Quick Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Any use of names of real persons, organizations or ideas are not intended to represent the persons, organizations or ideas themselves.
Arcman: The Golden Knight
Arc 1: The White Knight
Issue 1: Fight and Flight
August 26, 2013 – 10:27 PM
Nathan Thorn stood at the peak of the Red Sol City Bridge. His gruff face was covered by a white ski mask in an effort to deter anyone from recognizing him should they look out their windows and peer to the top of the bridge. He peered out over at the vehicles zipping by below him in an array of colorful stripes. He breathed in deeply, his nerves creating an empty pit in his stomach. Nathan had been contemplating the jump for quite a few weeks now, ever since he had fallen from the top of a castle he had been excavating.
He was a small time archaeologist who had taken an interest in the ancient civilization that had built the castle. After weeks of grant requests, Nathan was assigned as lead for the excavation, which also meant that he took the most risks. He had climbed to the apex from the exterior, and despite careful analysis from his team, he couldn't anticipate the steps crumbling, causing him to drop several stories. Panic had set in, his only hope the sand below acting as a cushion.
Not that it mattered, Nathan was strong. Very, very strong. He was a superhuman. If he had fallen from a hundred stories high, the worst he would expect would've been a couple of bruises on his back. He had lifted cars up over his head and demolished brick walls with a single punch. Atop his strength, Nathan was also extremely fast. He had raced alongside cars moving over 100 MPH on the highway and crossed the length of Red Sol City within minutes.
But when he fell from the castle, Nathan was surprised to find that he was floating midair. His descent was imminent, but he was gliding downwards until his feet touched ground a short walk from the site. His team had heard the crumbling and was searching for his remains in the ruins when he came upon them. While his cohorts were relieved that he'd survived, Nathan was excited by the possibility that he could fly.
He had attempted to fly while he'd been on the ground. Weeks of jumping up and leaping resulted in a failure for liftoff, and Nathan proposed a hypothesis to himself that he would have to simulate the conditions of his initial flight. He had climbed up the height of the bridge and found a safe location to jump from, but now he was having doubts.
'What if I fall and plummet into the water?' wondered Nathan. He was only an average swimmer and didn't have the confidence that his superpowers would save him from drowning. His doubts grew as he thought about the accident. 'It could've been a fluke!'
He closed his eyes and inhaled the cold night air once again. His senses sharpened and he could hear an argument between two drivers below him. Two doors opened and the drivers exited their vehicles. There was an exchange of curses before a vibration rattled Nathan's ears. It was the familiar sound of a fist connecting with the face.
Nathan had never been in a fight before, but being around his best friend, Detective Vann Strong, he was often exposed to amazing stories about encounters with thieves and murderers. Oftentimes, he would be enlisted by Vann as a forensic specialist and during the mini "missions", he found Vann beating down a criminal trying to escape the law.
He wondered how Vann would react to his superpowers, if he might be exploited and recruited by the police force to hunt down criminals. Suddenly, sirens rang approached in the distance and snapped Nathan out of his thoughts. His vision zoomed in on a truck racing down the roads towards the bridge, followed by half a dozen police cars. The traffic cleared up but allowed the rogue truck to elude the police pursuit.
Down below, the two drivers were still duking it out. Their little altercation had spread out of control and several other drivers had stopped in the middle of the road to break apart the fight and clear the clogged up lanes. Nathan's eyes raced from the bridge to the rapidly approaching truck.
"Shit," he muttered. The speed that the truck was moving it, there were two possibilities: if the rogue wasn't desperate enough, he would stop once he saw the blockade of cars. The other possibility was that he needed to escape the police at all costs, even if it meant attempting to bust through dozens of cars filled with innocents. Unfortunately, the truck driver wouldn't be able to see the source of the blocked lanes.
The civilians couldn't move out in time amidst the ongoing fight. The sirens burst through the traffic lanes and onto the bridge. The truck was in the lead, the sides of the cargo container scraping the various cars it passed. Sparks flew about, followed by screaming and cars scurrying to the sides.
Nathan panicked. The cops filtered in line behind the truck, which was still charging strong towards the fight below. He knew what he had to do, but if he was off and fell into the water, all would be lost.
"You know what the beauty of the job is?" asked Vann.
"The gun?" replied Nathan. He had been in a local police bar a while ago with Vann. The detective had just arrested a serial killer and was the hotshot of the precinct.
"No…You see the differences you've made," said Vann. He took a swig of beer and leaned in close over the table. "Ever since high school when we were both on the baseball team, we thought we were at the top of the food chain. But what did we ever really do? What did I really do before this?"
Nathan chuckled. "Golden boy of the Strong family, prom king, RSPD detective, and you ask me what you've done?"
Vann nodded. "Right, right. The so-called golden days my mother told me of all the wonderful accomplishments I had. I don't know, Nate. I felt so empty, but this…what I do now. When the families of the victims finally find peace, I feel I've given comfort to somebody, not just stamped another golden medal onto my list of achievements."
"I know that you make a difference in people's lives, Vann, but you also risk a lot more of your own life," said Nathan, eyeing a patched up bullet wound on Vann's chest.
Vann cringed at the memory of the wound. "My son is turning one tomorrow."
"Don't tell me you do this job to protect him. You were on the job way before he was born," said Nathan humorously.
"We wanted so much to change the world when we were younger…not for ourselves, but for the people that we love, and the people that come after us. Every life that comes after…"
Nathan scrunched up his eyes at the memory. He wasn't a cop and saving lives wasn't his job, he was just an archaeologist with a few superpowers. The truck crashed into a bus and there was an explosion. Flames webbed outwards while the force of the explosion hurtled five civilians off their feet. Nathan watched the two arguing men plummet downwards, screaming in fear.
"But every life is valuable," continued Vann. "Doing this job, I get to see the good and the bad in people. I can't admit that I've always been willing to risk myself. But saving the good people is worth it."
"You trying to make me feel bad?" chuckled Nathan. "We can't all be heroes like you."
"Don't sell yourself short," said Vann. "I call you up because I respect what you can do and trust that you'll help me. I mean, we are best friends after all."
The two men downed their beers. Nathan couldn't be a coward at that moment. He took a running start and then vaulted off the bridge without thinking. The wind rushed past his face and he began screaming in fear and panic.
'I can't do this! I can't do this!' he thought to himself. Eyes turned to the source of the screams, drawing attention away from the explosion. Nathan was a blur, a streak of white that was plunging downwards into the water.
SPLASH! SPLASH! Two of the civilians had already sunk into the river. SPLASH! Three. WOOSH! WOOSH! The two arguing men hit the water. Nathan was still screaming his head off. He wasn't flying and the water was coming fast.
PLOOSH! Nathan's limbs flailed wildly in the murky river water. He could faintly see the outlines of the fellow sunken civilians. Overhead, a series of lights blinked and pierced the surface of the water. Nathan held his breath as tightly as he could and lunged out at the figure closet to him. It was a young woman who was knocked out. He grabbed her around the waist and then kicked off. His super strength provided the power of a propeller and the two burst out through the top of the surface. Officers overhead blared out at the two of them with a megaphone while bystanders were gasping when they saw Nathan's mask. Several trained policemen were already swimming towards him and the fainted woman. Nathan lay the woman on the water, letting her buoyancy take over until she could be rescued.
He didn't have time to react. He took a gulp of air and dove back into the water. Immediately, he noticed a trail of blood that lead to a man whose leg had been lacerated across the length. He struggled to push up a young girl who was beginning to lose her consciousness. Nathan dove down and wrapped an arm around the girl while grabbing the hand of the man. He kicked off to the surface with ease. He wasn't a lifeguard but hoped that he wasn't causing any permanent damage to the victims. Worst thing he could do was rescue them from the depths of the water only to give them the bends.
Rescue workers were already waiting at the surface. "Who are you? How many more people are below? You need to leave this to us!"
Adrenaline was already racing through Nathan's veins. He had seen everything that had happened and he could've prevented it. The guilt was consuming him, giving him a reason to continue dragging up the survivors. He swam down once more. A beam of light illuminated the dark river, and Nathan realized that there must have been a helicopter overhead. He used it to guide himself to a man flailing in the water. A quick push and the man was sent surging up past a small school of fish.
'Where are the troublemakers?' Nathan groaned to himself. He peered through the water, the salt only then beginning to sting his eyes. He saw two floating bodies slowly sinking and began power swimming towards them.
He was only a few feet away when the truck shot into the water. Nathan was pushed next to one of the men, whose hand he grasped. The other was being jetted upwards. The heat from the explosion burned Nathan's white one-piece suit and he grunted in pain, swallowing a mouthful of black water. There was no time to waste. He swam upwards, evading scattered metal strips, pulling the man with him. He caught ahold of the other man and wrapped his arm around his neck.
BOOOM! BOOOM! BOOM!
More eruptions rocked the water and shot Nathan out of the water. He fell into the sky and felt the hand of the first victim slip. 'NO!'
The man was in a nosedive, headed towards the inferno on the water's surface while Nathan and the other victim soared in an arc through the air. Nathan grabbed out in vain at the man, unable to reach him. A piece of metal hit Nathan's chest and he screamed out in pain. He wasn't perfectly invulnerable, and he felt the serrated metal as it dug a small incision near his sternum.
Chaos flooded Nathan's head, a burst of memories of Vann's stories as well as his initial discovery of his superpowers. He had always been afraid to use his powers because he could kill. The coward that had brute strength wasn't afraid of losing a fight, it was of losing a life. But now if he didn't use his superpowers, he was going to lose a life. The pain in his chest would only serve as a reminder of the night, of his failure.
The wind whirled around Nathan's face and he pulled the falling man out of the air. He soared into the sky before he realized what was happening. He flew through the cold night air and landed awkwardly in the middle of a crowd that had cleared. He dropped the men by his side and then collapsed to his knees. Blood pooled out from his chest while he felt a small cut bleeding on his forehead.
"Move out of the way, move out of the way!" roared a familiar voice. Nathan saw a built, tall man with combed blond hair moving through the crowd. He donned a suit that flattered his handsome face. Nathan groaned, recognizing his best friend. There was no way he'd escape the police now. Vann was front and center, staring at him with a face of awe.
'Secret's out,' thought Nathan.
"Who are you?" asked Vann. Nathan looked up into his friend's eyes and realized that his outfit and mask were still mostly intact and he was still just the mysterious stranger who had rescued half a dozen civilians from their watery deaths. Still, he was in a state of shock and fear.
Not receiving an answered, Vann asked another, "What are you?"
Policemen swarmed through the crowd, who were flashing their cameras and pointing at the white-masked man. "You, you're under arrest!" They were addressing him. Nathan's heart skipped a beat.
"On what charges?" growled Vann. Nathan saw his friend pulling out a badge and pointing at the cops. "This man just saved six people. Get in line and stop making a scene before I report you all!"
"Detective Strong! This man-"
"Will be dealt with," roared Vann. "The lot of you have more important things to deal with. For starters, we need to get this bridge cleared up."
The best friends looked at each other. Not wanting to give away his voice, Nathan nodded a silent thank you to Vann and then looked up at the sky.
"You should take a ride with me though," said Vann. Nathan shook his head vehemently and then stood up. The men next to him were being taken away by several medics who had arrived on scene.
Nathan deepened his voice. "Maybe another time. Right now, it's time to fly."
Vann's eyes widened as Nathan leaped and shot into the air like a rocket.