For ease of reading, I've created a new page that pulls together the full City of Heroes: The Rikti War experience. So, if you need to catch up, you can go here at any time. You can also find it as a perma-link from the homepage of this blog.
But enough with the housekeeping, time to beware of the bad language and catch up the Heroes.
“Take them down!” Tara cried out at the top of her lungs “We’ve got to that them away from the city!” She and her fellow flyers were darting through the clouds, desperately trying to bait and divert the Rikti ships over the water and away from the residential areas of Talos island.
“This is Frozen Phoenix. Terra Volta is secure. I repeat Terra Volta is secure. And… spidery” Jain’s voice crackled out of her earpiece.
“What the hell?” She pushed two fingers to her earpiece as she took refuge in a low hanging cloud. She couldn’t stay there long without causing hail to start falling, but it would give her a moment to talk away from the barrage of fire bolts, sonic beams and luminescent projectiles being flung left right and centre by her squad.
“The War Walls will be up in sixty.”
“Ok, ok. But what’s this about spiders?” Tara looked stressed and confused.
“That little jail break you guys pulled just won us one hell of an ally”
It suddenly dawned on her “…Recluse.”
“Yeah” Jain’s voice crackled again as a nearby blaster sent out an electromagnetic pulse.
“He’s got control of Terra Volta and he’s going to keep it that way.”
“Ok. That’s good. I guess… that’s good. Priority one now is to get any civilians in Talos Island to safety.”
“We use the sewers, just like you did for the Metas. Those things go everywhere in the city. We’ve got an hour before we’re really noticed. We get the people into the sewers and we get them running.” Jain sounded commanding, his military training coming out and all thoughts of Ghost Widow in beachwear behind him.
Tara nodded, her fingers still to her earpiece. “We could use the controllers to get the message out.” She paused, long enough to tap an interface on the back of her left glove, but before she even had to relay a message, she had a reply and it was right there in her head.
“Give us three minutes.” A girl with blank white eyes, Sensor, stared up to exactly the cloud Tara was hidden in, even though she couldn’t see her. “Everyone will know. They’re all connected now” Sensor closed her eyes. It was like a ripple. The herd of terrified people streaking towards the Green Line monorail station started to stop one by one, as if they could hear something. Sensor had reached out and the psychics were creating a net to catch every last human on Talos Island.
“You need to get back here.” Tara contacted Jain once more. “We need more firepower.”
“We’ll get those ships going. You’ve got them worried, they’re not dropping the soldiers, they’re trying to pick you off first.” Jain looked to Kai “Do you remember what happened under Talos Statue?”
“I remember.” Kai nodded solemnly. Everything in his body remembered taking the true form of the demon that inhabited his body. He felt it, even from his prison in a cavern below Perez Park.
“Well they don’t. They know what to expect from Heroes here. They have no clue what our villains can do.”
Kai let him have that one. Pyrerain was always going to be a villain.
“Let them find out.” Jain smiled as they soared into range of a Rikti gunner ship.
“My pleasure.” Kai nodded as the sight of bolt after bolt of green plasma smashing through clouds and buildings alike caught his eye.
“Tara…” Jain spoke quietly, so she would listen “Sky High.”
Her eyes widened. She hadn’t heard that term ever actually being used in the field. On the ground, Sensor tilted her head as if she could feel the sudden shift in Triblaze.
Tara took a deep breath “This is Triblaze to all flyers. Sky High. I repeat. Sky High.” In an instant, every hero over Talos Island stopped and hung mid-air; processing the order they’d just been given. They’d all been trained, but no one had ever done it. Like missiles they shot up after each other, pushing through the air as fast as their powers would allow them; disappearing from the firing angles of the Rikti ships they were fighting.
“…fuck it…” Tara whispered, took a deep breath and summoned every ounce of strength in her body. She could feel the electro-magnetism in the air, hanging there, useless to anyone without control of electrical forces. She gathered it, pulling it into her core like a battery on charge and then in one single action shunted every charged atom away from herself, punched a hole through the cloud above her and rocketed up into the sky.
Jain saw the lightning bolt first. It shot down from a cloud just above a warehouse and then a moment later the lingering sound of a sonic boom, crossed the water and hit Independence Port. Jain stared at the empty sky where the heroes had been. He prayed to God that they’d made it high enough to be out of range for what was coming next. “Sensor, you’re in charge. Make sure not a single citizen is left out here.” She didn’t answer, her mind was elsewhere. But he felt something in the back of his head that told her she knew what he’d said. Jain looked back towards Talos Island proper, where a single troop ship was preparing to land. “Are you ready for this?” Jain glanced to Kai.
“It’s been a while.” Kai smiled “To be fair, I’ve never done this before. My body has. The rest of me…” He shrugged “Worst thing that happens; I burst into a ball of flames and you’re down one demon.”
“If that does happen, make sure you aim for something useful.” Jain forced a smile, realising in that moment that he was starting to like him. Huh, who’d have thought?
“You got it!” Kai laughed to himself but then looked to Jain “Listen, if I do this and it goes…” He paused before restarting “If I do this and I become him again. I want you to make sure I’m finished properly this time. And I want you to swear that it won’t be her who has to do it.”
Jain nodded just once, he didn’t have to words to do anything else.
“Alright” Kai slowed, until eventually he was hovering about a mile clear of Talos Island “Don’t get too close.” Jain moved his eyes over him and floated 50 yards or so away. “More!” Kai’s voice carried to him on the wind despite their earpieces. Jain wasn’t going to argue and backed up to an even hundred. He watched as Kai’s eyes closed; ten years of pent up rage filling his features. So this is what it’s like to see a demon take over, Jain thought to himself whimsically. It always seemed more sexy in the movies. He found himself wondering if Kai would sprout horns, even when the man was curling into a twisted bundle of pain in the air. But his musing was interrupted abruptly as a ball of fire erupted from Kai’s body. Jain cursed without realising, instinct taking over. Within half a second his eyes were closed and his skin was coated in three inches of ice. A good thing too, as when the fire hit him he’d never felt anything like it. If it had lasted any longer, even his powers wouldn’t have held out. A moment later the fire had passed and he was utterly drenched; all three inches melted and dripping from him. Jain cursed again, a stronger word this time, and forced his eyes open. His jaw dropped. He’d seen it ten years ago at a distance, but never this close. Where Kai had been there was a full size, golden and red Chinese dragon bathed in flames. It curled around itself in the air; the picture of infinity. All along its length, heat shimmered from under its scales. He had to give it to Pyrerain. He’d had good taste in picking a form to scare the shit out of people. Jain couldn’t help himself. He pushed his fingers to his earpiece. “So Rayne. Is that your final evolution? Or do I still need to take you to Pokémon day care?” The dragon didn’t answer, but he heard a laugh in his head at the exact moment it’s black inkwell eyes moved to him.
“A few trips around Kanto and I’ll be fine.”
“You know that party trick is dangerous right? Nearly melted me.”
“Women like the wet look. You should be grateful.” The voice laughed again. Jain couldn’t help but join in.
“I can’t even tell you to get your ass moving. Do dragons have asses?”
“You don’t want to know.”
Continued in Chapter 8 here