The Wraith’s Lair, 1:37 AM EST

Wraith sighed as the reports kept scrolling down the monitor. In Rook City, crime was everywhere, and just keeping track of it took a mega computer. She specialized in more down to Earth crime, like the Chairman’s Network, but sometimes she wished for a little bit of a break, something that wasn’t street level, but only happened once in a while. The Network’s roots ran deep, and every time they managed to take down a part of it or even arrest the Chairman himself, something else popped up. It was impossible and even so, she kept picking at the gordian knot of crime in Rook City, the Megacomputer chugging away. There was a way, there had to be something that could just uproot the entire Network and put away the Chairman for good.

 

Her musings were interrupted by the phone ringing, the very important red burner phone that she used for emergencies. Only three people should know that number. She cursed herself in her head for even wishing for something other than street level crime, then decided to allow herself a curse out loud, as well.

 

“Shit.”

 

She sighed, steeled herself, and picked up the phone on the second ring. “This is the Wraith. Go ahead.”

 

A very pained, and very tired sounding Legacy sounded on the other end. “Wraith. Uh. There’s some serious trouble. I took the Last Chancer’s, the uh, Bad-”

 

“Bad guys who want to do better, currently Ambuscade, Deadline, and Baron Blade. Though now it’s Stuntman, Lifeline, and Luminary. I understand, Legacy. What’s the problem?” Wraith didn’t want to sound curt, but Legacy’s forever need to be the nice, polite man rubbed her the wrong way sometimes. This was an emergency, and hopefully her no-shit attitude would snap him out of the politeness defense.

 

“Right, sorry.” He took a breath, and focused. “La Capitan was going after some Dinosaurs at Insula Primalis, not sure why, we were thinking they were trying to raid Citizen Dawn’s compound and stir up some trouble. Instead, the Last Chancer’s as well as myself, and Dr. Medico were there to try and keep everything under control. It didn’t go well.”

 

Wraith blinked. For Legacy to get taken out by the time Traveling Captain, well, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility, but for that many power houses to get taken down? What… ah. That was it. All three of the Last Chancers were insanely independent, insanely arrogant, or just plain insane. Getting them to work together against someone who could manipulate reality and time, even to a small degree, would be like setting off a powder keg. La Capitan, her crew, and her ship, however, were a well oiled, well trained time manipulating machine who worked extremely well together.

 

“Right, and how did it turn bad? Even if she got away scot free, I can’t imagine she got anything of value.”

Legacy gulped. “Well. Uh. There was some time manipulation. Lifeline and Ambuscade started arguing when a mine went off in Lifeline’s face, then Luminary insulted both of them for being easily distracted. Which then set off the two of them against Luminary… and in short, she stole Luminary’s Orbital Death-Laser.”

 

Wraith’s blood went cold. “She what?”

 

Legacy coughed, and paused as someone in the background was saying something. “She stole a velociraptor, the argument happened while we were trying to handle the crew, she decided to escape, dumped the team off the ship, and somehow skipped to the Orbital Death Laser. We’re not in good shape, and we don’t know where she is.”

 

Wraith felt a headache coming on. “Okay. Out of all of you, who’s still able to fight? I’m guessing Dr. Medico because I’m fairly certain he’s the only one who didn’t get in a fight with everyone else, and didn’t try to jump in between the three of those … Last Chancer’s. And press Luminary for the GPS code to track that thing, I know he has one, he just doesn’t want to share it.”

 

“Right, yeah, uh, Dr. Medico should be okay. I’ll send it to you ASAP, through the usual channels..”

 

“Got it. Wraith out.” The young woman took a deep breath, and let it out.  What a clusterfuck, but with Luminary it always seemed to be that way, even if he was on the side of good. Ostensibly. Wraith still had her doubts. She needed professionals, and people without egos. At least when it came to the hero stuff, pragmatism needed to win out over ego. Unfortunately Parse was out of commission for the time being as well, something else Wraith had to worry about.

 

The list came easy enough, and she started making some calls.

 

Mobile Defense Platform, 9:03 AM EEST, Mordengrand

 

The ship wasn’t there at first. Then it was there, popping through time like it was a bubble suddenly popped. It flew, even, and some of the citizens working early in the morning dawn on the now defunct Mobile Defense Platform gaped. The once Baron Blade minions, now somewhat legitimate employees of Mordengrad and workers for the supposedly reformed Luminary, began to flee, or take up their old positions, grabbing weapons and armor from the supply stations, and sounding the alarm.

 

La Capitan laughed as the miraculously flying time ship landed just short. “Excellente, compadres. Let us take what we need to fire this strange contraption in our hold, it will definitely piss of some of the heroes we’ve seen. Or perhaps sell to a decent buy, I know someone in the 41st century who is definitely a fan of Blade. Let us get to it!”

 

The crew, handpicked throughout time and space, laughed and got to work, grabbing their weapons and disembarking the ship. She had no doubt that her crew could handle the out of work flunkies of the once great Baron Blade.

The sun suddenly darkened, and La Capitan Maria Helena Teresa Fafila Servanda Jimena Mansuara Paterna Domenga Gelvira Placia Sendina Belita Eufemia Columba Gontina Aldonza Mafalda Cristina Tegrida de Falcon looked up, and cursed. Inky darkness, something very recognizable to her began coating across the sky, an unquiet night as the whispering began, just out of earshot, impossible to understand but hinting at something even more.

 

“COMPADRES, EYES OUT. WRITHE IS HERE.”

 

She swore under her breath as the ink continued to cover the sky, until it was a sunless night. She lit some of the magical torches she’d bought, as well as some high tech ones, and the ship blazed brightly as the crew, much more cautiously, spread out to find the booty they’d come here for.

 

Why couldn’t it be the big, beefy one? Sure, they didn’t get along, but he was easy on the eyes. Or the Teenager, Idealist or whatever. Chaotic little thing that she was, she was at least amusing, with the endless quips. Even the Doctor was better than the thing that slithered out of the empty night. As much as he had a stick up his ass, the Doctor was a healer, and rarely got angry.

 

Writhe was just… weird. She wouldn’t allow herself to be scared by a hero, no matter how disturbing he was. But by himself, wouldn’t be much of a match for them, as long as they could lock him down.

Just as she was thinking that, a bird screeched and dropped down into a dive towards the ship. That was odd.

 

What was stranger is that said bird suddenly changed into a rhinoceros larger than most boats, careening into the wooden deck at speeds that some cars would be proud of, splintering reinforced wood like it was nothing, tearing a gigantic hole in her beloved ship. La Capitan cursed rapid fire, as she realized the Naturalist was with Writhe. This could be bad.

 

Then smoke grenades rolled in, obscuring the area even further. What in the hells? The crew looked baffled and tried to find their way in the smoke and darkness. From her vantage point, helming the ship, Capitan Maria could see her viking crewmember’s legs get wrapped up into a bola, and then dragged into the shadows with only a yelp of surprise.

 

The Frenchman waved his rapier around, trying to find a target, as tentacles of darkness descended lightning fast from the inky black above them, dragging him beyond the smoke and the refracted light. There was a scream, and then it was quiet.

 

Swearing even more, she touched a control on her ship, and the cannons ran out. “Scatter fire, bilgerats! Take this!”

 

The remaining members of her crew scattered, as the cannons, keyed to her mind with genuine 41st Century technology, fired where she thought the hidden assailants would be. Just as she did so, though, the ship rocked again from it’s landing as the rhinoceros came charging back, hitting the galleon with surprising force. The cannon fire lit the Unquiet Night briefly, chasing back the darkness, before it started encroaching again.

 

Another crew member down, sedative darts sticking out of her neck, peacefully slumbering, while another simply dropped into darkness that spread itself on their next step, vanishing without a sound.

 

Maria secured her rapier, and snarled. The cannons would fire at her mental command, she didn’t need to be at the helm to fire at the Naturalist, which were now aiming at the charging rhino who was coming around again.

 

“I’ll deal with them mys-Oof!” A kick to her kidney sent her stumbling on the deck, as the Wraith materialized out of the spreading smoke. Electrified Tonfa crackled, and without a word, the Wraith came at Capitan Maria with blazing speed. She was fast, faster than La Capitan was normally. Maria sped her own personal time up, moving at 1.5 times the speed of normal time, dodging and parrying the swings of the tonfa with her rapier. Moving faster than would normally be possible, she was taking back the initiative. “Aha, amiga, you are a bit too slow?” Her voice probably sounded like a sped up record, but it didn’t matter. Her rapier blurred as she disarmed one of the tonfa from the Wraith, then screamed in pain as stabbing, draining, agony was in the meat of her shoulder.

 

Writhe was suddenly clinging to her back, backflipping off of her, the strange, technologically imbued knife in his hands draining the very blood away from her. She knew that knife, she hated that knife. “Two on one, cowards? I thought the Wraith at least had honor!”

 

She swiped her rapier at Writhe, who skittered on all fours into the darkness, a tentacle from his back taking the knife as he did so. The Wraith was gone as well, vanished into the smoke and darkness.

 

“Oh, I do. It’s just a different kind of honor, one that doesn’t care to allow pirates to take weapons of mass destruction.” The voice, off to her left. Quick as an errant thought, Maria drew her pistol and fired right at the voice, two shots. More pain bloomed on her back as razor sharp flechettes embedded themselves in her. Flesh wounds, but painful and distracting.

 

Worse, however, was that she couldn’t rewind her body’s form to before she was hurt, the damned knife sapped her powers over time each time she was struck with it. And she suspected the Wraith knew it. “I’m not a monster, I wasn’t going to use it on innocents. Maybe sell it!”

 

The voice in the smoke chuckled, sourceless now. Of course someone like the Wraith could mask where they were hiding, Maria cursed to herself. Even so, she let off another few shots, trying to catch someone, something. She hadn’t heard from her crew in a bit, but maybe given enough time, she could pull them out of time to where she was.

 

“I know. That’s why we’re playing with the kid gloves, Capitan Maria.” And then the assault began in earnest. Even speeding herself up to two times the speed of normal passing time, Writhe and Wraith came at her from blind angles, working in tandem, and every time she seemed to get her footing back, the DAMNED RHINO hit her boat again, causing her to stumble and open her up to more attacks from the two unseen assailants. It was a bloody dance, and she kept losing her footing.

 

Dr. Medico looked up at the smoke and darkness atop the ship, and shook his head. He pressed his hands against an injured minion, muttering the usual bedside manner words that comforted while his powers regenerated the poor woman’s side. After finishing, she stood up, blinking, then nodded towards Medico, saying something in Lithuanian. He really should pick up a few words someday. As the minion ran away, a rhinoceros approached, some minor shrapnel wounds in its thick hide. A near miss from the cannon, Dr. Medico surmised, as he approached the rhino, who shifted into a fit, late thirties black man in a yellow and green hero suit.

 

“Cannons are down, last one was a bit too close,” said the Naturalist, his faint Nigerian accent. “Happy to be not at the forefront for this one. Hit and run is the way to go against her, the time powers she has are… difficult.”

 

Dr. Medico waved a hand, sending healing energy into the wounded hero, and they sat back and stared at the fight going on for a brief moment. “I agree, I’ve been on the receiving end of them a few times.” A flash of light atop the ship, and a burst of darkness to counter it. “If I didn’t know better, I think the two of them are having fun up there.”

 

Naturalist just looked at Medico, and tilted his head, quizzically. “Of course they are. They are hunters, similar in nature. They have found worthy prey.”

 

Medico blinked, then looked back at Naturalist. “I guess. Should we… help them?”

 

“And ruin their fun? Even with the time twisting that La Capitan can do, I doubt she could stop them now that they’ve hit their rhythm. Wraith set it up too well, it would be too much of a shift of a timeline for them to fall into infighting like she did with the previous team that came after her.”

 

The Naturalist chuckled, and Dr. Medico shrugged again. He felt like something was missing, but he couldn’t recall.

 

It was only a few moments later that the darkness cleared, and the smoke dissipated. The ship behind them leaned and looked devastated from the frequent rhino attacks, while Wraith and Writhe approached Naturalist and Medico, with La Capitan bound in handcuffs and gagged, her weapons and technology stripped from her. Wraith was sweating, bruised and a little bloody, but there was a supreme amount of satisfaction in her bearing. Writhe followed close behind, his shadowy form slightly frayed, there was an animation to the barely visible tendrils of darkness that suggested he was quite happy as well.

 

“Thank you, Naturalist, for the help with the ship and the cannons. Always handy for someone who can be stealthy into a heavy hitter at the drop of a hat.” Wraith bowed her head a little, and Naturalist did so as well.

 

“I am glad I could be of assistance. I’d rather not have La Capitan have something of the Baron’s in her timeline, ever.”

 

Wraith turned to Medico, “And her crew?”

 

Dr. Medico straightened and nodded, “Unconscious, but alive. They’re bound as well, though some may need psychological counseling after being dragged through Writhe’s portals. The orbital death laser?”

 

Naturalist spoke up, “I saw that it was in the hold, and smashed it up a bit during some of my charges.” La Capitan, red with fury, started cursing Naturalist in rapid, nearly unintelligible Spanish through the gag. The other hero merely gave a small smile, before looking at Wraith. “I think that covers everything.”

 

Wraith nodded, before Dr. Medico interrupted, “I can’t help but think we’re forgetting something. I know we missed something.” The other three looked blankly at Medico for a moment, wracking their brains for anything that they might have missed. Then, suddenly, Writhe’s tentacles drooped, and he looked so very, very disappointed in the lightly glowing doctor. “Please tell me you let Caleb know there was an emergency. It’s your date night. The one that you’ve missed three of? In a row?”

 

Dr. Medico suddenly went white all over his body, as domestic horror overtook him.

 

“Shit.”

Author Razas
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