Note to self: the next time you hear or see or smell something strange, don’t ignore it. Just don’t. This is the second time now. The shock of the explosion had been physically painful to Olivia, and even now her ears were still ringing. Through it she could hear the shouts and gunshots from the ongoing riot, which was the buzz she had heard from earlier. Skulker was up and looking towards the column of smoke along with Olivia, muttering all kinds of profanities. Nomad had a hand to his ear, talking to someone unseen. Delta stood unmoving.
“What was that?” asked Olivia.
“Freedom Fighter. He’s a super powered anarchist terrorist guy. ‘Down with the bourgeois and the government, mankind must be free of any constraints, blah blah blah.’ Blew up a crowded hospital to send a message. Not the first time either,” responded Delta, sounding distracted.
“So should we do something?”
Skulker sounded amused, “What’s this ‘we’ you’re talkin’ about? Those two are the only official cops here and they’re gettin’ their orders right now. I’m gonna go on the outskirts if Cyrus doesn’t ‘ave anything for me, pick off looters and see if I can get a shot at him.” Skulker patted the sniper rifle on his back. “An’ what do you intend to do?”
“I don’t know. Help maybe?”
Skulker was about to reply when Nomad spoke up. “Alright, they have enacted a contingency plan for this. Didn’t tell me which one but they need us on damage control until it kicks in in about fifteen minutes. Skulker, Cyrus asked you to assist us.”
“’K, I’m in.”
Nomad paused for a second, then continued, “Let’s get moving.”
“Um…” started Olivia.
“Right. You stay here and stay safe. We’ll be back here once this is over if you need to move for any reason.”
“You know one or more of us is gonna die now right? ‘We’ll be back.’ I mean come on, that’s just asking for it.” said Delta.
“She’s right. Tha’s not outside the realms of possibility,” added Skulker, “It’s a stupid, stupid world we live in,”
Nomad ignored them, continuing to Olivia, “Before you even ask, no, you can’t come, even if you do have powers. We need trained people out there, people who know how to fight without killing or crippling civilians. As well, we need to calm people down. Not just over there, in general. You may be the nicest person on the planet, people aren’t going to react well if you show up at a bomb blast site.”
Skulker and Delta nodded in agreement. Since when did Skulker and Delta agree on anything? She hadn’t known them for long, but they had done nothing but trade insults between each other. Nomad said to Olivia, “Remember, the ability to fly won’t stop a mob from caving your skull in if they catch you. And they can’t catch you if you don’t go near them.”
They turned and ran back the way they came. Skulker was the last to leave. He paused at the doorway, then turned and pointed to Olivia. “No. Don’t do it. I know you’re going to ignore us. Don’t do that. Listen to us. Keep yourself safe.” He said, jabbing his finger at her periodically to drive his point home. With that, he left.
Olivia considered the door they had left for a moment. They couldn’t hear what she heard. She heard the cries of the people caught in the mob, screams of anger and fear, windows shattering, and a Molotov cocktail exploding somewhere. Shots went off in and around the mob, their sharp cracks reverberating through Olivia’s awareness. There was little doubt in her mind that people were dying down there.
Olivia turned her thoughts to what Delta had said. A hospital had been blown up. A crowded hospital. She doubted a rioting mob would offer humanitarian aid in any way.
The others had seemed really worried about this Freedom Fighter guy. The authorities were probably focusing on him, and she doubted any aid was going to reach the hospital through the seething mass of angry people. The others may have told her to stay here, but she had told herself that she wouldn’t be a bystander if she could help it.
This is probably a terrible idea. This is definitely a terrible idea, she thought as she took flight and headed towards the blown up building. The signs of chaos were more prevalent the closer she approached.
Below her a line of riot police was barely holding against a giant mob of people. The mob attacked with wild abandon, using fists, bricks, shards of glass, or anything else that came to hand. For their part, the riot police responded with equal brutality, beating down anyone they could, using shields or batons like Delta’s that caused convulsions in most people they touched. They barely maintained discipline.
As Olivia passed over, she got angry, at just about everything. There are normal people down there, causing death and destruction for no reason. Those police are supposed to protect, not club everything in sight. And who the hell do Nomad, Delta, and Skulker think they are? “No you can’t do this, you’re not even supposed to talk”.
Most of her anger was directed at Freedom Fighter. She didn’t know who he was, but this was his fault. He deserved to die for this alone. In the back of Olivia’s mind she knew she was being irrational, but she didn’t care.
There were bodies in the streets, some alive, some dead. There were looters taking advantage of the chaos to sack stores and houses. They seemed incredibly violent about it, needlessly smashing anything that got in their way, savagely beating people who tried to fight back with ever escalating violence.
The closer Olivia got, the angrier she became. Angry with the mob, angry with Delta, Nomad, and Skulker, angry at Freedom Fighter, angry at the universe in general for doing this to her, and angry that she wasn’t thinking straight. Unable to think straight, she got angrier, which only put a greater damper on her critical thinking, forming an endless spiral of rage.
By the time she reached the hospital her jaw was clenched and she needed only the slightest excuse to lash out. She landed hard, feeling a sort of satisfaction from hitting something, even if it was just asphalt.
The hospital was in bad shape. The explosion had collapsed the easternmost two thirds of the main building, and the rest wasn’t looking too good either. Debris was everywhere; twisted wreckage comprised of most of what she saw. There were several fires contributing to the column of smoke rising from the hospital. She stormed in, heedless of any possible dangers. Too bad everyone she saw was dead.
She made her way further in, coming across a locked, though intact door. She ripped it off its hinges and carelessly tossed it aside. No one. She snarled and moved on, moving through to one of the side buildings, which was more intact. She heard someone speaking, and headed in that direction. I’m helping that person. Everyone else can go fuck themselves.
There was a man pinned by his legs under a chunk of concrete. He was punching it, leaving a streak of blood on the unfeeling side of the concrete.
“Fuck this bullshit,” the man was saying, punctuating each word with a strike to the concrete. As Olivia walked up behind him and placed her hands on the concrete to lift it, he said, “And fuck you too. I’m fine, you fuckin’ animal.” She had no idea if she could move the concrete but she didn’t care. She heaved, slowly lifting it off the man. He scrambled out despite his earlier protests.
They glared at each other for a couple seconds, then the man spat in her general direction and turned to leave without a word. I should kill you. Would serve you right, ingrate. Olivia was considering taking a swing at him when the decision was taken from her. Several shots rang out and the man fell, dead, at the doorway.
Olivia crouched and snarled at the four people, one woman and three men, who entered. The one at their head, with a rifle of some kind, had a balaclava covering his face and a red armband with a white fist emblazoned on it. There was a brown flak jacket covering his torso. His companions were armed as well, and wearing normal street clothing. Olivia could hear others behind them, a mob eager for blood.
“Ah, so this is the feral I’ve heard about,” said the lead man, “Do you understand me? Yes? No? I am called Freedom Fighter.”
At that Olivia started hissing, and not quietly. YOU! In the back of her mind Olivia remembered that Freedom Fighter had a power of some kind.
“I don’t know why they didn’t do this earlier. You see, they enjoy control. Crave it, one might say. And they won’t stop until everyone is licking their boots. But their control is not as complete as they would like you to think. Individuals among them, working for them, they have seen the truth of what I say. Those with control appear to have taken a special interest in you, they say. And I must oppose them, in any way necessary. I’m sorry, but this needs to be done,” said Freedom Fighter, walking away as his three companions raised their weapons and fired. Olivia roared in defiance as the bullets struck her.