Chapter 35

                The man in the first apartment was young, single from the looks of the décor, and trapped under a dresser. Titan didn’t even bother knocking as he entered, pleasantries were for people with more time and less at stake. He just shattered the lock and pushed the door open, revealing a panicked young man pinned under heavy furniture. Extricating him was easy, Titan lifted the dresser as though it had as little substance as a banker’s promise. Once the man was free, it became clear that the falling furniture had at least fractured, if not broken, his leg. This actually made things easier as far as Titan was concerned. Carrying someone was much simpler than trying to have them follow him as he moved about.

                In the second apartment Titan and his new passenger found a woman whose refrigerator had tumbled over and blocked the door. With a quick call of caution, Titan slowly pressed the thin wooden door open, sending the sizable fridge sliding across the carpeted floor. He’d just finished getting it moved when a loud cracking sound filled the air, accompanied moments later by a shudder than ran through the entire building. He barely had time to wonder what had happened before Galvanize’s voice crackled to life on his radio.

                “Titan, Granite just reported that the southern wall came down. From what we can see it’s causing a ripple effect that’s going to send the whole thing crashing. You need to get your people clear immediately.”

                “Was Granite trapped under the collapse? Did Aether finish hers yet?” As he spoke, Titan grabbed the recently freed woman around her mid-section and lifted her up, holding her at his left side just as he was holding the man with the broken leg on his right.

                “Granite is perfectly fine; it would take more than one wall to encumber him. Aether is above you retrieving her final survivor from floor five. Since she’s unaffected by things like falling buildings though, you need to worry about you and yours.”

                Another shudder rocked the building, this one causing the floor at Titan’s feet to buck slightly. The man let out a yelp of terror, while the woman seemed to draw closer to Titan’s massive frame.

                “Evacuating now. Any guess on how long I’ve got?”

                “I’m watching the western side of the building crumble as we speak. You have no time, get out of there anyway that you can.”

                “Was afraid you’d say that,” Titan mumbled. He turned down the hallway and took off at a sprint, no long concerning himself with the integrity of the floor. If he went through it now then it would just put him closer to the ground, which would make escape easier. As it was he was already in a time-crunch. If it had just been him then he could have blasted through the walls and crashed to the ground, no problem. Having humans with him complicated matters. They could get seriously injured if he went smashing through bricks. Of course, they still going to be in a bit of harm’s way even with his current plan, but better a few broken bones than a building’s worth of rubble coming down on top of them.

                He rounded a corner just as the building gave up a shake so powerful that the walls around them momentarily buckled. It was going to be a close one, but Titan at least had his goal in sight. At the end of this hallway, directly in front of them, was the busted wall that he’d seen when first getting to this floor. Through it, Titan could already see the other rescue workers getting away from the collapsing building. That was good, because he needed a clear landing area. As he reached the end of the hallway, Titan pushed himself off with the tremendous powerful in his sizable legs, pulling his people in as close as possible.

                Titan rocketed out the side of the collapsing building, hurtling through the air as both of his rescued citizens screamed bloody murder in his arms. He paid them no mind, instead focusing on getting his body’s orientation right. The landing was key, it would determine if these two ended the day facing lumps, bruises, and bad memories, or life-threatening injuries. Titan lifted them both, one in each arm, while tilting his legs downward. He needed to cushion as much of the fall’s force as he could with his legs and try to dissipate the rest by letting his arms stay flexible. This was a technique he’d developed many years ago for rapid evacuations, but it had been a very long time since he used it.

                Dust and rocks flew upward as Titan came smashing down, long legs sliding a bit across the terrain as he tried to bend them with the landing. Once or twice he nearly lost his footing, but old habits and a steely will allowed him to stay upright. When he finally came to stop his charges were shaken, coughing, and clearly scared out of their minds, but still alive and relatively unscathed.

                “Everybody okay?” Titan asked. Both the man and the woman gave weak but recognizable nods to the affirmative. He’d probably have them checked out by a healer just to be safe; however, for the moment self-diagnosis would have to suffice.

                Behind them a loud crackling sound filled the air. Titan turned around just in time to building he’d just been in collapsing in on itself at an accelerate rate. Dark swirls of energy surround it as it fell, and within moments the building was nothing than a pile of rubble in the center of its former slab. The energy dissipated, and a small-statured man in a black and white costume headed back toward the area where Scope and Afterthought were coordinating things.

                “That was pretty cool,” said the man still clutched in Titan’s hand. His voice finally snapped Titan back to the situation and the large Hero lowered them gentle to the ground.

                “Galvanize, do we have any healers on hand? I’ve got a citizen with a busted leg, and after the day he’s had a patch-job seems the least we can do.”

                “We’ve already got two heading over. You just sit tight and they’ll come to you. Nice job with the exit, by the way.”

                “Well, the elevator was out and I just can’t stand the tediousness of stairs.”

                “You did good work, plus I’m sure Mr. Greene will be happy about the fact that the press was on hand to document your efforts.”

                Titan had to bite back the urge to groan out loud. He hadn’t been show-boating in the slightest, but once the media started playing the clip of him leaping from the building Gale was going to be impossible to deal with.

                As he ruminated on his poor fortune, Titan noticed Aether floating down a few feet away, a young man holding onto her like she was… well, like she was the one keeping him afloat after escaping a collapsing building. Their eyes met as she landed, and Titan flashed her a wide grin.

                It might not have been the most gracious exit in the world, but it had won him five bucks.