“They’re trying to kill you
“No, working with them will prevent those grey cloaked dorks from trying to kill me.”
“You sure about that?”
“That’s the deal, anyway.”
“. . . This plan sucks!”
“I know, Chase. I know. But it’s the only one we got left.”
“Can’t fight, can’t run. Normal’s out the window.”
“How sad is it when that’s our normal?”
“Just come back, alright? Molly needs you. She can’t lose her mother again.”
“Yeah you are. She doesn’t say it, but you totally are now.”
“I guess that makes you ‘dad’.”
“I figured that when I tucked her and Klara in last night. That and if you’re the mom, I’d definitely be the dad after—”
“Shut up,” she suppressed a smile, but then sighed. “We’re growing up, Chase. I guess we gotta face the real world some time.”
“Then let me—“
“No. They just asked for me, so I’m going. Alone.”
“Then take some of my gear! I’ve been working on—“
“I’ll take a vest, but that’s it. We don’t want them being too familiar with us and you need that stuff to protect the others in case those dorks moves while I’m out. Keep them safe, Chase. Please.”
“Alright. But I want to keep you safe too. Someone’s got to do it.”
“I’ll take care of it. And I won’t let Molly lose her mother again.”
“You’re having me lead a squad of super heroes?
” Karrin Murphy couldn’t believe the words that just came out of her mouth. “I’m a Sargent now, I don’t even—“
“Believe it,” Captain Mathew Bluestone said with a light smile, “We got more experienced cops than experienced capes or soldiers, and few capes are leadership material if you ask me.” He handed her a manila envelope, “You also work with what has been classified as supers on our system, repeatedly. Experience like that is hard to come by. But it’s not all sunshine and Roses, Sargent. Of all the qualified officers for this job, you drew the short straw.”
She opened the file and looked through it as Bluestone continued, “You’ve got mostly raw recruits on your team. And you get the wildcard.”
Murphy was still having trouble wrapping her head around the idea of her leading a team of Super Heroes. Special Investigations had run into a few super-powered humans for a while, and there were reports going back beyond even the Kolchak files to a guy who called himself “The Blue Beetle” operating in Chicago back in the late 1960s through the early 70s. Hell, she had personally worked on cases with Officer Dragon on three separate occasions.
But aside from the Beetle, none of them really fit the image she had of a Super Hero. No cape, no mask, no smile. Illinois had plain clothes guys with powers, things people would call monsters working for the common good. It didn’t have true super heroes. It didn’t have Michigan’s Icon or Static. It didn’t have New York’s Spider-Man or Superman. It had Officer Dragon and Harry Dresden.
Beyond that, the few that did try setting up turf there (that didn’t get snatched up by UNIT or a firm talking to by Officer Dragon for breaking anti-vigilante laws) didn’t last. Most tried to ‘fight crime’ or ‘monsters’ for about a year or so before they either quite, screwed up or otherwise disappeared. She briefly thought of the Alphas, a werewolf ‘gang’ that protected the college campuses and how they beat the odds. Still, the fact that there were so many that each one had to be delegated to a sub-division, and even to an officer on loan for this upcoming crisis, shocked her. Most of them also had ‘costumes’. Or rather, colored combat armor.
She wasn’t proud of it, but she was caught off guard by it all and couldn’t help but gawk when she first got there. Then she bumped into what she could only assume was Superman (bit red ‘S’ on the chest and blue suit tipped her off). He looked rather young for a guy, smiled politely, asked if she was okay. When she managed to nod, he smiled, told her that the feeling of being overwhelmed would pass and he looked forward to working with her. No sarcasm. No digs. Genuine support and kindness. He reminded her of Michael Carpenter, Knight of the Cross, and his honesty and virtue.
It made her forget that she was about to go headlong into an unprecedentedly huge terrorist action for five seconds. Now that she found out she was going to lead a team she was only just meeting brought all that nervousness back.
She could only page through the files and it couldn’t help but bring a smile to her face. Masks, redacted names, code names, powers and abilities lists, personality profile briefs. It read like a partial Wikipedia page.
“I got the short straw when I have Spider-Man on my team?”
Bluestone shook his head, “Read it again.”
She did, “Oh, Woman. But the costume looks just like--”
“The original Spider-Man’s been retired for over a decade,” Bluestone said, “Before my time. She says the original one is her father, and the other Spider-Women don’t argue the point.”
Bluestone shrugged, “Its New York, we’re up to our neck in UNIT tied Vigilantes. Hell, Batman Incorporated started here. Our own SWAT team for masked maniacs.” Off her puzzled look, he added “You get used to it.” Part of her realized then just how used certain weird things got when cases involved Dresden, and she knew she missed out on a lot of it sometimes. This was another level entirely.
Karrin opened the door to meet her ‘team’, and a red giant with the face of a human skull with deeply sunken eyes greeted her. She screamed in surprise, despite herself. The skull creature screamed in almost the same pitch, but the massive red beast had the added indignity of falling over and landing on its butt. The shock of the fall traveled up Karin’s legs and made a loud ‘cracking’ noise on the floor. A moment of silence followed before the room partially burst into laughter.
“It’s not funny, Mayday!” A muffled voice spiked through the laughter.
“Oh, come on!” The woman standing on the ceiling, Spider-Woman, managed through her laughter, “Big Metal Man gets spooked that easily? Comedy classic!”
Captain Bluestone walked into the door to get them at least acquainted and just through a stern look managed to quiet the room, but in those first few seconds she did not get a good impression of the people gathered.
“I’m sorry!” the deep voice of the skull thing had calm softness to it that Murphy only heard once before—from a surfer who she pulled over as a rookie. “I-I just. Well. We’ve been here for a bit and I wanted to see if anyone was coming.”
Murphy couldn’t help but look him over as he stood up, he easily dwarfed Dresden, over 7 feet if he was an inch. He has a strong, muscular, V type build on top of that, making him more imposing. His skull-like face with inset eyes was quite unnerving, especially considering he was blood red and metallic.
“Because, ya know,” a gothic Asian girl with a black staff in her hand sneered as she leaned against the wall, “It’s not like being abandoned or used by authority figures is something that happens to guys like us on a regular basis. No big deal.” She eyed Murphy with a look she’d seen from Molly Carpenter a few times, given to either Molly’s dad or to Harry Dresden.
“Alright kids,” Bluestone said, “This here is your Commanding officer, Karrin Murphy. She’ll be leading you in the containing this invasion and civilian rescue operations during the attack. That good with you?” He eyed the contrite goth girl as he said it.
“If meet’s UNIT’s quota, I’m good with it.” She shrugged.
Bluestone turned to Murphy without regarding the goth girl and said, “Well, Sargent, they’re all yours,” and left.
The young heroes (Murphy was shocked by just how young some of them looked, she doubted one of them was older than 17) regarded her for a moment, none of them speaking for a small eternity. She decided to speak up first, “There’s a bit of rush going on with an effectively unstoppable terrorist threat out there that’s going to hit the city in moments. Between that, New York being a high density target and a lack of higher ranked people with experience in this sort of thing, I’ve been made your commanding officer. I got your files about a minute before walking in the door, so you know about me as much as I know about most of you. Sargent Karrin Murphy, Chicago PD. I’ve worked on some odd cases in my time, but running the rear of a defensive line is going to be a new one on me. So I need your help on this one.”
A mild surprised look went over the goth girl’s face, the faintest hint of what could be a smile peaked out. But she decided to be sarcastic anyway, “Can you ask nicely?”
This earned her a punch in the shoulder from the girl next to her. In contrast to her subcultural comrade, she was dressed in something akin to military grade equipment, but built for a different form of combat than SWAT. The purple highlights to what looked to be a modified version of Class V Military grade body armor were a bit much, but the lighter construction of it all seemed to work for the bow-woman. Said other girl walked towards Murphy with a firm smile on her face and gave a little salute before she spoke, “Kate Bishop. Call sign ‘Hawkeye’. I’ll be your second in command on this mission.” She extended her hand to Murphy and she took it. Girl had a very firm grip, “I’ve worked with most of these guys before, so I can help you through where needed.”
Murphy acknowledge her briefly before the next one spoke up – the skull faced one she first met.
He stumbled over an ‘um’ before he started, “My name’s Ken. Uh, my ‘work name’ is Mettle. I’m your Brick for this mission. Um. That means I’m really, really strong and tough. I’ll handle the heavy lifting, I guess.”
“Good, because I guessed that to,” Murphy gave him a smile. Without features on his face, she could only really guess that he appreciated the little joke.
A yellow hand got her attention next as it peaked out from within Mettle’s. It connected to a young woman in what appeared to be a yellow diver’s skin with a massive helmet. The suit was lined with black highlights and one very clear symbol on her chest: Biohazard.
“Hazmat,” she snarled. Hers was the muffled voice, and the large helmet around her head was the obvious reason for that. “I’m your offense.” Her hand glowed white, “Hopefully. They didn’t give me much time to practice their ‘anti-super soldier’ ray thing.”
As Hazmat clung to Mettle, the main source of laughter when Mettle fell dropped down in front of her, the one Hazmat had called ‘Mayday’. But her attire made it clear who she was: Spider-Woman. This was it, a true red and blue superhero with a full face-covering mask. Looking at it closely, she could tell it was a light armor of some sort. It probably couldn’t take a bullet from a high caliber weapon, but overall protection was covered. The young woman hopped down and extended a hand to greet Murphy. “The Spectacular Spider-Woman at your service.”
The girl’s fists went to her hips, “Hey, there’s like a dozen Spider-Ladies out there. Gotta make your mark.”
Murphy simply nodded, still getting used to the idea of superhero franchises beyond Batman Inc. as she turned to the last member of her ‘team’.
“I don’t have a codename,” The goth girl’s voice was cold, “Call me Nico. I’m your magic user. After Kate, I’m the girl you go to for getting things done.”
Murphy kept her game face on, “Any magical specialization I should know?”
Nico smirked, “I speak softly and carry a big stick. If there’s something the others can’t do, I could probably do it if you ask nicely.”
The plan was a simple one all things considered. Each squad would have a section of the city guard. They knew from places like Rome and London that they would be dropping via stealth Zeppelins with one primary goal: kill as many people as they could. They’d also be raiding at least one unknown site to steal a store of occult or magical power. Her sector, right in front of the Empire State Building, was one possible site. Though another team was guarding the 86th floor, they had the ground. Waiting for the Super Nazi’s (something Murphy was still having trouble wrapping her head around) was a pretty tense affair as most of the people in their area had evacuated, which filled the Most of the places around them were businesses: restaurants, independent lobby groups, architectural firms and so on.
Of course there was also a Starbucks on the corner of 33rd and 5th avenue that she couldn’t help but stare at every now and then. Not many residences to defend, so they didn’t have to worry about people, except maybe a stray morlock.
Especially after she saw Mettle come out of it with a few cups. He locked the door behind him and calmly walked up to her, scrambling over the makeshift fortification of sandbags and steel plate fencing, a store bought Spider-Man mask over his normal skull face. He handed her a cup.
“You looked like you could use some tea,” He said.
Murphy could only stare at him, “Did you just rob a Starbucks?”
“Well, technically I quartered it, but I totally paid for ‘em and left a tip too,” a nervous quality overran his voice.
Murphy pressed him anyway, “Who’d you tip?”
After a while, Mettle added, “Back when I had,” he took a moment, searching for the right word, “skin, I had a part time job at one, so I know how the machines run. Besides, Tea just needs hot water anyway. I figured you could use something to keep you awake and not over-energize you either. So, Tea?”
“And the lock?”
“Bent the chain back into place after I snapped it. It took me a little time to get it just right, but it should work still.”
Murphy took the young monster man at his word and accepted the tea. It was fruity, warm and not too sweet. She preferred Coffee, but Mettle had enough things to worry about. “You’re a thoughtful guy, Mettle.”
His body shifted, if he still had lips (and wasn’t wearing a mask) he’d probably be smiling. He accepted her complement with a nod and shrinking shyly from her before turning around, “Got your tea too, Jenny!” He called out to Hazmat who responded with a slightly more vulgar version of “Thank God.”
She watched green smoke escape her helmet as she opened a flap of it the lower portion to drink through a straw. Nico shifted slightly near Murphy, “Who knew waiting for war to erupt in a major city could be so . . . Dull.”
“Ever been on a stakeout?” Murphy turned to the witch.
Nico’s face soured, “Not really my thing. I tell little old ladies their fortunes and whether some norm’s being cheated on by his girl or boy or whatever.”
Murphy tilted her head in a half shrug, “Sorry, the wizard I’m used to working with is a P.I. He knows it better. Basically, long boring waits with an air of nervousness running through it? You can get used to it.”
“I’d rather not.” A moment later, Nico added, “Wait, what Wizard?”
“Harry Dresden.” Murphy watched her reaction to the name. She knew a bit more about the world of Wizards and magic than Harry believed she did. She knew his name carried weight for a lot of reasons: former bad-boy Wizard who went and became a Wizard Cop and big shot in the White Council’s war with the Red Court.
She tightened her grip on that odd staff she held. “After all this calms down, can you get me in contact with him?”
That nervousness she heard in Mettle was much more pronounced in Nico’s request.
“He is in the phonebook—”
Her face hardened and Nico cut her off, “There’s a few problems with—”
Murphy returned the favor, “But! I’ll tell him about you anyway.” That calmed Nico slightly. Murphy then added, “If you tell me what the problem is, I can get him a bit better prepared. So what’s wrong?”
Nico cast a quick aside look before she answered, “I think the White Council wants my head.”
Murphy knew that was no exaggeration. When the Wardens of the White Council felt you did something wrong, they came at you with one draconian system. They had their laws and if you broke them, off went your head. She hated them for this. Part of it was for what they put Molly Carpenter through. Dresden managed to save her life for her unknowing, well intentioned infraction. But mostly, she hated them for breaking the law right under her nose, in her city, and she couldn’t touch them for it. She knew the reasons, she knew the justifications, but it just rotted her gut anyway.
“Harry’s got experience on being on the other end of the sword,” Murphy softened her voice as best she could.
Nico nodded, nervous, “Good. Good.”
“Can you think of a reason why they’re after you?”
“I can think of four,” she answered, “And I think one of them might be spite.”
Their radios crackled to life before Murphy could learn more, “They’re here!”
“And it’s a lot of them,” Spider-Woman’s voice added.
Murphy snapped to her feet and readied her weapon. Hawkeye called out the direction the first wave would come from. “We got Hellhounds, Kaijin.”
“And Labors!” Spider-Woman added.
Labors, piloted humanoid vehicles over 25ft tall. That’s just what they needed. Murphy growled.
“Confirmed, they have labors on the ground. Four, pretty crude design. Half the size of normal to boot. But they have Gatling guns.”
“Alright, Hawkeye, snipe at your discretion. Spider-Woman, slow down those labors. We can’t focus on them until we take down the ground troops.”
“Roger,” Spider-Woman answered. The man made canyons echoed the high pitched whip of her line as she swung off.
“Mettle, you’re on defense. Put down anything that gets too close. Hazmat, Nico, you’re with me.”
“In what?” Nico hadn’t quite caught up to the action descending on her.
So Murphy gave her a simple explanation that Harry would have definitely approved of as an action one liner, “Blowing all these Nazis back to hell.”