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Dr Archeville

Unbalanced: Gabriel's Oct 2010 Vignette

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Freedom City, South Freedom, Southside, Corner of Shelley and Colorado

October 28th, 2010, 6:45pm

It was looking to be a good night in Southside. Gabriel had already completed one patrol in the deepening gloom, and was currently situated on the roof of an apartment building at the corner of Shelley St. and Colorado Blvd. He had picked this location due to the rally going on down at street level. Already it looked like a couple thousand people had showed up, with scattered police presence to help direct foot traffic and such.

'This is the sort of thing that makes me feel like my fight is worth it. If these people can keep this kind of thing going, I'm going to feel better about having to spend more time fighting the more powerful foes in the world.'

In this instance, the rally was one for concerned parents of Southside. The focus was on the risks of drug use and gang membership, both areas that had notable impact on children. Parents from all over were attending. Couples and single parents, mothers and fathers, all races and creeds; all of them united in their desire to find ways to improve their children's lives. The current speaker was emphasizing the need to engage in discussion with teenagers, to better understand what was going on in their lives.

“They turn to these things because it makes them feel like they belong. Because they don't think they have any other choices. Parents, we need to give them another choice. We need to show them that they belong at home. We need to find ways to encourage our kids to spend time with each other in constructive ways. What does it say when superheros are doing a better job of giving ordinary advice for our kids, day in and day out, than we are? When their teachers are doing a better job of raising them than we are?”

Murmurs of agreement went around the crowd as Gabriel smirked. The speaker wasn't angry at him, and she had something of a point. He just hoped the message sank in. It was one thing to get fired up at a rally, and another entirely to live it day to day. But he held onto the hope that for many of them, the ideas presented here would stick. The organizers were mainly some of the more proactive parents, with a small number being members of non-profit organizations that worked on issues like teen drug use and such. The fact that Freedom City had comparatively lower usage rates, and that gangs weren't quite as prevalent, didn't make their impact any smaller to the affected families.

'Hm. The police look to have thins under control. I suppose I should get back to--Wait a tick. What's that little crowd back there?'

Gabriel leaned forward a bit and squinted his eyes slightly. Indeed, there was a group of about 20 or so people in dark hooded coats. Their gait seemed...off...somehow. And they were moving in what almost seemed to be a military formation. Only the one at the front seemed to have a more natural gait, and even then it didn't seem quite right. The hero in white frowned, and started to lift himself into the air, the nigh-undetectable hum of his power surrounding him.

“Hey! What do you think you're-” cried out the current speaker, before her voice turned into a panicked scream.

Gabriel whirled his attention to the stage. Five people stood there; four of them wore heavy coats and large hats, disguising any details beyond “very large people”. The fifth was...odd. He had on tattered pants, a button-up shirt that he hadn't bothered to button, and his face had white and red paint smeared on it in odd tribal patterns. He himself was dark-skinned, and seemed to be leering at the people on stage with ill intent. The 2-foot-long wooden rod in his right hand, crackling with sick green energy, didn't help matters any.

“Listen up! Da Red Devils don' appreciate ya message! Ya see, we need ta make money and get more membas, and ya kids are better for dat than ya old folks! So we gonna give ya one chance ta give up dis rally, or else!”

The speaker regained some of her courage as two police officers stepped onto the stage, hands resting on their pistols.

“And what if we don't comply?”

The man in face paint gave a grin fit for a demon.

“Then we're gonna hurt you. Real bad, real slow. I think we'll start with you. My friends here will show these cops what for, while we have a chat.”

The green light jumped like lightning from the rod to the four hulking figures. As one, they threw off their coats and hats with a roar, revealing huge undead creatures. They seemed more intact than one might expect of a zombie, and their mouths were filled with overly long fangs. Claws over 8 inches long sprouted out of their hands as they hunched down and stalked forward, predators through and through. They seemed to be preparing to leap at the police, as the tattered man slowly walked forward...

“STOP!”

Everyone, including Gabriel, turned to face the source of the shout. It turned out to be the man leading what looked to be some sort of gang. His appearance was more shocking than the Tattered Man. He looked like someone barely living; his flesh stretched tight over his skeletal structure, his hair entirely gone, his eyes sunken into his skull. He was clad in a medieval-style robe and held, of all things, a short sword in one hand. His other glowed with crackling black energy.

“The Red Devils hath no claim upon this ground, for it belongs to the Black Devils! Forward, my soldiers!”

With that, the 20 men shook off their outerwear to reveal 20 animated skeletons clad in the armor styled after ancient Roman soldiers, their armor and weapons (mostly swords, with a couple wielding spears) in pristine condition. The necromancer took to the air as the people screamed, trapped between two groups of deadly gang members. When the “super-ghouls” turned to start charging the skeletons, and the Tattered Man ran after them, raising his crackling rod towards the Necromancer, the people panicked even more, pressing to each side as the undead forces clashed. By some miracle, no one was caught between the two groups, but people were starting to get hurt in the mad press. Suddenly, the crowd and attendant police officers heard a voice whispering in their ear.

“Officers, please get between the civilians and the monsters. Everyone, please remain calm. I know this is a scary situation, but if you follow my instructions, we should get you out of here safely. Now please everyone head for Colorado Blvd as quickly as you can. If anyone stumbles, please help them back up. Don't let anyone get left behind. That goes double for you officers. I'll hold off the monsters and their masters.”

As those last words were spoken, a single loud note sounded right in the midst of the melee now occurring o n the street. All but one of the ghouls clutched their heads, shaking them as if to get rid of the sound. The Necromancer gritted his teeth in pain, falling back from his current position to land on the ground behind the skeletons. The source of the note was quickly spotted as Gabriel, white coat flapping in the air as he descended, hovered over the street. The people, already somewhat calmed by his earlier words, gave off a ragged cheer as they worked to run away from the monsters. In moments, the man in white was calmly floating 10 feet above street level.

“Normally, I give people a chance to surrender. Not today.”

He raised his left hand and snapped his fingers. One of the ghouls froze for a moment, before attacking its fellows. Gabriel raised his right hand, the air shimmering with compressed sound waves, and suddenly one of the skeletons was blown backwards, falling to pieces. The hero opened his mouth, and began to sing.

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:

His truth is marching on.”

As he sang, Gabriel blurred forward in flight, giving a passing slap to first one ghoul, and then another. Each of them froze in place. The one that seemed crazed quickly took them out of the fight, having already dispatched another 4 skeletons, leaving 15 skeletons, 2 ghouls, and the controllers. Both of the men wielding the power of death were busy trading arcane blows that did little; whenever one or the other turned to try to stop Gabriel, his rival attempted to press the advantage.

“I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,

They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;

I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:

His day is marching on.”

Several skeletons in the rear of the formation ended up paralyzed, while more of them manage to take down the out-of-control ghoul. Gabriel flew in and shoved against it, not really moving it, but it also fell prey to his powers as it freezes in place, its decaying muscles clenching tight, rooting it in place. His voice increased notably in volume as he rose higher into the air, before suddenly it crashed upon the whole group with a mighty sound. This time, both necromancers recoiled, and all of the undead were momentarily baffled.

“He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;

He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:

Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!

Our God is marching on!”

His voice still ringing up and down the street, the angelic-themed hero stopped for a moment, took a deep breath, and gave a mighty cry.

“BEGONE!”

He shoved both of his hands forward at the same time, and a veritable wall of compressed sound waves raced through the air. In moments, they struck the remaining skeletons and ghoul, crushing them to the ground, leaving a messy ruin. Gabriel took several calming breaths, before turning to the two men who had started this whole encounter. They were both looking at him with deep hatred in their eyes. The old Necromancer spoke.

“For one as thou art, we shall set aside our quarrel and strike thee down with all our power and malice.”

The other man simply nodded. As one, they lifted their implements to fire bolts of horrific energy at Gabriel. Through a combination of wits, reflexes, and a bit of luck (or was it divine favor?), he managed to avoid being struck by either man. In return, two blasts of sound were sent in quick succession. Both necromancers were hit, but neither was knocked out. They shook off the pain and pressed the attack. Desperate, Gabriel took to the sky, flying high at nearly his max speed, until the street was only a faint line beneath his feet. Taking a moment to catch his breath, he concocted a rather daring plan. Taking a moment to mutter a prayer beneath his breath, the hero dove back downwards, into the fray.

Within moments, he was at street level. He'd been gone long enough that the two men had resumed fighting. Before either could react, he was already beside the old man. Gabriel reached out with both hands, and poured ultra-high and -low frequency sound waves into the man's body. Within seconds, his muscles (what was left of them) were locking up, and his stomach was roiling with the worst sickness he'd felt in a long time. He fell to the ground, unable even to clutch himself. Gabriel delivered a quick burst of sound to the man, rendering him unconscious. With a cold expression on his face, Gabriel turned to face the Tattered Man.

“Your turn.”

The Tattered Man only grinned.

“Is it now?”

Gabriel recognized that something was wrong. That was the only thing to save his life when a 5th “super-ghoul” sprang from the shadows to slash at him. He narrowly dodged the blow, sending another sonic bolt at the Tattered Man. This one left him standing there groggily, shaking his head. Unfortunately, the ghoul was still active. Its next attack sliced Gabriel's arm open. He fell back a step, clutching his left arm, before looking up with determination burning in his eyes. Another bolt to the Tattered Man left him barely standing. The ghoul grazed the hero's back this time. Finally, a third bolt left the second necromancer unconscious on the ground.

Unfortunately, this left Gabriel open enough that the super-ghoul gave him a wicked wound across his torso. He wasn't in danger of being disemboweled, but that was about the best he could say at the moment. Through the pain, he glared at the final foe before him, its jaws wet as it looked hungrily at him.

“I say thee...NAY!”

A moment's concentration sent a solid line of sonic energy roaring out from his hand, pushing against the ghoul...before smashing it against the far wall, cracking the brick and taking the monster out of commission.

Gabriel fell to his knees, unable to even clutch all of his wounds. No one else was around, not even emergency personnel; a metahuman fight was ugly business for them. Slowly, the young man collapsed to one side, moaning in pain. His voice came out in a whisper, too weak to reach the people he knew couldn't be too far away.

“Someone...help. God...help me!”

And he slipped into the darkness of unconsciousness.

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