Chapter 32

               Titan found his team just as Galvanize was walking back over to them, leaving a small cluster of men also wearing masks and capes. The number of unfamiliar uniforms and intensity of the situation made it impossible to determine who was a Hero and who was a corpie, and Titan realized for the first time he honestly didn’t give a shit about the distinction. Everyone was here to help, that was the only thing that mattered.

                “Listen up,” Galvanize said, addressing his team with clear, ringing authority. He might be a nice guy, but now was not the time for kindness. Now was the time when people needed straightforward orders and the understanding that nothing was up for discussion. “Afterthought is currently sweeping for minds of people who are trapped, and Scope is using his senses to find the ones who are unconscious. They’re on point for this recovery and directing all efforts, so if they give you an order, you carry it out. Understood?”

                Most of the team nodded, except for Titan, who said “Yes, sir.” In another situation, one of the others might have ribbed him a bit for the over-enthusiasm, but there was neither the time nor temperate for it as they received their assignments.

                “Hexcellent, you and Huggles are needed to help open up cars with people stuck inside. Switch to Big Henry if the situation demands it, but when you run low on juice stay with Huggles. We’ve got plenty of heavy lifters but a pair of blades is always handy.” Galvanize pointed the leather-decked out girl toward a group gathering near a flipped food truck, and she took off without a word.

                “Bubble Bubble, you’re helping with evacuating people from higher floors of unstable buildings. Airborn is coordinating, so go to her and follow her directions. If she finishes her operation, come to me for a new assignment.”

                “Absolutely,” she replied, moving briskly off toward a nearby woman who was hovering a foot or two from the ground.

                “Titan, you’re with Zone on rubble-clearing duty, and I’m going to stay with Scope and Afterthought to direct us.”


                “This is not up for discussion,” Galvanize said, eyes hard as he stared at the muscular young man. After a moment, he spoke again, and this time his voice had softened just a touch. “Zone, we need someone whose on our radio with them so they can tell us where to dig people out. I’ve only got moderate strength, nothing beyond the human spectrum, and no one who is out there needs my enhancing ability. I know you two don’t get along, but right now I don’t care about your feelings. Real people are out there waiting for us, and if we piss away time on petty bullshit we might not get to them in time. Do we have a problem?”

                “No… sir.” Zone didn’t break eye-contact with Galvanize, but his shoulders dipped and chest moved inward as he conceded the battle.

                “Good. Move to that building immediately,” Galvanize said, pointing to a five-story brick building with a massive hole in the center. “The insides have been severely damaged, and with the breaks in the exterior as well we’re not sure how long before the whole thing comes crashing down. Zone, you go to the area directly southeast of it, you’ll recognize it by the giant pile of bricks. We’ve got confirmed people in there who need help. Titan, you’re going into the building itself to grab a few people stuck in tight areas. Is it an issue if the building collapses on you?”

                “Not for me, but I’d only be able to shield so many people nearby,” Titan said. Depending on the size of the people in question, he could usually handle anywhere between two and four people, though that would make getting out with them nearly impossible.

                “Okay, I’ll keep your groups small. Get in there and wait for direction. Oh, and both of you need to move quickly. If the building drops, we’re estimating it will hit a lot of nearby workers on the way down, so Crush is going to implode it once it’s evacuated. Don’t be dumb, but don’t dilly-dally either."

                “On it,” Titan said, heading off toward the building. It felt strangely familiar, drawing close to a place impending collapse. His team might not have spent a lot of time on clean-up, but they made damned sure to clear out everyone put in danger by one of their fights.

                The low, simmering anger that Wild Bucks had kindled flared up again. All this damage, and where were those little shits to help? It was possible they’d already been hauled off to DVA questioning, but he doubted it. Powerful as the Department of Variant Human Affairs was, they were still a government agency and those things were simply not built to run with that much efficiency. No, more likely they were too ashamed to show their faces at this scene. He hoped Topsy was tearing them a new asshole right now. Despite being the guy they called in when they had to take a “scorched earth” approached to a target, Topsy had always been good about keeping the destruction he caused contained. That was a lesson that needed to get passed on to his trainees, and fast.

                Titan came around the corner, walking up to the building to find another man standing there making the sort of tilted-head expression one tended to have when listening to an earpiece. He had to be a shifter, because he was wearing a skin-tight costume made of the tell-tale shimmery fabric designed to accommodate altered forms. It was useful as hell, invented by some tech-genius before Titan’s time. The material was able to stretch to accommodate all manner of sizes, but it was a pain in the ass to get any sort of stain out of. That probably explained why this guy had opted for a black version. He might be able to get at least a few wears out of a single piece of the stuff.

                The man glanced over his shoulder as Titan approached. “You’re the other guy?”

                “Didn’t know I was, but it seems like I am.”

                “Just got updated with new orders from Scope. I’m supposed to secure the bottom floor as best I can while you go up to the higher ones.”

                “I’m a pretty heavy guy,” Titan said. If the interior was that damaged then every pound of difference mattered.

                “In my shifted form, my weight is measured in tons.”

                “Ground floor for you it is.” Titan stuck out his meaty hand in greeting. “I’m Titan, pleasure to work with you.”

                The man in black shiny material laughed, even as he shook Titan’s hand. “I already know who you are. My name is Granite; I’m the strongman from Elemental Fury.”