First time reading? Start at the beginning here.
Yuna Kwon stood in the parking lot with her arms crossed, shivering. Her damp leotard clung even tighter than usual, and she could feel the water that had worked its way inside her tall leather boots. She’d wrung out her cape twice already, and it was still soaked, heavier than usual as it hung from her shoulders. She’d be able to ignore it all if she had something to do, but she was just standing there, waiting.
At least she’d managed to get the crowd to retreat to a safe distance. Trying to get their attention had been like trying to corral a class of kindergartners, but Yuna had finally conjured the image of a fifty-foot billboard that read “BACK UP!” in flashing red letters, and that had done the trick. And it was just in time, because the emergency vehicles had arrived less than a minute later. Paramedics had reached the injured people in the lobby, and the whole building was surrounded by police cars and fire trucks, their sirens flashing. Unless the supervillains could turn invisible, they had no chance of making it past all of this.
She heard the unmistakable sound of a helicopter and looked up. Had the news already found out about the attack and sent a chopper? She squinted but didn’t see a channel logo. When the helicopter was directly over the building, it started to descend. It was landing on the roof! Had someone ordered a medevac? No, that didn’t make sense either. It was too soon. Besides, it didn’t look like a medevac copter. It didn’t have a red cross or any kind of designation on the side. It was plain gray and looked vaguely military.
Yuna got a very bad feeling.
When Dave saw Joey Giordano, he froze. All he could remember was the last time he’d seen the man, when he’d been holding Dave’s head ruthlessly under the water. By the time Dave came back to the present, Giordano’s fist slammed into him like a stampeding elephant.
Dave stumbled back, grabbed the handrail for balance, and accidentally ripped it from the wall. Giordano bore down on him, and Dave flung up his arm to block the man’s next punch. He’d met wrecking balls with less force behind them. The tear gas must have been to blame. Giordano’s strength increased in relation to how much pain he felt, and if the wet tears on his face were any indication, he was hurting. But in Dave’s opinion, he wasn’t hurting enough.
Dave swung the section of metal handrail he’d torn free like a club. Giordano ducked, but not fast enough. The metal bar nailed him in the head. As Giordano lurched to the side, Dave lunged up two steps and hit him with an uppercut. Dave felt the crack of Giordano’s teeth slamming together, and the blow knocked his head back. But Dave didn’t stop there. He hammered punch after punch into Giordano’s stomach.
Normally, Dave fought to incapacitate and no more, but now, he didn’t hold back. He poured every bit of helplessness and fear he’d felt at Giordano’s hands into his punches. Each blow was fueled by the burning tightness in his chest, the lingering nightmares, the pitying looks of his friends and colleagues. He hit Giordano with everything he had.
And Giordano grew all the stronger for it.
Dave’s knuckles sank deep into Giordano’s gut at first. But with each consecutive punch, Giordano’s abdomen grew harder and stronger. By the time Dave realized his mistake, he was barely making a dent in the man.
Giordano backhanded him, and Dave went tumbling down the stairs and hit the wall. He tried to get back up, but his head was spinning, and he couldn’t get his arms to work. Giordano stalked down the stairs towards him. His designer suit was rumpled, and his shirt had come untucked. He rubbed his jaw and sneered.
“Superhero,” he spat. “I don’t know what the hell you did to deserve that title. You’re just a dipshit celebrity who screws things up for the rest of us.”
Dave put a hand on the wall to support himself as he lumbered to his feet. Pains ignited all over his body, and he swallowed. “And you’re—” he wheezed, “You just like hurting people.”
If the List got out, it would hurt a lot of people. Dave was the only one here who could stop that from happening. He couldn’t fail. He looked past Giordano to the empty stairs leading upward. Had Blueblood and the Black Valentine already reached their helicopter and escaped? Dave had let himself get distracted taking out his frustrations on Giordano. With so many people depending on him, that was unforgivable. He had to get to the roof.
Giordano reached the bottom step, and Dave pushed off the wall and swung at him. Giordano blocked the sloppy punch effortlessly and socked him in the face. Dave had leaned back, so the fist didn’t strike his cheek as hard as it could have, but it still rattled his skull. He pretended to stumble back, leading Giordano closer to the flight of downward stairs.
Giordano’s next punch aimed for his gut, and Dave dodged sluggishly, letting it glance off his ribs. He winced and saw a brief opening where Giordano left his head unguarded. But Dave didn’t strike. Instead, he backed up further, deliberately swaying in an attempt to make it look like he was about to collapse. Giordano closed in for what he must have expected to be the finishing blow. He put all his significant strength behind the swing, overextending himself.
Dave snaked around the fist, swept Giordano’s leg, and threw him—down the stairs. Giordano bounced and rolled towards the ninth floor, and Dave didn’t wait to see where he would stop. He rushed towards the roof. The throw would only stun Giordano, not stop him, but Dave didn’t need to win this particular battle. He just needed to stop Blueblood and Val from getting away.
He ran up the stairs and desperately hoped he wasn’t already too late.
Tune in next week for a rooftop confrontation and Val’s POV. Will anything explode? What’s the damage counter for this episode, anyway? The first floor of the DSA building is going to need remodeling after those SUVs smashed through the front doors, and there’s all that tear gas upstairs. I wonder how long it takes tear gas to dissipate. Are they going to have to replace all the carpet because of a lingering acidic smell that still hangs around weeks later?
There’s definitely a story to be told about the poor janitor who has to clean up all these superpowered messes. Like Marvel’s Damage Control, but on a much smaller scale.
Anyway, has anyone seen Justice League? I’ve read mainly lukewarm reviews, so I didn’t rush to see it last weekend, though I’ll probably still catch it in theaters at some point.