Alicia wandered through the streets of Ruby city with a whole new outlook on life. The recent events had revealed to her a whole new side of the city that she didn’t know existed, a whole strata of society that was hidden away from the general day to day public.
Alicia spent a lot of her time at the library, trying to research what the gem could possibly be. She could find many precious stones that looked similar, however, none of them would be able to cause explosions like the ones she had witnessed. To try and avoid suspicion Alicia attempted to make her borrowing history as esoteric as possible, withdrawing and requesting loads of books literally at random. If anyone saw Alicia’s account they would presume that she was both a prolific reader and had the attention span of a mayfly on sugar.
As she carried a load of books home she looked around. Any of the people around her could be hiding unknown superpowers, any of these people could be affiliated with the gang she and her Mother had fought, it was at once thrilling and terrifying.
“Hello!” Shouted Sharon as the door opened, shaking Alicia from her thoughts.
“Hey Mom,” smiled Alicia as she put the books down on the table and wandered towards her Mom’s voice.
“So you are never going to believe what I heard on the supervillain grapevine today,” chuckled Sharon, waving a spatula around as she did.
“Supervillain grapevine? You have a newsletter or something?”
“Of course not, however, rumors spread,” replied Sharon as she returned to her baking.
“So what’s the news?”
“Well, it seems we lucked out a little with Ulla turning up. Burst and Spectre think that Ulla must have taken the loot, and Black Hand seem to think the same.”
“So no one is going to come looking for us?” Grinned Alicia.
“For now. I’m hoping I can convince Burst and Spectre to stop fighting Black Hand. If MIST is after them, any further interaction could end up with us stuck in the middle.”
“Right,” nodded Alicia.
“Also Doctor Mara called me back, she wants you in the lab bright and early Friday morning.”
“Mara is the local expert on abnormal biology. She will be able to test to see if you have any powers.”
“Awesome!” Cheered Alicia, getting instantly excited at the thought. “She is totally safe?”
“Oh yes,” nodded Sharon. “Mara is, well let’s just say her only allegiance is to her research. It is pretty well known she works with both sides.”
“Wow, they let her do that?” Gasped Alicia, honestly surprised that MIST or some other agency didn’t keep her under lock and key.
“She knows the weakness of every power in the city. Push her too hard and within the hour she will have a way to destroy you.” Nodded Sharon somberly. “Also, keep in mind she is the only person able to handle medical issues arising from powers, so neither side wants to lose her as a resource.”
“Fair,” nodded Alicia, her excitement only growing.
“She is also pretty lovely,” winked Sharon. “Hence the cake, I do like to indulge her sweet tooth whenever I can.”
“Oh, a bribe!” Giggled Alicia.
“Not a bribe, she will study anyone’s powers for free.”
“Not for the tests, a bribe for her heart,” giggled Alicia.
“Alicia!” Gasped Sharon, flicking a lump of cake batter towards her daughter. “How dare you imply such a thing!”
Alicia ran a finger across her face before licking the batter off, a wide smirk on her face. Alicia had spent enough time with her Mom to know when she had a crush and it was blindingly obvious that Sharon found Mara attractive. She didn’t make a cake for just anyone.
Alicia dropped the conversation, fearing further cake batter reprisals. She watched her Mom bake for a few minutes before her curiosity forced her to break the silence.
“So what happened to the gem?” She said, looking around the room.
“I picked up secure storage for it,” nodded Sharon.
“Went to villain mart?” Giggled Alica.
“Of course I did!” Smiled Sharon as she pushed the cake tin into the oven.
“You’re not meant to agree with my mocking.” Replied Alicia as she shook her head.
“But it is true? I went to an under-market trader. I call it villain mart, because well, that is what it is. It is where most villains buy their equipment.” Explained Sharon as she turned and looked at Alicia. “Well unless you are rich enough to be able to buy things through layered shell companies. But I’m not. So villain mart it is!”
“Under-market? Don’t you mean black market?” Asked Alicia, growing more intrigued by the second.
“No, they would be very offended if you said that to their face,” replied Sharon, wagging her finger at Alicia. “A black market sells stolen or fake goods to patrons. An under-market sells real goods to patrons in a way that can’t be traced.”
“I see, right.” nodded Alicia. “That makes sense. So where is the gem?”
“It is in the spare room!” Smiled Sharon, leaning down and looking into the oven. “I’ll show you, follow me!” She said with a grin.
Sharon led Alicia up the stairs and into the tiny spare room. For as long as Alicia could remember the spare room had been nothing more than a large cupboard that was filled with random junk. As Sharon opened the door Alicia realized this was still very much the case.
Sharon walked through the boxes and opened up the small built-in closet on the back wall. At the bottom of this closet was a heavy-looking safe.
“Nice,” nodded Alicia, watching as Sharon started to put in the combination. As the safe opened Alicia screamed and jumped backward. The safe was full of sex toys and porn magazines. “I didn’t need to see that!” Shouted Alica, covering her eyes and turning towards the wall. “I so didn’t need to see that!”
“Oh calm down!” Giggled Sharon. “I have needs you know.”
“Why I must have had sex, I had you didn’t I? Or were you an immaculate conception?” Continued Sharon, doing her best to keep her laughter under control.
“Mom,” whined Alicia. “Oh god, I can’t believe I saw that.”
“Then my plan is working!” Laughed Sharon as she started to pull the sex toys out of the safe.
“Your plan to scar me for life?” Replied Alicia, turning back and looking at the safe.
“A safe has to have contents,” smiled Sharon. “If someone breaks open a safe and finds nothing of value or nothing worth hiding they keep digging, as obviously they haven’t found what you are attempting to conceal.”
“Right, but why your sex toys?”
“They are not my sex toys, I brought them specifically for the safe,” smirked Sharon. “I want to tell any would-be thieves that I am trying to hide my fantastic sex life!”
“Not a mental image I needed to have,” whined Alicia once more.
“Well think about it. Look at me and my home from the eyes of an outsider. Do I look like someone who has wonderful valuables that need to be kept under lock and key?” Said Sharon, as she pulled a metal box out of the back of the safe.
“No,” replied Alicia, shaking her head a little.
“Right. So what would I need a safe for? What could I be hiding that would require me to have a safe?”
“Oh,” nodded Alicia, suddenly understanding what Sharon was talking about. “I get it.”
Sharon put the box down on the floor and opened it, revealing a slightly smaller box and a battery pack. “So, this is effectively a form of Faraday cage, it should prevent the gem messing with anything around it, and prevent anything accidentally charging the gem,” explained Sharon as she gently opened up the second box to reveal the gem.
“Right, so we don’t need to worry about explosions!” Smiled Alicia.
“Well, worry less. Unless you found out how this works then we still can’t be sure it won’t explode again.”
“Right,” nodded Alicia, her smile fading for a second. “I’ve not worked that out yet.”
“It isn’t an easy task,” smiled Sharon. “Now let me put this away, why don’t you gather the sex toys for me?”
“Mom,” whined Alicia as she closed her eyes and started to pick the stuff up.
Alicia wiggled a little in her bed, slowly emerging from the grips of sleep. As she slowly opened her eyes she heard her Mom shouting.
“Alicia, come on sweetie, wake up!” Yelled Sharon from downstairs. Alicia pulled herself out of bed and walked towards the voice.
As Alicia wandered into the kitchen she was hit by the smell of pancakes. “Good Morning!” grinned Sharon as she passed Alicia a plate.
“How are you so chirpy this early in the morning?” Mumbled Alicia as she took the plate to the table.
“Because I’ve been up for two hours,” replied Sharon sarcastically. “We need to get you to the lab, we don’t want to keep Doctor Mara waiting!”
“It’s Friday!” Blinked Alicia, her brain kicking into high gear as she realized what day it was. She quickly started to shove pancakes into her mouth, keen to make sure she arrived at the lab on time.
“Excited?” Smiled Sharon.
“Very!” Grinned Alicia. “I’m hoping I have powers!” She said as she continued to shove food into her mouth.
“I hope you do as well,” nodded Sharon. “And I think it will be a fun day either way!”
“Because you get to see your doctor crush!” Winked Alicia, making Sharon go red for a brief second.
Alicia went through the morning on fast forward, quickly showering and getting dressed before diving into the car with her mother.
After a short drive, Sharon parked the car in front of a large concrete building. Alicia could hardly contain herself, her mind was full of images of what she could do with her soon to be discovered powers.
The pair left the car and walked into the building and headed up a few floors. Eventually, they came across a door with the label “Dr. Mara. Please make an appointment.”
Sharon pressed the buzzer on the door, leaning towards the speaker as she did. “Doctor Mara? It’s Sharon,” she said softly. Instantly the door made a loud click as it unlocked.
Sharon pulled the door open and led Alicia inside. The office looked rather normal. The usual combination of slightly outdated decor and magazines that featured articles about tourism in Ceylon.
Before the pair could walk more than a few steps into the room a door swung open and a woman poked her head out. “Sharon!” Exclaimed the woman.
“Hello, Doctor Mara!” Smiled Sharon, her cheeks growing slightly red. “I brought you a cake!” She said, holding out the tin.
Alicia was in awe, she could totally see why her mother was enamored with this lady. Doctor Mara was very tall, with an amazing, almost Amazon like build. She had long red hair that curled elegantly down her back and her whole body was resplendent in a bright white lab coat.
“Well that is wonderful,” said Mara firmly. “Sharon I will have to tell you how my rhubarb is doing when we have coffee. I think your green fingers will be able to help me with a slight issue I am having.”
“Oh of course!” Smiled Sharon, pointing to Alicia. “My daughter has quite the green thumb, so I’m sure she will be able to help out as well.”
“Great,” nodded Mara. “Back in just a moment,” she said before going back into the room and closing the door behind her.
Alicia walked up to her mother and whispered quietly in her ear. “What was that about?”
“Doctor Mara has a visitor,” whispered Sharon. “A visitor she doesn’t trust. Play it cool.”
“I am playing it cool,” whispered Alica, still slightly confused by what was going on.
After a couple of minutes, the door reopened and Mara walked out, a lady with short black hair following not too far behind.
“Such a shame I can’t help,” grinned Mara. “However, I do have a rather important date I don’t want to miss, I do hope you find what you are looking for,” she said as she guided the woman to the front door and let her out of the office.
Once the door was closed Mara let out a small sigh. “I’m sorry about that,” she said as she looked towards Sharon.
“Don’t worry about it doctor,” smiled Sharon. Alicia rolled her eyes, Sharon constantly calling Mara “doctor” was very clearly an attempt at flirting.
“Apparently someone is trying to track down some gang and they think my research could be helpful,” explained Mara as she walked to her desk.
“Is it?” Asked Sharon.
“Of course not, I research the migratory patterns of crows.” Winked Mara. “Do you mind if I take a seat for a moment? It has been a busy morning.”
“Oh not at all!” Smiled Sharon. “Why don’t we have some cake?”
“Oh great,” smiled Mara as she sat down on one of the waiting room chairs. Alicia watched as her Mom quickly got to work cutting the cake. The fact she was carrying a knife and paper plates in her purse made it very clear this was what she was hoped would happen.
Alica wanted to say something, to tease her Mom’s very obvious crush but before she could Mara looked towards her and spoke. “So, looking to join the family business?”
“Oh,” blinked Alica. “I’m not sure really. I guess I’m just curious right now.”
“She is very new to the whole concept,” smiled Sharon passing Mara a piece of cake.
“I see,” said Mara, taking the cake and smiling up at Sharon. “Well then, I’m going to need you to tell me if things feel odd during testing as things can get rather unusual.”
“I will,” smiled Alicia as her Mom passed her a slice of cake.
Once the cake was done Mara led Alicia into her lab. This lab looked very well funded, it made the research labs at Alicia’s university look like a toy chemistry set.
“So first test,” grinned Mara, throwing a belt towards Alicia.
“A system?” Gasped Alicia as she caught the belt.
“Correct!” Nodded Mara. “We’ll start with that as systems are the easiest thing to test. So please put that on and then push the button on the top.”
“Okay!” Grinned Alicia as she started to put the belt on.
“Sharon? Would you care to join me?” Asked Mara as she led Sharon behind a large transparent screen. Sharon blushed and nodded, following closely behind Mara.
“So I just press?” Asked Alicia as she looked down at the red button.
“Whenever you are ready,” smiled Mara, her voice slightly muffled by the screen.
Alicia pressed the button down. The second she did a load of noise came out of the belt. It sounded like a strange combination of grinding metal and a computer that was in the process of a meltdown.
Alicia’s body tensed, it felt like electricity was coursing through her, she tried to move but found it impossible, she started to twitch and shake, it felt like she was about to shatter.
Suddenly a strange metallic taste filled her mouth as a loud explosion rang out. Alicia flew through the air as if thrown by a catapult. She hit the wall with a loud thud, pain radiating through her body as she slid down the wall and crumpled into a heap on the floor.
“Not a system user,” said Mara firmly. Alicia just groaned, trying to pull herself together.
“What was that?” She moaned softly.
“System failure.” Replied Mara, grabbing a clipboard and making a few notes. “I am surprised, being thrown like that suggests you have something in your biology, that might be suggestive of a power.”
“Yay!” Shouted Alicia before groaning again. Sharon walked over and helped Alicia up, gently rubbing her head as she did.
“Feeling okay?” Smiled Sharon.
“Sore,” replied Alicia.
“Well, we have more tests to do,” grinned Mara, producing a needle from inside her lab coat. The color faded from Alicia’s cheeks as she looked at the needle, but she quickly pushed her fear down, keen to do anything that might reveal a hidden power.
As the day went on, Alicia started to get worn out. The system test had taken a lot out of her and the other tests, while more normal, had only served to exhaust her further.
Mid-way through a heartbeat test Sharon pulled a phone from her bag. She looked at it for a few moments before sighing. “I’m going to need to go,” she said gently.
“What’s up?” Asked Alicia.
“Burst needs me,” replied Sharon, putting her phone away. “But you are in good hands.” She added, nodding towards Mara.
“Oh, I’ll keep my eye on her. I have no one else today,” smiled Mara.
“Thank you,” replied Sharon as she grabbed her things and marched out of the office.
“I wonder what is up,” mumbled Alicia.
“Don’t question it,” replied Mara as she opened Alicia’s mouth and started to swab it. “You’ll go mad if you question everything, sometimes you’ve just got to accept it and run with it.”
Sharon ran home and suited up before quickly heading to the dingy pool hall that acted as Burst’s meeting place. As Sharon walked into the basement she found that the place was empty apart from Burst and Spectre, who seemed to be in the middle of a game of pool.
“Mesmera!” Bellowed Spectre, throwing her cue to the ground. “Now you are here we can begin.”
“I’m sorry this was all last minute,” replied Mesmera.
“She doesn’t care,” interrupted Burst. “She was about to lose and owe me money, she is trying to use you arriving as an excuse to throw the game.”
“Poppycock,” huffed Spectre.
“Well, what did you call me here for?” Asked Mesmera.
“Black Hand are about to get the crap kicked out of them.” Chuckled Burst. “Seems we ain’t the only people they’ve been screwing out of their pay.”
“Oh?” Smirked Mesmera.
“Not sure who they are, I just heard people talking about it, some Black Hand goons were warned to quit if they don’t want to be involved in a full-scale turf war.”
“Nice,” nodded Mesmera. “So where do we come into this?”
“I think Black Hand are going to have a fire sale,” beamed Burst. “We’re still owed money, so why don’t we use this distraction to take anything that isn’t nailed down.”
“A fitting eulogy to a pile of fools!” Added Spectre with an over the top evil laugh.
“Right,” nodded Mesmera, running the idea over in her head. Burst was right, there would be plenty of stuff for the taking. But she knew full well that if the Black Hand was going to be attacked, then MIST would swarm the place. Ulla failed to take the gang down, and that meant that MIST would likely escalate their efforts.
Of course, a raid might tip off everyone that the gem was with Sharon and not with one of the other parties. And people knowing that would lead to a lot of trouble for her and Alicia. Sharon sighed, it was pointless arguing with these two. If she said no to the offer Burst would work out that something was going on.
“Sure, I’m in,” nodded Mesmera. The cogs in her brain turned slowly as a plan started to form, one that could solve her problem and get Burst exactly what she wanted.
“Wonderful!” Grinned Spectre, marching towards the door.
“You still owe me ten bucks,” shouted Burst as she put her cue against the table and started to walk out of the basement with Mesmera only a few steps behind.
The trio made their way through the back streets, doing their best to not be spotted by civilians and police. Burst lead the group to the building her informant had told her about.
The place was a giant dock-side warehouse, fifty years ago it would have been the center of the fish gutting industry, but these days it acted as nothing more than a general eyesore.
“This is the place,” nodded Burst.
“A disgusting hovel for disgusting people,” smirked Spectre.
“Really, this is their headquarters? Not another front?” Blinked Mesmera.
“Forward base, it is where they run major operations,” replied Burst, looking around a little. “I think we go in through the roof and get the jump on them.”
“I’ll wait outside,” replied Mesmera, causing Burst and Spectre to glare at her.
“Why?” Asked Spectre with an accusatorial tone.
“I’m not the best at hand to hand. I’ll use my powers to deal with anyone who tries to escape. I can get a small group of hypnotized people to block the door.” Explained Mesmera with a knowing smirk.
“I like it!” Nodded Burst. “Let’s go!” She said, waving to Spectre. Mesmera watched as the girls started to scale the roof of the warehouse, she wasn’t sure if her plan was going to work, but right now it was all she had.
Mesmera watched the other two girls closely, waiting for her moment to act. Suddenly she felt something smash into her back, knocking her face-first into the damaged concrete. Mesmera looked up to try and work out what hit her, only to see a woman stood where she had been seconds before.
The woman was at least six feet tall, though her most obvious feature was her red mask that bore the pearlescent silhouette of a large bird. Aside from the mask the woman wore a bright red leotard and had large black boots on her feet. Mesmera pulled herself up off the floor, however before she could say anything the woman started to talk.
“Criminals beware, face the might of El Cóndor Vengador!” Shouted the woman as she ran towards Mesmera. Mesmera quickly rolled out of the way, trying to work out just who this woman was.
The woman stopped and turned, ducking down to charge once again. However, before she could start her charge a large bang rang out from inside the warehouse. A few seconds later the sounds of chaos filled the air as more explosions started to echo around the deserted dock.
“More of you,” growled the masked woman. “You will all be beaten!”
Mesmera looked towards the warehouse only to see loads of Black Hand thugs running out. While she had originally planned to hypnotize one of the thugs into distracting everyone else it seemed that it was already far too late for that plan.
This momentary glance was enough for Vengador to move close to Mesmera and grab her, lifting her into the air effortlessly. Mesmera gasped and struggled, but she was unable to escape.
Vengador slammed Mesmera to the floor with force. Mesmera let out a scream as her body impacted the concrete. While she had been hit before, she had never been hit with this kind of strength.
Mesmera’s vision blurred slightly as she tried to fight through the pain and come up with a strategy to deal with this woman. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see people pouring onto the dock as smoke billowed out of the warehouse.
Vengador wrapped her hand around Mesmera’s throat and lifted her into the air, Mesmera kicked her legs helplessly, doing her best to try and struggle free.
Suddenly Mesmera realized that Vengador’s mask lacked any form of eye protection. The mask was simply a mask and her eyes were totally exposed. Mesmera did her best to center herself, trying channel as much of her power as she could. She glared at Vengador, her eyes turning silver.
“Look me in the eyes,” she coughed. “Look me in the eyes and comply with my will.”
The silver danced in Vengador’s eyes for a second, her mouth opening slightly as her grip weakened. Mesmera tried to wiggle free again, making sure to maintain eye contact as she did.
“That’s it, deep into my eyes,” continued Mesmera, “so weak and so tired, giving in to me,” she cooed as she started to breathe normally again.
Suddenly, Vengador fell forward, crushing Mesmera beneath her. The sudden fall caused Mesmera to totally lose her focus. She quickly wiggled out from underneath Vengador’s body only to instantly spot why the woman had fallen.
A figure stood just inches away from Mesmera, they were holding a baton in their hand that crackled with electricity and their whole body was clad in what seemed to be powered armor that sported a red handprint over the heart.
Mesmera started to run, only to realize the whole dock was chaos. There were at least fifty people in identical armor, a load of Black Hand thugs, and several MIST agents all caught in a massive brawl.
She quickly ran towards the water’s edge, hoping she could try and swim for it. However, before she could dive into the water she spotted Burst and Spectre. Both girls were surrounded by a small horde of armored people. Mesmera knew she couldn’t just abandon them, regardless of the pain she was in.
Mesmera looked around furiously, hoping she could find some way to get the upper hand on the group, suddenly she spotted some rope tied to a boat mooring. She quickly grabbed it ran towards the group surrounding Burst.
“Hey! Metal brains!” Screamed Mesmera as she lashed the rope like a whip, smacking a couple of the people as she did. The group turned, their armor not even scratched by the rope.
The group started to move towards Mesmera. She knew full well that her powers were useless here, no way she could hypnotize all of these people at once without getting attacked from behind.
Mesmera continued to brandish the rope, swinging it wildly, hoping to disarm a few of the people at the very least. However, despite her best efforts, each figure kept a firm grip on their baton.
As the group got closer and closer Mesmera braced herself for a beating. Suddenly Vengador charged into the group, knocking them to the ground like bowling pins.
A few of the other armored figures tried to hit Vengador, only to get thrown aside. Vengador then lifted one of them off the floor and raised them above her head before throwing the armored body at another group of people.
“It has all gone wrong,” panted Burst as she ran over to Mesmera, the fear obvious in her voice. “Who the hell are these people?”
“I have no idea,” replied Mesmera, looking around the dock once more. The Black Hand goons were being soundly beaten by these armored figures, however, the MIST agents were doing a decent job at holding their own.
“I think it is time to exit stage left!” Shouted Spectre, looking at the chaos.
“I’m with you,” nodded Mesmera, watching as Vengador lifted someone onto her shoulders before slamming their spine into the floor.
Vengador turned and stared at Mesmera. “We still have unfinished business!” She screamed. “You’re mine!”
“I have a rather full dance card I’m afraid!” Replied Mesmera, walking back towards the water, keen to not be snuck up on.
“Fools! Idiots! MIST flunkies! Fear us!” Shouted a voice. Mesmera and Vengador turned to look, only to see a woman stood atop the half-destroyed warehouse.
The woman was dressed in a maid’s uniform and she was carrying a mop over her shoulder. Mesmera snorted a little, this woman looked utterly stupid in her strange costume.
“We are the Red Right Hand! And from this day forward, Ruby City is ours!” Screamed the woman, jumping from the warehouse roof to the floor.
The armored figures paused for a moment, looking towards the woman in the maid’s outfit. The remaining Black Hand thugs used this moment to scatter, obviously realizing they didn’t stand a chance.
The armored figures all dropped to one knee, clearly trying to show respect and loyalty towards the figure in the maid’s uniform. The MIST agents looked around in confusion, unsure why everyone had suddenly stopped fighting.
After a few seconds, one MIST agent broke the silence. She was clad in a tight green bodysuit and had a black cape flowing down her back. “MIST agents, you are under arrest!” She shouted before turning to face Mesmera and Vengador. “That includes you four as well!”
Mesmera stopped mid-step, totally unsure of what to do. If the MIST agent wanted to arrest all four of them, that meant the Vengador wasn’t part of MIST. But the fact that she had attacked the armored figures meant that Vengador wasn’t part of this new group either.
Mesmera’s head spun as she tried to work out just what was going on and what her best option was in all of this chaos.
“I’m going nowhere!” cackled the maid, her curly blonde hair bouncing gently in the breeze.
“We’ll see about that!” Shouted the woman in green as she ran towards the maid, obviously ready to fight.
The maid just laughed and pressed her mop into the ground. She swirled it around like she was trying to mop the damaged dock. However, after a few seconds, she pulled the mop up, revealing that the mop head had become a scythe blade.
The maid dodged the MIST agent’s charge and grabbed her with the scythe. With one flowing movement the maid used the blade to throw the agent back towards her allies
“It is time to clean this place up!” Chuckled the maid as the woman in green pulled herself up off the floor.
“Never,” growled the woman, clenching her fist tightly. “Lady Oak never gives up! The forest lives within me!” She shouted as she waved her hands.
Suddenly a load of tree roots burst from the ground around the maid. The roots waved and wobbled like tendrils, each one trying to grab or coil around the maid’s ankles.
The maid quickly and elegantly dodged the roots, jumping over them as they tried to grab her. She quickly leaned down and spun her scythe, cutting all of the roots clean in two. Lady Oak stood in shock, obviously surprised that the maid avoided her attack so easily. Lady Oak started to wave her hands again, doing her best to summon more roots.
The maid turned and faced Lady Oak, a massive grin forming on her face. She quickly leaped forward and landed within inches of Lady Oak’s face. “Allow me to clean away your delusions of grandeur,” she cackled as she swept the scythe upwards, throwing Lady Oak into the air. “Dust Devil!” Screamed the maid as she started to spin her scythe around and around, forming a massive vortex of dust.
The other MIST agents started to move towards the maid keen to try and help their friend. The first agent was clad in metallic armor that resembled a cybernetic Puma. She dived forward obviously trying to tackle the maid to the floor, however, the maid sidestepped the pounce before throwing her scythe into the air.
The vortex caught Lady Oak mid-fall and quickly propelled her higher into the air the scythe blade hitting her limp body over and over again.
Another woman charged forward, obviously hoping to take advantage of the fact that the maid was now disarmed, however, the maid wasn’t slowed. She threw a straight punch that knocked the other woman to the ground.
The maid held out her hand and the scythe instantly flew back to her, causing Lady Oak to come crashing back down to Earth with a sickening thud.
“We need to go now,” shouted Mesmera, shaking herself from her awe. She grabbed Burst and Spectre and pulled them off the end of the dock and into the sea.
The water was frigid, but Mesmera pushed through the pain, swimming as fast as she could, looping around the coast until she was several blocks away from the chaos on the docks.
As she pulled herself onto the shore she saw a group of unmarked vans speeding towards where she had been minutes before. Obviously, MIST was sending in back-up, today hadn’t gone to plan for any side, least of all Mesmera.
The trio of women made their way back to the pool hall, leaving puddles of water behind themselves as they went.
“What was that?” Groaned Spectre as she slumped against a pool table.
“No idea,” sighed Burst, rubbing her arm as she did. “Red Right Hand? Ain’t the first time a gang has fractured but that maid.”
“That maid sucked,” nodded Spectre, obviously too tired to engage in her usual theatrics. “She was never part of Black Hand,” she mumbled.
“How do you know that?” Asked Burst as she grabbed a cue and started to pot balls at random.
“You think the Black Hand would have sucked so much and needed to hire us if they had her knocking around?”
“Fair point,” nodded Burst. “Either way, we ain’t getting paid.”
“I’ve got to go,” sighed Sharon. “I wasn’t planning this to take so long,” she said as she waved to Burst and Spectre.
She threw her coat over her sodden clothes and checked her phone, revealing a message from Mara.
“Alicia is going to stay at my office for a while, meet us there.” It said. Sharon sighed and went home to change before heading slowly to Mara’s office.
The second Sharon pressed the buzzer, Mara opened the door and put her finger to her lips. Sharon tensed and clenched her fists, presuming she was walking into a strange hostage situation, however before Sharon could act, Mara pointed to the chairs in her waiting room.
They had all been moved to form a makeshift bed and Alicia was lay on them, sound asleep. Sharon chuckled a little as Mara waved her inside and into her laboratory, gently closing the door behind them.
“Wore her out,” said Mara softly.
“Poor thing,” smiled Sharon.
“I did say we could do the other tests another day, but she insisted on doing all of them.”
“That is my Alicia,” nodded Sharon. “Stubborn.”
“It is a good trait.” Smiled Mara. “Drink?”
“Oh I really,” started Sharon before shrugging. “You know what, after today I need one.”
“Not a fun meeting?” Asked Mara, walking over to a cupboard, and producing a large bottle of whiskey.
“Yeah, it was a weird day. Likely linked to your visitor earlier.” Nodded Sharon, watching as Mara poured the booze into two tumblers.
“Ah, the tapestry of the city is changing again I take it?” She said as she wandered over and passed a glass to Sharon before climbing up onto a table.
“Very much so,” replied Sharon, swirling the booze around in a glass.
“I don’t know how you keep up,” chuckled Mara. “I have enough trouble and I keep myself separate from it all.”
The women sat in silence for a few moments, gently sipping at their drinks. “So, how did the tests go?” Asked Sharon, breaking the silence.
“Well,” replied Mara, looking towards Sharon. “I couldn’t pinpoint a power, however she did well on all the tests. There is something there, we just need to find it.”
“I’m sure Alicia will be happy to hear that,” grinned Sharon. “She has been very excited about it all.”
“She told me,” nodded Mara. “You really never told her?”
“I didn’t want to hurt her,” whispered Sharon as she looked at the drink swirling in her glass.
“I understand,” nodded Mara, wrapping her arm around Sharon as she did. “You raised her well, especially as there was only the two of you.”
“Thank you,” smiled Sharon, her cheeks going a little red at the touch.
“Have you ever considered.” Started Mara before trailing off.
“Dating? I mean, now Alicia is in college.” Asked Mara, a hint of shyness in her voice.
“Well, I’ve had dates, just nothing long term came along. Most people like to go to dinner, which is hard as most villainy happens at night.”
“I see,” nodded Mara. “What about someone who knows the score coming in?”
“Hard to find a villain who wants to date,” sighed Sharon. “Especially with my powers, most want to hook me up to a TV camera and have me hypnotize the world.”
“Your powers work on recordings?” Blinked Mara.
“Never tried it,” chuckled Sharon. “Doesn’t mean people don’t jump to the idea.”
Mara nodded a few times before starting to laugh to herself. “It is amusing that the person who can control minds is having issues finding a date.”
“It is delightfully ironic,” smiled Sharon, taking another sip of her drink. “But it doesn’t feel right to use it to make people fall in love, you know?”
“And bribes of cake are okay?” Asked Mara, causing Sharon to suddenly go a deep shade of crimson.
“Well, I mean,” she said, stumbling over her words. The exhaustion and the alcohol were mixing together in her system and causing her thoughts to jumble together.
“It is okay,” interrupted Mara. “I’ve known about it for a while. I’ve just never wanted to push it.”
“Not wanting to step out of your role,” nodded Sharon. “I understand.”
“And well, hearing Alicia mention that you’re single. It made me get a little confident I suppose. She sings your praises you know.”
“She is a sweet girl. And you are a very sweet lady.” Smiled Sharon rubbing Mara’s cheek a little. “I’m just not sure if I can commit, I’m so used to being a solo act.”
“I’m not asking for a commitment,” replied Mara. “Not right now. But, maybe a date? My treat.”
‘That sounds lovely.”
“I’m glad,” chuckled Mara. “I’ll be honest. I always run your tests twice, just so I have an excuse to get you back in here.”
“Oh my,” blushed Sharon. “And here was me thinking I had uncooperative blood.”
“Your blood is wonderful,” chuckled Mara. “I didn’t even realize I was doing it at first, but it slowly dawned on me.”
Sharon nodded and continued to smile at Mara. Suddenly an idea came into her head and she leaned closer to Mara, gently moving a strand of red hair away from her face. “May I?”
“You may,” nodded Mara gently. Sharon leaned closer, gently pressing her lips into Mara’s. The warmth of the other woman’s body made Sharon feel amazing, it made all of the soreness from the day feel worth it.
Sharon gently pulled Mara into a tight embrace as her tongue started to roam the mouth of the other woman. Sharon was never normally like this, but right now she needed a thrill and this was making her feel so alive, she had wanted Mara for so long and now she was getting her.
Sharon’s hands roamed Mara’s back as the kiss got more and more intense. Sharon’s heart was fluttering, she felt amazing, she felt like she was the queen of the whole universe.
Mara gently ran her hands along the bottom of Sharon’s breasts, her breathing growing faster and more ragged each second.
Mara gently pulled away from the kiss, sliding off the table as her hands danced along Sharon’s crotch. Sharon gasped and bit her lip. “Are you sure,” she asked.
“More than I’ve ever been,” winked Mara as she gently unfastened Sharon’s pants and slid them down her legs before pushing her panties to the side.
As Mara’s tongue made contact with Sharon’s needy sex she let out a long deep groan. She wrapped her legs around Mara’s neck and threw her head back, everything felt so wrong and yet so very right.
Sharon softly ran her fingers through Mara’s hair as the pleasure washed over her in long waves, her whole body started to tremble and twitch.
Suddenly a warm wave ran over her entire being, pushing her into total and euphoric bliss. Sharon’s eyes blurred as she flopped back onto the table. After a few minutes, she saw Mara over her.
“I needed that,” purred Mara, climbing onto the table and kissing Sharon on the cheek.
The warmth of Mara’s body and the lingering haze of her orgasm left Sharon feeling relaxed and sleepy and before she knew it she gently slid down into sleep, holding Mara in her arms.
“It went wonderfully,” smiled the maid as she tapped the end of her mop against the wooden desk. “I decimated Lady Oak!”
The woman sat at the desk glared at the mop, making the maid gulp and instantly stop tapping it. After a few seconds of silence, the woman nodded and smiled. “Perfect, anything else?”
“A couple of other people turned up, seemed everyone wanted to kick Black Hand to death.” Smirked the maid.
“Who were they?” Asked the woman, obviously not impressed by the maid’s attitude.
“No idea,” replied the maid. “Some unaligned supers I guess? One was pretty strong, had a Luchador gimmick going on. Other three fell into the sea I think.”
“Fell into the sea?” Asked the woman with a sigh. “Or escaped?”
“I don’t know, I got distracted!” Replied the maid, starting to laugh, only to stop as she saw the anger in the other woman’s eyes.
“Massacre Maid, just because other people put up with your failures due to being scared of you, doesn’t mean I will! I pay you to keep your eyes open! I pay you to do what I tell you to do!” She shouted as she smashed her fist into the desk. “I still need to find who has my equipment!”
“None of them had it!” Shouted the maid, jumping backward. “I didn’t see anyone moving a gem around! I even checked the warehouse rubble! There was nothing!”
“Get out.” Shouted the woman as she pulled her phone out of her pocket. The maid didn’t question and quickly ran out of the office, dragging her mop behind her.
The woman looked over her phone and smirked before grabbing her jacket off the chair and heading out of her office. She looped through the building’s corridors, a sense of purpose in her step.
After a few minutes walk, she pushed through a large set of double doors only to be nearly deafened by loud music.
“Candy! Candy! I love all of your candy, my heart is so sticky sweet! Cake, pudding, pie! You’re the candy apple of my eye!” Blared the singer and another voice, all to a saccharine pop beat.
The equipment in this room suggested that it was a lab, but the decor didn’t match the equipment. The room was bright baby pink and it was covered in neon signs declaring things like “Be cute!” and “Pastel Princess.” The one wall was just a mass of stuffed animals and every surface had at least two jars of candy on it.
The woman looked around until she spied the source of the voice. A girl in a pink lab coat and a tutu was looking through a microscope, shaking her butt as she sang along with the song.
The woman winced at the volume before rubbing the bridge of her nose. “Momo!” She screamed, doing her best to be heard over the noise.
“Boss!” Shouted the girl, instantly spinning around. “How ya doing?! Having fun?!” She asked in an overly enthusiastic voice.
“Turn the music down!” Shouted the woman again, only for Momo to pout.
“But she is my favorite! Her music is so happy!”
“Turn it down!” Screamed the woman again, only for Momo to sigh and press a button that instantly muted the stereo. As the room went quiet the woman let out a small sigh and started to speak again. “Have you had any luck with the machine? Found a way to work it without that crystal?”
“I’ve been trying boss!” Whined the woman, childishly stamping her foot on the floor as if to emphasize her point. “But it is all kooky-spooky in there, doesn’t follow any rules I know. I can’t make a replacement for something when I don’t know what it is meant to do!”
“Well keep trying! I need to find a way to get that working!” Shouted the woman.
“Have some gum and relax boss, all this stressing isn’t good for you! It will ruin your skin!” Giggled Momo as she pushed a jar of candy towards the woman.
“Momo!” Growled the woman. “Get this fixed! I only put up with you as you said you could fix this for me! I’ve got to go but I expect progress!”
“Sure boss!” Giggled Momo, turning the music back on before skipping back over to the microscope.
The woman wandered out of the lab and made her way through the building once more, going down a couple of floors before walking towards a guard stationed outside a door.
The guard saluted her as she came close. The woman nodded and grabbed a mask off a nearby table and slowly put it on.
“How is she doing?” Asked the woman.
“Compliant Madam.” Replied the guard firmly. “She has been no trouble. The only thing she objected to was a full weapons search.”
“Understandable. I’ll keep that in mind.” Nodded the woman as she pushed the door open and walked into the room.
The room was simple, nothing more than a single table and a few chairs. A lady in a nurse’s uniform was sat at the table. “Anna Stesia, I presume?” Asked the woman as she sat opposite the nurse.
“In the flesh,” nodded the nurse.
“And you are looking to join the Red Right Hand?”
“Of course I am,” smiled Anna. “I heard about you destroying the Black Hand and making fools out of MIST.”
“Interesting,” nodded the woman. “Well, we don’t want people who are just defecting to be on the winning side. We need people willing to push through difficult times.”
“Oh I am more than willing,” smirked Anna.
“Expert surgeon and an excellent knowledge of drugs.” Replied Anna confidently. “My Stesia solution can make a raging bio fall asleep in under a minute.”
“Impressive!” Nodded the woman. “I think the boss is going to be very keen to hear about you. I’ll go tell her right now.” She said as she stood up and walked out of the room.
Anna smirked to herself and put her feet up on the table as she reclined a little in her chair, fully confident that she had landed the job.
“So,” nodded the woman as she closed the door and took off the mask. “She is good for our purposes, though I want to test her chemicals.”
“Yes boss,” nodded the guard.
“Take her to Momo for powers testing. During that, steal anything you can, am I understood?”
“Yes, Boss!” Nodded the guard once more.
“Great, I’ll be in my office if I’m needed.” Replied the woman, walking off down the corridor.
“Mom, Mom,” whispered Alicia softly as Sharon blinked and opened her eyes. As Sharon’s eyes came into focus she saw Alicia stood by the door of the lab.
Suddenly Sharon’s thoughts kicked into high gear as she realized where she was, she sat bolt upright only to hear a mumbled groan from beside her. It was then she realized that Alicia had not only wandered in to find her asleep but she had wandered in on her spooning Doctor Mara.
“Alicia!” Shouted Sharon. “How are you feeling?” She asked as she gently nudged Mara in an attempt to wake her up.
“I’m okay, the tests knocked me out,” smiled Alicia as Mara slowly came to.
“Well, that is good! While you were sleeping me and Doctor Mara,” started Sharon as she racked her brain for a good excuse.
“Did some medical check-ups! Can never be too careful!” Shouted Doctor Mara, squeezing Sharon’s arm as she did. “Oh Sharon, your muscle density is good! Maybe more iron in your diet.”
“Mom,” giggled Alicia.
“Your jeans are around your knees.” Said Alicia with a smirk. “I’ll be in the reception when you are ready.”
Sharon looked down and saw that Alicia was totally right, her jeans were down around her knees, she had obviously fallen asleep before she could pull them back up. As Sharon jumped off the table she saw something she never thought she would see. Mara was blushing.
“I can’t believe she saw that,” gasped Mara.
“Oh don’t worry, she has seen worse,” replied Sharon as she fixed her jeans and hugged Mara. As she squeezed the woman she saw the clock and realized that it was the next morning, she had spent the whole night spooning on that table.
“I’ll be back in a moment,” said Mara, quickly dashing into a bathroom that adjoined the lab.
Sharon wandered out into the reception, only to see that Alicia was tapping on her phone. “Good morning,” smiled Sharon.
“Morning,” grinned Alicia. “I’ve got us three reservations for “Saffron Salmon,” apparently it has the best brunch in the city.”
“Oh lovely,” smiled Sharon, only to pick up on Alicia’s wording. “Three?”
“You, me, Mara.” Grinned Alicia. “With my friends, it is tradition to buy someone breakfast when they finally get laid. And as you both got laid it only seems fair to take both of you.”
“Alicia! I did not “get laid!” Gasped Sharon, doing her best to both lie and feign shock at the same time.
“Would you prefer “got fucked?” Asked Alicia with a smirk.
“No, I would not!” Huffed Sharon.
“Okay,” smiled Mara as she walked into the room.
“Hey doc,” smiled Alicia. “We’re getting breakfast, I got a seat for you.”
“Oh,” blinked Mara. “I really shouldn’t,” she started, only to be instantly interrupted by Alicia.
“You didn’t eat anything but cake yesterday.” She said firmly. “You are getting breakfast. I refuse to not pay you for the tests.”
“Well,” mumbled Mara.
“She is stubborn, you are not going to win,” smiled Sharon.
“You have a point,” chuckled Mara. “Sure, I’ll come.”
“Great!” Smiled Alicia, slipping her phone into a pocket and leading the girls out of the building.
The breakfast was wonderful if unusual. While Sharon had to agree the food was fantastic, it was slightly odd to be eating next to the woman she had been having sex with a few hours earlier.
Alicia obviously knew this, smirking at Sharon whenever she got the choice, hammering home the fact that this was revenge for the safe full of sex toys.
Once the girls had finished eating Mara looked towards Alicia. “That was wonderful,” she grinned.
“It was,” nodded Alicia. “I’m glad we could talk about your rhubarb, I do adore gardening.” Mara chuckled and nodded her head.
“Your green fingers are very useful,” she replied. “I’ll have to get back to work though I’m afraid.”
“You have Mom’s number, call anytime,” winked Alicia, only to yelp as Sharon slapped her on the hand.
“I will, I will,” replied Mara, redness forming in her cheeks once more. “I’ll see you both soon,” she said as she walked out of the restaurant.
Once Mara was out of the room Sharon looked at Alicia. “Very nice at the end there!”
“Well, I have to integrate myself into the community!” Grinned Alicia, obviously proud at the recognition.
“You did very well,” smiled Sharon as she got up and wandered out of the restaurant and started to head home.
“So,” started Alicia as they walked through the door of the house. “What happened yesterday?”
“It was not good,” sighed Sharon as she wandered up to the bathroom and started to run a bath. “It seems the city has a new gang knocking around, Red Right Hand.”
“Ruby city sure loves referencing hands,” snarked Alicia, rolling her eyes as she did.
“Also a poetry reference,” added Sharon. “Don’t you study English literature?”
“Yes but I don’t listen during class,” replied Alicia, sticking her tongue out.
“Either way, they seemed quite dangerous and were very keen to dispose of the Black Hand.”
“Think it is related to that thing we stole?” Asked Alicia.
“I have no idea honestly,” sighed Sharon. “Some days it is hard to find out just what motivates these gang splits, though this new lot do seem well funded.”
“That isn’t good, we’ll need to find stuff on them.” Nodded Alicia.
“Oh no young lady,” replied Sharon, shaking her head. “I saw one of their leaders, she was far too strong. You are not going to be involved in this!”
“But Mom,” whined Alicia.
“No, but anything! We have a deal,” interrupted Sharon. “Anyway, I’m not going to be involved. I’m not planning on getting myself mixed up in all of this.”
“Aww, but you’re a villain!”
“I’m a villain who works for cash. I couldn’t care less about two gangs having a lover’s tiff.” Replied Sharon firmly.
“Doesn’t having the gem make us part of it?” Asked Alicia.
“I’m hoping everyone forgets about it in all of the chaos,” replied Sharon as she turned the water off. “I mean who could care about a silly gem for more than a month? Worst case I’ll dump it somewhere.”
“Right,” nodded Alicia.
“Also, could you go outside the bathroom?” Asked Sharon. “I came up here for a bath!”
“Oh right!” Giggled Alicia. “I’m going to go for a walk, so call me if you need me, okay?”
“Sure, but no villainy without permission, okay?”
“I promise,” nodded Alicia, making her way towards the front door.
As Alicia wandered the city she got lost in her thoughts. Mara had told her that she showed signs of having some form of power, but she wasn’t sure exactly what power it was. Mara had told her that most people discovered their powers by accident, that one day they would just try something and find that they excelled at it.
Alica kicked a can gently down the street as she pondered the idea. To find her power she would need to try lots of stuff, to push her every limit.
As she pondered she walked past a gym with a massive poster in the window. “Learn Lucha Libre!” it declared in massive red letters. Something about the poster held Alicia’s attention for a few seconds, she couldn’t quite put her finger on it, it felt almost like her body had a slight static charge.
Alicia shrugged and walked in, it couldn’t hurt to look around a gym, all of her recent running around had reminded her that she needed to start working out again and maybe she could get a free tote bag to sweeten the deal.
The gym itself looked very rough, very unlike the ones that Alicia was used to. It had several wrestling rings dotted around and tattered punching bags hung from each and every ceiling beam.
Alicia spotted a lady stood in one of the rings, she moved closer, hoping that she would be able to help her find a member of staff. However, before she could get too close the woman turned and faced Alicia.
“Ah, a customer!” Shouted the woman.
“Maybe!” Smiled Alicia, the static tingle in her body growing more intense. “I saw the poster and I was curious.”
“Perfect!” Shouted the woman as she climbed out of the ring. “You wish to learn Lucha Libre?”
“I guess so? Honestly, I didn’t think this far into the conversation,” gulped Alicia as she realized just how tall and just how buff this woman was.
“Well, why do you want to come to a gym?” Asked the woman, grabbing a bottle of water and starting to chug it.
“I think I need to get stronger, to get good at protecting myself,” replied Alicia, mulling the question over in her head.
“Lucha Libra can help with both,” nodded the woman, throwing the now empty water bottle towards a trashcan.
“I’m not sure how staged fighting can help me fight real people?” Replied Alicia before realizing that she shouldn’t have said that to the woman’s face.
“Very funny, I have heard that at least a hundred times,” growled the woman, glaring daggers into Alicia.
“Yeah,” coughed Alicia. “That was actually really tasteless of me, I’m sorry.” She replied, hoping it would calm the woman down.
“Lucha Libre started with Greco-Roman wrestling, it is about flow, about unity with your body, using your size and balance to your advantage!” Replied the woman.
“Right,” nodded Alicia, doing her best to seem as interested as possible so that she wouldn’t risk angering the woman further.
“You should take a class, I can get you into fighting shape within weeks.” Continued the woman as she marched to a desk and grabbed a flyer that she forced into Alicia’s hands.
“Right. I’ll do that, sure!” Nodded Alicia, actually warming a little to the idea somewhat, though she was unclear if that was just her becoming used to her terror.
“In fact, first taste free!” Shouted the woman, walking back into the ring. “Climb in.”
“Now?!” Blinked Alicia. “I’m really not dressed for it.”
“You don’t need to be!” Shouted the woman. Alicia took a deep breath, it was clear she wasn’t getting out of this conversation without climbing into the ring with the woman.
“Okay, okay, just don’t break me in half okay?” Nodded Alicia as she stumbled her way into the ring.
Sharon floated in the warm water, her mind dancing over her sudden and unexpected night with Mara. She had to admit, the memory got her rather hot and bothered.
Her hand started to slide down her body, however before she could do anything her phone rang. “Really?! Now?!” Shouted Sharon as she jumped out of the bath and grabbed the phone.
“You’re needed.” Said Burst over the line.
“What?” Shouted Sharon. “Why?”
“I need your help with something.”
“We are not a team Burst,” started Sharon, ready to chew Burst out for being so rude.
“It is about that new gang, something fishy is going on and I need your help with it. Trust me.” Replied Burst.
“Ugh, just this once.” Sighed Sharon as she hung up the phone and got changed.
As Mesmera burst into the basement of the pool hall, she was taken aback to find a woman tied to a chair that was sat on top of one of the pool tables.
“Who is she?” Asked Mesmera.
“Runner for the Red Right hand,” said Burst firmly. “I found her around the back of the Pit, fiddling with the dead-drops.”
“I see,” nodded Mesmera, suddenly realizing why Burst was so keen for her to come, tampering with dead-drops was a major taboo and not something someone would do lightly.
The woman tried to talk through the bar towel that was gagging her, however, all that came out was muffled grunts. She rocked on the chair a little, obviously trying to tip it over so she could make an attempt at escape.
“She also isn’t keen to talk to me,” continued Burst. “She is a lucky girl, usually I would have beat her until she gave me what I wanted, but I want to keep this quiet.”
“And this is where I come in?” Asked Mesmera.
“Exactly,” nodded Burst. “I want to know why she was fiddling with dead-drops. I have my suspicions, but I want to be sure.”
“Sure.” Nodded Mesmera. “I’ll come to get you when we are done.”
“You sure?” Asked Burst.
“I’m sure, having you waving a pool cue around isn’t going to help me,” replied Mesmera.
“If you say so,” nodded Burst, walking out of the room and closing the door firmly behind her. Mesmera waited a few seconds before clambering up onto the pool table.
The woman continued to try and tip the chair over, however, Mesmera grabbed her firmly by the shoulders, pushing down just enough to prevent the woman from moving. “Now now, you are already in trouble. Do you want to make it worse for yourself?” She said softly. “I’m not in charge of Burst and I can’t control her temper. Work with me and you get out of here unscathed.”
The woman stopped wiggling almost instantly. It was clear from the resignation on her face that she had accepted that Mesmera was the better of her two terrible choices.
“That’s a good girl,” cooed Mesmera, rubbing the girl’s hair. “All you need to do is take a little nap, and then this will all be over.”
Mesmera walked in front of the girl and gently lifted her head so they were making eye contact. She took a deep breath and focused as hard as she could.
The girl’s eyes went wide as Mesmera’s eyes slowly turned silver. “Yes,” purred Mesmera. “That’s it, your brain knows that siding with me, working with me, is the best choice. It is the logical choice.”
The girl’s mouth dropped open as her mind started to spiral out of control, falling deep down into the silver glow of Mesmera’s eyes. Something about it held her attention, it was like her favorite movie and a wonderful sunset rolled into one.
“Good girl, just look me in the eyes, you can’t look away and you don’t want to, why would you want to? Why would you want to risk pain and hurt when you can have the beauty and calm of my eyes?” Asked Mesmera softly.
“Eyes,” mumbled the girl through the gag, her head lolling forward as she did.
“It is okay sweetie,” smiled Mesmera, gently pulling the gag out of the girl’s mouth. “We don’t need that anymore as you are going to be so good, you are going to be a good girl,” she continued, nodding her head up and down softly.
The girl copied the movement of Mesmera’s head, not even questioning what she was agreeing too, she was struggling to think straight, the silver glow felt like it was pushing inside her head, almost like it was wrapping her brain up and sealing it just out of reach of the rest of her body.
“That’s it, feel your mind slowly fading as you relax, your head is nodding and nodding is agreeing with me and agreeing with me is so easy, it is easier to agree than think.” Continued Mesmera, her voice growing softer with each sentence.
“Easy,” replied the woman, her words and breathing become slower and fainter.
“It is all going to be so easy now, I’m in charge and that means you don’t need to worry, you can just float along.”
“Float,” mumbled the girl, a small trickle of drool running down her chin.
“Yes, you are a little boat, bobbing up and down on a sea of my will,” cooed Mesmera, gently rubbing the girl’s hair. “No input on where you are going, just following the waves, the calm relaxing waves, just letting it happen, why stress about things you can’t control?”
The girl stared silently, unable to really think about the question, her brain was just totally lost in Mesmera’s eyes, she couldn’t even remember her name, let alone discuss metaphors.
“Yes, just float and follow the waves, let them guide you and tell you exactly what to do,” purred Mesmera softly.
“Burst,” smiled Mesmera as she walked out of the basement.
“Great, what was she doing?” Asked Burst, jumping up from the barstool.
“Nothing,” replied Mesmera.
“What do you mean nothing?” Blinked Burst.
“She is a petty criminal, she stumbled on the drops and thought they were cash bundles.” Explained Mesmera.
“I see,” sighed Burst. “But she said she was a runner.”
“You were threatening her with a pool cue, she would have told you she was from Mars if it meant avoiding being hit,” replied Mesmera with a shrug.
“You have a point,” nodded Burst. “Sorry for dragging you out, just that whole event at the docks has left me wondering what is going on.”
“It happens,” smiled Mesmera. “Wouldn’t be the first time someone felt out of the loop.”
“Beer?” Asked Burst, pointing to the bar.
“I’ve got stuff to do today,” said Mesmera as she shook her head and started to walk out towards the carpark.
Lauren walked out of the pool hall and looked around. The place was seedy, and she was glad she would never have to go there again, now all she needed to do was get back to base and relay her information to the boss.
She wandered around a bit, making sure that no one was following her. After looping around the block a couple of times she ducked into the parking lot and climbed into her car.
She buckled up and put her keys in the ignition. The engine instantly started to purr. Lauren smiled, her car was a beast and she adored it.
She pushed the pedal down and let the revs of the engine vibrate the seat and her body. The power was thrilling to her.
She pulled out into the street and started to drive out of the city and towards the meeting place. As she got off the main roads she smirked to herself.
The road was totally clear, there wasn’t another car as far as the eye could see, it was almost like the universe was rewarding her for her efforts. She pushed the pedal down hard and watched as her speedometer climbed higher and higher as the engine grew louder and louder.
“Hell yeah!” Screamed Lauren as she gripped the steering wheel tightly. She continued to push the car, rejoicing at the speeds she was hitting.
As she crested a hill she smiled to herself, she felt totally in control, this was the biggest thrill she had had in ages, right now she was the fastest creature in the universe and it made her whole body tingle with delight.
The tires screeched as she skidded around a corner, she scanned her eyes along the horizon only to realize that she wasn’t where she thought she was. In fact, she was several blocks away from the meeting place.
“Missed a turn,” she mumbled to herself as she pushed down on the accelerator again, letting the loud growl of the engine wash away her geographical confusion.
After a few blocks, Lauren hit a red light. As she waited for the light to change she looked over the signs and tried to work out where she was. However, she couldn’t recognize any of the street names, had she really gone so fast she had accidentally driven into the suburbs?
She shook her head. The suburbs were not this built up and she hadn’t been driving long enough to reach Angelville or any of the other commuter cities that fed into Ruby City.
As the light flicked from red to amber Lauren smirked to herself. She decided she was just going to head back the way she came, eventually, she would have to hit a street she knew.
She started to rev her car once more, waiting for the light to turn green. As it did Lauren sped off like she was at a drag strip, leaving a massive cloud of tire smoke in her wake.
She zoomed through the streets, drifting around a few corners as she looked for a street sign she recognized. She continued to head back towards the center of the city, however the further she drove the more lost she became.
“Where the hell am I?!” Shouted Lauren as she took another left turn.
“You’re in a parking lot!” Came a voice from beside her.
Lauren screamed and turned her head, only to find that Mesmera was sat in the seat next to her. “How did you get here?!” She shouted as she took yet another left turn.
“You are in my car sweetie,” giggled Mesmera, snapping her fingers as she did.
Lauren blinked, she wasn’t in a weird city at all, she was sat in the passenger seat of a car she didn’t recognize. The car was also totally stationary, parked neatly in some random parking garage.
Lauren realized that her arms were outstretched as if they were gripping a steering wheel that didn’t exist and she couldn’t seem to lower them no matter how hard she tried.
“What are you doing, what is going on?” Asked Lauren, doing her best to regain control of her body.
“I saved you from Burst,” replied Mesmera softly. “But I want answers.”
“I’m not telling you anything!” Growled Lauren.
“You don’t really have a choice, why don’t you go play car again sweetie?” Giggled Mesmera snapping her fingers once more.
Instantly Lauren was back in her car, zooming down deserted city streets that seemed to be shifting around her. But suddenly she didn’t care about being lost, all she cared about was pushing her car to its limits.
As she sped through a red light Lauren whooped and cheered. “Hell yeah! I’m unstoppable! I’m the fastest girl in the world!” She screamed as she pushed the accelerator down even harder.
She swerved from lane to lane, taking turns at random, somehow getting her car to speeds she hadn’t even imagined were possible, no longer was her car a souped-up coupe, it was an experimental supercar that could break land speed records.
Suddenly Lauren saw something on the horizon. It was a giant person. She instantly recognized it as Mesmera, but she had no idea why she was suddenly fifty stories tall.
“Come here little one,” chuckled Mesmera, her voice making every window in the city shake.
“Never!” Shouted Lauren, quickly doing a U-turn and trying to speed away from the figure. However it didn’t seem to matter how fast she was going, the giant Mesmera was always right behind her.
After a long chase, Mesmera scooped the car up off the road and held it in the palm of her hand. “You’re not getting away,” chuckled the titanic Mesmera.
Lauren screamed and tried to get out of the car, however, she couldn’t seem to work out how to undo the seatbelt. She knew she had done it in the past, she knew it was usually simple, but she couldn’t remember how to do it. Her hands flailed at the buckle, but it wouldn’t seem to let the belt go.
Lauren started to thrash in her seat, hoping that the belt would break so she could escape, however it was futile, despite her best efforts the belt held firm.
“Now now, you’re in my world now,” smiled Mesmera as her giant eyes started to glow silver. “You do what I tell you to do.” Lauren tried to avoid the silver light, but it was impossible, she was so small and the eyes so big, it was like two giant spotlights were focused on her, draining her will.
“But,” stuttered Lauren. “I,” she added only to feel her body being lifted up, the silver glow was like a tractor beam that was effortlessly lifting Lauren out of her car and carrying her towards Mesmera’s eyes.
“No buts,” cooed Mesmera. “I’m in charge now,” she said firmly as Lauren floated closer to her eyes. As she got closer Lauren realized that Mesmera’s eyes were not just silver, they had this strange spiral pattern in them, it was like a giant whirlpool that seemed to circle towards the center.
Lauren could feel her mind slipping further and further away from her as she continued to stare, but she didn’t care anymore. She reached her arm forward to touch the whirlpool. As she made contact with it she felt a little wave of calm run through her body, the whirlpool felt like a hot tub, so warm and so safe, a place she could sink totally into. A place she could surrender her mind and self to.
Lauren blinked and stretched. She looked around the car park and rubbed her head. She knew she had driven into the city for something, but she wasn’t totally sure what that something was.
She pondered for a few minutes before a thought pushed its way into her head. “I need to buy orange juice,” she said in a low monotone. “I need more vitamin C in my diet.” She added, nodding her head softly as she did.
She shook her head again and smiled, putting her seat belt on and looking up the nearest supermarket. She did need to be more healthy and eating more fresh fruit was the perfect first step. In fact, she wouldn’t stop until she had found the perfect orange juice!
Sharon pushed the door open and walked into the house, only for Alicia to run up to her.
“You’ll never guess what happened!” They both shouted in unison before falling into a fit of giggles.
“You first,” said Sharon.
“No, you,” replied Alicia, bouncing up and down on her heels.
“Well,” smiled Sharon, moving over to the couch and sitting down. “Burst caught someone going through the dead-drops at the Pit.”
“Only half of that made any sense to me,” interjected Alicia.
“Oh right,” nodded Sharon. “You’re new. The Pit is a bar where villains hang out, it is more like a community center honestly. But a major part of it is the dead-drops. Basically, villains in need of minions or staff drop a message into a small box hidden in an alleyway. The lady who runs the Pit collects them, opens them, and then puts them on a massive board. It allows people to hire without being traced.”
“Right,” nodded Alicia. “Like a message board just retro.”
“Pretty much,” smiled Sharon. “But going through the drops is a big no-no in the community. It is seen as an act of aggression like you are trying to hunt someone down.”
“So you beat her up!” Grinned Alicia.
“No!” Sighed Sharon, rolling her eyes. “I hypnotized her and had her reconsider some life choices. But I used the opportunity to find out who she was working for.”
“Let me guess, Red Right Hand?”
“Correct,” nodded Sharon. “But not for the reasons I suspected. Red Right Hand is not trying to track anyone down. They are hijacking their job requests. They are replacing the contact details on job offers with their own contact information”
“Why would they do that?” Asked Alicia.
“So they can hire massive amounts of villains without anyone realizing it is my guess,” stated Sharon. “The runner was low level, she knew nothing but her task.”
“Still seems weird,” replied Alicia, rubbing her head. “Maybe they want to become the biggest gang in the city without anyone realizing?”
“Maybe?” Shrugged Sharon.
“So you are going to pose as someone trying to get a job?” Asked Alicia.
“No? Why would I do that?”
“So we can find out more!” Grinned Alicia. “We need to get to the bottom of this!”
“Alicia, for the last time, I told you we are not getting involved!” Sighed Sharon. “Now, what happened to you?”
“I went to a gym and met a lady who is teaching me Lucha Libre wrestling!” Grinned Alicia, flexing her muscles as she did. “I’m going to be the strongest girl in the world!”
“That seems an unusual choice to make?”
“I wasn’t exactly planning on it, but I walked into the gym, offended the head trainer, and then took a free lesson out of politeness. Turns out I have a natural talent for it!” Rambled Alicia. “Well for running into the ropes at least!”
“I’ve seen you take up hobbies over less,” nodded Sharon. “I’m not sure it will help you, but if you enjoy it, you should continue!”
“I plan to,” nodded Alicia. “I’ll make dinner if you want?”
“I would love that,” smiled Sharon, relaxing into the couch as she did. As she listened to Alicia cook Sharon pondered what the runner had told her. While she didn’t want to get involved, it was quite a curious situation and she couldn’t deny she was tempted to try and find out just what was going on.