Chapter 57

              What Titan had entered into with Elemental Fury was a fight. It required strategy, restraint, planning, and cunning all piled on top of his already impressive physical abilities. Titan was good at fighting; it was why he’d been able to take down such powerful enemies in the past. He enjoyed a good fight, but what followed after the two gangs merged into a single force dedicated to bringing him down was nothing like a fight. It was a brawl.

                Even after all these years, Titan could still feel the adrenaline surging through his veins as he stared down over a dozen opponents, all coming at him together. His fingers tingled, and time began to feel a bit slippery. When it was over, he wouldn’t remember many of the fine details. Those would be lost in a sea of snapping bones and anguished screams. But, as it was happening, Titan took in everything without exception.

                As he grabbed the shifter in bear form’s arm and snapped it in half, he could smell the man’s cologne when he fell, hitting the ground with a painful thud. When Titan caught the speedster’s clumsy punch, he noticed the young boy’s nose piercings, just before he drove a foot down and shattered those speedy legs. At the moment that three of the gang members leapt on his back, he caught sight of their terrified but determined faces in one of the few unshattered windows on the street. That moment would stay with him, making him wonder if there was a better way than coming in full force. He almost hesitated, then he remembered that Zone and a child were somewhere in the area trying to stay safe, and Titan’s resolve hardened. As he stripped each person from his back and hurled them into the concrete wall, he tried to keep from killing them, but he made certain that none would be rising anytime soon.

                A bolt of grey energy hit Titan’s side, and he glanced up to see the culprit staring at him, eyes going wide with surprise. Evidently, he’d been expecting a different result. Either these punks didn’t watch the news or they didn’t believe the hype. Those that survived sure as hell would from here on, though. It was funny, all the money and time spent on PR by Heroes and their agents, and yet nothing spread true fear in a Heroes opponents like leaving a path of destruction in their wake.

                Titan closed the gap to the blaster, knocking aside a pair of men in leather jackets who tried to take a swing at him. He reared back; ready to put the young man down, but a gust of wind make Titan suddenly aware of a hole in the side of costume, right where the energy had hit him. It was perfect erosion, no shredded cloth or scorched material. Titan let his battle-drunk brain work for a moment, remembering the original report Dispatch had given, and noticing how this fellow had puffy circles around his eyes, as if he’d been crying. Supers weren’t inherently more likely to have Super children, but those in a family often had somewhat similar abilities.

                Instead of punching him in the head, hoping for a knockout but acknowledging the chance of brain death, Titan shattered the young man’s legs, leaving him to howl in the street. Technically the kid could still use his powers, but without HCP-grade training it was unlikely he’d be able to focus through the pain. If he did, then Titan would finish the job, but it felt wrong to kill someone who was acting out of grief more than anger. At least, not without giving them one chance.

                The effortless defeat of their energy blaster seemed to have broken some of the criminals' spirit, as they looked at Titan with a new sense of awe and dread. They’d clearly thought that he’d be taken down by one good shot, and faced with the reality of a Titan utterly uninjured by what was presumably their most powerful remaining offense; their willpower began to fracture and break. Several dashed away, running for the alley where the fight had started.

                “Goddamnit! I just stepped out and I’ve got a fucking wave coming at me,” Zone stammered frantically in Titan’s left ear, no longer bothering to whisper.

                There was no time to think, no opportunity to concoct some cunning plan. The span of seconds would likely mean the difference of life and death for Zone, to say nothing of the child in his care. Spinning in the direction of the runners, Titan could see Zone and the young girl in his arms halfway emerged from under a pile of trash in the alley. In front of those two were five fleeing criminals, one of whom was the shifter in boar form, and Zone was standing directly in their way. If they hit his teammate and the civilian, especially knowing Titan was at their backs, chances of casualties were high, if not completely certain.

                Pressing his boot into the concrete so hard that cracks began spiderwebbing out from under it, Titan pushed off in a charging leap. He stayed low, the goal this time wasn’t to get a better location, it was play human bowling with himself as the ball. Arms spread out wide to catch all that he could, Titan hurtled through the air, slamming into four of the five would-be-escapees with such force that he could feel their bones break as he made contact. Just before he was about to come to a stop, he twisted in mid-air so that his back hit the brick building first, rather than the four already battered bodies clutched in his arms. Titan let them drop to the ground; now that they were gone he had a more important target.

                The boar shifter was still getting up from the ground where he’d thrown himself to avoid to Titan’s charge when the Hero stepped forward, putting himself firmly between Zone and the criminal. The piggy eyes darted back and forth, locking on Zone, or perhaps the child crying in his arms, and lingering there for a moment. Titan could practically see the wheels turning, trying to figure out if he could get there fast enough to take a hostage.

                “Ah ah ah.” Titan wagged his finger in the air, drawing the boar’s gaze back to him. “You’ll never make it. And if you try, I’m going to be less gentle than I have been with your friends. A lot less gentle.”

                “Maybe so,” the boar-man snorted. “But I bet one of us will make it.”

                “You want to know one of the most important rules in battle, BeBop? It’s always be aware of your surroundings. And maybe you should have noticed that I’m no longer the only Hero on the scene.”

                The pigman quickly turned around, barely getting a chance to see the new uniforms tearing through his fellow gang members and enemies before he felt a power hand grip him by the collarbone.

                “Another good rule in battle: don’t take your eyes off the fucking enemy.” Titan was quick with crippling the shifter, and luckily the criminal quickly passed out from the pain of his broken limbs. That attended to, Titan jogged back over to Zone and the young girl.

                “You should be clear now, get her to safety and then rendezvous with the team. I have to keep helping clean up here.”

                “No problem,” Zone said, slightly readjusting his grip on the still sobbing girl. “And thanks for the assist.”

                “That’s what teammates do,” Titan replied, turning back to the fray still going on.

                “Also, why the hell did you call that guy Bebop?”

                “Didn’t watch many cartoons as a kid, I take it?” Titan shook his head and allowed himself a small laugh, despite the horror of the day so far. “I’ll explain when things are done.”

                “Good enough for me.”

                Zone darted off, racing through the alleyway and back toward what one could only hope would be safety. Unless someone else had shown up to unblock the bridge, that area was also a rapidly deteriorating situation waiting to turn into a tragedy. Titan scanned the scene, noting that the Hero in blue shooting white fire and the one who had shifted into a ten-foot tall lizard creature had picked off most of the stragglers. As he looked, his eyes fell on a fallen, weeping form, and an idea surfaced in the sea of his thoughts.

                “Dispatch, I need you to patch me in to a DVA representative. I may have a way to help our overpass situation, but I’m going to have to make some promises.”