Several moments passed until suddenly the furnace started to shift and then with one sudden move, it was pushed to the side and underneath, a bruised Victor Dumas collapsed from his knees to the floor again and took several deep breaths.
Another moment passed and he stood.
"How did you survive that. Your so strong. I can't believe it." Alicia managed through the pain in her abdomen.
"As I said earlier Miss Masters. I'm with the Avengers. In fact I'm not just with the them, I'm one of them," he said and managed a bit of a proud smile at the thought.
Victor scooped Alicia up and carried her towards the damaged stairwell that he had mostly cleared earlier. As he stepped up the stairs ahead of his path was a large electrical wire dangling menacingly like some poisonous viper ready to strike with it's sparks flying all over making the cable move back and forth.
"Hold on a second," Victor said as he put her down to lean against a wall.
"My very preliminary tests indicated that I was resistant to electricity to some degree. Well lets see exactly how much," he said as he silently wished Union were there to handle this.
Victor timed the moving wire and then quickly grabbed it feeling the electricity run through him, but surprisingly not feeling any pain. He quickly shoved it back up into the damaged ceiling above them and moved Alicia up the rest of the way and out front to where some firemen were trying to get down the road around the debris.
Victor looked down the road and an ambulance was right behind him. He flagged them down and the paramedics exited the vehicle.
"Where is the closest hospital," Victor asked.
"St. Peters Hospital is off of New Scotland Avenue a few blocks down that way. You'd get there faster if you carry her," the driver replied.
"Okay, let me see your medical bag." Victor grabbed the back and looked inside for a few medical instruments and two minutes later after providing Miss Masters with some morpheme, Victor was off towards the hospital.
After delivering Alicia to the doctors care, he burst back out of the hospital and road with an ambulance crew towards the next disaster scene.
As the destruction begins, Malachi leaps from Dark Angel's flying disk, executing an impossibly agile series of acrobatic tumbles, ricocheting off several falling walls and hitting the ground running. As the front of an apartment building begins to collapse, he grabs the door frame and, using it as a make-shift shield, attempts to shelter the occupants as the run from the building.
"Quickly, everyone out!" his voice booms through the street. Sirens started sounding from around the city, and as he moved from building to building, Malachi began to clear the streets for the services vehicles. As he cleared each apartment building, he would remove the debris from the road, allowing ambulances and fire trucks to reach the victims. Lumps of concrete and twisted slabs of metal were tossed from the road with unnatural ease and speed. Once the fire police managed to catch up with him, Malachi coordinated his efforts with theirs, clearing the paths to the most damaged portions of the city and venturing into places too dangerous for ordinary rescue personnel, sometimes pulling out victims, sometimes confirming there was no need to send emergency crews into the building. Throughout the day he labored, neither a tireless automaton nor wielding unearthly energies, simply a powerful, determined man, burned and bruised, covered in blood and sweat.
_Triage._ Aegis darts for downtown and the center of the explosions, where she quickly identifies a ruptured gas main as the source for one of the larger fires. It's a moment's work to seal that off, the metal crumpling like cardboard in her grip. The flames die down around her as their fuel is cut off, allowing others to approach the scene. Parts of the wreckage remain on fire, and the devastation is incredible.
People are screaming everywhere; the sound cuts into her with an almost physical pain. The ones outside, in reach of assistance, she leaves for others. There are no doubt many more buried within the collapsed buildings, and she looks for her Asgardian teammate, activating her sound generation systems.
"Ravdna! Any chance you can 'hear' the survivors so we can dig them out?"
Union floats over the devastation for a minute, expanding his armor's electrical senses to find breaks and shorts in the power grid. _If these people are going to have any chance at all, we have to keep the power flowing for the hospitals and emergency services,_ he thinks as the city's frayed nervous system etches itself out on his helmets monitors. Breaks show up clearly, as do live but unconnected wires and surging power transformers that threaten explosion.
A cybernetic command opens up a radio like between his armor and hers, "Aegis, this is Union. Good thinkingget as many people as you can outcorral anyone with the strength you think you'll need. I'm going to see to keeping the city's hospitals alive." With that the silver avengers flies away from the scene, moving as fast as the local EM fields allow.
For Union, time becomes a blur of enhanced reflexes and endurance, pitting his armor against the seemingly endless threats: Snapped power cables are blocked from hitting people; live wires are removed from danger zones and deactivated; power is rerouted through from broken connections to more stable ones, ensuring a unbroken flow of power to the city's emergency services; transformers are shut down, or in one case overload just as he approaches, sending a shower of lighting and shrapnel that his armor blocked or diffused.
Days later he will remember swooping into a rapidly closing fissure after a falling woman and her child, catching them both with his cable and flying them out past the rubble threatening to bury them. He'll recall ordering Dark Angel to create an shadowy support structure around a collapsing building while he worked with a fire crew, light blazing from his armor's makeshift spotlight, to clear the edifice before its final collapse; He'll read in the paper that he rescued twelve men from a factory, stepping into the electrical hell of a live dynamo to give them time to escape. In the end, he won't know for certain everything that happened, how much of his memories are real and how much are the product of a mind and body pushed past all endurance.
With the tidal wave, Victor's rebirth and now this Adrian Toomes had been almost constantly active for the last two days. Three hours sleep in the last thirty-six. Union just keeps moving, acting almost on pure instinct, held upright in the end more by the powers of his armor than his own endurance. When this is over there will be repercussions, but for now all he can do is keep moving.
Duststorm turns once everyone is safe from the school and begins to attempt to stem the tide of disaster all around. With the very earth shaking around her, she knows that this is a fight for survival and despite their best efforts, some may lose that fight.
Seconds became minutes became hours as she struggled to keep everyone that she can, safe. Shoring up buildings with raised earth and stone is only one of many things that she accomplishes. Quelling the aftershocks with her powers is a little more than she is capable of, but she managed to stop the onslaught of disaster in the most danger prone sections of Albany by suppressing the aftershocks in a limited area. At least the damaged buildings weren't going to collapse soon. The string of victims and rescuers came to all look alike as weariness bore its way through her, to her very core. Janet had never felt so tired before but the cries of those still trapped kept her moving. Earth, concrete and stone all moved at her command never letting those beneath the massive weight come to harm. It was several minutes after she had found the last person trapped that a police officer grasped her shoulder as she walked in a zombie like state. "You need to rest Miss. There isn't anything more that you can do." Janet stared at the officer, not quite comprehending what he had said, until his words reached past the fatigue. Janet slumped down to sit on the curb. Her body felt leaden and she was sure that tomorrow would bring pain as muscles long unused, not to mention the over extension of her powers, would become aware. But now all she felt was tired. It was a struggle to raise her head and look for any of the other Avengers. The had become separated in their attempt to save as many people as possible. She only hoped that every one of them was all right.
After a short rest in the back of an ambulance, Victor is back to work saving people. This time he heads out looking for other Avengers to team up with.
Victor walked down Central Avenue until he came upon Duststorm.
"Duststorm. Hello there. Are you up to heading back towards the epicenter of this with me?" he asked his fellow Avenger.
Janet looked up wearily as the exhaustion took its toll. It was good to have Victor back, his loss had been hard enough, yet somehow it didn't feel the same. She gave him a wan smile as she pulled herself to her feet and stretched muscles that had been used too much in the last few hours.
"Sounds like a good idea, Victor." She said. After concentrating for several seconds, she added "Follow me." Duststorm used her knowledge of the earth and her powers to follow the tortured ground to the center of the earthquake, leading Victor towards it.
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© 2001 Mark L. Chance et al