Overpowered

“Black Spectrum’s training style must have improved.” Teknight grumbled, soaring through the sky dodging gunfire and energy blasts from the cybernetically-enhanced soldier. Building up the energy charge destined for the blasters, the hero shot back down with gauntlets glowing brightly. The first shot blazed incandescent, and following behind the light got the drop on Lieutenant Glay.

So concerned with blasting back the shot fired at him, he didn’t see the suit drop down from behind. With fists roaring with power a single punch sent him hurtling back. The pursuit after Simon was cut short. Skidding along the ground, the soldier’s feet lashed back. The massive boots collided with the shielding around Teknight’s head, jolting the hero back.

Simon rolled to his feet and darted back, striking with solid blows from his armoured fists, knees, and the ends of his cybernetic arms. It only took a moment for Teknight to get their bearings, then the pair were brawling against the backdrop of the Eighth Creek Nuclear Power Plant.

“Not much you can do up close, Teknight!” He chuckled, snaring the wrists of both arms with his hands as the arms of his OGRE suit began a flurry of beatdowns on his foe.

A single thought shifted the configuration of the Teknight suit’s shields, then both were consumed in the sphere of blue fire scorching out like a supernova.

 

The sound of gunfire made Sophie flinch in her hiding place. Something had been shot, she wasn’t sure what, but peeking out let her see the soldiers in their sleek uniforms fiddling with some device. The amber lights above the arms started to flash as the system reactivated.

“Hurry up.” One of the soldiers said, his accent a little thick. “The suits give us some protection, but we shouldn’t risk overexposure.”

All in a row, the remaining rods started their descent into their protective shielding units. The apparent leader of the team tapped something on the device he was carrying. “Two of you per rod, and I want four of you on guard.”

The building shook suddenly as an explosion detonated outside. Sophie grabbed on tight to avoid falling out of cover. Even a few of the soldiers stumbled.

“Make that six of you on guard.” The order came.

 

“Simon, do you require air support?” The pilot of the Black Spectrum ship’s soft voice sounded in his mind.

Picking himself up from where he had been flung back, Simon Glay dusted himself down. “No. Land behind the plant and change the route out for the men, Ciel.”

“Moving in now. Take care.” The message ended with a feeling of warmth and encouragement sweeping over him. Grinning under his helmet, he whipped one of the glue grenades from his belt and loaded it into his rifle’s launcher. A blast of power from where Teknight had landed slammed against one of his cybernetic arms, sending warning messages scrolling along his visor. But tracking the trajectory back was easy. With a pull of the trigger, the grenade sailed over to burst over the hero.

Simon’s free hand worked quickly, loading and firing another, then his third and final one for luck. He spared Teknight a quick glance, the suited superhero straining against the viscous goo, before bolting for the power plant.

“Glay to strike team, get as many rods as you can now. We’re leaving before our enemy’s reinforcements arrive.” He sent the order over his command network.

“Lieutenant, we were asked to clear out the-“

Simon quickly cut his subordinate off. “Some is better than none. Double time.” The power readings his suit was picking up from behind told him without needing to look that it wouldn’t take Teknight long to burn through the special ordinance.

 

“You heard the Lieutenant! Double time, let’s clear out!” Sophie heard the order issued.

“Sergeant? What about the motorized cart there?” A young man called out. “We could use it to get more.”

“Check it out.”

Pushing herself back into cover as far as she could as she heard the footsteps approaching, every nerve in her body felt chilled with fear.

“It’s got a key in it, Sergeant!” The younger soldier stated, heading to the seat. From what Sophie could see of it, it reminded her of those ride-on mowers her dad was always talking about getting.

As the soldier looked around to back the cart up, it was almost like their eyes met through their helmets. The man tilted his head quizzically at the shadow he saw. His entire body tensed up. Yelling in shock, his finger squeezed the trigger to send a hail of bullets her way. The sound was awful, loud as it clattered against the cover she was cringing against. Something warm flooded through her after a brief, sharp sting. A gloved hand patted her abdomen, coming up glistening with red.

“Contact, contact!” The soldier called, trying to free his legs from the cart he sat on. The next thing he saw was a burst of blue, his mouth filling with the taste of metal and his body arching back like he’d been hit by lightning as radiation burned its way through him.

Every warning light and siren in the room went off as Sophie staggered out from her hiding place, her stomach leaking ionizing rays and blood in equal measure. The last words she recognized was the Sergeant screaming for his troops to evacuate as her knees gave way and her legs collapsed.

 

OGRE Lieutenant Simon Glay, 2nd Order, bolted towards his subordinate. The tactical overlay on his command network display showed one two dead soldiers, one rapidly approaching that state, and another soon likely to go that way. Eight were on the ship, leaving just him and the Sergeant in there.

“What happened?” He asked as he hauled the junior officer clear.

“Sanders… shot someone who was hiding, Lieutenant.” The Sergeant gasped, struggling to find their footing as they made their escape. “Next thing every warning is going off and the others are dropping like lead sacks.”

Procuring a syringe from his belt, Simon drove it into the drug administration port on the man’s thigh. “Get to the ship and finish the mission. I have something important to attend to.” He ordered, tapping into the command network to force the Sergeant into following the order. Some Black Spectrum officers relied heavily on that function. Simon knew when and where to use it.

Sending his thoughts out, his mind touched against Ciel’s. A flurry of information was quickly exchanged, thoughts coloured by feelings and feelings clarified by thoughts. With everything that needed to be conferred done, Simon pushed the Sergeant onwards and ran back towards where he last left Teknight.

 

With a full burn of the suit’s thrusters, Teknight was free and rocketing towards the power plant. There had been a brief warning message about Sophie’s condition before the signal had been interrupted, and a sick feeling had settled into the hero’s stomach.

“I’d proceed with caution, Teknight.” Simon stated as he came into view in the main hall. “Your comrade is injured, and has taken out three… ah, four of my men.”

“Then get out of my way!” Teknight’s modulated voice roared.

The Lieutenant simply lifted his arms. “I will, and shall even offer you my assistance in treating them. This suit is capable of some medical functionality that could stabilize the patient. You also get to stop this place from becoming even more of an environmental hazard.”

Landing to avoid overheating the thrusters, the hero looked at the soldier. “And what do you get in return?”

“Four lead-lined coffins and a ship to fly my fallen comrades back home with.”

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The Hot Zone

“Teknight, we have a situation developing.” The computer-generated voice of VIGIL’s command AI, B-VOS, sounded in the helmet of the hero. “I am detecting spatial disturbances occurring within the vicinity of the exclusion zone put in place.”

Teknight stopped the work on trying to restore the computer control functions of the facility and looked over to where Becquerel was. The teenage metahuman was up amidst the array of arms exposing the spent fuel rods to the atmosphere, carefully working as instructed to manually release the arms and lower the rods back into their containment system.

“Withdraw our Vigilwing to a safe distance and dispatch some backup.” Teknight ordered over comms, mindful of the creeping count up on the suit’s radiation shielding tolerance levels. Unclipping a module from the waist of the armour, it was soon attached to the computer console to try and continue the restoration work in their absence. “Becquerel?”

Sophie looked over, ineffectually wiping at the visor on her head. Temperature readings in her vicinity were decidedly uncomfortable. “What’s wrong?”

“There are enemies approaching this facility. I will do my best to hold them off until reinforcements arrive. I need to you to stay here and continue your work.” When Sophie raised a hand in protest, Teknight cut her off. “If the lights around you start flashing amber, get out of there.”

“Okay…” Nodding, the young woman got back to work. There was a slight pause before she called out “Good luck!”

With a wave, Teknight primed the flight system in the armour and took off down the hallways, switching the suit’s profile from support to combat mode. Power surged to the gauntlet-mounted energy emitters, and once clear from the hastily opened and shutting doors the shielding systems switched over from environmental hazards to defensive mode.

An angry flash of red rippled out above one of the watchtowers on site, shattering a hole through reality. As space warped, a curved black ship in a scarab beetle-inspired design emerged to land. The weapons systems were already locking onto Teknight. Ports opened on the bottom to dispatch helmeted soldiers in sleek, dark armour, each clutching an assault rifle.

There was a moment of indecision as they leveled their weapons at the hero before something spurred them on towards the power plant. Any attempt to halt their passage would have to wait as the ship they arrived on opened fire at Teknight. Barrelling left and right to avoid the volleys of crimson plasma streaking forth, the hero’s answering blasts of blue tore through one of the cannons firing in their direction.

Another blast skittered across Teknight’s shields. Looking down, the source was a lone soldier. The dark armour he wore was much bulkier, suggesting an exoframe component for additional strength and defense. Instead of the smooth helmets the lower ranks wore, his bore an ornate, if ugly, monstrous design of a fanged face. A pair of additional cybernetic arms bearing heavy blaster units jutted out from the unit on his back. With a wave of his hand, the enemy ship shot skywards out of the hot zone.

“Teknight, correct?” The soldier spoke, an urbane tone to his voice. “A pleasure to meet one of VIGIL’s greats.”

“And you are?” The hero called out, a raised gauntlet firing towards the soldiers heading towards the plant.

There was a flash from the soldier’s back, a burst of energy cancelling out the shot heading for his comrades. “OGRE Lieutenant Glay, of Black Spectrum’s 2nd Order.” He spread his arms in greeting, the ones on his back mimicking the pose. “But please. Call me Simon.”

“Becquerel, you have armed soldiers heading your way. Hide somewhere safe.” Teknight quickly sent the message into the plant. “Pull your troops back, Lieutenant. I will not let Black Spectrum take those fuel rods.”

“I’m a sporting man, Teknight, and an officer looking to make a name for myself. If you defeat me, you will have ample time to stop my fellows.” Simon called back.

“Back-up will arrive in ten minutes.” The voice of B-VOS chimed up, along with a visual indicator for the arrival of a reserve team.

“And if you beat me?” Teknight replied, leveling a hand towards the OGRE.

“Infamy and fortune will come my way.” Simon replied. “Though… not if.” With a scream of power his cybernetic arms let loose a barrage of shots while plucking an assault rifle from behind his back. “When!” With a solid thunk sound, the grenade launcher underneath the barrel launched its payload.

Dodging and deflecting the beams of red light surging past, a plume of fire erupted around Teknight as the grenade struck true.

The Grave of Swords and Soldiers

Once the site of bloody battle, the blood shed now comes as a way of tribute from those that believe. From the worlds over they come via portals and starboats; soldiers whose day of drawing their blades are over. Amongst soft white grasses and delicate flowers that climb up rusted swords they walk. They seek a place for their weapons to be driven into the ground.

Worn, scarred, and calloused hands now free of the burden they carried. They nick their fingers on the blades, shedding a claret tear for the lives they have taken, the bodies they’ve maimed. Some of the swords are notched and worn. The soldiers bodies more so.

To come to the Grave of Swords and Soldiers is the ultimate act of the penitent. With muttered breaths they vow to only ever take up a weapon in the defence of themselves or others. Never to march to war; to instigate fights. And once they come, they never return.

The grave is for soldiers. They have relinquished that burden.

 

Author’s Note: This week’s 3 Word Wednesday words are Believe, Tribute, Penitent.