Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Battle Vixens! - 4

You've probably already guessed this by now, but I've been rather busy and low on inspiration lately. Today however, I discovered much to my embarrassment that I actually already finished writing this part of Battle Vixens and just...forgot to ever publish it. So, here it is!

Episode 4: Rescue Mission

Blake hadn't come up with a better phone-booth than the men's restroom at the apartment yet, and there wasn't time to think about it now. He needed to go get Gerald's powers back to him/her, and then they had some kidnappers to catch. Blake was in enough of a hurry to not bother with the trash cans, and thankfully that didn't prove to be necessary, as once he spoke his phrase and refracted back to being a small fox-girl, Light didn't hear anyone reacting to the flash outside, much less someone walking in to really see it. She went out with a Blake-image as before, walking as briskly as she estimated he could until out of sight, and then went invisible to rush to Gerald's house.

Once she got there, Light made an image of the inside for herself just long enough to figure out where he was, and then made a little bit of glowing text for him to see: I'm outside and invisible right now. Open the door or a window or something please. He didn't seem too worried that someone was watching him, so he opened the door; she slipped inside and made herself visible again after getting a few feet away from him and letting him close it again. "Okay, so, what'd they say?"
"Well, your guess was right," he said. "They thought the few days it's been was a little too fast for me to have gotten the money together after how I was talking a few days ago. I think they may suspect I got the police involved, and the money I sent online is a ruse to track them somehow. But...my granddaughter is alive, still. I...they let me speak with her for a moment. They want the same amount again dropped off somewhere, in cash, by noon." He sounded slightly panicked in that last sentence.
"Noon, huh..." Light leaned against a wall, thinking. "I uh, hate to ask this but I sorta ran over here almost as soon as I got up and didn't eat anything. I'm not exactly sure how the body-switching works but yesterday I was really hungry after I changed back."
"Sure, I can spare something," said Gerald. "I haven't eaten yet either, and we could probably both use a moment of calm before this begins."

They sat across a small table from each other. It didn't seem like Gerald's family was very big. Light was still thinking about the impending rescue mission, of course. "If you've got something for them to think a bunch of cash is in, we can put that down as bait—no further stealing needed, yeah? If we knock out whoever comes after the cash then I know how to follow the trail back to where they came from and then we can save her."
Gerald nodded. "Well, you can, at least."
"Oh, right!" She sat up straight suddenly, her ears sticking themselves upright at the same time. "I almost forgot. I had a..." (no, don't say I had a dream, she thought) "I had an idea of how we could make your powers work again. I was able to say your phrase to make you turn back to normal just by wanting it to happen, so maybe I can just get things working how they were before the same way." It was dead simple now that she thought of it that way. "I can try it when we're through eating if you want." He nodded.

After the plates were put away, they stood back in the living room where the front door was. "Ready?"
"Yes," he nodded, looking determined.
"Alright." Light spoke Gerald's phrase to him again, this time wanting—no, ordering, she felt as if the right mental switch to flip and make it do exactly what she wanted had somehow been pointed out to her in the dream last night—it to grant Gerald back his powers, including the ability to say his own phrase to go back and forth. No sooner had she finished speaking it than a massive stream of lightning bolted from each of her hands, arcing out into a million jagged lines on the way to his body but all of them landing there. Right away, she saw the old man shrinking and changing just as he had when hit by the strange bolt of lightning outside the day before. As he became a small girl, she smiled, her tail swishing back and forth contentedly, as if it had been uncomfortable to not have access to her powers for a time.

"You remember how to say your phrase now?" said Light.
"Yep!" She nod-nodded and smiled even brighter. But then little sparks of electricity began to crackle and fizzle around her again, which she frowned at. "Uhm...you can hide light, but not sound, right?" she said, looking up at the taller girl.
"Yeah. Can you not...turn that off?" said Light, headtilting slightly.
"Uh-uh," she shook her head. "I've tried, 'cause it seems like it might hurt people who get too close, but it's like I'm constantly overflowing. Like I got too much."
"Hmm. Lemme see if I can just..." Light tried speaking the girl's phrase again, ordering her powers to be just as usable to her but stop being obnoxious please. A tiny spark, like a very long bit of static electricity, passed from the smaller girl back into her, and it stopped.
"Yay! You fixed it!" she said happily, clapping her hands.
"Yeah," Light smiled back. But it was a little strange that she apparently had more control over Gerald's powers than she did herself...or at least, more precise control maybe? It didn't matter right now, though. "Okay, now let's go rescue your little girl," she said, walking dramatically to the door and opening it. Nobody else saw the door open, or the two girls walking out of it, but maybe they could have heard a couple of soft voices a block or so away if there were anyone there to hear.

Gerald was leading the way, carrying with her a big duffel bag, since she knew where the drop off was supposed to be. She said, "Hey, uh, Light?"
"Since you're calling yourself a different name so people don't know who you are, maybe I could do that too?"
"I don't see why not," she shrugged. "I'd say I shouldn't know either, but that ship has kinda sailed. What do you have in mind?"
"Ning," she said immediately.
"Yep! That way, together we're Light-Ning."

"Well I mean..." One of Light's ears sort of cocked to the side. "It's clever I guess, but kind of a big commitment to the pun. Anyway...as far as I knew, we're only working together to get your granddaughter back. I'm all in for this superhero stuff 'cause, well, I have my reasons anyway. But you've got a little girl to take care of, right? Parents..not in the picture?"
The other girl nodded slowly; she was facing forward so her back was to Light but the way her ears drooped told Light what her expression probably was at the moment.
"Right. So I thought you'd like to use your power to protect her. I didn't really mean to rope you into anything bigger than this rescue...and maybe getting the stolen money back to the bank."

"I don't mind. Maybe I couldn't help you all the time, but I like the idea of stopping evildoers," said the smaller girl. "I've seen the news too. There's lots of bad people who got powers like ours, you know, and I can't stand the thought of you having to fight some of them alone after helping me out so much, not when I can do somethin' about it. Anyway, Ning has a nice ring to it all its own."
"Well, I'll call you that if it's what you want," said Light. Her mind was almost immediately elsewhere. Obedient to your every whim, that woman had said. What was this whole idea of being a superhero, if not a whim born of a lifetime of reading comic books and watching movies based on them? Would Gerald—Ning, rather—be quite so willing to work with her if she didn't "own" her power? It wasn't total obedience, no, but the woman had basically said that control over the appearance of a person's body came in degrees, so what if the mind control came in degrees too, starting with the person suddenly wanting what the "owner" wanted as long as it was something they could rationalize as their own desires?

She was pulled out of the thought by Ning saying "Hey!" in a slightly louder whisper than their conversation up until now. Then she repeated herself: "This is the place." They were standing at a bus stop somewhere in the middle of the city. "I'm supposed to put it under the bench and leave."
"That seems like...pretty stupid," said Light.
"Just...if you put the bag here and leave, and there's just this bag of money in a public place, someone's gonna get curious about it and open it up and take the money. Or the bag. I mean, at the very least a homeless person would definitely do that. Between this and thinking you even have a lot of money in the first place, I think we might be dealing with some kind of extra incompetent bad guys. Oh well." She waved her hand, making an image of the bag appear under the bench.

"You know, in the real world criminals are pretty stupid a lot of the time," said Ning. "They'll do things like post incriminating evidence to the internet, or brag loudly about what they did right in front of the police station. If you've just been reading comics all your life for how they behave, you might be surprised by how dumb they can really be."
"You're right." Light put a hand to her chin, thinking. "Okay, if one guy comes alone in this case I'll just hit him in the head to knock him out, easy enough. But if there's more than that we'll be in a situation where maybe they want to fire on us because they're dumb enough to do that in a public place like this. I'm gonna put their targets way away from us or anyone else, of course, but maybe they're so bad they miss or just don't aim, and wind up hitting someone anyway. We can't let that happen. Can you do, like, electromagnet stuff?"
Ning nodded. "I did some of that with the bank vault, to make the lock open up on the inside. I had to concentrate super hard to control it that exactly though. I think maybe it's easier to throw stuff around wildly."
"That should be all we need, maybe," said Light. "Plan on pushing any bullets that appear directly against the way they're going until they lose momentum, or at least turning them aside from hitting someone, and...maybe just tossing guns out of their hands onto the ground." She shook her head. "If you could do more precise control fast I'd say take out the firing pins, but I guess we'll have to allow for the possibility someone gets shot in the foot."

They waited in silence for a few minutes, but it was still a while until noon. Eventually Light said, "Hey...While we're just waiting here and planning ahead, I've had a few thoughts about the whole 'stealing money' thing."
"Well, even though I accept it I'm not totally sure the police will take your reason for stealing the money and just let you go. So...instead we should make them think it's not 'you' who stole it. I think I might be able to use your phrase to make you look slightly different...it just sorta feels like I could...and they only have a few ways of identifying you. The security camera footage or any eyewitness reports were blurry 'cause you were moving so fast, but they know you're short, have gray fur, and have sparks of electricity around you," she said, counting off with her fingers. "Oh, and you probably left fingerprints on the money and maybe a doorknob or two. You already don't do the sparky thing, so what if I try to make you tall, with a different fur color and different fingerprints?"
"Er...I'd rather stay short if that's all right," said Ning, fidgeting with her feet slightly. "I'm only a little taller than my granddaughter, you know. When I found out I could look like this, I-I thought, if I could stop being dangerous 'cause of the sparks, it'd be nice to be on her level and just be her playmate sometimes," she said, blushing a little. "I know it's silly...I'm still a grown man, or—woman, but...it's another way I could spend time with her."
"Well, three out of four isn't bad. Honestly I think the fingerprints being different might be enough for a lot of them. Is there some hair color you'd like better, though?"
"Mm..maybe purple?" she suggested.

"Okay, let's see what I can do." Light tried saying Ning's phrase again, ordering her body to change hair and fur color toward purple and have different fingerprints. There was more lightning from the taller girl's hands, and the smaller girl's hair did visibly fade to a light purple shade. Whether her prints had changed was less obvious, of course.
Ning brought her tail around front to look at it. "Oh wow, it worked!" She smiled. "Heehee, I might like to try out some other colors later. I kinda miss having not-gray hair, but an old man dying his hair just looks weird and wrong."
"Great," Light nodded, smiling. "So—step two, someone did steal money from the bank, and they gave it to you—to Gerald. So you need a story. That girl shoved a bunch of cash at you and told you to pay off the kidnappers if you ever wanted to see your girl again. The way she said it made it sound like a threat, like she was working with them or like she might kidnap her herself or something, so you only did it under duress. Once we get you and your granddaughter—uh, what's her name?"
"Nadia," she nodded.
"Right, once we get you and Nadia home you call the police and give them that story, because now she's safe so apparently there's nothing to worry about. Probably I'll find some way to call the cops on the kidnappers after the rescue and you can carry her back home while they're busy arresting the bad guys there."

They only needed to wait a little longer before Light spotted a guy in a dark hoodie with the obvious bulge of a gun in the pocket walking up, eyes on the bag. She had a quick look around—no visible accomplices, good—and then moved as quietly as she could next to him. He knelt to go for the bag, and...whack! Flat end of sword to forehead. He fell back, out like a light (ha), and she had to move around to catch him and sit him on the bench. Then she made him disappear from sight and waited a few seconds for any reaction; if there was anyone else with him surely they'd notice this sequence of events and come to do something about it. But there was no reaction.

"Okay...we need to make sure this guy doesn't wake up and get away. Um..you can pick up a person, right?"
"M-hm," Ning nodded. "I'm super strong."
"We'll introduce ourselves by leaving him at their doorstep," said the taller girl, nodding. "Now, I'm gonna do my thing to track him back to the hideout. You follow, make sure I don't trip over anything or run into anyone, I can't see both the past and the present at the same time."
Her eyes glowed the way they had before, and the smaller girl got a delighted smile, quietly saying "cooool." Then she picked up the kidnapper—who felt pretty lightweight to her, only tough to carry because of the size difference—and followed along.

Tracking this guy was a lot easier than tracking Ning had been earlier. He didn't go jumping up on rooftops and doubling back randomly over and over again, after all—in fact he didn't seem to have done anything to disguise his route at all. Well, that was sensible enough, he probably had no reason to suspect he was being followed. And he wasn't being followed at the time...just after the fact.

Eventually they reached a warehouse. Light couldn't help but roll her eyes—for as much as this was Real Life and Not A Comic Strip, this seemed awfully cliche. But while she silently directed Ning to lay the man down just in front of the front door, her ears clearly picked up some gruff voices talking.
"Well, won't be long now," said one. "That Mr. Neilson'll regret holdin' back on us before."
Another one answered, "Hey now, we're supposed to be businessmen. He paid up in the end, we can let the girl go."
"No way! A billionaire like that can do with a lot less money. We'll take it in installments..."
"You really think he won't involve the police if we do that?" said the more reasonable one. "I say we wait 'till Jones gets back and book it outta here."

Peeking inside the same way she had Gerald's house, Light observed just the two men, with the third out here. And...a small girl tied to a chair with ropes, a gag in her mouth. On slightly closer listening she was making occasional muffled noises, so...alive, at least.
"Quick plan," said Light. "I'm gonna get their attention, make them come out here and see this guy. You go in around them, still invisible from me, pick up the—Nadia's on a chair, pick that up, get her far enough away you can cut the ropes off of her with one of your swords. There's just two guys, I should be able to keep them busy long enough for the cops to show up."
"Did you call the police?" whispered Ning.
"I'm going to. Ready?" The small girl nodded. "Okay, here we go."

The warehouse was filled with a bright flash of light. "Gah!" the two guys inside covered their eyes; when the light faded and they could see again, there were words on the wall they were facing. Your friend is waiting for you outside.
"What the...what's that supposed to mean?" said mister 'installments'.
"It's—it's gotta be one a' those freaks!" said the more reasonable-seeming one. "From the news?"
He might not live much longer... Light didn't like implied death threats, but it wasn't like she'd really follow them up. Besides, they had threatened to kill a small girl, so screw them.
"I...I'll go check. You guard the—" said the first one, stepping out toward the front door, and then seeing his buddy. "Jones!"
"What happened?" The other one, just behind him. Ning dashed around them, picked up the chair, ran for a visible backdoor the warehouse had.
"Go back and guard the girl!" said the first one, pointing angrily. Thinking quickly, Light made an image of the girl so they'd think she was still there a little bit longer. The second one obeyed, walking back inside.

Now Light made a visible beacon to the sky, with some nice lettering saying "POLICE PLEASE". If that didn't get a cop over here soon she didn't know what would. She moved a little closer to the nearby kidnapper, who seemed to be trying to get Jones to wake up.
"You're next," she said from close by, causing him to shout and jump back, sitting up against a wall. He pulled a handgun, hand shaking wildly, aimed it at her. Guns still killed her, she knew, and so quickly went around behind him, leaving a grinning image in front of him. Not a moment too soon—he fired, and she reacted by quickly summoning her sword and thwacking him in the hand so he dropped the gun. "You're gonna fire on an unarmed girl!?" she said. Keep track of the other guy, keep track...he was looking their way, weapon already drawn. She made him see her running at him from the direction opposite where she was right now, and kicked the guy in front of her down. More shots. And then, police sirens.

Light got rid of her beacon; now that they were here no point spending energy and concentration on that. She went over to the car as it pulled up, appearing with her hands up as an armed man came out. "Officer! These guys were shooting at me!" she said.
He looked a little skeptical, but didn't turn a weapon on her. That was a good sign, probably.
"They were holding a girl hostage! She just ran away while they were busy trying to murder me," she added.
"Hey, this is—" said another officer, who had already reached the front door of the warehouse. "You're under arrest!" Apparently that one had a warrant out for him already. The police were suddenly busy chasing after the guy in the warehouse, who turned tail and ran. Light made him see the back exit of the warehouse a few yards to the left of its actual position, and so he ran into a wall. She also disappeared herself, of course...it didn't sound like they needed her as a witness anyway, and this would save her a lot of awkward questions. Not to mention there was Ning and her granddaughter to go check on!


  1. I'd be willing to bet his granddaughter turns out to be a battle vixen as well, what with her having probably been gagged the entire time, but you're the writer, and it's not like I can read your mind :P

    On another note, this story seems like it would be suited to having one-off appearances for certain characters that end up showing up down the line.

  2. I can already see Light and Ning posing dramtically, with Ning sparking with electricity while Light is glowing brilliantly.
    I may have watched too much Jojo.