Surprise doesn't take long, when your mind moves at superhuman speeds. Shock takes a little longer, though. When I got ambushed by two gangs of Lord Raptor's mercenaries, each one about eight people strong, each one equipped by a wide-beam stun projector that pretty much negated my speed advantage, I just stood there for a long moment in stunned panic. The alert sirens blared, Lord Raptor's men shouted, and I felt the panic stretch out into an eternity.
Somewhere at the end of that eternity, I realized that they were shouting at each other. I also realized that the alarms weren't about me.
Obviously, I wondered what they were about, but now that the shock was over, I was back in the zone. I broke right, sprinting headlong down the corridor towards the first group of thugs and diving into a skid as they finally realized that they needed to keep their attention less on the new situation and more on the superhero right in front of them. They blasted the stun projector over my head just as I grabbed the ankle of the guy holding it and dragged him backwards into his buddies. They went over into each other in a tangle of limbs, and I'm not ashamed to say I bounced a few heads off of the floors to make sure they didn't get up.
I looked down to the other end of the corridor, hoping I might see a group of semi-conscious mercs at the other end, but no such luck. The armor they wore protected them against their own weapons. They'd shrugged off the stun blasts easily...
...and at hummingbird speed, I had just managed to get the chestplate off of the lead soldier and duck behind it when they got their first shot off.
To the soldiers at the other end of the hallway, it probably seemed like they were fighting under a strobe light. The stun cannon fired so rapidly it lit up the hallway almost twenty times a second, but even on full auto, that left me plenty of time to pop up and run about five steps before I had to duck behind my improvised shield. The strobe effect probably made it seem like I moved even faster; I could see the expression of sheer terror on the face of the trooper holding the gun just before I kicked it out of his hands and laid into them.
A few seconds after that, and it was all over. Mind you, I was sweating like a pig and craving Kool-Aid so bad I could almost taste Sharkleberries, but I had taken out sixteen full-grown battle-hardened mercenaries with my bare hands. My adrenalin was pumping like a freaking beast.
I went for the door, but my opener had stopped working. So I grabbed one from an unconscious soldier. On further thought, I grabbed them all. Even if I didn't need them, I figured that was sixteen guys who weren't going anywhere soon.
Every few minutes, I had to track down a new goon to get a fresh one, but I really felt like I was making progress. There weren't nearly as many soldiers, and the ones that I did bump into seemed distracted and panicky, easy to evade. After a while, I started following them just to see what the fuss was about.
Pretty soon, I found out. A squad I was following charged through a bulkhead that slammed shut behind them. I heard the zap of stun projectors, a bone-jarring crunch that was like no sound I'd ever heard in a fight, the crash of metal hitting metal. Then silence. I ventured towards the door cautiously, uncertain of what might be on the other side...and then I found out.
The bone-rattling thud sounded again. Then a third time. The door began to buckle under titanic strain, its surface bulging suddenly with each blow. Finally, it crumpled completely and a man stepped over it to face me.
And that was how I met Captain Light.
TO BE CONTINUED...