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Dr Archeville

Unbalanced: Arrowhawk's Oct 2010 Vignette

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Sunday, October 10th, South Freedom: Southside

The dark figure crept through the deep black shadows, unseen, silent and predatory. These drug wars are getting too much, it thought. And this maintenance duct is too cramped. It slid into position against a wall next to a large duct. Peering through its domino mask, red eyes glared through at the scene inside the room.

Three men, in battered, grimy clothes, were injecting some strange white compound into their arms. There it is. That new drug they're peddling. The shadow crouched down, bracing his powerful muscles for a leap.

Arrowhawk crashed through the vent, kicking the heavy metal halfway across the room with his aerial kick. His wing-like cloak billowed around him like black feathers of an avenging angel. "Don't move," he snarled, his longbow appearing in his hands along with a pointed arrow. "And put down the drugs."

Startled, one of the men, a redhead with harsh, weatherworn featrures, looked around with a start, hazy eyes focusing on the dark figure aiming an arrow at him. But, oddly, his head had shot round so fast that it blurred. And, rather than a look of fear, or even a look of drugged confusion, a look of malice crossed his face.

And in a shot, the second man had appeared behind Arrowhawk, pinning his arms behind him with impossible strength and sending his bow clattering to the floor. At the same time, the redheaded druggie had picked up a heavy-looking wooden table and hurled it clean at the archer. Oh, f- The impact was so powerful it hurled bth Arrowhawk and the man pinning him backwards, and through the wall in a shower of bricks and mortar.

Reeling from the impact, Arrowhawk rolled free of the junkie's grip and through the cloud of cement dust. Extending an arm for his bow, the third junkie, who'd thus far elected not to make his presence felt, decided to dump an armchair on the old superhero's back. He roared in pain, standing up abruptly both to throw off the chair and to duck the redhead's rapidly approaching kick. While not as fast, he was more experienced, and was able to grab the man's leg in both hands and hurl him around into the new doorway that'd been created.

Pausing to get his bearings once more, the two other junkies crashed into him, and kept going. Walls collapsed, doors splintered and glass shattered as, eventually, they stopped short outside the building and the trail of destruction they'd made. But Arrowhawk didn't, the momentum and their superhuman strength leaving his flying through the night.

A pale figure shook him awake, trapped in the rubble of the wall he'd hit. Groaning, Arrowhawk tried to get up. He felt his chest, knowing some ribs were broken. His breath was coming in short, painful gasps. He forced his head to look up from the hand of the pale figure, to its ghostly, translucent features. She was a middle-aged housewife, pretty, but not beautiful. Her hair was cropped in a bob, with bangs framing either side of her face.

"Arrowhawk." The voice wasn't nearly so pale and ghostly as her appearance. In fact, it echoed darkly, lending the spirit of an average housewife a simply terrifying aura. All he could do was nod meekly.

"Jane Delaney," he managed, voice low and hoarse. "I suppose, world being how it is, this had to happen one day." Jane smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes.

"The wall between worlds is thinning, and I managed to come back. To make you pay." Raising both arms above her head, all the rubble suddenly lifted off Arrowhawk, and he gratefully climbed to his feet. He pulled out his staff, extended it with the click of a button and then leaning on the thin pole of metal.

"Listen, I'm sorry for wh-" He was cut off by the rubble abruptly ceasing to levitate, and being brought down in a furious hammer blow upon him. He sank to his knees, blood gushing from a wound on his forehead, leg pinned by a huge chunk of concrete.

"SORRY? YOU THINK SORRY CUTS IT?" Jane thrust a hand forwards, tearing an unresisting Arrowhawk out of the rubble and into a lamp post, before spinning him around in mid-air, and hurling him head-first onto the street. He lay there, prone at her feet for a good while, unmoving, eyes flickering.

"No. It doesn't. Are you going to kill me, Jane?" He just kept lying there, not even trying to fight back, or run, or anything. I deserve this.

But, to his surprise, he faltered. "I... don't know." Dead, pale blue eyes looked down on the prostrate vigilante imperiously. "Just tell me one thing, before I make my decision. Why?" Helplessly, Arrowhawk looked up, raising his hand to pull off his mask and push down his hood.

"I got dumb. I got stupid. I got cocky," said John Fraser quietly. "I thought I was doing the right thing, stopping Malice. The real reason, in hindsight? He'd wronged me. I had no good reason to bring him down like that. His incarceration was a side effect, not what was really intended." Plaintively, he looked Jane in the eye. "And I've spent every night since then trying desperately to make up for it."

Jane was silent for a long time, John waiting patiently for an answer. "It's not enugh. It won't let me be with my husband again. It won't give my kids their mom back. And it won't give those people back the homes they worked so hard to make, not properly." Despite not needing to breath, she breathed in deeply. "But I can't kill you. It's wrong. I'm not a killer, I wasn't in life. I'm not going to start in death. So here's what you're going to do."

Jane looked Arrowhawk dead in the eye. "You keep on fighting for us. For the people that need protected. But, if you make another error like that which results in one death... I will find my way back. And this discussion will go differently." It was less a threat, than a mother telling off a child's monumental lapse in judgement. "So get up. Now. And you will stop those junkies from using, and distributing, and ruining my city. You're not from here, but I lived in Freedom City all my life. I helped rebuild from the Terminus Invasion." Arrowhawk had stood up, replacing his mask and hood.

"I understand," he said quietly. "Thank you." But she'd already turned and walked away, fading into ephemera as he did so. And he walked away too. To stop three superpowered drug addicts and get his damn longbow back.

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