The Enemy You Know
Jordan kept running for what seemed like an eternity until her injured side could no longer take the torture. She stopped on an unfamiliar rooftop and leaned against the edge, nearly doubled over in pain. Her left side felt like two white-hot daggers were shoved against her lungs and her right would no doubt have a bruise shaped like Nona’s boot. She gingerly lifted the hem of her black Henley, wincing at the contact the rolled up fabric made with her tender skin. Her inspection of her wounds was interrupted…
“Firebird, come in?” A young voice came through her earpiece. “Hey, are you there? Are you okay?”
Jordan quickly tried to catch her breath before answering. She didn’t want to worry the person on the other end of the connection. Taylor would come running to her aid if the spindly teen knew she was hurt and finding Nona; containing her was much more important.
“I’m here.” She replied. “And I’m fine.” She lied, fighting to keep the pain out of her voice.
“Did you find her?”
“Yes but she got away about four blocks from my current location.” Jordan knew they could see her signal on the small trackers they all carried. The first thing Nona had done when she disappeared was to disable hers.
“Dang! What to do you want me to do?”
“Head west and try to cut her off. I’ll keep trying to box her in from the east. Oh and Vixen?”
“Be careful. She’s dangerous.” Jordan told the young girl in a flat voice, barely believing the words herself.
“She would never hurt us! Would she…?” The other girl seemed reluctant to believe what she had just been told.
But Jordan had seen it; seen the power and the lack of control her sister had over it. Someone was pulling Nona’s strings and until she found out whom and why, her sister was a threat unlike any other.
“Just be careful, call if you see ANYTHING.” Jordan emphasized the last word, hoping it would drive home the point that the younger girl was NOT to engage Nona alone.
“Roger, roger…” Came the youthful reply followed by a crackle as she disconnected.
Jordan slid down to a sitting position and tried to gather her strength. She had begun to feel lightheaded and a cut above her right eyebrow was sending stinging rivulets of blood into her eyes. She needed to cauterize it quickly or the blood loss would make her pass out. She held her right hand palm down over the wound and concentrated. She felt the familiar heat in her palm as her power kicked in and then the burning sensation as her flesh was seared shut! A few tears squeezed out of her tightly clenched eyes as she waited for the pain to subside. The wound would be completely healed in a few hours but her side would take more time, something she had wasted enough of…
Across town Vixen was bounding gracefully from rooftop to rooftop trying to catch Nona’s scent but having little success. It didn’t help that rain had begun to fall heavily over the city washing away what little trail Nona had left. Wearing just a cotton tee, jogging pants and converse anyone else would have caught their death in the freezing rain. Vixen’s feline physiology gave her more than just agility and hyper tuned senses. She had a thin, barely visible layer of hair all over that kept her insulated from almost any weather. She stopped abruptly when she caught a familiar scent, sliding to a halt on the wet asphalt. Crouching low she put her head down and simply listened.
With her dark hair tied back in a messy bun there was nothing to hamper her sensitive hearing as she tried to separate the sounds around her. She began to concentrate on what she heard. Rain. Traffic. More rain. Conversation from the bar patios below. And then… footsteps, light ones with a feminine cadence. She stilled herself, ready to unleash a ferocious attack as soon as her mark got close. Fangs bared, she tensed for the right moment. With lightning speed she spun around an unleashed a viciously powerful attack. One her “assailant” blocked with ease, grabbing her leg mid-kick and holding her at a severe disadvantage.
“Ow,” came the simple reply in a flat voice quickly followed by her leg being dropped. Vixen looked up and immediately felt terrible! It was Jordan and she had quite nearly decapitated her. “You put a lot of power into that one.”
“Jordan! OMG! Are you okay? I thought you were her, and you guys smell alike, and the rain was screwing up my tracking…” Vixen rambled on to herself more than Jordan until the older girl help up a hand to stop her.
“Taylor, it’s fine. I’m fine. Save that power for the real fight…” She was cut off when a huge chunk of debris flew between them knocking both women over the side of the building to the street below!
Vixen used her feline agility to bounce from the side of the building to a fire escape and landed gently in the alley below their last position, narrowly dodging the mountain of stones that tumbled behind her. Jordan superheated both hands, digging them into the side of the building leaving a smoking trail in her wake. When she pried her stiff fingers from the wall they glowed red with the intense heat of her descent.
“Nona?” Vixen asked to her left in a voice bordering on panic. Jordan just nodded as she stared upward looking for signs of another attack. She was breathing hard, both from the exertion and the anticipation of what was coming next. The rain continued to pour, obstructing her view. Vixen was busily scouring the area looking for signs of Nona.
“We need to split up.”
“What?! No!” Vixen grabbed Jordan’s arm fiercely causing the other girl to hiss in pain. Her reaction did not go unnoticed. “Are you hurt? We can’t split up with you hurt…” She began rambling again.
Jordan pulled the young girl in front of her and gripped her shoulders, forcing the tall teen to look her in the eye. She had found Taylor during a mission two years ago and once it was revealed the girl was an orphan, had done everything in her power to give her a family. Jordan was the closest thing to a parent the child had ever known and she understood her reluctance to risk that connection but there wasn’t time.
“Taylor! We have to stop her NOW. There are innocent people all over this neighborhood and they can’t protect themselves. We just need to be careful no one recognizes us.”
Neither Jordan nor Taylor had thought to put on their uniforms before they set out to find Nona that night. When they heard she had resurfaced they dropped everything, unaware they were walking into an ambush. In their civilian attire they could easily blend with a crowd but it would be hard to maintain anonymity if they needed to use their powers.
“Taylor, go blend in with the crowd and try to lead some of them to safety.” Jordan snagged a hoodie off a nearby clothesline, it was soaking wet but so were they at the moment. “Put this on and don’t use your powers unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
“Wait, what about you? Don’t you need a disguise?” Taylor asked as she shrugged on the damp hoodie and flipped the hood up to obscure her face. Jordan looked around the alley but there wasn’t anything else to use as a disguise. She thought for a moment, maybe her powers could help… She concentrated on the flame deep within and willed the heat to flow up and out through her skin.
“Uh, Jay you’re glowing!”
“ …Just wait for it,” she panted from the exertion. Without warning her hair burst into a long glowing flame from root to tip and as she opened her eyes, Taylor could see they glowed a fiery red. “Well, how does it look?”
Taylor took a step back, unnerved by the transformation before her. Jordan’s skin had a reddish tinge to it beneath the flaming mass of hair, eyes burning red and even her voice held an air of uncontained heat. The falling rain sizzled as it touched her skin and hair, most of it not even surpassing the massive wave of heat rolling off her. This was definitely an effective disguise but Taylor was concerned Jordan wouldn’t be able to maintain it given her weakened state.
“Definitely a little creepy. But effective.”
“Good, hopefully this won’t take long because I’m burning a ton of energy right now.”
Just then a crowd of startled people ran by the alleyway, seemingly away from something enormous as SUV’s came tumbling after them, end over end! It had to be Nona. No one else in this city was strong enough to put a Navigator into a cartwheel.
Jordan snapped out of it first.
“Go! Now!” Her voice carried an eerie quality with her transformation that frightened Taylor into action.
She started directing frightened bystanders to their hiding spot. Several people spotted her and ran towards the safety, sparing terrified glances at Firebird but seeking refuge nonetheless.
“Firebird! Come out now or I will have to hurt more people! You know I don’t have a choice…” The two women shared a worried glance as Jordan turned to go. Taylor grabbed her arm but quickly recoiled from the heat!
“I have to! Stay put.”
Jordan stepped back a few more feet from Taylor, spared her a fleeting glance of concern, and shot into the air like a rocket leaving a fiery after burn in her wake! Taylor watched her go, terrified that the fight was already lost. She directed a few more people into the alleyway before making her decision. She dashed after Jordan following the fiery ribbon she left in the sky.
Just a block and a half from where she had left Taylor, Jordan made a somewhat sloppy landing in front of the imposing figure of her sister holding a car overhead. She panted from the stress put on her injuries as Nona casually tossed the car aside in no hurry to begin the fisticuffs. She WOULD win, of that neither woman had any doubts. Jordan only hoped to slow her down enough for the rest of the team to catch up.
“Nona, what’s going on? You said “HE” would make you hurt me! Who?!”
“He won’t let me tell you. And I can’t stop him.” Nona shook her head sadly, her eyes pleading with her sister. “WHY do you always have to be the hero?! Why couldn’t you just save yourself?”
“You think I’m doing this out of some heroic duty? I don’t care about those people! I care about you! And I will do WHATEVER it takes to get you out of this…”
“It’s too late for me, I’m not strong enough to fight him… Please run…”
“I can’t! I won’t leave you without at least trying to get you out of this! Help me… What can I do?”
“Nothing! You’re all in danger but I can’t stop it…” Nona’s whole body began to tremble as she pressed her palms to her temples trying to contain something warring to get out. “It’s happening again…”
Jordan could see Nona’s fists tightening, her muscles rippling with the tension. This was it; this would be the way she died, at the hands of her sister. Tonight Jordan knew her body would die, but the act she was being forced to commit would destroy Nona’s soul. With a defiant roar, Jordan unleashed a volley of fiery projectiles, each one pushing Nona further away from the frightened people just a block away! Nona blocked each one with her arms up protectively around her face. She responded with a series of punches that could crush steel, destroying the area around them yet Jordan was able to dodge each one. Nona was making sure to move much more slowly then she normally would have in an attack. Whoever was pulling her strings, it seemed her sister was still fighting their control but Jordan was sure she wouldn’t be able to do so forever. The fight went on for quite sometime that way, neither woman gaining clear advantage until Nona upped the ante.
She charged Jordan, crushing her bruised ribs, hurtling them towards a glass storefront! At the last moment, Jordan was able to reposition herself so Nona took the brunt of the impact as they crashed through the plate glass. They landed with a thud inside an abandoned donut shop, a tangle of limbs and glass. Nona’s main power seemed to be super strength but in reality she could influence the gravity of objects around her making things heavier or lighter at will. Right now she was focusing that power on her sister. Jordan could feel Nona’s power pushing down on her, threatening to crush her under an unseen weight. She was forced to her knees with little effort and she felt her fiery façade beginning to fade from the exertion.
Able to raise her head just enough, she shot Nona a fiery look that erupted from her eyes, flinging her sister back the way they came! The relief was immediate as she stood on shaky legs, trying to normalize her eyesight. She had only used the “Superman” trick once before and had suffered migraines for a week afterwards. When she stumbled back onto the abandoned street, her strength was waning as she prayed the rest of the team was close.
I can’t keep this up!
“Vixen, Quickstrike, Mayan? Can anyone hear me?” She tapped her comm once, twice with no response. She had no way of knowing that the very force controlling her sister was also jamming her signal. Just as she had begun to gather her strength she caught motion out the corner of her eye.
“No! Look out!” Vixen exclaimed from a rooftop above right before Nona closed her hand around a heavy stone bench and flung it at Jordan!
Jordan’s first reaction was to protect Taylor. It was easy enough for her to destroy the bench before it reached them. However, she realized far too late that it was only meant to distract her and the last sight she took in when the dust cleared was Nona’s fist inches from her face. Barely able to get her arms up to deflect the attack, she heard the impact before her body ever registered the blow. The sound was deafening and she was sure her body had gone numb to shield her from the reality of several severely broken bones. And then she was flying, hurtling through the air without control.
Nona dropped to her knees as her sister’s body was thrown into the distance.
Oh God! What I have I done? Please don’t let her die!
She tried to climb to her feet with the intent to follow.
I have to go after her. I have to know!
As if defying her grief, the force inside her began to surge in painful waves. She trembled and shook, unable to still the convulsions. With tremendous effort she staggered to her feet again, making it halfway down a filthy alley before the darkness overtook her and she collapsed unconscious behind a restaurant dumpster.
Up on the rooftop, Vixen heard the blow and her blood ran cold. The cloud of smoke from the destroyed cement obscured her view of the fight. She frantically searched earth and sky looking for the poor soul who was on the receiving end of such a vicious blow. In the distance she spotted her, Jordan streaking through the air like a shooting star. Vixen turned, following as quickly as her enhanced body would take her, hoping that her “Mama Bear” would still be alive when she arrived.