Chapter 1: Magnificent Opportunity
Serina “Livewire” Alton took a deep breath as she pulled her mask out of her backpack. It was a simple thing, surrounding her eyes with black and tying neatly behind her head, but Serina was fine with simple. Her whole look was off-the-rack, which while not the most common in Midas City was perfectly understandable for a woman still trying to find her footing.
Midas City called to her like it did to so many. It was a big city with problems that any young would-be heroine could convince themselves they could help solve.
Pulling on her blue jacket over her simple black tank top and a pair of black jeans, Serina was ready to patrol. It wasn’t much of a costume, but she’d taken to wearing her dark brown hair up in her civilian identity, so wearing it down so that it fell to the right side of her face and down over her right shoulder helped to differentiate her looks. The mask wasn’t fancy, but it seemed to be relatively effective.
No one else knew about her identity, so she didn’t have anyone else to ask if it made her harder to recognize. She could certainly still recognize herself, but she would have been very worried if she couldn’t.
If I checked out this neighborhood properly it’s right on the edge of where an industrial district hits residential. That means it’s cheap and no one with any authority cares about it—especially the police. She glanced around, making sure to look up to the sky. Maybe other heroines, but what are the odds I’ll run into another of them tonight?
“City of a Thousand Heroes” might be a catchy slogan for a city, but I think they’re overestimating how many are actually active…
Moving through alleyways and along poorly lit streets, Livewire made sure to keep her eyes peeled for any sign of a disturbance. Her powers might not have been the flashiest, but between a few gadgets hidden in her jacket and utilizing her environment, she felt fairly confident she could handle whatever came her way.
At least that was what she told herself as she weaved through the city.
Should I be moving faster? Or… She frowned, twisting her face before slowly shaking her head. No… If I move too fast then I’ll miss something. It would be easier if there was someone to watch my back, but who would I even trust to do that?
Her frown sank deeper into her face as Livewire continued to survey the area. It was late, and even with electric light there was no fighting off the darkness—not entirely. Long shadows stretched from everything, giving plenty of opportunity for something to be hidden away inside. None of her powers let Livewire see in the dark any better than the average woman, and night vision goggles were a dangerous thing to wear even if she could switch them on or off with a thought.
As she made her way through an alley, her mind began to twist through possibilities. I could always make some goggles that were motorized to lift out of the way, or could turn into blackout if someone tried to flashbang me? That feels like it’s still an unnecessary risk. I just need to accept my vision is imperfect.
Every so often as she walked a sound would draw her focus, but they were all from benign sources. The sidewalks were largely empty, but there were a few others about. Not every bird was restful. Trash moved with the breeze.
When she heard what sounded like a small explosion Livewire knew that was something else entirely. She took off like a shot, careful to run in the right direction while making sure to not unnecessarily move out in the open. She’d learned her lesson there already. The last thing she wanted was to get spotted on her way to the scene of a crime.
Moving closer she saw the source: a nearby warehouse. An external door looked as though it had been blown right off of the hinges and imbedded itself in a nearby car. It was a metal door, but it was still intimidating how deeply it was imbedded.
Glad I wasn’t any closer… Don’t think I could do much good if I’d been standing there! She smirked as she approached the building. There were no signs of lookouts or other criminals waiting to pour in. Anyone at the scene was likely already inside and causing havoc deeper inside of the facility.
A loud crashing sound echoed out from within, confirming the person responsible was still hard at work.
Before rushing inside, Livewire pressed her hand to the side of the building. Sure enough, its alarm system was already fired. There were no sirens, or flashing lights. Whatever security was setup was designed to be unobtrusive when activated.
She took a step back and tried to look for some sign indicating what the building was or who owned it and only found numbers for an address. Peeking inside of the door didn’t reveal anything either, until she took another step deeper and saw a woman passed out on the floor. She wore a white uniform with hints of red. Wrapped around one of the woman’s hands was a bizarre, bulbous piece of technology that ended in a protrusion that made it appear to be some kind of energy weapon.
Livewire breathed a sigh of relief as she found the woman’s pulse. A glance down at her chest revealed a familiar logo: an M with an A using the far right line of the M. MA Security… Here…? This place doesn’t look like much from the outside… just what’s going on here?
After reaching a hand up to make sure her mask was firmly in place, Livewire began to make her way through the warehouse. It was a cramped space, perfectly designed to make it hard to find anything or get anywhere fast without knowing the exact layout. At least it was easy to know which direction was worth pursuing thanks to another loud explosion that made all of the lights flicker.
Rather than find her way through the maze with her eyes, Livewire shoved her hand against the wall again. As her power stretched out, Livewire could see, and understand, the way the system was shaped and all of its functions. This gave her an intuitive understanding of the layout, and knowledge for where security doors were damaged further inside of the facility.
Hugging the wall, Livewire reached inside of her jacket as she moved quicker to catch up with the intruder. Every step she took deeper into the facility made her feel keenly aware she was just as likely to be lumped in with the intruder. Rumors of MA Security being very paranoid about heroines chimed in her mind, but she pushed them aside. People were hurt, and this warehouse was close to a densely populated residential area.
If whatever the intruder was after had dangerous potential it would make a good place to test their new toy. Livewire wasn’t about to take that chance.
More crumpled security littered the floor as Livewire followed behind the intruder. Some of them were holding ordinary guns, and others the odd hand cannons. It seemed to be a very well defended facility for an unassuming warehouse.
Livewire winced when she reached the damaged security door she’d been rushing towards. Again, it was blown off of its hinges and imbedded in a nearby wall. There were lights coming from past the doorway, but when she pressed her hand to the wall beside the door she couldn’t detect any path for that electrical system to connect. There were also stairs leading down into a basement.
Whatever is down there is on a generator… She glanced down the stairs, hesitating. The warehouse is for sure legit. Whatever is down there might be perfectly fine, too, but it’s also off the grid. There aren’t a lot of reasons they’d want to do that, but I’m not here to investigate MA. I’m here to stop this intruder from causing any more—
“Shit!” Livewire dropped to her knees, narrowly avoiding a beam of energy that slammed into the ceiling above her and cut open a hole to reveal the sky above. “Using weaponry like that indoors isn’t very polite!”
“Neither am I, in case you hadn’t noticed!” Down the stairs, Livewire could see a woman dressed in orange-and-red. Her shoulder length hair was a bright red, and so unruly it needed to be made that way and then sprayed to keep any of it from falling into some kind of order. Her suit was largely made of leather, including a pair of boots, tight pants, a tight jacket, and a pair of gloves. Her tone was amused, but there was no telling how long it would stay that way. “Don’t worry, though. I can be reasonable.
“With this…?” The woman held up the large gun. It was making the most obnoxious whirring sound as a green energy swirled deep inside of its long barrel. “You just let me find my way out of here, and I don’t need to care about you. You aren’t in white, and I can just make an exit. It doesn’t need to be through you, but y’know what?”
Smirking, the red haired woman blew some hair out of her face.
There’s no way she doesn’t wear her hair like that just so she can do that. It must get in her eyes all the time. Serina frowned. She was peeking down the stairs, watching as the woman moved closer. Can’t be worth it… just what is that thing…?
Halfway up the stairs, the intruder sighed dramatically. Her weapon’s whirring turned a lower pitch, the energy inside seemingly stabilized. “I’m not going to be bothered if it is through you. Pretty sure you aren’t Syndicate. So… Are we going to get along, or are we going to have a problem?”
“Problem?” Livewire stepped towards the door, holding her hands up above her head. Her left was balled into a fist. “I don’t have a problem. I don’t want to be blown in half today, either.”
“Great!” The redhead kept her weapon trained on Livewire until she reached the top of the stairs, and then casually lowered it without removing her hand from the trigger. “So, let’s see… which wall is the closest to the outside so we can both get out of here before more MA security shows up…? They’re pushovers, but…”
Serina gestured to a wall. She tried to not let her voice shake. Only one idea was coming to mind, and she’d only have one chance to pull it off. If she didn’t, things would get very bad very quickly.
Grinning, the redhead raised up her gun and aimed it carefully at chest height before reaching her left hand up press at a control panel on the side. “Thanks for the help! So I’ll just make us a hole—”
Moving quickly, Serina pressed her right hand to the gun. There was no time for a sigh of relief as she found what she was looking for. The gun was full of fail safes designed to shut the whole thing down if it detected an overheat. In a single moment she tripped all of them at once, and the gun let out an impotent hiss before the light inside burned out, and the control panel on the side dimmed.
With all of the safeties locked in place, it won’t be able to cool down, and that gives me time to do this! Opening her left hand, Serina revealed a small light with a strap holding it to her palm. There was no button or switch, but she didn’t need one. Her powers let her reach in and turn it up to full, blinding brightness right in the redheaded woman’s face.
All of that was so quick the woman barely had time to understand what was happening and no time to lash out at Serina before her vision was a hazy white blur.
“You little shit!” Growling, she tried to click the trigger several times, giving Serina time to reach her right hand into her jacket. “I didn’t need this gun to break in, you know?! If you wanted me to blow your clothes right off of you—congratulations—you’re getting it n—oof!”
Balling her left hand into a fist, Serina slammed it right up into the villain’s stomach. She tried to fling her hand out, to throw some kind of green liquid at Serina, but it sailed past her and blew apart a bulletin board. Announcements scattered in the air, filling it with confetti and bits of wood as Serina’s right hand emerged with a small tube—again without any activation devices—and shoved it against the woman’s side.
A strong electrical current surged from the device, working like a makeshift stun gun. After another attempt to lob a handful of explosive goo that only dented the floor—revealing a reinforced metal plate beneath—she dropped to the ground with a groan.
Placing the device back in her jacket, Livewire carefully nudged the woman’s side with her shoe. She didn’t stir, only quietly groaning. Whatever she was capable of dishing out, it seemed she wasn’t a big fan of electrical currents. Reaching to the waist of a nearby MA security officer she slapped a pair of cuffs onto the woman’s wrists, and then dusted off her hands.
Silent alarm means MA probably wanted to handle this internally. I’ll just make my way out. No point in getting spotted. I’m not here for the glory. I’m here to protect people… but just in case, before I go… Serina bent down, held a hand against the side of the device, and felt for any still functioning power sources. All of them were still inoperable. Feeling safe it wouldn’t have any adverse effects, she shoved it down the stairs with her foot, and made her way out the way she came.
“Don’t move! Put your hands up!”
So much for not getting noticed…
Bright light shining in her face made Serina unable to see who was speaking, but there was no reason not to comply. “I’m not here to rob the place! I was in the neighborhood patrolling, heard an explosion, and when I saw the security passed out…”
The light lowered, and Serina felt her mind awash with conflicting emotions. MA security’s rumors wouldn’t be a problem. Holding the flashlight was a Midas City police officer.
Unfortunately, being near a populated area meant there were already people being held back behind police tape. There’s no way I’m getting out of here before the cameras come out. Shit.
“We’ll need to ask you some questions, but we’re glad you were here! Someone reported some explosions, and then someone being thrown through the roof?”
“It was more a plasma cannon or something, but…” Serina sighed. She didn’t like needing to tell anyone anything. She didn’t like being in the spotlight. “I’ll answer all of your questions.”
Before she could move away from the door, she was blinded by a camera flash.
This is going to be a very long night.