Date: 18 NOV 1984, quantum time line alternate, adjusted. Historical database skipped, used as reference materials, low reliability.
Time: 0340 hours, Eastern Time.
Location: Wayne Tower, Room 6815.
Visual Sensor Input: 71%
Depth Perception: 85%
Audio Reception: 87%
Frame structural integrity, amended: 49%
Room Temperature: 67 F.
Analysis Routine: Tertiary comparative Sentry Function.
Analysis: Cumulative trend analysis utilizing sequential timestamp files.
Room Temperature analysis: Continuous for 1.75 hours at 70 F. Declining trend 1 F. per 10 minute updates.
Audio analysis: Weather function utiliziing low audio from television indicates hurricane moving at increasing speed moving North along East coast. Prior weather models are not conformal with current storm. Winter storm moving out of Great Plains and over the Great Lakes, moving East bounded by Jet Stream to South. Weather forecast, provisional, television weatherman Jake Rollins, 10 years experience. Confluence of both storms possible at 30% over Gotham City between 20 NOV 1984 at 1200 to 21 NOV 1984 at 0600. Other multiple possibilities amended at hourly file.
Audio analysis: Rock, Sgt. Frank (r) is asleep in adjoining bedroom.
Visual analysis: West facing window from room, television on left, sofa and chairs to right. No changes.
Visual analysis: Change in ambient light around window, increase in blue spectrum over last analysis. Retrieving visual sensor data starting prior ten timestamps.
Analysis routine: Tertiary comparative Sentry Function.
Analysis: Ambient light changes falling outside expected parameters for room lighting, window, interior and exterior ambient light. Spectral change towards blue in areas of window frame.
Status change, visual analysis: Sentry status change for television set. Noise patterning indicates signal is lost.
Visual analysis: Two items are outside of standard deviation boundaries.
Sentry Function: Initiating Secondary Level Prime Adaptive Program.
Secondary Level Prime Adaptive Program: Start.
Secondary Level Prime Adaptive Program: Retrieving data, integrating Sentry Function results. Amending files.
Secondary Matrix: Active.
Secondary Matrix: Starting full power-up of sensor systems.
Secondary Matrix: Increasing visual acuity.
Secondary Matrix: Starting Threat Analysis routines.
Secondary Matrix: Threat Analysis, Visual, started. Threat Analysis, Audio, started. Threat Analysis, EM, started. Threat Analysis, physical, started. Threat Analysis, weapons decision tree, started. Threat Analysis, environmental conditions, started.
Secondary Matrix: Secondary Integrated Analysis.
Visual analysis: Changes in lighting similar to items tagged by Primary Matrix. Out of bounds for environment.
Visual analysis: Loss of cable television signal indicates changes in building cable signal feed.
Visual analysis: Room is secure.
Audio analysis: Rock, Sgt. Frank (r) is in bedroom, secure.
Audio analysis: Ambient sound and white noise from window frame. Out of bounds for environment.
Audio analysis: Starting low level Fourier Transform system.
Threat analysis: Plasma based energy influx isolated to Wayne Tower, not surrounding buildings.
Threat analysis: Wayne Tower is under plasma based influx started from unknown origins. Similar to previously seen and identified files tagged by Primary Matrix, cumulative.
Threat analysis: High.
Secondary Matrix: Initiating Main Program, Terminator, T-800 Model.
Threat analysis: Fourier result: Discharges of plasma energy from window and within building, current floor.
Threat analysis: Starting defense programs, amended, adaptive, induced plasma flux, variant cross from EM and High Energy Weapons attacks.
All systems are active.
Decision tree indicates waking Rock, Sgt. Frank (r).
"Sgt. Rock, you are needed in your awakened state."
Frank shifted in the bed and looked at The Project and then over to the clock.
"What's up, Tom?" Frank shifted to the edge of the bed and reached over to get his pants from the chair he had pulled next to the bed.
"Wayne Tower is undergoing a plasma based influx. It is effecting cable television. Fire sensors are no longer in their online status. Main power is not effected so far."
Pulling his pants on, Frank reached over to the bedside phone on the table next to the bed and picked it up.
"Static," he said and put it down.
"There has been low level discharges on this floor. This room is secure."
Frank Rock blinked as he slipped his bare feet into his shoes and grabbed his shirt from the back of the chair.
"Selina," he whispered and looked at the Project, "you get the duplicate key and go over and check to make sure she is OK. I will be following."
"Affirmative, ensure safety of Selina Kyle."
He watched as the Project turned and walked out of the room and out of sight down the hall. Frank hastily buttoned his shirt and pulled his shoe laces tight, then bent over to sling his shoulder holster on. He glanced at the case of Old Reliable and looked at it.
"Too many friendlies here," he said to himself and then hurried after the Project. Going out the room and down the hall he heard a crackle and felt his hair stand on end. With that he unholstered the M1911 and trotted out of the room through the hallway, to the main door to the rooms Alfred had gotten for them, and then turned left down the hall towards the room where Selina was. He saw flashes of blue and a sound of a body hitting either the wall or the floor, and ran towards the room.
As he got there and came in, he saw the blue flashes were brighter and coming from the bedroom which was open. He ran into the room and saw Selina with patches of blue glowing on her naked body and the Project encased in some sort of discharging plasma. There was no one else there. Instinctively he holstered the M1911 just as the Project reached for the bedside light and grabbed the bulb under the shade. A sudden arc of yellow light left glowing after-images and he saw the Project slump to the floor, pulling the lamp down with it.
Living with the Project for so long he knew that there was nothing he could do: either the systems would handle what happened or they wouldn't.
He turned on the overhead light and sat down next to Selina on the bed and saw how her body was writhing as small discharges of static electricity played over those areas, which included her mouth, her neck, breasts, and pubic region.
Selina was gasping as Frank looked down at her.
"Blink twice if you understand me, Selina."
She blinked twice.
He inhaled and nodded.
"I've got to get this stuff off you, Selina, or at least neutralize it. Do you want me to do that?"
She blinked twice.
Frank nodded and scowled, then looked back at the built-in cabinet and small sink. He turned back to Selina.
"It's going to hurt, maybe a lot, Selina. And I'm not going to enjoy a damned moment of it. I'll be back."
He went over to the small in-room bar and opened up the cabinet and looked at the bottles inside it. Turning on the light in the cabinet he saw a bottle of clear liquid and raised an eyebrow. He remembered his talking to the Project after the incident at the hotel, and that either de-ionized water or a mainly non-polar liquid would help to remove the type of charges involved, or one with amounts of electrolytes to it. Of those types there was one readily available, in stock and in large quantites.
"Yeah, 140 should do."
He picked the bottle up, then as he stood up he saw a small in-room medical kit next to the sink. Snatching it off the wall mounts he went back to the bed and opened the small medical box and shook his head negatively, as he twisted the cap off the bottle.
"Selina, voice first?"
She was gasping, trying not to say words and blinked twice.
Nodding Frank leaned over her, poured some liquid into the cap of the bottle and tried to get a capful of the liquid into her mouth, but the shaking of her body made that impossible.
"Right. Its gotta be direct," he looked at Selina again, "I have to, and getting the bottle into your mouth might break something. So its got to be the old-fashioned way."
Gasping she blinked twice. Anything to end this horror.
Leaving the ramp, the sliding wall revealed the tunnel beyond and he turned right, letting the wheels ride over the rails and then deploying the remote rail guides which allowed the vehicle to stay on the tracks. Slowly he increased the speed aware of the need to proceed cautiously once off of the main line. Over a decade ago, when Wayne Enterprises was under other management, Wayne Tower was being built and it required that the subway system that went under it be shored up. Now he passed by those beams that distributed the weight of the building down to the bedrock below and it was one of the most stable parts of the underground tunnel system. He had gotten Wayne Construction involved in other projects around the city that required firming up sections of the tunnel system and even a few city contracts to map out the entire Underworld.
It was a sectionalized map at many different scales, but the one still in the Wayne Corporation archives was complete. One of the oldest structures was the old sub-surface rail maintenance yards and while it was some distance from Wayne Tower, a collapse of that underground space would have untold consequences for the Underworld and surface. It had to be reinforced as well, and when that was done in the second year of the Tower project, the real building up could begin. Today its coated girders and cross-beams, many with arch supports at the top of the tunnel, made this one of the better safer places in the tunnel system. Only the Gotham City Public Library had better reinforcement, and while that was a City project before his time, his engineers approved of the work.
He kept to the rails heading towards the yards as there was also a split that led down to the railroad turntable and from that there were tunnels going to the Cross Line that ended some five blocks from the northwestern corner of the South Island. It was a fetid place today, depending on gravity pressure flows to keep water out, and was actually below sea level. All of the old work had been reinforced and specialized expanding concrete sprayed over cracks that had appeared over the decades from its last use. Overhead yellow maintenance lights were easier to keep going with new bulbs replacing broken and worn out ones. He expected to see the dim lighting as he followed the start of the curve of the upper trackway, but was seeing nothing as he passed by an old sign indicating the number of feet to go to the yards. Slowing he utilized the IR goggles and switched off non-IR lamps on the exterior, and with that he could clearly see the entrance and figures beyond it.
At the entrance was a swirling of slightly warmer air than the surrounding walls which was puzzling. A thick mass of warm air was sitting at the entrance, but it had no particulates indicating a fire and the IR beyond was cloudy but pointed to no large amounts of heat beyond the forms standing on the tracks. Downshifting and giving a bit more acceleration to the engine allowed the vehicle to glide through the mass of air and while there was some sputtering in one or two cylinders, the low speed and large amounts of air taken in soon cleared that. The vehicle was brought to a halt and he turned it to high idle so that the on-board electronics could be ready for use remotely, and the engine purred happily with the intakes pointing just to the right of the first two figures beyond the front of the vehicle. He didn't notice that more of the warm air was starting to tumble down and get sucked into the intakes, and once he hit the disconnect to the safety seat he was able to step out onto bare trackway with no misty air on it.
IR still showed figures on the track, but he couldn't really make out a few of them as they seemed to be enveloped by warm air. He flipped the IR goggles up and brought up the remote control from his belt.
"Lights, all sides, quarter."
Immediately the IR lights went out and the lighting system for the vehicle turned on at only 2 million candle power around it, most concentrated to the front, but with recessed lights along the upper and lower sides, the entire cavern was now dimly illuminated. He didn't know who the young man and older woman were, but he did know the others. To his far left was Barbara Gordon with four small survival stoves lit up around her, near the wall of the cavern. Just on the tracks was Erin Norris and Dr. Gotham who smiled as he raised his left hand to shield his eyes from the light. Just beyond the tracks and close to the edge was another figure that had a thick vapor around it.
"Lisa Choi?" he whispered.
The boy turned to the woman and asked, "Who is he?"
She shrugged her shoulders and looked down towards the rail bed.
"It has left us, Shlasuar," she said stepping towards him and, together they took a step away from the thick mist and towards the vehicle.
Dr. Gotham started walking over towards him.
"Ah, it is good to see you again, White Tiger of the West. These are dire circumstances."
Batman turned to look at him and started walking towards him.
"What the hell is going on here?"
"Ah, yes, well I might be able to explain better once we get everyone free of Nyog'Sothep, which is trying to ingest everything in the cavern for the past hour."
Batman blinked as he stopped standing next to Dr. Gotham.
"It is the Black Air Terror," Maria said standing next to Shlasuar, "Ancient and hungry."
Dr. Gotham nodded as she spoke.
"Maria is quite right, and its way to do that is to get people stuck to its form by immobilizing their legs, mostly. Then it seeps into their bodies and drains life from them, along with some other vital nutrients. It was called up by a man named Guthrie Lewis, also known as Aeolus, Keepr of the Winds. Now if you still have some of those lovely thermite devices?"
"Thermite. Very hot air disorganizes it, which is how Barbara is able to remain free of it, although she is on her last fuel tablets. I've been working to compel it away from Erin as it seems to have an interest in her and... I have been unable to do anything to help Lisa."
He detached the dispenser of thermite stick devices and handed them to Dr. Gotham.
"Five seconds and don't look at it. It emits a lot of UV and three feet from someone is relatively safe," he brought up the remote again, "Rear, Open."
The rear ramp door of the vehicle came down slowly as he attached the remote to his belt.
"How does it do with acid?"
As he spoke a central red glowing part of the mass started to drift towards them, going over Lisa.
Dr. Gotham looked at the orb, then to Batman.
"Nothing to actually contact with it. Still vapors might harm it. I suggest not touching that orb, as it is the central point of Nyog'Sothep."
Batman looked over to Maria and Shlasuar.
"Get into the back of the vehicle," turning he spoke a bit louder, "no matter what it is, I don't think it can do much with the vehicle."
"It's staying away from it," Shlasuar said, "at least trying to. I don't think it likes parts of it too much."
Batman nodded, seeing that there was a clear space generally around the vehicle.
"I'll get Lisa out..." he shook his head, "somehow. You get the other two out. Hopefully this won't take too long."
With his walking staff, Dr. Gotham gave a quick salute and then turned to walk towards Erin.
Batman turned and flipped to IR and could see that there was, indeed, a lot of heat in that orb, but only relative to the surrounding air. As the mist thickened as he came towards Lisa he could feel it trying to cling to his armor, and it started to feel like he was walking through foam or some sort of thin liquid. The suit distributed the pressure and while it was an impedance, it did not stop him and he did not stop until he was right next to Lisa who had her arms folded and was now looking up at the orb.
"Lisa, are you OK?"
She blinked and then turned and looked at him.
"Yes, more or less. It doesn't want to touch me and I think it is just waiting for me to die."
He nodded and stepped up next to her.
"Express elevator?" he asked as he put his left arm around her waist and took the grapnel system from his belt and pointed it up.
"What?" she looked at him plainly puzzled.
"Just hold on tight, I'm getting you out of this."
She smiled and put her arms around him and held on for dear life.
He fired the grapnel up through the air and it was propelled through the thick mist twice, once just above Lisa and again at the roof of the cavern where it hit a catwalk and had tines go into its structure.
"Look away as we pass it, don't breathe."
She pressed her face to his chest and he transferred the system to his belt, and took up the tear gas canister. He triggered the grapnel's motor system and it pulled in line, raising them up past the red orb and there he triggered a thin jet of tear gas right into it, wathching its reaction in IR. The thin, cold jet of gas that expanded into it, clearly had an effect as it pulled away, and as it did so he could see two small objects clearly outlined by the jet as he went above the orb. Once up at the top he could look down and avoided looking at the thermite charges that were going off near Erin and saw Dr. Gotham placing one between Barbara and the vehicle. The empty canister he tossed into the air and watched it fall down just behind the orb which was still dealing with the mass of cold air inside of it. With that done he reached up and pulled enough to start getting them swinging and then hit the brake release on the system which allowed them to swing wide of any errant tear gas. He realized that Lisa was looking out as she held on even more tightly.
"Oh, my! I can see why you do this! It's beautiful!"
He smiled as they described a larger arc and hit the payout so they landed just beyond the thermite charges and near the vehicle.
When he got there he saw the young man looking at him and then back at the orb.
"What did you do to it?"
He let Lisa go and nodded to the rear of the vehicle as he turned to face the young man.
"I gave it a confined jet of tear gas that expanded and chilled as it went into that red mass. There are two small objects inside of it."
Dr. Gotham was helping to get Lisa pointed and after whispering to her he turned to look at Shlasuar, Maria and Batman.
"Those are Mr. Lewis' cigarette butts. The summoning power source for Nyog'Sothep," he said as Batman turned to him.
"Too small to take out with anything I have," he said.
"If I had some good throwing knives I might be able to get them," Shlasuar said, "but we only have a couple of knives and they aren't good for throwing."
"The Black Air Terror does not like this vehicle," Maria said, "look around you, it is staying clear of it now. Before that it was being taken in through these front... vents? And somewhere along the top, as well."
Looking at Maria and then the vehicle, Batman realized that whatever this mist creature was, that it was giving his vehicle a wide berth.
"I don't think we can get it to come into the air scoops voluntarily, especially as they are contoured and inset," he said and looked out at the orb which had diminished in size but was still there, floating over the central part of the cavern.
"Perhaps a little trip will be involved that will do just that," Dr. Gotham said.
Batman turned to look at him and tilted his head.
"Why yes. Amongst the things you kept in the back of the vehicle when last we were together, there were various things for vehicle maintenance. Perhaps you still keep some motor oil there?"
He looked at Dr. Gotham and then back out to the orb.
"I take it that this thing means no good towards us?"
"Yes," Maria said, "it will willingly consume others and seek to form a cult of followers to sacrifice the living to it, so as to give it power. It has an enormous appetite for life power."
He looked at Maria and pressed his lips together.
"Then I guess we are going to take a little trip."
"Do not fear, Selina Kyle, we may have many nights together," the form of Boreas said, smiling lasciviously as he looked at her naked body on the bed.
Her body was unable to respond as the being standing next to the bed took shape and she heard the sound like tiny pieces of glass breaking and rubbing against each other as this glistening figure with millions of tiny facets moved his hands over her body. First was a layer of warmth that she could vaguely feel, and then intense cold and roughness. These sensations added to the others already going through her which were erotic, pleasurable and she knew they would be intense if the numbness went away. Her hands only trembled in trying to move and only her hips and abdomen, stimulated so much locally that nerves fired in sympathy, shifted and writhed.
"Oh... no... ah... ah..." Selina could hear her own incoherence, her mouth numb from a single kiss from Guthrie.
Sudden warmth from her groin shocked its way through even the numbness and she rolled her head back, feeling intense and overwhelming pleasure. Warm and then cold, icy kisses worked up her stomach and she heard from a sound that was a voice given to ice crystals in the wind.
"It is not only Aeolus that has learned of how to give pleasure, Selina. Even you can learn to enjoy it."
She hated those words even while feeling the first ache of pleasure slipping up her spine and could not help gasping at that feeling. There was an intensity to that feeling that was now seeping in and with closed eyes she saw a deep, dark pit with a creature of madness at its bottom. With willpower she opened her eyes as pressure changed across her body and she found herself looking into shifting blue translucent skin of Boreas and felt his soft ice sliver beard on her chin. His breath was from a deep arctic and his voice was the wind through the distant mountains.
"Slowly for you, Selina, so you can fully feel what is your future."
Pressure and heat, then intense chill invaded her body and her spirit from many points and she knew that what she had seen happen to Cathy Li was only a prelude to her own, dark future. She gasped in short breaths as Boreas stimulated her in ways she had never known existed, and yet the numbness kept it just at a distance enough so she might imagine that this was someone else's body, not hers.
"Ahhh... now perhaps you would like the full experience..." Boreas said softly.
Selina heard a sound, a footstep, entering the room and her eyes flew open to see Tom Octurian reaching towards Boreas and then into his form, going through the shifting skin of crystals and creating a wave throughout that surface.
"What?" Boreas bellowed as his body decohered and flowed off the bed and to the floor.
Selina tried to shift her head, but couldn't, to look at the two beside the bed and as Tom approached she saw a blue glow go completely around him.
"Ah," Boreas said, "you are not as you seem... still I can feel within you a..."
She saw Tom stumble forward and reach out of sight as he went to the ground. The bedside light tumbled off the table and a moment after that a yellow electric arc flashed next to the bed and the wall.
"Ah... pah... tah...." she said unable to even say a simple name. The light on the other side of the bed cast a warm yellow light across the room and she smelled a sickly sweet smell that also had a smell of smoke to it. Tears flowed from her the sides of her eyes and all she could do was blink to drive them out.
The thing of metal was a strange thing and yet it was the most deadly threat it had faced since the fall of its Creator back in the timeless time before the start of the current time. It did not think, could not be reasoned with and was something that these who had life energy utilized in some strange way it could not figure out. Lethality of some Old or Ancient One snuffing out its life with a mere gesture, that was an omnipresent danger, save when it had such vast amounts of power as to be able to stop such a thing from happening. In this time, in this place it had been compelled to it first knew of danger from the one who called it, then suspicion of being so isolated from any source of power, then hope restored with understanding that those left were sacrifices to it and that one of them was a Phoenix Child who had been guarded most strenuously by one of its kind who was beginning to flag in energy.
There were difficulties in getting life energy from these creatures, yes, but exhaustion would lead to the necessity of their ending their struggles of countering it, and then the rising flood of despair would grant it access to more than enough power to properly establish itself. And maybe even use the Phoenix Child as its representative amongst its kind. A promise of power was with that one being, and its defender understood this. It could not feed deeply upon that one, because of its status, which meant that the other two that were partially trapped must suffice. Yet they scraped its essence off at each and every bit of encroachment, exhausting themselves still further, surely they would be the first to fall to it. Then would come the defender which represented the being of this land it was in, and after that the one depending on flickering flames to force its substance apart enough so that it could not encroach. Last would be that one who had been in other realms, that was a tricky one to deal with but promised a tap to power unknown and with great potential.
Fear, despair, hope and a raised outlook now all dashed by the presence of a new one and a vicious air eater that digested its form easily and spewed out an undifferentiated mass that was of little use to it. The power to re-absorb that mass would tax it to the limits, and thus it drew on the source at the bottom of the cavernous space which took little effort to utilize for that purpose. It had thought of pulling back until the sudden attacks on it started. These were beyond anything it could ever say it experienced before, if it had but a mouth to speak. Intense heat, dry heat, metal on fire viciously forced its substance apart and into less coherence around those that would serve to bring it power. At least the one that was entrapped, that one it might be able to render to something digestible in short order, and it thought that the one that came in the metal beast had made a mistake in joining her and that it would get two meals, not one. It intruded upon them as it hadn't done before, because Nyog'Sothep started to see that this was some strange form of rescue that required no real power to summon or banish or abjure, but one that was merely physical. If it could but feed fully on even one, it knew that it might win out even now. In taking time it had allowed for a real rescue to happen, and that it could not allow again.
It tried to infiltrate upon the new intruder and found itself unable to penetrate even the outer clothes of it and slid off of much of its clothing which was cunningly designed to shed moisture that would normally cling to such. It began to intrude upon the one that had visited other realms but, by then, a device also unknown to it allowed them to travel up at speed away from its tendrils and as its ingestion orb protruded towards them it was attacked with a vicious, noxious coldness that threatened at least one of its burning ember sources of power. Instead of exhausting them, it was being exhausted and fear began to creep in at the edges of its psyche. Without a supply of power to draw upon it was extremely weak and it had used up all the lesser life in the vicinity to keep itself going, and even sucked in the power remains of individuals who had died in this space. Other pools were far too remote to draw upon in its condition and the nearest was hundreds of miles to the north in a deep cavern in what had been a huge mountain in ages past. There was the possibility that it might even kill itself in trying a direct transposition to it.
Nyog'Sothep was finding its options limited and it could do little as the individuals went inside the strange thing of metal and it assumed that this was the end of the easy meal. It cared little for the shift in lights from that vehicle and started pulling farther away as it took in more air through its forward and top vent structures as louvers tilted to allow a greater flow of air into it. Instead of going the way it came, howerver, it moved forward and that new one who had come to obviously rescue the others now went across the metal on the ground and darted to pull in a part of its structure that couldn't be pulled away from it fast enough. Thinning out its form was the only way to try and isolate that part that was now broken apart by this killing thing of metal and yet as it thinned out its structure the thing moved forward in a cunning fashion to get more of its form into it. It had to start pulling back further as it could liberate only small amounts of new body material at a time from surroundng material, and it was fruitless to try and stop this heavy thing that ate through its body so easily. By the time it had arrived at the other entrance Nyog'Sothep had pulled back from it, save for a few bits that had gotten sucked in with a bit more pulled in as it slowed. Obviously this thing delighted in eating through it's form and Nyog'Sothep recoiled even further from it. Finally it had left the cavern and yet Nyog'Sothep did not trust such a thing and it could feel through the thrumming in the ground that it was nearby. Pulling in more of its body it had to evacuate the upper part of the space it was in and concentrate on rebuilding its body from the pool at the bottom of this pit.
A rush of air pushed ahead of the metal thing warned it of its return, but this time not on high but in a lower entrance. With more of its body now concentrated that meant that more of it could be taken in by this thing, and it went around the sides of the cavernous space forcing it to pull away from the outer walls. There were few tools it had to fight such a thing, and even fewer tricks in its repertoire to deal with it. With more power, even a dozen life essences taken in, this would be no problem at all as it could lift and drop even this weight with ease. Yet it did not have that power available. In a proper space that it could fill even the smallest air entrances it could pull air out and lower its pressure, but not in this space with so many entrances and with air currents that were all their own moving through it. All of this would not have bothered it, if it had power.
Concentrating its form still further just to retain it meant it became a dense, black cloud in the center of the cavern with a dim red orb within it. It retained columns of black air to the pool below trying to find a way to liberate its contents faster, and the chill of it thwarting that effort.
As if sensing the tenuous hold Nyog'Sothep had on this place, the metal thing shifted out beside the central structure above the pool. It did not go on that structure, and stopped beside edge of the circle that enclosed it and the pool. Then the new one came from inside the metal thing and was joined by others, each holding a container of some sort. They stayed close enough to the metal thing so that attacking even the weakest of them was out of the question, lest its thick form get pulled into a final death struggle it would surely lose. As they moved to the edge of the circle each of them did something with the things they held and then emptied the liquid contents of those things over the edge and into the pool.
It felt nothing, at first, and only once it tried to shift a column to circulate the water did it realize what was happening. What was poured was staying on top of the water and was not something that could easily be turned into stuff for its body to use. This material spread rapidly until its columns were forced into cylinders, unable to expand outwards. In frustration and horror it contracted further, shivering and yet daring not to recoil from the surface of the pool. Then one of those that was female went back to the vehicle and came out with some metal cylinder and daringly walked away from the metal thing and was joined by the new one who walked with her onto the structure. They moved to one side and there it felt a sudden, deep cold and pressure that severed its column from the water. Without direct control its form near the water lifted and that floating material closed around where it had been. Those columns were trapped by surface tension and it was difficult to keep that lighter material from intruding into the places it had left to clear water.
Another blast of cold and another column broken, and its lifeline became thinner. With two more jets of cold air it was down to a single column that was still in the water. It concentrated on these two beings and moved its sensory and ingesting orb down towards them. They were alone on the structure, and now it could at last just engulf them and deprive them of air, to simply kill them to survive. Just as it flew downwards something metallic went through its orb, which was of no real account, save that it was very close to one of the embers of power granted to it, which were dying out. That had come from the young one by the metal thing who had just thrown it. And threw another, coming far too close to the nearest ember for any real comfort. Then it realized the error, the horrendous and deep errror it had made as a piece of metal went jetting through its form to wrap around a piece of catwalk far above. That was followed by a line of some strange material it could not grasp. It had missed its orb and embers, yes, but in that moment of distraction they had acted from the structure and were now pulled up along that line and into it and then it found they had devices on over their nose and mouth that supplied them with air or at least prevented it from depriving them of it.
It pulled its orb away.
Towards the youngster who now took out one ember which dropped through its form and onto the stuff on top of the pool below and was snuffed out.
The other two pulled up level with the orb and shot a cold, dense air at it which pushed its form away and shrunk its orb which lost heat to this material. It had to pull its other ember away from that jet of cold air which followed it. They were just above the orb and firing down in bursts towards it and that meant the only way to protect the final ember was to push it down.
Another piece of metal sailed through its orb, but did not connect.
Another piece of metal went flying from the new one, trailing that strange line, to grasp onto a structural piece along the far wall above it. Those two began to be pulled towards the orb.
Frantically Nyog'Sothep pulled its form to it and expended what power it had to flee to the other power pool so distant away.
Together a blast of frigid air from the fire extinguisher and a bat shaped shuriken intersected on the final ember.
The cloud dissipated and the soft glow of the yellow lights from above showed no sign of the sensory orb and only black mist falling away into separate pieces and soon no longer distinct from the air around it.
"Right. Its gotta be direct," Selina looked up at Frank, "I have to, and getting the bottle into your mouth might break something. So its got to be the old-fashioned way."
She looked at him as he examined the bottle, then raised an eyebrow to look at her.
"Short breaths only if you can control them. If what he did to you is like that Cathy, then it needs to be like that."
She blinked twice and he nodded, then took a mouthful of the liquid, leaned over and kissed her on the mouth. She felt the warm vodka in her mouth and felt as he let his tongue wash over hers, under hers and as far as he could reach on the roof of her mouth. It really wasn't what she was expecting and as Frank pulled away she smiled and swallowed the vodka.
"Oh god..." she started to say.
"Short breaths, Selina, it isn't over yet."
She still couldn't nod but whispered, "Yes."
"There's a small dosage cup in the box. Do you need more?"
"Frank...the old fashioned way... please?"
She saw Frank relax, close his eyes and open them, then nodded.
"Right," he said, taking a fuller mouth of vodka and leaning over to kiss her again. This time it was not the kiss of rescue, she made sure of that, but a kiss of life. She did work the vodka around her mouth and the numb feeling in her cheeks started to fade.
Frank pulled away and looked at her tenderly and slid his fingers to push her hair back from her forehead and eyes.
"I'm numb... at the neck and below..." she said looking at him trying to shift her head but couldn't.
"Yeah, lot of blue there and on the pillow. Look, Selina, I can clear the rest off of you and being numb might be what you want until that's done."
She pressed her lips together.
"Do it, Frank... nothing to hide... from you... Tom?"
Frank looked aside and to the floor.
"He's out, Selina. Nothing I can do will help him, believe me on that. He will either get out on his own or nothing on God's Earth that I can do will bring him back."
Selina pressed her eyes closed and her lips trembled.
"Short breaths, Selina. No sobbing."
Opening her eyes she looked at him as he reached over and started opening packages of gauze pads.
"I'm going bottom to top. You'll probably get some sensations," he said taking up a pair of latex gloves and shifting them on over his hands, "I delivered a baby during the war, Selina. This is easy in comparison. No 88 shells coming down, so no distractions."
She wanted to laugh but restrained herself.
"After what... they did..."
Frank moved some of the items from the box to the bedside table and shifted sheets from the other side of the bed, and pulled off the top sheet, and ripped it into a few manageable pieces.
"They?" he asked as he ripped the pieces from the sheet.
"Yes two... Guthrie and... Boreas...."
She could smell something that Frank poured from a bottle onto a gauze pad and then felt as her legs shifted apart.
"Boreas? Never heard of him," Frank said as he disappeared from her view and she felt sudden coldness and rubbing, "What does he look like?"
"He's blue... white... I don't know... like a cloud of... snow... or ice."
"OK, this is going to sting at best," he said, "keep talking."
"He said we... would have many... nights..." his fingers found sensitive areas and she gasped knowing that if her body wasn't numb she would be feeling things intensely, "... of pleasure..."
Frank tossed the gauze pad aside, and it was glowing blue. He took a strip from the sheet and continued what he was doing.
"Looks like it, I guess. Sticky water more than anything else. Got a couple of shocks off it even through the gloves."
Seliina bit her lower lip, trying to concentrate on her breathing as Frank worked.
"So what happened to him?"
"Tom he... his hands went... through Boreas... and then he... Tom had blue... around him... couldn't see... what happened... light pulled out... yellow flash... smell of... smoke... something..."
"Singed flesh, looks superficial," Frank said and then his head came into view, "turn you on your side, next. Have to be able to get to, ah, places."
"Yes," she whispered.
Frank wrapped sheeting around his hands and shifted her on her side so she could look to the lamp on the other side of the bed and the shaded windows, beyond. She smelled more of that other smell and heard Frank opening gauze pads.
"We had a prior encounter with Guthrie, Selina, with Bruce. Didn't know what he was about, but there was something just not right about him," he said as she felt his fingers shifting her further.
"Yes," she said with a gasp, "but what... happened?"
"Tom had an adverse reaction to him, kicked up some physical problems. He needed to rehydrate and get electrolytes into his body, neutral ones that wouldn't ionize."
Her eyes opened wide as she felt a deep stinging and pressure, and she gritted her teeth against a gasp.
"So I remembered that alcohol isn't polar, either. One of the things you pick up... and that it binds with water... so that's why the vodka."
She knew he was talking to keep her mind off what he was doing.
"Some blue along your back, but you are clear from the hips, down. I'm going to clear your back of it, and then your front, OK?"
"Yes, that's... fine, Frank..."
She smelled more vodka and felt as he scrubbed her with the gauze pads he was using.
"The Boreas guy just disappeared?" he asked
"I guess... didn't return..."
"Good. Don't know how I would handle him, but Old Reliable probably wouldn't have done a thing to him."
She closed her eyes a moment and smiled.
"No it... wouldn't... can't do everything."
"Have to know that its not a cure-all, Selina. Damned handy for most things, but you can't build a house with it."
She smiled and wanted to chuckle with him, and then felt her body shifting again.
"You're mostly OK, in front, but need some areas of attention," Frank said as he opened another gauze pad.
"Sgt. Rock, when you have a moment I am in need of a wrapping gauze and tape," Selina heard Tom say out of sight but still on the floor.
Frank looked at him and smiled broadly, as he reached over to the materials on the bedside table. She saw a box of gauze that he opened and flicked out the roll towards where Tom was. He then tossed a spool of medical tape to him, followed by a small pair of scissors.
"How are you?" Selina asked.
Frank nodded and turned from Tom to continue his work with Selina.
"I am recovering from an intense shock, Miss Kyle. I am checking to see if I've suffered any changes to my condition before I get up."
"You saved... me."
There was a moment of silence and she felt arousal as Frank rubbed on her stomach and upper chest areas.
"You were paralyzed and under attack by a plasma field that had apparent human form, but no substance beyond its surface."
She gasped as Frank poured cold liquid on her chest.
"Safe for deeper breaths, I think, Selina. Neck is next. Then getting you mobile."
"Good!" she said inhaling slowly as she still couldn't feel most of her body all that well.
Frank shifted her on her side again and she felt the cold contents of the bottle poured on her neck and then the gauze used to rub after that.
"Dilute and remove good enough, Tom?"
"Yes. Non-polar fluids are essential for diluting ionically charged fluid. Water binding fluids work well, as do certain gels."
"Didn't want to try out that wound gel packet," Frank said.
Selina started to get feeling in her body again, starting with her chest and back.
"Oh, what an ache," she said as Frank continued working and poured liquid onto her neck again.
"Sticky as all hell, but dilutes just fine," he said.
She heard shifting from beside the bed.
"May I be of assistance?" Tom asked.
Frank turned Selina over and she could see Tom standing beside the bed, just beyond Frank, with gauze wrapped around his left middle finger.
"What would you recommend?" Frank asked.
"De-ionized water bath," Tom said.
"Not available," Frank said, "shower?"
Tom nodded once.
Frank turned to Selina and poured vodka over her neck and used a ripped sheet to rub at her skin.
"I could use a shower," Selina said as she started to feel more sensation coming from her body, in her chest but slowly spreading down, "because I ache, I'm sore and I feel like... well..." she looked at Frank and Tom.
Then she started to smile, and laugh. And cough a few times.
"Oh... if only my mom could see me now!"
Frank raised an eyebrow and chuckled as he took off the latex gloves and tossed them to the floor near the nightstand.
"Yeah, probably not what she imagined as a way to end a date with us."
Frank got off the bed and knelt beside it.
"Are you good to get up?"
Selina pulled her thoughts together and got her laughter down to a few chuckles as she shifted in bed and slid her legs down, next to Frank.
"Ooooo! Dizzy!" she said placing her hands on the bed and bending her head over.
"Do you need anthing, Miss Kyle?"
"I think," she started and then lifted her head up, "just feels like... well not like anything I've been through... have to really concentrate before I move."
"Understandable," Frank said looking up at her.
"I do need a shower but..." she looked at Frank then Tom and then started laughing again and had to place her elbows on her knees as she doubled over.
"What is it, Selina?" Frank asked.
She gasped in enough air and raised her head enough to look at Frank.
"Well first... I go out with two strange men and end up naked in a bedroom with them..."
Frank nodded and started chuckling.
"... and then I ask them to help me take a shower...if mom ever found out..."
She started laughing very hard along with a few coughs and Frank had his forehad on the bed next to her, laughing as well.
Tom stood watching the two of them.
"It is only what is necessary."
Disrupting the electrical feeds for various systems was a very simple thing to do for him, and he truly did not even consciously think through what it was that he did. Years ago, as such systems became more common place, he did so and no matter how intricate the system or how many safeguards it had, there were still vulnerabilities to it system-wide for something as large and as complex as a building. Stifling alarms was a simple part of that task if that was all he wanted, but for something like Wayne Tower he wanted the system that would actually actuate the alarm to become so chaotic that it would have to be shut down. Communications were also important and only for those few things he required did he spare any attention. Thus an emergency exit alarm was a simple thing to do, requiring no thought, but isolating one elevator from a bank of elevators and then ensuring that its readouts were scrambled took a very slight amount of thought. He did, of course, do so out of sight by using the nearest stairs going down to the first basement level so that there was no tell-tale ding of the doors opening to gain any attention, and as that was purely mechanical he only needed a level out of sight and out of mind. He did keep to the shadows as personnel started using the stairs once the problems were apparent and as this was early in the stages of disruption, there would be some hesitation to try and clear systems, first.
Once in one of the main bank of elevators he simply chose one of the higher floors and waited until he arrived to duck his head out to check for lines of affinity. Two stops on the way up and he had the right floor, and it was readily apparent which door the object of his desire was behind. He was stealthy, of course, although not by light footfall as the carpeting took care of that problem. No being able to still the little vibrations he caused while walking and then finding the proper door with its electonic lock, meant that he could and often did, startle cats. In particular there was one cat he was interested in and when that one was apparent all it took was a simple lick of the palm of the hand, sliding it under her neck and then a kiss to take her breath away. He had, of course, found a small bag and some meager identification in the room, along with the whip and tools, but he knew that the place under her own pillow was his target. And a delicious target it was.
"Really, for all the trouble you have caused me you deserve something..." he whispered, sliding his hands under the covers after licking them.
Dust gained small ice crystals and a soft voice.
"Give her to me..."
Feeling her body respond and how she reacted in her sleep he smiled, continuing his ministrations and pulling back the covers. As her body moved he marveled at how tight her muscles were and that she, for all her obvious physical qualities, was in no way overly blessed with weight. Her mouth started to move and her eyes fluttered open.
"Ah, the cat awakens, but late we are. Sadly I must leave you like this," he said. She tried to move and simply placing his right hand on her chest and leaning over to kiss her sealed the connections outside of her body. Now the currents could race through the plasma carrying fluids just as he desired. Slipping his hand under the pillow he found the Faberge box and slid it out, and he saw the lines of affinity shift with it.
"Why, dear woman, you are about to be blessed by Boreas," he said as he stood up from the bed to retrieve his jacket on the floor and then slid it on as he stood next to the coalescing figure of Boreas, "and, truly, it has been ages since he has been with any woman. He is picky, you know? So I will leave him to you, now, as I have other things to attend to. Good-bye, dear woman. And know that you are blessed to be alive."
He turned his back on her and only heard a faint "oh" as he stepped quickly from the room and then the small apartment it was a part of. Retracing his steps he was back at the elevator with its open door, stepped in and then pushed the button for the sub-basement. As it moved he held the box out in front of him, opened it and watched the lines of affinity from the Spider.
"You have been a true thorn in the side, little creature. And don't even bother trying to unbind yourself from that form, as that will prove fruitless. Escaped and on your own you would be a smaller obstacle, yes, but, truly, you do need to have something a bit more final happen to you. Sad that the jewel would have to be destroyed to do that.... I do appreciate the craftsmanship."
He eyed the lines of affinity, seeing strong ones pointing to the south and west in a few directions, but two were stronger than the rest. There were a scattering of lesser affinities that splayed out and into the city below, and it remained below until he was down below the 10th floor.
"One of them is on the move! Very slight affinity, but actual contact one for all of that and as it looks to be underground it must be that woman, Mrs. Norris. Now let me see about that other..." Guthrie concentrated as he looked down, "...the nexus place it has so many affinities running through it..." as the elevator continued downwards he shifted his gaze, "... but as for living ones, well, that is only with that woman, Miss Choi I think it is."
The elevator slowed and the doors opened into a corridor lit only with emergency lighting, and as Guthrie stepped from the elevator a blue glow flowed down around it behind him. As he closed and pocketed the case in his jacket he thought for a moment and went towards the doors leading to the stairwell on the side of the building that the parking lot was on. As he opened the door he hesitated and then smiled as he watched affinities shift.
"Why I do believe that the Ancient One... is no longer around. Hmmm...."
He turned and went to the staircase going down to the next sub-basement, and then down three more levels to the maintenance tunnels for the WIST station.
"You present a fascinating problem, little Spider," he said letting his feet shift easily on the stairs from tread to tread as he went down them, "because I truly do not want to destroy such a lovely piece of artwork just to kill you. But how to rid it of you? I'm quite sure you would assent to an abjuration at this point, something done by me to simply break that connection and save your life. Truly your living presence is no longer required to allow me to use the necklace for my purposes, but what can I ever do with you so that you can't get easily back to it?"
He stopped on the last mid-level platform to catch his breath as he looked down to the dank maintenance tunnel.
"I am coming to suspect that more of what drives Gotham City is beneath it than above it," he said softly and absently to himself, "It makes for such an unpleasant sort of place." Shrugging he went down the last few stairs to the tunnel and found his way to a maintenance door which had been impacted by something from inside the tunnel.
"Now unless I miss my mark this was due to that man... but he wasn't really a man by this point, was he?" Guthrie opened the door and stepped out onto the maintenance walkway and took in the vista it showed him. As he looked a cool breeze came from his right to the north into the tunnels. "Yes, not so much Li Sun at this point. Mother of All was manifesting through him, obviously, and the direction of what caused that... ahh, so many lines! Still," he said turning north the soft breeze flowing around him, "the nexus is obvious! Delightful! And if Nyog'Sothep has been dealt with in its most pitiable state, then perhaps... just perhaps... there is a solution to my Spider problem."
He turned and started walking down the maintenance walkway looking to a point above another platform closer to the station where the tunnels emerged from the rock.
"This bears further investigation."
Date: 18 NOV 1984, quantum time line alternate, adjusted. Historical database skipped, used as reference materials, low reliability.
Time: 0420 hours, Eastern Time.
Location: Wayne Tower, Room 6810.
Visual Sensor Input: 68%
Depth Perception: 77%
Audio Reception: 78%
Frame structural integrity, amended: 38%
Room Temperature: 72 F.
Present: Rock, Sgt. Frank (r); Kyle, Selina
Analysis routine: Online, supplemental factory original variant by amended matrix. Covert operations package, functioning, online, supplemental factory original variant amended by matrix. Derived source routines, online, conformal to data security routines, adaptive.
Code analysis suite function level: nominal.
Secondary Analysis routines: Medical interactive, human, adjusted, amended; Sanitary, interactive, human, adjusted, amended, adaptive; Supranormal systems classification database schema, copy, amended; Supranormal identification schema, derivative, amended, adaptive; Supranormal threat analysis routine, derived, adaptive; Supranormal threat type analysis routine, derived, adaptive.
Analysis Supranormal Identification, individual: Boreas.
Analysis Supranormal Classification: Class 7, physical manifestation beyond forms of remote energy adjustment, limited to physical constraints, variable.
Analysis Supranormal Threat Analysis: High, Terminal, adjusted equivalence 1 GW plasma bolt system either phased coherent or single fusion bolt, fixed emplacement, amended variations per schema.
Analysis Supranormal Threat Types: Cold Plasma generation; electrostatic accumulation; electrostatic manipulation direct and induced; electrostatic cold plasma concentration, miniature neck type, fusion induced generation of magnetohydrodynamic current; physical force capacity equivalent to High Threat Class 6, dangerous to structural integrity; physical manifestation capacity equivalent formulation for assault, battery, rape, electrostatic discharge, plasma release creates Class 7 to Class 8 threat sub-matrix.
Defensive analysis: Physical force, limited utility as threat can dissipate and reform in new configurations.
Defense analysis: Electrochemical isolation of package ineffective against direct surge and induced currents.
Defense analysis: Standard electronics isolation of limited utility against induced currents and surges within structural members and internal comms systems.
Defense analysis: Alternating Current 110v, 60 Hz, discharge through frame and package effective at disruption of entity Boreas; requires full system reset and internal charge removal via ground.
Analysis, Boreas: Class 7 minimal designation Supranormal entity with physical, electrostatic, electrical and fusion capacities from unknown power sources. Entity utilized its own threat systems to analyze internal systems and overcome defenses. Amending recent analysis files of Kyle, Selina; Li, Cathy; encounter Bobcat; encounter Lewis, Guthrie, Pendleton Hotel.
Status, Boreas: Not Terminated due to reformulation capacity. At large. Extreme threat level.
File, Boreas: Amended.
Analysis, Threat Level: High.
Analysis, Threat: Continued electrostatic plasma discharges in Wayne Tower interfering with all internal building comms. Power mains continue unhindered. Background sound analysis indicates that HVAC systems are not active for Wayne Tower. Threat type indicates possible presence of individual or individuals able to manipulate electrostatic plasma fields, directed currents and induced currents of electrostatic plasma fields.
Analysis: Individuals demonstrating such capacity are Lewis, Guthrie; Boreas.
Threat Level: Extreme.
Threat Level, active, directed: No activity for 37 minutes as indicated by internal system clock. Remains of plasma generating fluids have dissipated, not active.
Status, Kyle, Selina: Recovering from second attack by Lewis, Guthrie and Boreas. Plasma field effects direct and induced in human central nervous system corroborates attack type described on Li, Cathy. Incidental contact with Lewis, Guthrie and fight with Boreas corroborate low level non-directed functionality of such attack methods as well as directed capacity of such attacks. Knowledge level to perform attacks beyond current standard and amended databases.
Status, Rock, Sgt. Frank (r): Assisting Kyle, Selina in washing and recovering from attacks by Lewis, Guthrie and Boreas. Shower with water of neutral pH indicated as well as soap and disinfectants. Sgt. Rock demonstrating skill in medical application of technical knowledge as well as dealing with psychological trauma of attacks on individuals, with variation per gender.
Analysis, psychological, Rock, Sgt. Frank (r), amended, adaptive: Individual retains high adaptability to extreme stress situations. Individual demonstrates high levels of passion for mission oriented objectives as well as non-mission oriented consequences utilizing numerous psychological applications for both gender neutral and gender specific applications.
Status: Holding towel for Kyle, Selina.