Electron spends a hero point to make an immediate recovery check. He rolls a 10 and shakes off his Staggered condition. Electron now has two hero points left.
"Thank you officers." Electron replies, rising to his feet. "Has the crisis passed?"
Another officer with massive ram's horns snorts loudly.
"How should we know? We've only just managed to convince this handful of punks it would be in their best interest not to escape. Which ain't easy seeing as how we've all been changed and the last thing anyone wants to do is remain calm and collected. I mean, I got horns growing out of my freakin' head. What's that supposed to mean?"
'Gazerbeam' points to the smoking pile of rubble that once was Central Booking.
"Here's the situation: We had about ten officers and somewhere between thirty to forty prisoners in that building half an hour ago. Right now we can account for all but two of our men and only twelve prisoners. Which means we've got a whole lot of super-powered criminals running around Baltimore.
It also means we don't have nearly enough detention collars to handle them all. I've radioed in a supply request from our main facility but until they get here we've got to babysit these twelve to make sure they don't run. Under these circumstances I'd say we're better able to look after them than anyone else on the force."
"Speak for yourself, Tom," says the officer with the glowing hands. "I'm with Andy on this one. We've got no idea what's happened to us. I'm seriously ready to freak out. And these things," she says, waving her hands in front of her, "I don't even know what they do. We could end up killing someone because we don't have a clue what we're doing."
The world blurs for a moment. Downtown buildings vanish and are replaced with green grass and trees. From his vantage point atop the giant's shoulder Wraith can see winding paths and maintenance sheds scattered throughout the thinly populated park. In the distance is a baseball diamond. There's a game in progress, or at least there was until Wraith arrived with his passenger. The giant looks around in amazement. He is back on his feet again with no idea how he got there.
Wraith teleports directly in front of the giant's face and hovers until he has the man's attention.
"There you go, lad. You should be reasonably safe from accidentally squashing passersby here. I shall name thee... Big Boy! If I were you I would try to find your power's off switch. Now I must return to the crisis at hand!"
Wraith draws his cloak around himself, then pauses.
"You seem like a good bloke, but should you decide to squash passersby on purpose, I shall return!" he says before fading away.
'Big Boy' stares at the spot where Wraith once was.
"Wait, so does this mean I can't fly?” he asks."
The Cavalry Arrives...Finally!
Atop the building adjacent to the ruins of the Central Booking facility Wraith pauses, scanning the area for his partner. Things appear to have calmed down considerably here, but Wraith knows from experience that appearances have a nasty habit of deception. Finally he spots Electron speaking with several police officers. Nearby a group of prisoners in their orange jumpsuits sit sullenly on the ground.
A heaviness in the back of his mind alerts Wraith instantly that he is not alone. A familiar voice reaches his ears before he can act.
"Jeez man, when you send out a call for help you're really not kidding!"
"What is that, ten minutes since I sent my email? You're getting slow Nightslide," Wraith answers without turning around. "I hope you brought backup, because we've got a lot of ground to cover."
"Indeed he did," says a new voice. Wraith glances back. Psychward, Miracle, Influx, Mutation and Nightslide stand arrayed behind him. With five more members of the White Flame present, Blatimore's chances of surviving may have just increased.
Wraith turns to the other members of the Order. "OK, lets get cracking. Help Electron to seek out new powers. Slide, work with Artisan and see if you can find a place where you can transport our prisoners over there. I'll put the word out that we'll provide a place where they can come to us as well."
Wraith explains the plan to Electron who joins them and then teleports away in search of a news crew. As soon as he finds one he quickly relays the information on what is happening in Baltimore. Within minutes WBAL is airing live coverage of Wraith making the following announcement:
"Citizens of Baltimore, today our city has suffered a major catastrophe. Science was used without thought or care as to the consequences to open a dimensional rift. Electron and I managed to repair the rift, but the damage has been done.
"As a result of this catastrophe, a number of people have found themselves with strange new powers. Many of you may be confused and scared by this, and I want to let you know that I will be at Kenson Park tomorrow evening. I will be available to do everything I can to help you to acclimate and control your abilities.
"This was a stupid, needless tragedy, and I promise you that those responsible will be held accountable. However, if we pull together we can make it through this tumultuous time."
The afternoon drifts into evening and throughout the city Wraith and the other members of the Order continue to avert one disaster after another. Even so the damage done is severe, both in loss of life and to the city itself. The chaos is picked up by CNN and broadcast throughout the world.
Soon other superheroes arrive to help. Heroes such as Bloodwork, Fuse, and Renegade from New York, Florida's Fen Stalker, even Relativity from Tokyo warps space and time to come to Baltimore in her hour of need. In even greater numbers are police, fire fighters and ambulance crews as they race to stem the tide of destruction. For hours the battles rage but eventually, as all things must, they come to an end.
Later in a Darkened Boardroom
Scenes from the crisis replay over and over on a wall length projection screen. The only sound is the voice of a field operative delivering his summary report over a conference line. When he is finished, the gathered board members wait for their chairman to speak. For a long time the chairman sits, watching the action unfold on the screen in front of him. All that can be seen is an index finger tapping slowly on the arm of his wing-backed chair.
Finally he breaks the silence. "Gentlemen," he says. "Based on the success of our trial run, I believe our long wait is at an end. Project Myrmidon may commence immediately. Wake all our agents."
"Copy that," the operative at the other end of the line says. There is a soft click and the connection is gone.
It is well after midnight when Dan Roberts staggers into his bedroom and collapses on his mattress. The playback from his answering machine drifts into his room as he closes his eyes.
"Hey coz, it's Jay! I hope you're still alive after this afternoon. I checked with the local hospitals but none of them could tell me if they had admitted you so I'm going to just hope for the best. I'll swing by tomorrow and see if you're there.
"Oh yeah, I almost forgot. After today I've pretty much decided I'm moving here. This has got to be one of the coolest places on Earth. Fire, explosions, tons of mayhem. Man, once I get my photos uploaded I'm guaranteed a new title! Gotta go, my ride's here. Later!"
The only response is Dan's snores.
The television is still on. The local news is currently reporting on a multi-million dollar bank robbery in southern Baltimore but Charles' attention is focused on his wife as she holds him close.
"I guess that means it's okay I missed out on your award ceremony?" he asks.
"Yes," Stacy replies. "They cancelled it once all hell broke loose out there. I tried to reach you on your cell but I couldn't get through."
Charles checks his phone. There is a scorch mark on the side and part of the case has been destroyed. He can see some of the exposed chips are completely fried. There's no telling when that could have happened.
"Don't worry baby, I'm here right now."
He reaches down for the remote control and turns off the television.
"Let's go to bed. Tomorrow's going to be a big day."
Much like Issue One, this adventure accomplished exactly what I hadn't planned on doing. Originally it would be about the bank robbery and foiling a Facility experiment with the heroes having to overcome such obstacles as rescuing civilians and so forth on the way.
Instead, I now have at least 40 to 100+ new supers in one city to contend with. Scratch that, Wraith and Electron will need to contend with them, not me.
You'll notice that even though Wraith's backup arrived I kept them out of the spotlight. Same with the other heroes that showed up to help out. They deserved some mention, but if I detailed everything that they did this Issue would never end. And it had already accomplished its objective. It was time for some creative time compression, courtesy of Relativity. Domo!
For reference, here's the list of villains and heroes that had their cameos in this Issue: Detonator, Salvo, Shrapnel, Impact, Sentinel, Concussive, Gorehound, Mirrorman, Diamond Demon, Ripcord, Cyclonus, Freakout, Psychward, Influx, Mutation, Miracle, Nightslide, Coldsnap, Bloodwork, Transit, Pattern, Tremor, Pyronic, Ruin, Fuse, Mindcrime, Gloom, Phantom, Killowatt, Renegade, Fen Stalker and Relativity. Don't worry, we'll be seeing more of them in future issues. Just as soon as I figure out what they can do
Next Issue: Party in Kenson Park! BYO Body Armor!