Rating: Depending on your tastes, could be PG-13 to R for some violence, hints of some other stuff, and language.
Word count: 1,396, more or less.
Takes place in the City of Heroes universe. Oh, and the person Boneshatter talks to is not Emerald Flames of the Sunday 9s.
See You In Hell
Hell's Highway. If you were looking for Hellions, this was the place. If you were looking for one particular Hellion, it was a starting point; the gang roamed widely across Paragon City, but in this part of Perez Park you'd find 'em in numbers. Numbers great enough for this side of Perez to be called Hell's Highway.
The opposite side of Perez was the Boneyard, where the Hellions' rivals, the Skulls, hung out. In the center was the parkland itself, home to roaming bands of both gangs, plus cultists, zombies, and killer robots. It was quite the proving ground for would-be heroes, especially if a kraken got loose or a villain group decided to ambush said heroes.
The Sunday 9s had had a headquarters here – an apartment, really – before moving into their current warehouse over in Atlas Park, one of the safer districts of the city. Perez Park was not the safest place, but the rent was reasonable, and some of the 9s had had great fun taunting various bad guys from their balcony, or hunting for kraken when the weather was right.
Boneshatter knew Perez Park. When he'd run with the Skulls, he'd stuck to the Boneyard, or sometimes the King's Row part of town, unless his gang was planning a major attack against the Hellions, or he'd been told to "go here and do this". It hadn't been his favorite thing to do, but he hadn't felt he'd had much choice, so he'd gone there and done that, and hauled ass whenever a hero showed up. No sense getting beat up for the sake of some old lady's purse.
Now, of course, he was doing the hero thing himself, which certainly paid better, plus people didn't automatically scream for the cops when he showed up. And he didn't have to wear a mask anymore. He wasn't sure who'd come up with that idea first, the Skulls or the Hellions, to wear skull or demon masks, respectively. It did make it harder for marks to tell police much about their attackers, so the masks made sense – but it was loads easier to see (and breathe) without one.
Tonight he was hunting Hellions, or rather, one particular Hellion. So he had fought his way deep into Hell's Highway, taking on mobs of his old enemies. They probably thought he was some rogue Bone Daddy; maybe he should've worn a mask anyway. But it was too late for that now.
Too late for a lot of things.
He fought onward. The crystal shard gave him his powers, and those powers were a lot like those of the Bone Daddies; the summoning of dark energy, the ability to suck life from another and transfer it to himself. The shard even granted him some faster healing; cuts and bruises recovered quicker, sometimes closing up while he watched, with no telltale scars remaining.
Tonight he pushed the shard to its, and his, limits. Tonight he didn't want to think, didn't want to feel. If he just kept fighting, the pain of battle would keep him from feeling the pain inside.
He laughed, even as a Hellion cracked a baseball bat into him. Didn't that sound just so gothy?
He didn't normally feel this way. Only after being betrayed.
If Bone knew the real name of the Hellion he searched for, it would probably go a lot quicker. But he didn't, so he had to beat up enough other Hellions until he came across one who recognized him, or vice versa. The damn masks made positive identification a real pain.
He kept pushing, kept fighting. The welding gloves Nightkill had given him felt like lead wrapping his hands; he was tiring. He knew there were more Hellions back here than he could count, because the Skulls had to be the same size gang, 'cause otherwise one side would overrun the other. And there were many, many Skulls over in the Boneyard.
He needed a break, he thought, as the last two Hellions ran from him, and he had no energy to chase after them. He knelt on one knee next to an old brick building for a moment. Just had to catch his breath, was all. Just a rest, then back to work. Had to find Flame. He had to be around here somewhere.
The two runners came back into view, walking slowly, watching him. There was another Hellion mob farther back, but Bone couldn't tell if the mob had any connection with the runners, any notice that a lone tired hero was back here. Didn't matter, he'd take 'em on anyway.
The runners stopped a distance away, probably trying to decide how much fight was left in him. They'd find out. He felt a little stronger now, ready to try again. He stood –
- a large blade stained with his blood now poking eighteen inches from where it exited his chest -
He gagged instead of screaming, willed the shard to heal me now, dammit! and could feel its magics trying to repair torn flesh and splintered bone, as the blade withdrew oh goddammit it HURTS and stabbed again for good measure.
It was too much, the shard couldn't handle all the damage at once, and Boneshatter slumped to the ground, fighting to stay conscious.
He didn't even care who or what had stabbed him. It didn't matter, though he was pretty sure it wasn't any enemy he'd ever met before, with a sword or whatever the hell it was that big. He had to get up. Had to keep going. Ignore the dull white-hot pain and the pooling blood and try to get to his pocket –
After the Rikti War, one of the technologies Earth had 'borrowed' from the alien invaders was a sort of emergency teleport; in case of near-death, someone with the right transponder would immediately appear in the local emergency room. It was so new that only Paragon City had the thing in place right now, and it worked, most of the time. Every hero in the Sunday 9s had a transponder keyed to their heart rate, including Boneshatter.
He didn't want to use it. He was tougher than that. He had the pale green pill, the one that would bring him back enough, force the body to keep going, at least until his shard could take over, if he could reach it. He didn't have to cut and run, didn't have to give up.
His arm felt like stone, dragging back, and he concentrated on finding the pill, not worrying about the nearby gangers, they were still hanging back last he knew, finally, there it was, every one of those pills was a different shape, so he could find 'em by feel. Drag back up to his face, don't think, just –
He heard footsteps approaching. No, not now. Go away! Get the hell away! If they were gonna loot him he'd have to let the transponder take him away, have to get nearly dead to escape.
One set of footsteps. If he took the pill now he'd still be too weak to fight back. Maybe they'd just look him over and leave him alone. Maybe some other heroes would wander by and issue a challenge. Maybe the thing that almost killed him would come back to do the job.
No such luck.
They knelt by his head; he looked up through fuzzy vision. Damn mask covering his face, of course. But the hair color was right -
"Flame?" he tried to say, but wheezed it instead.
The Hellion shook his head, in a "jeez, you suck" way rather than "no". "The hell you doin' back here?"
It was him. Boneshatter tried to speak, couldn't, tried to get the pill to his mouth. Maybe Flame would let him go. Would let him get out of here. Maybe.
"You should be dead," Flame continued.
I know it, Bone wanted to say, but couldn't. He was fading; the transponder would take him soon, and the pain was getting cold-hot now. He brought his hand to his mouth –
- Flame took the pill away.
You bastard! Bone wanted to scream, wanted to hurl every curse he could think of on the Hellion. Instead, he lay there, eyes flashing what he couldn't speak.
"Don't come back, man," Flame said, with remarkable absence of malice. And the transponder kicked in.