The concrete facade and tinted windows of Alterra City Bank starred emptily out onto the dark street as Summer slowed her motorcycle to a halt in front of it. Taillight and headlight reflected only for a moment off the shadowy glass before she turned it off and dismounted. She removed her helmet and cast a puzzled glance with her pale, blue eyes along the premises, searching seemingly for something that wasn’t there. Her red-gloved hand pulled her cellphone from the messenger bag she had slung over her shoulder and tapped on screen a few times until a friendly voice chirped back.
“Artificer here. Whatcha need Cinder?”
“The distress call we got was from the Alterra Bank on 53rd and Webbley right?”
“That sounds right, let me check.” A cacophony of clacking keys from one of Artificer’s annoyingly loud keyboards spilled through the phone’s speakers, causing Summer to pull it away from her ear hastily. She had to hear those sounds all yesterday while working operations and logistics with Artificer and had thought herself free from them for at least another week. “Affirmative Cinder, 53rd and Webbley.”
Summer looked at the placid exterior of the building, hoping to discern a clue of why she was dispatched here. The place didn’t look like it was in the middle of a robbery, shootout, or heist. In fact everything from lack of movement inside to the “Closed” sign hanging in the window of the door seemed to indicate that nothing exciting at all was happening here, let alone a crime.
“I’m not seeing anything suspicious Jen, the place just looks like it’s closed.”
“Dammit Cinder, codenames!” Artificer was always a stickler for using “proper operational protocol” between HQ and any of the heroines out in the field. Summer rolled her eyes. Did she think that in a city of roughly 95% women that someone overhearing a call would go through the thousands of Jens and Jennifers to uncover her secret identity? Another wave of clacking keys filled the air almost as punishment. “Well the distress signal originated from the bank’s back office system. Could be an accidental trigger or the system on the fritz.”
“No police alarm?”
“No police alarm?”
“Nada. Just the one to us.“
“Alright, I’m headed back.” Summer moved to put the helmet back on over her long, blonde hair with the fire-red stripe flowing down the center, but was interrupted by Artificer.
“Negative Cinder. Alterra Bank pays us to fully investigate when any of these alarms go off and their contract renegotiation is in two weeks. Can you just check around the building, make sure the doors are all locked, whatever?” Summer could hear a sigh from the other end of the line. “Last thing we need is them showing us footage of one of us wandering off without investigating from some sort of weird test they were trying to pull.”
“Alright, I’ll take a look around for a few minutes, keep an eye on the place for the next half-hour or so to make sure no one suspicious comes out, and then I’m going to head home. I’ll call back if I see anything.”
“Roger that, Cinder. Hopefully it’s a quiet night.”
“Thanks Jen, see you Monday.” Summer cut off a scolding Artifcer and placed her phone back in her messenger bag, swinging it around to the back of her red leather jacket.
“First thing’s first”, she thought to herself, “Let’s check the front door.”
She strode down the street at first a bit cautiously, glancing back over both shoulders for any signs of movement on a late spring evening, then with the swagger befitting one of the United League of Superheroines. The start of a smile came to her face for a brief moment thinking about how she had to look right now, the little girl from Wheatton now a superheroine. And while she was technically wearing the “traditional” spandex leotard, she and a few others had convinced Egality Gal that the uniforms were not only outdated but unsafe for many of them to work in. So she had the red spandex leotard with the black accents meant to evoke flames on, but wore a red leather jacket and black jeans over it. She’d swapped out the mid-calf, 4” heel boots for dark red combat boots and got the gloves altered down to only extend a little past the wrist. Egality Gal may be able to fight crime precariously perched on heels, get out of a motorcycle accident with not a single scratch on her, and dodge lasers with constricting clothes; but not her.
She stopped in front of the door, held her hands up against it to block the external lights from the street, and peered in. Nothing. Just empty space waiting for the next weekday. She pushed off of the door to straighten herself back up, but found that the door gave inwards. Someone had left it unlocked. Warily she entered the building, looking around the empty lobby for any hints as to what was going on. She thought momentarily about calling to see if anyone was there, but decided against it as if something was going down it could prevent her from having the element of surprise on her side.
She made her way past the empty teller booths, back towards the manager’s office and began to open the door when a sudden noise made her snap her hand back. She was no stranger to booby traps, having run into many villains and even a few legitimate businesses using them to keep nosy superheroines out. She breathed a sigh of relief a moment later when she realized it was just her phone. She whipped the phone out of her bag to see a message from Artificer. Opening it, she found a three paragraph screed about the importance of using codenames over communication channels that weren’t Tier 3 secured. A light chuckle escaped her mouth before she remembered that she hadn’t cleared the building yet and that there could be someone else in the bank.
She gently opened the manager’s office to find it empty, just like the rest of the bank. She chewed on the inside of her cheek, thinking about if she should search through the office or just let it be. Making her decision, she set a foot through the door when suddenly an alarm sounded off in the distance. She snapped her head to the right and leaned back out the door trying to pinpoint the sound, a low pulsing klaxon just barely audible from where she was standing.
Leaving the manager’s office she walked down the hallway behind the teller’s booths, the noise getting gradually louder. Almost at the end of the hallway she saw an open door labeled “Vault”, the sound still gradually reverberating out through the opening. Warily, she made her way through the door and into the vault room. She summoned a small flame at the tip of her right pointer finger to prepare herself for any trouble she might run into and looked around the room. The door she was stepping through was in the corner of this room, which was filled with a large number of safety deposit boxes, a few tables, and various binders of paper.
Towards the corner farthest from her was the door to the actual vault: a large, thick, steel oval with three keypads and hydraulic arms. It was currently open and blocking her view of most of the interior of the vault.
“Looks like there may have been a robbery here after all”, she thought to herself, “I should call for backup.” She began reaching for her phone, flicking out the little flame on her finger. “But if I had a better idea of what’s going on, then I could let operations know whether we need someone at the bank to stop a heist or someone outside looking for money that’s already been stolen.” She grabbed the phone from her bag and tapped the screen on. “But if I’m spotted before being able to call in then I won’t get a chance to request backup, and that can lead to some really dangerous situations.” She bit her lip for a moment before coming to her decision. “I’ll send a text message to Artificer telling her to expect a followup in ten minutes and to send backup if I don’t respond by then, that seems best.”
She began typing out the message to her teammate when the alarm suddenly stopped. It’s absence stopped her mid-message and allowed another sound to reach her ears. A moaning sound was coming from the vault and it sounded distressed. Worried that someone might be in immediate danger she skulked over to the vault, flames dancing on the tips of her fingers. Peeking around the corner she saw the source of the noise, a woman with her mouth gagged by a thick piece of cloth and hands tied to a metal crossbar built into the vault.
Summer checked around the rest of the vault searching for who might have done this, but saw no one other than the bound woman on the floor. Piles of cash sat in neat stacks along the walls of the vault in racks built into the side with heavy plexiglass doors covering them; one rack being conspicuously empty.
“Why would someone steal only a portion of the money?”, Summer asked herself as she moved into the room. The woman on the floor saw the superheroine and began to groan louder, pulling on her restraints. Now that Summer had a clearer look at her, she was pretty sure this was the bank manager. Middle-aged, wearing a professional suit, dark hair pulled back in a bun, good looking but not overly feminine, relatively fit looking: everything about her screamed “I manage a bank” to Summer. It also helped that she had a pin on her lapel stating that not only was she named Alisha, but that her title was “Regional Branch Manager”.
“Alisha is it?”, Summer asked the woman who nodded frantically in response, “Give me one second and I’ll have you out of those ropes.” Alisha’s eyes lit up at that and Summer almost thought she could see a smile.
Summer knelt down beside the woman and dismissed her fire. She’d learned at a young age that cutting corners with superpowers often led to disastrous results. Trying to precision burn the rope off could save seconds or it could horrendously burn the poor woman she was trying to help. She opted instead for the pocket knife she carried, and began working on the ropes. Alisha seemed to be trying to say something to her, but she couldn’t quite make it out.
“Let me get your hands free first and then we can remove that gag”, Summer told her, “And try to hold still. Wouldn’t want the knife to slip.” Despite her request, Alisha still seemed to be anxiously pulling at the ropes. Summer gave a little shake as she worked the knife carefully over the couple of strands that seemed to be crucial to maintaining the bind. The ropes started to loosen and Alisha wriggled and pulled her way free of the bonds. To Summer’s shock and surprise the woman flung her arms forward and began unbuttoning her pants, not even bothering to remove the gag. Alisha’s hands thrust down beneath her austere black panties and began rubbing herself as her body began to buck on the floor.
“What the fuck?” Summer gasped out as her rescued captive began groaning into her gag again. “Alisha? Are you okay?” Summer reached down to steady the woman, who’s spastic movements were beginning to become wilder.
“What the hell is happening”, she confusedly asked, applying more pressure and pinning the other woman down. This seemed to make Alisha moan even louder, her eyes straining towards the top of her head, her hand working furiously beneath her tailored suit. Summer carefully undid the gag and tossed it to the side, Alisha’s moan escalating into a scream of bliss.
“Fuuucccckkkkkkkkk yyesssss!” The thrashing woman hissed out, back arching under the superheroine’s grip. For a few moments the rest of her body was perfectly still, other than the hand fucking her ceaselessly. Mouth open in ecstacy, breath halted, every joint and muscle locked into position; a sculpture of perpetual bliss. Above her, Summer’s shocked face still trying to process everything that had just happened in the matter of seconds. The moments of perfect stillness suddenly shattered by Alisha gasping back in a huge breath, her body crumpling back to the ground, hand still moving faster and faster.
“Yeeeessssssss!” She let out another scream, followed by a flow of words: “Feels so good to rub my cunt. Need to rub, need to fuck myself. Must alway be rubbing, always be fucking. Fuck, fuck, fuuuucckkk.” The last bit escalating into another scream of pleasure.
Summer’s jaw dropped as her mind began to put the pieces together. Someone had manipulated this poor woman’s mind into being endlessly horny in order to neutralize her. Villains using mind control techniques and powers had been a rare thing in the city until an uptick about three months ago. The League was still trying to figure out why the sudden increase had occurred, but with no luck so far.
“Alisha, I need you to listen to me” The woman on the floor gave no sign she was listening, but Summer had to try something. “Someone did something to you and I can help but you need to pull your hands out of pants for a few minutes and come with me okay?”
Alisha’s glazed eyes looked at her blankly for a second as her arms twitched, fingers plunging inside her.
“Must rub, must fuck myself. Can’t stop. Impossible to stop. Hands are made for rubbing and fucking. Can’t do anything else,” Alisha panted out, her head tipping slowly backwards as she built herself up to another orgasm.
“Shit,” Summer swore as she chewed her lip. She reached around for her bag and checked her phone. It was still in the middle of an unfinished and unsent text message. She clicked to discard the message and then to call Artificer, only to be met with a “No Service” popup.
“The vault, of course.” She turned her attention to the woman writhing on the floor, “Stay here Alisha, and I’ll be right back with some help okay?” Alisha arched her back and let out a moan in response. Summer doubted she’d be going anywhere.
Summer turned around to leave just in time to see the vault door closing it’s final few inches on heavy, hydraulic arms. A bevy of clicks and thunks emitted from the door, confirming that they were both locked in here.
“Oh shit.” Summer turned back to Alisha, almost unphased by this point at the other woman grinding into her hand. “Alisha the vault just locked. Is there any way to open it from inside?”
Alisha’s slack jaw and glazed eyes belied the little bit of brainpower she could still muster. “I think… hold on… ughhhhh…. yesssss…. fuck… under the rack closest to the door… ahhhhhh… have to keep rubbing… keypad… have to enter… have to finger myself… have to fuck myself… hands are made for rubbing and fucking” her back began to arch itself into another orgasm. Summer grimaced and watched as her body trembled then rigidly held it’s form, then buckled back down to the ground.
“Okay Alisha the keypad by the door, what numbers do I have to enter?”
“Huh? … oh… five two two nine seven… ughhh…. nine four four three.” Her hands began working her into a blissful ignorance again, her mouth becoming an extension of their will and chanting “hands are made for rubbing and fucking” to their pleasurable cadence.
Summer knelt down to the keypad and punched in the code. She waited worriedly for something to happen, Alisha moaning in the background how it was impossible for hands to do anything other than masturbate herself. Then she noticed the checkmark button. Of course nothing had happened yet, she hadn’t hit the checkmark button. Frantically she pushed it, hoping to call in some psychic specialists and go home. She heard a click.
But not from the door. She followed the sound of the click up the walls to the speaker of a PA system, static crackling in from somewhere else.
“Bravo Cinder, if you had accidentally locked yourself in the vault that would have been your ticket to freedom” The smooth, sultry voice pouring in through the speaker had a taunting tone of menace to it. “But alas, I don’t allow such easy exits from my traps.”
Summer scanned the top of the room above the speaker and found something that she had missed minutes earlier: five cameras, all currently pointed at her. Summer gulped, took a deep breath in, and thought quickly about what her best chance for getting out of this was. It sounded like the person on the other side of the speaker and cameras planned to trap her in here, so she probably couldn’t outright convince them to release her. However she could try to buy some time and maybe even get the person to slip up enough to provide her with an opportunity to escape. From the few sentences she’d heard so far, they seemed like one of the more “melodramatic” types of villains, and those sorts often could be tricked into gloating about their plans long enough to foil them.
“Alright, you got me!” Summer shouted up towards the cameras, “I’m afraid you have me at a bit of a disadvantage. You know who I am, but I have no idea who you are.”
The speaker clicked on and static poured through, before turning off again. Summer wondered if maybe she’d misjudged the villain, that maybe she wasn’t the sort to brag and boast when victory was close but not certain. For half a minute all Summer could hear was the wet sounds and increasingly hoarse moans of Alisha fucking herself on the ground behind her, interspersed with a few whispered words about her uncontrollable hands.
Then the speaker clicked on again: “We’ve met before Cinder, but you’d have no reason to remember me. I was a wholly different person then, I hadn’t yet discovered my full potential. If you need something to call me, call me Rewire.”
“Rewire” Summer repeated, thinking aloud, “So you have some sort of technological capabilities? That explains the camera and vault. The alarms too. Probably allowed you to make something to fuck with that poor woman’s head.” She jerked her thumb over her shoulder at Alisha. “But what do you want with me?”
Summer’s eyes continually traced around the room, her outer calm covering for her panicked search for any opportunity out. She was buying time sure, but no one would notice her missing for over a day and she was locked in one of the most secure places in the city. The only ways in and out of the vault were the door, controlled and sealed by the villain, and a number of small vents, far too small for a person to fit through. Maybe if Vaporwave from the industrial district’s offices had responded, she could escape through one of them in gaseous form, but shapeshfiting was beyond her capabilities.
“Oh not too much. Have some talks, get to know each other a little better; you know, hot girl stuff” Summer involuntarily rolled her eyes as she registered the heat-related pun. She secretly hoped that the mocking tone was covering for a lack of a plan of what to do with a caught superheroine after capturing her in bank vault. It wouldn’t be the first time one of them had planned meticulously how to get a superheroine into a precarious position with no plan on what to do afterward.
“Say Cinder, do you know the full range of the Alterra bank security protocols?” The voice was dripping with taunting glee. Summer knew she should know this, there had been meetings and briefings with the bank security engineers on what they termed a “multi-tier security approach”. Memories of a mish-mash of diagrams and bulleted list handouts with far too many subitems having subitems danced at the corner of her mind, just out of reach. She’d never really thought she’d need that knowledge and had just started playing Craft-terra the week before, trying to surreptitiously click through menus on her phone while nodding along at the meetings. Shit. She shook her head slowly.
“You’d think they’d share those with you heroines, but even then you probably wouldn’t have guessed the full extent of their measures.” Rewire paused to let the mystery linger, Summer raised an eyebrow.
“Their vaults have a number of alarms, triple keypad locks, biometric scanners, laser tripwires, pressure sensors in the floor, advanced fire suppression systems…” Summer gave a thoughtful look across the ceiling on the mention of the fire suppression system. She hadn’t seen them before because they were recessed into the ceiling of the vault, but there were some sprinklers and what were presumably fire sensors next to them. It was a long-shot, but maybe triggering the system would force a release on the door that Rewire hadn’t disabled. Most buildings valued safety of those within them over strict security. Even if it was a long shot, it was a better plan than nothing. She turned her attention back to Rewire, still listing off security features with a gleeful malevolence in her voice.
“Autonomous tracking drones, aureal nauseators, and of course knockout gas.” Rewire said that last feature with a particular excitement. Summer’s eyes flitted back to the vents from the recessed sprinklers. She wondered if Rewire had made an error. The standard knockout gas produced by Lentrium that was used as a non-violent pacification technique across the city had an extremely reduced effect on almost all super humans. Even high concentrations did little more to her than make her feel like she’d missed an hour of sleep.
“Of course Lentrium KOG has only a 0.05% effectiveness rate among superhumans, meaning that it’s only really useful or intended for use among non-supers.” Summers eyes drifted back to the sprinkler, her hands at the ready. She didn’t like where this was going. “Alterra Banks though have an off-the-books partnership with Lentrium to develop more effective solutions for pacification in superhuman-concentrated cities. The security response ventilation pumps have a seven canister selection system, each canister enough to fill the vault with ten times more gas than necessary to knock out a normal person. Most security documents on their servers show that all seven are Lentrium KOG, an overkill redundancy. However the Security Research division’s private memos show canister number seven in each system is actually Lentrium X-4, with tests showing 98% effectiveness on knocking out superhumans.”
Summer tensed, things had just gone from a potential stalemate to very bad.
“Let’s see how well it works!”
Summer heard a hissing as a lazy blue gas began billowing out of the vents in the ceiling. She whipped her arm out and sent a burst of flame towards the sprinklers, hitting it dead on. Ten sprinklers descended from the ceiling in unison, and Summer heard what she’d been waiting for: a click from the vault door and the sound of hydraulics opening. She turned towards the door as unnoticed the ends of the sprinklers swiveled towards her.
“You think you’re clever don’t you?” Rewire growled through the speakers, a tinge of anger to her voice, “But this is no more than a minor setback.”
The hydraulic door openers slowed and then stopped leaving only a two inch opening in the door. Summer had just enough time to swear under her breath before ten foam cannons knocked her forward onto the ground. The cold, heavy foam knocked the breath out of her, and by the time she lifted her head again, the arms had begun closing the heavy metal door again.
“All your struggling is futile Cinder, I’ve planned this whole thing out from every angle.” There was a slight pause, and then anger tinged with the smallest, sweetest bit of embarrassment. “Although you did manage to send an alert past me to the fire station. So we’ll need to speed things up a bit”
Summer struggled to her feet as the door clicked closed again. Spinning around she heard the gentle hiss of the vents escalate to a full bellow, the blue gas pouring in much faster than before. By the table Alisha lay on the ground her movements slowing to a full halt, her masturbating hand the last limb to finally fall asleep.
Summer frantically searched for another way out as she caught the whiff of something that smelled like a cross between rubber and bathroom cleaner.
“Average fire department response time to this location is seven minutes,” Rewire mused over the speakers, “We’ll be cutting it close, but maybe I can slow them down a bit.”
Summer stumbled towards the door, a weariness tugging at the edges of her consciousness. She had to try something. Summoning a flame to her fingertips she began trying to cut through the thick vault door. She knew it was hopeless, that she’d never make it through in time, but she had to try. She had managed the smallest cut through maybe a quarter of the door’s thickness when ten foam cannons launched another barrage at her, the pressure squeezing her against the door and then causing her to sprawl backwards on the floor, gasping for air. The rubber and sanitization smell flooded her lungs more fully this time, her vision swimming. She tried to summon the flames again, unsure if she should keep cutting, try to disable the foam cannons, or just prepare herself for the approaching villainess. The fire-retardant foam coating her hand made the decision for her though, try as she might no flame would form on her coated hand.
“Wow, good job Cinder. You’re really helping to speed this process up!” Rewire’s staticy cackle sluggishly registered in her mind. “Looks like I’ll be down to collect you shortly.”
Summer struggled to rise to her feet, to fight the good fight until the very end; but her muscles couldn’t bring themselves to properly function. For a moment she managed to raise herself to a sitting position, but her next breath of poison air had her slouch down to her side again. Her eyes flickered, trying to stay awake, arms and legs splayed askew with no will to move. A tear ran down her face at her failure and powerlessness, as a click and hum slowly reverberated through her ears.
All her senses seemed disjointed, the sounds of the heavy vault door opening mismatching the stilted visuals her tired eyes were tracking. She saw square-heeled boots cross the floor first at half-speed then in a sudden burst, hearing the click against the floor what seemed like an eternity later. She couldn’t lift her head to see who they belonged to, only that they were followed by six metal legs of some sort of robot, the movements seeming random to her drugged mind. The boots stopped a few feet in front of her face, and the figure stooped down. Summer tried one last time to do something, anything to save herself. But her arm felt like it was sealed to the vault floor and her fire only managed the weakest glint from one of the few spots not coated in foam before going out. A face with a gasmask stared at her, she could feel the predatory grin behind it.
“You’re so close Cinder, just look how heavy your eyes are,” Rewire reached out a glove with little metal contacts in the fingertips towards Summer’s head, “Let me help you a bit.”
Summer’s mind began swimming in a new way before she felt the cold steel contacts touch her temples. The gas had made her thoughts sluggish and elongated, but now random thoughts were coming unbidden to her like someone sifting and searching through a stack of files. Once or twice she felt her arms twitch and her left leg kick back without her controlling it. Meanwhile she was remembering her 7th grade dance mashed into her setting a field on fire mashed into Artificer’s keyboard’s clacking. They were all simultaneously distinct and intertwined.
The words stretched through Summer’s mind before she felt a slight tingle and the world went dark.