A single beam of light from the lamppost reflected in the puddle of water on the sidewalk, along with the image of the building across the street. The dome-like roof and pillars in front could lead passerbys to speculate whether this was a low-profile religious temple or a high profile financial institution. But nobody was passing by this night, so nobody got hit by the water sent splattering in all directions by a high heeled boot hitting the puddle and running past the building.
Tianne were cursing the high heels. How the f... were you supposed to run, let alone fight in those.
Her pursuers were not far behind from what she could tell without slowing down to look over her shoulder.
The deserted street didn't offer much for her as means of escape. No crowds to get lost in.
"Not that I was likely to, wearing this skintight outfit", she thought to herself, "whoever figured out that superheroes should dress up like this couldn't be anyone who had to wear the outfit themselves".
She still hadn't quite figured out what the origin of her costume was, but it seemed that it appeared magically whenever she started to use her newfound powers.
Taking off and flying away from her pursuers seemed like a good idea now, but unfortunately flying was Ariadne's domain, and Tianne wasn't quite sure if her younger partner had managed to avoid being seen by the guards.
She needed to get away from the deserted open street and its bright lights, and luckily a possible escape presented itself to her on the left in the form of a dark alleyway between two buildings. Not loosing a step she turned and darted into the relative darkness.
"Where'd she go?" the group leader yelled to his men, "This alley is a dead end, unless she's managed to fly away she should be somewhere around here".
"Major Thomas, sir. Perhaps that is what she did, one of those girls seemed able to fly," one of his subordinates offered as explanation.
Looking around once more, feeling that he'd missed something but unable to put his finger on it, Major Thomas had to give in.
"Nope, not flight. I'm sure of that. One of them was flying, but not the black girl. Perhaps she is using some other freak power to disguise herself right now."
Signaling for the rest of the squad to move out he continued the search down the street.
Underground Tianne was paradoxically trying both to catch her breath and hold it at the same time, so as not to alert the men above her to her position. Slipping down a manhole wasn't the brightest of plans, but strangely it seemed to have worked, because nobody seemed to be trying to lift the heavy metal cover she'd just pulled back in place.
Checking her surroundings she discovered that the tunnel wasn't entirely dark, but dimly lit in places from some sort of flickering lightsource - torches she guessed, so somebody must be using this place for a purpose. The smell wasn't as penetrating as she'd feared either, maybe this tunnel wasn't connected to the main sewer.
"Or perhaps resistance to unpleasant smells is just one more undiscovered superpower I have besides the added strength", she thought to herself.
"You can leave now, your pursuers up there are already leaving", a voice informed from the darkness behind her.
Startled she turned around, already assuming a fighting stance, but the dark outline of a person did not seem to pose any immediate threat.
"How can you be sure?"
"They did not discover the manhole you used to get down here, and suddenly they felt that searching anymore in this area would be futile"
The calm deep voice coming from inside the hood of the robe worn by the other person was calm, almost emotionless and strangely self-assured.
"What do you mean.... how could you know what they would feel like...?"
"Because I planted the feeling in their minds, just as I could have chosen to make them forget why they turned down that alley in the first place."
Cautiously she took a couple of steps toward the hooded figure in front of her, but she still couldn't quite make out any features beneath the hood.
"You're .... I thought that you were.."
"Finishing other peoples sentences... do you read peoples mind to do it, or is that just an annoying habit?"
"I have many powers, but reading minds is not one of them."
"But lurking in the darkness is ?"
Tianne couldn't help feeling her temper rise. Patience wasn't one of her virtues, and this guy was obviously trying to get every cent out of his "dark and mysterious" routine.
"We prefer to keep a low profile, and not draw attention to our work. Most humans do not like the idea that mystical beings are interfering with their reality."
"But you interfered and saved me?"
"Your presence here was drawing attention. It was a necessity."
Without any further the dark stranger turned around and started walking away down the tunnel.
"Hey wait, you can't just leave. Don't you want to help ?"
She started to walk after him, hoping to explain what was at stake here, but found that she could not follow. Something was holding her back; it felt like one of those dreams where you try to run from something, but your steps are heavy, like you're stuck in some sticky substance, and you're getting nowhere. Except she was walking towards something, not running away. And not making any progress either. He must be using some kind of magic or a forcefield.
"Hey, it's rude to leave in the middle of a conversation!"
Her words went unheeded, as the stranger now became one with the darkness.
Cursing under her breath she turned back to where she'd come from and lifted the manhole cover to check if the people above had really moved on in their search.
It slid away effortlessly and revealed a face looking down at her.
"Hi, Tianne,", the blond girl greeted from above, her youthful face covered in a big smile.
"Hi, Ariadne, how did you know where I was? Did you read my mind to locate me?"
"No," Ariadne grinned, "For once that wasn't necessary. The guards didn't see me, so I followed at a distance and saw them turn after you down here and then come back looking a bit confused, so I figured you must have hidden in here somehow. Though how they could have managed to NOT see that manhole is beyond me."
Taking the outstretched hand from Ariadne Tianne climbed back up to street-level.
"I had help..."
"Help? What do you mean help? Is it someone who can help us free Will.."
"No, I doubt that", interrupted Tianne, "But perhaps the data I managed to copy from their computer can help us to make some kind of plan. We'll have to run them through the computer to see what turns up. Can you airlift us out of here? I don't like hanging around longer than, in case the guards suddenly come back".
Still grinning Ariadne grabbed her by the shoulders and effortlessly took to the air. It wasn't flying as such, Tianne knew, more like another application of Ariadne's mental powers. It seemed that she just mentally pushed away from the ground, and gravity sort of gave up it's hold on her.
"Unexplainable, but very useful," Tianne thought to herself as they disappeared into the night sky above the city.
Not much of the vast impressive skyline was visible from the skylight of the penthouse apartment. One open window let in a bit of cool night air, while two others were covered by large pieces of cardboard, still awaiting repair.
This clashed oddly with the stylish interior of the living room below, into which Ariadne lowered Tianne from the open window above. Sparse but stylish furniture suggested affluence, not disrepair.
Tianne stumbled a bit on the hardwood floor, taking a couple of extra steps to regain her balance.
"Sorry about that, Tianne,", Ariadne apologised while descending herself, "Didn't mean to drop you like that"
"I know, as they say, it's not flying that's the difficult bit, it's the landing."
Mentally Tianne added a silent prayer that she was right. There was still so much that she didn't know about the powers of the young girl she had partnered up with and her strange mental powers. She hardly even comprehended her own newfound powers.
"It's really a shame that flying isn't one of your powers," Ariadne suggested, "Going out flying together would be kinda cool, don't you think?"
"Dunno really, I think I'm content with the added, even though I still need to recharge my powers."
"Yeah, speaking of recharging... if you don't need me for anything more tonight I think I'll hit the shower and go to bed. This flying is fun, but it kinda wears you down, especially if you have to carry someone".
Tianne shook her head.
"No it's ok, I'll just recharge and get to work on what we've gathered so far."
She reached into her costume and withdrew a small shiny metallic mini-disc.
"Put this into the computer on the way,. Perhaps I was able to get something useful before those guards discovered me messing around with their systems".
Ariadne looked at the disk, frowning.
"You know, we really ought to get this computer stuff down so we know what we're doing next time we try to get something".
Tianne smiled and turned, heading for the next room.
"Well, like flying, that's a job I'll be happy to leave in your hands."
Entering the study, Tianne wondered if that was really the appropriate name for the room. Perhaps "trophy room" would be more appropriate. Or perhaps "Batcave" ? She still hadn't gotten used to this new apartment with all it's fancy furniture, bookshelves filled with leather-bound volumes of ancient knowledge and strange objects d'art that she wasn't even sure they were there for purely decorative purposes.
"One day I'm a waitress living in a bug-ridden apartment in a bad neighborhood. The next I'm some kind of superhero living in a flashy penthouse. I guess things could be worse."
She smiled down at the source of her sudden luck, which she had found by coincidence at the market on her day off. At first it had looked just like a bland glass or crystal sphere, but when she had picked it up to examine it further it had seemed to change color and felt strangely warm to the touch.
Later back at her apartment she wasn't even sure why she had bought it or how much she had paid for it, but these questions quickly gave way to a strange urge to go to this uptown address where the electronic locks much to her astonishment had admitted her without any trouble at all.
She stretched out her hands towards it, feeling again this unnatural warmth from the orb as her hands came closer to it. She could feel power from it. Her coffee-creme skin suddenly gained a golden glow as the energy surged into her.
She suddenly felt refreshed in a way that went beyond what even a good nights sleep could usually provide. Her strength was back at a level where she could easily have taken on a contingent of guards if she had to, unlike earlier on.
"Strange how soon I needed that recharge," she thought to herself, "Usually I can go for two-three days with no problem before my strength starts to fade."
Hoping that this night's incident had only been a strange fluke she let go of the orb and returned her focus to the next task at hand.
"I've got to have a look at the contents on the disk, maybe we can get something from it. Strange really. The Orb is affecting everything around it, Ariadne is developing her powers in all kinds of ways, and even Computer doesn't seem unaffected."
The blue light from the screen in the otherwise dark room was hardly enough to make Tianne's dark eyes stand out, yet they managed to send a menacing glare at the message on the screen in front of her.
"The program has performed an illegal action...," the white letters informed her.
"Sorry, Tianne,", the slightly metallic voice informed her from a speaker above one of the racks of electronic equipment beside her.
"I've been experimenting with some humorous subroutines. Apparently they still need some work to achieve the correct effect on users."
"Errors aren't fun...," Tianne growled.
"Well my research seems to indicate that humor often arises from unknown events occurring within a familiar context..."
Tianne's hand tightened around the mouse on the desk in front of her.
"..however, stress analysis of you voice also indicate some level of agitation, which again suggests some kind of urgency," the computer continued.
Tianne never referred to it as anything other than Computer, even though Ariadne kept insisting that they should find a more suitable name for it.
"I'm assuming that you need to hear what I've found, based on the data that Ariadne loaded into me earlier."
"Yeah, something that might tell us where they are keeping William inside that building would be nice.... I don't suppose that one of those files contained a blueprint of the entire building"
"Sorry," the computer answered, "My research so far seems to indicate that such events most frequently occur in the kind of animated stories that Ariadne has a certain affection for downloading from the net..."
"You mean movies?"
"Yes, but the data I've analyzed so far indicates that all electronic devices in the building are connected to the same network. Furthermore the configuration data indicates that there is a wide range of surveillance equipment within the building."
Tianne thought of how quickly the guards had detected her presence and nodded mentally.
"But they also indicate that a large part of the equipment is located beneath street-level."
"More surveillance equipment", asked Tianne.
"No, number crunchers is the term usually attributed to this kind of computing power. Large machines made for complex calculations, astrophysics, weather patterns... or simulating nuclear explosions for that matter"
"More machines, more alarms.... seems that a lot of interesting things are going on below street level," Tianne muttered to herself.
A single electric light illuminated a small portion of the tunnel, but the face of the robed figure wouldn't have been visible to the approaching guard even if the person had been facing the other way. Military training had taught the guard how to approach with stealth, but he also had a very keen sense telling him whenever something was wrong with the target he approached, and the unmoving figure suggested someone that should have noticed his approach but still remained strangely unmoving.
"You're getting careless," he blankly stated, "I could have snuck up on you without you noticing anything"
The calm emotionless voice as the robed figure turned towards him suggested otherwise.
"Had your intentions been anything but friendly, you would have given yourself away long before you even entered this tunnel."
"But how can you know that my intentions are good, when you also know who I work for ?"
Again the reply betrayed nothing.
"We all carry potentials within ourselves. Both good and evil..."
For a moment, leaving behind her the thoughts of how to enter the place where William was kept, Tianne had another issue for the computer to look at.
"I met quite an interesting character while getting this disk, you know. I would think that he was a Mediator. Does that mean anything to you?"
"I have come across some references to these people....."
"Are you sure that they are 'people' ?"
"Most references would indicate that they are human, or at least humanoid, but most references would also indicate that they are nothing but a mere myth."
"The one I met didn't seem mythological at all.... perhaps a bit rude, but otherwise real enough. Try to see what you're able to dig up on Mediators. Even though he helped me tonight, I'm not sure that we can trust him."
Computer didn't answer her question, but the sudden hum of disk drives activating ensured her that work was already in progress. Above the combined noise of disks and cooling fans she suddenly heard another sound, not unlike a metallic voice singing, "Daisy, daisy...."
"Oh, and Computer," she added while turning around to leave the room.
"You know what happens when you start singing like that while you work...."
She could have sworn that the sound of the speaker disconnecting almost sounded frightened.
"If we all contain potentials for good and evil, then you think that the power for the girls can be corrupted?" The soldier was still trying to get a handle on what his mysterious underground contact was really getting at.
"I don't know if they can be corrupted or turned toward evil, but it is a possibility I cannot entirely rule out."
"And if they can...?"
"Then I have a job to do."
"We need a place to work out," Tianne thought while looking around the living room. If we step up the practice much more we'll end up wrecking the place.
The living room, with its sparse furniture had seemed ideal as a training ground the other night when she had decided to give Ariadne another go at using her mental powers in combat. Now, thinking back, she wasn't sure it had been a good idea...
* One night earlier *
Tianne looked at the outfit Ariadne was wearing, just as skin-tight as her own, but Ariadne had combined patterns of light blue and white to make herself look very colorful compared to Tianne's plain black leather.
"Nice new outfit. Though I liked the red leather pants and the black top better"
"I don't remember having such and outfit?" Ariadne answered slightly puzzled.
"Must have been something that I've dreamt. I've been having some weird dreams lately."
The first few weeks Ariadne had to put up with actually changing into uniform, but then she somehow got the knack of making her uniform appear at will when she started to use her powers, just like Tianne had.
This had developed into an almost daily routine of changing the style of her uniform as Ariadne gradually discovered new aspects of her powers.
"Why the "A" logo ?" Tianne asked, looking at the small golden logo that Ariadne had included in her uniform just above her left breast.
"It's because of my codename 'Ariadne'."
"I found it in one of your books. She helped some guy escape from a labyrinth, so I thought it was kinda appropriate since doing this superhero stuff seems to be my way of getting out of these mazes of powers in my mind."
"Alright, so now you're Ariadne," Tianne answered, not entirely comfortable with the idea of codenames.
"It sure beats being boring old Eileen. You should get one too."
Tianne shook her head, with all the changes in her life these days, the last thing she needed was a new name. .
"Now let's get on with the training. I think we should focus on using your mental powers in combat situations."
Ariadne quickly assumed a fighting stance with a sort of humorous "give me your best shot" look on her face.
"No, that's just it," Tianne said "you prepare to defend yourself physically... you should defend yourself with your mental powers."
Tianne struck out the first blow at Ariadne in mid-sentence, but the small girl obviously had seen it coming, because she effortlessly blocked the blow with her arm. Tianne followed through with more attacks, but Ariadne kept up with every combination she could come up with.
"You've studied martial arts before discovering your own powers, haven't you ?" Tianne asked while wiping a thin film of sweat on her brow.
"Yeah, a small skinny girl like me had to learn to defend herself in some way", Ariadne answered with a perky smile.
"Oh, and it also helps a lot that I can scan your thoughts and know what you're going to do just a little bit before you actually do it."
Tianne shook her head. Ariadne was definitely clever, this was definitely a creative new way to use her mental powers. There was just one more thing that needed to be tested.
"Clever - lets try again."
Tianne resumed her attack, this time just striking out instinctively, using combinations she knew by rote from her own training - waitresses walking home late at night in a bad neighbourhood had a way of attracting the weirdest creeps.
Ariadne looked surprised at not being able to read her opponent's next move anymore, and even though Tianne held back her punches a little she would probably have a few bruises by the time this training session was finished.
"Not so easy now, is it ?" Tianne managed to say before a counterblow from Ariadne temporarily forced her to halt her attack.
Feigning indecision Tianne let Ariadne think she had regained the offensive, setting her up for a roundhouse kick that would surely take her out and finish the training session.
Sensing that the timing was right Tianne swung her leg, but felt it stop in mid-air like it had hit a soft cushion of air. Then suddenly she was lifted up into the air and felt herself fly backwards, sending her crashing into the wall behind her.
"Are you alright, Tianne?"
Tianne nodded while trying to shake some of the cobwebs in her head.
"I don't know what happened, I just sensed that you werecoming for me and reacted on instinct. But pretty cool, huh ?"
Tianne looked around her. After colliding with the wall she had apparently landed on a chair that now lay broken on the floor around her along with a small table she'd managed to overturn.
"Well, at least I didn't damage the wall when I hit it, did I ?"
Ariadne suddenly looked worried.
"I'm not entirely sure. Look..."
The wall behind Tianne was beginning to glow, almost as if something on the other side of it was on fire and it was beginning to erode the stones themselves, ready to burst into the room at any moment.
She knew that the right course of action was to step back and wait to see what was going to happen, but that wasn't the way Tianne handled things. Stepping toward the wall she examined the glow, which was expanding but not giving off any heat.
"This is not natural."
"Well duh!" Ariadne commented.
"No, I mean there's no heat. It's not a fire, but some kind of energy."
The glowing spot on the wall kept expanding, already acouple of feet wide.
"I think something is trying to break through," Tianne observed.
"What ? From the study?"
Behind her Ariadne was moving to go into the other room, but Tianne waved at her to stay in place.
"No, I'm pretty sure it's from beyond this apartment. So be ready to hit it with all you've got, if it's got tentacles or an unusual number of heads".
The glowing circle on the wall was now almost as large as Tianne standing in front of it. She assumed a fighting stance in case anything tried to poke its head through from the other side. But what she hadn't quite expected was that it wouldn't so much poke its head out as rather throw itself directly at her.
"Look ou..." was all she managed before it hit her and she was down for the count.
Ariadne rushed over quickly to get Tianne out from underneath what she now realised was an unconscious male body. A naked male body she noted as she easily shifted his weight of her and laid him down on the floor. He seemed to be warm and breathing, pulse regular, so he was probably not seriously hurt, perhaps just unconscious from whatever had brought him there.
"Woah!!!", a surprised Ariadne exclaimed "Who is he Tianne?"
She was certain that she'd never seen him before. His appearance was rather distinctive. The slicked blond hair and chiseled cheekbones would make him stand out in most crowds. His age was indeterminate, in his thirties she'd guess, perhaps older, but keeping himself nicely in shape she noted from the muscle tone of his upper body. She felt tempted to continue the examination further, but suddenly remembered that Ariadne was still in the room with her.
"Ariadne, we need to find something to cover him with, clothes or something?"
Ariadne seemed lost in her own thoughts.
"We need something to cover him," Tianne repeated.
"Huh...? Why ?", Ariadne muttered, "Urh, I mean right away."
While Ariadne grudgingly left the room Tianne got up to take a pillow from the sofa at the other end of the room. Returning, she could hear a very soft groan from him, indicating that he was coming to.
He opened his eyes land looked up at Tianne. Surprise was there, but also some penetrating quality that seemed to look right beyond her eyes and into her thoughts.
Suddenly she remembered that she was still in uniform.
"Don't worry. We're the good guys," she smiled at him, "We'll take care of you."
Ariadne returned with a blanket and some clothes.
"So, you're awake? How did you manage to do that stunt?" she knelt down beside him and started to spread the blanket out over him.
"D...do ?" the blonde stranger seemed to have trouble speaking.
"Yeah," Ariadne continued unfazed, "Going poof and turning up here in the middle of our living room, that's pretty amazing."
"Not sure... don't remember..." He suddenly seemed worried at his lack of memory.
"Maybe you're just confused after what happened", Tianne assured him.
"Can you remember anything at all ? Your name ?"
"Sounds like a nice name," Ariadne added.
William took hold of the blanket and wrapped himself in it.
"Do you remember anything else?"
William shook his head uncertainly. He tried to stand up, but his legs immediately buckled under him. Tianne reached out to catch him, but found that Ariadne had reacted instinctively and reached out with her power and broken his fall. For a moment he looked puzzled, then his head tilted forward.
"Is he ?... " Ariadne asked worriedly.
"He's out cold, but his pulse is still steady. Perhaps his body is still adjusting to the effects of what happened to him".
Tianne picked him up in her arms. He seemed a bit heavier now, but nothing she couldn't handle.
"He needs to rest. Let's put him in one of the guest-rooms."
Ariadne looked down at the sleeping William.
"He's cute. Can we keep him?" she shot a perky smile at Tianne.
"Down girl!" Tianne answered, "We don't know anything about what he is."
"I guess not, but how can anyone looking like that be evil?"
"In a lot more ways than you can possibly think of. Better get some sleep yourself, we've got a lot of work to do once he wakes up."
Following her young partner out of the room, Tianne turned around and looked back one final time before turning out the light.
"But she's right..." she whispered under her breath. "He is kinda cute."
"...and that is as much as I know right now," explained the uniformed man.
"Which is more than enough for me to interfere."
"But you do realise that this may end up destroying him....."
"...a necessary risk."
"But what about the two girls' reaction?"
".,.another necessary risk."
The guard looked visibly chocked at the seeming ruthlessness from the Mediator, then became aware of how his face betrayed his emotions and quickly looked away.
"It seems like a dangerous course of action, but I trust you. Just like I trusted you with the life of my little girl..."
"You need not be concerned, she is still safe in the care of the people I left her with"
The soldier kept his face turned away, to hide his relief.
"...good. She must never know anything about my.."
But looking back he realised that he was now talking into the empty space in front of him where the Mediator had been.
Ariadne awoke and felt surprisingly tired, considering she'd gotten at least eight or nine hours of sleep. Puzzled she tried to shake some of the sleepiness of her in the shower, though not succeeding completely.
Sleep had been troubled during the night, she'd kept dreaming these weird dreams where she'd be chasing after someone through a cemetery. She couldn't quite remember who she was supposed to be chasing, but she had an odd sense that William had somehow also been in the dream.
Then she remembered the events of the day before, perhaps it was just the after-effects of using her power in a new and exciting way. Quickly dressing, she decided to go and see if he was still asleep.
He wasn't. But sounds of talk and laughter from further down the hall led her to the kitchen where she found Tianne and William talking.
"Morning sleepyhead," Tianne smiled at her, "You want breakfast? I was just making something for William.".
Ariadne felt a small twinge of jealousy. Tianne shouldn't be the one fixing breakfast for William, in fact she shouldn't be the one talking and joking with him in the first place!
"Well, I guess serving breakfast for him is more your kind of job", she heard herself say, "After all you have the experience as a waitress already."
Tianne glared at her, but said nothing.
William, sensing the tension in the room, flashed a brief smile in her direction.
"So, you're Ariadne... or Eileen"
His strange british accent made him stretch out the name into something like aye-leen, but she couldn't help but feel that it was somehow charming. He was still dressed in a makeshift outfit consisting of an old sweat suit of Tianne's, since anything of Ariadne's would be far to small to fit him. Tiannes sweatshirt seemed to fit nice and tightly she noticed.
"That's me," she smiled back at him, "Have you managed to find out who you are... apart from knowing that you name is William?"
"Still 'aven't the foggiest," he replied, "Though I'm pretty sure I'm British. This accent is a sort of dead giveaway innit ?"
There was a weird sort of twinkle in his eye saying that, and Ariadne couldn't help herself from laughing or half-giggling.
"This is where your powers might come in," Tianne interrupted, "perhaps everything is still in his mind somewhere and you'll be able to pull it out."
Ariadne looked at William.
"In your mind...yeah, I'd like to be.. erh, look into your mind and see what's in there."
"S' okay," William replied, "Finish you breakfast first. I'm not going anywhere."
Ariadne bit her lip to avoid slipping out a "Promise ?".
"So, you're the girl who reads minds," William said, putting down his cup of tea.
"I guess I am," Ariadne answered and tried not to blush, "Just relax, this shouldn't hurt or anything."
Ariadne focused her power for a couple of minutes then looked puzzled.
"What did you see?" asked Tianne.
"Well... uh, nothing?"
"What do you mean 'nothing'. You're supposed to be some kind of telepath, for crying out loud"
"I know... " Ariadne answered hesitantly, "But that is what I get when I try to read his mind. It's like looking into a mirror and not finding any reflection there. It' feels sorta eerie."
"Perhaps you're not trying hard enough?" Tianne suggested, but before Ariadne could reply they were interrupted by a sound coming from the living room.
"Glass breaking," Tianne thought to herself, "not good, since the only two people in this house that usually break glass are not in there."
The broken glass was one of the windows in the skylight, now scattered on the floor of the living room along with the intruders.
Tianne counted three standing on the floor and at least two others rappelling down ropes from above.
They looked like high-tech commando soldiers of some sort, with visors in front of their faces. Probably not infrared or anything, since it was not dark outside, perhaps just to conceal their faces.
"Retrieval team in position. Two female civilians are with the target. Will neutralise before continuing retrieval."
Tianne leapt into action.
"Yeah? Neutralise this!"
Her changing into uniform while jumping at the first soldier seemed to baffle him enough to enable her to land the first blow. She quickly moved on as he fell to the ground. She knew she had to get into the middle of the fight; if they had any weapons ready they'd be less likely to use them at close quarters out of fear of hitting each other.
Jumping over his fallen body she followed through with a roundhouse kick to the midriff of the second soldier, doubling him over. Grabbing his visor she pulled him upright again aiming her next punch directly at his face. She felt something break as her fist slammed home.
"Probably just the visor," she thought, "Now fall over and play dead and your nose won't be next."
He swayed for a moment, then sank to his knees.
The third soldier had cautiously moved back a bit. No glutton for punishment. Good for him.
"Put the weapon down now, and you get the chance to talk instead of bleeding," Tianne barked while trying to look menacingly at him.
Another person was coming down the rope from above. He moved straight for where William was standing. She needed to finish this fast. Ariadne couldn't possibly handle him as well as the two she was already taking on.
She turned around, lunging toward the new soldier. Her other opponent set after her, hoping to attack her from behind. Only too late did he realise that Tianne was going for the rope instead.
Grabbing hold of it she swung around, hitting him feet-first in the chest and sending him flying through the room towards the wall.
"Oh no, there goes more furniture," she managed to think before returning her attention to Ariadne and William.
Ariadne was still holding her own against the two soldiers, but the third had managed to get close to William who just stood there, rooted to the place. There seemed to be some look of recognition in his eyes.
"Ariadne, use your mental blast on those two, I'll get William," she shouted out.
"Can't..." was all her partner, out of breath, managed to reply.
The soldier in front of William took something out of his belt that looked like some sort of cattle prod and turned it towards him, sending blue sparks flying all over his upper body.
"Nooo," Tianne shouted, striking out at him, only to find it effortlessly deflected by him.
"The target is down," He shouted at the two others, "Get him out of here".
He turned to face Tianne.
"I'll take care of this one myself".
Tianne wondered how he could sound that self-assured; hadn't he just seen how she'd taken out three or his men without much resistance.
The first blow convinced her. She barely had time to block that one. He blocked her kick, that should have sent him across the room.
"Either he has super powers as well..." Tianne thought, "... or I'm loosing mine at a reeeaally bad time."
Backing away from him, uncertain what to do next she noticed that one of the other soldiers had pinned Ariadne against the wall. Unable to use her mental powers she probably wasn't much of a match for his size and strength.
The other had picked up William and was heading towards the ropes.
"They must have a helicopter up there," she thought, only then realising that she'd allowed herself to become distracted too long.
She never saw the fist that hit her. Then everything went black.
Tianne came to herself, finding that she was quite alone in the apartment.
She remembered the attackers taking William away just before they had managed to "neutralize" her. She really didn't like that word. Where was Ariadne ? What had happened ? She'd suddenly reverted to being close to her normal self during the fight, and one of the soldiers had managed to knock her out. Had they taken Ariadne as well ?
She suddenly noticed the sound of footsteps outside the apartment, and scrambled to her feet, just in case the commandos were coming back for another round.
Luckily the footsteps belonged to Ariadne.
"Tianne, are you ok ?" she asked.
"I couldn't fight them," Ariadne explained, tears starting to form in her eyes.
"There were too many of them, and I was so afraid that they would hurt William if I tried anything."
"So, they got away", Tianne sighed.
"Well, yeah," Ariadne answered brushing the tears away, "But I managed to slip after them unnoticed. I didn't have enough power to fight them, so instead I just homed in on their thoughts and followed them to the place where they took him"
Tianne reached out and hugged her young partner. Even though she was hardly out of her teens she was strangely resourceful and intelligent when it really counted.
Ok, so we still have a chance at getting him back."
"You betcha! As soon as it gets dark we should go back and have a look around."
So they had gone, only to find guards waiting for them almost as soon as they had managed to get inside the building. Would this night's efforts bring more success, Tianne wondered?
Part two - the final