It was night time in Atlanta, and the city was settled into it's usual post-dusk routines; save, of course, for Amy Chan, known and loved in the city as the armor suited "Panzer Pyro" (she never used that name because she hated it). Her renown had recently gone national, as her city saw it's first major metahuman violence when racist metahumans attempted to free the lethal White Duke from his trial, only to run afoul of Amy, the Stargate RPG-playing superhero team from Long Island called SG-14, and then, to their mutual regret, the massive and powerful force known as "Big Steve" - who when normal was a personal friend of Amy's - who promptly devastated a portion of downtown and injured virtually every other combatant until Amy had revealed her identity to him and calmed him down enough that he could be safely tranquilized.
The price of her undesired glory were several broken and bruised ribs and a broken leg, all of which had now healed, and Amy had returned to her usual routine of patrolling the city nightly. But tonight it would have to wait, because she was meeting a customer for her freelance computer repair service.
A jazz club was the last place Amy was interested in meeting a client, but the half-Asian woman she only knew as "Kit" had insisted on meeting her here to return the laptop she'd been paid to repair. Yancy had accompanied her, much to Amy's dismay, and remained silent at the table by her instructions as she laid out to Kit the specific repairs and effected programs.
Kit nodded in acceptance of what she'd done and paid Amy her usual price of a hundred dollars, plus the incentive Kit had promised her for not being nosy with her laptop.
"So, you like jazz Miss Kit?" Yancy suddenly said, drawing a look full of ire from Amy and one of subtle annoyance from Kit.
"Not really," she admitted. Looking to the stage, she seemed a little surprised at the figure coming out and added, "Especially not when it's sung by her."
Amy and Yancy turned their attention to the stage as the MC came up to the mic to introduce the singer. "Ladies and gentlemen, hailing from the lovely state of Maryland, I bring you Gwen K. Ignacian!"
The woman who walked out on stage was adorned in a glittering black spaghetti strap dress that stopped above her cleavage, showing enough to tantalize and hint at the curves but not enough to be considered immodest. Her body was slim and athletic, and her arms graceful as she picked up the microphone. "Good evening, Atlanta," she said happily in a sultry alto voice. "Tonight we'll start off with an old jazz hit that our grandparents heard for the first time seventy years ago..." Gwen smiled at the crowd and began to sing.
"You had plenty money 1922
You let other women make a fool of you
Why don't you do right
Like some other men do
Get out of here and get me some money, too
You're sittin' down wonderin' what it's all about
You ain't got no money they will put you out...."
Kit stood up from her chair. "I hope you all enjoy the meal, it's already paid for," she said while picking her laptop. "I have to get going."
As she walked away, Amy frowned. "God, what a cold bitch," she muttered under Gwen's singing.
"Shouldn't we go now too? I don't like jazz."
Amy shrugged. "Ah, enjoy the music Yancy, and the free food." Amy picked up a fork full of pasta. "You can never turn down free food."
Once back in her van, Kit set the laptop in the back. One of the figures setting there looked up in surprise as Kit started the engine. "Kitsune, why so early? I thought you were going to stay through the performance."
"We don't have time now. She's here." Kit pulled out of the lot space and drove toward the road. "We have to do this job ASAP or she'll get in the way."
"I say we let her," another voice said. "Maybe we can finally nail the bitch."
"Every time we say that, she escapes," Kit growled. "This job is too important to let her trip it up, or it'll be our heads that get nailed."
An hour later Gwen returned to her hotel room not far from the club, her manager following her. "Really, Gwen, you should have taken the offer to stay longer. We're barely making even on the singing biz as it is, and you'll never get your own rec...."
"I sing because I like to sing, Patrick," Gwen replied indignantly. "And I have more important work to do."
He nodded in sullen reply. "I was kinda hoping you hadn't noticed Kitsune."
"But I did." Gwen frowned. She discarded her dress in front of Patrick, who politely averted his eyes when she removed the rest of what she had on and moved toward the room closet. "She took off the instant she saw me. She's going to be expecting me."
"So, what suit will it be tonight?"
"As if I have a choice," Gwen guffawed as she opened the closet door. "It's hot as hell out there. I really hate summer down here," she sighed as she took out her summer suit.
Minutes later, Gwen Kristin Ignacian was dressed in a sleek black suit and shoes, with a face mask that covered her eyes and the top of her head, her long chestnut hair pulled back into a ponytail. Her summer suit was not completely solid, as it appeared to be a sports bra and thigh-length shorts underneath a transparent black material when close and in good light, all of it showing off her exquisite physique, but at a distance and in poor light it appeared to be completely opaque - good for the stealth she relied upon and helping to keep her cool in warmer climes. A dark gray belt was wrapped around her waist, filled with her tools of the trade.
She went toward the window. "Kitsune is up to something," she said to her manager and confidant. "I'm going to go find out."
"Good luck, Zaia," Patrick replied.
Zaia, the Lady Avenger, nodded and slipped off the balcony, using her grappling gun in mid-air to swing to the next building.
The High Museum of Art was quiet at night, it's automated security system active and eliminating the need for foot patrols by museum security.
The quiet was an ally for Kitsune and her compatriots. Clad in tight black suits and masks, they were sitting a block away from the museum when Kitsune finished the security crack on her laptop and transmitted it through her hacked connection into the museum's security computers. It granted her the access codes to the building and let her turn off most of the alarms manually, leaving them apparently active so that the security personnel wouldn't be suspicious.
They pulled the black-colored van up to the museum's loading dock and slipped out of it. Using the access code, Kitsune entered the museum with her people behind her, one wheeling along a cart for the object they'd come for. They walked quietly through the museum toward it's ancient exhibits wing, protected from discovery by the feedback loop she'd planted in the security system so that the security cameras didn't show anyone present.
They walked into the appropriate wing and Kitsune carefully examined the artifacts until she found one. It was a clay statue of a demonic figure of some sort. "We've gone to all this trouble to get that little trinket?" one of her men muttered in irritation.
"Quiet," Kitsune retorted. "We're getting an awful lot of money for it too." She nodded to one of her men, who took out a glass cutter.
He pushed it against the glass, but when he ran it over the surface no cuts appeared. "Damn, must be the new artificial glass."
"We'll do this the old fashioned way then," Kitsune muttered. She nodded to the largest member of her crew, who hefted an iron tire iron and approached the glass.
Suddenly a curved object slammed into the back of his hand, making him cry out and drop the tire iron on his foot. As he fell to a knee there was the slight sound of something moving through the air.
"Oh no you don't," Zaia said aloud, swinging down on her grapple hook from an upper floor toward the two members of Kitsune's crew pulling out their guns. She raised her feet and kicked them both in mid-air, sending them flying and knocking the guns out of their hands. As she completed the swing she detached the grapple line and somersaulted into the shadows.
"Don't you have something better to do than bother me?" Kitsune shouted, pulling out a gun out and firing at the shadows. "Come on out and get some, Lesbian Avenger."
"That's Lady Avenger," Zaia protested from somewhere in the shadows. Kitsune whipped around to track her voice, and a flurry of gunfire came from her crew's weapons. Suddenly another of Zaia's throwing sticks smacked into Kitsune's hand. She yelped and dropped her gun.
Looking to the side, she noticed Zaia jumping toward her just in time to bring an arm up as Zaia's right leg crashed into her chest, knocking Kitsune onto the ground. Zaia's right arm whipped out toward Kitsune's remaining two crew and a bolo quickly whipped around them, binding them together.
Kitsune, in the middle of getting up, made a sweeping low kick that knocked Zaia off her feet. Zaia turned in mid-air and used her hands and arms to leap back up. She brought her arms up in time for her forearms to deflect punches and kicks from Kitsune until finally she was presented an opening, with which she delivered a powerful upper-cut that threw Kitsune back, opening her up to a kick in the belly that made her fall over. As Zaia went to go for the lockout blow, she felt a powerful blow smack her on the right shoulder and almost felt her shoulder blade crack, making her cry out.
Looking back she saw the large member of Kitsune's crew with the tire iron hefting it above his head and bringing it down for another swing, which she barely avoided. His left fist shot out in a quick jab that caught Zaia on the jaw, knocking her backward. Another member of the crew came up behind her and grabbed her arms, holding them behind her back in an arm lock. The big crewer smirked and brought the tire iron low, smashing it against her chest. She cried out again, this time from the cracked rib. He tossed the iron to the side, saying, "I'm gonna mess up that pretty face of yer's before we shoot ya" before hitting her in the cheek with a punch that broke her lip open. A second punch from the other arm smashed her jaw, almost breaking it.
As he wound up for another punch, Zaia brought her legs up and planted her feet on his chest. She used the reaction force of her kick to flip upward, ignoring the pain in her arms and shoulders from the armlock, which she wrenched free from due to the surprise of the opponent behind her. Completing the flip over him, Zaia dealt a strong karate chop to a pressure point at his neck, making him fall over.
As he did, the big one came up with his threatening tire iron again. Zaia caught his strike with her left arm, due to her right not being up to the strain from her injured shoulder, and used the right arm to deliver a punch that hurt the both of them. She whipped out another of her curved boomerangs (she had thought of calling them "Zaia-rangs" but that sounded corny) and tossed it to smack in the head of another of Kitsune's crew, turning back in time to deliver a high kick to the big one's windpipe that finally sent him down.
She threw another one at Kitsune, who deftly dodged it before getting in range to knock Zaia back with a punch to her cheek. As Zaia recovered she took a heel to her forehead that knocked her down, followed by a foot into her belly and another to the side of her head. The world seemed to spin as she rolled, trying to get away from the next kick and failing as another of the crew delivered a size 11 foot into the small of her back. She groaned from the effort of trying to get back on her feet before another kick smashed her in the chest just below her right breast, bruising another rib and knocking her over a few feet away from where Kitsune and her gang gathered.
She looked up in time to see them leveling their guns at her. "Well well well, this is a welcome change. Looks like I'm finally going to get rid of you, Gwen." The woman reached down and yanked Zaia's facemask off. "You don't know how long I've been waiting for this. It's a shame we're on a job, because I'd love to have a few hours to beat the living crap out of you for all the trouble you've caused me."
"Go to Hell," she muttered, not daring to move for the moment since one of them might shoot.
"You'll be going first," Kitsune promised, pulling her gun up. Zaia looked up into the barrel of Kit's gun as the villainess aimed between Zaia's eyes and swallowed hard.
There was a crashing sound from above and a muffled jet-like roar. Debris fell around them in the moments before the armor-suit landed between Kitsune and Zaia. Kitsune stepped back with the rest of her gang, recognizing the figure. "So, you are the infamous Panzer Pyro."
"I really, really hate that name," Amy said from within her suit as she brought an arm up. Kitsune's gang began to fire their guns at her, the bullets bouncing off her armor. "Really, that's not going to work. And as much as I want to try out the new stuff, you have ruined my night so I think I'll just give you an old-fashioned roasting." Her flamethrower popped up and a tongue of flame reached toward the gangmembers, igniting two as Kitsune and the two faster ones jumped out of the way. "Aim for the nozzle!" Kitsune shouted to her men, bringing her gun up.
Zaia's foot smacked the gun out of her hand. Grunting with effort, she jumped and kicked another of the goons, preventing him from firing at Amy as she extinguished the flames on the two she'd hit. Leaving them on the ground, Amy turned her attention to the one remaining one just as he fired, lifting her arm in time to make the bullet stop against her diamonide armor. A tongue of flame reached out and enveloped the man's gun, making him drop it in pain when the flame licked at his hands. Amy walked up and lightly flicked him with her suit's right pinky finger, knocking him four feet away and to the ground.
Kitsune deflected another punch from Zaia, taking advantage of the heroine's wounds to stay a step ahead of her. She pressed down on something behind her ear, activating her transmitter. "We've got some unexpected company, if you want this damned thing you'd better come and help us."
"I thought you said you could handle any problem that came your way," a male voice on the other end answered, an English accent prominent in it.
"I've got two-gooders on me now, and one's in a diamonide-coated armor su...." Kitsune's distraction in trying to argue her case worked against her, causing her to drop her guard long enough for Zaia to land a solid hit and knock her to the ground. Zaia's foot pressed against her chest while the Panzer Pyro stomped up, a pair of her men in each massive metal hand. "Urrghk...."
"Kitsune? Kitsune?! Damn you mortals, you make everything so troublesome..."
"So, Kitsune, who's your friend?" Zaia leaned over her, smiling. "Cultural artifacts aren't your usual swag."
"He's close enough," Kitsune answered, wiping at the blood on her mouth. "But you have bigger concerns now."
Zaia was about to ask when there was a sudden thunderclap within the room. A sucking vacuum wind picked up and Zaia could barely keep her place, turning as Amy did to view the strange phenomena that suddenly appeared in the middle of the room. A single figure stepped out, clad entirely in dark robes with a dark hood, and he spoke with a sinister English accent. "You have meddled in the wrong affair, wenches!" He opened a hand and a ball of energy shot out, striking Amy's suit and knocking her over. Amy screamed inside of it, her body beginning to convulse from the magical energy that circulated through it. She fought against it but could not move, as it had seized her completely and unremittingly.
Turning to Zaia, the figure smirked. "Such a lovely woman. I have just the thing to keep you company." He raised his hands and began a chant. A second portal appeared beside him, a hissing screeching demon with yellow eyes and reddish, flaming skin. "My pet incubus will suck the life right out of you."
Zaia stepped backward as the creature lunged at her, screeching so loudly it hurt her ears. She leapt to the side, narrowly missing it. She reached for one of her 'rangs and threw it at the demon's head. It was a direct hit, smacking it on the side of the head, but it did nothing but enrage the creature. Zaia tossed a bolo at it as it flew at her again, leaping out of the way as the bolo wrapped around it and restrained it's wings long enough to make it fall to the floor.
There was the sound of shattering glass. The dark figure returned to his initial portal, holding in one hand the demonic clay figure that Kitsune had come to steal. He raised the other hand and Kitsune's unconscious goons were covered in a magic aura and began to hover in mid-air, drawn into the portal with a wave of the figure's glowing hand. Kitsune stepped up to the portal and blew Zaia a kiss as she went through, Zaia barely noticing it before having to jump again to avoid the incubus.
Reaching upward, Zaia fired her grappling gun and activated the retractor as soon as it grappled onto a second floor railing. As she rose upward, the demon swiped at her leg and then followed her. Zaia let go of the gun and dropped to the floor, hoping to get into hiding in the moment's delay she had.
The incubus landed on her hard, smashing her into the ground and making her cry out from the weight on top of her. It grabbed her by the hair and lifted her up, pulling her head back so that she was forced to look into it's evil yellow eyes. The demonic presence instilled enough automatic instinctive fear that she was paralyzed with terror before the yellow light of the demon's eyes shot out and hit hers. Zaia struggled, screaming aloud as the incubus began to draw her life out of her, tearing through her mind in the process. The violation hurt to the very core of her being, making her struggle wildly in the demon's grip.
As she began to lose consciousness, not very far from death, there was a sudden burst of energy around her. Zaia fell to the ground and was unconscious by the time she hit it, but Amy - despite the pain rippling through her body - was able to watch as green energy surrounded the demon, a clear and beautiful female voice singing in another language now coming over her helmet's audio system. A bolt of white energy reached out and struck the incubus, joining the green and making its screeching take on a different tone as it struggled against the magical energies surrounding it until it simply flashed from existence.
Groaning and straining against the robotic limbs of her suit, Amy made herself get onto her back, trying to fight the intense pain crackling through her. Suddenly the voice from before began to sing once more. A feeling washed through her, a cleansing sense that wiped away the pain from head to toe, leaving her battered and exhausted from what had gone on before. She looked up and saw a pair of figures standing over her. One was a man, on the tall and lanky side, with dark hair and a matching beard with a silken silver shirt under a red jacket and dark trousers. The woman - with shining, rich red hair - was in a flowing, sparkling green dress that ended at her ankles, covering her completely save for the lower arms and a V-shaped area below her neck that ended just low enough to see the edge of her cleavage.
The man spoke first, with an English accent that had a strange hint of Appalachian to it, saying, "Hello, Panzer Pyro.... or do you prefer Amy Chan?"
"Who.... who are you?"
Taking the hand of the woman, he replied, "I am Nitram Blackthorne, and this is my wife Tevar. We have come to help you."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt
"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia
American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.
Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik