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Trial by Fire
by Byron Molix
13:Finish What You Start
Moridosi sped along the ground. No one would believe that this car didn't have actual working parts. He was moving, moving after Guardian. This kid had made Moridosi look bad, by surviving a hit. That was a perfect hit too. He punched his way into the house and dropped a bomb, without warning. The kid should never have survived that. Now he was going to have to blow his cover to kill the kid. He could wait for midnight, but then he'd have a harder time finding him. The Emissary wasn't around when he called. Moridosi thought it was strange that his 'boss' wasn't around to give him instructions or something.
"Oh well, it's starting to get really boring waiting for that boy. I bet if I make a scene, he'll come out of hiding. I am the equal of any Patroller. This should be easy," he said to himself as he sped along.
At ten o'clock, Guardian had just finished his base of operations. It had alternate energy sources for now, but soon he'd examine some of Kel's advanced technology. He needed a teleportation device so the tunnel could be locked up tight, and he really needed some good light down here. Right now, all he had was a primitive photoelectric solar panel system. Ryan was lucky he had done a science project with solar energy in junior high school. He had flown out of the tunnel and closed the door to the concealing shack atop. He put a pad lock on it, and closed it tight. Just then, he heard something strange and faded, but his danger sense went off. He felt edgy.
Ryan constructed a large cone out of force fields to increase his hearing. He heard "Guardian." Who could be calling for him, he wondered. He took to the air and flew off in the direction the sound was coming from. It got steadily louder as he came closer and he was already flying at the speed of sound. Ryan was edgy and restless. As his sense of danger heightened he knew something was definitely wrong, and since the sound was coming from the West, he felt it had to be coming from one place. He suddenly accelerated into high speeds and sped back home.
"GUARDIAN! Come out and face me!" he screamed. His Recharger had created a sonic amplifier and was projecting his voice outward in all directions at levels hundreds of times louder than the loudest concert ever. The only thing protecting him, was a force field he had around him. Windows shattered in the city, a mile below him. He knew the damage caused to the ears of the citizens would bring this pathetic Patroller looking for him. Moridosi even had on the `traditional' outfit. A black mask and body suit covered by a gray trench coat. It wasn't a very good costume, but with the Recharger floating above and behind his head he didn't need much to intimidate a Patroller. Moridosi wondered if Kansas City would crack before Guardian showed up. He didn't really care, but it might be nice to say you had single-handedly destroyed a major city. It would look good on his resume.
Off to the left, he saw a flash of blue. It had seemingly appeared out of nowhere and was plummeting through the sky as a streak. Moridosi watched as it made a U-turn began heading for his part of the city. He saw it make a final course correction, and then was heading straight for him. He laughed. The pathetic Patroller was going to ram him. Just then the original sonic boom caught him. It pushed against his force field and urged him forward. He was surprised. The Emissary had told him Gauntlet force fields were invulnerable! Just then, Guardian slammed into him, his hands and eyes blazing with power.
Ryan hit the mad man with the full force of mach 2. The way he was standing in midair, screaming loudly enough to be heard several miles away, Ryan had to take him out immediately. When he saw the red object floating above him, he figured it was a Patroller. An impossibility, a Patroller gone bad and still in control! The prospect made Ryan's blood boil in the instant he had before he collided with this black Patroller. No one should abuse that much power, he screamed to himself as he smashed into the floating man.
The force field Guardian had thrown up at the last moment, absorbed most of the impact, but still shattered against the form of the rogue. He felt bruised all over, like he had just run into his entire high school football squad, but the mad man flew backwards and started to fall out of the sky. Ryan thought he had succeeded in knocking him out, in beating the misused Gauntlet, but he righted himself and sat there looking at Guardian as they went flying forward at several hundred miles an hour. Then the shockwave overcame both of them. The man sat inside his force field rubbing his jaw, as if Ryan had hit him and knocked him onto the ground. Ryan felt as if the team had picked him up off the field and rammed into his back.
Ryan closed his eyes for a moment, trying to adjust to the intense bruising pain that had just hit him twice. When he opened them, he saw something he never wanted to. A huge green, glowing fist was flying at his face and the floating Recharger was burning red. The impact washed over the field he instinctually threw up, but the force propelled him down and back. Guardian felt dizzy for a second and then impacted again. It all went dark for a second and then he could see out of a hole that streamed in sunlight like he was in a deep cave.
Moridosi flew down to where Guardian had impacted with the side of the building. He carefully maneuvered to the side of the hole and then moved his way around. Moridosi kept his force field up; he didn't dare drop it with this Patroller.
"So the rabbit has teeth? Come out, Guardian. I want to make your death painless, well almost painless. You've caused me some trouble," he said. A shape stirred from inside the building. Well, it wasn't over yet it seemed.
"Okay, 'Green Lantern'. You don't deserve that Recharger, and I'm going to take it away from you if I have to destroy it or you to do it!" Guardian screamed from out of the hole.
"Ah yes. Emerald Twilight. I enjoyed that story. Those were the first and last issues of Green Lantern I'll ever need to read," Moridosi intoned to the young man who seemed to be struggling to reach the edge of the hole.
"Jerk!" was all Guardian retorted. Then he aimed his right hand at Moridosi and a wide beam of blue energy hit him. Bathing his field so that it plainly showed up. This wasn't a physical manifestation. There wasn't any force being generated as he had expected. Guardian raised his other hand and added a beam from that one to the current assault. Moridosi started saying to himself that he needed to be briefed by the Emissary. This was a startling new tactic that this Patroller was utilizing. Then Moridosi noticed that small cracks had started forming in front of his face. It was getting noticeably hotter inside the field. He strengthened his will to seal the cracks, but the field kept fracturing. What the! he thought.
Moridosi took off, flying at full speed straight upwards. The force field shattered with the extra stress his movement caused. Ryan thought it was going to take forever, but then he thought for a second. That shouldn't have happened. This guy was a Patroller. Patrol force fields were invulnerable right? He had been about to step out of the hole and take off after the rogue, but then he thought better of it. Best to be prepared, he said to himself. Ryan looked behind him, and picked up a large piece of the wall that he had fallen into. It was so big he had to hold it with both hands, no matter how light he made it. He was feeling sort of tired and had to finish this quickly. He had put his Passion Device Matrix to a great deal of work today, and hadn't really refilled the batteries. If it went dead, he would follow.
Guardian took off out of the hole and upwards along Moridosi's path. He stopped at the roof of the building to look around for any signs of the lunatic. Just as he looked down at the roof, he saw another green fist rising toward him. Guardian sidestepped it and flew down to the roof. He set the piece of wall down on the roof top, and placed his full powers of gravity on the figure in black standing across from him. The green fist had almost reached him when the figure in black seemed to collapse. Moridosi laughed and the fist exploded into a thousand green particles.
"Ha ha ha ha ha ha," he laughed and looked up at Guardian. "I've never heard of this one before, but I know something you obviously don't know," he said.
"What's that?" Guardian asked as he walked over, lugging the sizable wall piece. He looked at the man in black and wondered if he had suddenly lost all grip on reality.
"You broke my leg. You caused me harm and a considerable amount of pain. And now... YOU'RE POWERLESS!" he screamed as he formed a huge spear with his mind and propelled it toward Ryan. Guardian lifted one hand and blasted the force field construct into tiny pieces. Ryan hadn't doubted that the field would be easy to disrupt, he couldn't concentrate very well with his leg broken as it was.
"Are you quite through?" he asked as he again picked up the wall and walked closer to the man in black. He kept an eye on him as he moved, and he could see the startled surprise in his masked face and hidden eyes. "Yes, I can see you are," Ryan said. He could barely stop himself from laughing.
"HOW?!?" Moridosi screamed. Guardian looked directly at him.
"It's simple," he said. He reached out with his mind, and began to transmute the piece of cement and brickwork into energy. The bonds disappeared, the molecules unwove, the atoms exploded, the wall disintegrated. Ryan absorbed the energy from his transformation filling his Matrix with power. He felt like he was going to explode, but at that moment he propelled all of it at the red Recharger floating above Moridosi's head.
The energy beam left his eyes and traveled out as a single tightly woven swath of destruction. The power cracked through the air and singed everything nearby. The beam hit the Recharger and was blocked by a last minute force field. Moridosi was dazed and hurt, but he wasn't about to give up his source of power. It took a second, but the field collapsed and the Recharger was struck with a vast quantity of energy. Ryan had never before seen solid matter sublimate like this, but it went straight from solid to plasma and blew apart in a resultant explosion. He reached out and shielded Moridosi and himself from it, while absorbing what he could to replenish his batteries. Right now, he felt like he could sleep for a week. After the explosion, the roof top was burned to a crisp. There was a huge black mark across the roof where Guardian's force field was absent. When the light of day returned, Guardian released the force field and went over to Moridosi and pulled off his mask. He was sunburned to a bright red beneath his costume.
"... I'm not a Patroller." he said matter of factly. After he was sure the Recharger was gone, Guardian turned back to his opponent. "Who are you?" he asked. The singed blonde head turned to look at Ryan.
"You don't know? I'm the one who blew up your house. I sent the gang members to kill your parents. I'm just sorry I missed when I aimed for you," he said. Ryan could see the defiance in his eyes as he answered. Even in defeat Moridosi had won. Anger welled up inside him like a demon uncalled. With tears streaming down his face, and a nimbus of power crackling around the two, Ryan struck out and knocked Moridosi down with his fist.
Guardian flew away. Moridosi barely caught a glimpse of him after that punch. He had been hit with a protected fist, and he was about to pass out. He fell asleep to the sounds of Police and Fire sirens. Ryan flew higher and higher, propelled by his anger and grief. His fists burned with unrelenting energy and tears dropped off of his face and streamed along behind, exploding against the wind. He screamed, and the sound echoed through the upper atmosphere, just as he left it.
Alone in a dark den, a single figure of blackness sat in observation of what had just transpired. Until very recently, the room had been lit by the empty ball sitting in front of him. Now, the crystal was silent and the room was black. He never heard the last words Guardian said before the Recharger failed, but he knew something spectacular had happened. A terrific rush of negative emotion was rising rapidly out of earth's atmosphere. Yes, Moridosi had done his duty. For such good service, the Emissary could let him live a year longer. He had failed after all.
"Such a delicious meal this has been. Hate and Anger are a dish best served cold, but the white hot platter is a nice variant," it said. The creature of intimate darkness threw back its head and laughed to an empty room as it fed.
Copyright © 1995, 1997 by Byron Molix