A Fist, Raised

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Re: A Fist, Raised

Postby Elly » Wed May 15, 2013 1:59 am

Lieutenant Guy LeBlanc sat slumped at his desk, head tilting between a small stack of case files and the antiquated CRT monitor of his desktop station. He looked up, then back down. Up, and down. He rolled his chin, placing his finger on a line of text from a case file, comparing it to another on his screen. He took a deep breath, thinking lightly about what a long shift it had already turned out to be...

“Heeeey Guuuuuyyyy.”

LeBlanc released his breath in a huff. It was about to get a little bit longer. He swivveled his chair slightly, rolling his head on his neck to see a pair of green eyes and a mess of red hair poking up over the top of his cubicle wall. He punched the bridge of his nose. “Evening, Quinn.”

Elliot Quinn stood up fully, slightly shy of a head taller than the cubicle itself-- Prompting her to circle around to the entrance to LeBlanc's little slice of bureaucratic heaven. She leaned casually on the edge of the wall, though her attempt backfired a bit as her hand slipped, sending her scrambling for balance. After finding her feet again, she put on her most charming 'I totally didn't just fall over' smile, tossing her hair.

She had no idea what she was even doing.

“Sae, aeywoz wendaren' if ya'd b'able ta sey samthen' abaet th' maeyrdars? An ya ken k'all me eleigh--”

LeBlanc looked back down at his paper work. “Spit out that massive wad of gum and try again.”

Elly turned slightly pink, picking up the small waste basket just inside LeBlanc's office and discarding a rather unwieldy wad of gum. “I said, ya kin call me Elly, an' I was wonderin' if ya'd be able ta say anythin' about th' murders?”

LeBlanc flipped a page on his report, not bothering to look up. “Last I checked, Junior Officer Quinn, I had sent what we had to forensics, as well as called you down to the scene. If I'm not mistaken, you're supposed to be the one telling me.”

Elly shifted her weight nervously. She looked towards the fluorescent lights above while fiddling with her hair slightly. “Er, well...”

“Well?” LeBlanc said, raising his head slightly.

“Well, uh...Th' bodies're radiated, kinda a burst thing, so it's gotta be some sorta special equipment...” Elly began. She looked to the side, tapping her chin. “Th' bodies, they got marks on 'em, surgical incisions an' perforations like th' needle mark from injections an' stuff.”

“Stuff.” LeBlanc scoffed. “What professional terminology you've got there.”

Elly sank slightly, before bouncing right back to semi-perky. “Well, it all points t' a doc gone a little loopy, takin' x-rays an' cuttin' and pokin' an we'll probably find one without eyes're somethin' soon I bet!” Elly said, almost excitedly.

“Without eyes.” LeBlanc parroted. “You've been watching too much TV, kid. It's a strange case, but nobody's stealing anyone's sensory organs. How about that other sample?”

Elliot shifted her weight again, thinking. Other sample? Oh, right.

“Aye, that--”

“I don't think you're Irish enough to say that.”

“AYE.” Elly reaffirmed. “That's th' other thing. Th' samples bad, an'...”

“And you'll need a new one.” LeBlanc said, turning back to his paperwork. “You'd better hurry, then.”

“What, me?”

“Yes, you.” LeBlanc said, turning away again. He didn't need to be watching to know that Elliot had already hurried off as fast as precinct protocol would allow her. It might be a wild goose chase, but really, who was going to miss a junior forensics agent who was grasping at feathers?

He inhaled deeply again, and exhaled, again turning slightly to see emerald eyes and red hair peeking over his wall.

“I jus' wanted to tell ya that yer name means 'white guy' in French.”

And with that, she was gone. Again.

LeBlanc pinched the bridge of his nose. It was going to be a long shift.
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Re: A Fist, Raised

Postby Black Seven » Fri May 17, 2013 1:04 am

Tearing her eyes away from the closed-circuit monitor, Seven took quick stock of the weapons of choice in front of her. There was always the twelve-gauge, though it would send the wrong idea to her clientele.

Former clientele. She reminded herself.

Former clientele that could be all the more uncooperative if they had finally decided that her perceived store of knowledge was dangerous enough to risk starting a full-scale war with her. No, aggression was out. Maybe a healthy dose of passive-aggression would be better suited to the situation at hand. Plastering a false smile on her face, Seven took a rocks glass in hand and went to meet the men who were quite rudely pounding on her front door.

The two awaiting her were exactly what one would expect. Dumb muscle, though impressively suited to the role. One of them, a seven foot giant, towered over her with a distinctly murderous look on his face. His compatriot, while not quite as physically imposing, easily had at least a half foot on her and several dozen pounds of hard muscle. She quirked an eyebrow at the two, swirling the brandy in her hand.

"3am is a terrible time to come calling on a lady, gentlemen."

"The boss says he'll see you now."

"Then he had best be walking himself up the stairs. Unless you two were planning on carrying him?"

Flushing red, Shorty made a grab for her neck. These two were not the types to be talked out of their orders. Seven stepped back, twisting quickly away from his grasping hand before pausing long enough to take a sip of her drink.

"Rules, boys. Meetings are on my terms these days. Dougherty had better remember that, even if you fine fellows don't." As if to emphasize it, she stripped their minds of a few hours of memory, stopping them short of trying to lay hands on her again.

"What were...?" The giant mumbled.

"The car outside. You were going to let your boss know that he has a few minutes of private consultation time with me."

The two exchanged wary looks, not quite sure how they had managed to find themselves in the woman's office. Slowly, almost begrudgingly, they withdrew and walked back down the narrow walkway pressed between the two buildings out front. It was a short wait before Caleb 'Dough Boy' Dougherty would make his way in, leaving Claire just enough time to refresh her drink and sink down into a comfortably overstuffed recliner with her eyes closed. The spacious main room would have looked in place had she been a college professor, seated amongst the bookcases and tasteful oriental rugs. Though they would have likely read through all the tomes on their shelves.

If not for the quiet sounds of approaching footsteps she would have been content to let the ambiance carry her off into a quick nap, but unfortunately the matter required her immediate attention.

"I'll be honest, Caleb. Anyone else and I might have been forced to make their 'work' life short and miserable. Your 'assistants' seemed to think their approach was preferable to yours."

The man stood in front of her, looking fairly bad considering the normal amount of care he took in his appearance. Certainly not as much as herself, but enough to be noted considering he would otherwise look like a broken down boxer in an ill-fitted suit. Like he did now. "My apologies, Miss Seven. I'll deal with them. Its an urgent matter, you know I would never come to you otherwise, much less with any kind of disrespect."

Seven shrugged lazily in response, gesturing for him to continue.

"My daughter vanished two days ago."

That was worth note. Dougherty enjoyed being in a position of authority considerable enough to gain the respect of his crew and his rivals, but not high enough for ambitious soldiers to make a play for his territory. Anyone stupid enough to abduct his kid was either unconnected or in for a whole world of pain that was best left to the imagination.

"Personal possessions and last known whereabouts. Clubs, bars, friends, parties, everything you can pass along."

He already looked as if he hadn't slept in days, barely managing to stay steady on his feet. If it were just a normal citizen she would have felt bad for him. But not 'Dough Boy', not with the stains on his hands. But it was about family, not his unsavory profession. And her services never came cheap.

Spearing him with a glance, Seven flashed her pearly whites with all the friendliness of a great white, "This is personal, Caleb. Payment is cutting loose one of your men. Micky Fuller. I expect your attorneys to be gone within the hour."

Sighing shakily, Caleb gave a defeated nod, "Done."

"Good decision, handsome. Now get me that info and we'll see about finding your little girl."
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Re: A Fist, Raised

Postby Amarlex » Sun May 19, 2013 6:59 am

The way the cell phone system in the United States is set up, it’s nearly impossible for one particular phone to receive a signal meant for a different one.

Nearly.

In 2012, there was a small error in the programming for a line of smartphones that would make the device think it had a different ID code for short periods of time. It would only change a few numbers in the code, and it would often just not pick up any calls, but, on rare occasions, the phones would pick up messages meant for other people. Although a recent update fixed the issue, a few people haven’t yet downloaded the patch.

Lady Luck is one of those people. As she lounges around on a rooftop in the warehouse district of Advent City, a quiet beep comes from her left glove. She fishes her phone out and, in a few flicks, discovers that she’s recieved a text message from a number she doesn’t recognize:

Van still in city, skipped expressway. Lost it at the warehouse district.

As she stares at her screen in confusion, the faint growl of a car engine catches her ear. She steps to the edge of the corrugated metal roof and peers over the edge...

...and sees a windowless black van rolling down the street. She watches it for a moment in silence, then locks her phone and slips it back into her glove before hurrying after it. Someone who's picked the name "Lady Luck" as her moniker knows not to question serendipity.

----

“I’m telling you, man, you don’t know what you’re getting into, man, you’re - “
“Nonono. Not like that. Try pleading, friend.”

El Etchogon takes a look at the figure in front of him, held by the cuff of his shirt. The folds of skin at the edge of his cheekbones suggest he’s grinning under the mask, hauling the miscreant out of the alley. The man struggles to look over his shoulder at his captor - big white eyes leaking smoke in the fluorescent streetlight - and his mood mellows a bit.

“C-can I go? Just - just trying to get by, I swear, man, just - “
A snort from under the mask. “Lotta money for gettin’ by, amigo.”
“No! I hadn’t even sold nothing - ”

Etch shakes him, interrupting the retort and fastening his grip. “C’mon. I know you’re not that bad, I know you meant well an’ whatever - I’m just gonna let the cops sort you out, yeah? Sort you out. Station’s not too far.” Muffled pleading from the captive ignored, he steps out of the alley, at a brisk pace. Warehouse district was deserted; quiet enough tonight to merit catching this kind of crook. Petty, but something.

He steps off the curb considering the growl of an engine, much closer now than it was five seconds ago. Squirming in the grip, the captive stammers, “Look - hey, mask guy, look!” Etch looks. The van skids to the side to avoid them, but its momentum isn’t changing easily, and in any conceivable future it’s making a path to directly run the red light through the point where Etchogon stands. Etch’s neck twitches to the side, expecting the desperate dealer to be fooling him, but his brow furrows upon seeing the oncoming collision. The captive yelps in terror.

With a brief flick of the arm, the kid is sent ass-first onto the sidewalk in front of them, skidding on his rear before coming to rest, against a brick wall, shocked. Using the resultant backwards force, Etch dives back and to the side, rolling along a shoulder into a crouch, narrowly missed by the van, which swerves back into place and resumes its previous breakneck speed. Etch stares after it for a moment - the other figure gapes across the street.

----

“Hey, dummy! What are you doing?!” Lady Luck’s voice echoes down from directly above Etchogon’s head.

She’s perched on the streetlight, head tilted to the side in a bizarrely predatory little pose. From where she is, she can see Etchogon’s smoldering eyes widen as his brow furrows in a combination of surprised recognition and instant frustration. He begins to speak, his first word already taking an irritated tone: “I’m-”

The girl cuts him off. “Get the van. Go! Get it! Stop ‘em!”

“Why-”

“-Are you still standing there? Good question! Now go.” With that, Lady Luck leaps off of the streetlight and hits the ground with a graceful roll before bounding off after the speeding vehicle.

(The miscreant sits dazed and bruised, frozen between the two figures and pondering an escape.)

She can’t catch up, of course; she’s only human, fit as she is, and there’s no way she’s outrunning a van whose driver has gone so far past flooring it they could be a Flintstones character.
She can slow it down, though. She skids to a stop and the van whizzes away from her, then raises her hand and splays out her fingers.

There’s a flash of light - it’s hard to tell what color it is, really. Some impossible combination of pink and blue that somehow isn’t just purple. There’s a soft, almost sad-sounding wheeze of escaping air and flapping rubber as the van runs over an incredibly inconveniently-placed nail. The vehicle wobbles for a moment as the driver adjusts for the flat, then resumes its course, although definitely a bit slower than before.

----

Etch exhales through his teeth as he rises from his kneel. Whatever. Unmarked black van using a sleepy street as a freeway was important. Probably. The van, swerving unsteadily, turns at the next block, and (after giving a brief sneer to the terrified dealer, who scampers up from his position and runs for his life in the other direction) Etchogon takes off on a diagonal to its new path in pursuit of an interception, straight into the corner of a warehouse block. Just before impact, he jumps, the streetlight shimmers around him - he disappears for a second and is then twenty feet up with one foot on the edge of the roof, taking off across the metal surface.

Rough calculations of speed in his head - he just turned and he has a flat tire, now, so he’ll be a little slower, but still gunning it. Ought to be able to catch up, just in time - with movement less describable as acrobatic grace and more as brute force he pushes himself across the rooftops, boots scraping noisily on the metal and shingles, scrambling over ridges, until he reaches the street again. The van is a good six or seven seconds behind him, and hasn’t seen him at the edge of the roof yet.

Falling down onto the sidewalk with a clatter, he jumps into the middle of the street and rolls a shoulder, estimating the timing necessary in his head. Just as the van driver registers Etchogon’s presence and swerves again to avoid him, Etch pushes off the ground and jumps at the car in a spin, turning his body around in the air - he shimmers again, light bending in smoke around him, just before collision; but collision never occurs, and Etch passes harmlessly through the van. Inside the vehicle, there’s a brief shimmer moving from the front to the back - Etch catches a glimpse of the two figures inside, and rematerializes just behind the van, hitting the concrete with an ungraceful jolt. He curses loudly.

----

“Why didn’t you stop the van?!” The tights-clad woman skids to a stop next to Etchogon and bends over, setting her hands on her hips in her very best scolding pose. “You could have stopped... Whoever was in it.” The girl stops her whining just long enough to sigh in frustration and cross her arms. “Whatever. What did you see?”

Etch scowls at her, unamused. “So I miscalculated, ended up outside it! I didn’t know I was gonna have to deal with this sixty seconds ago. Ugh. Guy and a girl in there, tied up. ‘Sa kidnapping - Wait, you didn’t know what was in that van?” He looks after it quickly. “How were you following it, then?”

Lady Luck slips her phone out of her glove and waggles it in Etchogon’s direction. “I got a text message from a number I didn’t recognize warning me about a van in the warehouse district. And then a black van drove by.”

She shrugs, as if this is a perfectly sound explanation. “So it actually was a kidnapping, huh? I told you it was more important than your date, didn’t I? Dummy.”

“It wasn’t - ” He sneers, sniffing under his mask. “Eh, that stupid kid had a lucky day thanks to you, yeah? Hmf. Guess he gets away free today. You wanna get that van, yeah, try to keep up -” He breaks mid-taunt, breaking into a run to scramble onto a nearby roof again.

“I like to be generous. Besides, it’s a victimless cri- hey!” Lady Luck bounds after him after a moment’s surprise.

“Hey, I guess we’re, like, partners now, huh?”
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Re: A Fist, Raised

Postby Dr. Qiang » Wed May 22, 2013 12:43 am

“Where do I sign up?”

Hands thrust in the pockets of his hoodie, Riot was only slightly less intimidating than an hungry bear. Shadows enveloped him, hiding his unnatural nature far better than the thin sweater. He hadn’t expected the sewers to be guarded. In hindsight, he mused to himself as the surprised gang soldier leveled a submachine gun in his direction, he probably should’ve. That level of organization was rare in the Undercity, where people acted more like wolves then men. The man’s finger tightened on the trigger, but he did not fire.

“Who says we’re hiring?”

Riot’s teeth shone brightly as they reflected light from the lantern the man had positioned about ten feet behind him. Light was always a risk in the Undercity, and everyone treated it differently. The confident, the paranoid, and the foolish held it in front of them, where it gave the illusion of vision while destroying their night vision. The cautious, the perceptive, and the native Wilmingtonites knew to keep the light at their backs. Yes, it left them silhouetted at a distance, but distances in the Undercity were short and all lights were suspicious anyway. A light at a man’s back wouldn’t completely ruin that man’s nightvision. Not that it mattered to Riot. The thug undoubtedly thought himself quite wise, confirming nor denying nothing.

Clever, apart from accidentally confirming Riot’s suspicions. It wasn’t much to go on but the admission was enough. Riot was on him in an instant, muscles of corded steel tore the unfired submachine-gun from the tough’s grasp. The gun clattered off into the darkness like a metallic spider as Riot threw it away. He treated the lone gunman with considerably more care, throwing him into a competent sleeper hold and then tucking him away in a dark corner to sleep off his terrible career decisions.





The oft-used manhole cover opened with the rasp of iron on concrete as Riot slid it aside. Squeezing out was difficult for a man of his stature, but it wasn’t the tightest place he’d crammed himself through. He went unnoticed for nearly a minute as men milled around smoking cigarettes and worse. A hand he didn’t feel clamped down on Riot’s shoulder.

“You the new—woah, holy shit! How much do you bench, man, you’re hard as a rock!”

Riot elbowed the speaker in the ribs, knocking the man sprawling. A bullet shattered as it struck him in the shoulder. He staggered as someone walked fire down his body, jerking with each impact as holes were shot in his “favorite” hoodie. Someone was quick on the draw. With a single graceful motion Riot scooped up the manhole cover and threw it in the shooter’s direction.

The man was smart enough to duck and the heavy iron discus smashed through the window behind him, showering the gunman with glass. The shooter temporarily silenced, Riot took stock of his surroundings. A half-dozen men and women, piles of wooden boxes, and a shipping container with a couple of frightened young men and women huddling in the back as though the corrugated steel walls would protect them from bullets.

Riot tackled the nearest thug, his six-hundred pound bulk coming down heavily on the man’s legs as he scrambled to distance himself from the shipping container. A young woman brandishing long knives smashed into him from behind, driving her weapons into his neck. He barely felt the impact as he smashed through a pile of empty wooden shipping crates and left her buried. He’d not felt the knives at all.

A man in a grandiose cape of cheap black cloth stepped from the warehouse’s office. His tunic of black cloth was lined with silver in a way reminiscent of circuitry. Riot didn’t feel much anymore but he did feel the electricity that leapt from the man’s outstretched hand. White-hot pain lanced through Riot’s body, and his lips parted in a howl of surprise.

“This ought to teach you to mess with ReVolt!” the man crowed as Riot fell to one knee.

Riot was no stranger to physical pain, he simply grimaced and squeezed his vulnerable eyes shut. The pain faded the moment jolt ended and a moment after Riot sprang to his feet and charged. ReVolt’s eyes widened in shock as his hands snapped upwards to deliver another punishing jolt. The actinic flash of projected lightning flashed between them in an instant. Riot’s body seized up once more but he had all the speed he needed, and while his stiffening muscles couldn’t carry him his momentum definitely could.

His massive, skidding bulk swept ReVolt’s feet from under him, and the black-clad villain’s head glanced from the office’s open door. The Villain stood first, blood streaming from his nose, and decided that discretion was preferable to still being close enough to grab when Riot found his feet again. A cold steel hand closed on the fleeing villain’s cape, but the cheap material just came apart in Riot’s fist. Riot rose with the inexorable slowness of an encroaching glacier, clutching the tattered cloth in his left fist. His right fingertips scraped against the cement floor as he rose.

Featureless black eyes settled on ReVolt’s back as the black-clad man fled through a side door. Riot tensed, his whole body calling him to pursue. The fight was unfinished, damn it! He let out a slow breath through gritted teeth and turned back to the bright green shipping crate. Riot ignored the heavy steel padlock and jammed his arm between the bars. His fingers curled around one and using his own shoulder as a lever he pushed with all his might. The bars gave only slightly at first, but with a screech of protest the weld gave slightly. Muscles of corded steel tensed nearly to the breaking point, but the bars gave first. The rough weld snapped at the base, and with a twist Riot pulled the bar aside. He motioned for the frightened contents to squeeze through.

“You’re going to get him, right?” A young woman asked as she squeezed through the bars. Riot glanced at her, but his featureless black eyes showed nothing. She elaborated after a moment, “ReVolt. You’re going to take him down, right? He was going to sell us overseas—”

“If I catch him,” Riot agreed, raising a fist still full of the man’s cape. “I won’t settle for just some tattered cloth next time.”

“Good. Guy drives a black van.”

“Right,” Riot replied, glancing at the door ReVolt had fled through. He pulled his hood a little further forward. “A black van. No promises.”

“A longshot’s better than no shot. Return the favor, alright?”

Riot rolled his shoulders, then nodded. What the hell, right?

“Sure,” he agreed. “I'll return the favor.”
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Re: A Fist, Raised

Postby Static Bolter » Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:01 am

He was talking again, Beth noted vaguely. Part of her felt guilty for not paying attention to what was being said, but after the exactly zero hours of sleep she'd had the previous night with a brief nap somewhere around the middle of the day she just couldn't summon up the mental fortitude. It was much easier to gaze out at the twilight glimmering through the enormous bay windows just over his left shoulder, or poke at her barely touched sub-par-set-menu dinner plate while pretending to listen. Beth was good at pretending to listen.

"Superintendent, how do you feel about all this frightful business with the spate of kidnappings lately? Is there any progress being made?" Emily Curtis' voice cut across the general conversation of the table, drawing Beth out of her sleep-deprived stupor. Normally anything that snide bitch said would just set Beth's teeth grinding but for once she was being remotely useful as the chatter stalled and Superintendent Hewett cleared his throat to answer her.

"There's quite a lot of ground to cover," he began, looking a little uncomfortable, "and of course while our men - and women - are very capable there just aren't the resources to be in every place at once. Still we're confident this will be wrapped up soon. You may have noticed on the news this evening a large portion of those missing people have returned safely home."

"Was anyone apprehended?" asked the gentleman beside Beth, his tone barely raising above mild interest.

"There are a handful suspects in custody. I'm sure their testimony will deliver us the rest in no time."

"From what I had heard," Emily spoke up again with a contrary smile, "those people were freed by someone other than the police." Beth's eyebrows raised and she leaned forward in her seat. "There was super hero involvement?"

A faint frown threatened to make it's way across Superintendent Hewett's face. "Vigilantism is more like, Miss Wells," he returned. "There's nothing the likes of the Anthem going on in Advent right now. Just a few days ago another of those masked madmen broke into Advent Hospital. Some might consider that monstrous."

"Oh, how dreadful! What do you think of all this, Mr Mayor?" Beth's mother, Clarissa Wells enquired of the til now silent political figure. He placed down his fork with an uncertain smile and hesitantly fumbled for words. "Well now, I believe err...every citizen of Advent is grateful to the brave soul who found and freed those people, but uh--"

"What I believe Mayor Brenning is trying to say is that people shouldn't be taking the law into their own hands," another man piped up from across the table. Beth dimly recognised him as someone from City Hall. "For every lucky break there's someone just causing more trouble."

Beth's dinner partner spoke up again; "Speaking of which, there was another person snatched up this morning, wasn't there Hewett?" The Superintendent gave him a grave, reluctant nod in reply. "We have a few leads, there was a witness who is helping us with our enquiries."

The conversation soon turned back to more everyday matters, and soon after Beth excused herself from the table, her tired brain re-treading the information it had picked up. More people were involved in this, for one reason or another, and it was seemingly far from over. Perhaps Beam would have some ideas, though there was clearly far more to be discovered from the police if possible; Superintendent Hewett would have to be a complete idiot to just give everything away at a party.


--------


The doctor let out a quiet little sigh of frustration as he washed away the various fluids left staining his hands after the evening's operation. Another unfortunate failure, though he could at least console himself with the fact that there had been some interesting reactions to the new formula which he could analyse later when refining things for his next subject. The near-useless individuals he had briefly contracted to procure supplies had finally stopped wasting his time and come through with the full list of required items, so trial and error was a perfectly acceptable tactic for the moment. It's not like there was any lack of subjects for the doctor to practice his work upon; his helper had gone out to acquire a new one just this morning, and would no doubt be arriving within the hour.

Whistling jauntily the man divested himself of his surgical scrubs and tossed them in the basket for laundry, then went to set his workspace to clean. No sense in being relaxed about any of that, he wouldn't want to contaminate the integrity of his next experiment.
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Re: A Fist, Raised

Postby EikoMagami » Mon Jun 10, 2013 9:01 pm

Advent City

Near the Highlands

7 months ago


“Get out of my house, you thieving whore!” a man’s voice bellowed so loudly that it could clearly be heard on the street, despite being several floors above it. “It’s bad enough that you been screwing around since you were barely a teenager, now you’re going to add being a criminal too? Stealing? Shoplifting?” A couple of pedestrians passing by looked up towards the sounds of the shouting but paid it little mind. It was so common to hear shouting and screaming from that particular apartment in the decrepit neighborhood near what used to be known as the Highlands.

Before the Great Fire, this neighborhood was home to those middle class citizens who were in that peculiar economic space between being good enough and being on easy street. The apartment building was modern, attractive, and aspirational, home to many of the up-and-coming citizens eager to find themselves living in or building the custom oversized mansions in the gated community known as The Highlands only a couple blocks away. For a time, claiming to live “near The Highlands” was a sign of modest but noteworthy success.

But today, the once prosperous and fabled neighborhood of wealthy elites had been reduced to a vast empire of junk and waste. All of the city's clean up refuse and disposed of waste and outdated technology was being temporarily dumped and stored in the Highlands. With corporate and governmental bureaucracy being what it often is, no one was especially surprised when temporary storage had now lasted over 10 years. In some places, the junkyard was nearly five stories tall and there was little oversight or control over what was dumped or where it was dumped. People of means abandoned the adjoining neighborhoods that had survived the fire and were replaced overtime with increasingly desperate people looking for shelter.

And it was in this very neighborhood where a morbidly obese, middle aged full-time drunk and part-time pervert routinely bellowed at his teenaged and willful daughter. She had long ago ceased to be a special interest but remained a responsibility and more importantly, a source of income through a welfare program. Ariel Mizuki knew her value and often used it as leverage in these clashes that occurred with increased regularity the older she got. But the pale, strangely platinum blonde girl would not threaten to leave just yet, not when her personal integrity had been assaulted.

“I’m not a whore you fucking drunk!” Ariel shouted in response as a door slammed hard enough to rattle an exterior window. The sound was followed by violent pounding against the door.

“Open this door right now!” the man shouted as he kicked at the door.

“I swear to God, Dad. If you come in here, I’ll kill you!”

“How dare you threaten me you little bitch, after all I’ve done for you!”

“I should kill you for all you HAVE done!” Ariel mocked in return.

A pedestrian on the street stopped below the window, overhearing the shouts and called the police. He didn’t want to get involved but he felt as though something terrible was about to happen.

The door burst open, sounding like it came away from the wall and was immediately followed by a scream, a flash of light and the sound of thunder. There was angry, incoherent shouts, the sounds of a struggle and someone being slapped once, twice, three times.

“You’re not going to kill anyone with your sparks and fireworks, Ariel. They are as worthless as you are. We should have had you aborted when we found out you were carrying the mutation.” her father shouted, stomping out of the room.

The pedestrian could hear sirens wailing in the background, but he doubted they were on their were here. In this part of town, crime often went unanswered. There were other priorities in the richer and whiter parts of the city. The pedestrian could see movement in the window three stories above the street and he watched the girl. He did not know the girl well, or really at all. No one spoke to or tried to get to know their neighbors here. It was too dangerous to know things. But the entire time he had lived in this neighborhood, he had never seen her happy. He never saw her with a friend and never heard her speak in ways other than screaming at or pleading with her father.

The girl opened the window and she made eye contact with him. He quickly looked away and started walking, ashamed of himself for doing so. He heard her step out onto the metal fire escape. Part of him wanted to call out to her and try to explain that everything would get better one day. But a bigger part of him knew it was a lie. The world he had known before the Great Fire was gone. There were two kinds of people now, those very few who had everything and the vast majority who had to fight for every scrap. Then there was the Highlands. In the Highlands the scraps had long been claimed and nothing remained except government checks and the occasional tractor trailer full of crap and bleeding hearts decided to dump near them. The man could hear her crying even as he turned the corner but he kept his eyes averted and tried not to think about her.

When the man had turned the corner, Ariel wiped her eyes with the sleeves of her black henley, the same shirt she’d worn yesterday and the day before. The sleeve seemed clean enough, all things considered. Like the rest of her outfit, it was all hand-me-down clothes she’d taken from the shelter or had been given by the church. Despite growing an inch taller and a little thicker around the waist and hips, her black jeans were still a couple of sizes too large but a couple of make shift belts kept them from falling off. Her shoes, black military boots were mismatched and the wrong size but they appealed to her sense of style and she would take whatever she could get.

She brushed her long incongruously blonde hair away from her eyes and gingerly felt the abused flesh around them. There would be another black eye she’d have to explain, if anyone ever asked. But it was The Highlands and no one cared. Ariel noticed the sun setting behind one of the larger pyramids of junk from the Highlands Reclamation Facility, the stench was abnormally bad. Perhaps it was the smell that prevented more crime from plaguing the neighborhood. Ariel didn’t believe it, but she had heard that the junkyard was protected by ghosts or demons or robots.

She startled when her father bellowed, “Goddamit Ariel, did you burn all my porn mags again you fucking pyro?”

When the gelatinous bulk of obscenity that was her father waded into her bedroom, Ariel was nowhere to be found. He looked around perplexed, sticking his head out the window momentarily.

Ariel knew she was getting better at using her abilities. She had jumped three stories down onto the ground and used a burst of fire to soften her landing. It was like a repulsive thrust, a force. She needed to concentrate it, to plan it. It wasn’t something she could summon under pressure, not yet anyway. She walked down the alley between the apartment complexes with no particular destination in mind. Walking and especially running could almost always be relied on to make her feel better but it wouldn’t help today. Her face stung from where he had hit her. Her stomach ached from where he had punched her. When he sobered, he would apologize and cry and beg her forgiveness. He’d hold her and hug her and run his fingers through her hair and promise that he’d never drink again, never hit her again, never hurt her again. But he had said these things so many times before. If only there was someplace else she could go. Surely running away couldn’t be any worse than what she just faced? But where could she go? She didn’t have any friends, no other family in the city. Perhaps she could try a shelter but she had heard so many terrible things about them, especially about what sometimes happens to girls who run away.

She spotted her favorite “thinking space” under a bridge near the outskirts of the Highlands. She looked around to make sure she was alone and sat down, drawing her knees up to her chin and tried not to let herself break down. She wished she could be somewhere else. Some place that didn’t know her or someplace where everything was different. She didn’t know why she had started stealing things except that it made her feel something other than pain, misery, regret, and guilt. It was exciting. She had heard that some girls cut and other girls puked. Ariel stole things.

She wished things could be different and felt that she was meant for something other than this life. She had these powers, these abilities that she was doing almost nothing with. Part of her knew that she could just take what she wanted. If she really learned how to use her abilities no one would be able to stop her. She could set the entire city on fire again. Then the people would be sorry. The social workers who didn’t believe her would cry as they burned. Her father would burn, the body of her dead mother would burn. Every policeman and politician that promised to do something about the Highlands would burn in her rage.

Almost as soon as she had these thoughts, she regretted them. How would more pain and misery make the Highlands better? Some people had it much worse than she did. She knew that many in the Highlands lacked water or electricity. And at least she had food to eat. Her father’s obesity assured that there would always been ample supplies of cheap carbohydrates. And Ariel was always ravenous. The ability to generate fire from her bare hands seemed to take a lot of energy. She knew it wasn’t all from food. Her powers were stronger in the daytime and she was less hungry but if she used them at night, the hunger was almost unbearable.

Sitting up, Ariel crossed her legs and cupped her hands, a couple of little figures comprised of fire began to dance gracefully. While she controlled their movements, she was still overcome with the joy they seemed to possess. Small crackles and sparks lept off the figures making little snap noises that continued to cheer her. Things were pretty bad but she had these powers for a reason. Maybe it was time to use them.

(( This story re-establishes the Highlands Reclamation Facility from my earlier contribution, that I deleted. This story takes place in the past as the next story features her as a much more confident figure willing to use her powers to help the people the police and politicians seem to have forgotten about. ))
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Re: A Fist, Raised

Postby EikoMagami » Tue Jun 11, 2013 1:20 pm

2 Months Ago

Advent City
St. James Building, now abandoned

With effort, she found that she could defy gravity. She could fly! There was no sensation that could possibly compare to the absolute bliss of leaping into the air and rocketing above the clouds. It was difficult to steer and prevent herself from tumbling uncontrollably because of some random change in the wind or to avoid some bird but it never ceased to be fun. She timed herself between distances using a stolen stop watch and found that she could fly at just over 80 miles per hour. if she tried to go any faster, it became difficult to breathe. In the daytime, she could fly for about 3 hours before she became exhausted and had to land. At night, she could only manage a few short bursts of flight before hunger became a distraction and her fire waned. She intuited that her powers must be related to the sun in some way. On cloudy and rainy days, her fire was significantly diminished. Inside a windowless room, her powers would fade as though it were nighttime. But she could hold a charge.

She had found that laying out in the sun, with as little clothing as she dared gave her enough charge to sometimes go through the entire night while using her powers conservatively. No matter how long she stayed out in the sun, her pale skin never darkened, never tanned, and never burned. It was the same with her own fire; it could not burn her. Everything around her, even her own clothing could burst into flame but her skin, her hair, her eyes would not combust and strangely, she was still able to breathe. It was possible that it was not an ordinary fire and how could it be? Fire needed something to burn but she was able to produce it from nothing. It seemed to appear directly on her skin and with a thought, she could throw, hurl, or otherwise project the fire over impressive distances, nearly 50 yards sometimes. She could also control the destructive power of her fire, it could be a harmless light show or it could burn through steel as she had practiced doing on a couple of abandoned cars in the Highlands.

Ariel had kept the promise she had made to herself seven months ago. She was learning to control her abilities and discover practice new ones. She had left her father to drown in alcohol and perversion, threatening to expose his secrets if he attempted to expose hers.

The time had finally come. She was as fully charged as she was likely to be with the sun now below the horizon. She stood on the roof top of a mostly abandoned and hollowed out shell of a building mere blocks from her origin and started to put on her clothes. If she were careful, she could use her abilities and not set her clothes on fire. Ariel had little doubt that she could steal more but stealing always took time and effort. There were only so many sporting goods stores in the city and sooner or later she would be recognized and watched. How many Asian girls could possibly be into wetsuits or need them with such regularity?

She had chosen the wetsuit because the material was more resistant to accidental fire exposure and whatever she wore needed to be form fitting. She had tried a body stocking but it melted almost immediately. She had tried wearing a leather body suit she'd stolen from a porn shop but it was much too large and caught fire. She did not know how to sew and could not figure out how to explain the situation to a tailor and she didn't have any money anyway so the wetsuit had been the solution. And so far, it had served. The opening at the sleeves, ankles, and neck showed signs of being charred and melted but the suit as a whole was still serviceable. The suit itself was black with little decoration. She sucked in her tummy a little and strained slightly as she pulled the zipper over her breasts, shoving and squeezing them to try to make them as comfortable as could be expected while so tightly confined.

She stretched and bent over a couple of times in an attempt to make the suit more pliable before sitting down to pull on black rubber work boots. If it turned out that she needed to fly to escape a situation, the boots would no doubt explode off of her feet. And since some of her thrust came from her back and thighs, the wetsuit would be history as well. But the Highlands was no place to attempt any kind of barefooting. As amazing as her fire powers were, she was still vulnerable to being cut by any number of sharp objects. And she worried about sharp objects quite often. Her powers provided no protection against being cut or stabbed.

She could generate and control fire. But there were limits. She couldn't absorb an entire building that was ablaze. She had tried. But she could put out a car fire or a smaller house fire. Most importantly to her and what she planned to do, she could suppress the fire in guns. In order for a gun to work, a very small spark of fire was necessary to ignite the gunpowder to send the bullet through and out of the barrel. She wasn't sure what range she had but she was confident she could suppress the fire. Ariel swallowed hard while thinking about the inevitability of being confronted by a gun. She knew she could suppress the fire. But could she do it under pressure? And what if the gunman had a knife as a back up plan? Ariel calmed herself with a long sigh. She could fly. She could escape. She could set a gunman or a knife wielding maniac on fire before he would even have a chance to take a swing.

Ariel pulled a black leather pea coat over her wet suit. Like everything else about her life, it was stolen. But that was an aspect she was looking forward to changing. There were sometimes rewards for apprehending criminals. She was also well aware that dealers and other shady types carried a lot of cash on them, cash that could be hers. She checked the time on her stolen cell phone and shoved it into her backpack along with the towel she had been laying on. She placed the backpack into a waterproof lock box hidden under the ventilation unit that she had fashioned into a hidden sleeping space. Making sure that everything was in place, she turned and walked with confidence to the edge of the building and jumped from the fifteen story skeletonized structure. Just before she hit the ground, fire roared from her hands, slowing her just enough to land safely.

There was no one around but Ariel knew where she could find trouble and with luck, some money.
Last edited by EikoMagami on Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Fist, Raised

Postby EikoMagami » Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:21 am

Ariel made a note to herself that it must be unpleasantly warm in the city. As she walked along the blocks of ruined and broken down buildings that defined South Roads, a neighborhood north of the Highlands, she noticed that the residents were wearing as little as they could get away with, fanning themselves, and sitting uncomfortably in front of box fans. Every person she looked at appeared to be covered in a film of sweat. Although it was still not yet dark, there were no children to be heard and conversations were a low murmur instead of the spirited shouts she was more accustomed to. Ariel herself could not feel the heat of the evening, she could not feel heat at all. She was never hot and she was never cold. During the day, she would often sleep inside a metal box, part of the derelict ventilation system on the top of the abandoned St. James building that she called her home. She knew it must occasionally get excessively warm inside the box as the heat had ruined a number of electronic devices and other belongings. But she would sleep comfortably inside the box, regardless of how hot it was, or how cold.

Turning the corner at the Liquor Liquor store, a tall, reedy looking man with dark skin and boldly blue, almost white eyes, whistled towards her.

"Hey blondie, where you heading in that jacket? Ain't you hot?" The man called.

Ariel did not acknowledge him nor did she change her pace. She would not use her powers against mere sexist cat calls and rude behavior. The man showed no sign of further interest and Ariel continued towards her destination.

It would be so much easier to fly but her powers were entirely too obvious at night. Her in-flight fire could probably be seen from the next county at night. And worse, she'd have to be nearly nude in order fly as her powers would easily burn off her clothing. If there was a solution for that problem, she didn't know what it was. If she did, she might be able to steal it because she surely couldn't afford it.

Ariel was headed towards a notorious nightclub called The Electric Cowboy. It was often the scene of violence of all kinds. People disappeared from there and sometimes turned up dead. There were rapes and robberies and all manner of assaults. But with little else in the way of entertainment in South Roads or the outskirts of the Highlands, it was a lure that few seemed capable of resisting. The business model of The Electric Cowboy was simple: offer half-priced drinks to men, free drinks to women, and then tempt others with more profitable lures like gambling, prostitution, drug running, kidnapping, extortion, thuggery, and other things. Those persons ill-equipped for such responsibilities were offered sex and drugs or more accurately, drugs and sex. This would keep people coming back for more and spending every last hard-earned dime. Ariel coveted a burning hatred for the place. It was that vile house of horrors that had snared her father and probably contributed to the death of her mother. Ariel would like nothing more than to burn the place to the ground but she was wise enough to understand the politics of her neighborhood and the role such a place performed within it. It was like a government, a seat of power, a means of control. Without it, there would be no law in the area, at least none that mattered.

Rather than burning it down, Ariel had an entirely different plan in mind; she wanted a job.

(( Story establishes the South Roads neighborhood and The Electric Cowboy a potential hub of RP activity and is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. A Pocket D for Advent City. ))
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Re: A Fist, Raised

Postby EikoMagami » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:55 am

The bouncer had not been impressed with Ariel.

He had looked her up and down and it was clear from the look on his face that he didn't have time for underaged-looking Asian girls dressed up in - he didn't know what. It was difficult not to smirk. The girl wore what looked to be a wet suit along with rubber work boots, and a leather pea coat. She must have been be sweltering in the heat. He had been dressed a little more sensibly in thin, breathable fabrics, a black t-shirt stretched tightly over his muscular chest and less muscular belly. His belly hung over his belt and wore black slacks and scuffed black shoes. It was his job to keep out underaged kids, unless of course they worked for The Electric Cowboy or wanted to. The law didn't seem to care and the media seemed occupied with other things but in general, allowing in underaged kids was bad for business and bad for the community. There was no reason to risk unwanted attention.

"Get in line, little girl" The bouncer said, compromising.

He'd let her in, but only once she stood in the now 20 something line of people waiting to get in.

Ariel swallowed and tried to steel herself and project as much confidence as she could in her voice.

"I'm here for a job," Ariel said, attempting a little growl in her voice and instantly regretting it.

"Is that so?" the bouncer asked.

"I'm here to see Bob."

"Bitch, Bob don't see nobody. Fuck think you are?"

Several of the others in line noticed the conversation between the girl and the bouncer. One of the young women in a metallic fabric, skin tight dressed hollered out.

"Girl, get your gook ass back the line. We been standing here for fuck hour, bitch!"

Ariel's eyes darted towards the woman but she didn't turn her head. The bouncer frowned and puffed up his chest.

"You heard the nice lady, best you should motor to the back and wait your turn."

Ariel reached into her jacket pocket and there was a collective intake of breath and even the bounced jerked suddenly. Ariel stopped, with her hand in her side pocket, realizing her mistake. Wordlessly, she slowly pulled out a card with a note on the back and handed it to the bouncer.

He had taken the card and looked it over. It was one of Bob's business cards alright. It looked legit, but items like this could be easily faked, especially by cops. On the back of the card there was a code. Stepping over to a stand with an ipad, he flipped through several pages of text and the code checked out. The right code could be harder to fake as they were updated frequently. He looked over at the girl and sized her up. The code suggested that she was recruited as a drug runner but the girl didn't look the type. He would have pegged her as more of a lap dancer with her platinum blonde hair and heavy black mascara around her almond shaped brown, almost black eyes. He wondered for a moment if the hair was a wig or was somehow natural. A naturally blonde Asian girl? He'd never heard of such a thing but it was a crazy world. For a moment he tried to imagine her in the role of a lap dancer but her outfit hid too much of her upper body. Her get up was completely ridiculous but while it was his job to keep out undesirables, this girl had seemed to be mostly harmless.

He was about to open the door for her, waving off the crowd's vocal and angry protests when a flash in the distance caught his eye.

Ariel saw the flash too. It could have been the flash of a camera phone or exceptionally bright headlights but a moment afterwards the sound of an explosion and a slight compression of the air around them was unmistakable. Something, perhaps a bomb or a pipeline or whatever else had exploded!

Everyone had turned to gaze toward the orange glow in the distance, lightning up the twilight sky. It seemed to be a couple of miles away, but Ariel wasn't sure as the warehouse across the street was blocking part of her view. Quickly, she pulled off her jacket and handed it to the bouncer before reaching down to begin prying off her boots.

"Uh…" the bouncer began.

"I'm going to be back for these. Don't lose them." Ariel answered.

She began to unzip her wetsuit and noticed more than a couple of people had their cellphones out and were recording her and the bouncer and the everyone around them. Biting her lip and scowling slightly, she scooted behind the bouncer and asked him politely to stay still. Bewildered, the bouncer did so and Ariel stood behind him, unzipping her wetsuit and climbing out of it.

"Girl? What the fuck?" He exclaimed.

"I'll be back as soon as I can. Keep an eye on my stuff."

Wearing only a sports bra and underwear, she stepped clear of everyone into the middle of the street and turned towards them. A dozen phones were pointed in her direction.

Ariel nonverbally acknowledged the crowd with a nod of her head before throwing her arms out and erupting into bright orange and yellow flames. Someone started to rush forward, apparently thinking she was in danger, perhaps involved in a self-immolation stunt, but when her fire grew wings and was suddenly accompanied by a loud roar, he had quickly backed off. Ariel rose into the air and some in the crowd started to flee in terror while others held their ground and recorded the event. No doubt this video would be all over social media and maybe even make the local news. This was far more publicity than she wanted or had planned for. She probably should have run away from the crowd or tried to find someplace, anyplace with just a little privacy before changing. But it was too late now. Besides, what kind of identity did she have to hide? She had no friends, she hadn't attended school since she was 11 years old, her neighbors barely knew anything about her and her father was an abusive drunk and a pervert. She didn't need some comic book style secret identity.

She thrust the fire behind herself, arcing up above the buildings and into the sky. She could see the fire and a number of people milling around, some of them looked wounded, while others seemed to be there to see what they could see. A hole had been blown through the top of a nondescript building that had served as one of the few medical care places in the area. It was ill-equipped and offered substandard care but it was largely free and better than nothing. Ariel couldn't fathom why anyone would attack the building and she determined that the explosion must have been an accident.

A white van was speeding away from explosion, jumping over sidewalks and side swiping a parked car as it fled. That might have been important, Ariel recognized but a couple other cars were leaving the scene as well. Almost everyone in the area was either on probation or on parole so it was in their best interest to avoid getting involved and something like this was bound to get the authorities interested. Her first priority was to help. She could chase white vans with a scuffed up passenger side later.

Ariel spread out her wings of fire and tried to land as gracefully as she could in front of the door of the medical center. Smoke billowed out and a figure in a white lab coat stumbled out choking. Still ablaze, Ariel reached out to prevent her from falling to the ground, taking care to reduce her fire to something that would not burn the woman's skin.

"I'm, I'm on FIRE!" the woman screamed.

"No! No, you're not." Ariel answered, trying to calm her. "I'm on fire and it's okay. You're going to be okay."

The nurse or doctor or whatever looked at Ariel's face, which was itself covered in fire, making her blonde hair whip around and up above her head. And her eyes, even Ariel's eyes were emitting a bright yellow glow, rimmed in flames. And when the girl spoke, bright shoots of fire emanated from her incandescent mouth.

Ariel shook the woman gently to try to get her attention.

"Please," Ariel begged, "is there anyone else inside?"

"Y-yes!" the woman exclaimed. "I - I don't know how many."

Ariel let the woman go, seeing that she was safely on the ground and deliberately walked into the building through the thick smoke billowing out of the door.
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Re: A Fist, Raised

Postby EikoMagami » Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:05 pm

The smoke enveloped Ariel but not for long as she sent her flames further away from her body, clearing the air around her. Doing so did make it a little harder to breathe but unless she needed to run a marathon, she figured she would be okay. Chairs and a couple of tables had been scattered around by the force of the explosion, magazines from months or years ago papered the walls, their glossy pages clinging to everything. The thick, bullet resistant glass that shielded the pharmacy and the office secretaries from the waiting room had stayed in place. Ariel couldn't see the hole in the ceiling so the explosion must have occurred behind the office area.

She tried the door immediately to her left and it was locked. It was a heavy and solid door but Ariel took a couple of steps back and made a fist with her right hand. A white hot ball of fire wrapped around her fist as the punched at the door. Ariel didn't possess any superhuman strength but the same force that allowed her to project her flames to help her defy gravity, could also project several thousand pounds per square inch into a punch. The door splintered inward and flew off its hinges. Immediately, flames roared into her face and she instinctively shielded herself before realizing what she was doing. Grimacing at herself, she straightened up and held her hands down towards her side with her palms open and facing outward. The fire in the room flew into them, increasing her own radiant energy.

"Hello?!" Ariel shouted. "Can anyone hear me? I'm here to help!"

She couldn't hear anything. It didn't help that the combined noises of the building fire along with her own fire abilities were making it hard to hear.

As Ariel turned towards the right down a corridor she was sure would lead to the site of the explosion, she noticed broken glass and other potentially hazardous debris on the floor and remembered that her feet were bare. Concentrating a little and tightening her belly, she lifted up off the floor and glided slowly down the hallway, peeking into each office door as she went. They all appeared to be empty and she began to wonder where the other people in the building were. The woman in the lab coat said there were other people. Sticking out of the last door on her right before the hallway connected with a perpendicular hallway was a part of feet wearing office shoes with a comfortable heel. Ariel rushed towards them.

She gasped at what she saw, or rather what she didn't see.

There was a woman, also in a lab coat, laying on her back on the tiled floor. She had obviously been shot but as a final insult, most of her head had been blown off by a close range shot gun blast. The explosion couldn't possibly have been an accident, something terrible had happened or was still happening.

A woman screams echoed down an adjacent corridor, cutting through the roar of the fire and was followed by a man's shout. Ariel believed herself to be ready. She had prepared for this. She had these powers for a reason. She knew what she had to do; rescue people trapped by the fire or confront those responsible for it, or perhaps both. Balling her hands into fists, her fire intensified and she levitated towards the danger ahead.

The fire was less intense in the hallway and it was easier for her to see.

"Dear Christ, we're gonna die!" A man called out in a panic.

Ariel turned towards the sound and saw a very large white man and a rail thin black woman hunched in a corner together. Their white lab coats were covered in ash, blood, and char. When they saw the figure of the girl standing in the doorway, covered in fire and apparently calm, they didn't know what to think. They stared in equal parts wonder and terror.

"What is it?" the woman cried?

"I don't know," the man replied, burying his round face into the woman's neck.

"Please. Don't panic." Ariel began. Her voice startled them but she continued, "I'm here to help get you out of here."

Ariel held out her hands and she absorbed all the fire in the room and tried to smile reassuringly to the two lab technicians on the floor, but they did not seem especially soothed by her behavior. She risked lowering her fire to a minimum level, revealing more of her human self, still clad in a sports bra and underwear.

"My name is Ablaze, I can control fire. I'm here to rescue you. Come with me if you want to live."

Ariel stepped into the room and held out her hand, careful not to step on anything sharp with her bare feet. She extended her hand, while the surface appeared to smolder, there was no fire.

"I won't hurt you."

The black woman took Ariel's hand and stood. Ariel implored the large man to follow but he refused to move. Ariel heard part of the building collapse.

"Dude, we have got to go. We don't have much time!" Ariel implored.

"Come on, Dr. Warts, you have to come with us," the black woman insisted.

"This is all my fault." Dr. Warts cried, bursting into tears.

"We can deal with that later," Ariel suggested.

"This is all my fault," Dr. Warts choked out inconsolably.

"I don't have time for this," Ariel remarked and pulled the woman with her out the door.

"No! Wait! We can't just leave him."

"I'm not leaving him. I'll come back for him. I promise."

Ariel retraced her steps trying not to step on anything. Their progress was slow. She wished she could just carry the woman and fly out through the hole in the building but she didn't think she could do it without burning her. She'd never carried anyone before and Ariel didn't think it was possible. She had to remove almost all her clothes to be able to fly, anything on her legs caught fire easily during flight. Absorbing the fire as they went, she shoved the woman through the outside door into the waiting arms of a single EMT tech.

"This is it?" Ariel complained angrily.

"Fuck you. You're lucky any of us show up on this side of town."

Ariel burst into flame just to shock the young man.

"Take good care of her or else. I'm bringing out one more. So stay put."

Another part of the building collapsed and the EMT and the rescued woman cried out.

Ariel's fire wings spread out and she took to the air in order to enter the building through the hole in the top.

She quickly made her way back to the office where she'd discovered Dr. Warts but he wasn't there. Quickly, Ariel started flying down the corridor calling out for him.

"Dr. Wartz! We really need to go!"

Crossing to the other side of the crater in the floor left by the explosion, Ariel found Dr. Warts, crushed under part of the roof. Ariel rushed over and tried to shift the heavy structure.

Dr. Warts moaned incoherently.

It took Ariel a moment to think about how to manage the situation.

She laid down beside the man on her back and carefully aimed her hands. She tried to limit her fire blast to just her hands. When the charge was ready, she twitched her wrists and fire exploded from them sending the structure flying across the void of the crater.

Too much, Ariel complained to herself.

She helped the man to sit up.

"Come on, we have to get out of here. The whole building is going to collapse."

Ariel stood and looked around. All of her escape routes were now blocked. She might have been able to blast her way through but that could also send crushing debris down upon them. She did not possess superhuman strength or any kind of enhanced invulnerability. She could easily be crushed. Clearly the only way was up.

But could she carry the oversized frame of Dr. Warts?
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