After ending their little argument with the senator, Obsidian Wraith had led her intern down to a near dilapidated section of the city, on the roof of some old sugar refinery. The usual smell of rusted metal and trash was over laid by the scent of rain; just like near everywhere else in the city. The place was fairly isolated, making it a favorite spot for squatters and less unsavory characters that wanted to try at a clandestine meeting.
A lot of people wondered why dilapidated areas still existed in big cities with lots of Supers in them. After all, a work force with the right Supers could drastically speed up what would be months of construction to a mere few days and clean up almost any waste. And overall, they were right in that cities were generally cleaner now, but failed to consider that fights with criminals Supers caused so much damage across the country that things needed to be prioritized. And abandoned areas where hardly anyone lived to begin with were right at the bottom.
But with the sheets of rain slamming down from above the place was completely deserted and the two Heroines took shelter under a metal hanging. Neither was really susceptible to the chilly rain but they didn’t particularly like standing in it when they wanted to talk.
“Was that all that really necessary?” Gadreel sighed. Someone needed to address the giant, public relations shaped elephant in the room, it might as well be her.
“No, but it did serve a purpose.” Obsidian Wraith snapped back, her inanimate facade giving nothing away. “Heroes have an image to maintain; we aren’t for hire, we’re for rent at best. I couldn’t let Decker make a deal like that in front of so much press without pushing back at least a little.”
Another howling gale of wind pierced the air and Gadreel had to wait till it subsided before she could respond.
“Is it really so important?”
“It is when public trust is as low as it is from the Charles Adair and DVA scandal going on and the spikes in crime around the coasts. Now, maybe even more than when Heroes first debuted, we need to appear larger than life and powerful.” Another howl. “Not as people some politician can just track down, walk up to, and basically order to make a deal with.”
Gadreel sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose; her mentor was right, of course, but still. “Yeah, that makes sense. But maybe you could let me handle it next time. Even if I embarrass myself a little, it’ll be better than having to deal with managing a response I hadn’t intended. I wanted to politely decline, not begrudgingly accept a time-table while insulting her with a veiled threat.”
Obsidian Wraith grunted, which sounded weirdly oscillating in her shard form. Gadreel had been around her enough now to recognize it as both a sign of agreement and an end of the current conversation. Time to move on to the next subject then.
“Well, so long as we’ve got a relatively quite place to talk.” Gadreel began. “D’you have any more advice for fighting?” One could never be too careful, especially when the White Boars seemed to have a way of tracking them and setting up ambushes, and she couldn’t bare to be the one that blew their advantage of having foreknowledge. So that was as specific as she could get when referencing the upcoming base assaults.
Thankfully her mentor seemed to get pick up on what she was hinting at.
“Do you really think you need any more advice than to go for the legs and hit harder when you need to?” Obsidian Wraith asked. “Just go with your gut, kid. And trust me, if you kill someone I can promise it will feel just as wrong as the first time and won’t get any easier until you’ve gotten past your tenth.”
Gadreel had inhaled to reply, but the end turned it into a surprised mini-gasp that launched saliva down the wrong pipe. She let out a sputtering laugh before she could properly reply. “O- oh my god, that’s horrible.” She giggled out, covering her mouth to hide her flush and mortified smile.
“Come on, we’re both close combat girls. I’ve sparred with you, and regardless of how sketchy that new HCP is, in terms of the raw martial skill you gained there isn’t much advice I can give you. The best I can do for now is guide by experience; there are a metric shit-ton of things people have tried to use to take out us strong-n-tough types. And a lot of them you can’t really practice on how to counter without-“
Suddenly there was a shriek like metal tearing just as a circle of crimson red energy appeared on the ground around them, licking up into the air like open flames before flaring up into blinding incandescence like plasma.
There was no time to talk, both Heroines reacted on reflex. Gadreel tried to jump laterally out of the circle while upping her defense, shattering the ground beneath her feet from the force of her jump while Obsidian Wraith tried to whirl away in a cloud of shards. Neither was fast enough though, and in a flash of light and mild heat they were whisked away through space.
Before the dizziness or spots of light had faded from her vision Gadreel felt multiple claws and fangs rack at her while she tumbled through the air. She raised her arms to block the strikes coming at her, and could see that she was being assaulted by a swarm of silver, gleaming creatures the size of dogs.
And, as odd as it may sound, the thing that surprised her the most was the fact that she could feel the blows that rained down upon her. Sure, she’d been hurt and injured before while using her power, but that usually required high-end power, something that these flying critters didn’t seem capable of.
With a small, yet complex, shift of the energy propelling her through the air Gadreel spun in place like a human top. She knocked away all of the creatures and managed to grab one before shooting directly up, finally able to get a clear look at where she was and what she was dealing with.
She instantly recognized where she was; They’d been transported down to an abandoned section of the harbor, Grain Terminal. Midair and above several shipping rusted, red containers and near a large concrete relic of a building. A shower of red sparks fell around them, presumably the latten affect of the teleportation and the corners of her vision was tinted a dull red. Gadreel took a look at the thing squirming in her hands then; the creature was actually a bit smaller than she’d thought, only a little bit larger than a house cat. It looked like a cross between a dragon and a praying-mantis, mandibles extending out from its reptilian maw, leathery wings, and gleaming silver scales covering its whole body, weirdly curved claws and eyes an inky black.
Gadreel mentally dubbed the things “Mantons” before ripping the vile thing in half; it screamed before bursting into a cloud of silver dust. Then she had to quickly back hand another, hitting it so hard it nearly folded in half against her forearm, and flew further up as the group of eight that’d swarmed her initially regrouped and gave chase.
The next few seconds of violence and screeching went by in a blur, in which Gadreel noted that these thing weren’t all that strong, they’re claws and talons we’re just ridiculously sharp enough to tax her. And after slamming the last Manton with hammer blow that launched it straight down, then through, the top of a shipping container she caught sight of Obsidian Wraith flying up towards her.
Gadreel breathed a sigh of relief and flew down to meet her mentor. “I guess we get join the, ‘Got Jumped by Nazis’, club huh?”
“Hah.” Obsidian Wraith breathed, a few flecks of silver around the “hands” of her from. “Yeah, but don’t let your guard down, I doubt it’ll be tha- Incoming!” She shouted the last word as three *KA-THUNKS* sounded out from behind Gadreel.
They both flew away and up from each other and dodged what looked like three beachball sized globs of grey goo. But then there was a sudden warping of space near one glob, not unlike the one around Gadreel’s body, and the goo somehow reversed course, doubling back to impact Gadreel’s booted feet.
“Ah, fuck!” The intern exclaimed as the substance stuck fast to her. Then she caught sight of their attackers.
It was three figures that seemed to be riding a wave of distorted space, all of them wearing long rain coats that hid their faces. One had an empty canister on their back that was attached to a small canon being sited on her. Another that was face down and shuddering, yet seemed entirely stable on the wave, had long silver hair that hung out from the hood. But the last one had no distinct features aside from the fact that the warped space was surrounding their hands.
Gadreel immediately pegged the one with long hair as a girl and the two others as men. She immediately went after the one with a canister on their back, the stuff stuck to her feet was starting to crawl up and wasn’t coming off despite kicking with her considerable strength, and she didn’t fancy her chances of the gunk being air permeable enough to allow breathing if it covered her head.
Apparently the goons hadn’t expected her to be so fast, because she saw both of the standing ones flinch as she crossed the distance to them in a matter of seconds. Gadreel might not have been speedster fast, but she could give any race car a run for it’s money. Her only chance was to finish this quickly and then get someone to burn this stuff off before it suffocated her.
But just as she was about to make it into melee range, the one with the warping effect around their hands flicked his wrist and suddenly she moving laterally at twice the speed. Before she could even correct for the sudden shift the young Hero crashed through two shipping containers then skidded across the surface of the water along the harbor.
Gadreel snarled and reoriented herself so that she wasn’t getting a face full of sea water anymore. So, these guys had some kind of velocity control, a guy carrying what she guessed was Super tech, and the tired one was probably a summoner. Summoners had it easy in a lot of ways compared to other Supers, mainly by not needing to get their own hands dirty, but they usually came with the drawback of getting mental backlash from having their minions destroyed. And this one didn’t seem to be any different judging by how she looked barely conscious.
This situation had gone from annoying to dire very quickly. The goo had reached her calves at this point, the group was keeping her in view as they rode that wave of distortion at speeds that should have sent them flying off without anything to anchor themselves to, and she didn’t know how long until help would arrive.
Then she saw it; something gleaming on the side of the canister holders’ hip, barley hidden by his rippling rain coat. Gadreel had only gotten a brief glance, but it had looked like an oversized syringe. Something that looked like it belonged in a cartoon about a kid getting their shot taken. And out of the corner of her eye she could see Obsidian Wraith silently flying between shipping containers, steadily gaining on the group.
‘Thank God for smart criminals.’ Gadreel thought ruefully as a plan formed in her head. There was more luck involved than she was usually comfortable with, but beggars couldn’t be choosers.
She flew forward at full speed, pausing only to pick up a car-sized wall of one of the shipping containers she’d been made intimately familiar with. It wouldn’t do to make things too obvious for them. She sped up again, racing across the concrete of the harbor and towards the trio before tossing the red sheet of metal like a frisbee from over forty yards away. Another field of see-through distortion engulfed the metal and sent it careening back at her as soon as the thing got within two feet of the group. She knocked it away effortless and pressed on.
The fight went on like that for a while, Gadreel picking bits of debris and chunking them while slowly circling closer to the group and the whole thing only led credence to her suspicions. Every object she threw didn’t pause or get visibly damaged by the power, it’s vector of movement simply changed and accelerated in a different direction. The man tried to use the power directly on Gadreel again but she was ready this time and was able to use her flight to counteract it so that minimal ground was lost. But all the velocity manipulator had to do was stall for time, not defeat her, and he knew it; with each second that passed the goo that had started at her feet was expanding and crawling up further to cover the rest of her body.
By the time she was finally in position Gadreel was covered up to her chest in the stuff and had to keep her arms raised just to stop them from getting stuck as well. She was only a few yards away now, close enough to see the red and white bandanas worn under those dark hoods that told her what gang these asshats were a part of and that the velocity guy’s hands were shaking.
Without warning she was surrounded in a distortion that wasn’t from her own power again and was slammed straight down instead of away, the impact hard enough to send a spider-web of cracks out from its epicenter. The man had both hands extended straight forward now, the wave of distortion underneath him and his fellow gang member’s feet no longer rushing them about as he focused all his attention on locking down the Heroine. Gadreel saw the corners of his blue eyes crinkle with what had to be a fierce smile behind that bandana as the goo crawled further up.
Gadreel had to fight to not grin right back as she divert all of her power from flight and to durability and strength, pushing off the concrete hard enough to leave a small crater behind her. She easily broke through the field of distortion and rocketed toward the now wide-eyed thug like an angry, blue-and-gold rocket.
But at the last moment the wave of distortion carried them out of arms reach, Gadreel’s charge missing them by inches, all of them flinching from the near miss.
…The dodge did not save them from Obsidian Wraith, however, who’d silently come out from behind a container just behind the group and tackled the canister holder hard enough that Gadreel could hear a bone break.
Without preamble they both flew up and away before diving back down on the opposite side of the desolate section of the harbor.
“Hurry up.” Gadreel said as she touched down next to Obsidian Wraith and her squirming captive, neck straining to keep her head above the goo.
“I’m working on it.” Her mentor replied before finally wrenching the metallic syringe from the man’s belt and examining it for only a few seconds then jamming it into the material consuming her intern.
At first nothing seemed to happen as Obsidian Wraith emptied the entire thing, but then a cracking sound reached their ears. Then the glossy material of the goo became ashy and began to harden rapidly; in a matter of seconds the entire glob resembled a rough boulder and had stopped expanding. With a minor effort Gadreel ripped her way out of the no-longer-sticky substance with a sigh of relief, large chunks falling away with each movement.
“Wooo~” Gadreel breathed. “That’s a relief, I figured no one sane would want to carry around a big ass canister of that stuff without a way to get out of it themselves in case something went wrong.”
“It was a good call.” Obsidian Wraith agreed before looking down as the man snarled something at her that would have been censored on television and promised to do something rather vulgar to her as he cradled his broken arm. The old Heroine merely shrugged and took the time to properly dislocate his knee with a squeeze of her hand. The sound he made was shrill and nearly made Gadreel cringe but she ignored it. “So, what now?”
“We give them what they want.” Gadreel said and then stood up, dusting the rest of the material from her costume and steeling her resolve. “These assholes jumped my friends today and used civilians like meat-shields. I’d say it’s time we taught them why all the other gangs are a lot more careful about how they act.”
Obsidian Wraith nodded and let her take the lead as they flew back, not at all trying to hide the grin on her “face”. Nobody had died or been seriously injured, and the enemy was exhausted and on the back foot, so she felt fine in letting her intern take the lead and vent some anger.
<Obsidian Wraith and Gadreel, be advise; Crusader and Simikiel are inbound in seventy seconds.>
And besides, help was on the way now.