"Alright, boys. We're stealing choppers for the same reason I moved from Manhattan to Pittsburgh," Coldcall began with a smile. He had a heavy New York accent that set him apart from the others in the van.
The hired muscle waited for him to continue. There was something remarkable about the sight of him - a man in a heavy bright red parka, black goggles on over his eyes, and with a cunning energy that instilled total confidence in them that his batshit crazy plan was about to work. These guys weren't pro heisters. They were regular robbers hired on the cheap by new blood in Pittsburgh. He was talking about an absolute spectacle, something that, on paper, should get them all killed or worse...but at the same time, he had a proven track record of successful robberies while avoiding prison sentences, and he could freeze people solid by pointing at them.
So when he talked, they listened.
"Look up in the sky. Ever see any fliers around? Didn't think so."
Dirt cheap help, he thought, but if they can pilot a chopper, good enough for me.
Five men in masks were piled into the back of a black SUV with fresh plates surreptitiously taken off an identical vehicle earlier that day. They wore basic black speedsuits and full face masks. Each of them carried a gun.
Coldcall tapped an earpiece in the right side of his mask, and instructed the others to do the same. Check-check. All good. He had a rifle slung across his chest and a bulletproof vest on underneath the parka. He'd learned a long time ago that being able to freeze things didn't make him invincible.
Up the road ahead was Executive Flight Services, a helicopter touring company with a hangar smack dab in the middle of Pittsburgh. At 3:00 a.m., there wouldn't be too many people out and about. Just a few bored security guards. Who would be insane enough to steal a helicopter?
"It's go time, fellas. Get in there and get the copters. I'll take care of any, how-da-ya-say..."
As soon as the van closed in on the gate, a ray of bright light erupted from the passenger side window, a straight vector emitted from the fingertip of NYC's most wanted cryokinetic. The metal instantly became brittle enough to shatter, and shatter it did. The van plowed through the ironwrought fence with a crash and careened towards the hangers. An alarm went off just as Coldcall kicked down the door to the gatehouse.
The casing they'd done on the place was good. The guards submitted instantly and nobody (as far as the crew could see) went for the cops. With muzzles pressed to the backs of their necks, they surrendered the keys to three choppers without so much as a whimper. No hostages this time. Too complex, too easy to catch a manslaughter charge.
"Get those doors open and get those birds in the air now," he ordered, slamming his fist down on the alarm button. The siren stopped.
All that was left was exfiltration. These people weren't soldiers, they were night guards. Far as he could tell, the only x factor they'd be dealing with was if anyone happened to hear the warning klaxon go off. There was a twenty minute window, he figured, between now and when any cops might come snooping around. So they were practically all clear.
As his men made their way across the tarmac, Coldcall held the gun in the crook of his arm and waited, his breath a fleeting, misty cloud in the night air.
The guards next to him shivered as their skin blued. They hadn't dressed for winter weather, but here it was. Coldcall shrugged.
"Nobody's gonna hurt ya. We're here for the choppers, yeah? So chill."
Half Life let three shots ring out from the barrel of his revolver at the four 6th Street Fixers he had caught robbing a series of ATMs. They'd been hitting local ones for the past few nights, always one step ahead of him, except for this time. He followed the bullets, letting loose a roundhouse kick that sent one of the thugs flying into the nearby wall. "Take a time out for me pal" the half dead halfwit barked while turning his attention to the others. He opened a portal in the path of a crowbar swing to redirect it into the crotch of another thug. BANG BANGtwo more shots to the head put both crooks to sleep, leaving only one left. The guy had a gun of his own drawn and took a shot only to find the bullet redirected into his knee cap. He screamed in pain before a flying knee staggered him backwards. Half-Life thrust Righty forward like an extension of his own fist, following up the pistol punch with a shot to make sure his target stayed down till the cops showed up.
"ATMs really do charge an arm and a leg these days huh guys?" He was getting ready to tie these guys up when his phone started to buzz in his pocket, his police scanner app was going off. 'All units we have an alarm tripped at 200 Poplar street, nearby units please respond.' "Man, can never have a quiet night...now what to do about you guys...hmmmmm....BINGO!" The cops would arrive moments later to find their perpetrators hung by their underwear from a nearby lamp post.
Half-Life, on the other hand, would already be on his way to the next location. A mid travel google search revealed the name of the place Executive Flight Services ... "Who the hell steals helicopters?" he portaled onto the rooftop of the building directly across from the scene. The perps had already managed to subdue the guards and were making their way into the yard to start stealing birds, he counted five of them total. A sixth guy dressed in a parka seemed like he was waiting; most likely he was there to hold off any resistance. The area around him looked distinctly wintery despite it being a warm night. Dude must've been a meta. That left him to choose between taking on the gate guard or stopping the choppers. He hated choices so he pulled up a Magic 8-Ball app.
"Should I stop the choppers?" he shook his phone, Most Likely. "Should I go after the gate guard?" he shook it again, It is decidedly so. "Welp, that settles it." He opened a portal and stepped through.
If Cold Call was paying attention it would be hard not to notice the swirling vortex of teal and black space that opened up behind him. There would be the sound of Gunshots from across the street and then a series of bullets would fly out of the portal followed by Half Life himself. "Stealing ain't cool Snowmeiser, so why don't you just surrender so we can all go home."
Coldcall cocked his head to the side at the teal and black portal which erupted into life in front of him, quickly concluding that nothing good would be coming out. With instinct bolstered by experience with superhumans, he sprang backward from the portal just as bullets ripped forward. One caught him in the chest as he backed away, and he braced for the pain, which thudded across his sternum as it connected with the armored vest he wore underneath the parka.
Running a glove across his pectoral, however, he found no penetration at all, even though he was definitely hit. The shot had practically blown him off his feet, and felt exactly like it was when he was hit by a regular high caliber bullet, but there was no sign of damage to his clothes. A shot like that should've ruined the vest entirely, but it...didn't.
"Snowmeister wears blue and works outta Boston. We ice guys gotta union thing."
He raised a hand with fingers splayed, and a ray of light sprung forth that would threaten to freeze Half-Light in his tracks, forming swirling crystals in the air that encircled the tight beam of white luminescence.
His Zombie-Sense kicked in as the ray of light streaked towards him. He dove behind the cover of the Black SUV with enough time to see the laser beam strike the wall of a hangar. Enough ice crept across the aluminum surface that he was able to guestimate that a blast like that would be enough to turn his forearm into an arm pop. Too many blasts from this guy would turn him into nothing more than a zombicicle. That meant a ranged fight was out of the question; he had to close the distance.
"I'm Half-Life, hope your union has good benefits."
He portaled above Coldcall and threw Righty's barrel forward like a gravity assisted right hook.
Coldcall let the crackling ray from his palm dissipate as he took a deep breath, frost forming outside the red glove of his right hand. By expending energy to project the luminous beam of light, he'd intentionally relaxed the protective sheath that covered his skin - hence his heavy coat and gloves. Cutting off the blast before he could hurt himself, he narrowed his eyes, steam curling around his nostrils as the temperature near him began to decline even more rapidly. Half-Life made a crack about the union and then -
- then he was above him, another portal opening as Coldcall looked up.
The gravity-assisted jab brought the barrel of the gun down on his face as a blunt force, and he rapidly turned his head to roll with the blow rather than take it head-on; notoriously thick-skulled, he felt a trickle of blood and spit run down his jaw as he instinctively reached out to attempt to grasp the falling superhero by the neck. With nearly forty pounds on the young gunfighter, he hoped to arrest his momentum with a vicious grapple around his windpipe, frosted fingers daring to dig into necrotic flesh -
- and swing him down into a powerful chokeslam. For while Half-Life may have been able to take advantage of his fall to pump up the force of his strike, he'd also left himself exposed and unable to change his momentum as he executed his portal-assisted flying punch.
"Slippery little bastard," he muttered, swinging his free hand around to try and enclose it on Half-Life's face, a field of frost emanating quickly from his skin to coat the pavement beneath them in a sheet of grasping ice. Half-Life's assessment of his ranged capabilities was spot-on - but he had availed himself to possibly even greater risk by choosing to engage up close. Being in such proximity to Coldcall played into his deadly style of grappling, using his heavier weight to arrest a foe's movement before freezing them in his grasp, the bright field of swirling crystals that manifested in the air a tell-tale sign that he was emitting a threatening aura of cold from his form.
"Oughta take a fuckin' shower," he spat, looking to tighten his grip if he'd succeeded in catching the falling man. He stank like a corpse.
He could feel metal collide with flesh but it was lacking the usual crunch of bone that came with that move. That put Coldcall a cut above the rest, at least physically, and was enough to give the Pistol Whipping Portal Master second thoughts about closing the distance since he was never much of a cqc master. He mainly relied on his portals to compensate for a lack of skill that was about to become painfully obvious.
A gloved hand wrapped around his neck and swung him towards the ground. Even with only a moment of contact he could feel the points of contact beginning to freeze and the oxygen struggling to get past the sheer might of his enemies grip. If he wasn't a meta this fight would've been over the moment he got close.
Thankfully for everyone here, he was a meta and a quick one at that. He caught a momentary glimpse of the ground which became obscured by a Half-Life sized portal. The opening was placed about 15 feet directly above where they were. He wanted to use Coldcalls strength against him and have him tumble through the newly made opening when there was no longer any ground to stop the force of the slam.
To break his grip Half-Life tried to use the sudden shift in terrain to place the barrels of his revolvers against the villains wrist without him noticing. Just long enough to let loose alternating shots until he was set free.
"Frosty - ! Delaware - ! Wears purple - !" he grunted, heaving the gray-skinned vigilante into the pavement -
- only for it to give way beneath them both as another portal appeared. As he threw his whole body into the tackle, Coldcall tumbled in along with him, the sudden drop enough to destabilize him. As the two were deposited elsewhere nearby, he felt the barrels stuck in the man's hands point upwards towards him, a shocking pain ripping through his wrists as the guns went off like thunder.
"Grghk - " he choked, fingers snapping off the meta's neck as the ghost of severe blunt force trauma rippled across his wrists. He felt them get blown backwards, like they were pushed, or punched, instead of shot. Rolling to the side, though, it was obvious that nothing had happened to them. The truth was that what had happened to them, in a manner of speaking, had been instantly undone, leaving only the phantom memory of the agony inflicted. There didn't even look like there was any bruising as he got to his feet.
"That's some trick," he said, using his gloved thumb to wipe away a line of blood that had accumulated under his lip. Behind the reflective lenses of his goggles, Coldcall's eyes narrowed as he nodded in acknowledgement. His wrists really hurt.
Coldcall had been fighting metahumans long enough to know that a gun wouldn't get him much mileage here. He'd need to keep using his powers. He'd have to push through the pain.
Without warning, he charged, feinting to the side before looking to deliver a punishing series of blows hooked behind Half-Life's head, fists pumping like pistons. But as he did so, the freezing aura would follow with him, intensifying as he stepped closer into an attempted clinch to wrap himself around Half-Life again, looking to use his superior mass to control the man's movements as ice crept up his arms and into his veins. That very ice would accumulate on the ground as well, becoming a potent hidden hazard that would completely disrupt another fighter's footwork. All the while, he'd attempt to deliver repeated kidney punches at close range - if this guy even had 'em.
"Jesus the snow squad really is large huh." He scrambled back to his feet while putting some distance between the two of them. He wanted to maintain a distance of a couple feet. Just far enough that Coldcall would telegraph a rush without being too far that he couldnt react fast enough to any ranged attacks.
He was starting to get a feel for this guys abillities now. The way the moisture around him crystalized made him start to think that the parka might not have just been for show. It also meant that this guy had a weakness he could exploit.
Coldcall charged and at this distance, that gave him enough time to react. He opened a portal in his path only for the frozen figure to feint and swivel around him. He let his body fall slack and absorb the full force of the punches to send him headfirst through a portal that took him farther away.
The chopperd needed to be washed, yards like this needed to be cleaned, and that meant what he was looking for had to be around here-
He portaled again, grabbed a hose head, and turned the spigot to get the water flowing. Laying on the ground helped him get a clear enough shot of his opponent to open a portal on the ground below him.
"Freeze dirt bag!"
He shouted rising through the portal with the hose nozel set to stream. He wanted to soak the guy, hoping the water would freeze as it made contact making it harder to move and potentially obscuring his vision.
The punches connected, but Half-Life slipped out of Coldcall's grasp again, too elusive to stay in a clinch as the physically stronger fighter tried to wrap his arms around him. The portal trick was enough to keep him out of his reach permanently, and no amount of closing in seemed to be enough to keep Half-Life locked down. That was fine - he could adapt. Even as the decayed vigilante dropped out of his grip again, he kept his eyes peeled for where he might reemerge.
The squeak of a spigot called his attention westward, and a wry smirk played across his features. He was expecting another offensive maneuver, and thus far Half-Life had been making portals above and below him, letting gravity do the work. So this time, when the aperture opened, he was ready.
Clapping his hands together, Coldcall shot a beam of ice through the stream, aiming to flash-freeze it in mid-air. The white ray pushed the jet of water apart, ice instantly coursing up the flow and threatening to overwhelm Half-Life at the end of the hose. For while he had intended to douse Coldcall in water, he had also created a medium through which the freezing field could easily propagate, threatening to blow back over him like a flood of crystalline ice. Half-Life was at risk of soaking himself and becoming a human glacier. It was an inspired tactic, but it would now be turned against him.
Meanwhile, the choppers started to lift into the air, and Coldcall grinned.
"Not one of your Pittsburgh pansies. I could break the Mayor in two with my bare hands!" he shouted, the frost intensifying on his gloved fingertips. Though the stream had been interrupted by the retaliating ray, the theory held somewhat true. Nobody liked to fight in freezing rain, and the snow had begun to accumulate all over his jacket. The truth was that being immersed in a liquid by which he could spread the freezing effect actually made Coldcall more dangerous. That was just another reason why he planned robberies for rainy days - he could turn the accumulated precipitation into a sheet of ice more easily that way, all without risk to himself. Half-Life was about to find that out the hard way.
The beam of ice carved through the stream of water and blasting the freezing stream back at Half-Life. Cold water washed over his right arm, the weight of it pulling him back through the open portal. "FUCK!" he shouted, giving away his once hidden position. He had the right idea, messed up on the execution, and now he was down an arm with very little to show for it.
The choppers (the things he was here to stop from being stolen) were starting to take off and lift high into the sky. He needed a way to stop both he choppers and Coldcold at once. He knew the villain was hot on his ass and he had no idea how to clean this mess up. That was when it hit him, the hose just wasn't big enough.
He knew Pittsburgh well enough to know that the Allegheny River was directly behind this helicopter yard. "Go big or go home I guess" he muttered, teleporting further ahead. A series of jumps brought him to the edge of the lot with a clear view of both the river and the yard. He only had one shot at this. Opening a portal this big was gonna take a lot out of him and he wouldn't be able to defend himself thanks to his newly acquired armcicle exacerbating the disadvantage in strength between these two fighters.
He focused on the river, on opening a portal within it. The person sized doorway through space was set halfway submerged, since he couldn't see in the river he wasn't able to fully submerge it. The exit portal opened facing towards the yard. Already water was rushing out and it was only going to get worse. He pushed himself further, straining his powers to widen the doorway. It grew big enough for two people, then four, and it showed no signs of stopping. Blood started to trickle from his nose and water began to rush out threatening to flood the yard. He pushed further growing the portal to car sized, truck sized, and finally, train sized. The massive hole let the river rush forwards hopefully grounding the choppers as they were washed away and waterlogged.
He could feel his eyes straining, no doubt the whites now blood red from how much strain a portal this large was placing on his mental stack. There was the chance Coldcall would escape and it was one he had to be fine with. He knew the villain had him beat Physically. Even so he refused to let this heist be successful.
Coldcall's fingers twitched as the beam dissipated, the portal he'd shot it back through snapping shut.
Must've got him, he thought, exhaling hard. A fine cloud of misty vapor blew out his mouth. The portal had closed, and that just left the evac. One copter had made it into the sky up above, and another was waiting for him, but the help he'd hired didn't seem able to get the third in gear. That was a pay deduction if it led to any complications.
As it turned out, there were complications. Half-Life's tour de force opened at the end of the yard as a flood of water rushed toward them. Unfazed, Coldcall raised his hands, taking a deep breath in - and projecting a cone of freezing energy forward. But even he could not freeze the entire Allegheny river - not after the exertion he'd already put himself through. The best he could do was create a miniature iceberg in front of the helicopter that was lifting off as he backed onto it - and right before the rushing water could drag it under, it wobbled into the air. The third copter was swept away, blades spinning against the pavement, sparking and snapping away.
The frost that had built up over his gloves would eventually bruise his fingers, but that was normal. He wasn't as worried about that. It healed very quickly. He stared at the wrecked third copter below, the hapless pilot bailing through the door and into the rapids.
"Are we goin' back for him, boss?"
He heard the comm chatter through his earpiece and licked his lip, glaring at the pilot who had spoken up.
"He can make his own way."
Part of him wanted to finish off Half-Life. To find him and put an end to him. But the sound of sirens careening up the street meant they had to be out of here ASAP. If they deployed any pursuit copters, this entire venture would have been rendered pointless. Two for three wasn't bad. But he'd have to change up the plan to accomodate the loss of the third heli.
Then there was the loose end of its pilot, who couldn't get it off the ground in time.
Coldcall would visit him later to give him what he deserved.