The Fury of the S.O.S.
Cynthia reached for her spare knife and easily cut the cord that was strangling her. She landed on her feet and rubbed her sore neck.
“Good effort, hun,” she said.
“What is your mission?” Nobody asked.
“None of your business. What’s yours?”
“To make the four of you pay for what you’ve done,” Nobody quickly replied.
“Oooo. That’s what my mother would call “chillingly ominous”. Too bad threats aren’t going to save you or your little girlfriend over there,” Cynthia said, nodding her head toward where Marble Maiden lay. The marble hero could barely keep her eyes open. She looked drained. Missing a hand would do that to a person, Nobody reasoned. He drew his own blade, a long knife made for stabbing.
“Your move,” he said.
“That’s all you got to say?” Cynthia asked. Nobody waited. Marble Maiden moaned in pain. “Man, heroes these days are no fun.”
“I’m not a hero,” Nobody said.
“Okay. Sit tight for a second,” Cynthia said, grabbing one of her swords off the ground and heading towards Marble Maiden. Nobody threw a small metal spike at her head. Cynthia blocked it with her sword.
“Don’t get distracted. One wrong move and you’re finished,” said Nobody.
“Damn! You’re a cocky son of a bitch, huh?” she said. Nobody’s glare intensified. Cynthia felt his gaze on her, like a pressure. She didn’t like it. “Okay. We’ll have ourselves a little duel and see who’s better with the pointy pointy and the stabby stabby.”
“You gonna make me wait till my ball hairs turn white or are we gonna do this?” Nobody asked. Cynthia cackled.
“Don’t disappoint me,” she warned.
She charged toward him, covering the distance in seconds. Nobody turned his body, trying to catch her momentum and direct it toward the tree. To his surprise, she countered his move, grabbing hold of him and taking him along. She threw him to ground. He rolled away from her many stabbing thrusts, then got to his feet and threw another spike, which she sliced in half. That surprised him. Blocking was one thing, but to get a cut that precise? He’d seen masters of the blade perform such a feat, but only after they’d trained for decades. She couldn’t have been over thirty.
“You’re juiced up too?” Nobody asked.
“Why you talking?” she asked, flying toward him like a whirling dervish. Wide-eyed, he dodged her attack with millimeters to spare. “Nice,” she said.
“How’d the Spiders get an entire unit of enhanced fighters working for them?” Nobody asked after he’d put some distance between them.
“Are we fighting or playing twenty questions?” Cynthia asked.
“You’re not really a gang, are you? You’re a private deal or some kind of undercover outfit,” Nobody said.
“Didn’t buy it for a second, eh? I told them we should have bought dew rags or something,” said Cynthia, rubbing her chin. “The whole point of the S.O.S. is that no one’s supposed to know about us. We don’t have to play along with the charade like the others. Know what I’m saying?” she said, flashing a Spider gang sign before laughing again.
“Are you with the Order? Double agents, maybe?” Nobody asked. Cynthia recovered her other sword. She had a big smile plastered on her face.
“Only one we’re loyal to is the Spider.”
“The Spider?” Nobody asked.
“The big boss. Gangster numero uno.” She spun her swords in a flashy display of dexterity. “And he’s going to love watching me torture you.” She charged again, both swords ready to swing. Only too late did she see the glint of metal in the moonlight. She screamed as she stepped on and then fell over into a bed of caltrops.
“Did you know that if you try to access a memory, say from answering a question, it takes your attention away from what’s right in front of you?” Nobody asked before shooting his grapple gun and disappearing above the tree.
Cynthia pulled the caltrops off of her in a furious rage. “Get down here!” she roared. A metal spike hurtling toward her face was Nobody’s reply. She had a gun on her. She could… no. She hadn’t shot that thing in ages and this nobody Mask wasn’t going to make her. She got an idea that was probably terrible, but in her anger she didn’t care. She plunged one of her swords into the trunk of the tree and ran around it in a circle, slicing the thing clean in half. The tree hung for a moment before tipping over and falling. Cynthia scoured the branches but found nothing.
“Where are you?” Cynthia called out.
“Cynthia, come in,” Rio said over the coms.
“What is it?” Cynthia snapped.
“Finish up and get out of there. Fuzz is headed our way,” Rio replied.
The red and blue lights in the distance were getting closer. And that helicopter was getting close too. She knew she couldn’t stick around but she couldn’t let an insult like this go. This wasn’t like Lydia and her stupid gun. This was about pride.
“If you ran away I swear I’ll hunt you down. I’ll slice you up into little pieces you god damn piece of…”
Behind her. She turned in time to see Nobody grab her off-hand and sever some very important ligaments in her wrist. She swung her other sword, only to see him do the same to that wrist too. Her swords fell with a thud on the grassy hill. Nobody tripped her, taking her to the ground. She rolled to get away, but he was somehow quicker, getting on top of her and stabbing down into her calf. She half screamed and clenched her teeth. She flipped on her back to kick him away but he’d already backed up.
“So. I heard you like torture,” Nobody said, cleaning his long knife off.
“I’m not a talker,” Cynthia hissed. She was breathing hard, her head swimming in pain.
“You’ve already told me everything I need to know. This next part’s just for fun,” Nobody said. Cynthia didn’t believe him, but something in his eyes and in his voice told her he wasn’t the type who messed around.
“Okay, you’re not a hero. But you’re dead because of the shit you pulled tonight. Fucking dead man walking,” Cynthia said with a pained smile.
“No. I’m Nobody.”
He drew a knife from a hidden bandolier and threw it, aiming for her shoulder. To his surprise, she deftly rolled out of the way, drew her own knife and returned fire. He reflexively caught her knife and flung it to the ground. He reached for the last of his throwing spikes, not bothering with finesse. She cartwheeled out of their way, grabbing one of her swords in the process despite the fact that she shouldn’t have been able to. If he didn’t know better, he would have thought she hadn’t just gotten expertly disabled. When she got back to her feet he realized why. Her wounds were almost completely healed.
“You pissed me off. You really shouldn’t have. Now you’re gonna see why they call me the Fury of the S.O.S.”
“Look, a distraction!” Nobody said, throwing a bag of flash powder at her face. Cynthia crossed her swords to block and was blinded by the explosion.
“Ah! God damn it!” she yelled.
Left hook to the jaw. Right jab to the nose. Knee to the face. Strike to the elbow. Kidney shot, double tap solar plexus, kidney shot. She went for a counterstrike, knocking him off balance. She spun and kicked him in the gut, then jumped for a knee to the chest. He let her knee sail past him, going for a sweep kick when she landed. She stepped over him, and punched down at his head. She only just managed to miss him. He went for an uppercut, missed, regrouped, and went for an elbow strike that also missed. She clocked him in the shoulder, the arm, clipped his nose, grabbed his counterattack, wrenching his arm, and got him square in the jaw.
Nobody fell backwards, stunned. She rubbed the last of the spots out of her eyes and charged him, giving her best war cry. He shot his grapple gun at her face, which connected hard.
“You’re being played,” Nobody said reeling his grapple gun in while she cursed. “The Order wants the Spiders to rise up. They want you to fight the mob.”
“And we’ll take any help we get. Soon as Jet City falls, the Order’s next. We know all about their little plan,” Cynthia said.
“Then you know what’s going to happen. When the Centennial arrives, every Mask and Cape for miles around are going to be here,” Nobody said.
“The Order loves chaos, even though they’re named after the exact opposite concept. They’ll get their fill of it and then some. But it’s not gonna matter. The system they support is going to fall along with everything else.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You don’t know? I thought you knew everything,” she said.
Something popped out of what he thought was her forearm bracer. She twisted her wrist and a tiny harpoon shot out, plunging into Nobody’s chest. She twisted again and reeled Nobody in, sword waiting in her other hand. Nobody popped the hidden blade from his wrist and surprised her with a deep cut to her shoulder. She cut into his side through his ribs. Her face lit up when she saw his pain. She savored it. She didn’t see Marble Maiden come in from behind.
The marble heroine landed a super critical blow that destroyed Cynthia’s face. Then she tore the bracer off Cynthia’s arm and one hand tossed her limp body down the hill toward the mansion where a thorny bramble hedge awaited her. Nobody took a second to catch his breath and then yanked the tiny harpoon out of his chest. He shed a single tear. He looked to his fellow hero. She was barely standing.
“Did I do it?” she asked. Nobody nodded and gave her a thumbs up. She smiled, returned his thumbs up, and then collapsed face first.
“Mal! Can you hear me?” Nobody asked. She moaned. Good enough. “If you can stand, try.” He pulled her arm around him and tried to help her up. She weighed a ton. With some effort, he managed to get her on her feet and lead her off the hill.
“Take me home,” she said.
“You need a hospital,” Nobody replied.
“What are they going to do? I’m made of magic marble.”
“I know a special hospital. It’s a bit of a drive, but it’s your best bet.”
“No. Take me home.”
“Don’t give up on me. I’m not giving up on you,” Nobody said.
“My dad is one of the leading magical practitioners and wonder workers on earth. If there’s a way to reattach my hand it’ll be in his library,” Marble Maiden said.
“What about your butler?”
“I sent Alfredo home for the day. He’s… he’s…”
“Stay with me. Keep your eyes open,” Nobody said.
A flood of police cars flew past the conveniently open front gate and surrounded the fleeing Spiders. After a brief firefight, the Spiders surrendered and a blue wave of cops pounced on them, handcuffing and reading their Miranda rights. A drag net search of the mansion grounds turned up no one else, though the captured Spiders swore they had been following a third party’s orders.
Nobody half dragged, half led Marble Maiden through Tanglewood toward Castille Manor, staying out of the searchlights and away from the eyes of jumpy, twitchy cops all across town. As the very first rays of morning sun were peeking past the horizon, Nobody finally got the Marble Maiden inside the manor and into her room. The bed sank half a foot when she collapsed into it. Nobody collapsed as well. He could deal with pain like the best of them, but he couldn’t fight blood loss. He bundled up part of his mask and pressed it to the wound. Don’t pass out, he told himself. Don’t pass out.
“I want to thank you for bringing the master’s daughter back alive,” Alfredo said. “Though not necessarily in one piece.” Nobody panicked and went for the window. “Wait. Please. Your secrets are safe here. Besides, it looks like you’re in need of some medical attention as well.”
Nobody hesitated. The blood coagulant he took earlier was set to run out soon.
“Mask stays on,” Nobody said.
“As you wish, Mr. Si… Mr. Nobody.”
“Alfredo? I thought I sent you home,” Marble Maiden said.
“I am always where I am needed,” he answered cryptically.
“I’m sorry. I snuck out and almost got myself killed,” Marble Maiden said. If she could cry in this form, she would have.
“It’s good to see you finally embracing your role as a guardian,” said Alfredo.
“A what?” Marble Maiden asked.
“A guardian. A fighter for justice and protector of the innocent. Just like your mother.”
“Yes. That’s her amulet there,” Alfredo said, pointing.
“No, this is my father’s magic amulet. He gave it to me.”
“And where do you think he got it? It seems there is much for you to learn about your family history.”
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