“Dammit! Why is there never a Super around when you need one?”
James Phelps flipped the Neural Inhibitor over his knuckles, one by one, as he stood beside the Laundromat, contemplating. His question, while entirely rhetorical, was a sound one. He knew without a doubt that his psychotic nemesis Tina was still after him, that she was tracking him through every piece of electronic equipment this town had to offer, even if she hadn’t yet made her move. To that end, he planned to subdue and enslave a Super into becoming his guardian, both in protecting him from Tina’s wrath as well as helping him improve his overall living conditions. He’d repaired the device, and tested it on any number of victims. He was more than ready. So... where the hell were they?
I can’t believe I went through all the trouble of setting up those disasters to try and lure one of those blasted costumed heroes out—and nobody showed up! He sighed. I guess causing a big wreck in a train yard, or a twelve car pile-up on main street doesn’t rate super hero assistance these days. What does a guy have to do, blow up a building full of people? The traffic light changed, and he made his way across the street, checking carefully for oncoming traffic. Arriving at the Redburton branch of KeyBank, he took out a stocking cap and a pair on sunglasses, and put them on.
Let’s see if a bank robbery can get someone’s attention, he thought with a smirk. And if nothing else, it’ll solve my money problems for a while.
Stepping inside, he noted that the bank was full of people, and the tellers were all very busy. He had plenty of time to plan out exactly how he wanted things to go down before he reached the teller’s booth, so he stopped to consider. First of all, he had no gun with him. Not that he needed one, thanks to his trusty Inhibitor, but it generally caused more panic and mayhem if bank robbers carried guns. After all, money was really only a secondary concern here. The real goal was to cause enough of a panic that some wondering Super would swoop in and try to defuse the situation. To that end, the makeshift bomb vest he wore underneath his jacket should be enough to get everyone’s attention... assuming no one looked too closely.
Not that I’m crazy enough to strap REAL C4 to my body. Only a true nutcase would do something THAT desperate, like that idiot that got taken down in a botched robbery attempt a few days ago. Heh. What a loser. Still, I hope it’s convincing enough that they take me seriously. I’m banking on the fact that these local cops won’t try and rush in to stop me if they believe I have a real bomb strapped to my chest. And nothing brings the tight wearing squad in faster than a volatile situation that the police aren’t equipped to handle.
Having considered all the angles, James slipped into line, calmly waiting his turn as the row of people ahead of him disappeared one by one. He fingered the detonator he’d fashioned the night before in his pocket as the person in front of him made his way up to the next available teller’s window. He took a deep breath, rehearsing his lines in his head one last time as he waited his turn.
“This is a robbery!” a tall thin blue-haired woman in white and blue spandex announced as she entered the bank through the front door. “Everyone, down on the ground, now! All of you in the back, get out here where I can see you. And tellers, don’t even THINK about hitting the silent alarm... not unless you’ve decided you’re tired of breathing. Now... MOVE!”
Everyone stood where they were, frozen in confusion. “Hold it!” a man called out, standing up from his seat in the corner, holding a gun towards the woman. “Get your hands up, lady. Whatever kind of weapon you’re carrying, drop it now.” Moving closer to her, he frowned. “What the... you’re not even carrying? What is this, some kind of joke? How do you expect to rob a bank without some kind of weapon?”
Eyes narrowing, the woman smirked. “Insignificant little toad, I don’t need a weapon. I AM the weapon!” Taking a deep breath, she let out an ear-piercing screech. Stunned, the undercover security guard flew backwards, tumbling end over end from the force of her sonic attack, hitting the ground hard. Still screaming, the woman changed her pitch, turning towards the security cameras atop the walls, shattering them one by one with only the sound of her voice. Taking a breath, she addressed the crowd of onlookers once more. “In case I still need to introduce myself, the call me The Banshee. My voice can shatter steel and concrete... or liquefy a human body into pulp. So, unless you’d like another demonstration, GET DOWN ON THE FUCKING GROUND RIGHT NOW!”
Groaning inwardly, James hit the deck along with everyone else. Shit! I finally get someone with super powers, and she turns out to be a super villain, robbing the same bank I was planning to rob! What are the odds? He groaned again. Why do you hate me, God?
“Alright,” Banshee yelled, glancing around the group of people, “what’s the combination to the vault? Anyone wanna volunteer the information, feel free to say so.” When no one spoke up, she chuckled. “Okay. Fine by me. I brought my own key... the key of F sharp!” Facing the vault, she let out an extremely high pitched squeal, causing everyone to cover their ears in pain. The vault door began to vibrate, causing the entire room to shake. After several excruciating seconds, the vault door shattered, crumbling away into metallic shards. Gleefully, Banshee stepped forward through the debris, entering the vault.
Dammit, dammit, dammit! James thought to himself, considering his options. What do I do? Do I try and use the device on this freak to take control of her now before she gets away? Or do I take a chance and let her leave, try and follow her, and use it once I’m alone with her? I have a better chance to catching her off guard once she leaves... but if I do, there’s also a good chance she’ll escape. Hmmm... no, he decided, slowly taking the Inhibitor from his jacket pocket. I better take my chance here and now. Time is running out, and if I miss out on her, who knows the next time I’ll see another Super?
Suddenly a loud crash sounded from inside the vault, and seconds later, Banshee went flying out of the vault, sliding across the floor. “Everybody, out!” Ultra Girl cried, stepping out of the ruined vault a few seconds later. “I’ll keep her occupied while you make a break for it!” Needing no further encouragement, the bank workers and customers ran for the door, slipping out just as Scream regained her feet.
“I recognize the uniform,” the blue haired villainess said with a scowl, rubbing her jaw. “Ultra Girl, isn’t it? A bit far from your usual playground, aren’t you? What are you doing here?”
“Redburton’s on the way home,” she said with a frown. “As for what brought me here... do you realize how LOUD you actually are? I’m surprised you haven’t had heroes from Midas City dropping in to stop you instead of me!”
Banshee laughed. “Rather confident, aren’t you? You may have caught me by surprise bursting in through the back wall of the vault, but you haven’t actually stopped me.” She took an offensive pose, bringing up both hands. “Believe me, babe... I’m just getting started.”
Two police cars pulled up to the bank just as the people began running out. The closest policeman waylaid a runner, grabbing the bank teller by the arm. “Hold on a sec. What’s going on here? We received the silent alarm that the bank was being robbed... why is everyone rushing to get out of the building?”
“It is being robbed, Sheriff,” the panicked employee explained. “Some blue haired Super started giving orders, threatening to kill anyone who tried to stop her, but then another Super burst in through the back somehow, and now the two of them are fighting it out!”
“Supers?” one of the deputies exclaimed as the teller broke free and continued to run. “Ah, hell. That’s great. That’s just great. So what do we do now, Earl? We only have five police officers in this city, and with Jed out for his dental surgery and Velma back running the switchboard, that just leaves the three of us. We’re not equipped to deal with this kind of situation!”
“Maybe we can help.”
Shinobi and Echo walked over to the squad car where the three officers were standing. “Sorry. I overheard you talking, and wondered if my partner and I might lend a hand.”
Sheriff Earl Clemmons looked over the duo dubiously. “Lend a hand? Are you serious? You two are just a couple of kids! You better scram before those two Supers brawling inside the bank decide to head this way.”
Veronica frowned. She made a fist, which began glowing brightly. “What do you think WE are, Sheriff? We don’t go out dressed like this for Halloween, you know. I assure you, Echo and I can hold our own in a fight—”
“Hold it, Shinobi,” Parker said with a frown. He grimaced, then shook his head. “It’s Ultra Girl. Sounds like she’s fighting the Banshee. She’s pretty tough, I think she can handle it herself.” He turned to walk away.
“Wait a minute,” Shinobi called out, grabbing him by the arm. “What are you doing? We should at least go in and see if we can help!”
“Our help’s not needed,” Parker replied. “The police certainly don’t need a couple of ‘kids’ getting in their way. We need to continue looking for Phelps. Besides,” he said, lowering his voice, whispering softly for just Roni to hear, “I’ve, um, tangled with Ultra Girl a few times in the past, and it didn’t go too well. She, um... well, let’s just say that she doesn’t like me very much.”
“Oh for Pete’s sake,” Roni muttered, stalking towards the bank door. Parker debated for several minutes before sighing and following her.
Inside the bank, the battle was just heating up. Banshee proved to be as agile and nimble as a cat, dodging and weaving to avoid most of Ultra Girl’s blows while landing several of her own. While she could have easily escaped her much slower pursuer and fled, she was intent on not leaving without the money. Essentially they were at a stalemate, with Banshee unable to take down the more resilient heroine, and Ultra Girl unable to land a telling blow on the villainess.
“So... ready to call it quits yet, Blondie?” the thief called out from her position behind the teller’s window.
“Depends,” Ultra Girl shot back, panting lightly. “Are you ready to give yourself up and surrender?”
Banshee laughed. “That’s funny. You know, if this super hero gig doesn’t work out for you, you should try your hand at being a stand-up comedienne. You could open foe Elayne Boosler.”
Growling softly, Ultra Girl charged forward, bursting through the wooden paneling, firing a blast of laser vision. When the dust cleared, she gasped in surprise to note there was no one there. Whirling around, she had just enough time to throw up her hands in defense as Banshee opened her mouth. “AAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!” she screamed, point blank, sending a stream of concussive energy towards her. Ultra Girl cried out as she flew back into the wall, landing hard. Her head rang, and her vision swam; she shook her head to try and clear it.
“I can throw my voice too, idiot,” Banshee gloated. “My voice can also shatter reinforced concrete, bitch!” Banshee said, moving to stand over her with an evil grin. “What I gave you was just a taste. You’re pretty tough, Blondie, but let’s see how much fight you have left after I’ve scrambled your brains into mush!”
Banshee opened her mouth, taking a deep breath, when a flash of metal from the side of her eye caught her attention. She turned towards the door, letting loose her Sonic Scream, as a trio of small thin darts headed towards her. The darts shattered in mid-flight, sheared apart by the force of the sound waves emitted. Shinobi rolled to the side as the waves continued on, shattering the glass door behind her. A flick of her wrist sent three more darts towards Banshee, who likewise rolled to the side avoiding the barrage.
“Well, well, what have we here?” Banshee asked, peeking out from around one of the manager’s desks. “Jackie Chan to the rescue?”
“Funny,” Shinobi said, drawing two more darts. She peered over the remains of the teller’s bench. “You okay, Ultra Girl?”
“Shinobi, isn’t it?” Karen mumbled, shaking her head again. “Wha... what are you... doing here?”
“Back up,” Echo said, stepping in through the ruined door. “My partner thought maybe you could use a hand.”
Ultra Girl blinked, glancing up at Parker. “Huh? What did you say? I can’t hear you... everything sounds like its underwater since I took that hit.”
“And it’s about time I finished the job! AAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEE!!” Banshee yelled, sending another blast of sound towards her enemy. Ultra Girl dove out of the way, fighting by with a blast of heat from her eyes, just narrowly missing the target. “What is this, a Cloaks and Capes convention?” Banshee asked, taking cover as Shinobi and Echo sent a stream of blades her way. “I mean, really! The only reason I came to a backwater little town like this was to avoid this kind of match up. If I wanted to face three-to-one odds, I would have just struck a major city!”
“I guess it’s just your bad luck that we just happened to be passing by when you decided to pull a heist,” Roni answered back, stalking her way slowly towards the villain’s hiding spot, trying to circle around behind her. She gestured to Parker, who nodded, moving in the opposite direction, towards Ultra Girl’s position. “Seems to me that you’re a bit in over your head.”
“No, but I think perhaps YOU are, sweetie,” Banshee replied, glancing up towards the ceiling. Another shriek rang out, this time aimed towards the ceiling. A large section of the roof came down, and Roni dove, trying to avoid being crushed. She missed the bulk of the debris, but a single crossbeam caught her legs, pinning her to the floor. “Gotcha!” Banshee crowed, peering down at the trapped ninja. “Time to say goodnight, Gracie!”
“NOOOOOOO!” Echo yelled out, running towards his partner even as he saw Banshee inhaling for a fatal blast. He ran, trying to reach her in time, knowing even as he did that he wouldn’t reach her in time. The memory of Tina’s accident flashed in his mind, how he’d been too slow and too far away to save her. No! Not again! Not Roni! he vowed, leaping airborne, stretching out to cover her, shield her from the blast with the only thing he had available. Himself.
“AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEE!!” Banshee screamed, sending out her strongest blast yet, enough force to easily turn human flesh and bone to pulp. The blast took Parker square in the chest, catching him in mid-flight, halting him in place for an entire second and a half, before the force of the concussion sent him streaking back, crashing through the remains of the front door, and out into the street, slamming to a final stop against the door of the Sheriff’s police cruiser.
“PAAAARRRKKKKEEERRR!” Roni screamed as well. She struggled mightily to pull free from the girder as her adversary inhaled, preparing for another volley. A bright flash of light shot out suddenly, striking Banshee in the chest, sending her down. Ultra Girl lowered his gaze, sending another beam at the girder, cutting it in half.
“You alright, kiddo?” Karen asked, bending down to help her up, but Roni merely pushed by her. Picking up her sword, she walked over to the downed villainess, lifting her up by the neck. She glared hotly at her foe, tears streaming down her face.
“You heartless psychotic bitch,” she hissed, drawing the blade to Banshee’s throat. “I ought to cut your head clean off and be done with you. I would in fact,” she said, glancing sidelong over her shoulder as Karen tensed, “but heroes don’t kill our enemies... not if we can help it. But you’d better pray my partner survived your attack, or I promise you... the next screams you utter will be caused by me!”
Ultra Girl sighed as the ninja relaxed her grip on the sword. While she couldn’t make out what she’d said to Banshee with the ringing in her ears, whatever it was seemed to have scared all of the fight out of the villainess. Picking up a piece of rebar from the rubble, she twisted, bending them into a makeshift pair of handcuffs. Grabbing the woman’s arms, she pulled them behind her back and fasted the restraint in place. “That should hold you until we can get you in some real restraints.”
“Sorry girls,” James said, stepping out from his hiding place inside the open vault, “but I have other plans for her... and for all of you.” He activated the device as everyone turned, catching all three with its hypnotic effect. Three sets of eyes glazed over, and a loud clatter sounded as Shinobi’s katana slipped from her slack fingers. James smiled evilly, approaching his victims. Three hot, sexy, powerful women, any of which could probably snap me in half without trying... and all of them are now completely under my control!
“Listen closely, ladies,” James announced, holding the flashing Neural Inhibitor before him. “You are now my slaves. I am your Master. You will obey my every command. You live to serve me. You exist to please me. And you will give your very lives to protect me.”
Outside the bank, Sheriff Earl Clemmons and his two deputies, Marcus and Luke rose up from behind the wreckage of the Sheriff’s squad car. Moving out slowly and carefully, they approached the crash site. A pair of black boots were the only things showing from beneath the twisted metal. The two deputies merely shook their heads.
“Blasted kid,” Earl muttered softly. “Told him to get out of here... before he got himself hurt. Dammit! I shoulda MADE him leave... forced him and his partner to clear the area...”
“It ain’t yer fault, Earl,” Marcus said, lowering his head. “These costumed kids... they kinda follow their own code, yanno? They don’t wear a badge, but they protect and serve just like us. I’m sure he knew the risks.”
“Yeah, well it don’t make me feel any better about him getting killed,” the Sheriff grumbled, kicking the fender of the car.
“Well, thanks, Sheriff,” Echo said with a soft groan, as he slowly but surely pushed away the wreckage, freeing himself. “I kind of had the feeling you didn’t like me.”
“Geeeeezzzzz Louise!” the grey haired Sheriff exclaimed, taking a step back. “Whoa, kid! How the hell did you survive being blasted all the way out here like that? I can’t believe you’re still alive!”
Yeah, me either, Parker thought dimly, glancing back towards the bank building. By all rights, I should be dead. The blast that knocked me for a loop was strong enough to shatter my bones to dust. I outta know, I used to create blasts that powerful myself, back when I still had my... powers! Yes... YES! That must be it. He glanced down at his hands, which tingled with energy. My body must have... channeled the blast... absorbed it somehow. Or the main brunt of it, anyway. It makes sense. My body still works the way it always has, even if the part of my brain that controls that power is gone now. I can’t consciously charge myself with sonic energy anymore, but apparently I can still make use of high energy sources like Banshee’s sonic screech!
Dusting himself off, he gestured to the officers to stay back. “Things are pretty rough in there. You guys would best be served creating a perimeter, keeping the onlookers back... just in case any of us end up flying back into another squad car or two.”
“Alright. You heard the man, gentlemen,” the Sheriff replied, tipping his hat. “Let’s set up a barricade, and get these people back out of the line of fire.” Moving in tandem, Marcus and Luke popped the trunk on their cards, taking out the portable barricades and the caution tape. As the officers began forming the perimeter, Earl turned to Parker. “So... how does it look in there? What’s the situation? And about how much longer do you think it’ll take to get this whole thing wrapped up and under control?”
Echo considered. “Well, it’s a real mess in there. A good deal of structural damage, including a pretty sizable hole in the ceiling. And the vault door is destroyed, with a pretty good sized hole in the back of the vault as well. Once you have this area cleared, you should probably assign someone to watch the back wall as well, until it can be boarded up.” He frowned. “Banshee’s a pretty tough customer if you underestimate her. I guess she took Ultra Girl by surprise, because she was down when we went in to help. Still... all things considered, I think we’ll be able to subdue her pretty easily once I head back inside. Give me five minutes... ten minutes, tops.”
“You sure about that, son?” Earl asked as the black clad hero turned back towards the bank. “After all, she sent you flying the last time.”
“She caught us off guard the last time,” Echo replied. “She took me by surprise.” He made a fist, which hummed slightly as it vibrated with energy. “Believe me, she’ll be the one caught off guard this time. There’s nothing that can... surprise me... now?” he faltered, glancing skyward as four brightly costumed figures descended from the sky, landing just in front of the bank. Parker sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose as he felt a headache coming on.
“Well... I have been known to be wrong before. So don’t hold me to that ‘ten minutes’ remark, ‘kay?”