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Shadow Dance [IC]


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March 27, 2011

10 PM

Cannonade was sitting on a roof, taking a short break from his patrol, when he saw the young woman in the business suit enter the alley. He'd been patrolling the neighborhood heavily the past few nights after hearing rumors that the Yellow Kings were making threats towards business owners in the area. As all the owners seemed to be in the area of the Piedmont Building, he was somewhat afraid they were trying to draw upon whatever strange presence had affected the building all that time ago.

The thing about such threats, however, was that they didn't really benefit from a rooftop patrol until they were enforced. So he kept his eyes open for traces of other arcane -- or just plain criminal -- activity the Kings might be engaging in in the neighborhood. So far, there hadn't been much. He was sitting down with a gyro from a nearby Greek place when he saw the woman get off the bus and calmly walk down the nearest darkened alley. Even with the brief glimpse he got, Cannonade could tell she was a few tax brackets above the general region -- her suit was pristine and almost custom-made, and the purse she carried was like a neon sign to anyone with a penchant for theft. Sure enough, she saw two toughs from down by the corner slowly follow after her.

Yeah, this is gonna be bad. He set his gyro down and got to his feet, preparing to leap across and surprise the toughs. That was when he noticed more movement from the street. A busker from the building he was standing on ducked across the street, discarding his heavy glasses and his "CHANGE FOR THE BLIND" sign. A cop from the nearest cross section quickly made his way to the alley -- and Cannonade's relief faded quickly when he saw the glint of a wicked-looking knife in the officer's hand.

It's never a simple mugging in this town, is it?

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It had been a while since she had been this far South of town, though she had been expanding her area a bit past the Fens, South Freedom held some of her least fond crime based memories. At the very least it seemed like there was a good amount of care in some protection in this area. In fact she saw a cop staking out without a car, which was pretty ballsy on it's own. She crept closer to get a better look, not like he'd notice her. He didn't look like any of the cops she had spied moving through the Fens, but it wasn't like she knew every cop in the city, and bes...

Her thought stopped there as she saw him moving rather purposely down the alley, a crime? She moved forward to see if she might help if things get ugly, however, the said cop pulling a knife rather than say, his gun or a night stick made her eyebrows jump even against her masked face. So either, dirty cop, who would more likely still use there gun, or impersonater, either way. She stayed on him stalking him quietly in the shadows to see his next move.

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Keith LaMarr strode through the streets of Lincoln, keeping his super-dense footsteps light with the thoughtless ease of decades of practice. He still remembered the days when he would leave foot-shaped indentations nearly everywhere he went. Wearing sunglasses despite the fading sunlight, the teacher was lost in his thoughts. Javeed had always insisted that a good walk could solve most of life's problems, and in their years together had gotten Keith in the habit as well. Even now, alone again, he had to admit that the simple gesture seemed to help.

So distracted, he almost failed to notice the shabbily clad busker crossing the sidewalk in front of him. Coming up short midstep, LaMarr noted the discarded sign and evidently false glasses across the street with a slight frown. When the supposed police officer slid a clearly non-regulation blade from his belt, the expression on the older man's face set grimly. Removing his jacket and sweater revealed the black and gold costume he'd worn beneath them - another habit he'd never really broken.

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'Tom Walker' mumbled several rather rude words under his breath, rubbing one of his temples. When he'd resolved to visit more local color after that debacle with Octopus Dropkick and KayJay's, he had forgotten just how bloody loud some clubs could get. Still, that Eclipse joint down in Southside had been a damn nice place, even if the locals were mostly students. Good Industrial band, and the drinks were mixed soft (again, probably for the students), so he'd actually been able to enjoy the ambience for a change. Problem with low-alcohol drinks is that they creep up on you, though...not to say he was drunk, of course. He never let himself imbibe that much, even when he was depressed, but it was guaranteed he'd have a headache tomorrow.

Problem with drinking when you're depressed is that one drink would just seem lonely, so that one drink would have another drink. And then they'd want a friend so that they could have a little party. And then those friends bring more friends. Blah.

He turned down one road and scratched his head, looking left and right. And then mumbled another curse under his breath. He was...lost. Again. Push never brought Lazarus with him when he went clubbing, anytime alcohol was involved he never went near a vehicle period, so most of the time he'd find himself walking in the nice and crisp night air, which would often clear his mind quite speedily. The only problem with that being he would frequently end up completely and utterly lost. Still, as he hoofed it down the sidewalk, the good news was that he could see a cop right at the end of the road. Directions could be had! Huzzah!

The bad news...was that the cop drew a knife. Why on earth does a police officer have a knife? And why is that busker throwing away his glasses and sign? Push massaged the point between his eyes, the fuzziness in his system completely burned out in very short order, and ducked into a nearby alley. At least he'd had the foresight to bring his messenger bag with the costume in it this time around. Or did he?

"Oh, son of a..."

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Cannonade leapt across to the rooftop overlooking the alley, landing as silently as he could given the circumstances. Down in the alley, he could see the group of assailants slowly taking position around the woman in the business suit. She turned to face them; even with the dim light, Cannonade could tell she was Asian, possessed of a natural beauty, and staring daggers.

"I knew I would find you here," she said to the gathered crowd. "I just didn't expect it would be so soon. You never could just hide, could you?"

"Not when you walk right into my den, Fumiko." The fake cop spoke with a voice like oil sliding around at the bottom of a nearly-empty drum. "I take it you have not accepted my offer?"

"After the business with Osamu? Never. Tell your master he can slink back to his dark pit and leave me be."

"There's the problem, Fumiko." The shadows rippled around the four men, opening wide and deep. Out streamed another few dozen men, all clad in muted gray and bearing blades of various sizes. "He seeks radiance, of any stripe. You will feed him well."

The ninjas moved forward, and Cannonade moved with them. He leapt from the ceiling, landing right in front of the woman. "How do you guys cross the street in that stuff and not get hit?" he said. "Ah, well. Always wanted to be in a target-rich environment. Now, where do I start?"

There was a flash of silvery light from behind him. "You can start," said Fumiko, "by standing back." She stepped forward, no longer clad in a business suit. Instead, she wore body armor that shone like silver, and her hair glowed like moonlight. "I've dealt with the likes of him enough. But if you wish to lend a hand..."


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Sil kept her spot in the shadows as she eyed the banter between the silver clad woman and the non-cop as well as the sudden inclusion of several dozen masked figures.

Wow, that's one efficient gang up.

Though to be honest, it didn't seem as fair if they were facing Cannonade who was a freaking tank, plus she had some moves as well. Which probably meant she could make her entrance as things were clearly about to get messy. Pushing forward she made a dash from the shadows regaining form in a way that made her just simply appear from most angles and made a swipe with her flattened hand at the nearest grey guard before taking her place between them and Cannonade and the woman in silver,

"I'm pretty willing to give a hand, if only to figure out what this is all about."

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"Boot to the head!"

The sound of flapping fabric drew the talking ninja's eyes upwards, and the last thing that filled his vision before he burst in a plume of smoke was the heel and sole of a leather boot wrapped in warping energy descending at a decidedly unsafe rate towards his nose. To the eyes of the heroes and other ninjas, it seemed like a meteor dressed in the voluminous red coat, blue cape, and tricorne hat of Captain Morgan had appeared from the sky to crash in their midst. Two eyes most familiar to Silhouette and Cannonade looked from over a bandanna wrapped around his lower face, and a familiar voice spoke.

"You guys weren't going to start this party without me, were you?"

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A mountainous silhouette appeared in the mouth of the alleyway, the lamps in the street obscuring the massive man's features with backlight as he pounded one fist into an open palm with a meaty sound. "Hah, ninjas. Now that takes me back," Wail rumbled with dark amusement, what little illumination there was reflecting from the golden trim of his bracers and the insignia across his broad chest. "You kids are going to want to cover your ears," the older hero warned before taking a deep breath. The bellow he let forth was a resounding bass that was felt more than heard by everyone present, but it was the unfortunate attackers along the wall of the building to the right who bore the brunt of the focused shockwave. The grey clad martial artists were swept off of their feet by the blast, crashing into each other and flying trashcans as nearly a dozen went down in the span of a heartbeat.

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Glancing past the ninjas to the more imposing figure, she immediately did as asked and pressed her palms against her ears through the mask. The roaring baritone that sent the ninjas flying, as well as forward steps of the larger figure got a smirk on her face as she looked up at the remaining ninjas,

"Oh wow, you guys are SO screwed."

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Cannonade looked up after covering his ears. "Holy crap," he said. "You're Wail! I can't believe it! Hey, any chance I can get your autograph? Well, when we're done with this..."

"I'm glad to see you have your priorities straight," Silver Whisper said. The ninjas moved together as one, and with a silver flash, the woman was gone. At all corners of the alley, she appeared again, her myriad selves clothed in moonlight so bright it burned. One of the ninjas moved forward towards the others.

"Please, Fumiko," said the ninja. Despite the fact that the first speaker had been rended into smoke by Push's onslaught, this one spoke in the exact same voice. "Stop this protest. I know your tricks. These are ephemera."

"Yes." The voice came right next to the head ninja, and he reeled as if smacked broadside. "But they're such distracting ephemera, aren't they?"

The next few seconds were a din of flashing blades. The ninjas descended on Cannonade, striking him with flat and blade alike. One lucky shot caught him in the flank, sending pain flashing through him. Over the din, he could hear Silver Whipser emit a grunt of pain. "Y'know," he said. "I thought the more of these guys there were, the weaker they got."

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As the ninjas moved in for the attack, Sil managed to block and avoid most of them, noting the comment from bother the silver clad woman and Cannonade.

"That's only so the hero can look all impressive when he blasts through a lot of them, but when there's one it's supposed to be some epic fight."

Moving towards a section of five, she kicked one of them out of the way and tried to follow through with another one but her second hit was block by the next one and she had to pull back so she would be jumped on.

"Still a bit curious about why the heck forty ninjas are suddenly in the middle of Lincoln attacking one person instead of something like trying to steal some enchanted katana from a museum."

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"Oh, come on! That kind of hokum only happens in comic books!"

Push's entire body lit up with energy, eyes turning into pure sparks as he spread his arms wide. Blades and fists seemed to slow the second they came near his body, freezing completely right before the moment of impact. For a moment, everything went quiet. Then, a virtual storm of energy erupted in the alley, sparks and warped air surrounding the small army of ninjas and striking them while leaving the heroes untouched. Streams of power flowed from them to Push, and he roared as his nerves were overloaded by the weight of the kinetic force. Then, just as it appeared, the storm vanished, all being sucked into the kineticist as he clenched his fists. Gritted teeth turned into a grin.

"Oi, Wail. Friend of mine could use one of those autographs."

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"No sense of history," Wail bemoaned with a shake of his head, repositioning himself against the opposite side of the alleyway. "Back in the day, Lincoln was the place for all kindsa kung-fu. Couldn't walk a block without running into a dojo." Another rumbling bellow swept away a second group of the strange ninjas, tossing them through the air, arms and legs pinwheeling. "'Course, most of those are massage parlours, now..." the aging hero grumbled largely to himself before wading forward into the remains of the melee, cracking his thick knuckles as he went. Indicating the talkative youth in the pirate costume with his bearded chin, he instructed in the level, stern tone of a teacher, "Less chatter, and get that force field over the kid with the helmet 'til he can catch his breath." The super-dense fighter allowed himself a small smile. "Then we can see about autographs, hah!"

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The ninjas danced around, blades flashing all around. "We care not for you," said the new speaker -- sounding exactly like the ones before. "Give over the woman, and we shall leave you."

"Wow," said Cannonade. "You really don't know Freedom, do you?" He struck one of the swordsmen hard, and was surprised to see the ninja quiver like a disturbed puddle -- but it kept together well, and didn't disperse like the others. "What the hell are you?"

"Remnants of a blasphemy." Silver Whisper was back on her feet and dancing through the crowd. "Proof that some gifts come at too high a price."

"Ah. You're talking again. I can remedy that."

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Push swore under his breath as he weaved past a series of ninjas who tried to turn him into a pincushion. Their blades struck his sides and shoulders, one of them managing to swing hard enough to cut through the field and land a hard slash across his shoulder. The hero winced, rushing past as he charged up energy for a shockwave.

"I'd love to if I knew HOW, you overmuscled..."

Whatever descriptive term the kineticist was going to use disappeared from his mouth as he saw the sword descending towards Cannonade's back. His legs moved of their own accord, leaping in between the katana and the skinhead hero. A shine from a streetlight illuminated the steel as it slashed a bloody furrow across Push's chest, cutting past the field and sending him reeling to the ground.

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Sil watched as the onslaught convinently excluded her like usual. Maybe they just didn't think the scrawny girl in the black suit wasn't worth there time but she'll be damned if she could do something about it. Switching to her flat form she tried to get a hit on the nearest grey guard but he blocked her attack,

Guess I should change tactics,

She glanced back over at Wail and smiled as she remembered his previous attacks were only set at side angles to prevent getting them in a cross fire.

But if everyone was convinently to the left.

She smirked under her mask and ran up a near by wall before landing on a near by mooks shoulder,

"You're some tough SOBs, but you guys are the least agile mooks I've ever seen."

She smiled as she jumped from head to head down towards the left wall easily gaining attention with her flat antics.

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"Nobody likes a whiner, son," Wail advised Push, although the teacher did wince inwardly as the young man took a dangerous hit. "Jiminy Cricket! Stay back, you did good." It was time to wrap things up quickly before their numerically superior foes had a chance to wear them down. He registered the look from the girl in the black jumpsuit with a slight tilting of his head, catching on to her intent. A less controlled shout cut a wide swath through the distracted ninjas, leaving them in various states of unconsciousness and painfully ringing ears. "Nicely played, young lady."

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The roar cut through the crowd of ninjas, the force ripping them apart and dispersing them into fragments of shadow. "Okay, so, evil ninjas," Cannonade said. "Made of shadow. Got it."

"Not shadow." There was another flash of moonlight, and Silver Whisper had vanished. "The void before the world. The domain of the August Star of Heaven."

"Yes, Fumiko, keep talking." The ninjas moved towards the source of the sound, their blades flashing through the empty night. "That makes it much easier."

There was a slight disturbance on the wind. Five of the ninjas went slack, then fell to the ground in pieces before boiling away into the night. "You'd think, wouldn't you?" came Silver Whisper's voice from the other side of the alley. "I was in kabuki for four decades, Haru. I know how to throw my voice."

"Four decades?" Cannonade landed a mighty blow on the closest man to him. The blow sent the ninja reeling back before it faded away into the night. "Huh. You don't look it."

"Long story. Mind focusing on them?"

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Sil's ears were ringing just a little bit from the blast, but not so much that she couldn't catch bits of the conversation.

"You guys seem awfully chatty, not sure what you're bragging about, I've got to be the weakest person here and you guys haven't gotten a solid hit on me yet."

With a running start she pushed forward into a hand spring and landed on the ninja's shoulder befor pushing off into a front flip,

"Now, you guys want to actually show me something worth seeing, or should I just continue to run circles around you?"

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"One, OW."

A blast flew from behind Cannonade, slamming into the face of a ninja and causing him to disappear in a puff of smoke.

"Two, thanks for the distraction, Sil."

Another one rebounded off a wall, crashing into another ninja's back with another swirl of shadow.

"Three and four, force field only works on me, can't extend it, believe me, I've tried."

Two blasts, and only the talking ninja was left before the heroes. Push stepped forward from behind Cannonade, one arm across the leaking slash on his chest. One orb was floating near his head, and he jerked it forward, the orb shooting towards the ninja and going straight through the chest.

"And five. Call me 'son' at your peril."

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The force of impact ripped through the remaining ninjas, blowing them away like smoke. The last ninja stumbled, straining to hold himself together. "We shall meet again, Fumiko," he said as he faded into nothingness.

The woman in the silver garb sheathed her blade. "Well, he's consistent. I'll give him that." She turned to the rest of the group. "I apologize for the lack of introduction. Survival took priority over politeness."

"Can't imagine why," Cannonade said, clutching his side. He was holding up well, but taking a blade from a ninja still stung. "So, who the hell is that guy, and why's he after you?"

"An old partner turned bastard," she said. "As for the rest... that's a long story, and I'm not inclined to stay out in the open. Is there anywhere we can stay hidden for now?"

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Push moved forward, nearly stumbling, and slapped the side of his ear. The commlink beeped once, and he smiled (well, more like grimaced).

"Know...one place. Up in Midtown, Lazarus Auto Repair. I...know the guy who runs it. Security systems out the wazoo, and an anti-intruder system that kept out a pack of demons and a hell of a lot of salesmen."

He looked down at the gash on his chest, and shrugged, pulling the oversized pirate coat closed and belting it. That's my blood. That is a lot of my blood. Focus, focus...gotta get back, bandage this up, and get the hammer. Stay low. Get info once we're in cover. Same as before, except with ninjas instead of MIB. Great.

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Walking over and around the fallen ninja, Sil regained her full form as she moved over and got a good look at them,


She took a few seconds,

"Alright, so, instead of say a hospital, you want to just head to a repair shop owned by a friend."

She took a few seconds than shrugged before she looked at Cannonade and the silver clad woman,

"Well, not sure how you usually get around,"

Gave nodded towards the only other woman, before turning her head to Cannonade,

"But you should probably just sit tight while I pull my car around. There's no need wasting energy when your hurt when you can just sit back for a short ride the old fashioned way. Plus, there's no way I'm leaving my car out in Lincoln over night."

She sort of just less changed forms more disappeared on the spot as she started down the street and headed to the parking garage she had her mini cooper.

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As Silhouette headed for her Mini Cooper, a black-and-gold blur came flying down the dimly lit streets. It came to rest right in front of the alleyway, revealing a motorcycle. Or at least, something like a motorcycle -- there were no wheels on it, and it hovered more than two feet above the ground.

"Well, that's one way to travel," said Cannonade. He looked to Push, who looked like he'd seen better days. "Guessing you can hang onto that in your condition?"

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Push laughed hoarsely, limping over to the flightcycle. He threw a leg over the cycle, the laugh changing to a groan which cut off quickly. A small screen on the dash popped open, and he tapped in a few numbers. His face was a bit pale and drawn, but he still seemed steady on his pins, and he gave a game smile.

"No choice. Unless Wail there can fly, he'll have to use the Mini Cooper with Sil. And judging by his size, that'll...ugh...nearly fit the car's capacity. No offense."

A tinny voice from the screen could barely be heard over the engine, "Lazarus autopilot engaged" .

"Plus, my sense of direction is kinda...lousy. No way I'll be able to keep my head if I'm bleedin' out in the back of a car, and Laz's autopilot'll lead us straight there. S'ok, I've flown through...worse. Really."

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