The Light That Failed Pt 30

From the Story Arc: A Fine And Private Place

Previous Story in the Arc: The Light That Failed Pt 29 by Victoria Victrix (Tuesday, October 11, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: The Light That Failed Pt 31 by Waitron9000 (Tuesday, October 11, 2005)

(posted Tuesday, October 11, 2005)

"--Bella is being treated. She will be fine. She will be just fine. In fact, she will probably make the next Congress meeting. It's going to be all right—"

Hearing Vic's voice blare over his Comm unit, Red Djinni lost a few precious seconds. Bella was going to be alright... she was going to be alright! He felt a momentary relief, almost lost in the bloodlust of battle, and together it came as a shock to the system. He gasped a quick breath, then felt a jolt, as he came back to his senses.

Red’s last blow had knocked Gairdner out, and he was falling. He was falling… why wasn’t the emergency porting system kicking in?

Titian Paladin was falling...

Red left the hospital without a word. Though exhausted, he couldn’t sleep, and didn’t see any reason to wake Vic up. She needed to rest. Red, on the other hand, needed answers. He had stayed away, trusting KC to do what he needed to, never really believing his friend had fallen so far. But now, as the evidence was beginning to mount, he couldn’t let it go any further. The whole Crisis affair had torn into the Congress, nothing irreparable, but now…


Red needed to see KC. Now.

He flew, charging through the air, and slowed again as a familiar cape approached.

“Red,” Titian Paladin nodded curtly. “I’ve come to see Bella. Can I assist in any way?”

Red took the plunge, urging himself to go faster, faster!

Paladin continued to plummet, his cape trailing after him.

You can do this. You can reach him…

He fought back mad tears, and the screams.

How did we come to this?

“… it doesn’t look good, but you still don’t have solid proof, Red!”

“I don’t have time to get into this with you again, we need some answers now! Bella’s dying, that getting through to you? Our Bella is dying! Now get out my way, you stupid, stubborn…”

But Paladin didn’t move.

“Red, you’re angry, and I understand, really…”

“Don’t give me that! If you did you wouldn’t be stopping me right now! I let you go, I let you all go! And for what? So that KC could have his little blow-up fantasy come to life? Step aside, now!”

But Paladin didn’t move.

“No,” he said. “I am afraid of what you’re capable of, right now.”

Red hovered closer, and stared Paladin down.

“Get out of my way, Gairdner. Last time.”

But Paladin didn’t move.

Red tried to shoulder past him. Paladin reached out to restrain him.

“You crazy…?”

And with that, Red lashed out with a flaming fist.

Paladin flew back with a grunt, shook his head, and massaged his jaw. He drew back a bloodied hand.

“I would ask you the same thing.”

Red’s eyes narrowed, and shot towards him.

Red didn’t think he was going to make it, and Paladin was going to crash into some pretty hard concrete.

Think, goddamn you! Need to cushion him, slow him down…

But Red was artillery. He didn’t affect the weather, or control gravity, or siphon kinetics… he shot fire. His only hope was speed.

He continued to close in…

30 feet… 20 feet… 10 feet…

They fought high above Skyway. Aerial combat, and quite the lightshow.

Paladin had thrown up his protective force fields. Red tried to close the distance, but bounced off the enormous bubble time and again. No flame sword, no close range blasts, and Paladin didn’t give him time for build-ups for sniper attacks. Chars simply dissolved away, and Paladin kept Red moving with his own artillery.

Still, it was only a matter of time. Paladin had not unlocked the full power of his gauntlets, while Red was near the peak of his own powers. Dodging concussive blasts of force, Red hit Paladin again and again with streams of fire. They dissipated somewhat over protective fields, but not enough. Paladin was steaming, his suit charred in places, and the bubbles began to falter.

Red saw the force bubble waver, and closed in. He hit the side, hands out, and burned into it. He saw the Paladin strain to keep the bubble intact, but to no avail. Red punched through Paladin’s last defence, and charged. He grasped his hands together, and swung an overhead blow.

Lights out.

Titian Paladin was falling…

… 5 feet… he’s just inches away… just… just…

Red grappled him, found a solid grip about the waist, and fired a massive jet of flame downward. The force nearly ripped Paladin away, and Red screamed as he felt his muscles begin to tear from the strain. They landed hard in a smoking crater. Red heard something snap. Gasping, he sprang up, and checked Gairdner over. He was alive, breathing, but his left arm was bent horribly wrong.

Red scooped him up, ignored the stunned looks from the stopped traffic, of horrified pedestrians, and flew.

“…what happened?”

“A fight,” Red muttered, laying Gairdner down on a gurney. “His porter didn’t go off. Left arm’s broken.”

The nurse looked down at Paladin’s charred and smoking body, his brow furrowed, then looked at Red in astonishment.


“Do your job!” Red snarled.

They rushed Paladin away.

Red watched them go, turned, then headed for the stairs.

He held Vic close to him, watched the others file out, and then, watched only Bella.

“…Time for you to stand down too, comrade,” Johnny said to Vic, and then to Red – “you too.”

“Aye,” said Red Djinni, and his arms tightened around Vic. “Time to go home.”