The next part of the first chapter is ready (warning: the original portion of this document was twelve pages long):
Adam’s normal attire — a gray military uniform with numerous badges, white pants, and a red cloak — had not been worn in five months, as his prescribed bed-rest had not allowed him to leave his room in Polin’s Medical and Psychiatric Center. Adam had been waiting for the day when he could don his statelier clothes again, and now that he was, he felt like he could walk across the entire planet without stopping to rest. If only,
he thought to himself. If only.
That day will come later.
Undeterred, Adam strode out of the hospital with his usual trained rigidity. On the outside, exposed to unfiltered sunlight and natural air once more, Adam moved with a new confidence. He was back in action. Hiding thugs would be a cakewalk.
Those who were not aware of his recovery were astonished to see him moving again. Many were, honestly, quite afraid that he was once again on the outside, where his harshness could be seen and felt; few enjoyed looking upon the man with sickly grey skin, horns on his forehead, and stark, gaunt features. Many wondered why he wore his hair down to his shoulders — or why he was allowed
to, seeing as he was a military man — but no one had the guts to ask him this to his face. As usual, he paid no heed to the gawking of commoners.
Adam had been told by Polin’s police chief that the thugs were last seen entering a dank, old house on the large hill near the lake, on the border of the town. The chief said that it would be recognizable instantly; while all of the other houses were up to the standards of the time, no one had wanted this house, and so it had fallen into disrepair and been used only by those who wished to remain unnoticed. Plus, it was on a giant hill.
Reaching the house took no time at all. Adam did not feel like dawdling; if he wanted to spend the day idling, he would still be in bed. Instead, he flew to the house using a simple flight spell, both to save time and to test his capacity for spellcasting in his current condition. As expected, his propensity for magic had not diminished during his recovery period. Polin, in its entirety, held no interest for Adam, and he flew over the town without even looking down once, except to glance at the lake.
Upon coming within fifty feet of the house, Adam felt a tremendous magical presence. He had felt worse, but he sure as hell wasn’t expecting something so immense to come from anyone in this town, let alone the thugs he had been asked to hunt down. He thought to himself, an ample test of my strength. As expected of the General.
But then, the more logical answer that presented itself to Adam was simply that the police did not have the power to deal with this person, and someone with his power was needed to weed them out.
As his approach continued, the essence of this powerful person took a more definite shape; it was brash, fiery, and impulsive, which was to be expected of a thug, but it also held a sharp quality to it. Or at least, Adam had no better way to describe the potency of this aura than to say that it was sharp. It was canny and aware, and perhaps more sincere than Adam was expecting. That was the thing about dealing with criminals that was difficult; sometimes they had a personality that was hard to dislike. Sometimes they humanized themselves too much. Sometimes eradicating them felt wrong.
But Adam would not have had it that way. At the end of the day, someone needed to bring these people to justice.
He landed nine feet from the house and then used magic to send his voice into the house. He issued a fairly simple command: exit the house and surrender while you still have the option.
He only had to wait for thirty seconds before a hoodlum with a mechanical arm stepped out of the house.
The arm was highly recognizable as that of an HMI-56, one of the standard-issue fighting machines that was commonly employed in Nanaisa’s military. Both arms of an HMI-56 came equipped with heat rays in the fingers, sound cannons in the palms, and lenses on the forearms that emitted blinding waves of brightness.
“Hey, guys, check this out!” said the thug. He turned his head back towards the house and shouted, “It’s the greyhorn that everyone’s been talkin’ about! He wants us! Ha! Can you believe that?” He turned his head back to Adam. “Hey, are you gonna try to arrest us, man? I wouldn’t advise that, myself. The chump cops of this town can’t stop us. What makes you think a single person can?”
“I heard there were twelve of you,” said Adam. “Twelve sounds like a manageable number, given that I’m dealing with mere parts traders. Why don’t you give up now?”
“Are you serious, man?” The thug wasted no more time in opening fire on Adam, centering all five of his heat rays on Adam’s heart. He also unleashed a clap of thunderous sound for good measure.
Smoke permeated the air around Adam, and the boom of his sound cannon could be heard for two miles. The thug thought for sure that he had destroyed Adam on the spot. “Chump. Talking to us like that.” With that, a blade-like . . . something
pierced his stomach. He had no time to tell. When he looked down at his wound, the protruding object, whatever it was, was gone, and a monstrous, blunt force threw him to the ground, crushing his spine on impact.
“If you thugs want to step out now, I can hold a dignified execution ceremony for all of you.” Adam looked inside the building to find six more thugs, all equipped with at least one robotic limb.
They all attacked the doorway, and Adam swiftly stepped back to the wall, casting an illusory spell to make the thugs think that they had hit him. In eleven more seconds, the lot of thugs saw that there was nothing remaining and then hollered down to the basement, asking someone to investigate the mess they had made.
Out came those six, as well as five more men. Only one of them really caught Adam’s attention; this was the one that had emanated the flaming aura from fifty feet away. His appearance caught Adam off guard in that he had more personality than most thugs (the better to distinguish himself from his lackeys, one might suppose), without even speaking a word; he was a sickly, gaunt man. He wore a woolen cap over red hair that came down to the small of his back. Its smoothness was quite feminine, and it moved beautifully with the wind, caressing his black leather jacket.
When he turned to face Adam, his green eyes shone with an almost angelic brilliance. His facial features were remarkably clean for a criminal, and his clothes were well cared for. A few years ago, Adam would have been surprised that a man who clearly cared so much about his appearance could fall in with a gang without being ridiculed, let alone leading the whole group. But then, he had seen the gap in sheer power between these types of people, and the thugs who relied on the craft of others to fight.
Adam remembered seeing this man’s face on a list of criminals before; he was one of the most wanted men in all of Nanaisa. Jones “Firebrand” Rossio was his name. What people knew of him was that he was capable of tossing gouts of sulfurous fire at the drop of a hat. He had chosen the name “Firebrand” for himself, and it was fitting in many way, Adam had to admit.
Adam had not been expecting to deal with one as infamous as “Firebrand”, but he saw no reason to cower.
“Hey, you” said Rossio. “You don’t think you’re getting away with this, do you? That was our bro you slaughtered. No one just strolls in and slaughters a bro, you know?” Rossio advanced on Adam, until he was face-to-face with the ghastly man. Adam did not flinch.
“You know why I’m here, Rossio,” said Adam. “Why don’t you all cut the shit and hand yourselves in peaceably? It‘s less painful for everyone that way.”
“Oh, you bet it would be,” said Rossio. “And no grey-coat, grey-skinned little shit gets away with callin’ me ‘Rossio.’ It’s ‘Firebrand’ to you, bitch.”
One of Rossio’s thugs stepped next to him and voiced a complaint: “Hey, Ross, you gonna kill ‘im yet or what?” This man had a HMI-56 arm and a semiautomatic rifle trained on Adam, trigger finger itching for a pull.
“Hey, Jonny, don’t worry, I have this all—” Rossio did not have time to finish his statement before Adam embedded his fingers in Jonny’s face. The damage was not immediately apparent to Rossio, as it merely looked like Adam was holding his head. That changed when he saw the gun that had dropped to the ground. Adam pulled Jonny off of his fingers and let him fall to the dirt, where he suddenly bled at a sickening rate.
“MEN! FIRE!” Rossio’s cry seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. No gunshots could be heard, nor did the temperature spike as heat rays vaporized their target. Adam instead stood face-to-face with Rossio, expression unchanged. “You little shit!
Stop screwing around with my crew!”
“DON’T CALL ME THAT!”
Rossio’s cry was unpleasantly loud, but Adam still did not budge, even as Rossio snatched him by the flaps of his coat.
“Rossio, if you planned to live a life of fighting, you should have learned to remain aware of the battlefield at all times.” Adam, getting no response from the pissed-off thug in front of him, rubbed his nose between his fingers and said, “Look around.”
Rossio, finally getting a hold of himself, looked behind him and saw death in his comrades. Each one had his own puddle of blood beneath him, and some had quite clearly been dismembered, even the ones with mechanical limbs. They were all face-down, except for one whose throat and wrists had been slit.
Rossio sat stunned for a few seconds. Even having lived a life of crime and wanton destruction, he had never seen anyone killed with such animalistic intent. He had certainly never killed with the sole goal of maiming anyone; his explosive magic left his victims’ faces unreadable, so he did not have to see their pain.
“W-wha— You’re tricking me! I know you are! There’s no way you—” When Rossio turned to Adam’s face again, Adam was instead on the roof of the now-empty house, arms folded. “GET DOWN FROM THERE!”
Adam instead held his gaze on Polin’s buildings, some looking pristine as they stood, and some giving off smoke. “How do you think the town looks from this angle, Ross?” Adam glared down at Rossio, who then saw what Adam was talking about; he knew the havoc he had wrought on the town, but he had not seen it in one frame, from one vantage point.
Rossio smelled the scent of blood coming off of his lackeys and rushed over to one of them. He knelt down and held the man in his arms, to know that he was real, and not the fabrication of a talented mage. Feeling the rippling muscle of the man’s back, Rossio set him down again and said, “I can fix the damages. I can repay you somehow, I know it! Look, we have a shit-ton of money, man. I can give it all back! Just don’t kill me!” Rossio inched back, eyes fixed on Adam.
“Money? Sure, I believe that,” said Adam. “Equipment? Sure, you could return what’s salvageable. But do you really think a piece of street shit like yourself could hope to compensate for the lives you’ve taken? . . . Really? No? Didn’t think so. Surrender while you still have the—” Rossio, in his mounting rage, tossed an elephant-sized ball of flame at Adam, scorching the empty house below.
“I haven’t fought someone with your power in a while, Rossio. You would have been a magnificent soldier.” Adam taunted Rossio from a safe distance away, to the side. Rossio turned and threw an even larger fireball at Adam, this one detonating on impact with the ground. “So much potential.” Adam spoke while standing on the air. Another fireball, this one still larger than the last, flew at him to no avail. “What a waste.” Rossio saw Adam coming this time, and a deafening lightning burst met Adam head-on, as he stood two inches away from Rossio, finger extended. Rossio had plenty of energy left, even as his lightning spell flared up to the heavens and left ten feet shaved off of the hill. The entire top of the hill was incinerated.
Panting, Rossio looked around again, seeing no steaming, charred body when there almost certainly should have been one. He spun and spun, seeing nothing but the smoke coming from his own body.
A jab of Adam’s finger shattered Rossio’s sternum and pierced like a bullet. Rossio fell, alive but paralyzed. “Well, it doesn’t have to be a total waste, I suppose,” said Adam. “The General should like to see you brought to the labs.” With that, Adam carried Rossio over his shoulder and flew back to the town.