21st, Monday, 12:05 AM.
Dune stepped into the carriage at the front of the train, feeling excited, he wasn't sure he could do it exactly like he was supposed to, he was just having far too much fun, he was starting to think that we wouldn’t be able to help himself.
The door opened on his left before an old man in a conductor's uniform stepped out of the bathroom and then died. Dune lowered his gun to the ground and tried to stifle his laughter, he had done it now, Swallow was going to be so upset, but if she was going to be mad anyway he might as well enjoy himself, right?
Dune stepped over the man’s body and headed towards the conductor's cabin; it was already unlocked so he let himself in. There was another much younger man standing near an open door that led to a little balcony, a waist high safety fence stopped him from falling out onto the tracks. The man’s clothes were being tossed about in the wind, the air in the cabin was being sucked out the room into the dark and Dune could barely hear himself think, he let out another giggle.
The man turned around immediately somehow hearing the noise over the rushing wind and studied him curiously for a moment, he was wearing a staff uniform, not the same as the conductors uniform that Dune was wearing, he must have been an assistant.
"Who are you?" The assistant asked him curiously, but loud enough to be heard over the wind. "Why are you wearing a conductors uniform? I've met both conductors and you are neither."
Dune giggled again he was barely holding on, it was just so funny, the assistant had a name tag pinned to his chest, 'Felix' was written across the tag in neat black letters.
"I killed the conductor and stole his uniform," Dune said mirthfully. "I got the other one in the hall too! We’re taking over the train, sorry!"
Dune didn't sound sorry at all, and he certainly wasn’t feeling it.
"What was the first conductor's name?" Felix asked flatly, and without inflection.
"His name was Tony!" Dune laughed loudly, unable to hold back anymore. "Did you know him?"
"He was my mentor," Felix said evenly.
Dune laughed, and laughed and laughed and laughed, he was still laughing when Felix ground his arm into the train tracks, leaving nothing but a bloody stump behind, Dune only stopped laughing when he no longer had a face to laugh with.
21st, Monday, 12:05 AM.
Climax kicked the carriage door open and it slammed into the wall with a loud bang, the door immediately sprung back towards him, but he had already stepped into the room, he took a moment to push it away again before he stepped further inside. There were people talking, drinking, and eating along the tables that lined the walls of the carriage, most of which were now staring at him in alarm.
"Hello!" Climax yelled happily, lifting his massive wrench up and smashing it through the side of the train, showering everyone in the carriage with debris.
"This is now a hostage situation," Swallow said calmly, stepping up beside him, with a large bag held out in front of her. "Please place all of your jewellery, valuables, and money into the bag."
People were already running away from them towards the next carriage and Swallow sighed in annoyance. Aural stepped past her and kicked the leg out from under a man that had tried to grab a hold of her. Aural twisted his arm over his shoulder and then smashed him face first into the floor, he didn't move knocked unconscious from the move.
"Thanks," Swallow said quietly, before raising her voice once more, "Like I was saying, please remain calm, hand over your valuables, and everybody will remain unhurt."
Some of the people that were closest to them started to hand her things after that, but most them just ran away.
I peeked through the window of the carriage door in front of me, there were a lot of people currently in the carriage, most notably I could see Dean and Chris sitting down at a table. Two smoking hotties that were wearing rather short dresses were chatting them up, the two guys must have had some surprisingly good game to pull that one off, I was impressed.
The door at the opposite end of the carriage opened and people starting running down the carriage towards my door, screaming. I watched as they stumbled into each other in their rush to get away from something. I had to move to the left as people opened the door and clawed their way past me, all panic and flailing limbs. Once they were gone I stepped back up to the door and tried to see what they had been running from.
I could see a tall blonde guy in blue overalls right at the other end of the next carriage, strangely enough the guy was holding a giant wrench against his shoulder, almost as tall as he was. To the right of him stood a blonde chick with an eye-patch, a single ribbon tied around her neck, she wore a red sleeveless shirt and a pair of jeans. On the man’s left, the last woman stood casually, she had long dark hair and wore a black dress that was doing wonderful things to her body, there was a matching black rose made of lace, stitched onto one of the straps of her dress. None of them wore a mask, they were just standing there calmly holding out a bag while the rest of the carriage went ape shit, the people closest to them started dumping things into the bags.
They were robbing the train, nice.
I knew who these three were from my recent cape research, but I hadn't ever seen them in the flesh before today, their names were, from left to right Aural, Climax, and then Swallow, but they weren't always in that order, heh. These three were villains, the leading members of the gang called Chorus, they had been around for a couple of years now, although Swallow was a fairly recent addition to the team. None of them had ever bothered to hide their identities and as far as I knew they worked out of a hideout somewhere in the city, not that anybody had managed to locate it.
The two women that were standing next to Dean had turned to face the door and I realized, from the reflection in the window, that they were both wearing masks with a large 'P' on the front. Members of the Protectorate, Battery, and Miss Militia, most likely, two of the three female members of the Protectorate that were in Brockton bay. Nobody had ever seen Dragon out of a suit, so she probably wasn't present, although, it was possible that either of these two were from out of town. Could there be more members of the Protectorate here, in different carriages? Was Armsmaster lurking, just out of sight in a little black dress, ready to shove his halberd up my ass?
Dean and Chris had dragged started dragging out two suitcases from underneath the table already changing clothes, they were both clearly prepared for a fight, or at least prepared to prepare for a fight as it happens. Chris started pulling out pieces of red armor, and I watched as he dropped a pair of matching red pistols onto the table while he started strapping them on.
Well, there was my confirmation, Chris was Kid Win.
There was no way that the members of Chorus were the Rail Tracer, I had already considered every gang in the city already when I was investigating, and not a single one of them fit at all. Chorus had three capes and a handful of normies in their gang, they maimed and beat people, but they had never killed a person, tending to stick to robberies or ransoms.
I couldn’t help but think that this damn train was getting awfully crowded with capes, Dean was apparently friends with Kid Win and I had my doubts that Kid Win would willingly befriend a killer. So either Dean wasn't the Rail Tracer, or he was, having mastered Kid Win or something. I was suddenly feeling like it that he wasn't the killer though, why was he on the train at all then? None of these damn people should be on the train except Dean, this was bullshit, it didn't make any sense.
The door behind Chorus opened slowly and a man almost completely covered in blood stepped through the door, he was too far away for me to be able to make out his face from under all of the blood. He was dragging a body with him, it was missing an arm up to the shoulder and it's face was completely gone, just a gory mess of blood and bone. He tossed it clear down the carriage and the members of Chorus jumped out of the way as it passed. The guy clearly had super strength, I noted, as the body hit the ground and then slid to a stop in the middle of the carriage.
Who the hell was this asshole?
The man had auburn hair and was wearing what used to be a white uniform, was he a member of the train staff? I could have sworn that I had seen him somewhere before, but I couldn't place the guy.
Fuck it, the guy was giving off obvious serial killer vibes, I had found my target.
I opened the door loudly and then walked casually into the carriage, all of the heroes turned around and looked at me in shock, but I just waved as I approached.
"Dibs on the Rail Tracer," I said cheerfully, as I strode up the aisle towards them. “My next paycheck is on the line here."
Miss Militia had a gun pointed at me the second I had stepped into the carriage, and I did my best to ignore it. The heroes all stepped back towards the walls of the train as I approached, unhurriedly, having affected a facade of indifference. On the inside, I was terrified that Miss Militia was about to pop a cap in my ass.
I stopped about a meter away from the group.
"Urchin." Miss Militia said calmly.
I hadn't seen her since Gaston had died, I did my best to push down the feeling that surged up as I was reminded of that night. It wasn't the time, I thought, I had a job to do, I swallowed down the misery and forced a grin onto my face.
"Nice dress," I said shamelessly, wagging my eyebrows at her. "I'm waggling my eyebrows at you so hard right now," I added after a moment after I realized that nobody could see my face, fucking mask.
Battery scoffed at the comment as she stood perfectly still, probably charging up her power as much as possible in case I attacked, she could probably put me straight through the carriage wall in an instant if she wanted to, yikes. Violence suddenly broke out in the other carriage as Climax swung his massive wrench at the guy that was covered in blood and the massive metal tool tore a ragged line through the wall of the train all the way to the ceiling. Holy shit, Climax was strong. I was close enough now to make out the guy's facial features a little bit better now. It was the guy from yesterday that had been at the train station. Felix, I could see his name tag now.
Felix stepped under another swing of the giant wrench seemingly unbothered, as he had a pleasant smile on his face. The wrench smashed through a window before it carried on through the metal wall into another one, sending metal and glass fragments all over the place.
Aural was flitting around Climax's attacks at an absurd speed, trying her best to either hamstring or hinder Felix with her small but sharp knife, but nothing was connecting, she stepped underneath Climax's next swing from within the danger zone, seemingly perfectly at ease being in the middle of such frantic combat, she swiped at Felix's eyes but he reached out and gently brushed her hand aside with the back of his hand.
Felix continued his unstoppable advance towards Swallow, who was desperately retreating from the fighting, she couldn't use her bombs in such close confines without hitting her teammates in the crossfire. All the while Felix was advancing on her, the obvious weak link in melee combat, they were all getting desperate.
If they lost any more ground to him they would practically be in our carriage, but Miss Militia still hadn't said anything. Chorus wasn't the problem here dammit, and neither was I, we needed to stop the killer. We were wasting time, and there were people still trapped in the other carriage.
"Look, that dude is obviously the Rail Tracer," I said confidently, using the absolutely terrible name. "What do you say about a temporary truce to kick his ass?"
They were all remained silent, Dean and Kid Win had finished changing during the standoff. Dean was now wearing a simple black bodysuit, black combat boots, and a motorbike helmet. All the money in the world and his costume was the equivalent of a flat white with two sugars, I managed to hold back from calling him a basic bitch, barely.
Battery had her body angled towards me, but she was focusing on the fight in the next carriage. Kid Win had his laser pistols pointed to the ground, frequently looking back and forth between me and the fight. Miss Militia was just staring straight at me, silently. Fuck it, I wasn't going to wait until someone else got killed.
I cleared my throat loudly.
"I'm going to go get Aural and then Climax," I said easily, pointing to both villains in turn, before turning to point at Battery, "Are you going to Swallow?"
"Dude!" Kid Win yelped in alarm.
Dean looked impressed at my audacity, while Battery looked incredibly pissed off at the comment but had managed to somehow hold onto her silence. Miss Militia let out a sigh before jerking her head towards the other carriage. I immediately stepped between the heroes and thanked whatever deity was looking over me that they didn't immediately mob me, I would still have to be careful, she never actually agreed to that truce.
The carriage they were fighting in was absolutely destroyed, Climax had lost any semblance of restraint and was now just swinging madly at Felix, but nothing seemed to even come close to touching him, the guy was a ghost as he evaded every single attempt to cause him harm. He must have had some sort of precognition or something, and the way he was moving was incredibly strange, he was clearly moving fast but everything he did had a slow languid look to it. Felix looked up suddenly, meeting my eye, and gave me a smile.
Well, that was terrifying.
I gave the battlefield another quick once over before I stepped over the threshold and into the carriage, there were civilians cowering among the rubble on the floor with their hands over their heads, while the sound of wind tearing through the moving train was overwhelming. I would have to be careful about the types of attacks I used in such close quarters, only blunted wires and swipes, no piercing attacks, I didn't want to kill anyone by accident. I watched them all fight for a moment to get a handle on the rhythm and did my best to identify an opportunity to attack that wouldn't get any of the members of Chorus killed.
Swallow was still crawling towards me through the rubble, on her hands and knees an expression of terror on her face. Aural was trying to pressure Felix enough to take his focus off the others, she barely managed to deflect a knife-hand from Felix that would have connected with Climax's throat. Aural’s knife was knocked free of her hand by his counter and she spun underneath the return swing of Climax's wrench and plucked the knife back out of the air with her other hand just in time to lash out again, hitting nothing but air.
Climax's massive swing traveled from the roof of the train to the ground at an angle, Felix stepped onto the end of the wrench and then off again halfway through the swing, he made it look effortless. The maneuver had placed him in between them and Swallow again as he stepped backward towards Swallow, they desperately tried to delay his advance, but it was like fighting the wind.
I wouldn’t find myself with a better chance to enter the fight, so I created a massive arm construct out of wires, at least as tall as I was, and sent the palm of my creation flashing through the air above Swallow’s head to come at Felix from the side. Just as the giant hand was about to connect and slap him out of the train, he did something incredible. Without even turning around Felix casually lifted a hand and placed it onto the top of the construct before he lifted himself off the ground with a little spin. For a single beat, he was completely vertical in a single-handed handstand, his feet just brushing the ceiling before the hand passed beneath him to smash through the wall of the train. Felix twisted gracefully in the air and placed his foot onto Climax's wrench before stepping back down to the floor of the carriage, with a kind of unhurried grace that sent chills down my spine, he moved closer to Swallow completely unhindered.
I stared at him in shock
What the fuck was that? It was a god damned sneak attack, from a blind spot, with a suddenness that no-one else on the train could have possibly been able to react to and he had just wandered on through it as if he were having a nice stroll in the park. I sent out two more hands an instant later, lashing out with straight rapid jabs, neither of the constructs came close to touching him. Aural had instantly acclimated to my addition to the fight and had started to use my attacks to insert more precisely targeted knife strikes of her own. Climax just keep breaking everything in sight like it was made of paper. How exactly was Felix doing this? The guy was fighting as if he could see in every direction at once, somehow see everything and then move through it like it was a walk in the park.
I glanced over my shoulder at the heroes, they hadn't moved much, except for Battery who had angled herself back towards the fight, and by extension me, which made me slightly uncomfortable. Miss Militia was standing with her gun pointed down at the floor, she couldn't attack in this direction without risking the civilians hiding on the floor, and it was a bad idea to get between two enemies when they were beating the shit out of each other anyway. Kid Win was similarly hamstrung, he had immediately fallen under Miss Militia's command when the cape stuff had broken out and she was clearly keeping him on a tight leash. Dean was staring with a strange intensity straight past me, watching the fight but not getting involved.
I turned back to the fight and abruptly switched tactics, I sent wires out to wrap around all of the civilians that were between Felix and my side of the carriage, before dragging them all out of the holes in the side of the train that Climax had made. I generated more wires behind me and used them to smash two holes in the carriage wall directly behind me on either side. I moved the civilians that I held outside the train back in through the hole and put them behind me near the heroes, belatedly realized that they were all screaming in terror, whoops. The heroes quickly started moving the civilians back out through the other side of the carriage and out of immediate danger.
I began creating a massive mesh of wires between Felix and Swallow, cutting her off from the fight. Swallow took advantage of the space to grab my leg before pulling herself up to her feet, gasping for breath and looking around with wild eyes. Aural, Climax, and Felix all continued fighting on the other side of the wall.
"Thanks." Swallow gasped out, as she took in all the heroes behind me for a moment before turning back to the wall of wires. "I can't leave them in there."
Climax suddenly came slamming through the wall of wires like it wasn't even there, I barely managed to push Swallow to the side of the carriage but Climax ended up clipping me on his flight past, spinning me into the wall while the heroes had to dive out of his way. His limp body smashed through a bunch of tables and came to a stop sprawled on the broken remains of a chair, unconscious.
Swallow was wildly swinging her arms trying to regain her balance as she slowly tipped out of the open hole in the side of the train and I barely managed to grab her in time. I looked through the hole in the wires just in time to see Aural dive back through the gap and out of range of Felix’s grasping hand. Aural tumbled through into a roll and then came up out of it to stand next to me calmly, she met my eyes and nodded, allies for now.
Felix, still on the other side of the wire wall was laughing happily, like he was having the time of his life, I covered the holes on the sides of the train as best I could, and his voice laughter became much easier to hear as a result. He didn't have a single mark on him from the fight, hell he wasn't even out of breath, he was, however, still completely covered in blood.
"Well, that was fun!" Felix said amused before he lazily reached down to a mostly destroyed table by the door and flipped it over.
A blonde woman lay there in a white dress, I had missed someone. The woman would have been stunningly beautiful in any other circumstance, but now she was covered in debris and her hair had come mostly loose from its elaborate braid. The dress that had probably cost more money than I had seen in my entire life had been completely ruined by a slowly spreading red stain at her shoulder, where the blood from a cut on her temple had run down her neck to meet with the white material. The woman looked around vaguely, seemingly not very present, she was probably concussed.
Felix pulled her to her feet silently and I felt a chill spread down my spine as I tensed, she was too far away for me to do anything before he reacted. So I silently watched and waited for him to ruthlessly murder her, but instead, Felix simply sent her on her way back down the carriage with a pleasant smile. Everybody in the carriages was silent as the woman left, she took two steps towards the end of the train and then fell towards one of the many open holes in the wall. I had wires tearing out of the carriage headed towards her in an instant, but I wasn't needed. Felix grabbed her hand and pulled her back, and she managed to steady herself after a moment before continuing down the hall away from us all, the door to the carriage opened as she approached it and closed behind her as she left.
I couldn't understand what I had just witnessed, and Felix turned back to us with a grin, his perfectly white teeth stood out in stark contrast to all of the blood on his face. Felix pointed to the roof of the train before he jumped towards a hole that Climax had made, he grabbed the edge of the torn roof and then flipped himself upwards and onto the roof of the train, out of sight.
Fuck, we had to go after him, he could just wander along the roof of the train, bypassing us and then start killing people on the other side. I turned around carefully brushing passed Aural to find Miss Militia and Battery talking in low tones. Swallow was already making her way to Climax, and the heroes tensed as she approached but let her pass unharmed before they closed ranks behind her. Aural stood calmly next to me, not saying a word, but not attacking anyone either.
"Alright!" I said confidently, and nearly everybody turned to me. "So that was the Rail Tracer."
Swallow had managed to get Climax into a sitting position and was trying to wake him up, to no avail
"He's probably going to kill more people," I said easily, pointing to the roof. "So I'm going to go up there and do my best to kick his ass."
I clapped my hands together once before spreading my arms out wide.
"Who's coming with me?" I asked cheerfully, resulting in a flurry of activity in the carriage, as everybody started talking quickly and quietly to each other.
Aural tapped me on the shoulder, and when I turned to look at her she pointed at me, then at herself before smiling prettily. I studied her curiously for a moment, either she wanted to duck away for a quickie, or we were teaming up, hopefully, it was both.
"Awesome," I said happily, "Any other takers?"
Miss Militia and Battery were still arguing in low voices before Battery put up a hand in surrender, then she moved towards us. Fuck yeah, we had this in the bag the three of us were definitely the dream team, it’s a shame that Climax was currently out of it, as that was the next best addition for taking Felix on.
Battery stopped next to us silently and crossed her arms.
"Battery will go with you," Miss Militia said unnecessarily before Dean suddenly stepped forward.
"I'm going too," Dean said quietly, suddenly moving towards us.
Battery immediately tried to shut down that idea, apparently not at all happy with bringing an unknown cape along.
"Sit down, you aren't going anywhere." Battery said harshly. "You aren't trained for this."
Dean wasn't evenly looking at her though, he was looking at me, and just when Battery looked like she was going to press the issue, he spoke up.
"The guy that everyone just fought," Dean said intensely. "His name is Claire Stansfield, he's my older brother."
"I fucking knew it!" I shouted immediately, unable to believe it. "I knew it was one of the Stansfield's, I did think it was you for a while though, I’m not going to lie."
Dean was looking at me strangely, probably impressed with my incredible deductive skills, I almost had it, I was only off by a deviation of exactly one brother. Dean shouldered his way through the group and over to me. Battery looked stressed but made no further move to dissuade him, It looks like he was coming with us then.
"Let's do this," I said, grinning. "Temporary Full Frontals, fall in line."
Batteries eyebrows narrowed together, and Dean was mouthing 'Full Frontals?' under his breath, Aural just shook her head with a smile.
I’m a fantasy author from Australia, and if I were to describe my work in a single sentence it would be; Realism contained within an unrealistic backdrop. I aim to put out high-quality, original, long-form written content that will entertain, and engage you. Expect dark themes, characters making costly mistakes, and unreliable narrators.
My standard process starts by releasing draft chapters to my Patreon, and then to everybody else online. Once the story is completed, I convert it into a more conventional eBook. I also routinely go back and revise, edit and enhance my older work as I improve as a writer.
I now have a website that has links to all of my original works to date.