With a slight grunt of effort, Greg lifted the van over his head, the sound and sight catching Lung's attention immediately.
The villain roared and charged forward immediately, his massive steps shaking the ground. "HYOU!"
"Hey, Dragon Tales. CATCH!"
Screaming at the top of his lungs, Greg Veder hurled a minivan directly into Lung's skull.
"Why did I… ugh. Why did I get up today?"
Nerves flared with vague sensations, warning his body that he was wasting energy faster than he could restore it.
Sparky ignored the feeling, gaze flickering between his hands and the explosively violent parahuman brawl just down the street from where he stood. Lung towered over the pavement, standing basically sixteen feet tall from what Sparky could tell, with a body like a double wide and wings that were each about as wide as he was tall.
The remnants of a tattered minivan hung from the villain's long curved horns, already falling apart as his flame aura began to turn it into molten steel. "I agreed to help fight that," Sparky said with a shudder. "Mom definitely dropped me on my head."
Sparky's eyes widened as he instinctively moved several feet to his left. Time shuddered forward, his perception moving shakily as he turned his head to face where he had just been standing.
The same place that was now engulfed in flames.
Courtesy of Lung.
"Fuck this. Fuck this so hard. I just wanted powers, so I could get free stuff. Is that too much to ask?" Teeth clenched, Sparky aimed both his fists towards Lung. Once more, he held his breath as electricity began to visibly spark around the metal knuckles of his fingerless motorcycle gloves, the air beginning to hum around him as he visualized what he wanted.
"I could have stayed in, played some video games, relaxed my ass off," he continued his muttered ranting, his helmet muffling any real sound he was making. "But noooo, I had to get all hyper about kicking ass. And, I lost my stick thingy."
Losing his "magic wand" when Hookwolf had tried to turn him into a snack had been annoying as hell but these gloves were almost as good. While it was a lot less accurate than the rod he had been carrying around for the last week, it let him use both hands.
"Whose ass got kicked, Sparky?" he grumbled, "It sure as fuck wasn't SteelNazi McWolfFace who got all fucked up."
Shoving down the annoyance he felt, Sparky returned his focus to molding the energy in his fists. Arcs of electricity surged to life around his hands, almost singeing the tough cloth of his gloves but not quite. "One. More. Time…"
The electricity surged again, the arcs themselves now as thick as his fingers. "Fuck… yeah."
With a grunt, Sparky let go, his fingers relaxing slightly.
His fists lit up in a flash of blue-and-white light, the arcs coalescing into a single stream for an instant. In a burst of energy, the air screamed as a barrage of electrical blasts leapt from Sparky's outstretched hands.
The flurry of lightning, more powerful and far larger than Sparky expected, struck Lung at the base of his spine, forcing him to let out a pained roar as he reared his head back, his body twitching as his muscles locked up. Greg, laughing like a crazy person, capitalized on the opening and leapt into the air.
His fist glowing, Greg slammed it into Lung's open chest with a sound like thunder, letting out an excited cackle as he pushed his advantage even further.
Chest heaving, Sparky paused for a moment to catch his breath as his body began to feel the drain. That's it. I'm tapped out. Barely got enough for like a tenth of that.
Raising his visor, Sparky fell to his knees and let out wheezing breaths, his chest tightening as his body began to go through what he had begun to term "electricity withdrawal."
Pulling off his gloves, he wiped sweaty palms on the sides off his motorcycle jacket, his eyes trailing down his outfit, noting the brand name emblazoned all over his blue-and-white ensemble.
"Whoever the f-f-fuck Ducati is, they b-b-better fucking endorse m-m-me, I swear to G-god..."
- o - o- o – o – o – o – o -
Greg shook his head roughly as he landed back on the ground, his fists stinging slightly after the punishing combo he had delivered to his opponent's torso. He flashed Lung a tight grin, the expression forced as he could already hear the cracking sounds of Lung's ribs as they knit themselves back together. Fuck this, let's make him angry again! At least it'll knock him off his focus.
"Hey Lung, you know you've gotten real big but I can't help but feel like something's missing here.," Greg mused aloud, a wide smile on his face. He dodged backwards, leaping over Lung's flame-covered hands, barely even feeling the heat that brushed past his face. "Does it shrink when you transform or..."
Greg's smile added a rather off-kilter cockiness to the crazed excitement on his face as he ducked to avoid a flame bomb. "Are you angry all the time because you were born without a dick?"
The flames around Lung instantly stoked themselves into an inferno, the corona becoming more of a bodysuit of flames as Lung bellowed his rage. More of a fire demon than a dragon now, Lung flung himself forward blindly.
Taking Lung's furious lunge as an answer in the positive, Greg leaned back, avoiding a flaming haymaker and continued, "No joke, Big Red. There's nothing wrong with that. Everyone's perfect in their own special wa-HAHAHAHA!" Greg slammed his elbow into Lung's overextended arm, smirking darkly at the cracking sound he could hear.
"Sorry, bud, I can't even say it with a straight face." Greg snorted, laughing wildly as he leapt over Lung's fist again. "Where's your dick, man? Does it slide back into you when you stand up, like a dog? Does it shrink in the heat? Hell, where's your balls, man?"
"Or, is it just really true what they say about Asian guys?" Greg laughter reached a new pitch as he slid around Lungs angry fists, not even bothering to avoid the waves of fire he threw at him even as they pushed him back somewhat. "These are the real que-"
Lung's second meaty fist struck Greg's side moments after he avoided the first one, the villain's reptilian limbs displaying that odd flexibility again. The sheer power of the the grazing strike sent him flying into and through a building with a sound like a thunder and a shockwave of force.
Brick and plaster shattered and crumbled to dust as Greg plowed through several walls before finally coming to a slow, painful stop.
Greg let out a pained, choking gasp as he tried to get his bearings, finding himself inside one of the decrepit buildings that filled this part of the Commercial District. Insulting his penis, or lack of. That was stupid.
Funny. So funny, but stupid. He scrambled to his feet, trying his best to ignore the agonizing pain in his torso and spine. So stupid.
Red brick dust caked all over him, Greg reached out for something to steady himself as he struggled to breath and felt his hand enclose around a sturdy banister. "...fu-"
A massive red fist slammed through the building, barely avoiding Greg's trembling form. Blood pumping inside his ears like a drum, Greg dived to the right, the banister tearing apart in his grip as he threw himself headfirst into a pile of brick dust and rotten wood scraps. Lung's flaming limb dragged itself through the wall, thrashing as it hunted for him.
Iron banister still in hand, Greg rushed towards Lung's arm. Dashing forward in a surge of speed, he gripped the long, jagged remains of the banister in both hands, the metal already shining as golden energy ran through it.
Lung's arm surged forward, moving like a snake.
Without thinking, Greg swung.
Eyes wide, Greg let go of the meter-long piece of metal embedded in the middle of Lung's forearm, steaming blood spurting from the wound.
Lung screamed, his arm thrashing and tearing the building apart with force and fire. All this, even as his healing worked at the wound, scarlet flesh already bubbling.
"What are you crying for, you giant baby? It's like a splinter," Greg mocked.
It was a bit more than that and Greg knew it. The three-foot long spear of metal had pierced through Lung's scales with little more than a token resistance, only slowing down as it jammed into Lung's elbow joint.
His golden aura once again covering his entire body, Greg leapt up Lung's already healing arm and slammed through the brick wall separating them.
Arms raised over his head, Greg slammed them into Lung's face before using Lung's snout to jump onto the roof of the now-crumbling building.
Lung's other hand lunged for him, forcing Greg to whip to the side. His fist lashed out with a furious haymaker, the sound of broken bone accompanying the shining impact. Lung's fury was a near physical aura at this point, the intensity nearly as powerful as his flames as he clawed at Greg with damaged arms, bellowing about something in his gravelly, demonic voice.
Teeth bared in a wide grin, Greg roared his challenge back. A moment later, he launched himself at the villain's face. A hand the size of a small child slapped him away, once again sending him flying.
Greg slammed into the street below, body digging into the relatively untouched asphalt and creating a crater around him. "...owwww."
His head rang from the sudden strike, the errant movement by Lung just happening to strike him in the face. Rattled and somewhat dizzy, Greg raised a hand to his forehead. Oh, that's not good.
As his palm came away red and sticky, Greg bit back a frustrated groan. Another wound to add to his collection of slowly-healing injuries, apparently. For all that Greg was enjoying this, it didn't seem like Lung was weakening all that much.
Case in point.
Greg jumped to his feet as Lung burst through a building on the other end of the street, fully healed and roaring mad. So, the same as he always is. Crap on a cracker.
"C'mon, hand blasts." The words came out with another strangled laugh as Greg dropped his hands to the sides of his waist, the golden glow bursting to life as he forced energy into his palms. "Work f-for me," he muttered, arms already tingling. A moment later, the glow fizzled out into almost nothing, the explosive energy bomb he had called upon earlier refusing to work. "MOTHERFUCK!"
Greg shouted his frustrations, stomping a new hole into the asphalt below him as his angry shouting died down into tired laughter. "Fuck this I'll just hit him harder! That's a smart plan, right? That's gonna work this time, right?" You know what they say it about the definition of insanity. If it works, it's not crazy!
"Hey, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Asshole!" Greg defiantly ran towards the charging villain, continuing to flood energy to his fists despite feeling the drain on his existing reserves. Throwing caution to the wind, Greg thrust his fist out, screaming at the top of his lungs. "Eat this!"
Shining fist met massive spiked limb.
Agony raced up his arm as Lung met his crushing blow with his own giant fist, Greg's muscles screaming at him to relent as what felt like lava coursed through his veins. Shouting in surprise, Greg found himself skidding backwards, his body digging another small trench in the street. His arm was already bruising, a patchwork of purple appearing all over his forearm.
Even with this, Greg couldn't hold in in the laugh bubbling up in his throat as he jumped to his feet once more, pushing the pain in his arm to the back of his mind as he rushed towards Lung.
He dashed forward, forcing Lung to lash out at him, only to feint back and cackle as Lung's overextended lunge left his lower body open.
"God, you know I love doing this!" Greg shouted, letting out a frenzied burst of laughter as he drove a shining elbow into Lung's knee. "You hear that, Mushu? I'm having the time of my life right now!"
Lung slammed his fists into the ground, right where Greg had been a moment ago, too late to actually hit the kid as he dashed to Lung's side.
"I'm not even mad at you for trying to kill me when I was on the ground! Isn't that crazy? I just love these fights. Like, the one I had with Glory Girl. Oh my god, that girl can throw a punch. And, she's like super hot, too." Greg let out a high-pitched giggle at Lung's angry roar.
"No offense, big guy." Greg's fists became dual jackhammers, blurring as they battered into Lung's damaged knee. "You're hot too but you know… literally. Hahahahahahaha!"
Greg's laughter increased in intensity as Lung dropped to one knee, his other one already shattered, allowing Greg access to his upper body without having to jump.
"I mean, her fight was fun but you? Fighting you is kinda scary and that's a whole 'nother type of fun." Greg laughed again, the sound coming out far more hysterical than joyful as he slammed a fist into Lung's jaw. "Fights like these are sooo intense! It's like playing a video game, yaknow? But, I'm actually in the game and we both know the ending."
Lung snapped at Greg, the lower half of his jaw flailing weakly as Greg's fist slammed into it a second time. "I'm the big damn hero here. You're the big bad dragon man!" Red scales cracked and burst beneath his knuckles, splitting open to reveal weaker scarlet-tinted flesh.
"C'mon, Lung. Don't you know what my name means?" His fist slammed into Lung's jaw a third time in a flash of gold, cracking several blade-sized teeth and sending more flying from his maw in a shower of blood. Roaring, Lung jumped back, his wings snapping open to give him added distance.
Greg didn't waste any time in closing the distance again.
"Let me spell it out for you! It means I'm tougher!"
A blast of flame, jet-like in intensity burst from one of the holes on Lung's chest. Greg rushed through the blaze, screaming at the top of his lungs as he thrust a fist into the warm, vent-like opening. With an angry roar, he ripped the growth from Lung's chest, showering himself in steaming blood.
Bellowing in pain, Lung grabbed at him, claws poised to tear him to pieces. Rather than dodge it, Greg simply leaned out of the way. Without missing a beat, he thrust a glowing palm into the side of Lung's wrist, golden energy enhancing the strike and knocking the over-extended villain off-balance.
Linking his fists together, Greg slammed the hammerfist into Lung's knee to the cracking sound of bone shattering to pieces.
"My name is Greg Veder and I'm literally Superior!"
He spun, slamming the same double fist into the back of Lung's other knee.
"To you and the rest of your stupid worthless ABB!"
Greg did it again, and again and again until the villain finally toppled like a redwood, falling to the ground on both knees that were as stable as twigs. Angry, in pain, and at the end of his rope, Lung lashed out, his flaming aura exploding outward with the force of a large bomb. Right beneath Lung, the force of the blast caught Greg unawares, sending him flying like a leaf in a tornado.
Even as he hit the asphalt several meters away with tremendous force, Greg pulled himself from the rubble and shouted at the top of his lungs. "SURGE, HIT HIM!"
Greg's scream rang out, echoing against the empty street and was met with an answer.
A burst of blue lit up the air again, followed by the sound of thunder. Lung reared back again as a small bolt of lightning crashed into his torso, his explosion petering out as his muscles locked up, his limbs once again twitching without his control.
Greg roared, charging forward as he held one fist up.
The same fist began to shine, golden light streaming from it as he charged it with as much energy as he possibly could.
Come on. Come on. Everything I have left! Fire burst around his clenched fist, traveling up his forearm, the orange mixing with the gold to form the color of a bright sunset. Greg paid it no mind, the pain in his body already enough a distraction as he focused on Lung's twitching form.
"Why don't you do me and the rest of this goddamn city a giant favor, Lung?" Greg shouted, "Do everyone a giant favor and JUST!"
The dragon-man's healing factor burst to life, fighting off the electrical blast that sent him and his body into a fugue state.
His eyes met Greg's and he roared.
"STAY!" Greg roared back.
In a rush of limbs and fire, the dragon lunged.
"DOWN!" Greg swung his fist with all his strength. The air whistled.
Greg's bones screamed as he met Lung's breast-bone with his fist, the crack loud enough to be HEARD.
The air screamed.
Everything went white for an instant as raw power rushed out from Greg's clenched, bleeding fist. Like the fist of an angry god, an eruption of light, sound and fire exploded through Lung's body, utterly pulverizing everything it passed through.
Greg stepped back, eyes tired and body drained to the last.
His jaw dropped once again, as he stared at Lung.
The villain's eyes, once filled with rage and literal fire, began to dim as he glanced down at his chest, or what was left of it. The villain raised his draconic head slowly to stare at Greg and, like the unyielding colossus he was, Lung took a step forward.
From where he stood, Greg couldn't believe it. The blast had torn through half Lung's body, somehow missing his head, and it wasn't enough to take the villain down. Everything on the right side of his body was gone, the mass utterly obliterated. Yet, he could still move.
Probably still fight too.
This… this just wasn't fair. Hell, it was insane.
It really is. Greg found himself laughing silently, the sound nonexistent as he could barely draw breath to gasp, let alone chuckle. What did I expect? This guy fought Lev-
As if just registering the sudden loss of blood, an arm and half his torso, Lung collapsed forward with a thunderous crash. For a moment, Greg held his breath as he watched Lung's massive body resting in a pool of his own, still-boiling blood.
Greg stared, bright blue eyes refusing to blink.
Lung didn't so much as twitch.
A moment later, Greg let himself fall to the floor, unable to help the tired, wheezing laughter that fell out as he lay there on the ruined street. Barely able to pick himself up, Greg just let himself laugh.
Not anxiety, not fear, not stress.
Relief was all he felt as he lay flat on the ground, his tingling palms resting on the torn-up gravel. His shirt? Nothing more than a burnt rag hanging off a single shoulder. His jeans? Just ripped shorts. His boots? Melted into the asphalt and long gone. Wherever his jacket was, Greg couldn't really find it in him to care. "God, that was insane."
Sparky, suddenly by his side in a burst of blue, nodded. "I know. It was weird."
Greg laughed, wheezing slightly. "The whole thing was just… just crazy."
"Unbelievable… like," Sparky paused, letting out a short laugh before continuing, ''when did you have time to write a whole speech?"
Greg blinked, staring up at his friend from his position on the ground. "What? I'd… I didn't…
"Come on, brah. You might as well have said, 'Who the hell do you think I am?'" Above his bandana, Sparky's eyes rose as he shot Greg an unbelieving look. "The whole rest of that speech sounded like you copy-pasted from a Gurren Lagann episode that never aired."
"I…" Greg blinked, cringing as he let out a weak "...no."
"I'm Greg Veder, the Superior man with a plan and I love me some punches. Ain't my powers awesome?" Sparky replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Okay," Greg wheezed, "okay, okay, I get… your point."
"I mean, I couldn't even hear half of it over all the fucking explosions," Sparky admitted with a shrug. "I mean, I was like a whole street away, but it was like watching a fucking boss fight."
"Boss fight?" Greg wheezed, a smile on his face. "What game?"
"Veder May Cry 3: Greg's Awakening," his friend snarked. "I mean, I wouldn't buy a lame-ass game like that. I'd pirate it, though."
"The whole thing was either a game or a really bad anime, I think," Greg replied after a moment's silence, giggling slightly as he said it.
"What?" Sparky turned his head, the motorcycle helmet on his shoulders shaking slightly.
"I mean," Greg let out a shaky sigh, turning his head slightly to look at Sparky. "Think about it. We're two teenagers with superpowers who fought a bad guy from Japan who can turn into a dragon. If this isn't anime or game-worthy, what is?"
"That…" Sparky blinked. He groaned and spread his hands out wide, still frowning. "...makes some kind of sense."
"I know," Greg replied, still smiling.
"Don't get me wrong, it's still the dumbest shit I've ever heard, brah. how much blood did you lose?"
Greg blinked, still well aware of the sticky, warm feeling trailing down his forehead. "...enough."
"Yeah. Still less than last time I fought Lung, though."
"That's not saying much," Sparky grumbled. Greg could almost hear the eye roll from his best friend as he said that.
Greg wheezed again, the sound coming out instead of a laugh. "...true." He opened his mouth to add something to his statement only to pause as he heard something. For a moment, his punch-drunk mind thought it was coming from Lung, only to realize that couldn't be possible for multiple reasons. Since when does Lung have tires, you idiot?
As tired as he was, Greg managed to push himself up on his arms, turning his head to face the end of the street. Sparky turned in the same direction Greg was facing, before pausing to glance down at his friend. "What is it?"
Greg frowned, shaking his head as he let out a tired groan. "Cavalry's here."
"The fuck is the cava-"
Before Sparky could finish, he was interrupted by the appearance of three flying figures, all dressed primarily in white. The taller figure floating in the lead moved forward, only to halt at the sight of Lung's massive form, currently missing a good portion of his body, and the destruction around him.
Photon Mom, Laserdream, and Shielder, Greg raised an eyebrow at their sudden appearance. Didn't hear them coming.
The noise he did hear made itself known as several PRT trucks and one larger, white armored van skidded to a halt down the street a moment later. From the black trucks poured out a small army of PRT, armed to the teeth and covered in thick, black body armor emblazoned with PRT on their chest-plates.
The white van opened and members of the Protectorate – or most of it, at least – jumped out, a bruised and battered-looking Armsmaster in the lead with Miss Militia right behind him.
Before Greg could open his mouth to say anything, Sparky stood up and raised his visor, shooting all the gathered heroes a raised eyebrow. "Wow, you guys have the response time of a pizza delivery."
"Oh, yeah." The electric-using teenager jerked his thumb over his shoulder in Lung's direction, snarkily adding, "We took care of that thing for ya. Our pleasure, really."
Greg couldn't help himself, the grin on his face turning into another bout of wheezing laughter even as he still lay on the floor. At least it's finally over.
- o - o- o – o – o – o – o -
"This is Christine Slater reporting live from outside Brockton Bay Central Hospital."
The television hanging on the wall blared the news, the ticker below the brunette reporter displaying "Breaking News".
"There's a great deal of confusion out here in front of the hospital. It's been announced by police and PRT that there was an incident, some kind of Tinker-tech explosion inside the waiting room of Brockton Bay Central over the last hour. The person who set off the device, the bomber… I do not have their name but what we do know is the identity of the attacker. A fifty-eight year old Chinese woman was the one to set off the non-incendiary device."
The field correspondent's hand went to her ear, as she listened to her earpiece for a few seconds before turning back to the camera.
"I just received a report confirming that there was a fatality. While only one death has been reported, that of the bomber herself, it seems that the other victims, several dozen victims, have been reported to be in some sort of coma. Or, at least a coma-like state, including several nurses and multiple police officers. As the hospital was essentially on lockdo-
The television exploded into several pieces and fell from the wall, it's individual parts burnt and charred as well as the wall behind it. At the other end of the room, Greg Veder sat on a hospital bed, fat tears dripping from blazing red eyes.
One hand gripped the railing of his hospital bed, mutilating it, while the other fist flickered with a fading golden light.
- o - o- o – o – o – o – o -
End of Book One
A/N: That's the end for now. I feel satisfied with I have so far. All that's left is to start working on Book Two. The end of this chapter basically set the tone for Book Two, if you couldn't tell. Hope you enjoyed it, by the way. You have no idea how long I let this chapter just sit because I felt it wasn't perfect enough or that it didn't capture what I wanted to happen. I still feel like it doesn't but I'm just like "what are you gonna do to fix it?" And I'm also like "I dunno." So, yeah, End of Book One.