Piscis was nibbling bad-tasting caviar, the texture was simply too rubbish. It was rude to eat while entertaining a guest, especially someone of importance like Thibaut. Yet, he hated the guts of this man. If my master did not need him, I wouldn’t mind plotting his death.
Like Piscis, Thibaut was eating fish too, salmon to be exact. While being a guest, he had summoned a table and chair, took out his very own lunch and enjoyed the company of his colleague. Piscis, who owned an apartment in the 50th floor in the capital, where they were currently dining, was not poor at all. No, Thibaut had his own reasons.
“I am deeply embarrassed if he was your relative. Wasn’t your brother eaten too?” Grimacing, the Belgian further exclaimed, “So good!”
Squinting his eyes, Piscis was about to activate the defence mechanisms of his home. The poisonous gas did not affect his constitution, yet any average human or Empowered would die a miserable death. Thibaut, this slippery ale, might teleport away in time, he was notorious for his bad manners and swift escapes.
The master would punish him, the master would punish him. No, I can’t.
The internally torn Piscis did not know how to cope with the situation. Haunted by a streak of bad luck in the last days, he resigned.
“About our proposal…,” he humbly said, presenting his prettiest fake smile.
“Do not fret. I will help taking Strider down if the reward is acceptable.” Thibaut finished eating and conjured a serviette. Graciously and with the utmost care, he cleaned his filthy mouth.
“About his daughter Lure.”
“Ah, she is my pet project of sorts. I don’t want to see her die.” He paused and frowned. “Wait, shouldn’t she be under protection?” No villain was allowed to cripple or kill another villain without good reason, the Elder Council decided. If this were the case, their numbers would dwindle and they wouldn’t be able to resist the heroes. Villains were fundamentally rational acting beings, unlike those philosophers and heroes.
“It is true that she is under the protection of Lord Huic and the higher-ups all know that she is a villain, yet we can win the framing war.”
“Tricks, huh?” Thibaut pressed his lips together. “Typical, like always.”
“Since she’s technically a hero after her enrolment in a superhero school, we will frame her as a traitor. Then, the higher-ups can only shake their heads, if we use her as bait for her father.”
Thibaut rubbed his three-day-old beard with his hand, then supported his chin in a thinking position. “You want to enrage Strider when he sees his daughter in danger, I suppose.”
“Exactly. He will then Renounce and he won’t be a problem in the future anymore. My master represents part of the Council, which would be greatly indebted to you."
“Bold. The fury of an S-rank is not a trifling matter. We are only A-ranks after all.” Yet, there was a big chasm between the prestige of Piscis and Thibaut, the latter was still a Seeker, while the former had long ago abandoned his path. “I suppose, next month when the first hero rescue missions will start?”
Piscis nodded. “My master has prepared for all eventualities.”
Laughing, Thibaut replied, “Your master is an abomination like you, ugly and incompetent.”
Poisonous gas filled the room. A violet sphere protected the Belgian villain.
“My departure is overdue, tell your master that I accept.” He disappeared.
As someone with a fish head, a salmon to be exact, Piscis was fuming with rage. How could one only torture such a poor fish soul?
“Did you hear everything Lord Huic?”
A voice coming from a computer said, “Indeed, I did. Don’t you regret plotting against your master too?”
Piscis thought for a moment. His scales sparkled in the light. “No, I do owe you a favour. Besides I can’t stand that terrible man with his obnoxious top hat.”
“Very well.” The hoarse voice further resounded, “You have my thanks.”
A ferocious D-rank was bullying a helpless S-rank. Lure punched forward, while the pressured headmaster graciously evaded, the very last moment before her fist connected.
The chilling wind was draining her stamina, goosebumps were already manifesting on her skin, yet she continued her fight on top of the roof, twenty floors above the ground. In the night the shadows dominated and like a fish in the water Sinistra moved in the darkness, appearing for surprise attacks and fading out as quickly.
“Try from the ground,” Lure advised her friend in her head.
Dancing in the wind, she leapt in the air aided by her superhuman strength and rapidly descended from above, targeting the head of her opponent. Huic did not panic and merely stepped aside, evading the attack.
“Suggestion,” Lure whispered while kicking towards him.
“Too easy,” he replied. He bent down, repositioning himself towards his rear, where he expected the pincher attack from Sinistra.
Yet he couldn’t see her. A kick in the ass greeted him, when Sinistra reappeared from the ground, clouded in shadows.
Of course, it was but a spar, and the headmaster had limited himself to D-rank strength and not used any abilities. Still, they won. Both knew, that he could pulverize them by just looking at them, though they still celebrated and gave each other high fives. Sweet, sweet victory and revenge.
“Your Suggestion ability is nothing to scoff at. You two are glass cannons that can together take down a C-ranked Empowered. Be warned, one physical hit may take you out, even from a D-ranked, especially you, Lure.“
He was right, unlike Sinistra, she could not disappear into the night whenever she pleased. Though, in the day her friend was more like a fish on the ground instead.
“Our price will be our new uniform.” Sinistra’s eyes sparkled. Having no family but her brother in the orphanage left, she rejoiced at every opportunity for free stuff. It was her reason to rob the bank since she needed money more than anything else. Unlike the hero districts the villain districts didn’t have any social security, one thing which Lure really appreciated of the philosophers, even though they were the enemy.
Lure touched the smooth leather of the form-fitting, pitch-black uniform. It came with a metal belt too. The standard villain uniform, provided by several villainous organizations was far more stylistic than what the heroes had ever produced…
“Yes, yes of course…,” the headmaster helplessly replied, swaying his head in the rhythm of the wind.
“This is revenge for not telling me,” Lure exclaimed. I’ll teach him a real lesson, once I’m higher ranked. She was looking into the dark, dreamy, sky, full of expectations and wishes for the future.
Huic apologetically threw his hands in the air. “I have already said it at least six times, I am sorry, I forgot to tell you. But see, the engagement is for your best…”
Sinistra chimed in, “When will the training continue?”
“A second.” The headmaster was huicing around. “Huic, huic, huic.” He stretched his old back and coughed. “Ah, I feel better. Well, now you’ll defeat everyone whom you meet and is empowered.”
The girls were shaking their heads again, as they did not understand what the intentions of the old man were. He seemed senile, but he was shrewd in his way.
Winking with one hand, he said “Bye, bye.” A devious smile appeared on his lips.
Darkness, as he teleported them away.
Police sirens were roistering afar.
“We are in Khalut,” said Sinistra, her eyes downward cast, depressed, melancholic.
Rusty old hangars and abandoned concrete apartments were the landmarks of Khalut district, though not the only villain district, it had the worst reputation. Unlike in the hero districts, no cameras were used for security purposes, since privacy concerns mattered more for villains. The air tasted of rot: garbage was lying everywhere.
“Wanna meet your lil brother?”
Sinistra scratched her head. “I want to, but… Ok, let’s go.”
Both Lure and Sinistra knew the way. They had been friends for quite some time, even years. Adventurous as she was when she had been fourteen, Lure had been cycling through every single district of 3N. At some point, she had met her friend while being robbed by her…
Khalut lacked streetlights, rare ones providing sparse light. 3N, the capital, had existed for 10 years, yet not every possible infrastructure could have been established in time.
“What about Bastion, should he train with us next time?” Sinistra was teasing her again.
“No,” Lure spoke with finality. Her bloodshot eyes were barely kept open. Excited and angry, she had been thinking the last two nights a lot about Huic, her father and her official fiancé.
“Do you hear that ruckus?” Sinistra asked.
Maddening shouts and the sound of bursting stones could be heard from an alley. Uncanny was this district in the midnight, for crimes and mysteries could be found around every corner.
“I scout.” Fading into nothingness, her friend left.
Lure sat on a bank and leaned against the rusty metal. Humming, she enjoyed the peacefulness of the night and hoped that the noise was but something minor. We can’t run away; he is watching us for sure. A cute striped feline approached her. Lure stretched her hands towards her. The kitty first ducked, then meowed, rubbing her tail against Lure’s leg. What a cutie. Awwwwwwwwww.
“Run,” Sinistra appeared out of the shadows, taking her friends by the arms.
“Run, heroes are coming, they are currently fighting fleeing villains.”
Sprinting through several blocks, they tried to escape their pursuers. They stopped behind a cargo container. Both Khalut and Ovis district had a port and access to the Hudson River.
“I think, I’m marked. They should know our locations,” exclaimed Sinistra, nervously biting her fingernails, similarly her ears started moving again too. “Several B-ranked heroes, as many villains.” She took air. “We are not prepared for this shit.”
“See it as training. Huic is still monitoring us.”
“Do you really think?”
“Tremble,” a commanding voice resounded all of sudden.
Lure’s heart nearly stopped beating from anxiety. She stood naked in front of a skyscraper tall ancient snake. A mouse vs a cat. No, a cockroach vs a tiger. The slippery body of the snake entangled her puny body, crushing her with the might of a god.
The dead pile of flesh and broken bones that was Lure spoke, “Free.”
“Free yourself,” a familiar voice called.
She awoke. To her left, she saw Sinistra frenetically defending herself from the assault of an unknown man.
The gap of a whole rank was not easily overcome, even with a numerical advantage. The higher the rank, the more it was true.
“Prevail,” shouted the man. His wounds were closing.
The berserker’s assault had left Sinistra with many scars, bleeding her out in time. The towering man used a two-hander whereas her friend was but equipped with merely a dagger. She gracefully evaded her assailant by the use of Shadowdance, but abilities were too taxing in a long fight.
The berserker looked at Lure with wide-open eyes, while Sinistra knocked him out.
“Tsz. He was only a D-ranked hero…” she said while falling to the ground, covered in her blood.