"Oh?" The World, in the corporate sphere, was a manager. He reported to his own boss, but managed others in turn, whenever he wasn't doing this. And though he wore a mask, and took on a new name, the old attitudes and thought processes persisted. He had appreciated the youth's skill, and his considerable power...but he did not like being challenged. The growling reply from Wolf; the chastising remarks from Phoenix - he picked up on the red ponytail, but was more focused on the way she was talking to him than what she was saying.
The sirens grew louder, and his neck muscles tightened.
"You're not...done with this conversation?" he continued, stepping forward to loom over the teen.
The sirens grew louder and louder. He could hear them coming, with their boots and guns and badges. Soon they'd be upon them all.
"Hn hn hn," he chuckled, shoulders bouncing.
"If we have a problem, we probably shouldn't work together, right? I should just leave you here in this vault...with all these dead men."
His eyes were manic beneath the reflective lenses of his mask. Vindictive.
Neither of them use guns, he thought.
He tossed the murder weapon over into the pool of blood that had gathered under one of the bodies.
"How do you feel now?" he asked, crossing his arms. "Do you think we're done with the conversation, Wolf?"
As upset as he was Nat was aware that he had struck a nerve with The World even before he spoke. Shoulders tensed, muscles in the suited vigilante’s neck stood in relief after a single uttered sound, and Nat stepped back a half step as The World stepped forward, practically smothering Nat beneath his shadow. It was almost funny, the way The World repeated his words back to him. Familiar in its odd reflection of the behavior of an insulted teen. Nat had seen plenty of classmates respond in just such a way when they were challenged.
An almost malevolent chuckle, words that sounded as if they were spoken through gritted teeth. It took a moment for Nat to understand the threat, his eyes fixed to the gun that was cast aside as he pieced together The World’s words and actions. It was almost… villainous. Nat leaned back, casually, as if the looming man and the rapidly approaching police were of no consequence. His hand hand been lowered with rise The World’s ire, and his fingers brushed against the wallet chain at his side as he thrust his chin upward, over The World’s shoulders.
”Security footage, gunpowder residue,” Nat lifted his left hand, the opposite side of the chain, to wiggle his fingers in front of The World’s mask. ”And I don’t wear full gloves. You think you’re going to sway me with an inconvenience?” It was Nat’s turn to chuckle, all mirth in counterpoint to The World’s indignation.
”Vigilantes are already considered criminals. In large part because so many of you follow the same pattern over and over again.” Nat withdrew his wiggling fingers and removed the wolf mask, face still half hidden behind his cloth mask but revealing his eyes. ”I wear this mask because I want to change this city. If you wear yours for the same reason then you’re going about it all wrong.” Nat shrugged and stepped to the side, away from The World’s shadow. ”No, I’m not done with this conversation. Whether its a conversation with an ally or with an enemy is up to you.”
Nat cast a glance to Phoenix, unsure of her standing on the issue. If The World wanted to make Nat his enemy it could very well turn into a fight, one that would inevitably involve the police given their proximity. Phoenix would be a bigger threat than The World if she chose to stand against him. She had the same mindset of so many others, it was a distinct possibility.
”Personally I think you have too much potential to become just another villain, World, but if that is your preference I think it would be best if you stated it now.”
"A villain?" At first, he was tempted to leave it at that. A one-word response laden with disbelief leveled not at the boy's message but his choice of words. Villain, to him, was a word used by kindergarteners to describe Darth Vader. He scoffed harder than he'd scoffed at nearly anything in his life up to that point. He wasn't doing this to inspire children. If he were, any of that might've actually hurt him.
He felt his eyes shuddering with excitement. With activation. His shoulders bobbed as he laughed.
With one fluid motion, he flipped the mask over from his face. His pupils were dilated, and his face broke open in a serpentine smile, white scar that rested over his lips rippling as they pulled back to reveal perfect white teeth.
"Junior. I don't wear this mask to hide shit. I wear it to keep the blood off my face."
His eyes flicked over to Phoenix.
I don't need you anyway, he thought. Too much of a...fencesitter.
His ire returned entirely to Wolf.
"Remember - if you're ever interested in bringing more than just talk to the table - if you want to stop me? You'll have to kill me."
It happened faster than Phoenix could intervene. Wolf pushed The World, who… showed them his face. That took her off guard enough that when he fucked off, she was left staring at the space the man had been standing. Then she slowly turned her gaze onto the kid. It took a moment for the anger to kick in, but when it did, she strode over to the kid and smacked him as lightly as she could manage across the back of his head. Just enough to thud.
“This, this is why you don’t piss off the teleporter. Because then they leave you the fuck behind in a bank with dead bodies. It doesn’t matter if we have evidence that shows we didn’t kill them, we’re still doing illegal activities, kid. Being a vigilante is still illegal.” She sighed and crossed her arms. The sirens had stopped outside the building, and she was starting to feel vibrations from outside. Too distant to determine how many, but judging by the sirens, it was enough.
“Okay, kid wonder. Do you have a way out of this? You knew enough about the building and the police response time to have looked into the place before. I can get us out of this, but I prefer not to have to incapacitate police officers. Doesn’t really color us well, you know?”
She pulled her hood back up to cover her hair and peeked around the corner, a blur of darkness in an already dark room. The officers outside the glass door numbered at least six in visibility, but she felt vibrations heading to other spaces around the bank. Blocking off obvious exits, then. She pulled back and looked to the kid, waiting for his response.
He was late to the scene, probably his worst trait as a Hero (especially with his powers being what they were), thanks to last nights hyperfocus into a string of murders that he was starting to get blamed for. No sign of forced entry and the victims being shot dead meant it was only a matter of time before the tabloids started printing the headline he read last night. 'MYSTERIOUS PROTECTOR OR MURDEROUS VILLAIN?' it was shit. He just knew that shit tended to roll down hill if left unflushed.
When he got there the cops were just behind him. Only managing to beat them thanks to a series of controlled falls through portals that was alot like swinging through the streets. He opened a small portal, just big enough to pass his head through, to do some recon. Three of the robbers were dead, three were knocked out, and there were three other capes standing around...two other capes standing around. He clocked one as Pheonix but, didn't know who the other guy was. Killing wasn't Phoenix's usual mo. He knew she'd done it but, more often than not she was the type to settle for ALMOST dead. The other one was young. His stature and size betrayed him, he had the build of an athletic highschooler and the attituded of one too. Judging by the panic in their eyes and the fact that he could hear their conversation, they were in a pickle. A pickle that he could use to get info on who that teleporter was.
A swirling vortex of teal and black distorted space opened up inside the vault allowing the Caped Corpse easy access to the area. He stepped out, guns draw, and pointed at both the people in the room. "I'm here to apply for the teleporter position, my resume is right behind me..."
He applied a slight pressure to the triggers, just enough that he could hopefully fire before they moved. The barrels of the absurdly large revolvers glared at the two like a pair of angry snakes waiting to strike. "But after I get the job you both gotta tell me everything you can about the guy I'm replacing. " He smirked, if they agreed he'd lower his revolvers and let them through before joining them. The portal would deposit them on inside of a nearby apartment with a great view of the bank.
The World’s laughter, the ridicule in his voice urged Nat’s fingers to wrap around the chain at his side, the ripple of his power through its links disconnecting them from each end though it held its position as it were still secured. When the vigilante revealed his face it was lined with its decades, scarred from past traumas but smiling in a bold, demented way that reminded Nat of the last villain he had faced.
Villain he was, though he seemed disinclined to put stock in such a word. What other kind of person would give such a gruesome reason to wear a mask, would excuse themselves to end lives at whatever fancy took them? Nat offered a smug smile back to The World as his eyes flicked to Phoenix, though it remained hidden behind his secondary mask. With distinctive scarring like that it would have done The World some good to have considered backup concealment as well.
”If you want to stop me? You’ll have to kill me.”
Nat’s grip shifted at the cue, but the split second he hesitated was enough for The World to vanish. It was entirely possible that Phoenix could hear Nat’s teeth grinding in frustration. It was the second time he had let a villain slip through his fingers, and though he had feigned apathy toward The World’s latest victims the weight of their lives settled squarely on his shoulders. He had led their killer straight into the narrow hallway, had even helped him by incapacitating the other attempted robbers that might have offered resistance. If he was hoping to change the city he had been making a poor showing of it so far.
A solid thump to the back of his head drew a hastily cut off curse from Nat as he sank into his frustration. Though his eyes were filled with rage when he turned his gaze to Phoenix his grip slackened on the chain he held, the subtle breaking of the steel’s surface slowing from a rapid cascade to a slow, steady wave. Though he considered telling the masked woman it wasn’t a good idea to knock recovered coma patients around the head he was thankful that she drew him from the mire of his own guilt, and for that his rage faded.
In its place a soft chuckle replied her insistence that Nat had screwed them. Before answering Phoenix he made a show of replacing the wolf mask, only jerking his thumb behind him to the vault’s door after it had been securely tied in place.
”Of course I do. I don’t do anything without a plan, Ms. Phoenix.”
Nat’s free hand was placed on the vault’s door again, his prudence refusing to release the chain until he was sure the teleporter had truly gone. Phoenix might have believed this was the worst possible outcome Nat’s moral outrage could have brought, but he considered a bullet that could come from any where at any time a far bigger threat than the police that were surrounding the building. Particularly when he had their radio chatter still whispering in his ear.
The vault door did not click, but there was a deep groan as its weight was suddenly transferred to its hinges, the locking mechanisms disengaged with the fluidity of Nat’s power rather than their intended mechanical release. The door swung open, and Nat and Phoenix were each met with a pistol’s barrel for the view. This was why you don’t piss off the teleporter.
Nat reacted, the tension he had gathered for The World released instantly, like a coiled spring released from its binds. The chain swung out from his side, lengthening and spinning, twisting about itself into a length of cable that flew serpentine through the air. Coils circled around the gun toting teleporter’s body, inches from binding him as Nat’s logical mind seized control from his reaction.
This was not The World, and their words were enough to prove that. They were almost banter, quippy in their tone and frivolity despite the grim appearance their speaker possessed. The World’s face might have been scarred, but the teleporter Nat faced now sported one that was stitched, corpse-like but not lifeless where healthy flesh gave way.
”But after I get the job you both gotta tell me everything you can about the guy I'm replacing.”
Nat let action be his response. The coils he had left around the teleporter tightened, seeking to bind his arms to his side and remove the threat of the guns though Nat kept his mask in the line of fire in case the new threat managed to get a shot off. As his power contracted the looped cable he crossed the vault’s floor with staggered, zig-zagging steps to bring himself closer to the corpse-man and eliminate the advantage of range.
”We’ve decided to go another way.” Was all he could manage to quip back as he dove toward the portal maker in a tackle he hoped would drive them both through his “resume.” With that same hope he looked back to Phoenix, the only signal he could give her to follow suit.
Phoenix had been surprised by the new teleporter. Mostly, she had been surprised by the fact that he appeared to be, well. Frankensteined together. She stared at him, physically doing a double take. Before she could formulate a response, Wolf was already kicking into gear, moving through the room and toward the man. She got the memo as Wolf lept, however, and so she was quick to follow behind him.
She moved from where she was, peering around the corner at the cops, and ran toward the portal. Wolf seemed to have the new teleporter under control, so she focused on making it through the portal. She was close on their heels as Wolf tried to tackle the man through the portal. God, she swore to fuck if this portal led to anywhere but the goddamn ground outside, she was going to strangle this man.
Phoenix had had just about enough of teleporters for the night.
The rush of Fang's chain links snaking around him almost got the Undead Underdog to open fire on the pair. If it wasn't for the mixture of police sounds right outside and the chains not tightening the moment they were around the two would be in for a world of hurt. As easy as it would've been to shoot these two and let the police sort out the rest he needed them with him if he was going to get any information.
"Ya kno-" his comments were cut short by the chains sudden contraction pinning his arms to his sides. "Kid wait-son of a..." He rolled with the tackle in the way an experienced fighter would. He had the advantage of knowing where exactly this portal would dump them out and planned to use that to his advantage. If Nat was perceptive he would notice Half-Life's feet positioned between them in the perfect way to try and launch him across the living room they were going to tumble out of.
He snapped the portal shut a moment too late to trap Phoenix in the bank with the police. "It may not look it but, you guys are at a real disadvantage here." He remarked while popping up to his feet. "So tell me what you know about you teleporting friend and I'll make this ass kicking quick."
It wasn’t the same as when The World had taken them from place to place. The warping of the light around him might have been just as sudden, but the change was more fluid, less jarring to his senses as the new teleported kicked him away from him and across the room they had popped into. Nat crashed against the far wall, the chain-turned-cable still held tightly in his hand as the force demolished what might have been, and certainly felt like, a bookshelf lined with knock knacks and odds and ends. Groaning the teenage vigilante stood from where he landed, even as the half-dead portal maker hopped to his feet despite his bindings.
”You think the guy who tried to set us up is our friend?” Nat tugged at the cable, the steel rippling as it tightened around his captive to keep the man’s pistols well restrained. ”Buddy your brain must be as rotted as your face if you think you’re in a position to make demands.” Nat glanced over the teleporter’s shoulder to Phoenix, an unspoken signal for her to turn up the intimidation factor.
”If you want to talk then drop your guns and we can try this again. If not,” Nat squeezed again, the cable stiffening and applying a bit more pressure. If he were the murderous type he could rend through the man’s mottled flesh in an instant. The stitched gunman didn’t have to know that Nat wasn’t the murderous type. In the pause Nat gave to tighten the steel he glanced around the room, the telltale flicker of red and blue lights from a nearby window confirming his suspicions.
”You couldn’t have taken us farther away from the crime?” They had already caused enough of a ruckus; if the owners of the home they were in happened to be in bed, which was highly likely at this time of night, the scene was sure to become far more chaotic, and quickly. ”Get us somewhere safe and maybe we will make your ass kicking quick.”