Aubrey Adkins | Amanda Allen-James
Though Slipstream was more than happy to take out these creeps, as Arachne had suggested, she watched as several more truckloads of the paramilitary jackboots arrived on the scene, which meant to her, that even with the advantage that their powers gave them over these thugs, perhaps a direct assault wasn’t the best course of action. When she saw that the Hounds were advancing on them, she knew that there was no way they could win with a straight up attack.
“There’s too many of them, I think we should put some distance between us and them, then figure out what we’re gonna do.” Slipstream said after a momentary pause.
Arachne peaked over the paramilitary vehicle that the two metahumans were hiding behind. The Hounds were quickly approaching their position. While they could risk it and try to take on the men, the odds for success were against the two women, not only because they were outnumbered, but also since the Hounds appeared to have been prepared to deal with Slipstream, which has neutralized their metahuman advantage over their human assailants.“I think you’re right. But I need a distraction to escape. I’m not sure if I can dodge the bullet barrage that will be aimed at me while we try to make our retreat.”
“I think I have an idea.” Slipstream said with a hint of uncertainty in her voice.
The icy sheen that glistened on the pavement was a problem. It was a simple fact that she could not run on ice, so in essence, the Hounds should have taken her out of the game. However, since she gained her powers, she had suspected that her speed would allow her to not only cover great distances in a short time, but allow her to travel in ways that were not only unconventional, but impossible just about anyone else. She did not know if the plan would work, but now was just as good of a time to give it a try. She didn’t have much of a choice, if she didn’t distract them, both she and Arachne were dead. If this didn’t work, she and Arachne were dead. The only thing she had going for her, was the fact that the truck they were crouched behind had shielded the area immediately behind it from the ice, which would allow her to get some traction. On the other hand, there was only about a half a dozen feet from where they crouched and the front side of the nearest building Slipstream gathered herself for a split second and began running. She ran from the truck to the side of the building, and then she ran up the face of the building. Quickly she turned and ran along the side of the building to the next one, and then the one beside that one. She little more than a pinkish purple and chrome blur as she ran from building to building, and then zipped off down the street from the Hounds and their deathtrap. She had gotten nearly to St Louis before she turned around and raced back.
Happily, she found that her distraction had worked. Arachne had been able to get away from the Hounds, and was keeping an eye on them from several rooftops away when she returned. Slipstream tapped Arachne on the shoulder, slightly out of breath.
“So...now what?” She asked, panting as she tried to catch her breath.“I would suggest going home and sleeping in our warm beds, but that would not be very heroic of us,”
Arachne told Slipstream after she had returned from distracting the Hounds so that she could slip away without the human terrorists noticing. “I guess we’re going to do the one thing that any sane person would never do: follow a group of men who only moments prior had pointed their military-grade firearms at us. It’s not like someone has already tried to blow my brains out tonight.”
Meanwhile, the Hounds had already finished packing up their equipment and piled back into their paramilitary vehicles. Since their target had escaped via the intervention of a second hero, the Hounds began to speed away, leaving nothing except for the icy street as evidence of their presence. Even though she was a metahuman, Arachne knew that she could not keep up with their vehicles, especially if leave the city. However, Arachne was in luck since the hero she had helped save from the Hound did have the speed to match the Hound’s vehicles.“Do you think you could trail them without being seen?”
“Yeah, no problem.” Slipstream replied. Though she thought she sounded confident in the plan, she was anything but. These guys had already proven to be more than she could handle alone, and even with Arachne with her, she felt deep down that this was way above her pay grade. “But I think I’ll let you take the lead on this...you seem to do the whole sneaking around thing better than me...I’m more of a straight forward, rush in, rush out kind of girl.” “We need to figure out where they’re heading. You can run infinitely faster than I can, so the Hounds could never shake you off their trail. Once we have learned where their base is, we can figure out what we should do next.”
Slipstream and Arachne watched as the Hounds rolled out of the area. Instead of immediately rushing off after the terrorists, she hung back a bit, allowing the Hounds to put some distance between them. Once they were a few blocks away, Slipstream took off after them, zipping from building to building, ducking into alleys as she moved in an attempt to avoid being seen. Slipstream repeatedly did this for more than two dozen blocks as she followed the Hounds down Ocean Avenue, one of the main throughways in and out of Pacific Point. Slipstream wasn’t sure exactly how far she’d followed the Hounds’ motorcade, as her sense of distance is somewhat distorted when she uses her super speed. A distance of several hundred miles could have seemed to have only been a few miles. However, this did not seem to be the case in this instance. The Hounds led her just outside of the city limits, to an old decommissioned gas station much like the ones you would see while traveling along the old historic Route 66.
The station itself was nothing out of the ordinary. There were a few old fashioned pumps in front of the station, and what had once been a two stall garage. It certainly didn’t look like the secret base of an evil terrorist organization bent on the destruction of an entire segment of the population. Slipstream stayed out of sight as the Hounds pulled into the parking lot. As the vehicles pulled up to the double garage doors, the doors slowly opened, and to her astonishment, the dozen or so vehicles that she had been trailing entered the garage two by two, until they had all vanished from sight and the doors closed behind them.
Once the Hounds had vanished into their hideaway, Slipstream turned around and no longer under the restraints of secrecy, raced back into the city to the rendezvous point with Arachne.
“I know where they are, and if we hurry, we can take them down.” Slipstream said, perhaps sounding much more confident than she actually felt.“Back already?”
Arachne asked as she was halfway finished weaving a spiderweb hammock. Since she knew that it was time to go, Arachne wadded up the spider silk and discarded it. “I hoped I could get a little breather while you were following them.”
“I would have been back sooner, but you know how bad traffic can be on the 73 Freeway.” Slipstream quipped before watching Arachne roll up the web hammock that she’d been building. “Sorry to interrupt your nap.” she said with a smirk before she began to fill Arachne in on what she’d discovered.
Once Slipstream had disclosed the location of the Hound’s base of operations, the two superheroines headed out. While Arachne had enhanced speed that surpassed the regular human, her speed could not match Slipstream’s. Therefore, she essentially played a game of catch up: Slipstream had to periodically stop while she waited for Arachne to arrive. After several stops, Arachne and Slipstream finally arrived at the not so abandoned gas station.“I have a bad feeling about this.”
Arachne muttered to Slipstream, since the gas station seemed unguarded. The two women slowly approached the building, placing the old fashioned gas pumps between themselves and the station.
Slipstream and Arachne watched the double garage doors that the Hounds’ vehicles had vanished behind intently, looking for any signs of life. Slipstream stood up straight, emerging from their hiding place.“I know that being a spider-centaur thing isn’t the most incognito thing in the world, but you’re not really helping.”
Arachne whispered to Slipstream as her new ally revealed herself from their cover.
“Relax, they don’t even know that we’re here.” Slipstream said with a shrug of her shoulders just before the sound of gunfire suddenly erupted. Bullets flew past their heads, barely missing the heroes as they ducked back behind the old style gas pumps, which luckily had been dry for quite some time.
“Yup, they know we’re here! They know we’re here!” Slipstream cried out as bullets ricocheted off of the tanks which kept them out of the direct line of fire, at least for the time being.“And what gave you that idea?”
Although the gas pumps were sufficient for giving Slipstream cover, Arachne’s drider physique made things a little bit more difficult. While her upper body was not a problem, her spider half, especially her legs, could not be hidden entirely behind the pumps. She knew that the two of them had to do something unless they wanted to become swiss cheese. Although the simple solution to this problem was having Slipstream disarm the Hounds, if their confrontation earlier that night taught her anything, the anti-metahuman terrorists were prepared for her. They needed a different approach.“I’m going to create a distraction. Then you should be able to work your magic.”
Arachne quickly told Slipstream once she had made up her mind. She then leaped up and landed on the gas station’s awning that would have been used back in the day by the customers to get their vehicle out of the elements. When she had touched down on the awning, she began running forward towards the building, while the Hounds poured their bullets at the awning.
While Arachne’s “spider-sense” gave her an uncanny ability to anticipate an enemy’s attack. However, she still needed the space to dodge any specific attack. With enough bullets concentrated in a single area, even if she knew that the bullets were coming, there might not be a way for her to move out of the way without getting hit by a different bullet. Therefore, as she crossed the awning, Arachne performed what could be best be described as a dance, since she had to move back and forth, right to left and back so that she would not get hit by a bullet.
She had almost reached the gas station’s main convenience store roof, when one of the Hounds’ bullets grazed Arachne’s hind leg. Due to the pain in her leg, Arachne tumbled forward and fell to the floor of the roof. Even though the wound burned, she had enough willpower to pull the rest of her spider abdomen off the awning so that it would not catch a bullet. She then peered back at her wound. Although her blood stained the cloth around her wound, her healing factor had already started to clout up the wound. While some plain still lingered, she would be fine until it could completely heal in a couple minutes.
Seeing that Arachne had been hit by the gunfire, Slipstream decided that it was up to her to take the heat off of her new friend. She left the relative safety provided by the gas pumps and in a purplish pink and chrome blur, began running literal circles around their attackers, drawing their fire away from the slightly injured Arachne. Slipstream zipped from the pump right to the nearest Hound, who had his gun trained on Arachne, and with a simple shove sent him flying backwards into one of his compatriots. As Slipstream made her way around the old service station, taking out Hound after Hound, Arachne had been given ample time to recover from her injuries and rejoin the fray. As the two women took the fight to the Hounds of Humanity, the thugs began to retreat inside of the garage. The double garage doors began closing behind the retreating Hounds, who had left their unconscious cohorts to fend for themselves.
“They’re getting away!” Slipstream cried out as the doors inched toward the ground. However, she wasn’t planning on letting that happen. She accelerated toward the descending doors. As she approached the doors, they were almost completely closed, leaving less than a foot between bottom of the doors and the ground. As she reached the doors, she went to the ground and slid under the doors like a baseball player sliding into second base. She had barely come to a stop as the doors closed behind her. A cold chill ran down her spine as she realized that she was alone in the garage with who knows how many Hounds of Humanity terrorists, and no way out. She spun around to face the enemies behind her, only to find that there were none. Instead, she found that she was in an empty garage. There was a sloping floor that led to another set of doors that looked to lead to a subterranean level underneath the old service station.
“Great. Just great.” Slipstream said to herself as she looked around the garage looking for a way to get the doors open again. Then, on the far wall she saw what looked like a set of controls hanging down from the wall itself. The controls was about the length of a surge protector and had two round buttons, one red and the other green, on the face of the device. She took the device in her hand and with little else to lose, pressed the green button. The double garage doors creaked and moaned as the began to ascend into the ceiling. When the doors finally came to a stop, Slipstream looked out to find Arachne standing just outside, looking into the empty garage.
“It looks like we’re going down.” Slipstream said as she pointed to the entry to what she assumed was an underground base of some sort.“Why does it not surprise me that these roaches would have a secret rat nest underneath this place. While rushing down there doesn’t sound like a good idea, I’m not camping out here all night.”
Slipstream nodded to show her agreement. Therefore, the two superheroines descended into the lair of this Hounds of Humanity cell, prepared to react to any sort of ambush that the Hounds might have prepared for them.