One of the few problems Styx had with Hero bases were how far away from each other they tended to be; always at least several tens of miles apart. While this was a bit of a necessity if Hero teams wanted to have any form of wide coverage over a city, but it still made the travel times tedious when Maria wasn’t available for transport. Of course, it also wasn’t helped by the fact that every decent Hero base was in either secluded, abandoned, or extremely rural areas.
It took a special kind of stupid to try attacking Heroes at their own base but, as has been demonstrated numerous times throughout history, stupid was never in short supply; and when those attacks came there would be collateral damage. So, wherever a team rested their heads for any extended period of time, they kept themselves far from heavily populated areas in case of any such assault.
Thankfully, Landscape Unit’s base wasn’t across the entire borough of Brooklyn and eventually he and his teammates caught sight of the fortress like building of reinforced concrete and wood.
As Spectrum pulled the team’s car into the parking lot Styx was able to make out a few more of the bases esoteric additions, likely added on either by skilled Supers or technology. There were no traditional windows, only glossy black panes on the uppermost level that he was willing to bet were both incredibly durable and one-way. Purposefully visible cameras were on every corner and side of the base, likely to take attention away from the more well-hidden ones. Add that on top of the arsenal and defenses that were doubtlessly ready to be triggered and this was quite the formidable abode.
“It’s not exactly the most elegant base around, but I’ve seen this thing withstand a Manhattan class Super. It got pretty torn up, of course, but the fact that the foundation was still intact was amazing.” Crusader said as she got out. “It’s honestly amazing how Defensive Dugout managed to secure something like this in less than a decade.”
“Careful, your Hero crush bias is showing.” Spectrum taunted.
“Why does it have to be Hero related? Dugout is plenty woman enough for the real thing.”
“Oh really?” Simikiel said as she stepped out of the vehicle, her voice so uncharacteristically saccharine sweet it was impossible to mistake her tone to be sincere. “Even if she did swing that way I’m not sure if she’d be willing to date you with the way you and Pulp have been looking at each other.”
Crusader coughed awkwardly into a closed fist at that before briskly walking towards the double-doored entrance to the base, quickly floating the rest of the way.
Styx almost snickered at the unusual bashfulness, but nothing more. He couldn’t very well join in on the ribbing considering his own odd relationship with Levi and their “meet-ups.” Besides even that though, he respected Crusader’s attitude.
Crusader was a bit odd as a Hero because she was known as essentially the polar opposite of Titan in terms of reputation. When her sexuality had become public knowledge, due to kissing another Heroine just a year after her internship with the Pristine Strikers, she flaunted that part of herself proudly instead of hiding. It often came in the form of teasing or offhand remarks when dealing with the media. Joel, the team’s agent, had no end of stories about how much of a media shit-storm she created in the beginning. But eventually the locals simply acclimated; the individuals that already liked her continued to do so, those that didn’t continued not to in silence after being ignored for months, and most on the fence were won over by her attitude and heroics.
Styx suspected the way the rest of the team had stood up for her back then was a major part of why she decided to permanently stay with the Pristine Strikers.
It wasn’t what any would call an elegant solution, but no one would describe Crusader as an elegant woman either.
Upon opening the door, the quartet of Heroes were met by three figures. The gray and shimmery costume of Defensive Dugout was easy to place, so were the yellow swirls of Rancid, but the person in the bulky power-armor was a first for the two interns though. Well, in person at least.
Though the bronze and black armor with many compartments along the waste were far from Trap Master’s usual attire. Especially the glossy black dome that seemed to serve as the helmet. As Styx got a better look at the various hinges and joints, though, he quickly concluded the tech Hero’s mobility wasn’t nearly as limited as it first appeared.
“Trap Master, it’s nice to finally meet you in person.” Styx said, inclining his head towards the bulky figure. Simikiel following up his greeting with a small wave of greeting.
“Likewise.” Trap Master said, he accents something Styx easily placed as middle-eastern in origin. “What do the two hot, new sidekicks of Brooklyn need of the humble Trap Master?” Sometime during their introductions, the rest of the Heroes had left them to their devices after their own pleasantries.
Styx and Simikiel looked to each other before responding with what they agreed would be their greatest asset before even asking their mentors if they could pursue this venture; brutal honesty.
“I, and by extension the rest of the interns on the team, suddenly came into an influx of money and, considering the rise in activity in the city and my want for independent experience with other Heroes, we wanted to try purchasing some actual tech-super gadgets for support. As you can probably tell; some of our suits are composed of material invented by tech supers, but weren’t actually designed by one.” Styx explained.
“We also saw an opportunity to network with a fellow, if one-year older, local intern that we will most likely have to work with regardless. Such connections would make it easier to make a team after our internships are over and a Hero such as yourself would be quite the boon to a young team trying to get on their own feet.” Simikiel concluded.
Trap Master seemed taken aback a bit, despite the fact we couldn’t see past the glossy, black dome of her head peace. She shifted her weight a bit, something Styx noted to be a muted attempt at shuffling one’s feet, before the intern responded.
“I will not lie; I’m pleasantly surprised. I’ve met a few first years that’ve tried to mooch off of me for my technology before.” The older woman said. “All of them got way to overcomplicated about it and tried to be too clever for their own good. It’s nice to see a couple that are upfront about what they want.” With that Trap Master turned and beckoned for them to follow her down a long hallway. “Follow me, I have a process for these things that you’ll need to follow before I can give you anything.”
They walked on in silence for a while after that, the duo taking in everything they could about the base around them. It was clearly built with functionality and durability first and foremost, with comfort being a distant second; and the technology gap compared their own hardly diminished that fact.
Simikiel finally broke the silence as they began to approach a series of distantly placed and sturdy looking doors. “What’s with the suit? We’ve looked you up and you usually only go out in a sleek, segmented power suit, with occasional attachments or a carried contraption.”
“That’s something I like to keep from the public.” Trap Master said. “I regularly change the internal functions and components of my armor based on how busy certain gangs are and recent sightings of criminal Supers, though I rarely change the foundation…” She seemed to pause in reluctance for a bit before continuing. “And you wouldn’t have heard the news yet, but something that happened early this morning prompted me to utilize something a bit on the heavier side of durability and firepower.”
The female tech genius came to a sudden stop, forcing the two following her to do so as well. She was standing directly in front of a reinforced door and had turned to face both of them head on. “And, sorry, I just need to make sure of one last thing. I heard there was an incident at one the local banks.”
Trap Master choose not, and didn’t really need to, say any more than that. Without pause, Styx spook up.
“Two civilians were killed during the neutralization of the Supers robbing that bank. I was-“ Simikiel’s hand clapping onto his shoulder and a pointed look cut Styx off and forced him to reconsider his words. “We, our team, are to blame for not saving them by properly engaging the threat. There were mitigating circumstances I could tell you, but no excuse will bring those people back to life.”
The tech-based Hero sighed before opening the door to reveal a combat cell, almost completely identical to the ones used in the HCP. “See, now that’s just unfair. How am I supposed to use the experienced mentor angle if you’re just going to own up to and grow from your mistakes all by yourselves?” She said with mock exasperation before walking to the center of the cell.
“Noted. But what are we doing here?” Simikiel asked even as her intuition was starting to clue her in.
The door shut behind them and Trap Master shifted her stance into a slightly defensive one as she answered them. “I’m a bit old-school in how I like to handle things. I get the most inspiration for how to help someone after I’ve done battle with them. Think of this as a quasi-ability assessment where I exam where you’re strong, weak, and average. And don’t worry; our DVA representative is a healer and agreed to oversee this fight.”
Styx gave Simikiel a look before saying. “I’m down.” He might have questioned how Trap Master knew they would agree to this, but quickly dismissed the query as useless.
“I suppose it’ll be interesting at the very least.” Simikiel agree with a sigh, the smirk on her face betraying her excitement before disappearing as she shifted once more, having turned human since entering to conserve stamina.
After that, nothing else needed to be said. Trap Master presumably had her gear ready, Simikiel had shifted, and Styx was connected to the few shadows in the bare, concrete room. A few more tense moments of silence passed as they stood under the bright, embedded fluorescent lights in the ceiling before they all sprang into action.
Simikiel immediately dashed back in a blur of motion and whipped out her baton, Trap Master dashed forward towards Styx with speed obviously assisted by her suit, and Styx animated her shadow a second too late as she drew near. He wasn’t too bothered by the prospect though. Styx easily dodged the first two well executed punches aimed at his torso, before spinning to her side and trying to disengage to give Simikiel room to get in. Just as he made that maneuver, however, a segment of armor on Trap Master’s shoulder opened up and what looked like an honest-to-god sleek, cannon popped out.
Styx had just enough time to see it swivel towards his head before it fired.