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Previously: City On Fire, Part 4: The Man Behind the Curtain
CITY ON FIRE
A Crack In the Stone
Jon stood in the center of a recently trashed bar; several bodies strewn throughout. This was another Butchers' hangout and – like last time – they were taken by surprise, when they found their guns were useless.
He looked at his hole ridden shirt and shook his head. “I really need ta' find somethin' more durable.”
He heard the door into the bar open and said aloud, “Sorry, but this pub be closed for renovations.”
“I can see that, Jonny-boy,” said a familiar voice.
Jon turned around to find Lonnie “Tombstone” Lincoln standing before him. “Lonnie. Long time. Thought ya were locked up.”
“Some well-greased palms and here I am.”
“Aye, here ya are... 'n just what are ya doin' here? How'd ya find me?”
“Silent alarm. I figured it had to be you, seein' how this place is crawlin' with Butchers... well, was crawlin'.”
“Are ya one of them? Has the great 'n mighty Tombstone lowered himself ta' hangin' with two-bit gangs? Are ya that hard-up for money?”
Tombstone chortled, as he cracked his knuckles. “Same old Jonny. Can't help but shoot your mouth off, can ya?”
Jon clenched his fists, as he lowered his stance. “Ya know me: I just love a good chat.”
Both men hurled themselves at each other, closing the gap between them in an instant. Tombstone managed to get under Jon and rammed his shoulder into his stomach; lifting him off his feet and slamming him into a wall.
Christ, I forgot how hard he hits!
Jon quickly reached down and grabbed him by the waist. With one quick heave that would make a professional wrestler proud, he hoisted Tombstone into the air; rolling him onto his shoulders. With all his strength, he power-bombed him through one of the tables.
Tombstone laughed, as he got to his feet and brushed himself off. “Pretty good, Jonny,” He took off his nice slightly-torn jacket and threw it across the room. “I ain't had a good brawl in a long time. Do me a favor and keep it up.”
“Anythin' ya say,” said Jon, as he threw a wide right hook.
Tombstone blocked it with his forearm. Using the opening, he landed a jab across Jon's face; followed by a left hook and then a tremendous uppercut.
Jon flew into the air and landed atop the bar. While he tried to regain his bearings, an elbow crashing onto his stomach knocked the wind out of him. On instinct, he rolled onto the floor behind the bar, as Tombstone's fist punched a hole where his head was.
Jon spat a glob of blood on the floor , as he tried to get to his feet. Good God, this hurts! Come on, lad. Focus!
“Come on, Jon,” Tombstone yelled. “Don't tell me I got all excited for this. Guess that little mishap of yours really messed up your game.”
Jon's eyes flared with an intense red, as he pushed himself to his feet. He tilted his head, until he felt a pop in his neck. He could see the smile smeared across Tombstone's face.
“I take it, this is what ya wanted?”
Tombstone rolled his shoulders and held up his fists. “Oh yeah. Show me what ya got.”
Jon wasted no time, as he hurdled over the bar and landed a kick against Tombstone's chest; sending him across the room, into the wall. Jon could feel the energy built up in his muscles, from all the hits he took. He could feel it crackling in the foot he used on Tombstone.
Without pause, he sprinted across the room and landed a hard right in Tombstone's gut. As he doubled over, Jon brought his knee up into his face. He began to pummel him, with his old boxing combos: Body blow, body blow, left hook, jab, jab, right hook. Each hit was full of kinetic energy Jon had built up through being shot all day and the beating he'd just received.
He took a step back and looked upon Tombstone; who staggered where he stood.
“It has been a long time,” Jon exerted with a heavy sigh. “Long enough for ya ta' forget how my powers work.”
He stepped back in for another swing, but was unprepared for the sudden impact to his groin.
“I didn't forget nothin',” said Tombstone, as he pulled his leg back from kicking Jon in the crotch. “It wouldn't be any fun, if I killed you so easily.”
Tombstone reared his head back, before planting it in Jon's face; flooring him into a table. He shook his head, as he used the wall for support.
“I just had to know, Jonny. I had to know which of us was best. Old man Manfredi thought it was you. You, with your stupid rules. Your oh so pious morality.”
Tombstone staggered over to Jon and stomped his foot onto his chest. “You thought you were better than the rest of us. Didn't you, you little sh**?”
He swung his foot across Jon's face. “You're a killer, Jonny-boy; just like me. Just like the rest of us.”
With all his might, he punted Jon in his ribs; sending him rolling through the debris of tables, chairs and over a couple bodies. With a wide grin on his face, he strolled over to Jon.
“You kill one stupid b**ch and you puss out; blame us, like we made you do it.”
Kicking scraps of splintered wood out of his way, Tombstone knelt beside Jon and grabbed him gently by the throat. “Well, we didn't make you do it.”
His grip tightened, as he lifted Jon to his face; so he could look him in the eyes. “You pulled the trigger, Jon... you splattered that nun's brains all over the pavement.”
Jon's hand flew up on it's own and struck Tombstone under the jaw. There was a loud crunch, as he stumbled back. He was surprised to find his jaw had been broken.
Jon rose to his feet. The fist that struck Tombstone glowed with red energy; the bones in his hand showed through the bright translucent skin.
“Ta' Hell with ya!,” he spat, as the energy faded from his hand and began to manifest in the other. It radiated stronger and spread all the way to his elbow.
Tombstone stared in awe, as he managed to mutter, “That's new.”
Jon lunged forward and struck Tombstone in the chest, with every ounce of energy he could muster. A boom like a shotgun blast erupted through the room, as red energy sprouted through gashes in Jon's arm. Once again, Tombstone flew across the room into the wall; this time crashing through it, into the middle of the street.
He laid there, as he stared at the sky above him. He felt something come up from his throat and spill over his lips, as the taste of copper lingered on his tongue. “Am I bleedin'? Damn, I'm bleedin'. I haven't bled in a long time.”
Eventually, Jon staggered into his view. His arm was dripping with blood and his eyes almost seemed empty.
“I-I don't think I can m-move... Jonny-boy,” Tombstone wheezed. “Think ya might've p-paralyzed me.”
Jon fell to his knees, beside him. "If only," Jon sighed. "You'll be up 'n about, before ya know it and causin' more grief for the police."
“Don't I know it,” he chuckled through a bloody gurgle. “Guess w-we know who's better, eh?”
Jon just shook his head. "What's goin' on, Lon? Ya'd never work for a bunch of jackasses like the Butchers. Who's payin' yer tab?"
”Look who's mister curious, all of a sudden. Askin' questions was never high on your priority list before."
"Things change. Now, tell me. Ya owe me that much for kickin' yer ass."
Tombstone let out a laugh so hard it made him cough up more blood. "You always knew how to make me... *cough!*... laugh. You may be better than me - right now - but don't expect me to tell you sh**."
Jon's head slumped with frustration. "Look: Ya tell me what I wanna know 'n I'll drag ya away from here; give ya some time ta' get on yer feet, before the cops get here."
Tombstone raised an eyebrow at the offer. "Heh, fine. Lean in and I'll whisper it in your ear."
Jon looked bemused.
"Come on, Jonny. I wasn't lyin', when I said I couldn't move and I sure as hell ain't gonna blurt it out for all to hear. Either you lean in or go screw."
Jon's shoulders drooped in defeat, as he leaned in. “I'm listenin'.”
Tombstone whipped his arm up and caught Jon under the chin with a powerful punch; knocking him to the ground.
“God, you're an idiot!” Tombstone laughed maniacally, as he slumped onto his back again. “I can't believe how freakin' stupid you are!”
Jon laid on the ground, as he too stared at the sky. “Ya always were an a**hole, Lon."
"Ha! And don't you forget it."
Jon pushed himself back onto his knees and shrugged the punch off. Tombstone was still laughing like a little kid who just tossed a toad down a girl's blouse. Jon took what little energy he had left and put it into his good hand.
"Trust me, I won't," he said, before striking him as hard as he could; knocking Tombstone unconscious. Jon went through Tombstone's pockets, as best he could with one hand. He managed to pluck his wallet, as he heard distant sirens.
"Don't worry, Lonnie," he said, as he tucked it into his own pocket. "I'll mail it to ya, once I find out which prison yer goin' ta'."
Jon quickly made his escape, down a nearby alley, as he cradled his bleeding arm. Things hadn't gone entirely as planned, but Jon had learned something new about this gang war: the Butchers and the Princes may be the ones doing all the fighting, but there was definitely someone else involved. Someone so concerned about Jon's actions against the Butchers, they sent Tombstone to take care of him. Lucky for him, they didn't take into account how much of a grudge Tombstone could carry for someone; which usually had him making mistakes.
What ya gonna do know, lad?, he thought. Need ta' get this arm tended to, but I can't exactly go marchin' in'ta the nearest clinic. Hmm, well... I guess there is one place.
NEXT TIME: City on Fire, Part 6: Bad Memories