Thursday, April 28, 2011

Aviator #2: "Flame On!"

(Another short piece of fiction set in the Acrobatic Flea's Knight City Chronicles Universe)

Jack Hollis
"That's all I know, Rob", Detective Jack Hollis' gravely voice replied over the line. Barely a moment later, the voice continued, in a slightly more questioning tone. "Why're you so interested in this?"

For a moment Rob stumbled, trying to think of a decent answer. He didn't really have one so went for what came first into his head.

"Well, ya know, I was there and saw the place burn down. And you know I'm interested about chemicals and things like that. I mean, if it hadn't been for those agents that... Well, I mean, I just..."

"Look, Rob, I know you ain't been busy lately what with your job situation and everything but I don't think you want to get involved with those sorts of chemicals. As for those COMPASS agent guys, they didn't do so great a job on that collapsed building. Thank the Lord Law Industries is clearing the check for the rebuild".

"Yeah, I guess", Rob Tomlin replied. "Anyway, thanks for the info, Jack. Much appreciated".

"Hey, no sweat. I'm still keeping an eye out for anything going in forensics or elsewhere around here. I'll let you know if anything turns up. And you still on for that drink on Friday with me and Greg?"

"Sure, Jack. Wouldn't miss it for anything. Thanks. See you Friday", Rob replied, smiling, and put the phone down.

Jack Hollis was a detective in the Knight City police department and also one of Rob's few friends he still knew from high school. Every few weeks they would go out for a beer and Jack and Greg Manson would try to cheer him up whilst Rob moaned about his life and the world in general. Standing there next to his old phone, Rob felt a little guilty about using his friend like that.

And about not telling him he had superpowers.

Still, now he knew that the fire in that apartment building he'd seen the other day had been started due to some sort of meth lab in the basement. It seemed that the police and fire department thought the lab to be a little unusual; partly this was due to its large size and partly due to the antiquated tech recovered from the site. According to Jack, after a bit of detective work, the latest rumour at police headquarters was that a warehouse in the Selebourne district might have been linked to this lab in some way. Details were sketchy but, once the police had gathered a little more evidence, they were going to to hit it later that day. Or so Jack thought.

Rob knew that someone else was going to investigate it first though - Aviator.

The ex-chemical engineer stepped over to his wardrobe and pulled out a bullet-proof vest he'd acquired from Jack some years ago, the brown leather flying jacket he'd worn the other day, and some sturdy black boots. Lastly, from a drawer inside the wardrobe, he pulled out one of those old World War II leather flying hats - complete with goggles - that he'd discovered just yesterday in an old junk store. The helmet was a bit worn but otherwise intact and, although it looked a bit dorky, it was a lot more comfortable than the ski-mask he'd worn saving that bag lady. The goggles and hat would help to protect his identity and stop his eyes from streaming as he flew through the cool afternoon air. Also, thought Rob, it seemed appropriate given his new alias.

Suited up, Rob stepped towards the window of his rundown apartment, opened it and stepped onto the window ledge. Just then, his old phone began to ring. He looked over his shoulder at the phone, considered answering it, but then shrugged and let the machine take the call. Instead, he pushed himself up and leapt outside.

*beep* "Oh, erm, Hi Rob. I hoped to catch you in as I don't know where else to go. Don't know whether you remember me, but it's Kath - Kathleen Pendergast..."

Soaring way from the apartment, Aviator, Knight City's newest hero, flew high over the seedy streets of Devil Heights. The warehouse near the docks was over the other side of the district, but at the speed he could travel in the air, it would only take a few minutes to get there. And it wasn't like he had to worry about rush hour traffic!

Alighting on a window ledge high up on one side of the gloomy-looking warehouse, Aviator peered through the filthy window. Inside was almost empty, although there were a couple of crates towards the far end of the building. He could make out a few uniformed men carrying some similar-looking crates to an exit at the back of the warehouse. Near the middle of the empty area, what looked to be a very large man was shouting orders at those in uniform. Aviator couldn't hear what the man was shouting - and it didn't sound English either - but it was obvious the large man was in a rush to be finished.

As he watched all the men begin to file out of the back of the warehouse, Aviator noticed that the light streaming in from the other windows glinted brightly off the large man. He appeared to be wearing some sort of metallic armour!

Realising that these villains were going to escape before the police arrived, Aviator tried pushing open the nearby window in order to confront them. Not quite used to his newfound strength, the shoddy brickwork around the frame crumbled and the window fell to the ground below - with Aviator flying in behind it.

"Was! Was geschieht...!" the armoured man yelled, turning. Aviator now recognised the language the man used - German.

As Aviator flew down, he could see that the man was wearing a large armoured suit made of what looked like polished brass. Other than his eyes, all of the rest of his body was encased in the battlesuit. On his back were a couple of large canisters and, from these, long flexible coils snaked down to his golden gauntlets. The air seemed to shimmer in front of the armoured man.

What the hell is a German in a battlesuit doing in Knight City? Aviator thought to himself. Obviously nothing legal. And I wonder what are in those crates?

"Stop where you are, Tin Man, and tell me what you're doing here!" Aviator called out, as he floated about five feet above the ground and towards one end of the warehouse.

"Zis does not involve you, Amerikan. Und my name ist Feuerkraft!" the armoured man replied with a obvious German accent. He then turned to one of his uniformed man near the back door and barked out some orders. "Geht hinaus und nehmen die Waren! Schnell! Reise zurück zum."

Once finished with the orders, the man known as Feuerkraft turned back, his gleaming fists raised towards Aviator.

"I told you to leave, Amerikan! Othervise you vill feel ze heat of Feuerkraft!"

"The name's Aviator and I asked you to tell me what you were doing first," answered the flying hero. "So why don't you... Yow!!"

A blast of flame suddenly erupted from the villain's gauntlets and blazed across the space between him and Aviator. Aviator dodged to one side in mid-air and the jet of flaming liquid narrowly missed him and instead slammed into the wall behind him, turning the brickwork to molten slag. The guy had in-built flamethrowers!

"Scheisse!" the armoured man spat. "Stay still Flieger". He stepped forward, pistons hissing, and again raised the fists on his battlesuit. Another jet of scorching fire leapt out.

Aviator wasn't going to comply in the least and so kept zipping left and right, up and down, dodging the scorching blasts in the air. His aerial acrobatics brought him close to one of the remaining crates, which he picked up with little trouble. Flying over Feuerkraft, Aviator called out, "Catch this, Clanky" and dropped the box on top of the German.


The crate crashed onto Feuerkraft, spilling out packaging and bottles of liquid ,which smashed onto the floor. The armoured man cursed in rage and stepped forward, ready to blast at the annoying hero again. But as his armoured foot came down, it slipped on some of the spilled liquid and the man had to take a moment to stabilise himself. Aviator saw his chance.

With blinding speed, the flying hero rose into the air and then arced around and down, gathering speed as he went. Arms stretched out in front of him, his blurred form flew straight at Feuerkraft. The villain had no time to retaliate as Aviator smashed into the armoured man, lifting him slightly and then slamming him into the brick wall behind him.

There was a sharp crack and the eyes of the man within the suit opened wide.

"Nein!! Du dummer Dummkopf! You vill pay for zat!"

And with a mighty sweep, Feuerkraft backhanded Aviator with one of his metallic gauntlets sending the hero flying back to smack into the opposite wall.

Aviator groaned and shook his head. One of his ribs was cracked, he had a few cuts and bruises and he was seeing stars but, on the bright side, he wasn't dead. The crafty criminal was strong and a blow like that could have done serious damage. Perhaps his own power of flight had helped to slow him?

Wincing as he struggled to stand up, Aviator looked across at Feuerkraft and noticed that a hissing gas was escaping from one of the canisters on the armoured man's back. As he took a tentative step forward, the villain raised his powerful fists to launch another jet of fire.

"No! Don't...!" called out Aviator, but it was too late!

A spark of flame started from Feuerkraft's fist but then, unexpectedly, raced along the chemical soaked armour and coils and towards the back of the villain. Instead of blasting Aviator, there was a whoosh from behind Feuerkraft, and the man was suddenly encompassed in a bright sheath of blistering fire.

"Nein. Die hitze...! Arghhh!!" screamed the man, stumbling around in obvious pain.

Without waiting another moment to think or consider his actions, Aviator shot forward. Swooping down at the flaming villain, he grabbed the man around the shoulders, lifted him and then flew directly upwards. Smashing through the roof of the warehouse, he gritted his teeth and continued his vertical ascent whilst holding Feuerkraft, taking him higher and higher and higher. As the thinning air rushed by, the flames around the villain's armour flickered and, eventually, went out. The lack of oxygen had extinguishing the fire and, Aviator noticed, also rendered the supervillain unconscious.

Returning back down to the ground, the aerial avenger carefully dropped Feuerkraft in the middle of the warehouse. Ripping the brass-lined cables and coils from the battlesuit, he used them to tie up the comatose criminal before zipping off out of the back door. However, it looked like the villain's flunkies had got away; there was no sign of any uniformed men nor the equipment they had been hastily removing.

Re-entering the warehouse, Aviator walked over to the remains of the crate he'd dropped on Feuerkraft earlier and bent down, picking up a single bottle of liquid that was still intact. He began to peer at the colourless liquid inside when the scream of sirens pierced the early evening air. The local police department were on their way to bust up whatever had been going on in the warehouse. Although he had probably messed up any evidence from the crime scene, Aviator considered the capture of the villainous ringleader to be a reasonable trade.

Leaving Feuerkraft to the authorities, he pocketed the bottle and lifted off into the cool evening air.

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