Battle on an Icy Pyre

March 14, 2018:

Firefly attacks a Country Club and battles Cassandra Cain in the midst of a snowstorm.

Gotham Palisades Country Club

A posh club for the wealthy intellectuals of Gotham. Three stories of stone columns, stucco, and wooden facades decorated with fine art.

Characters

NPCs: Various socialites

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\#https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeK1E1HaMdY "Fight Fire With Fire" by Metallica]


Fade In…

*

A low tremor had risen up through Garfield Lynns the night before, in bed in the old house he was squatting in. At first he thought it was the liquor that he used to give him solace from his dreams of prophecy, but then he realized that it was the darkness creeping into him. He awoke in a cold sweat, before puking the rotgut in his belly onto the floor beside his torn mattress. Clawing for the lamp he had salvaged from a garage sale, he lit a cigarette and pondered what the voices wanted.

It was just reaching an early dinner time at the Palisades Country Club, the end of the winter marked by a social event for the intelligentsia of Gotham City. Gathered academics and artists and other elites were inside the club's main atrium, snow lightly falling outside. Elegant music played in the background, as waiters in white suits delivered rare wine and expensive meats and caviar to those dining. The toast of the town as the latest Renoir painting at the museum, in city from overseas, and they all wanted to discuss it. That, and some business deals.

There was a roar outside, in the whipping snow, as a power conduit exploded in a violent shock that shook the windows. The club went dark, as the power cut out, fire visible outside amid the snow where the transformer used to be. In the eerie early night, snow whipping past in the whipporwinds, a pillar of fire raged, while a figure in black body armor, with wings and a flamethrower, trudged through the snow, towards the club's glass doors overlooking the golf course. People inside were aghast, murmurs of alarm passing through the captive audience, the socialites frozen in fear.

*

Cassandra initially was nowhere in sight. She was only a few blocks from the Country Club, over the fence and past the perfectly symmetrical painted storefronts with their smiling businessmen and expensive security systems. She preferred the places in the city where the patina of unculturedness and poverty wasn't glossed over with bright, inviting shades of corruption. She walked easily, the sounds washing across her as people speak back and forth, a warbling that she finds both pleasant and utterly unnecessary. Occasionally a person seems to look Cassandra's way and she turns her gaze on them, studying their intentions in how they stand. The nicer ones might receive a smile but she is in her own world.

Cassandra is standing in a dim shop, holding a small paper tray piled with chicken wings glazed in hot sauce. She knew the man who was selling them and after a recent altercation where Cassandra had gotten involved he seemed all too happy when she was nearby The food was hot and it stung her lips, but it felt good when it reached her stomach. It was a nice counter to the flurries outside. She had nearly lost herself staring into the white as it drifted downward when the ground began to rumble.Amber eyes snap upward and she scans the skyline. Briefly, she exchanges glances with the vendor who begins to rapidly pack up to leave. Suddenly there's a quiet hurry among the small crowd as the alley rolls itself up and disappears. Cassandra hurries as well - in the opposite direction.

Cassandra starts up the side of a building, grasping a brick and drawing herself up, then nimbly leaping to a window sill. In this flurry she was more visible than usual, but the wraith was so even when gray stood out against the stark white of the rooftops. She put up her hood to obscure her face and checked her gloves. The Country Club fire was visible in moments, Cassandra crouched on a building nearby to survey the scene with quiet, intense eyes.

*

Firefly pitied these people not. They were living apart from society, the real society that produced people like him. The teeming masses of harried mothers and depressed fathers and abused children. He had experienced this all too strongly when he was young, and now, he had to tell them of his visions.

For Firefly was a prophet. A prophet of renewal.

Firefly raised his flamethrower, and depressed the thick trigger as he pointed it at the glass atrium doors. A long stream of burning hot napalm streamed forth with a brief expulsion of accelerated incendiary jelly, blowing the twin doors aside and sending screams throughout the crowd.

Those inside the atrium panicked, running into each other and the gathered tables, attempting to find their ways out in the darkness of blimy winter's light.

Firefly stepped through the flaming portal into the building, his insulated thermal suit protecting him from his own deed. His nightvision goggles scanned through the crowd of people panicking, as a low, mechanical chuckle came through his filtered voice mask.

As Firefly was once the Lord's child, these people too were now children.

His children.

*

Cassandra flinched when the burst of flame exploded over the atrium doors. It seared the retinas, dazzling her eyes for a moment before she had a chacnce toadjust. There was no time to waste, however., As her vision recovered the young woman vaulted the edge of he roof, held a ledge,, dropped to the ground below as she dashed toward the burning building ahead. Her vision came back to her as she was reaching the corner of the building. Screaming people turned into a roiling mob, all vestiges of civility abandoned as the frightened animal within took over. It was the perfect cover for her approach.

Cassandra recognized the Firefly's movements only in the abstract. This was someone who wouldn't be dissuaded. So she didn't try. Cassandra looked around quickly, then scooped up a chunk of nearby pavement as she came closer to the building. She lobbed it at the darkly armoured man wreathed in flames, aimed right at his head, then dashed headlong for the cover of one of the stone columns supporting the walls. Hopefully it would provide some insulation from the flames. Nothing Cassandra was wearing would, after all.

*

Firefly sees the brick of mortar flying at his head with an arc, briefly chagrinned before it strikes his head. He jerks backwards without moving his feet, merely leaning back on a heel, rattled. He lifts his left hand to his head, readjusting his helmet, and emitting a long, dark sigh from his breathing mask, as he grunts through it. He had barely caught the individual moving towards cover inside the building, and made a calculation in his head. Killing this demon was more important than teaching these fleeing people the scales of the Holy Spirit. He would spare them, since they had brought him something more important.

An imp to roast alive in Heavenly flames.

Firefly turns towards where Cassandra hides, a long squeeze of his flamethrower's trigger belching out a line of fire that roasts the wall that Cassandra is behind and sends the stucco overhead bursting into explosions of noxious-smelling heat. As he pulls the trigger, he backs out the door with a diagonal rear strafe, stepping back out into the snow.

Firefly squeezes a button on his left glove, one of several, with one of his fingers, the combination giving him a jet upwards into the air from the ramjet on his back. He zooms upwards, hanging in the air for a moment, his wings spreading as he leans back and pressing a different button combination, a low bevelling bellow from his jet as it pulses him down to the roof of the country club. He stands on the roof with his flamethrower, watching the bright white snow amid the storm for Cassandra Cain to come outside.

His flamethrower is at the ready, pointing down at the expanse of wintry abyss behind the building, perched on the roof like a gargoyle.

*

Fumes envelop Cassandra in seconds as stucco and mortar begin to ignite. She inhales hoarsely in spite of herself, giving away her position in the darkness. She forces herself to hold her breath then, fighting back the sudden urge to vomit, and lifting her hoodie to cover her mouth. It wasn't a controlled run any longer. The girl broke into a headlong sprint, desperate to stay ahead of the flames. Briefly, her shape is visible as she darts from hiding spot to hiding spot. A column, suddenly wreathed in flame. The strafe ignites everything in Cassandra's path as the Firefly exits through the back.

It doesn't do much good to hide in a burning building. Cassandra was eerily visible through the haze of smoke. She coulldn't help it any longer. She circled around to the back of the building carefully…. And then Firefly shoots into the air on a streak of flame. For a second, Cassandra is plainly visible and in the amid the snow.

*

As Firefly sees who he is battling, he slackens his grip on his flamethrower. He could kill the demon, right now, with a simple jet of flame at the exposed vigilante. Surrounded by a field of snow, with his superior ground and his ability to fly overhead. All he'd have to do is fly over her in a simple angelic flight, and bring the flames of Hades down atop the demon.

But something in his mind makes him think of his little sister, the one who he hadn't seen since he was a boy, somewhere out there in Gotham City, living as a woman now, with the life Garfield could never have because of those cigarettes being put out in his arm and that power cord being lashed across him by his drunken father.

He felt bile in his throat, as he briefly considered that this woman was his sister, come back from the dead as a minion of Hell.

Firefly turned around atop the roof and started walking away from Cassandra, giving up his surprise and allowing the demon to join him on the smoking roof. He would have to purify her first, for she could have the soul of his beloved.

*

Cassandra was tense, waiting for an explosion of fury and flame which would never come. It was anticlimactic, really. She wasn't sure her plan would have worked but instead of trying she's left staanding in the snow, a shimmer in the smoke, flinching away from nothing. The girl looks up and then pauses for a second, biting her bottom lip. Then she starts forward.

Cassandra climbs swiftly, vaulting upward more than simply pulling herself along, and she is quickly on the roof on ly meters away from the Firefly. She studies hivs movement intentlly, a hand buried in her outfit. A demon? Perhaps. The lack of fear is damning in and of itself . Most people have the instinct to run from the puurifying flame. Cass is instead taking the time to study how Firefly moves, and how he looks at her.

The young woman takes a new sstance, hands at her sides, feet lightly spread. She's expecting him to send a lance of fire at her at any moment. Waiting for it, in fact. Cassandra takes a deep breath and, not for the first time, prepares to face her own death head on.

*

Firefly slowly turns around to face Cassandra Cain, flames roaring behind him as smoking billows into the air. In the background, the wail of fire engines sound like angels, calling to him to join them in the ethers above the clouds.

"Cry, little sister, cry," comes Firefly's grating, modified voice, as he stares at Cassandra Cain from behind his bulbous goggles. "You must release your soul to God. Please, sister, accept the blessing of the angels."

And then comes a burst of napalm, shooting out of his flamethrower with a long, heavy stream, recoil forcing Firefly to lean backwards on his thighs and calves as the device bucks upwards in his hands. The flame arcs at Cassandra, a narrow line of white-yellow that starts narrow and then plumes into a broad display of light.

*

For a second Cassandrra tenses slightly. Her eyes widen as the words are spoken. She's being asked to cry? She seems to be warring internally, understanding not the words so much as his intent. Those thoughts are quickly chased away. As Firefly's finger moves toward the trigger on his flamethrower her muscles coil. An arc of flame blazes aacorss the roof like a flare sent from Heaven itself. Cassandra is standing much too close. Then she is gone.

The fire hits the rooftop where Cassandra had been standing as she dives leftward, her movement a perfect counterpoint to the arc of napalm. Even passing this close to it is enough for Cassie to smell singed fabric. The soles of her heavy boots leave rubber on the rooftop where she passes but somehow Cassandra herself manages to pass.

Perhaps the young woman is an angel, her form alight in white and orange of the pyre that the Country Club has become. If so, however, she is an avenging spirit, clad in black. She flips through the air gracefully, using her momentum to try to clear the distance between herself and Firefly as the force of the jet throws him off-balance. A low tackle while his aim is thrown upward.

*

The vigilante slams into Firefly and he falls beneath her, his suit slick and smelling of ceramic polish. Cassandra can see herself in his eyes, her reflection warped by the round nature of his goggles. As she alights atop him, on his back, a low wheeze comes out of his vox-modified breathing mask. It could be mistaken for fear, but it is instead him producing a low growl. He sits up, knees coming upwards, and then jams all of his fingers into his left palm, on the glove he wears to control his jetpack. There's a sudden blast of fire from behind him. as he's propelled off the ground and into the air despite Cassandra being atop him, the roof he was sitting atop being blasted into a smoking hole with fire shooting upwards in a backdraft.

*

Cassandra almost had her hand on the jetpack itself, and the fuel lines with it. She lets out a yelp and yanks her hands away as the fire ignites, letting out a sharp cry of pain as her nerves were seared by the superheated air. The pair are thrown haphazardly into the sky, the slender darkly clothed vgilante clinging to Firefly for dear life.

Cassandra's breathing is labored, sweat pouring down her forehead and into her eyes but she clings determinedly. Her legs wrap around Firefly's calves and she twists herself alongside him as she grabs for the flamethrower with both hands and tries to wrest it from him. The take to the sky like a firework, their voyage announced by a corona of frame as the rooftop joins the rest of the building in ashes.

The pair spiral awkwardly through the night and snow, Cassandra's weight and incessant struggling throwing off their balance as they fly.

*

A low, menacing laugh comes out of Firefly's breather as he spirals upwards, his black wings spreading malificently as his flamethrower is wrested away. He allows it to fall to the wayside, having proven to himself this woman's valor. He arcs and pivots, and the pair go sailing over the frozen golf course, the fires of the clubhouse behind them as he takes her on a wild ride over the snow-covered greens.

"Fly with me, dark angel!" he croons, spreading his freed hands. And then, a lurch, as he dives downwards, the jetpack producing a high-pitched whine as he jets towards the ground, daring Cassandra Cain to hold onto him as he initiates a potential crash.

Will he continue his course into the snowbanks, or will he avert at the last moment? If Cassandra hangs on, the latter won't be possible. But with the former, they will certainly both suffer.

*

Cassandra's hood falls away to reveal her spiky, cropped hair and surprisingly soft features. This is a girl really, only nineteen or twennty years of age, and more slender than the hoodie made readily apparent. As Firefly cackles gleefully she flinches, looking back toward the ground. They're headed facefirst into a snowbank.

A split second is spent weighing the options and then shakes her head once. If she bails she'll be half-buried in snow, a still target for the airborne Firefly to eliinate his leisure. She didn't have a real choice here. Still grasping the flamethrower started to bash the weapon at Firefly's jetpack, smashing at the hose connectors and fuel tanks as hard as she can.

Cassandra herself is unaware of the low giowl she lets out as she grapples with her opponent even while they are both streaking through the air. They're both going to plow straight into the snowbanks. In Cassandra's defense Firefly might help break her fall in their crash landing.

*

Firefly's jetpack cuts out briefly, then sputters into a burst of flame as jet fuel explodes from the broken pack while Firefly spirals and dives towards the eighteenth hole. He falls short and they both fall from the sky together, Firefly kicking end over and with Cassandra as he tumults into the snow. He slams into the snow, hard, a grinding bounce produced as he comes to a halt, the cold, white snow snuffing the flames that enscounced him after his jetpack exploded.

Firefly lays still in the steaming snow, unconscious from the force of the spinning fall.

*

They hit the ground and Cassandra is thrown free like, for a second, she too had achieved the power of flight. She flounders through the air, briefly graceful, and then she hits the ground again. Firefly's travel through the snowbank turns the ice to water and leaves Cassandra sliding through snow and against pavement as she bounces once, then twice, ragdolling across the landscaape as snow and steam envelope her.

Cassandra isn't moving either, for the moment. Snow falls in around her.

*

Back at the country club, as the main building's fires are quenched by firemen working in the winter ardour, police counsel the terrified socialites. All they know is that their evening of art and sophistication was shattered by a demonic man in a black jetsuit, with a flamethrower and bulging eyes. It's a story that they will all remember for the rest of their life, the day they met the Firefly.

And tomorrow morning, as they awake with their families, they will feel alive again, and eat breakfast with their husbands, wives, and children, as if it was the first meal they had eaten as a new human being. Perhaps they will be a little kinder to an employee, give a little extra money to a charity, or even adopt a child.

As for the Firefly, he was gone by the time the police made it that far out in the golf course, back to his humble abode, with a bottle of cheap Irish whiskey to calm the ghosts of the dead inside him. He was a preacher, but his form of sainthood meant he had demons that turned him to the bottle.

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