Paragon City

From the Story Arc: Radoslav: The Chronicles of Agn Stratonik

Previous Story in the Arc: Chung Po Wei by Agn Stratonik (Tuesday, December 07, 2004)

Next Story in the Arc: First Day on the Job by Agn Stratonik (Monday, December 27, 2004)

(posted Monday, December 27, 2004)

The flight from Hong Kong was long. I continuously anticipated arriving at my location, since that was something I’ve done as a child. I’m an extremely patient person, but inside, at times, I just want to be done with some things and reach my destination. I tried to sleep on the flight, but the continuous chatter of an old, Chinese, married couple sitting behind me kept me awake. I wanted to turn around and yell, “SILENCIO,” but I remained calm and composed. I sat next to an obese, middle age Chinese man who steadily ate large quantities of dim-sum and peanuts through-out the flight. His frequent visits to the lavorotory made me hesitant to eat or drink very much, barring myself from having to visit the lavorotory, which, no doubt, reeked of the man’s stench. I stayed in my seat, drinking a Pepsi every hour or so, and chewing on the ice leftover in the cup, when I was done.

The plane was a jumbo jet. The kind you see in movies with three large aisles, one in the middle and two on the left and right. All the flight attendants were Chinese, except two, one being British and the other Russian. The Russian girl was attractive as I’m sure she knew I thought so since she caught me glancing at her as she passed each time. She made me miss my homeland, most of all.

We arrived in New York City after 20 hours of flying. I stayed awake during the whole flight, oddly. Not once did I feel my eyelids become too heavy to hold up. I wasn’t sure what my choice held for me and for the first time in a long time, I was a little worried. I disembarked from the plane and retrieved my luggage shortly after. I went to what’s called a “Greyhound” Bus station where I boarded a bus that would take me to Paragon City. I remembering asking the attendant I booked my flight with why I’d have to take a bus instead of a plane. He told me that planes weren’t common transportation in Paragon because of the boundary walls that were erected to protect Paragon from outside invasion. Boundary walls? I wasn’t sure what to expect.

When I finally reached Paragon City, I arrived at the Atlas Park City Hall. The Boundary Walls were huge, and resembled large force fields. Atlas Park appeared unscathed from the Rikti attack, but I had a feeling that whatever happened was something the leaders and citizens of Paragon City wanted to prevent from ever happening again. After disembarking, I walked up a flight of steps onto an open courtyard-type area. In front of me was the largest statue I’d ever seen in my life. This statue dwarfed the statue of Stalin. I was curious to see who this was. Surely he was a hero of great importance. I walked toward the platform underneath the statue and passed a Hero by the name of Ms. Liberty. I had read of her in WW2 history books and how Heroes like her and Statesman helped the Allies turn the tide of war against the Nazis.

Ms. Liberty was surrounded by a mob of younger Heroes who continuously asked her questions and poked her with their fingers to get her attention. What a job and something I’d never want to do. Behind her was the platform. It was surrounded by a fountain of water and required a person to lift themselves up to get to the platform. “Who is this guy,” I thought. I left my luggage near the fountain, walked into the fountain and climbed to the top of the platform. In front of me was a plaque. It told of this hero. “Atlas,” I muttered to myself. He single-handedly stopped the Nazi invasion that attempted to devour America, and died doing so. In my mind, this man became the sole reason why I was able to make this journey to this “great” country today. I used to ask myself what a Hero was, but Atlas gave me the answer. A Hero is someone who faces impossible odds and dares not give up, even if it means death.

I retrieved my luggage and headed for the City Hall entrance. I walked inside and took at look around. The main hall was beautiful, with a Cathedral ceiling and shiny, marble floors. Statues of various Heroes accented the interior. I walked to a window where a clerk was taking applications for those who wished to defend Paragon as Heroes. Colonel Chao had given me this application before I departed, so I filled it out on the plane. One of the oddest questions on the application was, “Are you afraid to get your teeth knocked out,” to which I wrote the answer, “No, but you should be.”

The window in front of her was barred and had a small opening at the bottom to slide paperwork underneath. The clerk was a short, rotund American woman, with blonde hair and glasses with thick, coke bottle lenses that you’d see a grandmother wearing. Her skin was weather-worn and so was her attitude. She cleared her throat, hacking up a swallow of sputum and she spat it into a handkerchief. “I hope all American women aren’t like this,” I thought to myself. “May I help you,” she asked in a raspy, Texan voice. “Yes,” I said as I handed her the application, “I would like to sign up to be a Hero of Paragon.” She cracked a smile, sadistic and sarcastic all in a bundle, then looked over my application. “You don’t have any super powers?” “By that you mean am I a mutant or super-powered being of sorts? The answer is no. I am as human as any homosapien.” “And what country are you from?” I pointed to the paper where she obviously missed, since she probably only glanced over it in the first place. “Russia,” I said. “You speak English quite well.” “Well thank you. I try to make good impressions, so I became fluent in English just in case. And look, here I am.” “Ah huh…well hun, I have to warn you that these bad guys in this here city are down right evil. I don’t know if a “Natural”, as we tend to call your kind around here, should be running around the streets, in spandex, not being able to take a punch.”

This lady was pissing me off. I smiled very deviously to her, then placed my hands on the bars that covered her window. With both hands on the bars, I first bent them outward, then ripped them completely out of the wall. The clerk’s face was that of total shock, and so was that of the other Heroes and even the City Representative that stood at the entrance greeting Heroes. I handed her the window bars, smiled then said, “What else do I need to start, please?”

Superman might be a super strong Hero, as well as others, but no mutation, or technological advancement, or even magic can overcome the power of the heart, will and mind. That’s what makes Heroes so great. I received a list of contacts to speak with from the clerk along with the address of a tailor’s shop called Icon, in Steel Canyon. She also gave me a pamphlet about Paragon City. One notable thing was about these “Security Levels.” Apparently as a Hero increases his/her notoriety, he/she is given security cards to allow them access to special places and a higher degree of personification within the city. The highest Security Level is 50, and Heroes with that clearance are of high caliber, such as Statesman. Will I ever make it that far? Sure I may have a lot of will power, but I’m not special. I don’t have any magic powers. If I get hit hard, I’ll bruise and maybe even wake up in an Emergency Room. Or even worse, death.

Thoughts rolled through my head like a tornado as I walked a sidewalk outside of City Hall that led to the hotel that I was staying at. I looked at the ground and saw a flyer. I picked up the piece of paper and saw the letters “CCCP.” After reviewing the paper further, I smiled. “Maybe I’ve found a home already,” I said to myself as I walked off into my new future…

Next…First Day on the Job