Shadowgirl – Part 5
Written by HikerAngel :: [Wednesday, 15 July 2020 02:29] Last updated by :: [Sunday, 09 August 2020 20:24]
I proceeded to the new address Raven gave me. As I trudged to the warehouse district where he was apparently now located, I wondered idly how many of these safe houses he had around town.
Deciding to put my longer, stronger legs to the test, I ran. My speed was such that wind whipped at my cheeks, but there was no chill to it, my invulnerability protecting me from its bite. As I slowed to take in the surroundings, I shivered. The last time I was in this part of town, I’d met Xymon… and promptly fainted.
I had arrived at the address in seconds, far faster than Raven probably expected me, so I decided to sneak inside and see what exactly Raven was doing in here. He was always so secretive that it just seemed a good way of getting some insight as to his activities. Maybe I would find out what he was actually up to.
Slipping into the door, leaving a half-mangled, half-melted deadbolt in my wake, I never tripped the motion detectors, which failed to detect my invisible body. I also evaded the top-of-the-line laser security system by walking straight through it. The beams passed right through me, undisturbed, to their receptors on the other side. Yay, invisibility!
I looked around to find a spotless stainless-steel interior with blue LED lighting and what looked like very high-tech and extremely heavy-duty gym equipment. Cool. This must be Raven's gym or something. This stuff certainly looked like it was heavy enough to give him a heck of a workout.
At the far side of the vast room, at one of the machines, sat Sapphire Valkyrie, pumping out bench presses with solid metal weights the size of cars on each side of the bar. She looked as gorgeous and healthy as ever, seemingly having recovered from her beating at the hands of the aliens. Raven stood next to her, looking on as she worked out.
As I neared, I moved with absolute silence, knowing that Raven's super-hearing would detect even the slightest sound. I began to hear their conversation.
"I don't understand it, Lisa," said Raven. "She seemed to be weakened just as you were by the alien's presence, but I've tested your DNA, and you don't show the alien sequences that she does.”
“Yeah, well I’m probably made of tougher stuff than she is,” Valkyrie smirked. “I'm glad not to have anything in common with those filthy alien bastards.”
"Well, I don't know that it's such a bad thing! She seemed to be affected by the proximity to the alien in other ways as well. Denser musculature, increased strength and speed, enhanced invulnerability. The proximity of the alien to you didn't seem to have the same effect at all. Your strength is the same as before."
Valkryie gave an annoyed grunt. "Good for her. Maybe she'll manage to actually take a hit next time before she collapsed like a wet noodle."
I felt a frown form on my lips. Sapphire Valkyrie was kind of a jerk when out of the public eye. Wet noodle, indeed! I set aside the sting from her comment, however, to continue to listen as Raven replied.
"Her powers are still nowhere near yours, but they probably rival mine," he continued, nodding his head toward the LED display on the machine.
"I'm actually beginning to wonder if Shadowgirl was somehow infected by them, if she's becoming one of them," he finished.
My stomach clenched, bile's bitterness rising in the back of my throat at those words. Had I been infected by Xymon? Was that why I found him completely irresistible? Had our lovemaking accelerated the changes? Was I more alien than human now? The thoughts rattled me to the core. What was happening to me?!
Sapphire Valkyrie lowered the massive weight a final time until it came to rest on the platforms on either side of her. She slid out from the thick bar and sat up. "Well, if my invulnerability protected me from being infected with their DNA, it was about the only good it did. I've never been completely overpowered like that in my life! Their power seemed unbelievable."
She looked at some distant point, eyes unfocusing as she continued. "There is no way anyone could actually be that strong. They must have a way of weakening me. What I need from you is your help in figuring out how to shield me from that effect. I need to be able to fight them."
"I know!" replied Raven. "That's exactly why I'm studying the impact of their proximity, their ability to weaken when close. And right now, it seems like Shadowgirl's DNA holds the key to learning how it works."
"Well at least that stupid little brat might be good for something. I don't know why you ever let invisi-girl into super.org. Invisibility? Pfft. It's as worthless an ability as the one that kid on social media has. You know, the one who can only levitate pencils?" Valkyrie said, rising to her feet.
What?! Stupid little brat? That bitch! Was that why Sapphire Valkyrie had never spoken to me? Why she had always seemed so standoffish? It wasn't that she was busy doing superheroey leaderish things; she just didn't respect me in the least!
Anger replaced the uncertainty inside me, setting the blood in my veins afire.
"Come on, Lisa. That's harsh," said Raven. "She's been able to gather some good intel for us on her infiltration missions."
My anger cooled slightly as Raven came to my defense. At least he thought I was worth something.
"Ha. I'll show you how infiltration should be done," replied Valkyrie, her tone dropping to a husky purr as she stepped into Raven and gave him a deep, probing kiss.
There had always been talk about Sapphire Valkyrie and Raven being an item. They never confirmed them but neither did they deny any of it when reporters brought it up. The looks they occasionally gave each other continued to fuel the talk at headquarters, however, among the members of super.org. Now, I knew the rumors were true.
The not-entirely-unexpected revelation pushed my simmering anger to a full boil, however. How dare this bitch badmouth me, then make a show of snogging Raven—my crush since childhood—right in front of me.
A more rational part of my mind attempted to inform me that she didn't know I was here, that the action wasn't intended as another personal insult to me. Screw rationality. Just the thought of it! Anger's red haze crept in around my vision. I didn't need Sapphire fucking Valkyrie. I might even be as powerful as she was now. I was damn sure that she couldn't hold a candle to me in the looks department now! Let's see who Raven truly liked better now. I had seen the stirrings of attraction in his eyes back in suburbia. And I was far sexier and more powerful now…
"Ahem," I said, dropping my invisibility, leaving transparency only over my private parts, appearing something like a chameleon bikini. I appeared behind Valkyrie, who was still locked in an embrace with Raven.
Raven's eyes darted to my sudden appearance, then widened as they took in my ridiculously gorgeous face. As his gaze dropped, his dark eyes opened to epic proportions as they drank in the rest of my perfect form.
Valkyrie—Lisa, as Raven had called her—seemed to sense the change in Raven's posture as he tensed involuntarily. She looked up to see his shocked expression, then followed his eyes to me.
Her jaw dropped. She was clearly as surprised as Raven about my new appearance.
"W-who?" she stammered in an awed whisper.
"It's your friendly neighborhood Shadowgirl, of course! You know, the one with the abilities that are as useless as the pencil-raiser's?" I replied, my voice bitter with sarcasm and hurt. "My ability did let me see what a bitch you really are, though."
Doubt flickered across her features. I had never seen that before. Not even with the aliens who had kicked her ass in the warehouse. Maybe she had been overpowered, but she had never felt like the least attractive woman in the room before. I felt a smile twist my lips upward. I was the one making her doubt herself. Me! The realization set my spirits aflight. In an instant, I felt confident, unstoppable.
"Care to back up those words and throw down? Right here? Right now? Think I'm going to collapse like a wet noodle in front of your sorry ass?"
Holy shit! Had I just insulted her? And, *gulp*, challenged Sapphire Valkyrie to a fight? Omigod. That probably hadn't been a wise move. I'd better be right about at least being in her league. Otherwise, I might be living the final moments of my life right now.
The doubt, which had only lasted an instant, was completely erased from Valkyrie's expression. Her full lips fell into a frown. Her cobalt eyes narrowed. Her hands clenched into fists. I could almost hear her thoughts: "How dare she…!"
I flicked my eyes toward Raven, whose countenance looked so utterly shocked at the sudden turn of events, that I instinctively wanted to go comfort him.
In that instant, however, my attention on Raven, Valkyrie struck. She was so fast! As my eyes zipped back to her, I saw her fist accelerating toward me. Time seemed to slow, but her fist was less than an inch from my stomach and even now, with my enhanced physical abilities, I wasn't fast enough to dodge out of the way or block from that distance with so little warning.
I tensed my abs and waited another instant for her fist to connect, bracing for impact. God, I hoped I survived this. I really, really didn't want to die right now. I squeezed my eyes shut.
Then her fist connected with my stomach. I heard a series of sharp cracks. Oh, Lord. Had her fist gone clean through me and snapped my spine? So much for the hope I'd held out of not dying…
…Except that it didn't hurt. At all. Was that good? Or bad? When one's spine snapped, maybe one couldn't feel pain? Wow! At least if I had to go, maybe the nature of the injury would keep me from hurting too badly. Maybe I would only be paralyzed from the waist down and could survive this thing?
After a moment, eyes still closed, I worked up the courage to check out my gruesome injury. I popped one eye open to look at my stomach. It looked fine. My too-perfect-to-be-real eight bricks of impenetrable muscle didn't show so much as a red mark. So what had made the cracking sound?
I looked up at Valkyrie, who was cradling her hand next to her own stomach, grimacing in obvious pain. It took my surprise-adled brain a moment to realize what had happened.
Sapphire Valkyrie had struck me in the stomach… and broken her hand against my apparently superERhuman abs.
A massive grin burst out on my face as I realized the ramifications of that fact. Not only was I out of Valkyrie's league in beauty now, I was out of her league in strength as well? Hell, yeah!
I thought back to all the time I'd spent wishing I were like her. Unbelievably beautiful, unimaginably strong. But I wasn't like her. I was beyond her. Far beyond. Pride surged within me. I was the strongest. I was not only superior to Sapphire Valkyrie, I was far superior.
Just like… the aliens.
Just as the thought seemed to occur to me, it must have occurred to Valkyrie as well. She looked at me with glassy eyes and spoke, her tone hushed. "You're just like the invaders…"
The thought sobered my rapidly inflating ego.
Maybe my DNA was even more like theirs now. It certainly appeared that way. Was I more like them than myself now? Had I become one of them? SHOULD I become one of them?
That final thought sent a shiver down my still fully intact spine. If I were more alien than human now, should I join them? Did I belong with them?
Before I could complete the line of thought, Raven seemed to have a thought, and he pressed some sort of device against Valkyrie's shoulder. Valkyrie, distracted, cast a meaningful glance, then glared at me, then disappeared in a whoosh of superspeed, leaving Raven and me alone in the supergym. Raven looked down at the display of the device, then looked up, staring at me thoughtfully.
"She wasn't weakened at all. Her strength registered the same as always. You are actually that much stronger than she is." His voice held a note of something I'd never heard in his voice before. I couldn't tell if it was awe or desire, but it seemed akin to both.
"Did all of these changes just… happen… after we parted?" asked Raven, eyes glued to me, roaming the masterpiece that was my body.
"Um… yeah," I said, choosing not to elaborate. I still had aspirations of hooking up with Raven, my teenage crush, someday--especially looking like I now did. I didn't think that telling him I'd just gone full-on slutbomb with Earth's archenemy would help me achieve that, especially not after I'd picked a fight with Valkyrie.
"Fascinating…" Raven trailed off, as I caught shimmers of desire in his eyes. I had only seen him look at Valkyrie like that, not me. Never me. Not until now. And the fire within his gaze burned with more intensity than I'd ever seen before. Prickles of heat goosebumped my flawless flesh.
Raven shook his head as if clearing away unwanted thoughts. When he spoke again, he was almost his usual disciplined self, though I could still see lingering heat in his gaze. I knew he wanted me.
"I doubt I'll be able to get a blood sample anymore," he said wryly. "Would you mind plucking a hair for me? That might be the only way I can get a new sample of your DNA…"
"What?" I said, momentarily confused. I needed to get used to this whole super-powerful status. "Oh… yes, of course."
That hadn't been what I'd expected him to say. But it made sense. He wanted to see what was happening to me. I was more than a little curious, myself.
I plucked one of my vibrant red hairs and handed it over to him. He took it gingerly, as if it were an item of extraordinary value, then walked it over to another DNA scanner toward the side of the room.
"How many of those things do you have, anyway?" I wondered idly aloud.
He ignored me, too intent on examining my sample to notice anything else.
"So what's the what?" I said after a few minutes of silence. Before I could stop myself, I asked the question that had been lingering in the back of my mind. "Am I more alien than human now?"
Raven turned toward me, locked eyes, expression stony, and spoke gravely. "Yes. Your DNA is very much like Xymon's, except magnified somehow. There are dissimilarities still, of course, but I would say you are now more like him than like me."
Something about the way he compared me to himself rather than humans in general made things more personal, more real, more… heartbreaking.
I felt tears well up and begin to roll down my cheeks. I still wasn't sure I wanted to become an alien, despite its clear benefits.
I wasn't sure what to do. Valkyrie clearly didn't like me. Raven seemed to be distancing himself from me as well. Was I one of THEM now? Did I have a choice? What if super.org didn't trust me anymore? Kicked me out? Pissing off Sapphire Valkyrie as I had might result in exactly that.
Confused, hurt, and angry, I wasn't sure where my loyalties should lie anymore. I slipped into invisibility once more and left the building at hyper-speed, deciding to go back to my apartment and regroup.
When I got back, I opened the door to find Andrea still there. She turned her head toward me.
I expected shock. I expected surprise. I expected awe. But she simply gave me a knowing smile.
Then she kneeled on the floor, bowed her head, and spoke in reverent voice. "My queen."
Um, what? I had been ready for a number of different reactions. But not that one.