Haven City Center, at the top of the walls -
Most walls around cities followed the Panopticon's anti-variant wall design consisting of hundreds of segments of reinforced neosteel plating. Each of these segments could easily be detached and reattached for ease of repair, allowing the Panopticon to maintain walls throughout the world with incredible efficiency.
When the walls needed to stand strong, tethering bolts and a powerful magnetic attachment system between each segment kept them tightly welded together, granting it a flashy, futuristic blue glow between its many parts.
The top layer of each wall consisted of segments that were relatively hollow inside, allowing for the movement of people throughout the walls. These hollow segments fed out into control towers perched atop the walls which monitored and maintained the wall's structural integrity. The towers also connected to the wall's many defense and surveillance systems.
Inside control tower 12, the largest one perched atop the main gate leading into and out of the inner district, a massive crowd of heroes gathered together, packing together to watch a movie screen sized monitor projecting what lay outside the walls.
A seemingly unending army of fishmen and aquatic variants. And a distinct lack of a forcefield.
The fishmen had charged forwards with feral fury, clawing and banging at the exposed walls. However, their claws were too weak to pierce through several layers of neosteel plating. Even the larger crabmen with their sizable bulk, enhanced might, and bludgeoning claws, could barely even dent the walls.
"As long as those walls hold up, we can still hold out," said Mothman, who, as his hero name would suggest, was a mutant with moth traits. As far as mutants went, though, his mutations were not that severe. He was mostly man, just with chitin plated white skin, antennae, large spotted moth wings, and mandibles.
He was a C+ rank hero, on his way to being promoted to the B rank.
That is, if he survived the night.
"No. This won't last." Seismic set his square jaw as he looked at the monitor from the very front, his tree trunk like arms crossed together. Even though the heroes packed together through the rest of the room, they kept the space around Seismic empty, respecting his A rank authority and the sheer aura of strength he gave out. "Not when they have those."
The monitor showed ten domes of swirling water glowing bright blue as a dozen mermen raised their long, slimy and scaled arms up into the air. They moved their lipless mouths in unison as they chanted. From their bony fingertips, streaks of energy fed into the water dome, powering it.
From within, the dark outline of tank sized Plasma Anemone variants shuddered before unleashing massive pillars of bright blue hydroplasma. The plasma beams that shut down the forcefield now crashed full force against the particularly thickly plated front gate of the walls.
Superheated explosions that glowed first blue then super-hot white sprawled out from the point of impact, leaving behind a gaping crater of glowing white metal that dripped liquid neosteel and crumbled heat absorbent ceramic-scale plating meant to absorb heat, but there was a limit to it.
But ten plasma beams, each of which was capable of turning a heavy battle tank into smoking scrap, was way beyond its capabilities. Another volley or two from that, and the front gate would be down.
"Y'all see that sh*t! We gotta haul ass out of here like now!" said Racefiend, a C class hero known for trying to obnoxiously advertise his horrible sneaker line whenever he got the chance.
"Genius idea," said Mothman with pure sarcasm leeched into his voice. "All flying craft were used for evacuation. The roads are still flooded, and the gates aren't opening from system failures with the storm. So where the hell do you plan on going, huh?
You might as well throw yourself off this wall."
"Any flyers out here, I'll pay you fifty K credits to get me out of here!" said Racefiend, ignoring Mothman.
"Yeah, I'll do it!" said a mutant hero with avian wings.
"What!? I'll pay seventy K. Sh*t, I'll wire you my life savings. Can't spend jacksh*t if I'm dead!"
"No, let me go first!"
The room of heroes descended into utter chaos as they forgot about holding out and argued among themselves as to who left while the flyers tried to see if they could make a quick buck while running.
"Shut up!" roared Seismic, and his voice bellowed out in waves so powerful they almost ruptured the eardrums of those closest to him. His outburst silenced the room, and after waiting a few seconds, he spoke again. "Rocket Man's contacted the Panopticon the moment the storm lifted. A class 5 drone response should be here within the next forty minutes."
"Class 5? You must be out of your mind if you think that's going to be saving us, old man!" said a hero. "I could scrap five of those bots myself, and you think that they're going to save the day!?"
"Why aren't you fighting, Seismic!" shouted another hero. "You're supposed to be an A ranker! Show us how great you are, you fucking coward! I thought you were different from Hat Trick, that slimy sh*t that ran the moment something went wrong, but in the end, you're just as much of a fraud as he is!"
Seismic cracked his neck, his enormous trapezius muscles flexing, his expression turning murderously fierce, and that simple gesture silenced the room again.
"The point of a class 5 response isn't in how strong each drone is. It's in their sheer numbers. A thousand will swarm the variants down there, giving us breathing room to fight without drowning in a horde of scaly bodies," said Seismic. His murderous expression faded in an instant as he became calm again. "But we need to wait until it comes.
The Plasma Anemones fire in intervals of ten minutes, and it'll take two volleys to melt down the front gate completely.
When the front gate goes down, we go down there. We hold out for twenty minutes.
Twenty minutes. That's all you need to do. Then the drones get here, and that'll give me enough room to kill the leaders of this army.
All the rest of you have to do is to hold the line.
Make sure the one hundred and fifty thousand plus civilians holed up behind these walls don't get ripped apart piece by piece.
Is that so fucking hard?"
There was a moment of tense silence as the crowd of heroes remained still, still unconvinced.
"There are a few thousand HCPD still here as well. They live here. This is their home. Their gilrfriends, wives, parents, kids - everything they've built up with their lives is here. Many of them will fight, I know it. Because there's no greater motivation to fight than to know the life of your child depends on your fists." Seismic scanned the room of heroes. "That leaves most of you. Three hundred men and women that went through four years of training and two years of apprenticeship to call yourselves heroes.
About half of you live in Haven."
Seismic looked around and pointed at a young hero wearing an ice themed blue costume. "You, I remember reading your file. You live here, don't you?"
"Y-yes. You…actually read my file?" said Icicle, the hero in question. A C- ranker who would have never expected an A- ranker like Seismic to give him the time of day.
"I had Rocket Man compile your files when we holed up behind the walls. So I would know the men and women I was going to fight with," said Seismic. "So, tell me, young man, who do you have here?"
"A wife. And a son," said Icicle.
"And you're going to leave them just like that? Even if you run, is that what you want to show your kid? Your back as you run away? Not as you fight?" said Seismic.
Icicle shook his head.
"About half of you have planted your roots down in this city," said Seismic. "You are the trunk of support for your loved ones. Do you want to leave now? Do you want to let these variants tear those roots you've worked so hard to plant?"
"I'm…I'm scared, but I won't let my dad's last moments be in fear and pain," said a hero, a woman serpentine facial feature. "He's suffered enough already with mutant cancer. I'll fight with you, Seismic."
"I'll go too," said Mothman. "Don't have anyone I love here, but I'm not about to run either."
"Yeah, if it'll give my girl a chance, then I'll do anything I can!" chimed in another hero.
Like this, Seismic saw many of the heroes resolve themselves to joining him. Most of them were those that, as he had pointed out, lived in Haven. However, half of the heroes were rotating transplants that went from city to city based on where the AA assigned them.
"Yeah, screw that, I'm outta here," said Racefield, one such transplant. "Don't have anyone I care about in this sh*tty little city, and my sneaker sales have been dogsh*t down here because of you know what art looks like."
Racefield started to walk out of the control room, and as he did so, he gave many likeminded heroes the courage to file out behind him.