”Ah- Y’know, can’t complain. Easy day today, got a hot date with an acid-spitting lab robber, the usual. Underground treatin’ you right?”
Grassbones asked, saddled between Murder Express’ “shoulders” as they climbed into the sky.
His cigarette went out against the wind.
Murder Express paused for a moment, trying to recall which one of the lab robbers could spot acid. He already dealt with Ruby and Graffite (Graphite?) back there, so that left… Flea and Noxia. Which one of them could spit acid again? Oh well, he couldn't be arsed to remember. Probably Flea.
"The Underground is swell to me," Murder Express answered. "The local leaders did just give me their praises after some recent… operations. Though the Scourge, as usual, has been threatening to expose the rest of us through their shenanigans. Things are trouble enough for us outcasts at the moment, then these people make it all worse! Oh, what a pity."”Yeahhh. I feel you. Hard enough just tryna keep cover these days with all the drones and whatnot, ain’t any easier when these jokers make an ass outta everybody else. They’ve gotta be doing this for a reason though, I wanna find out.”
"I concur," Murder Express replied. "The only possible reason for this brazen lab burning would be some kind of nefarious scheme, perhaps to bring about… world domination. Or something like that. Though I must say that these two Scourges, Noxia and Flea, would be… dangerous to me, personally. But that won't stop me!"”Shouldn’t be too hard. Big thing with Flea is he jumps a lot. I’m fast, but I ain’t that fast. I can dive bomb him if I jump off your back, and then give him the ol’ one-two so Nox’s all that’s left. Dunno if you’re stayin’ for the fight, but don’t let Nox see you comin’ or she’ll melt you real quick.”
"I see," came the answer. "And just in time, we're over Bywater now. And now…"
The great raven gazed downward, searching for their targets in an aerial reconnaissance. "Ah, there they are."
The mist intensified, a flock of ravens materializing in order to act as ablative armor should any acid streams come at him. As for Grassbones, he now has the opportunity to drop.
"Make sure to do a superhero pose when you land," Murder Express jokingly said. "That should throw them off!"”Good call.”
Grassbones peered down into the darkness below and saw them. Flea and Noxia running for dear life into god-knows-where. Once Murder Express got close enough, Grassbones pulled out a lighter and lit his cigarette once again, before taking a swan dive off of his ride.
He fell for what could have been a few thousand feet at most, cradling the cigarette with one hand, and landing with a loud thud
just a few feet in front of where the two Scourge were headed.”Well well fucking well. Somebody’s in a hurry tonight. It’s dangerous playin’ with chemicals you don’t know anything about, fellas. How ‘bout I take that off your hands?”
Noxia and Flea skidded to a halt when Grassbones hit the ground. Both wore a look of confusion and annoyance.
“What the hell?” Noxia yelled as she clutched the duffel a bit tighter around her shoulder.
“Oh, it’s that, uh, skeleton dude. Mind getting the fuck outta the way, Bonehead?!” Flea shouted at the smoky vigilante. He glanced into the sky to see where GB dropped from and spotted the flurry of black feathers that can only be from one particular Variant. “Looks like the Bird Brain is here too, Nox,” Flea said, nodding up at Murder Express.
“Save the chems…I wanna see if bones can melt…” Noxia said, tossing the bag to Flea. He caught it and quickly threw it over his shoulder before leaping high into the air and onto the nearest rooftop. “You want these, you gotta keep up!”
A sly grin crept across Noxia’s lips as she wiped a bit of acid from them with her clawed hand. “You dropped in on the wrong party, hun. I’m gonna enjoy this…” She darted toward Grassbones while taking a deep breath in. As soon as she was close enough, she breathed out and released a spray of acid in the skeleton’s direction.”Heh.”
Close-quarters fighting was Grassbones’ comfort zone, and it was only natural that someone who could spit acid would want to capitalize on that. When she made a rush for him, Grassbones threw himself at the ground in a way a person normally shouldn’t be able to. He swung his left arm towards his right knee, bringing his right leg up, which caused his body to twist parallel with the ground. As he did this, he was falling, and spun clockwise. Once Noxia was close enough, that spinning motion turned into a 360-degree kick to her ankle.
The idea was to use Noxia’s momentum against her, and use his own weight as a pivot point, resulting in Noxia throwing herself backwards. Grassbones would’ve counted it as brownie points if she fell with her nose in the dirt and smeared acid across her face.
Nox expected some sort of counter to her full frontal attack, so she wasn’t caught totally off-guard. However, she wasn’t able to fully dodge the ankle kick, and she was clipped as she vaulted over the attack, causing her to twist in the air and land in a sketchy crouch. The acid spray had missed her target and instead coated a small area of the ground to her left which was now sizzling as the acid corroded the street.
The momentum from that kick resulted in Grassbones having the push to bounce off of his back foot, and dart towards Noxia, who landed wobbly on the ground. After roughly 10 steps, he hurled himself forward like a cannonball, shifting his weight once he left the ground so that his feet were pointed at Noxia. What followed was a flying drop kick aimed at her entire body, as he hoped to land it before she could get back up.
Noxia recovered a bit more slowly than she would have liked as Grassbones launched his follow-up kick. She was, however, able to fully rise to her feet and brace herself rather than dodge the kick, so she quickly crossed her arms in front of her chest to block the hit. The impact was enough to take her off of both feet, and she flew back a few feet before landing on her back. Refusing to be caught off-guard a second time, she used the momentum to throw her legs up, roll onto her shoulder, and launch herself off the ground with a back handspring. Noxia landed properly this time, digging her clawed hand into the pavement to halt her backward momentum. Just as she was readying a counterattack, she heard sirens beginning to close in.Damn, cops…this bony bastard is lucky…
Nox’s opponent was obviously quite formidable and the fight would take much longer to settle than she had time for. She made a quick scan of her surroundings for a way to end the fight before it ramped up any further. There was a streetlight directly to her right and she saw an opportunity.
“Enough with the gymnastics, smokestack!” Noxia took another deep breath in and expelled a stream of acid onto the streetlight near the base of it. The metal immediately started to corrode and she swiped the spot with her clawed hand causing the pole to buckle. It fell at just the right angle to potentially land directly onto Grassbones, though she figured he would simply move out of the way. It was more of a distraction for her to be able to escape and avoid the authorities.
Seeing the pole collapse as the acid ate into its structure, Murder Express resolved not to get anywhere within spitting range. While his gravity related health issues were nullified by his transformation, that didn't mean that other things couldn't harm him, especially not acid that could destroy metal. Instead, he summoned yet another unkindness of spectral ravens, sending them in a wave of claw and beak. He figured that they wouldn't be able to harm the reptilian scales on Noxia, but he could at least inconvenience the Scourge's escape by covering them with dark excrement. Not to mention that Flea might jump on him, which made this venture rather risky.
Grassbones, meanwhile, easily leapt out of the way once the pole collapsed. Upon seeing Noxia get harassed by more of Murder Express’ birds, he decided to use the opportunity to get a good swing in on her. He took off charging towards her as fast as he could, and aimed to swing a haymaker at her stomach to knock the wind out of her… Assuming reptiles had lungs to hold wind.
Noxia swore loudly as the swarm of black birds interrupted her getaway. She swiped furiously at a few of them before ending up facing the direction of Grassbones who was coming in hot with a gut shot. She caught the blow full-on and collapsed to one knee clutching her midsection. She wasn’t expecting such a scrawny Variant to pack that much of a punch, and she swore under her breath as it was knocked out of her.
Flea hadn’t gotten too far when he noticed that no one was coming after him. He heard the streetlight collapse to the ground from a few buildings away, and he turned to see his partner-in-crime being double-teamed by the two meddlesome Variants. He wasn’t about to leave her to suffer, so he leapt back to her rescue. Noxia glanced up as Flea landed on the roof directly above the fight. Through sheer rage and adrenaline, Nox was able to muster enough breath to yell out to her fellow Scourge.
“Don’t you dare come back for me! Can’t you hear the sirens?! Finish the mission!” Nox shouted up at Flea just as he was about to leap down and join the fray.
Flea grimaced as he considered her words. He knew she was right. After getting this far, it would be foolish to let both
of them get caught up. Nox would be able to handle whatever came next. And he had no idea whether Ruby and Graff got away. He had to treat this as if he were the last man standing. Flea gripped the bag of chemicals tight to his body as he leapt with a good bit of his strength, soaring past his previous stopping point and landing about half a block away from the action. He glanced back once more as the sirens closed in on the scene, let out a huff of irritation, and continued on his escape.
The cacophony of the tires of several vehicles screeching to a halt was more vexing to Noxia than the pain in her abdomen. It was the auditory signal of both a failed mission and an impending incarceration, and it made her blood boil. She found the strength to tumble away from Grassbones before he decided to throw another strike. She stood up and took a ready stance, though her breathing was a bit labored since she was still recovering from the punch. Both New Haven PD and MADmen poured from their respective vehicles and brandished rifles and pistols at the reptilian girl. The weapons were loaded with both stun and Variant suppression ammunition since this was not a shoot-to-kill situation.
“Don’t try anything stupid! Get back on the ground!” one of the officers shouted.
“Fuck you!” Noxia yelled back as she spit some acid onto the ground toward the authorities. A handful of the officers fired on her, and in her slightly weakened state, she hadn’t the energy to attempt to dodge the incoming darts. She let out a shriek as the voltage from a few stun darts coursed through her body, and she collapsed to the ground. The suppression darts affected each Variant in a different way, and in Noxia’s case, they diluted her acidic secretions down to nearly water. At this point, she was fairly easily detained and moved into one of M.A.D.’s transport vehicles.
"It seems that we too must make our exit," Murder Express simply stated as he landed near Grassbones, motioning his shadowy head towards the police cruisers. "Shall we, friend?"
It's unfortunate that they're no longer in the position to pursue Flea. One can only hope that they'd see the results of whatever chemicals he hauled off in the next few days…
Grassbones lit another cigarette and watched the boys in blue and black cart Noxia away. ”Underground’s gonna get the flak for that stunt they pulled. Hate to see it. Let’s get lost before they bug us.”
Grassbones hopped onto Murder Express’s back. Their work here was done to the best of their abilities. Ruby and Noxia were guaranteed to be locked away. Graphite was a possibility, but Flea? Well, there was always next time.
And then they flew off into the night.