It had been a long time since Owen was in a real fight. Picking off stray robots here and there didn’t exactly test his limits, and while the work with his team was rewarding it usually demanded more effort in keeping control than pushing himself. The assessment with Elemental Fury was the nearest he’d come, and even that was closer to a dance than a brawl, as he had to evade and subdue without seriously injuring. He’d been so long outside of a true battle that he’d almost forgotten the thrill of danger and adrenaline that coursed through one’s system.
That familiar feeling came rushing back as he tore through the air, moving so fast that he couldn’t even see the giant mech’s arms as it reached uselessly for him. Gale had built up too much speed for the thing to have a shot in hell, as Owen roared past all its defenses and slammed directly into its chest. Were he human, or even earlier in his career, Owen would have been a smear on the metal surface. Instead, he left a sizable dent and merely shook his head, more dizzy from the ride than hurt from the stop.
Already he could see the remaining arms reaching for him, so Owen didn’t waste the time he had. Bending the metal under his fingers to get a solid grip, he reared back and punched directly into the dent he’d made. Unlike when fighting the robot’s arm, this time he tried to concentrate the force as much as possible, and his fist effortlessly broke through the armored barrier. Grabbing both sides of the hole, he tore it wider and then tumbled through, only a few feet ahead of the metal appendages trying to knock him away.
Truthfully, he hadn’t been entirely sure what to expect once he was inside. Robots might be semi-regular occurrences in the Hero world, but the giant type weren’t exactly run of the mill. Part of him expected it to just be filled with the smaller bots, operating the big mech like some sort of weird puppet. Instead, it felt like he’d just thrown himself into a gigantic car engine. All around him were motors, pistons, and wires; so tightly bunched together that he could barely move without bumping into something.
Owen was a little disappointed, actually. Silly as it might have been, he would have loved to have seen the puppet theory in action. On the upside, however, this made his job a whole lot easier. He didn’t know how these things worked or what critical parts would take it down, so Owen was just going to break everything. Which was much easier, especially when it was all neatly packed in like this.
Setting his sights on the nearest cluster of moving metal beams, Owen braced himself and threw a punch that he hoped would be just strong enough to send the heavier bits bouncing around inside the armored torso.
* * *
No one was sure exactly what came bursting out of the mech’s back like buckshot, flying into the air before they could make out so much as a blurry detail, but the PEERS team had a pretty good idea of what had caused it. After all, watching Gale fling Titan into the giant robot’s chest had significantly narrowed down the possibilities.
Despite the large crater in its front and smoking holes in its back, the mech continued moving about seemingly unbothered by the Hero currently tearing up its insides. More of the smaller bots were still pouring out, though they seemed to slow significantly. Whether it was running out or using them to fight the intruder was anyone’s guess, though the latter strategy seemed like it would be pretty inefficient.
“Just like the good old days.” The voice came from the rooftop’s edge, where a man wearing a familiar Hero costume was climbing up from the fire escape. “I mean, not the giant robot part, tech wasn’t quite as fancy as it is these days so they never got them that big, but dropping Titan into the middle of a fray and letting him do his work, now that takes me back.”
“A pleasure to see you again, Topsy,” Galvanize greeted. “What brings you to our rooftop?”
“Heard Titan’s people were in need of a little help, and seeing as I’m technically just supposed to be a coach anyway, it seemed like a good place for me to lend a hand,” Topsy replied. “Besides, Titan looked out for my team, least I could do is watch over his. Seems like it might have been unnecessary, though.”
“No, this is perfect,” Bubble Bubble said. “You can go help him, Gale just threw him inside the mech without joining. Even for Titan, that has to be dangerous. If you hurry, you two can bring that thing down before he gets hurt.”
“The concern is touching, but misplaced,” Topsy assured her. “Do you ever wonder why he’s called Titan?”
From the battlefield nearby, a huge metal beam suddenly burst out of the mech’s lower torso and was dragged upward, like an inverted stabbing. Its legs began to shake, no longer capable of making the smooth, controlled motions that it had so far. In the air, a blast of wind shattered another of its eyes, the third one taken down since Gale began her outer assault.
“Because he’s really strong, like Titans from mythology,” Zone said.
“That’s probably why Titan agreed to use the name, but I actually know the Hero who suggested it to him, and that wasn’t the reason.” Topsy paused to glance over the edge, taking in the shuddering robot with a dark smile. “That fellow was Titan’s rival back in their HCP days, and when they first started out he was much more powerful than our friend currently killing a robot from the inside. But every time he lost, Titan kept coming back. Stronger and more determined than before. He just couldn’t be stopped.”
Suddenly, the mech’s legs seemed to give out as it came crashing to the ground, the weight of its body clearly no longer being offset by a gravitational anomaly. The arms flailed, now too heavy to move properly, and smoke was beginning to pour out from the holes in its torso.
“You can never really kill a Titan,” Topsy said, nodding to the fallen monster that only moments ago had seemed so indomitable. “Even the gods could only imprison them. That’s why the name was suggested. Because if you’ve ever seen him in a real battle, walking through blood and fire completely unstained, you understand what it is to witness something that’s truly unstoppable. The man you’ve been working with all this time is a good fellow, but he isn’t the real Titan. Titan is a destroyer, a force of nature, a monster that only the grace of God has put on our side.”
Topsy raised his hand and pointed to the collapsing mech as flames began to rise out from the many openings punched in its body. Around it, the smaller robots suddenly began to twitch, then collapse, like puppets whose strings had just been cut. One last outward explosion from the place where the torso joined to the metal legs, and a figure could be seen walking out from within the mechanical beast’s belly. He was a little smeared with dirt and soot, but even from so far away they could recognize the familiar red and blue costume as he strolled away unharmed from his fallen foe.
“That is the real Titan. And as an over-the-hill Hero who’s witnessed too much evil in his lifetime, I can’t tell you how fucking ecstatic I am to see him again.”