The team drifted through the streets like a strand of loose cobwebs, using the grappling guns to secure themselves to the street and what walls were still upright The cables strained against the force from Davy Jones’ aura, which dragged the heroes up the street. Guardian Angel took a deep breath, forcing the sluggish air into his lungs.
“Releasing,” called Tipping Point. The grappling hook whirred as he reeled in the anchor.
Guardian Angel’s stomach rebelled as the slack in his line was let out all at once and he lurched backwards, pushed by the current. He struggled to regain his bearings, and managed to pull himself upright with the grappling gun that connected him to the ground. He heard a splash behind him.
“Anchored,” declared Tipping Point.
Guardian Angel noticed that he was now the farthest behind. He took another deep breath.
“Releasing,” he said, and flicked the switch that locked the anchor. His body jerked backwards as the tension from the line released all at once. With a whirr, the device in his hands spooled in the anchor, and he almost lost his grip on it again when the round metal plug slammed back into place.
The world spun around him in slow-motion as the force from the grappling gun pushed him backwards.
“Ugh,” he gasped.
Basilisk laughed. “Third law’s a bitch.”
“Only if you’re talking about Newton,” Pitfall said. “Second law of thermodynamics wins that contest any day.”
“Man, for a moment I thought I got the joke,” Guardian Angel said, still queasy.
I guess that’s their way of dealing with the stress.
He extended his wings in an attempt to stop his rotation, and managed to stop himself before he turned upside-down.
“That’s one way to do it,” commented Tipping Point. “Man, I am so jealous of you guys who can fly.”
“You could fly once or twice,” said Pitfall.
“Yeah, but not consistently,” Tipping Point complained. “I never had time to have any real fun with it.”
Guardian Angel maneuvered himself around to face forward and fired off his grappling gun again. The anchor splashed through the water that continued to run up the hill and held firm on the asphalt. He paused for a few seconds before remembering to give the signal for the next person.
“Looks like I’m next,” said Basilisk. Guardian Angel could hear the whirr as Basilisk reeled in his anchor. He looked over in time to see the other hero fire it at the wall of a building ahead of them that had withstood Davy Jones.
“Hold on, guys,” said Basilisk. He used his free hand to adjust the lenses mounted on his mask. “There’s someone there. I think-” he cut off mid-sentence. “Shit, it’s him.”
Guardian Angel followed Basilisk’s gaze down the street and spotted the figure stumbling through the rubble. His silhouette was distinctive- unmistakably Davy Jones, or what had once been Davy Jones, but he didn’t look how Guardian Angel had pictured a Nightmare would. He was imagining something more dramatic, some terrifying eltrich creature drifting through the ruined streets. Instead, it just looked drunk.
“Head towards the ground. We’ll be harder to spot down there,” said Paragon.
The team collectively pulled themselves down to street level and landed with a splash. They continued their approach, quieter now.
Only a few moments later, Tide of Sky spotted them. As he whipped around to face them, he stumbled over a chunk of rebar-studded concrete that was drifting past. The street beneath them rumbled and the current shifted, now pushing sideways.
“Oh shit,” Tipping Point said as a shadow crept over them.
Guardian Angel looked up to see that one of the buildings overlooking the street had broken at the fifth floor, and drifted out over the street.
“Portaling,” shouted Pitfall, who detached his anchor and fired it through the portal he had created on a nearby wall. “Everyone through!”
The ascender on the grappling gun started to pull the heroes through the portal. Basilisk got through the portal first and started pulling the others through. Tipping Point, and Pitfall followed, being next in the line. The line connecting Guardian Angel to Tipping Point pulled him toward the portal, and Paragon was dragged along behind him. The current changed again, driving them straight down into the street. The building dropped towards them, threatening to crush them underneath.
Paragon threw out a hand and grabbed Guardian Angel’s arm.
“Fight the good fight, son,” he said as the glow around him faded.
The building landed. Guardian Angel’s whole body shook with the sound of the crash and his vision went dark. And then, there was silence, except for the ringing in his ears and the tinny sound of his own breath. Claustrophobia clutched at him, making his heart race. His breathing became rapid, panicked.
Have to get out. I’ll get crushed. Have to get out!
Guardian Angel flailed, pushing out with his wings to get himself some space. The rubble shifted easily to his frantic scrabbling. Bricks and chunks of concrete ground against the forcefield that shimmered half an inch above his skin as he climbed up through the rubble.
Light hit his eyes and he was blinded for a moment. In one final burst of energy, he heaved himself out of the rubble to flop atop the the ruined building. He gasped for breath for a moment, lungs pumping furiously, to no avail. The light that had blinded him moments ago started to fade as the edges of his vision went dark.
What’s happening? Why can’t I-
The glow around him faded away and his vision cleared. His gasping finally seemed to deliver much-needed oxygen.
What happened? He wondered as he recovered. The harness was gone, he noticed, and a few blocks away, he could see Tipping Point and his team approaching Tide of Sky from behind with the grappling hooks.
Where’s Paragon? Where’s-
He could feel the blood drain from his face. No. No, no, NO! Oh fuck.
He leapt to his feet and started to dig once more, with just as much urgency as before.
He gave me his shield. That’s why I couldn’t breathe. That’s why I wasn’t crushed.
“Help!” he shouted towards the others, heedless of the danger. “Paragon is still under here.”
If the shield is gone… Guardian Angel didn’t finish the thought; couldn’t.
Tide of Sky wheeled around, and the current shifted, lifting Guardian Angel off his feet.
A change came over Guardian Angel and he found that he was angry. He flared out his wings, stopping himself cold and pivoted to face Tide of Sky. He pushed back with his wings and flung himself forwards, crossing the space between them in the blink of an eye. The Nightmare stared him in the eyes, face frozen in a rictus of terror.
A blade punched out of the Nightmare’s back, bloodless, and glowing with light. Guardian Angel looked down and was surprised to see the hilt of the blade gripped in his fist. He let go, and Tide of Sky slumped to the ground, sword of glowing golden light stuck fast through his heart. The heroes drifted down the few inches to the ground, landing awkwardly in the ankle-deep water. The flow of water reversed, flowing down the street now, back into the ocean.
Two, Guardian Angel thought dumbly. A numbness started to creep over him and he let his arms hang limply at his sides as they grew heavier. He felt like he was being pressed down into the ground as gravity reasserted itself.