The street was pandemonium. Although most of the people caught in the blast from the mailbox only received superficial wounds, they were all screaming as though they were about to die. Understandable - most people have low pain thresholds and a minor wound coming unexpectedly as these had tended to make even the strongest individual cry out in worried anguish.
Then a rumble sounded from down below, drawing the attention of the FBI agents closest to the opening in the sidewalk. Meredith was among those and she turned her head toward the broken concrete in time to see flames, accompanied by clouds of smoke and dust billow out. Instantly her heart leapt into her throat, though she knew full well from many years of experience that nothing made on this planet could harm her husband.
"What was that?" she called over to Akako Nisei, a young female agent of Asian heritage.
Nisei had been standing closest to the opening when the underground explosion issued forth and had moved away quickly, startled. "I don't know. It sounds like something exploded down there. It smells awful."
"Eclipse is down there," Meredith commented, concern tingeing her voice. "I hope he was able to withstand whatever that was." She knew her husband was able to endure atomic explosions, which this certainly had not been, but she would be expected to be concerned over a Super none of them knew very well.
"The armored suit he wears looks like it could take an explosion," Nisei responded back, "but I don't know how much. That had to have been a pretty strong blast."
"Meredith!" a voice called out behind the agent. She turned and saw Evan Robertson running up beside her. He was only slightly winded from his jog.
"Just got a report that a section of the road caved in about a mile west of here. More people injured. The city police are already on their way to help in clearing people out. Ambulances also enroute. I think we should get over there, too."
Meredith glanced at the opening where the fire and smoke had belched out from below and nodded. "Right. That explosion that came out here must've happened under that other block. If that's it, then that's where we're most likely to locate Eclipse and our Rabbit."
Deep beneath the streets of the city the epicenter of the explosion was still settling down. The smoke hadn't even begun to clear when the rubble began to push outward and quickly revealed the armored Super now known to the world as Solar Eclipse. He stood from amidst the rubble and looked about, seeing the damage that had almost buried him alive and would have succeeded in killing a lesser man. He knew up above on the street level there would be extensive damage from this blast, but also knew the emergency services of this city were more than qualified to handle it all.
He shook his head and turned in the direction he had been heading when the explosion occurred. Down beneath that debris was the tunnel where Ozzie Bunso had vanished. The explosion would prevent most Supers from continuing on. But he wasn't most Supers.
Eclipse turned his eyes on the spot where he knew the descending staircase had been. He ensured himself by using his penetra-vision that it was indeed the correct spot and then changed to laser-vision. Within moments he had cleared the tunnel all the way down to the next level by melting through the rock. He then leaped straight down, not concerned in the least about jarring his bones when he hit bottom.
At the end of his drop Eclipse paused and looked in the two directions open to him. At this point he had no way of knowing which direction Bunso had gone, but he knew that unless there was another concealed doorway in this chamber it had to be one of the two.
Hmmm, he thought to himself. Whoever built this place had been clever so far in designing this so no one could locate whatever was at the end of this maze without insider knowledge of how to get there. He turned on his penetra-vision once more and scanned the walls. Then he smiled behind his mask.
Pay dirt. He walked up to the far wall off to his left and pressed in on a section of wall. The section moved inward and he then was able to push it to the right, allowing him to pass through. The hatch immediately closed behind him, leaving him in a long corridor with small, soft lights illuminating his way. Not that he needed them, but at least they guided him in the direction he figured he would find their Rabbit.
The tunnel continued on for nearly another mile, curving about to the left sharply and angling down at a gentle slope. At the end of the corridor was a solid wall. He examined it with both his vision and hands and found nothing to indicate there was a passageway through the rock. Then he looked down and noticed a large metal hatch cover with a depressed handle. Eclipse inserted his fingers into the handle and pushed inward, He heard a slight "click" and felt the lock for the cover give way. Without concern he drew the cover up and peered down into total darkness.
In every direction he looked he saw nothing but darkness and even using his vision powers to see with below, he found there was nothing but a vast cavern. He began to wonder if he had missed something along his route. He released the cover so it fell back into place as he turned to backtrack in order to check the walls more carefully for any concealed doors.
That was when the solid steel walls dropped down from the ceiling on both sides of him and gas began filling the now enclosed chamber.
To himself he grinned, knowing that no matter how effective this trap was for any normal human, it would have no effect on him. Even if he weren't naturally imbued with the abilities he was the armored suit he wore would protect him from gas seeping in.
Then Eclipse began to realize it wasn't simply gas, but something with more substance to it. He could "feel" a sliminess as whatever it was coated his encased body and quickly drew the conclusion that whatever this substance was, it was intended to solidify about a person and trap him. He knew that wouldn't have any effect on him, either, since he had the strength to physically "bull his way" through solid rock if necessary, but his armor was new to him and there was no telling the effect this substance might have on that. He sighed, knowing at the first sign of the trap he should have activated the force field he had built into this armor, simply for the effect of explaining to others how he was able to "withstand" the explosion and bullets and other weapons used against him that his natural imperviousness protected him against.
Mere seconds had lapsed since the trap had sprung on him. He hoped that hadn't been time enough for this substance to harm his outfit and he moved forward to break through the steel plate before him. He had been correct in his estimation of the stuff filling this small chamber; it made his movements sluggish, as though he were encased in a gelatinous substance. Most likely before long this stuff would set and harden about him, preventing any lesser being from moving at all. That would certainly cause a person to die from starvation while yet awake and aware of his surroundings. A truly horrible way to die that only a fiendish mind could conceive of.
Eclipse continued on with his movements, the effects of the hardening substance not slowing him down. His fist slammed into the steel plate, but unexpectedly did not break through. Eclipse paused barely a heartbeat to wonder why his strength hadn't punched through a simple steel plate, regardless of how thick it might be, and he swung once more, striking the same spot as before, but to the same effect. There was a dent where he had hit the plate, but no discernible crack.
Placing both hands together with his fingers interlocked, he swung from the side as hard as his powers allowed, knowing his strength at full force could topple mountains and easily kill elephants or anything bigger. Somehow, however, it wasn't breaking through this barrier. This last time his strength had succeeded in making a larger dent, but still hadn't produced any cracks. What the hell was this metal made of? It certainly wasn't the steel he had originally thought it was.
He backed himself all the way up to the other plate behind him, noting as he moved that the substance being pumped into the confined area was getting thicker. Now it was like any normal person trying to walk through soft Styrofoam. And then he noticed something seemed to be affecting his thinking process. He felt slightly dizzy and that wasn't a sensation he had experienced often over the span of his life. He shook his head to clear it and then ran forward, pushing through the thickening effect about him. His body slammed into the plated wall and he felt the material give, but not break.
What the hell? he thought in awed wonder as he stood back and looked at the body-sized dent he'd placed in the wall. Then the plate reshifted as though on a molecular level and resumed its originally smooth and flat appearance.
If his strength wasn't going to get him through this barrier, perhaps his laser-vision would. He stood before the wall that was resisting his every effort and focused his eyes on it. Instead of twin beams of neon green springing forth, his lenses caused the power from his eyes to form into one beam before it shot forward, but before they could hit their target the material encasing his body suddenly exploded, presumably from his vision power. This was a day for new experiences for this alien hero as the explosion not only rocked the area where he stood, but the concussion from it was enough to render him unconscious. His last thought flickered through his mind just as he went completely blank before falling to the ground. At least the twin barriers that had slid into place had confined the explosion within this small area and no one above ground had been hurt.