Hope and Fire

The year is 2018, four years ago, people started vanishing, mostly between the ages of 30 and 50. In the year 2017, people started getting powers, and the world went into chaos. Houses were used as fortresses if they were strong enough, and monsters made their lairs in the places they managed to take over. People had to fight or make deals with mercs and self-proclaimed "Citylords" to survive. In all this chaos and danger, that's where one teenager manages to stay alive, with help from his brother, and relying solely on their powers and teamwork. The old names have no significance any more - everybody calls this one the Pyro, and he is one of the few who isn't enslaved to a Citylord, and hopes to make a difference. (Cover by Secrets Unfold)


2. They call me the Pyro...

They call me the Pyro, others call me the Engineer, and I wouldn't remember my old name if it wasn't for my brother still using it at home. I won't tell you what it is though, you don't need to know it. I have two powers. The first one is pyrokinesis (hence my name), meaning I can create and control fire and I am fireproof. My second power is the ability to create and manipulate objects, as long as I can picture them in my mind and I understand the way it works. My younger brother, who's 19, well, he's fast, and I mean fast as in he almost reached Mach 990 (even though the effort nearly killed him), when he uses his power, all people see of him is a blur. That's what they call him - Blur. He has another power, he can create forcefields and shockwaves from his hands, but he doesn't use that power often. He hasn't had as much practice with it, seeing as most people don't start getting their powers until they turn 12, and their full powers tend to finish developing by the age of 14 or 15. He's only had that power for a few months, and nearly destroyed the roof when he first used it. He likes to use his speed when he can.

We live in a row of houses, in a city that used to be called Aberdeen, in Scotland. The outer walls that encased the row of about eight houses was made of solid granite, and we used the two of these houses at the south end to accommodate passing travellers, in exchange for items or favours. The rest of the houses had the separating walls knocked down near the front doors, and the top floor of what was once the four north houses were my lab, for chemistry and mechanical tests. We also used them to test our powers when we first got them. the rest was for living and for storage of supplies.

To better understand my power, I read up on engineering and physics, science, and anything else that would help me use it more effectively, while my brother took up the medicine books, so that he could act as a medic if anyone came in injured. We were far more powerful together than we were on our own, and we had the advantage that we knew each other and spoke Spanish (our first language) as well as the English that everyone here spoke. When people needed help, they usually came to us. The Citylord here was actually quite good, but he had his hands full keeping a criminal gang that had shown up a couple of months ago from hurting people. We'd been told to stay on our guard, as we had built up quite a reputation in the city.

"Ey, hermano," I shouted, "I'm going to the market, we need to get some supplies."

"Normal one or black?" he asked from behind me, smiling. Like me, he had brown hair and eyes, and was tall for his age. Despite his being 3 years younger than me, he was about the same height as me. He had a sprinter's build, though, as opposed to my blacksmith's/martial artist's build. That was the main way people told us apart.

"Normal one today," I said, "we need some medical supplies. I might stop by the black market to see what's going on though. Anyway, you know what to do. Keep the place safe, etc. etc. I've got a communicator with me if anything happens. "

"Yeah, I'll see you when you get back," he said, "try to stay out of trouble this time, will you? And we need some more chemicals for the lab."

He blurred for a second, and was back with a list of chemicals that we needed. I looked through the list, and nodded.

"I'll be back," I said.

"That's what Schwarzenegger said," answered my brother.

"He was back."

I walked out of the house, sparing a few seconds to focus on a motorbike to get me to the market. A sort of silvery liquid smoke started to flow from my hands, and after a few seconds, a Ducati 749, with my own modifications and black paint job formed out or the silvery stuff. My brother took to calling it "random matter" when I first got this power, because it turned into anything I focused on, assuming it was small enough. The bigger, more complicated things usually take longer to make, unless I make them often enough for them to appear almost instantly. If I couldn't understand something well enough, then I couldn't make it at all.

I got on the bike, and rode off into the city centre, passing the remains of the old university library on my way there. We had managed to save most of the books there, and the equipment from the nearby labs, when the chaos started. For some reason, people had started disappearing, and somehow that had led to everyone getting powers. It made moving about a lot more dangerous, but it also meant that it was harder to rob people, because you never knew what a target could do to fight back. It also meant that thieves would attack in groups, and they were always either desperate, or old hands who enjoy the job. Some would actually lay siege to houses, take what they wanted if they got in, and then move on, usually to another city, or into the countryside to hide until they could move on.

When I got to the market, I was glad to see that some things were better now than they had been before the Crisis, as people were calling it now. Despite all the bad things that were going on, the markets were now a place where people could talk and be happy. There was more joy and friendship now, in this stretch of half a mile of stalls, tents, and old shop remains than there had been in the bustling chaotic rush of people from four years ago. In that time, money had controlled everything from who got what, to how everybody treated each other. Nowadays, everyone was equal, every person had a skill that was useful for something. From building to providing food, to teaching people how to survive without full shelter. Even the former homeless had skills that were being put to use. Most of them worked as messengers, informants (I actually employed a few informants) or bodyguards. Some taught survival, or did odd jobs using their powers, but everyone had something they could do or a skill they could put to use. Not many went hungry for more than a few nights, and those who did usually came to people like me and my brother for help.

I made the bike dissolve into nothing, then I went through the stalls, buying the thing I needed and putting them in a bag, an actual hiking bag, not one I made with my power. Suddenly, I spotted one of the messengers that the Citylord employed. I knew most of them, and I knew when one had a message for me. The man came right up to me.

"Pyro, I have a message from the Citylord," he said.

"What is it, Smokey?" I asked, "can't you see I'm getting supplies here?"

"He says that we've received a report on the new gang, they've started raiding buildings. Warehouses mostly, but they have attacked some houses in your area. It appears they took over the roof of one of the skyscrapers there. They don't seem to be staying there though, they leave one guard to keep watch over what they steal, and the rest go out raiding. I think your house will be a target soon, due to the supplies you keep there."

"Let me guess, the Citylord wants me to intercept these gang members out in the open, to stop them from attacking anyone else."

"Actually, he told me to instruct you to steal back what they took."

"If they're going to take on my place, then I'm taking them down first. No sense in risking supplies and a good place if I can down them before they get there. You should know how it is by now."

"I do, the Citylord just thought his law enforcement should handle this."

"I thought me and my brother were the law enforcement. The effective one anyway."

I smiled, and watched as Smokey turned to smoke, and vanished. His power was a form of short-range teleportation, which also allowed him to become virtually intangible for a few minutes at a time, which was as long as he could hold his smoke form.

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