Pi showed her hero ID card to the Security Chief. Many areas of the city had been quarantined, and you could only enter them if you were of the proper security clearance. Faultline was one of these areas. The area had been shaken by an earthquake, years ago, and now was only inhabited by rival gangs. The authorities simply did not have the manpower to control the area, so generally only heroes that were willing to help were allowed in.
Paul, the security chief, handed Pi’s ID card back to her. “I’d like for ya to patrol the area around Aftershock for a while, we’ve had some reports of trouble out there. And if ya do ok with that, be sure to check back with Freedom Corps, they’ll probably bump your security level up to 20,” he added with a wink. Pi took her card, nodded, and stepped through the gate. It was not that long ago that she had arrived at Paragon City, shy and clueless. Although she was still quite shy, she had been able to hone her powers, gain in understanding of them, and even develop a few new ones! Of her new powers, the one she enjoyed most was the ability to hover and fly. She would never tire of ducking under stoplights, making slalom courses out of power poles, and doing tricks in the air just for the sheer fun of it.
“Well, are you ready?” Pi heard a familiar voice by her side. Smiling, she looked over and nodded at her friend Night Angle. Pi didn’t know much about Night Angle, not even what her real name was. Pi had learned rather quickly not to ask other heroes their real names. Most were very secretive of their real identities. If they wanted you to know, they would tell you. Night Angle was shorter than Pi, with long dark hair, dressed mostly in black spandex. Pi had met her one day through some mutual friends. When introduced, (using superhero names only, of course!) Pi’s interest was immediately perked. ‘Night Angle,’ she thought, ‘now here is someone I can relate to!’ Given that she used a symbol of geometry in her name, she must be intellectual and mathematically inclined. Pi couldn’t wait to discuss differential geometry with this little vixen over some hazelnut coffee! Later, Pi found out that her assumptions could not be more wrong. Night Angle had absolutely no interest in math or geometry or anything of the sort. She had simply misspelled her name when she had first registered to be a superhero, and once registered, the red tape to change a superhero name was phenomenal. She had meant to call herself Night Angel. She must have been in the same line as Pi and been registered by that same evil witch of the south, Glenda.
It wasn’t long before the two girls reached the area of Faultline known as Aftershock. The whole area was filled with deep crevices and slanting buildings that looked like they could topple over at any second. The entire place had been devastated by an earthquake, and it showed. The ground had been pushed up at such odd angles that flat areas were few and far between. They landed on what used to be a street, but was tilted at such a steep angle now, no car would ever be able to drive on it. “Look. Up there, that’s what we’re looking for,” Night Angle said. “Let’s do it!” she shouted as she headed off towards their foes. Pi shuddered as she saw what Night Angle was attacking. Pi had not thought to consider exactly what type of villain the security chief was having trouble with today in Aftershock. Up ahead was a group of zombies and cadavers, reapers and mortificators, the minions of the evil Dr. Vahzilok. Pi hated the undead! If it was true that every hero had a nemesis, the undead was definitely hers. They were icky and nasty, and really gave her the creeps because they were not alive. It wasn’t like the clockwork. The clockworks were not alive, but they were not supposed to be, they were mechanical. It was just something about the fact that the undead things were either made from, or were, former living beings that really bothered her. On top of the way she felt about them, most of Pi’s powers dealt with the mind, which was the very thing an undead creature lacked! So the very thing she hated being around the most, was also the very foe that her powers were least effective on.
The two girls by themselves did not make the perfect team, but they somehow managed to get the job done. Pi was repulsed and the undead were fairly resistant to most of her powers, and Night Angle was primarily a healer. In order to avoid being totally ineffective, the girls had to rely on the most primary power of all, their wit. Night Angle had the ability to teleport other beings short distances. So the girls flew up to a ledge on an oddly canting building, took up position there, and proceeded to teleport foes up to them one at a time. This area was filled with Dr. Vahzilok’s undead army and members of a cabal called the Circle of Thorns. However, most of what they ran into could not fly, save an occasional summoned demon or imp. So all but the one foe they teleported would stand under the ledge, angrily clawing at the building, trying in vain to climb up to their perch. The girls had cleverly picked a ledge that was just out of crossbow range, knowing that a crossbow was about the most powerful weapon that would be used by their particular enemies of the day.
After a grueling day of fighting, the area was relatively clear. Pi bade farewell to Night Angle and headed back to her apartment. She was near exhaustion, both physically and mentally. The superhero known to others as Pi stepped out of her costume, into a hot shower, and emerged as just a girl named Jenny. Jenny picked up her crumpled costume, if you could call it that, and tossed it in the dirty clothes hamper. While other heroes had exotic and flashy costumes, hers was simply the clothes she had on when she first arrived in Paragon City. She had been wearing the uniform from her school that day. It seemed to fit with her superhero name, so after a lucky day shopping around at several thrift stores, she had several versions of a simple ‘costume’. Tonight she was just Jenny, though. She was tired and hungry, and just wanted to go out and have a bite to eat, and maybe take in a movie. After rummaging through her closet, Jenny donned her favorite pair of jeans, and her pink t-shirt, the one with the big purple heart on it. Jenny chuckled as she thought of the analogy. Sure she could wear a purple heart, because she had been wounded already many times in her fight against evil. Grabbing her keys, Jenny threw open the door to head out, only to be confronted by a small demon and another zombie!
The zombie reached out towards Jenny as she reached within herself to draw upon her powers. Normally she would be quicker than this, but these two had taken her by surprise. She was about a half second away from putting them both down for the count when the imp began to shout what was undoubtedly an incantation for some evil hold spell of it’s own.
“TRICK OR TREAT!”
Jenny retracted her mass hypnosis power at the last moment, almost ripping a tear in her own mind in the process. “Are you ok lady? You don’t look so hot,” the little zombie said. These were children! Jenny had completely forgotten that it was Halloween night. “just…just a moment,” Jenny said, as she ducked back inside. Was she really so exhausted that she had come that close to incapacitating a group of kids? Jenny splashed her face with cold water from the sink and grabbed a couple candy bars for the trick-or-treaters from the cabinet above. She really needed a break!
Later that night, Jenny stretched as she walked out of the movie theater. The movie had been mediocre, but she had a bellyful of pepperoni pizza and felt relaxed. The late October night was crisp, but not too cold. She looked forward to a casual walk home, then a good night’s sleep. As she strolled along, she saw a couple werewolves dart across the street up ahead. Curiously, she glanced at her watch. It was getting a bit late for the trick-or-treaters to still be out. Oh well, maybe it was the older kids, or even some guys on their way back from a party. She continued on her way, passing the pizzeria she had stopped at on the way to the movie. A few blocks later, she heard a shuffling off to her right. Looking down the alleyway, she saw two zombies, full-sized this time, shuffling towards her. Amazing, she thought, some people were really good at making themselves look like the real thing. Jenny decided to play along with these guys and appear frightened. “Eek!” she shouted and turned to run down the sidewalk. She ran headlong into a girl dressed in an odd black and white costume, with a pointy black hat, knocking both of them to the ground. The girl and her two friends were all dressed roughly the same, black and white leather outfits, black leather thigh boots, and the odd black hats. As she apologized and began to get up, Jenny suddenly recognized the hats, and therefore what the girls’ costumes represented. “Oh!” Jenny exclaimed, “You’re supposed to be witches!” “Supposed to be?” one of the girls cackled an evil laugh, “We ARE witches, sweetie, and looks like we just found a new toy!” Jenny suddenly found the stiletto heel of a black boot pushed into her chest and shoving her back down to the ground.
Scowling, Jenny began to backpedal away. “Now wait just a minute!” she shouted, “You can go get your jollies somewhere else! You might want to think twice about who you’re messing with!” Jenny had no doubt she could handle three ordinary girls, who were probably just drunk and looking for kicks on the way home from a Halloween party. “Oh really?” the girl raised her eyebrows, “and just who are we dealing with here?” As she spoke, the girl rubbed her fingers together, producing some crackling sparks between them. ‘Got to be a parlor trick,’ Jenny thought to herself. Surely no superhero would-
About that time, Jenny heard a familiar shuffling sound directly behind her. Without looking back, she knew it was the guys dressed as zombies that she had seen in the alleyway just a few minutes ago. Good, maybe they would help her calm down these witch girls. Instead, something entirely different happened. Jenny felt two clammy hands grab her wrists and pin her arms behind her back, while effortlessly dragging her halfway to her feet. Instantly, Jenny knew the flesh of the hands that held her was not living flesh. The situation suddenly and forcefully became crystal clear and hit her like a thousand pound brick. She did not know how it had happened, but somehow the zombies, the witches, even the werewolves she had seen; they all were real! Perhaps that would have been something she would have picked up on had she not been so tired and exhausted. She could feel the hot breath of the zombie on her neck, as her head was roughly pulled to one side. Whether it was the sudden surprise of the situation, or her nauseating fear of things undead, or perhaps both, panic set in. Jenny felt her knees lose all strength and buckle, and the world started going all hazy and grey. She vaguely heard the zombie utter some unintelligible sound as it made ready to feast upon her neck. She knew she had the power to extricate herself from this, but she was both physically and mentally paralyzed by fear. Just as she felt the sickly maw of the creature touch her neck, she heard a female voice, shouting from somewhere seemingly far away. “HEY!! Leave her alone you freak, she’s ours!” Jenny felt herself being thrown one way, and was vaguely aware of the zombie flying in another direction. She hit something solid, presumably the wall of a nearby building, and slumped to the ground. As she gradually regained her senses, Jenny realized the witches were fighting the zombies. She also realized that black roots of some kind had emerged from the ground and was holding her fast in place. Two of the witches were in battle with the zombies, while the third one was watching her, concentrating on holding her in place. Jenny knew now what was happening. The witches hoped to defeat the zombies, and wanted her for themselves. Jenny shuddered, not wanting to think of the possibilities of that particular scenario.
The battle was about over. The witches, although wounded, were obviously going to defeat the zombies. Jenny knew that even held, she could use her own powers, but she had to wait and carefully pick the right time to use them. She had no power that would break the roots that held her, so she had to wait and hope that they would retract back into the ground soon. She could put the witches to sleep without the use of her hands, but what good would that be if she could do nothing else till her powers wore off? She could do some psychic damage, but not enough while held like this, in a three-on-one battle. As the last zombie was just about to fall, the witch that was controlling the roots that held Jenny looked at her smugly, then suddenly flew sideways across the concrete. She had been the recipient of the fist of a large robotic man that looked like he was made of chrome. Another large robotic man, this one more colorful than the first, jumped into the fray and attacked one of the other witches. Jenny suddenly realized she was free. The attack by the chrome man on the witch that was holding her must have broken her concentration and ended the spell. Now was the chance Jenny had been waiting for! Whoever these two guys were, they were obviously on Jenny’s side, and she wasn’t going to let them continue to fight alone. Still woozy, she sat where she was, leaned up against the brick wall, and used her power to dominate the will of all foes in an area, with the addition of a bit of psychic damage. All three of the witches suddenly stopped what they were doing, and grabbed their heads in pain, while the zombie that was barely standing finally crumpled to the ground. The two robotic looking men stopped fighting and looked around oddly, as if searching for something, then finally looked over at her. “You hero?” the colorful one asked. Jenny nodded feebly. “Awesome!” the other one said. The two robotic men then proceeded to take care of the witches, while Jenny made sure they didn’t fight back.
After the fight, the robots came over to where Jenny sat, and offered to help her up. Upon closer inspection, Jenny realized they may not have been robots; it appeared that they were wearing some sort of power armor. It was obvious to her by now, that these were two heroes, not unlike herself. “I’m Chromium Man, and this here’s Tibian,” the chrome colored one said, as he helped her up. “Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Jenny -er, I mean Pi, -er, well, I mean…oh just call me Jenny. Uh, what’s going on? Where did these things come from?” “Well, we’re not really sure,” Chromium Man replied, “A couple days ago, there was a report from a professor at Winthrop that something weird might be happening this weekend, and obviously, he was right. I don’t know what caused it, but the city seems to be under attack by all sorts of demonic beings! Also…” Chromium Man’s voice trailed off. “Also, what?” Jenny asked, not sure if she wanted to hear the rest. “They say sun not comin’ up anymore. We need to fight,” Tibian stated flatly. Jenny’s eyes widened as she looked up at Chromium Man, who nodded somberly. “That’s what they’re saying. Whatever has caused this has plunged the city into a perpetual night, so the vampires, werewolves, and all these creatures of the darkness can run free for as long as they want. But Tibian is right. We do need to fight this, in hopes that we can regain somehow control or stop it. How are you feeling? Would you like to join us?” Jenny stood up, dusted herself off, and sighed wearily. “Sure, I can help.”
The rest of the weekend was a blur for Jenny. Denizens of darkness seemed to be lurking around every corner. The only sleep she got was a catnap here and there for only a couple hours. She never even had a chance to stop and put on her “Pi” costume, as she had went right to work, helping Chromium Man and Tibian. She fought ghouls and spirits, vampires and werewolves, things she had seen only in horror movies, and things she had never even heard or dreamed of. Then finally, on Monday morning, after what seemed like an eternity, the darkness suddenly fell away to the breaking of the morning sun.
Several days later, Jenny stepped into an office at Freedom Corps. After about sixteen hours of sleep, she had gotten a message to report here. The woman at the information desk had directed her to this office. Jenny looked around nervously, wondering if she had broken some rule, or got into trouble. The portly man behind the desk stood as he smiled at her and put her at ease. “Pi, is it? It’s nice to meet you, I’m Joe Brooks” he said as he moved over towards an oak cabinet, “You were noticed fighting for our city this past weekend, as going above and beyond the call of duty.” “I was just doing my job, sir,” Jenny said softly. “Well, you do a good job of it, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.” Joe reached into the cabinet and brought out a small box, as he continued, “The mayor just wanted to show you and the heroes that fought for this city his gratitude for protecting us and our way of life. If not for you, who knows what might have happened. The light returned, and the forces of evil were pushed back, due mainly to the efforts of heroes like you.” Joe handed the box to her as he shook her hand. “On behalf of Paragon City, thank you, Pi.”
Jenny waited until she was back out in the lobby before looking inside the box. Upon opening it, she saw six brightly colored badges, all bearing a different insignia, one for each of the types of creatures she had fought. There was also a letter, thanking her for all her efforts and sacrifices in protecting Paragon City both this past weekend, and always. The letter was even signed by the mayor himself! Jenny smiled, clutched the box to her chest, and stepped out into the bright sunshine.