Chapter 94: Stand

Adamant stood up again, and again he tried to reach the enemy’s barricade across the street. Again their bullets bounced off of him, and then they hit him in the face with a rocket.

Again.

Adamant wasn’t stupid, he’d been a hero for over a decade now, and he hadn’t survived just because his skin was tough to crack and he hit harder than the other guy. Behind him, the last of the heroes who had stayed outside the headquarters to fight were on their last legs, the rest were either dead or had been dragged inside. The only reason that any were left was that Adamant drawing the majority of the fire.

They weren’t hurting him, they had to know that, but each time he was thrown back, it cost him a little more to get back to his feet. He had maybe an hour left in him before he couldn’t get up anymore. This wasn’t the kind of fight he could win on his own, but every enemy they took out was instantly replaced, and a few of them had managed to rejoin the fight.

And still he got back to his feet. Because in a few minutes he would be the only one standing between the mercenaries and everyone still inside Headquarters. Because one life wasn’t worth hundreds, even if it was his.

And so, he picked up the girder he’d managed to sneak away on his last charge. Their tank had done a number on it when he was using Adamant as a baseball, but it would last one or two more swings. Or one good throw.

The girder spun end over end as it flew towards the man with the missile launcher; if he hit anyone with it, they’d die. He started running the moment it left his hands; he knew exactly where it would hit.

The mercenary with the missile launcher had started running as soon as he saw the girder flying at him. It smashed into the roof of the building at their feet. He smirked when he heard their panicked cries as they fled from the crumbling rooftop, but he didn’t slow down. It would only buy him about thirty seconds, and that would have to be enough.

Adamant slammed into the barricade the mercenaries were using for cover. It shattered, sending rubble flying into all the mercenaries cowering behind it. He ignored the bullets flying into him from both sides and picked up the next barricade.

It was a terrible club, too awkward to swing well, too fragile to take a good hit, and heavy enough that he could kill someone with less than a tenth of his full strength. He couldn’t risk hitting anyone with it, so he slammed it into the building, breaking it into a hundred pieces and showering the mercenaries around him with debris. A few of the mercenaries were knocked to the ground, and a few more were given some extra scrapes and bruises.

The gunfire from that side slowed down, and Adamant leapt towards them. The metallic skin covering his fists softened as he punched them, but it was still hard enough that he could feel their bones snapping under his blows. A dozen enemies fell in seconds.

He turned into the rain of bullets still coming at him from behind. There were enough of them that he had to dig each step into the concrete beneath him to keep from being pushed back.

The mercenaries shouted something, but he couldn’t hear it over their weapons.

He caught a flash of red and orange out of the corner of his eye, followed quickly but the sound of another missile being fired. He was out of time.

Adamant braced himself for the explosion, knowing that he might not be able to get back up after this one.

Another flash, and the missile exploded far behind him.

A blue figure flew out of the headquarters. Waves of blue fire spread from his palms and slammed into the mercenaries Adamant hadn’t gotten to yet. A few of them tried to target him, but streams of green goo sprayed out from inside the headquarters and covered their guns. Those who didn’t drop their guns immediately found their hands stuck to the quickly hardening shell.

Adamant felt the bullets letting up and quickly moved to take out the mercenaries closest to him.

Burnout passed over the battlefield as quickly as he could fly. The stroller who’d been shooting the goo could only see about half their opponents, and could only take out about three guns at a time.

Burnout started tossing fireballs behind the mercenary barricades. They were small, but the moment they touched the ground they blossomed into massive waves of fire pushed the mercenaries up against their own barriers.

He saw Adamant hop back from the enemy lines. As high as he was, he could only barely see the cracks that had started forming in the hero’s skin. But Adamant wasn’t running, he’d already lined himself up to take out another of the barricades.

He tossed a few more fireballs and landed next to Adamant.

“We can handle it, you need to get inside.”

“I stop when they do,” he said between breaths. His voice was tired and slow, but as confident as ever. “I’ve been handling it myself for this long, I can last a few more minutes.”

Burnout felt his retort dying in his throat when Adamant met his eyes.

“Your fireball trick is nice, but it won’t keep them down for long. We need someone who can take them out without setting them on fire. So unless your friend in there is going to come out and spray everyone you manage to knock down, you need me.”

It was a hard point to take from someone who could barely stand, but it wasn’t one Burnout could refute so easily. He’d only fought unpowered humans a few times before, and there had always been someone to arrest or restrain them when he was done. But Adamant had been fighting at and past his limits for hours now. As far as Burnout knew, he’d only done that once before, and, according to most of the news sites, his heart had actually stopped for an hour when he was done.

“You could die.” It was the only argument he had.

“Not today,” Adamant said. “Today would be a crappy day to die.”

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