A/N: Alex’s powers and new knowledge will make more sense if you go read the first story in this series: “The League of Extraordinary Women”. The disclaimers, spoilers, and other information are all in previous chapters.
A/N2: This chapter is FR15 for extra cursing.
Vic Cready was nobody’s fool. He knew damn well what was going to happen to him if he didn’t get some antidote in the next couple hours. And he knew damn well that Danielle Atron, may her soul rot in hell, wasn’t going to give him any.
She had him locked in a basement with a hottie who was in prison clothes too. But the hottie was crazy enough to want to get her powers back. What the hell was wrong with that bitch?
He sat on the floor and tried not to think about how long it had been since he got laid. The babe was really tall, maybe four inches taller than him, and built like a brick shithouse, with tits that just wouldn’t quit. Long, sexy brunette hair. A decent face, even if she’d look a lot better with makeup. He wasn’t stupid enough to think that the hotties you saw in magazines and movies looked like that when they woke up in the morning. No, this babe was still hot even without any makeup at all.
And she was probably only twenty or so, maybe twenty-two tops, but definitely not twenty-five. As far as he could tell, she could be under eighteen, even if she was stacked. He’d done plenty of bad shit in his life, but rape and statutory rape were sure as hell not on that list. And he wasn’t starting now.
Not after he’d been in hell for several days. People talked about being in hell, but they didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about. He’d been in hell
. He’d been stuck in that grotesque silvery form with no food and no water and no sleep and no breaks. He’d been burned alive, constantly, every second of every hour, every hour of every day, with no relief. He didn’t want to go through that ever again. Not in this life, and not after he died. That meant he had to do something to turn his life around so he didn’t go to hell after he died. And it meant he had to find some way to get out of here and get some antidote before he went up in flames again.
The girl turned and glared at him. “What the fuck are you lookin’ at, perv?”
He said, “You must be kidding me. You’re a fucking Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, and you’re asking me why I’m staring at you? How can you not know why I’m staring at you?”
She growled, “If I want some big ape to lie to me, I can find one who’s better lookin’ than you.”
He just gritted his teeth. He was not going to smack this bitch around. He didn’t hit women. Not unless he had to, like with that Somali bitch with the AK-47 who’d tried to put a dozen holes in him. “Nobody ever said I was Brad Pitt. But you can’t tell me you haven’t gotten to look in a mirror in the last ten years. Sure, you don’t have any makeup on, but I’m not stupid enough to think hot women look like cover girls when they have their makeup off. You’re hot. It’s obvious.”
She glared at him like she wanted to rip his face off. “Look asshat, I know I’m the fat, ugly toad.” She glanced down at her prison coverall-clad body and said, “I mean, I used to be really fat too.”
He thought about the spare tire he used to pack around, and how he had a sixpack now, thanks to that bitch’s secret superpowers drug. He asked, “Atron gave you the stuff and it did that to you?”
She paced back and forth. “Yeah. Best thing that ever happened to me. It made me strong. I was finally strong enough to do what I wanted. And I wasn’t a great big lardbucket anymore. I just couldn’t take that Terawatt bitch. Fucking pretties with the hottie bodies, they all treat me like shit.”
He finally got it. This was like Tamara Hales from his old school. When Tamara finally got tall and lost all that baby fat, it took her months before she realized what every boy in her form had already spotted. Only poor Tamara got used like the town pump before she wised up. This bint was already hard. He said, “Then don’t listen to me. When you get out of this shithole, go get a makeover and see for yourself.”
She gave him a weird look. “What, you think I’m gettin’ out and you’re not?”
He grimaced. “I got no idea what your powers are, but mine suck. First, I turned into a silvery blob and I couldn’t turn back to normal. I was like that for… fuck, I have no idea how long. They just left me like that and waited around to see what happened. Then they dosed me with the stuff again, and I caught on fire. I couldn’t put it out. And I couldn’t make it stop burning me alive. I was like that for four fucking days before Terawatt kicked my ass and saved me. You can’t imagine what it’s like to be burning alive, nonstop, for four fucking days. I would’ve done anything for that antidote, and that bitch Atron wouldn’t let me have any.”
She smiled smugly. “I got strong. Really, really strong. Spiderman strong. I could flip a car over. Bullets bounced off me. I was… It was awesome. I can’t wait until my powers come back.”
Hell, someone else who still hadn’t learned something it took him a lifetime to figure out. He said, “It won’t matter. Someone’ll stop you. If it isn’t Terawatt, it’ll be someone worse. Maybe you can shrug off a few rounds from an M16, but I’ll bet you can’t shrug off a tank round. Or a cruise missile to the face. That bitch Atron wants us to go rip up Paradise Valley until Terawatt shows up, and then we kill her. If we can. She kicked my arse pretty hard, and you just admitted she stomped you.”
She clenched her hands into fists. “That’s all I got left. Stomp Terawatt. Find Alex Mack and rip her face off. Then I’m gonna kill every cop I can get my hands on until they kill me.”
“That’s it?” he asked. “That’s your big plan? Let Atron use you and then go out in a big blaze of glory?”
She shrugged. “I got nothing to go back to. My mom’s dead, and my dad’s pissed at me, not that he was ever much of a dad, even when he wasn’t doing hard time. I don’t have anybody. I’m a big nothing. I didn’t even graduate from high school. So what does it matter?”
Stupid bitch. “You’re thinking like a mook. Stop thinking small. You’re not the fat, ugly kid anymore. You got the magic superdrug. You could be anything you want now. One of those swimsuit models, or those starlets, or those women who stand around next to the cars at car shows. All you have to do is get out of here and vanish. Take off to someplace without an extradition treaty with America, like Brazil. Start living the good life.”
She stared up at the ceiling. “Even if you weren’t lyin’ your ass off, I can’t. The thing I didn’t tell you? I’m Azure Crush. When I get my powers, I turn blue all over. There’s no hiding that. So I got no choice.”
He told her, “There’s always a choice. Sometimes you just can’t see it for yourself. And sometimes it’s a shitty choice. But there’s always a choice.”
Like right now. He was figuring he had a couple choices, none of them good. But he could probably get this bitch to kill him before he turned into a blob-shaped fireball again. If he had to. He’d tried breaking out of the place, but the basement windows were solid and made of those glass bricks that were frigging indestructible without a sledgehammer. And the door at the top of the stairs was a steel security door with no handle on his side. Atron had set it all up so he didn’t have much choice. And it looked like Azure Crush didn’t want a choice.
The tiny bathroom didn’t have a door, but it had a toilet and a sink and a really small shower. He figured that was his best shot for now. Especially when he could feel the burning sensation in his hands and feet. He knew what that meant. It was only a matter of time before he started giving off a lot of heat, and then his clothes would start smoldering, and then… agonizing fireball and being burned alive nonstop.
Maybe he could stand under cold running water and keep the fire under control. Maybe. He told her, “My power’s coming on. I’m going to go stand in the shower. Once you get your powers and bust out of here, would you call the cops on me?”
“Hell no,” she insisted. “I want you working with me. I’m not letting that bitch Terawatt pull that shit on me again. I want you blasting her while I punch the shit out of her.”
“Not happening. I’m not flying around burning to death for hours. You have no idea what that’s like.”
She glared at him, “Fine. We can do this the hard way.” She turned away from him, and he saw that her hair on the back of her head was already starting to turn dark blue, from the roots outward. The color just kind of rippled out, like blue was leaking out of the back of her head and dripping down her hair.
She stomped into the bathroom, ripped the shower door off its hinges like it was nothing, and broke the faucet handles off. Then she ripped the showerhead off and twisted the steel pipe into a knot so water couldn’t come out.
She turned and faced him with a smirk. He could see her skin was turning blue. Not a strangling-to-death blue, but a kind of sexy blue. Not that he was seeing her as sexy right then. No, he was seeing her as some kind of monster. Maybe even a really stupid monster, because she was trapping herself in a room with a guy who was about to burst into flames.
He still warned her. “Not a good idea, babe. Once I burst into flame, I’ll be using up all the oxygen in here pretty damn fast. And this whole place will go up in flames.”
“Okay, good point.” She tiptoed up the wooden stairs to the security door at the top of the steps, like she was afraid she might smash the steps to pieces if she was careless. She clenched her teeth and made a fist. Then she punched the door right where the lock would be.
The door ripped open with a screech of abused metal.
She sneered, “Have fun burning alive, asshat. I’ve got people to see, bitches to maim, you know, the usual.”
He watched her walk out of the basement, and he realized he did have another choice. He ran up the stairs and ducked toward the back of the house. He heard the noise as Azure Crush kicked the front door off its hinges.
There. A wall phone. But this was probably an empty house, so the phone was probably turned off. Hell, the water was probably turned off so he’d had no chance to stand under cold water even if the bitch hadn’t screwed him over. He looked at the phone and whispered, “Please be hooked up. Please
.” He yanked it from its cradle and listened for a dialtone.Beeeeeeeeeeep
. The phone was still hooked up. Maybe someone up there didn’t really hate him. He dialed 9-1-1 and got an operator. “This is Victor Cready. Escaped criminal Victor Cready. I need cops and a firetruck. I don’t know where this house is, but wherever it is, I’m pretty sure we’re in Paradise Valley or damn near it. Azure Crush just stomped out of here to go injure or kill someone named Aly Mack or something like that, then attack Terawatt, then kill as many cops as she can before she gets taken down. I need somebody to stop her. Terawatt, if you’ve got her. The cops, the National Guard, the fucking U.S. Army. I don’t care who. Just get somebody! And I’m about to catch on fire again, so I need that antidote shit pronto.”
When the 911 operator tried to keep him talking, he just set the phone down so it wouldn’t hang up. He needed
those pricks to trace his call. Then he walked to what was left of the front door.
There was no way the locals could contain someone like Azure Crush. The first cops on the scene were going to be dead men. It would be hours, maybe days, before National Guard armored forces were here. And he had no idea if Terawatt was even in the United States now. The last thing he’d seen on the prison tv about her had her fighting monsters in Ireland, Italy, and Japan. Without a superhero, this town was fucked.
“You always have a choice, Vic,” he reminded himself. “Even if sometimes the choices suck.”
He gritted his teeth and pushed
. He didn’t have a better description than that. He just knew that was how he summoned his fireballs. He screamed in agony as his hands caught on fire. The silvery crap followed only moments behind, but the pain didn’t stop. If anything, it got worse. The flames ran up his arms, and in seconds he was engulfed in fire. Once again, he was a sickening, inhuman, silver blob that was covered in bright orange flame. Once again, he was being burned alive and he knew it wouldn’t stop. Once again, he was in so much pain he could hardly think.
He flew out past the damaged door and down the street. He smashed into Azure Crush’s back hard enough to flatten himself, but still not hard enough to knock her over. All he managed to do was accidentally set her clothes on fire.
She whirled around, smashing him all the way across the street and into the curb. “What the fuck do ya think you’re doin’?” She ripped off her burning clothes and threw them aside.
It was so hard to make a sound while he was like this, but he tried. “No. You… can’t.”
She grinned ferally. “And you think you can stop me?”
Hell no, he couldn’t stop her. But all he had to do was stall
He hit her in the chest with a fireball. She cursed furiously, so that probably hurt her, but she wasn’t damaged. He threw a much bigger one, and she screamed in pain. And surprise. She really hadn’t thought he could hurt her. He threw another, and another.
She threw the front end of a car at him. It smashed into him, knocking him a hundred feet down the street. But he was just a blob. It hurt. A lot. But not nearly as much as the fire did. So he just came back for more.
He threw fireball after fireball at her, until he could hardly see for the pain. Maybe that was why he didn’t spot it when she tore a concrete slab out of that driveway and used it like a bat. He saw something massive swinging at him, and then everything went black.
She adjusted the knot in her scarf and strode forward with her roller bag to meet the mysterious Mr. Johnstone. Or rather, the supposedly mysterious Mr. Johnstone. As if dressing like a ‘60s IBM salesman and using an obvious pseudonym made him mysterious, instead of moronic.
“Mr. Johnstone. I take it you are acquiescing to my demands?”
He grimaced. “My superiors have decided that they need to talk to you directly. We are a very wealthy organization, but fifty billion dollars and your own private island? That’s well outside the sort of payment I would be allowed to authorize. And you are a highly sought criminal.”
She shrugged carelessly. “That’s why I arranged for a diversion, and it’s why I’m interested in my own private island. No one’s going to be expending the effort to look for me here, when there’s a disaster in the making not that far north of us.”
He said, “It won’t be that easy. Our private plane will only go as far as Mexico City. We’ll need to transfer to a commercial jet there, and we’ll need to do it in a public venue. Even in Mexico, you’re a wanted woman.”
She rolled her eyes. “Are you really that dense? I don’t have to walk around like you do.” She put her hand on the rolling suitcase beside her and metamorphosed into her silvery form. Then she poured herself into the suitcase. She reversed the process and told him, “I won’t be there. You’ll just be wheeling a heavy roller bag around.”
He reluctantly nodded. “Very well, Ms. Atron. Welcome to The Collective.”