bent and gazed skyward, then from his eyes a brilliant white beam was brought forth. It swept across the sky, freezing the air...and when it struck Bonfire he felt the most horrible chill in his bones and blood once more. 

 

"Look everybody! Its BONFIRE TRYING TO BURN DOWN FREEDOM CITY!" yelled Chill Pill to nobody in particular. Anyone who wasn't knocked out had run away a while ago. 

 

Except Zyte, of course. "Burning down freedom city! Wow! This is AWESOME!" he declared, intent on filming every second. To the max. To the ultra max. 

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Wha-

 

If there was one thing Cass hadn’t expected, it was eye-lasers. He’d not prepared to move at all now that he’d created a safe distance, and that turned out to be a major issue, since any kind of unplanned movement in this form was essentially impossible.

 

Something he could feel very well, as he stopped feeling anything but sheer cold. It was strange how even when being a literal flame, he could still feel as if he was freezing to death.

 

So CP could attack from the range they were currently at, and probably from further away even. So much for that plan. At this point Cass felt a bit helpless. Not only because he was currently freezing to death while tapping into his complete power, but also because he was running out of option. Clearly thus guy was adept at all these situations.

 

And then, there was the whole angle he was spinning. The fire had been weakened to the point he couldn’t attack further, but he could still talk. “Well, somebody had to unfreeze the ground after what you did, and I’m a lot faster than the sun.”

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"Faster than the Sun? Ha! What does that mean?" called back Chill Pill in retort. His eyes glowed a deep burning red again, after that massive exertion of cold energy. "That's stupid! Ha! You are stupid!" he concluded, his voice warbling and his eloquence, such as it was, dissolving back to schoolyard taunts. 

 

"Ill show you how to destroy a park! Ill save you, tree!" he laughed, and it was a pretty cracked laugh. He pulled up the tree next to him in a fit of superhuman strength that showed off his bulging muscles (now exposed thanks to his tattered spandex). With a big grunt, he tossed the tree straight up to Bonfire!

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That was one thing. His eyes. Definitely related to his powers in some way, he could only pull those icy things occasionally. That was something that Cass could abuse … probably. Of course, in order to do that he first had to figure out how he could use it to his advantage in some way. But maybe he had enough time to figure that one out.

 

CP’s insults had really stooped to a new level, now he wasn’t even trying. And then, there was the tree. “Oh, look at you, now you’ve arrived at property damage. It’s a step up from injuring innocents, but come on.”

 

The tree flew towards Bonfire. He didn’t mind that this shot was on target. Really, it only helped him regain his powers in spite of all the cold that was still lingering. The tree pretty much went up into flames as it touched Bonfire, burning to ashes in the blink of an eye.

 

“A tree? Much appreciated, can you throw up another?”

 

He had regained enough power to attempt an attack, so he did it again. A few more burning trees weren’t that bad at this point, stopping CP could be spun as more important easily. Once more, the sky filled with fireballs, raining down as localized as Cass could get them to. Which seemed to work a bit better this time around…

 

  

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The fire rained down mightily, and the spandex suffered equally mightily. There was the crisp smell of burning plastic around Chill Pill, and it was not pleasant. Fortunately, he did not have to suffer the shame of his shredded costume, nor of the pungent aroma that would vex any conscious nostril. Instead, what with smoke and heat and the wafts of singed earth around him, he simply passed out, his flesh even redder and blacker than it had been. 

 

"Boom! Got it all!" said Zyte standing up from the Bushes and zooming in on Bonfire overhead. 

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That tree had done more than Cass expected. He’d assumed he’d get back to his previous powers, he hadn’t expected it’d make him that much more powerful. So that was CP dealt with, at least for the moment. Which only did so much good, because there was one thing that he’d wanted to avoid with this trip to the park, and that was direct public attention.

 

And that was there now. It would also slow the entire thing down a fair bit, because now he had to deal with the fire form for a while longer. And that just meant problems over problems. He was glad he’d used it because it had really saved his ass, but at the same time, what came after was never fun.

 

Like the first step, getting back to the ground. At that point he could shuffle along, but for now that meant closing his eyes, flying downwards, and hoping he didn’t impact too hard. Once that was done, he turned to Zyte.

 

“Alright, that’s gonna make the entire situation a bit more complicated. I’ll assume somebody’s called emergency services already, but can you do that too? I’m a bit preoccupied with all this fire. Need to get both CP and the guy he injured out of here.”

 

“Oh, and then there’s those biker guys. So, call the police too I guess.” Really, if nobody had contacted them already that would’ve surprised Cass greatly. But there was a chance. Speaking of which, he had to check if Zyte had done the one job he’d been given, whether or not the bag was still there…

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"Sure, sure, emergency services, you got it!" replied Zyte, giving the thumbs up. "Police, Fire, Ambulance!" he said, holding up three fingers. With impressive expertise, he kept filming and phoned said emergency services in an ambidextrous display of media savvy. 

 

The bag with the mask in it remained on the ground. True, it had been frozen, steamed, and blasted with hot air, but bar the odd singing, it was intact. And the bone mask was equally intact. It seemed to bristle with glee at the carnage around it, but perhaps that was just an illusion - it looked like a skull after all, albeit a malformed one, and skulls always looked like they were grinning. 

 

Still, it seemed to be a gleeful grin...

 

It was an impressively short time before the sirens were heard, and as they rung out in the distance, Armitage opened his eyes and dusted off his tweed suit. 

 

"Goodness me, that was cold! freezing! in fact" he muttered, his skin still wan and white. "What happened?"

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Good, the mask was still secure. Bonfire couldn’t really carry it at this point though, which meant it was up to either Zyte or Armitage. Great combination already. There was something about the mask and how it looked now – had it changed ? – that unnerved Cass, even more than it already did. He needed to get rid of this thing, fast if possible.

 

Oh, and then there was Armitage. Who got up a bit earlier than Cass had hoped. Now he had to explain the entire situation. Including Zyte. Great. He wasn’t looking forward to this. Maybe he could distract him ever so slightly. Make it so Zyte wasn’t the first thing he’d see waking up. That’d probably help.

 

“Unexpected change of plans, the fight got a bit out of hand. Say, you don’t happen to know if this mask has some kind of powers activated by combat happening in it’s vicinity? Police will be here in a bit to take care of the … quadbikers I guess, whoever they might be with. “

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Armitage looked at the Quadbikers and raised an Eyebrow. "Drake, surely" he said with certainty. "Hired guns, hired thugs. It is not really her style, but she would do anything to regain her youthful vigour. I am an old man myself and I confess the cold bones of venerable age are not desirable. She, however, has fixated on the fountain of youth beyond anything remotely sane" he explained. 

 

"I shall have to have words with her. Or perhaps other avenues of communication. I am not without means, if I have time to prepare" he said both cryptically and grimly. "I would not say I am a warlock. But that is because I do not reveal myself" he said with a smile thin and cruel. 

 

He looked at the bag. "And that mask might be what I need. May I?" he asked Bonfire, holding out his hand for the item. 

 

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At this point Cass’ slight mistrust of Armitage got a bit more pronounced. He had arrived in the city on a ship full of armed thugs, after all. The fact he was this certain about the bikers allegedly being hired by Drake showed something was probably up.

 

Especially once he mentioned that he needed the mask. Cass couldn’t see any reason why Armitage would need the mask when communicating with Drake in any way, that seemed a bit counter-productive considering part of why he was doing it was to keep it out of her hands. Maybe it was the fire altering his mind ever so slightly, but this felt like a con of some sort.

 

“What would you need it for? I’d rather keep it within lose distance of myself, I’ve seen how quickly it can cause some serious trouble…”

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Armitage stiffened. "Indeed. It can indeed cause trouble. I don't see how that qualifies you to keep hold of it?" he asked. There was politeness, diplomacy in his voice but it was a penetrating question nonetheless. "You have a reputation. Not all bad. But nuclear power stations and this and that. Trouble seems rather to gravitate towards you rather than away. You may prefer to keep the mask within loose distance of yourself, but is that your feeling or the magnetic influence of the mask itself?" he asked. "History would suggest that the safest place was very far from you indeed"

 

He paused and mitigated his statement. "That said, there are worse places, I am sure. Like in the hands of Elizabeth Drake. But still, I would question your assessment of the matter, and your qualifications of safety. Or understanding, come to that" he explained. "You lack the experience in such matters, do you not?"

 

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Oh, now it was on. While Cass liked to joke about the whole Neutron Incident, it was a sore spot. And Armitage’s other suggestions didn’t exactly calm down Cass either. Or make him more trustful of the guy. He was up to something, he was pretty sure of it at this point.

 

“However, as you may recall, I managed to resolve all those situations. Trouble gravitates towards me, but I’ve got the qualifications to deal with it. I’ve seen some glimpses of what this thing can do, and I’d say I’m more qualified to deal with the situation should it arise.”

 

“I’ve got contacts and I’ve got experience at dealing with this stuff. We both know what’s happening to the mask while it’s around me”. Well, apart from any unexpected complications, but that didn’t exactly strengthen Bonfire’s argument so it was best not to mention it. “While with you, it’s a bit more complicated. It did enter circulation after you had hold of it the last time. “

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"Mmm, it is true. You did resolve those situations" conceded Armitage, stroking his beard. "A fair testament. So you are, in essence, a double edged sword" he summarises. 

 

He did not look best pleased with the situation, but he was not adamant about his position either. "What, then, do you propose? Are you to secrete the mask in some secret Headquarters, away from prying eyes? With salt circles and arcane spells and seal against its malign force?" he asked. It had the same veneer of politeness, but underneath he was penetrating. 

 

"One might imagine you would need assistance in such matters" he added. "If not from me, then at least someone with suitable expertise in history and occultism. Unless your expertise ran to such matters?"

 

"I can put you in touch with a guy!" yelled Zyte, filming every word. 

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…F###.

 

Cass supposed it was only human nature. People, especially people like him and Zyte, like to be noticed. Even when that was, from almost every perspective, a horrible idea. Cass hadn’t mentioned Armitage’s identity, and perhaps Zyte hadn’t realized it, so it probably was just him inserting himself.

 

But Armitage had been quite clear about one thing, and that was his disgust over Zyte. Times like these, Cass felt he needed a bomb disposal suit. He was already bomb-proof, sure, but this, this required another layer.

 

“I know a few people, who know a few people, who are experts on this stuff. I don’t know their exact methods, but I can vouch for their trustworthiness. “ Cass didn’t. Any of those things. But he had numbers, and he knew a few people. Surely somebody would be able to put him in contact with one of the big mages. Not that Sha’ir guy he’d read about over in EC, somebody local.

 

He still needed to distract Armitage from Zyte a bit, probably by just not interacting with him for now. This’d have to be a fly-on-the-wall scene. “I can guarantee you, if there’s somebody I’d call an expert on occult matters, it’s those people. And I’m sure one of them will be interested in making sure this doesn’t get into the hands of anybody who shouldn’t have hold of it. “

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"Very well" said Armitage, his rod a rod of stiff stiffness, his eyes like steel, and yet his hand stroking his beard as he always did when his mind was whirring. "I will defer to your considerable experience" he said, voice infused with bone dry acid. 

 

"I went to considerable personal expenditure to get that mask. Both financial and...well, other areas. I can weather the loss, but it is a sting. And technically, I still own it" he said, pointedly. "Not that I can argue effectively with a man with fireballs at his fingertips. That much is clear"

 

He turned to Zyte. 

 

"Just make sure you record that" he said, finally finding use for the multi media mogul. 

 

And with that, he turned heel and walked off. He was whistling a dark tune, hands in tweed jacket as he did so. 

 

"Pretty great story! I got it all...!" said Zyte, giving Bonfire a thumbs up and finally turning off his camera. 

 

"Now, lets talk MEDIA!" he said, stars in his eyes....

 

~ Fin ~

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