The air in Chicago was heavy and grey as the sun set over the horizon. The city was slowly brightening as thousands of lights flickered to light across the city, illuminating the main streets and neighbourhoods, but leaving the alleys and the industrial areas dark as the sky. The wind picked up the smell of the earthy scent of the bay and dragged it through the streets, leaving the fog musty and thick. The hazy light barely illuminated the young woman as she strode across the rooftops. Her red hair lifted and trailed in the fog, neon against the starless sky. After all, she thought to herself, how else was she supposed to make an impression when she dropped down onto an unsuspecting criminal?
Sally Phoenix was patrolling. It was nothing new, nothing out of the ordinary, but tonight she was alone. It was August 27th, and the night before last, she had sent out an SOS. The timing was rough, as Brooklyn had been hit by Atomic the following morning. Her chances of receiving any help had dropped to nearly zero in that moment, as she had resigned herself to the probability of having to defend Chicago alone. She could not, and would not, ever accept that Witch was gone. If she had to raize Chicago to the ground, she would find her partner and bring her home.
Still, a small spark of hope stayed in her chest, praying that someone would arrive to help her. As she made her way down into Englewood, She caught sight of a shady dealing in an alley. Unfortunately for them, not only was Sally’s vision great in the dark, but they were just close enough to the street lamp for her to make them out. She paused, sitting on her heels as she watched them. One of them, a tall man with scaly skin, and the other, what appeared to be either a teenager or a small adult. They were both looking around, but neither of them looked up. A small smile creeped up the edges of Sally’s mouth as the smaller person in the hoodie touched the box that the man had presented to them. There was a sound of fluttering and the box was suddenly overflowing with pieces of paper, some of which fluttered to the ground.
It looked like Sally was gonna bust a counterfeit ring tonight.
Across the city, in a run down warehouse in just north of Loop, Sulfur lounged on a chaise outside a locked, soundproof room. They had been using the warehouse for a few weeks, as it was on the dock that had been added to the off limits sector last month. How lucky he was that the “gas leak” problems the city was having just kept expanding across the docks, making more and more empty warehouses so accessible. Already, his gang had set up all of the equipment and furniture they had brought from the last base. They’d been lucky to find a building with a room already constructed- they’d simply had to soundproof it and fix the bright lights inside.
Inside that room was Sulfur’s new treasure- Witch, aka Alyssa Johnson. A brief rummaging through her phone and Cape identification cards had provided more than enough information to track down her real identity and her Wardens file. Thank god for that techromancer he’d found earlier that year- that kid had proven invaluable. He was flipping through pages and photos that had been printed off. Her whole life, right there in his hands. And knowing who she was was leading to the identity of his worst pest; her partner, Pyro.
The fiery Cape had proven more difficult to identify than Witch. He had her face, now unmasked, but facial recognition provided nothing, and his mancer couldn’t find her anywhere except in relation to Alyssa. She still had no idea he had found her name yet, but he would relish telling her. She’d been in the room with his new toy for a while, and Malachite had warned him that it could cause permanent damage if he left it running for too long. Sulfur didn’t want to permanently hurt Alyssa- she’d be useless then, he told himself. There was certainly no other reason he would want to make sure she didn’t suffer permanent damage. Certainly not.
His feet were tapping, and his impatience finally got the best of him. He hopped up, straightening out his clothes. If you didn’t leave an impression, you weren’t doing it right, and Sulfur always left an impression with his looks. The purple trench coat over the black and grey suit might have been a touch overkill, though. He picked up an ice cold water bottle from the table outside the door as he unlocked it, a grin splitting his face as he readied himself to see Witch’s face.
Out in West Garfield Park, and outside of his dark, cold room, Evan could hear the sound of metal creaking. It barely registered as the voices in his head continued to scream. Dozens of voices, screaming their pain, their happiness, their anger. He could feel everything that they felt, every sting of pain, every loving caress, every mind numbing heartbreak. He could see from their eyes, could hear what they heard, and it was deafening to him. How did she handle all of this? How did Witch stand all of this flooding her at every waking moment. Even in his sleep, he could hear screams and cries, both of pain and delight, and it was killing him. His head was pounding and his eyes hurt. His entire body was sore and shaky and it just wouldn't STOP.
A sudden loud noise outside on the fire escape pushed him over the edge, and he clawed his way up off the floor, falling onto the window ledge. He was going to kill whatever was out there, rip it limb from limb, absolutely obliterate it until the noise stopped. The noise had to stop, it had to stop, it had to stop.