Holding Out For A Hero, Part Ten: Control

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(March 11th)


“You fought well, Invictus. In the beginning.” Evangel drifted forwards, her lips curled in a soft smile. “But you must see that your strength is not enough.” She raised a hand to her hair, stroking it thoughtfully.

Then she broke off, tilting her head quizzically as a faint musical refrain filled the air. The four gargoyles flanking Invictus stiffened, standing at attention as the music. “What is this?” Evangel murmured. “Could it be…?”

The rooftop door was opened by a metal hand, and another gargoyle walked onto the roof, with a second behind it. Nestled in its arms, a young woman sat, her hair cut short around her ears and her eyes half-lidded as she focused her attention on the dark wooden pipe she played. The gargoyles swayed in time with the beat, and she took a breath as she hopped out of her escort's arms, landing firmly on the rooftop. Her uniform was a mirror to Invictus's, green where his was blue, and her badge glittered proudly on her belt. “Invictus.” She nodded to her partner.

“Hey, Hamelin. You really needed to be carried?” Invictus raised an eyebrow, looking at the gargoyles, which were slowly beginning to stir in confusion as Evangel's face slowly lost its amusement.

“I came from the ground. It was twelve flights of stairs, and these guys were handy.” Catherine pointed out. “And don't call me that.”

“Hey, you picked the name Piper and the magic flute,” he answered.

She looked Invictus up and down. “There's a girder on your back, 'Unconquered'.”

“No, really?” Invictus snapped. “I must have missed it while I was lying here enjoying myself. I'm invincible, not super-strong! Help me out here!”

“Excuse me.” Evangel finally interrupted, her face a carefully neutral mask. Only the slightest twitch of an eyebrow showed her aggravation. “Young lady. Who are you again?”

“They call me Piper.” Piper answered bluntly, twirling her flute in one hand before slapping it still. “By the authority of the Superhuman Enforcement Agency, you are under arrest for terrorism, assault, and unlawful use of magic. Surrender now, or this is going to get ugly.”

Evangel snapped her fingers, and the gargoyles shuddered into motion. “Foolish child. You have no notion who I am.”

In response, Piper raised the flute to her lips, and began to play. Immediately, the gargoyles shifted direction, staggering to where Invictus was pinned. Two began to pull the heavy steel girder that they had trapped him under up, and he slid himself free as the others started towards Evangel.

“I think not.” She gave the gargoyles a perfect, piercing look, and they shuddered to a halt, turning towards Piper. The music lifted, swelled, and the gargoyles froze in confusion, battered between the two. Invictus stepped forwards, and Evangel slid around him, elegantly sidestepping as she gazed at Piper. “A wondrous artifact, but still. It has no power here while I am…”

Whatever she was going to say was lost in the sharp explosion that echoed up the building. A moment later, the glass towers surrounding the city hall began to crack and fragment, sending off sharp, dissonant chords that echoed over the building. Evangel gasped as her spell began to collapse. “It can't be!” She almost moaned. “My perfect spell has been destroyed!”

Invictus took the advantage to grab one of the unresisting gargoyles, pitching it off the building. “You'd better believe it, honey.” He said with a grin. “Pipes, you still good?”

Piper shot him a look as she lowered her flute. “We have agents in the building, Evangel. My team's cut off your escape routes. You might as well give up now, and save us all some time and trouble.”

“I captured hostages. They will die for this!” The words came out with an edge, as Evangel stared at her enemies.

“Sorry, Blossom already freed them.” Invictus shrugged. “Like, five minutes ago. Where were you?” He grinned. “Oh, right, you were busy making fun of how useless I was.”

Evangel's eyes flashed with rage. “Destroy them!” She screamed to the gargoyles, who began to walk forwards again, slightly less controlled than before. Shaking her head, Piper raised the pipe to her lips once again, and the gargoyles stopped, and slowly began to turn towards Evangel.

“That trick of yours, the way you make things work out for you.” Invictus's grin threatened to split his face. “Doesn't work too well once things start going wrong, does it? You might as well give up now, before… hey!”

He broke into a run as Evangel spun on one high heel, racing towards Piper. As she did, she flicked her hand, and a thousand shards of falling glass drew into her hand, forming an elegant sword.

“Then I will show you why you should not mock me!” She practically spat the words, dancing towards the still-playing Piper, who glanced up at her approach. For a moment, several steps behind her, Invictus opened his mouth to yell.

Piper acted instantly. Her flute dropped from her lips, slamming across the blade of Evangel's sword. As the villain stumbled, Piper dropped, letting the flute bounce off the roof as she swept out her legs and caught her enemy behind the knees. As Evangel overbalanced with a shriek, Piper caught her flute on the rebound, shifting to slam it with full force into Evangel's stomach. Evangel's breath collapsed out of her, as Piper flipped back to her feet. She glanced at the four remaining gargoyles, now moving to the defense of their mistress, and set the flute back to her lips.

As Evangel gasped for breath, staring up at the ruins of her plan, Invictus reached down to haul her to her feet, a pair of handcuffs ready. “Nothing else to say?” He said.

Evangel wheezed, and as she twisted to kick at Invictus Piper casually kicked her in the stomach again. She collapsed against him, offering no more resistance as he cuffed her. “Yeah, she has that effect on people.” He chuckled.

Piper gave him the finger without missing a note.

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