7 Random Days in the Life of a Hero
Subject: Linda Scoven, Monday
The tall dark haired woman sat anxiously on the edge of the chair and glared at her mildly trembling hands until they finally stilled. Linda Scoven had never expected to set foot back inside the underground facilities of the Hero Certification Program, yet here she was only three days after her graduation. Reaching up to adjust the nearly full-face mask where it opened to leaver her mouth free, and along the top where it constantly seemed to pinch at her hair, the young woman found herself unable to sit completely still. Relax Linda, your mentor is just running a little late. You graduated, there's no reason for you to panic. They can't take that away from you.
Standing to stretch, and barely resisting the urge to begin pacing in the waiting area, the tall woman looked down at her uniform as if to reassure herself of that fact. The matte black material was still there, decorated with the randomly spaced fractal patterns in bright red that Linda found most closely resembled the different way in which her ability let her view the world. To everyone else they were simply an odd pattern to break up the monotony of a jet black costume.
As the battle with her nerves seemed likely to take another turn for the worse, the young woman's introspection was interrupted by a shimmering feeling in the air, immediately followed by an incredibly rapid staccato sound heralding the abrupt arrival of a short, bald man.
“And you must be Kacey!” Only the extremely wide smile and deeply genuine humor in the small man's voice prevented Linda from lashing out at him. She hated the assumed identity she'd been force to live under since transferring to Lander's HCP.
“No.” The frost in the taller woman's voice apparently convinced the newcomer immediately that joking was right out, as he adopted a more serious expression.
“Linda Scoven, graduation rank 47th, of Lander University HCP?” The brunette tried, and failed, not to wince at the serious tone and slight emphasis placed on her program ranking. Lips drawn into a tight line, she managed to nod an affirmative response.
“Don't worry about your class rank.” The frank advice startled the tall woman, and she offered a querying look in response. “Seriously, don't. As of last Friday your rank within the HCP means all of jack AND shit. You're no longer a trainee, you're a Hero.”
Linda managed a smile and a nod in response, before her attention shifted back to business. “I'm assuming since you're here, and you seem to have read my files, that you're going to be my mentor for the next two years?”
“Those are two dangerous assumptions young lady.” The humorous tone had returned. “For starters, I NEVER read the full file on any of the rookies I pick up. Just what's written on the jacket. And simply assuming that both of us are still going to be around in two years? Have you actually LOOKED at the statistics for our line of work? First assumption was solidly supported by evidence though. All signs do indicate that I am here.”
The dark haired girl actually had to suppress a giggle at the final line of the short man's speech. “Alright then, since you just admitted that you did GET my file that would make you my mentor, or the man who killed my mentor I guess.”
“And if the latter held true?”
“If you killed him I guess you're stuck with me then.” The immediate and deadpan response drew a bout of surprised laughter from the bald man, which Linda joined in on shortly.
“Name's Ed. In Uniform I go by Fast Break. Like most speedsters, what that actually translates to in a combat situation is 'HEY SPEEDY!'”
With a hand gesture encompassing the black and red costume she was wearing Linda responded with, “Trick Move.”
“Alrighty then, Tricky.” Linda simply rolled her eyes at the unimaginative nickname. “Let's get out of school and into the real world. Walk and talk time.” The speedster turned and set a quick walking pace towards the elevators, but definitely nothing that involved the use of his ability. “So what discipline did you end up majoring in?”
The brunette actually stumbled over her own feet as the question took her by surprise, but she managed to get her mouth working before any 'walking and...' jokes could manifest. “You SERIOUSLY didn't read my file?”
“Nope. Never do. So, major?”
“Subtlety.” The response seemed to surprise the short man for a moment, as he stopped abruptly to turn and examine the taller woman's uniform.
“That's a combat uniform. Armored.”
“Yep.” Linda smiled as she saw the one word answers seeming to confound her mentor.
“So you're extra paranoid?”
“I like to think I'm the right amount of paranoid.”
“What was your minor?”
“Close Combat.” At this response the walk stopped again as the grey suited speedster turned a serious look back at the younger Hero.
“Are you just fucking with me?”
“Completely serious. Was torn between Combat and Subtlety for the entirety of second and third year, finally decided that the Subtlety training would let me do the most good overall.”
“Power?” The walk resumed as the bald Hero seemed to fully accept the answer given.
“I affect... movement I guess. Lot's of people smarter than I am have tried to nail it down better than that, but I can make things move, or stop moving, or easier to move, or harder to move. It's pretty crap at more than a couple feet away most of the time, but I have EXTREMELY good control over my body. As a result I mostly got trained like a physical Super.”
“Most of the time?”
“I have a... condition. Inherited. Third generation even.” Linda paused as she searched momentarily for some additional information she could give without coming out and stating anything definite.
“Wait a sec... Third gen? Scoven? Holy shit, are you Carl's kid?” The young woman's eyes widened in surprise at hearing her father's name, and effectively confirming the short man's guess. “Jesus, small world we Heroes live in. I was three years behind your dad at Sizemore. Worked with him a few times since, he always said he hoped his kid would pick up the mantle someday and follow after him and his dad. Looks like he got his wish.”
“No.” The coldly spoken response came just as the pair reached the elevator, and resulted in an uncomfortably silent pause before Ed reached forward to key the button.
As the silence stretched on, Linda felt the need to clarify to her obviously confused mentor build until something finally gave way. “Dad wasn't just looking for his kid to become a Hero, like him and gramps. He wanted to pass down the name, and everything that goes with it. We haven't really talked since I told him I had no intention of being a Hero 'like him.'”
“Your old man has been out on the frontlines for years and saved a LOT of peoples lives.”
“He's also caused more collateral damage than any other active Hero, he even broke gramps' record last year. More civilian casualties in actions he's been involved in. More lethal force reviews than any other TWO active Heroes combined. He's been suspended, and almost lost his Hero status a dozen times, and those are just the ones I know about.”
“I think you're selling him short. You shou-...” The older Hero stopped mid-sentence and raised a hand to his left ear. “Never mind, more pressing matters. Looks like you won't be waiting long at all to get your feet wet.” The speedster wore an extremely eager look as the elevator doors dinged open.
“Oh, almost forgot!” The short man fished a tiny case out of his pocket and presented it to the taller woman. “Fresh off the line, from the best eggheads the DVA can buy, bribe, or blackmail.”
Linda opened the small box curiously, to see it contained a metallic earpiece. “The things are great. Durable, long battery life, GREAT sound clarity. They fall out sometimes when things get fast. Sounds like your power will help with that though.” The tall woman didn't respond as she worked the earpiece around the top of her mask and down towards her ear, coaxing it carefully into position.
“First access recognized. Voice key and identity please.” The sudden words, spoken by a soft female voice, drew a startled yelp from Linda. “Voice imprinted.” There was a definite sparkle of humor in the faintly accented voice that the embarrassed Hero now realized was simply coming from the new earpiece. “Hero Identity please.”
“Um, who is this?” Linda was fairly certain that this was all a standard protocol, and the complete lack of warning was simply another joke on her mentor's behalf, but she didn't feel quite comfortable talking to the disembodied voice without having a name to go with it.
“This is Dispatch. Ah, I see you have Fast Break as your mentor. A very quick summary of all the things he was SUPPOSED to mention.” The faint traces of humor were still present, but they were mostly hidden under a layer of exasperation that seemed to indicate this was not the first time this conversation had taken place. “I'm Dispatch, I coordinate Hero operations across the country. Now I need your Hero Identity so I can officially activate you in the system.”
“Welcome to the Hero world. I assume since you are with Fast Break you are responding to the Super involved gang violence 3.2 miles from your current location?”
The brunette turned a questioning look at her mentor, to see him standing with his arms crossed and one foot tapping impatiently. “Introductions finally done? Good! We've got work to do. You're ability work well as a sub for Super speed or you have a car?”
“South lot.” The slightly confused woman managed to sort through the too rapid speech from the shorter man, then found herself grabbed and carried at high speed towards the area in question.
After the rapid trip and a moment to catch her breath, the young Hero reached up to tap the communicator. “Dispatch, this is Trick Move. It would seem that Fast Break and I are definitely responding to that incident.”
“Acknowledged. Good hunting!”
Turning away from her still impatiently glowering mentor, the young woman sprinted towards a motorcycle that matched the color scheme of her outfit and keyed it to life with a high pitched whine. “Good to go, you lead?”
“You think that thing can keep up with me?”
A smile spread across the woman's lips as she flipped the kickstand up. “Try me.”
The grime soaked figure taking cover against a concrete barrier bit back a string of profanity that would likely reveal her new location to her adversary before Fast Break got into position to give her a clear shot. What the hell are the odds that a random explosion will launch a mailbox SIX FUCKING BLOCKS to perfectly crush MY BRAND NEW BIKE!
A shimmer red in the air drew the woman's attention outward, as her speedster ally reentered the battlefield at nearly supersonic velocity to put their opponents off balance. One of them makes forcefields, the other one make explosions. That is a really annoying combination. With the battleground rapidly being obscured, she was going to have her best chance to take one of them out in a few seconds. Which one though?
The analytic train of thought was derails as one of the randomly targeted explosions clipped her mentor hard enough to send the short man tumbling painfully. Linda tensed in response, but didn't move quite yet. Ed had been moving away from her when he'd gone down, which both their opponents had heard. The telltale shimmer of the forcefield that protected both men stayed intact though, they weren't letting their guard down. Think think think! That did not sound like a good landing, and they aren't going to take long to find him. The woman's eyes scanned the area around the two man frantically, the eddies of red showing her where things moved and came to rest suddenly brought a flash of inspiration to the woman. With a manic smile, the young Hero got her feet underneath her and leapt, as high as she could manage.
Looking down, Linda smiled as her observation of the moving dust proved accurate. The field protecting the two men was cylindrical, no top. A few adjustments and she should be able to come down into both men.
The impact was vicious, as the falling Hero rotated in mid air to bring her heel down on the collar bone of the taller force field generator while her elbow connected cleanly with the temple of the heavier explosive Super. The destructive Super dropped limply, obviously out cold. The other man let out an ear piercing shriek as bones shattered under the force of the impact. Dammit, that was a little harder than I meant for. Too much focus on the head-shot, not enough on the other guy. The active barrier flickered out of existence as the agonizing injury destroyed the focus needed for the man to use his ability. A rapid punch to the screaming man's head sent him to join his friend in unconsciousness.
A few rapid hand waves later and the dust was suddenly mostly settled, to reveal the form of the shorter Hero sitting and calmly observing the outcome of the fight. “Excellently done, five of five!”
Linda stared in unbelieving shock at her mentor. “You weren't hurt? YOU ASSHOLE! I thought I was going to be picking up pieces of you!”
“Oh please, Tricky. I've been doing this for over a decade. You think I'd be allowed to train you newbies if I could get taken out THAT easily by an amateur blaster like this clown? I don't even think he hit anything except the ground. Obviously no clue how to aim, though it does look like he managed to blow enough mud into the air to cover us both pretty good.”
The still angry younger Hero muttered something in response.
“What was that?”
“I said he took out my BIKE!”
Looking past the taller woman, the grey suited Hero darted down the street briefly to examine the wreckage before returning. “Wow. Mailbox. RIGHT on top of it. Almost seven blocks away too.” It was obvious the smaller man was working VERY hard not to laugh as the local authorities were beginning to approach now that the Heroes seemed to have the criminal Supers under control. “What are the odds?”
An average looking man wearing a grey suit that screamed 'government employee' even without the shiny silver badge clipped on the left lapel schooled his expression to one of polite interest as he noted the costumed pair arriving at the motorcycle dealership he'd received an 'URGENT' level dispatch to. I swear I appreciate everything you Heroes do, but you have GOT to stop taking personal vehicles on assignments and then crying to DVA to fix it for you.
“Trick Move and Fast Break?” The tone of the question gave no indication of the internal frustration the man felt. As soon as both Supers had looked over in response he continued. “I'm Andrew Liste, from DVA requisitions. I understand there was a vehicle related mishap?”
The shorter Hero in the grey costume bit his lip, and Andrew would swear the man was holding back laughter. The female Hero, slightly taller than the DVA representative, stepped forward offering a handshake. “That would be my bike. Hero identity; Trick Move, it would be my bike that suffered the 'mishap.'”
Andrew shook the proffered hand, a very faint sigh of relief escaping as the woman did NOT attempt to crush his hand to powder. So nice to meet a physical Super that doesn't need to prove their strength to a normal human. “Well ma'am, I'll see what we can do but usually even when it's a 'line of duty' incident that damages or destroys a Hero's personal effects, there isn't a lot the agency can legally do.”
“Oh, right. The bike was actually my registered mode of transportation for Hero work. DVA reg is 38777-0014. Considering I parked it almost seven blocks from the fig-... where the altercation was taking place, I don't think I should take a hit for negligent loss.”
A look of surprise passed across the DVA agent's features before he quickly retook control of his expression. A rookie who actually did the paperwork? Miracles DO exist! “One moment please.” Andrew picked up the briefcase occupying a space next to his right foot and strode quickly to one of the open counter available in the showroom. The case was opened and a slim laptop was produced, followed by rapid typing.
“Let's see here... Ah! Found it!” Andrew tried to keep his tone politely detached, but seeing the look on the tall woman's face he guessed he wasn't completely successful.
“You sound very surprised, Mr Liste.” The Hero's voice was coldly polite, and the man facing her made a quick judgment.
“To put it bluntly, I am very surprised. Very few of your colleagues who have been operating for YEARS bother to remember this sort of paperwork until constant reminders and nagging from my agency finally bear fruit.” Seeing the powerful woman's expression thaw a bit, Andrew pressed on. “According to this you received your certification three days ago and this is your first day on the job. To see that you've actually followed the proper protocols is a definite surprise. A very welcome one.” And now she looks a little apologetic and a lot less like she wants to hit you! Selective honesty is the best policy!
“So, do I just pick out a new bike now?”
“Your account has been authorized up to the full list value of the motorcycle that was destroyed. Um, did you bring any evidence of the destroyed vehicle? I'll need to file it an-...” The agents speech was cut off as the shorter Hero failed his suppression and loud laughter issued forth from the small man.
“Go pick out your new toy, Tricky. I'll show the nice man the photos.” The taller Hero offered a glare at her colleague, but then turned and walked out towards the rows of motorcycles on the lot. Her angry stride had practically become an excited prance by the time she reached the first row.
Andrew suddenly found the grey suited Hero standing directly in front of him, and blinked a few times in surprise as he processed the change in position before calmly asking, “Pictures?”
“One of the police officers at the scene was kind enough to lend me a Polaroid camera.” Reaching into a concealed internal pocket, the Hero produced a thin stack of photos.
Looking at the first picture, the DVA agent found himself struggling to keep his expression impassive as well. Holy shit, a mail box. Or what's left of a mail box, right in the middle of the bike. And she said... seven blocks? Jesus, those have to be some long odds. Looking through the rest of the picture he was momentarily confused by the last one as it seemed to be focused on someone waving at the camera from quite a ways off, until he noted the person seemed to be standing in a blast crater. Oh, so that's where the mailbox started its flight. Yeah, definitely filing this one as a 'No Fault' on the part of the Hero.
As the two men were wrapping up with the photos, Andrew finally relenting and letting the shorter Hero keep one of the pictures of the mailbox smashed bike, they turned to check on the progress towards purchasing the replacement. Trick Move appeared to have found the motorcycle she desired, but was now arguing with one of the dealership's employees about something. Gotta give that man credit, he's standing in front of a Hero certified Super and not backing off at all. Or maybe he's just crazy.
Andrew's thought had barely finished forming when the main door to the dealer banged open loudly and a manic voice screamed, “NOBODY MOVE!”
Both Hero and agent turned slowly to see a large man wearing a filthy green jacket and a ski mask standing in the middle of the showroom and brandishing a shotgun. “ALRIGHT! WHOEVER'S IN CHARGE BRING ME ALL THE CASH YOU HAVE OR PEOPLE START DYING?”
“Is this, do you think this is one of those camera shows?” The grey suited Hero sounded genuinely shocked and curious as he watched the large man screaming at the cowering staff. A glance over his shoulder showed Andrew that the second Hero on the property had also noticed the commotion.
There are two, in uniform, Heroes standing in plain site. At a motorcycle dealership that probably doesn't HAVE any cash. “Maybe? It's also possible that he's just really really stupid.” The short Hero nodded in response to that and began walking over to the seemingly enraged, and very stupid, gunman.
“Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to get down on the floor and wait for the police to come and arrest you.” Andrew noted that the Hero seemed not at all concerned about the firearm, and more interested in something to do with his left ear as he walked across the room.
“Fuck you little man. I know all about you Heroes. I ain't a Super, so you can't touch me!” The dirty man grinned down at the much shorter one standing in front of him as he spoke.
Yep, definitely just REALLY stupid.
“You seem to be suffering from some misinformation, as well as severely deficient personal hygiene. Please sit down and wait to be arrested.” At some point during his speech the Hero had acquired the larger man's shotgun, and had nearly finished dismantling it by the time he finished.
“HEY! That's MINE!” The would-be robber lunged towards the small Hero and pile of shotgun parts, only to stall after a half step and collapse to the ground holding his stomach.
“I really do need you to wait right there until the police can come and arrest you. DON'T try to get up.” The man on the ground only whimpered softly in response.
Damn, I didn't even see him move. “Do we need to call for the police?”
“Nah, one of the employees hit the silent alarm when he kicked open the door. And Dispatch should ALSO have alerted them, assuming she's done laughing in my ear.”
“Good news!” The cheerful tone from the female Hero as she reentered the room drew attention away from the collapsed, gasping criminal on the floor. “Since we stopped a daylight robbery and the sales guy figures the publicity will be great, they've agreed to throw in the custom paint job on my new bike!”
“That's what you were arguing about?” The DVA agent managed to keep a mostly neutral voice, though he was struggling to keep from smiling as he noticed all the dealership employees staring in shock at the three visitors.
“Well yeah. I wouldn't look very professional without it!”
Andrew Liste brought his hand to his face to rub his eyes, and conceal a smile. “Of course, wouldn't want our Heroes looking less than color coordinated after all.”
“I can't believe how long that paperwork took.” Linda leaned against the side of the food truck they had stopped at as she whined at her mentor. “I mean seriously, one guy with a shotgun and we were filling out forms for forty minutes. It took less than ten when there were two Supers involved!”
“That's the nature of it, Tricky.” Ed smiled as his intern scowled at his persistence with the nickname he'd selected for her. “When a Hero responds to a situation with no call in, they want a LOT more details. I think it was originally to make sure we weren't going vigilante style or something like that.” Grabbing the sandwiches and bottled drinks from the incredibly nervous/excited food preparer at the truck window, the shorter Hero moved to a nearby table and waved the taller woman to follow.
“Don't you normally have to pay for things like that?” Linda sat down at the table with her mentor, and developed a puzzled look when he responded to her question with laughter.
“Didn't look at the name on the truck, didja.”
Turning the brunette raised a hand to shield out the sun long enough to read the banner just above the serving window, 'Fast Break's Fast Break,' before turning incredulously to the still laughing man. “You own a food truck?”
“I own a CHAIN of food trucks! Some Heroes want to see themselves in comic books or cartoons, some of them want their own line of clothing. I wanted something a little more practical.”
“You licensed your Hero identity to promote a chain of food trucks... So that you could get free lunches.” The tall woman still wore a look of shock as she unwrapped the sandwich her colleague had placed in front of her.
“The extra income is nice too.” The grey suited Hero's voice dropped low and became very serious as he leaned forward. “Plus I've got a nice set of surveillance gear hidden on all the trucks. It provides some decent intel for Street Level from time to time.”
“Ah, right. We kinda jumped right into things without much time to explain. You know most Heroes work in teams, right?” Linda resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the question and simply nodded instead. “Street Level is kind of like a Hero team. We're more loosely organized than most, don't have a single unified HQ, and we don't advertise the way most of the big teams do. Basically we're focused on getting sufficient coverage to have quick frontline responders where ever they're needed.”
“Isn't that kind of the point of having Heroes in general?”
“Not all Heroes want to spend all their hours down in the dirt dealing with 'small fries.'” From the tone with which Ed spoke the last two words, Linda assumed there was a less than pleasant story about another Hero involved there. “We spend a lot less time looking for glory and a lot more time patrolling the streets and looking for trouble.”
“So I see I have an extra glamorous internship ahead of me.” The smile she wore took the sting out of the sarcastic statement, as the brunette finally took a bite out of her lunch. Her expression immediately changed. “Oh god, this is good. This is from a food truck?” She turned to look at the truck behind her as if in shock.
Ed laughed at the response. “I was a culinary arts major, thank you very much. All the recipes are mine, and I demand quality from all my franchises.” The speedster had already finished his one sandwich and was halfway through a second.
Linda turned her attention back to her meal and tuned out her mentor as he started a, apparently, well rehearsed speech extolling the virtues of various ingredients and how they played into menu selection for a food truck business. Both speech and meal were interrupted a few moments later by a chiming sound.
“This is Dispatch with a top priority deployment.” The faintly accented female voice coming through the earpieces contained a great deal more urgency than the rookie Hero recalled from the earlier exchange. Seeing her mentor's sudden change from animated to serious, Linda felt her own anxiety rising slightly. “Confirmed Super attack in Victorville, California, currently in progress. Initial DVA assessment is Manhattan class threat. Repeat, Manhattan class.”
The tall brunette gasped slightly in surprise at that part of the announcement, before she felt the blood drain from her face in shock at Dispatch's next words. “Hero down. Repeat, Hero down.”
The black and red suited woman dropped her sandwich and vaulted over the table in a dead run for her bike, even as the smaller grey suited man brought a hand up to his own earpiece. “Fast Break and Trick Move responding. Fast Break ETA ten minutes.” Ed caught the younger Hero's attention as she swung herself onto her bike, tapped his ear once as a reminder, then vanished down the street in a blur.
About sixty miles, pretty straight shot on the road. Too far, not fast enough. With no sign of hesitation the tall woman produced a short, wicked looking blade from her belt and slammed it into a carefully concealed slot in the left leg of her uniform. That should do it. “This is Trick Move, ETA 15 minutes.”
The scene that met the rookie Hero as she got closer to her destination was something out of her nightmares. Oh God, that's a school. The attack was at a school. The swirling red lines of motion that her power showed her made it easy to determine where the battle had moved to, as did the ceaseless staccato of small arms fire. If the police aren't falling back, this has to be bad.
Ditching the new bike into an alley as she approached, Linda came charging out into the relatively open street, and got her first look at her target. It was almost unbelievable when she realized that all the destruction was centered around a young girl, not possibly more than fifteen or sixteen. High school was the first attack site. Shit, take away the powers and she'd easily get the part pf 'picked on girl at school' in afterschool special. Where the fuck is Ed though?
As she took a second to analyze the situation, a flurry of red blasted across her field of vision as she realized her mentor was still in the fight, moving in and out at near supersonic speeds to avoid the rogue Super's power, which the girl helpfully demonstrated as some type of massive shockwave generation in a futile attempt to take out the speedster that had just shoved her at high speed further away from the more populated buildings. He's still trying to contain her, and she doesn't even look injured. Gunshots still rang out from a few of the braver, or crazier, police officers still on the scene, but none of them seemed to be having an effect on their target. They're just firing to distract, what the hell is her ability that makes her bulletproof AND Ed can't hurt her?
Another shockwave from the girl standing in the street took out a large chunk of a building near the tall brunette Hero, accompanied by pained screams as some of the shooters were suddenly pinned or crushed by the rubble. No more time for analysis Linda, time to get our game face on.
Not able to come close to matching her mentor's speed, but still far faster than any normal human, Linda charged silently towards her opponent while the girl's attention was grabbed by another close pass by the grey suited speedster. Just a few, more, feet...
The black and red suited Hero's expression turned grim as the girl spun a split second before the taller woman could reach her, and raised a hand. Ah fuck, this is gonna hurt.
Linda pulled all of her focus back to her own body, hardening herself against movement, blocking any motion transferring beyond her skin becoming her sole effort. The force of the shockwave still sent her spinning off the pavement to bounce THROUGH the wall of a diner, leaving her to pick herself up out of the wreckage and assess her injuries. Right leg, broken. Left arm, dislocated at the elbow and the shoulder. At least one cracked rib, maybe two. And I'm bleeding from some new places. Still functional. MY TURN.
There were shouts of surprise from the still present law enforcement officers as they saw the Hero, who had just been blasted through a building, stride out of the wreckage seemingly unaffected by the obvious injuries she now bore. Linda's eyes widened as she reached the street, and her now drastically amplified power showed her the world in greater detail. She saw, almost as if in slow motion, the red trails of the bullets being fired at the rogue Super, and she saw the energy dissipate entirely as it came within a few inches of striking its target. Absorber. She's a kinetic absorber and amplifier. Fucking hell, they're just feeding her! “EVERYONE STOP SHOOTING!” A pause as the tall woman spat out a mouthful of blood. “STOP SHOOTING!”
“Trick Move this is Dispatch, relaying your request to police band and other Heroes on scene and en route.” The voice in her ear startled the battered Hero for a moment, before she smiled at the efficiency of Dispatch.
“In case this doesn't work, relay that the Manhattan class rogue Super is a kinetic absorber and amplifier.”
“Lightshow and The Adamant are less than two minutes out.” Linda continued to walk forward as she processed that update.
“Tell them it'll be over by then, or they'll be picking up pieces of me.”
The tall woman hadn't been idle as she'd spoken, instead she had continued to close the distance between herself and her opponent. The young girl seemed even more shocked than the officers at her reemergence from the wrecked building, and didn't manage to mount any further attacks until the Hero had closed almost half the distance.
“Go away!” The scream from the girl was accompanied by another massive blast of kinetic energy, but Linda could see it all coming now. The air around her flowed differently, and none of the motion touched her body as the blast washed over her harmlessly. “GO AWAY!” A second blast, then a third, all struck the advancing Hero without effect. The young girl's screams became more and more unintelligible as the tall woman walked closer.
She's completely lost it. Linda was close enough to see the expression in the younger girl's eyes. No trace of sanity. Does she even realize what she's doing?
The girl didn't run as the Hero closed to within arm's reach, instead releasing a far more massive and omnidirectional blast while screaming incoherently. Linda weathered the blast, then reached forward and placed her hand against her opponent's throat. A few seconds later the girl dropped to the ground, unconscious.
“That was a hell of a trick.” Linda looked over to see her mentor appear, breathing heavily. “Is she...”
“Out cold. We need to get capture unit out here that can keep her sedated.” The tall woman sagged slightly with exhaustion before noting the still questioning look from her mentor. “Movement control, remember? From close enough I can see how things are moving inside the body. I just stopped blood from flowing through the carotid for a few seconds.”
Ed nodded in understanding. “Instant sleeper hold. Well, I have to say this is probably close to a record for a rookie to have to deal with on their fir-...” The speech was interrupted by a rumbling, crashing noise from the direction of the school where the incident had started.
“Oh fuck, are there still people in there?” Linda was already forcing her battered body to move as she spoke.
“At least a couple hundred took shelter in the basement rooms.” The older Hero grabbed his colleague's shoulder and pulled her to a stop. “You need to stay here until she's in custody.”
“Nope. You've proven you can take whatever she dishes out, which means if she wakes up it's on YOU to put her out again. I expect there will be plenty of work left for you to do after the pick up.”
The tall brunette nodded in reluctant acknowledgment, and turned to guard her prisoner until relieved.
Oh God why did I think it was good idea to be a Hero. Linda's body shook with the strain of keeping itself upright as she focused her power into keeping a wall from collapsing while her compatriots dug more trapped civilians out of the rubble. In the aftermath of the girl's rampage five more buildings had partially collapsed, leaving hundreds more people in dire need of rescue before the collapses became complete. We should have more help than this.
The Adamant, a man who stood not more than five feet tall and probably less than a hundred and twenty pounds had stayed on scene after arriving, and was now assisting Linda by forcing his indestructible body into the rubble and using his incredible strength to assist her in clearing paths to the victims. The other slightly too late arrival, the much flashier Lightshow, had examined the capture and declared there was nothing there that he could do better than civilian Emergency Services and left. Linda was still fuming about the dismissive manner in which the egotistical blond had departed.
“Hey!” Linda forced her eyes to focus as she realize she had greyed out for a moment, and the strangely accented voice of the small man in front of her pulled her back to reality. “You push too hard, Trick Moves. You need to go out and see Reset, she put you back together right.”
“Can't see the healers yet.” The tall woman pushed past the much shorter man and forced another wall to return to its proper position and stay there. The nearly immediate cries for help from somewhere on the other side of the newly shifted rubble brought a pause to the conversation as the diminutive strongman burrowed in to find the source, and emerged a minute later carrying an unconscious man with both legs crushed, accompanied by a pair of sobbing children.
“There there little ones. Your papa is a strong man who protected you, he will be okay. Follow us while we get him outside.” The short Hero kept up a litany of calming speech to the nearly panicked children as he continued to carry their father to safety, with the taller Hero staggering along with the group and making sure their escape route didn't fall in on them.
Finally reaching the street, Linda was surprised to see them met immediately by another Hero, a woman wearing a black and grey outfit that looked like it was trying to resemble a computer of some kind. The Adamant offered the woman a grateful expression as he laid his stricken passenger on the street, and she leaned down to place both her hands on his head. A flash of light went through the man, and Linda found herself gawking as all his obvious injuries simply vanished, and he immediately began to groggily sit up.
“Please lay back for a moment and gather yourself, sir.” The healer spoke with a calming, yet authoritative tone. “Your children are right here, please rest a moment, then report to one of the relief stations so they can confirm your identity and help get you taken care of.”
Linda turned to head back into the building as the man began to spout effusive thanks to the Heroes that had rescued him and his children, when she found her way blocked by the tiny strong man and felt a soft touch on her shoulder. The brunette flinched away before the other woman could use her ability, and turned an angry glare on the healer.
“It's time to take a break, Trick.” The healer met the angry look with a calm expression, but the steel in her voice actually rocked the taller woman back a step.
“You don't understand, my abil-...”
“Your mentor explained it to us. However you've been going non-stop for HOURS. I'm also informed that the only food you've had to eat today was about two bites of a sandwich. So...” Before the exhausted woman could move the healer had both hands on her, “you are getting a reset and a rest whether you like it or not.” Linda saw the flash of light as the other woman's power triggered, but then everything went dark for awhile.
The cot nearly fell over as the tall woman occupying it jerked awake. A frantic moment's examination confirmed that her costume was intact, and a deeper inspection showed that her injuries were gone.
“Welcome back.” Looking to her side Linda saw the familiar form of her mentor, leaning back in a folding chair near where she had been passed out. “Relax, stay on the cot, we're covered.” Leaning down to grab a bag off the floor he tossed it to the still confused looking woman. “Relief shift showed up, all the buildings are clear.”
Opening the bag and seeing it contents caused the brunette's stomach to growl loudly, as she pulled out the chips and sandwich and began to devour them as if they were the greatest food she'd ever tasted. Finally managing to pause after a few minutes of gorging herself, Linda looked back up at her mentor. “How many...?”
“Preliminary reports indicate about six hundred dead, and almost ten times that in serious injuries. We won't now for sure until they finish sifting through the rubble, but we had an telepath drop through and scan to make sure there weren't any more survivors to dig out.”
Linda sagged back down on her cot and tried to keep the tears out of her eyes. “So many...”
“Nope.” The denial was accompanied by a quick palm slap the the moping woman's head, drawing her up with an enraged expression that was met with a look of steely resolve. “Not so many. So FEW. The initial assessment of Manhattan class was confirmed. That girl could have leveled this entire city and there would be THOUSANDS dead. YOU stopped her, faster than anyone would have believed possible, and on your very first day on the job. Don't get caught up in the lives you couldn't save, celebrate all the ones that you DID.”
“Does that really work?”
“If it doesn't work for you, then you'd better find something else and quick. This is a hard life you've signed up for. If you can't focus on the good parts, it will break you in a hurry.”
The brunette sat on her cot in silence for several long minutes before she responded again. “So, is there any more food left?”
Ed laughed at the plaintive question from his young intern. “Come on, I think a couple of my trucks run all night. You can finish that lunch you had to leave on the table earlier.”