Dear Hero Diary:
I have stumbled onto something big! There’s an entire underground club called the Fun Zone! And, by the way? I really mean underground. I found it in the sewer.
Ok, from what I’ve figured, it’s actually a subway station? In Regal Park which has no subway station that I know of. Someone’s turned it into an underground club for kids to drink and smoke at! Evil!
This is impossible! I mean, I’ve heard of, like, secret raves or whatever before? But I never thought they’d be something like this. I mean, how can you hide an entire club underground right? How do you lose an entire subway station?
Decker floated past the ruined doors of the Fun Zone. There must have been nearly a hundred kids in there. She was so distracted by the crowd, and the lights, and the noise, that she’d almost forgotten about Big.
Big had not forgotten about Decker. He stood slowly, and ran his forearm along his mouth. It’d been a long time since he’d been knocked down by anyone. It’d never been by a girl small enough to fit in his luggage. He grabbed hold of one of the doors laying at his feet.
“Fine,” Big growled. “You want in so bad? Let me get the door for you.”
It was a great quip; completely wasted under the volume of the Fun Zone’s music. Decker turned at the sound of Big’s voice, but she hadn’t heard a word he’d said. She managed to yell “what?” at Big, just before he fly-swatted her with one of the oak doors.
Decker spun through the air, and came to a hovering stop in the center of the Fun Zone. There were tons of physics to being broad-sided by a large flat object that wrestlers could explain, but the short of it was that Decker was more humiliated than hurt. Around her, kids pointed and jeered from the catwalks. Someone threw a bottle.
Decker wiped beer foam from her face, and searched for Big. He was wading through the main floor crowd beneath Decker. He didn’t waste words this time as he flung the door at Decker.
Decker deflected the door over her head with a kinetic bolt, and thrust a hand forward to fire at Big. She held her shot at the last second: there were too many kids around, and she couldn’t fire without hitting one of them by accident.
Big watched Decker hesitate. He nodded slowly as he figured out her apprehension. Big smiled at Decker as he rubbed a passing kid’s head. Big kept a crowd between him and Decker as he put a hand to his ear, and spoke into his radio.
Decker swayed in the air, uncertain what to do next. She didn’t dare get close enough to hear Big, but she was certain she was missing something important. Still talking into his radio, Big ran his hands over his body, and pointed up at Decker. Decker couldn’t hear what he was saying, and really hoped he was just talking about her inertial barrier.
There was a crack of gunfire, and something hot jabbed Decker in the shoulder. Her barrier slowed the bullet, and her Pavlov suit kept it from breaking her skin, but it still hurt like heck. Decker flew upward in a panic; she’d never even seen a gun fired before in real life, much less had one fired at her. She spun in the air to find her attacker, only to be winded by a direct hit to the chest.
Her attacker smiled, and cockily waved a pistol in salute at Decker. The guy had the same mirrored glasses as Big. He wore a leather long coat over a tee shirt that had the word Fast along the chest. Fast balanced easily on the railings of the third level catwalk as he took aim at Decker again.
Decker flew zig-zag, making herself a difficult target. She watched in horror as the bullets that missed her panged along the catwalk railings, and slammed into the wall beyond. The kids closest to the shots flinched, but the others did nothing to get out of the way.
“Get down!” Decker yelled. She waved frantically at the catwalk patrons. A new jabbing pain along her back told her she’d been shot again, this time right between the shoulder blades. The kids on the catwalk didn’t even acknowledge Decker’s warnings. They yelled obscene responses at her, even as a bullet shattered a light above them.
Decker fanned her hands out, and let loose with a wide arced blast of kinetic energy. It was spread out enough to do little harm to the kids, but powerful enough to knock them off their feet. The kids fell back, safe for the moment from stray bullets.
The sudden parting of kids also left Decker with a clear view of Big. She’d lost track of him in the fight, but there he was, right in front of her. He smiled, and gave Decker a brief nod. Before she could react, Big snapped a long arm punch over the railing, and caught Decker completely by surprise.
Decker couldn’t get out of the way, so she rolled with the hit and let herself be pushed out of Big’s reach. She fired off one shot at the huge man; catching him square in the chest and knocking him backwards. She tried to line up a second shot, but the kids around him started getting back on their feet. She couldn’t take the shot at Big, but at least she was away from his fists.
Safely out of Big’s reach for now, Decker turned her attention to Fast. He was calmly walking along the railing three catwalks up, and took potshots at the young heroine. She flinched as she was hit in the shoulder, and again when a bullet slammed into her belly. One grazed a hot line along the inside of her leg, but beyond that, none of them managed to break her skin. Despite this, they were still bullets, and they still hurt. They hurt a lot.
Decker flew downward, swooping below the catwalk for cover. She fired off a quick succession of blasts into the bottom of the catwalk Fast was walking on. The concussive force bounced him from the railing, and into a freefall. He twisted in the air like a gymnast, and landed in a matrix crouch on the main floor.
Fast recovered his bearings immediately, and pointed both pistols up at Decker. Above them, Big climbed onto the railing of the upper catwalk, ready to leap out at the girl. Decker looked back and forth between the two men. Her eyes flared as she powered up. Techno beats shook the house, lights flashed madly. The kids in the Fun Zone screamed frantic excitement at the combatants.
The music screeched to a sudden halt, and the house lights flashed to bright life. Big, Fast, and Decker stopped mid-action. There was a squelch as the club’s loudspeakers came to life. “Patrons of the Fun Zone,” a female voice announced. “This is Ex.”
The kids cheered at the name fanatically, and the voice waited patiently for the noise to die down. “Oh, you won’t be so happy to hear me in a moment,” Ex mused over the loudspeaker. “Turns out someone has contacted the authorities about our little event tonight. The police, or worse, will be here in about ten minutes.” There was a thoughtful pause, and a bit of a laugh. “Any patrons with any sort of criminal record probably want to consider leaving at this time.”
The crowd went quickly from jubilation, to confusion, to panic. They bolted as one towards the shattered door to the Fun Zone. Big made his way to the main floor, and joined Fast. They both watched the kids flee the Fun Zone, but neither made any move to leave.
Decker rubbed her arm nervously, and hovered above the two men. Fast had lowered his pistols back to their holsters, and Big was lighting a smoke. Neither of them offered a second glance at Decker. Decker considered taking a shot at both men, now that the path was clearer, but it somehow just seemed wrong. Instead she stayed in the air; uncertain of what she was supposed to be doing.
When the last of the Fun Zone patrons had fled, Ex came down from her office, and stormed across the main floor. She wore a black body suit with a red X roughly spray painted between her breasts over an old faded logo. She wore a domino mask, and even had a utility belt. Ex was built a bit more for her suit than Decker was, but Decker was pretty sure that Ex was roughly the same age as her.
Ex gave Decker a brief annoyed glance, before taking one of Big’s smokes. “Well, this has been a complete cluster, hasn’t it?” She took a long drag, and looked full at Decker. “Power down kid,” Ex suggested. “I haven’t decided what to do with you yet.” Ex smiled wickedly. “You should have left with everyone else, I might have let you go.”
“I’m not afraid of you,” Decker declared.
“That’s because you don’t know me yet,” Ex stated sharply. She looked over at Big expectantly.
“She followed some of our regulars, Ex,” Big explained. “Saw them mug a guy, thought she’d intervene. Said her name’s Decker,” Big added.
Ex shrugged at Big. “Never heard of her,” Ex admitted. She tossed her cigarette across the room, and turned her attention to Decker. “Do you work for anyone?” Ex looked at the ruined door to the Fun Zone. “Should I be expecting anyone else tonight?”
“Yes. You should be expecting the police.” Decker scrunched her nose at Ex. “You even pointed out they were coming?”
Big, Fast, and Ex all looked at each other, and chuckled simultaneously. “Oh, that’s cute,” Ex stated. “The police aren’t coming down here,” she explained. “I said that to get the patrons to leave.”
“Lucky to get a cop out to Regal, much less down here,” Big added under his breath. Fast nodded his agreement.
“But,” Decker looked at the three, and shook her head. “But you just made this easier for me.”
“Because we cleared out the civilians?” Ex snickered. She mimed Decker’s confused look. “I was watching.” Ex continued. “You couldn’t get a clear shot at either of my boys. Worried about the onlookers.” Ex offered a slight smile. “I have to admit, I was impressed. Most of your crowd would have just powered on through the kids.”
“But,” Decker repeated.
“You were holding back, we get that,” Big said. “Thing you don’t get is, so were we.”
“The boys didn’t want to hurt our patrons any more than you did,” Ex continued. “It’d be pretty bad for business if we went killing off our patrons.” Ex smiled. “Now that our guests are out of the way, however, the kid gloves are off.”
Fast nodded his agreement. He holstered his pistols, and replaced them with a pair of submachine guns concealed in his jacket. Big tore a concrete pillar loose, and tapped it on the ground like a baseball bat. Ex casually unbuttoned a larger pouch on her utility belt.
Decker looked at the three, and tried feebly to hide her apprehension. She powered up, letting kinetic energy visibly flow along her arms. “Well,” Decker started slowly. “You guys are the bad guys, so you have to know that you can’t win. In the end…”
Ex interrupted Decker with a roll of her eyes. “Oh please. Anything but a monologue.” She flicked her hand dismissively; and tossed an X shaped blade at Decker before the girl could get on a roll. The X hit Decker’s field, and slowed to a near stop just in front of her face. Decker was about to explain Inertial barriers again, when the blade exploded.
Decker somersaulted her through the air in a cloud of green smoke. Even when she struggled to regain her bearings, it felt like the room was still spinning. The smoke from the exploding star lined her mouth with a hospital taste, and left her tongue numb. Decker stared wide eyed at Ex as the anaesthetic kicked in. She struggled to stay awake even as her body went limp, but she couldn’t muster the strength to fight against the sedative. Decker fell from the air in a heap at Ex’s feet.
Fast prodded at Decker with his foot, and looked over at Ex with concern. Big mirrored the emotion. “Hey, Ex. You didn’t. I mean, she’s not…”
“She’s just out,” Ex replied irritably. “I’m not paid to make those decisions,” She waved at Decker as she walked away. “Take her for a drive; I’ll have the boss contact you. He can decide what to do with her.”