Author: Kirk Baldridge
As they soared high above the city Tara thought back to when she and Willow first met.
It was her third year at UC Sunnydale, and two years before they got their powers. Willow was in the midst of a bad relationship, and only with Tara's help did she escape her obsessive ex.
"Lightshield! Watch out!"
The blonde blinked, startled, as she realized she had to look up to see Willow. When her mind wandered so had her flight plan and she was about to crash into a building. She changed course and rejoined her concerned lover, a sheepish expression on her face. "Sorry."
"What happened? Are you all right?"
Tara nodded. "I'm fine. I was just thinking, about college."
"I'm not surprised. I take it you mean...?"
"Yeah. X may have introduced us, but if it wasn't for... well, she who will not be named, you and I might not have ended up together. Do you realize that?"
Willow shrugged her shoulders. "I guess that's the only good thing to come out of that relationship. I mean, she seemed so sweet when I first met her. I don't know what happened."
"I do. Well, in the end, at least. I mean, Malice..."
"Speak of the devil." Willow gestured, and Tara followed her gaze downward.
An unfortunately familiar, green and yellow-clad, figure was standing in front of a large device on the roof of a dockside warehouse. Malice seemed oblivious to their presence.
"What is that?" Tara asked.
Willow shook her head. "Who knows?" Her hands began to glow. "More importantly, who cares?" She fired two sizzling bolts of energy; one at Malice's machine and the other at Malice herself.
Both hit their targets dead-on...and passed right through. There was a tremendous explosion as the roof went up in flames. Thunderbolt and Lightshield were knocked for a loop by the resulting shockwave and crashed down on the next roof, stunned. A green and yellow-clad figure approached them.
"You actually fell for the 'illusionary me' trick." Malice took off her mask so they could see her frown. "You've never fallen for that one. I think the thrill has gone out of our relationship. I'm so disappointed."
Teary-eyed, Thunderbolt sneered up at Malice. "Bitch."
"Ouch." Malice put a hand to her heart. "I've missed you rapier wit, my dear."
"You attacked our friend, didn't you?" Lightshield asked. She was careful not to use Buffy's name.
"The pretty blonde on the roof? Why yes, I did." Malice shrugged. "I saw her fly in with you so I knew she was a Super and not just an onlooker. Since she was on your side I had a feeling she'd be a bit of a weakling, but I hoped she'd at least be entertaining." She pouted. "Only, she went down so easily." Energy filled Thunderbolt's eyes, and Malice took a step back as the redhead scrambled to her feet. "Touched a nerve, did I?"
Thunderbolt sneered. "What are you playing at, Malice? What do you want?"
"Why, the same as you of course. Children. World peace. The love of a good...oh hell. I hate kids and the world will only be at peace when all the people are dead."
Lightshield, with a little help from Thunderbolt, got up. "You are sick and twisted."
"Well yeah. Where you been?"
"So what is it this time?" Thunderbolt asked. "Bank heist? Kidnapping of a famous person? Or maybe the poison in the water supply ransom trick. That's an oldie but a goodie."
Malice closed her eyes, and when she opened them again they were swirling pools of silver. "You should really know me better than that by now." A blasts of lightning-like energy shot out of each eye, at Willow, only to splay harmlessly across a shimmering barrier in front of the redhead.
Lightshield smiled as Thunderbolt crossed her arms. "We do," said the blonde.
"Nice trick. Think you can do it again?"
"Try me." Lightshield just wished she could be as confident as she sounded. Normally blocking one of Malice's blasts was easy. They needed to touch skin to be really effective, and did no damage to her energy shield, but this time she had actually felt the impact. It hadn't hurt, the feedback just startled her. "Her powers," she whispered to Thunderbolt. "They have been enhanced."
The redhead nodded. "Okay, what's going on? First Vipera and Nightmare, now you. Is there an enhancing Super in town? Are you all eating your Wheaties or something?"
"That's for me to know," Malice said in sing-song. "And you to find out. If you can."
Lightshield frowned. "This is pointless. Let's take her back to the Facility and interrogate her there."
"Ooh, yes please." Malice rubbed her hands together. "Maybe pull out my fingernails? The rack? Or maybe even a little acid drip? I do so enjoy a good interrogation."
Thunderbolt shook her head. "She's even crazier than before."
"Yeah, well, a few dips in the Augment will do that." Malice put a hand to her mouth. "Oops. Was that outloud? I am such a blabbermouth." She fired her agony beams again; only this time they curved around Thunderbolt and hit Lightshield instead, who was so taken by surprise she wasn't able to erect a shield. They struck her aura, which by itself was nowhere near strong enough to protect her. Lightshield's body was on fire and she screamed, her limbs and head flailing around spastically as the energy coursed over her skin.
"Tara!" The redhead couldn't help herself. At the moment she wasn't Thunderbolt the hero she was just a woman seeing her girlfriend being tortured. "Get away from her you BITCH!" She charged at Malice with blinding speed, energy surging around her body growing brighter with every step.
Then Thunderbolt felt something hit her in the back. Whatever it was suddenly made her so weak and dizzy, and she crumpled to the roof. Her aura dwindled away into nothingness. She had a dim sense of warm metal touching her skin. As her consciousness slipped away she saw Malice release Tara and glanced over her shoulder, shocked to see a familiar face grinning back at her.
Dr. Calendar was in the middle of writing a report on Buffy's condition when the lights in the infirmary flashed and the alarms started going off.
She stood up and headed for the door, just as it hissed opened and X entered. "Hey Doc."
"What's going on?"
"The Facility's gone on high alert."
"We've lost Thunderbolt and Lightshield."
Dr. Calendar paled. "What?"
X realized what he had said, and how it sounded. "No, I meant their communicators. Sorry. See, they constantly send out this GPS signal we're supposed to be able to follow anywhere in the city. But a few minutes ago we lost it, somewhere in the area of the docks. And there's more."
"You mean it gets worse?"
He nodded. "We don't know where Amazon is either. She's disappeared."
"Why the alarm?" Dr. Calendar asked. "Are we actually under attack?"
"No, but Giles and Wes don't want to take any chance. I came to tell you we're going into lockdown mode. You haven't been here long, so I thought I better explain that to you."
"Okay." Dr. Calendar sat down.
"All the doors and windows will be sealed. No one without proper security clearance gets in or out, and only a few of us have that level of security. We aren't confined to quarters or anything, but it'd probably for the best you stay here in the infirmary unless there's a medical emergency."
The doctor nodded. "If you say so."
"I gotta go, Doc. See ya." X rushed out the door.
Dr. Calendar went to check on Buffy, and was surprised to see the blonde sitting up and looking around, roused by the alarms apparently. "Hey. Welcome back, sleepy head. How do you feel?"
"Confused. Dizzy." Buffy put a hand to her head. "What happened?"
"You had a run-in with Malice," Dr. Calendar replied. "And I'm afraid she trounced you."
Buffy groaned. "Oh, my head. I remember now. She and Hellion, on that roof...my powers." She gasped. "I didn't hurt anybody, did I? Willow and Tara?"
"I wish I could say they were fine. Oh, you didn't hurt them. But they seem to have, um, disappeared. That's what all the noise is about. Amazon too. We're in lockdown."
Buffy slid off the bed. "I have to go. I have to find them. Help them."
"Didn't you hear what I said? The Facility is locked down. No one can go anywhere."
Dr. Calendar squeezed the blonde's shoulder. "Buffy. What Malice does puts an incredible strain on a body, and even a Super needs time to recover. Frankly, some people never really do. So take it easy for a while. I don't plan on filling out any death certificates today, okay?"
"Fine." Buffy glanced around. "Did you say we're on lockdown?" The doctor nodded. "Which means the elevator is off, and all the doors are sealed. What if there's some medical emergency?"
"My security code can override the lockdown if need be." Dr. Calendar blinked as she saw something change in Buffy's eyes. "Now wait a second..."
Buffy grabbed the badge off the doctor's shirt. "I'm really sorry about this. Don't ask me how, but I just have the feeling Willow and Tara are in trouble. I have to help them." She flung the doctor back off the bed and rushed out of the infirmary, leaving Dr. Calendar sadly shaking her head on the floor.
The blonde held her breath as she rode the elevator up to the roof. She was afraid someone was going to try and stop her, until it occurred to her the only people who could were missing. As soon as the elevator doors slid open she burst into flames and leaped off the roof.