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Athens, Georgia - Seventeen Months Earlier
The two neophyte robbers took a few seconds for their marks words to sink in before realising what ‘not a hero’ actually meant. Before they could even react O’Hare was on the pair of them, his hands holding onto each of their ears as he dragged them away from the stairs. Struggling to bring his weapon into a position where he could open fire, James felt the cold clammy hand on his ear release him, before seconds later he hit the stone floor with a thud.
“Okay that’s it!!” Car-Face roared, foul smelling exhaust fumes venting from his nostrils, the thick green gas forming a choking carpet across the floor. With a roar he charged O’Hare, only for the water already dripping on the roof to form a fist and slam the automobile themed thief to the floor.
“Stop that!!” James yelled, as he reclaimed his weapon and levelled it at O’Hare. “Stop it and hand us all your loot or god help me, I will burn you man.”
“Huh is that a McCloud original?” O’Hare asked, as he stalked towards James. “Tell me did you rob him as well?”
“Ain’t heard of any McCloud.” James lied, as he saw something silver gleam in O’Hare’s hand. In the second his eyes darted away, the Irish man pounced, disarming him swiftly, before pushing him down into a sitting position onto the floor. “Hey that’s mine that is!!” James yelled, as Car-Face stirred on the floor, before moving his jaw slightly.
“Oh this is the 1991 model; I remember the problems he had with the energy supply to the thermal cell.” O’Hare stated, as he looked at the faded lights running down the side of the barrel. “Ironically enough it kept on setting itself on fire. He did look surprised the first time that happened, even more so the second time when he thought he’d fixed that little tick.”
“How do you know my…”James began to say before stopping himself, as he saw Car-Face get to his feet, the mechanical monster towering over O’Hare.
“How do I know who?” O’Hare asked, as he handed James back his weapon and a bent silver coin with a chip bitten out of it. “Take it boy, I know who you are and you will need it more than I.” He added with a smile, before turning to face Car-Face. “As for you…” He stated, only for a mechanical rod and ball to spring out of the villain’s mouth and smacked O’Hare in the face, knocking him to the floor, the impact knocking him out.
“About time we shifted this into top gear!!” Car Face hissed, before walking to the secret room and dragging the box out into the main cellar. Bending down next to it James burnt through the seal with his pistol to reveal a sea of silver pieces, all buckled and bitten around the edges. “Huh what a waste, still maybe these things will be worth something when they’ve been melted down.”
“That’s for Socrates to decide.” James sighed, as he slipped the weapon and coin into his holster. “I don’t want to cross that guy, we’ll be lucky if he leaves us a cut of whatever this is.”
“We’ll get something.” Car-Face replied, just as O’Hare began to groan from his position on the floor. “Now let’s get out of here before the old coot wakes up, I don’t fancy him coming after us either.” He added, as the pair of them grabbed the chest by each of the handles and headed for the stairs.
Bank of America Plaza, Atlanta, Georgia
“I’ve got him.” Puppet Girl hissed, as her body went limp and dropped off the Salamander’s back. “Kill me and he dies too.” She screamed, as James took off his helmet to reveal the same glowing blue eyes as his former team-mate.”
“I’m sorry.” Fire Sale stated, as she removed her own sci-fi looking sidearm and switched on the laser targeting system, the red dot dancing over James’s forehead. “I’m sorry for everything.” She stated sadly before squeezing the trigger, a blue beam lancing out and causing Puppet Girl’s original host body to burst into cinders.
“Well Juliet, nice to see your true colours.” James wheezed, as he shook himself and returned fire, the laser beam burning off Fire Sale’s skin and clothing to reveal metallic plating underneath. “You make me hot babe.” He hissed, before receiving a slap round the face, a burning welt visible through the face mask of his.
“I should, I’m the nuclear version of you.” Fire Sale stated, as she flexed her metallic fingers, tiny blue sparks running down the digits and into the pistol she held. “I can feel the after effect of the bomb I planted in Steropes’s eye, all that free energy, makes a girl giddy.”
“Not giddy enough to let those hostages burn though.” James muttered, as heavy footfalls sounded from the stairs. “Huh Shield Bug’s still alive, still trying to be the man.”
“He’ll burn like the rest.” Fire Sale stated, as streaks of burning cobalt blue hair moved in the wind, now rushing through the burning husk of the bank plaza. “Your grandfather wasted his talents, chasing the next big score, but you and me, we have a calling, something that is truly beautiful and no-one can stop us.”
“Don’t burn yourself out thinking like that.” James replied. “As he ignited a circle of fire around the pair of them, the flames roaring so loudly that it drowned out the ambient noise around them. Smiling Fire Sale added her own flames, blue streaks arching over them to form a dome of heat, one that reached its apex only to collapse in on itself to form a symbol burnt into the ground, one that glowed ominously under its own powers.
“And so the first beacon is lit.” Fire Sale whispered. “Let comradely of men be burnt off in the name of the Wicked Flame, and let those flames come forth to claim all the world!!”
“In other words let em all burn.” James whispered before bowing his head. “Let them all burn.”