By .Longshot. 9 Comments
His feet pounded the rooftop. There was no time for grace, and he had no energy left to control himself, only enough to move. The pounding of his feet was muffled by the roar of helicopters overhead, blades slicing the wind. Spotlights whirled around him, but he himself remained a shadow, leaping effortlessly from one rooftop to the next despite being at the edge of exhaustion.
"GIVE IT UP, LONGSHOT!"the loudspeaker boomed from the lead helicopter, "SURRENDER NOW AND THIS WON'T HAVE TO GO ON ANY MORE! KEEP RUNNING, AND WE'LL HAVE TO USE FORCE!"
He kept running. The officer inside the helicopter grimaced and looked back to the gunner. "Bring him down." he ordered reluctantly. It left a bad taste in his mouth. Longshot wasn't the biggest name, but he was a hero, and he had done a lot for the world, and being such a secretive guy, he'd probably done even more than they knew.
The gunner lined up the sight and started firing. Rooftop gravel popped all around the fleeing archer's feet. A bullet struck his quiver and he staggered forward, but he kept moving, unharmed. Bullets whizzed by his head. There was a gap coming, the current building and the next separated by four busy lanes, and he was separated from that street by a hundred feet. If he slowed down enough to turn, he would be shot. If he was shot, it was over. It couldn't be over. Not yet. His foot struck the ledge. No turning back. This was the point where all he could do was commit all the power he had left. He took off. Arms and legs flailing, helicopters baring down on him, he soared above the crowded streets toward the towering glass wall of the office building. He watched one floor after another pass him by as he fell. One. Two. Three. Not good, but he was almost there.
Glass rained through the empty conference room as Longshot tumbled and rolled, coming to a stop beneath the conference table. The searchlights flooded in and the tired, wounded archer scurried into a corner the light missed, catching his breath. Eventually, the light drifted elsewhere. He could hear the helicopters peel off and begin circling the area. He didn't have long, but he needed so desperately to rest, if only for a moment. No sleep in days. That wasn't out of the ordinary for him, but there had been a new series of burdens weighing down his mind, wearing him down more than usual. The archer braced his head in his hands, whispering under his breath, "You screwed up, Paxton... you screwed up... what are you gonna do? What the hell are you going to do?"
FIVE DAYS AGO
There was a riot on the streets of New York. Not a crowd of civilians revolting against some injustice, but a rumbling outburst of costumed criminals, unrepentant repeat-offenders striking out together in a sparsely organized spree of crime and chaos, a mad dash to claim the city and hold it for as long as they could. Broken glass littered the streets. Cars burned and the piles of rubble only grew higher. It had started with the hardened criminals, but now, civilians were getting swept up in the panic. Those who weren't killed or cast aside by the costumed marauders joined in on the smash-and-grab pandemonium. Only so many were wise enough to flee for their lives, and even fewer were capable of doing so.
There were those fighting to restore order, the police, and the only costumed crime-fighter who had yet to make it onto the scene, Longshot. He was making trips beyond the police line, into the fray to retrieve wounded and carry them back across the line to safety. The police weren't bulletproof. Neither was he, but they had procedure to follow. They had families. He could afford to take the risks they couldn't. With each trip, he stopped a few more of the assailants, but the streets were flooded. It was a losing battle. He carried one more bystander back behind the line and then dove right into the chaos. He disarmed and incapacitated each threat he came across. He recognized certain faces and costumes in the free-for-all, some that he had seen in the news or in his database of potential threats, and some that he himself had put away. They all knew him, and needless to say, they didn't like him. His quiver was half-empty within minutes. He decided to climb to a better vantage point. From the rooftops, he had greater understanding of the battlefield, greater control. There were still people hiding in the buildings, smart people who didn't want to get swept up in the madness below. Nevertheless, they were watching to see how the war outside their window unfolded.
An armored car was plowing through the streets, demolishing any cars, debris, and people in its way. The drivers were on the right path to a clean getaway. They would bypass the half-formed police line and slip away undetected. They would, if he hadn't been their. An arrow with an explosive charge attached pierced their front tire and the tire burst open, causing them to swerve out of control. They scrambled out of the car, reaching for their guns. One of them dragged a handcuffed, hooded woman out the back along with bags of money. He passed out the bags to his accomplices and kept his gun pressed to the woman's temple as they all headed for cover. Longshot waited for his opportunity, an exposed shoulder, the correct tendon, and fired. The arrow hit its mark and the man dropped his gun, crying out in pain. The archer started picking away at the others when something went wrong. There was a sudden, visceral pulse in the air, a crack of thunder, a smell of burning hair, and when he looked back, the man was gone, only broken and burnt fragments of an arrow shaft scattered around a bloody stain on the street.
Longshot was never one to let shock get the best of him, but this time, he had completely lost focus. It was as if the world stopped moving and his blood had started moving in the opposite direction. There was a burning in his stomach and a pounding in his skull. It couldn't be. It was just a regular arrow. No attachments. He had done it countless times and always been in control, yet somehow, without even knowing it, he had lost control. Somehow, he had killed again.
It wasn't over. As if his mind hadn't already been thrown into a torrent of confusion, guilt, and despair, his victim's compatriots went off in the same fashion one by one. Blood and fire filled the streets. The hostage he had tried to save was killed in one of the explosions, along with four other bystanders.
It was all wrong. It couldn't be right. Someone was arranging these deaths. That had to be it. It had to be. He broke into a run. He had to get back to the police line and sort this out. He had to get out of the fight or this would continue to happen. There was a clamoring beneath his feet, all around him. The people in the buildings were talking. Longshot had killed. That was what they saw. That was what they believed, and he wasn't entirely certain whether or not he believed it. Nevertheless, he had to get to the bottom of it.
Something hit him in the back like a wrecking ball and picked him up off the ground. His ears were ringing. His focus was gone. He never heard her coming, but now, with her smell filling his nostrils, a familiar heartbeat resonating, and an electric crackling in the air, he knew who it was. His elbow found its way into her cheek and he spun around in her grip as they soared over the city.
"This isn't your typical game, Capacitor!" he called over the wind.
"Doesn't matter!" she shouted back. Her black hair trailed in the wind. It was a wig. Her face was covered, part of the suit that gave her her powers. The only expression to be made out on her face was what could be seen through the goggles. Longshot had faced Capacitor before, but never brought her in. She was a bank robber, a thief, straightforward with no pretense or delusions of grandeur. "If there's money to be made," she said, putting her hand on his chest, "Everything else is secondary. However..." A current ran through him that even his insulated jacket could withstand, "Sometimes, I can indulge in a little revenge!"
The archer clawed and fought for his freedom, even though they were at least sixty feet off the ground and she was the only one who could fly. He paused when he saw something strike her in the back, which she apparently didn't notice. It was an arrow, one of his. He reached for the arrow and screamed, "NO!" just before Capacitor began to thrash and convulse in unnatural ways. The armor was responding to a short circuit caused by the electrical attachment on the arrow delivered straight to the primary circuitry, twisting her body inside and breaking her bones. The electricity coursed through her unprotected body. He could smell the burns. She dropped him, and soon plummeted herself.
He fired a grapple line and did his best to stop his descent, but the line snapped. A rare occurrence, and the circumstances didn't seem right, but he had too many questions on his mind already to worry about that. He crashed through a window, rolling through a crowded office. Capacitor had flown them well over the police line and back into peaceful territory. Hopefully, this would be the most eventful part of these people's day. He patted himself off and limped back to the window, all their eyes on him. He could hear squad cars pulling up outside. They should have been at the line, although it was possible they were on their way and just saw him crash through the window. He made his way out to meet them.
"They need every available car down on 34th and 8th! We need to--"
"Hands in the air!" one of the officers interrupted as they all drew their guns.
Longshot slowly raised his hands. "There's been a mistake..."
"We heard about what you did, Longshot."
"It's not like that. Somebody's setting me up."
"I wanna believe that, man, but we still need to take you in for questioning."
"I'm afraid that's not an option."
The officer looked at the others, then back to Longshot. "Is that a threat?" he asked.
"No, I just--"
"BE QUIET!" the officer shouted, "Get down on the ground and keep your hands behind your head. Don't try anything. If you're innocent, you can prove it down at the station." The officer stopped as the building exploded before them. Longshot screamed as glass and embers showered down around them and stood back up to run in after anyone still alive. One of the officers shot and tagged him in the left arm. Another lunged and wrapped his arms around Longshot's neck, pulling him back for the others to pile on. The bowman fought them off, doing as little damage as possible. As he prepared to flee, one of the officers made a second attempt at a tackle and the archer flipped him onto the hood of his own car, which immediately burst into flames, shrapnel spraying across the street. The other car went up immediately after. All four officers were dead, a building full of people was destroyed, and the world had seen Longshot do it all. There were smartphones and cameras recording all of it. Word of mouth was already moving. By now, the whole world had seen what it was meant to see. There were sirens in the distance. Longshot immediately ran into the shadows, scaling a fire escape and vanishing from sight.
Over the next two days, everything began to unravel. Longshot's name jumped to the top of the FBI most-wanted list, the families of the deceased held a candlelight vigil and cursed his name, and a five-million dollar bounty was placed on his head.
In the three days since then, he hadn't stopped running. Nowhere was safe, not even the Beacon. There were those who knew its location and would still believe the information they had been presented with. Hopefully, there were those out there working to prove his innocence. Hopefully, he really was innocent. Hopefully, this would all end peacefully.
All he could do was hope.