Chapter 8

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It was a Saturday evening. Joey was on his way back home from a year-end party his friends had decided to hold. The party was only half-over, but Joey had seen everyone he wanted to see and didn't feel like getting into the drinks. His doctor had warned him against alcohol usage for the time being. 

Besides that, most of them weren't 21 yet. Plus, he'd decided to be back earlier so he could get to bed early and wake up early to play games with Ned again. The kid had really gotten him into those things in the past year. To be fair, they felt like the most freedom he had had while he was in the early stages of recovering so there was good reason for him to feel attached to a couple of games. 

Just above him, a movie theater was emptying. The 6:00 movies must have just finished. When he caught a glimpse of a gold mask in the crowd, Joey instinctively turned his head away. There was no way Achilles could recognize him, but he didn't feel like tempting fate. 

Overhead, he caught the sound of some kind of uproar, so he glanced back up again, only to freeze in place at what he saw. 

 

Olivia stood with her back to a wall, carefully looking over each person in the crowd. Achilles should come through any moment. The crowd would help conceal her until her work was done, and the disguise should keep anyone from recognizing her as the woman on the news. 

She felt like she'd waited eons for this. The Miracle burned in her chest, begging to be unleased. 

Only a little longer, and then we will see how much you can do. 

Achilles began weaving his way through the crowd and she joined the swarm of people going up to him and fawning over him. It disgusted her to do so, but she needed her cover. The 'hero' himself smiled and gave out autographs freely. She smiled as brightly as she could command herself to and joined another couple of young women squealing over how strong he looked. 

Achilles laughed bashfully, then at their request struck a couple poses. Onlookers cheered and took pictures, while Olivia kept her smile plastered on and met his eyes. They were a bit hard to see through the mask, but they were a lovely colour. 

She continued laughing and cheering with the others, letting the flow of the crowd push her towards the back, never once taking her eyes off of Achilles. When she was back near the wall she'd started at, she activated her Miracle. 

Goodbye, murderer, Olivia thought coldly, masking her hatred with a neutral expression. 

 

Pride burned in Achilles' chest as he interacted with his fans. They all loved him, and it helped give him a sense of purpose. Not that doing good wasn't good enough for him, but the praise and adoration was the icing on the cake. And he loved icing. 

One teenage girl came up beside him and asked for a selfie, which he cheerfully obliged. The phone screen showed the two of them, surrounded by others who made faces and held up peace signs, and Achilles smiled beneath his mask, even if no one could see it. 

When the camera flashed, he noticed one person with a knife pointed at the girl's back. He quickly shoved her aside and grabbed the man's hand, wrestling the knife out of it. 

"Hey! Give that back," the man demanded, leaping after the knife. Achilles held it up and away. 

"I can't let you use something so dangerous here. What were you planning to do with it?" 

"Huh? I wanted to take a picture too!" Achilles frowned in confusion before taking a second look and realizing that what he'd thought was a knife was in fact just a phone. 

"Sorry. I mistook it for something else," he said, ready to die of embarrassment, as he handed it back. 

"Did you now?" The voice echoed around him. He glanced quickly around him, suddenly noticing that everyone was smiling darkly, with knives strapped to their clothes. 

"What...?" The crowd took out their knives and launched at him, brandishing the weapons. He held up his hands instinctively before remembering that knives couldn't hurt him. Instead, he lurched forward, trying to confiscate as many knives as possible before someone else got hurt. 

 

Olivia held back the desire to laugh. Achilles was wrestling his adoring fans, stealing their cell phones and tossing them over the railing. This was perfect. Their unflappable hero would soon be criminalized for his actions here. A few people stood back, filming the entire thing. 

What if she upped the anty a bit? 

In a few moments, Achilles was fighting the civilians, knocking them out with punches to the stomach and holding one by the neck, causing tears to stream down the terrified man's face. One person near the back was calling the military. 

"I don't know what's going on, but Achilles is attacking people! Please help. We're on Block 9-9-3." 

Olivia could barely hold back her glee. 

 

Joey made it to the top of the stairs and back down towards the commotion. Really, he should have been running as far away as possible, but things had looked bad from his last vantage point. Now Achilles was strangling some poor guy, who looked like he wouldn't hold out for much longer. 

Someone had to stop this. Joey took a couple steps back and hid in a side street, hoping someone would stop this insanity. 

 

"Barron! Pena! Sims! I need your squads to get to 9-9-3 immediately!" Lieutenant Galvan's voice boomed through the building. Larsen grabbed her gun and vest, preparing to head out with the rest of her squad. 

"What's going on, Galvan?" Sims asked, his voice just as loud as the lieutenant's. 

"Achilles is on a rampage! We have about five calls coming in about it. I want you all there five minutes ago!" 

"Sir!" Sims' reply acted for all of them. Larson stood by the door, waiting for Barron and the others. Within thirty seconds, they were at the door and running down the street at full speed. 9-9-3 was two floors up and two blocks over, so it wasn't too far, but response times were vital. Especially if people were getting hurt. 

Larsen just hoped they could make it in time. 

 

Rayguns pelted Achilles' impenetrable body. The knives were all gone, but rayguns had appeared in their place. No matter how hard he tried, it was like playing Whack-A-Mole. Several people were groaning on the ground from the shots, and the man in his grasp was trying to reach a larger raygun meant for military use. 

How had they gotten so many guns? And knives? Weren't they all from the theater? Why would the theater staff let so many weapons through their doors? 

"Put down your weapons!" Achilles pleaded desperately. The crowd didn't oblige. A child who looked no older than five stared at him coldly, raising a weapon towards the man Achilles was holding on to and beginning to squeeze the trigger. 

Achilles charged at him, letting the other man go, and swept the boy into his arms, wrestling the raygun hard enough that the kid screamed in pain. 

I'm sorry, Achilles thought as he wondered if he'd broken the child's wrist. Even so, the onslaught didn't stop. A punch came at him from the side from a woman, along with screams. 

"You monster!" 

His heart quivered, but Achilles had vowed to pursue this path to its bitter end. He would make the one who had given him this Miracle proud of him. 

 

A large number of footsteps came down the street, and Joey saw that the military had arrived. Relief engulfed him as he saw them. They would solve this. This was their job, what they'd been trained for. One of the officers directed the others to surround Achilles and get everyone to safety. The ring they formed around Achilles wasn't huge, but it was all they seemed to be able to do in this situation. 

"Achilles! Stand down. You are under arrest for assault and terror." Officers continued to move people behind the ring as Achilles fought. Slowly he paused and looked at them. A little boy was in his grasp, tears streaming down his face. 

"Mama!" the boy cried. 

"Please save him!" The woman who seemed to be the boy's mother was clinging to one of the commanding officers, her hands wrapped around her arm. 

"Please stand back, ma'am. We'll handle this," the sergeant replied, reaching for her raygun. 

"I won't let you keep this up," Achilles muttered. "I can't stand down until everyone's safe." 

"You're the one putting them in danger!" 

"Release the boy." 

"If you do not comply, we will shoot." Each of the sergeants spoke, as their subordinates finished emptying the circle. Joey couldn't tear his eyes away from the scene. 

Why would Achilles do this? He'd seemed so easygoing and mellow. What was he attacking civilians for? 

"I told you, I won't stand down. You're the ones who need to back off," Achilles growled, tightening his grip on the kid. 

"Fine then. Officers, open fire! Do not hit the child." 

"Sir, will rayguns work?" a female officer asked. 

"Of course they'll work, Larsen. Now shoot!" 

A cacophony of noise accompanied the energy beams that landed on Achilles' lower half. Aiming too high would put the boy in danger, so the officers seemed to be aiming for his legs. 

"You think that'll work on me?" Achilles asked, pushing the kid behind him. Not a mark could be seen on him. The beams hadn't even damaged his costume. 

Dread settled in Joey's stomach as he realized the military couldn't fix this. Achilles had a Miracle that rendered their efforts futile. 

 

As she watched the chaos she'd wrought, Olivia barely kept from cracking a smile. Soon Achilles would find that he had no more oxygen, and then what would he do? 


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