Mockingbird

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Raven stared incredulously. With a proper kick, he could break a concrete block. The force-enhancers built into his suit could double that strength. Any attack aimed at She-Tank would require his full strength just to make her stagger.

So how did a twig of a girl block it with one hand?

“Don’t hurt her!” she said. She pushed Raven away. It was a simple motion, but Raven hit the thick iron door across the hall hard enough to dent it. “It’s not her fault! The violet man played bad songs!”

Raven winced as he picked himself off the ground. His suit wasn’t designed to take that kind of abuse.

The girl was maybe five feet tall, with an underfed look to her. Her rust-colored hair was cut short, and sweat plastered it to her dark skin.

“Who are you?” he asked, more to himself than anything. He’d fought a most of the supervillains in the city, and read all of the files on anyone he hadn’t, but she didn’t fit any of them.

“If I tell you my name, will you leave my friend alone?” she asked, a note of uncertainty cutting through her brave tone.

“I’m here for Mayhem. If she lets me pass, and stays in the hospital, I have no desire to hurt her.”

“You promise?”

“I swear.”

“Okay, my name is…” she frowned. She suddenly fell to her knees, clutching at her head. “I forgot! They took my name! They took it!”

She-Tank let out a low growl and stepped forward, a physical embodiment of aggression. The smaller girl grabbed her leg as she went past, but She-Tank was nine feet tall and weighed five-hundred pounds. She didn’t even notice the extra weight.

“You hurt my mockingbird!” she roared, her voice deafening in the narrow hallway. “You took her name! Give it back!”

A sudden tensing in her shoulder muscles was all the warning Raven got. He dropped to the ground as She-Tank’s fist bashed the dented door out of it’s frame and cracked the walls around it.

This wasn’t good. She-Tanks was a bruiser. She wasn’t very smart, and she didn’t have any real skills beyond “hit hard”. In most situations, beating her wasn’t hard, but the asylum’s halls would make dodging her blows almost impossible.

He lashed out with a kick aimed at her shin. Her shin might as well have been an iron wall, but that was fine. His goal was to put some distance between him and She-Tank, and the force was enough to push him through the ruined doorway and into the next hall.

The giant knocked large chucks of the wall loose as she stomped after him. Then the nameless girl zipped between She-Tank’s feet and flew to levitate in front of her. She put her hands on She-Tank’s shoulders, and they looked tiny against the rippling muscles.

“You have to stop, Lacey,” she said, tears in her voice. “Please, stop. He’ll hurt you.”

One girl can rip through walls, Raven thought to himself, and the other is… whatever she is. So why am I being treated like the monster?

“He hurt you,” She-Tank said, with an anger in her voice Raven had never heard from her before. It was the adrenaline fueled rage he was used to, but a deep, personal anger. “I’ll kill him for that.”

“No!” the tiny girl insisted, and she actually prevented She-Tank from stepping forward. “I don’t want you to hurt him. I don’t want anyone to get hurt. He didn’t hurt me. The Others did. I shouldn’t have tried to remember. It was my fault.”

She-Tank clutched at her temples and roared. “No! He hurt you!”

“He didn’t,” the other girl said in soothing tones. “Listen to me, Lacey. He didn’t hurt me.”

“I… I… He’s here to take you away from me! I hate him!”

“No you don’t. It’s the violet man and his songs. Don’t listen to him.”

“If I kill him, the songs will go away!” She pushed forward, and the small girl started to lose ground.

“No, the songs were here before him. The violet man brought them. He doesn’t want you to be Lacey, but I do. Don’t listen to his songs.”

“They’re in my head. They won’t go away. Sing for me, mockingbird. Make them go away.”

The small girl nodded. She hovered to sing into the giant’s ear, practically sitting on her shoulder.

“Hush little baby, don’t say a word.

Momma’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.

And if that mockingbird won’t sing.

Momma’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.”

There was nothing magical about the song. Raven had encountered enough magic to recognize one when he saw it. But with every verse the girl sang, She-Tank relaxed more and more. Raven had never seen her so calm before.

Without any warning, She-Tank grabbed a large piece of concrete from the remnants of the door, and smashed it against her own head. The concrete shattered into powder, and she collapsed to the ground.

“Lacey!” the girl cried out.

Raven put a hand to She-Tank’s neck. Finding her pulse was about as difficult as finding a band at rock concert.

“She’s okay,” he said.

“Why did she…”

“She probably figured it was the only way to fight whatever Mayhem put in her head.”

“Are you going after the violet man?”

“Mayhem, yes. He’s probably gotten whoever he was here for and gone by now. She-Tank – I mean Lacey. He just used her to slow me down.”

She bent over Lacey and kissed her gently on the forehead. “I want to help. I don’t… I don’t like seeing people get hurt. But he can’t go around taking people away from themselves. Let me help, mister. Please?”

Raven really didn’t want to take her with him. She was clearly here for a reason, and he’d be responsible for anything she did. On the other hand, he suspected that if she wanted to follow him, there wasn’t a lot he could do to stop her.

“Call me Raven,” he said. “And I need something to call you.”

She frowned. “They took my name. Please don’t ask me that.”

Raven glanced at the sleeping She-Tank. Other than a dark bruise forming under her ash-grey skin, she looked remarkably peaceful.

“She called you ‘mockingbird,’ but that doesn’t sound right for herowork. How about ‘Lark’?”

“I like that,” she said with a smile.

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Raven and Lark

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Bison hoped the police would get there soon, which wasn’t something he usually hoped. As a criminal, it was generally in his best interests for the police to take as long as possible.

He was a simple man, though, so the irony passed by him unnoticed. He was more concerned with how cold the night was, the uncomfortable sensation of blood pounding in his ears, and the tingling in his feet.

A young woman appeared in front of him. There were several things remarkable about this, but they all really boiled down to the fact that Bison was dangling upside-down from a gargoyle thirty stories up. The only thing in front of him should have been the building across the street.

But this girl sat in the air, perfectly still, as if she were sitting on a chair that was both several hundred feet off the ground, and upside-down. She was dressed in form-fitting white spandex that covered every inch of her scrawny form, including her face. As far as Bison was concerned, this explained everything.

“Hi,” she said, casually. “How ya doing?”

Bison really couldn’t see any benefit in not being polite. “I’ve honestly been better.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can do to help?”

Bison’s partner, Jimmy, who was hanging one gargoyle over, answered. “Yeah, you could let us down!” There might have been a chance the strange girl would have listened, if Jimmy hadn’t immediately followed it with an ethnic slur. The old-fashioned sensibilities Bison’s mother had instilled in him paused just long enough for him to note that there was no particular way of knowing what race the levitating girl was. Jimmy had never been one to let facts get in the way of his prejudices, however.

The girl flipped right-side up and hovered over towards Jimmy. She ran one hand along the rope he hung from.

“I could do that,” she said with a cruel, mischievous giggle. Her hand shifted into a bestial claw.

“Wait, wait!” Jimmy said. “I didn’t mean it! Bison, tell her I didn’t mean it!”

She looked at Bison. Her expression was impossible to read behind her mask, but her body language made it clear she was waiting for Bison to answer.

“He’s an idiot,” Bison told her. “He probably doesn’t even know what the word means.”

She let out an exaggerated sigh. “Fine.” Lowering until they were face to face, she tapped Jimmy on the nose with her clawed hand. “But you be more polite, okay?”

A scrabbling sound announced the arrival of a fourth person on the skyline. Looking down, Bison could see a man climbing up the side of the building as if it were a ladder.

“Lark,” he chastised, when he reached their level. “Don’t go running off like that.” He wore body armor over his black tights.

She bowed her head. “Sorry, John.”

“Raven,” he corrected her automatically, before turning to Bison. “So, it looks like Vengeance caught up to you.” Raven studied him for a moment. “You don’t look too hurt. He must be in a good mood tonight.”

“Small blessings,” Bison said dryly. “I don’t suppose you could let us down? I won’t run away or nothing. Or at least tell someone we’re up here? I just don’t wanna be stuck up here until some bloke comes in to work tomorrow.” He blanched as a thought occurred to him. “It’s Friday, isn’t it?”

Raven glanced at a complicated looking device on his arm. “Technically it’s Saturday now, but I get your point. Lark?” he said. The girl looked up from her reflection in the window. “Would you mind carrying these men down?”

“I’ll carry him,” she said, pointing at Bison. “The rude one can stay up here all week.”

“Lark,” he said in an I’m-warning-you tone.

“No. He was mean, and I don’t wanna touch him.”

“Like I’d want you to,” Jimmy snapped. “Ain’t superchicks supposed to have big tits?”

“I’d like to point out the boss assigned him to me,” Bison put in quickly. “I’m not with him by choice.”

Lark was reaching out for Jimmy’s rope again.

“Lark,” Raven said. “What are you doing?”

“I’m not gonna kill him for being rude,” she said, her voice exasperated. “I just wanted to make him squirm. Still… he should learn to be nicer, especially when he’s asking for help.” She shoved him. Not hard, but enough to send him swaying and spinning.

“I feel sorry for anyone walking down below,” Bison said, as his partner’s face started to turn green.

Raven sighed. “We can tell the police he’s up here when we drop you off. I don’t think some poor janitor needs this guy ruining his day.”