Cloud

The Holiday Inn hotel in Monterrey has been taken over by three dozen gunmen and three confirmed superhumans. The police attempted a peaceful negotiation, but the negotiator was killed in what appeared to be a blast of green lightning from an upstairs window, and a strike team that attempted to infiltrate the hotel was seriously injured and forced to retreat.

A block away, a black man in a long leather duster walks out of the Carl’s Jr. and shoulders a heavy duffel bag. He approaches the hotel. He’s got a blowgun, and he fires a few silent shots at the hotel entrances as he makes a circuit of the building.

He gets closer to one of the doors. The blowgun gets put away; instead, he takes out inflated condoms filled with tap water. The door opens, but he seems to be expecting it to. He throws the improvised water balloons just as it comes open. The water boils itself into steam almost instantly; there’s now a scalding cloud of vaporous hell waiting for whoever was coming out, which turns out to be a couple of armed men. They fall screaming, and the man in the duster waves the steam aside with a gesture and walks inside.

He shoots a few darts as he walks, making sure they stick to the walls and ceilings where he aimed. Each one glistens red; a drop of blood still hangs heavy on them. And as the gang fans out into the hotel’s corridors, he’s ready. Drinking fountains explode in a burst of steam as men go by, set off by some unguessable trigger. Fire hoses, coiled up for emergencies, similarly explode when men with guns walk past them. Every source of water in the hotel’s hallways seems to be a death trap waiting to be sprung.

A few members of the gang think they’ve cornered their guy. That lasts until the fire extinguisher behind them explodes, sending shrapnel everywhere.

The hostile supers are with their hostages. Each feels a slight sting in their neck, followed by searing pain as the air around the injury suddenly superheats itself. As they fall writhing, the black man darts in and brusquely orders the hostages up and out. He speaks fluent English and Spanish, and he tells them exactly where to go. They follow instructions, for the most part. Where they don’t, police have begun to move in.

By the end of it, an unmarked black SUV pulls up. The black man in the long coat climbs in, stows his duffel bag, then slumps over like a puppet whose strings have been suddenly cut.