I. Android Antics
A Little Street Fighting Never Hurt Anyone Too Bad...
Night had fallen once more, and in preparation for their usual prowl, Lita thought it time for something extra special to treat her ever-faithful Red Devil to. The Beetle had served her well, his thick tires and mean V8 making him an invaluable companion. In the dim light of her sequestered sanctum, she rifled through the drawers, ultimately producing a little bottle.
“Here’s a little something to keep ya groovy.”
The bottle was filled with a golden, viscous substance, an eyedropper sat square in the middle, preserved like an insect in amber. It had a little label wrapped around it, the letters “THC” scrawled across.
That was the one.
Lita strolled over to her beautiful little Beetle. He sat there with that warm little grin on his bull-bar, seemingly eager for whatever his mistress had. She popped open the car’s hood and unscrewed the top of the bottle, sucking some of the liquid into the eyedropper. After removing the fill cap, she diligently dispensed drop after drop into the Red Devil’s oil reservoir. She softly thumbed one of the car’s fenders as the oil dripped away. Once she had emptied the eyedropper, she replaced it back into the bottle. In a split second, she tucked the delicacy away in the drawer.
Now it was time to ride.
Lita holstered her Wildey and Mateba on her hips, her hand cannons of choice having just been cleaned. She fixed her jeans, tightening her brown embellished belt and the straps of her sandals. She slid into her black, fingerless gloves and her dark blue denim jacket like a second skin. She tasseled her hair a little; the messier her wild Mohawk was, the better. Ritual complete, she swung herself behind the wheel through the driver’s side window and fired up the Red Devil’s engine. The crimson Beetle came roaring to life.
Lita hit a button on her sun visor to raise the tall steel door behind them. She revved the car up, her claws growing out a little.
“Time to have some real fun,” she teased in her hushed ebony voice.
The Red Devil slunk out of the hideaway, and onto the streets. Lita hit the button one last time, and the brick façade came down, sealing her cavern away from all who resided within the urban sprawl. She was about to peel out when something came over her. She had no reason to believe anyone was there; her private cave was a part of a dead-end alleyway, with only a large wall at their backs. Still, a presence was unmistakably there.
“Only one way to find out,” she said.
She leaned on the throttle, sending the car speeding backwards towards the wall. In a split second, it all came into focus. The ding of something landing on the roof had her slamming on the brakes, and like an anvil made of air, something toppled onto the hood, leaving a brief impression before dropping to the ground. The mystery’s cloaking device suffered a failure on account of the impact, revealing a wolven figure, body coated in silver.
She had barely spat the word out in disgust when she threw the Red Devil into top gear and pinned the throttle to the floor. The thick tires of the Bug made light work of the android, its head flattened into a mass of microchips and gray fluid, a grating countenance now formed from the impact. She went back over it for good measure, cleaving the machine’s torso in twain as it sparked and convulsed. The third time was just to get the Bug out of the way before partaking in the final step.
Lita stepped out, a match in hand. She struck it off the iron nail of her thumb, lighting both ends of the dismembered android’s body with a care comparable to setting a candle alight. She dropped it on what remained of the head and flew back behind the wheel. The device’s blood was catching fire faster than kerosene. In no time, the Red Devil sped off into the cool blue of the evening, leaving the warm glow of the electrified bonfire behind.
“Guess we’ll be vacationing for a little bit” was all Lita had to say about the matter, shifting up a gear and flashing a grin, rather content with the job she’d done of dispensing the walking tin can. The gravity of what transpired didn’t entirely leave her; someone had a tag on her pad, and even if she had snuffed out the potential informant, she’d raised enough hell to catch some attention.
It wouldn’t surprise you given the liminal streets of Haven at night, but in her side of town, not a soul would be caught dead on the sidewalk or riding around. No sir, not with the iron fist of the P.D. executing the orders of A.C.E.S. to a T. She knew a couple of party animals in the Eastern districts she dug that would be good to crash with, but that would come at the eve’s end. Now…it was time have some real fun.
The Red Devil thundered along the streets, rubber pounding the asphalt as they teared through the night. The roar of the engine rocked the beast’s body, vibrations firing right through woman and machine alike. A devious grin slunk across Lita’s face as the speedometer’s needle flew across the instrument, accelerator firmly on the floor, with her nails sunk into the steering wheel. The light of the City’s nights bathed her in blue, enhancing the cloak of denim that adorned her. She lived for this simple thrill if nothing else.
Perhaps not for much longer.
Upon rounding a bend, Lita happened across a startling sight. Dead center in the middle of the street, a tall figure stood. He was but a mere silhouette, until he turned his head. The cobalt night the City perpetually stewed in highlighted his chromium-plated body. To the untrained eye, he would have looked like any old gray, but his laser-red eyes piercing through the black of the street said otherwise. From yards away, their stares met. Though neither quite knew what the other was capable of, both knew one would not leave this street alive.
The bot made a run for the Red Devil, charging at a rapid rate. At first, Lita was somewhat surprised, but she shook the sensation off with ease.
“Just don’t make it easy on me Pal,” she ribbed to herself.
She shifted up and dug into the throttle, her claws growing and sinking deep into the suede of her sandals. The gibe proved prophetic when her sparring partner bounded clear over the Bug; hood, roof, and all. She slammed on the brakes and whipped the car around to face him. He stood there, arms crossed, mechanically shaking his head in either disappointment or disapproval; it was hard to say.
Lita didn’t take the time to parse it out. She simply gunned her hot rod and took another crack at running him down. The Red Devil rolled snake eyes again as the android took another leap over the car. Upon whipping the Bug around again, she looked long and hard at the bot that stood before her, hammering out some nasty revs of the engine. His mouth made the uncanny shift from a stoic expression devoid of emotion to a menacing smirk. Undeterred, Lita sized up her options. She could gun him down, but no doubt he had some firepower built into him that would cleave her in two. She could try and keep running him down, but no doubt he’d keep hopping over the Red Devil like a coked-up jackrabbit. And she’d sooner bite down on all 300-grain of her pistol’s electric stopping power than tuck tail and run.
No, she had to settle this the closest thing to fair she figured.
Lita cocked her head towards the Bug as the towering, steeled wolf made his way over. She rolled down her window, and was met with that classic cop glower in his mechanized eyes.
“Wha’ they pop in tha’ mind of yours,” she started.
“Thoughts of a feisty headache,” he replied with a cold tone, “One that needed a painkiller or fifty.”
At least her reputation was on the up-and-up it seems.
“Tell you what,” she trailed off, unsure of the cat’s name.
“Felix,” he finished, “Name I picked for myself. I know, not as catchy as Unit #234.956.78.21, right?”
Lita gave a slow golf clap. Getting more lifelike with each day it seems, a sense of humor to match.
“Tell you what Felix,” she continued, “If we gotta fight, let’s at least have a little fun beforehand.”
“You’re shit out of luck. They didn’t give me a…hell, how do you orgs say it…oh yeah. They didn’t give me a crank.”
Lita did her best to stifle a chuckle. Now this cat was a true comedian.
“So we just go at it then,” she quizzed.
“Afraid so,” came the reply, “Wanna make it quick, or a real fight?”
“I lived an honorable life,” she tersely intoned, “Let’s have an honorable death; hand-to-hand. No guns, no rods. All of me against all of you.”
At first, Felix gave a slight cock of his head. His prey wasn’t normally this willing. Or diplomatic for that matter.
“How would you want to fix it,” he asked.
“How we go,” she clarified, “Simple: if we don’ get it in combat, we do things the old fashioned way. Drawn and quartered, rip ‘em up limb from limb. I’ll leave my keys in the rod, and I got chains in the glove box. We tie the loser up, and the winner puts their foot down and drops a match.
“Last I checked, org-bodies need not be burned,” Felix interjected.
“Call it a special treat for being such a good sport,” Lita jeered, patting the android’s cheek, “Lemme get dressed for the part. You can watch if you like, I ain’t smuggling anything or gettin’ risqué, just gettin’ ready.”
Felix stood back and observed quietly. Lita threw off her jacket and undid her sandals, setting both in the passenger seat, as well as removing both her holsters. She turned and began rifling through the glove box. First thing she had hands on were the chains, but she wisely kept digging. She produced two ankle wraps, trinkets of sorts from time spent attending tournaments and paling around with some of the fighters on the East Side. They were as black as her gloves, with straps atop them and spaces of even size, the bottom solid and firm. She slipped into them, tightening the straps, and with a playful daintiness, exited the car. She left the headlights on to give them a little more illumination and gave her faithful companion a goodbye kiss on the hood.
“Love ya Baby,” she intoned sweetly.
She turned to Felix.
“Alright,” she said, hand extended, “Good luck, and may the best man win.”
Felix shot a quizzical look her way, but extended his own. The beast’s metallic digits were cold as ice, chilling the pads of her fingers, and shooting from her nails right into her bones. A small shudder rattled down her back, but left her the moment they broke contact.
The fighters chose their positions carefully, placing themselves directly opposite of one another on either side of the street. Fortunately there was no one on the road, so they had the whole width of it to play with. Like a flick of a switch, the two stared daggers at one another. Without warning, they both took a flying lunge towards one another. Felix landed the first blow, knocking Lita back into the wall of a building. She gave a winded whistle as she regained her senses. He really wasn’t playing around.
Lita began running circles around the android. He kept his eye on her for the most part, but the moment she changed direction on a dime, there was a brief period of re-calibration he undertook to regain his lock on her. That was just enough time for him to take an elbow in the back of the head. It wasn’t painful, but it was hard enough to knock him down, disorienting Felix enough for her to start wailing away, digging in for weak spots. Lita could feel the blood start to seep from her bruises with each hit. Didn’t matter to her. She had already figured she would be seeing bone through the holes in her gloves.
She had just found a feeble patch of metal on Felix’s back when the android leapt up with Herculean might, slamming her into the wall behind them. He came back round for seconds when he swung her over his front and right into his knee. Lita felt her gut shrivel up, eyes widened by the sheer force of impact. Felix gave her one more to the back before launching her across the street. She didn’t make it to the other wall, but she got a taste of the faux-asphalt just before her head met the curb. Tasted about as shit as she imagined.
Felix stood, scanning with his bright crimson lenses. He could finish her at any moment, but like a scientist on the cusp of discovery, he couldn’t help but observe. Everything about this assignment left him in a state of perpetual fascination. Must’ve been something he picked up from the white coats at Headquarters.
Lita did in fact seem down for the count, but, with every ounce of power she had left in her, she managed to get up, blood dripping from her nose, and looked her opponent dead in his two, ever-watching red eyes. She flashed a shit-eating grin, steadying herself, and raising her middle finger. She kissed the air and flirtatiously beckoned him with the erected digit.
Instead of heeding, Felix chose to poke his proverbial bear for what would be the first and last time.
A glass bottle sat toppled on his side of the street. Felix caught sight of it and picked it up by the neck. Upon its procurement, he took slow, gliding steps towards the Red Devil, the Beetle steadfast in its idle state. He and Lita never broke eye contact as he proceeded to break it on the car’s bull bar. Lita seemed to think nothing of it.
Then, it happened.
Felix dragged the jagged edge of the beer across the Red Devil’s hood. The marks formed a loose impression of a wolf’s claw. He even flashed a twee grin her way as he did it.
Lita could have sworn she even saw her cherished Bug lower himself in pain.
The darkened gray’s eyes widened with rage. Her rich red pupils had only hellfire within them as she gnashed her teeth, barring her razor-sharp fangs. A growl grew within her throat, ripping through her snout into a feral snarl. Felix backed away from the Bug and towards his original fighting position. Lita broke contact to look for an implement. Her rage-filled eyes caught sight of a pole of re-bar, rusted and straight enough to be launched. She gripped it with all her might, strengthening her stance as each claw dug into the road.
She leapt off the spot and ran headlong towards the bot, and with a heaving throw, shot the rod of metal through the air. Felix tried to get a lock on its trajectory, steeling his hands, but to both parties’ surprise, the rod went right through Felix, and slammed into the wall behind him. Lita was there just in time to dig the rod in as much as she could. In his shock and stupor, Felix grabbed the fiery avenger by the throat, and raised her above him. In the daze, he had neglected the wolf’s grip on the re-bar. The stake was dragged upward along with her. Gray fluid spilled outward as wires and chips were crushed, ripped, and severed. By that point, it became a battle of pure will. Lita clutched the pole, inching as far upward as she could. Felix had all the malice of Jack the Ripper in his icy grip as he rung the life out of his opponent. Lita, a vignette forming about her vision, saw but one last chance in the pale moonlight, faintly highlighted by her scarred ride’s headlights. They had built him with a spinal cord.
Primal instinct was all she had left in her, and it was under its influence she slammed her left foot against the cord, vainly trying to get her claws to take hold. The mild acidity of what passed for Felix’s blood singed her fur and left her recoiling in pain. She took to pounding at it with the re-bar as best she could. She would miss on every other hit, but she was managing to make contact. Felix’s body began to twitch and spasm as she dealt blow after blow. With the last gasp of air she may ever take, she reeled back and stabbed at the cord. The re-bar cut clean through it, severing it. Felix’s grip was completely lost. Lita fell flat on her back as the android collapsed into a pile. The wolf spat up blood as she came back around. She looked up to see the body of Felix, limp and lifeless, with all the charm of an overgrown, disfigured doll. She managed to get up and look down at the slumped over android.
“Not bad,” she started, a cough erupting from her, “For a bot.”
She staggered her way over to the Red Devil. On her way to the driver’s seat, she took a good long look at the scrapes.
“Taking things like a champ Little Man,” she soothed.
She opened the door and lowered herself in. Setting the chains on top of her garments in the passenger seat, she went to go shift the Bug into gear when pain coursed up her left leg.
The android’s blood had done a number on the pads of her left foot. Carefully, she put the clutch down with her arch, it having been covered and largely unscathed from her last-ditch efforts, and shifted him into gear. The Bug rolled towards the curb. It was tempting to just step on it and cut right through him, but in all the anger and turbulence, Lita had found within herself a morsel of respect. The fact he was willing to even entertain such an offer was well worth the time to carry out the terms.
She fastened chains to each of the android’s limbs as tightly as possible. The other end of the set, which came to a head, was hooked onto the Red Devil’s hitch. Body secured, she got back in and slowly pulled the body towards the street lamp. Once there, she pulled out one last set of chains to bound him to the lamp post. She was just about ready to finish him off when a small impulse came over her. She knelt down and stared the machine dead in its facsimile of a face.
“If you cats go to hell, maybe I’ll see you there,” she said warmly before giving Felix a parting kiss, dead on what were his lips.
Lita limped back behind the wheel and rested her left arch on the clutch once more, this time bringing the Red Devil all the way to top gear. It was now or nothing. She slammed down hard on the throttle, and with a shriek of his tires, the Bug screamed off down the street. In a split second, they had reached the end of the chains when something peculiar happened.
With a sudden jolt, the Bug came to a stop, tires still spinning frantically. Lita looked back to see that, while he hadn’t come back to the world of the living, the android had slowly begun its regenerative process. Thousands of little nanotech agents weaving their mechanical webs to heal the fallen beast.
“Shit,” she muttered under her breath.
In a split second, she realized what she had to. Throwing her hot rod into Reverse, she sped back towards the body. The Red Devil’s rear bumper slammed into the android’s head, pulverizing it in one fell swoop. She burned out on the legs, dancing the delicate dance of keeping the chains from wrapping around his axle, and from putting the worst kind of pressure she could on her injury. After grinding Felix down some more, she finally let rip. Full throttle, all or nothing. Her companion flew forward with great swiftness, wide-tread tires smoking and spinning. She could feel the metal within the throttle as she held it down, her battered hands clinging to the wheel for dear life.
And in an instant, the job was finally done.
Lita brought the Red Devil back to the pole. Before getting out, Lita rummaged through her jacket, producing both a match and a joint. She stepped out and limped about, undoing all the chains and leaving all remnants in a single pile. She fumbled with the match for a beat, still clearly not all together after the fight, but finally struck it off her thumbnail once more. Its warm amber flames met the end of the joint, and she took a long drag off her sweet leaf. Afterwards, she dropped the match and basked in the glow of her sparring partner’s pyre.
As she clambered back into the Bug, she pulled out her phone, it having been tucked away in her jacket all the while. She hit a button as she smoked. After a while, a soft feminine voice picked up at the other end.
“Hello, Ash here.”
“Yo, Ash, it’s Lita.”
“How on God’s good gray Earth are you doing Beautiful?”
“Fine, fine. Had a hell of a night though. Can I crash?”
“Sure, just come on over.”
“God love ya Honey.”
With that, she hung up and took another drag. Into the cool misty evening she tore away, behind the wheel of her most mighty pint-sized steed, the Urban Avenger vanishing for now.
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