Hope and Fire (competition version)

The year is 2018, four years ago, people started vanishing, mostly between the ages of 30 and 50. In the year 2015, the world descended into chaos. By 2017, the few people who were left were gaining powers. 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, relying solely on their powers and teamwork. The old names have no significance any more - everybody calls this one the Pyro, he is one of the few who isn't enslaved to a Citylord, and hopes to make a difference.

(cover by Secrets Unfold)


3. Strategy, a warhammer, and some electricity for good measure...

I walked away from the market with my bag full of the supplies I had traded for. My brother and I usually traded away mechanical gear or medicines and sometimes fuels and electrical power supplies, usually made to order beforehand. It brought in good stuff, but our main sources of income were the house, and the odd jobs we did in and around the city for the Citylord and anyone who paid the price that we felt deserved our help. We weren't Mercs, we had a sense of morality. Because I needed to get home quickly, this time I made a jetpack, and flew home. When I flew, I could get home from the market in two minutes easily. I landed outside the door, and looked around. Everything seemed quiet. There was a ruined building that people sometimes took shelter in across the road. The road itself was completely empty. Most people were out, or inside their houses. If they knew this gang was in the area, chances are most of them would be fortifying their defences. I went inside the house, closing the door, and then dissolving the jetpack. 

"Hey, you're early," I heard my brother say, as he appeared at the door.

"Yeah, Smokey told me that this place is a probable target for this gang that's decided to try and take over the city. Apparently they've been raiding warehouses and homes around here. They took over the skyscraper nearby, and we're the only place near to it that has our kind of stuff in it. You should activate the high power defences, we'll probably need them if they come here. We should probably meet them in the open though. I don't want to go about replacing traps and repairing defences again." 

"Yeah, it took ages last time. What's the plan?"

"I go out to meet them, when we find out what we need, we do the usual. Warhammer?"


I smiled, knowing what we were about to try would almost inevitably work. With the defences ready, and as we didn't have anyone staying with us that day, we set off immediately, or rather, I set off immediately, and he waited for the signal.

It's interesting how, when something is about to happen, everything goes quiet. As I walked, everything was silent, apart from the breeze, carrying the whispers of battle to come.

"The calm before the storm," I muttered to myself, as I made some sunglasses. They were actually scanner displays, to tell me if there were any traps nearby. I noticed that there was a group of people coming towards me. One of them was messing about with electrical bolts, so I discreetly made a Faraday suit under my jacket. One was carrying ice blades, and another had floating spheres of what looked like clouds. The fourth one didn't have anything to help me identify a power, but I kept walking.

"Well, lookee here boys," said the one carrying nothing, "we've got ourselves a stray. I wonder what he'll choose to do. You can try to run, or try to fight. We might let you join us, but we'll probably just rob you and leave you to the monsters."

Clearly he was the leader. They were all big, but it was the kind of big that just made you look intimidating, as opposed to an effective martial artist or fighter.

"Hang on, you're that Blur kid aren't you?" he said, "come to fight us? Think you can take us all on your own? Ha!"

He fired what looked like blobs of tar at my feet and hands, keeping me from running and sticking my hands to my chest. I was about five minute's normal walking distance from my house. My brother could make that distance in less than two seconds.

"Fry him," the leader said to the electrical thug. He obeyed by drawing electricity from some sort of backpack power supply, and firing it from his hands in the form of a lightning bolt. I willed the hood of my Faraday suit to cover my head, and forced my hands out in front of me, just as he fired the lightning bolt. The tar-like goo burned away from my hands and chest, and the electricity was conducted through the suit, and into the ground.

"Thanks for that," I said, smiling, almost scaring them, "one thing I should tell you before you try to kill me again. What makes you think you can come here, rob everyone, and get away with it? I'm not the type to let others hurt innocents if I can avoid it, and I don't have much to lose here, unlike you. I'm the Pyro, I build things, Blur is my brother. We can do some serious stuff together."

I spread my arms, as their eyes widened with realisation.

"Oh and one more thing - knock, knock."

That was the signal. I formed an incomplete weapon in my left hand, dropping it as my brother shot by, catching it as he ran towards the enemy. The leader tried to tar the ground, but it was too late. At the last possible moment, the weapon in my brother's hands finished forming into a warhammer, and gained mass as the hit landed, sending the leader flying. I burned off the tar on my feet, and created a vertical wheel of fire around me, which I rode like a skateboard as I went for the electrical guy. He tried firing electricity at me, but the Faraday suit kept me unharmed as I landed a heavy hit with a jo staff to the side of his head. I saw my brother getting blown back my the guy with the clouds, but he was fast enough to avoid getting hurt, and was literally running circles around him whilst shaking the ground with the warhammer. I turned my fire wheel to go for the last guy, and noticed he was extinguishing it with his ice.

He was actually stopping it, so I accelerated it. The wheel started to glow brighter, and the ice wall that had formed in an attempt to extinguish it was starting to melt. I walked out of the fire wheel as it was extinguished. I made the jetpack again, but this time, I added a Tesla blaster, which looked like a massive coil of copper wire around a metal bar connected to a power supply (the internal stuff was a bit more complicated, otherwise I'd just have a big electromagnet). I flew up over the ice wall, charging the Tesla blaster, and fired a bolt of low voltage lightning, which hit the ice guy very squarely in the chest. He went flying back, and didn't get up. His shirt was a bit scorched, but apart from that he looked unharmed. I turned, and saw that my brother was going so fast that he was creating a counter-tornado for the cloud man's tornado, effectively cancelling it out. He threw the warhammer at his opponent, and I charged it with the Tesla blaster so that, when it struck its target, the warhammer literally shocked the man into unconsciousness. It also rammed him into the ruined building behind him.

This sort of thing was an almost daily occurrence for us. The truth is that most people try to ignore their powers, or use them for good deeds, despite the signs of destruction and ruins everywhere. When people try to cause trouble, though...

Well, that's what people like me and my brother are there for. Keeping things going, trying to make things better. That's what we do, because not long ago, things couldn't have got any worse, and we didn't want that sort of thing happening again. I just hope there's some way I can change things someday, make everything good again...

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