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mellowgoth

Closing Time (An introductory solo vignette)

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March 6th, 2010, 2:15 a.m. (OOC note: the {numbers} correspond to points in the accompanying OOC thread. If anyone - refs especially - would care to look that over, i'd appreciate the feedback.. I'm fairly new to M&M, and I want to be sure I understand the systems well enough. Many thanks - mellowgoth)

Christopher Frasier was having quite a time reminding himself to think of himself by the name he had chosen. Aftershock. He was fairly worried that the first time someone asked him his name, it was going to come out like “Chri…uh…Aftershock.†A forty foot fall might not be able to kill him, but the embarrassment might.

He had the free time to muse over these things as he was perched on a narrow ledge, three stories above the street. He was around the corner from the popular and packed Infinity nightclub, in the Waterfront district, waiting for the crowds to come pouring out at closing time. From his perch, he could not see the front doors, but he could see a large side street, an alley that was a frequent pathway to the next street, and a somewhat run down parking garage popular with the clubbers. He had always heard stories of people being mugged or attacked as they stumbled out of their watering holes, drunk or otherwise impaired: Chris figured that this was as good a place to get a start as any.

He had spent a few nights like this, looking over the larger and more famous spots around Freedom City, but with no results. He was beginning to think that his reasoning was flawed. He’d give himself a couple more nights watching, then try to find a different strategy.

Then again, maybe not… he thought: Hearing the slams of several car doors, he glanced over into the second storey of the parking garage. A trio of small, brightly clad figures were obscured and surrounded by four large men, who apparently had just piled out of a decrepit van. He heard a woman’s voice raised indignantly, and a man’s rough shout of “Shut up!â€

Looks like this is it. My debut. Showtime! He stood on the ledge, whirled the hook-tipped line in his hand, and threw, underhand, in a high arc across the street. He pulled to set the hook, caught on the roof-ledge of a brick building, secured his grip, and stepped off into the air.

Chris swung in a slow arc, dipping down nearly to street level, before arcing up just above the lip of the second storey of the garage. Releasing the line, he landed on the edge, only pausing a moment to make sure of his balance.

His entrance appeared not to be noticed yet. A low, urgent dialogue was going on between the young women and one of their accosters.

“I told you, dumb-@#$, I don’t have a wallet! None of us do! We’ve got the credit ships!â€

“So hand ‘em over! “

“They’re implants, you idiot! They’re set under skin!â€

“Really? So I guess we’ll just cut ‘em out,†the thug growled menacingly.

“Whao! Dude! Enough with the cutting! Or the talking about cutting!†Chr..er..Aftershock called, stepping into the aisle where the confrontation was happening. The thugs parted, revealing three young women dressed for a night out, standing next to a new red Mustang, flanked by two rough looking men on each side…a couple of which were holding baseball bats.

The man that had been threatening the women looked at the newcomer with a contemptuous, puzzled expression.

“Who the #$%^ are you supposed to be?â€

“Right now, I’m the guys sayin’ ‘No cutting on the ladies’. You guys should head out of here. Now.â€

The man gave a short, barking laugh, gestured at Aftershock, and told his friends “Break this loser’s face!â€

The club wielders immediately moved to engage Aftershock{1}, swinging as they came. The first bat connected solidly with the side of his head…and stopped. There was almost no sound of impact, no rebound – the momentum just…went away{2}. Chris felt the surge of power in his limbs, waiting to be exercised, as he spun away, avoiding the second, clumsy swing. He let that power flow into his arm, thrusting it out at the man that had hit him.

Though the motion of his arm resulted in Aftershock barely touching his opponent, there was a loud cracking sound, and the thug reeled back to bounce off of the car next to him, weaving wildly on his feet{3}.

Seeing this, the loudmouthed leader stepped back and pulled an black automatic from his leather jacket, while the third man joined in the assault, drawing a length of chain tight between his fists before whirling it in an arc at Aftershock’s head{4}. The sound of the impact was more like hitting a pile of pillows than a solid object, and, rather than bouncing away, the chain just dropped limply off of Aftershock’s shoulder. His partner, who had missed wildly on his first swing, reversed his motion and took a vicious swipe at Aftershock’s left knee, but, once again, the impact was absorbed harmlessly.{5}

The young hero grabbed a handful of the chain that had just hit his head. Its owner tugged viciously to retrieve it, and Aftershock let that force pull him towards the thug, hand extended to share som of his stolen kinetic energy. The sudden lack of resistance through the thug off balnce, though, and Aftershocks hand barely grazed the leather-jacket clad ribs of his opponent. Though he let out a loud ‘oof’, as if he had been gut-punched, he was by no means out of the fight. {6}

Aftershock stepped back from his less than impressive attack into a while of bats and chains, but Chris thought he was seeing an edge of apprehension on the faces of the toughs when he emrged completely unscathed once more..Good, he thought, now let’s make ‘em a little more nervous! He ducked another wild swing of the chain, then rached out and, almost delicately, tapped the bat-swinging mugger on his right on the temple. {8}

The impact spun the man around, bouncing him off the side of their get-away-van, and sending him sprawling, unmoving, to the concrete. His compatriots took a wide-eyed step back.

Before Chris to follow up on his momentary advantage, a shot rang out, unnervingly loud in the cement confines of the dingy parking garage. All heads turned towards the thugs’ leader, who was now pointing his smoking pistol outstretched to the right, directly at one of the young women, a petite Latina in a bright purple, clinging dress. {9}

“Alright, @#$%^≤, maybe we can’t hurt you, but we can sure as @#$% hurt them! You two, get him in the van. You, “he barked, thrusting his chin at Aftershock, “You have five seconds to get the #$% out of here. Go!â€

Aftershock paused a moment, mind racing. I bet the real superheroes have already thought of a plan by now. Why is the only thing I can think ‘ohcrapohcrapohcrap…’. At the emphatic shake of the leader’s pistol, he reluctantly turned around, raising a coupel of wordless yells of disbelief from the young ladies – at least the ones without guns pointed at them.

Chris took three steps away, thinking frantically, then, struck with sudden inspiration, stopped and glanced over his shoulder. He raised his right foot, and let his absorbed kinetic energy flood through the leg, channeling it down into the floor with a hard stomp.

{10}. Like a ripple in a pond, the unseen wave rolled out from the point of impact with a deep rumble, hurling everyone – thugs and would-be victims alike – from their feet.

{11}But before Aftershock could enjoy the success, the fallen leader, face twisted in frustrated hatred, fired wildly at his target. Chris hear the woman’s scream of shock as the bullet tore through the outer edge of her left bicep, ricocheting off underneath the car they fallen next to. Under his mask, Aftershock’s face went flat. Tearing off at full speed, he made a wide arc around the other two muggers, who were sruggling to their feet and pulling guns. He stepped on the back bumber of a battered old Taurus, vaulting over the front of it to bring the edge of hids hand down on top of the leader’s head, just as he was struggling to his feet.

Amid the sharp crack of the kinetic strike detonating, the leader collapsed like a marionette with his strings cut, unconscious on the pavement. Chris stood straight, looking at the other two.

They gave each other a nervous glance. Then one, who had been trying to smash the hero with the chain, muttered “#$$%& it!†and opened fire. Chris stood as each thug fired two or three rounds into him…and the bullets rolled off of him as if they had been placed against him by hand, not hurtled at several hundred feet per second by buring power.

The deafening noise of the gunshots stopped, and the wisps of blue smoke cleared. Both thugs turned to each other, apprehension on their faces, then turned to bolt. Aftershock took off as well, darting to the side into the next row of cars, bolting down the row at nearly fifty miles an hour, and swerved back into the row down which the thugs were running.

“You can’t hurt me. You can’t run away from me. You gonna give up, or do I need to stack you next to your buddies?â€

The pair hesitated, but, cursing murderously under their breath, they tossed their pistols to the floor and half-heartedly raised their hand. Aftershock gestured back the way they came, and they turned, heading back to the van.

When the procession arrived back at the scene, one of the ladies was on her cell phone, frantically babbling to someone that Chris hoped was the police, and one was kneeling next to her wounded friend, pressing a handful of tissues to the bleeding arm. Chris produced a handful of heavy zip ties, and proceded to handcuff the thugs hands behind their back, and zip the conscious ones to the back handles of their van’s doors. He gave eah a quick pat down, finding a couple of knives, before zipping the wrists and ankles of the unconscious pair together behind their backs.

He began to hear sirens as he dropped to his knees next to the wounded woman.

“Listen…I’m really sorry about getting you shot. I thnk he was gonna cut you up anyway, but I shoulda done a better job, here. You’er gonna be OK, though. “

Her tear-streaked face assumed an annoyed expression.

“Well, it could have been worse. You’re really new at this, aren’t you?

Chris chuckled. “This was my first attempt ever.â€

The woman exhaled sharply, angry. “Great. I get to be the bait for Amateur Superhero Night. Thanks, but don’t quit your day job, man.â€

Chris had no response for that. The sirens sounded like they are pulling into the garage, so it was time to make an exit.

“Hey!,†the girl on the phone called, “They’re asking who you are, and if you’ll make a statement.â€

“You can call me Aftershock,†he called back, hopping to the top of the divider at the edge of the garage. Pulling his other grappling line, he tossed it at the building where his other line still held, pulled back, and swung off into the night.

TUNE IN NEXT TIME, WHERE OUR HERO DISCOVERS THAT WHILE HE IS BULLET PROOF, HIS COSUME IS NOT!

“Uh, Mom? Do you know how to sew bullet holes shut? Huh? Oh, no reason…â€

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