Threat Level: N/A
Power Type: N/A
Danny knew better than to question the ThreatLevel app’s warnings. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it as far as the junction. A building to his right exploded, spraying the world with shards of brick, glass, and metal. None of the shrapnel hit Danny, but the shock wave threw him from his bike, and he landed in the middle of the road.
The car tires screeched behind Danny. In the following seconds, a black Mercedes shot past his left shoulder and crashed into the lamppost on the opposite side of the street. He watched the accident helplessly from the ground as he lay on his side stunned and helpless.
A pair of powerful hands grabbed Danny and pulled him off the street to the pavement. It was Druid.
“You okay, mate?” He asked through clenched teeth. Danny barely heard his words over the ringing. He had a thumbnail-sized chunk missing from his ear. Despite his injuries, the super had rushed to Danny’s aid. It explained his League membership despite the young age. Druid clicked his fingers in front of Danny’s face. “Oi! Look at me.” He forcefully grabbed Danny’s chin and turned his head to make eye contact. “Your pupils look fine. Snap out of it and get away from here—”
Vines burst from nearby trees, and sewer grates, rushing towards the explosion’s source. A tall, green, glowing figure stood at the gym’s entrance. Green-golden brambles stuck to her body like an ugly bodysuit. Despite the dust and blood clinging to her, Danny recognised the woman. It was Dryad. The vines surrounded her, blocking his sight of the woman.
VILLAIN ACTIVITY WITHIN 100M.
CLEAR THE AREA IMMEDIATELY.
TURN LEFT AT THE NEXT JUNCTION.
“What’s going on?” Danny asked, struggling to his feet.
“Can you walk?” Druid ignored his question. He hesitantly glanced over his shoulder, gave Danny a once over and sprinted towards the now burning gym. “Get out of here!”
The wall of vines dispersed, and Dryad ran into the gym. “Druid, with me!” She yelled. “You take the reptilian.”
Jose emerged from the first floor. Armour coated his arms, shoulders, and back. He appeared twice as big as when Danny had sparred with him. Druid pointed his wooden shotgun at the man and an explosion ripped from its muzzle. Jose didn’t flinch and barrelled into the hero.
Every instinct told Danny to flee. Instead, he dragged the bike off the road and behind the Mercedes. Its driver had fled the scene, and the vehicle served as adequate cover. He ducked behind, got out his phone and took a photograph.
When booting the ThreatLevel App, Danny didn’t tap its icon. Instead, he held it until the device had scanned his fingerprint.
Booting in Contributor Mode.
It had taken Danny years of contribution and several emailed submissions before the community of developers gave him entry modification privileges. He started a new entry, uploaded Jose’s image and name. For powers, he noted reptilian physiology and adaptive armour plating. Finally, Danny added a note about him being Power Merchant’s henchman. He had waited months to make the submission, but had resisted to maintain his cover. Their friendly client-trainer relationship had him hesitating, too. Jose wasn't the worst of people. However, the man had lied to him. Instead of acting as a body guard, he was fighting a League hero in the open with his ward nowhere in sight. Since he'd turned himself into a genuine threat, it no longer mattered. The League and the public would benefit from the details of Jose's power set.
Knee high mushroom men ran past Danny. They kept their heads down, sprinting past the flames into the gym. Meanwhile, Druid continued to fight his opponent. Jose’s superior strength knocked Druid back with each blow. Blood from new wounds and each blow knocked him back further and his next block came up slower.
Jose swung intertwined his fingers, tightening his grip. Giant triangular scales flowed from his back, over his shoulders, and towards his hands. They collected around the forearm and fists, making them almost double in size. Druid tried catching the blow on his shotgun, but the blow knocked the weapon out of his hands. It flew across the street landing in the gutter.
Druid scrambled backwards as Jose continued his assault. Danny had never learnt the extent or details of Druid’s powers, but he was sure they didn’t come with physiological enhancements. If Jose struck Druid, he’d likely end up dead or crippled.
Before Jose could strike a finishing blow, a puff of smoke appeared in front of him. When it dispersed, the reptilian henchman had retreated by several steps. Danny frowned. He was sure he’d seen a woman in the cloud for a moment, but couldn’t say for sure anymore. Now a short figure with a hunch crouched in the spot instead. A hood covered the person’s head, and a glossy curved shell. Their arms were unusually long and skinny. Finger-long spikes extended from the exposed limbs.
When Jose struck his new opponent, the super crumpled. His arms snapped and back caved in. The giant reptilian henchman didn’t slow. He marched past the crushed super, continuing towards Druid. Before Jose could reach the hero, a short hooded figure dashed into the fray. Danny recognised the person as soon as they swung their arm. The air around their fist rippled and Jose went flying despite blocking the attack. It was the young man that stole Sal’s Lockbox.
“Bow evildoer!” The young man yelled. “Or feel the wrath of Mindpunch!”
“Shut up and ensure he doesn’t get up again, idiot!” A male-sounding computerized voice from the roof called. The person wore armour made mostly of scrap. He aimed a long chrome weapon at the burning gym and fired. A warped bubble shot from the firearm and exploded near the entrance. The shock wave blew most of the flames away. “Roach!”
“Roach!” He yelled again. They fired another blast from their weapon extinguishing more flames. Sparks flew from the firearm, and he hissed, beating at it. “Roach!”
“What?” The crushed super croaked, yelling much louder than someone in their state should’ve been able to.
“Are you just going to lie there or are you going to help? Do you want Merchant to get away?”
“No!” The crushed super rose and his damaged limbs popped back into place. His crushed back returned to its normal state, too, like a dented car bonnet fixing itself. Danny took photos of all of them.
More shapes raced out of the gym, launching themselves at the new supers on the scene. Danny spotted the woman from the previous night among them. Two came at Druid and the hero hadn’t yet recovered. Fortunately, Roach got in the way. Meanwhile, Druid dragged himself towards the road, leaving a trail of blood behind him. Danny wanted to run, but there were more supers racing towards his friend.
Kaka is going to be so mad.
Danny left his bike and sprinted along the street. He kept his head low, taking cover behind abandoned cars. By the time Danny reached Druid’s fallen shotgun, his heart was pounding out of his chest. He raised his hood and pulled up the jacket’s zipped collar. Only Danny’s eyes remained exposed.
A scream ripped through the air. All the nearby vegetation trembled and then only silence remained. Danny froze, confused by the sudden stillness. The shotgun in his hands hummed. Danny felt a warmth radiating from the wood and it rippled like everything else, too. The barrel dissolved, and the weapon expanded, slowly transforming into a staff with a knobbed end and one that ended at a point.
The staff felt at home in Danny’s hands. He didn’t want to release it from his grip. Then a chunk of debris came flying out of the gym. It bounced off the pavement and rolled to a stop in the middle of the road.
“No!” Druid screamed, sounding hoarse and broken.
Danny squinted, struggling to focus his eyes on the fluctuating lights. It took him a moment to figure out what he was looking at. The spherical chunk wasn’t a piece of brick or concrete. It had hair and leaves clinging to it. The chunk of debris was Dryad’s head.
“Druid!” Danny yelled, getting the dazed hero’s attention. Tears were streaming down his face when he turned around. Then his brows furrowed and eyes cleared. When Druid raised his hand, the staff hummed.
Even though Danny wanted to help, he didn’t have the courage to sprint to the hero’s aid. Instead, he threw the staff with all of his might. It spun through the air for a bit, but then its trajectory changed and the staff flew in a straight line at Druid. He snatched it from the air and yelled, “Run!”
Danny obeyed. He ran to his bike and mounted it. Before he could pedal away, a suited man walked out of the shadows. It almost appeared as if he’d emerged from thin air. His cold eyes bore through Danny.
“I knew you were bad news, Daniel Das,” Power Merchant said, pointing a revolver at Dani. It looked like an ordinary gun with nothing fancy about it. When Power Merchant fired, it went off like one, too. A sudden, jarring force rattled Danny down to the bone, almost knocking him off the bike. Moments later, a burning sting blossomed on his left side just above the pelvis. “Your friend is going to pay for this, too. I don’t stand for—”
Danny didn’t wait to hear the villain out. Despite his screaming nerves, he pedalled. The firearm went off again as he rounded the corner and picked up speed. As he kept going, he heard it go off twice more. Only one thought echoed in his head as he cycled away.
Kaka is going to kill me.