Chaos…pandemonium…a clusterfuck of epic proportions.
All of those were pretty good descriptions of what was going on around Daisy. She stood above a sea of surging people; people that were doing anything and everything to get out of there. She saw a woman struggling with the rest of the crowd, fall, and get swept underneath hundreds of feet. In this panic, it was doubtful she’d live.
<Where the fuck are you?!> She was scanning for the threat in a half-mile bubble around her, but hadn’t found anything.
“We need to evacuate these people…”
“Clear a corridor leading to…”
“Execute emergency contingency Alpha…”
It was chaos over the airwaves too. The mayor was yelling one thing, the SWAT commander another, and KaBoom was trying to rescue the woman Daisy just saw get pulled under by the crowd.
<Not your job.> It was a callous thought, but he was the leader, and he needed to think big picture.
That big picture was…
The madness was interrupted by another tearing sound. It sounded like God was shredding paper nearby, and it was immediately followed by smoke rising into the sky and the screams of injured people.
“That’s another one in the alley off Central!” The reports started flooding in, and any semblance of calm that had been restored was upended.
<That makes four.> Four improvised explosive devices had been planted along likely avenues that the crowds would use to run from the grenades falling from the sky.
Daisy expected the grenades, although she’s thought Wraith would go with fragmentary instead of flash bangs. Pulling her punches wasn’t Wraith’s style, but surprise attacks were. Agent Simmons’ death, and the missing plans of the ceremony were proof enough for the DVA to bring more Heroes in to secure the area. They’d thought it had been enough, but they were wrong.
<It’s not just Wraith.> That was where the miscalculation was. The big wigs were so focused on the one villain that they missed the others.
Wraith moved in the shadows and did sneak attacks, but she didn’t plant bombs to kill people. She only used explosives to cover her tracks, and the locations being relayed didn’t fit that description. This was Stal or Nightingale’s influence on the attack. Neither of those women gave a shit about anyone but themselves.
In the end it didn’t matter either way. It was on Daisy and the Heroes to keep people safe, and they’d shit the bed so far.
“Dispatch, get me Force Field.”
Robin Kirk, aka the Hero Force Field, was one of the Heroes brought in last minute for security. She’d been instrumental in stopping the grenades from falling from the sky, but less than effective with these IEDs.
“Force Field,” Robin answered. Her voice was strained and Daisy could feel the other woman’s exertion of the line.
The crowd was scattering like a dust in the wind, and she was trying to give them cover. Throwing up individual barriers over such a wide area would have kicked Daisy’s ass too.
“It’s Reaper. We’re doing this all wrong.” Daisy had seen the error in their prep after the first bomb went off, and her superior’s logical response was playing right into the villains’ plan.
The logical response when bombs were going off was for people to run for their lives and the authorities to evacuate. Anything other than that was madness. The problem with that plan was that it was clear now that the people were running toward the IEDs. They’d been placed outside the initial secure perimeter and each explosion was successively farther away from the stage where the grenades had gone off. The grenades were like cattle prods that had propelled the people into action, and they’d run right into the slaughterhouse.
“We need to contain the civilians. Dogs and Heroes have gone all over the area immediately surrounding the stage and church. We’re clear here. The bombs are out there. We need to stop the people from literally running to their deaths.”
“Reaper, I don’t know what I can do to help.” Force Field panted. “I’m barely holding it together as is.”
Daisy knew what needed to be done, and she knew Robin wouldn’t like it.
“Drop the overhead barrier and throw up vertical barriers to stop people from fleeing. Give me a half-mile perimeter. If any hostile comes in we’ll be able to handle it from there. This will also give EMS a chance to get to the injured people and the police to sweep the area.”
Robin was silent for several seconds. “You know that sounds insane. People are really going to start panicking when they think their only escape has been cut off. You think they’re panicking now? Just wait and see.”
“I’m willing to take that chance.” Daisy was, and there was a reason she’d wanted it at half a mile. If things got to out of hand, she was the ultimate crowd control.
There was a short pause before Daisy knew Robin had gone ahead with her plan. There were screaming and fleeing people everywhere, but a great roar of terror sprang up from people when they suddenly collided with a solid energy barrier that wouldn’t let them escape.
“What the hell is happening?”
“Is this a secondary attack?”
“Can anyone isolate what the hell is happening?!”
“Everyone, this is Reaper, I’ve ordered Force Field to contain the citizens to reduce further detonations of IEDs. Get EMS in there now, and have SWAT, Heroes, and dogs start to work to clear the area.
“Who gave you this authority?”
“On what authority?”
“You’re on temporary status.”
Everyone whipped out and began measuring their metaphoric dicks almost immediately.
“It’s already done, now get to work.” Daisy shot back.
There was going to be hell to pay, but she was sure she’d done the right thing. When no other IEDs went off she knew for certain she was right.
“Over here!” Becca called frantically as her hands blurred. She dug as fast as she could to get through the rubble-strewn alley.
The small group of sophomores had been running into an alley when something had exploded up ahead of them. Everyone else had just seen a flash and death, but Becca had trained herself to automatically engage her power to see the explosion. It was something she’d been working on during the end of freshman year, over the summer, and into sophomore year.
It was just a logical step in her development. When someone fired a gun, a bomb went off, or any other action that could be deemed criminal or violent, she engaged her super-perception and slowed everything down. What she saw when she effectively slowed down time around her could be invaluable to investigations and catching criminals.
Unfortunately, she’d never experienced the downside of it. When that bomb went off in that alley, and she slowed everything down to assess the situation, she saw horrible things she couldn’t do anything to stop.
It was a large blue dumpster that probably smelled like rotting Chinese food from the small restaurant it was on the side of. She saw as the metal bulged outward and buckled under the pressure. She saw the harmless metal turn into projectiles of death while fire fountained up and out as the whole object broke apart under the strain.
Then there were the people. A dozen were directly next to the dumpster when it went off. She saw their bodies crumble as the shockwave tore into them before the metal and fire. They were probably already dead before metal fragments large and small tore into their flesh. The way the metal flew, it was like their bodies weren’t even there. The shrapnel went in one side and out the other with hardly any resistance.
To add insult to injury, they were then engulfed in fire. Becca was sure they were dead by then, but it just seemed wrong to be pulverized, butchered, and then lit up like a bonfire during Homecoming Weekend.
She instinctually reached out and tried to get to the closest victim, but they were packed too close together and the shockwave was knocking people down left and right. She could lean into it and power through it to get to people who needed help faster, or she could get knocked down like everyone else, get back up, and help. If there was any chance those people were still alive, Becca would have pushed through the pressure wave and fought to get to them, but they weren’t, so she toppled over just like everyone else.
Then she jumped to her feet and tried to help.
“Mason, over here!” she called over the strongest person she knew.
She didn’t know what help he could be to the woman in shock with her leg blown off below the knee, but having the big strongman present offered a little reassurance in all this madness. Mason lumbered over and tried not to step on anyone who was a lot slower getting up than him.
Mason took one look at the situation and went to work. He pulled off his belt and fashioned a tourniquet a few inches above the woman’s knee. He tightened it and she cried out in pain, but the blood spurting out slowed to a trickle.
“It’s going to be ok.” Mason looked the woman right in the eye as he effortlessly picked her up and started to walk back the direction they’d come.
“MOVE! COMING THROUGH!” His bulk shouldered people aside at first, but once they noticed what he was doing they started to comply.
Becca watched them go and just sat there. There was blood on her hands, dust on her face and in her hair, and she was fighting back the urge to cry. She sniffled once, shook her head, and stood back up.
<Time to put your big girls pants on. It’s time to help people.> She was so busy talking to herself she hadn’t heard the ominous groaning of the building next to them.
The explosion had torn right through its intended victims and into the opposite building. It hit something important, because the wall was already teetering dangerously in Becca’s direction. She’d been so focused on helping the woman with the blown off leg that she’d missed what was happening right next to her.
“BECCA!” Anika screamed and leapt into action.
Becca just had time to look up and see an avalanche of brick and stone headed toward her, before Anika jumped in front of her and both were smashed under the cascading building material.
Lilly appeared at the designated rally point. A wave of darkness washed over the immediate area, and she felt everything around her. Stal and Nightingale were there, both ready to fight. There were some other people too, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Lilly held the darkness in place for a moment. She felt the tug in her core that happened whenever she did it, but she fought to keep her concealment up as she drew her weapons. Holding on in each hand, she fired the tasers at the unexpected civilians.
Unlike normal law enforcement tasers, Lilly’s specialized weapons didn’t shoot out metal prongs that dug into people while the power of the shock came from the weapon itself. Her pistols were equipped with electrified darts. The darts fired like regular bullets, imbedded in the target’s flesh, and sent out a fifty-thousand-volt shock that overrode a person’s central nervous system and knocked them out.
Six rounds later and the six civilians in their little assembly area were face down on the concrete. Only then did she let the darkness dissipate. Stal sneered when she saw the people on the ground, and looked like she was about to stomp on them, but Nightingale brought her back on task and directed them forward.
<You just want me as transportation then that’s what you’ll get. If anything gets too hairy then I’m getting the fuck out of dodge with or without you.> The thought helped ease the anger she felt toward the other two women.
The location they’d teleported to was in the opposite direction that all the civilians were fleeing. If there was one thing you could count on in a crisis that was for people to take the path of least resistance. And in this case, that path led directly away from where the first grenades had been dropped.
Lilly kneeled down and took a radio from one of the men she’d tased. He didn’t look like a cop, there was no badge or gun, but the radio was tuned to the tactical channel SWAT and the Heroes were using.
“…ordered Force Field to contain the citizens to reduce further detonations of IEDs. Get EMS in their now, and have SWAT, Heroes, and dogs start to work to clear the area.”
Lilly froze when she heard Reaper’s orders. There was no way she would ever forget that bitch’s voice.
“We need to move.” Stal had plastered herself to the wall and was looking around a corner. “Things will not be clear for long.”
Lilly didn’t argue after that last radio message. She followed Nightingale out of the alley, but kept to the shadows as much as she could. In their tight, black, nullifying armor they kind of stood out.
Reaper and the other Heroes coordinating would be near the stage area, and as much as Lilly wanted to knock that woman out, sling her over her shoulder, and drop her in Seif al-Din’s lap, she knew that was a long shot. Now that the Heroes were consolidating, their odds of success were dropping by the second.
That didn’t stop them from moving toward their objective anyway. They were nearly there when they ran into a squad of cops surrounding a large man with a single Hero as backup.
Everyone froze when they saw each other. It was like a scene from West Side Story where the two gangs paused dramatically before a big fight.
“Hunter,” she nodded to the large Hero whose fingers twitched in the direction of his rifle.
“Wraith,” he nodded back.
“How’re the old bones? Thanks to me a few of them are new?” she continued when no one moved.
“You been stabbed in the back recently? I heard you need to watch out when you drop the soap in prison.”
She grimaced behind her mask. She hadn’t been laid in months.
“Enough talk.” Stal took a step forward and hands went to guns. “Now, you die.” A few powerful steps and she smashed into the cops and started flinging them aside like unwanted wrapping paper around a Christmas present.
“We’ll take the Mayor.” Nightingale relayed their new objective before diving sideways behind a dumpster as Hunter brought his rifle to bear.
Wraith didn’t have to dive anywhere, she vanished in a blast of darkness, and reappeared behind Hunter, but the darkness showed he was already gone.
<So, the game begins.> she smiled to herself. She’d played the teleporter’s version of cat and mouse with her father for years. It was excellent training, and she was finally willing to put her skills to the test. <Good luck bitches.>
This type of game only involved two players with the world as their chessboard. Stal and Nightingale would have to figure their way out of this on their own.
That didn’t bother Wraith one bit.
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