A Deadly Dance
James opened his eyes, still groggy. He was on his back and his head hurt and everything was spinning. Suddenly a woman in a blue costume was standing over him, slapping his face.
“Hey. Wake up,” Blue Wave said.
“Ow! Don’t do that! You’re making it worse!” James cried.
“Sorry,” she said.
“What… happened?” he asked.
“Well, we were ambushed, our ambusher shot your friend in the head, that Nobody guy pulled you to the ground so you didn’t get shot in the head and then he rushed her like a crazy person, and then your friend dressed like a disco ball charged in after him,” Blue Wave said matter-of-factly.
“Ambushed? Shot?” James said, scrambling to Tina’s body. She was lying on the floor, unmoving. “Tina! Oh god.”
“Hey, no yelling,” Tina moaned, slowly stirring.
“Oh Jesus you’re alive!” James exclaimed, hugging her.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Tina asked.
“I thought you got shot,” James explained.
“What? I got shot?” Tina asked, shoving him off of her and checking herself all over. Her scarf unfurled and laid four bullets on the ground. Tina exhaled a sigh of relief and admiration. “Scarfie. You saved my life,” she said. The scarf gave her a thumbs up.
“Wow. The scarf is bulletproof. MVP Scarfie for the win,” said James. The scarf gave him a fist bump which made his day.
Meanwhile, yards away, the old woman had hit the ground hard, bouncing off the concrete. Mallory shook her fist in pain. Whatever this lady was made of, it was almost as strong as the mirrored gauntlets.
“Thanks for the save,” Nobody said, coughing.
“No worries. Ow, she has to be powered or something cuz her face… Oh my god!” Mallory screamed when she rolled the woman over.
“Good hit, dear,” she said, grinning, which made some of her teeth fall out which in turn almost made Mallory throw up. A hard ceramic shell was visible where the woman’s skin had been split open.
“Oh my God. Her face. I destroyed it. I didn’t think I could if I… oh my God,” Mallory said, fanning her face which made the whole tunnel sparkle.
“Mal, find something to restrain her before she…”
The woman flinched, then slowly picked herself up off the floor. Hot Brass shouldered Mallory out of his way and pointed a semi-automatic pistol to the woman’s head.
“What is your mission? Who sent you?” Hot Brass demanded.
“Hello again, dearie,” the woman said, still grinning a half robotic grin.
“You?” Hot Brass sputtered, stunned.
“You know each other?” Nobody asked, still struggling to sit up.
“Stay down on the ground,” Hot Brass ordered, ignoring the vigilante.
“If that’s what you want,” the old woman said. Nobody could see from his vantage point that her eyes were searching, darting back and forth from person to person. She was planning. Preparing. Sizing up the competition now that she had them up close.
“What’s the plan now?” Nobody asked. There was definitely something broken in his body somewhere.
“There is no plan,” Hot Brass snapped.
“Shouldn’t we call the authorities and let them know there’s a killer robot loose under the Cosmo?” Mallory asked.
“Shut up! Just, stop talking for two seconds so I can think!” Hot Brass growled.
“Everything okay, my boy?” the woman asked.
Hot Brass ignored her, clicked on his communicator and called for someone or something named Panopticon to call in the robot assassin woman and ask how to proceed. Mallory helped Nobody to his feet.
“This is getting too intense,” Mallory said.
“Yeah. Ah,” Nobody hissed, holding his side. “We need to get Tina and James on the first monorail out of here. The hotel’s our best bet.”
“If that hasn’t been locked down too,” said Mallory.
“Yeah. Right,” Nobody said, scratching his chin. “Get in touch with Alfredo once you have cell reception. He can fill us in on the situation outside,” said Nobody.
“And he can take Tina and James home once we find an exit,” said Mallory
“True. Although, without the hero gear they ‘borrowed’, they’ll be sitting ducks anyway,” Nobody reminded her. “If the Spider has anything else planned that endangers the people outside…”
“They’ll be fine with Alfredo. He can take care of them,” said Mallory.
“Good to know.”
Hot Brass was wrapping up on his communicator.
“I’ll there in two minutes,” Warden cheerily said. Hot Brass hooked his communicator back to his belt.
“Okay. Here’s the plan,” Hot Brass began.
“Actually, we have a plan of our own,” Mallory interrupted him.
“Too fucking bad. We’re going to stay here and keep an eye on this assassin while we wait for my team,” Hot Brass said.
“Or we, can get those two out of here while you guys keep an eye on her,” Mallory interjected.
“This isn’t a fucking game, kid! This thing is a killer. She’s already killed a dozen men down here,” Hot Brass snapped.
“You were keeping count?” Nobody asked.
“Keep quiet, hero boy.”
“You talk like a bad guy. Anyone ever tell you that?” Nobody asked.
“Holy shit!” James screeched when the others approached.
“You okay?” Tina asked.
“Oh my. I didn’t think I’d see you again. What a strange reunion we’re all having,” said the woman cheerfully.
“We-hee-hee got to get the FUCK out of here now,” James said, panicking.
“No one is going anywhere! We’re waiting for my team and that’s that,” Hot Brass declared.
“Fuck that, dude! I’m not staying down here with her,” James exclaimed.
“You know her too?” Nobody asked.
“Everyone! Shut! The Fuck! Up!” Hot Brass screamed.
Suddenly he was on his back and the gun was in the woman’s grasp.
“Language, dear,” the woman said. She aimed his own gun at him and pulled the trigger. Nobody threw a knife attached to a chain which wrapped around the woman’s wrist and stabbed into the back of her hand. He pulled, throwing off her aim by inches at the last possible moment.
“Go!” Nobody yelled to Mallory. She charged forward. The woman grabbed Hot Brass’s leg and threw him into an unprepared Mallory, slamming them both into a wall. “That’s not what I meant,” Nobody sighed.
She ripped the knife out of her hand and turned to face Nobody, one artificial eye glowing red in the darkness.
“You. I recognize you,” she said with difficulty.
“Guys? Need help over here,” Nobody shouted, baseball bat up and ready to swing. The others were frozen in place. Except for Blue Wave who was fussing around with some handheld contraption.
“You’re the thorn in everyone’s side. Messing up everyone’s plans.”
“Guys!” Nobody shouted again. She reached out to grab his throat. He swung and missed. She pulled him close to her face, holding him by the neck. Her exposed eye flashed like it just took a picture of him.
“Identity confirmed. You’re way down on my list, but since you’re here…” she pulled a sleek snub nosed pistol from a hidden holster in her suit jacket. “I’ll just cross you off now.”
“Why the pistol?” Nobody asked, stalling for time.
“This was how the client wanted you to die. Up close and personal.”
“How much are they paying you? Maybe I can make a better offer,” Nobody said, stalling for time.
“I’m a professional, kid. It’s not just about the money for me,” she said.
“You’re a professional kid?” Nobody asked with a chuckle.
She looked confused. Then an energy pulse hit her pistol hand, seizing up her miniaturized metacarpal motors, which made her drop her gun. Blue Wave readjusted her aim and shot three more energy pulses, hitting the woman in her robot face, which seemed to affect her. Then Mallory and Hot Brass tackled her to the ground. Nobody fell on his back, which hurt like hell, but he pushed through the pain and managed to retrieve his bat.
“Get them out!” Hot Brass yelled to Blue Wave as he got his knee on the woman’s neck. Blue Wave hesitated. “Back up’s on the way! Do it!” he growled.
Blue Wave cursed and ordered Tina and James to go ahead of her.
“No! Wait!” Tina protested.
“Shut the fuck up and move!” Blue Wave yelled.
The woman roughly kicked Mallory off her legs, sending her tumbling. Tina instinctively went for her friend. James grabbed her, stopping her.
“We gotta go!” he implored.
“Get off me! She’s my friend!” Tina yelled.
“That old woman is the real deal. I saw her kill a bunch of cops this morning and she already tried to shoot us in the fucking head!”
The woman got free of Hot Brass’ hold on her and punched him in the nards. Hot Brass fell into the fetal position. Mallory jumped on her again, pinning her to the floor.
“But… But I can’t…” Tina’s chest and stomach felt tight. She couldn’t breathe. Why was Mallory out there fighting? Why wasn’t she running away? Tina had to get to her. Get her out of here.
“What you’re trying to do is very brave,” James said, trying to sound confident and steady, but not doing a good job. “Like, super… ultra brave. But if we stick around we’re going to get ourselves killed. Let the superheroes take care of this one,” James said, feeling the Staff of Meditation’s calming energies fill him up and hoping it could somehow transfer to her.
“But she’s not a…” Tina sucked in a breath, stifling a sob. Finally an air of calm overtook her. “Okay. Okay,” she said.
“That was sweet. Honestly. Now move it!” Blue Wave shouted. They ran to the end of the tunnel where a cargo elevator waited.
“Don’t let her get hurt. Please don’t let her get hurt,” Tina prayed as they entered the elevator. The scarf gave her a reassuring pat on the back and leapt off of her, slithering along the ground like a silken snake. “Scarfie?” Tina called out as the elevator doors closed.
Mallory scrambled on top of the woman, straddling her, and started wailing on her as hard as she could; her mirrored gauntlets flashing with every blow. Nobody wondered if this was what it was like to watch the Silver Mist, the gauntlets’ original owner, in action back in his heyday. The woman protected her head from most of the blows. Then, seeing an opportunity, she dodged one attack, grabbed Mallory’s arm as she wound up for another one, and pulled her forward, striking her solar plexus in the process. Mallory gasped for air, her whole body stunned from the force of the blow. The woman pushed her off, ducked under Nobody’s counterattack, and karate chopped his upper arm, severely injuring him. She knelt next to Mallory and cocked her arm back, making a sound like a piston locking into place.
Tina’s scarf showed up just then, wrapping around the woman’s arm, trapping it. Mallory coughed, vomited, coughed again, and tried her hardest to lift herself from the floor. Nobody offered a hand. She accepted. The woman tore Tina’s scarf off her, then seeing the two of them on their feet, charged. Nobody swung, ineffectually, and landed a glancing blow on her which she shrugged off. She slapped Nobody aside like he was nothing. Mallory put her arms up to protect herself, out of steam and ideas.
The woman pulled Mallory’s gauntlets out of the way and knocked her out cold. She crumpled. Tina’s scarf pillowed her fall. Nobody’s calm emotional oasis began to stir. The woman nodded, a job well done, and turned just in time to see Nobody swing. He caught her dead in the face. The bat’s metal surface made a sharp ping as it connected to her artificial skull and she landed in a heap. Nobody’s arm throbbed with pain, as did his ribs. He pushed past it and brought the bat down on her head, once, twice, three times. The woman spun on the floor, sweeping his legs. He dropped hard. She was too fast. Too strong. He needed an edge, but he didn’t have any of his hero gear. He needed to get in her head. Figure out what her deal was.
“Why are you after them? I thought I was your target!” Nobody yelled as he pushed himself up.
“Yes. And no. I… can see two lists. Two sets of targets. Coincidentally, you happen to be on both. Isn’t that weird, sweetie?” the woman asked with a grandmotherly smile.
“I’ll show you weird,” Nobody said, putting a hand on the ruby red Master Gem.
“What are you up to?” the woman asked.
“Maybe you can take one of me, but how about a dozen?” Nobody asked. The Master Gem flashed and twelve Nobodies appeared, their eyes glowing red with the Gem’s energy. The woman was confused. Her artificial eyes detected no one there, but her brain was telling her otherwise.
“What in the unholy fuck is this?” the woman asked.
“I could explain it all for you, but a good friend once told me; show, don’t tell,” the Nobodies said at once.
Error. Memory retrieval failurrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeee.