“Situation?” Jordan, his voice clipped and professional. He was a veteran, army not Citadel, but it still made a difference.
“Come with us and we’ll explain on the way. You made it in time so at least we won’t have to throw you into this without a briefing.” The little girl. It was totally unfair that a twelve year old sounded more calm and badass than Bettie would on her best day. Well, she looked twelve. Given the black and white operative’s uniform, that was probably misleading.
Dauntless and the girl turned and spread out a little, making room for her and Jordan to walk between them. They went slow enough that it wasn’t a jog but it was fast enough that Bettie had to make an effort to keep up. The little girl didn’t seem to have a problem on the steep, winding path. She was the one that did the talking.
“If you didn’t know, this place is officially called Alcatraz island. Started as a military base, then a prison, then a different prison. Now, it’s something a lot weirder.” They passed an old building, all run down and half collapsed. “It started in nineteen sixty four. We don’t know who’s responsible but we’re fairly sure they were a Richards type.” The girl waved her hand at the painfully bright light coming from the top of the ridiculously steep hill they were climbing.
“When the light goes out, you can see a sort of ghostly machine at the spot where all this is coming from.” Her legs weren’t even tired from this which was enough on its own to justify all the sweating Coach Raphael Adonis had made her do. “It goes in patterns, building up from nothing to nights like this. The timing varies but the longest on record is seventy four hours.” And what kind of person picks Adonis as their operative name?
“The issue is, when the light goes out, it’s not just the machine that’s there. Incidentally, we call it the Titan Initiator.” Of course, the one time that jackass Duncan Phobos had challenged him it had been hilarious, but- Wait, what? “Care to guess why we needed you here tonight?”
They’d just gotten to the top, a kind of plateau, and Bettie barely had time to take everything in. There was the ball of light, more like a- a tangled ball of lightning, twisting and coiling over itself to lash out with a bolt of too bright electricity at the ground or the air or- Wow, that was bright. No sound though, no thunder anyway. There was just that weird hissing.
There were people here, running around in black and grey hazmat type suits with all sorts of strange equipment and those portable light stands set up. Most of them were huddled under a giant tent thing with some bundles of white fabric. Standing in the same spot as the lightning ball that was too bright to look at even with her special glare filtering panel on her new helmet, there was a giant.
It was sixty feet tall, minimum. The thing was barely visible, kind of see through, and the rain was going right through it like it wasn’t there. Hard to tell for sure, but she didn’t think it was anything like human shaped. Then the lightning went away and it was a lot less see through looking.
There was a moment of stillness. The only thing she could hear was the rain bouncing off that thing’s scales. Nervous, she reached up to fiddle with her helmet. It had a wide face plate so it wouldn’t mess with her line of sight. The interior had a thick layer of this foam stuff that sort of swelled and inflated once the thing was in place. It kept the helmet on tight, acted as an air seal and a filter at the same time, as well as cushioning against blows to the head.
She’d worn a similar one during training but this one had a bunch of extras built in. Noise canceling that made it so she could hear normally but loud noises got filtered out to protect her ears, communication suites so that she could talk to Analysis once she was active and the visor could throw up images and highlights to let Analysis give out diagrams and threat priorities during combat. All of that, and her favorite feature was the same with this one as it had been with her helmet in training.
Bettie had long, curly black hair that she kept up in a bun when she was in uniform. The self-adjusting padding did a perfect job keeping the helmet in place without crushing the bun into the back of her head like the old football helmet she’d used in her homemade costume had. It was silly. She knew that, but it just brought home to her how much more planning and resources went into helping her do the job now than the month when she’d been going out on her own. She hadn’t even picked a real hero name back-
Wait. Shouldn’t she have been activated by now? Analysis should-
There was a series of loud clicks and the floodlights came on. Every other thought went straight out of Bettie’s head as she looked up at the- the enormous thing in front of her. It was tall, sixty, maybe a hundred feet from its clawed feet to the top of the spike on its head. The scales that covered it were thick and irregularly shaped, everything from neat little ovals the size of her head to ragged pentagons as big as her parent’s house. All of them were a dark green, almost black. There was bright pink flesh, visible here and there between the scales.
The most disturbing thing was how human it looked. Despite the thick, stubby tail and the row of spikes that ran down from the top of its head, along where the spine should be and along the tail to a jagged cluster at the tip. It stood on two legs. They were too short; most of its height was in the torso. The arms hung long, too long. Its five fingered hands were near its knees and it may have been the spikes on its back but it looked a little like it was hunched over. Maybe it was crouching.
She saw Jordan, ready at her side. He was standing with his chest pointed straight at the thing, right foot a little forward and fists clenched at his waist. It wasn’t a very good fighting stance but she’d seen him do it before and- yep, there was the sickly greenish-yellow glow around his fists that he brought out when he was serious. It was getting brighter and brighter by the moment. Dauntless and the little girl were off to either side and a little back, looking relaxed.
The creature raised its head to the sky, opening its great maw. Bettie couldn’t take her eyes off its teeth, enormous needles that were perfectly white. She braced herself as its mouth stretched wider.