So there I was, Matty, just minding my own business…
It was a night not much different than any other. I encountered some random punks, handled some misdemeanors and minor crimes – nothing I couldn’t handle. So there I was, on the 109 between Norwood and Willingham, when sirens, flashing lights, and a blue glow from Willingham caught my eye. This district was usually quiet so it was unusual to witness such commotion. I was already tuned-in to the police band so it was easy to pick up on a fire raging out of control and two super-humans dueling in the sky above. This was a job for…SUPER-HAZEL!
From listening to the police-band I was able to learn:
1. There’s a hero and a villain fighting, both women. The Hero’s name is “Arctic Hellfire”, the villain is currently unknown.
2. The fire is light blue and cold. When the fire department tried to spray it with water they made it worse!
3. When Arctic Hellfire arrived she told the firemen to stop trying to put it out and focus on preventing it from spreading.
4. She didn’t get the chance to say anymore before the other superhuman ambushed her, and they’ve been fighting up in the sky since. Whenever Arctic Hellfire tries to break away to come back to the fire she’s intercepted and the fight resumes.
Well I’m close so I can definitely respond to the call…
Traveling the 109 isn’t easy on foot and, since my bike was still in the shop, I was hoofin’ it. The blue glow intrigued me. I’ve read about ley lines but only in a peripheral, academic interest. I was definitely curious but things have been so hectic and busy since moving to Century Station, starting a new job, and all these late nights fighting crime – I just haven’t had the opportunity to explore the ley lines further. Back home in the Verde my “home-schooled” arcane education gave me passing knowledge but also said that they were relatively rare occurrences and that there was still much we didn’t know about them or where they came from.
(Lore: Geomancy / Lines of Power – 82% out of 60% – fail) I wonder if there could be any significance with the location and the fire. The presence of supers isn’t too out of the ordinary. (Astronomy (47% out of 50% — success unless there’s a penalty) I also wonder if there’s anything important about the star alignment, the date, celestial bodies, solar eclipses, equinox, solstice…etc. I didn’t recall anything about this area being a “place of power” or anything like that. As far as celestial events, to my (successful) reckoning there didn’t seem to be any unusual influence, though it was about 10 minutes past midnight and I know midnight IS a minor yet significant time of day in that regard.
“Feet, don’t fail me now! Man, I wish Matty were here…although, she’s not much good in a fight. Diane…definitely Diane. Virgil would be good too — but there’s nothin’ like being backed up by an ass-kicking goddess who can put an arrow through a villain’s heart at 100 paces. Never mind that Hazel. You’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve. If shit goes bananas just whip out your cell phone and high-tail it! Okay, good idea. Thanks for the pep talk.”
“Who am I kidding? I’m fucking scared! That’s the adrenalin talking. Don’t be stupid. Radio back to the TLHQ and at least let someone know where the hell you’re going. They probably won’t make it in time to save your life if you need it but at least they won’t be far away. Ouch! That was kind of…morbid. Who the hell are you? Wait! Don’t answer that! Look, Hazel, maybe you should lay off the espresso. Good call. I’m goin’ in!”
Click. “Hey, anybody there?”
Click. “This is Hazel, come in. Over.”
Shit. Did Virgil go to the bathroom and leave the wireless at the desk? Fuckin’ jock brain! It’s not like I can leave a voice-mail on a radio.
Sigh. Click. “Verge?” Pickup pickup pickup pickup pickup. “Veeeeeeeerge?!?!”
“Oh, hey Hazel! What’s up?” It was a voice other than Vigilance and it set my teeth on edge.
“Are you kidding me right now?”
“Uh, nope. What’s up?”
“Cav, check your police band on frequency X897xhkhq3.07133. My coordinates are…um, well I don’t know but you should be able to pull me up on the GEEPS. I’m going to check out some supers fighting, a raging fire, and a blue glow off the 109 between Norwood and Willingham.”
“Oh wow Hazel. Are you sure you don’t wanna wait for backup?”
“I’ll play it kewl until someone comes. Can you dispatch Diane?”
“I don’t know. I’ll try her — she’s not really in your area though. I’ll come down there myself if I can’t get a hold of anyone else.”
“Well who’s gonna cover the radio while you’re off playing “HER0”, eh?"
“Is that sarcasm I hear in your voice?”
“You’re a quick one Cavalry. Just get me some company aysaaap. Hazel out.” Click.
Tonight’s monitor radio and dispatch duty had a “C-lister” from the Tomorrow Legion pool, Cavalry – he’s a C-Lister so he doesn’t even have his own wiki page.
I padded along, not sticking to the shadows, but also not outright hauling ass and running in the street. A brisk pace that afforded me the opportunity to take mental inventory: Follow the lights. Follow the sirens. Keep the police-band on. What are they saying? Any information I have ahead of time gives me an advantage before I even arrive at the scene. Check the ACE. I discreetly pulled the slide back, chamber a round, double-check the safety — ON. Tuck the ACE back into it’s concealed holster. Spells to buff? Yeah, right now would be that time. I hope I can trust them not to screw me when it counts. Better to get them out of the way now BEFORE the action — if there even is any. Okay, See the Unseen – check, Evil Radar – check. And that’s good enough for now.
As an added bonus, I noticed that my spells felt a little more powerful. As expected, a few random side-effects altered my spells just enough to make them…annoying. I made a mental note to document the Ley Line’s proximity and its effect on my magic. Maybe it was also enhancing my side-effects. Well, all of a sudden my eyes really hurt — it was painful just to keep them open. When I rubbed my eyes with my hand to ease the aching pain, pulled my hand away, I saw a faint glow emanating from my hands…seemingly coming from my eyes. How WEIRD!!! And ultimately inconvenient. Ugh! Evil Radar didn’t have any discernible side-effects. Thank Gawd!
So with my spells cast, I moved closer, into position. I pulled out my gun, checked the safety, made sure it was loaded, and put it back again. I’m not about to run around with a gun in plain sight unless it’s open-hostility and street warfare.
This section of town, Willingham, is a poor area of old industrial centers and factories that’s jam-packed with row houses and features expert urban planning present throughout the district. Unlike other parts of town, Willingham has wide sidewalks, many parks and plazas, and pedestrian-only avenues. You also note an abundance of Community Centers and Churches. It kind of reminds me of the Verde — almost like Suburbia within erm…Urbia?
When I got closer — to within line of sight of the area — I noticed several things:
1. There were several old industrial buildings on fire and the fire was raging fiercely. The fire was light blue as it had been described over the police-band. Instead of searing heat I felt an icy chill. I really needed to check this out up close.
2. Fire trucks were set up around the perimeter but nobody seemed to be fighting the fire. Hoses were set up, everything seemed operational, but the firemen were talking with each other and with police officers worriedly instead of using any of their equipment.
3. Two figures were flying through the air, fighting each other with ice and fire attacks. At quick glance their costumes looked similar.
4. My mystically-trained eyes saw the faint, soft glow encompassing the area which indicates that one of the Century Station ley lines is running through here. I wasn’t surprised because I knew it was around here somewhere, but the buildings obscured it as I approached the scene and now I was inside of it. Wow! Y’know, I don’t think I’ve ever actually been INSIDE a Ley Line before. This is kind of kewl. I wonder what will happen if I try to draw on the psychic energy…
I reached out to try and draw on the psychic energy potential and I felt it there but it was fainter than I expected. I managed to draw some measly little sip of energy out of the Ley Line. Though less than I thought it would be, the energy here was palatable, and I thought that meditating in such a place would boost my own recovery of such energy.
Click. “Hey Cav! Do you know anything about Arctic Hellfire? I hear the police chattin’ it up on the band and they’ve mentioned that name a few times. No word on who the Baddy is. I’m close enough to see the fireworks display and it looks like the fire is BLUE! Spraying it with water is actually fueling the flame instead of smothering it. It sounds like the fire department isn’t equipped to contain this kind of fire. Maybe I should focus on helping out with damage control instead of entering a direct confrontation with the CONFLAGRATION!”
Hazel rubbed her eyes absently. They’re still aching painfully — throbbing — and my hands were still glowing "Ugh!
Cavalry responded, “I’ll search Goggle real quick for you. Hmm… Let’s see… No, not this… Okay… Maybe this one? No… Oh, here… It looks like she’s a hero who’s been around Century Station about a year. It seems… she has powers involving ice, and fire? It seems like she can fly, too. Man, she’s so lucky! Being able to fly…”
“Hey, Cavalcade, can we focus here? My ass is on the line…”
Cavalry stopped his rambling over the radio and I basked in blessed silence.
Focusing my perception toward the raging inferno I saw that the blue flames are causing the building materials to blister and shatter into an icy dust rather than scorching and burning them to ash and cinder. My knowledge of Magic combined with your earlier perception definitely identified this as a magical fire – despite the fact that I’ve never seen anything like it before. I never read anything in any of my family’s books or their extensive research that even hinted at this kind of spell. The thought struck me, however, that there are other disciplines of magic one can follow. The four traditional elements have corresponding forces, and some mages learn to align or tap into those forces. Warlocks…yeah! Those are the guys! With my limited knowledge it struck me as possible that this magic may be representative of a more pure or primal elemental magic that I’m just not familiar with.
When I looked at the two figures flying and fighting each other through the air, I noticed a few more things:
1. They were dressed in similar style outfits that have a fiery red and icy white color theme. One woman had short, orange-ish red hair while the other had long, dark black hair. Their outfits are not identical and in fact, the color schemes are sort of mirrored; where one woman’s costume is white, the others is red, and vice-versa.
2. Now that I was looking closer I saw both women’s eyes faintly glowing.
3. The woman with the orange-ish red hair was trying to break away from the fight but the woman with the long black hair kept preventing her – she either moved to intercept or redoubled her attacks.
I’m snapped a few quick shots on my phone of the scene, the two combatants, the “frost-fire,” and the authorities – twiddling their authoritative thumbs. One for the Yearbook boys!
The firemen standing around looking…almost bored, really bugged me so I decided it was time to light a fire under their asses! I approached in a very direct, businesslike manner. Raised my voice, not quite shouting, but demanding attention from everyone standing around. “Head’s-up! I am Hazel, a Heroine of the Tomorrow Legion and I’m here to help. Guys, I realize this isn’t an ordinary fire. You’re ill-equipped to deal with something like this. However, you are WELL-EQUIPPED to evacuate people from their homes, get them medical attention if they need it, and take plenty of eye-witness reports and depositions. I will do everything in my power to contain the fire but I’m going to need YOUR HELP to ensure that no one is hurt. Firemen, police officers, EMTs, everyone and anyone who’s trained in CPR and smoke-inhalation safety, get your butts moving!”
My words snapped them out of their indecisive “trance” and they got to work! They started moving to get to nearby buildings and evacuate them, clearing them of their inhabitants proactively in case the out of control “frost-fire” continued to spread. Score one for the Witch!
I scanned the area to determine where I was needed the most. I needed to begin trying to ascertain 1) where the fire started 2) what started it 3) what direction it’s moving 4) how to fucking stop it. Now, as soon as I was “relatively” sure I was out of eye-shot I cast “Unseen” then cast “Shimmering Protection”, then I took a deep breath and summoned up Dark Hazel.
The Unseen spell went off without a hitch for once! It’s a miracle! Everything was properly invisible. The Shimmering Armor spell, however, felt tight and restrictive – like it’s a size too small. You’ll have the “light armor” penalties of -5% to appropriate physical skills while it’s active. At least now I was invisible, armored, and transformed.
Not hearing screams of anyone in dire need of aid I began a methodical sweep of the…battleground.
1) There was a small, multi-family home that seemed to be blazing the most strongly. The fire had mostly consumed it. The few people who lived there had been evacuated safely. They were nearby with rescue workers and, when asked, they told me that Arctic Hellfire was responsible for their evacuation. They also said she was doing something to try and stop the fire when that other girl ambushed her.
2) The fire spread out to nearby buildings (they’re packed pretty tightly in this block). It was moving slowly and I thought if it wasn’t stopped it would probably consume all the buildings on the block. As stated earlier, it seemed that most of the buildings here were older industrial buildings, but there were some residential mixed in the block as well, and the emergency responders were working to evacuate those in order of which seem to be closest to the danger first.
Then, in the sky, I saw two figures swoop close to the buildings – the orange-haired one in the lead and being chased/followed by the black girl with the black hair. The orange-haired one got within a couple hundred feet above the leading edge of the fire, stopped and quickly cast a spell. It went off and about a 150 foot diameter area of the “frost-fire” below her suddenly extinguishes. The other girl screams in anger “NOO! Stop! Ignoring! ME!” and with a quick spell of her own creates a 20+ foot long line of fire and starts hitting the other one with it.
Hazel shouts, “Hey! Stop Ignoring me too! How can I help put out this fire while you gals settle your little lovers spat? Looks like the evil step-sister is begging for attention. Point me in the right direction and tell me how to keep this fire from consuming the whole block! I don’t want to destroy people’s homes but I’ll get ahead of the fire and take ’em out to keep it contained if I have to!”
Ouch, I thought that fires don’t burn if they don’t have fuel to consume — but this is already a depressed neighborhood and destroying more homes makes her feel badly. There’s got to be another way! I took a moment to stop and cast “Learn the Mystical” (Decipher Magic) on the frost-fire in the hopes of revealing more about the true nature of this paradoxical phenomenon. My newly-empowered sight didn’t translate any mystical writings – in fact, there were none around that I could see.
The orange-haired girl looked around but didn’t notice me – obviously she can’t see the unseen. She parried a couple more of the flame tongue attacks and shouts randomly down to the area, “Magic! Um… not water. Sand- you can smother it!” The black girl took that moment to cast another spell at her but nothing happens when she finishes. She looked surprised and the orange-haired girl said to her, “Running low?” Emboldened by this seeming turn of the tide she cast a spell which causes the upper body of the other girl to become encased in ice. She started to fall into the ice cold flames as she struggled against the ice encasing her. The orange-haired girl dove to try and catch her.
Over the radio I heard Zeau, one of the other Tomorrow Legion C-Listers speak up: “Hazel, I heard you have a situation going on? I just finished up over here and I don’t think I’m too far away from you. I could lend you a hand if you need one – it would be no trouble for me at all.” The condescension in his voice carried through the radio just as well as it does in person.
“Hey Zeau! If you’re done congratulating yourself — YES, I could use your help. Two supers are duking it out over here and laying waste to the neighborhood with a raging frost-fire. It can’t be put out by using water — but we can probably try to snuff it out. I’ve got the authorities evacuating the area but they’re basically clueless as to how to put out this fire! Enough chatter! Either help or don’t. Hazel out!”
(Computer operation: 39%) C’mon’ Goggle…c’mon Goggle! Don’t fail me now. Fires fires fires. Okay. Fires need oxygen…chemical fires? Magical fires? Ah…too much to hope for a wikipaedia on magical fires. Okay. How do we snuff you out? Wikiwikiwikiwiki…ah! Aha! Okay I got it!
I dropped my unseen spell, transformed back into Hazel, and returned to the fire trucks and any remaining firemen.
“Alright ladies! This is to be treated as a CHEMICAL FIRE — you CANNOT use traditional fire-fighting methods! NO WATER! It has to be snuffed out with powder or sand or another chemical agent. It’s STILL a fire — though it doesn’t look like one — and that means it needs OXYGEN to burn! Cut off the air-supply and this thing is dead in the water…and that means these people have homes to go back to! GET TO IT!! ON THE DOUBLE!!!!”
Way to take charge Hazel! That’s what heroes are for! The firefighters started shouting at each other and several went back to their trucks to get some CO2 extinguishers. They took them up to an area of the fire and try them out against it with surprised success! Emboldened, a few of them took the extinguishers and started going to the outliers of the fire to start trying to contain it, while the others went back to the trucks and either started making some adjustments to their equipment or making calls over the radio for some specialized gear to get here A.S.A.P.. Those who made modifications to their trucks took their hoses, now hooked up differently, and started blanketing the fire in a wet, foamy substance. The fire began to react to it as if it was water but once enough is covering it the icy flames begin to die away.
Whew! Thank Goggle! It’s a good thing I get 10G LTX service out here! What would I do without internet? Not now Hazel! Gotta grab one of those special extinguishers and rush back into the fray!
Then, out of nowhere, I saw a dump truck round the corner, full of dirt and barreling toward the fire. As it got closer I could see Zeau was driving it. He got close to the fire, near my location, and then hit the brakes, sliding the truck sideways closer to the fire. He flew out of the cab and around to the back. He didn’t even spare me a second glance as he started “telekinetically” hurling dirt out of the back of the truck at the fire raging in this area. It is slowly being snuffed out.
“HEY-OH!!!! It’s ZAY-OH!!!!! TO SAVE THE DAY-OH!!!!!!”
Sniff. Let that one inflate his ego just enough.
The black-haired girl was freed and starts laughing wildly as she grapples with the orange-haired one for…something. Was it the other girl’s amulet? And then two of them, entwined in a grapple, continue to fall into the ice-cold fire. When she ripped it off of the other girl, her eyes stopped glowing and she seemed to lose her ability to fly. I heard the black-haired girl say “Looks like I’m not running low anymore!” and then her laughter resumed as the two of them sped toward the the building. The crash that ensued was probably caused by the roof of a structurally-weakened building giving way to the two falling girls.
“Zeau! I’m heading over to where the supers crashed through the roof!” I took a second to point out the building I was going into. "Oh, and don’t be surprised when you see the “real” me!" I snickered and ran off toward the house as I began to morph back into Dark Hazel.
Once I transformed I found the extinguisher to be surprisingly light. The building was an old storage warehouse, and the frost flames had thoroughly engulfed it. Wrapped in the Shimmer Armor, and avoiding direct contact with the flames was the only way I could survive. Oddly, there wasn’t any smoke for me to worry about. I used the extinguisher to help clear a path, but with all the fire and debris it was very slow going. I knew my armor might run out before I found the super-girls. I cast a quick mystical tripwire alarm on the doorway for good measure. If anyone was coming in behind me I wanted to know about it.
Oh wow! The super just got a hold of more…energy! She must be stopped ASAP!!! Hazel to the rescue!
The lights in the building were off and only the flickering, soft blue-white glow of the frigid fire lit the interior. I cast Shadow Meld and once the spell went off I suddenly found the flames painfully bright to look at, and they hurt my eyes. Once I stepped into a shadow large enough to accommodate me, however, looking out over the warehouse and at the fire no longer bothered me at all. What a strange side-effect! I only wish it could be duplicated! The Mystic Alarm and the mystic symbols I traced upon the ground seemed to move and dance with the firelight. They didn’t seem to be moving out of that spot, but it’s like they were stretching and contorting in response to the flicker of the fires. As if the lettering of the wards were themselves just shadows cast by something unseen, and unfelt (you check but there’s nothing – the ward symbols had literally become shadow-like. NOW THIS WAS SOME WILD ASS MAGIC!?!!?
It took me four minutes to navigate the burning building and find the supers. About a minute into working my way around the building a section of a wall exploded outward in a spray of icy cold, bitter dust and blistered shrapnel. WOOSH! I dodged! Phew! Another minute or so of searching and I heard a crash above me and dodged out of the way of a falling section of the ceiling/roof just before it buried the spot I was standing in. Holy shit! It crashed to the ground behind me and bits of turned to powder in a fine dry mist. At about that time my constrictive shimmering armor finally shattered, exposing me to the true, bitter cold of this raging frost-fire inferno. I cast another shimmering armor spell and this one fit me properly. It didn’t look like anything weird happened with that spell until I had to step out of one shadow into another – uh oh! I prepared myself for the expected brightness but it didn’t happen. Puzzled, I caught a glimpse of myself, clad in what looked almost like shadowy armor. When I didn’t t move I was basically indistinguishable from all the other shadows, despite remaining three-dimensional. This wild magic stuff and side-effects shit is CRAZY and totally unpredictable!
Stealthily I came upon a room and heard voices. The two girls were talking:
Black-haired: “Admit it – I’ve won! You’re powerless. You’re beaten. This whole block, including your home, is going to go up in frozen flames and there’s nothing you can do about it!”
I saw she had the necklace wrapped around her hand, and an amulet was hanging from it. She gestured with the amulet and a blast of blue energy flies from her hand to strike the wall next to the orange-haired girl. The orange-haired girl was slumped against the wall, and she looked pretty beat up. Her head was down but after that blast she looked up, smirking. Shakily she got to her feet.
Black-haired: “What’s so funny?” She gestured with the amulet again, threatening but not doing anything. “I’ve won. You can’t… you won’t ignore me any more.”
Orange-haired: “Do you…” She coughed, bloody. Her voice was raspy. “Do you know where we are? This whole place… this whole area…” She paused a moment. “It’s full of magical power. Seeped in it.”
The black-haired girl just looked at her, puzzled. “So what?” She barked. “It’s not like that matters. I’ve got your power right here. You’re nothing without it! Nothing!”
The orange-haired girl reached out to a nearby table to steady herself. “Tamara…” she said. “You couldn’t be more wrong.” Defiantly she glares back at the black-haired girl and you see her chant a short magic spell. Fire appears in her hands and she tossed it at the black haired girl.
Stunned, the black-haired girl (apparently named Tamara) got hit directly, but when the fiery explosion cleared she was unharmed. “So you have a few tricks left, Michelle but you forget that I still have the source of all your powers.” She wiggled the amulet at her. “And with it I have all those powers as well!” She began casting another spell, while the orange-haired girl (apparently named Michelle) flipped the table on its side and ducked behind it.
I had definitely seen and heard enough. I saw an opening and cast a Magic Net on the Black Haired vixen at my first opportunity. It came as a total surprise and took her off guard. She found herself fighting a magical net woven by the very fabric of the magic she was tossing around so casually. Payback’s a bitch!
I whipped out my handcuffs as Arctic Hellfire reached through the fibers of the magic seine to wrest both amulets from the incapacitated Antipode. She coughed up more blood and I introduced myself to her with an apology that I hadn’t gotten here sooner. She thanked me graciously and told me she was too exhausted to continue fighting the fire. The line of energy wouldn’t be enough in her weakened state and in the ley line’s diminished output. I volunteered to supplement her pool of energy and she looked wide-eyed in shock but accepted gratefully. Together we extinguished the fire over the entire block — whatever hadn’t already been snuffed out by the efforts of Zeau and the Firefighters. I remarked that her fire-snuffing spell would come in MIGHTY handy and I’d be much obliged if she taught me it. She didn’t outright decline.
When things finally calmed down with the fire all but gone and Antipode turned over to the authorities Arctic Hellfire introduced herself to me formally and gave me her brief but illustrious history both before and after arriving in Century Station. She was a member of a group of super-heroes out west and Antipode, Tamara, was a member of that team as well. She and Michelle knew each other and each had a corresponding amulet from that affiliation. Apparently Tamara had followed Michelle to CS and carried a grudge. She shared with me that she once considered joining the Tomorrow Legion but she declined. I offered that she reconsider but didn’t push. I proposed that we meet up one day soon — after showers, rest, and some serious caffeine. I would very much like to study the amulets and perform a bit of research on them before she returns Antipode’s amulet to the super hero group whence it came. I hope I can convince her to share a little arcane knowledge with me before we part ways. I feel, as a Callow Youth, there is much I can learn from her and…perhaps, even a little bit that I can impart to her.
Regardless, I touched base with Spirit before parting ways and informed him of the happenings. Questioning Antipode was a waste of time — she’s so consumed with hatred and her axe-to-grind for revenge that she’s just a minor player. She had no affiliation or ties to Iron Mike or the Shadow Man. Just another misguided villain on a lonely road to self-destruction.
Matty, I think I’m taking the day off.