Chapter 4An hour later Sayia stood before the televisions, watching the CCTV’s blurry images of a car exploding in down town Galaxy City. It was quickly followed by another, then another, all in a line that led very obviously towards Galaxy City Bank. A heist was in progress, headed up by Sister Sever and the Evisceration. Sister Sever, her Brutes; the muscle-bound eight feet tall Dark Pain Lord, and 486, the result of a genetic experiment of the same name, and the southern-belle Stalker, Vera-Ellen, strode down the street as if it belonged to them. Behind; fifty of her strongest henchmen followed, armed to the teeth with guns, bats, chains and anything else they could find that could cause damage. Dark Pain Lord was carrying a “Welcome to Galaxy City” sign over his shoulders. Even Sayia had to admit, that was a nice touch. In his head he could hear the PPD sirens already and was delighted to see at least one news drone was hovering overhead. They were taking the bait, just like he wanted. As the Evisceration approached Galaxy City Bank, the screen flashed and blurred from the blinding light of something teleporting right in front of the camera. As the picture cleared, he was able to make out white clad figures. Good. White7 had turned up too. He flicked the screen off, leaving Sister Sever to have her fun.
“Time to go.” Sayia glanced over his shoulder at Jain’s voice. Just like him, Jain was in costume, though he hadn’t expected it to be the white spandex of White7 “Don’t…” Jain shook his head “Why do you think I wear the coat?” He tugged a midnight blue long cut greatcoat around himself protectively.
“You look like a bobsledder, I ever tell you that?” Sayia smiled, adjusting his own coat around his shoulders. He preferred his own red leather to Jain’s blue.
“You left that observation out…”
Sayia smiled “Didn’t want you to feel any more stupid than you look.”
“Thanks.” Jain half laughed, then in frustration adjusted the inbuilt protective cup disguised behind a blue triangle of spandex at his groin.
“Seriously, how did you manage to get so many girlfriends over the last year?” Sayia laughed at the sight, but immediately regretted it as he caught sight of Tara. She stopped at the door, looking as if she was pretending she hadn’t heard, but she obviously had.
“Am I interrupting?” She looked between them; ice holding her hair up in thick, sharp spikes at the back of her head. The spikes let off a chilled mist into the air matching her tone perfectly.
“No, of course not.” Sayia smiled, covering the awkward silence caused by Jain’s staring.
“…what?” Tara looked up dubiously towards Jain and the slightly dopey expression on his face.
“…nothing” he gulped. He never gulped. But it had been a really long time since he’d seen his wife in costume and there she was; black boots, no longer heeled, but still showing off an impressive set of legs, and a high cut black bodysuit made of H-Tex woven fabric, tough enough to stop shrapnel and even a bullet from far enough away. Over the years her costume had changed. It no longer showed cleavage; instead it was high necked, but he was fairly certain it was tighter. Her arms were no longer bare, instead the bodysuit had inbuilt gloves. And there was no cloak, just an Outlaw Star logo emblazoned on her chest in white. He stared at her as if she was his favourite movie star, not noticing he was still holding his cup.
“You look like a pervert.” She seemed unimpressed.
Sayia glanced between them “I’m uh… just gonna…” he cleared his throat “Keep your comms open.”
Tara looked at him and nodded “You got it. Be careful.” She couldn’t help but hug him and he welcomed it, even if the ice on her hair felt as if it was leading to frostbite.
“If I’m not back in two hours, you carry on like you’re in charge.”
Tara nodded again. She hated it when he said things like that, but she knew it was a very real possibility “Good luck.”
Sayia smiled like he didn’t need it, like he always did and strode away. Tara watched him go as if it may be the last time.
“…T…” Jain broke the silence very softly “He’ll be ok.”
She did her best to agree and then looked up to him “And you?”
“What about me?”
“Will you be ok?”
He couldn’t disguise his surprise “Me?”
“Yeah.” She nodded. “You. I may be a year’s worth of mad at you, but I’m not explaining to Sophie and Tabby that you did something stupid and got yourself killed.”
“Just worried about Sophie and Tabby, huh?” He could tell she was lying.
Her eyes floated away from him.
Jain gently reached to Tara’s chin and turned her face so she had to meet his gaze. “I’m not going anywhere, T. Not again.”
Her eyes warmed as if she couldn’t help it. He was so close. She could feel his familiar heat and how he made her stomach feel as if a thousand butterflies had just burst into life. “Jain, I…”
“THEY’RE HERE!!!” A scream tore through their moment. Tara shook her head at Jain with a look that promised she wasn’t finished with what she wanted to say. She was gone before he even had a chance to react. His eyes lowered. He couldn’t follow. Not yet.
“Get out of the way!” Tara yelled, pushing herself past panicked body after panicked body in the main room of their sewer hideout, until she reached the young man who was screaming his lungs out. “Show me!” She grabbed at the phone he was waving. On the tiny screen she saw a shaky recording of the green rift stretching and slowly, but surely, starting to gape open. It was only seconds before the gape began to spew its black and chrome contents into the sky; Rikti Fighter ships. Tara’s eyes widened and she shoved the phone back into the young man’s hands before pulling herself up onto a nearby air vent “Hey!” She yelled over the throng below her as the crowd started quickly started to descend into full blown hysteria, pushing and shoving at each other in a torrent of fear that could only turn to violence if it wasn’t quelled. “Hey!!”
“Listen to her!” Jain barked from the very back of the crowd. The message took it’s time to spread, but soon, Tara found herself with more than a hundred face staring up at her expectantly.
Tara nodded just once in appreciation at him before her eyes moved to the people below “We’re all here because we’re the Heroes and the Villains of this world.” Her voice echoed; bouncing off stonework and piping. “We’re the ones they’re frightened of! That’s why they’ve been looking us up. That’s why they’ve been killing us. That’s why we’ve had to hide. It’s because they know we can beat them!” There was a rumble of voices below her; cynically wondering if she had any idea what she was talking about. “We all know what we need to do! We know how to end this.” She could feel herself pleading inside that they’d listen. “We protect our city. It doesn’t matter if you’re holding a Security Level or a Threat Level. It doesn’t matter what that level is. We’re all the same now. And we’ve all got a job to do.” She took a breath and lowered her tone “You’ve been given your assignments, but that isn’t what this is about. This is about making sure, once and for all that the goddamn Rikti know that this is our city. Our planet. This is about making sure, when we kick their ass, they will never, ever come back. Are you ready to make this happen?” She was met with a weak, unconvinced response from the faces. Tara looked across the crowd, her fists balling and starting to spit electric blue sparks. She lowered her tone, voicing every bit of anger she had held inside for the last year. “I said, are you fucking ready?” Tara met every pair of eyes she could, forcing them to feel her anger. Forcing them to understand that she would be beside them every step of the way, no matter what it took. A young Blaster near the back, Flamerush, glanced either side of him and then tentatively raised his arm. He curled his fingers and ignited his hand into red flame “For Paragon City!”
“For Paragon City!!” He pushed at seeing the Outlaw Star he looked up to for inspiration the day he realised he was different to everyone else. Tara nodded very slowly, challenging the crowd to do better than a kid in a red suit.
“For Paragon City!” A single voice joined Flamerush’s. Then another and another until the call echoed through the sewer tunnels as hundreds of trapped voices cried out for their city.
Tara. No, Triblaze. She wouldn’t be Tara again until this was done. Triblaze took a long, deep breath and pushed her mask to her eyes. “Get out there and give them hell!”
Continued here in Chapter 5.