The Aftermath Academy - CH7 (Olivia)
Even my errand is in a basement. How depressing! I wouldn’t have thought being assigned an evil alignment by that jerk A.I. Albion in his virtual world would be the highlight of my day, but whatever. This basement is even deeper than our warehouse’s. I had to sink a couple hundred feet through solid Earth to get to this point. Given I don’t like the idea of passing my target and not having any line of sight back to the surface, I’ve been spinning around like crazy to make sure a giant hole remains instead of the Earth just pouring down over me. I’m a little dizzy at this point. Is this what being drunk feels like?
Sadly my body metabolizes things like alcohol at a ridiculous pace, so no getting drunk for reals. I wobble feebly as I slam into some sort of metal roof and wonder how much longer before I get to their base. Then I do a double take and stop spinning, realizing that obviously a metal roof a couple hundred feet beneath the Earth is the base. Damn Olivia, get it together.
I let myself sink the rest of the way through the ceiling, the metal tearing around me as if it is tinfoil instead of several feet of solid steel. This secret underground hero base is surprisingly well defended. I brush past the layer of electric charge and don’t notice the acid until I see the holes in my shirt. Dammit, Krieg made me these. That stuff must be potent to eat away at his creations, but it doesn’t feel any different on my skin than water. Not like blood did in Albion’s world. What’s its name again? Gah, Abe’s told me half a dozen times and I forgot it again. Something stupid with online in the name I think.
Anyways, I’m glad none of the acid got into my eyes though, that might have stung. Krieg’s going to poke fun of me for looking like a tramp if it eats through too much of my clothing. Part of why he bothered making me more durable equipment is that when he first met me I was mostly naked after ripping through an army battalion and taking a tank shell to the face. He said what I was wearing was entirely inappropriate for a young girl. But massacring soldiers and ripping apart heavy armor was totally acceptable. Go figure.
I land in an open area and look around, yawning. I didn’t get a long enough nap for this shit. I bet it would have been better if Krieg would have agreed to a good f-
“Friends,” I say, interrupting my own thought as I notice all of the people around me. Seven in total. “Do you know where a bathroom is? I have been digging for ages and could really use one.”
Guess I wasn’t exactly subtle about my approach. If they’d been smart, they would have teleported out, observed from a safe spot, and detonated the base from a distance. But then again, they’re do-gooding heroes, how smart can they be? I mean for God’s sakes, they’re facing an unknown opponent in a metal deathtrap that was never supposed to be breached with a circle formation. Add their stupid ‘try not to kill’ rule, and it’s like they’re just begging to have their asses handed to them.
I guess the plus side for them is that if they don’t want Executioners or a full on Untouchable hunting them down, bad guys have to use kid gloves on these clowns. Inwardly I roll my eyes, knowing it’s not going to be that much fun beating them all down.
“Wrong place to find a restroom, Miss…?” asked an incredibly large man I recognized as the Unmoving Sentry. He has base level strength beyond a boosted Nova’s, though none of Nova’s fancy fire powers. My understanding is his strength just grows greater every time he encounters a stronger opponent, very similar to Jared’s abilities if Jared were a boring, inflexible brute.
“I use to have your action figures when I was a little girl,” I tell him, gushing, brushing past his question. What? I did. Just because he’s a boring, inflexible brute doesn’t mean he isn’t an attractive one. I mean, look at him! All those muscles, and he’s so tall. Just because I prefer brains over brawn now doesn’t mean ten year old me wasn’t smitten. He raises an eyebrow, clearly unconcerned by anything I could do to them. “When I was older though my mother made me get rid of all my toys and I snapped them all in half. Kind of like…”
In an instant I reach him, placing my hands on his impeccable pecs spread out as I hurl the rest of me past him, then fly up and snap my knees up into his spine while pushing forward with the hands I still have on his chest. It’s a weird twist on my part but this is what yoga is for! His spine buckles beneath the contrasting forces and I let him go. His comrades look on in horror, unsure how to react to me dealing with one of the most famous strongmen in the world with what appeared to be brute strength in less than two seconds flat. He moans slightly from the floor and I wonder if he’s able to heal himself or if he’ll have to just lay there until a proper healer can be found.
“Sorry, that was rude, I should have waited for you to attack me first. But in my defense, I just spent a good ten minutes digging through dirt, and it was terribly boring. Felt like an eternity of grime and nothingness and really just makes me want to have some fun.”
I look at the other Heroes in the room, wondering what order I should attack them in. I decide to keep it simple and aim at the girl on my right. There’s bewilderment on her face as I punch her outstretched hand lightly and it turns onto a tangled mess. “How?” she squeaks.
“You’re not used to fighting a high-level resistor are you?” I whisper into her ear after grabbing her and holding her between me and her friends, the cloth and muscles on her shoulders shredding slightly in my grasp. The expression on their faces are priceless as they realize how utterly ineffectual they are. No doubt they’re wondering whether to call in the Calvary or take their lumps given I haven’t killed anyone yet. “Nothing gets through my Pride while at full power, especially not all that carnage you’ve stored into yourself. Violet Emerson, unparalleled absorber of almost anything. You’re used to being able to K.O. anyone that touches you because your power works directly on almost anyone. You might stand a chance of inconveniencing me if you unleashed all your stored energy at once. But given we’re in a concealed space this far beneath the Earth, I’m fairly sure you can’t do that.”
“What do you want?” a super model looking blond asked me. Sky Carver, I think excitedly. Now she might be fun. I toss Violet to the side, gently, not that she appreciated my efforts as she hurled into a wall and fell into an unconscious heap.
“A bathroom and free internet,” I say seriously. “Also to live in an awesome penthouse, but that’s more of a life goal.”
I take a step forward and the first bugs hit my eyes. Ugh, the bug girl’s made her move, hiding somewhere on the base. I knew the bugs were coming, but I did not expect the use of Capsaicin and my eyes are suddenly on fire. Capsaicin being carried by bugs. Goddamn genius. Their bites and stings do nothing and their attempts to claw their way into my airways are defeated by their sudden and complete non-existence following entry. But the raw capsaicin is interacting with the mucus of my eyes and making them tear up. Pain races through me.
Would this have worked if I’d had more nap time? I’m not sure, but I might find out as a burst of energy flows through me following Sky Carver’s vicious attack. I can’t see it but I feel rents tearing through my skin. She’s only four or five years older than I am, but Sky Carver has the strongest energy projected weapons on record. Given how close she consistently comes to killing opponents, it’s still a mystery to me why she isn’t an Executioner.
Unfortunately for her, the rents are small and new ones rapidly diminish to paper cut status, if that. She might be able to kill me by a thousand cuts, but I’ll be at full power within a hundred and I don’t think she’ll be able to do a damn thing at that point.
Not that I plan on letting her get there. This shit stings and I’ve had enough of it. “You got my eyes,” I say. Then I swiftly knock out two of my other combatants without bothering to identify them or determine what powers they might bring to the table. I could demolish the whole room in a blind fit, but it would kill most of the occupants. Fortunately, that’s not what I’m doing. “But all I need to see is my Greed.”
Every bit of light touching my skin is giving me information about my environment. Not perfect given the clothes Krieg is making me wear, but the acid burned holes are rather convenient right now. My whole body is acting as an eye and, distracting though the pain is, none of it compares to the sensory overload of using my Greed to see. Within another four seconds I’ve disabled everyone in the room but Sky Carver, with one of the remaining heroes trying to put up some sort of fight with a laughable ice attack and the other not doing anything obvious that I could tell.
“What the hell are you?” Sky Carver asks incredulously. Now that I’m using my extra sight I can sense all of her energy weapons, hanging in the air while swirling with a deep darkness and solid sunlight, ready to cut through almost anything except my Pride.
“I’m The Seven Sins,” I say, deciding this time to not let the chance slip by to use my code name. I then slam my fist into her energized armor, which holds even more remarkably than Unmoving Sentry had, before fizzling into non-existence. I’m impressed by the resistance and am tempted to steal a kiss from this hot girl. But that might be crossing a line and the Mayflower army is already monitoring our group. I have to content myself with knocking Sky out like the rest of them.
“Okay, bug girl whose name I don’t remember,” I shout. Seriously, what was her name? Worm? Wyvern? Wildbow? Wilbert? Started with a W. Definitely a W. “I know you can hear me. You can’t beat me, so I propose that you stop attacking me and use your little bugs to point me to a bathroom. Then I won’t have to rip through your entire base looking for you to dismember.”
The swarm that had been bombarding me ceased their buzzing around and started forming in an orderly line down a hall of to one side. On the hall’s wall a question was formed ‘What do you really want?’
“Me? Exactly what I said. I gotta’ go! I may or may not have been distracting you from some robberies that already finished up a couple of minutes ago. I wouldn’t worry about it. What’s done is done and all that.” The bugs formed no more mysterious messages after that and I hoped that meant she’d bought the ruse. I wouldn’t know until I got back to base whether Krieg’s drones were successful.
The bugs stopped at a door and I stepped into a bathroom that was nicer than anything this far underground had any right to be. Marble floors excellently patterned out with ridiculously stylish trim on all the fixtures. I shake my head and proceed to the toilet, wondering if the bug girl could do anything to me if I take off more of my clothes. I decide my Gluttony can take care of any nasty tricks she tries and proceed to quickly take care of business. I wash my hands in the sinks with their perfect water temperature and pressure and curse the fact we don’t have perks like this at our base.
I proceed back to my entrance, hoping no-one had put themselves back together well enough to fight, and stop in my tracks. There’s a man in the middle of the room, under my hole. He’s bald, tattooed like crazy, and has a biker jacket with metal chains hanging off him. Another hero? Certainly doesn’t look like one, but I know you can’t always judge by appearances. Other than being hot, I probably don’t look very important, but I totally am.
“Hey! Our favorite person,” he says, voice weirdly twangy. “Serving up all of these here heroes on a bona fide silver platter for us. They are so much easier to kill when they’re already unconscious!”
Us? What us? I wish Greed didn’t require direct light to view things. My guess is his friends are in the shaft still spelunking while this guy has flight or something. No evidence of a large impact anyways, so I doubt he just dropped down.
The Unmoving Sentry is the only hero conscious and his spine is still snapped, so he can’t do much besides look up at us. I wonder if I should just leave these newcomers to the bug girl to deal with, but I killed an awful lot of her insect companions during their attempts on my life, and I have no idea what the new folks are capable of. Krieg would be displeased if I let any of the heroes get killed. I’m not sure whether to be annoyed by this intrusion… or giddy.
“I think you are confused,” I tell him. “I can’t let you kill these heroes. It would be inconvenient for me. Your timing is too quick for this to be a spur of the moment thing. I’m sorry you’re the spontaneous type instead of sticking with whatever carefully concocted plan of attack you had to be observing this secret base so closely.”
The man’s smile slipped from his face, turning into a scowl. “How do you plan on stopping us?” he asks. I glance around at the slumped heroes, pondering the sheer stupidity of his question. I know that he must think his group could have beaten the heroes if he was planning an attack. But odds were they counted on the element of surprise and were trying to figure out how to get a bomb or something down here without triggering all the alarms.
I reach inside and feel my hunger, wondering if I should just devour them all with my Gluttony. It would be the smart thing to do, the safe thing when dealing with unknown quantities. But my Pride is offended, energy rippling along my skin, and I have an audience in the Unmoving Sentry. There are very few times it is wise to monologue, but I suspect I can get away with it, just this once, and I’ve always wanted the proper chance to.
“Do you know why Heroes don’t kill?” I ask. “Besides being moral pansies, I mean? It’s because they would rather cart gifted criminals to some containment facility, throw you in a hole, and build a school around you so more of the children who go there survive receiving the gift than they normally would. Obviously this is risky on a lot of levels, what if the containment measures aren’t enough, what if more children surviving the gift makes it more likely one causes a mass casualty event, what if the populace gets uppity about who gets sent to one of these special schools? But you know what makes these questions go away?”
In an instant I have my hand speared through his skull, not giving him a chance to try and respond to my rhetorical question. Damn this is easier than using a knife.
“Comical cockroaches who always think they can fight those above their station,” I mutter. No matter how many heroes there are, no matter how many military groups, no matter how many Executioners or even generic unlicensed vigilantes running around, idiot gangs still popped up who thought they could take on the world.
I shoot up my tunnel twirling slightly, body parts of the weird guy’s companions now raining down around me, then drop back down it. I touch back down lightly in the base and walk over to the Undying Sentry, ignoring the bodies being ground apart by my passing. I haul him up into a sitting position and lean back across from him.
“Why?” he croaks out.
“Why am I sitting here? Because I have to baby-sit your weak asses until you’re better enough to defend yourself or reinforcements arrive. Or are you asking why I can fly? Because that’s a pretty cool story. When I got my powers I was six, and I couldn’t fly at first, so when my Pride came out I sunk straight down through the Earth. And I kept sinking, and sinking, and sinking. Down through the rock, and the lava, until I was at the core of the Earth. For a week I was stuck there, sleeping a lot to keep my power up, but mostly stuck with my own thoughts, hot, hungry, blind and alone. And I started to envy all those people standing on the Earth, all the ones who hadn’t sunk. I envied them so much, that I began to float, and after a few days I emerged in the middle of the ocean. A few more hours and I made it to shore. When my mother finally picked me up she just looked at me and said ‘bout damn time you got powers’ like gifts are genetic.”
The Unmoving Sentry let me finish my explanation without interruption, but when I’m done he says “That’s…horrifying, but I was asking why you killed them. You clearly didn’t have to.”
“Oh…that’s easy. Because it was fun. Well, it would have been more fun if they could fight back. But at least I didn’t have to hold back for a minute.” He looks at me with a mixture of pity and disgust and I try not to hold his ignorance against him.
Mr. Sentry moves his hand, showing that his spine is starting to repair itself. I also hear faint moans from Violet. Once she’s up, she’ll be able to absorb all the damage from herself and her teammates, maybe Mr. Sentry excepted. “I think that’s probably my queue to leave,” I say patting him lightly on the back. I consider flying up a different way than I came down, but it might cause the ceiling to collapse. I look up at the tunnel and fly upwards, heading back to base.