StarFall: Silver Arrow #2: Descent
phantom_belcher at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 2 21:08:57 PDT 2010
A Division of Pullemouttayerhat Productions
A Wholly-Owned Subsidiary of StarFall Innovations
Cover: A lightning split from top left, an inch below the logo, to
bottom right. In the top right half, Jade is standing holding a rifle,
looking through the scope. In the bottom left, Silver Arrow is seen
as if through a rifle scope. Underneath Jade are the words "One of
his friends crosses a line..."; underneath Arrow, are the words, "...
as Silver Arrow is now a target."
Los Angeles, while being known for its sun, does occasionally have
more varied weather. So it proved on this day: a cloudy, overcast day
which threatened to switch to rain at any minute. A lone city police
car pulled up in front of the city courthouse. Inside, an older
heavyset man sat staring out the car's window nervously, scanning the
rooftops. Without saying a word, the officers in the car got out and
pulled him from it.
On the rooftop across the street, hidden behind a stone facade,
Jade Wong, a young woman of mixed Asian and European features, studied
her target through the scope of a high-powered rifle. As the man's
head came into view, Jade took careful aim, as her finger gently
squeezed the trigger.
On the street below, the man's head suddenly exploded, with brain
and skull fragments splattering the officers and police cruiser. The
younger of the two officers couldn't help it, and bent over unleashing
the remains of his breakfast onto the pavement.
Jade, in the meantime, quickly fled, leaving the rifle behind.
With a heave, she made an adrenaline-fueled leap off the rooftop on to
a neighboring building and scrambled part way down the fire escape
before climbing in an open window. She was out of sight by the time
the police swarmed the building she'd left the rifle on.
'I did it,' she thought, as she collapsed on the floor and started
shaking. 'I... I killed him. And it was... it was *easy*. I want to
puke, and yet... Sun Li will be proud. Hugh will hate me if I tell
him what I had to do.' She stopped shaking and stood up unsteadily.
"He doesn't need to know," she whispered.
"It was a professional hit," Chief Mitchell explained to Silver
Arrow several hours later. They were in the Chief's office at the
police station, with pictures of the slain man on the Chief's desk.
"We found the rifle on the roof of the building across the street.
Accuracy International AWM, in .338 Lapua. Whoever it was just left
it there after firing only one round."
"No tracks?" Arrow asked, holding one of the photos up under the
light of the desk lamp. The man's head and most of the neck had
pretty much just disintegrated when hit.
"None," Mitchell replied. "We sent the dogs up, but they tracked
the scent as far as the next building before it disappeared. Do you
think there was a teleporter involved?"
"I doubt it," Arrow mused. "Sun Li doesn't like supers, and unless
absolutely necessary wouldn't hire one, even to get her hitman out of
sight. I can put some feelers out, though."
"I appreciate that, Arrow. Oh, Narcotics took a closer look at the
drugs we seized. You were right, there were two drugs there.
Cocaine, which we expected, and..."
"Sizzle," Arrow finished.
"How do you know this stuff?"
"Educated guess. I heard her tell her lieutenant that the other
drugs were going to a drop-off, not the dealers."
"And he's dead, so we can't ask him." Mitchell leaned back in his
seat. "And none of the other muscle we arrested are admitting to
anything, if they were even told anything about the shipment, which I
doubt. Do you think your inside person will know?"
"I'll ask," Arrow admitted. "No guarantees, though. My informant
is still fairly new to Sun Li's organization, and may not be privy to
her secrets just yet."
The wide flatscreen television in Sun Li's corporate conference
room wasn't used often, but that evening it was on the local network
affiliate news program.
"Authorities are still searching for the gunman who killed one of
the alleged leaders of the city's organized crime syndicate this
morning," the reporter on the screen stated without emotion. "This
shooting comes only two days after the deceased - whose name is being
withheld for security reasons - was arrested by police and LA's own
superhero, Silver Arrow."
The screen flicked off as Sun Li, Jade, and several others in the
office turned to each other. Sun Li sat at the head of the long
table, with several other older men and women in various places around
it. Jade stood behind Sun Li in a respectful pose.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a good day," Sun Li stated. "Our
cocaine profits are on the rise, even with this little setback two
night ago. A smaller supply does indeed increase demand - in the
short term, at least. And the one loose end from the fiasco at the
train station has been eliminated." Light applause followed, which
she silenced with a raised hand. "As of right now, the vacancy," here
she indicated an empty seat to her immediate left, "will be taken by
my new lieutenant, Jade Wong. She proved herself especially capable."
Jade bowed slightly, then took the indicated seat.
"Any other new business?" Sun Li asked.
Meanwhile, across town, Silver Arrow had gotten into a skirmish
with several members of another gang. At present, he was surrounded
by six black and hispanic gang members dressed in black leather, each
with the image of a snarling cat head on the back. Arrow had been
forced to sling the bow, and was now facing them unarmed; several gang
members had knives in their hands.
"El Gato Negro has a price on your head, hero!" one of them
taunted. "You're going down, puta!"
"Come and get me, then, Gatos" Arrow replied with a smirk.
One of the Gatos, the largest of the six, came forward throwing a
haymaker. Arrow ducked under the clumsy swing, landing an uppercut to
the big guy's chin. His opponent staggered back slightly while another
came forward to take his place.
This second opponent was quicker, and threw a number of rapid
punches, which Arrow blocked with his forearms. He let the ganger beat
on his arms for several seconds before snapping his fist into the
ganger's chin, dropping him.
The third opponent proved slightly more formidable, leaping at
Arrow with a kick. Arrow caught the Gato's foot just inches from his
face in both hands, but the Gato followed through almost immediately
by spinning, kicking Arrow in the face with the other foot. Arrow
released the foot as he fell to the ground, only to kick upwards with
his own foot as he did so. He caught the Gato in the groin.
Arrow's fourth opponent charged forward recklessly, brandishing a
wicked knife he'd pulled out while awaiting his turn. Arrow, still on
the ground, spun on his back, tripping the knife-wielding Gato and
sending him into a nearby dumpster.
Arrow stood up and faced the remaining Gato. "Still gonna press
your luck?" he asked. Then he quickly looked around. "Wasn't there
another of you?"
"¡Sorpresa, héroe!" Without warning, Arrow felt but did not see
someone grab him from behind, pinning his arms to his sides. "I got
'im, Big G. Pound 'im."
The Gato called "Big G" shrugged, and started to grow. Whereas
before he stood about five and a half feet tall, now he towered over
Silver Arrow at an impressive eight feet tall. Arrow, in the
meantime, closed his eyes and listened, tilting his head forward
slightly. He heard - and felt - his invisible attacker's breath on
his neck. Without warning, he slammed his head backwards; there was
an audible crunch as his skull impacted with what he thought was his
attacker's nose. Arrow felt his invisible attacker let go of him, and
immediately slammed his elbow backwards into where he guessed the
other man's face was. He felt the blow connect, and the man became
visible as he dropped to the ground.
"You must be the new blood I heard was in town," Arrow quipped.
"We can do this one of two ways. The first is that we duke it out in
classic super-hero/villain style - and we're talking violence, strong
language, adult content, and probably lots of property damage. The
other is that you power down, and we fight this out like two civilized
cave-men; no powers, no weapons, like we have been doing."
Big G paused for a moment, then wound up for a swing. "I'll take
the super-powered violence for two hundred, Alex."
Arrow ducked the clumsy haymaker with ease, as Big G slammed his
fist into the brick wall behind him. Pieces of brick flew off in all
directions from the impact. "And he comes out swinging with a
comeback! There's hope for our generation yet!"
And so it went for several minutes, with Silver Arrow trying to put
some distance between himself and Big G, and Big G constantly closing
and throwing powerful blows, some of which managed to knock several
bricks loose from the side of the building. Reaching into his belt
pouch, Arrow pulled out a small pellet and slammed it against the wall
while diverting his own eyes. The burst of light that flared blinded
Big G, causing the large man to stumble around blindly. Arrow then
ducked under his opponent's flailing arms and lept onto the larger
man's back, getting him in a choke-hold.
One thing about folks that are larger than normal with enhanced
strength and physical durability: they still need to breathe. And
applying slow, steady pressure on someone's windpipe will cut off
their air supply to the brain long enough to for them to fall
So it proved on this occasion. Big G tried to fling Arrow off him,
but Arrow was nimble enough to wrap his legs around Big G's chest for
support. And the more he flailed, the slower Big G became, before he
finally fell over.
Hugh fell onto the couch at UCLA's student union, setting his
bookbag down beside him. Jeff and Jade sat nearby, engrossed in their
"Rough day at work, Hugh?" Jeff asked, looking up from his books.
"Ran into two of your new friends," Hugh commented, pulling an
engineering textbook out of the bag. "Big G and someone who could
"Skulker," Jeff stated.
"'Skulker'?" Hugh asked, looking at him oddly. "Sheesh, are we
already scraping the bottom of the barrel for stupid villain names?
Any other surprises?"
"Not on this end."
"Just this," Jade mentioned, not looking up. "Sun Li has posted a
bounty on you."
"As has La Tigra," Jeff remarked. "You're putting quite the dent
in their activities."
"So, how much am I worth?" Hugh asked with a grin.
"Hugh..." Jade sighed, setting the book down.
"No, seriously. How much am I worth? That'll probably tell me how
often I'll get attacked, and by what quality of crook."
"At present, twenty thousand," Jade replied flatly, picking the
book up again. "Now please, I need to concentrate. Mr. Miller's
giving a test in Psych in less than an hour."
"Fifteen thousand on the Gatos' end," Jeff said.
"Is that all?" Hugh scoffed. "I'll just have to work harder at
getting their attention. Speaking of which... Jade, what have you
found out about where they were taking the Sizzle?"
Jade paused slightly before answering. "Li was having it sent to a
warehouse. Problem is, she owns about two dozen around town, and
hasn't yet told me which one."
"I'll be just a quick search to find which warehouses are owned by
Xiang Li Industries," Jeff said, pulling out his iPhone.
"Hugh!" a young brunette about their age called out, running over
to where they sat. Jade looked over at the newcomer and scowled, as
Hugh turned in his seat towards her.
"Fran?" he asked as she approached. "What's up?" His tone dropped
to a near whisper. "Is it your brother?"
"Sorry to show up here like this," Fran stated hurriedly, "but
there's trouble at the Griffith Observatory. Super-powered trouble.
And no, not Frank; he's still at County State."
"Dammit," Hugh swore. "Jeff, tape Phyics for me? Mr. Costenbader
was gonna cover psionics today. Fran, let's go, but we have to swing
past my place, first."
Hugh stood up, and followed Fran down a hallway. Suddenly, a
glowing portal opened, and they stepped through it.
The Griffith Observatory is one of the best-known landmarks in Los
Angeles. Located on a hill commanding an impressive view of the Los
Angeles Basin, including Hollywood, downtown, and the Pacific Ocean.
It has been used in such films as _Rebel Without a Cause_,
_Terminator_, _Queen of the Damned_, and _The Rocketeer_, as well as
many television series based in and around Southern California.
It was also, at this time, completely encased in ice, which was
itself encircled by long vines. Atop the largest dome stood a man
dressed in a light blue uniform with white trim, and a woman with long
green hair dressed in a dark green leotard that looked like it was
made of leaves, light green leggings, and four inch heels. All around
the Observatory, men, women, and children stood either encased in ice
or ensnared in foliage; those encased in ice had their heads left
free, although many of them had their mouths (but not their noses)
covered, preventing them from making a sound.
A portal appeared in the parking lot, and Silver Arrow emerged from
it astride a motorcycle. He slid the cycle to a stop as he surveyed
the scene. A young woman in a simply two-tone purple bodysuit and
full-face cowl stepped out behind him.
"Doorway," Arrow told the girl, "get to Chief Mitchell and tell him
I'll need SWAT backup."
to be continued...
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