“Don’t tell me you’re gonna hurl, rookie,” said a thunderous voice. A meaty palm slapped the sweaty shoulder of a young teen girl holding her knees. The force of the slap put her on the ground. Puke hung in her throat before getting swallowed back. “There you go. You get used to the catapult. Well, at least you learn not to eat before riding it.”
A seven-foot woman wearing a full head mask laughed in the setting sun. She threw her short cape over her shoulder and tightened the laces on her arm guards. She wore a dark blue singlet with strands of orange. Two horns curled out of the sides of her mask. Eyes were bright, cheerful, and full of energy.
The teen girl cleared her throat and stood. “Thanks, I swear it’s just nerves.” She wore a standard issue school coverall with a classic half domino. The fabric was heavy, course, and bulletproof but still clung to her like a thick wetsuit. She pulled at the neon green material on her legs to undo her wedgie. “When can I get a suit made? I hate these things.”
The large woman laughed again. She said, “You have to earn a tailor. Unless you sew one yourself, you’re stuck with those ‘young offender’ onesies till you make the front page. This isn’t school, you’re in C-Class now. It’s not about grades anymore. It’s all about popularity now.”
“I never see you in the papers,” retorted the girl.
“Yeah, and I wear a leotard I bought on online,” she said. A crackle in their ears made both girls stop talking.
A small voice piped into their earpieces, “This is Central Citadel. The unidentified creature is approaching Gate Nine. Response team needed.”
The tall woman touched her ear and said, “This is Bison and Wisp, we’ll respond.”
“No go, Bison, repeat, stand down,” said the voice. “Threat is now a B-Class. No rookies on this one. Help get citizens to shelters.”
Bison gave Wisp an annoyed look and they both grinned. “Sorry, what’s that? Repeat Citadel. Repeat that last part. You’re breaking up.”
“Bison, stand down.”
“Stand our ground? Roger that.”
Wisp rolled her eyes, “I can stay here if you want me to work with civilians.”
Bison put a heavy hand on her shoulder. “Girl, half of being in a cape is saving people. The other half is willful disobedience.”
Wisp smirked, “I thought it was all toothpaste ads and breakfast cereal?”
Bison started to say something when a car crashed into the ledge they were standing on. Loose bricks separated from the building causing a section of roof to collapse. Wisp summoned a ray of silvery flame from her hands and lifted from the rooftop. Bison somersaulted backward. From a cloud of ash and smoke, a monster 20-stories tall lumbered forward. A single eye rolled from side-to-side lazily. A massive horn grew from its snout and head. Armored plates of gray hide ran from its head to its clawed feet. The girl landed next to the woman, melting the asphalt, and asked, “What should I do?”
The wrestler removed the car from the building. The roof crumbling from relief. Without taking her eyes off the monster, she replied, “Fight.” She threw the car with enough force to throw herself into the apartment below them. The car struck the cyclops right across its brow. A defying shrike bellowed from the creature. It fell to its front paws and took off at a run. Streets, signs, stop lights, and hot dog trucks bounced off its scales.
Wisp took a running leap and landed on the building across the street. Taking off at a run she leaped from rooftop to rooftop, barreling toward the creature. Monster sirens rang in the fading afternoon light. Streetlights flickered off as the creature’s raking claws cut through tarmac. The silver fire of the girl’s powers lit up the city like the flash of a camera. The creature tried to look at her and was blinded by her radiance. Taking all her willpower, she focused her flame into a beam and threw it into the creature. A column pale sunlight streamed into the monster’s chest and neck, scorching a path through its hide. Smoke and the smell of burning flesh filled the streets.
The monster stumbled backward as a blur of blue and orange crashed into its skull. Bison raised her fists over her head and brought them down on its head with a crack. She brought her hands down on the armored hide like cracks of lightning. Her body moving faster than bullets, harder than a train, and with the force of legends.
Green blood spattered from the cracks in the creature’s hide as it let out a roar. Taking a clawed hand, it grabbed the hero and slammed her into the street. The road caved from the pressure into the subway below. Sparks and broken gas lines met to bloom into a pillar of fire. The creature threw the limp body of Bison to the hole it left behind. Raising a foot to crush her Wisp cried out, “No!”
Leaping from the rooftops, she ignited jets of white hot air. Landing next to the warrior woman, she raised her palms toward the monster. Waves of energy poured out of her body making a wall of light. The creature hissed as its foot pressed against the shield. Pushing on the plasma with its weight, the creature pushed till the ground cracked beneath the girl. As her shield began to fall, she greeted her teeth. Blood ran from Bison’s nose, eyes, and ears. She raised an open hand to the girl. Wisp took it. As her light faded, a fist raised.
A shock wave swept out from the crater. Cars rolled backward. Windows broke. The monster lost its foot and rolled back from the hero. Bison smiled at Wisp and said, “Sorry, kid. I think I took a hit to the head.”
The girl choked for a moment but asked, “Is it over?”
A heavy roar of rage bellowed from the creature.
Bison rolled her eyes, “You jinxed us.”
“How can we fight that? Maybe we should fall back past the gate.”
The woman removed her tattered cape, throwing it to the air. She flexed, rolled her neck, and popped her fingers. “Fall back?” she asked. “I haven’t even transformed yet.” With a growl, Bison’s body began to shudder and shake. Her fingers quaked and grew. Her arms became swollen. Her legs bubbled with muscles. Her singlet tightened and stretched. Under her mask, her grin widened as her teeth flattened and separated. Thick brown hair grew from her head and back. A short whip-like tail swatted the air.
The monster flipped to its feet and tore off at a run. Bison planted her hooves and braced for the wave of power. It crashed over her like a wave against a rock. The beast came to a dead stop as the woman heaved its neck onto her shoulders and choke-slammed it into the pavement. It wheezed in pain while kicking its legs in the air. Bison took a few steps back from the beast, ran, and executed a piledriver through its soft underbelly. The concussive blast toppled a nearby bakery and sent overhead clouds scattering in a circle from the city.
Wisp flew three blocks backward. Catching herself with a jet of fire, she landed and took several deep breaths. She waited for Bison to emerge. Then, a small figure, framed by the setting sun, arose from the body. She was covered in globs of green monster guts. Wisp flew at her with the force of a fighter jet. Her trail of flame melting the streets in her wake. At the last moment, she cut her powers and slammed into her friend knocking them both off balance.
“I thought you were dead!” Wisp said through sobbing laughs.
“It’ll take a lot more than that to put me down,” Bison said wiping her eyes.
As the two embraced, cleaned off the monster goo, and stood, there was a small voice ringing in their ears. “Gate Nine, come in Gate Nine. I know damn well your earpieces are working. Answer me, damn it!”
“Woah, calm down ‘Radar’, the monster is down,” Wisp said with a wink. Bison gave her a confused look back.
“Negative. Clear the area. That is a pupa. Clear the area. The threat is still active,” as the voice said this, the monster’s body shook. The earth quivered and rattled. Then, like seeing double, the creature’s body was translucent yet filled with something beneath the surface. A seam ripped open across its back as the creature pushed its way out of its old skin. Two sets of heavy bladed wings outstretched from its husk. Pulling itself free, the gray armored beast was now longer, sharper. A pair of facial horns still extended from its massive head. The single wide eye was now energetic and angry. It looked to the sky, and with great effort, lifted off the ground. Each flap from its iridescent wings sent the pair of heroes reeling backward. Dust clouds rose high into the darkening sky. The beast turned its eye on the pair of heroes lying against a nearby building. They held to the stonework to keep from blowing away. Its horn glowed with a yellow light. The air sizzled and hissed as a mist of plasma rose off the creature.
“I’m so sorry,” said Bison over the wailing of the winds.
The trill of the energy reached a zenith, a blur of white flashed across the night sky. Illuminated by moonlight, it appeared over the beast’s head before disappearing. A split second later, it reappeared on the other side before disappearing again. The yellow light faded till it went black. The creature’s single angry eye lifeless and dead. Its body fell back to the ground. Two-hundred-thousand tons of dead monster crashed into the streets like a sack of wet concrete. The pavement rippled and lifted up. The streets and buildings shook as the wave passed through the city.
The heroes stood in awe. Their silence was broken by the sound of two boots landing next to them. Beside them was a woman in her early forties. She was small framed. No rippling muscles. A simple white and orange jumpsuit and smile. She reached out a gloved hand to Wisp, “So you’re the new girl?” The teen nodded. “Good to meet you. I’m Amy. I don’t do a lot of introductions, but I like to say hi to anyone from my alma mater that makes the cut.”
Wisp shook her hand but gulped at air.
A sonic boom broke the quiet. Then a whistle. Then a crash as an armored figure slammed into the street nearby. They were five feet tall, covered in steel plates, and had two horns protruding from their helm. They drew what looked like the handle. Lights flashed condensing into a glowing red sword. In a deep rich voice, they said, “You’re out of your jurisdiction, Amy.” They pointed the blade at the woman.
“Sorry, Mini, I was just passing through. Thought I’d help these two out.”
“It’s Minotaur, gods damn you, and I don’t care. We can handle ourselves.”
“Obviously not. Listen, it was no trouble…” Amy was cut off as the blade sped at her with blinding force. It stopped inches from her face. The red of the blade lit the street, darkening everything but the island of sidewalk where they stood. Minotaur hissed as they tried to force the blade further. Amy held it with a single open hand. She looked annoyed. Closing her hand into a fist, her fingers tore into a sword like it was made of soft dough. She leaned into toward the steel covered warrior. With her other hand, she broke off the face mask of her attacker and threw it away. In the soft red light, hate-filled eyes met Amy’s. A small young face with gritted teeth stared her down.
“I don’t have a jurisdiction. Not like you. So how about you whimper back to your tower. Tell on me. I don’t care. I just saved you a little trouble. Don’t make me regret that.” The blade dissolved into the air. Amy shook her head. “See ya around, Wisp. Night Bison.” With that, she flew into the night.
There was a long silence. A single cricket began to chirp. Minotaur’s face mask reformed across their helm. A stony serious expression carved in steel to match its owner. They said, “What are you two looking at? Start checking the block for survivors.” They walked away a couple paces before leaping away to the rooftops.
The End… For Now…