Vanessa’s costume felt awkward and tight as she and her mentor, Obsidian-Wraith, stepped out of the alley they’d been dropped off in and started their patrol. She was profusely nervous. But at least she hadn’t needed to be reminded to turn on her power like on her first outing. The downtown streets of Brooklyn were dirty and busy as always, the strong autumn wind ensuring that most anyone on the street were wrapped up in big coats. “Most”, however, didn’t include the two Hero’s striding down the street.
People immediately made a path or quickly crossed to the opposite sidewalk upon seeing Gadreel’s blue and gold costume and Obsidian-Wraith’s dark violet form. In spite of that display, Gadreel still held what she knew to be an irrational fear of someone pointing and calling her out for her performance last night. None of her teammates had given her any grief over getting clipped, her mentor only giving some advice about “not overestimating your own strength”, but she knew for a fact the public wouldn’t be so kind.
She’d been sloppy, her mistake had caused unnecessary property damage, and possibly extended an already dangerous battle with a powerful Super. No way she wasn’t going to get shit over th- The Intern nearly jumped as Obsidian-Wraith elbowed her lightly, pulling her arm back before anyone would notice.
“Look alive, Hero.” She muttered harshly under her breath. She was waving at the people across the street who were snapping pictures of them both.
Gadreel didn’t need anymore encouragement to pull herself out of her own thoughts and finally took notice of the gathering. She put a smile on her face and sheepishly waved at the small group of fans.
‘Right, right. I’m on patrol, not the time to for being distracted with my own stupid drama’ Gadreel thought as they finally made it out of picture taking range and back on to their regular route. She looked over the street with fresh eyes; trying to spot people sneakily reaching into their coat. It was a skill that Obsidian-Wraith had said was invaluable for any Hero going on patrol, even ones highly resistant to conventional forms of damage.
Before, Vanessa had asked her Mentor why she bothered with doing foot-patrol like everyone else when she could fly without running out of energy, unlike her. The answer had been as practical, and surprisingly simple, as always; visibility and publicity.
Obsidian-Wraith didn’t have any kind of enhanced vision when she was in her crystal form, greatly limiting how far up she could be, and at a certain point it just made her a bigger target while reducing her ability to spot possible trouble. The second reason was much more image focused; Citizens felt safe when Heroes were walking down the street with them and criminals felt uneasy and not as confident.
Gadreel nearly missed a step when when her earpiece suddenly crackled to life and Dispatch’s voice came through. <Gadreel, be advised; Spectrum, Styx, and a solo-Hero called Pulp have just interrupted a potential gang fight between the Greens and the White Boars.> Dispatch sounded calm and detached as always, no sense of agency in her accented tones.
She looked over and saw that Obsidian-Wraith hadn’t even paused in her stride as she responded. “Where are they? Gadreel can be over in about a minute even if it’s across the city.” She was surprisingly gruff and didn’t even hesitate about suggesting that her Intern should go ahead of her.
Meanwhile, Vanessa’s head momentarily stuttered as she tried to sort through the sudden information and shift in tone. The Green’s were one of the many, and larger, local drug gangs that infested the poorer areas of the city. But they were mostly made up of regular humans, hardly any Super muscle to speak of. They must be desperate if they were willing to get into an open turf war with the White Boar’s.
There was a slight delay before Dispatch spoke again. <…You may resume your patrol. Styx has neutralize the situation.>
“Wha- Shit, really?”, Obsidian-Wraith muttered below her breath.
“Uh, how’d he do it?”, Gadreel tentatively posed her first question to Dispatch even as she kept an eye on the people around them. She felt uncomfortable as there was silence for a solid ten seconds before she got a response.
<There were twenty-two armed and regular criminals with one Standard-class strongman on the side of the White Boars. Styx boxed them in with his shadows and convinced them to stand-down peacefully—restraining all of the gang members as soon as all weapons were on the ground.>, Dispatch relayed.
Gadreel desperately wished there was time to talk while actively on patrol, she had so many questions about if she could do something similar one day. The only real time they had for lengthy talks was when they stopped for lunch halfway through their shift.
Regardless; She kept her eyes peeled, resolved to do her patrol properly.
That sentiment served Gadreel well; Otherwise she might not have noticed the man in an overly large winter coat stepping out of the crowd and level a strange looking gun at her.
Time slowed down for Gadreel as she rushed forward in the time it took for the man to properly hold his weapon, his expression turning from grim determination to surprise at the sudden charge.
Five years ago, her first instinct would have been to dodge out of the way and take cover. But her four years in the HCP had drilled and trained her in exactly what her role was; A strongman’s job, or woman in this case, was to hit and get hit. Her job was to get in close to do damage and to tank the hits others couldn’t.
So instead of running Gadreel charged the gunman and his strange weapon, desperately hoping to intercept whatever projectile it would shoot from the civilians she could hear running away behind her. She could actually see the man pulling the trigger as she got within point-blank range and went full power, not trusting her baseline defense to handle this. The “gun’s” translucent sections lit up like a Christmas tree.
Gadreel heard more than felt the multiple heat resistance layers of her costume melt off. Pain flashed across her stomach as the beam made contact with her skin, turning it an angry red. But the barely visible ray of energy of hadn’t even made her stumble. Time sped up again and she was on the man in an instant, with her strength now dialed up so high she’d half to be relatively careful about this. Grabbing his wrist to keep the gun pointed at her and grabbing his shirt with the other, she “gently” slammed him back-first into the pavement. The impact drove the wind out of him and made the chubby man involuntarily squeeze the trigger again, but the gun only gave a weak fizzling sound in response.
Gadreel slowly applied pressure to the wrist in her hand, feeling the bones beginning to break and grind as he let go of the weapon with a yelp of pain. She flipped him over, placed a knee onto the small of his back, and forced his arms behind his back.
‘Okay, okay. I’ve got him. Now I just need to… uh-’ Now that there wasn’t a clear threat to neutralize, Gadreel was drawing a complete blank on what to do next. The blood pounding in her ears and the people screaming around her, in what she hoped was terror and not pain, didn’t help matters either.
Thankfully Obsidian-Wraith came to her rescue.
“Nice work Gadreel, now call it in.” She said in a surprisingly calm tone as she stood over both of them.
Gadreel didn’t need to be told twice, “Right! Dispatch; some guy just tried to shoot me with a ray-gun, it looks Super made, but I don’t know if he’s the tech Super.” Her voice may have come out a little too high-pitched for her liking, but at least it came out clear.
<Acknowledged. DVA operatives are in route to your location.> Dispatch didn’t even sound surprised at the news of another conflict their team had to deal with, almost back-to-back and on the same day.
“Fuckin’ bitch…” The gruff voice from below made Gadreel re-focus her gaze upon the scarred and bald head of her aggressor.
“Are you actually surprised? What made you think you could get away with this?” Her voice held an incredulous tone as she made sure she had the man’s hands secured. What had this idiot been expecting to achieve?
“The point wasn’t to get away, it was to put a fucking hole through you.”, the man nearly snarled at her.
All things considered, Gadreel didn’t think she reacted too harshly to someone bluntly admitting to attempting to kill her. She managed to resist the urge to punch him in the back of the head at least.