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The Maltese Lesson.


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     This was supposed to be a routine assignment, just helping out an old friend. I'm not even on active duty, I'm retired, but I guess old grudges die hard. Such are the thoughts of The Legendary Living Hellfire as the modified X-36 Chronos Titan backhands him out of the air, sending him crashing through several crates and cylinders. As he rolls through the debris left in his wake to slam into the corner of the giant warehouse he begins to consider the possibility that his old friend set him up.


     Faster, stronger and built specifically to withstand Hellfire summoned from the deepest parts of Perdition, the X-36 stands peerless amongst other models, at least in terms of counter-acting Paragon City's foremost Omega Level defender. Liv slowly gets to his feet, ignoring the immolation of his immediate surroundings, metal cylinders melting, the floor under his feet charring and buckling. With the back of his wrist he wipes blood from his mouth, smearing it across his beard forming a ghastly grin.


     "Alright, then, ye feckin' c*nt, let's see what else those Infernite plates do fer ye." The Ghost of Paragon City climbs to his feet, his armour askew and misshapen with the conflict, his cape even more shredded and tattered than before, but the Hellfire dancing in his eyes burning brighter than ever. With a thought he summons his father's last gift, the Angelic Gladius. A long blade forged of Hellfire and Starlight named aptly "Lightfire".


     The Legendary Living Hellfire leaps to the air from a crouching position, streaking towards his foe. He drags Lightfire across the front of the monstrous construct. The blade sears and sparks, an awful keening noise breaks the momentary silence and one of the 14 plates drilled to the Titan collapse inward, producing sparks and small explosions within the chest of his foe. Now airborne The Man on Fire continues his progress, arcing around the interior of the warehouse, brushing the inside walls at breakneck speed, a trail of Hellfire in his wake.


     The Chronos Titan retaliates with a blistering beam from its ocular modules, blazing a burning arc along the path of its target's progress, but too slow. The eyebeams burn through the supporting beams, causing a partial structural collapse of the ceiling on the South side of the building. As the roof cants low there is a tremor, causing the X-36 to adjust its footing slightly which is just the opening necessary. The Legendary Living Hellfire seizes the opportunity, seeming to defy inertia the arc of Hellfire and vengeance turns abruptly, slamming into the floor of the building at the Titan's feet. The concrete floor buckles and cracks at the impact, the titan staggers again before becoming engulfed entirely in flames as Liv summons Hellfire from the deepest pits below.

     Before long the X-36 Chronos has regained its footing, but The Ghost of Paragon City remains standing under it. With the calculated decision making process of any machine it simply takes what is clearly a perceived advantage and stomps heavily down upon its target. There is a sickening crunch as the Man who is Hellfire is crushed unceremoniously beneath the enormous metal foot. The silence that ensues is almost deafening, if it weren't for the ancillary spot fires and the slowly crumbling building. The Chronos Titan stands still, awaiting further orders.

     Before long the silence is spoiled by the stomping of military boots as Malta agents pour into the now almost collapsed warehouse. A woman in chaps, boots and a cowboy hat marches into view braced by a security detail, weapons ready, safeties off. "Sienna-456 reporting. X-36 is successful, the target is down. Repeat; The target is down" She signals to a Tactical Officer who keys something on his wrist-band. The Chronos Titan lifts its enormous foot, revealing a gooey paste of bone and viscera. A Malta Operative approaches, fiddling with a pouch. Kneeling down they produce various knick-knacks designed to take samples. As the pouch empties onto the cracked and blackened floor all heads turn at the sound of a throat clearing.


     A man perches on the end of a stack of crates. He's relaxed, but clearly ready for trouble. Black hair pulled back in a ponytail, wrap-around shades on his head. He's a handsome man, but most striking about him is the cybernetics. Every limb, joint and muscle is clearly enhanced. Dark wiring coursing under his flesh from one relay to the next. He drops to the floor, addressing the Malta assembled around their now liquified prey. He saunters towards them, grinning like a shark.


     "You've never understood his nature. After all this time." He shakes his head. "You still have absolutely no idea what you're dealing with."


     "Subject 4278 you are instructed to stand down and await detainment!" Sienna-456 is confident in her order. A trained officer, she is used to being obeyed. The man tosses his head back gently, admiring the officer's attempt at command presence. "Nice try, whatever colour number you are... but I'm not under your control anymore." The man flexes his wrists, producing three long, curved blades from each hand. "My gooey friend has a saying," he says as he slowly circles the gathered Malta task force. "I'd like to paraphrase it. My name isn't 'Subject 4278'. My friends call me John, but you can call me Syxxblade".


The Malta open fire, but not before Syxxblade launches himself at a stack of shipping crates, rebounding and hurtling himself towards the centre of the group. The claws of one hand eviscerating a Malta soldier, his entrails spilling onto the warehouse floor. Now amongst them, the Malta pause knowing that any missed shot would hit their fellow soldiers. They switch to close quarter combat tactics, much to their demise.


     The carnage is immeasurable, men and women are ripped apart at close range as indestructible claws guided by a positronically enhanced brain not only predict their tactical responses but meet them more than halfway. As the cannon fodder falls amid squelches and cries of anguish, Syxxblade straightens and turns to face Sienna-456. "You still don't get it, do you? This wasn't a trap for him, it was a trap for you. You have never understood him." The handsome man in the wrap-around shades almost appears to be saddened at the claim.


     The Officer is not to be deterred or intimidated. She draws her side-arm with her right and summons her artificially granted ice powers with her left. "Subject 4278 you will stand down immediately!". Syxxblade crosses his arms and smiles slowly. "You haven't heard a word I've said, have you? Maybe you'll hear this... " At that, a rumble begins. The Chronos Titan, still and quiet now that its operator is dead shakes slightly as the pile of gory viscera at its feet catches fire and begins to coalesce.

Indigo-456 opens fire on her enemy, hoping for a lucky shot that never lands. The rounds reflect harmlessly. Meanwhile the juicy mess that was once The Legendary Living Hellfire continues to burn with increasing intensity, to the point where the Chronos Titan staggers backwards.


     "Here it comes, sweetheart!" And with that the Notorious Syxxblade leaps upward, grabbing a relatively unscathed roof-support, flips himself out of the building and into the night sky.




     The world is in flames. All of existence is fire and pain and the sweet release of death as The Legendary Living Hellfire rises from the ashes. The Chronos Titan topples, its ability to cool its internal systems entirely overwhelmed. Sienna-456 is nowhere to be found, obliterated in the consequences of her failed attempt to capture her prey. Satellites report temperatures reaching well over 6,000 Kelvin and then... gone. Instantly cooled.


      The media will report a generator overload, but The Legendary Living Hellfire and his old friend know different. The clink of glasses signal another victory. One of many past, but also one of many yet to come.

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-The Legendary Living Hellfire

"The newest person in the room is always the most important person in the room"

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