It had all started normally enough. Routine patrol, with the usual run-in with Jokerz. Hell, there were even the usual spray-and-pray morons who didn’t know how to track a moving target. Apparently, tonight, someone had.
Selina limped out of the alley, hand pressed to her left side. She might have tougher skin than the average seventeen year-old, and her costume might be lightly armored, but by no means was she bulletproof. That had hurt pretty badly. Oh, who was she kidding. Hopefully, Selina could limp home tonight. If not, she’d try to head to the safehouse.
Either way, she had a bullet to get out of her side. And that really wouldn’t be easy. Hopefully, Oracle could talk her through it. At least read aloud the procedure if nothing else.
Safehouse it was. The girl almost literally dragged herself in, hissing Tamaranian profanities under breath. When she ran out of those, she started in on ones from other languages. Panting for breath, Selina hauled herself up into a chair, tugging off her gloves and carefully stripping the top half of her costume off, sucking in a harsh breath as the spandex/nylon fabric came clean off.
That was a lot of blood. Red, sticky, and necessary if she wanted to keep living.
Now only wearing the lower half of her gear and a bra, she gingerly reached for the surgical tool kit. This was going to hurt. No anesthetics available, not even a local numbing agent. At least, immediately available.
Oh, X’hal, please. Strength.
Hands shaking, she leaned to expose the wound as much as possible. Bullet out first, then deal with the bloodloss second. If she didn’t pass out first.
A hand smashes into the simulative dummy harder than it needed to.
A boot-clad foot lashes out with more force than necessary.
An exhaled breath as she watches the figure fall, but nothing else had changed.
There was almost never a good outlet for anger. Not with her strength.
Hooray for music with a strong beat.
Spin, foot to the head of the sim-dummy, rebound, regain balance.
Remain in constant motion.
Footsteps on the ground to each drumbeat of the song, steady, strong.
One hand there, the other open, swing, and downed.
Brief grin, and off again, swinging, jumping, perching.
Never staying still. Never letting them get a good lock.
Sims or no sims, still treating it like it’s real danger.
“Oh, the things some people will leave behind…” Selina mumbled, carefully emptying a small satchel onto her desk. It contained the results of the morning’s pickings at little garage sales on the way to school. Some of the things could be cleaned up and kept for spare parts -the RAM and the small, intact CPU- and others could be cleaned and resold. It wasn’t a steady income, but it kept ‘Starsong’ geared. At the bottom of the bag, though, at the bottom, was a cross shaped pin so caked in dirt and tarnish that she assumed no one had known what it was.
Pushing aside the others for later -the object was intriguing- Selina picked up a small kit from the floor, then stood to go fill a bowl with water. First thing was to soak the dirt to make it easier to clean off. That took a good half hour to make it really soft.
Then under running water, rubbed on by gentle thumbs.
Back in the bowl for a while, with clean water.
And back under water.
It was starting to take shape. There was a crown emblazoned on it. And from what was turning out with the dirt washing away, it looked like it would be beautiful.
Shakily, Selina got to her feet, forcing herself to approach the carnage and rubble left behind by the Red Lantern. This is why the Batman didn’t kill. Why no one in the vigilante/hero business didn’t kill. It was too easy to cross that line again and again after the first death. As awful as this was, it served as a painful reminder that the line shouldn’t be crossed. A weak cry for help from some of the rubble caught her ear, and she worked her way over there, “I’m coming! Where are you?”
Catch their attention, keep them talking, don’t let them stop. Coherent speech, random babble, whatever. As long as you knew they were conscious, there was a chance of getting to them and saving them.
“Here!” A child’s hand waved from where it was protruding from a pile of rubble, and Selina knelt nearby, “Hey, I’m gonna get you out of here, okay?”
Peering in, Selina was able to tell that the child had been saved only because he had lodged beneath a support beam, but that beam was slowly bending, and would break soon under the weight of the brick and concrete, “Stay still, little man,” she instructed, standing and beginning to clear rubble, pushing it into the ditch that tended to front most of the cheaper rent apartments. A whimper came from within the pile as the beam creaked, showering dust over the boy. The redhead frowned, crouching again; she’d have to change tactics. Reaching to the hole the boy had found, she began to open it further, “As soon as you can fit, tell me!”
It wasn’t long, and he patted her hand with a wide-eyed nod, “Now, now!”
Selina stopped widening the hole and offered her hands, to which he grabbed, quickly. With a tug and some wiggling -and kicking- on his behalf, he came out, and she caught him, “You okay?”
“Good. I have to call some people so we can get the others out,” Standing in such a way that the boy didn’t have to see the carnage wrought, she brought out her comm, connecting it to the local first responders via Oracle.
The sound of laughter and a pounding beat from a nearby club.
A scuff of a boot on gravel below, and a familiar figure appearing out of the club with a smirk and a wave.
Blackfire. More accurately, Komand’r of Tamaran. But.. it wasn’t, it wasn’t the Komand’r she knew; the one who was always trying to kill her mother and herself for the throne. This one was younger, more innocent -if you could say that- and carried no look of insanity.
As much as she tried to jump down to confront Blackfire, though, she moved like she was stuck in molasses. Blackfire disappeared down an alley, and suddenly, Selina could move again. The redhead landed in a heap on the ground, wincing as her fractured ankle was jarred.
Selina tossed, smacking her left ankle -yes the fractured one- against a bedpost.
Following the familiar figure down the alley, Selina frowned, seeing no trace of Blackfire anywhere. It took just a moment’s thought to ignite a blue-tinted starbolt in her hand, and she used it as one might a torch, illuminating the area.
No sign of the Tamaranian ex-princess. Anywhere. Selina turned again, facing the mouth of the alley, and stumbled back. Blackfire was indeed there, but, somehow, so was the other, the one she knew, and a cruel smirk was written across the elder’s face.
Selina jerked awake with a gasp, sitting up and quickly scanning her room.
Having cleared her hard drive of anything connecting it to Gotham, and severed the connection to the Oracle network -once her computer was purged after this mess, it would be reconnected- Selina routed through a series of proxies, setting the computer up to look like the hack was coming in from .ch. Briefly checking the door before she closed it, the redhead walked back, sat down, and initiated contact. And the virus responded just as violently as before, jumping into the system and attacking. This time, though, Selina was prepared, letting it jump into a sandbox and shred inconsequential items. It wouldn’t stay for long, and so she loosed the counteragent against it, needing to test the coding, disable the virus to be taken apart down to the base code, and reassemble it in a way that would provide a potent defense. This investigation was to serve multiple purposes. Defense being one, but certainly not the centerpoint. She had an urge to find out what exactly had scared Max so much when she’d mentioned wings. Maybe even who scared the blondish brunette.
Okay, so that.. that didn’t quite go as planned. Not that she had much of one to begin with, but, yeah. For now, the redhead intended to leave the two alone. Now, investigation wasn’t going to be angled at Max or Fang. No, it was time to tackle whatever network self defended with the virus. She’d need to isolate her system from Oracle, and back up all the data beforehand.
Max’s vehement replies had made it clear enough; she wasn’t about to lose whoever she considered family, and, despite her bravado, Selina guessed that Max was afraid.
Ugh, psychology. Useful, but sometimes it told her too much… or made a sticky situation worse, as it had just a few moments ago.
Back to the problem at hand. It was no longer the document or anything of the sort that she was interested in, but rather the person or persons behind it. Whoever was willing to protect something by unleashing a virus at anything that probed its net was more often than not malevolent.
Selina frowned on her way home, putting together what little she knew of this individual. Well, if he were a character in someone’s book, this ‘Fang’ would likely be classified as the ‘tall, dark, and handsome’ type. Barely slowing in her freerunning, she brought a wrist up, tapping commands into the small computer, “Oracle, I need a search run,”
It took a moment for the system to confirm and transmit the empty parameters to Selina, who then filled them verbally. She needed her vision focused on where she was going, not on a screen.
“Name: Fang. Approximate age: Anywhere from fifteen to eighteen, likely in the higher range. General appearance: Slim, likely stronger than he appears. Black hair, dark eyes. Additional features: Wings, color unknown. Caucasian male. Enter query,”
The glove-computer let out a small wheep as the data was confirmed and sent off to the main body of the network to be analyzed and the Internet/Unternet networks to be trawled.
The redheaded vigilante slowed at the end of the rooftop, then vaulted down, ricocheting off the fire escape and brick walls. From here, she was almost home, where access to the network would be easier, “Oracle, hold results at my system,” she added as an afterthought. An affirming beep came from her glove, and Selina nodded, padding to the back door of her home and entering. Once inside, she locked the door, peeled off her mask, and headed upstairs to her room, where the glow of her prebooting computer illuminated the otherwise dark room.
Tossing the mask on the desk, Selina sat down, tapped in her password, and waited for Oracle’s results to come up. Oddly enough, just like Max, the only result that came up for him had been fended off by a virus. However, this time, Oracle had not defended itself in time. Selina hunched over her keyboard, typing rapidly and reconfiguring firewalls to prevent the attacker from gaining access to the information stored within the many servers. The last thing she needed was someone getting a hold on any of this.
Some time after that harrowing escapade, once the virus had been eradicated, Selina sat back, staring at the results. No birth certificates, no death certificates, no driver’s registration, no anything. Just a scrambled document that had been shredded beyond recovery by the virus before it had shredded another hard drive’s worth of information, no doubt to hide that it was that single document being protected.
Something related Max and Fang. But what? She assumed that Max was either also winged, or had something else to hide; the conversation with her had spoken as much, and Fang’s mention of looking for somewhere for a winged being to reside safely had set off some kind of alarm in Selina’s head.
This was a mystery not easily solved, and she wasn’t about to bring anyone else into it. Not unless it was the two in question themselves.
Now that she was home again, Selina sat down, accessing the Oracle database, “Oracle, I need you to run a search,” she started. While it wasn’t necessary to verbally input things to the system, it helped the redhead think, “Parameters: Name, Max. Gender: Female. Medium height, brownish blonde hair, brown eyes,”
As the civilian clad vigilante spoke, the system entered the parameters into the search bar.
“Last seen: Arizona,”
Quite honestly, she was curious. Things that made her curious led to a search and investigation later. ‘Later’ was now now.
“Query entered. Search,”
The screen shifted, data entries coming and going in blinks and flashes. As Selina waited for the data trawler to finish combing the network and begin searching the Internet and the Unternet, she turned her attention to patching a hole in her costume. She’d gotten unlucky enough to be caught in a hailstorm on the way back to Gotham after the chance encounter in Arizona.
The network chimed a single chord, signalling that the search was done. No results in any known systems, and a vague mention in an encrypted document, the bulk of which was held on a server which even the network was not only denied access to, but had defended itself with an automatic deployment of a virus. While Oracle had fended it off, it wasn’t to be braved again without a sentient mind behind the defenses.
No mentions of this Max. At all. No census records, no birth or death certificates. Not even a record of any kind of issued ID. Nothing to indicate that this girl existed or that she was someone impersonating a deceased person for the sake of anonymity. Lacing her fingers together, Selina turned back to the screen, resting her elbows on her desk and her chin on her fingers, frowning. Maybe this was more of a mystery than initial suspicions had given.
Situation 7. Freehand. Create a situation of your own, or not.
Closing her blue eyes, the lightly tanned girl smiled, remembering times long past. When she herself was learning to fly, both metaphorically and literally. Her mother had taught her the Tamaranian aspect of flight, and her father had taught her to fly as he had; with rope and acrobatics. In time, she would share these skills with her son, and her husband would share his skills with their son as well. The boy’s voice shook her out of her reverie.
Selina opened her eyes to find her son hovering at eye level.
“Hey Hal,” she greeted casually, to which her son responded with a hug, wrapping his small arms around her neck and clinging to her like a monkey. That grip was what convinced Selina that he would be able to fly just like his grandfather.
Situation 6. The subject has finally killed/disabled a nemesis or rival. If inapplicable the subject overcomes a great challenge.
She closed her eyes, panting heavily for air. Just moments ago, her cousin, Karline of Tamaran, had just been trying to kill her. Selina shook her head, not believing that Karline was dead… or that she had killed Karline. Opening her eyes, she stared at the blood covered green fingerstriped gloves in disbelief, trying to tell herself that it didn’t happen, that she hadn’t killed Karline. As much as her cousin had tried to kill her, she was still her cousin. In any case, killing hadn’t been the right thing to do… but it had felt right. Shaking her head again, Selina clenched her hands before removing the gloves. She wouldn’t… couldn’t… kill again.
Situation 5. The subject is expecting a child! If it is a gay/lesbian couple the character is adopting or gaining acceptance from a once disapproving family member. If incapable or unwilling to have children, choose another life altering event that is joyous.
Some people thought twenty-one was a young age to have a child, others thought it was old. Selina didn’t care all that much; she was married, and pregnant with their first child. A small smile creased her features as she rested a gentle hand on the shoulder of her pacing husband as he came within her reach.
“I’m not going to die,” she murmured with a reproving tone, “Calm down, okay?”
“I know, I know, I just…”
Selina laughs quietly, “Dad was the same way. I’m sure every father is. I’ll be okay, and our child will be okay,”
Her husband, so much like his own father, nods once, “Yeah, yeah,” enveloping her in a gentle, but firm hug. He was determined to be there for his redheaded wife and for their child.
Situation 4. The subject is dying. They can go out with a bang, or a whimper.
Severely beaten, covered in miniscule abrasions, and overcharged with solar energy, Selina limped through the metal of the Gordanian ship. The half-Tamaranian girl knew that she wouldn’t be able to purge this much energy from her body in time; she could already feel it pulling her apart as much as it was fueling her. She didn’t dare fly, nor bring a starbolt to life; either may trigger the solar power within her. The redhead needed to find the engine room. If she was going to go, she may as well take the Gordanians with her; give a little more advantage to her mother’s people. The Gordanians were slavers and murderers as a whole. Closing her eyes for a moment, she leaned against a bulkhead, running a hand across her face briefly. She knew she was dying and she knew she would never see her family… or her team… again. Swallowing hard, she reopened her eyes, resuming her trudge toward the engine room. It wasn’t until she entered a powered down passage that she realized she was faintly glowing. That wasn’t a good sign. With a groan, the redhead drops to her knees, arms wrapped tightly around herself as she hunched over. At this rate, she would never reach the engine room. She could only hope that whatever damage was done here would be enough to severely cripple the ship at the least. With an agonized cry, the energy pulsed, shredding much of the remains of her costume. A second pulse consumed the girl, blowing a hole through the bulkhead and the starboard hull of the ship. She hadn’t gotten to the engine room, but she’d been close enough. A stray ray had shot through the main power regulator, effectively setting off a chain reaction, destroying the ship.