Chapter 249

               Emerald Hydra knocked away the pieces of concrete effortlessly, not even bothering to raise a shield. Across the courtyard, past the ruined rubble remains of what had once been a very scenic fountain, her opponent seethed in frustration. The man had power; there was no question about that. His amplification had brought him into the upper echelon of telekinetic Supers. In terms of raw force, he’d have blown away even Mary. And, were they brute fighters, that might have been enough to win the day, but telekinetic battles were about far more than raw mental strength. Coordination, focus, and a high level of precision were also key factors, factors that weren’t achieved by simply being handed a boost in power.

                Around her, dozens upon dozens of pieces of rubble rose from the ground, far more than any other telekinetic would have been able to wield well. That was why she had taken a moniker with the name “Hydra” in it, after all. Like the ancient beast of legends, she could attack from nearly countless directions.

                The rubble zipped about, slamming ineffectively against his shield. She continued the assault until the chunks of rock were mere pebbles, then sent a telekinetic blast of raw force right up the middle, slamming into the front of his shield. As the rocks were tumbling to the ground, Emerald Hydra made a small click in the side of her mouth. It was almost inaudible, even if one had been standing right next to her. From across the courtyard, it would have been impossible to notice.

                “That was a good effort, but I think it’s my tu—” His words were cut off by the spray of blood as his head, and the mighty brain within it, dissolved into a wet, red mist.

                “Silly novices. They always drop their shields between assaults to save energy. Nice shot, Impact.”

                “Thanks for wearing him down,” Impact’s voice said in her ear. “Black Hole and Seamstress have pretty much taken care of the bug shifter. That just leaves the strongman, though I don’t think he’ll be an issue much longer.”

*             *             *

                “Who the hell are you?” spat the man as he pulled himself up from the ground. He was rubbing his jaw in obvious pain, and the surprise in his eyes spoke to how confused he was to have been even remotely bothered by the blow.

                “Damn, my agent is going to be pissed there are still people out there who don’t know I’m back.” He shook his head and let out a theatrically long sigh. “I’m a lot of things, to answer your question. A father who cashed in favors to watch his son’s exam. A Hero who happened to be in town when your little dome shot up. A Super who could use a good fight, if you can actually offer one. But all of that is a bit cumbersome to say, so why don’t you go ahead and call me Titan.”

                “Titan? He quit forever ago.” The wild smile reappeared on his face, and he stopped rubbing his jaw. “You’re a fake, or you’re out of practice. Either way, you won’t get another lucky blow.”

                “Glad they still make thugs as dumb as they used to.” Titan glanced down at Roy, who was watching the fight as much to take his mind off the pain as out of curiosity. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of this guy in no time, and we’ll get you to a healer.”

                “No need to rush on my account,” Roy said.

                Before they could banter any more, the man with the warped skin and strange spikes barreled forward, rearing back and slamming Titan’s face with a blow so strong Roy could hear it connect. To his surprise, to his shock, Roy then saw something he’d never witnessed in all of his father’s fights. Titan actually took a step back from the force of the blow.

                “God damn, you are pretty strong,” Titan remarked before he returned the blow, punching his opponent right in the shoulder. Unlike Titan, the strongman didn’t merely step back; he was hurled ten feet through the grass. “Looks like you can’t take it quite as well as you give it though. Too bad for you; since you tried to kill my boys, I’m not exactly in the mood to hold back.”

                The man was scrambling to his feet when Titan drove another fist into his back, sending him several inches deep into the grass. Titan reached down and lifted the ultra-dense man up by the shoulder as easily as he’d hold a sack of groceries. He held him aloft, then proceeded to slam a fist into his torso. Even from several feet away, Roy could hear the sickening crack of the man’s ribs.

                “Being a Super is a lot like playing rock-paper-scissors on a grand scale,” Titan lectured as he cracked his opponent’s sternum with another punch. “For example, no matter how strong you might be, a good mental attack would still put you down. I bet there are students here that could have beaten you, no problem, just because they had paper to your rock. That’s why none of us are truly invincible, you see. Not you, not my boy over there, not even me. Someone out there always has a trump card that beats our power.”

                Titan reached down and grabbed the man’s leg, squeezing it like Roy’s bat had been squeezed only moments prior. Unlike the bat, the leg made a sickening series of pops and cracks as it was distorted out of shape.

                “That said, in a contest of rock versus rock, it all comes down to which one is stronger. And too bad for you, dipshit, I’m always the strongest rock.” Titan reared back and delivered a straight jab right to the man’s face. The body went limp in his hand as he passed out, but Titan had managed to avoid killing him. Crude and cruel a method as it was, snapping bones let him see how much damage his opponent could take, and allowed him to deliver knockout punches instead of killing ones.

                He flipped the man over his shoulder and headed back to his son, still lying in the grass. “How’s the shoulder?”

                “Going to need a healer or a few hours to be usable again,” Roy admitted. He hefted himself off the ground, picking up his now-deformed bat as he did. His shoulder groaned in pain, but Roy ignored it. He refused to show weakness, especially in front of his father, of all people.

                “Lucky thing I saw that guy’s dirt cloud. I was up here looking for you and decided to check it out.”

                “Yeah . . . thanks, I guess.” Roy grit his teeth and used even more willpower than he’d have thought he possessed, turning to look his father in the eyes. “I mean, thank you. For saving my life. Whatever else is between us, you protected me, and I appreciate it.”

                Titan appraised his son carefully, taking in the sight of him facing the father he hated and offering genuine thanks for what he’d done. He’d kept careful tabs on his boys since they entered the HCP, and he knew how far each of them had come in terms of power and achievements. But even being keenly aware of every challenge they’d overcome, he couldn’t think of a single time he’d been more proud of Roy than in that moment.

                “This place has really helped you grow up,” Titan said at last.

                “Had to happen sooner or later. Now, let’s find a healer already.” Roy turned and began walking through campus, the legendary Titan and his most recent victim following several steps behind.