16: Payton


As she slipped her shield back into its home, the girl began slowly approaching her, staring intently, obviously preparing to attack. The blade remained reversed; she had no wish to kill. She merely intended to remove an obstruction as gently as possible.

As a police officer, Payton knew she should ignore that fact. Police training was clear on the subject; one did not meet a deadly blade with equal force. One met it with deadly force, and she had that deadly force on her person.

But her fight this time wasn’t against a criminal. This girl had just saved the life of a cop. Sometimes, you have to make judgement calls, and this definitely counted as one of those times.

She shifted just slightly, an adjustment made by the shrinking battle distance, as her opponent moved the circle of her striking radius closer to Payton’s position. The girl was unknowingly well inside Payton’s fighting radius, but she didn’t want to reveal that fact just yet.

From the side, Cipolli’s tracker came flying at the warrior’s head, causing her to wheel and slash through the bird-like shape. It fell apart as two halves of a paper sheet and then disappeared in flame as Payton came through with the ‘baton’ into her back.

An invisible baseball bat struck the robed warrior and she staggered while Payton came in for a second blow, backhand from the opposite direction.

A strong fighter, the ‘tribeswoman’ had already recovered and managed a parry before the blow struck. She then followed with a lunge. As Payton dodged it, wheels screamed to a stop behind her. She brought the baton home a second time, taking advantage of the warrior’s extended position, but the girl had planned for it. Payton flew backward as a kinetic wave struck her, emanating from an ethen buried within the girl’s robes.

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“Police!” Cipolli yelled.

Payton’s Rhyu’cha’e of motion, the patterns tattooed into each arm and leg, had an automatic function designed into them, a safety protocol she jokingly nicknamed the ‘airbag effect’. Rather than striking the ground hard as the warrior no doubt expected, she bounced as if covered in springs. She turned it into a backflip, ending up on her feet. The girl looked a little shocked.

Betcha never saw an old lady do that before, spook girl! she thought at her with a mischievous grin. The girl held her stance, looking from Payton, still gripping her baton, to Cipolli, his arms stretched across the roof of his car, training his Beretta on her.

“We have no quarrel,” the warrior stated in a level, Latin-colored alto.

Payton thought about it, and shrugged. “Okay, I can buy that. Just tell us what you were doing at that fire.”

She said nothing for a moment, then stated, “It is not your concern, Earther.”

“We’re the law on this world, and a warehouse just went up in flames. We’re the ones who decide what is our concern, young lady. Tell.”

Behind the woman, an action, a shape, a movement in the flux she had never witness before… and a figure seven feet tall with long white hair wearing an old fashioned fedora appeared. He wrapped his arms under her chest and stomach, and vanished with her.

“Cloak!” she yelled at Cipolli, probing furiously. “Where are they?”

“They’re gone, Payton,” he answered. “I… that… looked like a spin. They’re not on Earth, anymore.”

She couldn’t believe it, kept probing all around for nearly a minute before admitting defeat and putting her baton away.

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She took a deep breath, letting her cheeks puff out as she exhaled it, and shook her head.

“Okay, so what the hell was she, anyway? And what the hell was the guy that took her?”

- my thoughts:

Payton is a pudgy African-American grandmother. Keep that firmly in mind when reading scenes like this involving her. It makes reading scenes like this fun.

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