As always, you can find the rest of this story in the Sketch in My Notebook section of the blog.
THE RETURN OF DR. NECROPOLIS
CHAPTER 8: A BANK IN BROOKLYN (PART 1)
Tiffany followed Blaine out of the van.
The First Bank of Brooklyn stood on a street corner, a single-story brick building with large, heavy plate glass windows attached to a mom-and-pop grocery on one side and a nondescript four-story apartment building on the other. The street was blocked off around the bank on every side—maybe a dozen police cars sat in the street at every possible angle, along with at least twice as many uniformed officers manning the perimeter. Tiffany saw SWAT standing by the bank’s main door in full combat gear, complete with a portable hand-held ram, but they were clearly waiting for her and Blaine before making their move. Through the windows, Tiffany could see several bodies on the ground inside the building itself, but there was no sign of either the Siberian Tiger or Gun Girl Gracie, and from outside, it was impossible to tell who exactly had fallen and whether or not they were still alive. Tiffany didn’t see any blood, however. That seemed like a good sign.
Blaine drew his pistol and headed towards the SWAT officers, who nodded as he approached. The bank’s front door was open, presumably from having allowed Zulu access into the building, and from where she stood, Tiffany could see that the door itself led into a little vestibule with a pair of automatic teller machines inside. However, the vestibule didn’t have any windows—presumably so that patrons could have a bit of privacy while accessing their accounts—so as soon as they entered, she and Blaine would lose sight of the inside of the bank building itself. That would let them stage for a potential hard-entry, but it also meant going into the bank blind.
“Just hold here,” Blaine said to the SWAT commander. “I don’t expect that we’ll have any problems, but if we do, all you have to do is keep them from getting away.”
The SWAT commander nodded. “We can do that, Centurion.”
That made Blaine smile. “You ready for this?” he asked Tiffany.
She drew her pistol and pointed it at the ground. “What’s there to be ready for?”
Blaine nodded and stepped into the vestibule. He stopped by the door, one hand on the PUSH bar. “Follow me in?”
Tiffany shrugged. “Have at it, big guy.”
Blaine turned back to the door and keyed his earpiece. “We’re in position, Zulu.”
Almost before he’d finished speaking, an electric whine sounded as Zulu’s electromagnetic pulse grenade charged its capacitor and fired. There was an audible pop and then a flash of light from under the door. Two more, louder pops followed, and after a moment, smoke started leaking out from under the door into the bank. Tiffany heard an angry, Slavic-sounding voice barking orders in a language she couldn’t understand, followed by a woman’s voice.
“Here we go.”
Blaine pushed through the door, pistol raised. Tiffany drew a breath and followed, flicking the safety on her pistol to FIRE. With an effort of will, she forced herself to concentrate on her surroundings, to control her movements, to make her body respond at its best possible speed. Around her, the world seemed to slow. It was as though Blaine had gone through the door and stopped, providing her cover right there in the middle of the room.
Tiffany moved past and raised her pistol, eyes up and scanning the room. Smoke was from Zulu’s grenades hung heavy in the air, making it look like she and Blaine had come through the bank’s front door and into a cloud bank, save that the clouds smelled cordite and sulfur. Through the haze, Tiffany saw Gun Girl Gracie coming out behind the bank tellers’ counter, a slender five-foot bottle-blond with outsized breasts and a pair of nickel-plated .45-caliber pistols in her hands. Gracie was moving to fire, but against Tiffany’s super-speed perceptions, she might as well have been mired in molasses, her movements unnaturally slow though oddly graceful. The sounds in the room elongated and ran together, an ocean roar for a room full of people who moved like SCUBA divers some two hundred feet beneath the ocean’s surface. Tiffany cocked the hammer and started bringing her pistol up to fire.
Then she was falling.
She thought at first that she’d run into Zulu, but then she looked down and saw a tripwire running at ankle height across the floor from one side of the bank’s entryway. After that, it was too late for thinking. Tiffany could either release her super-speed and let Gracie shoot her, or she could hit the far wall of the bank at better than sixty-five miles per hour and crack her skull open like an egg. It wasn’t much of a choice. She gasped and let go her concentration, and suddenly the room sped up again. Tiffany smacked into the ground, hands down, pistol spilling across the room, and tried to roll through and get back to her feet. Gracie’s guns started barking, a rapid-fire cacophony that sounded like thunder inside the bank’s little lobby area. Blaine cried out and staggered, and just as Tiffany was getting her feet back under her, the Siberian Tiger came out of the back room, holding something high above his head. Tiffany couldn’t quite make out what it was through the smoke. She knew she needed to focus, to get her super-speed back, but then the Tiger was there, hurling whatever it was right at her. Zulu blinked and reappeared—airborne and flying bodily towards her—and Tiffany could only throw up her hands and push. But with no warning her telekinesis wasn’t up to the task of catching a man in mid-air. He struck her bodily, and they both tumbled, her head smacking hard against the tile floor. A moment passed before Tiffany could think well enough to remember where she was, and then she heard more than saw the Siberian Tiger leap over the counter and start heading towards Blaine.
The Siberian Tiger was a big guy. Greasy black hair pulled back into a ponytail, unnaturally large incisors sticking up from a massively under-bitten jaw, three-inch “man-ripper” claws sticking out from each finger, all topped by a red leather vest that he wore open across a bare chest and pronounced beer belly. The look would’ve been comical on a less monstrous man, but the Tiger was huge in a way that was in no way normal. Blaine Winters stood a shade over six-foot-three and looked like he could have played linebacker for the New York Giants. The Tiger had him by at least four inches and more than seventy pounds. If that wasn’t all muscle, enough of it was that Tiffany knew Blaine was in serious trouble, “limited” invulnerability or no. Worse, Blaine was still reeling from taking a dozen or more .45-caliber slugs in the chest and ribs. He looked up in time to see the Tiger plant what had to be at least a size sixteen boot square in Blaine’s chest and then stomp him flat to the tile floor. Blaine smacked the ground hard enough to crack the floor tile. The Tiger followed up with a lightning-quick downward punch that struck like a hammer hitting a watermelon.
Tiffany finally got back to her feet just as the Tiger was turning to look at her. Her pistol was lying on the other side of the room, and her body ached in a dozen places from where she’d just fallen and then been knocked flat by Zulu. Her head spun so badly that she didn’t think she could muster the concentration she needed to access her powers.
“Huh,” the Tiger said. His voice was a rumbling mix of stale vodka and smug satisfaction. “If it isn’t one and only Titania. Where is Puck, little girl? You not so dangerous without him, I think.”
“Come on, Anton,” Gracie snapped, “quit screwing around. There’re cops everywhere. We’ve got what we came for, let’s get out of here.”
“You lucky I need this for police,” the Tiger said. He pointed to his forehead, and it was only then that Tiffany realized he was wearing the Neural Disruptor. He hadn’t bothered with it to take down Blaine, and she hadn’t gotten a good look at him before that. If Zulu’s EMP grenade hadn’t fried it, the cops outside would be in serious trouble.
The Tiger was still talking. “You tell new Centurion he has lot to learn, yes?”
“Yes, love. I am coming.” He looked back at Tiffany. “Goodbye for now, little Titania. We see each other again soon, I think.”
He turned to go, and Gracie followed, glaring at Tiffany—and at Zulu, who was only then starting to stir. He was bleeding, Tiffany realized, though she couldn’t tell how badly.
Still, as Gracie hit the door Tiffany said, “Hey Gun Girl. Frank says hello.”
That stopped Gracie in her tracks. A heartbeat passed before she caught herself and started walking again. She never turned around, but she’d thought about it, Tiffany knew.
Then the Siberian Tiger triggered the Neural Disruptor outside, and everything went black.