A woman clad in black leather bottoms pulled up their zipper, and reached for a pair of knee-high spiked boots in her vicinity, black and grey. The clinks and clicks of buckling echoed in the stone room as she fastened the boots, added dark grey straps to her legs and a belt to her waist. A few handfuls of soot served to blacken the female's fur and ears, while a pile of chalk served to whiten her hair. Striding over to a bed where a blonde girl lay, she smiled slightly and brushed some hair away from the sleeping figure's face before clicking an expressionless skull mask with a white streak across the eyes into place on her face. Finally, she grabbed a trench coat- utterly black, but for a bright white skull symbol on the left breast- and slipped into it, draping it across her naked shoulders. The black and white anthropomorph marched toward a window and dived out of it, flipping and landing majestically on the pavement some two storeys below, breaking two paving slabs cleanly in half. Drawing herself up and ignoring the startled, fearful and hateful eyes on her, she proceeded to wade through the streets like she owned the city. Plans had to be made.
Our feline friend stalked into a familiar building. Glancing about and realising the coast was clear, including of its usual occupant, she settled down to wait. Reaching up to her mask, she froze suddenly. A thingyy male and very English voice spoke out. "Are you sure you want to be doing that, my furry girl? There are eyes, even here." She allowed herself to relax, though not to the point of foolishness. "Hey double D. I came here for a favour." The man's tone gained an edge. "I'll say you did. That group of yours is potentially in for a bumpy ride, kitty." "The worst is over." "Oh, is it now? I had Greene and Madnas clean out a spidey house an-" "And what?" "I was getting to that. Arachnos have targetted your little cadre of pseudo-terrorists for a bit of R&D, if you catch my drift. That and they're going slowly enough to do real damage. And not only to you. We're connected and no matter how deep you bury it and how well you brush your tracks away-" "What?" "They're gathering more dirt on your be-arrowed friends, and some of it leads to you." The girl sat back in her tattered red sofa carefully, sending dust motes flying. "Oh." "That's all you got? 'Oh?' I'd expect more than that from a co-founder of a group of bloodthirsty assassins." She rose and shoved herself in the thingyy blast-goggled face. "I have. We rip whatever they've got on us into little bits and probably some other stuff too." The figure in a white lab coat, black trousers with dirt-red patterns and massive boots stood his ground. "What do you think would happen to their suspicions then?" "..." "Exactly. Go and sleep on it, I can tell you're tired. We can talk more in the morning, we still have some time." The cat sagged and headed for the door. "Right. Goodnight D. Night Frank." "Goodnight Grimmy kitty."
A single bulb lit the dingy house. Boarded up windows allowed in slits of light, which illuminated dust motes in the air. Two figures stared at one another tensed in opposite seats. Both were worn red leather. One was a two seater sofa, and one was a chair. The male human with ponytailed white hair, blast goggles and a lab coat spoke first. "...so, you have a plan do you, kitty?" The black and white woman flicked a feline ear and created some turbulence in the floating dust. "Yes. We get these 'arrows' to do our work. Where they got their intel won't matter." The man thingyed his head and smirked a single degree. "Sound. Where would they obtain this intel, prey?" "That would be why I'm still here." She smirked too, and he could hear it in her voice if not see it. "Oh, and here I was thinking all our meetings were a reality TV show where I pick my maskéd bride." "Very funny." "Thank you." The pair were silent for a moment, then the man known as 'D' broke the silence. "I have a few locations marked. Only two are where I actually believe the spiders are holding anything of use in this particular endeavour. Here"- he passed over a sheet with a map on it- "is where those two are." 'Grim' stared at the map for a few moments before responding. "These are in the Isles." "Well done." "But wh-" "Shush. Those other locastions I mentioned? Others are hitting them as we speak, including that flaming girl- and I've even left your Kheldian smoochie a message. You and I have got more than enough cover of random attacks to go with, and I can hide my computer hackings like a professional, though that would be somewhat underestimating my actual level of skill." "Yeah, yeah... so we go now, hm?" "Yes, we do. Come along, Frank." They both rose, and a small robot fitted with several heavy armaments plodded behind them murmuring complaints. "Shut up, Frank." "Yes, D," the mess of mechanics replied in an artificial Texas accent. "I said shut up." The sun greeted them.
An explosion rang out in the dusk. Two figures were thrown out of a building with a whirling tongue of fire and lay there for a few seconds before groaning. The cat spoke first. "That took far too long. Please tell me that wasn't a waste of time." "Nah... took out an Arachnos outpost, did we not?" "...Goddamnit, D!" "Hah." D coughed. "Seriously, though. Check it out. Oh look, a list of suspected alter-egos... Oooh, Possible matches for Grim Feline include... Tiger White (unlikely), Neko- Sama (V. unlikely), that one's actually been crossed out. Ooh! Kathryn Walker (possible)!" D squeaked. "Give me that!" Grim grabbed for it and D let go. "Yeah, that ain't too good is it. 'High ranking- Fletched Alliance member. Group recently found in possession of superweapons and under suspicions of dubious intentions. Inquire further, recruit or eradicate if deemed necessary'." "We'll need more detail. Come on." D got up and stretched as Frank wandered up behind them. "Ow." "Lightweight." "Cute girls shouldn't be so tough." "Your definition of cute needs updating..." "Hey, that Kathryn is pretty hot." "Shut." She whapped him in the back of the head.
Cyder smiled sweetly at the two R.I.P. officers sitting across the table from her as she once more answered the same question they’d been asking her for the past hour and a half “No sir, I’m afraid I’ve never seen any of those people before. As for a ‘Fletched Alliance’, sounds like a name some half baked ponce from Paragon would come up with. Do I look like the kinda girl that’d mingle with those sorts of people?”
One of the officers growled angrily and struck her savagely with the back of his hand, sending the young woman and the chair she was cuffed to crashing to the ground “I’ll ask you one last time before I lose my temper, we know your part of a gang called the EVIL Alliance, and we know for damned sure that your gang and this Fletched Alliance are connected. Why not just make things easy for yourself? Stop wasting our time and your own. Tell us what we want to know and it’ll all be over before you know it. Otherwise things might get a little messy in here, and I’m almost certain you don’t want that pretty little face of yours getting any more messed up than it already is now do you?”
The second officer calmly walked around the table to drag Cyder and the chair back into an upright position then back up to the table, as he was returning to his seat there came a quiet tapping at the door and a muffled voice called out “Officer Gibbons? There’s a call for you from that Arachnos source about those merc’s you’re hunting for them. I think it’s pretty urgent. The guy said if he has to wait more than the time it takes to finish his smoke he’s going to come down here personally and mail you home over a six week period”
“So.. The spiders put you guys up to this eh? Look, if it’s about that shipment of guns and ammo of their that went missing by the dock last week you can tell them I had nothing to do with it. I was busy on the other side of town knocking out one of their communication towers with a few friends.” Cyder called out loud enough to be heard through the door before continuing to smile innocently at the officers while Officer Gibbons walked past his seat to the door which he opened and walked through before the pneumatic rams pushed it shut once more “So, just you and me now missy, won’t this be fun” sneered the remaining policeman as he laid a selection of photos upon the table between them so they were the correct way round for Cyder to look at properly “One last time, do you or do you not recognise any, and I do mean ANY of the people in these pictures?”
“Aww shit! How’d I miss him? Yeah I can see someone I know is the fifth picture along from the right mister. If you unfastened my hands I’d be able to point him out to you, but since you insist on treating me like some kind of criminal I don’t think I’ll bother”
He looked at the photo in question, it was a facial shot of Grim Feline, somehow he managed to keep his anger out of his voice as he did “Tell you what, you touch the guy in the picture with the tip of your nose and then I’ll think about getting rid of the cuffs, how’s that sound?” came his reply, and as Cyder nodded and started to lean forward he reached over, grabbing her firmly by the hair and slammed her face into the table with a sickening crack as her nose broke, before hurling her backwards, the chair once more toppling to the ground. Cyder, still dazed from the impact with the table and the intense pain in her face didn’t realise what was happening until it was too late. The back of her skull thudded against the floor, and the last thing she saw was the ceiling rapidly fading to black as she passed out.
The blonde grumbled to herself and turned over in her sleep, a faint beeping filtering in from somewhere. Lazily tossing out an arm, she scooped up the comm from the table next to the bed and looked somewhat blearily at it. A small light was flashing on the side of it.
Shuffling a little way out of the covers, she slipped the thing into her ear and tapped it, playing a stored message in an vaguely familiar male voice.
"Need you to hit an Arachnos base. Don't get killed, don't get captured, and if you do, please don't say anything."
Sighing heavily, she pulled the comm out and flicked it back onto the table.
Nothin' like a little politeness... or even giving a reason. Guess it's legit if it came through the comms...
Eh, if it can't wait till I get ready then it can get stuffed.
Suppressing a yawn, she sat up and swung her feet off the bed and onto the floor. Leaning down and tugging an oversized towel from her bag, she ambled off towards the bathroom. Hooking the mass of fluff over the back of the door, she slipped out of her nightshirt and stepped into the shower, the hot water serving to wake her up a little. After carefully washing herself, deliberately taking a little more time than usual, she pulled a smallish black bottle down from a shelf and emptied it into a hand, stepping out of the stream of water for a moment to carefully work the black dye into her hair. After a few glances at the mirror on the opposite wall, she slipped back into the nearly-scalding stream. Tilting her head back, she closed her eyes and relaxed for a moment, her thoughts drifting randomly towards her love, as they often did, and her hands unconsciously drifting lower...
Right... suppose I should probably think about doing something...
Reluctantly reaching up and stopping the water, she wrapped the towel around herself, opened the door and pattered idly back up the stairs. Dropping back down onto the bed, she pulled a smaller towel from the bag and began industriously drying her hair. Satisfied with it for the moment, she reached back into the bag and pulled out a large box from a compartment in the base of it. Flicking open the catches, she pulled out a thin bodysuit and quickly checked it for tears.
Finding none, she slowly worked her legs into it, then pulled the elastic material up her arms and over her shoulders, zipping the suit neatly up the front. Standing again, she performed a few quick stretches, getting used to the figure-hugging costume. Nodding to herself, she reached back into the case and pulled out another suit, this one somewhat thicker, black, and bearing a pattern of flexible red pads that looked much like some sort of armour. Squeezing herself into this one too, she pulled the various straps tight and locked them in place, doing a few more stretches. Flipping the base of the case upwards revealed a pair of black-and-red combat boots in a similar pattern. Tugging them on, she tied the laces firmly and tucked them inside, clipping the boots to the oversuit as she did so.
Standing again, she reached up to the loose neck of the suit, pulling the slack fabric up over her mouth and nose. Delicately picking her new sunglasses from their slot, she slipped them on too. Turning to the table, she scooped the comm back up and slipped it back into her ear.
Flipping the case shut again, she tucked it quickly under the bed and pulled open the end compartment of the bag, drawing out a pair of heavy red gauntlets. Pulling them on with some difficulty, she flipped open a panel on the right and carefully adjusted a pair of dials. Clipping it shut again, she shoved the rest of her stuff back into the bag and pushed it under the bed, marching over to the window and shoving it open.
Closing her eyes, she clenched her right fist, the gauntlets humming into life and sending a crackling discharge of raw electricity flickering over the pads. Grinning to herself, she took a few steps back, then darted forward and leapt from the window.
"Jane is a con artist. A thief. A liar. A smooth-talking criminal genius with a penchant for the dramatic. I just tend to forget it thanks to the Kheldian." - Shadowe
Port Oakes Police Station, Holding Cell 17. 3:30pm
Twenty one, twenty two, turn, one, two, three…….
Cyder paced from one end of her cell to the other, subconsciously narrating her activities through sheer boredom. So far she’d counted the cracks in each wall and the ceiling, added a few blood stains to the floor, bringing the grand total up to forty seven, and much to her annoyance broken a nail while picking the lock on the cuffs they’d left her in when they dumped her here.
It amazed her just quickly boredom had taken hold, it had been 4 hours since she’d woken up, 12 since she’d been arrested, and it felt like days rather than hours. With nothing to keep her occupied time had seemed to slow to a tedious crawl. Now, to make matters worse than they already were, she needed the bathroom, and there was no way in hell she was going to use the grate in the corner like the guard had told her to. Sighing with resignation she made her way unsteadily to the tiny bunk on the cell wall, gingerly laying her head on the unforgiving pillow, hoping to avoid catching any of the lumps or cuts from the interrogation. Boredom was bad enough without a splitting head ache to deal with on top.
Port Oakes Police Station, Holding Cell 17. 11:00pm
Cyder sat bolt upright, instantly regretting it as the room spun crazily for a moment. She mentally berated herself for falling asleep when she should be trying to find a way to escape, or at least how to get rid of the annoying coloured spots the popped into her vision occasionally. “I’m so gonna have to check my medical coverage after this” she muttered, hauling herself to her feet and stretching to get some life back into her muscles. A few cracks from her joints were met with hissed obscenities, but all things considered she was in fairly good shape, nothing a quick once over by a doctor wouldn’t fix anyway.
After pacing the cell half a dozen times something caught Cyder’s attention, pressing an ear to the cell door she could hear several people running further down the corridor and a few muffled shouts. A few minutes later and everything had quietened down. Grumpily she turned and began pacing again, letting a quiet squeal of surprise slip out when she heard an unexpectedly polite knock on the cell door. Pressing herself up against the wall by the door to avoid being seen, hoping to surprise whoever came in with the fact that she’d got rid of the cuffs, this time she’d be fighting back. “Who is it?” A polite voice with a mock English accent responded “Room service Ma’am, I have your order, today’s special” There was a click as the door was unlocked but not opened “I’m afraid my hands are a tad full Ma’am, would you be so kind as to give the door a bit of a nudge please?”
Out of sheer curiosity Cyder gave the door a shove, her puzzled expression gradually changing to grin as the door swung aside to reveal the familiar smile of her boss and one of the officers pinned against the wall opposite by a hand on his chest. “Ahh, right cell. See officer, that wasn’t so hard, now was it? You take a break.” Night Shifter spoke softly to the Policeman. Suddenly his hand shot up from the officer’s chest, thudding solidly into his jaw. As the guard slumped to the ground Night Shifter turned and held out a bundle to the girl “Damn! No offence kid, but you’ve looked better. You okay, nothing broken that’ll stop you walking out of here?” Cyder reached out and took the package from Shifter, opening it up on the bunk and grinning happily, as she strapped on her belts, softly kissing each of her guns before sliding them into their holsters. “Awww, you remembered my patch, thanks chief” she called cheerily as she fastened her patch in place over her left eye. Leaning against the door frame her boss chuckled “What the hell do you wear that thing for? Nothing wrong with you eye that I know of.” Cyder turned to face him with an angelic smile as she tugged her coat until it rested comfortably with her guns and ammo in place “It’s an image thing, you’ve got your mask and the whole ‘fading into the night’ type thing, I have my ‘hard ass street punk’ type thing. Besides the guys seem to like it, and they’re so much easier to boss around when they’re not paying full attention to what they’re agreeing to”
Once she’d checked all her gear was in place Cyder gave Shifter a nudge “Okay chief, all set. Once we get back to HQ we really need to talk about the shit these guys were comin’ out with.” The man nodded as he turned to leave, pausing at the door just long enough to turn and give a final instruction “Your boys are waiting round back, once you’re out head straight back to the base, no f**k**g about on the way. Oh, and if you see anyone that I missed, feel free to repay their kind hospitality, Now move it, I’ll be there in an hour, there’s a few people I need to check up on”
A broken helmet fell to the floor, following its unconscious wearer. The three walked past as D put away a mean- looking gadget and stopped at something that seemed important. Various power cables and tubes flowed around a large computer terminal. "They've outdone themselves with the design on this thing," Grim commented as they approached. "I very much doubt that..." D murmured as he tapped into the terminal, reaching underneath and clipping a few things into the wires running around it. "Aw, you only see inner beauty do you? What a caring man." "Would I call you cute were that the case? No madam, inside you've got all the charisma of a Rancor." "You ever tasted your own ass?" "I'll be good." Grim nodded and wandered about the cables as D fiddled with the terminal and grumbled. "Frigging security... know I can get past it so why can't they make this so much quicker? Ain't got time for this. Okay so maybe I have, but I can't be bothered. Ah..." he raised his voice as he pulled out a card from the machine "Grim, I've got what is potentially good stuff, but unfortunately I've also activated some sort of self-destruct mechanism. Feel free to move!" He informed as he began to trot, then sprint toward the exit.
She moved that bit too late. The power conduits hummed louder quite suddenly. There was a horrible light and sound and pain. Then there was silence.
Grim flicked her eyes open and saw D grinning at her. Getting her bearings she realised she was on a stone floor, presumably in their base. "Goooood morning camper!" Grim winced as the voice trampled her ears and made her head hurt. "HgrM?" "Yes, you bloody idiot. Hacking into Arachnos medical facilities and a quick teleport. Don't do that again, I was worried." "Hm... thanks, guess I owe you one." Grim managed. This was met by a grin. "Nah. The blast burned off pretty much all your clothes and quite a bit of your fur, it was quite a show!" Grim struggled to her feet and looked down at her naked body and now fairly pockmarked fur, shrugged and made her way toward her room. "It'll grow back. Now if you excuse me I need to rest a bit." "Okay. You'll want to talk to me about this stuff though."
Pressing her back against a pillar, Nova cautiously peered around it, watching carefully as a squad of Wolf Spiders opened the hatched door to the base and marched inside. Moving fast, she scooped up the bag at her feet and darted inside, ducking into a convenient shadow on the other side.
Remaining still as the soldiers vanished further in, she smirked to herself as they began to split up, taking up guard positions. Opening a small compartment on her right gauntlet, she removed a fingernail-sized stone and tossed it so that it would land a few feet behind the guard.
Pulling his gun, the man spun around, putting his back to Nova, who slipped forward, her armour crackling into life as she threw a hard punch at the back of his head, his helmet splintering under the force of the blow. Convulsing from the powerful electric shock, he crumpled to the ground. Grinning, Nova carefully stepped over him and advanced further into the base. Stopping in another shadow, she scanned the ground ahead.
Two guards... guns holstered and strapped... not even paying attention. Amateurs.
Charging straight at them, she clapped the gauntlets together, sending out a forceful electric pulse. One guard was slammed hard into the wall and collapsed to the ground, but the other managed to avoid the worst of the blast and staggered to his feet, drawing his gun and firing a volley at her. Instinctively diving to one side, she came up behind a pillar and tried to catch her breath. As the muzzle of the gun appeared above her, she swung her legs out and tripped the guard, his chin hitting the metal floor hard.
Standing again, she stomped the guard's head for good measure and paused, peering down each hallway in turn. Filing a sudden pain in her left arm as irrelevant for the moment, she picked one and sprinted down it, grinning as she saw the core of the base in front of her. Pressing herself against the edge of the door, she peeked around for a moment and counted heads. The room seemed to be populated mainly by technicians and scientists-only one guard was visible. Waiting silently until the guard's patrol route took him past the door, she sprung out and dived at him, knocking him unconscious with a powerful burst of electricity. Slowly standing again, she noticed that all the techs were staring at her, and one was reaching for a lever mounted on the wall...
Cursing loudly, she leapt forward and backhanded the tech as the others began to run and a siren started to blare.
ALERT! ALERT! Unauthorised entry detected! Locate and neutralise!
Shaking her head, she knelt next to a likely-looking group of pillars and pulled the device from its bag. Strapping it carefully to the base, she set the timer to 300 and started it, the classic red numbers steadily counting down on its display. Glancing up at a sound, she realised that it was the sound of running jackboots and quickly sprinted for the exit. A series of clicks stopped her in her tracks, as the soldiers emerged, all levelling their guns at her. Their apparent leader, a bulky Crab Spider, advanced on her, the mechanical spider arms on his back clicking randomly.
"Blackened Nova. Just where do you think you're going in such a hurry?"
Looking straight at him, she spoke calmly. "Out of here."
Just as he started to speak again, she leapt at him, bouncing off the huge shoulder plates and gripping two of the flailing spider arms as he spun, trying to throw her off, a flurry of shots flying mostly into the walls and his own men, who scattered to avoid them. Gripping firmly she ripped the arms right out of their base and slammed them repeatedly into his head, charging them with electricity until he crumpled, his men struggling to regroup and get their guns aimed at her again.
Nova took full advantage, running back towards the door, calling back "See you later, boys. Oh, and you might want to check out the support columns in there."
Somewhat confused, the men instinctively followed the command, piling into the control room and examining the pillar, all noticing the device at its base at about the same time.
"Get a defusal op in here! NOW!"
Another soldier quickly joined them, kneeling and carefully examining the device as the others kept their distance. "Doesn't look too bad," he murmured, pulling out a few tools and carefully resting them on the display as the clock ticked down.
116 115 114 000
Nova sprinted the last few yards to the door and dived out of it just as the device detonated, a jet of flame spurting from the door and slamming her into the dirt, singing her hair slightly, the ground shaking as the base collapsed.
Standing up somewhat unsteadily, she glanced down at her left arm. A clean hole in the suit was steadily leaking blood.
Damn. Doesn't look like there's a bullet in there, but I'd better get it checked out.
Tearing a strap from one of her boots, she wrapped it tightly around her arm and tied it off, quickly striding back through the network of alleys towards the base.
Operative Lee swore quietly as Sea-gull droppings oozed their way slowly down his chest. He hated the dock area, full of drop outs and filth, all too lazy or too stupid to see sense and join the ranks of Lord Recluse. If it were up to him, this patrol wouldn’t just be passing through; it’d be burning and clearing the area ready for further reconstruction.
“He was right behind me, I saw him not more than two minutes ago.” The sounds of conversation snapped Lee out of his little rant over the local wildlife as he spun to see what the problem was “The hell’s going on here? Care to explain why you all think this is a good place to stop for a break? Perhaps I should go ask Ghost Widow to come from her tower with a nice comfy sofa for you guys, let you take a load off your feet. Or how about you get moving again before I personally make this one of the worst days of your life?” spreading his foul mood around cheered Lee up slightly.
“Its Simmons sir, he’s gone sir”
“What do you mean ‘Gone’? He was right in front of you, are you telling me you didn’t see where he went?” Nodding furiously one of the newer members of his patrol nervously replied “I lost sight of him for just a second when we passed through the old storage yard in the docks. He was there one minute, then gone the next. No sign of him sir”
Lee glanced around himself quickly, glad that his helmet stopped the sudden flash of panic that had shown on his face from being seen by the rest of his squad. He knew what they were looking for, though he wasn’t foolish enough to tell his men, they’d probably bolt and run in a second “Okay, everyone on their guard, no messing around now, this is serious. Something has just taken one of our men without anyone seeing how, so I want weapons at the ready from now on. Don’t shoot until I tell you to, but when you do, make sure you annihilate anything that’s not us.”
High above the Wolf Spider scout team, four pairs of eyes peered over a roof edge with a mixture of chuckles and whimpering “Awww, looks like the big bad spiders miss their buddy, what you thinking boss, maybe we should let him go, don’t want to upset those guys anymore than we have to.” One of the men on the roof top asked as he lit himself a cigar before offering one to his leader. Shifter nodded his thanks and ignited the cigar, rubbing his chin thoughtfully as he puffed away on it for a moment “Bring Mr Simmons forward please, I have a busy day ahead of me and would like to take care of this matter as quickly as possible.”
As the Arachnos scout was pushed towards Shifter he began to tremble and weep, he wasn’t stupid; he’d heard what happened at the police station. He hadn’t believed the few survivors when they’d told him it was only one man, but as he now stood before the man in question, there wasn’t a shadow of a doubt that he could have done it. “Ahhh Mr Simmons, so nice of you to see me on such short notice” mocked the imposing figure of the outlaw gang leader, blowing a smoke ring into the scouts face “I’m going to give you a choice. You can either tell me exactly why you’re looking for us, for that I’ll kill you quickly and painlessly. Second option is you telling me to go to hell, in which case you’ll die slowly and the rest of your life will be spent in intense agonising pain until you beg us to kill you and promise to tell us everything.” Another smoke ring hit the scout’s face “So what’s it going to be, and please note, I only accept your first answer”
Shifter laughed cruelly as the scout tried in vain to speak, desperately trying to reply though the gag he’d been fitted with prevented anything more than an incoherent mumble being heard, turning to the others stood on the roof with him he nodded slightly, and as two of his team stepped forward with a harness he whispered quietly to the scout “So, don’t want to talk eh? Fine by me.” The two men with the harness strapped it firmly around the young scout’s body, pinning his arms by his side as they fastened it to stop it being removed easily. Then Shifter flicked a switch on a remote he pulled from his coat pocket. The small digital display on Simmons’ chest sprang into life, steadily counting down from thirty to zero.
Shifter nodded again and his men grabbed the bound scout, dragging him roughly to the edge of the roof, and as he looked down at the rest of the patrol gave his captive a friendly pat on the back “Okay boys, time to send this little spider home to his friends”
Night Shifter dropped from the ledge he was sat upon, landing lightly before a large sewer grating, his hand freezing as he reached for the release catch. The handle had been snapped clean off the grate cover and tossed aside with the bags of trash that littered the alley, several sets of foot prints showed someone had been recently, someone with friends. Lots of friends.
Silently he slipped inside, darting from shadow to shadow, and made his way down the passage. Halting at what was once a heavily reinforced door. All that remained was a ruined door frame, the former barrier torn savagely in half and cast to the ground, leaving whatever was being protected without it’s first line of defence. Claws burst from the his hands as he stepped inside, crouched low to present as small a target for anyone waiting ready to initiate an ambush.
As he moved from room to room scenes of devastation and conflict surrounded him, broken furniture and small fires mingled with scattered clusters of spent ammunition. Pools of partially dried blood spread from the number of broken bodies laid upon the floor or amongst the ruins of the rooms former furnishings. Shifter inspected each body he found, hoping to avoid finding a face he recognised.
After a few minutes of searching Arachnos troop corpses Shifter found something that crushed his spirit. Breath rasping harshly as she tried in vain to hold a ragged wound in her side closed with her hand, even as the strength began to abandon her fingers. Evara sat slumped against another ruined door frome, tears rolling down her face as she wept uncontrollably. “I’ve failed you, there was nothing we could do to halt the tide.” she gasped and Shifter dropped to his knees beside her, inspecting her injury carefully. “What did they want? Why go to all this trouble? There’s nothing here for them” Sudden realisation struck him and he gripped Evara firmly by the shoulders “Where is he Evara? Tell me they didn’t find him.”
“Forgive me my failure, it shall not happen aga….” Evara’s quiet voice trailed off as her eyes slowly closed, her hand still trying to stem the flow of blood from her side. Slowly Shifter pushed himself to his feet, ignoring the blood that now seeped into his clothing from the ground as he made his way back to the street. There was something altogether more frightening about him as he eventually emerged from the sewers, a tangible aura of pure hatred emanated from the lone figure as he merged with the shadows “Don’t worry Tommy, Daddy’s coming”
Grim yawned as she passed the doorway into the meeting hall, adorned with a large wooden table with a crystal in the middle, and surrounded by wooden chairs. "Okay D, tell me what you-" she started, and was interrupted by a loud banging downstairs. "What's that?" D yanked up his sleeve and tapped into a small console fitted to his arm. "We got Arachnos, which leads on quite nicely from what I 'got' as you put it. We gotta move." "Thanks for that." She raised her voice and shouted to the air. "351, I know you're here too! Get rid of everything!" "Yes ma'am," came the familiar response, as Grim launched herself to a display to see the invaders for herself; just in time to see the head of a huge host that looked really quite like overkill. She turned back to D. "We need to get out my friend, follow me! 351, tell everyone to get the hell out!" D followed the girl as she leapt fown the flght of stairs, stopping next to the approaching horde. "Unfortuntely the way out, even the back way, is through that lot. Ready?" D nodded, forming sparking fists with his armour-encased hands as Grim similarly gathered energy in hers.
Together the pair jumped as far as they could into the bunch of soldiers and unleashed what they could. The tide was halted as broken bodies flew every place and useless limbs flailed about their owners. As they sprinted away down the back through the opening they created closely followed by Arachnos, Grim commented that "perhaps that wasn't such a good idea afterall, I mean we could've gotten away with it being quiet," as they pounded down into a sewer with shouts echoing behind them. "Nah, that was surely the only way, but we do rather have our work cut out for us." "Don't you have... a teleporter or sommat?" Grim panted as they continued. "Man, I shouldn't have gotten blowed up." "It's only within sight range so it wouldn't do us much good right now. Want me to carry you?" "Not yet." "Fine," D replied as he shot a few blasts backwards, faltering the detatchment in pursuit. "Hopefully not too many came." "Yah. Hang on, here's an exit!" The pair swerved, launched themselves up the ramp and out the gratings.
They found themselves in Port Oakes, next to a large Arachnos-run building. "Sometimes I think life likes to play jokes," Grim commented as they resumed their run toward the dock by some unspoken consent. Once there they dove straight into the water and continued to swim out. "Cats don't like water that much." D tossed her a rebreather. "Get used to it, something tells me we're gonna be getting pruned in here." Grim responded by pulling her blast goggles over her mask. "If they see my real fur colour I think we're boned whether we escape or not." "I think we're boned whether they see your real fur colour or not, myself." "...probably." They began a long swim around the island to a beach, keeping underwater when they could.
As Nova arrived at the end of an alley a few hundred yards from the base, something stopped her. Pulling the mask down slightly, she sniffed the air and caught the smell of smoke.
Not that unusual around here, but something feels wrong...
Turning the last corner, she saw exactly what. The front of the building had been comprehensively smashed in, the upper levels now hanging perilously close to complete collapse. Arachnos guards surrounded the place, spread far enough apart to detect any approach, yet close enough together to co-ordinate in the event of an attack.
No... nonononono. KAT!
Staggered, she slumped down against a filthy alley wall, one hand rising to her forehead, the other smacking hard into the wall in frustration and anger.
Slowly standing again, she marched forward towards the wrecked building. The lead soldier held up his gun and prompted her to stop, and got an immediate response in the form of a charged fist to the face. Ducking away from a hail of bullets, she took out three more as they foolishly came around the corner in a tight group.
Exploding out of the wreck again, she caught two more by surprise, ducking back into another gap as the others wheeled around, looking for her. Suddenly, she heard a crackle and a barked order, almost immediately followed by the sound of tens of marching feet.
Pressed against a piece of wreckage, she almost felt her conscious control fading away.
The hell with it. What have I got to lose anyway? Maybe I'm goin' down here, but I can at least pay the bastards back for what they did before I do.
Pulling in a deep breath, she flipped open the right gauntlet panel and adjusted the dials, re-routing energy to the shielding. Reaching up, she pulled off the sunglasses, carefully placing them on the ground, and pulled the mask down to hang loosely around her neck. Steeling herself, she marched out to confront the incoming force.
Allowing herself to lift gently off the ground, she focused, releasing her own powers and raising a shining shield of energy around herself, an insane grin etching itself on her face as she raised her fists and flew straight at the massed reinforcements.
"Looking for me? Well, here I am, ya bastards!"
"Jane is a con artist. A thief. A liar. A smooth-talking criminal genius with a penchant for the dramatic. I just tend to forget it thanks to the Kheldian." - Shadowe
Kat sprinted down an alleyway toward where the base used to be. If Jane was anywhere, she'd probably check there and it's a good place to start.
Telling the Fletched that Arachnos were most likely gonna come knocking at the door had gone easier than she'd hoped. Given, not everybody was actually there, but it wasn't the shock and horror she had expected. Not yet, anyway. Practicalities first, that was the way it had to be and for that she was grateful. She had to wonder where she'd actually screwed up. With half her hair and fur near their natural colours and her clothes very mismatched compared to Grim's usual suspicions would be quite understandable now, but before it seemed like it was bloody unlikely. She rounded a corner.
It wasn't even as if there was anything useful in that base... her thoughts flicked to a secure safe they kept in the back. Ah, crapola...
Night Shifter looked at the half dozen Arachnos Wolf Spiders knelt on the floor before him. They looked rather depressed, bound and gagged by Cyders boys, some of whom were spread around the room just waiting for the enemy to give them a reason to vent their frustrations in a rather violent manner.
Turning to the delicate looking young woman who led the rowdy street gang Shifter's mask distorted slightly as he grinned savagely beneath it before he spoke "Not bad kiddo. Find anything else of value while you checked the place out?"
The girl nodded as she shoved herself off the desk that was serving as a seat "Got ourselves a nice haul of weaponary, including some of those rather nice rifles their bosses use, and if that ain't enough for ya, Scarpa had a bit of a dig through the computer systems. Now I know he's nowhere near Double D's level of ability, but he did manage to come across the account numbers for a few rather swollen bank accounts. I'm guessing they're the ones they use for small scale arms deals like this one. Not that it matters, the funds that used to be in them are now making their merry way through a whole series of front companies and trade networks, pretty soon it'll all be nicely spread out beyond trace and then it all gets transfered to one of the secure overseas accounts we use."
Shifter was impressed, the youngster had scored big time, weapons, equipment and a whole load of Arachnos funds. Not that it would slow them down much, but every little helped. However, it was the hostages that he was most interested in. "Think these guys are ready to answer a few questions? Time isn't something I'm happy to waste at the moment, and there's plenty more bases to visit."
Cyder grinned and nodded to one the gun toting thugs that worked for her. The young man dragged the nearest hostage to his feet, roughly shoving him forward into Shifter's waiting hands.
Shifter took a firn grip of the Spider's armour and carefully pulled the gag from the man's mouth, allowing it to fall around his neck like a miniature scarf before looking him directly in the eye. "Okay, as you heard, I ain't got time to waste, so I'll make this real quick and ask just one question, ready to play?"
The guard's response wasn't quite as helpful as Shifter had hoped for, and resulted in his smacking the guard in the side of the head with his fist. After picking the man up again he asked him once more "Got all the abuse out of your system?" the guard nodded slowly, a slightly dazed expression on his face caused by the impacts of a fist to head and then his head with the floor "Perfect, here we go then, the 64 million dollar question. Where is my son?"
The guard sneered and spat in Shifters face, "I'd rather die than betray Lord Recluse, you don't scare me"
Cyder cringed as the guard spoke, then watched with morbid curiosity for her bosses reaction. Shifter seemed remarkably calm as his free hand reached up and wiped the spit from his mask, running his fingers over the guards battle suit to rid them of the man saliva. Then with a single economical stroke he extended a single claw and slit the guards throat, blood spraying liberally over his clothing as the body was allowed to fall to the ground.
Turning to face the remaining hostages, Shifter growled at them, his voice now void of all emotion save hatred "Consider that a warning to the rest of you, I'm not in the mood for metaphors or similies, nor am I feeling partial to foolish acts of bravado. If anyone else would rather die than betray Recluse please feel free to speak up, it'll save me the trouble of asking you questions one by one." This comment was greeted with the sound of several dozen safety catches on Cyder's gangs guns being clicked to the firing position.
Shifter looked at the now terrified hostages and couldn't help laughing to himself. These guys might be the enemy, but you had to admire their dedication and loyalty to their leader. Pointing out of the hostages randomly he asked the same question "Where is my son?"
The man paniced, looking about him for some way to get himself out of the situation. Finding nothing of help he sighed and lowered his head "In Paragon, they took him to the city this morning. Don't ask me where, I'm a f**k**g guard, I don't get told shit. The only reason I know about your boy is because I over heard the head operative on the capture mission talking by the docks."
Shifter nodded "Well now, that wasn't so tough now was it?" Then turning to Cyder "I assume you know what to do with these guys?"
Cyder made her way to the recently nominated guard, pulling one of her pistols from it's holster and resting it against the back of the man's head "We got no respect for traitors, sell outs or just general pieces of shit like you, so we get you on all three counts mister spider man, catch you in the next life"
Shifter turned and walked towards the street level exit doors, pausing to grin sadistically as the sudden report of Cyders gun and the thud of a body hitting the ground reached his ears. Tommy had been taken to Paragon had he? Didn't make life much easier, but at least he had access to more back-up there, and Arachnos had far fewer troops there. Now it was only a matter of time........
(( just so y'all don't think I've forgotten about this lil plot, I swung my latest piece up on the IC Story thread on the RP Forum of the main CoH boards. Hope you likes it, and if you don't, ahh well, I'll just have to try harder next time I guess ))