Aubrey Adkins | Amanda Allen-James
While the nightlife and the bar scene never dies down in downtown Pacific Point, the rest of the city falls into a slumber during the twilight hours. The streets were almost completely devoid of local traffic. The citizens of Pacific Point knew well not to be wandering about the city after midnight, since the crazies and the criminals came out like nocturnal animals once the moon peaks in the sky.
Arachne used the cover of the night to hide her movement across the rooftops as she journeyed home. Since the business hours for the majority of the businesses in the area had long ago elapsed, only the street lamps lit up the roads. Therefore, the buildings themselves were still shrouded in darkness. Even if someone were to notice a drider hopping from rooftop to rooftop, the bystander would believe his eyes were playing tricks on himself because of the nighttime darkness.
Once she landed on the next rooftop, Arachne stopped in her tracks to pull her cell phone out, which she had fastened to her arm with several strands of spider silk. She pulled the glove off of her hand so that she could use her smartphone.I really hope I’m heading in the right direction.
Arachne thought to herself as she brought up Apple Maps on her iPhone. After examining the map, she confirmed that she was traveling towards her apartment. She then reattached her phone to her arm with a fresh batch of webs and prepared herself to make another jump to the next roof.
However, before she could begin her running start for her next jump, Arachne noticed a dim flash blink past her. She could also sense a slight change in air pressure because of whatever had just sped past her. Arachne peered back at her phone and checked the time. She still had at least two hours before the charity event would end, let alone her double arriving back at her apartment.I know I’m going to regret this, but I might as well check this out. I’ve got some time to kill.
Arachne thought as she turned herself around to follow whatever she had just saw.
For Slipstream, the images that Izzy had shown her raced through her mind. So much death and destruction brought about by the so called Hounds of Humanity, and for what? As she zipped through the city, she found it difficult to think of anything else. The burnt and mutilated bodies that seemed to litter the scenes of the attacks. The individuals who had been brutally murdered, stripped of their dignity and strung up as a warning in cities all across the country, and her own encounter with the group, or at the very least, people who were working either with or for the Hounds, who were holding a truckload of kidnapping victims right here in Pacific Point. That first encounter hadn’t gone well for her, if it hadn’t been for the Iron Knight showing up, she may not have walked away from that in one piece, or at all for that matter.
Although she and Iron Knight were able to take down the guys behind the kidnappings, they didn’t figure out where they were taking those people, or why. Though, if they really were working for the Hounds, she had a pretty good idea of the fates that awaited the victims...and it was enough to send shivers down her spine. It was perhaps this uneasy feeling that she had about the entire situation that drew her back to the location of the first encounter.
She came to a sudden stop right where the van that was used to transport the victims had been parked. She didn’t know why she was drawn back to this place, or what she hoped to find now that she was here, but there was just something that seemed off about the entire situation. She had barely begun looking around the area when the streets began to rumble as the sound of several large, black paramilitary trucks rolled onto the scene. Slipstream braced herself for an attack, however, there was none. Instead a lone man climbed out of the passenger side of the first truck and slowly approached her with his arms outstretched.
“Well, well. It seems that we are at a bit of an impasse.” the man said as he stepped toward her. He was a tall man, athletically built and a bit wiry, with a receding hairline and a neat mustache that met the five o’clock shadow just below his lips. It was clear that he was a confident man, that confidence flirting with cockiness, and he had a certain air about him when he spoke, like that of a sleazy used car salesman. Yet, every time that he spoke, Slipstream could feel the malice behind his words. “You’ve been a naughty girl, and I think it’s time that you paid for your transgressions.”
As he finished his last statement, the doors to the trucks opened and men in black body armor filed out of the vehicles, blocking her escape route.
“Alright boys, take her down.” The man said as he pointed towards Slipstream.
However, before the men in black body armor could lunge forward, a webline darted out of the twilight of the night, attaching onto the back of one of Slipstream’s soon-to-be assailants. This man was then yanked back by whatever was holding onto the other end of the spider silk. The man struggled in vain to hold onto the ground, but whatever was pulling on the strand of silk was stronger than the man.“I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t head straight home,”
a feminine voice announced from where the webline originated. Slipstream and the men who surrounded her could only see a silhouette of a giant spider that had the body of a woman from the waist up attached where the spider’s head would normally be. With one hand, she picked up the man she had dragged away from the rest of the group and pressed him up against a nearby street light which needed its bulb changed. With the other, she wrapped the spider silk, which she used to capture the man, around him so that he was tied to the pole.
Once she had neutralized that black-armored man, her arachnid agility allowed the drideresque heroine to cover the ground between herself and the men who surrounded Slipstream in no time. She then jumped onto the roof of one of the nearby paramilitary trucks. When she had landed on the roof, she then raised her front two pairs of spider legs into the air, in a similar manner as a tarantula would if it were trying to warn an animal of its lethality while making itself look more intimidating.“How about you make this easy for all of us by telling your men to file their butts back into your shady, probably illegal trucks so we can all catch some z’s. How about it?”
However, instead of surrendering, the cocky leader of the men who surrounded Slipstream burst into laughter. Despite now facing two superhumans, the man was not at all sweating. He was just as calm and collected as he had been when he first stepped out of the first paramilitary truck to confront Slipstream.
“You think we’re shaking in our boots?” The man finally boasted while he pulled out his side firearm and cocked it. “On the contrary, you should be the ones running for the hills. We are the scourge of you metahuman scum. We will not rest until this world is purified of your filth.”
“Why don’t we start with you?” The man then pointed his pistol at the drideresque heroine who was standing on the roof of one of his paramilitary trucks. “No matter whatever curves you have to deceive unsuspecting men, they can’t make up for the abomination and monstrosity that is the rest of your body. We can’t let that enter the human gene pool.”
Without saying another world, the man pulled the trigger, unloading the lead in his pistol at the drideresque heroine. However, the spider woman performed a backflip off the truck, narrowly dodging the bullet that would have otherwise been right on the mark. She landed on the side of the truck opposite of where all the men, including their leader, were standing, using the vehicle as cover against them.
The group of Hounds turned their attention to the new arrival and immediately opened fire. However, the spider woman effortlessly dodged the gunfire, which frustrated the attackers. Not to be outdone, Slipstream rushed at the Hounds of Humanity thugs. As she zipped toward the men, the entire world seemed to slow down around her. From her perspective, everything but her was moving in slow motion.
She raced up to the first Hound and hit him, then hit him again. And again, and again. She had punched him up and down his upper body, from his face to his solar plexus several dozen times in the time that it took to blink, the final blow knocked the man off of his feet, leaving him sprawled out in a heap on the ground. However, the leader of this particular group of Hounds, the man who had initially approached her, was ready. Before Slipstream had even made a move on the Hounds, he had tossed a small silver cylindrical object in her direction. By the time she had finished with the first Hound in her path, the object delivered its payload, flash freezing the surface of the road and alley in which they were engaged. Slipstream was unable to get traction on the street’s new icy sheen, and instead of making her way to the next Hound, she found herself sliding out of control, where she slammed hard into the side of one of the Hound’s paramilitary trucks, nearly knocking it over onto its side.
Slipstream was in a bad spot now. The frozen street made it impossible for her to use her powers without becoming a human-sized pinball. Furthermore, the Hounds had their firearms locked onto the speedster. All seemed hopeless for Slipstream, until she noticed that a webline had been shot at and attached to her ankle. Right before the Hounds unleashed their weapons, Slipstream was yanked out of the way across the ice until she slid underneath another of the Hounds paramilitary vehicles.“This might not be the time for this, but I’ve haven’t seen you before. I’m Arachne, if you were wondering.”
“I’m Slipstream.” She said, lacking a better response. Between the sudden winter wonderland that had made its presence known, and the giant half woman, have spider that had snared her in her web, she didn’t have much to say about anything. However, she suddenly realized that she did in fact recognize the spider woman. As a resident of Pacific Point before she got her powers, Amanda had seen reports of her exploits, as well as her role in bringing down the meta domes which were responsible for her gaining her powers. Suddenly, Slipstream wished that she had paid more attention to the comings and goings of superheroes prior to her becoming one, because as loathe as she was to admit it, she couldn’t remember the spider woman’s actual name. Before she gained her speed, Amanda rarely paid heed to the different heroes that appeared around the country. While she obviously was aware of the big names like Icon and Iron Knight, some of the others...not so much. And while the spider woman was becoming a big deal around Pacific Point, Amanda had always just called her “Spider Babe,” which given the circumstances seemed wholly inappropriate at this point in time.
“Thanks for the assist.” Slipstream said as she saw the Hounds advancing on them.“We need a plan to take out these creeps.