Monday, October 1, 2007

Acts of Violence

The sheer waves of heat coming off the building were enough to force them both back several feet. Wood and metal merged in raw fire, fading away into pillars of glowing ash.

"Damn it," Leth cussed under his breath. "I liked that bar."

Ravyn punched him, hard, in the arm. He wanted to hit him in the face but after the display Big Blue had just put on in what used to be a Cap Au Diable tavern, it was probably best not to upset Leth that much. "Was that really necessary?"

Lethane shrugged. "It's my fault liquor burns?"

Bloodravyn glared at him before plunging through the walls of flame, saying before the rush of fire drowned him out, "When you are the one lighting it? YES!"

The tall blue elven marauder sat down on what was left of an outside cafe' table and waited. He knew the boy scout would not be harmed by the fire inside. He wasn't sure exactly what had changed 'Nightravyn' so drastically where the man's abilities were concerned but he knew that someone who dripped lava when he was angry wasn't going to be hurt by a little thing like a burning building.

Even if the building was technically Leth's own fault. "Oopsie." He suppressed a grin as the center of the old bar collapsed in a flare of light and smoke. "My bad."

The metal side door staved outward, so fused in its frame that it took two kicks from the inside to knock down. Out Ravyn came, coughing as he drug someone unconscious from the conflagration. Looking up as he set down his burden gently, he scowled at Lethane. "Are you going to help?!?"

Twisting a long lock of blue hair around one still-bloody finger, Leth considered...
...for about two seconds. "Nope."

"Ass." Ravyn growled and plunged back into the fires. Sections of superheated brick fell inward across one wall, the waves of air rippling outward becoming visible even in the dark of the abandoned alley. Lethane idly wondered how many people the big idiot was going to try to save.

Five apparently. Well, six, but one was dead before he got the poor bastard out. Gosh. Leth was really going to miss Feral. Poor guy, dying like that, all burned and...

Nah. He couldn't pull off sympathy, even when it was fake and only to himself. Still, he was going to miss one thing. Charbroiled like he was, Feral wouldn't be any use as prey now. Leth had been looking forward to hunting that bastard down later and now he was a pork rind. Pity.

While he was lamenting the loss of a good night's stalk, Lethane watched Ravyn work himself into a frenzy saving the five he'd pulled out. Honestly, Leth had no idea the big boy scout knew CPR and first aid... but it didn't surprise him. Somewhere under all that body armor, the big stone-plated sissy probably had a Life Saving merit badge in the shape of a fucking Care Bear.

"Hi. I'm Woosy Heart Bear! Do you need a hug?"

"What?!" Rayn was looking up at him, kneeling as he was beside the unconscious body of a woman in tight black leather. Fatale, unconscious and vulnerable. Now that had possibilities. Well, it would if Ravyn was game to play along... or get out of the way... Neither was likely to happen. Pity.

"Huh?" Leth asked.

"You just said something about a bear hug?"

Lethane grinned and shook his head. "Nah, nothing. Keep playing doctor." He watched Ravyn scoff and turn back to bringing Fatale back from the brink. Did the fool not realize not one of these people would so much as spit on him were the positions reversed?

Did he? Probably not.

Would it stop him if he did? Definitely not.

After a few minutes, the five survivors were all breathing again, though not a one of them had regained consciousness. Well, except for Killer Instinct. There was a better than fifty/fifty chance the son of a bitch was faking it just to get more mouth-to-mouth. Perv. Leth highly approved, not that his appreciation was going to make him go any easier on Killer when next they met. Half this carnage and property damage was K.I.'s fault, after all.

"I wouldn't bother saving him. I'm just going to have to kill him later, you know."

Again, Ravyn looked up from his knees. He was busy checking the pulse of some villain Leth had never seen before. Deep in the heart of a moving shadow that seemed to cling to the man's body, this strange new villain would bear investigating in the future. Assuming, that is, the man lived. Somehow, Leth suspected he would, if only because Ravyn had already proven himself too damned stubborn to let anyone die.

Well, except Feral, but given that this whole conflagration had started because Leth set the furry beast-man on fire, the savage villain's demise had pretty much been a foregone conclusion.

"What?! I still can't hear you!"

Lethane grinned and shrugged. "Never mind. Not important."

The exasperation in Ravyn's tone was evident. "You know, you could come the Hell over here and help me."

That made Leth laugh and nod. He jumped up to his feet, talking a step forward. "You're right." Then he stopped, took a step backwards and jumped up onto his dumpster again. "I could. I won't, but I could."

"Bastard," Ravyn grumbled and moved to the next burn victim, pulling off Siegemaster's steel gorget to open his breathing passage. There was blood in the man's spit but none of it was pink or frothing yet. "You know this disaster is your fault, right?"

"Hey!" Leth hopped down again, looking pissed. He was still basically just amused but he hated being blamed for things he didn't do. Lethane much rather preferred to take credit for his carnage and this lovely bit of inferno-roasted mayhem was not completely his doing. "I'm not the one who decided to use Feral as a flying pinata of death!"

Ravyn nodded, glancing at Killer Instinct, unable to see the small smile on the man's lips from where he was crouched. "True enough but who set him on fire in the first place?"

"I asked him not to smoke!"

"You poured a bottle of rum on him and kicked him into the fireplace!"

"Yeah..." Leth grinned, chuckling. "That was great."

"Great?!? How many people just died, Leth?"

Another shrug. "I dunno. Ummm... lots?" Then he grinned, his white Cheshire's smile visible even in the shadows of the fading firelight. "Lots and lots?"

Bloodravyn shook his head, disconnecting the healing injectors from his chestplate and inserting them into Fatale's right wrist. The chemical flow instantly began to stabilize her, easing her ragged breath and faltering heartbeat. "You are hopeless. Utterly hopeless."

Leth snarled. The boy scout was pushing it. "I'm hopeless?!? Wake up and smell where you are, dumbass! You aren't in Paragon City anymore. These twinks you are trying so hard to save give less than two rat shits about you. There are no innocents here. This is the ROGUE ISLES, mate!" Lethane's eyes began to glow intensely, a brooding amber that sat his face in a harsh silhouette. "What part of City of Villains was unclear?"

Ravyn looked down, unwilling or perhaps unable to meet his gaze.

"Noble will get you killed here, man. You think any one of these losers will thank you for what you've done?" Lethane snarled , his white smile becoming a vicious scowl. "They'll knife you in the back the moment there's more profit in your death than in keeping you around."

He held up one finger, trying to get Ravyn to pay attention. "Learn this, man, and commit it to memory. Not one of these people will owe you crap for this. They won't care, they don't care and they won't have a moment's hesitation leaving you to burn someday."

Again, Ravyn wouldn't look up or look away from the glowing lines running from his armor to the woman at his knees. All the same, Lethane could tell he was listening.

"They are villains, Ravyn. They live here and living here, you can't be anything else." Leth's voice softened just a little, desperately hoping to get through to the former hero. "They get it, Ravyn. Why can't you?"

Finally, Bloodravyn disconnected the lines and reeled them back into his suit. There was a long, tense silence, broken only by his quiet voice in the shadows between them. "I... don't know, Leth. Part of me understands what you are saying. Part of me agrees."

"Well," Lethane growled as he slowly walked closer. "That part had better kick the shit out of the rest of you or someday, when you least expected it, you'll get gunned down and you'll never even see it coming."

There was a bright flash of light from behind Lethane. A split second later, the blue-skinned elf hurtled forward, arching over Ravyn and smashing into the wall far behind him, a trail of smoke billowing from the ruined flesh of his back!

Before Bloodravyn could react, the earth shuddered from the impact of a huge metal shape slamming down to block the mouth of the alley. Plate after plate of ballistic armor covered the massive figure, silver and grey on black with a steaming plasma cannon mounted to each raised arm, the intruder took one step forward out of its own crater.

"That was good advice." The titanic armored man took another step forward, twin glows building to blinding radiance. "Unfortunate that it will do you no good."

And with that, the paired cannons fired, turning Ravyn's world into a hell of light and pain...

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