Blades & Barriers: Chapter 9

                “Since you’re both joining the Wayward Wraiths, I’ll assume you’re competent enough to have researched the team, including its newest member. That means you know what the news does, mainly that I seem to summon golden metal items from mid-air, all while wearing a matching suit of armor.” With a single flourish of her hands, Angela was suddenly clad from head-to-toe in her gleaming metal. The design was a little different than the last time Brett faced it in person, a few areas had new joints added and extra plating was spread about. Evidently, she’d felt the need to remodel during her active duty Hero work.

                “Like Brett told everyone, my power allows me to conjure animated objects. Those can be used for attack or defense as the situation demands.” She stuck out a gauntlet covered hand, and instantly a golden mallet appeared in her grip. “Since I move these with willpower rather than muscle, I can easily wield items that would normally be too heavy for me, hence why I was able to hit Brett with a giant chainsaw sword.”

                The mallet vanished in a glow of soft light, and Angela took several steps back from the rest of the group. “What most people don’t realize, though, is that my armor is for more than defense and show. Remember, I can move my metal objects at will, and this is one that’s wrapped around my entire body. Which means…”

                Rather than explain, Angela burst forward. She raced toward Justin at an astonishing pace, not super-speed level but still incredible for someone without physical powers. Just before a collision seemed unavoidable, she turned on a single foot and was barreling at Brett with no visible loss of speed. As she neared him, Angela leapt into the air, easily clearing the top of Brett’s head by several feet and landing in a handstand on the other side of him. Still without slowing, she raced forward on her hands back to the spot where she’d started and launched into a somersault that saw her land right-side up.

                “If I keep the armor tight, I can move it as needed and take my body along for the ride. That allows me to react a lot faster, not to mention doing moves that even my well-trained ass couldn’t pull off without assistance. There are some limits, obviously. I weigh too much to manage anything close to flight, since my body drags the armor down enhanced jumping is the most I can pull off. Not to mention, taking my limbs along for the ride means sometimes yanking them in directions they weren’t meant to go, so I don’t want to hear shit from anyone when you find me doing yoga. And this sort of thing can put a strain on my body, which is why I try not to do it more than needed.”

                “Fascinating.” Justin turned to Unseelie, eyes cast downward sheepishly. “Are we permitted to ask questions?”

                “You three will be serving alongside one another for the next two years. I’d be troubled if you didn’t,” Unseelie told him.

                Justin looked back over to Angela. “What’s the durability of your metal? The newspapers make it seem like you haven’t taken so much as a dent, but given the limitations on what they can report as far as Hero weaknesses, I must assume there are some limits.”

                “Oh no, I’ve definitely had my armor breached before,” Angela readily replied. “As far as durability goes, it’s close to steel, albeit a little harder. But steel that I can mend, reshape, and reinforce at will.” She held out her arm and suddenly the suit of armor was gone, revealing the blonde warrior underneath. A second later the gauntlet on her left arm was back. Then it vanished as well. Finally, Angela was wrapped in metal once more, this time enclosed in a much denser suit that  made her look nearly half a foot taller.

                “I can also pad as needed.” Her voice was slightly muffled from under the thick helmet, which soon vanished in a shimmer of light. “That’s better, I can never breathe right in this one. Anyway, my usual suit is one that maximizes my protection while also not limiting my mobility. Since I’m not a true tank like Brett, dodging is still very much a part of my fighting style. But when the need comes to take a few blows, I whip out this monster. It’s all about adapting to the needs of the situation.”

                “What about the collar thing,” Brett said. “Like you used on me. Is that part of your bag of tricks as well?”

                “If you want me to go through every technique and contingency I’ve got, we’re going to be here all day,” Angela told him. “Although that one is pretty useful, when I get in close enough. Trouble is, it takes really solid aim to wrap a metal collar around someone; usually stabbing them is much easier.”

                “You will undoubtedly have more questions for one another as you work together in the field.” Unseelie reached up and motioned to Bloodfyre and Bayou, who began heading over. “I’d encourage you all to ask as much as you can before then as well, later on tonight when you’re all on your own. For now, however, we’re on a schedule, one that we’ve fallen behind thanks to that bank robbery. Which means I’m afraid the three of us will have to do our demonstrations at once.”

                Brett stared at Unseelie as she, Bloodfyre, and Bayou all headed to the center of the room, passing by Angela as she shed her armor. “Hang on… are you going to tell us all how your power works? Just like that?”

                “Building trust requires honesty from all parties, especially when we’re going to be relying on one another in combat,” Unseelie replied. “Yes, Heroes generally keep the specifics of their powers a secret for good reason, and I do expect this information to stay within the Wayward Wraiths. But when we’re in the field together, I need you to know what we can handle just as much as we will be aware of your limitations. This is a team, we all watch over one another.”

                She arrived at the center of the room, right in the middle of the faded red circle on the ground, and nodded to Bayou and Bloodfyre. “Gentlemen, whenever you’re ready, let’s put on a good show for the interns. Angela, I’ll trust you to handle the basic explanations, and we can field questions once the demonstration is over.”

                On cue, Bloodfyre’s body was coated in the red energy he was famous for as he hunkered down into a defensive position. Stunning as it was to watch fire-like manifestation of his power ripple off his body, it was nothing compared to the transformation Bayou was undergoing. Vines were bursting forth from all over his costume, weaving themselves around him in layer after layer, until the man named Elmer was gone and only the plant-creature known as Bayou remained.

                “Buckle your seatbelt,” Angela advised Justin and Brett. Neither missed the fact that she took a few steps further away from the impending battle, and they both followed her lead. “This was my favorite part of the first day.”