A Steel Ribbon part 19

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A Steel Ribbon part 19
By
Morpheus

A dying man is given a second chance. This story is a fan fiction that takes place in the Whateley Universe

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I stood in the dungeon basement, my mind whirling as I considered the fact that the Marquis was holding onto Rich’s powers but hadn’t shown them at all during the entire fight. He could have escaped at any time but had chosen not to do so, which left the rather large question of why. The Marquis had obviously wanted the fight, probably certain that he could win it. However, even after we’d defeated him, he still hadn’t teleported away. Then I suddenly wondered if maybe teleportation wasn’t the only power he currently possessed but hadn’t shown during the fight.

“The Marquis is up to something,” I told Rachael with a growing certainty that something was wrong.

Rachael scowled at that, then responded, “Those heroes aren’t my concern…” She put a gentle hand on Rich’s shoulder to try comforting him more.

Rich was bruised and beaten, and he looked like it was taking everything he had just to stand there. However, getting him out of the cage had brought immediate benefits and he was already showing renewed energy and determination. But this was starting to waver and he stared at me and Rachael with a look of fear.

“He’s escaping?” Rich gasped, his voice shaking. “Oh God, he’s going to come after us again…”

Rich’s obvious fear struck me almost like a physical blow. As relieved as I was to have found him, the man who’d taken him and hurt him was still out there and up to something. “He won’t touch you again,” I announced, stating it as a simple fact. Come hell or high water, I wouldn’t let the Marquis lay a finger on him again.

“No he’s not,” Rachael promised him, her expression shifting from gentle and comforting to hard and grim. “After what he did to you, there is no way in hell I’m gonna let him walk away from this…”

With that, Rachael and I hurried out of the basement dungeon while Rich and Mystery Woman were left behind to free all the other prisoners. I just hoped they were able to do it quickly and get out of the mansion as soon as possible. I was pretty sure that none of them wanted to stick around a second longer than absolutely necessary.

Rachael and I ran up the stairs and back out the mansion, and as soon as we stepped back out the front door, I saw I’d been right. The Marquis was standing up, completely free from any kind of bindings and looking as though he’d never even been taken down. He had his arm outstretched in front of him with his hand firmly grasped around Pinnacle’s throat. He was holding Pinnacle up off the ground with ease, as though Pinnacle weighed nothing at all.

“Oh shit,” I blurted out, realizing now what the Marquis had been doing. The whole ‘defeat’ thing had been so he could lure Pinnacle close and take his powers.

“Your powers will serve nicely until I can find someone stronger,” the Marquis announced, speaking to Pinnacle, who was still struggling in vain. Then the Marquis mused, “Sadly, you’re too useful to kill right now, but I can still amuse myself by using your own powers to break your bones…one by one.”

“You bastard,” Asset gasped from where he was on the ground a short distance away, looking as though the Marquis had already been a bit rough on him. He was struggling to even stand and couldn’t seem to manage even that. Not only was his leg still injured but one of his arms was blackened and burned.

“A gadgeteer is of little use to me,” the Marquis commented in an amused tone. “You I can kill now.”

The Marquis absently dropped Pinnacle and gestured towards Asset, who was frantically trying to assemble something. A moment later, a blast of red fire shot out of his hands and would have hit Asset if Miss Fortune hadn’t interfered. The ghostly image of a woman suddenly appeared in front of Asset and she gestured with a large staff she was holding. The fire suddenly stopped as if hitting an invisible wall. A moment later, the ghostly woman vanished.

“Thanks,” Asset said, holding up some kind of gun that he’d just finished putting together. “Now it’s my turn…”

Asset couldn’t get off the ground and one of his arms seemed to be useless, but he had still managed to put together that weapon and aimed it at the Marquis. He fired and a tight beam of green energy shot out at the Marquis, hitting him right in the chest. However, the Marquis didn’t seem bothered in the least by this, much to Asset’s surprise. Unfortunately, that just confirmed that he was now protected by Pinnacle’s power.

Rachael took aim and shot at the Marquis as well, hitting him right in the back. Unfortunately, her blast had no more effect than Asset’s had. “Fuck,” she exclaimed in frustration. “I always hated that about Pinnacle.”

I started towards the Marquis, though I was bursting with anger and frustration, wondering what I could do against him. I’d used my ribbons on him a few times, though it hadn’t done a lot of good. He just kept switching on the fire power and burning them right off again. And sure, I could run up and punch him, but getting close to a power thief was kind of stupid, and considering that he now has Pinnacle’s power, it would probably be kind of useless.

Miss Fortune created another ghostly image, this one looking like a large man who had a noose around his neck. He was holding the long rope as he started towards the Marquis, apparently planning on using the rope as a weapon. However, the Marquis flew forward and punched the ghostly man, who vanished on impact.

“Now,” Miss Fortune exclaimed, standing up straight and glaring at the Marquis with a cold imperious look, not seeming to even care about her own injuries. “It is time for you to face JUDGEMENT.” She shouted the last.

“I think not,” the Marquis exclaimed, suddenly flying at Miss Fortune and grabbing hold of her. “Your powers are of little use to me.” Before he’d even finished the words, he twisted her body, resulting in a gurgling scream that ended abruptly. Then he tossed her lifeless body to the ground, musing, “That was far too quick to be satisfying.”

“You monster,” Pinnacle snarled, standing up though he was wobbly and without power. He glared at the Marquis with a look of cold hate.

The Marquis laughed at that, then responded, “The judgments of my inferiors mean nothing.”

Rachael snarled in anger, then told me, “Use the damn weights. I made them for a reason.”

I blinked at that, then looked at the black metal bracelets I wore, having almost completely forgotten about them. With that, I took one of them off and formed a ribbon with one and tying itself around the heavy ring. I took a breath, then used the ribbon to swing it around over my head, building up speed before finally releasing it. The metal ring flew through the air and hit the Marquis in the chest hard enough to throw him back, much to my delight.

“Thirty pounds of weight thrown with superhuman strength,” Rachael stated with a smirk. “That is quite a great deal of force concentrated into a relatively small surface area…”

“And it hits like hell,” I added with a grin of my own, suddenly realizing just how effective my new jewelry could be as weapons.

The Marquis had been knocked back by the impact, though Pinnacle’s powers had protected him from being seriously hurt. Still, I had no doubt that if I’d hit a normal person in the chest with that thing, it would have crushed their ribs and probably killed them. I used the ribbon that was still tied to the ring to pull it back towards me, noting that with that weight on the end, it seriously reduced my ability to control the ribbon.

“I despise children,” the Marquis said, slowly walking towards me. “It seems I must teach you the discipline your parents neglected.”

Instead of responding to that verbally, I flung my weighted ribbon at him again, this time swinging it wide so that the ribbon came at him from the side, hitting his leg with the weight still moving so that it wrapped around his leg. I yanked on the ribbon and pulled his feet out from beneath him again. Then as I began to drag him towards me, more because I could keep him off balance than because I wanted him close, he suddenly flew up into the air.

“Come back here,” I snarled, trying to pull him back down though he ended up lifting me up off the ground instead. I finally had to let go of my ribbon, falling back to the ground where I hit without injury.

Up in the air, the Marquis was suddenly covered with red flame for a moment, burning off my ribbon yet again. The weight was now free and fell back to the ground, where I rushed to grab it. Then he fired a blast of fire back towards the ground, right at Pinnacle.

“Look out,” Rachael exclaimed, shoving Pinnacle aside a moment before the fire hit where he’d been standing. Pinnacle stared at her in surprise while she snapped, “Pay attention.”

The Marquis was no longer covered in flames and quickly came back towards us, hovering in the air only about ten feet above the ground. I stared at him, thinking about how much more dangerous he was when he had the fire going on at the same time as Pinnacle’s powers. But then again, I realized that he usually only used a single power at a time, and the times he did use two at once…he kept it very quick.

“I think he has a hard time using multiple powers at once,” I called out, wondering if this was a weakness we could take advantage of.

Rachael snarled and opened fire again, shooting him with blast after blast while he just hovered there, taking it without flinching. The Marquis laughed, obviously delighting in the power he’d gained from Pinnacle and the fact that none of us could harm him now.

“This is fucking useless,” Rachael exclaimed before turning and running.

“Rachael,” I called out, shocked that she’d run away and leave me like this, while simultaneously being relieved that she’d be safe.

“I knew we couldn’t count on her,” Asset said as he threw another grenade at the Marquis.

“At least she didn’t shoot us in the back,” Pinnacle pointed out grimly, though he did look vaguely disappointed.

I grimaced at that, and as I looked at Asset and Pinnacle, I realized that without Rachael, I was the only one left who was able to fight. I glared at the Marquis, feeling terrified and furious at the same time. He’d just killed Miss Fortune right before my eyes and he was probably more than capable of killing me. Unlike these other guys, I wasn’t some super hero who put on spandex then ran around fighting monsters like the Marquis. In spite of all my new powers, that wasn’t me. I was a simple guy…girl…and all I wanted was to take care of my family.

“But you hurt my family,” I muttered with an angry snarl, remembering the way Kimberly and Kaylie kept having nightmares. And of course, there was what he’d done to Rich.

I felt my anger building again, surging with an almost explosive force. Ever since I’d turned into a pint sized powerhouse, I’d been careful to control my temper…to keep from hurting anyone. But now… Now I had the perfect target to let it all out on.

I formed two new ribbons, wrapping one end of each to one of my hands and the other end to a weighted ring. The ribbons were only a couple feet long, not nearly long enough to give me the kind of range that I’d like to use with the Marquis, but I’d already found that wasn’t working. I needed to get closer so I could hit him faster and harder. And with that, I ran at him as fast as I could, jumping into the air and then swinging both ribbons at the same time. Two metal rings struck the Marquis at the same time, hitting him hard enough that he was knocked out of the air and fell back to the ground. I followed that up by giving him a swift kick to his legs, hoping that I could break through his protective field do some real damage.

“You BRAT,” the Marquis yelled, growing angry. It appeared I was getting through his protective field enough to start doing damage. He lunched forward, hitting me hard enough that it would have broken the bones of any normal person, but it only felt like a hard slap to me.

“Hitting little girls,” I taunted him. “How big and brave of you…” He snarled and hit me again, this time sending me flying back about twenty feet, though it didn’t hurt any more than the last time. “That’s child abuse…”

I launched myself at the Marquis again, swinging my weighted ribbons and hitting him over and over. I snarled in anger, thinking of Rich and what this monster had put him through. I screamed and lashed out with everything I could, not doing much damage to the Marquis but slowly driving him back from the sheer fury of my attack. He tried hitting back, but I realized that I was smaller and faster, with better reflexes. And with the weighted ribbons I was using to attack, I had a longer reach as well.

Suddenly, a tornado formed around the Marquis and a powerful burst of wind caught me and sent me flying back. Before I even hit the ground again, I knew that this was courtesy of Aerial’s powers. I thought the Marquis had been holding something back besides Rich’s teleportation, so I was just glad it wasn’t something more dangerous than wind. Then again, hurricanes and tornadoes were just wind too.

“You’re strong, girl,” the Marquis announced, his voice dripping with contempt. “It’s a pity that you’re an exemplar though. Taking exemplar abilities is always so…inefficient. Without a BIT or the biological modifications, I can only use a portion of what I take. However, your regeneration should prove quite useful to me. And if nothing else, you’ll survive my ministrations for a very long time…”

“You are seriously screwed up,” I commented, right before charging at him again.

Suddenly, there was the booming sound of thunder and I hesitated, glancing up and gasping at the sight of the sky. There were dark clouds forming overhead, far lower than they should have been. Another boom of thunder followed, and I gulped, realizing that Aerial’s powers were a lot stronger than I’d thought. I had a feeling that I was in serious trouble.

There was a flash of light, and suddenly a bolt of lightning shot out of the sky…hitting the Marquis. He cried out in pain and staggered back, only to get hit with another one. I stared at him in surprise, wondering if he was building up for something big…or if he’d just lost control of his power.

“Alyss,” a familiar voice called out. “Keep back…”

I looked at Rachael, who’d returned and was watching the Marquis with a look of dark satisfaction. I looked up at the clouds again and noticed a gold metal sphere floating in the middle of them, with sparks of lightning shooting from it to the clouds. Then realization dawned. Rachael had made a weather machine.

“I had to pick a few things up from the truck,” she stated, pausing as another blast of lightning hit the Marquis.

Finally, the Marquis burst into flame and shot a blast if fire up in the air, right at the golden sphere. The sphere exploded and the clouds immediately began to break apart. However, he immediately shifted powers again, back to Pinnacle’s powers.

“Did you really think something like that would stop me?” the Marquis demanded, clearly pissed off.

“By itself…no,” Rachael responded, her eyes looking just a little manic, showing that she was on the edge of slipping into another episode. She paused and muttered something under her breath which sounded like, “Keep it together.” Then she took several deep breaths and continued, “But you can only use Pinnacle’s powers so much before you use them up, and I just forced you to use almost everything you had left defending yourself. I expect you won’t be able to use Pinnacle’s powers for more than a minute or two more…”

“Good idea,” Pinnacle said, giving her a look that indicated he was impressed.

“Then it seems I will have to finish you all quickly,” the Marquis responded.

Rachael held up a new weapon, one that looked like an oddly shaped pistol. Without a word, she pointed it at the Marquis and shot, firing out a beam of golden light which hit him in the chest. He didn’t bother trying to get out of the way, seeming perfectly confident in his ability to withstand the attack. But then there was a weird golden glow around the Marquis before it all suddenly exploded into sparks.

The Marquis screamed in pain and then dropped to his knees. “What did you do?” the villain demanded, quickly getting back to his feet but seeming unstable.

“Pinnacle’s energy field operates on a specific wavelength,” Rachael explained rather smugly. “If you know the wavelength, it’s relatively easy to design a device that can disrupt it…”

Pinnacle’s eyes widened and he gasped, “You made that thing to use on me…”

Rachael grinned at him, though it definitely wasn’t a reassuring one. She looked back at the Marquis and pointed out, “I doubt you have enough of Pinnacle’s power left to reform his energy field…”

The Marquis snarled and held out his hands, firing blasts of energy at Rachael. This time, it was Pinnacle who tacked her and knocked her out of the way. However, the Marquis continued firing blasts I ran and jumped between them, taking several hits which stung but weren’t nearly as bad as the fire. Then the blasts stopped coming and from his body language, I had the feeling that he’d just run out of juice with that power as well.

For a moment, the Marquis stared at Pinnacle, and I could almost see the wheels turning in his head. I couldn’t read minds, but I was pretty sure he was trying to figure out how easy it would be to reach Pinnacle for a recharge. Of course, he’d have to go through me, and as I’d already shown, I could keep out of his reach while still doing some serious damage…especially now that he no longer had Pinnacle’s protection.

“It seems I must depart for now,” the Marquis stated, gesturing to the side where a swirl formed in the air.

But as the Marquis was just about to step through the portal he’d created, I latched onto his leg with a ribbon and yanked, pulling his feet out from underneath him again. I started dragging him back towards me, but he burst into flame, destroying the ribbon. He got back on his feet, but he was limping, indicating that the sharp tug I’d given him may have done some damage.

“Foolish child,” he said before he turned towards the portal again.

“Hey, asshole,” I called out.

The Marquis turned to look at me again, only to see one of my weighted ribbons flying at him. He sent out a wave of flame and destroyed my ribbon, but the weight continued on its path, hitting him in the shoulder and sending him flying back with a scream of pain. I started towards him, only to see the air around him starting to blur. He was going to create a portal right beneath himself, so I grabbed him with another ribbon and yanked him back, earning another scream of pain.

“Use this,” Asset said with a wince of pain, handing a fist sized device to Pinnacle. “It’ll jam any teleportation within ten feet…”

“Good to know,” Pinnacle told him, walking over towards the Marquis and placing the device on the ground, making sure not to get close enough to be touched again. After what had happened the last time, I was surprised he’d risk even this much. “You’re not going anywhere…”

Rachael and I came closer as well and we both glared at the Marquis, who was now quite injured. I might have broken his leg when I’d yanked it out from under him that last time, but I’d definitely shattered his shoulder. He made an awkward lunging attempt to reach me, though it did no good.

“Careful,” Pinnacle warned us, taking a step back. “He might be injured, but he’s still extremely dangerous…”

I nodded at that, fully aware of the fact that even though the Marquis had burned out several of his stolen powers, he still had more than enough left to be a serious threat. At the moment, he was probably pretty distracted by the pain, but I knew good and well that he could still set us on fire, which made it pretty risky getting this close.

“You hurt my family,” Rachael stated, her voice cold and hard. Then she pointed her energy rifle at the Marquis’ head and fired. A single glance was more than enough to confirm that he was dead. “No one fucks with my family.”

There was a faint shimmer around Pinnacle for a second, and I guessed that meant his powers returned. He stared at Rachael and braced himself to deal with her, but she just dropped her weapon, not even looking at him.

“You know,” Rachael commented quietly, almost as if talking to herself. “This was the first time I’ve ever killed someone intentionally.”

Rachael let out a long sigh, suddenly looking completely exhausted, in a way that went far beyond the physical. I was immediately at her side, giving her a hug which she seemed to desperately need.

“It’s going to be fine,” I lied.

“No it isn’t,” Rachael told me quietly, giving me a forced smile. “It’s far too late for that.” Then she chuckled weakly and added, “At least this time, I don’t have to feel guilty.”

Pinnacle stood back and watched Rachael with an odd expression on his face, one that seemed to be a little confused but definitely showed signs of sympathy. He finally came over and gently put a hand on her shoulder.

“Lady,” Pinnacle started.

She looked him in the eyes, then nodded faintly. “Go deal with your friend,” she said, gesturing to the injured Asset. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Pinnacle hesitated a moment, then he nodded before going to check on Asset. Rachael and I walked a short distance away from the Marquis’ body, then she grabbed me in a hug, not saying a word as she held me tightly.

Less than a minute later, the freed prisoners began coming out of the house, being hesitant and cautious at first. But once they realized that thee Marquis wasn’t waiting for them, they began coming out as quickly as they could.

Most of the prisoners were in bad shape, being roughed up at the very least. However, Rich and Mystery Woman seemed to have gotten off lightly, because one woman was carried out, with a bandaged stump where her hand would be and more bandages over her eyes. I felt sick at the very sight of her injuries and was suddenly very thankful that Rachael had taken care of the monster who’d done that to her.

Rich came straight for Rachael and I, not saying a word as he gave us each a hug. Only then did he whisper, “Thank you,” again. I was fully aware of the fact that several of the freed prisoners were staring at us, or at least staring at Rachael with looks of confusion.

“There was no way in hell I was going to let that bastard keep you,” I told him firmly.

Rich chuckled at that, then told me, “You always were too stubborn let something like a super villain get in your way…”

“True,” Rachael commented with a faint smile of her own. “Daddy always was stubborn.”

Rich snorted at that, then pointed out, “What are you talking about? You’re just like him.” Then he gave her a worried look and glanced back towards Pinnacle and said, “You’ll probably want to get going…”

Rachael shook her head and gave Rich a sad smile. “No,” she told him quietly. “I made a deal and I’m going to keep it. Besides, I’m tired of hiding under a rock like some kind of bug. I’m tired of everything.”

Unfortunately, the police had finally begun to arrive at the same time. Pinnacle gestured to the Marquis’ remains, as well as those of the scattered gunmen. I’d forgotten all about them, but the Marquis had either killed or severely injured all of them with his waves of fire.

Then Pinnacle gestured towards us and began leading a group of police in our direction. Without a word, Rachael undid her belt and dropped it to the ground, then stood there with her hands out, making it clear that she wasn’t going to resist.

“Its time,” Pinnacle told her gently, giving her a sad look as the police cuffed her hands behind her back. Then he told her, “Thank you for helping us free everyone.”

Rachael nodded faintly at that, not saying anything in response. We all knew that she’d come for Rich, not for any of the others. However, in spite of that, Pinnacle also knew that they wouldn’t have been able to beat the Marquis and free everyone without her.

“I’m glad I could see everyone again,” Rachael told Rich and I, right before the police led her off.

I felt a knot in my stomach as I watched Rachael leave, knowing that I could free her from the police and Rich could take her away to somewhere safe. However, I didn’t do that. As much as I hated the thought of my daughter going to prison for the rest of her life, I also knew it was necessary. She’d done some horrible things and they didn’t go away just because she’d helped defeat a dangerous lunatic.

“Come on,” I told Rich in a quiet voice. “Let’s get you home. Melanie and the girls are worried sick about you.”



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