And then the beast was upon them. It moved faster than anything of its size and ungainly shape ought to be able to, using its many arms to move in an unnerving way that combined leaps and extremely fast crawling, always keeping at least a few legs on the ground for traction.
If it wasn’t for the bubble of blueish energy Gloom Glimmer summoned, it probably would have crushed Polymnia before she had a chance to react. This way, it simply bounced off the bubble – only to immediately continue its attack by pelting the bubble with blows that could punch through concrete.
Turning to Gloom Glimmer, she saw the girl still reeling from the attack – though she seemed to be in better shape than herself. “Fly higher! It doesn’t seem able to fly!“
“No, if we do that it will either attack with those spheres again or turn its attention on the buildings around us – and the civilians within. Just give me a few seconds to recover from that blast – it seems to interfer with my ability to self-heal, or I would already be blasting it to pieces”, said Gloom Glimmer in a pained voice.
It was then that Polymnia noticed how most of her skintight costume was gone, torn apart so it left her basically naked on the entire left side of her body. The skin underneath looked nauseating, as if the blast had replaced it for cancerous growths. Even while Polymnia watched, it healed, albeit slowly. She realized that Gloom Glimmer must have taken the actual hit – she herself had only been hit by the attack’s shockwave.
“Throw me out of the bubble! You need time to concentrate on healing yourself – I’ll distract it, try to move it towards the harbor!“
Gloom Glimmer nodded and moved her arm in throwing motion. Polymnia felt herself be pulled out and through the force bubble. She flew until she was about twenty meters away from her comrade and the Spiteborn, landing softly on her mechanical feet. She immediately went to match her actions to her words, unleashing a sonic storm on the beast that attacked its sense of balance by way of the inner ear. At least she hoped so, because every Spiteborn was unique, despite some common characteristics, and not all of them even had organs that could be affected by her sonics.
Thankfully, this one proved to be at least partially susceptible, because it let loose a shrieking scream that was much too human for Polymnia’s taste. It turned around, focusing on her and, though wobbly, charged to slam right into her. Just the sight of it crawl-leaping towards her in ways that should not be possible made her want to hurl. She tried to get a grip on herself, but not fast enough to get out of its attack range – though it missed her, three of its many-jointed arms struck out to the side, punching her solidly all across the torso and hammering her into the next building… and through the wall into a deserted living room.
Her hearing picked up several terrified voices on the first floor, but she was too dizzied to make out how many exactly. Picking herself up for the second time, she was treated to the sight of the Spiteborn having opened its mouth to a ridiculous degree – it split open down to her shoulders, revealing three rows of teeth the size of Polymnia’s hands. The dark, sludge-like liquid that was the Spiteborn’s spit was gathering into a sphere at the center of its nightmarish mouth.
No, you don’t!, she thought, her hands flying to her keyboard. Her speakers aimed at the monstrosity and let loose a thunderous blast – no time for anything complicated.
It hit the sphere just as it was almost complete, pushing it into the Spiteborn’s gullet. Its jaws snapped shut and the sphere exploded inside the beast, inflating it to comical size before it popped like a balloon, black sludge exploding outwards and covering the buildings and the street for several meters around it.
Polymnia staggered out of the house she had been thrown into just as Gloom Glimmer flew down to her.
“Well, that was kind of anticlimactic“, she complained to the rejuvenated girl. She was not surprised to see that Gloom Glimmer’s clothing was apparently mending itself, now that the danger was over.
“Didn’t you learn about the Spiteborn?”, Gloom Glimmer asked.
“Just the basics, really. We Junior Heroes are not supposed to fight them“, she replied, slowly feeling the pain recede and her sense of balance going back to normal – probably an effect of Gloom Glimmer’s power.
“This was just a branchling. They are generally either stupidly tough with little to no offensive power or the opposite – extremely strong in offense but laughably fragile, at least for an abomination of such size and appearance.”
“It did seem to take that red blast without a scratch, though.“
“The blast was defensive. My power was going into overdrive to heal my body, so I only got a rather weak kinetic blast to fend it off.” With that, she raised her hand to her ear and said: “Control, Spiteborn is down. Heavy, but localized damage to one building and a lot of contamination through bodily fluids. I will attempt to clean up.”
“Negative. We have a Class 3 alarm. Went in during your battle, there are sightings of Spiteborn all over the city, concentrating on the harbor“, replied Widard himself.
Polymnia gasped as a thought came to her. “If there are several at once all over the city… and this one seemed to specifically target the two of us…“
Gloom Glimmer finished for her: “There’s a trunk somewhere in this city, maybe even a root.”
“Precisely. The Spiteborn are attacking several places at once, reportedly focusing on metahumans, be they heroes, vigilantes or villains. Since such a coordinated attack at just such a time when most of the town’s heavy hitters are unable to help implies intelligent command. Which implies a root and at least one, probably more trunks. The only reasons we are not sounding the sirens is because we have to avoid a panic. The two of you, move to the harbor, most Spiteborn are reported to enter the city from there, which makes it the most likely place for the root to be. Recruit any combat-able metahuman you come across, regardless of allegiance, and destroy it!“