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Airon

You Can't Take the Sky from Me [IC]

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Stormbreaker

Monday, March 5th

11:30 PM

Above the South River

It was an imposing view, the shining golden galleon floating hundreds of feet above the South River. Captain Silvia was a new face on the roster of Freedom’s City most bizarre residents, but it didn’t take long to make herself known – a couple of swoops of the Ages Lost above the city and pretty much everybody who didn’t live buried under a rock had at least caught a glimpse of her – either on the TV news or in the sky, soaring in her galleon.

Silvia was on the poop deck, leaning on the railing, breathing in the cold and moist air of the winter’s night. Her galleon was high enough that the few stars which managed to shine through the partially clouded sky where actually visible, even with the heavy light pollution of the metropolis below her. Her memories were – much like the sky – clouded: her life as a human was so different from her previous one.

She was absorbed in these thoughts when a whooshing sound distracted her. She knew her ship like the back of her own hand: she knew that wasn’t the sound of the sails flapping. Her amazingly keen ears pinpointed exactly the noise: she turned her head… and saw a carpet.

It was a beautiful flying carpet, of the style known on Earth as Persian: its colors, navy blue and burgundy, stood out as it hovered in front of a solar sail. It flew down, a few inches from Silvia. Its corner wrapped around her wrist and it pulled gently. Then it detached itself, and Silvia could have sworn that the same corner was now pointing down, towards the neighbor called Greenbank.


Scholar

Monday, March 5th

11:30 PM

Greenbank warehouse compound

Jeni was mightily irritated: she had spent a whole night carefully following these arms dealers to an old warehouse in Greenbank. And now that she was ready to bust them, not only that giant golden galleon appeared in the sky, reflecting the lights of half the skyscrapers in the city, but this vigilante – an amateur, from the look of it – ruined her surprise by attacking without a plan and getting soundly beaten. It seemed as if he managed to escape, but the dealers were still on the lookout for other heroes – Jeni knew it was better to wait for them to drop their guard again.

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The gull fluttered and bobbed about on one of the rafters of the warehouse. Predatory eyes glared down a pointed hook of a beak at the smugglers down below, seemingly to scrounge for food.

But Jeni Frey was in fact trying to figure out the best time to jump down and bring down these scumbags smuggling the weapons of monstrosities. Ordinarily, she'd just turn into a huge armoured monster from one of the Lost Moons of Paq, but they had advanced weapons down there. They'd probably be able to pierce even the armoured hide of her most powerful forms.

So she waited, as a smelly, scavenging sea bird, cursing the amateur who'd been forced to run away from a fight he'd barely prepared for.

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Ages Lost drifts along at a slow cruising speed, the silver scales of her hull sparkling in the night as she leaves miles-long trail of starlight behind her.

The ship flies without the usual barriers necessary for space travel. The air would be dangerously thin, but with a former god of wind as captain, they have a fresh, thoroughly breathable wind blowing through Silvia's flaxen hair, though still painfully crisp.

Almost midnight, she's been up for nearly eighteen hours, and yet she'd rather stand gazing at the moon through her ships trail than collapse into hibernation for a month or ten. Such energy feels like freedom, but she's not left to bask in the oddity for long before she has a 'guest.'

She turns from the moon to a rustling in the wind, hand reflexively moving to her sword (not that it ever strays far). And then she sees... a carpet? A lovely one, to be sure, but one does not typically see carpets flying about autonomously. Normally, they at least have a rider.

Several seconds after she decides the carpet is no immediate threat, her navigator realizes something's up and whirls about, gun in hand, but Silvia waves him back to steering the ship, and he does so wordlessly, leaving the lovely floor decoration to try and deliver its message.

She takes a seat on a whirling ball of air as naturally as if it were a chair, crossing her legs as she studies the object curiously, forgiving its forwardness in grabbing her so familiarly. "Joran," she begins after a moment, addressing her navigator. "Descend to two thousand meters. I shall disembark momentarily. I'd like to see where our little 'guest' came from." With that, the ship begins its descent, and when it reaches its new cruising altitude, Silvia takes a brisk walk towards the fantail, then up and off the ship, an eye on the carpet all the while.

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Stormbreaker

The rug flew down, silent, fast but not too fast, its blue silhouette somewhat visible against the grey of the warehouses’ roofs. Silvia wasn’t able to pierce through the darkness and the mist with her eyes, but the wind brought her the whispers of the night, whispers she was well versed in translating into information. There were several heartbeats down by the street, one in particular was racing like hell. Also, she could at moments hear a weird fizz, a menacing, hissing sound she wasn’t able to identify.

The flying rug disappeared behind a dumpster. The wild and racing heartbeat came from behind the dumpster, as well as loud coughs and a chocked voice clearly in pain.

Scholar

The men patrolling outside the warehouse weren’t carrying a Terminus weapon: their bulky wind jackets covered an armored vest and the holster for a small weapon, probably a handgun or a machine pistol. Every once in a while, though, a tall, gaunt man with blond hair stepped out to check on his men; he carried around with criminal nonchalance a 6-feet metal staff with a foot-long sharp edge crackling with red energy – a weapon sadly well known to Jeni.

The shapeshifter got distracted from the criminals by a most unusual sight: coming from the sky, roughly from the direction of the flying galleon, an initially blurry shape got more recognizable as soon as it got closer. The seagull’s eyesight had nothing on a Kalochian’s Xenochiropter, but it was still pretty keen.

It was a human woman, dressed in something Jeni had only seen in an old book Lor-Kal once lent her. She was flying – odd for a normal human, less so in Freedom City – and she was after what looked like a flag, or a rug, carried by the wind – odd for almost anybody, anywhere.

They both disappeared behind the corner, a few dozen yards away from Jeni’s position.

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Jeni would have snarled if she could with a vicious beak like that. But instead she took off, flapping towards the dumpster where, for the sake of the thing, she dropped into it and poked around half-heartedly, disgusted the entire time.

Then, in a tumble of garbage bags and drinks cans, a blond haired woman with piercing, near-glowing green eyes emerged from the skip. Even as she spoke, her lips were retracting back into their normal shape as the last remanants of her beak disappeared. "What the bloody hell is going on?" cursed Scholar, her silver jumpsuited form tumbling out of the bin.

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Silvia follows her fabric companion down to ground level at a gentle pace, by her standards, eventually letting herself just freefall, having a bit of fun with her descent. But when she catches the racing pulse, the weary cough, and the odd noises she can only put together as someone being chased? It's time to get serious.

She looks to the carpet, making its way towards the dumpster. For a moment, she considers breaking away, going for the hiss directly, probably ending whatever's going on in a minute, but... whoever it is will be there to thrash in a moment, and she is quite curious about the carpet.

Curiosity prevails. Discretion does not. After coming down from a full-speed dive, she flips and lands on her feet. Or rather, she lands suspended in the air with her feet six inches from the ground while a loud downdraft explodes around her, blasting away nearby garbage. How her hair doesn't look like it just went through a hurricane right now is anyone's guess.

She floats for a moment atop a whirling ball of air, made visible by dust, taking stock of every heartbeat and footfall that seems relevant, trying to get a map in her head before taking action.

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Both

Silvia stood hovering, trying to count the heartbeats (so far she counted at least eight normal humans, the racing one, plus several rats). She got momentarily distracted by a large bird rummaging in another dumpster some yards down the alley.

The carpet came back from behind the dumpster, flew around Silvia and pushed her gently towards its former hiding spot. She heard a broken male voice “Please… is sombah *coff* somebody there?†the effort of speaking unleashed a series of loud coughs he tried to suffocate.

However before she could do anything, her hearing picked up an anomaly – a heartbeat changing pace, shifting from the quick and faint beat typical of a bird or small rodent, to a bizarre pounding she never quite heard before. Silvia raised her eyes and from the dumpster hosting the noisy bird, a human woman with an inhuman heartbeat came out of the trash.

"What the bloody hell is going on?"

Jeni certainly had an interesting point of view: leaning on the dumpster’s edge she could see, several yards down the alley, both the flying rug and the bizarre woman of before, hovering a few feet above the street and circling each other. She could also see, semi-hidden in the darkness, what looked like a mound of bloody clothes – albeit the wounded hand emerging from it seemed to indicate that she had found the clumsy crime-fighter of a few moments ago.

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The Kaironian woman rolled her eyes and came fully from the dumpster, striding over to the injured man. She barely acknowledged the floating woman and the... flying carpet. This planet continues to perplex me...

"Right, I'll need you to hold still," Scholar told the man. "So I can figure out how best to treat you." She rolled her sleeves up on her uniform, and gestured to the floating woman and the carpet. "I'll need you to help me shift him into a more comfortable position. Um... carpet? Can you roll yourself into a pillow?"

Without waiting for a reply, the alien doctor began to scan over the fallen superhero's injuries.

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Silvia's eyes turn to the wounded man, then the inhuman woman. Probably a shapeshifter. Mind surprises. On the other hand, it sounds like she's a medic. Useful.

But at the moment, there are more important concerns. She lands and goes to the strangers' side, offering her impressive strength to help.

"Are you a doctor?" she asks as she lifts the victim up with less care than he should probably like, , wrapping one arm beneath the man's armpit and getting him to his feet as she steps away from his pile of rags. "Either way, we may not have much time; I believe this man is being chased, and his pursuers are near."

She looks on expectantly, clearly waiting for instruction on what to do with the man from what she hopes is an expert.

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The carpet pushed itself gently under the man’s head, but Jeni had to remove several layers of clothing before actually being able to check the wounds.

The most evident injury was a large burn on his neck and jaw, up to the bonecheek – beard and skin had been almost melted away, and just by miracle the eye had been spared. He had three –no, four- broken ribs and a small caliber bullet lodged in his thigh – again, missing the femoral artery by a few millimeters.

Finally, his right forearm had been broken, and there was no mistaking this injury: the combination of cutting power by a sharp edge and the tissue damage provoked by a high-energy pulse. That arm had been struck by a Terminus Pike.

While the young woman completed her diagnosis, Silvia kept locking on the racing heartbeat. It was getting closer – he would probably turn the corner and see them in a few seconds.

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Scholar frowned at the man's wounds. Especially the distinctive wound from an Omegadrone pike. A low feral growl escaped from her throat. "Not a doctor," said the Kaironian. "I'm better than a doctor."

She stood up, turned and squared her shoulders. "This man has several broken ribs, a bullet in his leg, and his arm has been carved up by Terminus weaponry. We could flee with him, but that won't help his condition. So I propose we fight the pursuers and if not defeat them, at least drive them off."

The alien began to wrack her brains for some of the most powerful and intimidating creatures she'd acquired the forms of.

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"Terminus?" the captain asks, clearly surprised. She'd heard little more than rumors of them, enough to know they aren't a force to trifle with, but little more.

She regains her composure and follows with another single word. "Understood." With that, she releases the rest of the injured man's weight, laying him on the ground with his carpet pillow. Seconds tick by, but she doesn't rush; she's gauged exactly how much time she has, and uses every moment of it, starting by drawing her sword, a bright, slender rapier with a hilt fashioned after many roses.

Her first time against a Terminus weapon. My, this was shaping up to be an interesting evening. Now, let's see what Terminus tech can do.

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It was in that moment that the racing heartbeats Silvia was picking up finally came into shape. From behind the corner of the warehouse, about 30 feet away, two men appeared running. Their sprint came to a halt as they stood a bit startled by the trio: their target laying on the ground, a young woman squatting by him and a one-armed hovering freak right out of a Renaissance fair.

The two were wearing heavy leather jackets and held machine pistols. They looked at the trio, they looked at each other, they looked again in front of them – then they shook off the surprise and cocked their guns, ready to shoot.

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Scholar turned to coolly eye their assailants. Primitive human weaponry, so uncouth. She just stood up slowly... and then her form flowed and shifted until she was on all fours, muscles enlarging and expanding even as fur began to sprout in a thick, tough pelt.

If it was possible for a tiger to smile, this one would have been. It let out a low, dangerous growl, reaching into the instincts of any human being that here was a predator, dangerous, fast and lord of its environment. The tiger wanted its prey to run from it, so it could have the thrill of the chase.

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Choosing a life of crime in Freedom City was not a choice a mundane human made lightly. Yes, there were targets that other cities’ thugs only dreamed about, abundance of cutting edge technology and ancient artifacts and a large amount of billionaires… but it also meant dealing with a concentration of superheroes five times the normal.

It was not so shocking then that only the toughest and luckiest of all thugs were still active in a city where crime and crime-fighting was so often on a superhuman level. The two criminals, already a bit startled by the hovering woman, were now staring at a real tiger, 600 pounds of growling hunting machine slowly coming out the fog.

The two took a step back, looked at each other, looked back at the tiger, put on their best “screw these freaks†face and opened fire on the beast.

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As the thugs turn around the bend, Silvia takes one step forward, readying herself for a full sprint when a blast of sound erupts from behind her, freezing her in her tracks as she flinches visibly, stunned while her foes begin firing. Okay, she is a tiger now, she thinks to herself, trying to convince herself it's a good thing when all it's done so far is bring her that much closer to a headache.

Rather than continue her interrupted dash towards the thugs, she gives her blade a quick lash, sending a precision blast of air at one thug's hand, trying to knock his gun from his grasp. No Terminus weapon. Just a couple insects barely worth the effort. "You must be joking."

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Scholar twisted to the side, lithe feline grace evading bullets, one passing close enough to stir her fur as it passed, but not close enough to actually injure her. With a fearsome roar, she landed on her paws, and coiled low. Aerokinesis... interesting, but it's not going to end this.

The coiling low was for good reason. It meant her next lunge could carry her the length of the alley, like a precision-guided missile of muscle and fur and claws and fangs. A great leonine paw catapulted first into the gun arm of the still-armed thug, followed by the rest of her hitting the optimal point on the man's chest to drive the wind from his lungs.

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Already a bit startled by the telekinetic attack, the criminals never stood a chance against a charging tiger. The first thug was knocked out cold before he could readjust his aim for the orange and black blur that was Scholar; he fell down, prone and unconscious, the massive feline resting her paws on his chest.

The second one, already disarmed by Stormbreaker and now facing from a dangerously close distance the beast, started running away while reaching in his jacket pocket for a small concealed handgun. He discharged the weapon randomly behind himself, barely looking over his shoulder to see if the bullets hit his targets.

When the echo of the gunshots vanished, Silvia was once again able to perceive the other men, half a dozen hundred feet away in the warehouse maze. One voice was raised above the others now, and even if the exact words escaped her, the tone was one for giving orders.

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Silvia looks impressed with the mauling for a moment before returning her attention to the remaining thug. She shakes her head as he tries to run, then strolls casually towards the running man, pointing her sword at him.

Unfortunately, she hadn't time to deal with him as the reinforcements arrived. "Honestly," she begins idly, taking a single step onto the air as if it were a step, then a second, launching her forward into the reinforcements' midst where she unleashes a hurricane of slashing winds in a single swish of her sword, "Why is it that humans never see when they are clearly outclassed?"

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