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Lio grits his teeth and doesn’t duck the hail of ice bullets hailing down on him, instead throwing up a roaring wall of fire to eat them up before they can damage the houses behind him. Damn them, this is a residential area, not the place for a goddamn showdown. There’s shouting behind him, but Lio can’t pause to help, can only hope whoever was unlucky enough to get caught in the crossfire is smart and fast enough to get away.

 

A flick of his eyes and the barest hint of the thought, and his flames break off, burn a solid path for him to get up off the ground and onto the rooftops. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than sprinting through more streets of over-crowded homes with some trigger happy bastards chasing after him. 

 

Why are they even here? Burnish aren’t exactly treated well, and Lio’s pretty sure he’s been a suspect in some of the Mad Burnish demonstrations and attacks (and not unfoundedly, even though he’s been careful about hiding his identity), but this is some serious overkill.

 

His feet touch down on concrete, and he’s sprinting across the rooftop, pulls his fire in close and hardening it into armor, lets it lift him off the ground and extend past his arms and legs. No point in altering its typical form- why hide if he’s already apparently found out, even if he’s not entirely sure what it is that gave him away.

 

“Shit-” A wall of ice crashes into existence in front of him, keeping Lio from hurling himself onto the next roof, and the split second he has to take to change course and avoid crashing into it is more than enough for his pursuers to get in a few good shots.

 

He hisses in pain, the cold cutting through the comforting warmth of his flames, but doesn’t slow down. A flick of his wrist, and two flame-dragons are curling around each other as they hurtle towards the two Freeze Force mechs peppering him with ice, and they’re well trained, but-

 

Well. Lio didn’t get to be the head of Mad Burnish for nothing.

 

How arrogant of Freeze Force to think that two nobodies could stop him.

 

Lio doesn’t like hurting people, but he can’t deny the thrill of the fight, how his blood sings with the crackling of his fire when he gets in a good hit, when makes a stand and makes a difference.

 

One of the mechs stumbles back, manages to just barely avoid the attack, but the other gets hid with the brunt of Lio’s fire, and while he’s certain it won’t kill... that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt, and definitely doesn’t mean the man’s mech is coming out of this unscathed. Not with the temperatures Lio can call up to curl around the joints and hinges, effectively welding it into uselessness.

 

One down.

 

Lio swivels his head towards the second mech, righting itself, and sees the grinning face of his armor reflected back at him from the shiny metal.

 

One to go.




 



“Galo!”

 

Usually when Aina yells for Galo, she sounds annoyed- which he can admit isn’t for nothing. So maybe he leaves towels hanging all over the place, or forgets to wash the dishes occasionally, it’s not like he means to- there’s just always so much to do, and he gets distracted. So annoyance, he can understand.

 

She doesn’t sound annoyed this time, but more… panicked, almost.

 

A chill runs through Galo, one that lingers uncomfortably, and he’s not sure why. It’s why he doesn’t shout back, though, like he might any other day, when he instead furrows his brows, tosses his phone to the side, and rolls off the couch to try and find his teammate.

 

She smacks into him in the hallway, careening around the corner too fast to stop in time, and looks about as shaken as she’d sounded.

 

“Galo, I- I’m sorry- I- fuck…” 

 

“Aina? Aina, what’s wrong? Is this about my shirt, because I already saw it, and really it’s fi-”

 

“It’s the governor. Kray.”

 

Galo’s stomach drops and his jaw shuts with an audible click.

 

“What’s-”






“-wrong?” Lio’s voice is taunting, and he’s usually not one to antagonize his enemy, but it keeps the man’s focus on Lio which means it keeps his aim from straying far and hitting someone or something less sturdy. “Not so scary without backup, are you-”

 

Lio’s voice cuts off with a hiss, a bullet hitting his shoulder head-on, and it stings, but he can shrug it off-

 

Until he can’t.

 

Instead of it feeling like a pinch of sting, a little rush of unpleasant cold, it burrows through his armor and bites into his skin, and Lio can feel it grow.

 

Another shot, and Lio’s reflexes throw him to the side, his usual grace gone with the spread of ice down his arm. Shit. Freeze Force’s scientists haven’t been slacking- he hasn’t seen ice bullets like this before, and if it’s strong enough to eat through his fire-

 

“How do you like that!” The man grins up into Lio’s face when he hurls himself at him, hands shaping a sword out of the heat formed in his wake, aiming to knock the mech’s gun away or cut off the mechanical arm trying. “Not so tough now, are you?”

 

Metal groans under Lio’s assault, but he can’t pull off that welding trick again, not with one arm quickly becoming dead weight, his armor pulling away to show his human skin and the ice crawling over it, and the strength of his flames being sapped keeping it from freezing up entirely.

 

“You thought you could get away with it?!” The shift of tone in his enemy’s words catches Lio off guard, because that sounds almost like… grief? “Think again- terrorists, killers like you won’t be allowed in this world anymore-”

 

Killers?

 

“If anyone’s a killer, it would be you.”

 

“Still lying, are you?”

 

Lio’s confusion gets the better of him, and the second of indecision it pulls from him before he can cut the ice gun in half is enough for a second one of those weird bullets to catch him in the stomach.

 

Fuck. Cold. Get away. Burn it off get away burn it get away get away getawayge-

 

The force behind the flame arrows he hurls at the Freeze Force operative isn’t nearly strong enough, and he shakes it off so easily that under any other circumstances, Lio might feel embarrassed.

 

Bits of armor cling to his frame, but he can feel them shrinking as the ice covering him expands, and finally, when his opponent tosses away his ruined gun to pull out a backup pistol, Lio feels panic bubble over.

 

It’s enough for one last flare, one last uneven wall of flames in order to get away and find somewhere warm, and it’s enough to have his attacker stumbling back- though the comforting roar of flames isn’t enough to drown out his words before Lio’s hurling himself onto the next roof, using the flames blocking the man’s mech in to hide his path and buy him time.

 

“Because of you-”






“-ing, Governor Kray Foresight was declared dead after receiving treatment at Promeopolis General Hospi-”

 

No way.

 

No.

 

No fucking way.

 

Aina’s “I’m so sorry” is the only thing that Galo can hear through the static in his mind, even as the news report continues on.