When anyone with a suitcase full of cash and the right connections can get their hands on illegal tech, it's easy to become an assassin. Just buy yourself a third-rate freeze-ray, throw on a labcoat, and call yourself 'Professor Freeze Ray'. Toss in some sob story about how frostbite killed your parents, leading you to a life of crime, and the media will love you.
But for every ten yahoos with a gimmick, there's one son of a bitch you've got to look out for. Jackal's that son of a bitch.
Hell, I should know. I used to be that son of a bitch, too.
The security agents don't think--they just open fire. It's raining lead and Jackal's getting soaked; too bad his power suit is bulletproof. He grabs two of them by their collars and hurls them to opposite sides of the room, then clears the distance between him and the stage in a single bound.
Nova's power is showy, but offensively limited. But there are certain advantages to being able to control light. For instance: The moment a guy in power armor jumps on stage, she uses the opportunity to erect a wall of darkness around herself and the rest of her performers. But that won't give her more than a few seconds of time.
Meanwhile, I move. Two security agents put themselves between me and the fight.
It doesn't take a lot of pressure to incapacitate someone. Just apply the right force to the right point and you can turn a hulking bodyguard into a screaming heap on the ground. I grab the first agent's wrist and thumb as he lifts his hands to block me, then twist them in a nasty sort of way, producing a few pops in the process. He drops, but not before I dart my hand in under his coat and unstrap his pistol.
The second agent turns to me, reaching for his own piece--but I've already pistol-whipped him across the side of the temple and kneed him in the solar plexus. He buckles to the ground; I pull the gun out of his hands and kick him aside.
Armed with two 9mm pistols, I leap on stage and open fire.
The bullets ping off of Jackal's armor. The gunfire is just to grab his attention--I get in close and throw one of the guns over his head to get him to look up. He falls for it, just as I deliver an open-palm strike to his upper torso--right where the armor is thickest.
He steps back, but still takes it. My hand bounces right off his armor.
His chest makes a soft beep. He looks down--and sees a wafer-thin circuit attached to his sternum. The small LCD display flashes '0:00'.
He looks back up at me.
I dive. It explodes. Jackal is thrown off stage, landing on his hands; he backflips into a crouch, snarls, and leaps toward me.
All I'm doing is buying time. Time for Nova to escape and time for me to prepare. Jackal is a high-end player; his powers consist of enhanced agility, strength, and a power suit that allows him to throw cars. My powers consist of chronic insomnia and the ability to polish off a whole bottle of vodka without passing out.
If I'm going to survive this, I'm going to have to get serious. Which means getting ugly.
When he lands in front of me, I step back and drop into a stance. That's when a solid beam of light hits Jackal right in the face, and I feel a hand on my shoulder.
"Run!" Nova shouts.
Gotta give the kid points for guts. I move--but when I do, I take her wrist and pull her with me.
"There's a contract on you," I tell her. "I'm here to help."
She hesitates, but nods. Maybe she had some notion of making a heroic stand against Jackal; maybe she figured she'd just buy some time before the police arrived. Either way, the moment the word 'contract' leaves my mouth, she starts moving. She's the target, which means wherever she goes, Jackal will follow.
The light blinded him, but he's recovering fast. I kick my way through the back door, slap another explosive pack on the side of the frame, then charge up the stairs with Nova. Just as Jackal reaches the doorway, I hear it explode--followed by a series of curses.
"How many of those things do you have?" Nova asks.
"That was my last one," I tell her. "We need to get to my car."
"I've tried contacting Vanguard," she says. "Sent a signal on my beacon."
"They might be here in five seconds or five minutes," I tell her. "Either way, not relying on it."
We burst into the indoor parking lot. Lots of cars, but mostly empty--we can hear alarms and sirens in the distance. Behind us, Jackal is leaping up the stairs.
"We might have to hold him off for a while," I tell her as I move toward my new car.
"Okay. What powers do you have?" she asks.
"Yeah, about that. When I said 'get to my car', it's because that's where I got my gear."
She stares at me. "Please tell me you're joking."