This time, Gloom Glimmer held up a nearly invisible force-field up around them as she flew herself and Polymnia towards the Harbor.
Over their communicators they heard status updates: Nearly twenty Spiteborn had attacked and nearly destroyed the headquarters of the NLPD before the Amazon and several other superheroes intervened. Though the Amazon was the only A-Lister present, they were able to destroy all of the enemies.
Every hero still present in the city was up and fighting, including the Junior Heroes who had been roused from their sleep – the dire lack of metahuman personnel meant that the usual restriction on them fighting the Spiteborn had been lifted.
There were also several reports of supervillains fighting against the Spiteborn, either to defend themselves from an attack, or to help others. Even one of the Dark Five, Lamarr the Purple, had been sighted fighting off more than fifty Spiteborn who had attempted to attack the Petal Memorial Hospital. Still, the situation was getting desperate, as more and more Spiteborn were turning up. They had to find the root and destroy it.
“This is getting out of hand. Can you use your power to locate the Root?“
“Not yet – I need to be closer, and in a relatively safe location, because that kind of power takes up most of my potential.”
“I think the assumption that the Root is somewhere in the area of the harbor is very likely to be correct – the new Spiteborn are either coming over from the general harbor area, or out of the canalization at places that connect directly to the harbor.“
“Good. Let’s just hope that we’ll get some reinforcements. A Root’s a serious challenge even to me all by itself, and it will have at least a Trunk and several Branchlings to protect itself.”
“There are reports of fighting in and around the toy factory. Let’s take a look there, alright?“
Gloom Glimmer only nodded, then concentrated on their flight – they immediately took up speed, as the translucent force-field around them took on a more aerodynamic shape.
“Do you remember the basics of fighting Spiteborn?”
“Branchlings are best fought either in close combat if they are fragile or from range if the opposite. A coordinated team of three or more B- or higher metahumans can usually hold any location for hours against even an army of Branchlings, as they are, by themselves, quite stupid and prone to simply rush their enemies. They only become really dangerous under the telepathic control of a trunk or a root. Avoid contact with their bodily fluids at all costs – that rule applies to all Spiteborn.
Trunks are both physically and mentally superior to Branchlings. They usually combine durability and offensive potential, both equal to specialized Branchlings. However, their greatest strength is their telepathic control over lesser Spiteborn and their near-human intelligence, allowing them to devise actual tactics, though they are largely unable to plan on a strategic level and are unlikely to cooperate with other Trunks unless they themselves are under the direction of a Root.
Roots are usually comparatively immobile, though like all Spiteborn, no two are really alike. They create the acres that spawn Branchlings and Trunks, and protect them. Any single Root has telepathic control over every Spiteborn spawned from any acre it created, as well as any uncontrolled Spiteborn that enter its range, which usually fluctuates between ten and fifty kilometers. Unlike Trunks, they can use their telepathy on humans, though only for brute attacks, not control. They are, by themselves, usually B+ combatants, though they are rated as A-class threats due to their spawn and control over it. Destroying a root causes all Spiteborn under their control to become disoriented and, for a few seconds, almost completely defenseless – even Trunks. However, roots usually keep several ‘bodyguards’. Plus, they are capable of strategic thinking and cooperating with each other, if contact is made.”
“Textbook-clear, I’d say. Let’s hope this Root hasn’t had time to spawn too many trunks – I can take down any number of Branchlings, if they don’t surprise me, but Trunks can be troublesome – and Roots are worse. We really need reinforcements.”
“What about your parents?“
“Mother is stuck on the Iron Wall for now, or she would already be mopping the floor with the Spiteborn. Father has been nowhere to be found for the last few days. Don’t know what he’s doing or where he is.”
“I don’t know if I should be asking this, but can you contact the Dark Five?“
“It’s not a problem if you ask. But no, I can’t. They work for my father, not me and since I decided to become a superhero, he has made sure to keep their identities and precise capabilities a secret from me – as well as made sure I couldn’t contact them, unless through him. Which I can’t right now, or I’d ask him to step in.”
“Then we’re on our own for now. No use to agonize over it.”
Gloom Glimmer smiled at her. “That’s the spirit. We’ll manage, some… Polymnia, something is bothering you, I can tell.”
“… What if there is a blossom?“, asked Polymnia in a whisper.
Gloom Glimmer’s face fell immediately. “If there is a blossom… then we retreat. We fight to contain and send out every call for help we can. Because God knows a blossom is way out of our league, unless we get an S-Class to handle it. And I’m not nearly S-Class.”
“Yes, yet. Which is a problem, because if there is one of those nightmares out there, then an S-Class would be needed to deal safely with it right now. But you shouldn’t worry too much. A blossom takes a lot of time to grow and the Spiteborn have only appeared here today, so it’s very unlikely that there is one out there. Let’s just deal with the threat we know about for sure, instead worry about one that is unlikely to appear.”
Polymnia nodded and turned her attention to the city below – they had reached the toy factory. And boy, was there trouble ahead.
* * *
At least a hundred Spiteborn had gathered around the toy factory and judging by the screams and the sound of fighting from within there were more on the inside.
“Down there! A cape is fighting!”, Gloom Glimmer shouted as she angled her flight to dive into a mass of Spiteborn that were fighting against a young man in street clothes, but with a Japanese Oni-mask.
The two girls landed next to the boy who was currently using an arm he had ripped off of a Branchling to bash another Branchling’s head in. Gloom Glimmers arrival, and the shockwave she let loose when they landed, scattered the Spiteborn and bought them a few seconds.
Polymnia touched down on her mechanical feet and turned to the youth just as Gloom Glimmer created another blueish force-field around them all. She contacted Sara at the same time.
<Polymnia here. Can you identify the metahuman I have in front of me?>
<Sarah here. The metahuman in question is an unknown, though his mask suggests that he is a part of the Onis.>
Polymnia turned to the boy to introduce herself, but Gloom Glimmer took the helm.
“A good evening. I am Gloom Glimmer and this is Polymnia. We are both of the United Junior Heroes. Would you please identify yourself?”
The boy, who had been lettings his eyes roam over the both of them – though not in a lustful way, Polymnia thought, though she could not pin down in what way exactly he looked at them, looked her in the eyes. “Osore is the name. Field leader of the Onis”, he supplied with the trace of a genuine Japanese accent.
Gloom Glimmer nodded. “Glad to meet you. We need to act quickly. Running theory is, there is a root somewhere in the harbor area. We need to find it, and destroy it. Let’s make a quick rundown of our capabilities. Polymnia here specializes in sonic attacks, both direct and indirect. She can also create sonic force-fields. I myself have an adapting power-set. Given the current situation, I would think it better for me to fly over the battlefield and supply long-range support fire.”
The boy nodded at them. “I am strong enough to punch through concrete, and durable enough to do it without hurting myself. I can also force people to relive fearful memories. Hence the name. It doesn’t seem to work on these monsters. Also, I have two teammates inside that factory. A shapeshifter and a blaster. They probably need our help.”
Just then, a particularly powerful explosion hit the force-field (that had, up to now, withstood all attacks) and it winked out of existence – though several Spiteborn were also destroyed.
Polymnia took a look around. “Umm, weren’t there a total of a hundred Spiteborn around here? These seem to be more.” There were closer to a hundred and fifty Spiteborn out there – fifty around the toy factory and nearly a hundred around them, as far as she could tell. “And what caused that explosion?“
“I don’t know, but I have the feeling that we are going to find out”, said Gloom Glimmer as she readied herself.