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Wraith: Razor's Edge

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Braithwhite
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Wraith: Razor's Edge

I decided that not enough people took Spite seriously. I hope you enjoy. 

-Braithwhite

 

 

 

Wraith: Razor's Edge

Spite laughed as he pushed his drug-fueled powers to their limits.  Absolute Zero was down on his knees in a cage of fire, coolant gushing from the leaks in his suit and the broken hoses.  She could see him choking on the hot air through his chipped faceplate as he struggled to ice over the cracks.  Legacy was struggling against Spite’s psychic onslaught and the tentacle that was wrapping him in a crushing toxic embrace, the poisons starting to overwhelm even his superhuman durability.

The Wraith gasped for breath around her punctured lung, something grating in her chest. The bone sticking out of her lower right leg showed her that she hadn’t managed to roll with the impact with the lab desk.  Her right arm with the wrist launcher was faring little better, with foot-long glass splinters piercing her wrist and upper arm from the glassware still littering the lab.

Wraith fought past the pain, her vision narrowing to a tunnel.  It was only a matter of time before she blacked out, but she still had one last shot.  She struggled to a seated position, bones grating in her chest, and used her good knee and arm to support the launcher.  She focused until Spite’s red mask was all that mattered. 

Her thumb touched the selector switch.  Ever since he had escaped from Block, she had known she would need to make this decision...

 

Several days previous….

Maia Montgomery jolted awake in her chair, dehydrated and dizzy, with the tissue regenerator still strapped to her arm.   She’d apparently fallen asleep in her rooms at the F5 Tower while reviewing the fight against Omnitron’s drone army.  An itching along her upper arm showed the likely reason for her exhaustion- Tachyon’s experimental device repairing the muscle and flesh torn by one of the assault drones.  After the fight, Tachyon had taken one look at her battlefield stitching and had strapped the device onto her arm before she could react.  Wraith pressed her palms briefly against her eyes and started dictating notes to the waiting computer.  Even knowing how long she’d nodded off would be valuable data later.  Computers around the room flickered to life as she stretched and resumed dictating her notes.  “The tissue regenerator seems to work as advertised in repairing muscle and tissue damage.”  Wraith rotated her arm, stretched, and continued with “no obvious impairments in range of motion, flexibility, or weakness, but I’ll need to run more extensive tests.” 

She plugged the regenerator into her computer and began to review the statistics on her injury pre and post healing. 

“With a slice that deep,” she mused,” the alternative was likely to be a lengthy recovery with scarring and physical therapy. This was a better option, despite my initial hesitations.” She began packing the components of the regenerator into her belt and said “Though I really need to talk to Meredith about personal space and asking permission.”  Replaying the (one-sided) conversation with Tachyon in her head, she realized that Tachyon HAD mentioned something about a massive drain on her bodily reserves, but it had been sandwiched in a mile-per-second dialogue about the fight, the development of the regenerator, pizza, and several quantum experiments that may or may not have exploded.

Reaching into the fridge under her desk, she opened up a bottle of water and the peanut butter and jelly sandwich she’d made earlier in the morning, then pulled down her mask to eat.  She put her booted feet on the edge of the desk and tilted her chair back before resuming the dictation in between bites.  

She flicked through the folders displayed on the 3-d holo interface and settled on the Omnitron files she’d called for before nodding off.   “It would have been better to dodge the drone strike in the first place, but the old files don’t reflect their current speed and precision.  Analysis of the latest drones suggests that Omnitron has upgraded their servomotors and re-routed power from their carapace shielding to optimize speed and precision.”

She paused while updating the file to unlace her boots and kick them off.

“I’m setting up training sessions with a 25% increase in speed over this iteration in anticipation of future problems.”

She was halfway through her second sandwich when a flashing alarm on the computer drew her attention, and she pulled up the alert on the main monitor.  On screen, a riot was in progress at the extradimensional containment facility known as the Block.  The Wraith immediately straightened in her chair and devoted her whole attention to the scenes unfolding before her and began running options in her head.  Absently, she wrapped the remains of the sandwich back up for later.   

“New file.  Record on all channels and begin analysis.  Main supercomputer authorization Wraith-2.”  Her contacts in the Block only fed her intel when things were dire, but the F5 wouldn’t be able to directly intervene- the portals were only controlled from the Block and a few select places, none of which they could access immediately.  They’d be working cleanup on this one, so she needed to gather every scrap of data.

 On screen, the riot was progressing, but the warden had locked the facility down and some of the inmates were already caught in containment fields or being tazed by the guards.  A few of the more powerful individuals were following Fright Train as he broke down walls with his face, creating a direct path to the main portal generator, but Wraith found her eyes drawn to one of the smaller screens where a very particular inmate was being restrained.

Spite.

He had been caught mid-leap, tentacle arm at full extension.  Two guards were carefully maintaining the field emitters while they called for backup, with the remainder of their team broken on the floor.  Wraith was about to shift her attention back to the main monitor when Spite’s hair went incandescent and the two guards started twitching and spasmodically flailing around the room.  They drew closer and closer to one of the field emitters until they were right on top of it, clawing at the delicate instrument. Wraith could see them screaming for help even as they tore at the emitter and it died in a shower of sparks.  As Spite dropped to the floor, light spilling out from the edges of his mask, they ripped off their helmets and began beating their heads against the wall. 

The feed cut out abruptly as, on the other monitor, Fright Train, Char, and Set tore through one of the security centers. By the time it came back on, Spite was gone.  As Wraith continued to monitor the feeds, she saw Spite appear briefly again and again, each time seemingly able to compel guards outright or trick them long enough to get the drop on them.  She began dictating at a furious pace, trying to get a handle on his new abilities as he displayed them.

As Spite walked up to a group of guards in plain sight without them reacting she said “It looks like he can make himself look harmless, or at least conceal his deformities.... they aren’t reacting when they first see him.” Once Spite closed to striking distance, he quickly grabbed one of the guards and used him as a human shield.  The other four spread out to try and flank him, but three of them began to convulse as Spite’s hair began to glow.  One of the guards seemed to be able to shake it off, but the other two began frantically clawing at their own faces, going to the ground in a mass of blood.  Wraith noted “He doesn’t seem able to compel more than one or two people, and can’t maintain the disguise when he does.  Maybe a range component?  I need to consult Visionary to see about some mental defenses… ”

Spite tossed the now limp guard he’d been using to block the tazers at the guard who had managed to shake his compulsions off before sending a fireball into the most coherent one. He stood there, breathing heavily as he surveyed the limp bodies all around before moving out of frame.  “It looks like it takes a toll.  I’ll have to review the analysis of the various compounds we found on him to know more.”  She called up the records of their previous encounter and reviewed the after-action reports of the others. “It looks like he had some nascent telepathic projection powers, but nothing this refined.  But he’s had lots of time to do nothing but practice.“  Spite was nowhere to be seen now, and the feeds were becoming more and more sporadic as the riot continued raging.

Wraith finished the rest of her water, licked the jelly from her fingers, and pushed back her chair and began to stretch.  Soon she’d get a call from Legacy to aid in rounding up the escapees, and she knew that by the time they’d contained the worst of them, Spite would have quietly slipped away.  He wasn’t like Baron Blade.  Once he was clear of the portal, he’d take off the mask and be just another person in the crowd.  He’d eat from dumpsters and soup kitchens.  He’d sleep under bridges, in bushes beside the road, or in alleyways.  He’d blend in until he was ready to put the mask back on.  Until the killing began.

Even as she pulled up the F5’s extensive files (which she’d written most of) on the escapees to study the short term problems, she contacted her main supercomputer and enacted the Spite protocols that she had worked out after their last encounter.  All of the little bugs she’d left in criminal lairs, labs, police stations, and dark alleys came online and began feeding the computer data.  When he showed up, she’d be ready.  

Her comm started flashing as Legacy sent out the signal to meet in the briefing room.

 

The killings began in Overbrook Park. 

The Wraith scanned the crime scene with her eyepiece.  The victim had been a woman and her dog, the broken bodies left impaled on tree branches next to each other.  Blood was sprayed all over the exercise equipment, some still warm. She swallowed and did the best she could to look at everything objectively, since she didn’t have long before the police showed up. 

She quickly searched the victim for clues to her identity, noting that she seemed to be wearing exercise clothing.  Each fact slotted into place in her mind, joining together into a complex web.  “Jogging?  She has a dog, so maybe she felt safe.  It could also be that she was new to the city”. She turned up a wallet and got a driver’s license and credit cards, which she immediately uploaded into her supercomputer for analysis while she continued to examine the body.  “He’s gotten stronger, the Wraith thought. “I’ll need to talk to Dr. Tremata later to see the X-rays, but the bones look like they’ve been broken in multiple places.  I also need to figure out how to track him.  He can’t spoof the cameras, but there are too many gaps in coverage to rely on them exclusively, and it still doesn’t solve my problem of engaging him directly.”

The Wraith began reconstructing what had happened.  Her wrist computer was giving her multiple angles from the traffic and store cameras that her supercomputer had tapped into, and she scanned the surroundings with her eyepiece to catch any details.  It wasn’t total information awareness, but it was the best she was going to get. As she started receiving details on the victim’s life, she began piecing together a picture of who she had been as she scanned the area with her eyepiece. “Juliette Kettle. Nurse at Overbrook Hospital, dog is a German shepherd named Max.  It looks like she was out jogging, and social media searches say that she was trying to use exercise to block out some kind of stress.”  Wraith crouched down at a patch of blood and continued “Credit card statements show a regular pattern of alcohol abuse until seven months ago.”  The Wraith looked through Juliette’s pockets and pulled out a green metal coin.  “She’s carrying a six-month sobriety coin, so she’s been in AA for a while.”

Wraith looked at the data the supercomputer had mined from the past six months of Juliette’s life online and the camera feeds into and out of the park and began assembling the disparate facts into a coherent scene. 

Juliette Kettle loved her evening run with her dog Max.  She passed the Golden Burro Cafe on 5th, heading to the park, and (as always) bought a danish to share with Max.  Working as a nurse, despite all the annoyances, was SO much better than her old job as a barista!  She started smiling, and both she and Max picked up the pace as she headed into the park.  She stopped at the exercise stations along the way, pushing herself at each one to do just one more rep than she’d been able to do the day before.  Sometimes she couldn’t quite do it, but that wasn’t the point. 

As she came to the last station, she saw a man sitting on the ground, wrapping his ankle in an ace bandage.  He was a big man, with dark hair and a blue hoodie.  He smiled at her as she and Max approached, and she noticed that he was wrapping it all wrong.  She offered to help him wrap the ankle the right way, and he laughed.  He had a deep voice, all velvet and chocolate, and as they talked, he seemed to just get her in a way that so few people did.  He was delighted by Max, and knew just the right way to thump him along the sides instead of stroking him.  After the ankle was wrapped, they just sat for a while talking, and she looked for a pen to give him her number.  But as she looked up, she saw him holding the red mask.  Max began to growl and she turned to run as he put on his true face, but it was too late.

The Wraith came back to herself as sirens wailed nearby.  The flashing lights of the police started to light up the park as the RCPD finally arrived.   As they warily approached the scene, she faded back into the trees to try and pick up Spite’s trail with her eyepiece on the highest detail setting. On a hunch, she picked the way that Juliette and the dog had been facing, and soon her eyepiece found several small heat spots where someone had bled.  “Maybe the dog managed to get a bite in,” she thought, as she took a sample for later analysis.  The blood trail led her out of the park to the streets, where here eyepiece found another heat signature on a manhole cover.  

The Wraith looked it over.   “Truly, I lead a glamourous life,” she murmured to no one in particular before opening the lid.  She was greeted by the stench of rotting sewage and an unusual acrid chemical tang (which the mask helped mitigate, but the treated cloth could only filter so much), and at the base of the ladder, what looked like vomit.  Now, vomit in a Rook city sewer wasn’t exactly a rare occurrence, but this was glowing a soft purple, and was generating a significant amount of heat.  The Wraith raised an eyebrow as she reached into her utility belt for a biohazard container.  If this was from Spite, then something new was happening.  She quickly scraped a sample into the container before putting it back into its lead-lined pouch.  Maybe the chemical cocktail was causing him to break down…

She raised her wrist computer and placed a call to the F5 tower. 

“I need backup in Rook City.  Spite has made his move.”

The sound of sirens and barking dogs told her that the police had found the blood trail.  She spun her grappling hook and threw it to the nearby rooftops, vanishing into the night. 

 

The Wraith alighted among the spires of St. John’s Cathedral.  Spite had been spotted in the area, but he’d anticipated her ability to track him electronically and had gone low-tech by raiding a Goodwill for a hoodie and military surplus coat that concealed his misshapen arm and helped him blend in with the homeless population.

The green sobriety coin that Juliette had carried gave her the idea to assemble a list of places that offered group therapy sessions and addiction meetings that were open to new members.  She’d tried the one nearest to Juliette’s home and the one nearest to her work, neither of which gave any results.  St John’s was the last one she could find that was associated with Juliette- she went there sporadically, but had picked up attendance in recent weeks.  It had started a soup kitchen around the same time, so maybe she had started volunteering.

The Wraith sniffed the air.  Soup must have been on, because something smelled good.  She used her grappling line to descend headfirst off of the roof to look into the windows of the kitchen.   

A scene of carnage greeted her.

Father Martin Morse gave the soup a stir. 

He took a look around the benches, to see if there were any newcomers.  He’d been a street kid before the seminary, and he always tried to talk to the new ones to see if he could help them find their way.  Even if it was just to talk to them and treat them like people for a while.

The new guy had his hood up and his face turned away.  It wasn’t the first time that Father Morse had seen that kind of behavior, as there were a lot of people living on the streets that were running from abusive backgrounds.  He’d been one once, and it had taken quite a while before he was OK with looking people in the face and letting them see the scars from the cigarette burns. 

Slowly, haltingly, the man started talking in a deep, drawling voice.  He’d been a soldier, and had been shot in the face on his first deployment. After he came back, he and his girlfriend had drifted apart, and now he was living on the streets. He hated himself for being too weak to overcome the PTSD, and was at the end of his rope.  The scars made it incredibly difficult to talk to people, and all he wanted was to get his life back on track.  Father Martin talked about how he’d been a chaplain, and how he still had nightmares about his time in Saigon and the grenade that had nearly blinded him. He talked about his own time on the streets, and how he’d eventually managed to overcome it by accepting the help that others offered.  The man thanked him, and Father Martin went to get him another bowl and the number of a counselor.

When he came back, the man faced him for the first time, and he saw the mask. 

 

The Wraith peered into the window of the church’s kitchen.  Spite was looking straight at her, using someone’s arm to stir the contents of the giant soup kettle. Spite used the arm to wave at her before dropping it into the kettle and whipping his tentacle at the window, breaking through it and spraying the broken glass with glowing ichor. 

The Wraith sprang back, anticipating the strike, and let loose a flurry of stun bolts through the broken window. Spite retaliated with a ball of rolling fire, and they traded projectiles back and forth. 

She could feel Spite trying to get into her head, but the exercises that she’d worked out with the Visionary were keeping him mostly at bay.  Her eyepiece had a lock on his thermal signature, and he couldn’t fool her targeting computer with his psychic tricks.  His hair caught light and she began to feel a pressure building behind her eyes.  Against her will, her arm began to rise and pry away the targeting computer. 

Wraith steeled herself.  “I’m NOT his puppet!”

She felt her mind snap back into focus as her anger raged, seeing Spite reel back.  She raised her arm to fire a razor-rang into his hateful mask and tightened her finger around the trigger. 

“Wait… this isn’t right either…”  Wraith released the trigger of her wrist launcher as the rage she’d felt dissipated. She realized that she’d been pointing the launcher at her own head instead of Spite’s and realized just how close she’d come to death.  As she lowered it and tried to regain control, Spite’s fist crashed into her, sending her flying back into the street.  She fought to regain her breath around what she was sure was a cracked rib as Spite advanced.  She could feel the heat he was putting out even from this distance, and saw the pustules on his tentacle rupturing.  He rolled another ball of flame in his palm, wincing, but intent on ending her as she struggled to her feet.  She got ready to dodge and lifted her arm once again to stun him.  She’d be able to outlast him, she knew it.

She never found out if she’d be able to dodge as Legacy swooped down from the sky and tackled Spite into the church’s large front doors, breaking through and sending them both into the church interior.  The fireball went wide, setting several cars ablaze.  She reached to her belt for a fire suppression pellet, but a familiar blast of cold washed over her as Absolute Zero stepped into sight.  The flames seemed to bend towards him before he let loose a torrent of ice that quenched them.

Legacy staggered out of the church, his uniform scorched and cradling a crying child.  He carefully dusted off the bear she’d been clutching and held her close. 

 

Rook city was a maze of twisting back alleys and narrow gaps between buildings, but Wraith knew Spite was in the area.  Legacy and Absolute Zero were dealing with the aftermath of the church, and while she had lost Spite momentarily, she knew he was nearby.  She’d seeded the walls of each alley she passed with microcameras.  They were only good for a few hours, but all she needed was one sighting and she’d be on him.

“Shaky” Pete Harris spotted the guy in the hoodie sitting in his alley.  He twitched and scratched at his arm where the needle marks were bothering him. The knife was in his hand, and soon he’d be able to make the shakes go away for a while. He charged, but the man saw him and the knife went flying.  

Camera 15-F recorded Spite as he batted away a junkie who tried to stab him.  It pinged Wraith as Spite put on his face and began beating the other man into a red ruin.

Wraith leapt over the rooftops, calling in the others.  Spite was in the northeast quadrant of her search grid, and it would only take a few moments to reach him.  But she knew just how much damage he could do in a few moments.

Pavel Radovich was walking down the street, planning out the next day’s trip to the zoo with his daughter.  He couldn’t quite understand Katya’s fascination with lizards, but then she couldn’t quite understand his fascination with bugs.   It made for good conversation, since they both shared a common fascination with talking to each other about new things they’d learned. Then they’d go home to Alina (fresh from her trip to the aquarium), who didn’t quite understand the fascination that her husband and daughter had with animals when you could be talking about fish instead.

Pavel was thinking all these things when he passed the alley between the bodega and his apartment complex and saw a masked man on top of another on the ground, beating him.  The man doing the beating looked up, blood and chips of bone covering his hand, and he recognized the mask.  Pavel turned to run, but felt a tentacle whip around him. 

 

“NO!” Wraith and Legacy shouted together as Spite powered his way up the fire escape with the innocent bystander in tow.  She spun her grappling hook and ascended after him, while Legacy flew Absolute Zero up.   Spite kept his hostage close, blocking Legacy each time he swooped down.  Wraith struggled for a clear shot, but the Rook city rooftops were cluttered with debris, and between the hostage and Legacy, even her targeting computer couldn’t give her a clear shot. Absolute Zero was struggling to keep up with the running fight, but she knew from experience that he’d manage.

The Wraith sprang from roof to roof in hot pursuit of Spite.  Spite was moving at speed, setting small fires in each alley he jumped over.  Absolute Zero soon had to drop behind as one of the fireballs landed in a barrel of used cooking grease, sending up a massive explosion.  Spite paused and they saw him smear Pavel’s face with the ichor from his tentacle before tossing him into the air, and Legacy went after him.  He immediately wiped off the glowing goo, but Pavel’s face was already blistering and reacting to the chemicals.  “I need to get him to the hospital!” Legacy told her through the comms, and Wraith nodded and resumed pursuit. 

Wraith could hear music thumping as Spite landed on top of a dance club, then kicked open the door.  The Wraith made her way inside after him, alert for an ambush.

“I don’t like this,” Wraith said over the comms.   “Lots of hostages, lots of ways to cause panic.”

She followed the ichor trail onto the dance floor to see the crowd clawing at each other as Spite, hair glowing and mask cracking around the eyes, twisted the head off of the DJ with one hand.  Spite looked at the DJ’s head and tossed it to Wraith as the crowd turned towards her, shrieking.  She lined up her shots and started stunning them as they reached for her with panic in their eyes.  By the time she could do anything except dodge, counter, and stun, Spite had vanished.   

 

… 

The Wraith sat on the roof of the club, letting the wind blow through her hair. The cuts she’d sustained at the hands of the berserk club kids stung, but she’d doubled her allotment of stun bolts in anticipation of needing to put down hysterical people.  There were some bruises, cuts, and fractures, but Wraith had been able to keep them from killing her, themselves, or each other.    The ambulance was already on its way and Legacy was helping to direct the ones that had been able to resist Spite in administering first aid.  

 “He got away again,” she murmured. She rested her chin on her arms as she worked at the problem.  “He knows we prioritize saving innocents and has no compunctions about killing them or putting them in danger.”  She reflected on the past times they had fought and continued “he’s also getting more brutal, more inventive.” 

Her wrist comm pinged at her.  One of her little spy bugs had sighted Spite in the defunct remains of Barzakh labs. 

Taking a deep breath, she stood and signaled the others.  Finally, they had a clear shot at him.

 

The Barzakh wing of Pike chemical was one of the least friendly places that the Wraith could remember seeing.  She was going in quietly, since neither Legacy nor Absolute Zero had much of a talent for stealth.  Where the main branch of Pike chemical had vats of dangerous and exotic substances, the Barzakh wing had restraint beds and glass-walled isolation chambers.  The lab had been thoroughly ransacked, and no one had ever bothered to clean it up.  Like many places in rook city where tragedy had occurred, it had simply been bricked up and abandoned. Wraith found a way in through the roof, crawling in through a large broken ventilation fan.  Slowly, she surveyed the room from the rafters with infrared and night vision.

The room had, at one point, been filled with cutting edge equipment and glassware.  Now it was a mess of broken equipment littered over laboratory tables, dried stains streaking the floor, ruptured containment vessels and scattered papers.  It had never had any outside windows, so the main entrance had simple been chained and then bricked over until they could figure out what to do with it…or until the public had forgotten the human testing and it was safe to reopen. 

A faintly glowing trail led her to one of the chemical storage stations.  Rack after rack of canisters were waiting, and Spite had clearly been hard at work filling up syringes.  Most of the canisters were broken or simply gone, but Spite wasn’t even interested. He was going straight for a cabinet labeled “Trial 81-Alpha, Subject Donovan” that revealed racks of ampules of softly glowing chemicals.  Spite began shoving them into his pockets, but lined up several syringes and loaded each one with a different drug.  Then a second set.  Then a third. 

OK then.  I think we’ll just stop this right here before he can go critical. The Wraith pinged her comms, sending the signal for the others to come in hot. 

The wall broke apart just as Spite was injecting himself with the first syringe.  Legacy hit him high and Absolute Zero froze the ground beneath him, then kept up a constant stream of ice to try and secure him to the ground.  Spite lost his footing and went down on top of the racks of empty canisters, sending them rolling in all directions. Wraith didn’t have a clear shot, but her teammates were keeping Spite busy so that she could get around behind him and take him down from behind.  Despite the onslaught, Spite was holding his own, trading punches and fireballs with Legacy and answering Absolute Zero’s fire and ice with slime and toxic secretions. She sighted on his back with a stun bolt, then paused. 

Rapidly, she thought “He’s been shrugging these off all night, but the rapid shots at the church had an effect.  A double dose at once might work.  I just need to make sure they have time to work and he can’t just tear them out. A debilitating effect combined with the stun could shut him down…” As quickly as she thought, her hands moved to various pouches.  The tissue regenerator was stripped of its regulators and became the centerpiece of a makeshift bola, with the stun bolts secured to the straps and the whole mess secured to a razor so that it could be launched and stick into him.  She sighted on him and let her targeting computer run its calculations with the ungainly mass, even as she saw Spite’s toxins make Legacy stagger and one of Absolute Zero’s armored hoses being wrenched away and used as a flail. His hair briefly gleamed and he turned to face her, giving her just enough time to fire as Spite wrapped his tentacle around her leg and whipped her into the lab table beneath her position.

The Stun-razor-regenerator bolabolt flew true.  Wraith’s chest cracked into the table and she could feel something give way inside as she fell to the floor in a shower of glassware.  Absolute Zero used the distraction to freeze Spite’s human arm to the wall, and Legacy was immediately in motion to protect her. His hands smoking and blistering from the secretions, Legacy took up a position between her and Spite. 

Spite glared at her through his cracked mask.  The regenerator was already taking a toll.  Spite was starting to slow and the bubbling was getting less intense.  The tentacle was shrinking and pulling back, beginning to look more and more like an arm. Spite gibbered and howled as he saw himself reduced. 

Legacy was just beginning to move in when Spite used the last of his fire to break free of the ice restraining his arm.  He looked at Wraith, and before anyone could stop him, grabbed an ampule of glowing liquid from his pocket and cracked it open directly onto his morphing arm, grinding in the glass to make sure the compound entered his blood.  The makeshift bands holding the regenerator creaked and snapped as his arm swelled once more, bones sticking out and the hand being replaced by throbbing pustules.  Spite staggered back and grabbed at the tray of syringes, plunging one into his leg, then another and another.  Wraith put several razors into the tentacle he was using as a shield, but all that seemed to do was increase the amount of caustic slime that it produced. Pale red flames sprang up around him, then intensified as he rolled his head and plunged a handful of syringes into the side of his neck at once.

Suddenly, they could feel his presence in the air all around them.  It was a psychic assault like they had never felt before and they were all pushed to ground by the sheer power.  Spite sent flames looping around them.  He then flailed his tentacle at Legacy and Absolute Zero, covering them with caustic slime.  Absolute Zero began freezing it off, but the corrosive mixture was already compromising the suit and pitting the coolant hoses with micro leaks.  He gasped as his coolant gushed out and the flames started to pull towards him.  Legacy was little better, the flames Spite had sent spinning around him igniting the toxins into a foul smoke that was straining even his superhuman durability. The Wraith put aside the pain as best she could and focused.

Spite began to laugh madly.  “SOON!”  He cried, “No more filth!  No more weak wretchedness clogging the drains!”  Spite’s tentacle lashed out at Legacy, knocking him out of the air as he tried to fly away from the smoke, and cackled “You get to ride along as they slit their wrists and jump off buildings, as they tear out each other’s throats!”  Boils formed and burst on his skin as he strained.  “They’ll all die, and I’ll do it again and again!”

Spite’s incandescent hair began to ignite as he strained his drug-fueled psychic powers.  He made sure the Wraith was included as he showed her all of the people that he was influencing, all across Rook City.  Some were flailing in seizures, others were poised to slit their own wrists to escape the hateful torrent of thoughts, and people in the street were simply turning on each other.

The Wraith struggled to a seated position and readied her wounded arm to fire.  She had a choice to make.

 

Now…

Her thumb touched the selector switch. 

In the periphery of her rapidly tunneling vision, Legacy choked on the toxic smoke and gasped, trying vainly to get free of the cloud. 

Wraith struggled to breathe.  ”Stun bolts?  If I dump them all at once into his head the shock should break his hold.  He’s only got a few more minutes of functionality before he goes unconscious, and once he’s out his flame and psychic power will break. We can get him to the Block and back in a cell”

Absolute Zero sent out a weak stream of ice at Spite, but between the fire and the leaking coolant, he was running out of time.

Her thumb twitched, hesitating between loadouts.   “Razors?  He’s killed so many.  And if he ever gets out again, he’ll kill so many more. But I’ve seen what happened with Iron Legacy when a hero starts killing…”

Knowing that she’d never be the same, knowing that she might not be the Wraith anymore, she made her choice.

She switched over to her razor ordnance. Legacy and Absolute Zero could only watch, and if they said anything she didn’t hear it.

She caressed the trigger, and a single serrated steel razor flew out and pierced Spite’s mask before tearing a ragged furrow into his brain.

Spite slumped back, the mask cracking apart.   

It was over.

 

Maia finished packing.  The wounds still itched, but Tachyon’s second iteration of the regenerator had done its job well in erasing the physical signs of her fight with Spite.

Absolute Zero had given her space, but Legacy wanted to talk it out.  She’d feigned still being unconscious when he came to see her in the medical bay, and now she was packing to go… somewhere.  She needed to find a place where she could figure things out, decide how to keep from going down the same path as Iron Legacy.  Killing Spite had been the right choice, but she couldn’t forget the way her thumb had so easily switched over to the razors, the feeling of satisfaction at ending him and seeing that mask crack in two. 

Maia hoisted her bag over her shoulder and started walking.  She wasn't sure where she would end up, but the Wraith would be waiting for her. 

dpt
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Awesome! That was really well realized, thank you.

Donner
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Awesome story!  Just one thing... Wraith entered the lab through a broken window but the next paragraph said it had no outside windows.


"Deja-fu? You've heard of that?"
- Lu Tze, Sweeper, Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett

Braithwhite
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It didn't. Wraith is just that good. 

Braithwhite
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Hey, look over there!

it was a broken ventilation fan, used for venting harmful gasses safely outside. Well, safe for the people inside, less so for the environment. 

Its possible that trace hallucinogens caused it to briefly seem like a window. 

Donner
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That explains everything, including my mild dizziness and the weird colors!


"Deja-fu? You've heard of that?"
- Lu Tze, Sweeper, Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett

Rabit
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Very nicely done, Braithwhite. Thanks for sharing!

 

 

I think...

 


"See, this is another sign of your tragic space dementia, all paranoid and crotchety. Breaks the heart." - Mal

Unicode U+24BD gets us Ⓗ. (Thanks, Godai!)

Estelindis
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Amazing.  Really good pacing and characterization.  Thanks for sharing.

Phantom5613
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Good enough to influence a Weekly One-shot for sentinels digital. :P

azureshot
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The Decision

The Shot

The Result

 

Thanks for influencing a pretty fun one-shot, I was quite worried when the drugs came out extremely fast but it was actually for the better!