Portal – Prelude II

Atomic Power was one of the great unknowns of the 20th century. His arrival as an Enhanced hero in the late seventies was met with skepticism. The early Enhanced were nothing like the heroes of the comic books. One of the first flyers named himself Superman. That moniker did not last long. He was sued by the large comic book company that owned the name and was ordered to pay millions. He had to leave crime fighting to others and become a local traffic reporter, giving updates as he flew over the city in order to pay his legal bills. After that debacle, many Enhanced hired intellectual property lawyers before revealing themselves. It made the life of an Enhanced hero very expensive even before any endorsements or bounties could be cashed.

Enhanced that were strong and resilient were nicknamed Tanks by the press. Tanks, like Steel Spike, were kings in the underworld and bar rooms but they suffered disadvantages in open combat against other Enhanced. Criminal Tanks were used to bullying weaker Enhanced or mundanes that used power to control their criminal empires. Against a Flyer, Speedster, or Elementalist, the Tank would have to rely on endurance and patience to get into hand to hand combat or get lucky with hurling an object massive enough to hurt their opponent. Once combat went hand to hand, Tanks were always the favorite to emerge the winner. Against a powerful Mentalist, an Enhanced that could use a variety of mental powers to attack an opponent, a Tank would be lucky not to collapse immediately as a drooling idiot unless they had the element of surprise.

Atomic Power was the complete package, a Tank, a Flyer, and a Elementalist but also a patient strategist.  Steel Strike could not use fire like Orbital Strike or cold like Valkyrie, so his options were limited outside. He would likely want to fight inside the bank where he could engage at close range. Atomic Power would prefer to engage Steel Spike at range with his own plasma beams to limit collateral damage but he was not afraid of getting up close and personal.

“Steel Spike,” boomed Atomic Power, turning his head to the bank. Waves of green energy burst from his body as he moved. “You are under arrest for felony murder. Come out and surrender,  now.”

The waves of energy continued to pulse from Atomic Power. He knew Steel Spike was a powerful Enhanced and was charging up for the first attack. His instinct was confirmed as a safe flew out of the window of the bank. The safe would have crushed a mundane or even many Enhanced but bounced harmlessly off Atomic Power’s shield of energy and landed with a loud crash and large divot in the street.

“Very well,” replied Atomic Power in his typical unemotional voice to himself.

Atomic Power lifted off the ground a few inches and flew through the side of the bank that the vault had emerged from. The glass shattered, the metal frame bent, and the facade exploded as his body rocketed into the building. Several loud roars and thuds were accompanied by bright bursts of green light before another large object was tossed on the street. Steel Spike landed head first on the asphalt, his body flipping end over end while his arms flopped over. Atomic Power emerged, floating gently over the ground from the bank and landed next to the fallen criminal. Steel Spike was hurt but now angry and standing up. He swore loudly in his native Romanian as he sucker punched Atomic Power. The green glowing Enhanced was launched uncontrollably down the street, skipping off the asphalt of Wilshire Boulevard before crashing into the building the LAPD snipers were on.

Thomas and Javier fell over on their sides as the building shook like a powerful earthquake was hitting it. They knew Atomic Power was below them and could see Steel Spike charging down the street. Thomas grabbed his rifle and looked down the scope when a beam of green energy hit the Enhanced criminal. The blast lifted Steel Spike off his feet and immediately propelled his giant steel body backwards. Steel Spike disappeared in the smoke and dust coming from the bank as his body crashed into the destroyed facade. Atomic Power was floating back to the middle of street when Steel Spike emerged again. The front of the bank building collapsed as he charged through the support pillars at Atomic Power.

Thomas was ready just as Steel Spike reemerged from the cloud of dust. His rifle was perfectly lined up on his target. The .308 caliber round roared from the Remington at almost 800 meters per second as he evenly squeezed the trigger. The crowd cheered as they heard the shot but screamed when they realized Steel Spike was still standing.

“What the hell are you doing?” asked Javier looking back at his partner.

“I took the shot,” answered Thomas confused by the question.

Steel Spike had taken a step back at the sound of the shot and was wiping his eyes as the dust was spreading. Atomic Power was down on his knees, his hands gripping the armored helmet on his head. His green light was pulsing erratically as glowing fluid dripped between his fingers to the asphalt. For the first time since his Reveal, Steel Spike was truly afraid.

“Ceasefire, 44 David!” screamed the radio in Thomas’s ear.

“What is …,” asked Thomas. He never finished his question nor did his partner finish drawing his .45 ACP from his holster.

A blast of green energy burst from Rampart and Wilshire Boulevards when Atomic Power exploded, engulfing block after block of the city. The crowds gathered at MacArthur Park saw a brilliant flash of light and were vaporized milliseconds later. The skyscrapers in downtown Los Angeles shook and crumpled as the winds and heat pummeled relentlessly from the west. The baseball, basketball, and football stadiums around the city were empty at the time of the explosion but were disintegrated or burned down in the firestorm after. Millions of people reported seeing the mushroom cloud hanging over Los Angeles on that day before fleeing Southern California.