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~Zivalene


inFAMOUS: Legacy of the Beast
Chapter 1

"What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want."
~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


~The 1st Day~

Gunfire rang out in the streets of New Marais. Thunder split the air with deafening cracks under a burning red sky. Shouts of anger and fear traded back and forth in the minuscule pauses between shots.

Bullets whizzed past Cole MacGrath as he relentlessly loosed bolts of cerulean lightning from his hands. Two men stood on the balcony of a nearby apartment wearing camouflage fatigues and armed with 9mm pistols. They were members of the local resistance whom he had previously allied with against the city's oppressive government.

These two, however, were nameless to him and so left him no guilt as the balcony gave way beneath their feet. If the fall to the concrete didn't kill them, the iron and wood scaffolding did.

The electric man grit his teeth and howled as several bullets pelted his back. Blood leaked from his wounds and left red spots across his yellow shirt.

He turned over his left shoulder, spotting a group of four police officers perched on top of a green shingled roof four floors high. One of them, wielding a semi-automatic rifle likely confiscated from the numerous outlaws infesting the town, leered heatedly at him with a smug sneer as if proud to have punished him for his actions.

Though his confidence quickly dissipated seeing Cole give a grin of his own. As quickly as the metal casings had shed his skin, his wounds had healed as if they were nothing more than an afterthought.

With a side-arm toss, he sent a small orb of condensed electricity toward the cops, landing it at the edge of the roof. The one who had shot him called out a warning for the grenade and ducked behind a brick chimney immediately to his left. The officer beside him to who could not find cover in time had been thrown from the side of the building as the little blue ball combusted.

Not intending on missing the second time, he pulled his hand above his shoulder and took aim at the man hiding behind the chute. He only stopped upon hearing a dismissive growl come from the giant golem of lava beside him, whose shoulder he had been hovering over throughout the siege.

The Beast, known sympathetically to Cole by the name of John White, conjured a convection of fire between his two enormous hands to create his own destructive projectile. With a great lunge of his arm, the ball of flames rushed towards the officers, who had tried to retaliate with machine gun fire and rocket propelled grenades only to helplessly be engulfed in the blaze. Upon contact, the sphere exploded with enough force to crumble the roof into a rain of green shingles and brick, reducing the building from three stories to two.

The three remaining policemen were nowhere to be seen, incinerated in the attack.

Cole smirked, oddly satisfied with watching the destruction unfold. He found himself rather humbled to be at John's side while he carried out his mission to save the city from impending doom. The more he witnessed the magnitude of his power, the better he felt about choosing to be his ally rather than his enemy.

At the same time, he was conflicted. If he had this level of strength and absolution with his own powers, he probably would have been able to prevent the world from falling into the decaying state it was in.

He shoved these regrets away. Right now, there was a job to do. All that mattered was helping John heal New Marais from the impending Plague that threatened to silently kill every last human being on Earth. He could be alone with his mistakes later.

Pulled through the air like a canine in a harness, Cole remained beside the Beast's massive one-hundred foot tall frame as he trudged closer to the Saint Ignatius cathedral at the end of the street, each footfall a boom of solid stone against concrete rocking his chest. Cars, debris and corpses floated weightlessly through the air due to the gravity-nullifying field surrounding the giant.

One of John's many abilities allowed him to provide himself as a source of power for other Conduits, which—along with the lack of gravity— allowed Cole achieve perfect flight and repair damaged tissue with miraculous ease. The only downside was that he had to remain within a personal distance to him.

Even from a generous range, the electric man could feel the heat radiating off of his magma body and the miasmic fumes of carbon dioxide and sulfur made him want to vomit. However, he respectfully held the bile down in his throat and looked forward to John returning to his human body once their task was completed.

At the gates of the church's courtyard, a handful of rebels and several more members of the city's oppressive militia that they had once feuded with greeted them with a hail of gunfire and rockets. One of the masked delinquents had manned a high-powered turret mounted on the back of a truck.

Against the onslaught of bullets, Cole created his own personal electromagnetic force field to protect himself from the attack. The kinetic energy from the shots were absorbed by the shield and converted into electricity to fuel his powers.

John, on the other hand, was wholly unfazed by their advances. The bullets and missiles left not even the smallest scratch on his dense armor. Without concern for his wellbeing, he readied another fireball and launched it at their ranks.

In a flare of cinder and ashes, the truck exploded in a burst of gasoline and embers, taking all of the rebels and militia with it.

As the pair neared the foot of the stairs at the front of the cathedral, Cole's earpiece buzzed with his other companion's voice, Lucy Kuo, who had just expunged a squad of militia from a nearby rooftop. "Can you believe this? Rebels and Militia fighting side-by-side?"

"They know they're about to die," he shrugged, spotting her standing among the frozen corpses she had left in her wake. "What's their rivalry compared to what we're about to do to them?"

From above, he could see her frown; not from his statement but from something she saw that he wasn't aware of. "Cole, behind you!"

He spun around, flinching at the flash of blue streaking towards him. While he had managed to avoid it, John did not.

Cole plummeted from the air, unable to maintain flight without John amplifying his powers. He grappled onto the neck of a street lamp as he fell, his heart stuttering from the surprise of the plunge.

The Beast toppled to one knee, letting out a mournful roar as the beam sapped his strength. As powerful and invincible as he was, there still remained one thing that could kill him; the Ray Field Inhibitor. And it was in the opposing hands of one of Cole's former comrades.

If he allowed John to die now, the rest of humanity would die with him.

From above he heard Kuo give a disgruntled groan. "I'll protect John, you take care of Nix."

"Damn right I will," Cole agreed, following the beam to the roof of the cathedral with glaring eyes.

Painlessly, he let go of the utility light and dropped to the sidewalk. Brazenly, he barreled up the stone steps that led to the front doors of the chapel, crossing under the shadow of a statue of the man who had christened it.

Rebels, militia and police officers alike who had joined forces to protect the landmark fired upon him in unison. A few bullets grazed the sides of his arms, snipped the clumped fabric of his pants and may have even caught him in the shoulder, but without better precision their weapons were no match for a Conduit's endurance to pain.

Concentrating electricity into his hands, he ionized the air particles around him and unleashed a spontaneous gust of wind toward his enemies. In only a few short moments it had raged into an isolated tornado strong enough to lift them out of his path and thrown across the courtyard.

He directed his attention to the crest of the cathedral's roof near the large decorative crucifix and released a salvo of projectiles, densely packed with electricity. They burst just beneath where Nix stood, and immediately the bright light shrunk away as she withdrew to safety.

This time, he wasn't going to let her get away.

Utilizing his powers, he tossed a continuous arc of lightning to the edge of the roof and zoomed to the top.

Stepping down from the plaster frame that connected the two bell towers to the iconic Christian symbol, Cole stared Nix in the eye, who tightly clutched the Conduit-eradication device in her hand.

"You don't have to do this, Nix," he said callously. "Come on…. Join us."

Her dark brown eyes furrowed in disgust. "I ain't letting that thing live another day! Besides—if he makes everyone a Conduit, then what am I? I'll be a nobody again."

Equally displeased to hear her refusal, Cole shot a streak of lightning at her, causing a crack of thunder that split the sound barrier.

In a plume of ash and cinder Nix had vanished, sparing herself from the wrath of one-hundred thousand volts. An instant later, he felt the searing pain of burns at his back as he was shoved to the floor by a cloud of black smoke.

He hardly had the time to retaliate before he noticed the gobs of boiling napalm flying towards him. He rolled to his right, allowing the slope of the roof to slide him down and out of harm's way before the noxious bombs splat in the very spot he had stood.

"I thought you were tougher than this," she mocked with a coy grin.

More than happy to reaffirm his tenacity, he lobbed three of his own grenades at her. Planting around her feet, she was blown onto her back.

Cole took this as his opportunity to close in, manifesting his electricity as a blade of solid plasma around his forearm. He would end this quick, not wishing any more suffering onto his friend than necessary despite their opposing views.

As his hand came down, she curled on her side, narrowly keeping her neck attached to her body. Her boot rammed into the man's side, causing him to stumble.

From her hand spurted a miasma of black smoke and red-hot cinders that obscured his vision. Cole shut his eyes as they began to water and coughed harshly to remove the irritants from his lungs.

Another burning cloud sent him tumbling down the other side of the roof.

He blinked furiously trying to clear his vision, the sting in his eyes blurring the world around him. When he saw the glare of blue above him, he vaulted over a nearby dormer that allowed light to seep in from the ceiling. His hand seared in horrible pain as the beam from the RFI came in contact with his skin as if he had dipped it in corrosive acid.

Behind the gabled structure, he hissed and clutched at his hand. That was only an instant of exposure to the Inhibitor's degrading effects on his body. What John had endured must have been unbearable.

He turned to glance over the peak of shingles only to duck down to avoid the laser once more. So long as Nix had the device bearing down on his position, he wasn't going to be leaving any time soon.

Scrambling through his mind for a solution, Cole lifted his gaze to the scarlet sky and released a bright satellite straight up into the air. For a brief moment Nix's attention drifted away from him and to the spherical object he had created, suspecting it to be an explicit threat to her. In that short window, he fired a single arc of lightning at her.

Her muscles locked up in response to the voltage flowing from her chest to her feet and she buckled in shock. But the real damage came when the satellite immediately changed course and barrelled down at her as if it were a highly volatile missile guided by a precise targeting system.

Again, she fell to the flat ridge of the roof. Her dark skin had begun to bruise into black splotches, burns from exposure to electrical currents shredding bright pink strips in her flesh. Some of them had even began to weep in blood.

She gasped for air as she wobbled to her feet. "We had some fun, didn't we baby?"

"Yeah…. Yeah, Nix, we did," Cole nodded accompanying a strained whisper. "But you picked the wrong side on this one."

Disappointed by his answer, Nix's palms illuminated in a rustic red and she stomped her boot into the stone. Thick tendrils of black and orange goo slithered at him, anxious to engulf him in their slimy depths.

Cole hopped backwards, being careful not to let the trails of napalm touch his skin. He had seen this attack before many times. Once she had her foe ensnared they were rendered immobile before bursting into an all-encompassing inferno with the slightest ignition; most of the time it had been his own electricity used as the catalyst.

One by one, he detonated the chemicals with a single strike of lightning, leaving the remaining oils to fall lifeless and limp, staining the brick and plaster stained a slick ebony black.

Tiny specs of napalm dotted his skin and clothes. Pinpricks of pain stabbed his nerves, but it was nothing he couldn't ignore for the moment.

Before the slick had finished raining down, more gobs of incendiary bombs flew at him. Reacting quickly, Cole shoved his hands forward from his chest and released a wave of kinetic energy. The blobs bounced away like a tennis ball thrown against a wall and found their way back to Nix.

As she reeled once more from injury, Cole sent a cluster of his own grenades into the mix. The woman let out a tormented shout as electricity mixed with napalm and left intense burns throughout her skin.

"I was so wrong about you!" she cried, her voice harsh and hateful.

"Stop fighting. It's over."

Enraged and desperate, Nix concealed her body in flames and rocketed towards him, her posture and reminiscent of a phoenix in flight.

Before he was able to move, Cole was struck square in the chest as the fire burst in his face. He was thrown backwards into the base of a dome at the rear of the chapel with such force that he struggled to breathe, stunned from the impact.

A moment later his torso was covered in the sticky black oil and trapped against the wall like a fly caught in a spider's web. He wriggled and squirmed, knowing that his opponent could easily set fire to the gel and incinerate him whenever she pleased. But he quickly realized that he wasn't going anywhere.

Nix approached him with sashaying hips and said in a purring voice, "You've been a bad boy, Cole baby...going back on your promise." She brought her clawed fingers to his cheek and gently caressed him with the cold metal. "It's not too late, y'know—to do the right thing."

He jerked away from her as far as he could, scowling. "I am doing the right thing. John's the last hope humanity has. If you kill him you'll be taking the whole world down with him."

She frowned at his answer. "Hope, huh? You're one to talk considering you could use more of it. You went through all that—finding the Blast Cores, telling everyone you'd kill the Beast—just to spit in our faces and leave us in the dirt."

"You're just mad that he killed your pets," he replied. "Open your eyes, Nix. You know this is the only way."

"And maybe you're not man enough to tell me the truth. You're just afraid to die, just like that frigid bitch Kuo."

She waited for a rebuttal, but was met with only a stoic silence.

"Fine, then. Be like that. Once I kill the Beast, you won't have much of a choice except to use the RFI. You're going to have to man up sooner or later."

"Over my dead body," Cole vowed.

"Yeah," she nodded with resentment. "Mine, too."

Then she turned on her heel and slipped into a snaking cloud of ash, returning to the roof's edge with RFI in hand. Raising it above her head, she clenched down on the controls and activated the azure beam that screamed across the sky.

Cole's teeth chattered as John's ferocious roar caused the building to trembled and quake. He didn't need to see him to know that he was suffering. He had to do something, and fast.

Whatever he decided to do, Nix wouldn't resort to killing him. She still needed him to utilize the RFI's full capabilities. He, himself, was an inexpendable bargaining chip. Where she had no choice but to keep him alive, she did not have the same privilege.

He fought against the adhesive gel as hard as he was able, but it did not budge. He would need to use more than just his brute strength to free himself.

As an incendiary substance, it would be unwise to use his electric powers and risk burning himself alive. Thankfully, he was armed with more than just his basic set of abilities.

From his hands came a freezing cold stream of ice that he concentrated on the slick that trapped him against the wall. Slowly the liquid began to solidify, losing its adhesive properties and becoming tough and frigid.

He glanced up to check if Nix had noticed him trying to escape. Crystals of ice rocketed at her from below. She ducked behind the crucifix for a short moment before focusing the RFI again. Cole could only assume that Kuo was in just as much danger as John was. Thankfully, they were providing enough of a distraction to keep her attention away from him.

After half a minute had passed, Cole had frozen the napalm enough to peel himself off the wall and the viscous substance from his shirt. Lashing his right arm out toward Nix, he ripped her from her perch with a tether of lightning.

Caught off guard and confused, she crumpled to the slicked ground where much of her expended oil had congregated. She had no time to run before Cole raised both hands to the sky, thunder rolling in anticipation, and on his command a storm of pure natural lightning hurled down upon her.

Under the endless pounding of thunder, Nix's screams barely reached his ears. He reserved this power for the worst of situations; when he needed to end a fight immediately and when he was outnumbered and outmatched. In this case, the battle had gone on long enough.

He did not expect her to survive.

When the last of the lightning dissipated and the thunder gave its final heave, his heart jolted to see Nix twitch face-down in the ashes of expended napalm. Her arms shook as she tried to lift herself off the floor, blood and agonizing sobs dribbling from her lips.

All the while, she never let go of the RFI clutched in her grasp. She had endured on determination and stubbornness alone.

Bringing his hand over his shoulder, Cole gripped the hilt of his Amp and pulled it from the strap on his backpack. While he admired her gusto, he had a mission to complete. So long as she lived, she'd only be barring his path to save the world.

He rushed at her with both hands tight on his weapon and struck with all his might. She fell to her back, but continued to breathe.

The two prongs of his Amp pinned her to the ground by her neck. With her empty hand she clasped at it, staring back at him with her graphite eyes full of fear and pain.

He paused a moment, having never seen anything less than vim and vigor in her features. To see her so vulnerable and afraid sent a shiver down his spine.

Then he swallowed and grit his teeth. Electricity surged through his hands and into the metallic coils against her neck. She convulsed and screamed silently, but only for a few short seconds.

When he drew back, her head bobbed lifelessly and her eyes were glazed in white. The RFI rolled from her limp fingers and seemed resolved to make its way to the base of crucifix at the other end of the roof.

It came to a halt after bumping against the rubber soles of a pair of black converse. Cole frowned, his stomach twisting in dread.

Zeke Dunbar, the one person he could ever truly call his friend and, at times, his surrogate brother, scooped the machine into his hand. In the other was his favorite six-shot revolver.

Cole returned the Amp to its sheathe as he approached with legs heavy as lead, a serrated knife piercing his heart. "Half as long…" he uttered with a hoarse voice.

"...Twice as bright," reciprocated his friend, empty and resigning. He raised his gun and aimed it at his friend. With a dejected shake of his head he said in a near apologetic tone, "I gotta try."

"I know..." Cole whispered. He didn't blame him for wanting to take the shot. It was for the sake of survival, and maybe a little bit of pride.

The two already knew how this would end. Zeke was only a man without any superpowers to speak of. He had no means to stop him, but there was no one else left to stand in his way.

With a terribly loud crack Cole pitched forward in pain, grabbing at his chest. His best friend had taken a perfect shot at his heart.

But Cole's superhuman resistance to bullets had left him with only a bloody cut and a hole in his yellow shirt.

He returned a glare directly to Zeke's eyes hidden behind his thick sunglasses. Then electricity laced from his hand and up his arm, tinting his face with a pale blue light.

Zeke took aim again with a rock in his chest. In self-defense Cole conducted a charge of only a few volts into his body, but it was enough to send a painful jolt through his muscles and cause his heart to beat unevenly.

Doubled over, Zeke craned his head up to see Cole shrink at his suffering.

He lifted the gun again and was met with another devastating shock, falling to his hands and knees. For a few seconds his lungs failed to expand, leaving him breathless and gasping for air.

Shaking violently, Zeke pulled himself to one knee struggling to keep his balance. Every nerve in his body had been shot, leaving him in excruciating pain. His heart ached with every pitiful beat.

His head bobbled wearily looking up at Cole one more time. The other's eyes drooped in regret as he shook his head slowly, begging Zeke not to try again.

Taking a breath that sounded more like a choke, his arm jerked uncontrollably as the gun rose one last time. The barrel of the revolver wobbled in every direction without a stable hand to guide it.

Zeke's finger twitched at the trigger.

Cole released another bolt of lightning from his hand. His "brother" fell back, blue streaks of electricity dancing across his body, and did not stir again.

The electric man took hold of the Amp and held it loosely in his hand. His legs felt as if he weighed a ton as he staggered toward Zeke's still body.

He crouched beside him; taking in the reality that he had killed the last person he had held dear. His head hung in shame. The line that divided right and wrong now seemed entirely faded to him. Zeke had died defending the cause he thought was right—the same cause Cole himself had been fighting for since the day they sailed to New Marais—and he had never felt so wrong in his life.

Zeke's hand flopped to the floor as Cole pried the RFI from his fingers. The device buzzed and hummed in his grasp as it were a living being trembling in fear.

The city had fallen into an ominous silence. No gunfire rattled the air like it had only moments ago. Those who had come to fight had either perished defending the city, or had taken their only chance to run.

A flurry of snow burst above him. Lucy Kuo had flown to the top of the cathedral and balanced on the left arm of the crucifix.

Crashing footfalls rocked the entire building as John came lumbering forward, standing at his full height just short of the tallest bell tower on the chapel.

The two of them stared in anticipation.

Under their gaze, he briefly tightened his grip on the RFI. Nix's final words echoed in his head. It wasn't too late. He could still use it to save millions of lives. All it would take was the simple flip of a switch.

But what if it didn't work? It would kill every Conduit on the planet and leave the Plague to finish off the rest of humanity.

It was a chance he wasn't willing to take.

Cole threw it to the ground and gripped his Amp with both hands. He raised it over his shoulder and with an anguished shout brought it down before he had the chance to change his mind.

The RFI was smashed into small chunks of metal and copper wiring—completely destroyed beyond repair.

Now there really was only one last hope to save the world from the Plague. Their mission could continue unimpeded. Without the RFI no one could stop them.

John's burning eyes fell upon the bodies of Nix and Zeke. His voice echoed in the hollow spaces of his companions' minds. 'Cole... I can't…' He hung his head wearily and he took hold of the tower for support. 'I can't do this anymore.'

Cole leered at him, feeling his heart began to pound and his stomach twist into a knot. "What? After all this...?"

'No,' retaliated the other, 'I still believe in the plan, but I'm just so tired. I should have died a long time ago.'

Kuo looked away sorrowfully.

"John..." Cole growled through gritted teeth. He had come too far for it to end like this. He couldn't bring Zeke back from the dead nor any other innocents he had killed that day. If John gave up now, all of their deaths would have been for nothing.

'...But I know you,' said John earnestly. 'If I gave you the power you would see it through.'

Cole's pulse stopped. He opened his mouth to protest, but suddenly felt an intense pressure take him by the chest. An enormous amount of power rushed into his body exactly as if he was a sponge tossed carelessly into the ocean.

The sensation intensified, sending him into an excruciating pain. He didn't know what would happen first—whether his body would simply give out from the pain or if he would pop like a balloon.

The energy had become too much for him to contain, spilling from his eyes and mouth as a pure storm of lightning.

The next moment there came an intense light bursting forth from John. The cathedral gave way beneath Cole's feet, sending him crashing several stories to the ground and burying him under its remains.

Screams of inevitable suffering and death filled in the silence.

With unimaginable force the blast leveled the city. Entire buildings were smashed into useless heaps of rubble. Cars exploded on every street, signs and stoplights were ripped from their moorings, twisted into knots as if they had been made of string. Roads collapsed into the underground sewer system, swallowing anything unfortunate enough to be placed there at the time.

Every human in the city had been reduced to smoldering piles of incinerated flesh and bone, giving way for the Conduits to gain their hidden potential and be cured of the Plague.

At last, New Marais took its final breath.