Two blocks down…
The police had managed to set up a barricade of five police cars, blocking the road and the pavement. The officers were hunched over the hood of the cars, guns drawn as they kept a close eye on the alien-looking creatures that were marauding down the street. The creatures resembled kangaroos, with thick, powerful legs and long tails, pointed ears and narrow snouts, however that was where the similarities ended. Razor-like fangs descended from their upper jaws, and whilst their arms were almost humanoid, they ended in three-fingered hands with vicious, jagged claws at the end of their digits.
“They’re shrugging off normal rounds,” reported a younger officer to his sergeant. His eyes were wide in panic, even as he tried to keep his voice level and calm. “I thought I saw some of the Fantastic Four earlier, where the hell are they now?”
“Keep calm, rookie,” replied the older cop, a man in his mid-forties with a five o’clock shadow and bags under his eyes. “Can’t count on the costume types to save us all the time. Besides, they’re not even interested in us right now”
A loud bang sounded from the hood of the car next to them, before the young cop was thrown to the ground, hit by an unseen force.
“What the–” exclaimed the older cop, swivelling with his gun aimed at the air above the younger man.
“Relax,” came a disembodied voice, as a man in his late-twenties suddenly popped into view. He was wearing a black biker’s jacket, zipped to the neck, with white trim and X-insignias on the elbows, with matching trousers. “We’re here to help.”
“Who the hell are you? Where did you come from?” asked the younger cop, getting back to his feet. The older cop lowered his gun.
“Sorry, were the X-symbols not enough of a giveaway?” replied a blonde woman, appearing just like the male had. She cast a disgusted glance at her team mate. “Christian, fly-tackling cops is usually a really good way to blow an illusion of invisibility, by the way.”
“So, you’re here to help?” asked the younger cop, his nerves seeming to fade. “So, what? You’re gonna blow those things up or something, right?”
“Um, not quite,” replied Christian.
“Yeah, look,” said Lady Mastermind, interrupting. “We just got back from the barricade on 48th and 6th, all the civilians are being routed there. I can’t get into these things heads properly, but I can make them see things that aren’t there. Right now, they’re carving up those fire hydrants and phone booths, but they’re seeing people,” she explained, gesturing towards the beasts who were biting into and slicing up the things on the pavement. The younger cop flinched as he watched them tearing doors off the phone booths, twisting the metal and shattering the glass with a feral ferocity. She made eye-contact with the younger cop.
“Yeah,” she nodded. “Bad, right? Where we just got back from? A guy’s just lost an arm to those things. You can see why we don’t want them to see us. Bottom line? We need guns.”
“He lost an arm?” repeated the younger cop. “Like, his whole arm?”
“Shoulder disarticulation,” nodded Christian, almost disinterestedly. “Ripped clean out of the socket.”
“Jesus Christ,” breathed the older cop. “We’re shit out of luck. Our bullets aren’t even denting those things.”
“Oh, great,” sighed Regan. The younger cop had started to hyperventilate. She inclined her head towards Christian, before rolling her eyes towards the cop. Christian nodded, placing a hand on the younger man’s shoulder, a look of gentle concentration rolling across his features.
“Okay, look at me,” said Christian as the man’s breathing regulated itself. “I’m keeping you calm, okay? That’s my thing, I can make you feel different. I need you calm right now, because you’re a cop, and if we come across anyone in those buildings who need help, and they see a panicking cop, they’ll freak, right?”
“Right,” nodded the young man.
“Okay, while he’s dealing with nervous guy, we need to know what we’re dealing with,” said Regan to the older cop. “What do you have that I can use to shoot these things in the face?”
“Glock 19,” he replied, showing her his firearm. “We don’t tend to carry spares.”
“Okay, that’s annoying,” sighed Regan.
“Is it just me, or do they look like Rippers?” asked Christian.
“Rippers?” asked the older cop. “You’ve seen these kind of things before?”
“Oh, no, this is my first mission,” said Christian dismissively.
“He was making a ‘Tank Girl’ reference,” explained Regan.
“There’s a Tank Girl?” asked the younger cop. “’Cause, she could come in kinda useful right about now, I’d think!”
“It’s a movie,” explained Christian. “Dystopian future, water in high demand, killer Kangaroos who live under the desert…”
“It’s a great movie,” agreed Regan. “When I was a mercenary, I used the tube scene as one of my go-to torture illusions.”
“You’re kind of scary,” frowned Christian. Regan shrugged.
“Should we get back to the matter at hand, maybe?” asked the older cop. “We still got a bunch of killer kangaroos rippin’ the city to pieces, our bullets are doin’ exactly squat, and all we’ve got as back up from you costumed types are a newbie” he gestured towards Christian, “and a former mercenary… could we get to maybe thinkin’ of a plan to get them the hell out of here?”
“Small problem, my man,” sighed Regan. “I’m a telepath and an illusionist. What I’m doing right now? Making them see stuff that isn’t there? It’s about the limit of what I can do to these things. Their brains aren’t quite wired right.”
“And it seems like my power to manipulate human bio-chemistry isn’t going to cut it either,” shrugged Flood. “They’re not human, ergo…”
“Great, so what are you guys going to be able to do to stop them?” bellowed the older cop.
“Well for one thing, if it wasn’t for my team mate flooding your buddy with serotonin, I’m guessing he’d be sitting in a corner splashing around in his own piss right about now,” said Regan defensively. “Also, there’s the fact that I’ve done what I can with these monster things to stop them from ripping all of us to shreds, so if you’d kindly can the fucking attitude, maybe we can think about something that’ll get them good and dead so we can go the hell home and drink a metric fuck-ton of vodka to wash the absolute ridiculousness of today out of our brains. Oh, and you’re welcome for the lack of disembowelled that you are right now, by the way.”
“Yeah, great,” snorted the older cop. “Even friggin’ Powerpack would’ve been more useful…”
“Actually, I think you’ll find that they disbanded a couple of years ago,” said Christian, peering over the hood of the car. “Also, Mastermind, have you switched up your illusion or something?”
“What? No, why?” she asked as she followed Christian’s gaze.
The Rippers had stopped tearing apart the inanimate objects on the street. They had turned their heads towards the barricade, as if they’d just been awoken, their eyes slowly focussing on the quartet huddled behind the cars. One of them raised its snout to the sky, opened its mouth and let out a high-pitched screech, rapidly echoed by the other creatures.
“Uh-oh,” groaned Regan, placing her hands to her temples. “They’re shaking it off. I can’t get back in…” She shook her head. “It’s no good, it’s like they’ve got a defence or something now…”
Christian depressed the buckle on his belt. “Warden, this is Flood. Any chance of some back-up over here?”
“That’s a negative,” replied the synthesised voice. “Everyone else is held up elsewhere. I’d suggest using the police cars as battering rams and hoping for the best. You’ll probably not die.”
Warden cut the link. “Useful,” sighed Christian. “I think he’s channelling Hellion there. Very negative young man…”
“It’s going to be a really good idea to give me your gun,” said Regan, holding her empty hand towards the younger cop, her eyes glowing faintly as she gave him a telepathic push. He nodded vaguely, removing his piece from his holster and passing it to her. “Good boy,” she said, before turning to face the Rippers.
“Okay, how good of a shot are you?” asked the older cop, taking a kneeling position, lining up his eye-line along the sights of his gun.
“Did you miss the part when I told you what I used to do for money?” replied Regan, flicking off the safety catch. She took her stance, her feet hip-distance apart, holding the Glock at full arms-length. She took a deep breath. “I know how to use a gun. I’ve known how to use one since I was sixteen.”
The creatures had gathered together, almost like a herd. They were sniffing the air, their heads turning from side to side, as they began moving slowly and deliberately towards the barricade. The creature at the head of the herd lowered his head and roared, bounding towards the barricade at an incredible speed. The older cop bellowed wordlessly and started squeezing the trigger rapidly, firing off a string of shots aimed at the torso of the monster.
“No thoughts on ammo conservation, no?” muttered Regan.
“Just take your damn shot!” he retorted.
“Not yet,” replied Regan.
“TAKE YOUR DAMN SHOT!” he repeated.
“Not. Yet.” she grimaced angrily. The creature was closer now, less than ten metres away.
“If you don’t shoot now, that thing’s gonna be rippin’ out our throats in–”
Regan fired. A single shot, as the creature reached the far side of the car they were standing behind. Her bullet pierced the beast’s left eye, its head recoiling with the impact as it fell backwards and hit the floor, killed instantly.
“Like I said,” she said smugly. “I know how to use a fucking gun, okay?”
“Great,” said Flood. “Superb, in fact. However, we only need you to do that another twelve or so times before we’re in the clear.”
“Which is something of a problem since I only have eight shots left,” grimaced Regan, checking the magazine of the gun. “And we’re not getting any back up. This is gonna suck donkey balls sometime soon…”
The herd of creatures howled as one, a cacophonous chorus piercing the air, cutting through the sound of sirens and alarms. They moved as a single unit, picking up speed and storming directly towards the barricade.
“Aw, fuck,” breathed Regan, turning to the older cop. “You’re so dead.”
“Right back at ya, blondie,” he replied, raising his gun.
A gout of flame burst down from over-head, scattering the oncoming creatures. They shrieked unnaturally, three of the Rippers that had been at the centre of the herd were burned down to the bone almost instantly.
“Wow, nice save!” called out Flood. “Good timing, Shiro!”
“Shiro?” said a voice from above and behind the mutants and cops. “You see things getting set on fire and you don’t instantly think of me? I’d be insulted if I actually even knew who you were.”
Johnny Storm floated in mid-air, a swath of flame surrounding his body, his arms folded across his chest, his expression demonstrating that he was clearly unimpressed by the events unfolding.
“All right!” exclaimed the young cop. “The Fantastic Four are here!”
“Learn to count,” retorted Regan. “That’s like… the Fantastic One,” she turned towards Johnny. “Not that we don’t appreciate the assist, but couldn’t you have hauled ass when you saw monsters attacking New York? I mean, that’s kind of your whole schtick, right?”
“Oddly enough, there’s more than just some kind of killer kangaroos on a rampage right now,” he shot back. “You’d be surprised by how much trouble a cyborg sausage-dog with laser eyes can cause.”
“So are the rest of the Fantastic Four here?” asked Christian. “Because an invisible force-field wouldn’t go amiss, neither would a guy who’s skin’s too rubbery to cut and–”
“Where the hell have you been, rookie?” spat Johnny. “You think its funny to talk about Reed? What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Johnny, focus!” called out a man’s voice, as a man in a white costume swung over-head, extending his right arm to fire a ball of viscous fluid in the face of a creature who had almost made its way to the X-Men’s position. The fluid exploded in its face, coating it in a web-like substance, rendering it blind. He followed through landing with both feet on the creature’s back, before springing backwards into a flip, landing in a crouch on the hood of the car. He placed a hand either side of the creature’s head before jerking it to the left with a grunt. The monster slumped to the ground, it’s neck at an unnatural angle.
“Get your head in this,” said the other man, a black spider insignia emblazoned on the chest of his costume. He appeared to be in his early-twenties, with close-cropped blond hair. He glanced at Mastermind and Flood, nodding towards them. “Arachnid, by the way. Pleasure to meet you.”
With that, he leapt from the hood of the car and swung back into the fray.
“Leave this to us,” said the Human Torch. “There’s a school bus full of kids back there, they’re gonna need someone to take them some place safe. I’m assuming you can handle that, right?”
With that, he took off, leaving a trail of flame in his wake. Mastermind sighed, flicking the safety of the gun back on, and tossing it back to the younger cop, who caught it clumsily. “Thanks for the loaner,” she said. “C’mon, Chris, time to go baby-sit, apparently.”
“Well, at least it’s low risk,” he replied.
“Really? Y’think?” replied Regan sceptically, shaking her head. “I legitimately think I’d rather be facing down a bunch of monsters, to be honest…”