spin_kick_snap: (Contortionist: Flips)
Stealth crouched on the arch about the Melrose gate with Gorgon, St. George, and the visitors. The other heroes had been dispatched to the other gates she'd marked as vulnerable on her map, but Zzzap was flying recon and they were backed up by almost fifty more of the Mount's guards. They were the most vulnerable gate, to be sure, with Gorgon standing up front as bait for Cesares, but she had estimated the capabilities of the assembled people would be more than capable of repelling an attack, even if Zzzap was not able to return to aid them.

The exes had always been thick here, but now they grew denser by the moment. They packed the space in front of the gate and pushed back into the streets. Hordes of them staggered down Melrose and up Windsor. The guards walked the walls and stared down at the hungry mob. Some of them manned scaffolding towers. The dead pounded and clawed at the stucco. Another fourteen gate guards rammed pikes and spears between the bars of the gate. The dead stiffened at their skulls cracked and their brains were shredded. Then the humans pulled their weapons free, stepped back, and then lunged at the gate again even as more exes staggered forward.

"When do you want us to start sweeping?" one of the men asked, his rifle tucked against his shoulder.

"This is not the attack," shouted Stealth. "Just a massing of forces. Conserve your ammunition for now. Pikes only!"

Another wave of crushed skulls echoed up to her.

Everything about this is fine. )

***


Zzzap flew through the air, lighting up the dark sky, and came to a hover above the arch where they were watching the crowd of exes grow. Something big and scaly at Van Ness. Thought you'd want to know, he said in his crackling, electronic voice.

"Damn it," St. George said, scanning the street. "How'd he get by us?" He looked at Stealth. "You all good here?"

"Go," she said. "And take Dante with you. Cairax Murrain cannot be allowed to breach the gate."

The big hero nodded and took off, with Dante close behind. "Demon's at Van Ness," said Gorgon as he watched them leave. "Not the best way for us to start, with you being wrong right at the top."

"Thank you for pointing that out," she said. Her cloak draped across her shoulders and down over the edge of the archway. "Can you see any further than four blocks under these conditions?"

Gorgon looked around. "Not really." Hid hand went to his mic. "All gates, let's get some flares up." Across the Mount, small comets shot into the sky and burst into stars. They could see for blocks now as red and yellow light bathed the surrounding neighborhood. Melrose was visible for a quarter mile past either end of the walls.

The walking dead kept coming. More and more, until the pavement vanished under a carpet of death. Thirty thousand dead eyes stared at them, and thirty thousand brittle hands clawed at the air. The exes pounded the walls, pushed at the steel fences, and rammed their arms between the gate's curling decorations. In the distance, they could hear engines roaring and horns blasting. The Seventeens were near.

Gorgon rolled his head in a circle until his neck popped. "Still feeling confident?"

"We are prepared," said Stealth. "We know their capabilities. It will be a challenge, but we are ready for whatever they have fight to fight us with."

And then the lights went out.

Again, everything is just great! )
spin_kick_snap: (Zombie 01 (Hungry))
Cerberus pounded down the street, chasing after Big Red. Trucks containing hooting Seventeens roared after them, guns firing. Danielle kept a frantic eye on her power levels as the pavement flew beneath the battlesuit's heavy feet, cracking the blacktop with each heavy footfall. In tandem, the titan and the truck lurched onto Western, weaving between dead cars. They had just finished the last of the repairs when the Seventeens had shown up and started chasing them--away from the Mount, Cerberus noted with dismay.

Big Red squealed, tires smoking as Luke stomped on the brakes hard. Shouts came from the back as the guards were thrown forward. Cerberus tried to dodge and smashed her shoulder into the driver's side corner of the truck. Big Red lurched, the fiberglass sides crumpled, and the battlesuit spun away, stumbling over a low sports car and crashing down on the sidewalk on top of a crawling ex. Her screens went gray for a second as the computers tried to keep up with the whirling images. Inside Cerberus, Danielle tried to clear her head. Even with the armor, it had been a hard hit. She blinked a few times and the suit tried to interpret the subtle commands, racing through a half-dozen views and status reports as it tried to get the cameras back online. The flashing screens didn't help her throbbing skull.

"Chains!" shouted Luke. "They've got the whole road trapped!"

A garbage truck shrieked to a halt on Western and a full more bullets pinged off her armor. On its grill, a dead thing twisted and pulled, its eyes locked on Cerberus. She tried not to look at it as the titan pushed itself back up on its feet, the cameras steadying. Another hail of shots rang out. Ty's neck flashed red and he fell back with a thud. Jarvis flung himself to the left just as a second shot sprayed part of his shoulder onto the back of the truck. Lady Bee and the rest dropped behind Big Red's steel lift gate. Cerberus could hear them cocking rifles.

A hooded man crawled from the back of the garbage truck onto the cab. His hoodie was green, with a green bandanna tied over one bicep. His AK was held out, away from his body. Around his feet, the other Seventeens kept their weapons aimed at Cerberus and the once-again crippled truck. "Hey big girl!" he shouted with a grin. He gave her a lazy salute with his free hand. "If you all done running, mind if we talk a minute?"

Just a pleasant chat )

[Text adapted from Chapters Twelve and Fourteen of Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines.]
spin_kick_snap: (Zombie 01 (Hungry))
The planned ambush of the Mount had been foiled, the Seventeens too impatient to wait until the gate had opened enough to let Mean Green out. The survivors had successfully routed the gangmembers, Gorgon dropping about half of the group before they'd gotten close. And, unbeknownst to most of the Mount, they'd even managed to collect three prisoners and were keeping them down in the holding cells by the Lansing Theater. In earlier years, the solid doors had held reels of archived film. Now the solid doors kept things in instead of out. Usually, these cells served as a holding pen for people who'd gotten drunk or rowdy, participants in the occasional fistfight or someone caught stealing. Now, however, they were holding prisoners of war.

Everything just keeps getting better )

[Content warning for attempted and completed suicide, though the act happens off-screen. Text taken from Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines, Chapters Twelve and Fourteen. NFI, NFB]
spin_kick_snap: (Zombie 01 (Hungry))
"What the fuck is that?" Always an auspicious way to begin! )

It was a question that would linger with Cerberus all afternoon, right up until the trap sprang.


[Take taken and adapted from Peter Clines' Ex-Heroes, Chapter Four. Prepare for a lot of these in the coming days. NFI, NFB]
spin_kick_snap: (Zombie 01 (Hungry))
June

It had been almost six weeks since Banzai had died. She was the first of the heroes to have fallen, but she was not the last. Not after Regenerator got bit and fell into a coma. Once their healer was gone, the heroes started dropping like flies.

Who lives, who dies, who tells your story. )

But that hadn't been enough. Gorgon using survivors as batteries to keep his strength up while he protected their base at Hollywood and Cahuenga wasn't enough. Zzzap abandoning the final three cities to the exes to focus on LA wasn't enough. Not to save the thousands of people who were still hiding in their bolt holes around the city.

But Stealth had a plan )

[NFI, NFB, OOC is always appreciated! Adapted and edited from Chapter 27 "Saint George Kills The Mighty Dragon", from Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines.]
spin_kick_snap: (Zombie 01 (Hungry))
It had been a month to the day since Kathy died and the heroes of Los Angeles were fighting a losing battle. By Stealth's calculations, the surviving population had likely dropped to below fifty thousand people. To those few heroes she trusted most, she said that her most accurate estimations put the population to around half of that. A little over twenty-five thousand living people in a city that used to house millions. Death on a scale that vast was literally unimaginable, even when living through it. And that was just in LA. There were something like three hundred million exes wandering the country. No one could say how any other cities were doing; communications had been down for weeks. For all anyone knew, Los Angeles could be the last place in the country--the world--with survivors. Didn't really matter either way. Nobody was coming to save them.

This was surprisingly cathartic to write )

***


For a month, the ex that had once been Katherine Hana Li had sat in the planetarium at Griffith Observatory, watching an endless loop of movement and color that her living mind could have identified as Centered in the Universe. She might have sat there contentedly forever, safe from the chaos that raged outside the way her friends had hoped. But the power outage that hit Los Angeles did not spare the planetarium out of concern for the one zombie ensconced inside. There, too, the screen went dark.

Freed from the spell of moving lights, the ex stirred. Stood. Started to walk. There was nothing for her--for it--here and the rising screams carried on the night wind drew her attention. She made her way slowly through the observatory, eventually finding the broken doors and pushing her way through to the park outside. There, she oriented herself towards the screams, making her way towards the heart of Los Angeles with unerring precision. The park was miles away from civilization, but it didn't matter. As an ex, she had no concept of time or distance. She was driven by only one thing.

She was very, very hungry.

[Yeah, I'm still doing this. Anyway, NFB for distance, NFI for obvious, warning for typical zombie-levels of violence under the cut.]
spin_kick_snap: (Zombie 02 (Forlorn))
Los Angeles burned while The Mighty Dragon flew overhead. He could still see pockets of fighting, holdouts where armed civilians or members of the National Guard tried to fight off the exes with whatever came to hand. Some, he saw, had viable exit strategies and were making a fighting retreat to find somewhere safer to hole up. Most did not. Several times, he weighed the benefits of setting Banzai down and helping the civilians instead, but he always kept flying. He'd made a promise, after all, and the heartbroken look in Mystique's eyes at the end always convinced him to keep his promise.

At least he could contact Zzzap on his phone and have him relay information to Stealth. The overloaded phone lines weren't a problem for a man who could read the entire energy spectrum and through that, Stealth in a command center and doing a better job coordinating troops and movements than any general on the ground.

The Mighty Dragon continued to fly, carrying a dead girl in his arms and leaving the living behind, and tried to tell himself this was enough.

He arrived at Griffith Park. Ignoring the dark cloud of smoke above, the park remained beautiful. Spring had arrived in full-bloom, with flowers growing up out of the lush grass, trees putting forth buds and baby leaves, and even a pair of chipmunks running across his path, chittering as they climbed up a tree. For a moment, the Mighty Dragon let himself forget there was a war on, with the first casualty he personally cared about now gnawing on his bicep.

The illusion was broken several seconds later as the ex that had been pursuing the chipmunks lumbered into view. Dragon didn't even think, just slammed his fist into the side of the ex's head with the force of a truck. The ex dropped, Dragon wiped his hand on the leg of his costume, and kept going.

The Observatory wasn't far and he could see immediately why the girl Banzai had been--why Kathy--had loved it. It was a beautiful building, even with the signs of fighting and hasty abandonment. He let them in through the front doors no longer latched properly and made his way to the theater. The huge screen above them was dark, but with a bit of fiddling (and a hasty call to Zzzap for a bit of technical assistance), the Mighty Dragon soon had one of the movies running on loop. Banzai, who'd been like an annoying kitten all through the setup, constantly underfoot and trying to bite, got distracted by the sound and movement as soon as the screen lit up. Dragon gently pushed her into one of the seats and left her staring up at the screen in rapt attention.

In the dimness of the theater, he could almost pretend it was Kathy sitting there, absorbed by the stars and comets. He'd never been as close to her as Gorgon and Regenerator, but he'd liked what he'd gotten to know of the girl she'd been. And respected the hell out of the hero she was.

"Thanks for your service, Banzai," he said softly. "You'll always be remembered."

And then he turned and left the auditorium, leaving a dead girl behind to enjoy the wonder of the stars.

[Establishy, NFI and NFB, That's the last from me today, though [livejournal.com profile] tigerundercover has two more heartbreaking posts to finish up! Thank you to everyone for reading and pinging!]
spin_kick_snap: (Bouncing)
It was a little creepy when their necks snapped. Stealth said they don't feel any pain, that it was like breaking a toy more than killing something. Gorgon agreed with her. Hell, Rav--Mystique agreed with her. But it was still such a creepy noise.

Kick. Back flip. Crouch. Sweep. Lunge. Springboard. Snap.

For the most part, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Banzai was three times faster than a normal person. Considering these things moved at maybe quarter-speed, it was almost impossible for them to touch her. There had been a scary minute a few days ago when she'd gotten surrounded by them, but once she calmed down she'd gotten out of it. Eliot was right--he was always right. You can get out of anything with your brain first, your fists second.

Spin. Kick. Snap. )

[Heavily adapted from Chapter Thirteen "Luckiest Girl in the World" from Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines. Written with the amazing [livejournal.com profile] tigerundercover. NFI, NFB, OOC is lovely.]
spin_kick_snap: (Banzai (Eyes))
SWAT Sergeant Hall considered telling her to leave, or perhaps something more emphatic. Stealth could see it in his eyes. Even though she had saved his life on two separate occasions, he was still dismissing her knowledge on this subject. "You cannot reason with them," she told Hall again. "They cannot be intimidated by displays of force or numbers. Your men must begin aggressive measures if you hope to hold them back."

Just another day in ex-LA )

In one of the earlier Sherlock Holmes mysteries, Arthur Conan Doyle (not yet a Sir) had made an observation on logical deduction: when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

There was, however, a specific flaw in that maxim. It assumed people could recognize the difference between what was impossible and what they believed was impossible.

The ex-humans had been appearing for weeks now; almost a month since the first known sighting. They had been captured, studied, and killed. Since the attack on the Chinese Theater, there had been warning posters, public service announcements, and news reports. Yet people still clung to the impossibility of the living dead even as it loomed over them, attacked their homes, and devoured their neighbors. Soldiers, police, and private citizens forced themselves to believe the exes were just infected with some curable disease, despite all the evidence, and would not take the necessary steps. They would not accept the truth. They would not act on it.

The outbreak would not be contained. It was too late. The world as they'd known it was over.

[Taken and adapted from Chapter Ten "Subtle Beauty" from Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines. NFB, though OOC is love]
spin_kick_snap: (Banzai (Psylocke))
"Stealth said that this place is a kind of refuge for homeless people who didn't want to shelter up on the surface," Banzai said, leading the way through the subway tunnels. "They're really good at policing their own; making it safe for women and families to stay down here. No drugs, no violence, that kind of thing. Isn't perfect, but pretty damn good for people with nothing. But nobody's heard anything from anyone down here in awhile and she wants someone to check in with them. There was no indication that they've had contact with anyone infected, but the silence is weird. She's hoping they're just hunkered down and waiting for this to blow over."

Flickering lights overhead didn't do much to dispel the gloom, illuminating only the area around them and leaving the rest shrouded in darkness. There were sections where the lights were out entirely and that meant that they would have to travel for several yards in true darkness, at least until they reached the next, intact light. "We should be coming up on sentries soon. They might have weapons, so please let's try being nice first?"

[For those guys with her! And NFB]
spin_kick_snap: (Contortionist: White 02)
Banzai had patrolled for two days without seeing a single zombie. By day, she hung out on rooftops, peering down into dim alleys in the worst sections of town, looking for any of the signs that Stealth and Barry--Zzzap--had mentioned: pale skin, a lack of coordination and language skills, high resistance to damage, a degree of aggression, the scent smell of rotted meat. By night, she patrolled Koreatown, where, again, she spotted no zombies, but there were plenty of douchebag Seventeens to make up for it. Banzai was sporting a few new scraped, cuts, and bruises, and there were a handful of gang members now cooling their heels in prison, but as satisfying as that was (and even the flare of pain every time she smiled from her cut lip was satisfying), whaling on Sevens wasn't why she'd agreed to stay out here.

She didn't want to be out here. She wanted to be back on the island with her friends, going to classes, gossiping about prom, writing her essay for valedictorian, keeping an eye on Jewels while patrolling Baltimore...Her life was on the other side of the country and she'd only get to live it for a few more months. Every day out there was precious--and every day here felt wasted, discouraging. If she hadn't had vague memories of that weird weekend where she and Gorgon had been survivors, she might have already booked a portal home, leaving instructions to contact her when the zombies started showing themselves.

But she did have those vague memories, though most of them were unhelpful. They were mostly of the weekend itself, rather than the head full of information and memories her older self had had. There had been a long talk in the diner, with a lot of alcohol and crying, there had been a patrol in Baltimore with Gorgon that had ended with--ahem, they'd been married, enough said there. The Monday after, Banzai remembered better, but it was mostly a fight with Nick about whether they should tell Dragon (apparently a moot point now) and returning a truly ridiculous amount of meat to Eliot's freezer...for some reason. In her downtime here, she'd written down as much as she could remember saying about the zombies, but it was a truly pathetic amount. Which didn't stop everyone from harassing her for more. Stealth, Dragon, and Gorgon all wanted to know more, with Gorgon curious about everything since it seemed he didn't remember the weekend at all. Genny was also weirdly interested, though she was chalking that up to medical curiosity and a kind of big brother concern. Max Hale also wanted to know everything, supposedly because magic was involved, but she was betting that he just liked nosing into her personal life. His attempts to find out more usually centered around the relationship she and Gorgon had shared.

Creeper. She was really starting to regret giving him her number at the end of the meeting, even though she'd specified it was purely for hero business. Turns out he had a looser definition of 'hero business' than she did.

Superheroes + Alleyways = OTP )

An hour later, Kathy was tucking into a burger the size of her head at The Pickle Hut. Stealth had shown up about fifteen minutes after the call, carrying two bodybags. She'd said she could handle things from there and that she appreciated Banzai's forethought in leaving them intact for study. Not 'alive', intact. Kathy was sure that her terminology was correct and that she'd be making the same distinction soon, but until then, she preferred to cling to hope. Hope that they could be healed. Hope that this could be stopped. Hope she could go home soon.

But with two probable-zombies currently en route to Genny's location, it was looking less and less likely that 'soon' was going to be on the agenda. Out came her phone again and she scrolled to find Raven's number. Her roomie needed to know that she was going to be gone longer than she'd assumed. So did Anders. And Dante. And maybe Eliot would have a few ideas for fighting the likely-undead. Two weeks. That would be enough time to stop this thing in its tracks, right? Two weeks, with her coming home for prom? That sounded good.

Then Kathy thought of the bitten girl and shivered, despite the heat of the day. The girl and her boyfriend had been gone by the time she'd had a chance to look for them, either via taxi or hunkered down in a building somewhere. Fervently, Kathy hoped that the next time she saw that girl, she wouldn't be looking back at Kathy with empty eyes and chattering teeth.

[For those named, please! NFB for off-island shenanigans]
spin_kick_snap: (Banzai (Psylocke))
When Barry Burke received a call on his cell phone in his Amherst apartment, the last thing he expected to hear was a woman's cold, clipped tones on the other end calling him by name. Not Barry, no, the woman on the other end called him Zzzap. His superhero name; the name only one other person knew that Barry could claim. As a black, wheelchair-bound scientist, he wasn't anyone's top choice for the superhero that flew around the country at Mach 5 as a blinding wraith made of pure energy. Barry might garner a second look or two because of his race and disability; no one could look at Zzzap for more than a second or two. Looking at his alter-ego was like looking at the heart of a star through a man-shaped cutout in space.

There was no way to connect Barry to Zzzap and yet this woman had. She knew he was home, had his cell number, and asked him to meet with her on the roof of the Capitol Records building. In Los Angeles. She said there was some kind of contagion in the city and she needed his speed. She'd added his immunity to all disease almost as an afterthought. She knew so much about him and over the course of the conversation, all he managed to get was her name: Stealth.

He was in LA half an hour later, as much concerned by the idea of a contagion in one of the most populous cities in America as he was by how Stealth had discovered him. Stealth was inclined to discuss exactly one of those topics. )

Moving low to the ground through a strange city, the best speed Zzzap could manage was around 400 miles per hour. Much more than that caused serious weather problems, not to mention sonic booms (which could shatter windows, windshields, neon signs, and lots of other expensive things). He started circling the buildings, checking every person he passed for the signs of infection. Anywhere people could be. Alleys. Roads. Parking structures. Subways. Zzzap peered in windows where he could, through walls where he couldn't. On his first pass, he'd have said he saw three-fifths of the city's population. No sign of the mystery disease, although he did stop two muggings and halted a high speed street race by melting the tires of both cars. He figured he could make at least one more pass before it was time to meet up with Stealth again, and hopefully he could catch a good chunk of the remaining population.

Street. Boulevard. Avenue. Drive. He was an hour into his second run when Zzzap saw him.

He was an old guy. His clothes were dark and a bit ragged. Probably homeless, staggering down an alley. His skin was the color of ash and his face was blank. Not emotionless, it just looked like he'd forgotten how to make any sort of expression. A quick check at either end of the street told Zzzap they were just north of Beverly between La Brea and Detroit.

Zipping back to hover over him, a full minute passed before he twisted his head up to look at the glowing wraith above his head. It usually didn't take people long to notice the white-hot man-shape sizzling like a sparkler. His eyes were cloudy--Zzzap wondered if perhaps the old man might be blind. He was staring right at the hero and not blinking. Something looked very wrong about him, and Zzzap couldn't figure out what.

Good evening, citizen, he said, careful to enunciate each word. Are you okay?

Still wide-eyed. Still no blink. Had he blinked once yet?

Sir? Are you feeling okay? Do you need any help?

The man's mouth opened, showing off an impressive collection of half-rotted teeth, and then he clacked them together again and again and again. To Zzzap, it sounded like those little wooden things Mexican dancers wear on their hands.

A fun little trick the magazines and television shows never figured out: Zzzap could see all the electromagnetic energy in the air, including radio waves, television broadcasts, and satellite transmissions. He knew there were seventeen GPS devices within three blocks of where he was floating, and he could list off the codes for each one. And if he had to, with a little concentration, he could have duplicated them or overridden them with a thought. Which was why it had been second nature to see the cell phone built into Stealth’s cowl and memorize the number. He focused on that and could feel the signal a phone would translate into an audible ring.

This was all fine. )

[Adapted and tweaked from "Power to the People," Chapter 7 in Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines. NFI, NFB, OOC is enjoyed]
spin_kick_snap: (Banzai (Psylocke))
Gorgon's bike shot down the street, slipping through intersections and around corners. He tried to cover as much ground as possible each night; the trick was to be seen as many places as possible, but never be moving so fast people thought he wouldn’t stop for something. There was a reason police cars seemed to move at "hanging out" speed a lot.

He'd also learned moving targets are harder to hit. There was a chip in his helmet where someone tried to blow his head off with a rifle. Knocked him off the bike, and that was the night he'd learned his power could drain someone from a block and a half away. Getting shot once was enough, and he didn't have Regenerator on speed-dial the way Banzai did. Hell, he didn't even have Banzai running around to stitch him up again.

Just another night in LA. )

[Adapted from Chapter 4, "Seeing the Big Picture" of Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines. NFI, NFB, OOC is enjoyed.]
spin_kick_snap: (Not Best Pleased)
Josh Garcetti, known in certain circles as the superhero Regenerator, sat in his car and stared at his front door. Specifically, his open front door, the door he'd been assiduously avoiding ever since he'd smuggled his wife's dead body into the house. Welp! This can't be good. )

[Warning for mention of a pet and an elderly neighbor gotten by zombie-violence; nothing gratuitous but still wanted to give a head's up. Some small bits of text taken from Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines, specifically Chapter 24 "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?" NFI, NFB, OOC is always appreciated.]

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