Thank God Skinnyman and his gang were petty. Wilbur had arrived in time to see them ransack Nisa’s apartment, allowing him to tail them back to what was presumably their main base of operations, a steel mill in, of course, Olympic City. A warehouse, a chemical factory, a steel mill… how much real estate did Skinnyman own?
He waited until a good ten minutes after they had all gone through a side entrance to climb down from his hiding spot. Several layers of metal catwalks connected the front, sides and rear of the building, but curiously, not a single goon was on lookout or patrolling. He wondered if that meant they had doubled security inside.
It took quite a push to open the hefty wooden doors just a crack. He peered inside, half expecting an ambush. All he saw was an old-fashioned metal lift behind a grate. Shoving his way inside, he took a good look around the room. The place certainly showed why the region was called the Rust Belt. The only sign that the building was still in use was a biometric scanner near the lift. Must control the grate, Wilbur quickly deduced. He didn’t bother attempting his handprint, in case it would set off an alarm. He’d have to wait until another guard came around. That was probably a good idea, considering his chest still hurt like hell.
Several hours passed with him dangling his feet over the catwalk, playing chess on his phone. He shut his phone off to conserve battery just a few minutes before a lone mook made a beeline for the entrance. Great, he thought, should be easy pickings.
Dropping down, Wilbur attempted to emulate the classic superhero landing. All it did was splatter him across the ground.
Snapping to his feet, he flung a bolt of electricity at the goon. Reflexively he dove out of the way before tearing two chunks of concrete from the ground, holding them out like clothing irons.
Oh. An anomaly.
Part of the ground curled up in front of the goon, allowing him to run up and launch himself off it. Wilbur jumped out of the way as he came crashing down, causing bits of earth to erupt from under Wilbur’s feet, knocking him down. Wilbur only just managed to get back to his feet and put his hands up before the goon began tagging him with the concrete. They were pushing blows rather than strikes, but damn did they still sting.
Remembering the spacing techniques that drunk old bastard had taught him, he got away from the goon, hands up the whole time. “Calm down buddy, I’m just here to unearth what your boss is doing here… That was terrible wasn’t it.”
“Yeah.” The anomaly propelled the concrete blocks forward, forcing Wilbur to duck. The ground beneath him shook just enough to destabilize him. He flung a wild bolt before going down, but it didn’t hit its mark. A momentum-fueled knee flew into his gut, but the kid was smart enough to keep his distance, not allowing Wilbur to grab his legs. Instead he spent his time forming a concrete shield to block Wilbur’s blasts.
“Where does he find you guys,” Wilbur wheezed, jumping back to his feet for what felt like the hundredth time that week. “Is there some sort of superhuman yard sale I wasn’t aware of?”
The anomaly just shook his head. “Dude. Shut up.”
Well that was just rude. Wilbur tapped the display button on his helmet before unleashing a flurry at his head and feet. The goon brought the shield up to his face, allowing a bolt to sneak underneath. He attempted to steady himself on the shield as he fell, but it slid into his shins instead. Wilbur pounced on the opportunity, zapping him into submission.
It took Wilbur a minute to drag the shield away – damn thing must have weighed a ton. The kid was much easier, not putting up any resistance despite remaining semi-conscious and groaning. The scanner accepted the prints and the grate retreated into the walls. He pushed a button on a control panel, letting the lift take him down into the base.
The good thing about the layout of the steel mill was that it didn’t seem the architect who designed it was on opium. The corridors were simple and straightforward, taking Wilbur where he needed to go. The bad news was that it was still a dark, narrow, oppressive hellhole, so he wasn’t sure he really wanted to go anywhere but to a massage parlor. As expected there were plenty of sentries around, so channeling his best Solid Snake impression, he took things slow.
On the B2 level he found a room with actual windows in the corner. Must have been important. He peered around the corner he was pressed against before making a break for it. He opened the door and was greeted by a lone researcher at a set of computers. Wilbur brought the crook of his arm around the researcher’s neck, choking him out before he could yell for help. Knowing the guy wouldn’t stay out for long, Wilbur took his seat and set a USB on the desk.
An account was logged onto the computer, so Wilbur didn’t get a chance to test out his leet hacking skills. He plugged the USB and an SSD into the computer and let the decryption program do its thing. Once the program finished unlocking all the documents it automatically downloaded them into the SSD. There were probably a lot more useful files like videos or audio but considering how paranoid Skinnyman seemed to be, he would be spending hours before he could get everything.
The lift began to whir outside. The grate retreated, then he heard a familiar booming voice call out “He’s here. Find him.”
Impossible. He had tred like a mouse, no one had seen him. Was there a camera he had missed somewhere? Or was Skinnyman now clairvoyant too?
Wilbur yanked the USB and SSD from the computer, pushing the office chair on top of the researcher for good measure. A guard wandered by the office door, flashlight of his shotgun penetrating the dark. Wilbur yanked him forward, twisting the gun from his hands and as he went tumbling into the computers. He racked the fore-end for dramatic effect.
“You scream, I blow your brains out.”
Nodding, the guard slumped under the desk. Wilbur rushed out and peered around the corner leading towards the lift. Skinnyman stood facing forward, and two guards were looking down the hall. The one closest to him raised their gun. “Hey, is there someone there?”
Savvy bastards. Wilbur stuck the shotgun out and purposefully shot at the wall. The guard froze in place just long enough for Wilbur to drop the gun and electrocute him. The shotgun began to move along the ground as if drug by a string, right into Skinnyman’s waiting hands.
Oh no, not again.
Wilbur dashed down the hall, pellets slicing the air behind him. He skid to a halt in front of a fire alarm and threw it. A twisted wail bellowed from speakers that struggled with each thrum. Unable to properly communicate, the guards meandered confusedly about. He didn’t have too much trouble with them except a pair who were smart enough to move together. A bullet whizzed by his helmet, forcing him back the way he came, right into the path of Skinnyman.
Wilbur managed to fry the shotgun before it could be used, but Skinnyman wasted no time slamming him into the wall, lifting him several feet off the ground. An uncontrollable shiver shot up his spine as he stared into those lifeless yellow eyes. The goons rounded the corner, aiming at him but not taking the shot since Skinnyman was in the way.
“Those gloves.” Skinnyman gestured with his head. “You’re not a real anomaly, are you?”
He didn’t get a chance to respond before he went hurtling through a window. A tranquilized ‘patient’ lay on a stretcher, along with several body bags in the corner. If Wilbur got out of this alive, he was going to make sure these sick fucks pay. He grabbed hold of an empty stretcher and slung it at the two goons when they attempted to follow. Skinnyman flew right over it, peppering him with vials of who-even-knew. He sent forward a stream of lightning, forcing Skinnyman to hold position and collect it into a ball. He dove out the window before he could be electrocuted to death.
Sprinting as hard as he could, Wilbur beat Skinnyman to the lift by quite a distance. He slammed the button. Then he slammed it again. The lift wouldn’t budge. Turning, he saw Skinnyman down the hall, arms forward and knees bent, straining. His heart jumped into his throat.
You have got to be kidding me!
For a moment he froze in fear, brain shutting off. Then a thought flickered into his mind. The elevators at HQ all had escape latches. Even though it was old, this one should have one too. He glanced around the ceiling until he found it. He pushed the latch open, climbed through and began scaling the ladder.
He almost made it up to the entrance before a rung above him snapped off. All the rungs below began to dip out into space. Wilbur looked to the support column of the elevator before hopping onto it and shouting down the shaft.
“Yeah, fuck you too!”
Managing to shimmy up just enough to launch himself back onto the rest of the ladder, he slammed the emergency retract button for the grate and pulled himself up. The terrakinetic anomaly must have left, because no one stopped him from throwing the doors open and running far, far from the steel mill.