Of Gods and Men

The Battle of Manhattan: Epilogue
After the destruction of Manhattan, Ironhide faces the future.

The wind whipped past his face, dust and smoke obscuring his vision. Strangely, the world seemed to finally be at peace. He was alone in the grey, and the world was retreating from him.

It was a second before he remembered where he was, what had happened. Then it struck him: he had failed. As his mind cleared, so did his vision, and the Manhattan skyline began to clear. Or, at least, what was left of it.

What was left of Manhattan was in flames, and the rest was simply rubble. No busy streets, jammed with afternoon traffic, no eager tourists and busy New Yorkers traversing the concrete arteries of the Big Apple. Manhattan was dead, and sprawled below him was its still warm corpse.

Below him. The shock of remembering, the horror of the sight; he had forgotten where he was. Not that it mattered. He was level with the peak of the Empire State Building, if it were still standing, and plummeting. He was above water now, the blast apparently having blasted him horizontally before gravity took over and dragged him back down.

The air around him, which had been filled with debris ranging from soda cans to pickup trucks not even half a minute ago, was no clear but for smoke and dust. Vaporized, along with the historic monument that had been so close, by a blast that he had failed to prevent.

It had all happened so quickly, everything a blur now. As the ground grew closer with each beat of his heart, time slowed for him, slowed enough for him to reflect on his greatest failure, and the doom that he had brought to New York City.

He wondered if his friends and allies had survived… but of course they hadn’t. How could they have? Once again, his gift, his curse, had left him alive, and alone.

The waves quickly approached, only heartbeats away, but seemingly an eternity. He looked up… no, down at the surf, red with the setting sun. It looked angry, as if the ocean had felt the pain and loss of those on the land that it surrounded. He looked at the waves below, and wondered what it would be like to let himself die. To let go, and let someone else fight in his place. It would be so easy, just a thought and he would be smashed against the rolling waves, killed as quickly and efficiently as if they were crested with concrete at this speed.

Just another corpse, fished out of the bay sometime during the cleanup in the next several days, or weeks. Nameless, and forgotten.

It would be so easy.

He closed his eyes, and thought of home.


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