Vigilance #4 Max

Vigilance jumped from the rooftop and landed catlike onto the road before sprinting after his quarry with inhuman speed. He was chasing Leapfrog, a small time crook with the ability to teleport short distances every few seconds. Nothing impressive sure, but he was quite good at thievery, and catburgalry. He couldn’t run nearly as fast as Vigilance, but any time the dark clad vigilante came close to him he ported thirty feet away with a bright green flash. It was kind of comical to watch the feared killer be thwarted by such a small time crook, but he wouldn’t last long, and I needed to take this chance. Besides, I owed froggy. I caught him two years ago, and after a short stint in jail he got out and went clean. He credited me for that, and we had been good friends ever since, which is why he decided to pull the green jumpsuit out and act as bait.
I lept off my perch, and landed in between the two,cracking the pavement with my landing. I turned to leapfrog and motioned for him to flee but when I turned back, Vigilance was gone.
Or at least he wasn’t there anymore because an instant later his foot cracked into my helmet and sent me skidding across the street and halfway through a parked car. Groaning I pulled myself out of the wreckage, only to be pummeled into the pavement by a flurry of fists, each blow pushing my face deeper and deeper into the ground as my HUD blinked red and made lots of siren sounds.
This was bad. He was stronger than me, and way faster. I’d die if he kept hitting me like this. I tried to use a wrist gun on him but he kicked it aside, denting the barrel beyond use. I screamed with frustration, and the suit opined its mouth with mine.
The plasma thrower. I could use the plasma on him.
I roared, and blue flame burst out of the suit’s dented maw and washed over him. The heat charred the front of his his costume and he leapt upwards, out of the the flame and onto a building where he hung like an overgrown spider. It was the first time I had gotten a look at his costume, and honestly it wasn’t much too look at. It was all black and made of what looked like the same materials as Hotfoot’s. It had two large and circular white screens where the eyes should be, and a multitude of weapon holsters filled with a variety of guns and knives. I activated the speakers, aimed my remaining gun at him and said,“Surrender. I am Maximum, and-”
“Leave.”
His voice was cold and clear, filled with impatience.
“Your kind of justice isn’t welco-”
“Anymore? So now the great paragons decide to notice North side. Where were you five year ago? Eighteen innocents died when Clanker tried to take over the Chemogods. Not even one of you deigned to come out of your little clubhouse in the sky.”
“I wasn’t part of the Paragons back then, and I’m pretty sure they were in space with the rest of the world league at the time.”
Slightly proud of my bulletproof answer, I waited for a response. Instead, I got a roundhouse kick to the throat. The impact dented the plating, forcing the metal into my larynx. He followed with a spinning sidekick into my solar plexus, knocking the wind out of my lungs. I tried to breathe in, but the throat armor was blocking the air flow, effectively choking me.
I couldn’t breathe.
Think Max. Think.
If I left my armor now, he would kill me. If I tried to flee, he’d catch me. I had one option left. I could detonate every explosive I have.
“Re…route all energy…to…shields…”, I croaked out with my last breath before detonating forty pounds of high explosive.
For a split second all I saw was fire, and then nothing as the shockwave gave me the mother of all concussions.

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Vigilance #3 (real)

He looked like the bad guy from Rocky IV had a baby with Charles Manson’s beard. He was massive, almost six four, and had the most ridiculously over muscular form I had ever seen on a man. He looked like he hunted and ate Arnold Schwarzeneggers. He also was completely made of red metal with yellow highlights, like a Super Soviet android. 
Besides the whole metal thing, he was dressed normally, in a decent looking suit and tie and after we apologized very enthusiastically, he laughed and sent us on our way. Once Addison and I were out of earshot we both breathed massive sighs of relief. It was like bumping into a Tyrannosaurus Rex at the supermarket or accidentally cutting the devil off on the highway. It wasn’t just a brush with death. We French kissed it. 
Once we finished hyperventilating, Addison and I flashed our invitations at the security guard and went in. 
The first thing that I noticed was the food table. Oh my god the food table. Platters of horderves, tables filled with champagne glasses, and a cake taller than me. My stomach growled, and after weeks of ramen and hot pockets I couldn’t resist. I tapped Addison on the shoulder and gestured toward the food. “Yo Alex, I’m grabbing a bite to eat. Be back in a sec.” He nodded and said, “I’ll go try and find out what the actual package is.” I looked at him incredulously. “You don’t know what the package is? I swear to god I will end you if you ‘skimmed’ it again.”
“No, this one I actually don’t know. Boss didn’t tell me.”
“What if it’s a nuke or something? Why would you ever take this job if you didn’t know?”
“I thought you would know!”
Exasperated, I shook my head and walked over to the food table, grabbed a plate and started shoveling sliders onto it until I noticed the man next to me. He was tall, bespectacled, wearing a fine suit, and he was very tan. I knew that I knew him from somewhere, but I couldn’t place it. He nodded at me, and I nodded back, before I went back to my food. That didn’t seem to satisfy him however, and he walked over and motioned for me to come closer. I attempted to ignore him, but he redoubled his efforts and I relented, hoping to avoid making a scene. I walked over, chewing on a slider, and said in my best frat bro voice, “Hello? Can I help you bro?” He smiled. “I believe you already are helping me, Zach.”
Oh shit. I knew who this was. Harold King. Billionaire, philanthropist, playboy, superhero. Max’s brother. What was he doing here? I grinned and tried to hide my surprise. “Fraid you got the wrong guy sir. My name is Carl Pike, pleasure to meetcha.” He smirked. “Cut the act. I put that chip in your head, I know what you look like, and on that point, I’d appreciate if you told me how you-” Before he could finish, I flexed my power, grabbed him, and sprinted off to the bathroom where I locked the door behind us. “Are you threatening me?” I asked coolly. In truth it was just an act. I was nearly pissing myself in fear, but Harold just laughed. “Far from it. I’m actually here to thank you, ask a few questions about Him, and tell you something about this job you’d probably like to know.” 
“Your brother is safe.”
“I know he’s safe. I’ve been monitoring his eye and I have nanites on your costume.”
“Ok first off, that’s really fucking creepy so stop, secondly why haven’t you arrested me and him yet, thirdly why are you at an arms deal and finally, what would I like to know?”
“No, because I don’t want my brother to go to prison, to find out who has been stealing my portal tech, and that someone is planning to rob this party.”
“Well, um that’s actually me planning to do that.” 
“I meant someone else is dumbass.”
“Oh. What proof do you have?”
“All of the waiters and staff don’t work here, and all have holstered guns, many of which are galactic make. Before you ask, I found this by cross checking my glasses facial recognition with all the employees ever employed here, and used the X-ray function to scan for weapons.”
“Holy shit. You take the Big Brother part of big brother really seriously.”
“Well, it paid off didn’t it?”
“Ok. So your creepiness paid off. Why should I care about this robbery?”
“Because they might get in the way of both of our schemes. Also, if you don’t help me help me get rid of them, I’ll send the recording of this conversation I took to the Department of Homeland Security.”
“You wouldn’t. You’ll get arrested as well, and you don’t want Max to go to jail.”
“I’ll edit the recording first, and I can break him out.” 
Goddamnit this was not good. Harold King was one of the five smartest people in the world. His upper tier power suits could bat in Power’s league. He was notoriously manipulative and I had no guarantee he wouldn’t just turn me in after I outlived my usefulness. 
I sighed. This was gonna be a long night

Vigilance #3

You ever seen one of those communist Russian propaganda posters? Lots of red. Angry looking dudes holding a hammer or some shit of the working man? Pointing off in the distance? Like what the hell are they pointing at? Why the hell isn’t the poster showing whatever they’re so interested in? 

Anyway, imagine one of those posters after the angry dude steps off the paper into real life. That was Agent Red. Beefy as hell, but not in a pro-wrestler kind of way, in the carved from granite blocks kind of way. His face looked like someone had used a diamond grinder to cut in some jagged edges just for character. Who knew how old this guy was, because I could swear he looked the same as all the history channel vids.

 

Addison, sorry, Alex, leaned up to the limo’s little passenger-driver window. “We’ll just get out here.”

 

Curious, I flashed on into overdrive mode, got out of the car, and then took a slow stroll around the legendary hero. I made sure to ramp up my speed to the point that everything was totally frozen. It was crazy being so close to someone so deadly. I had to take a chance to examine this supposed monster.

 

Looked like a regular dude as far as I could tell. I lifted his wallet and raised an eyebrow at a photo of some bikini-clad woman. It was tucked between a wad of cash that was too tempting to pass up, but I managed to control myself and only took two of the hundreds. Plastic, ident-chip cards, and some kind of medallion were of little interest to me. Giving back the wallet, I got back in the car and let the world rejoin me.

 

Alex tapped me on the shoulder. “Remember. We blend in, maintain cover, and act as soon as this weapon shows up.”

 

“Thanks, dad. I can read, you know.”

 

He rolled his eyes and opened the door. Stepping out, he pressed a hand to his chest. “Oh, wow! Agent Red!? Is that you? I am a huge fan!”

 

“Hm.”

 

I walked up and crossed my arms. “Gee. Who’s this dude?”

 

Alex, but really I mean Addison, let his lip twitch at my comment. Maybe he wasn’t so good of a liar. He extended a hand. “Alex Giana. A pleasure…”

 

Red eyed the two of us. He glared at me for a moment, and in that second I wondered if he had seen me. Couldn’t have been, could it?

 

Someone behind me and Alex spoke up. “Well look at this shitty Russian Relic. Didn’t know you were gonna be here.” The woman walked past us wearing a bright-purple dress that was split from the back of her neck down to her ankle. It curved around her body like a coiled snake, and I had no idea how the damned fabric kept together if nothing connected the two halves.

 

Agent Red narrowed his eyes. “Had I known you would be here, Teela, maybe I would not come.”

 

They walked away from us without giving us another moment’s acknowledgement.

 

As they disappeared into the building’s doorway, I shrugged. “Eh, fuck that guy.”

 

Addison, or Alex I guess, grunted. “I’d rather give her the honors.”

 

I laughed and we followed the pair of badly-disguised supers into a room of thrumming bass.

 

It was pounding, pounding and pounding and pounding.

 

“Huh, had no idea this was gonna be that kind of party.” I grinned. “But I like it. This is gonna be a lot less boring if I can dance with some hotties before they do the presentation.”

 

“Whatever. Just keep your eyes open and don’t piss anyone off.”

 

My expression darkened. “Dude, you really need to chill out. Anyone ever tell you that you have a bad effect on them?”

 

“All the time. I prefer it, actually.” Alex split away from me toward the buffet table.

 

I was annoyed enough at him not to give a shit. Fine. I wasn’t even sure why they’d partnered me up with anyone anyway. With a hot suit and a hotter haircut, I was damned sure a Hotfoot that could take care of this crowd. Which I began to do.

 

There were plenty of people that were obviously just there as showpieces or to attempt at being a showpiece. Some of the ladies were wearing stuff that hardly gave my imagination any credit. Some of the guys had on suits that looked like a bedazzler had thrown up and left missing spots.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed some of the stylish looks, but the whole translucent clothing fad was getting out of hand. I didn’t need to see that much nipple on anyone while trying to chew on some finger food.

 

A cute curvy lady with blue streaks in her hair danced with me for a while and we enjoyed a laugh about how stuck up some of the attendees looked. She was fun, but started talking about politics and shit that made me wanna take a nap. It didn’t matter to me which politicians screwed who. Every side ever caused supers grief, so they were all jerks as far as I was concerned.

 

Splitting with the blue-haired lady, I ended up dancing with this other woman with hair down to her knees. Like seriously I wondered how she kept it from getting tangled in everything. Then I saw she had some crazy cool mini-drone hair clamps that kept it woven together in a shifting tail of blonde.

 

“Neat hair,” I said.

 

She shrugged. “It’s fun.”

 

That’s when I saw Vigilant and I slapped time into park so fast that I almost forgot to stop dancing. As it was I had shimmied four shimmies to the left before I remembered to move back in front of the lady so my movement wouldn’t be noticed.

 

Doubt gripped my heart. Was this a trap? Was this another one of those crazy execution gatherings like Max had seen? There were a lot of somewhat notable people here. What if that mind-control guy came in and made me snap the mayor’s neck? Sure, that idiot was terrible at dancing. But bad electric slide or not, he didn’t deserve a cold-blooded murder.

 

It’s nothing I told myself. I thought I was seeing conspiracy alien-shit in the crowd. Maybe it was just seeing Max run off to be some kind of vigilante idiot on my mind. All sorts of supers were running around this party. Someone probably hired Vigilant to be a part of the security. I pressed the play button to let time do its thing again.

 

But something must’ve shown on my face. The woman in my arms seemed to take note. “Is something amiss?” she asked, hair slowly swaying itself to the beat.

 

I shook my head and squeezed her shoulder. “Nah. Thanks for the dance. You’re gorgeous.” She raised an eyebrow as I walked over to rejoin up with Addison. Alex. You know what I mean.

 

A pedestal had finally risen up into the middle of the dancefloor. The people around the room had started sorting themselves into groups that I figured would bid together.

 

“Alright. Get ready,” said my partner as a different sort of song began to play. It was some kind of instrumental version, but everyone knew the lyrics.

 

I knew ‘SexyBack’ when I heard it.

 

Movement caught my eye. The girl with blue-streaks in her hair had stepped back from Agent Red and had wide-eyes and a gaping mouth. She was hurrying toward a door. I hurried after her, faster, slowing the world just a tick to catch up. Six quick strides and I caught her. I grabbed her by the arm and went cold all over as I felt the zap of ice too bitter to be real. Her skin was turning blue. Her body was translucent, and I could see right through her head as she turned into a walking frozen-monster.

 

She slapped me so hard that it broke my lip. My head spun around and I tried to activate my powers but there was nothing there. Nothing happened. I suddenly noticed the crowd, like really noticed who was left. Most of the showpieces had disappeared. The only people left were clustered into groups of confidence and clenched fists.

 

They hadn’t gathered into bidding groups. They were forming squads of fighters.

 

The music drowned out every sound. Someone had turned that shit up to eleven. The ice-lady shoved me aside as I tried to comprehend not being able to work my speed.

 

Alex gave me an angry look as he walked up. “What the hell was that about? I told you to keep your cool?”

 

“Shit, I tried! But she ran away!”

 

He staggered suddenly as a steel shaft sprouted through his body and stabbed into the marble-tiled floor. If he screamed, it was covered by the song where Justin Timberlake should’ve been dropping f-bombs. Nine more of the shafts sliced through his skull, his legs, his arms. He started sliding down his own blood.

 

Some lady that was all metal, except for her bright red eyes, withdrew her fingers just as my newly-departed partner hit the floor. They shrank back down to normal size and she grinned. All of her teeth were pointed cones of steel. She raised her hand and I saw the fingertips start to extend toward me.

 

Out of habit, I tried to slow things down. But it still wouldn’t work. I would’ve pissed myself if I hadn’t been so fucking angry. Who the hell had set this trap?

 

Then some kind of barrage of power smacked Terminator-Two chick in the face and her head just melted away. She fell back as Max’s suit followed up his laser-eyes and he punched her right in the sternum with his cybernetic fist.

 

I stepped back.

 

He turned and said something, or at least I think he tried to. But it was lost in the noise. In the bassline rumbling on repeat. Max turned his head as something flashed to his left. A bolt of straight-up light punched through the fancy suit of armor like it was tinfoil.

 

I turned away. “Oh shit!” I started to run, but it felt ridiculously slow. Why weren’t my powers working? What the hell was going on? “Oh shit oh shit oh shit!”

 

Across the dancefloor there were all sorts of people fighting one another. I saw the lady with the drone-clamp hair using the blonde strands as crazy mind control tentacles. She’d slip another couple of the hairs into somebody’s eyeball and suddenly they were fighting with her instead of against. She had a zombie-army of supers practically slobbering to attack Vigilant.

 

Dude was still mopping the floor with everyone. It was madness. I’d say it was terrifying, but I was hoping he’d take down as many assholes as he could. Maybe I could survive if they all ignored me.

 

Something punched me in the back and I saw blood splatter on the tile in front of me. A thorn-covered vine pulled back out of my gut and left me staggering. I fell on my face before I knew what the fuck had happened. Thankfully, my nose broke my fall.

 

“Fuck!” I shouted. I couldn’t hear myself think. The music was playing louder. Louder. Agent Red was firing straight through people with a pair of railgun arms. Then he turned on someone I could’ve sworn he was fighting alongside, and then those two started going at it.

 

Everyone was killing everyone. Any sides that had been there at the start were gone now. What the hell was going on? What hunger-games inspired bastardry was taking place?

 

Max lumbered by, suit missing more than a couple of chunks, as he grappled with a living plant thing that was all tentacles and vines and green flowers giving of noxious clouds of pollen.

 

Some of the pollen hit my nose and I started gagging. My throat was closing up as I struggled to my feet. My back was on fire as I held my gut, hoping to keep my stomach closed enough to get somewhere that wasn’t absolute shit. I headed for the pedestal that had risen from the center of the dancefloor. It had come out of some underground room. There had to be a way out down there.

 

Vigilant straight up ripped off Max’s arm, suit and all, and then proceeded to pull the man’s body out of the too-small hole. I couldn’t hear the bones crunching together and snapping, but my mind filled in the blanks. Skin flapped and wrinkled as jagged white edges shoved out through the man’s body. He looked like a pincushion turned inside-out.

 

I clutched the pedestal and tried to wiggle it to get it to move. To lower. “Do fucking anything!” I yelled. I kicked its base once, twice, and then screamed as my foot was sliced off mid-swing for the third kick. My bloody stump hit the floor and I collapsed on my side.

 

“Fuck you!” I shouted. “Fuck you all!”

 

The song was still playing, but the room had gone still. Everyone was dead. Wasted in piles of goo or scattered into hacked-up pieces of grime and sinew. Flashing lights shined on pools of blood and reflected on tile slick from streaks of gore.

 

A charcoal colored figure descended from the ceiling, from some shadow that was a trick of reality. “You survived the onslaught of the others. I am surprised. Should I reward you for tenacity?”

 

My vision was going black. My skin felt feverishly hot. It was getting harder to stay conscious. I spat blood up at the figure and marred that perfectly seamless figure with red spatter. “Fuck off.”

 

A massive three-fingered hand rose out of his back and slammed into my throat.

 

It was interesting seeing my body from the third-person as my head sailed away from where it’d been ripped away. SexyBack really started getting annoying after a while, especially the instrumental version. That was the last thought I had before the glimmer of life left my mind.

Heh. Gotcha.
APRIL FOOLS MOTHERFUCKAS

The crazy, zany, and completely NOT CANON! interlude you’ve just read is part of the Serial Fiction April Fool’s Day Swap, 2016 Edition. The gag post you’ve just read was written by J.A. Waters, who normally writes the story SyncPoint, found at http://jukepop.com/home/read/6253. Graham Harrington, who normally writes this story, created their own piece of tomfoolery for L. E. Erickson at who writes the serial Graves at https://gravesserial.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/1-1/
Want to discuss this weird joke with other participants? Join them at: http://forums.webfictionguide.com

Vigilance #2 Zach

The battle raged for over two hours. Armed with outdated and brutal technology, the tyrant’s forces won through pure force. The wails of the wounded blanketed the bloody battlefield. Casualties included two combs, my scalp, and most importantly my pride.

 

All in all it was a pretty good haircut.

 

I was led back into the conference room, where Jason awaited with a tall clean shaven man. He was taller than me, about six two, and had perfectly groomed dark brown hair. His face was long, and he wore a black suit and shirt with a red tie. Held his hand out and I shook it. “Addison Ramsey”, he said. I nodded, and said “Zach.”

 

“I’m your partner for this job. We’re posing as trust funders from new york attempting to get some cool souvenirs to show off to our frat buddies. I’m Alex Giana, you’re Carl Pike. We go in, mingle a bit, then when they show off the merch you grab it and leave. I’m guessing your a teleporter of some sort?”

 

I shook my head and said, “Speedster. What’s in the bag?”, gesturing to the blocky black thing on the red coat rack. He walked over and unzipped it, revealing a dark navy suit. “Get dressed in the room next door, and meet me back here. We’re going over important people we might meet at the party and possible threats until it’s time to leave.’

 

I sped over to the suit, got dressed, and brushed my teeth before he could finish saying “to”. I straightened my blue tie, and asked “Do you have it written down?” He nodded, and I held my hand out. He passed the papers to me and I literally sped read through it in under a second. “Notable figures” included the Mayor, the Mayor’s daughter Alex, an old prison “buddy” of mine named Bonecrusher, some Chemogods punks, a Merc named Pyrocyborg and Agent Red.

 

Motherfucking Agent Red.

 

Level Eight Metahuman.

 

Red was THE Soviet superhero. He was Stalin’s answer to Fuhrer and Ubermensch during the The First Meta War, and the rival of the United Statesmen for the next forty years. His exact power set had never been released, but he was some sort of hyper advanced, even for alien tech weaponry bonded to a human. The old propaganda story was that Red used to be a loyal farmer who stumbled upon an ancient weapon while working in the collective, and decided to fight for his glorious leader.

 

I personally thought the government found it in a cave, attached it to a KGB agent, and made the story up, but I had no proof. His powers were also unclear, but from what I could remember seeing on the history channel he was nearly invincible, fired rail gun shells from his retractable third and fourth arms, could go intangible, had guns that could track and shoot at targets moving almost as fast as me, and a sort of “Corrosive Field” that eroded whatever the green light touched. He probably also had super strength and some form of shapeshifting since in his battle with the Fuhrer he was a nine armed thirty foot tall death machine, but when he fought the United Statesmen he was a humanoid figure only slightly bigger than a man.

 

I slowed down and looked up from the paper. “You said no-one dangerous! Why the fuck is Agent Red not in the “dangerous” category?”

 

“Who’s Agent Red?”

 

I looked at him incredulously.

 

“Who’s Agent Red? Did you even fucking GO to school? Did you even read these papers?”

 

He shrugged. “Skimmed em.”

 

I sighed and passed the paper to him. He finished reading it and nodded. “Hm. That makes things a little more interesting. Nothing we can’t handle. I’ll just distract him when you go for the item.”

 

He was a good liar. So good, I almost didn’t notice how nervous he was. I opened my mouth too tell him that I noticed, but decided against it.  Me noticing would probably throw him off more, possibly canceling the mission, which X couldn’t happen. I needed this money. The payment deadline for my costume was approaching, and I did not want to piss Sergei off. People who did that tended to disappear.  

 

We went over details in our cover until the secretary escorted us into a limousine with darkened windows. As soon as we sat down, Addison handed me a green pill. “Take it. It counters any alcohol in the system, allowing us to maintain cover, while being as effective as possible.”
I frowned, since I was kinda hoping to get sloshed on rich people booze, but took it anyway. The rest of the car ride was silent, at least until we nearly ran Agent Red over in the parking lot.

Vigilance #1: Zach

It had been weeks since Max had moved in and I barely even saw the guy. He worked as a handyman all morning, slept for four hours in the afternoon, and Superhero’d all night. Which explained why he wasn’t in the best mood when I stood in his way, blocking his suit.
“Out of my way.”
I shook my head and pointed to a scattering of papers on his stained yellow mattress.
“Why do you have police files on Vigilant? Don’t tell me-”
He cut me off.

“None of your business.”
“It is too my business if my roommate is gonna go get himself killed!”
“Move.”

“Look. I get it. You’re a crazed vigilante. He’s a crazed vigilante. You wanna get rid of the competition, I can understand that. Thing is, you’re paying for my TV right now and I’d hate to be the guy who let Maximum get killed.”
“Why do you care?”
“That doesn’t even warrant an answer. Max just ask for help. Carlos can gi-”
He shoved his way past me, got in the suit, and left without a word. Great. Got my first roommate only to lose him in less than a month. I can’t believe the idiot was going after Vigilant. He was almost a ghost story. Fast enough to dodge machine gun fire, tough enough to take a beating from Bonecrusher, and strong enough to return the favor. That, compounded with his myriad of other powers made him extremely deadly.

His kill count was in the triple digits, a fact made even more impressive since he had been operating for only about a year. If Max was going after him…
I shook my head to clear my thoughts. Max probably wouldn’t even find him. Vigilant was hard to find, and generally only got caught when he wanted it. I grabbed my costume, and started jogging to Third Street at a casual five thousand miles an hour. When I arrived, The secretary in an even more outrageously tight shirt ushered me into a waiting room filled with old magazines. I had barely even picked up my copy of Cooking Weekly before she came back in. “The boss wants to see you now”, she said in a sickly saccharine voice. I smiled, nodded, and followed her back out of the room. She led me into the same office I had been in before, except a large and black body bag looking thing hung from a coat rack in the corner. Jason nodded and passed an envelope to me.
Inside of it was a fancy invitation to a fundraiser held by the Mayor Simon Hitz. He was a greasy little guy, well known to be deep in the pocket of multiple gangs. I looked up at Jason and he said “Our good Mayor has some items I’d like to acquire. This ‘fundraiser’ is just a cover for an arms deal, and I want in. I’ve procured an invitation for you and my agent. He’ll do the talking, and when the Item is displayed your job is to steal it and bring it to me before the building locks down. Once you grab the item you’ll have exactly 0.012 seconds until military grade shielding will block every exit.”
He handed me a sketch of a ballroom with a large square in the center. On the letter most side of the square was a circle labeled TRGT. Radiating out from it were escape routes ranked by easiest to hardest. The shortest one was through a large window on the east side, forty feet from the target. What was that like, I smirked and said “That’s easy. I can sleepwalk faster than that. Anything worth mentioning?” He shook his head. “A few villains will be there, but no-one who can touch you. Should be a breeze.”
“Don’t say that.”
“What?”
“Should be. It NEVER is.”
He raised an eyebrow before pressing a button on his desk. Almost an instant later an old and horribly wrinkled indian woman entered the room. Jason gestured to her and said, “She’ll be in charge of cleaning you up. You leave in four hours.”

She smiled and pulled out a wicked looking pair of scissors.
I glanced up at my tangled dirty blonde mess and gulped.

This was going to hurt.