The three of them stared at each other, more or less clueless as to what to do.
In the end, Brennus decided to take charge.
“Greetings. I guess thanks are in order”, he said, maybe a bit too stiffly. Turning towards the scarfed girl, he nodded his head. “We would have been in deep trouble if not for you. You have my gratitude.”
The girl rolled her eyes at him. “Good god, you talk like a book. But your thanks are appreciated. I get way too few of those”, she replied, a smug tone in her melodic voice. Voice like a liquid orgasm – check. Definitely an Adonis-type.
Next to her the cloaked girl gurgled, blood dripping down from her mouth. Brennus moved next to her in a second, pulling her hood down. She wore a thick cloth mask that covered the upper half of her face. Her mouth was filling with blood.
He quickly did an x-ray scan of her body. Thankfully, her suit did not mess his equipment up. “Shit. She has several broken ribs and at least one of them has punctured her lung!”, he told the scarfed girl.
Immediately, the smug look you could see around her eyes changed into concern. “What should we do? Take her to the hospital?”
“And blow her secret identity wide open? I would not want that in her place”, he answered. “Do you guys have a base? Somewhere we can take her?”
“I don’t know her. I was just running around town when I spotted her out of the corner of my eye. Thought ‘this could be fun’, so I followed her here without her noticing!”
“Great. What do we do now?” He came to a conclusion. This was, after a fashion, his fault. “Oh well. Let’s take her to my base. I have some medical equipment.”
“What, you some kind of multipurpose contriver?”, she asked.
“No. Just smart. Now give her to me. I can carry her better”, he replied, taking the cloaked girl into his arms. She moaned in pain.
“Can I come along? I think my power can help with this”, the scarfed girl said.
Brennus began to move towards the backdoor of the warehouse. He simultaneously called the police, complete with some edited footage from the fight, so they’d know that there had been a metahuman fight. Though he carefully edited out both himself, danny, the scarfed girl and any clear footage of the cloaked girl’s appearance and powers.
Half-turning his head towards the scarfed girl, he said: “Please pick up the skinny blond guy over there. I do not want to leave him here.” He did not wait for her reply, instead forcing the backdoor open just by turning around and pushing with his back against it. It did not stand a chance.
Walking out of the warehouse, he realised that it had started raining. Oh well. At least it’s appropriately dramatic.
* * *
On a nearby rooftop, two people stood watch. They did not seem bothered by the rain, probably because it it did not touch them, instead parting above them to fall around them. The rooftop right below them was dry as well.
Though they were both remarkably eye-catching people, and known internationally on top of it, no one looking at the rooftop would have noticed them unless they wanted them to. There were maybe fifteen people on the whole world, not counting the two on the rooftop, who could have pierced whatever was veiling them.
One of the figures was a tall woman with luscious curves in a skintight black suit with a purple starburst. Her face was hidden by a mask shaped like a cross between a butterfly and a star, black with purple edges. Her hair, long and black with purple highlights and her eyes and lips complemented the look.
Mindstar looked down to where her brother was carrying the unknown heroine, with the other one following him, the unconscious Danny slung across her shoulders.
“Well, this turned out more interesting than I expected it to. But what the hell is that boy doing. I just know he is going to take them to his hideout.”
She watched as the scarfed girl, after a quick comment by Basil, dropped the still unconscious idiot in between two dumpsters, where he would not be found by anyone with any sense of smell – but where he would be quite dry. “Well, at least he has enough sense left in himself not to take that slimy little weasel with him.”
Please do not call him a weasel. You insult weasels everywhere. What did they ever do to you?
Oh God, this voice, she thought. What it said was quite inconsequential, stupid really. The kind of remark one would immediately dismiss. His voice made it sound like warm honey dripping down her skin. It made her feel tingly in all the right places. It wasn’t just a sound. It was more, something more substantial than just sound. There were no words for it.
She turned around to face her companion. Though she first had to raise her head as well. Tall as she was, he was two and a half meters tall. Besides, everyone looked up to this guy. Even fifty meter tall monstrosities.
Not that one could see much of him. He was essentially two and a half meters of complete darkness. Not a black cloak. Not pitch-black skin and clothes. Just raw, black darkness. So black, you could not see anything other than his outline, really. If one made an effort (and had the nerve) to look at him from several angles, they could make out that he apparently wore a hooded robe of darkness. The only other thing one could see was the pooling darkness at his feet, wirling and flowing like he was a waterfal of darkness. Though it disappeared a few centimeters away from his cloak. And his eyes. The eyes that haunted a million dreams.
Six pure, crimson orbs, glowing softly in pairs of two, one where a human’s forehead would be, one where the normal eyes where supposed to be and one beneath them, over a normal person’s cheeks.
He might have looked like a clichè, a walking parody of the archetypical villain. But he made it work. He could have made it work by reputation alone, but his mere presence, the feeling of power and self-confidence he gave off, made everything else superfluous.
He was The Dark. King of all supervillains. The most powerful man on the face of the earth.
He could have walked around looking like a My Little Pony villain and NO ONE would have found it funny. They would still be shitting their pants.
“Come on, boss. This is stupid! He just met these girls! He knows NOTHING about them”, she said, not as furious as she usually would have been. You did not mouth off to The Dark.
“He knows that both of them risked their lives, for no apparent reason, to fight and stop a supervillain out of their collective weight-class. That is a lot. I think they are trustworthy.”
That was quite a bit of reassurance. Her boss was more than a hundred years old. He had been at this game since the mid-twenties. An observant person tended to become an exceptional judge of people after that much time to practice.
“Well, alright. But I must say, I am surprised they actually took her out. The Snow Queen may not have much in the way of ambition, but she is a lot more dangerous than most people think”, she said.
“The hit to her head with the baseball bat. It dislodged the circuitry in the control unit for the suit. She could barely move after that. It hit the helmet at just the right angle to crack it, stunning her further. Also, your brother’s punches happened to hit her in just the right places, where her armor was either already damaged or naturally less protective than usual. Furthermore, when she tried to protect herself, she happened to repeatedly shift into just the wrong stances, further increasing the damage she took.”
She thought that over for a minute. “Quite the string of unlikely consequences. This isn’t good. When I set this up, I was hoping Basil would get enough of a beating to rethink his idea of flying solo.”
He just chuckled at that, making her weak in the knees. His normal speech made her tingly in all the right places. His chuckle made her mouth water. And something else got wet as well.
It was hardly a coincidence. Or rather, it was like a throw of loaded dice. The girl with the scarf is a probability manipulator. They won through Deus Ex Machina.
Now that was a thought worth of a double take. Real probability manipulators were exceedingly rare (as opposed to apparent ones) and most of them could only produce one or two lucky coincidences a week. A string of lucky happenstances that long, in the space of less than a minute? All of them working together to fell an opponent so much more powerful and experienced than either of them?
“This is serious news. A girl with that kind of power could bring down almost any enemy she wants.”
No. There are mitigating factors. My power tells me that she does not have any kind of conscious control over it. Furthermore, almost all probability manipulators have a kind of balancing to their power. The more good luck they get, the more bad luck they store up. Until it breaks loose all around them.
“Even better. So she is a ticking timebomb, waiting to create bad-luck-o-rama”, Mindstar replied.
Don’t worry too much. She is yet far away from going off. And I will keep an eye on her.
She relaxed a bit. Then she changed the subject of the conversation.
“So, what did you think of Basil? How did he hold up?”
I think he would have lost had the other two not appeared. Especially without the probability manipulator. Lost decisively. He had no means of attack other than simple brute force. And she outclassed him in strength. His defense was strong, but he was nearly incapable of evading attacks. Even without her power, she was better than him. And I think he is smart enough to realize that and work on a solution. But I doubt that he will change his mind about walking his own path.
To talk about what he did right: he was calm, he waited for his chance to strike instead of just rushing in. When he did attack, he was focused, vicious, merciless. He did not let up until his enemy was defeated. That shows that he has a remarkable killer instinct for one so young.
On a side note, I am impressed by the level of detail that went into that armor. While it lacks the combat power that is needed to compete with most serious metahumans, and its defenses are still lacking, its utilities are very comprehensive. A shame he does not want to work for us. I would like him to build armor for our grunt troops.
Amanda smiled proudly. That last part was a big compliment, considering that The Dark could and did employ the very best gadgeteer supervillains – even Sovereign sometimes built something for him.
“Do you think he’ll make a good hero? And how good are the chances that he will switch sides?” She certainly had not given up hope that she could get him under her direct protection.
And if anyone could answer that question, it would be him – the man had been fighting superheroes for nearly a century now.
Maybe. Frankly, the boy is quite a bit too amoral to be a ‘good’ hero. And he takes this too much for a game. Then again, some of the best and brightest were actually complete sociopaths. All in all, I would say he has a fifty-fifty chance of ending up on our side either way.
“Well, that is better than I feared.”
By the way, I feel that I have to compliment you on staying in control. I could feel how much you ached to jump in and protect him. And I can still feel your impulse to drop down there and finish the Snow Queen off. Not to speak of the fact that you have been clenching your hands and licking your lips since the first attack hit your little brother. Please refrain from that. She is a valuable asset.
When he said that, she noticed just that. Embarrassed, she got herself under control. She did want to kill the Snow Queen for attacking her brother. Even if she had set this whole night up in order to get him hurt.
“It’s hard. On one hand, I feel like I should be floating around behind him all the time and shielding him from everything. On the other, I know that he needs to grow, to become more than he is. That he needs to learn how to take care of himself. Not to speak that I hope to scare him into taking me up on my offer.”
“The offer still stands, doesn’t it?”
But of course. If he chooses to, he can join The Five as your underling, until such a time when he may claim one of the seats for himself.
She exhaled. Then she looked towards the direction they had vanished. “I should follow them. Just in case I need to work on the girls.”
I would advise against that. With such a powerful, uncontrolled probability manipulator, even you would be spotted sooner rather than later.
“I have to take that chance. This is too dangerous – what if the probability mangling causes that stupid reactor of his to malfunction? What if his inventions go crazy? I need to be there.”
It was barely visible in the darkness of his cloak, only his red eyes showing it, but he shook his head.
Do not. It is too much of a risk. You being uncovered could cause a fight, which would make her power react stronger, which might set off unpleasant side effects in the first place.
She turned around, throwing her arms to the sky. “Great. So me going there might kill him. Me not going there might kill. Any other good news?”
A hand shrouded in moving, whispy darkness reached out. It touched its finger to her chin and then moved back. She followed the movement, turning back to face her boss. Something told her he was not pleased.
Control yourself, child. You are of no use to me if you loose your self-control this easily.
He did not speak in a threatening voice. He did not raise it, either. But suddenly, Mindstar was reminded that she was in the presence of her master, who was the most powerful, dangerous supervillain in the world. A man who had committed countless atrocities over the last century. A man who, as powerful as she might have been, could kill her on the spot, without so much as breaking a sweat. A man who could not care less about her life, no matter how sympathetic and quirky he might act sometimes.
She fought to push her concern for Basil down, her outrage at his carelessness and other, darker feelings she felt at the moment. Then she lowered her head. “Forgive me, master. This will not happen again.”
Good child. Do not worry. This whole thing is interesting enough that I will follow them. I promise to protect your brother, if necessary.
“Thank you, master. I shall not forget this kindness.”
I know you won’t. Return to your home. There is nothing for you to do here.
And with that, he sank down, vanishing in his own shadow, which proceeded to absorb itself until no trace of his presence remained.
Mindstar fell down on her knees, then on all fours. She was shaking, with tears streaming down her face. Her telekinesis failed her, the rain pouring down on her. In the span of a few minutes she had gone through concern for her brother, murderous rage at his enemy, exasperation at his carelssness, concern again, frustration, mortal fear and… and the only thing she could think about now was that he had actually touched her. She was not shaking and crying due to fear. It was due to ecstasy. Elation. Arousal.
She did not go home for quite a while. She needed some relief first.
The Dark may have forbidden her to kill the Snow Queen. But there was nothing to stop her from releasing all that energy. Especially if she made sure the little bitch did not remember it later on.
She was really wet now.