A City of Heroes FanFic
“Bravo,” the bearded man said as he continued his slow clap. “Bravo. I didn’t have time to even consider whether or not to assist you.”
“Animal!” Maddy ran to the man and wrapped her arms around him in a hug. “How you doing old man?” Her huge grin took away any possible sting from her words. His massive arms enveloped her in a bear hug.
“I’m doing just fine little lady,” he said with a chuckle. “But what are you doing on the shady side of town? Keeping the Family in their place tonight?” The Family was a well known Mafia-like criminal organization that had a near stranglehold on the shipping business in Paragon City. The hero known as PSL Animal looked up past Maddy’s face to smile at her partner. “Hey, Cho. How’s it hanging? Maddy keeping you out of trouble?”
“She’s trying,” Cholma said with a grin, “but as usual, I’m deep in it. Say, you busy tonight? An extra set of fists could come in handy. Provided you like making pumpkin pie by hand.”
“Oh, is that what you were just doing?” He released Maddy and took a step back. “You know, I AM a master chef, but I’m afraid I have to decline.” His voice softened a bit. “I have a case of my own that I really shouldn’t put off.”
“That’s cool,” Cholma said. “We’re tracking down the origin of these wayward Croatoa misfits and how they relate to a case we’re working.”
“I had heard rumors about Red Caps running around here,” Animal said thoughtfully, “but I haven’t had a chance to look into it myself.” He sighed. “You see, I’ve heard that my cousin has been seen in the area, and I’m trying to track him down before Longbow does.”
“Your cousin?” Maddy sounded surprised. “You mean the one that was in the Zig?” Ziggursky prison was the famous ziggurat-shaped penitentiary in the neighborhood of Brickstown.
“Key word being ‘was’,” agreed Animal. “Apparently he escaped during Arachnos’ raid on the prison a few years ago and Longbow didn’t feel I needed to know about it. He was supposed to be serving a nine year term.”
“What’s the rush with you finding him before Longbow?” Cholma looked confused. “The important thing is getting him back in custody, right?”
Animal chuckled. “You’ve never met my cousin, have you? He’s damn near the spittin’ image of yours truly, and has used that to avoid capture in the past. Besides bein’ the black sheep of the family, he’s taken to calling himself ‘Anti-Animal’, if you can believe it.” Animal shook his head. “The boy needs a good punch in the face, and I’m just the man to deliver it.”
“Wow, that’s nasty, Animal!” exclaimed Maddy. “We’d love to help with that, but I think we’re close to solving our case. If we wrap it up soon, maybe we can help you out.”
“That would be excellent,” Animal said with a smile. “I’ve already put in a call to the Missus, to see if she’s available, but the more the merrier.” The entire Animal Clan was a crime-fighting family, and it was a foolish felon that sought to anger any of them.
“Awesome,” Maddy bubbled. “So, you think your black sheep is in this area?”
“Yeah, he supposedly paid The Family to smuggle him into Paragon from the Rogue Isles, but once here he beat the stuffing out of the mooks that brought him over and reclaimed his cash.”
“Whoa,” said Cholma. “So much for ‘honor among thieves’.”
“Truth. Well, back to it. You kids take care.” With that, Animal activated his own teleport belt and vanished from sight, only to reappear in the sky more than a hundred yards to the south. A few more ‘blinks’ and he was gone.
Cholma glanced around the now vacant street, and then to his partner. “Back to the warehouse?”
“Last one to touch the roof has to write up the mission report,” laughed Maddy as she leaped into the air and flew off.
“Hey!” He quickly oriented himself in the direction of the suspect building, and triggered his own belt.
It was a close race, but Maddy’s blue and white armored boots touched down seconds before Cholma’s green leather pair came to rest. Maddy’s feline ears twitched as she flashed a grin at her partner. Putting a finger to her lips, she moved silently to the skylight with Cholma close behind.
Neither could detect any movement, but the glow coming from the north end of the building was still visible. The two moved to the roof’s stairwell door and gave it a quick inspection. The hinges were covered in rust. Maddy leaned close and whispered in Cholma’s ear. “I know you could just teleport past the skylight, but I need a more conventional way in. Hold the door still for me, will you?”
He nodded and pressed his hands against the door; holding it firmly so any vibrations wouldn’t cause the door to bang against the frame. Maddy fired a couple ice bolts at the hinges and then used her ice sword to shatter them. With that, the door easily pulled away from the frame and Cholma set it aside. They then descended silently down the old cement stairs.
At the bottom, they found the door on the ground level broken in half with only the top half still attached to a hinge. The two slipped through the opening and found themselves in a short corridor. To the right was the entrance to both male and female rest rooms, and straight ahead was the opening to the main floor. They creeped up to the corner and peered around.
While the majority of the building was a large open space once filled with heavy manufacturing equipment, but now only broken up with regularly spaced support columns, the north wall held a few offices once used by the defunct company’s management. The source of the glowing light Maddy had spotted earlier was readily apparent. In the northeast corner sat a large ring of toadstools, sitting on a bed of grass and soil. The crime-fighters exchanged surprised looks.
“A fairy ring in IP?” Maddy glanced around the corner one more time. “How did something like that get here?”
Cholma returned her whisper with one of his own. “It certainly explains why our little friends have suddenly been causing trouble on the docks.” He rubbed his chin for a moment. “You know, if we disrupt the circle by spreading the dirt out and destroying the mushrooms, it should break the portal spell.”
“Good ide-” Maddy’s comment was cut off as the circle flashed a bright yellow. When the light faded, three of the small Rascals and the hulking mass of a Fiend Red Cap appeared within the circle. Immediately they began jumping about and then headed for the door, which Maddy and Cholma now noticed had some mystical symbol inscribed on it. Without a second thought, Maddy stepped into the room and raised her arms. Immediately, a blinding Ice Storm surrounded the Red Caps.
Cholma reacted almost as fast, and soon a familiar golden flash of energy surrounded Maddy and himself. Moments later, the three Rascals were defeated and fading from view, while an enraged Fiend charged out of the Ice Storm headed straight for Maddy.
Using some kind of spell of its own, the sharp-toothed creature pulled a small gnome from out of thin air and hurled it at his attackers. The tiny foe latched on to Maddy’s head as it passed; wrapping its legs around her throat and pummeling her head.
“Augh!” Maddy stumbled backwards as the creature beat her with one hand and tried to claw her eyes with the other.
Cholma hastily hit the Fiend with a Telekinetic Blast and was surprised when it didn’t even slow down. The hero quickly followed up with a Mental Blast and yet another attack siphoned speed from the Fiend and transferred it to himself. He turned to Maddy and immediately transferred some of that speed to her, boosting her movements. At the same time, he activated a button on his armored glove which released a cloud of medical nanobots. The ‘bots were programmed to seek out a special transponder code that Cholma had given to all his friends that he had partnered with in the past. The swarm encircled Maddy and quickly healed the wounds being imparted to her by the gnome on her shoulders.
With a triumphant scream, Maddy pried the evil gnome off her head and hurled it at a wall where it exploded in a flash of light. She whirled furiously on the Fiend, who was slashing at Cholma with a wickedly curved blade. She hurled a bolt of energy at the creature, which suddenly found itself encased in ice. As she launched herself at her foe, she yelled out, “Sands of Mu, Cho! Hit him!”
With a smile, Cholma activated the device on his gauntlets that Maddy and he had both received as gifts in recognition of their service to Paragon City. His fists suddenly became a blur as dozens of punches per second struck the frozen Red Cap. Maddy made the same attack to the Fiend’s back, and seconds later the creature was destroyed.
“Whew! Let’s scatter that dirt pile before more arrive,” Maddy urged.
“On it!” Cholma ran over to the Fairy Ring and began kicking over toad stools and spreading the dirt around. Moments later, not a single mushroom was in its former position. Maddy ensured the destruction with another Ice Storm that flung the dirt and other objects around the room. “Nice. Why didn’t you just do that the first time?” Cholma chuckled.
“Because I was too tired to cast it again so soon, ya goober,” she said with a wink. “Better to destroy that thing first, than risk more showing up while I get my wind back.”
After a few moments rest, they explored the few offices in the building and found something interesting. The first office was empty except for a large metal ring sitting in the center of a recently swept floor. Neither had any idea what the ring was. The inside measured almost four feet in diameter. A second office had recently been converted into a living space. A double mattress lay in one corner with fresh blankets in a pile on top. An old desk in the room had two new laptops sitting on it; one of them running a program that showed a live feed of the building’s security cameras. A mini-fridge sat in a corner with a microwave on top. The fridge was stocked with an assortment of micro-brew beers and frozen pizzas.
“Somehow,” mused Cholma, “I doubt the Fir Bolg and Red Caps are feasting on pizza and beer.”
“Nor are they computer savvy,” agreed Maddy. “Looks like we found the hideout of whomever is behind this scheme.” She gazed around the room looking for any clues. “If this guy is trying to scare Hackleford, why terrorize the whole district? These things have attacked more than just his property.”
Cholma brushed a lock of blue hair out of his eyes as he considered her words. “Could be he’s either trying to buy more than just Hackleford’s property or he thinks that by scaring the whole neighborhood he won’t be connected to the attacks.”
“Perhaps. I say we give PPD a call and have them send a SWAT team to lay an ambush for this guy when he returns. We should…” She paused in mid sentence and placed a hand to ear. “Cho! You monitoring the police bands?”
“What? No, I turned off my comm before we first approached this place.” He reached up and reactivated his communication device. Instantly, his ear was assaulted by cross talk.
“ALL UNITS, ALL UNITS. CODE PURPLE VICTOR in Independence Port, Industry Pier. Two Seventeen Victor in progress. SWAT and Longbow notified. Use extreme caution.”
“That’s just a few blocks north of us, Cho!” Maddy started running for the door in the south wall, followed closely by her partner. She called over her shoulder, “you know what a Purple Victor is, right?”
“Normally, purple is gang related, but the victor means someone designated as a super-villain is involved. They’re going to be pulling out all stops on this.” As the two got within ten feet of the doors, the magic symbol on the door suddenly flared a dim green and the doors opened on their own. “Huh,” mused Cholma. “I wondered how those pumpkins were opening these doors.”
“No time for that, Cho!” Maddy took to the air and ascended towards the roof, while her flight-impaired friend teleported up. The view to their north momentarily took their breath away.
What awaits our valiant heroes now?!
To Be Continued Tomorrow!