ConsiderationCertain. Domenic brought his hand up to his mouth. “Okay, we’re doing this. However, we can’t target only Heritage holdings, or it’s going to tip off how we’re really going about it. I just so happen to know a crack house” ContemptRevulsion “one of Bea’s friends talked about it. Kinda hope he’s there. I owe him a bruise or two.”
SupportConcern. Chloe reached out, placing her hand on the side of his shoulder.
Could these two be any more sappy? “Sounds like a plan.” I got up from the table and went for the armor that was the new supposed source of my powers. Well, at least this means I have a surprise waiting for anyone stupid enough to think they got me beat.
ReliefRelax. “Okay, we’re here, you can land us.” Domenic looked at Chloe, who was the only source of light in our ‘stealth vehicle’. In as much as being carrying us around inside giant metal hamster ball counted as a stealth vehicle. The dark gray metal would probably do the job, at night, but it was the middle of the day so everyone and their grandmother knew we were flying about the city.
The ball thumped off the ground, then light blinded me for a moment as Domenic turned the steel back into costumes for him and Chloe. My armor’s weird patterns were too hard for him to recycle without screwing things up.
SurpriseUncertainty. “You’re sure this is the place?” Chloe lowered us down onto the sidewalk in front of the house in question. It was a two-story home which fit the more or less suburban theme this area had going. It looked like a nice home, not unlike the one Domenic lived in. “I don’t want this to sound like a race thing, but I thought, well, when I heard crack house.”
TenderAmused. The steel mask Domenic wore was motionless, and the echo of his power made his voice inhuman, but behind it we knew he was smiling. “You were expecting piles of needles on the lawn next to addicts who look like they’re about to shake apart?”
ShameGuilt. “I… ” Chloe shrank in on herself. The metal of her armor screeched as her strength crushed it against itself. StartledStupid. She stood straight again, and looked at the handful of people in other houses peaking out from windows like they thought we couldn’t see them. “I’d expect the same thing about a white crack house, too. They even got a nice flower garden.”
SympathyConfidence. “I’m sure some of them are all you’re imagining and worse, but those are the ones that get found by the cops.” As Dom spoke, the damage done to Chloe’s costume mended itself. “This place, if rumor’s to be believed, has been going strong since the eighties. Uh, Spark, what do you think?”
I didn’t chose that name expecting it to sound like I named myself after a drug-sniffing dog. I looked at the building, dipping into our shared power as all my senses went to their extreme. With senses sharper than any animal, I smelled the air. The first thing I noted was the smell of pot, cigs, and alcohol. Beneath that overpowering stink that reminded me of him, there was the sick-sweet stench of addicts, along with burnt plastic and other, chemical, smells. The Fate-threads sung of slow death and disease. “There’s a whole lot of everything in there.”
DeterminationDisgust. “Okay, Chloe, you call the cops.”
Wait, what? “Hey, aren’t we doing what we did last time?” This is the boring way. “Didn’t you say something about owing someone some bruises?”
LongingResignation. “Too much that can go wrong. Superhero violence means superhero scrutiny. We’re in this to get criminals off the street and make a few bucks, not get arrested.”
TrustAgreement. Of course she’s going along with him. “D-Ballast is right, we’ve got long term goals to consider.” DismissalIrrelevant. “Besides, it’s just a drug den, how much of a fight could they really be? Wouldn’t you rather fight the supervillains rather than some druggy losers?”
Ugh. “Fine, call the cops.” I turned around and sat down on the curb. She’s right, they’re just a bunch of strung-out losers. Their brains are so useless they won’t even know I’m kicking their asses, and where’s the fun in that?
Two or three eternities later, the cops finally showed up. It was a wonder the entire crackhouse didn’t just leave out the back door while we waited. A glowing orange mist floated through the nearest cop car’s window, and right for us.
Oh, shit, it’s her, the ghost-chick who watched us kill Starfall. HesitationUncertainty ThreatGuilt. They know the danger, too. My heart jumped in my chest, and I grabbed at the Fate-threads to see what came next. Nothing. Okay, that makes sense, I did burn up fifty pounds to heal from that fight, and never put it back on. I’m shorter and skinnier than I was back then, so she wouldn’t recognize me. We’re safe, as long as we don’t screw something up, we’re safe.
“Is anyone harmed?” Her eyes focused on me. “Where’s the suspects?”
I did my best to pretend I was calm. It took force of will and some shapeshifting to keep my voice from shaking.
“Relax, we didn’t even go inside.” I climbed to my feet like a normal, weak, person would. “You guys kept us at the station for two hours last night. By the time we got home, she,” I tilted my head at Chloe. “Was too tired to celebrate.” SurpriseDiscomfort TerritorialUpset. “So this time, you guys can do the work.”
“You didn’t witness any drugs?” The woman’s body became a little more solid as she relaxed. Strange, she’s made of mist, why’s she acting like we can hurt her? I looked through my Fate-threads, but found no weakness we could use against her.
OffendedConfused. “They’re in there!” Chloe pointed at the building. SuspicionUncertain. “If you’re trying to get us to tell you how we know, you can forget it. That’s one of our powers, and the law says we don’t have to reveal the specifics of our abilities. I know my rights.”
Mist-girl’s body blurred out again, as if afraid of attack. Ah, that’s what it is. She’s been abused so bad the reflexes stuck even after she became invulnerable. After a moment, she became as solid as normal for her. “If you know the law, then you’ve heard of the Fourth Amendment. If I send my guys in there, not only am I opening the department up to a lawsuit, but a first year law student would get every last piece of evidence we find tossed.”
FrustrationStupid RealizationPlan. “Uh, Eldritch?” Domenic took a step forward, and Eldritch drifted backward a step. “You can still go in if there’s a medical emergency, right? Like, say, if we told you there’s someone wounded inside?”
Eldritch’s body began to look like it was fighting an invisible windstorm to hold itself together. “You don’t have a power that lets you see if people are injured. You would have mentioned it earlier.”
NervousFocus. “Well, maybe we wanted to keep it a secret. We can find metal, we can find drugs, we can spot wounded, people might wonder what else we can detect. Something to be said for keeping a low profile.” If I didn’t know better, I might have bought his lie as truth. My Fate-sense failed against him; for all I knew, he was immune to Truthsayers. “Right now your options are to decide we’re bluffing, and in the process pass up a major drug bust and maybe let someone die. Or you can believe someone might be having an OD in a drug den.”
Eldritch crossed her own arms, and stared down Domenic. The tiny wisp of a woman did intimidate Domenic, but she couldn’t see that behind his armor. “I’m putting it on record that you reported a medical emergency. That is a crime, if you’re lying.”
“Understood.” RetreatImmediate. Domenic stepped backwards.
AgreedHurry. I wrapped my arms around Domenic’s torso. JealousAnnoyed AwkwardTrapped. Heh, that’s right, you can’t stop me. I had to admit, he did a great job of sculpting the metal. Chloe moved behind, and picked Domenic up while I poured electricity into the armor so she didn’t run out of energy carrying us around.
“You’re leaving?” Eldritch asked.
“We’re invoking protection of our identities.” UrgentGo! “Do-oof.” Domenic stumbled over his words as Chloe pulled us off the ground. “Don’t worry, we’ll be in touch!”
I waited until we were well away from the cops, then tapped my Fate-sense as much as I dared to be sure we were safe. “Okay, so that was a bust. How about next time, we just do it my way? With violence?”
“Y’know, we’ve gotta be setting some kind of record for most skinheads busted in one day.” I pushed down against the struggling loser beneath me. He was a big man, and could even have lifted me if I wasn’t wearing a bunch of steel armor. He was fun, stronger than most, and the scars on his body told the story of someone who was used to fighting long after others succumbed to their weakness. All the others gave up after I slapped them around for a while, sometimes even cried, but this one was still struggling like his life depended on it. “Lotta racists in this town.”
DisgustRestraint. “Most of them aren’t, not really.” ConfusionInterest. Chloe held her phone, but watched us instead of dialing. Domenic sighed, then continued. “They’re in it because it’s a way to have money and power. It ain’t about skin color, it’s about being so pathetic that they need someone, anyone, that they can point to and say ‘they’re beneath me’. And some,” ContemptHate. “Some just like to hurt people.”
Suddenly, this isn’t fun anymore. “Good to know.” I dipped into my Fate-sense, and with a tiny pulse of electricity, the man slumped. “Okay, big boy, you there?”
The man stared up at me, unrecognizing, now more asleep than awake. “Uh, wha?” In his current state, there was precious little he could do but believe everything I said.
“I need you to listen to me. We’re in danger, and we need to get to somewhere safe. Do you know where any Heritage safehouses are? Where were you supposed to go with your stuff?”
“Iunno, they ain’ ‘ellin’, dun ‘rus us.” For some reason, slurring the ‘t’ was a side effect of the brain zap. “We’s call on’a road.”
FrustrationDefeat. “Damn, they caught on fast.” Domenic walked over to the truck they were planning to use. “I was hoping we’d be able to convince them we were hitting them at random, but that kind of security suggests they know we’re interrogating prisoners.
I smirked and looked at him. “Or they know the cops will. We ain’t the only game in town, just the best. Come on, it’s only been four hours and seven hits. If they had someone who could catch on that fast, we wouldn’t have nailed this many of them.”
HopeDoubt. “Well, there’s that possibility. Still, I don’t like it.”
Meanwhile, Chloe made her phone call. “Hello? This is Plasma. Yes, we got another one. Three perps, maybe a dozen weapons, only one’s a gun. Little bit of pot. Looks like they cleared this place out before we arrived. Yes, we had to taze a couple more of them, sorry.”
“A trailer park? Seriously?” I looked at the ratty old double-wide. “I think we may be scraping the bottom of the barrel, guys.”
CautionRisk. “Your power see anything dangerous?” Domenic stayed back with Chloe, as he always did.
All that crap about defying fate, but now you’re asking me to use it every chance you get. I looked, but didn’t see anything noteworthy. “Nope. Looks like twelve’s gonna be routine.” I was starting to get bored with kicking ass. “Be right back.”
I went right up the front, while listening for any sign of a threat. I knocked on the door once, then again, loud enough that the neighbors could hear if they wanted. I couldn’t help but think of those old vampire movies, where they couldn’t go into a house without permission. It was no less stupid now than it was then. “Hey, chewtoys! Are you gonna open up, or do I get to set the trash on fire and watch it burn along with the building?!”
“I surrender!” A man screamed from inside. He sounded young, a teen. “All the surrender! Doing it right now!”
“The hell!” Another, older sounding voice yelled, then there was a loud crack as fist met face. “Don’ you have some fuckin’ pride, boy?”
And there’s my invite. I didn’t kick in the door, I just jumped through it. The shitty walls couldn’t have stopped a child, let alone me. Inside, a teen boy lay on the floor in the living room, while a chubby older man who might have been impressively muscled twenty years ago stood above him. He looked right at me, and I pushed the right amount of power in my armor to make the symbols glow. Time to hurt someone.
He brought his hands up, the way they do in cop shows.
God damn it.
UncertainFearful. “You’re certain that old guy’s info is trustworthy?” Chloe asked, though she still lowered us down to the last target. “You didn’t brain-zap =him at all.”
“Oh, I’m certain.” He was such a little bitch. “Fear is like a truth serum, and I could smell his.”
DreadAmusedDismissive. Domenic forced a chuckle, despite us still being in the sky. “You could smell that over him wetting his pants?”
“That’s, like, liquid fear.” Making fun of that fatass is the closest thing I’ve had to fun all night.
DisgustContempt. “Well, at least it wasn’t solid fear,” Chloe said. “Well, unless we get new leads here, we’re out of targets.” As if to make her point, the thud of the sphere hitting the ground echoed around us.
ReliefPride. “Hey, we did good work tonight. Dunno how much cash we made, but I think we did a lot of damage.” AgreementSatisfied. Again, the metal reshaped itself into costumes. “Bloodied their noses, sent a bunch of their guys to jail, and proven we can fight back and win. That’s a message the whole city’s gonna hear.”
They’re awful calm about it. A handful of normals, drugs and weapons won’t end a gang as big as Heritage. It just means they’ll have to retaliate against us with their supers. I looked down at the glowing patterns in my costume. Well, if they want to force Heritage into a showdown with us, then I’m more than happy to go along with it.
Our target this time was an old truck stop that looked like it was abandoned decades ago. The lot itself was so old it was made of gravel rather than pavement, and had long been overtaken by weeds. Even some small trees managed to cling to life in the rocks. Night had fallen a while ago, and in the corners I caught glimpses of raccoons and a fox. If there were people here, they were inside. “Do tell me we don’t have to knock this time.”
UncertainHesitation. Domenic looked around, though “I guess. I dunno who owns this place, anymore. No vehicles in sight, however.”
“Awesome.” I led the way, while Dom and Chloe followed behind, and Dom’s armor was surprisingly quiet on the gravel. More quiet than a normal person’s footsteps would have been. My sense of smell told me there were people around here; specifically, salt and grease from some shitty fast food joint wafted through air otherwise dominated by wilderness and wildlife. “There are definitely people here.”
A loud crunch behind us made Domenic and Chloe spin around. “It’s not the people you have to worry about.”
FearDangerTrapped. “Salamander!” I could almost feel Domenic’s armor reshaping itself for war.
Another figure stepped out in front of me, bright yellow with symbols I understood meant poison and danger. It walked with the smug confidence of someone who knew they could not be touched, and all who met them would cower in fear.
Oh, this is interesting. “Biohazard.” TerrorRetreat. While my partners were on the verge of panic, I brought my hands up and called on just a small amount of my electricity. Razor sharp claws formed from my gauntlets. “I always knew thirteen was my lucking number.”