Director Lehrer sat in the chair next to Michael and stared. He looked so much like Thomas Collins, no wonder Elizabeth obsessed with the young man. But he would take care of that, he only needed to wait until Michael Larson was safely tucked away at Fort Leavenworth and the rest of the world forgot about him.
“Yes, Mr. Larson, or should I just use your real name, Mr. Collins, I hated your father. I wanted Blowtorch and Iron Curtain to kill him and that smart-ass partner of his, but this wasn’t the day.”
Agent Lehrer laughed and smiled with an evil crooked grin. “But it definitely was the day for a local reporter…”
* * *
“We’re hearing about an intense battle between LAPD and two heavily armed suspects,” announced Mark Lemore. “You’ll see this breaking story only on Channel 6, Air Ship 1.”
Mark Lemore, a veteran reporter for Channel 6 was primarily the traffic eyes in the sky but after the police scanner blew up with reports of Enhanced robbing the Bank of Los Angeles, Mark told the pilot to steer the helicopter north along the Hollywood Freeway. He could see police cars from all over the valley trying to converge at the location but the shooters eluded him.
“Mark, do you see them?” called the Steve Alderman through the radio patched in to the television signal. Mark frowned at the interruption. This was his story and he did not want the prick on the anchor chair overshadowing him. “Police are announcing a city-wide tactical alert. All available resources are racing to the scene of a bank robbery in progress against two heavily armed individuals that are battling police. There are confirmed…”
Mark killed the feed from the studio as he told the pilot to slow the helicopter to a hover.
“Sorry to cut you off Steve, but we are at the location of the robbery,” Mark announced as he controlled the bubble cam under the helicopter, panning it down the street. “We have heard reports of Enhanced involvement and we can confirm several cars have been destroyed. Wait. There! There’s one of them. He’s huge and carrying what appears to be AK-47s. He’s firing!”
Mark felt his adrenaline race through his body. These were the types of stories that made a career for a reporter. He scanned around and could see no other aircraft other than the LAPD air unit several hundred feet higher.
“The police are supposed to be surrounding the bank but we see very little movement. The bank robbers are firing randomly at anything that is moving. We also see several burning cars.”
The helicopter’s internal radio lit up.
“News chopper! News chopper!” yelled the pilot of the police air unit. “Get out of there and gain altitude immediately! Those are Enhanced with automatic weapons.”
As the pilot tried to increase power and turn the control stick, Mark reached over and grabbed his wrist.
“Don’t you dare move a muscle or you’re fired,” Mark warned the pilot. “We can stay another minute to get our money shots. We are the news and have every right to be here.”
Mark noticed that the fire elementalist looked up just before he launched a salvo of plasma skyward.
“They’re attacking us,” shouted Mark over the airwaves as hot streams of light arced and struck the helicopter. Most bounced off harmlessly but one ricocheted in through a side window and landed behind the pilot and reporter. Mark swiveled his head as the first flames sparked. “We’re on fire!”
As pilot turned to see what was burning behind him, he never saw Iron Curtain follow the tracers with both machine guns. The bullets ripped through the front canopy, shattering the glass and severing the hydraulic lines. One round struck him in the chest, creating a large exit wound, and continued through the helicopter and embedded in the smoking engine. The weakened pilot slumped over, hitting the throttle and collective. The sudden loss of power and angling of the blades created a loss of lift and unstable flight. The helicopter lurched hard to the left and down.
Channel 6 viewers were stunned and confused as the television image showed the rapidly incoming ground with Mark Lemore screaming all the way down. The signal suddenly cut off.
“Mark? Mark?” asked Steve. “It looks like we’re having technical difficulties with Mark’s feed at the moment so we’ll keep it here in the studio…”
* * *
“Left! Left!” shouted Thomas as Javier pulled on the cruiser steering wheel. They drove hard in the alleyways behind the bank trying to maneuver to a good location to get a shot at Blowtorch. Many of the business were evacuating while others were gawking at the all the commotion. Javier nearly ran down several pedestrians that were more interested in the gunfight than the car about to hit them.
They had finally made around to the north side of the bank in a narrow alleyway when they looked up. Someone was shooting flares at one of the aircraft in the sky, a local news chopper. As smoked started pouring from the cabin, Thomas saw the front canopy disentegrate. The helicopter dropped altitude, flipping on the way down. As it disappeared on the other side of the row of business to the east, he grabbed the radio.
“This is 44 David,” Thomas relayed using his SWAT callsign. “They just shot down an aircraft down one block northeast of the bank. Notify fire to keep away until cleared.”
“Roger, 44 David,” replied the dispatcher.
Whomever she was, Thomas thought, she was earning her pay and then some today.
“Air unit, maintain altitude and keep all aircraft away from the scene,” the dispatcher relayed over the radio. “Fire department is being notified.”
“This way sucks, amigo,” said Javier as he assessed the situation. The surrounding buildings and cinderblock wall left little choice but to run through the alley way. They could not outrun the elementalist’s flames or the AK47s. “If they catch us in here, we’re screwed.”
Thomas looked at his partner and smiled. “We’re the few, the proud, the insanely stupid. Let’s go!”
“I hate you Marines,” Javier snipped as he stepped on the gas.