Adrian Toomes, walking lightly towards the subway, notices several people ahead looking up and pointing, mouths agape in shock or wonder or fear. Almost instinctively, Toomes looks up and then it his turn to gape. Overhead, clearly visible, is a flockfor lack of a better termof winged horses, each mounted by a spear-armed woman...
Adrian's hesitation at the sight is barely a second, if that, before his enhanced reflexes propelled him into action. He spun on his heel and sprinted across the avenue to a nearby alley, desperately hoping everyone's attention was so riveted to the sight above that they didn't question a sixty year old man vaulting over a yellow cab and sliding across the hood of a Ford sedan. Once in the shadows of the alley he was stripping off his shirt and donning the armor at a full run.
"I have to look into this...Honestly, I couldn't live with myself if I didn't. Armed women on winged horsesthose are Valkyries. What do I know about Valkyries?" His clothes were stuffed into the bag (ironing needs to be done for sure) and the armor was on in seconds. The helmet slid into place with a click, and the radio circuits showed yellow, then green after an instant's warm up. "Wagner wrote about them. Did they collect the souls of the dead? They're German, no, Norse. Maybe both. They fly winged horses, which are Pegasi, which are Greek...Which doesn't make any sense at all..." The suits EM field went live at Adrian's cybernetic command, strengthening the armor and carrying his feet off the ground. "What we know for sure is that we don't know an awful lot about Mythology...." Adrian's thoughts raced as the armor carried him over one and two story rooftops of Long Island City.
He dipped low over his own roof, dropped his bag into a concealed spot, and turned his attention skyward again. The winged women were away from Queens, crossing the river at a good clip towards Manhattan. At that rate of speed, given that Union would have to match their altitudewhich isn't easy without a good field to work withhe'd never reach them. The best he could do for that would be to hit the Roosevelt Island Skyway, but that was too far away and he'd still be playing catch-up. "I need a way to get ahead of them, then above them to see what they're...OK. Got it. Though I could probably be committed for trying this, it should work..."
People were still staring at the flying women, but there was a chorus of shouts and a sea of pointing hands as Union dropped even lower, then dove straight into the 23rd St.Ely Avenue subway station. In theory, Union's armor developed thrust and velocity by pushing itself off of electrical fields. He could reach his best speeds with a strong, stable field to push off of. The best one available was the electrical line that powers the NY Subway system. Adrian skimmed over the heads of the waiting passengers, issued a brief Hail Mary and started his trek down the E line into Manhattan.
The tunnel itself was easyhe skimmed over the top of one train, with two inches of clearance on top and bottom. "Without the suit this would be impossible. No one is this balanced and coordinated without it. With the suit, it's easy. How powerful is this thing?" Internal monitors clocked his speed at slightly over 400 MPH across the river, a speed he had to drop when the tunnel hit Manhattan and developed some curves and more traffic. Adrian cut his speed to 325, rocketing past three other trains, several hundred rats and one confused subway worker. If he'd had time, Adrian would have waved. Magnetic scanning showed the path of the tunnel ahead by the curve in the field. Trains registered as masses of metal and shifts in field strength. Union had all the time he needed to adjust his flight plan and account for them.
5th street station loomed ahead. That would lead to the park. Clear view, but no way to match their height. Let it pass. He started breaking at 42nd street, and touched the ground hands first in a speed-absorbing roll at Penn Station. Three tumbles and a forward leap over some startled passengers before Union's feet hit the ground, his hard rubber soles giving perfect traction. He was already running full tilt for the stairs. Vault over the turnstile, his feet not touching the ground again as he cleared out into the sunlight, a stone's throw from the Empire State Building. Perfect.
Union skimmed close to the ground, then locked onto Empire State's Power Grid. It wasn't as strong as the subway, but it would more than serve. He became a silver streak, reaching the top of the building in seconds and holding himself there, fifteen feet from the spire. That should have gotten him ahead of them. If not, they were just entirely too fast.
No there they were, closing on the park. The distance made it hard to count, but Adrian did his best, bringing the magnetic scanning back on line to see if they were machines or something else entirely. The registered as totally organic, save for the tips of their spears. *So much for easy answers. Now what?*
In the air with them were at least three other flying figuresone bathed in green light, one with huge black wings coming off his back and another racing to catch up with the first horsewoman. All of them were sharing the sky with a flying mail truck coming from uptown.
Adrian sighed. It looked like Valkyries were the least of his concerns.
Bethany and Stern both spot each other at the same time, Bethany rocketing around a skyscraper as Stern, his ink-black wings cutting the cool air, passes the same building's facade. But, before either can react, from around another high-rise, comes a ragtag formation of women riding winged horses, all heading further south...
Aegis flashes the dark winged man a smile and immediately changes direction using her lightning speed to accelerate to her maximum speed giving chase to the women on the winged horses wanting to get close enough so ask the one in the lead, "What's up ladies, why the rush... some Norse religious fanatic buy the farm and you're just making a pick up?"
Sam drew up short as he rounded the building, almost running into the redhead that burst through the air in front of him. He gazed at her in utter amazement for a split second. "I thought I was the only one...." he thought to himself. As it turned out Sam had no time to think, as his attention was drawn to a large formation of women in the distance brandishing spears and riding winged horses.
"What the hell?" he whispered to himself as he turned back to the redhead, just in time for her to toss him a smile as she shot away after the newcomers. "I hadn't expected to run into this much air traffic," he said with a chuckle as he turned his dark, universe revealing eyes back to the formation. "Better go see what's up."
Samuel was well aware that his appearance when the power rose within him could be quite disconcerting if one wasn't used to it. He had almost fainted the first time he had looked in the mirror. His skin and hair were drained of color, like an albino. His eyes each became jet black, like onyx, only filled with little points of light. They almost looked like stars if one stared hard enough. The topper though were the large dark black wings which protruded from his back. All in all, his appearance was far from ordinary.
Quickly collecting his thoughts he shot after the group, his mind frantically trying to recall where he remembered the look of these women from. He silently cursed the fact that he hadn't finished school as he shot rapidly into the air at full speed in an attempt to get around and over his quarry so that he could drop down in front of them.
The women appeared to be headed towards a park of some sort, and they were being closely followed by the redhead. But.... what was that behind them? "A mail truck?...This gets weirder and weirder," he observed.
A man bathed in a green glow also followed along behind as the redheaded woman closed the distance. Sam turned back around, looking down. There, in the direct path of the group of women hovered a man in some sort of powered armor. Sam slowly shook his head as he began his dive towards the front of the group. "And I thought that 'DarkAngel' would be weird. Turns out, I'm just another shmoe." Sam shrugged as he continued his dive. "Oh well..." he sighed, "I guess that's life in the big city."
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© 1999 Mark L. Chance et al