by T. Lee Harris
Kingsborough was not a beautiful place — that was Prometheus Plaza, of the verdant public spaces and marble-domed municipal buildings or Commerce Square, of the gleaming glass and steel towers. Kingsborough was the everyday working class section of the city. The gritty, grimy heart of Pinnacle City.
In the harsh light of day, it’s an area dotted with rubble-filled lots and abandoned factories rusting alongside working ones that breathe smoke and soot over the surrounding brick tenements. Struggling businesses, fortified with iron gratings, huddle together for safety in desolate strip malls.
At night, darkness masks the grime. The feeble glow of the few unbroken street lights softens the hard edges. People sit on stoops and fire escapes, savoring the evening cool, their conversation warring with music spilling from open windows and the rumble of the never-ending parade of vehicles through the borough’s streets.
On this particular night, a not-quite full moon rose high, creating a mosaic of moon-lit rooftops surrounded by canals of darkness. At one of the strip malls, almost outside the reach of security lights, five young men in the gang colors of the Untouchables crouched on a rooftop. The blue-white glare of a plasma torch flared intermittently, sending sparks up from the steel door of the downstairs jewelry store and touching the gathered faces with a surreal glow.
The nervous lookout whispered, “C’mon, man! Hurry up. You want one of those crazy hero-types to show up?”
The flashlight-holder said, “My grandmother could cut faster than you.”
“Shuddup,” the cutter hissed.” I’m concentratin’. This gizmo ain’t easy t’use.”
Behind them, someone cleared his throat and said, “Forget your key?”
The young thugs froze, then slowly turned as one to look at the man leaning on a silver-topped cane, dressed in dapper 1960’s Carnaby Street style, bowler hat tipped at a jaunty angle.
“Great. The Haberdasher,” one thug muttered slipping slightly away from the group.
“Whud I tell ya? Ya took took too long.”
“Cripes,” said Flashlight. “I thought that nutcase’s home turf was Commerce Square.”
“Sorry to disappoint you . . . gentlemen. I go where I’m needed.”
“That’ll be the hospital, hero.”
Hab whirled around. The Untouchable who had slipped away, now stood slightly behind him, hands glowing with pent up power. Electricity danced along the boy’s arms and flowed from his fingertips in a bolt aimed squarely at his chest. He had just enough time to realize he was looking at a Kilo — thankfully not a full Tesla, or he’d probably be convulsing helplessly in a Voltaic Matrix by now — before he moved. The lightning passed through where the hero once stood and exploded against the metal security door in a shower of sparks.
The blur that was the Haberdasher coalesced behind the ganger and the silver-topped cane expanded into a six-foot bo stick with a sharp click. In the blink of an eye, the staff entangled the young man’s legs sending him skidding along the gravel roofing.
“That was most rude,” Hab told the stunned Untouchable.
That was all it took to break the surprise. The remaining Untouchables sprang into action, rushing the lone hero with billy clubs and brass knuckles. The Haberdasher smiled. That should have worried them. The gleaming black bo-stick whirled with swift efficiency, blocking strikes and sending opponents toppling to the ground.
Abruptly, one of the thugs picked himself up and snarled, “I’m through with this.” He pulled a pistol from his waistband and took aim at the bowler. Before the Haberdasher could react, a gust of wind lifted the boy and slammed him, hard, onto the surface of the roof. The pistol, skidding and bouncing away, was suddenly encased in a block of ice.
A young woman dressed in white landed lightly beside the groaning thug, casually turning to pelt another with a spray of hail. “Good evening, Hab. I heard your police band call and thought you might like little help.”
Hab grinned and touched the brim of his hat. “Any time, M’Lady Frost!”
The rest of the fight wasn’t much of a battle. The last Untouchable standing looked from his fallen gang-mates to the two heroes and slowly dropped to his knees, lacing his fingers behind his head.
At the sound of sirens screaming to a halt on the street below, Hab glanced over the coping and said, “Ah. Pinnacle’s finest are on the scene, at last.” Looking back at Frost, he added, “I’ve never been fond of filling out reports, shall we disappear into the darkness, my dear?”
Mist gathered around the young woman’s form as she rose slightly into the air. “Meet you at the Super Mexicano in fifteen.”
“Ten,” he said springing onto a neighboring building.
With a laugh, she summoned an icy breeze and soared away into the night just as the PPD streamed out and onto the jewelry store’s roof.