Capes 6-V

Words Are Useless.

School was out, in case you were wondering. Don’t think I’ve mentioned it until now, how I was out and about unimpeded. They weren’t going to make us all come back in until next week, not after what had happened, but mom hadn’t been given the same courtesy. When she worked, I often didn’t see her for days; add to that dad still being down in Old Chicago for work, and I basically had complete autonomy.  This had happened before, but normally I’d had school and routine to keep me busy. Considering the situation I’d managed to get myself into without them, it seemed there was a pretty good argument to be made for having them in place. (I would like to think that the superpowers would count as extenuating circumstances, though).

“Now, I’m not saying it outright, but have you check yourself for trackers or bugs lately?” I thought to myself as I stared frozen up at the hero hovering in the air. “I mean, this is the second time in two days that one of them has shown up in the same place as you. Just a thought.”

Fog. From what I remembered (and was currently experiencing uncomfortably up close), she created the stuff, or her own personal version of it, which she could manipulate and freeze into ice. I didn’t recall anything about flight; the glow beneath her dress was probably indicative of some kind of hover boots or board or something like that. I was pretty sure that the Tower’s local Forge specialized in stuff like that, and I thought I could just make out some mechanical humming and whirring over the background noise of the city, so it would make sense. I’d have to ask Sabi sometime.

So, she thought I was a criminal harassing some poor innocent man? No, that wasn’t right; she’d called him a s-heel, hadn’t she? Based on the little I’d overheard back in the cafeteria, calling a random person rude names did seem to be in character for her, but this didn’t feel like that. Plus, there were the tattoos, which I’m sure she knew the meaning of. So it was just a misunderstanding, easily fixed.

I dropped the thug, the ice encasing his torso crunching loudly against the ground as I turned to face Fog. She tilted her head at me, and although a still mask covered her face, I got the sense of confusion and caution. She hovered upwards, away from me, and thick, grey fog began streaming down from her hands where they hung by her sides. Why was she-

Oh. The ice. Right. I looked behind me to see two thick trunks of ice, at least a foot and a half in diameter and the same tall, with a vertical break in each and fragments scattered around them. Geez. That was… a lot of ice, and I hadn’t even noticed that I’d utterly destroyed it. I could see why she might react the way she had. I went intangible to avoid a repeat.

As her fog pooled below her, spilling out and down the alleyway as the dirty brick and concrete walls channeled it, I raised my hands up beside my head. Ignoring the return of the dread welling up in my stomach and chest, I spoke, trying to project as best I could. “Sor-” I choked, took a breath, and tried again. “Sorry about that. I come in peace and all that stuff. I found this guy and two others trying to mug someone, so I stopped them, and I was just, uh,” I tucked one leg behind the other, a semi-unconscious gesture, “politely asking him some questions.”

She stared down at me, suspicion written all over her. “Uh-huh,” she said slowly, drawing the sound out. I thought I caught the barest hint of some accent in there, something nasally.

“Really,” I replied, doing my best to keep my voice level. I wasn’t even lying, but it felt like I was scrabbling to cover up some massive fib. “In fact, maybe you can help me out. Were you at the Dresden High incident yesterday?” Okay, so I was lying a little. I already knew she’d been there, but pretending like I didn’t would dissociate me with people who were, who would’ve known that already.

“…are you punking me?” she asked after a second. “Am I being punked?” She swooped in closer to me, as if inspecting the situation.

“I... what? Why would I be… what?” I stammered, confused.

“Is this,” she held up a hand and began ticking off fingers as she listed things, “a prank, joke, punking, ruse, jest, gag or other stunt?” I stared at her blankly. “Come on, this isn’t a hard question.”

“I’m… no, this isn’t a prank?” I didn’t like the way I unconsciously made that into a question. “At least, not as far as I’m aware. Why would you think it would be?”

She made a little sucking noise with her teeth. “Cause the other option is that you’re just really fucking stupid.” She tapped a hand to her ear. “Hey, Dispatch,” she said in a mockingly sugar-sweet tone, “what’s the protocol for unregistered metahumans? Oh really? Bring them in? Isn’t that just fascinating?”

“I know you’re not actually talking to someone,” I pointed out. “You didn’t leave any pauses.”

 “Shut it,” she snapped, dropping her hand. “So how you wanna do this, huh? Cause I am super happy with either option.”

I raised my hands again. “Look, ordinarily I’d be happy to oblige, but I’m kind of busy right now,” I said, gesturing to where the gangster was still struggling in his icy bonds. “Hey, tell you what, this guy was just about to tell me where one of their offices was, because the trio from the school hit it a few weeks ago. How about you come along and help me do that, and then I’ll come with you to the Tower?” I wasn’t super keen on doing that, for reasons I couldn’t voice in words, but if it got me some help with the next step, I think I could bear it.

She considered it for a second, then shook her head. “See, you don’t actually have any leverage in this situation. And I got no interest in sticking my neck out for you when I can get what you’re offering easily anyway. So no deal.” The billowing masses of condensation stopped in place, then flowed rapidly towards me, forming a wall almost as tall as me (and I’m not short). When the edge of the wave hit me, it froze into a solid mass of opaque ice, surrounding me and quickly filling the entire alleyway. She apparently didn’t want a repeat of before.

The temperature had dropped rapidly, enough that I could even feel it in my real body around the corner. That didn’t seem to deter Fog, though, and she kept filling the alleyway with her power, until all I could see was undulating grey. I wondered if she could actually sense her ice; given that if she could, she’d have noticed that I was still intangible, I thought not.

Unhindered by the glacier she’d created, I crouched down and pushed myself off the ground, floating upwards out of the ice and mist. When I broke the top of the bank, I found Fog facing away from me, talking into a headset. “Yeah, yeah… unregistered super, need transport, code whatever … yeah, 113, that … what, you expect me to remember all of them? That’s your job.”

“I really don’t want to do this,” I called out. She flinched, spinning around to face me, hand outstretched.

“What the shit?!” she exclaimed. I was within reach of the wall, so I increased my weight slightly and grabbed a handhold, placing my feet against the wall and hanging easily. “What the shit,” she muttered again.

So this wasn’t good, but I think I had a chance to salvage this. 

“Look, I think it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t going to-” I was cut off by a hurtling mass of ice that shot straight through my head. I jerked back all the same, instincts not quite on the level with my powers.

“What the s?!” it was my turn to exclaim. “That could’ve killed me?”

“You were all strong and shit, I figgered you could take it.” Still, she seemed perturbed.

“Wha-” I took a deep breath. “Look,” I tried again, “I think it’s obvious that your way isn’t going to work. So how about we try-” 

Another frozen projectile. “Oh come on! You already knew that wasn’t going to work, anyway!”

She shrugged. “Thought you might’ve been distracted.”

I felt like pulling out my hair. “Just… just listen to me, please? You can get want you want, if you just help me out a little?” Not sure why I made it a question. “You know, like a hero?”

“Yeah, I don’t really do that whole thing.”

“Wh-what?” I spluttered. “You don’t do that whole thing that is literally your entire job description?!”

“Someone obviously hasn’t seen my contract,” I managed to catch her muttering.

I threw my free hand into the air, exasperated. “Oh my… fine! I’m just going to go, then.”

She shook her head, and the fog began flowing towards me again. “Nope. May not be able to hurt you, but I bet’cha still need to breathe.” It flowed over and through me, quickly freezing into a solid again.

I let go of the wall and dropped to the ground, back into the mass of ice. I didn’t think I needed to breathe, but if she kept spreading her power out, she might cover my real body, which did. And there was still-

The thug! I looked around, trying to spot him through the solid, glassy surroundings, but saw nothing. He was under there somewhere! I tried to go solid, to smash my way through it, but it didn’t work, probably because I was already inside something. Fine. I jumped up again, ignoring Fog’s reaction, but once I was clear, I made myself super heavy, dropping with a crunch onto the top of the block, which was at least 3 metres tall at this point. The ice splintered, but didn’t shatter, so I started stomping, trying to move towards the dark shape I could vaguely see at the bottom.

“What the hell are you doing?” Fog called from behind me.

“You trapped that guy in there, you… utter nincompoop!” I yelled back, still stomping and moving downwards.

“Oh, is that all? He was a Disciple, man, nobody gives a shit.”

“I give! I give quite a bit!” I started jumping up and down, which seemed to work a bit better. I was maybe halfway down now. “How do you-”

I was interrupted by an explosion and a wave of energy, shaking the ground and utterly destroying the block. I dropped to the ground, the ice underneath my feet suddenly gone. I suspect that if I hadn’t been super dense, I would’ve been flung a long, long way away. Whatever the force was, it threw up a massive cloud of dust and fog and ice chips, which my goggles protected me from. When it cleared, I saw that, somehow, Fog was still hovering above, although looking a little worse for wear.  I also saw a figure standing in the middle of the alleyway, at the point I judged the explosion to have come from, and two more at the end.

The one in the middle was wearing what looked like a WW2 bomber pilot’s outfit, but in tan with blue trim. One of the other two was just wearing a dark sleeveless turtleneck and combat vest, and what looked like goggles over a balaclava. The last one had a light grey jumpsuit with various pieces of dull armor attached in various places, a peaked hood leading down into a tattered cape, and silver reflective goggles and a scarf covering their- no, her face. There might’ve been a symbol scratched into the chestpiece, but I couldn’t make it out.

“Turns out we give quite a bit too,” she said in a surprisingly husky voice. She sounded amused, staring up at Fog with casual posture. The balaclava guy had his arms crossed, but he seemed pretty relaxed too. The last one wasn’t even looking up at the hero, instead staring at the ground, not seeming to be paying attention to anything going on around her.

“Oh, no, fuuuuuuck this,” Fog said, the glowing from below her now-tattered skirt increasing as she lifted up further into the sky. “Fuck, fuck, fuck fuck fucking fucking nope,” could be heard trailing off into the distance as she fled.

The one in the bomber’s outfit snapped her head up, but the hood waved her down. “We can’t follow her,” she said. “Besides, I think we’ve got other things to deal with.”

They all turned to face me. 

I gulped.

“So,” she asked casually, “who’re you?”