Holding Out For A Hero, Part Four: Down The Middle

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April

“Alright, folks, we are at the first drop in one minute.” Alice Wei's voice echoed through the plane's cabin, as the jet began to slow. “We are perfectly on target, so don't mess up.”

“Understood, Alice.” Roland stood, cracking his shoulders as he stretched. “Guess that means I'm up.”

“Enjoy your trip.” Nimble suggested wryly. Roland glanced over at the other man sharply, but he simply smiled genially. Roland considered his teammate for a moment, trying to decide whether he was being mocked, and then shrugged and gave up. He stepped over to the jet's door, reaching out and turning the handle to force it open.

“Thirty seconds!” Alice called out. Roland turned, and checked his jumpsuit. He was only going to get one chance at this.

It looked good. Despite his reservations, he had to admit that midnight blue looked good on him, and went well with the black pants. He pulled his gloves tight, tapped his small earpiece to make sure it was tightly looped around his left ear, and turned to find Piper holding a pair of goggles. He raised an eyebrow.

“For the wind.” She suggested. Roland waved her aside.

“Don't worry, hun. I've got this.” He shook his head. “Besides, I hate goggles. Make my eyes feel funny.”

“Ten seconds!”

Roland stepped into the hatch, hanging on by his fingers as he looked at the city below. The jet was banking over the city's newest skyscraper, slowing to its minimum speed. He glanced back at his team with a smile. “Wish me luck.” He said.

“Good luck!” Blossom said brightly.

Roland let go of the doorframe and saluted her informally. “I don't believe in luck.” He said, falling backwards out of the plane.

Behind him, he heard Blossom say, “Then why did you…?” but the rest was swallowed by the roaring wind.

Roland dropped towards the tower, feeling the air washing around him. He spread his arms, shifting his position to line up perfectly with the top of the tower, and studied it carefully. As reported, it wasn't actually a solid structure. Rather, several large ropes of glass, each one at least six or eight feet across, were spiralling around one another, leaving large gaps that allowed the air to pass through easily. As they closed to a point, they crossed over each other before spreading apart again, cascading towards the city streets below. He could actually see the glass flowing, translucent waterfalls moving in reverse. It was actually beautiful.

“You're coming down too hard.” Roland rolled his eyes as Piper spoke through his earpiece. He grinned, holding his fists out in front of him.

“I'm going through the middle.” He was falling like a bullet now, directly for the point where every glass flow met. He had gravity on his side. No problem.

He hit.

He bounced.

“Son of a…” Roland cursed, sliding along a plane of glass for a moment before collapsing through the cracks between two flows. His hand shot out, grabbed for an edge, and slid off it. A moment later, he was falling again. For just a moment, he saw two figures kneeling, a woman, a pair of monsters. That looked good. He aimed for the monsters.

He didn't have quite enough time on the first bounce, but he hit the concrete hard enough to flip back up into the air, and this time he collided with one of the roof's gargoyles. The gargoyle sprawled, collapsing backwards, and Roland landed heavily on his feet, swayed for a moment, and then regained his balance. He looked up at the jet circling a thousand feet above and gave a thumbs-up, then returned his attention to his suit. A quick look satisfied him that while it was a bit dusty from hitting the concrete, there were no rips or tears.

“Who are you? How are you standing here? Explain.” Roland turned his attention to the woman standing across from him, staring at him with perfectly-shaped shock. He swallowed. He'd heard that Evangel was a looker, but he hadn't expected this.

Roland cracked his knuckles. “You can call me Invictus.” He said, and grinned. The name felt right, like a comfortable suit of clothes. “As for how I'm here – that's not really your problem. Your problem is that you're under arrest for attempted magical terrorism.”

Evangel's immaculately sculpted eyebrow rose. “You are a fool if you think you can stop me.” She said, her voice lilting with amusement. She breathed out slowly, and smiled. “You may be of service however. Oh, yes.” She breathed out softly, and the air was filled with music and light. Roland heard it drift towards him, wrapping around her. Beside him, he saw the mayor stiffen, and stand still. Evangel was perfect. Literally perfect, in a way that was impossible in the real world. An unattainable ideal creation, so beautiful that it could bring tears to the eyes of any onlookers. Who could resist being overcome by such aesthetics?

Evangel drifted forwards, reaching out a hand to caress Invictus's face. “You can be my guardian and stand beside me.” She suggested.

Invictus punched her in the face.

Evangel was knocked back several steps. She raised her hand to her cheek, a shocked expression on her face. “This is impossible!” She said faintly. “How could you resist?”

Invictus stepped forwards, and grinned viciously. “That's a very nice trick you use.” He said. “Using your powers to appeal to people's sense of artistry. I bet that's how you brought down those two over there.” He jerked his thumb towards Turbine and Shatterdrive, still kneeling and aparently unaware of the drama unfolding in front of them. “But I'm not quite so easy to deal with.”

“It can't be. Everyone feels my perfection.” Evangel said. “You have no poetry within your soul?”

Invictus chuckled, stepping forwards. “Poetry's not really my thing. But that's not quite the issue.”

Behind him, the first of the two gargoyles struck. Having advanced silently, it snapped a long bronze spear from its arm, and stabbed forwards. Its spear slammed into the back of Invictus's head, and promptly shattered. Without looking, Invictus turned around, grabbed the shaft of the spear, and knocked the gargoyle back down.

“You can't touch me.” He said smugly. “Magic, psionics, physical blows. Take your best shot. I'm invincible.”


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