Um, hello, I know it's been quite a while, but my name is Kate Adams, and I'm trying to be an ordinary girl in a world gone mad. Ever since I got my second chance of life, I haven't wasted even a second of it. Simple things like waking up in a bed, eating pop tarts, and even touching the stuff in my dorm room had become an underappreciated joy unique to me. And while restarting my life was a big challenge, I realized that the Champions were more than my saviors, but also my friends as they helped every step to step.
Maria and Sofia were some of the best friends I ever had. Phil, who has taught me to defend myself without ever having to use my powers and Chelsea, made sure that, at the very least, I would never turn into nothingness once again. And I don't even know where to begin with all the stuff Derek has done for me. And while David and Ivan are still very much new to me, I definitely would like to be their friends. With all the craziness caused by this whole Vacuum situation, I've been mostly in the dark of the whole thing. All I've done was mindlessly study and listen to some ASMR. As long as I kept myself low to the ground, I knew I could handle everything. Too bad around nightfall, I got a text that would change my life forever.
"Hey, is it possible we could visit the dorm, real quick? This is a sensitive matter, "said an urging Sofia.
A part of me was slightly worried. Nevertheless, I accepted the offer, and soon enough, I greeted both Phil and Sofia in my usual manner, but I soon realized that this was no casual visit. Sofia and Phil gave off a grave aura of regret as they finally explained their plight.
"We need your help with a certain situation, we wouldn't have come to you, but desperate times call for desperate measures and the like."
"How dire are we talking about here?"
Sofia once again shrunk into regret as finally, Phil decided to take control with a pained expression.
"These past couple of weeks have been an absolute nightmare for us. For every shooting, we stopped, there were always ten other crimes right around the corner. We were at our limits by the end of the first week, but we still kept going. Yesterday Chelsea sent Derek, David, Ivan, and Maria to 3 dangerous locations; the problem is that right after that, she fell asleep from exhaustion. Next time she woke up all we heard was a couple of messages and a couple of not so great sounds, That was almost a day ago and only now has she been searching every nook and cranny of this city to find them. But there is a slight problem; even if we do find them, we don't have the manpower nor the resources to rescue them if they're in enemy hands. Which means Kate, your our only hope."
The full weight of Phil's plea left my body reviling in response. A mix of heated emotions stewed inside my head, but in the end, I steeled myself enough to make my decision.
"C'mon Phil, that's crazy; I would love to help, but I'm can't be like you guys; I'm just a normal woman nothing more nothing less."
Phil's face grew even heavier as he gave a response of his own.
"In case you haven't noticed this, Kate, "normal" hasn't been a thing for almost a year now. And as much as I hate to admit it, as much as I wish that we could go back to the days of old, that is our reality now, simple as that. You're the only Helix that knows what we do, Kate, and we've done the training and tests; you're the strongest person in this room whether you know it or not. I know it's scary, and I know it's hard, but when you thought that you were alone in this world, we were there, and I'm asking just for once someone would do the same. "
As Phil finished with an emotionally and physically drained, I weighed a speech that was both manipulative and desperate in a body, not my own. After I came back from nothingness, I quickly discovered that my body had gone through some marvelous changes. My 5,02 had been added on by 7 inches, my scrawny arms had bulked up, and stranger still was this ... feeling. I don't think I'll ever be able to explain it right, but whenever I got really quiet, all I could hear was a loud hum inside me, a constant reminder of the phantom I once was. And just like that month of denial came crashing down as I took a step back to my bed in collecting my thoughts with my rebuttal.
"I am not a child Phil, I know how it follows in it is, clinging to a world long gone, but it's better than living in fear of taking action. I got a second chance, something that can't be said for many. I don't think I can waste it."
Phil took in my word, and in a moment of brutal understanding, came to my quivering body and said.
"I understand, bracing for the worst in case it ever comes. But isn't that also living like a phantom? Surviving isn't living, Kate, and it's never going to get any better if we sit by and do nothing. I can see that in your eyes that you want to win, and your not stupid for believing you can because you're not alone. And you won't be again."
And at his words all, I could think of something that I told myself every day.
"I can handle anything."
Even after my disappearance, I knew that there was a part of me, deep inside that remained. And that was the little girl who still wanted to make the world her oyster. Who wanted to stand out, and the woman who wanted to make sure that no one else suffers in a world gone mad, including my friends. So with no time left and lives on the line, I gave my sure final answer.
"Fine, I accept, was it you always said? Let's win this?"
Even down to our taste in books, Maria and I were different. While I enjoyed a good nonfiction book once or twice, she was always the one that got obsessed with the latest fantasy craze. And one of the tropes she was always loved was the so-called "call to action." And I'm carrying it out hook line and sinker. When Phil came, I didn't even give a moment's hesitation; my sister will always overcome my fear anyway. With a tired Chelsea months of hacking, tutelage came to a head as I helped her pick up the pace on finding our friends on a small. All the Chelsea like a living corpse producing a makeshift outfit for Kate, muttering faint apologies. And only now did we realize how stacked the odds were, with only me being at 100%. Too bad my crippling anxiety as the police scanner got something that sounded strange.
"We need backup; Those crazy Champions are causing a riot in the Philadelphia Badlands, I repeat we need backup!"
The shocking proclamation brought us all to a head, a hissing Phil readied to assume command, an anxious Kate practiced her powers nad memorized lines of courage, Chelsea worked away at another device as I frantically biting my nails and reviewed my notes. And when all the preparation was complete, we lucky few were ready to roll out into our possible trap. Chelsea sent us off with a couple of last-minute instructions.
" I fixed the prototype Armory, but it's still going to be a one and done. And for you, Kate, it seems all those experiments paid off. I couldn't give you a proper suit, but that sonar should link up with your powers and their contacts to scan for the others. Other than that, finding won't be a problem. Godspeed."
And just like that, we were off as soon enough we enter the badlands. By day it was slightly worse than it had been a little less than a year ago, but by night, especially now that it was so much worse. The vacuum had turned the place into an eerie battlefield, sounds of far off conflict picked up every few minutes. Several cars were either thrown around or on fire, and any bystanders I could see were gone, leaving our path with little obstruction. Even still, we kept our guard up as an uncomfortable Kate stared at her radar confusingly though we were eventually able to find our friends through completely different means. A couple of feet away, we saw a big blue light similar to Barriers' powers completely envelop a drug corner, except for the front.
A feeling of dread came over us as we knew that once again, we were helplessly drawn in. We walked in and used our sonar to scan the building, and in a tight circle, we made our way to the top floor where our friends completely out cold and in costume lying in chairs, covered in the same blue barrier as outside. Wordlessly, however, we realize the skill of our opponents all too late. Faster than any of us could react, kate moved us out of the way of a slimy tentacle inches away from Phil's throat! Shock and intrigue room it's toll as the tentacle expanded and slipped through her fingers as it tackled him to the floor and carried him to another room.
Kate screamed out too distracted to evade an energy blast that somehow rebounds off the shield to send Kate flying to the other side of the room. I tried moving towards her, but the ground ripped open beneath me. Next thing I know, I'm face to face with beast only Genesis could have created, with only a single hand keeping me from life and death!
I don't think there is a way to describe what I'm going through properly, but I'll try anyway. As I was forced away from my team, I felt like I was on a backward roller coaster as it abruptly throws me off the saddle upon landing I use the momentum to roll back and steady my pistol against my opponents. All I saw was a human-made of slime and another cloaked in familiar purple lighting. Loose memories flashed by as I saw the two men revel in confidence.
"You have no idea how long I waited for this," the slime man said in sadistic pleasure.
"I agree, I still need to pay back form what his friend did to the boys," said the man.
Perplexity took over a second until I realized what had happened.
"Rebound..slime man," I said questioningly.
"Correct, it looks like someone has a good memory, that's going to make this next part satisfying," said the slime man.
Fear gripped my throat as reflexively I fired bullets aimlessly at my two opponents. Too bad, it was a completely pointless struggle. One brushed them off while the other let the bullets sink into them. Rebound in a boring stance pondered the useless onslaught as in a blurred moment, he caught one of them with a single hand. Before I could even marvel the feat, he did a similar motion to disarm me completely. But I didn't get the chance to ensure my hurting hand as I felt my abs get hit with one of my bullet courtesy of Slime. My entire body throbbed with pain, but I fight through it all until the next thing I know, I'm slapped to the side with only a single arm holding me up. With my head blurry and my enemies arrogance growing, a part of me once again goes crazy.
"Stay down; you're not supposed even to be here. Why keep going?"
But as shut that voice away, I ironically realize that even in this awful situation, I finally accepted the madness. In some crazy backward way, I found my peace, found my place here as a champion, as Armory. All this time, I spent separating them was simply the same denial that had claimed Kate. This my life, and with it, I'll protect theirs. Collecting all the strength I had, I pulled my knife and aimed it directly at Rebound's eye! But like all the other attacks, it falls short, with only a glowing pinkie holding me back. With a cocky smile, he parried the strike, and with a timely guard, I'm able to soften at least the blow that sent me hurtling a good 15ft across the hallway! But even with every burning wound, I laughed through the pain.
"What's so funny," Slime said concerned.
"Nothing, just imagining the look on your faces right when you see my surprise."
And before they could even realize it, my surprise went off. Half a dozen explosive shurikens turned their surroundings into a blazing mess. And as I walked my broken self back to my allies, I hoped I could keep my surroundings better than they can.
News flash: getting hit by energy blasts hurt ..kind of. Frankly, it felt like a hard shove, though that still didn't make me feel better in the slightest as I soon saw a man with glowing golden hands step up to the stage.
"I wanted another crack at Armory, but I guess I'm the lucky one. I don't have to hold back, and you're not needed."
Bloodlust laced words quickly made my body quiver as right before I faced another blast, I find myself falling to the first floor. Once I recollected myself, I wondered puzzlingly at my next step. But with Phil's and Chelsea's teachings still plenty strong, I looked at the sonar, flexed my metal like tendons, and jump right up while phasing through the second floor! And with my timing just right i managed to punch straight at the fabled Marauder! Too bad, his defense was too well as he guarded the hit expertly and rolled to the ground. Not trying to leave and opening, I tried giving him a straight punch, but once again, he answered with a glowing punch of his own! Both of us fell to the floor on all fours in wincing pain.
I tried catching my breath, but that soon as every alarm in my body went off at the sight of a thrusting hand. Once again, I reacted on my own as my strength sends me colliding with the roof and falling to the floor. Luckily my embarrassment was short-lived in the wake of my opponent as I have only seconds to react as soon enough I'm blocking and avoiding hundreds of blast. I dove for cover across an empty counter, hoping that once again, I could up with an option. And in a bolt of inspiration, I find it. Seconds later, I throw the fridge straight at Marauder! In response, the blast condenses into a single offense that reduces it to smithereens. Taking the opportunity, I spring right back up and deliver a healthy punch straight from behind! I tried to finish the fight, but Marauder using his hands, propelled himself back up and readied a fighting stance. My momentum didn't stop as I once again tried to get another clean shot, phasing through his normal kicks and punches but not countering his deflections. Too bad that ended pretty definitely as using his energy clad hands to unleash a one-two combo that somehow completely bypasses my phasing! With both surprise and pain taking hold, Marauder took no hesitation as he used his glowing hand to grab mine and a blast in the other to propel me straight into the other side of the wall!
As my body started to wince in pain and grow blurry, the same humming started to spread across the entire room, each having its frequencies. And as I got back up to answer his next charging blast, all the while repeating the same mantra that brought me to the world of the touching.
"They're the prison, and I'm the warden."
The vibrations grew all the more violent along with my own until I let them out of their cage.
A shaking sensation went across the room as a wave of defiant force meets a shining blast that makes the entire room shimmer in resounding force. But I stood my ground all the more until after a struggle that lasted minutes ended in Marauder being rocketed toward the broken barrier. And as look at my still shaking hands, I ceased the vibrations in closing focus. I looked over to see if he was truly knocked out, only to get greeted with a shining light that quickly that ends with his disappearance. Deciding to not go into particulars, I quickly looked at my peaceful friends, finally returning a favor. But remembering the plan, I looked over at a man who needed to save me once more.
A thousand curse words rang out in my mind as I realized I got the worst of the litter. Blank white eyes met mine in a heated staredown, but call it experience or dumb luck or even me just viewing it as one big problem. I didn't back down, putting all my training to the test. Using my powers, I turned my glove into mercaptans: one of the smelliest compounds known to man. As Ursa sniffled in the right pain, I transmuted my coat off of me and ran away to lead him far away from the others. And as I heard a primal roar ahead of me, I know I had done my job right. Deciding to get more ammunition, I touched the ground to turn the floor into slippery polytetrafluoroethylene that turns his charge into an almost comically fashioned sliding into other rooms. Taking the opportunity in stride, I plugged up my nose and caked the various walls in more transmutations as I took a hiding spot.
Feverish breath and chilling fear peppered the empty closet. Every once in a while, I heard shaking footsteps that shook the room as destruction reigned across the complex with every few minutes coming with a sickening threat.
"When I find you girl I will show you the wrath of a Crusader, I promise you that!"
In fear, I reinforced the walls around me in hard steel as I recollected myself and kept my cool. I thought I was at least somewhat safe, but without warning, a brutal swipe sends my entire haven out of the building! My protective aura kept me alive but not exactly unharmed as I landed with a sickening thud. Next thing I knew, I opened my eyes lazily to see I had somehow made it outside the barrier. As I started feeling the cold hard ground beneath me, Ursa still approached with murderous rage. And as I saw my opponent approach, my mind raced once again about anyways to get out of my mess, only to find my salvation in the most unlikely of objects.
In a spur of desperation, I slapped the hydrant in just the right way to have a volume of water erupt straight at his face, diverting his claw just enough for me to avoid with a slight but blistering cut! And with my opponent only slightly stated, I finished my grand plan with a good old trick from Thomas Jefferson. Ursa's entire body covered in hard nickel, turning my big brute into a small whimper. With Ursa distracted, I quickly got away from him, only to see that our fight already had the cops arrive in full force. And as I saw against the seemingly impossible odds, I once again thought that I was still the same scared girl I was before. But as I saw the mighty Ursa tumble wildly against the ground, I finally knew in my heart of hearts that once more, I was a champion. And as a champion, I stood my ground against the police, making sure that my side had as much time as possible.
But before I could get ready for what could be my final battle, I'm back at the Trophy Case safe and sound. Perplexed about how I survived such a battle only to see a tired Derek say.
"Thank me later," he said as he promptly fell to the ground.
In stunned silence, we all did a quick mental roll call as soon enough a tired and relieved Chelsea saw that all of us were safe and sound, overwhelmed with emotion all she did was crumble in relief. And all of us too exhausted stressed, and thankful to speak, all we did was lay in our lair. Knowing that we had won the day, knowing that we were now stronger and more connected than ever, knowing that this was probably going to be the easiest out of the victories to come. And that our world was going to be all the madder with every dawn and dusk.