Red Alert

St. Canard was a city that had become accustomed to diversifying its resources and utilities, if only because the super villains who lived there tended to target them on a regular basis. The robbery of goods and money was expected in any metropolitan area, of course, but St. Canard routinely suffered the pilfering of its power, wreckage of its water supply, and malevolent meddling with the mail service, amongst other omnifarious offenses.

The Peregrine Point Power Plant, a facility running on natural gas, was a somewhat volatile generation station but it was reasonably efficient. Its perimeter fence was not electrified, but instead was installed with a modified sprinkler system in case someone tried to break through or climb over it. It seemed like a pretty odd security choice, unless you were familiar with the vulnerabilities of St. Canard's public enemy #3, who was drawn to such places.

Megavolt was off doing something else, though. The shift change had just happened, and the night crew for the plant was getting settled in for the evening.

    • Red Nova
      Red Nova

      The mass of a star determines its life span. This was a pretty sizeable plant, and St. Canard had been burning through its resources, its crime, and any hope of redemption, and so to Red Nova, it seemed that now was a good time as any to send it all into an inferno.

      Armed with as many explosives as she could carry on her comfortably, she zipped over the outward fence surrounding the plant, landing atop the safeguard building first. If she wanted to ensure the most bang for her buck, so to speak, the fuel building would be the best target, but the turbines were what she was really after. Not only would it devastate this facility, but the rest of St. Canard would be a black out zone.

      She'd only have so much time to set and detonate the explosives, however, eventually she'd be spotted, and eventually, someone would interfere.

      Guess she'd better get to work then.

      • Quiverwing Duck
        Quiverwing Duck

        So far, so good.

        There were some security cameras here and there, made obvious by the little red lights on them. The two guards on monitor duty watched with idle interest, jaded St. Canardians, but since this figure was clearly not Megavolt they did not hit the on-site alarms. One of them called the police, at least, because they weren't entirely stupid. If there was a jet pack involved then something was clearly going on.

        This would prove to be an object lesson to immediately hit the 'oh no' button the moment anyone breached the perimeter fence.

        • Red Nova
          Red Nova

          A lot of good police would do, she intended to put as much distance between her and the explosion as possible. Living through one was insane luck, but chancing it again? One of these days would be her last, but she wasn't planning on today being that day.

          She zipped from rooftop to rooftop, planting a few extra charges, because why not? They'd all go off sooner or later, even if they found and disarmed one of them, they couldn't possibly get to them all in time. Even one explosion was one too many with the pipes funneling in natural gas here.

          She reached the main containment building that connected to the turbines and began fixing it with the larger explosives. This was the hard part, it was entirely shrouded in steel meant to keep the gas contained. If they went off correctly, -and uninterrupted, that was the important part- the city would have a lot more on its hands than missing The Miss Corn Fritters Pageant on television tonight.

          • Quiverwing Duck
            Quiverwing Duck

            There was a light but distinct throat-clearing sound that seemed like it was coming from somewhere above, followed by a smoothly polite and calm male voice saying, "Pardon me. But I don't suppose I could convince you to undo what you've been doing? I realize you've got a project of some sort going on, and you've already spent time working on it. But I would be happy to help defuse what you've already set."

            A figure landed in a crouch a few feet away, then stood up straight, cape swirling in the breeze. He doffed his plumed hat. "Only, there are people working here, and I don't know if they can all get out in time if you start blowing things up. I'm Quiverwing Duck, by the way." Despite the bow and quiver full of arrows slung on his back, the only thing he had in his hands was his hat.

            • Red Nova
              Red Nova

              Nova turned to look at the uninvited guest and was about to retort, but clearly she had been expecting someone else. "Oh." She should've known it wasn't the dip of the night, he had a preference for dramatics in an obnoxious sort of way. This hero seemed to have a more tactful approach. 

              She turned around fully then to get a good look at him. "What, did Darkwing have his hands full tonight? Quiverwing, huh?" A small chuckle could be heard. "Always a pleasure to meet another one of St. Canard's heroes. All of a sudden, you're all coming out of the woodwork." She looked off towards the other charges she'd planted, crossing her arms. "I didn't really plan on anyone getting out on time, that sort of defeats the purpose, you know?"

              • Quiverwing Duck
                Quiverwing Duck

                The masked mallard bowed to Nova in a courtly manner, then put his hat back on once he was upright again. "It's a pleasure to meet you as well. You seem familiar to me, although I haven't been in this city for very long." He touched his hand to his chin as he studied her for a moment.

                "Anyway, I think I understand this..." Quiverwing gestured to the explosives Nova had been working on before his interruption. "Conceptually at least. Crippling a power source in order to throw the city in to chaos? I get it. But why do the people in there have to die? They're average joes, they're not gettin' rich doing a job like this."

                • Red Nova
                  Red Nova

                  "The chaos is more of a side effect. The people inside are mostly why. And that's just it." Nova shrugged, waving a hand towards the other buildings.

                  "Has anyone ever stopped and considered why it is they do what they do? Say you lived out a completely average existence, bearing no weight on society whatsoever, and leaving nothing of importance behind. Or maybe worse, you did things you could never undo or take back. And now you're just stuck like that, in that life you've made for yourself, filled with regret. And you either change it before it's too late...or someone like me comes along and lights the fuse for you."

                  "They don't have to die, you know." She clarified. "I didn't die. They just have to find the will to live. There's something more out there in the vast universe. It doesn't have to be at a desk. Or at a power plant."

                  • Quiverwing Duck
                    Quiverwing Duck

                    Well. Quiverwing had some personal thoughts about regrettable actions, but nothing he wanted to dredge up at that particular moment.

                    "Not everyone is allowed a chance to have agency in their own life. They might not even know its something they could have. That doesn't mean they should die." The masked archer spread his hands. "Life is already pretty unfair and random, and sometimes things happen even if you fight against it as hard as you can."

                    Quiverwing gestured towards the main building with his thumb. "If you did this to them, you wouldn't regret that at all? Knowing that some of them don't understand they could do more?"

                    • Red Nova
                      Red Nova

                      Nova's voice grew low. "Of course life is unfair and random. Of course I regret things. But nobody realizes how precious life is until it's taken away from you. I'm just lighting the match. If they choose to stand there and watch the flame, it's not my problem. Would you stand there and let me shoot at you, or would you fight back with every ounce of strength that you have?"

                       

                       

                      • Quiverwing Duck
                        Quiverwing Duck

                        Resting his hands on his hips and tilting his head to one side, Quiverwing regarded Red Nova with a thoughtful expression on his face. Then, he said, "If you were shooting at someone else, I'd fight back for them with every ounce of strength I have. I don't need to fight for myself. I've got that covered."

                        He gave Nova a bright smile. "That's why I'm here. I think I mentioned earlier, I know a little about explosives. If you detonated this," Quiverwing reached out and patted the wall, "I don't think most of them would have the chance to escape, regardless of how much will they might have to live. Also, aside from their predicaments, I feel its only right to give someone the chance to discuss their motivations and actions. That's why I'm talking to you."

                        • Red Nova
                          Red Nova

                          "And what do you think will come of our discussion? Do you think I'll just leave and go out with a whimper into the night, let you feel like a hero? It doesn't come down to chance, it's just luck. And then afterwards, to the ones that do make it out, if any, they get to decide what to do with the rest of their lives. Maybe this is the catalyst that changes the course of their lives forever. Maybe they'll become somebody like you. Or maybe they'll end up like me. Then the cycle of what we're doing right now just repeats, infinitely." She chuckled then, pushing up her goggles to squint out at him. Scars and mismatched portions of skin stood out in the moonlight, reminders that she didn't seem to care about anymore.

                          "You seem like a decent person. To you I say, walk away while you still have your choice."

                          • Quiverwing Duck
                            Quiverwing Duck

                            "I really just want them to end up like themselves," Quiverwing said, hands lifting in a melancholic shrug.

                            "I have no idea what'll come of our little talk. I don't expect you to suddenly say, 'Oh you make very good points and now my point of view is completely changed', because I know people don't work that way." The masked mallard's eyes rolled upwards as he curled his index finger under his lower lip. "So... most of the time, as a crime fighter, I actually do fight some of my opponents. But I don't think that's always the right decision."

                            He gestured at the facility and its various buildings. "I don't know where you put all of the charges, and I don't have the capability to get to and disarm them all in time even if I did know." As he started to turn away, Quiverwing said, "The only real choice I have is to go in and make sure everyone gets out safely, otherwise I wouldn't be myself anymore."

                            There were sirens, as the police were finally approaching to check things out. From the unimpressed expression that briefly flitted over Quiverwing's face, the masked vigilante was not a big fan of the SCPD either. Things always escalated the moment they showed up.

                            Tipping his hat to Nova, the drake said, "I hope you'll reconsider." Taking the bow from his back and an arrow from his quiver, the archer nocked and fired, the projectile trailing a line after it, up towards the top of the building.

                            • Red Nova
                              Red Nova

                              Police.

                              Figures he'd just been talking to stall her, ultimately. He'd put himself in jeopardy for other people, people that wouldn't care, people that would go about their lives as per usual having learned nothing. Why should he give them a chance to live? She'd never had one. She'd never had a hero that swooped in and saved her. Why did they?

                              She watched him for a moment before stepping off of the ledge, jet pack kicked on and she zipped back to the fuel building to finish the job. She paid no mind to the officers approaching just yet, she could always fly away if things got messy ahead of schedule. Something dug into the back of her mind and burrowed there though. His words...she didn't feel guilty...conflicted. But even still.

                              He bothered her.

                              • Quiverwing Duck
                                Quiverwing Duck

                                The masked mallard had vanished quickly, most likely to get into the primary buildings and pry out workers who refused to listen to warnings to evacuate, just as he said he would.

                                The police, meanwhile, had to be let in through the front gate, although what looked like one of the night managers had run out. From the way that guy was jumping up and down, he looked alarmed and frantic, and was trying to keep the SCPD vehicles from getting any closer.

                                From the reactions of the cops, who started to look around in alarm, they now seemed aware that something explosive might happen. How far would you need to be from an explosion to not get flattened? One of the police cars slowly backed out through the gate as surreptitiously as possible.

                                • Red Nova
                                  Red Nova

                                  Just one last thing to do- trigger the countdown.

                                  And yet.

                                  She watched the scene for a moment, piecing together what had somehow struck a chord. It wasn't just that he was one of those selfless hero types who put his life at risk for others- she'd met goody two-shoes like those plenty before.

                                  It wasn't that what he'd said had changed her mind any. It had only been at the end.

                                  '-otherwise, I wouldn't be myself anymore.'

                                  And he'd still had a choice, to do what was right by him, to be who and what he wanted. A person who protected others.

                                  She never felt like she'd ever had that choice before, even before things had gone so wrong in her life. Even before the explosion, she was strung along by her father's choices in life, not her own.

                                  Even now, the product of who she was...was only a result of someone else's choice to hurt her. So what was she really?

                                  It had soured her night.

                                  She so badly wanted to blow it to hell. But she merely stood at the edge of the building, quiet, looking out at the people starting to evacuate. Her hands twitched at her trigger as she stared at the running fools, fleeing to safety because of him. Because he just had to show up, instead of Darkwing, who wouldn't have stopped to talk, he'd be too busy stroking his own ego. She would've felt great about the outcome.

                                  She decided she really didn't care for this Quiverwing Duck.

                                  She shot up into the air and her rockets sputtered to life, sending her trailing across the night sky.

                                  Not one explosion went off.