"We're just on the outskirts of the cloud, Charlotte, we have confirmed it has stopped expanding. The city is being evacuated as we speak, with at least eighty percent confirmed to have been removed from the affected area, but we are no closer to any possible answers as to who is behind the attack or what their intentions are." Loudly shouted a reporter, as he covered one ear from the torrential downpour of rain, and held his microphone close to his mouth with the other hand, his lightly tanned face cast into a bad glow as it was shone directly by the cameraman's flashlight. "And while it seems that the gas is as of yet non-hazardous, we have unconfirmed reports that explosions were heard near midtown, but I do stress that they were unconfirmed. " The tan skinned reporter trailed off as the sounds of explosions were heard in the background, he turned around and looked up into the dark night sky.
Bright, fiery objects were hurtling towards the ground in tight groups of three, with one central object slowing its descent as it came to a halt over the city. The smaller, grouped objected continued their rapid descent before impacting with a loud thunderclap. Many of the fleeing onlookers cried out as the ground trembled lightly from the impact of the meteorites, while several police officers exchanged glances, pointed at the hovering object, or reached for radios.
"Uh… It appears as if some kind of… Drone, has arrived and come to a halt a few miles above the city." Said the reporter, as he signalled to his cameraman to follow him to the nearest police officer. "Excuse me, Officer, is there anything -" The reporter was cut off by another distant thunderclap, and just as he and several others ducked, in the distance a figure could be seen hurtling through the air, leaving a wet contrail behind him as he soared towards a building and slammed into it, crumpling its side and shattering all of its windows in turn, creating a mixed shower of falling water and razor-sharp glass.
The officer only watched the chaos for a second before making a snap decision, spinning around in a spray of rainwater, grabbing both of the reporter's shoulders. "You need to get out of here -" He yelled over the rain and the thunder, before there was another explosion and he ducked on instinct, in the damaged building, hundreds of pounds of debris blasted out of its upper floors. At the edge of the floor that had been smashed open stood a solitary figure, just barely visible so far away. The officer, after taking a brief look behind him and not liking what he was seeing, shoved the reporter away, " - now!"
It is just plain amazing how much money people can make with a little foresight. Thought the lone man as he stood in the barren and empty penthouse, simply watching as the sun began to rise over the horizon, painting the distant ocean a brilliantly deep red-orange. His shoulders and back were slumped, and his hands were limply resting inside the pocket of his cargo pants. He grinned lightly, his youthful, tanned face wrinkling as an amusing thought crossed his mind. Hell, it's amazing how much foresight money can buy, but that's besides the point. He turned his gaze upwards to the darkening clouds, which themselves managed to counterbalance the hope and warmth of the approaching sun with the ominous cold of a coming storm.
Appropriate. Thought the man, as he dug a thick rubber band from his pocket and reached up to bind his thick, unruly hair with it. He heard a distant chime echo from the elevator, and after a quick mental countdown, he concluded that there were thirteen floors left before whomever was riding upwards would reach him, giving him, and the city below, two more minutes of peace.
The man pulled a phone from his pocket, it loaded up with a custom made app entitled 'Hercules'. There were two buttons on the app's main screen, one in bright red labeled 'Execute', and the other in bright green labeled 'Close'. He paused, his thumb hovering over the damning red button. The dark-haired man closed his eyes, silently searching himself and the future realities only he could see, for any possible way in which combat of this level was avoidable. Now, as before, he saw that it was impossible, that fighting his best friend and the most physically powerful man on the planet, was unavoidable; now, as before, he could not understand why.
I do not have to win… I merely have to not lose. Thought the man, as he pressed the red button. He sighed, as the elevator chimed again. The suit… As long as I am smart, as long as I keep a cool head, the suit will allow me that chance. It is designed not to defeat the most powerful man in the world, it is merely designed to outlast him. He thought, as he peered downward, towards the street, where thick gas started pouring upwards from the manhole covers in the ground. Within seconds, he heard screams and sirens, which he afforded a brief, impressed nod of the head. Not bad… But, I guess, these days, we're kind of just expecting something like this to happen. It took less than eighty seconds for the city's streets to be blanketed in a thick cloud of pillowy white gas. On the surface, people would conclude exactly what he would want them to - a gas attack, likely by terrorists of some sort. Little did they know that it was non-lethal, merely designed to scare everybody into evacuating the city, giving him and his opponent an arena, of sorts.
Everything changes after today. Thought the man, as he turned around to the sound of another chime of the elevator. He dropped his usual face, placing his hands in his pockets again, and threw on the tried and true 'Chris grin', that never truly reached his eyes, yet still managed to fool nearly everyone.
The elevator opened, and barely a second later there was a knock on his door. Shave and a haircut, but on the two bits, his door exploded inwards, flying towards him at breakneck speeds. With a light, comedic frown, the man leaned to the side, the door flying by harmlessly, as he knew it would. There standing in the doorway was his best friend, breathing heavily, his eyes glowing a bright, burning golden hue, his muscles bulging and clenched tight under his dark skin. His baggy clothes swayed lightly in the gusts generated by his powerful kick, and the sound of thick glass crunching and crackling as the door hit it and rebounded with a loud thud.
The man stared at his guest, "so…" He said, "come on in, I guess."
"Drop the act, Christopher."
"You drop yours." Said Chris, "or, no… whoever's controlling you, drop the act. I know Riku, he's not the guy to pick a fight, though he's certainly the one to end 'em. So if he were to become so single-mindedly obsessed with fighting me, something would have had to have happened, which I would have known about, or, the more likely option, an outside force convinced him to do so. One would question the logic of such a conclusion, given that mind control doesn't exist, but then again, neither should foresight, super strength, and healing factors, so suddenly it's looking like the world is looking a lot bigger than we'd thought even before." Said Chris, slowly pacing side to side, as the rising sun completely left the horizon and was now floating in the air, casting him in a bright orange backlight. "The problem, however, is how you managed to hide yourself from my foresight. From my own tests, literally nothing can hide from my ability, so your own must preclude you from it, or perhaps hide you from it. Either way -"
"I said quiet!" The guest roared.
"No you didn't, you told me to drop the act, and I did." Chris smiled, "c'mon, you're making this too easy." He yawned, "I wonder what, if anything, you understand about our powers." He thought aloud, "I doubt you know much, else you would have told Riku to hold off on, 'starting the car', as it were, until we actually started fighting. This lends me to realize that, if you're a mind controller, you're not a mind reader, because you would have known about our tests when we were younger and didn't know much about our powers… And… You would have known about Hercules."
"I know about Hercules, Christopher -"
"No, Riku, you don't, you merely know of it, and the person controlling you doesn't even know that much. But given the gray area we're operating in, and the lack of any concrete evidence, I can't just keep Holmes-ing my way through this." He removed his hands from his pockets and clapped them together, before stopping his pacing and Riku stepped further into the room.
The sun slowly grew higher into the sky, the deep orange glow slowly giving way as the sun began to rise above the dark, angry storm clouds. Riku kept stalking over to Christopher, his power almost seeming to light the air around them ablaze as the temperature in the room began to rise. He reached Chris as the sounds of police sirens reached them from the streets below, the two stood mere inches from each other, Riku staring down at Chris, Chris staring defiantly at his friend, the former with rage clouding his eyes, the latter with a cold, resigned look in his own.
Despite knowing that it would do absolutely nothing, despite having searched and studied the possible outcomes of this day more than anything else in his life, Chris still had to try and talk to his friend. "You can fight this." He whispered, as if fearing that if he spoke too loud, the world would hear him and deny him his plea.
Riku leered at him, his face set in stone. For the briefest of moments, Chris hoped beyond hope that he might have defied all of possibility and made it through to his friend, but after a solid second passed by with no response, he realized what outcome had been achieved, and braced himself for what was to come. "You're right." Said Riku, as he leaned down his head and hovered it next to Chris' right ear. "I… Can." With no delay and even less hesitation, Riku, with all of his superhuman strength, all of his machine-like speed, threw his clenched fist into Chris' stomach, an audible popping noise echoing outwards as Chris croaked, his stomach exploding into pain.
Chris was sent flying backwards, he slammed into the window and for just a second, it ballooned outward, almost as if he hadn't hit it hard enough to shatter it, which would have been true had it not been hit by the door, earlier. As it had been weakened by the earlier impact, it was now shattered entirely, exploding into a shower of razor-sharp glass. Chris, now flying through the air at gut-clenching speeds, heard the wind shrieking in his ears and tearing at his hair before anything else. He certainly felt the pain in his stomach from being punched, in his arms and back from being cut by glass, but he felt more than anything a deep sense of sorrow, as he realized that the day he had dreamt of merely a month ago had finally come - the day he had to fight his best friend.
Well… If it's a fight he wants, it's a fight he'll get. "GOLIATH!" He hollered into the air, preceding the loudest thunderclap he'd ever heard, and then the sound of multiple massive hunks of metal being detached from a nearby, car-sized drone, and propelled through the air by use of extremely powerful plasma thrusters.
Flying through the air, Chris saw that he couldn't at all make out the ground below him, but he still heard the screams and sirens below, meaning that the city wasn't yet fully evacuated. He clenched his jaw and threw his arms out to the side to slow himself down. Barely a second later, the sound of plasma got closer and closer, before he felt a large mass smack into his chest and briefly knock the wind out of him. Quick as a whip, several other large pieces of metal hit him, spinning him through the air with each impact, with brief, powerful bursts of their plasma jets keeping him aloft so the other, larger pieces of machinery could make their way to him. He felt a cold, oily mass grow across his body and slither over the body armor and his clothes, pressing against him and restricting any further damage to his injuries. The jets detached, but barely a second later, an enormous, trunk-sized mass of metal and machinery appeared over him.
Knowing what to do, Chris flipped himself around in mid-air by swinging his arms. The large hunk of machinery opened itself up and wrapped itself around his chest, briefly making him look like some kind of disproportionate sumo-wrestler, with an enormous chest and infinitesimal limbs. He didn't have to wait long for the rest of the hulking suit of power armor to arrive and assemble itself in midair, the jets on all of the joints and limbs blasting to slow him down and prepare him for descent. In forty five seconds, he went from a spartanly-clothed man flying through the air, to a towering twelve foot tall fighter in a miniature mech suit.
When the suit finished assembling, he was hovering six feet off of the ground, the plasma-based thrusters on his hands and feet generating almost all of the thrust required to keep him aloft. He righted himself and then cut power, dropping the six feet and leaving a small crater, filled with dozens of cracks, gouges and divots, in the concrete. He heard through the multiple layers of armor plating the panicked cries of people as they fled, but he didn't take the time to look at them.
As rain began to fall and pelt it, the suit finished powering up, and his heads up display booted up, giving him a readout of every bit of information he needed. Its massive, bulky frame was colored primarily in black and gray, though it was covered in deep green highlights due to its user's preference for the color. On the outside it was all thick, bulky armor plates, separating and overlapping at the joints, which were fitted with multiple miniature rockets to provide the suit with any extra thrust needed when its lack of speed was not enough. The centers of the palms and feet glowing a bright pale green as the plasma thrusters hummed, waiting patiently to be called upon. There were visible sections of multiple massive servos and gears obviously there to provide the suit its strength and its ability to move under its own weight. On its back, where the spine would be on a human, were multiple canister-like mounts that glowed bright blue, themselves generating the suit's power. The helmet, which itself was twice the size of an average human head, was pieced together from multiple metal plates, providing a menacing skeletal visage, in direct contrast to the distinct callbacks to medieval plate-armor the rest of the suit had. Several other pieces of machinery flew through the air to greet Chris and his mech suit, including box-like peripherals that hooked onto his forearms, which he reached out to greet, and recoiled briefly as each one hooked onto him.
Chris couldn't see more than six feet in front of him, but that didn't stop him from putting on a show. His thunderous voice was amplified by the suit's external speakers, so even if Riku was still in the penthouse, he would have heard him. "You think you can fight me?!" He raised one leg up and stomped it onto the ground, sending dust and debris into the gas-filled air. "You think you CAN WIN?!" He did the same with the other leg, before crossing both of his massive, armored hands in front of his face. "WELL COME ON!" He roared, throwing his arms out to the side.
The gas cleared with a small gust of wind, showing Chris that Riku was there, barely eight feet in front of him. Riku, the only showman who had a larger taste that rivaled Chris' own, merely grinned and assumed an offensive stance, with one hand held aloft, palm outward. He stood there a moment, before twisting his hand around and waving his fingers, waving at Chris, beckoning him to begin the fight. Chris didn't disappoint, with a loud, thunderous battle cry that echoed throughout the city and shook the chests of anyone who heard, he launched himself forward, his suit's multiple thrusters flaring brightly as he carved a massive contrail through the rain. Both of his hands and his feet were angled backwards and were blasting plasma, intent on generating as much speed as possible in the eight feet they had between them and their opponent.
Just as Chris reached Riku, the sun finally rose above the clouds and was overwhelmed by their thickness, casting the city from a deep orange glow to a dark, depressive gloom. Chris swung his left arm around and caught Riku in the palm of his hand, digging him into the ground and dragging him along as they flew, carving a deep and long gouge through it and covering it in his friend's blood. Riku took only two seconds to be stunned, before he bear-hugged Chris' tree-trunk sized armored arm and started crushing, visibly denting the armor plating and managing to throw Chris off balance, forcing him to rip the golden-eyed fighter from the ground and lightly toss him into the air, before he smashed him with his right fist, full-tilt, sending the fighter flying as Chris threw both hands and feet in front of him to bleed off his momentum. Chris came to a halt mere feet before a building at the center of a crossroads, which was now sporting a Riku-sized hole and multiple jagged hunks of flesh.
Chris cut his thrusters and landed on the ground again, his HUD trying to pierce the thick gas but unable to do much, so it was as surprised as Chris was when large stones and bits of rubble began flying out from the building, smashing into him and shattering into hundreds of small pieces. Chris held a hand up to block some of the flying rubble, but Riku took that moment to leap out of the building, one hand thrown back and a large, almost psychotically euphoric grin plastered across his face. It took him less than a second to cross the distance between the two, and when he reached Chris, he backhanded Chris' raised arm away with his offhand, and then threw the reared one into Chris' chest with all the strength he had, causing a loud crunching sound as his bones shattered on impact, and the armor was severely dented.
It seemed as if the world needed a second to react to Riku's raw physical strength, as it took a moment for the force of the punch to translate fully, but when it did, Chris was sent hurtling through the air as fast as a cannonball, almost appearing as if his bulky suit had taken such an object to the chest. He flew through the rain, it streaming and splashing off of his armor as he smacked through it all, his suit's thrusters, both big and small, all instantly flashing the water that surrounded them to steam as they flared, trying to slow him down and keep him from falling over. He managed to halt himself and stay upright, but the second he landed, Riku was already inside his defenses and launching a savage uppercut to his armored head. Chris staggered from the blow, giving Riku enough time to clench both of his fists together and smash them into his gut.
Chris fell back a step, his right foot digging into the concrete and sinking into the ground. Riku immediately weaved in closer, his hands held up in a boxer's stance. Chris threw both of his own thick, metal arms up in a crossguard just as Riku began laying into Chris with a furious flurry of straight jabs. He scowled deeply and activated the small thrusters on the sides of his calf, the back of his knee, and the main one on the bottom of his foot. They flared for two seconds, building power, as he braced it against the ground and defended against blows with his arms crossed in front of him. When they reached sufficient power, he stopped resisting and his knee blasted forward, catching Riku in the gut with a mixture of plasma cutting the air, and the sound of an entire ribcage and spine shattering into a fine powder. Riku flew away with blood spewing out of his mouth like a motion-picture spit take.
Chris felt compelled to start gloating, to shout to Riku about how powerful his suit was, how outclassed Riku was, but he knew those things, and he knew Riku knew those things. What's more was that he knew, above all, that this massive hulking beast of a suit of power armor, was merely a distraction, a way to kill time. With his healing factor, there was no way to defeat Riku, and with his strength, and ability to rise, there was no way to overpower him. Literally, the only thing he could do was to outlast him.
Lowering his foot and watching Riku convulse on the ground, his powers hard at work regenerating his bones and healing his organs, Chris sighed lightly, his files and their findings on his abilities coming to mind. Dee City's 'Golden Eye'. His powers, while they don't take much outside of the initial start-up, take a constant, small amount of energy to maintain at idle, and only a slightly larger amount of energy to maintain in combat, meaning that, unlike the Seer, he can use them consistently and constantly, for a current maximum of ninety minutes, though that can increase, as his initial maximum was eighteen. When engaging him, one must not seek to overpower or even truly defeat him, but rather outlast him and cause him to burn energy by any means. He rolled the suit's shoulders and stretched his arms before entering a combat stance, as Riku began stirring himself from the ground. That's what this suit is made for. It isn't meant to match Riku physically, but it can do that for a short time. It isn't meant to defeat Riku, but it can do that if given the time it needs. It is meant simply to outlast him.
In other words… Thought Chris, as Riku got to his feet and stared at Chris sideways, leaning back and allowing the rain to wash over him, a psychotic grin playing at his features. I have to just last until he runs out of gas. In one brief flourish, he braced one of his legs behind him, crossed his arms in front of his chest and then yanked them down to his sides, clenching his fists in a karate stance.
Rikku's grin grew to show his bloody teeth, he burst forward, running in a wide serpentine, his feet hitting the ground so fast that it sounded like a rapid, ceaseless drumbeat. Chris stayed firm in his defensive stance for a moment, before he flashed his powers and caught a glimpse into the limitless realities of the next fifteen seconds. His idea was wild, but he knew it would work - all he had to do was find the reality in which it did, and then do that.
These visions in mind, Chris stooped down low and swung his open mechanical hand in a wide arc, slapping Riku's entire upper body with a bone-jarring crunch, his skin rippling and splitting, covering Chris' boulder-sized fist in a small spray of blood. Chris clenched his fist around Riku, and unlocked the horizontal gyroscopes around his suit's waist. Before Riku could struggle, Chris began spinning the upper half of the suit, it freely rotating on its waist and rapidly turning into a hulk-sized merry-go-round, with Riku clutched in his right hand. It was only thanks to the inertial dampeners inside the suit that Chris didn't vomit.
After a few moments, the suit was a spinning black and green blur, going more than thirty miles per hour. Chris deemed this sufficient, and released Riku, swinging him upwards and sending him flying into the sky. Chris quickly locked the gyroscope again, locking his suit into a human range of motion. Wasting no time, Chris bear-hugged a minivan parked on the side of the street and turned to the sky, his suit's computers tracking Riku, who, though still healing, had thrown his hands and legs out to slow himself down and try and guide himself back to the fight.
Chris waited, shifting his grip so he was holding the vehicle from its rear end. Riku began accelerating, straightening out his body like an arrow and hurtling towards Chris, who scowled and braced himself. His suit's computers told him when to strike, factoring in Riku's speed and Chris' reaction time. He heard the ping and then hopped into the air, swinging the vehicle around and smashing it into Riku as if it were a skillet, or a tennis racket. Riku's previous trajectory was immediately corrected as he was smashed into and through the nearest building like a ping-pong ball. Chris dropped the car like a rock, and crouched low, his hands hovering in front of him, before he launched himself into the air with a mighty leap, knowing that Riku would do the very same when he hit the ground on the other side of the building.
Chris and Riku both sailed over the top of the building, both of their fists reared back in preparation for a massive punch. As they grew closer, faster than one could blink, they threw their firsts forward and they met in a thunderous clash. The strength wielded by both of the fighters, and the force generated by their collision, sent out a colossal shockwave from the point of impact, spraying outwards in a massive spherical arc, colliding with the falling rainwater and suspending it briefly in mid-air, before the shockwave dissipated and it all fell in one great dollop of water.
The two fighters were pushed back by the force of their blow, and while Riku landed safely on the roof of the building, Chris and his immense weight obliterated a car-sized section of the roof and continued falling through, smashing through floors and ceilings alike as he continued his gravity-assisted accidental rampage of destruction. The power-armored fighter's rockets and thrusters tried to fire and slow his fall and fight gravity, but were unable to work quickly enough, as Riku capitalized on Chris' momentary weakness and leapt through the car-sized hole in the roof of the building. The dark-skinned, rain-slicked fighter leapt towards the hole and grabbed at its edge with one of his hands, swinging up and around in a wide arc, increasing his momentum and sending him rocketing towards his hulking opponent like a boulder from a catapult.
Riku, his legs locked straight and his arms held up high in a 'geronimo!' fashion, smashed into Chris' armored chest just as the latter's thrusters finally started to overcome his momentum. The strength of impact sent them both crashing through several more floors of the building. Chris felt each impact hit his back, his grunts and yelps of pain and shock going largely unheard by the thunderous crashes of steel on concrete, linoleum, wood and plaster, all shattering and falling in a thunderous cacophony of debris.
"YEEEEEEAAAAAAH!" Roared Riku, as he clenched Chris' armor with one hand and swung the other like a bull rider.
Chris scowled, but had the wind knocked out of him when the two of them finally slammed into the ground floor. Dazed, Chris' head lolled about as he saw stars dance across his eyes and some darkness reach the edge of his vision, but it all vanished when he felt a mule kick at his chest. The armored seer shook his head and leaned upwards, seeing Riku smash away at his chest like a gorilla. Each impact of Riku's fist on Chris' chest left a large dent in the metal surface, each blow felt like being on the business end of a jackhammer. His suit's alarm started blaring, needlessly informing him that his armor integrity was dropping with every passing second.
Thinking fast, Chris sent a quick command to the suit to activate the right wrist-mounted weapons system, and quickly followed it up with a lightning fast, thunderous hook that sent Riku flying off of Chris with the sound of a mallet striking a skull. Riku groaned and yelled as he flew through the air and slammed headfirst into a wall, and then on the ground, but before he could get to his hands and knees and spit out several teeth, he was wreathed in flame. The white-hot twin geysers of fire spewed out of the box-shaped device on Chris' right wrist, leaping out the several feet between the golden-eyed fighter and the armored seer.
"Yeah, your healing factor doesn't do so well against FIRE, now does it?!" Shouted Chris over the roar of the flames and the sounds of water boiling off of his suit. "Now I want you to CALM DOWN, and -" Before he could finish, and before Riku's skin had burned off entirely, the latter smashed his healthiest hand into the ground, angling a large stone splinter upwards, creating a block in the fire and protecting him.
Cursing, Chris cut the flames and then extended his left hand, "alright, let's see how well it does against ICE!" And before Riku could blink, his world was frozen as a shower of liquid nitrogen sprayed over him and everything surrounding him. Riku cursed, his body going from blazing hot to completely numb in less than a second. He was immobile, completely frozen to the ground, and what was worse, he felt his organs shutting down as the cold completely overwhelmed him in a manner of seconds.
For a split second, as his vision went dark, Riku felt a tinge of fear. He hadn't expected to actually die in this fight, much the opposite, he'd expected to feel more alive than ever before in his life. This was Chris, the man who could see so far into the future that he'd passed highschool a year before he'd been made a senior. He was a man who could use his abilities to build a machine twenty years beyond anything modern technology could replicate, so what on earth would stop him from fighting a human-sized Hulk? In Riku's eyes, it was the quintessential representation of the Batman vs Superman argument - what happens when a mortal is pitted against a god?
Riku would have thought that, for all of his preparation, the mortal simply couldn't stack up to the god. For a brief moment, as his vision darkened and his mind shut down, he wondered if he had been wrong. But, when he heard a thunderous crack of ice shattering, he suddenly realized that he hadn't been wrong, far from it. His powers had been shown to be remarkably adaptable - and while they were certainly tripped up by fire and ice, they weren't trumped by it, not by a long shot. He felt his body acting on its own, his healing factor literally breaking off the frozen chunks of skin and muscle and letting them fall to exposed the still unfrozen bits inside. He heard Chris curse, and soon after felt a boot slam into his chest, sending him flying through the building and back outside into the gas-filled, rainy city, a shower of dark-skinned icicles and frozen shreds of clothing spraying out in all directions as he flew outwards, inadvertently helping him in his regeneration by removing the dead and frozen cells.
"Damn it, Riku! Come on!" Chris roared, as Riku's muscles and skin began growing outward from his core, covering his exposed skeleton in a perfectly healthy, if steamingly cold body. "This isn't you, you're better than this! Now FIGHT IT!"
Riku grunted, slamming a fist onto the ground and leaving a deep fissure in it. "Alright…" He groaned, looking up, only barely able to see the hulking armored seer through the gas, "but only because you asked." He clawed forward, slowly at first, then savagely, ferociously, like an animal, picking up more speed with every passing second.
Chris cursed and assumed a defensive stance, one fist raised high above and behind his head to intercept the rampaging fighter with a right cross. Riku tore apart the ground with every step, and he filled the gaseous air with a savage roar as he threw his fist forward. Chris swung his own, catching Riku on the side of the head and sending him sprawling across the ground, blood splattering across the ground. Chris, with a sorrowful frown, leapt into the sky with his mechanically enhanced strength, and came down to land on Riku, crushing his lower half. Chris shoved one fist forward, his flamethrower spewing out white-hot fire.
Riku, however, screamed loudly and then pushed backwards, almost diving into the concrete as if it were a swimming pool. Before Chris even realized what was happening, the ground was shaking beneath him as Riku dug his way down through his sheer strength. Chris stepped back, scowling deeply and flashing his powers, taking a brief look into the future. The number of potential ways Riku could pop out and ruin his day were too numerous as it stood, but if Chris entered in a variable, he could influence the outcome. This in mind, Chris shoved his wrist forward and spat more fire into the man-sized hole Riku tore into the ground, knowing that Riku would reach the sewers in just a moment, and that the fire would cause him to have to leap to the side.
And the most convenient side to leap to is his right, his strong side. So he'll then look up and notice that manhole cover… Chris looked to his left, and sure enough, just a second later Riku burst up from it, grabbing the manhole cover as he flew upwards through sheer leg power.
Chris knew the next attack was coming, and when Riku spun in the air and threw the manhole at him, Chris yanked the manhole out of the air and threw it right back at him like a frisbee. Riku hurtled through the gas-filled air and outside of Chris' sight range. The sound of metal crunching ribs filled the air, followed quickly by the sound of Riku hitting the ground, and then the crashing sounds of Chris sprinting forward like a raging bull. Riku pushed the manhole cover off of his chest and coughed up several teeth and some blood when he heard Chris rushing towards him.
Riku growled deeply, and lumbered to his feet. He braced his legs behind him and reared his fist. When he saw Chris emerge from the gas, he dug his feet into the ground and roared loudly, before he caught Chris' swinging fist wholesale with an extended hand. He was pushed back several feet, a pile of concrete and gravel building up around his bare, bleeding feet, but he still managed to halt Chris' attack. He heard a muffled curse, and then a rush of air, but he caught the next massive fist too, this one slamming into his comparatively ant-sized hand with a thunderclap, and a sound similar to a car smashing into a tree.
Chris' dark blue eyes widened behind his skull-like helmet, as realization came smashing down on him like a ton of bricks - Riku was rising. The two struggled for a moment, Chris' machine trying to overpower Riku's otherworldly abilities, but unable, as Riku slowly but surely pushed Chris' arms back, forcing his friend onto the backfoot.
"NOW WE HAVE FUN!" Riku bellowed, his golden eyes gleaming before he yanked back on Chris' massive mechanical appendages, and leapt forward, kneeing the mechanical goliath in the chest as he used its sudden loss of balance to rip off both of its arms in a shower of sparks, gears, screws, and metal.
Before Riku could follow it up, however, the Goliath suit's chest opened up like a gaping maw, revealing inside of it Chris, who was encased in another, much slimmer suit of armor. Both of his arms and legs were splayed out to the side and wrapped in large metal pods. There were sparks flying all around the inside of the Goliath suit, pelting Chris' helmeted head. The pods holding Chris' hands and feet opened up, with the one holding his right hand falling apart and crashing to the ground the moment he yanked himself free. As Riku dropped the suit's useless arms, Chris was suddenly launched out of the suit by an explosive ejector seat. The suit, now without its pilot, acted on its last orders and launched itself forward, encapsulating Riku in its smart-car sized pilot's cabin, and digging up a great deal of concrete as it closed itself and locked Riku inside.
As Chris flew uncontrollably through the air, flailing his arms about, he heard the explosion of the Goliath suit's self destruct. He crested over the top of the gas cloud, getting a brief look at the dark, rain-filled morning sky above him, which showed no signs of letting up any time soon. Chris sighed, but turned his attention back to the ground, he quickly hit a button on his suit and deployed a parachute, which allowed him to sail to the ground, not safely but at least survivably. Chris hit the ground with a loud grunt, and rolled forward, skidding to a halt just a few feet in front of a bank.
He tilted his head, peering inside, his suit telling him that there were at least a dozen people still stupidly inside, likely not wanting to brave the gas-filled warzone outside. He wouldn't discredit them for it, but that didn't mean he thought them smart either. Chris forced his sore body to its feet, and turned around. Now that he was outside of the eleven foot tall mech suit, he finally heard for himself the loud, heavy rainfall, as it pelted his dark colored armor, hitting his helmet and rolling off of his visor in thick rivulets. The light sounds of water hitting glass and metal filled his ears as the thick armor suit's heads up display showed him everything he needed, scanning the environment around him and lacing it with a virtual reality overlay. This suit, unlike the previous one, was much more able to pierce through the gas cloud, and, he noted with glee, it had none of the movement restrictions, almost feeling as if he were just wearing another set of clothes.
The armored figure sighed lightly, it going largely unheard by the sound of rain pelting his helmet and glass and debris slamming into the ground around him. Just in case, Chris. Just… In… Case. He remembered, not even two years ago.
"We never found any true limit to my strength, I always just… Rise. Doesn't matter if it's a cement truck or a tractor-trailer, if I have to lift it I can. So that means that there has to be some kind of safeguard in case I'm ever compromised, or I turn away from the common good. So… I want you to use your powers. See the future, see them all, find something that will work, and build it, I know you can."
Chris remembered a very sullen, sorrowful look stretching across his face as, for one of the few times in his life, he dropped the jovial facade and got deadly serious. "Rick… That is literally inviting disaster." He said in a dead tone that only a man who saw all possible futures and experienced all of the memories therein could attain. "If something is built, it therefore must, and will, be used."
Riku, though he loved his power, was deathly terrified of it, and it was for that reason that he was one of the most humble men Chris knew, and was why he told Chris he wanted to have some sort of safeguard, some kind of contingency. Men like them couldn't just run around the world unregulated, there had to be checks and balances, even if those checks were the two of them, themselves. "I know, Chris… But we cannot afford to not prepare."
And so, the seer created the suit, both of them. Eons ahead of any and all technology in the world they lived in, it was the result of a man who had lived with the ability to see and comprehend any and all futures presented to him, just as fast as he could see them; this meant that he could see every potential outcome and all of the results that stemmed from it, and while his abilities had clear limits, it meant that he could functionally see anything that was possible, from that point on. So when he honed this ability to sharpen his intellect, the result was, as long as he had the time to do so, he could truly do anything he needed, there was no limit but the time he could see past. He could see eternity.
The result of this was the suit of armor he was covered by, designed to be able to feasibly fight a physically illimitable man. The former suit, Goliath, was merely a prelude, a prologue, a warmup. While Goliath alone was indeed one of the most advanced suits of armor in the world, it alone was simply a bulky suit of power armor, with no advanced systems or computers assisting in the actual combat - it relied entirely on the reaction time and fighting skill of the user. Goliath was like a mallet to Hercules' jackhammer. It was, in a sense, merely a distraction, meant to buy as much time as it could before being tossed aside for Hercules, the suit truly capable of fighting one-on-one with a physical god.
Riku's senses were all stuck firmly in overdrive, whereas Chris' were still as average as any human's, meaning that Chris could only react about as well as an average human with the requisite fighting experience, so the suit had to be able to react on the level of a superhuman. It had to predict Riku's moves, react to them, and counter them, all in the space of time it took Chris to blink, the suit could literally see Riku's fist coming, predict its trajectory, and throw up a dodge, parry, and counterattack, before Chris even perceived the strike. Truly, the only thing Chris was capable of doing from a defense perspective was was pray his suit was a good as he designed it to be, his best chance was to keep Riku on the defensive, which was as difficult as splitting an atom with a pair of tweezers. Fortunately, where the superhuman Riku was able to completely outstrip the mortal Chris in his senses, in raw physical attributes, the armor was much more equipped to bring them up to par.
Riku's strength was nigh illimitable, but it had to first rise to the occasion. When Riku first discovered his powers, he could barely lift a minivan, but now, his record under normal circumstances was the weight of all of the debris from half of a house, and when stressed, he had been able to pull two firetrucks from the edge of a cliff, and that was merely his lifting strength. In combat, Riku was able to punch through the equivalent of tank armor and withstand rocket blasts effectively at point blank range. The man couldn't fly, but he had enough strength in his legs that if he wanted to, he could leap tall buildings in a single bound, resulting in, though he detested the name, his 'bunny hop' method of flying. Worse was that he had a healing factor that made him stronger with every healed injury, like a muscle that got stronger with consistent use. In short, the man was a monster, and it had taken a very long time to get the suit to stack up.
To counter his strength and durability, synthetic muscles. Just one strand of them, more than half of the size of a human hair, can lift a ton, and I've strung together enough to create a muscle suit. To protect myself, a liquid layer of armor reminiscent of dragonflies to protect my innards from the acceleration, and thin armor plates made of carbon covalently-bonded nanotubes covering my core, my arms, legs, and neck, to prevent the suit from turning all of that power inward and crushing me. Thought the armored man, as he watched his friend lift one foot from the edge of his shattered building, and then slowly slip forward. To counter his healing factor, heat. The suit's power source can heat the air enough to flash it to plasma, and with the rainfall, that means he gets scalded too. Burns take longer to heal than cuts, bruises, or broken bones. The dark-skinned fighter slid down the building, one hand trailing behind him and dragging on the surface of whatever glass windows he hadn't shattered on impact to slow his descent, and one foot extended past the other to provide a pinpoint place to put his weight behind, resulting in him crashing through each floor of the building individually, in a shower of dust, debris, water, and glass. But none of that protects me from him. First comes shock absorbers, so I don't die due to whiplash and recoil any time he punches me, and so my organs and innards don't get liquified whenever my suit isn't fast enough to counter his punches, providing the bulk of this armor. Then, more armor plates, these ones significantly thicker, too made of the carbon nanotubes. As the dark-skinned fighter got closer to the ground, the armored mortal followed him with his eyes, swallowing through a very dry throat as he did so. And then, to tip the odds in my favor… weapons. The satellite had deployed with the armor, and the drop pods had long since fallen inside his benign 'gas cloud', itself designed to clear him out an arena in the city, so he could fight Riku without potentially hurting anyone else. With the tech inside, any one of the weapons pods would be worth enough to bring America out of debt, and I've got a dozen spread about the city. And if I need replacements, I've got the Garage.
He heard the sound of rushing air and splattering water, and looked up. Riku soared through the air and came to land on the ground, wearing a fresh set of clothes that he'd likely ripped from one of the buildings that surrounded him, explaining the delay in the explosion, and him arriving here. Riku hit the ground and slipped forward as his momentum kept him going, Chris stretched his muscles, both synthetic and organic, and clenched his fists. Hercules, Mark One. Thought Chris, adopting his loose fighting stance, one leg braced behind him, his right hand clenched near his side, his left raised in front of him, loosely clenched and ready to catch any incoming blows. Fully operational.
Riku slowly strode forward, crossing the distance between him and his friend at his own pace. His head was bowed low, but his ear to ear sneer was unmistakable, the man wasn't just drunk on power, he was eagerly anticipating the rest of this fight. The suit was reading the dark skinned fighter's biometric signs, his heart-rate was high, his breathing was accelerated, if Chris had to guess without peeking a few seconds ahead, he would guess that the man's pupils would be dilated to the point of being blood red pinpricks in a sea of gold. He showed absolutely no signs of injury, apart from some smoldering skin and his new outfit. Riku's chest and back was quaking, his howling, shrieking laughter piercing the loud rainfall.
"I must admit, that surprised me." Riku called out. "I mean… A second suit! Smaller than the first, but still!"
"You think that mechanical monstrosity was my only option?!" Chris demanded of his friend.
"Uh… Yeah." Said Rikku, with an honest shrug of his shoulders. "I did. It was fun, I think that's what fighting the Hulk would feel like." He paused a beat, "you know, if he existed."
"That was just a delaying tactic, Riku, and you know it." Chris called out, "Goliath was powerful, but he was felled by just one stone from David. It was never meant to win, it was merely meant to buy time."
Riku smirked, "for what?"
"Your powers can only run for ninety minutes - and that's just on idle." Chris called out, his deep, augmented voice cutting through the rain and the fog. "You burn more energy fighting and healing than you do just sitting around… So the last ten minutes were more like forty five, thirty if you want to lowball it. You're half empty."
"Half a tank of gas is still enough to kick your ass, my friend." Riku responded, not the least bit worried. "Unless that video-game lookin' thing is your 'real' solution." He pointed at Chris' helmet, "is that a Halo helmet? I thought you hated that game."
Chris shrugged, silently wondering how much slack Riku's leash had, and how much of this was the man or men controlling him. "ODST, actually. I liked that one, it was about a human, and not a supersoldier."
Riku grinned, "and we both know that if the Rookie had to fight the Chief, he'd get his ass whooped." He adopted a loose stance, his hands going into the pockets of his stolen pants. "Please tell me you're having as much fun as I am."
"I'm not. This isn't you losing control - this is you having control stolen from you! I don't WANT this, Riku -" Chris began, trying again to get through to his friend, only to be interrupted by Riku, who shook his head and let it hang, staring pointedly at the ground.
"Oh… We both know we've been waiting for this, Chris." Riku called out, his deep voice not even having to be filtered through Chris' helmet for the mortal to hear him. Riku raised his head, revealing his golden eyes to Chris' own, their shine piercing even the thick cloud of gas in between the two. "The big ol' 'Chris and Rikku', one on one, end all, be all." He raised a hand to his chest and clenched at his chest through the rain-stained white shirt. "Your hits actually managed to hurt, you know." He said, "and you know how much it takes to actually make me feel pain when I'm using the overdrive. Real pain, not the sharp bites that happen just because. That Goliath suit, you said it was just supposed to buy time? I can't wait to see what this one can do. You didn't pull out any stops, did you? Man, I wish I could see the world like you did." He growled, his harsh, biting voice a far cry from the warmth and friendliness of its usual tone.
"You would die." Chris said simply, his own cold, gravelly voice augmented by his helmet's speakers, made all the deeper and menacing, easily cutting through the monsoon.
"Ah, I beg to differ. But I do have to wonder, people have said you're so skilled with your sight that you're practically omnipotent… Hell, once you got a handle of your powers, you freakin' had highschool in the bag before we were out of our sophomore year. So did you see this coming and do nothing? You do realize that means you wanted this fight as much as I did." Riku challenged, to Chris' scowl. The slickened, golden-eyed fighter shook his head and dropped his hand from his chest. "In the end it doesn't really matter." He waved his hand through the air, almost as if it were water he were splashing around. The thick gas shifted around his hand, flowing back and forth as he waved it about. "You've so graciously given us an arena, so let's use it. No tap outs, no tag outs, no holds barred. Batman…" He raised his hand and indicated Chris, "Superman." He brought his hand back and clenched a fist in front of his chest. "Brains and brawn."
"Who's controlling you?" Chris demanded, before Riku could spring into action. "Damn it, Riku, if we stop now the damage can be mitigated! This isn't you. You don't fight because you like to, you fight because you have to! To protect those who can't! You aren't well. We do not have to do this." His deeply augmented voice called out.
Rikku shook his head, running his hand through his coarse hair, "does it even matter?" He called out, "does it really, even matter? Maybe… Just maybe… I had an epiphany. Two guys, strong as us, in a world of paper tigers. Doesn't that make us Apex Predators? Doesn't that give us the right to rule as gods? Titans, even?"
"The titans were felled by gods, and man was made in his image. I don't want to do this, Rick - Riku." The time for nicknames was long gone, Chris knew. It had passed with the Goliath suit, when the training wheels had been shed for a much more personal, man on man battle. "And you don't either. There are two of us, so that means there could be more, and that this third person could have a fourth, and they together could have taken over your mind and shielded themselves from mine. THINK, RIKU!" He roared, as Riku kept stalking forward, his muscles bulging and clenching with an otherworldly energy, bundled beneath his brown, slick skin like steel cables.
Riku shook his head, and with each spray of water that spun off of it, Chris felt his heart sink lower as the sole surviving future where the two of them didn't fight, vanished before his silver eyes. They would fight to the end, that much was now unchangeable. "No… You might act all crazy and neurotic at school, but we both know that thinking was always your thing… Who knows?" As he said it, Chris was hit with the flash, a flicker, almost as if whoever was hiding themselves from him was taunting him, with the briefest glimpse of a future in which he got answers. "Perhaps… If you fight me… You'll get…" Rikku crouched down, raising both hands in his own combat stance. "What…" He placed one leg behind him and braced both legs for a lightning fast sprint. "You…" He leaned back slightly, Chris' suit immediately read the warning signs - he was seconds away from attacking. The time for talk was just about over, the calm before the storm just about to pass.
Chris closed his eyes behind his polarized visor. He inhaled deeply and exhaled everything. He may not have wanted this, but he found himself in this situation, so he was going to see it through. Come hell or high water, he would win, in some way, shape, or form. He had to, because he died in any other outcome, and if that were the case, he couldn't save anyone from Riku's unstoppable wrath, or the machinations of the puppetmaster toying with Riku's strings.
"WANT!" Riku bolted forward.