A Real Hero: Supercharged/Waltz In The Barrowlands

supercharged

21:49 Sun, 26 Oct, [Rooftops of the St Enoch Centre]

A torrent of electricity flashes and flows all around me, whipping around my body, a vibrant cyclone of energy in stark contrast with the sombre grey concrete of the rooftops. Amidst the spiral, focused waves of energy are drawn into my body, pulled in through my hands and fingertips. I take sharp, rushed breaths. It’s a feeling not unlike that of sudden submergence in cold water. A dizzying gale of motion runs all through me, making me feel strong – overflowing with potential.

“It’s working?”

The familiar, curiously concerned voice of my partner in crime fighting crackles in my ear.

“This is the shit!”

“You’re really drawing in electricity from the substation? Can you retain it?”

I carefully stop pulling in electricity from the big metal box in front of me. The air settles, and my clothes fall back down, still swaying slightly. Now that I’ve stopped, I realise that I had a sort of tunnel vision, my surroundings had narrowed and narrowed, the world fading to the back of my mind. My fingers feel hot and a little numb. My whole body feels rejuvenated, and poised… no, demanding action.

“Oh for sure.”

“Great! Looks like we can move forward tomorrow with some formal tests to quantify what amount of power you can draw out and use. And of course, we can establish any drawbacks or side effects it might have on you.”

“Sounds awesome, but for now I need to put this to use. It’s too good to waste.”

“But you don’t know what might happen! You can’t overdo it right now you need to wa”

I sever the lines of communication with Bryce and take off with a new found, reckless alacrity. My mind and body are in ready agreement, craving action, shouting down the voice of considered reason.

Pounding across the rooftop with exceptional speed, even for me, I dodge and dash between vents and pipes. The rooftop masonry and ventilation equipment blurs past, barely an afterthought.  My speed is unhindered, enhanced reactions easily able to cope with the obstacles in my way as I progress to the side of the roof. With a confident leap, I bound across the gap, landing on the top floor of the adjacent parking lot.

A whole new range of possibilities lay before me. Without the hindrance of limited energy, I can use my powers freely. I no longer have to carefully ration their use; I can simply recharge and keep going. Finding sources of electricity is child’s play. I can see them at will. The rooftops are littered with substations, lampposts and other light sources are readily available, and half the cars on the street house huge battery engines. It’s an open energy buffet.

Transitioning into a forward roll on hitting the car park roof, I maintain momentum, passing a waist high vent with a Kong vault and sprinting on. My breathing is easy and my legs feel light and swift. I’m determined to make an impact tonight. I’ve spent too much time over the last week taking it easy in the safer parts of town. In that short time, things have inexplicably and rapidly spun out of control elsewhere. An unprecedented influx of premium drugs at an impossibly low price point seems to be driving the trouble.

I burst into the stairwell intending to take the easy route down to street level.  It’s a particularly cold night, but I’m not feeling it at all now. I’m just a stone’s throw from the East End, so it seems like a natural starting point.

 

waltz

 

23:15 Sun, 26 Oct, [Bain Street]

A leg sweep slices across the ankles of my final opponent, sending him clattering into the pavement, his pistol dropping by his side along with his limp arms. I deliver one final electrically charged blow to his chest to ensure that he’s unconscious before rising up to inspect the scene.

This corner looks much the same as the last five I just took out. Four guys selling on the street with impunity. Normally slingers stick to slightly less visible spots like alleyways or car parks, even this late, but everyone I’ve tangled with tonight has been all but out in the open running what looks to be a roaring trade. For the most part, street level dealers only walk out with what they can carry on them in case they have to cut out. Tonight though, most of them have been operating from the trunk of a car filled to the brim with product, as is the case here. The second group I came across tonight were actually just huddled around a sort of crate, at least eight of them filling up, selling then restocking every twenty minutes. It’s almost as if the lowest level dealers have found wholesale distributors and have opted for the fast food model of sales.

I pick out a selection from the trunk and stash it away with the rest of my samples before dowsing the main stockpile in fortified wine (handily procured from one of the thugs who tried to slam it down on my skull) and proceed to light it up. My hope is that I can analyse these somehow, or compare them to one another to ascertain just what the fuck is going on.

I turn away from the presumably toxic fumes of the burning boot and move into an alleyway out of plain sight, making an anonymous call to the police who’ll hopefully finish up for me. It’s clearly not an ideal method, proper drug disposal requires kits with special chemicals which would safely denature them leaving a harmless goop. The charred remainder is probably far from harmless, but it’s surely useless to anyone now.

Another concerning wrinkle of tonight’s patrol are the guns. Mostly these guys won’t be armed since they mostly just need to beat down on junkies; and getting arrested without one means they’ll be out in a few days for the possession charge. Catch and release police work. I’ve been fired on at least four times tonight. Had I known what to expect I might have taken a slightly less Wild West approach.

Charging up by the open engine bay of a parked car, I contemplate the drugs. The volume is disconcerting since I can’t account for how that much could have got here so suddenly nor how the slingers could afford to get their hands on it. The popularity is also unusual since even a big influx of the same product wouldn’t see such a big boon for business even if it was for some reason going for a deep discount.

A number of theories swirl in my head, hindered somewhat by a slight dizzy, light headed feeling. My prime candidate at the moment necessitates a visit to the nearby Barrowlands Ballroom, so I waste no time getting there.

23:51 Sun, 26 Oct, [The Barrowlands Ballroom]

The gargantuan neon sign shimmers above me, illuminating the beaten men moaning on the ground beside me. I take in the imposing brown edifice in front of me before walking in through the front entrance, because what could be wrong with that plan?

I ascend a wide set of stairs, passing by a looming saltire flag that flaps very slightly above me. The Ballroom was long ago the scene for big bands and swanky, overdressed dancing. It was probably the heart of my Grandparents Grandparents social calendar. In time it became a venue for more contemporary music, apparently being a popular place to see live bands of the time, though it’s hard to imagine it housing either scenario the way it looks now.

The Barrowlands Ballroom is now home to the Scottish Independence Party, a social movement cum extremist group dedicated to maintaining the national identity as they see it as well as ensuring the continued separation of the country from the former Royal Kingdom. Their views on what Scotland truly is and should be are fluid, numerous and often confusing or contradictory. The central theme though is that they ultimately beget violence and hate crimes, and their support is stronger now than ever.

The SIP have grown into something between a homegrown terrorist group and a poorly organised crime syndicate, using the Ballroom as a base of operations from which to muster and smuggle weapons and drugs. Thus, they seem to be a likely culprit for this mess and so I approach the first of many disgruntled extremists.

He is none too pleased with my appearance, howling “fucking cunt!” at me while closing in with the end of a pool cue. I catch his wrist easily, reading the clumsy advance. He’s hefty, threatening in an unfit kind of way and wearing a tweed coat. I slam his arm with my own, a bracing crunch rings out and he stumbles away from me as more Nationalists emerge from the Ballroom proper.

Like the first man they’re dressed in the ‘dandy’ style customary of the SIP. Three piece suits, polished shoes or thick engineers boots and dapper slicked hair. They’re prepared for a fight, but not prepared for a fight and I use the element of surprise to take them all out with a rapid barrage of electric bolts. I sprint into the Ballroom.

The cavernous space stretches all around me, filled with the upbeat thump and groove of some kind of weird instrumental jazz tune or something. It becomes achingly apparent that I am thoroughly outnumbered.

Almost immediately I’m set upon and surrounded. I flick out my fists and parry a few attackers, then find myself narrowly avoiding the swing of a snooker ball held in a sock. I deftly knock it from his hands and slam him with two hard crosses in the temple. The strikes rock his head, flapping his oily quiff across to the other side of his head but impossibly he stays up and throws back at me. I kick him away and trade blows with the dapper crowd, who are all of puzzlingly robust constitution.

Every punch that should be a stone cold knockout has to be followed by another and sometimes a third. Super strength and agility doesn’t appear to be getting the job done like usual and I catch hefty punches and kicks that glance off me as I try to weave around the chaos, being pelted with bottles and glasses. A punch in the mouth arrives with a realisation I should have had much sooner. They’ve been using Hard Skull, a military grade performance enhancing cocktail that’s boosting their pain tolerance and making them all steely jawed, full hearted pugilists.

Lighting my fists up with electric gloves I hit them with flurries of impossibly speedy punches and start making progress. As I begin to get swarmed I hop up onto a dining table and shoot at the crowd with both hands before launching back into the fray.

The fighting is an ugly slog. I become increasingly aware of my lack of actual fighting ability and technique as the melee continues. I notice what I think might be other enhancers amidst the assault, especially as a lanky man dressed in a top hat and tails zips towards me and begins trying to cripple me with a golf club which I turn on him and then the crowd. Things progress into an outright brawl as I’m overpowered and sent scrambling onto the grimy floor of the men’s bathroom.

A public toilet is far from an ideal place for a fight so I try to get out as soon as possible before I get overrun and stomped. I juke a large waistcoated man with upturned shirt sleeves and shove him full force in the small of his back, sending him through a toilet stall and into an ugly sprawl with the man inside. Catching a headbutt with both arms I drive the head backwards and throw it twice against hard white tiles which crumble with the impact. After hip tossing one more attacker into some sinks I force my way back out into the fray with another barrage of electricity.

I’m winded, exhausted both mentally and physically and increasingly aware of my narrowing window for escape and dwindling chance of victory. Assiduously working through the swirling mass of bodies with my eye on the more dangerous weapons I miss a serious cross that knocks me back into a large painting of Alex Salmond.

Before I can get on my feet, I’m hauled upright, pulled sideways and pressed against the wall. The hulking man in front of me has what I think is called an undercut, and wraps two great ape sized mitts around my throat with incredible grip. Glancing down at his hands is a disturbing sight. They are disgusting. The knuckles are swollen, sticking out at bizarre angles. Grotesque fat veins weave around heaped masses of muscle that simply could not exist naturally. He must be using Knuckle Duster;  a failed attempt at a cure for arthritis that should be out of the reach of petty criminals like him.

Barely grasping his humongous forearms I send current through him to no avail. Pounding him with punches and limp kicks with little reaction I begin to feel darkness creep into my vision. I’m pressed against something hard, jutting. A pipe maybe or… wiring. I raise my arms up desperately to the beacon of hope above me pulling in as much juice as I dare to from the circuit breaker. We are bathed in electricity, his face is leaping around with shock and pain. A few seconds of uncertainty and writhing pass before Gorilla Mitts is thrown on his back, steaming, cooked.

I land on my hands and knees trying to collect my bearings. I cough raggedly, splutter and draw a few great wheezing breaths. My throat aches and tears are running down my face. I whip my right arm up in front of me, glaring at the crowd surrounding me, rather thinner and more bloody than when I arrived.

“Back up! Hands in the air punks!”

My voice is an unconvincing rasp. Groaning upright I fire bright blue bolts of electricity at the lines of men blocking me. I shoot again and again, indiscriminately. The lines hold, refusing to break and retreat. I get lucky, opening a hole and stumbling through it out the way I came, nearly tripping over fallen adversaries.

At some point I turn and flee, catching a glass in the head from a man with a side parting as I reach the stairs. The saltire comes into views again briefly, then again as I tumble ass over teakettle. Once. Twice. Lose count.

Coming to a halt at the base of the stairs I fling my battered body out onto the street and wobble away as fast as I can still manage, half doubled over. Tonight I’ve proven to be a danger to myself and others; but I’ve gained a new power and escaped certain death with only few cuts, scrapes and maybe a bruised larynx. I’m chalking this up as a win. 

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