(In case the title didn't give it away, this is part two of my battle against the nefarious Baron von Blitzkrieg)
I’m on my way out of the building, heading for the Saab and my suit of armor, when I pass Ted Bradbury in the parking garage. He’s strolling into the building, briefcase in hand, as casual as can be. He either doesn’t know about the death blimp or it just doesn’t bother him all that much, ‘cause he’s looking pretty fucking casual.
“Ted,” I say in greeting as I jog by.
“Hey!” he calls.
I turn, running backwards. “What?”
He gives me an inscrutable look, which is a step up from his usual I-fucking-hate-you look. “Don’t fuck this up, hotshot,” he says. I swear to God he almost smiles.
I don’t know how to react so I just turn around and keep running. "Hotshot" - who says "hotshot?" Thanks, Maverick!
I suit up in the backseat of the car, which is awkward as hell but there aren’t any phone booths or anything handy so I have to make do. That’s a little joke. I entertain the notion of driving closer to the scene, but chances are the cops are blocking off access to downtown, so I decide to head to the scene via rooftop. It's probably faster than driving anyway. I just hope nobody sees me leaving the building.
Heading into town in my work clothes, I can see von Blitzkrieg’s airship Donar hovering over the banking district like a big malevolent sausage, casting a deep shadow over the skyscrapers. From this angle I can see two strands of balloon bombs extending from the blimp’s control cab – each strand has a dozen or so white balloons, and each balloon has a miniature gondola hanging beneath it, which I assume is full of high explosives. Bay doors in the bottom of the passenger compartment are open, and I can see scarlet-suited commandos rappelling out of the blimp down into the city below. This must be the bank robber squad.
To catch you up, Baron von Blitzkrieg has parked his big-ass retro zeppelin over Evergreen City and is threatening to “transmogrify [our] city by the sea into a hellish inferno” unless we let his troopers rob all the downtown banks and… ah, hell, just read post The Blitz, Part One.
I ride the top of a bus through Queen’s Row until a police barricade stops me and I have to hop off.
People on the street spot me rebounding off a light post and up on to a rooftop and start shouting. “Hey! Velvet Marauder!” somebody yells. It’s weird being out here in broad daylight. I feel naked, and not in a good way.
The police scanner is going absolutely apeshit. I listen to the chatter on my suit’s audio system while I thread through the urban canyons of Midtown. From what I can gather, they’ve cordoned off the downtown area and are trying to keep office workers inside their buildings and off the streets. Fire trucks and aid units are responding to a massive fire and freeway collapse – sounds like Highway 6 got blown up near the river. A SWAT team is setting up a command center in Waterfront Park. By the time they organize, this whole thing will be over.
Which leads me to the question: what the hell am I going to do?
Wombat is waving frantically from the roof of the old J&M cold storage building.
I bounce off a fire escape and hop up next to Wombat on the roof. Maybe he has some ideas how to handle this cluster fuck.
“Wombat! Fuck, am I glad to see you. Can you believe this shit? Where did these fuckheads come from?” I swear a lot when I’m under stress.
“I don’t know, I just got here,” Wombat says, scratching his head, looking up at the zeppelin. “That thing’s pretty big, huh?”
We both look at the airship for a moment in silence.
“So,” I say. “What do you think we should do?”
He laughs. “I was gonna ask you that. I don’t know, maybe we do nothing.”
“We can’t do nothing. We’re superheroes,” I say.
“Yeah, but those balloon bombs,” Wombat says, pointing up at the deadly string of pearls floating over the city. “I mean, if we take out the bank robber guys, Baron Munchausen up there is just gonna bomb the city. I’d rather let the guy rob all the banks and not kill anybody.”
“He’s already killed people, he just bombed Highway 4.”
“You know what I mean.”
Without warning there’s a rush of air. Wombat and I are jumpy as hell; we both spin around as Kestrel suddenly swoops up in front of us, held aloft by his huge wings. Scares the hell out of me.
“Jesus, dude!” I say, clutching my beating heart. “Can’t you make a shrieking hawk noise or something to give a brother a head’s up?”
Kestrel scowls at us, flaps his wings impatiently. “You stupid twats!” he yells in his British accent. “Get off the bloody roof!”
Grumbling, Wombat and I hop down to a lower roof that’s sheltered from the zeppelin. Kestrel alights on the roof next to us, shaking his head like a disappointed nanny. “I cannot believe you lot have survived this long, I sincerely cannot,” he says.
“Whatever,” I say cleverly.
Kestrel is annoyingly handsome, like a cross between Jude Law and an angel. He’s got these magnificent eagle wings growing out of his back, which just adds to the allure. The chicks dig the wings. He wears a black leather outfit with lots of straps and buckles as well as a leather aviator’s cap and goggles. The man exudes an aura of self-possession that borders on arrogance. I would too if I looked like that. The one freakish thing about him: instead of normal feet he has these wicked bird talons. They always shoot him from above the waist in SuperPeople; I’ll bet a good close up of those nasty feet of his would gross out a lot of his 13-year old girl fans. Anyway, Kestrel’s allright, but I sort of hate him on principle. (see post Patrol Report – Kestrel 10/28/04)
“So what’s the situation?” he says. “I just got here.”
I bring him up to speed. We hear a hollow explosion from the banking district. The Baron’s troopers are probably blowing bank vaults.
Kestrel says, “Well, we’ve got to do something.”
“I’m glad you’re here to tell us that,” I say sarcastically.
“I’d think you’d be grateful of any help,” he says. “You obviously can’t handle the situation alone.” That’s true enough.
“Maybe we shouldn’t do anything,” Wombat says. “I mean, all that money they’re stealing is insured, and if we fuck up they’ll firebomb the city.”
“Do nothing?” Kestrel says incredulously. “We’re superheroes, mate.”
“This is what I’m saying,” I say. “We’ve got to step up to the plate.”
“Says who?” Wombat says. “Maybe we should let the Storm Riders take him out or something.”
“They’re busy with the space zombie thing up in Canada,” I say.
“What about the Minutemen? Or Silver Striker?”
“Wombat, those guys aren’t even on the West Coast. By the time they get here, that blimp will be long gone,” I say.
Wombat scratches his head. “You think? I mean, how fast can a blimp go? Silver Striker could catch it no problem, and take them out when they’re not hovering over a city.”
“No, fuck that, I’m not going to sit back and let somebody else do the heavy lifting for me,” I say. “What kind of heroes are we if we just throw up our hands and hope the Minutemen take care of our problems for us? Besides, the Baron’s probably got a cloaking device or some shit to help him escape.”
“I hate to say it, but I agree with Marauder.”
“Fine, okay,” Wombat says. “It’s your city.”
I step back and peer up at the Donar, hovering overhead, blotting out the noon sun. I think I have an idea, but I don’t know if it’s stupid or not. I don’t have a lot of experience with shit like this. I take a deep breath.
“Okay, I have an idea,” I say.
Kestrel feigns surprise. “You?”
I ignore him. “We’ve got all we need right here to stop this. Kestrel, you’re in charge of the balloon bombs. Wombat, you’ve got the dudes on the ground in the banking district. And me?”
I smile grimly and smack my fists together.
“I’m going to take out that fucking blimp.”