The tires on her Mercedes-Benz screeched as Alison Sparks raced through the streets of Lost Haven, the pristine pearl white exterior covered in a slight layer of dirt and grime as debris rained down from above.
“Shit.” She said as she swerved to avoid a burnt out car that was sitting in the middle of the street, one that she almost didn't see until it was too late. In her time in Midas' employ, Sparks had seen a lot. She saw a man catch a falling space station. She was in Lost Haven to witness a demonic insurrection, and she saw a terrorist organization level entire cities with a weaponized satellite.
But never in her wildest dreams did she ever dream that she would see this.
An actual alien invasion. This was the stuff of comic books and bad science fiction movies. Yet this was not a bad movie, this was really happening, and she was in the thick of it.
“You know Midas, when we get back we're going to have a serious discussion about how much you're paying me.” She said as she saw an alien fighter craft explode overhead. “-because it's not nearly enough.” She stepped on the gas and accelerated toward her destination. She pressed a button on her steering wheel, which activated the screen on the dashboard. The screen showed a 3-D layout of Lost Haven, and on the map she was able to see a small dot.
“There you are.” She said as she noted the dot's location, just a short distance from Racheli's apartment. Without hesitation, she pressed the gas pedal to the floor and made her way towards to dot on her screen.
Air whipped about her form. It tugged at her clothes and ruffled her short hair, her eyes narrowed on the landing point. She bent her legs when she impacted on the street below. It buckled underneath her. The concrete spiderwebbed from her contact as she straightened herself back up. She had felt her bones shatter then repair themselves shortly. A small black stream of nanites oozed from her nose, eyes, and ears onto her skin. A skull-like vision replaced her face when the dust cleared.
Screams of people echoed in the background. Some noted her strange appearance and others merely fled in panic, their focus set on survival. The leather didn't bother her since she couldn't produce heat.You might want to be mindful of your surroundings...
The virus hissed in her mind as the sound of tires screeching echoed in the air.
Racheli's eyes widened as her head whipped about, her body twisted midway to shoot out her arm. A magnetic force rippled through the air and the car thumped against it. She slapped the dented hood with a shout."Watch where the hell you're going, fucker!"
Sparks’ car came to a sudden stop. At first, she thought she had hit someone, or something, yet she realized that the only person that she could have hit was standing too far away for her to have possibly hit them. She sat behind the wheel staring at the woman in the skull mask. She didn’t recognize this woman, and assumed that it was yet another super that had been forced into action by the current apocalypse.
Then she heard the woman speak."Watch where the hell you're going, fucker!"
It was then that she knew exactly who this person was. It was the only person that she had ever heard speak to her with that much animosity and venom, and oddly, she suddenly felt better about their chances.
“Racheli?” She said, still questioning the woman’s sudden change in appearance. “Of all the people to try and run me over…”
The costumed woman snapped under her breath.
She narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms over her front. Sparks… that only meant one thing. The asshole wanted her for something. A deep sigh escaped her lungs as she walked over to the passenger’s side and jerked the door open, her figure plopped onto the seat. She slammed the door shut.
Immediately her mask began to skitter off her face in a big reveal. “I’m not stupid enough to run around without protecting my personal life. Do you know how many freaks in this city have a fetish for superheroes? Icon literally has his own dedicated fan club.”
She smartmouthed then leaned back. “I doubt you’re here for a casual visit. Invasions don’t really encourage stuff like that. Does it have something to do with our asshole of a boss?”
Getting to the point was better than beating around the bush.
“Yeah,” Sparks started. “He sent me to bring you back to Midas Industries. He wants you to help protect the tower.” Sparks finally said before a smile crossed her face as if a better idea had struck her.
“But fuck him. We can do more good here. Midas has plenty of assets to protect the company. There’s a big battle going on between here and there...it would be a shame if we got caught up in that and weren’t able to make it back, wouldn’t it?” Sparks said with a grin.“Choose another turn of phrase. I rather not even have that image stuck in my head.”
Racheli shot back and shuddered.
She took a moment to digest what Sparks had encouraged. A smirk creased across her lips as her mask began to stretch across her face, her image hidden underneath the demonic scold. “I like your line of thought. I was aiming at blowing off some frustration anyways. So, where do we start?”
“There’s a big fight brewing not too far from Sherman Square. All the big guns are assembling over there. We could go there…” Sparks began as she saw one of the troop transports streak across the sky, then slow its descent and disappear behind the skyscrapers just south of their position. “Or we could kick a little ass closer to home.” She said as a slight smirk creased her lips.
Racheli glanced outside the windshield. The crowds outside grew more chaotic and larger, their desperation clear in their actions. She glanced upward toward the apartment she jumped down from. A few frightened individuals recoiled back inside their curtains. She wetted down her tongue then spoke. “I think closer to home is better. I’m not sure I can handle any superegos today.”
“Oh, I hear that.” Sparks said with a slight laugh as she put the car into drive. “According to my intel, there’s some trouble over in Chinatown. Let’s head there, I think those folks have had enough to deal with recently, don’t you?”
Racheli frowned at the mention of Chinatown, her eyes threatened to roll in her skull. It was the first part of Lost Haven she ended up turning into rubble when she clashed with some bizarre guy intent on capturing her. If only the asshole had backed off and left her, she wouldn’t be Midas’ lapdog now. A small sigh exited her lungs before she replied to Sparks’ attempt to be funny. “Hahaa, very funny. Let’s just hope half of them don’t go running and screaming from the sight of me. If you recall right, I did turn main street into rubble the last time I visited.”
Racheli’s sarcasm thickened her comments.
“Yeah, I mean...that wasn’t totally your fault. That was as much on War-Pulse as it was on you.” Sparks said.
Then she drove in silence for several moments toward Chinatown before she spoke up again. “I’m serious, you have to let that go, it wasn’t your fault. Hell, as far as I’m concerned Midas was just as responsible as either of you. But none of that will matter if these alien bastards burn the entire world down.”
Racheli didn’t answer as she let their conversation fade into silence. Punching something might help her mood right now. Her arms just leaned against the window still and watched the buildings dart past. People continued to flee or hide in what they suspected was safety. After a few moments passed, she answered. “Yeah, it doesn’t change anything.”
She accepted the fact, making a mental note to once again lay another flower at the gravesite.
“I know.-” Sparks said with a pause as she jerked the wheel hard to avoid debris in the road.
Racheli let fly another curse as her arms snapped out and braced herself within her seat. She doubted she would suffer any brain damage, but the pain was an annoyance to deal with. Her eyes flickered back to Sparks alongside her scorn.
“-And on the off chance that you ever need to talk about it, I’m here for you. But let’s get through this first.”Sparks said while keeping her eyes on the road as she drove as fast as she could through the streets toward Chinatown. Avoiding abandoned cars and the occasional fleeing civilian, they reached their destination in relatively good time, and as they entered Chinatown, Sparks realized that her sources were indeed spot on, as she saw squads of alien troops going door to door, leaving nothing but charred corpses in their wake.
Racheli flinched at the screech of rubber ground over the pavement as Sparks avoided another vehicle. Farther ahead they cluttered tightly together to form a small barrier that people flooded around to continue their escape. Her head turned to Sparks and she demanded one thing. “Keep driving.”
She popped open the door.
A loud screech erupted into her ears. The outside left a bright red smear on a black truck, the impact threatened to take it off. Ignoring the painful ringing in her ears, Racheli’s arm fought the whirlwind of air racing past. Her hand immediately magnetized itself onto the metal surface.“About fucking time something went my way!”
Racheli snapped as she raised her other arm, both her hands fastened to the roof. Using her unnatural strength, she pulled herself on top of the car.
Her nanites immediately formed her mask on her exit. Rach held up her arms to balance herself while her nanites began to weigh down her structure. She focused on the nearest car then whipped her arm to the right. It slid to the side. The front smashed into another parked vehicle and crumpled. Not thinking about the destruction she would be leaving behind, she motioned the various obstructions out of her way. Some flipped into stacks while others slid to the side, the twisting mental fill the air. Any alien in the way suddenly found themselves either pinned or crushed underneath the flying debris.
“Midas won’t be happy about that.” Sparks said under her breath as her car made contact with a parked truck. Then, she pushed the gas pedal to the floor when Racheli told her to keep driving. The car’s speed increased, even as Racheli climbed from the passenger seat to the roof. Sparks held her breath as debris flew past her car, crushing the invading aliens even as they scattered to get out of the way.
She swerved to the left, and back to the right as pieces of vehicles, street signs, and even pedestrians seemingly jumped out in front of her speeding car. Then, just up ahead, she saw several of the aliens standing together, standing over a group of teenagers with their weapons drawn.
“Oh no you don’t.” Sparks said as she turned the wheel in the aliens’ direction, sending the car speeding toward them. The screeching of the tires got their attention, as the four invaders turned their attention from the teens, who took advantage of the sudden distraction and took off running from the aliens to the approaching vehicle. There was a thud, as the front of the car made contact with the first alien, then another, and another, and another as sparks drove through the murderous extraterrestrials.
That’s what you get, motherf-!!” she was cut off as a crimson-white laser blast struck the car, sending it careening out of control, where it hit a parked minivan, the impact causing the car to flip on its side, where it then rolled over half a dozen times, before finally coming to a stop fifty yards down the street.
Sparks opened her eyes, her head was ringing as she tried to free herself from the driver’s seat. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, she was able to pull herself from the wreckage, and to her simultaneous relief and horror, she didn’t see Racheli anywhere. However, what she did see, was a group of angry, teal-skinned aliens making their way toward her.
When Sparks kicked the car into overdrive, Racheli’s hands lifted and shielded her mask. Its durable metal protected her skin from being ripped off by the ferocity as the wind continued to slash past her. Her eyes widened when her foot began to slip, the magnetism struggled to fasten into the roof. Humanoid bodies hit the car front then flowed over it. Their mass nearly hit Rach with each new target that met the speed demon known as Sparks. “God damn it, watch where-”
Rach didn’t get a chance to finish her cursing.
The car veered to avoid the white ray of energy from an alien weapon. Her knee crumbled into the roof. She lifted up her head in time to spot the minivan. It rushed close as she prepared to brace herself. Too late, she thought with a curse. Her magnetism failed and her feet lifted from the roof. She went flying past the van then through a string of paper lanterns. The string snapped before she crashed into a cheap table in front of a market. It crumbled into the sideway leaving her breathless. With a heaving breath, Rach jerked upright and bit back a scream.
Every bone in her body had fractured or broke on impact then began to heal. It would take some time until they were back to their original condition. For now, she had to grit through the pain and used it to fuel her fury. “Fuck… fuck…You’re all going to regret that.”
She spat out a few droplets of black blood onto the sideway while she proceeded to crawl
back onto her feet.
With the back of her hand, she wiped it from her mask’s lips. “Sparks, I told you…”
The name caused her to immediately whirl about, her eyes spotted the mangled car a way down the street.
Racheli’s heart stopped for a moment. An ice-cold fury buried into her chest and spread across her form. The metal around her began to vibrate, dent, and threatened to crash into the ground. A few aliens began to advance on her. Racheli’s right hand rose to her side, her magnetism extended to the large street lamp nearby. With a slicing hand gesture forward, it ripped from the concrete then splintered into pieces. Each one-shot forward into the center of the group.
Several of the Arlaaekan warriors fell like shards of the street light struck them in the chest. However, no sooner than they fell, did another take their place. Surprised by the human’s attack, but not deterred, they marched forward with their weapons drawn, ready for anything that the Earth woman could throw at them. There was a sudden movement on the left side of the street, perhaps it was the humans readying an attack, or someone trying to run for cover...but whatever it was, it didn’t matter. One of the Arlaaekans leveled his weapon in the direction of the commotion and fired, disintegrating the small Earthling where she stood, leaving nothing but a child’s shoe where she had been.
Once the distraction had been dealt with, the Arlaaekans continued their march toward the armored Earthling. Though she had proven to be a formidable threat, she would soon learn that she was no match for the Sons of Arlaaek, who would soon make the Autocrat proud by delivering to this woman a swift death. They made their way toward the woman, stopping short just in front of her...and raised their weapons.
Racheli’s lips curled into a cocky smirk. Her powers began to reach down underneath the concrete and street, to the metal pipe maze lurking there. They vibrated as they snaked their way to the surface. Adrenaline-like energy pulsed through her very veins, each muscle ready for the fight’s build-up. Suddenly one of the aliens shot into an alleyway causing a woman to scream out and realization slapped Racheli in the face.
It echoed in her mind, her wicked grin fell into horror then twisted into pure wrath. Her gloved hands tightened into fists. The fury of what she witnessed rooted into her heart and rolled off into power, the magnetism started to shove deep into the fissures underneath her feet. “That was a mistake.”
Before the words fully left her mouth, Rach’s powers reacted.
Sections of the ground heaved and metal shot out of the ground. Like snakes, they curled and crushed any slow victims leaving bloody pulp smeared across their surfaces. Bloodlust started to fill her as she rushed the nearest victim. Her fingers molded into blades, the edges sliced the flesh then cleaved through the bone. Blood spattered across her black jacket, but it didn’t slow her. Her other hand encased the alien’s head before she crushed it. She tossed the limp body away to move onto the next one.
Juri, the head of the elite Royal Guard who had been tasked with subduing any resistance in this section of the city watched as the madwoman ripped through his men like a crazed T’kurra Hound. Man after man fell, men that he had served with for years. Men who had stood at his side as they razed countless worlds together.
And this woman simply slaughtered them where they stood.
She ran through his unit, cutting down each man as she came to them, and as he watched this he found a strange sense of respect for the Earthlings. Never before had the Grand Army of Arlaaek faced an opponent who had been able to put up such a fight, and as he looked at the corpses of his brothers in arms Juri felt burning anger in the pit of his soul. However, as he saw the wild woman rushing straight towards him, he felt something that up to that point had been completely foreign to him:
He felt fear.
There were only a few times in her life that her love of violence ever fully consumed her. For someone looking in, she looked less than human as she ripped through the aliens. Her mind justified it as self-defense, but deep down she knew it was more than that. She missed the rush. The blades on her fingers grew long and wickedly sharp. It flashed through flesh turning it into thick confetti.
Alien blood splattered across her leather jacket, staining it green.
A wild grin widened across her lips as her legs moved, her arms whipped out at any of the aliens standing still. Their weapons fell from crushed hands or severed stubs. The only warning came in the form of a steely glint from her knives.
The last alien, wearing a distinct uniform, had turned to face her. Before his weapon came up, she got in close and punched into his chest. Green made a new splash upon the crushed hood of a car. Racheli's fingers stretched into eagle spread after it exited out the alien's back.
His body shuddered then went slack, dangling from her forearm. Asshole was heavy, she noted, then tried to shake him off. It didn’t work so she lowered it against the hood. Her knee pulled up to pin the pelvis area against the car and pushed. With a little effort, it came off with a squelched sound. Strange organs and fluids flowed from the gaping hole just under what she guessed to be the ribcage.“Fucking gross…”
While she watched the body slump down in front of it.
Racheli shook her arm clean as she turned back to the last place she saw Sparks."Sparks, where the hell are you?"
Her boot smashed something thick and wet. She dared not glance down, uninterested to discover the cause. A ropy string of organs stuck to her boot heel and trailed after as she navigated through the field of corpses.
Alison Sparks’ body slammed hard into the side of what had once been Mercedes, leaving a perfect impression of her frame in the door. She staggered away from the wrecked vehicle and wiped a trickle of blood from her chin and raised her right hand to the three aliens as they approached her, then she motioned with her fingers for her attackers to “bring it.”
The first of the aliens was met with a hard right hand which shattered the bones in his face, followed by a swift kick which sent him tumbling backwards, landing in a heap on the ground. The second alien rushed her, only to be met with a spinning backhand which snapped the invader’s neck back violently, the sound of the attacker’s vertebrae breaking filled the air just as the last of the invaders moved in on her. The dead alien’s body had barely hit the ground when Sparks spun around and grabbed the door to what had been her car. The metal screeched as she pulled the door from its hinges, and spun around again, caving in the rushing alien’s head with it. "Sparks, where the hell are you?"
came Racheli’s voice sounding more annoyed than usual.
Sparks turned in the direction of her frenemy’s voice and saw Racheli coming toward her, dragging alien entrails behind her. Racheli was wearing an expression of equal parts disgust and surprise when she saw the scene that had unfolded before her.
“What? You didn’t think I was some sort of damsel in distress, did you?” Sparks said with a grin.
Racheli raised her head a bit, her expression hidden underneath her mask. “I was hoping not, but I couldn’t find you. I’m pessimistic by nature. We should consider getting out of here. I rather not test my limits unless I have to.”