The Stuff Heroes Are Made Of
Written by Woodclaw :: [Tuesday, 06 February 2007 16:14] Last updated by :: [Friday, 29 March 2013 18:18]
The Stuff Heroes Are Made Of
WRITTEN FOR SGI WORKSHOP 1.10
Author's Notes: before writing this story I tried to get as many documents as possible about the Chicago Fire Dept, but I found very few material. I thank the owners of the www.emergency.com/firepage.htm for managing a very good site about the Fire Brigades
- I know that there is no 25° battalion in the CFD, in the real world. (there are 24 battalions divided in 6 Districts)
- I apologize for the, probably, terrible spelling and for any possible error of syntax or grammar, but the English isn't my mother language.
"Dedicated to all the heroes fallen on the line of duty since the foundation of first fire brigade."
It started with one phone call, as usual, but this time it looked like a serious thing, not the usual panic attack after a flaming canvas. This time looked very serious, but Jackie already knew this.
Jacqueline 'Jackie' Flanagan was born at the beginning of the 80's in the suburbs of Chicago. She was almost an archetypal tomboy, while the other girls of her age played with Barbies and pretends to be little princesses, she preferred to watch 'Dukes of Hazzard' and 'A-Team', or reading some comic book, and then she ran all the way around her parents' house pretending to make some crazy stunt drive maneuvers or fighting some bad guy. She looked like she had an almost endless supply of energy. Almost all the other girls in the area thought that she was crazy, except Kelly Fisher, a little afro-american girl, daughter of the local Protestant minister. They went their separate ways when they were 10 and Kelly's father had to move to a new parish.
When they turned 18 they met again, at a pub at the 228 W. Illinois St. near the 'L', called 'McGinty's'. They discovered two things: first, they are still friends despite the years; second, both of them shared the same doubts about the future. They were athletic girls, but they disliked the competition, and both of them felt that they have to do something to repay their families and friends for the love and the help. Together they decided not to go to college, and together they decided to sign in for the public service. Kelly became a police officer and Jackie a fire-woman – strangely enough the 'McGinty's' was built in a former firehouse. Everything went fine, as much as possible for a woman doing such a dangerous, and not so well paid job, until two months ago when he made his move.
His name was Jonathan Goroskij, a little nerd, with a quirk for young women doing heroic deeds. He was almost famous in the police and fire department of Chicago, every time there was an emergency he was there taking pictures of the female officers, many people in both departments hates him, many women wanted to bring him before a court, but he was smart enough or coward enough, or maybe both, never to cross the line between simple interest and sexual harassment. When the whole TF4000 thing started the temptation was too big for him, he joined the UGF Forum and ordered two devices. He used the first one on Jackie two months ago, she never knew that he was responsible for her new powers.
Jackie made all the possible efforts to hide her powers, she was afraid to hurt somebody, maybe her comrades, maybe her family, but she also worked hard to master them. In the end she decided to tell about them to Sean McLenard, her battalion chief. Sean was a tall and slim man near his fifties, with a steel gray goat beard and blue eyes, and almost 30 years of service in the CFD. A veteran fireman decorated 6 times, a man with a deep understanding of life. While he was a little scared by Jackie's new powers, he also understood how useful she can be for the Dept. Together they made some research about the TF4000, tried to test the limits and the possibilities of Jackie's powers.
That was a couple of weeks ago, just now Jackie was in her bed at 25th Battalion HQ pretending to rest, even if she didn't need rest since the transformation, she was doing practice with her super-senses. She heard the phone ringing three floors below, she was able to hear both the officer responding and the terrified boy at the other side of the cable as if they were in the same room only a few paces from her. She focuses to find out where the boy is calling from, she started to extend the range of her super hearing filtering at the same time the noises, in two seconds she had picken 63 phone calls in the area, then she filtered all the 46 call that involves women, then the 9 with men too old to be the boy, finally she listened to a couple of words of each of the remaining 8 until she picked out the right one. The entire process was only 10.1 seconds long, but she knew that she could do better, she still had to understand how to discern a voice not only the words. After picking the right spot she opened her eyes and focused toward it, squirting a little to active her x-ray vision and the telescopic one.
"SHIT!!" she thought as she surveyed an old 6 story building – probably built during the 50's. Neither the several buildings in between, nor the distance meant anything to her lovely green superhuman eyes.
Through some of the windows of the lowest floors she could spot, with perfect clarity, the red and yellow light of the fire. She squirted a little more and the walls of the building disappeared from her line of sight. With horror she spotted, in less than a thought, several tanks of propane used in the various kitchens, and several people in the upper floors apparently not aware of the growing inferno under their feet.
With a calculation too quick to describe, her super-brain evaluated that the fire was going spread at least at two more floors by the time the engines would arrive. She had to act immediately, but at the moment she took her decision the alarm rang and she had to got dressed like the rest of her comrades with the fireproof uniform. She had mixed feeling, she was glad not to show her powers, but she was also afraid for the people in the building.
It took 8 minutes and 21.3 seconds to the still alarm team (2 engines, 2 trucks and the battalion chief) to reach the site. For Jackie they were 8 minutes and 21.3 seconds of pure torture, she continued to look towards the building through the people and the buildings of Chicago, hoping that somebody will arrive to help, but there were no superheroes in Chicago. Only the presence of her comrades retained her from jumping down form the truck and speeding, faster than any vehicle, to the building.
When they arrived Sean took the command immediately, asking for information and shouting orders to everyone in sight, even without powers like Jackie's, the seasoned veteran understood the very perils of the situation.
"Galindez, Monroe, Chang, O'Reilly and Flanagan. There are people trapped on the last floor, probably they can't reach the windows. Take the emergency kits and go inside, try to get as many as you can out." he ordered.
The five nodded and reached the equipment inside one of the truck hatch. They were almost ready, when Jackie felt an hand on her shoulder, she turned and faced Sean.
He whispered "If things go wrong do not try that superbreath thing, ok."
She smiled "Don't worry chief, I won't." He refereed to an exercise that Jackie tried several times with little success, to put out a fire cooling the air around with a concentrate puff of her breath.
"Ok, are we ready?" asked Galindez, the team leader, with his typical drill sergeant tone.
"Very well. Come on, you apes! You wanna live forever?" he quoted from one of the classic Marines' catch phrases, while the team speed toward the doors that looked like the gates of hell themselves.
Inside it really looked like the very hell. The fire heat was so high that, even with the fireproof uniforms, the skin felt unbearably hot and the blood near the boiling point. The smoke clouded the sight and filtrated through the breather masks piercing the eyes, and the air from the shoulder tanks tasted like a disgusting medicine, at least for the normal humans. For Jackie the whole situation was a source of wonder, her body reacted very different to each stimuli. The smoke didn't bother her anymore, her eyes could see through it even without thinking, and they appeared to be as invulnerable as the rest of her. The breather was off, she had no need to breath for hours if she decided so. And the heat felt comfortable as a tepid bath, even if she could calculate the deadly temperature of the fire through the heavy fireproof coat.
The five moved through the building, when they reached the fourth floor the Law of Murphy stroke. A massive piece of flaming wood felt from the ceiling in the middle of the team, Monroe and Chang were trapped behind it, with one of Chang's leg right below. His scream was something that nobody will be able to articulate in normal circumstances.
"Billy! Frank!" shouted O'Reilly "Hang on guys! We'll take you out of here."
"Flanagan. The iron. Quickly." ordered Galindez.
Jackie moved like in a dream, she knew that she was the only hope to save Chang, she knew that this is the moment to throw her concerns out of the window and act. She dropped the axe on the floor and marched toward the flaming mass of wood and concrete.
"Bloody hell! What are you doing, girl? The iron!" shouted Galindez, while O'Reilly watched Jackie with an horrified gaze.
"I don't need it." answered Jackie, while she calmly placed her hands inside the flaming mass, finding a point solid enough to had a good grip. The comrades watched in awe as she lifted the 2 tons mass without any apparent effort, completely ignoring the flames.
"Watch out for the debris, guys." stated Jackie. A moment after she smashed the mass against her body, right on her chest. She felt the mass smacking against the supposed softest parts of her, for less than an heartbeat it appeared that the momentum of the mass was enough to dent them, but after it was smashed in a thousand pieces.
Monroe covered his face with the left arm to deflect a small flaming shard and whispered "What the hell??"
Jackie smiled at them "A long story." then she turned and quickly scanned Chang with her X-ray vision. She ripped two pieces of wood form the floor and made a improvised medication to Chang's leg, whispering "Don't worry Billy, we'll take you out."
She raised, beaming a confidence that she never had before "Ok guys, take Billy out of here, I will go ahead."
"Are you crazy Jackie? You can't go alone you're not Superg …" said Galindez, blushing visibly while the last part of the sentence died in his throat.
"That's the point. I ain’t Supergirl, but I am the closest thing to a superhero we have here, don't we?"
Galindez swallowed hard, it was against all the rules to leave a member of the team alone inside a burning house, but he had just seen what Jackie can do. He recovered his usual cynical tone of voice "Ok Flanagan, we go, but we will be back before you can say 'Krypton', ok." The three firemen took the wounded comrade and went down the stairs.
Jackie took a big breath and relaxed, it was amazing but in the heat of that inferno she felt free for first time in months. She took a little time to inspect her uniform, the contact with the flame and the impact with the piece of ceiling had ruined her coat.
"Well, I have no need of this." she thought as she dropped her helmet and the breather, then grabbed the side of her coat to remove it. But she underestimated her own strength and she ripped the remains of her coat and her suit all at once, she discarded the remains of her uniform and remained here naked except for her sport bra and panties facing the fire. Like a living thing the fire growth, a long ball of flame engulfed Jackie for a moment destroying her remaining clothes. She felt the flames caressing all her body at once, it was a powerful sensation, causing her to gasp for the unexpected pleasure of the fire making contact with her most sensible parts. For a second she wandered how bathing in a lava pool will fell, but immediately the ball of flame dissipated and Jackie regained her composure.
Before her transformation she was around 6 feet, maybe with a little fat around her waistline, but very athletic with toned strong muscle, and a nice face, but absolutely far form the definition of gorgeous. Her lack of 'frontal development', she wears barely a 32AA, combined with a certain aversion toward the make-up and elegant dresses, made her appearing less sexy than the reality. But the TF4000 changed even this, during the night after being zapped she had felt her body hitching and twisting in ways that she didn't understand until the morning. She hadn't witnessed the process, but this didn't make the results less impressive, and less difficult to hide.
Her figure had lost every possible ounce of fat transforming in a mind-blowing hourglass, long perfectly shaped legs with wide hips (36), connected to a slim waistline (26) with a toned sixpack, and her breast was now about a 36D size, two perfectly formed spheres topped with perfectly proportioned nipples, that proudly challenge the gravity. Her green eye were no more of an uncertain light green, but looked like two pools of liquid emerald, her cheeks a little less pronounced, her lips a little fuller, her teeth a series of 32 white pearls. Her skin had lost every trace of past or future imperfections becoming like a smooth silky sheet wrapped closer than a vacuum bag around her superhard muscles. Her hair was still short, had shifted from the rust red to a fiery copper red, that reflected the light of the fire while she stayed in all her glorious nakedness, like an angel in the middle of the Hell.
She watched the fire, it looked like a monster, a dragon from the fairy tales that her grandma read to Kelly and her when they where younger. A dragon like the ones who kidnapped helpless princesses and were slayed by knights with shining armors and swords. But this wasn't a fairy tale. "Sorry kid." she smiled wickedly "This time the princess isn't helpless," she place her hand on her hips and trusted her chest in the canonical 'power pose', "or powerless."
Using her X-Ray vision Jackie surveyed each floor, and in a matter of few heartbeats she found the people, an old woman and three girls, the older no more than 10, trapped in a room on the last floor. She took up a large piece of her uniform reasonably intact and made an improvised fireproof sheet with it. Than she took up her breather and headed up along the stairs at superspeed. She could fell the pavent crushing seconds after her passage, leaving a trail of footsteps in the concrete, the walls became a blur of motion and the fire a continuing red wall. But in some strange way her brain registered everything, even things that she consciously didn't notice, creating a perfect mental map of the building and letting her moving to such an high speed without creating excessive damage to the structures.
Arriving before the door Jackie stopped herself in less than a second, the pavement under her feet was smoking for the acceleration, she took a second to imagine a more superheroic entrance, like kicking the door at superspeed then overrun the impromptu missile and catching it in mid air. She smiled at the idea, and inspected the door, she found that the lock was closed. 'Strange …' she thought. Then she drove her index finger through the metal, that offered less resistance than the wet paper, ripped the lock from the door and compressed it in a small ultradense brass ball, then she stepped in the room.
One of the girls, the smallest one was already knocked out, but the remaining three occupants of the room stared in disbelief, when the naked girl entered through the, supposedly closed, door almost ripping it.
"What … Who are you?" asked the old woman, the first to recover, position herself between Jackie and the girls. Even in that Inferno she answered to hers protective instinct.
Jackie looked at her, she liked the courage, and spoke, trying to put all her newfound confidence in her tone, "My name is Jackie, I am part of the fire dept." She showed the corp patch attached to the remains of her suit, "I'm here to get you out of here."
The woman and the two girls watched her with open mouths, as she approached the unconscious one and placed the breather mask on her face. "Ok I will take her out first."
"Absolutely no, I won't let you take her." answered the old woman, she looked brave, but Jackie hears could pick a slightly sound of desperation in her voice. She acted this way to help the girls, but she is on the verge of an emotional collapse.
"Fine. Take her." shouted Jackie, the woman obeyed and brace the girl. Jackie enveloped them with the remains of her uniform and took them in her arms, then before anyone could even say a word she speed down along the stairs and out in the road. She was careful not to go too fast, she knew that the human body has a very limited tolerance to the acceleration, from a full stop 4 Gs before passing out, 13 Gs before dying. She stopped right in front of Galindez, causing a small gust of wind, he stared at her with his mount open.
"The girl have a nasty intoxication get here the first aid equipment. I have to go back." she shouted while she placed the girl and the old woman on the tarmac near one of the trucks, before speeding back in the building in a blur of motion. Galindez needed 5 full seconds to regain from the event, when he did Jackie was already inside.
Even a structure in perfect state have trouble to endure the stress caused by a superhuman's actions, and the building was far from perfection. When Jackie speed up along the stair she heard a cracking sound behind. She turned, continuing to run and saw that each of her footsteps destroyed one or more steps. Silently she cursed herself, she knew that she couldn't took the girls and jump out of the window, she will barely register the impact, but they will probably be injured, and her control over her flight powers was almost nonexistent.
When she reached the room, the two girls looked at her in awe and grabbed her legs looking for help and protection. Jackie swallowed hard, she considered herself a not important person, one of the thousands that lived in the town. Now these two girls acted like she was an angel, and the worst thing was that a part of her enjoyed the sensation.
"You are going to save us, aren't you?" asked the younger of the two girls. Jackie looked at her and then to the other one. On both faces she spotted the confidence that the two placed in her, and felt unworthy of it.
Jackie pulled lightly freeing herself from the two and knelt placing herself eye-level with the girls. "Yes, but the stairs are destroyed, we have to go out in another way." she answered caressing hairs of the girls, feeling the smoke and the cinder between them.
"How?" asked the older.
Jackie smiled to hide her nervous "We have to fly." She took up the two girls, one with each arm, and marched to one of the walls. "Brace yourselves." she whispered, a moment after she kicked the wall that crumble to dust under an impact equivalent to that of a fridge falling from the 21st floor, she ran for the nearest window and jumped into the sky. She raised like a comet for several meters and then she lost her momentum and started falling. Operating at superspeed Jackie's mind tried to concentrate on the flight with each atom of her willpower, each part of her consciousness, but she was still falling like a stone. Until she felt a burning sensation in her thighs, she flexed her muscles in a strange way, trying to wash away the distraction, and suddenly she hovered weightless about 10 meters form the ground. She laughed and the two girls laughed forming a strange chorus, under them several hundreds people watched mesmerized.
Jackie landed with some difficulties near the main truck, she placed the two girls on the pavement and took three sheets, two for the girls, and one for her. She smiled at her comrades who stared at her. "The building is empty." she said in a practical tone of voice, some nodded, others simply turned.
"Jackie!!" a voice screamed from the police line around the area. She didn't even need to turn to know "Hi, Kelly."
The black detective stared at her friend "Jackie, what the fuck is going on here? You … you … you FLYED!!" she looked hysterical.
"Kelly, calm down. It's difficult to explain but …" Jackie stopped as she spotted a strange light halo around her friend, and a second after Kelly fall on her knees gasping for air. Behind her Jonathan Goroskij tried to hide a kind of flashlight.
Again Jackie disappeared in a blur of motion, Goroskij felt an hand pulling his neck, after a second his vision went red. When he recovered he found himself hanging over the void from the top of the Sears tower, the only thing preventing him from a deadly fall was the arm of a young woman, a furious young woman.
"YOU!!" she roared, "So you are the responsible!"
Goroskij liked the sensation of being in control, he made him fell brave and powerful. And now the situation was light years out of his control, so his body reacted in the most simple way losing the control of his bladder. "H … help …" he gasped.
"No one is going to help you Johnny." she hissed like a cobra "Now you will tell me the whole story. How many of that devices you have. On who you project to use them. And each time the answer isn't good enough I will remove one of my fingers, understood?" He nodded as much as possible and started to spoke. A minute later Jackie was back at the site, she was glad to see that Kelly was ok, even a little too much. The next morning a security guard will find Goroskij tied with a piece of steel cable to the protection net of the Sears towers terrace, he wouldn't bother the women of the Depts anymore.
When she arrived, she recovered the sheet and surveyed the situation, the fire appeared to be under control, it was only a matter of time before putting it off. Her comrades looked tired but they were all safe, except for one. "Hey where is the chief?"
"Her ran inside a moment ago. The team 3 heard a voice from the basement. You disappeared, so he …" Jackie never heard the rest of the sentence, as she sprinted in the basement of the building, the tarmac along her path was liquefied.
The gray sky looked like lead, mirroring the feelings of the men and women around the open grave in the cemetery. The priest had just finished to read the prayer, now they were paying the last respects to their friend. Sean McLenard, descendant of Scottish clansmen, 49 years old, 30 years of honored service in the Chicago fire dept, 7 decorations – the last one posthumous – father of two children, friend of many, died when a support beam felt on him breaking his spine. On his tombstone just a few words: 'He gave us too much to ever be repayed.'
Jackie was walking to the exit, when she spotted them, a man and a woman who walked toward her. The man was tall and quite big, with short curly hair, he wore glasses and a gray suit, in spite of his size he doesn't look menacing. The woman was a little shorter, with dark hair tied back, a very sexy figure, she wore a tailleur that empathized her long legs.
"Jacqueline Flanagan?" she asked.
"Yes, and who are you?"
"Lois Lane, this is Clark Kent. We work for …"
"Metropolis Daily Planet." Jackie growled like a tiger "And you obviously want an interview with the newest Chicago attraction. Well let me tell you …"
"You are wrong Ms Flanagan." Clark interrupted, pointing at the tomb"We don't want to talk about you. We want to talk about him."
Jackie looks puzzled "He … he was a good man … the best, I've ever known." and she continued to talk about him while they moved away form the cemetery.