Boston- May, 2005
Wraith loved the feel of swinging through the air. Nothing beat the rush she felt in between firing off her grappling gun and her feet touching the ground on the next rooftop. If nothing else, the past five months she had spent working as a vigilante in Boston had shown her what it felt like to go soaring through the skyline. And when this gig ended (Wraith wasn't stupid enough to believe that this would never end- that's not how the Dragon's legacy worked) and Wraith had moved on to some posting in the military or patrolling the streets as a cop, at least she would be able to fondly remember the months or years she had spent doing this. At least she wouldn't ever have to look up at the sky anymore and wonder.
As she landed, Wraith lifted her hand to rub against her forehead the best she could against the full cowl that completely covered her face. The grey body-suite Wraith wore under the layers of gauzy gray material was made of an aramid similar to Kevlar. While lighter and much more flexible, it didn't do much in the way of dispensing body heat- especially now with the gauze wrapped around her shoulders and the full cowl factored in. There was a cooling unit Wraith could attach to her utility belt and run through the suit for the summer heat. But Wraith hadn't been wearing it. It had been late November when she had first taken up this mantle and winter had already been setting in. This was the first time the young vigilante had been uncomfortably warm in her uniform.
A few steps ahead of her, Gargoyle fired off his grappling gun again and jumped. Wraith wondered if he felt the same rush when his feet pushed off solid ground. Gargoyle was so stoic in everything- getting in far too much practice for when the Dragon mantle was finally passed on to him. He would be perfect for it. He could definitely do the scary growl in a way the current dragon couldn't manage. But then Gargoyle wouldn't need to use the voice synthesizer. Dragon could certainly come off as quite intimidating with her own voice. It was the male synthesized voice that ruined the effect.
Speaking of Dragon, she was already waiting for Wraith and Gargoyle when they arrived at the penthouse that had been broken into that evening. The police and Boston's superhero team had already come and gone from the crime scene and the owners were staying somewhere else for the night. Since vigilantism was illegal in the United States, cops and superheroes were ordered to arrest the Dragon and her two sidekicks on sight. Those orders varied depending on who they were dealing with. The homicide and sex crimes units were always happy to have an extra hand. Larceny was more territorial. As for the superheroes, the Boston team's current leader, Temporale, was desperate for the fame he would garner for being the superhero that brought down the Dragon. The three vigilantes tried to avoid him as much as possible. Although, just last week Wraith had watched Dragon give Temporale a beating he rightly deserved and it had cheered her immensely.
The Dragon and Gargoyle uniforms were as similar to each other as they were different to the Wraith costume. Dragon's bodysuit was green and Gargoyle's was gray. Over the body-suite each vigilante wore kevlar body armor that covered their upper body, arms and legs. Dragon's armor was green, scaled and designed to hide her more feminine attributes so she looked as broad shouldered and imposing as the first dragon (criminals on the streets believed that there had only ever been one). Gargoyle's armor was made to look like stone. Those uniforms were not as light and not as flexible as Wraith's. Because Wraith was a ghost- wearing a costume that was meant to make her untouchable. Dragon and Gargoyle were creatures of the night. And nothing made that clearer than the masks they wore. Dragon's had the long dragon snout covering the bottom of her face with silver horns thick horns that pointed up in the air. Gargoyle's only covered the top half of his face and had ram horns that curled around either side of his head. Wraith would have preferred either of those masks to her featureless cowl.
"I've got the police reports," a male voice rasped of the communicator tucked in Wraith's ear. That was Victor Crewe, the original Dragon, giving them orders from his super computer back at the Dragon's Lair. Victor had been doing superhero work since the thirties and was closing in on 100. Confined to a wheel chair now, Victor was no less intimidating than those who used his legacy to fight crime in Boston. He had had many apprentices over the years and none of them were on speaking terms with him anymore. Wraith really didn't like the odds of her, Gargoyle or Dragon being buddy-buddy with Victor ten years down the road.
"What does it say?" Dragon asked. The voice synthesizer was supposed to make her sound similar to Victor. Wraith could only assume that the synthesizer was based on what Victor had sounded like when he was young and healthy instead of old and decrepit. That deep baritone coming from Dragon sounded nothing like the raspy wheezes coming over the communicator.
"Jazlyn Yap," Victor said. "She left her calling card and took a priceless piece of art."
"Any fencers in the area?" Gargoyle asked. During the day he had a Spanish accent. But he had undergone a lot of training in accents (they all had) and had taken to using a Boston accent when the mask was on. All to ensure he would make the perfect Dragon when the time came. "A piece that hot, she's going to want to dump it fast."
"That's not Yap's style," Wraith said. Dragon and Second Law (one of the superheroes in the city who Wraith definitely wasn't supposed to be talking to) had briefed her on the history of Jazlyn Yap, Master Thief. It was a long and sordid history for someone who couldn't be much more than eighteen. At this point, Jazlyn had the attention of the entire superhero community.
"Wraith's right," Dragon said. "Check to see if anyone tried to buy the piece recently or was sending out feelers for someone to steal it. If Yap doesn't already have a buyer in line, she'll drop the piece off at the police station."
Gargoyle snorted and turned his attention to the penthouse's security system. "I know Yap likes breaking into these state-of-the-art systems just for the fun of it, but that seems like a pretty lousy reason to be a thief. Superheroes get to break into places all the time- legally. She has powers, right?"
"Innate perception," Dragon said.
"I don't care why she does it or that she sometimes returns what she steals," Victor growled. "I want her off the streets, tonight."
Wraith and Gargoyle looked at Dragon. That's not the way Yap was handled within the hero community. Yap's innate perception allowed her to know the entire history of a person just by looking at them. So she knew the secret identities of most of the superheroes in the states. She certainly didn't start stealing stuff in a city unless she knew the secret identity of every single superhero who worked in that city. And that was a feat when you went into a city like New York- where Yap did most of her thievery.
"We can't do that," Dragon said. "You know that."
"Yap is a menace," Victor growled. "Someone needs to get her off the street. If the heroes are too spineless to do it that leaves us."
"She knows all of our identities," Dragon said. "She knows about you. She can bring your whole legacy down with a word and she will if we arrest her. It's not worth it- not for a thief who is virtually harmless."
"Take her down, Dragon," Victor said. "That's an order."
"We don't compromise," Victor said. "Not ever. No matter what the cost."
"Yes, sir," Dragon said. She sounded defeated, but Wraith knew better. She saw the ever so slight nod that Dragon sent in her direction. Wraith had jumped off Victor's grid before in order to rescue some girls that no one else had believed were kidnapped. She had been able to keep her position on the team with only a small suspension for disobeying orders in large because she had been right. Those girls would have been murdered if she had stood by Victor's orders. That he had made such a terrible call gave Wraith a fair amount of leeway right now when it came to following orders.
This was a dangerous one to try and slip by him because Yap was so well known throughout the country and since he seemed so dead set on bringing her in no matter what the cost. But Wraith had to try. It wasn't just Victor and the three of them who would be arrested for vigilantism if Yap gave up their names to the police. There was Anne, Victor's housekeeper who had stood faithfully by his side for the past thirty years. There was Ryder, the young boy who also lived under Victor's guardianship but was too young to be out on the streets with the rest of the team. And there was the insurmountable number of protégés who had filtered in and out of Victor's life and Legacy over the years. Many of them had gone on to live productive lives after Victor had cut them out of his because they disobeyed an order or failed to live up to his expectations. Their lives would be shattered if Yap named names. That wasn't fair and it wasn't fair of Victory to even think of giving his former protégés up like that. He had already damaged them enough.
And so it was up to Wraith to make sure that Yap got out of Boston before she got herself arrested. Gargoyle didn't have it in him to go against Victor's and Wraith would have to work carefully to make sure that he didn't interfere with her attempt to get Yap out of town. Dragon would hopefully be able help with that. She could send Gargoyle off in the opposite direction of Wraith and ensure they never met up during the night. But if she was busy keeping Gargoyle and Victor off of Wraith's tail, she certainly wouldn't be able to assist Wraith with locating the master thief.
Fortunately, Wraith did have some contacts in the city that would help her in this. Second Law, of course. Wraith couldn't imagine doing something like this without the mass manipulator's help. Also, there was a Harvard PhD student who had never hesitated to offer her considerable brain power when Wraith was in a pinch.
"We split up," Dragon said. "Yap is a decent fighter, but that is largely dependent on her ability to know her opponent's fighting habits through her powers. But she needs a clear line of sight and eye contact for those powers to be most effective and our helmets and optical sensors should be able to keep her from getting a clear reading. That said, call if you engage her. Wraith, head to west across the river. Gargoyle, same thing, but go north. I'll take downtown."
"I want this settled tonight," Victor said.
"And it will be," Dragon said. "You've got your assignments, get moving."
Wraith turned and fired her grappling gun, jumping out the window. Hopping semi-trucks, Wraith was pretty sure she could make it to the Harvard Science Center in less than a half-hour. And lucky for her, tonight was Wednesday. Her PhD student—one Midge Cratty- would be the only one in the biophysics lab, which made things easier. It was nearly impossible to discretely get the student's attention when the lab was filled with her colleagues. And maybe if Wraith was really lucky, Second Law would see her jumping semis and give her a ride to the science center.
But first Wraith would have to find a discreet location to dump the communicator and tracker Victor made them carry. She couldn't have the rest of her teammates finding her before she was able to find Jazlyn Yap.