Heroes and villains alike are pitted against each other in a cosmic battle royale, where the winner will take all.
There is only a single rule: Survive.
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Hayden stepped back to regain her balance as the tight vice on her wrist suddenly fell slack. Her freed hand instantly shot to her belt to retrieve her own blade, knowing that her Bo would be of little help against Ivy. Hayden had only faced Poison Ivy once in the past, but that was enough to learn the redhead’s habits. She was a cunning and manipulative foe, armed with the ability to manipulate any form of vegetation to do her bidding. The woman was more plant that human herself, with greenish skin, poison in her lips, and an intoxicating release of pheromones that give her an advantage over most weak-willed men. The last time Hayden encountered this floral-siren, Ivy had placed Jason and his brother under her spell. Hayden could only hope that her new partner wasn’t so easily enthralled.
As Tommy fended off the vines targeted at him, Hayden was able to keep pace with her own. The sharp thorns glanced off her blade each time she parried, never missing a step as she allowed her instincts to guide her movements, leaving her mind free to strategize. Hayden couldn’t play defensive forever, she would need a way to bring Ivy down, preferably before her vines did any more damage to Hayden or her new partner. But time was evidently running short – the groan of metal called Hayden’s attention to the pile of debris that had fallen down on the Green Ranger, and with an alarming crack, the man disappeared beneath the floorboards.
[b “Tommy!”] Hayden shouted out as she moved to help her fallen comrade. Before she could reach the hole, however, a thick vine lashed against her stomach and threw her violently into the wall of the clock tower, knocking her blade to the ground in the process. Before Hayden could react a smaller tendril tightened around her throat. The redhead watched with a gloating smirk plain across her face, wrongfully assuming that the Green Ranger was out of commission and that Hayden was easily outmatched. Ivy should have known better than to underestimate them.
[b “Enough games!”] Hayden hissed out against the strain on her throat. Her hand slipped into her pocket, retrieving a small lighter and used the tiny flame to burn the vine around her neck. As the flames caught, the redhead let out a pained and furious shriek angered by the damage done to her [i precious babies.] As the plant recoiled from the flames, Hayden dropped to the ground and rolled away from the threat of the vines, grabbing her discarded blade in the process. A familiar shout revealed that Tommy had found his own way beck to the fight and Poison Ivy was once again outnumbered.
Hayden grabbed her second blade and cracked the casing of her lighter, spilling lighter fluid across the sharpened steel of her weapons and setting them ablaze. The twin blades twirled ominously in Hayden’s practiced hands as she settled into her stance, timing her attacks to align with Tommy’s assault. Ivy was powerful, but she was far from omnipotent. Having to control her plants consciously left the redhead vulnerable when her attention was split. So long as Hayden and Tommy attacked her at the same time, they should have the advantage.
Wielding her two flaming blades, Hayden sliced through the floral onslaught, leaving blazing tendrils in her wake. Determined to avoid being tied up for the third time this battle, Hayden kept her movements fluid and swift, rolling, dodging, and parrying the monstrous plants but always gaining ground. Retreating wouldn’t get them anywhere, she need to cut these vines off at their source. Hayden could tell that Ivy was growing anxious as the distance between them gradually closed. That fact wasn’t entirely reassuring, since desperation tended to bring out Poison Ivy’s dangerous side. Hayden was placing herself at greater risk with every step she took towards her target, but the prize would be well worth the risk if she could manage to hold Ivy’s complete attention for a few more seconds. The vines attacking Tommy were gradually growing less coordinated as the redhead’s concentration shifted more towards Hayden. If he got an opening, he could finish this witch once and for all!
Hayden dove at Ivy, slashing her flaming blade across the woman’s chest. She thanked her quick reflexes that she was able to sidestep the brunt of Ivy’s retaliation. The thorn that was meant to pierce her chest only managed to slice the skin on her lower ribs, making a simple flesh wound out of a potentially deadly injury. Carrying the momentum from her dodge, Hayden closed the gap between her and Ivy and wrapped the woman’s limbs into a fierce double arm lock that would buy precious few seconds for her partner to capitalize on. OF course the move was not without risks: if Tommy didn’t act soon enough… or at all… Hayden would have just placed herself well within striking distance of Ivy’s vines.
[h3 Too much green]
Tommy didn’t let himself be all that surprised when the room transformed from a homey space to something out of a spy movie. It was interesting to hear what Hayden had to say about her world, sure, being in other dimensions wasn’t exactly new to him, but having someone to tell him where he was and the history was pretty cool. Who knew being in some kind of battle arena could come with a little bit of a history lesson?
Like Hayden, Tommy began to scrimp together some supplies, taking a few pouches and strapping one to one arm, thigh, ankle, and a placing a few on his belt. He already had a little bit of an arsenal on his own, but his connection to the Morphing Grid seemed to be minimal, probably only enough to sustain his Ranger form. Communicating, teleporting, and calling the Dragonzord would be impossible inside of the arena, but if they got their hands on whatever got them in here…
[b “I know the feeling.”] Tommy responds when Hayden mentions she wasn’t exactly a squeaky clean hero. He himself also had sort of a shady past as ‘the sixth Ranger’. Although he was being mind controlled by a spell, he was still fully-aware of his actions, and it still caused him to have a few issues regarding trust in the team every now and again. Not to mention the power in which his Coin derived from. It was connected to the Morphing Grid, but in a [i different] way than the other Rangers. So it seemed Tommy and Hayden were a little more alike than he would’ve originally thought.
Suddenly, the Clock Tower shook, bringing Tommy out of his introspection. Walls began to crumple inwards as an unseen force seemed to squeeze the tower like a tube of tooth paste. The greenery began to manifest itself with gusto, a vine shooting out and wrapping itself around Hayden’s wrist, and one coming for Tommy who was fast enough to catch it, and slice it with his Dragon Dagger. With a fluid twist, his swings the Dagger and a sharp green energy comes from the blade, and cuts through the vine attaching itself to Hayden’s wrist, and Tommy creates some space, rolling to another part of the room, and preparing himself for battle. Instinctively, the flute part of his Dagger came to where his mouth would be on his helmet, but he quickly re-adjusts himself in to a fighting stance.
“I love what Mother Nature has done with this place, don’t you? It’s more jungle than city these days! And if my beautiful plants can do this to Gotham, just imagine what they’ll do to the two of you.” And with that, it seemed the fight began, more vines and plants came their way, Tommy’s superhuman attributes giving him the speed and strength to dodge the villainess and bounce around the room like an Olympian. He ducks one vine, avoids another, and side steps one last one as the onslaught against him seems to come to an end. [b “Is that the best you can do?”] Tommy gloats, but immediately began to worry when the redheaded woman did nothing but smirk at him. There was a sound like metal on metal above him, and before he could jump out of the way, a big metal beam and part of the ceiling collapses down towards him. He was just fast enough to catch it over his head, the Dragon Dagger skidding across the floor, as his legs buckles under the weight, and the floor does the same. He crashes through and lands on to the level below, more cackling coming from the Power Ranger sized hole in the ceiling. However, that wasn’t exactly something that would put him out of a fight, and he was on his feet again, leaping, and clearing the hole.
[b “Putting me down won’t be that easy!”] And from one of the pouches, Tommy pulls out a shuriken, but to his surprise, it was in the shape of a bat. Either or, he didn’t take his time hucking the thing at the woman, one of her plants intercepting it. However, the time it took the vine to clear the shuriken, Tommy’s hand had a glowing green ball of energy in it, and with a little bit of flare, he sends the ball of energy at the woman. Vines came to her aid, but were disintegrated with a small explosion upon impact.
Stepping into the abandoned clock tower sent a pang of guilt to Hayden’s chest. She hadn’t been here in far too long, despite the generous offer of the kind-hearted Oracle. Hayden had Jason to thank for introducing her to the former Batgirl and bringing her into the fold of Gotham’s heroes. While she still battled with the disapproval of Batman and Nightwing, Hayden had found a understanding and acceptance from Barbara Gordon, despite repaying that kindness with little more than a cold shoulder. Still, Oracle had always stated that if she were ever in need, the clock tower was always open to her. Evidently, the tech-expert was far more open to giving second chances than the rest of her Batfamily.
The clock tower showed several signs of the once-homey apartment. Scattered books from the many bookshelves, various personal affects, and a few pictures remained while the overall space had deteriorated with years of neglect. The remnants of Barbara Gordon’s life were proof enough for Hayden that this was, in fact, her own Gotham, just seemingly from several years in the future. The thought was both depressing and hopeful all at once, as despite the pain of seeing her friend’s home in ruins, it meant that there may very well be something here they could use.
[b “This universe, yes… this time? Not so much. This is Gotham City, the same city I was raised in, but it looks like this place has been abandoned for decades.”] Hayden explained, confirming Tommy’s suggestion that she was from this world. Hayden stepped around the room with careful, silent footfalls, almost afraid of causing any more harm to this once-safe haven than was already done. She paused in front of one of the dust covered shelves, bearing the weight of a familiar looking bust.
[b “Power Ranger, eh? I don’t think we have anything like that around here. You said there was six of you? Sounds like a force to reckon with.”] Hayden commented, liking her odds more and more as the stranger spoke. If his team was as powerful as Tommy let on, they should be able to find their way out of this hostage situation, same as Jason and Roy. Maybe they could all work together, escaping their captors before this arena went too far. Hayden would really prefer not having to kill anyone if she could help it. She had turned her back on that life and wasn’t too keen on revisiting that part of her past. Sadly, the past wasn’t exactly something she could escape – that painful reminder came as Hayden tilted the head of the bust back to reveal a small scanner.
[i “Identity confirmed: Nightshade aka Hayden Smaulders. Limited access granted.”] The pre-recorded voice echoed out from the small device as the scanned matched Hayden’s image to the data saved on file. Hayden tried not to be offended that she was only granted ‘limited access’ seeing as how it was a miracle Oracle even granted her that much. Following the announcement, two of the bookshelves disappeared into the floorboards, revealing two hidden compartments filled with supplies. The one – jammed after years of rust and decay rotted the mechanisms – had to be pried open by Hayden’s bo. Inside were several packs of medical supplies and some light gear: knives, rope, flashlights, matches, etc. – all useful in an arena like this. As Hayden lined her pockets, she considered Tommy’s questions.
Although she wasn’t too keen on sharing too much information with a complete stranger, in the interests of building trust and keeping a balance in their partnership, she knew she had to offer his something. The easiest question to answer just happened to be the last one he asked.
[b “Yeah, that’s Barb.”] Hayden admitted, glancing over at the photo in Tommy’s hand.
[b “She used to be a vigilante in this city until one of Gotham’s villains but her in that chair. She then took over as Oracle… the eyes and ears for all Gotham’s heroes. This clock tower was her base of operations… trust me, we’re lucky we ended up in Barbara’s city. These supplies will give us an advantage over the others.”] Hayden noted, taking what she needed but leaving a fair bit for her new partner.
[b “As for me… I’m not exactly a superhero. No secret abilities, nothing fun like that. But I can hold my own in a fight – I’ve got several years of intense martial training to thank for that. And I’m nearly invisible when I want to be. I’ve had my experience breaking in and out of just about any secured facility you can think of.”] She explained. Hayden knew she wasn’t exactly painting herself in the best light. If she was being entirely honest, she’d have to admit that she was far closer to a mercenary than a vigilante, but seeing as how Tommy was a hero in his own world, she didn’t think their partnership would last long if she told him she used to be one of the bad guys.
[b “I sort of ran with a bad crowd when I was younger…”] – [i boy, was that the understatement of the year] – [b “People like Barb and my brothers, Jason and Roy, they gave me a second chance when no one else would. That’s why I have to win this. I won’t let them down.”] Hayden admitted, shooting Tommy a sincere look of determination.
Before Hayden could say anything move a thunderous crack sounded through the building and the walls around them began to crumble, buckling inwards as if some massive force was squeezing the clock tower from the outside. The moss and vines that had claimed Oracle’s apartment over the years of neglect, suddenly surged with a life of their own, growing and spreading across the floor, inching towards the two heroes with ominous intent. Hayden took a wary step back, only to feel the sharp lash of a vine, strike out from the wall and latch around her wrist. It was all she could do to shout a warning to Tommy as a second vine shot towards him as well. Hayden had been around long enough to know who was responsible for this, long before the smug laugher of the villainess sounded through the clock tower, and it came as no surprise to the young woman to see the vibrant red hair and tinted green skin of Poison Ivy step into the room, surrounded by her monstrous plants.
[+green “I love what Mother Nature has done with this place, don’t you? It’s more jungle than city these days! And if my beautiful plants can do this to Gotham, just imagine what they’ll do to the two of you.”] Ivy gloated, motioning towards the two as more of her deadly plants shot out to ensnare Tommy and Hayden.
[h3 Lots of questions]
Tommy nods at what Hayden had to say, it was reasonable, and exactly the same way he was thinking. [b “I appreciate your candor, Hayden, and you will get the same from me as well. Like your brothers, my friends are important to me, and I won't risk their safety.”] He lets that settle for a moment, thinking on what to say next. [b “They didn't mention any rules on partnerships, so I think our alliance won't be disrupted.”] Strategically speaking, they might only put one or two people from the same universe in here together, most likely one a hero, the other a villain, most likely so they can avoid people banding together and taking the fight to the puppet masters... Which is also why they have their friends and family as collateral to create an even bigger divide. At least, that's how it made sense to him.
As they headed in to the clock tower, something Hayden said caught Tommy's attention. [b “Sorry, you said 'our'.”] He says as the elevator doors close and they begin to ascend. [b “So that means you're from this universe, I'm assuming? Home court advantage.”] It would make sense as to how she easily navigated the streets. When she mentioned the clock tower, he had assumed she saw it since on this particular island it could be seen over most of the buildings. He wouldn't dwell on it too much, being in an alliance with someone who knew where they were was extremely advantageous, especially since she seemed to be a street level hero. Hayden would no doubt know the ins and outs of this place better than anyone.
[b “On my world, I'm what's called a 'Power Ranger'. I'm part of a team of six who have the ability to Morph and gain superhuman abilities. That's why I was able to rag-doll that monster earlier. We deal with things like that on a regular basis.”] He tells her. The elevator dings, and the doors open to a decrepit space. Books and bookshelves knocked over, furniture flipped, and the windows were busted, giving the two an unobstructed view of the city and violence throughout the streets. The clock on the clock tower basically hanging out, ready to plummet to the streets below.
The Power Ranger steps in the room. [b “Why don't you tell me some fun facts about yourself, this place, and where we are.”] He takes a look around he area. [b “It's only fair, right?”] Tommy wasn't sure why Hayden brought him here. The place looked just like everywhere else in this city, so he couldn't possibly see how there could be anything useful laying around here, even if one of the heroines of this city used to live here... But to be fair, the power in the building still somehow worked.
So he begins to investigate himself, but stops when there's a sudden [i crunch!] under his boot. He moves it over and finds a picture of a redheaded woman and an older man. Crouching down, Tommy picks up the now cracked picture frame and holds it out to Hayden. [b “Was this her?”]
Slipping through the streets of Gotham was almost surreal. This was the city she had been raised in; these were the streets she called home. One the way to the clock tower, she passed the one of her old foster homes – a building that had never been pristine, but now there was little left of it but rubble. The overgrown store fronts, the crumbled remains of the high-rises, the eroded city streets and shattered street-lights… it all looked so familiar and yet, nothing like she remembered. The last time she’d seen Gotham, it was fully intact. Hayden couldn’t imagine her absence long enough for this much decay, but if these game masters had the power to bring people from other dimensions, then maybe this wasn’t truly her Gotham? Maybe this arena was taken from one of those other dimensions too?
As eager as she was to venture into the derelict clock tower to see what useful items she could salvage, Hayden gave herself a few moments to wait outside in plain view, in case her potential ally decided to show himself. She wasn’t disappointed. Before long, the green-garbed hero arrived on the scene seeming willing to at least hear her proposition. Hayden could see by his defensive posture and vigilance that he wasn’t willing to trust her blindly. The thought was actually a relief – had he taken her offer without question, Hayden would have had great concerns about his survival instincts. She didn’t need a partner that she’d have to babysit the entire time, she needed someone who was equally as capable of watching her back as she was of watching theirs. So far, this man seemed like an excellent candidate.
[b “Tommy? I’m guessing you’re not from around here? I make a point of knowing who all the players are in the field. You’re not a hero or a villain that I recognize… I guess that announcer wasn’t kidding when he mentions fighters from other worlds.”] Hayden mentioned, taking a moment to eye her potential partner. As perceptive as she was, she couldn’t detect any hostile intent from the man. It didn’t seem like he was trying to manipulate her, maybe he really was interested in an alliance, at least for the time being.
[b “Hyden.”] She stated, reciprocating the introduction.
[b “…and you’re right, they have leverage against me too: my brothers. Roy and Jason aren’t exactly helpless. No doubt they’ll be working on a plan to get themselves out of there, regardless of what happens in this arena. While they work on the outside, I could certainly use a friend to watch my back in here.”] Hayden admitted. While Arsenal and the Red Hood weren't exactly heroes, she knew they both had a soft side for the innocent. If they did manage to escape, they wouldn't just abandon the other hostages. Ideally, while Tommy and Hayden bide their time in the arena, Jason and Roy would get themselves out and help save Tommy's friends as well... or vise versa. As long as their friends escaped and the leverage over Tommy and Hayden disappeared, they could work together to find a way out of this mess with as little blood shed as possible. Of course that was just the ideal... if things didn't go as planned, this story might have a far more tragic ending.
[b “Whoever these people are, they’ve set up a game where only one of us will survive. I won’t lie to you. If we do fight through this mess together, and it ends up with just the two of us at the end, I won’t risk my brothers’ lives. I’ll fight you if I have to. But I can promise you one thing, I won’t stab you in the back. If this comes down to the two of us, I’ll be a fair fight. And if we’re lucky, it won’t come to that at all.”] Hayden told him, figuring that honesty would be her best tactic. She didn’t want any false pretenses here. Tommy should know what he’s getting into. He should know that she’d sooner risk his life than Jason or Roys, but she also expected she same from him in return. No doubt he’d be just as eager to kill her if his own friends’ lives were on the line. At least if they established some worth of trust, they could both rely on a fair fight if it ever boiled down to the two of them.
[b “This clock tower used to be headquarters for one of our local heroines. There might be something we can use in here… or in the very least the view from the top would give us a good look at what we’re dealing with. While we look around, why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself Tommy? From what I saw back there, you’re pretty fast, and you can certainly fight. Not many would pick a fight with that Lizard-breath.”] Hayden offered, heading into the clock tower. It would be safer inside than out here exposed in the streets, and they would have at least a few moments to get to know each other before the threat gravitated their way. She was curious to know exactly who she was dealing with and what sort of abilities she now had on her side. Hayden knew that while they seemed to be enjoying a brief reprieve from the fighting now, they wouldn’t be able to count on this silence lasting forever.
[h3 Dynamic Duo]
It’s been like, what? Ten minutes maybe and he’s already locked in combat with a monster. Not that Tommy hasn’t fought his fair share of monsters, but the timing of the encounter and thinking about some variables, it didn’t bode well for how regular these battles might be. He wasn’t one to play cat and mouse, but he didn’t know exactly what he was up against, and if he had to fight non-stop, he was one lucky punch from being put out of the fight and losing his friends… But that was the reality of everyone in this situation. Whoever happened to be the last weary man standing would win, so Tommy had to figure out a way to be the one in that position.
The introspection didn’t stop Tommy from paying attention to the fight, as it seemed it was about to start again. The monster crouches down to all fours, some of its muscles and sinew going taut, but just when it was about to leap for him again, something happened.
A heap of concrete from one of the buildings came crashing down on to the monster, pinning it to ground below it. Looking up, Tommy’s eye catches that of a woman, apparently the one who had decided to help him with the beast. It was much appreciated, but that could have easily been him buried under that rubble.
“Move it Green! The big guy’s friends are on their way, and you don’t want to stick around until they get here!” And apparently he was eating his mental words. Sure this was some kind of survival competition, and everyone had something at stake, but trust between others could be established. Clearly she was some sort of hero, taking the opportunity and time to help him out. Anyone else could’ve walked on by, or waited for the perfect opportunity to knock him out of the running, so this probably wasn’t a ploy, it simply wasn’t advantageous… That being said, he was still wary of the women, and didn’t sheath the Dragon Dagger when she deftly descended to his level. “If you wanna hear what I have to say, meet me at the clock tower. If not… well then, good luck to you Green.”
And with that, the woman leaves him, the beast still struggling under the rubble. It wouldn’t hold it for long, and if Tommy wanted, he could easily take it out… But he didn’t see the point in that. Plus, as a Power Ranger, he only used his weapons for defense, not execution. So much like before, Tommy bends his knees, and takes a mighty leap, landing on top of one of the factory rooves, and begins running across the top, avoiding the street level since a lot was going on down there. And he was right to do so, because like the woman said, more of those strange creatures came running and ended up in the area he just left, clearly attracted by the sound of the scuffle. Tommy counted himself lucky that, that woman had taken the time to help him, so it would only be fair to hear what she had to say. Maybe with someone on the inside, they could beat the odds and get out of here without dying and save his friends.
Running and jumping along the rooftops, Tommy sees more of the city, and those who now inhabit it. Heroes and villains like the puppet master had originally said, all fighting. Bullets were flying, explosions were going off, and objects were being thrown in this terrible cosmic battle royale. To think that this many people all from different worlds could be manipulated in to fighting one another. Tommy would just have to count himself lucky as he’s seemed to have found an ally—albeit, maybe temporarily—but there was no doubt in his mind that he too would eventually have to participate in more ways than simply braving the ‘environmental hazards’.
It didn’t take him too long, but he eventually was able to navigate his way to the clock tower in which the woman had mentioned. Luckily for him it could be seen relatively easily from wherever he was as it stood like a beacon. He crouches on the building adjacent to it, squinting to look for the woman who had clearly been trained in stealth, unlike himself. However, he spots her, more than likely because she let him, and he descends to street level, and out of plain view to avoid the other contestants. None of the fighting seemed to have made it this far, but he assumed it wouldn't take too long for it to happen.
[b “Thanks for the assist back there.”] Tommy says, thumbing back towards where he just came from. [b “You no doubt have a stake in this like I do, but I'm sure our survivability will go up if we work together, so I'm all ears for what you have to say.”] The sound of an explosion nearby goes off, and Tommy's head turns slightly towards it, peaking his head a little to look on the street, keeping an eye out for anyone else who might want to interrupt. [b “We may be the only ones willing to go doubles for the time being. They have my friends, but I think they're capable of escaping on their own... I don't think many of the others have that luxury.”] He turns his head back to the woman. [b “I'm Tommy, by the way.”] He'd take his helmet off for a proper greeting, but he was afraid a bullet might go through it if he did.
Hayden woke to an uncomfortable throbbing in her head and her ribs – remnants of her last fight in every aching muscle. The stiffness in her joints and the soreness in her limps was more of an annoyance than anything, since nothing appeared to be broken or seriously damaged. Unfortunately, her mind was less reliable than her body at the moment. She knew she had been in a fight fairly recently, but her weary mind couldn’t recall any such event. Before dwelling too long on what was unknown, Hayden decided to focus on where she was and whether or not she was currently safe. Her eyes opened to reveal a strangely familiar setting, but one she couldn’t immediately place. She was lying in the center of a decrepit room, littered with broken furniture, partially-demolished walls, and overgrown with enough fauna to show years of neglect. The exterior wall was missing, providing an unobstructed view of their former city’s business district, and in the distance, standing vigil over its forgotten home was Wayne Industries.
[b “Gotham… What the hell happened here?”] Hayden cursed beneath her breath. To see the city she was raised in reduced to this brought a mix of emotion to the young woman. It wasn’t like she had particularly fond memories of this city, but it had once been her home, and that still counted for something.
Overcoming her initial shock, Hayden’s hands flew to her belt, feeling the cool touch of her collapsible bo staff and her favourite blade still in their proper place on her hip. The presence of her weapons was both a comfort and a concern: a simple abduction would have stripped her of any means of protecting herself, which meant whoever brought her here gave her the means and opportunity to fight. While she was glad to have her tools on hand, Hayden couldn’t help the dreadful foreboding thoughts of whom and what she would have to fight.
After a quick scan of her surroundings to determine any immediate threat, Hayden allowed herself a few moments of concentration, trying desperately to recall what happened and how she got here. She remembered the invitation to meet Jason and Roy for drinks at the local pub and how anxious she was to see them, since it had been months since the three were together. There was once a time when Roy Harper and Jason Todd were like brothers to Hayden, but the past few years had been cruel and the three had drifted apart. Hayden remember staying a couple hours at the pub before she, Roy, and Jason headed out, but she didn’t recall ever making it back home. A sudden panic flooded her mind as she realized she had no idea whether her friends were safe or whether they were even with her when she’d been attacked!
Hayden’s answer came moments later when an ominous voice broke the silence of the derelict city. At first, the news that she was nothing but a pawn in whatever game these freaks were planning set the young woman’s teeth on edge. She had been used like a puppet for too much of her youth and refused to play that part again. But when the robotic screen emerged, Hayden was forced to pay attention. The images on the screen were far too alarming to ignore: Roy Harper and Jason Todd were securely bound and gagged, with several darkened bruises and lacerations covering their exposed skin. Neither vigilante was masked so Hayden had to assume they were taken as civilians. Few people were capable – or stupid – enough to try to contain both Red Hood and Arsenal, so there was an excellent chance their identities were still safe, but the glares worn by each of the boys proved to Hayden that neither of her pseudo brothers intended on being compliant.
The announcements faded to silence and the robotic orbs combusted in a rather vibrant display that showed several more potential competitors scatted throughout the arena. Hayden knew her choices were limited. As reluctant as she was to fight, she couldn’t risk any harm befalling her brothers. Roy and Jason were the farthest thing from “damsels in distress” and Hayden knew the resourceful, highly-trained pair would find their own way out from under the Game Masters’ thumbs, but Hayden would need to buy them time. They would have no chance to survive and escape if she rebelled now. Her punishment for refusing the game could be the execution of her closest friends and Hayden would not have their blood on her hands… even if it meant playing this little game to buy them some time.
According to the announcement, this arena was filled with other contestants – heroes and villains from various dimensions – that Hayden would be forced to fight and potentially put down in order to win. She had no doubt that there would be eyes all over this arena to ensure each player was living up to their role in the game. Hiding in this old building and waiting for the violence to end would not be an option, but Hayden wasn’t thrilled about a potential death match with a hero either. Perhaps her best chance would be to find a like-minded ally in all of this: someone to watch her back and help her take out some of the more challenging opponents. If everyone else fell leaving only the allies, Hayden would at least be able to count on a fair fight. Ideally, Roy and Jason will have found a way out before it came to that and Hayden would be able to weasel her way out of this mess without too many lives on her conscience. The challenge would be finding someone she could trust, who would trust her in return. Thus was the disadvantage of living life in the morally-gray… the villains thought she was a hero and the heroes thought she was a villain. Hayden didn’t belong with any of them.
The young woman’s thoughts were sharply interrupted by a vicious roar and the familiar clash of a near-by battle. It seemed as though the other contestants weren’t wasting any time; the lethal fights were already starting. Figuring that it would be better to sneak up on her adversaries than have them sneak up on her, Hayden decided to follow the sounds and scope out her potential opponents. With swift, light feet a relative familiarity of the city, Hayden was able to slip through the Gotham streets undetected, arriving on the crumbling rooftop overlooking a rather violent clash below. Hideous beasts were no strange sight in Gotham city, but the man dressed in green caught Hayden’s attention. He was clearly a her-type – few villains carried themselves with that much valour – but not one she had seen before. He clearly wasn’t Justice League, nor any independent featured on the news. Perhaps this was one of those other-dimensional heroes mentioned in the announcement?
Hayden watched the fight for a few moments before deciding to intervene. If all went well, Hayden might have found a candidate who’d be willing to work with her. If not… well, at least there will be two less competitors to worry about. The stranger appeared to be holding his own against the massive form circling him. That was an impressive feat in itself, seeing as how the mutated bulk was several times his size with limps as deadly as any of the weapons in Hayden’s arsenal. Still, the monstrous creature was not Hayden’s main concern. What frightened her more was the attention it would attack with the amount of noise this fight was making. No doubt several others were on their way, looking to pick of the weary victors of this fight before they could recover. Until she knew exactly who and what she would be dealing with in this arena, Hayden knew it would be wiser to keep her battles short and sweet so as not to attract unwanted attention. For this reason, the young woman ignored the temptation to leap down there and throw her own fists into the match. Instead, she sought a swift and sudden exit.
Lodging her bo into the cracking foundation of the roof, Hayden was able to get enough leverage to pry a large piece away from its support, sending a massive load of concrete cascading down on top of the fearsome beast. The debris wouldn’t be enough to kill a creature of that size, but it would at least buy the green-garbed stranger some time to act.
[b “Move it Green! The big guy’s friends are on their way, and you don’t want to stick around until they get here!”] Hayden called down to the man, still unsure of whether he would prove to be friend or foe. All she knew was that the other villains would soon be on their way, intrigued by the sounds of the fight, and she had no intention of being here when they arrived.
Hayden let the stranger decide whether he was going to finish the beast or leave him to rot. With practiced agility, Hayden swung down to the moss-covered fire-escape, not the least bit hindered by the missing steps and gaping holes in the structure. She landed gracefully, despite the protest in her injured ribs, and spared a curious glance towards the man in green.
[b “If you wanna hear what I have to say, meet me at the clock tower. If not… well then, good luck to you Green.”] Hayden offered before slipping away in the direction of the large, fractured clock tower still visible above the ruins of Gotham City. The tower would give them a safe vantage point, a good overview of the demolished city, and – if this truly was the same Gotham Hayden was raised in – some useful supplies hidden in Oracle’s old base of opperations.
[h3 The Unknown]
This wasn’t exactly the most ideal situation for Tommy to be in. He knew he was in trouble the second he came to, and there were two simple reasons for that: he didn’t remember passing out, and when he woke up from his dreamless sleep, he was already morphed in to the Green Ranger. So red flags all around… And that wasn’t even mentioning where he ended up waking up either. He was surrounded by trees and fauna, obviously deep in the woods, and incredibly worried about how he ended up here, and morphed. He wasn’t dealing with mind control again, was he? It couldn’t be, he was passed that now, and there were things put in place to make sure it didn’t happen again. But there had to be an explanation to why he was here and already apparently ready for battle.
[b “I don’t think this is Angel Grove.”] Tommy mumbles to himself, raising his hand in the air. A little bit of green static electricity builds up around him, and his figure distorts, almost as if parts of his body were fading in and out of view, but the static grew, burst, and then nothing happened. It looked like teleporting out of wherever he was wasn’t an option either, and he knew right away his communicator wouldn’t work. So the next step would be for him to figure out where he was, and then why he was here.
So taking that next step, Tommy begins to jog through the forest, jumping and vaulting over fallen trees and roots until he could finally see the end of the forest, just beyond it a city.
And just before he hit the clearing, there was more static, but this time, it sounded like radio static. It was followed by an ear-splitting screech, before a voice came over the near silent area, almost like he was in a dome of sound. Tommy stops to listen, intent to hear some answers as to why he was in this precarious situation.
“I’m sure you’re all wondering how you got here,” A voice resounded loudly through the area. He didn’t recognize it, nor could he recognize the accent, but he almost sounded British. And apparently Tommy wasn’t the only one here either… That was never good. “That part isn’t important. What’s important is this experiment; taking all of you, heroes and villains from different worlds, and pitting you against each other.” Yeah, sure, like that was going to happen. “And before you think you can band together and figure out a way to try and escape, just know one thing:” And out of the trees, some kind of weird floating robot with octopus-like limbs shoots from the brush, stopping mere inches from Tommy’s face, his Dragon Dagger almost touching its glass eye. Suddenly, a hologram appears before him, it wasn’t a still image, whoever was moving the camera was swaying a little, but what they were showing him made Tommy gasp. In the hologram were the other five Morphers. “We have something you want. And to get it back, the rules for you are very simple; survive and win. So without further ado: Let the games begin.” And with that, the weird robot thing shoots in to the sky and explodes like a firework, and while looking up there, he could see others going off like fireworks all around the area and inside the city.
[b “Oh shit.”] Tommy says and begins sprinting in to the city… And it was in ruins.
Buildings were breaking apart or collapsing. Cars, concrete, and signs were covered in overgrowth. The ground was cracked, and there were no end of sinkholes around leading down to who knew what. It looked like this place had been lost and forgotten for a long time, so in Tommy’s mind, it would make a perfect battle arena for those who were here. And like the man on the PA system said, he couldn’t not fight. They had his friends. It wasn’t a perfect plan, but it definitely was one that gave him incentive, and probably everyone else incentive to fight and to win… So now that he got a grasp on the battlefield, and the conditions, the next thing he needed to figure out was who or what he was up against. He didn’t like surprises, but he’s beaten the odds before. They were in a giant city, and it seemed the other contestants were spread out, no doubt to prolong this competition, so the next best thing for Tommy would be to get to higher ground, which was easy enough for him. Staying away from being out in the open would also be a good idea for the time being until he could strategize better.
Although the city was falling apart, there were still more high rise buildings that were standing that provided Tommy with cover as he moved through the streets and into an alleyway. It looked like he was in some kind of industrial area; lots of large warehouses and factories. It seemed like this city was a centre of economics considering all of the buildings, their close proximity, and design. It'd be easier to be ambushed or to ambush because of the cramped space, but that's why he was doing some scouting.
Bending his knees, Tommy prepares to do a mighty leap to one of the tops of the building when something suddenly catches his attention. Movement out of the corner of his eye. For a second he thought his mind was playing tricks on him, until there was suddenly more movement from the shadows, and a large figure with intense speed sprang at him. With a back handspring, Tommy avoids a claw that shatters the concrete where he was just standing a split second ago. He doesn't get too much time to take a look at his attacker, but it looked like an amphibian, like a hunchbacked hulking frog crocodile mess. It's arms were the biggest part of it, and clearly the biggest problem.
It lunges at Tommy again, but this time he was ready, corkscrewing between its attack, and landing a solid kick to the side of its bulbous head. The power from his kick sends it spiralling in to a dumpster, turning the box in to a bow shape upon impact. It didn't seem like it was out of the fight just yet, and Tommy wasn't exactly surprised that it wouldn't be that easy to put this puppy down. He reaches for the holster on his side and unsheaths the Dragon Dagger, prepared for more of a fight.
"As some of you have probably come to realize," another voice--a different voice--resounds through the area, this one more distorted. "There may be some... [i environmental] hazards as well, just in case you weren't taking us seriously before."
[b "Oh, I got that."] He says to himself as the monster begins picking itself out of the crumpled dumpster. He gets in to a more ready fighting stance as the thing growls at him, and moves around him like a cautious shark judging its prey. [b "Come on ugly, I don't have all day."]
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