Chapter 58

                Titan crouched down by the young man with the shattered legs, one of many dotting the fractured city street. The legs were the best place to go for, usually. It made it impossible to run away, crippled mobility, and put people in too much pain to focus enough to use their abilities. Titan had broken more legs than he could count in his years wearing the mask, and as such had become reasonably adept at gauging the severity of a wound just from looking at it.

                “It’ll heal,” he said, drawing the young man’s attention to his presence. “Not well, mind you, but it will heal in the sense that you’ll have two legs. You might be able to get around without a wheelchair, if you don’t skimp on physical therapy, though your days of running marathons are pretty much a thing of the past.”

                “Fuck you,” the young man grunted from the ground.

                “Now now, I’m not saying all this to be cruel. We’ve got a healer currently in route to this area to patch up people hurt in the overpass accident, the one your… I’m going to guess brother, caused.”

                The criminal looked up from the concrete for the first time, his still-red eyes widening as he locked met Titan’s gaze. “How did you know?”

                “The reports from the fight said the energy projector had a corrosive property. Your attack burned through my costume in less than a second, and these things are made of pretty sturdy material. It seemed like a reasonable guess that two men in the same gang with similar powers were related. Let me guess: you both got the same energy type, just one as a projector and one as a blaster.”

                “My brother and I have… had the same energy.” His eyes darkened, and Titan could practically see the resolve building as he tried to gather up enough focus for another attack.

                Titan reached down and flicked the young man on his earlobe.

                “Ow!” The young man quickly began rubbing his ear, all focus scattered in the brief shock of pain.

                “Listen… I’m sorry, I never got your name. I’m Titan, in case you missed it the first time.”

                The greeting was met by a hard, sullen stare.

                “Giving me your name isn’t going to get you any more in trouble than you already are, and it will make it easier for me to try and dig you some of the way out of this shit heap. I understand you’re upset about your brother, but you have to at least partly realize that this was something he brought upon himself. So you can lay here, be pissed, then go to jail and live with hobbled legs for the rest of your life, or you can hear me out and see if you might like what I’m selling before turning me down. You’ve already seen what’s behind door number two, why not at least take a peek behind number one?”

                He kept on staring, and Titan shifted his weight, preparing to get up. As he moved a single word slipped out of the young criminal’s mouth. “Eli.”

                “That’s progress,” Titan said. “Listen, Eli, right now there is a very rare, once in a lifetime opportunity sitting before you. We need to get people off that overpass as quickly as possible, and your power could make that happen. And we’re prepared to compensate you for it.”

                Eli snorted. “My power can’t help anyone. All I do is destroy stuff.”

                “And yet, today that’s exactly what we need. The Super world is a funny place, you never know what ability will save the day. This time, it’s yours, so be grateful. Few people ever get the chance to really make a difference.”

                “You want me to just forget about the fact that you all killed my brother, and that you broke my damn legs into pieces. You and all those Heroes can go fuck yourselves.”

                Titan leaned back a touch, a feat that was actually quite impressive in his crouched position. “Honestly, I don’t blame you for that sentiment. If the tables were turned, I’d probably feel the same way. But there’s a flaw in your logic, Eli. Those people stuck out there aren’t Heroes. They’re just regular folks. Families going to work or school who got caught up in a battle of beings that exist on a scale they can’t even comprehend. Now when I look at all the bodies that were dropped around here, I don’t see any with big corroded holes in them. That tells me that you, Eli, are not a killer. Even when you shot at me, you went for the side, an attack that would injure but probably not kill. Maybe I’m wrong, and you don’t mind letting dozens of innocent people die out of spite, but I don’t think I am. I don’t think you want all that blood on your hands, and make no mistake, if you do nothing and let people die, you will feel the weight of their loss for the rest of your life. Trust me.”

                “It’s your job to help people, not mine,” Eli protested.

                “It’s everyone’s job to help people. I just get to do it on a bigger scale. Today, so can you.”

                Eli stayed silent for a long moment, before pushing himself a few more inches up. “You’ll fix my legs?”

                “We’ll have to, you’re going to need your focus for what’s ahead,” Titan told him.

                “What about jail?”

                “Like I said, it’s pretty obvious you didn’t kill anyone, so that’s in your favor. I’ve already gotten word from the DVA that if you’re willing to pitch in on saving those people, they’re willing to be lenient on you. You may even be able to get on some sort of work release, there’s bound to be plenty of people who could use your abilities. And on top of all of that, I’ll personally speak on your behalf if your case goes to trial. I might not be the most popular Hero around anymore, but people tend to listen when we say someone isn’t beyond saving. So you tell me, Eli, are you too far gone?”

                “N… no. I’ll take the deal. Patch me up, then show me what you want destroyed.”

                “Wonderful. Oh, and Eli, this probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: if you try and double-cross me or hurt anyone, I’ll break a lot more than your legs.”

                “You’re right, it did go without saying,” Eli replied.

                “Glad to hear. Dispatch, this is Titan, I need Fix-It brought to my location as soon as possible. We’ve got a way to get this situation under control.”