The cold winter breeze chills me through my suit as I approach the rally point. Sticking to the rooftops as I jump across the gaps between the buildings, moving eastward along the docks. It doesn’t take long to spot the others waiting on a rooftop. While making my way over to them, I began to examine the team that had assembled as they each caught my attention, thinking over their abilities, gear, and suits to formulate a plan. After a moment, Dynamo looks in my direction and waves me over. The teenage girl wears her high-tech armor that she made, which is usually a neon-blue color, but she recently added a "stealth" mode, allowing the armor to become black when needed. The sounds of pistons whirring fills the air as I see her smile underneath her visor.
I land on the roof the others are situated on, looking over at Blackheart, who is staring down at the pawn shop that we got a tip about an hour ago. Her leather jacket shines a bit in the moonlight, the white accents along the arms and sides also being rather visible in the dark night. She turns to face me, her face unable to be seen under the helmet's visor. The helmet itself is modeled after a motorcyclist’s, just more durable.
"Any sign of them yet?" I ask, looking for anyone in the group to answer the question.
"No sir, according to the tip, the Dragonlings should be here in approximately 15 minutes." Psyche answers, and the young woman stands with her hands behind her back. Her simple domino mask hides some of her expression, but knowing her so well, I’m sure she’s calm and ready to do her job. Her simple, single-colored purple suit, with an admittedly silly looking brain emblem on the chest, has some reinforcements in it, but due to her role as a ranged combatant, she doesn’t need much more.
"Good. In the meantime, who can tell me the capabilities of the Dragonlings?" I look to the three members of the Junior Enclave present for answers. "And give the others a chance to answer first, Psyche." I direct my last comment at the leader of the young Heroes.
The Junior Enclave, a collective of young Superheroes that are part of a subsection of the Enclave. It’s part of the job as a member of the Enclave to teach these upcoming Heroes how to not only use their powers, but also how to be Heroes. That can mean learning about your foes before fighting them, keeping civilians clear of the danger zone, or even sometimes, how to defuse a situation before it gets violent.
"Uh... Usagi seems to have enhanced strength, but only in her legs, allowing her to jump around quickly and land strong blows with kicks." Thunderclap, the last member of the Junior Enclave present, replies nervously. His mostly white suit has some padding on it, mainly in the chest and upper arms, alongside the lower legs. Gold accents run along the sides of his chest, in addition to the outer sides of his limbs. While his face is concealed by a mix of a visor and sunglasses colored gold.
"Really, you pick the one with the simplest power?" Pixie responds as she gently lands on the roof after having flown around, likely doing recon. Her bright pink suit was glimmering a bit from the glitter on it. A colorful mask, akin to those you might see at a masquerade, conceals her identity as she tightly grips her compound bow, a quiver strapped to her lower back full of arrows.
"Don’t listen to her, TC. You did good, son." I smile at him under my mask and pat his shoulder before looking to Dynamo for a continuation of the answer.
“Mute is able to nullify all sound in a localized area; in addition she has enhanced hearing and can camouflage herself to her surroundings. Drauger has enhanced strength and durability, alongside the inability to feel pain.” Dynamo responds, seeming more calm and sure than Thunderclap had been.
“Good job, Psyche?” I turn to the girl, who replies almost immediately.
“Deadeye, the seeming leader of the current Dragonlings, is able to regularly make shots with her rifle that would be almost certainly impossible, so she likely has a power enhancing her ability to aim and fire weaponry. Stalker is able to teleport, leaving a smoky trail where she appears and disappears from. Additionally she can shroud areas in complete darkness and seems to be uninhibited by said darkness. And the newest member, Buffer, has beams of energy he can fire from his hands, and they have a currently unclear effect on the target’s ability to perceive their surroundings for a few moments after.” She delivers her information clearly and in detail, giving a slight nod once finished and allowing me to reply.
"Good job! Now that everyone is caught up, let’s get into position for the ambush. Move!" I order the team to split up, Dynamo and Pixie taking to the sky as Blackheart and Thunderclap drop down and wait on the roof of the pawn shop. Psyche stays on the rooftop we had met on to keep herself at range and watch over the area while I drop down the opposite side as the others did.
Once down in the alleyway, I take a moment to collect myself. Despite doing this for about two and a half decades, there are always nerves involved. I see myself in the reflection of a nearby window, my pure white bodysuit fairly obvious in the night. The golden lenses I see through are shining a bit from a nearby light, illuminating the alleyway. Before moving forward, I check that I have my daggers ready and that they’re full of the paralytic agent Mixer made. Once I confirm that, they return back to their sheaths. I take a final deep breath to calm my nerves before turning invisible and moving into position.
I wait on the third floor of an escape ladder of a nearby apartment building opposite the building Psyche is in, remaining invisible as I spot movement below. Five members of the Dragonlings begin their approach towards the pawn shop, all but Deadeye being visible. This was usual for them as she’d be set up somewhere nearby acting as a sniper or lookout.
In the lead was Stalker, holding a recurve bow with an arrow already nocked. Her head is concealed by the slightly tattered hood of her black jacket; underneath that is a dark and plain mask, as if a hockey mask was spray painted black. Strapped to her back is a pair of either long knives or short swords; it's hard to tell.
Just behind her was Mute, the woman wielding two of her throwing knives. Her black skin-tight suit shimmers a bit in the moonlight while her simple domino mask conceals her face.
I take in a slow breath and hold it as I spot Mute, knowing she could potentially hear me if I breathe too loudly. My gaze then shifts to the next villain.
Usagi skips along cheerfully, her white bodysuit rather obvious amongst her allies' costumes. The bunny ears she wears don’t help much with discretion either, but at least she has a white domino mask like Mute.
Buffer is beside her, his eyes scanning nearby rooftops as small orbs of grayish energy swirl in his palms. His bodysuit is a very similar color to the orbs, as is his own domino mask.
Finally, manning the rear is Draugr, gripping his dual Viking-inspired axes tightly as he scans alleyways and nearby buildings. He dons what appear to be Viking-inspired furs and hides, but they’re likely just reinforced fabric designed to imitate the attire.
I watch as the group continues forward towards the pawn shop, keeping an eye on the situation to be able to do my job, spot and take down Deadeye. Not a moment later do I see the streak of pink that is Pixie in the sky, aiming her bow down at the Villains. She has one arrow nocked and two at the ready; all three have her glitter bombs attached to the arrowheads, firing all three in quick succession. However, just as the third arrow leaves her bowstring, she is impacted by something I don’t see and is sent falling to the ground.
I glance and look around, realizing that Deadeye likely shot her and is using Mute’s silence field to mask the sounds of her gunshots. I turn my gaze back down to the Dragonlings who have the glitter bombs detonate around them, coating them in the sticky and shimmering material, making it difficult for them to hide. From the pawn shop roof come Thunderclap and Blackheart, each riding one of Blackheart’s summons, the former riding her wolf and the latter on the cheetah.
Thunderclap leaps off the inky black wolf and slams his hands together. A golden shockwave explodes as they make contact, surging towards the Villains. Stalker immediately teleports about 40 feet away and fires an arrow at TC, but the wolf takes the hit for him before charging the girl. The rest are impacted by the shockwave. Buffer and Mute are swept off their feet while Usagi and Draugr resist it and charge, but the cheetah tackles Usagi before she can reach him.
From the corner of my vision, I spot Dynamo, barely managing to catch Pixie and help her to the rooftop Psyche is on. Meanwhile, Thunderclap dodges an axe strike from Draugr before landing a solid kick to the Villain’s chest, sending him skidding back a few feet. Blackheart, just beyond them, moves towards Buffer and Mute, who are just getting to their feet, striking the latter with her baton in the jaw and sending her recoiling back to the ground.
Another shot from Deadeye impacts Thunderclap, knocking him to the ground and several feet away. Draugr takes the opportunity to rush him but is suddenly hit with a neon blue laser, Dynamo hovering nearby and charging another blast at the Villain.
"Hey, thanks for the support." TC smiles at Dynamo before spotting Buffer about to blast Blackheart and rushing in to help her, tackling the woman out of the way.
The wolf is suddenly shot and evaporates, the material it’s made of clinging to Stalker for a moment before she can get up and teleport to Usagi to assist her with the cheetah. Luckily, that third shot helped me figure out where Deadeye is, and the slight glint of her scope a few blocks down confirms it.
I make my way down the fire escape as quickly as I can while spotting Psyche peek over the rooftop and extend her hand out towards Draugr. The villain grabs his head in pain. Luckily, he can still feel mental pain despite his power, before a strong blast from Dynamo sends him to the ground. At the same time, Thunderclap and Blackheart work together to face Buffer and Mute, the young hero using his shockwaves to keep them off balance while Blackheart takes advantage of it by striking them with her baton.
I turn my focus away from the others and keep moving towards Deadeye, knowing she can’t see me due to my invisibility and taking full advantage of it to sprint at full speed. The distance is quickly cleared, and I begin my ascent up the building, scaling the wall to her left as hastily as possible.
Once on the rooftop, I take in the view, getting one of our first close-up views of Deadeye, the woman wearing what looks to be fully black military gear. A lever-action rifle is in her grip as she looks down the scope at my allies, taking a shot at what I believe to be the cheetah as it fades away a moment later.
I quietly move forward, watching her as I ready my daggers, all I need is one cut and she goes down. A few feet forward, and a sudden jarring sensation hits me; all sound disappears, even the simple sounds of the water against the docks, and gone in an instant. A split second after I see a watch on Deadeye’s wrist light up with the words "behind you" displayed on it, and faster than I could react, she turns, holding a revolver and aiming it right at me. However, she doesn’t fire and simply turns back to use her rifle. I take a moment to breathe as I remember that I’m invisible, forgetting that in the moment of panic.
I lunge forward once my nerves are quelled, giving her one quick slash along the lower back before leaping away. She silently yells in pain and pulls out her revolver again, alongside a second one to akimbo them. I remain still as she begins to fully scan the rooftop, her blood dripping onto the floor below as I await the paralytic agent to kick in. It doesn’t take long for her cautious walking to stiffen in seconds, while her arm locks up when trying to move it. I take my chance again and tackle her, bringing her to the ground under me and knocking the weapons from her grip as she begins to lock up more and more, finally becoming unable to struggle against me within a couple minutes, and by the time she gives up, I realize I can hear my surroundings again.
"Psyche, update on the rest of the Dragonlings, I have Deadeye detained." I speak into my earpiece while putting handcuffs around Deadeye’s wrists.
"We have Draugr and Mute detained. We almost had Buffer, but the other two managed to grab him at the last moment." She responds, sounding a bit disappointed with herself.
"Don’t worry about it; we did good, all of us." I lift the Villainess over my shoulder and begin to descend down the fire escape of this building, making my way back to the others.
Psyche is standing over Draugr, keeping her hand extended towards him and her psychic assault on his mind continuous to keep him incapacitated. Thunderclap and Blackheart watch over Mute, who has a pretty bad gash in her temple.
"How’d that happen?" I ask them as I set down Deadeye and signal Dynamo over to keep an eye on her.
"She glanced in that direction," Blackheart points towards the building Deadeye was posted on, "and pressed a button on her watch, so she was distracted when I hit her."
"Okay, get that cleaned up for her." I order the pair before going to check on Pixie, who’s leaned against a nearby wall and holding her side. "You okay?"
"Y-yeah, I think the shot cracked a rib or two, maybe broke one. But I’ll get patched up." She responds, wincing as she speaks.
"Okay, take it easy and rest up." I reply with a friendly smile under my mask before turning around, just in time to watch the three uncaptured Dragonlings appear from behind an alley.
Buffer extends his hands and fires six blasts in quick succession, scoring a hit on each of us. The world seems to slow around me as I watch Usagi launch herself at us, bouncing between us all like a pinball, but I feel the pain of her impacting me before I even see her hit any of the others.
I suddenly find myself laid out on the ground as Buffer’s power wears off. I try to get up, but what I assume to be Stalker’s darkness falls over me. I try to find my way out but am unable to from the lack of sight and still being somewhat disoriented by the blast and kick I received. A moment later, the cloud fades and the rest of my team are all in various stages of getting to their feet or failing to exit the now-gone darkness. The dragonlings we captured are now missing, and there is no sign of where they went.
"Fuck, we fucked up!" Blackheart yells out, holding her arm where Usagi probably kicked her.
"It’s fine, we put the hurt on them and they’ll likely take a break before starting another job. And we learned more about them. That’s valuable" I reply, trying to boost the morale of the team, but it didn’t seem to work as they all seem dejected.
"Let’s get back to base; we need to fill out a report on what happened." Psyche speaks up as she stands and begins to head out, the others quickly following her.
I take a look around at the area before sighing and following the others, feeling defeated myself but keeping my outlook high. We did well here, despite their escape.