Julie looked up from her laptop as Whiplash squeezed herself in through the window.
"Either the window is shrinking, or you're putting on weight. I think the window's shrinking." Julie said.
Ellen rolled her eyes and pulled off her helmet.
"Whoa. What happened to your face?"
"Cray with a mini-bat." Ellen said, taking off her gear. She stowed her gear before going to the bathroom to rinse her wounds.
"Hey, uh, someone's coming over sometime, I don't know when, but when they do, hide yourself in my room."
"Whom?" Julie asked, sending in the article.
"Ooh, Ellen Stephenson, dating?"
"No," Ellen said. "It's Ghost."
"Ghost? You mean the guy that STABBED you?" Ellen nodded. "I don't completely trust him, which is why I want you to hide."
"Fine." Julie said. "Just yell if you need help."
Ghost arrived several hours later, around midnight.
Thankfully, Julie had gone to bed in Ellen's room.
Ellen pulled the door open, her gear and helmet already on.
"Ghost." She said, pushing the door closed behind him. "What the hell do you want now?"
Ghost glanced around at the boxes. "Moving?"
"No, storage." Ellen said. "So, what's so important that requires your intrusion of my home?" Ellen demanded.
Ghost picked up a picture from the shelf.
It was of her and Julie, in the park.
"A friend of yours?"
"None of your concern, but yes. Hurry up with your business. I'm busy." Ellen growled.
"Fine, fine. I hear the Crays are plotting a drug transport. You might want to look into that."
Ghost said, brushing dust from the shelf.
"Around the harbor." He said.
He turned and bumped into the shelf. Ellen's photos crashed to the floor.
"Sorry." He turned and swept from the room.
Ellen shook her head and went to work picking up the glass and putting the pictures back on the shelf.
Julie tapped her pen as she edited an intern's article. She was reading about milkshakes, but her mind was elsewhere. On drugs.
Not literally, but on Whiplash. Ellen was -Oh!
Julie fixed a punctuation error before glancing at the clock.
Eleven thirty. Ellen promised to met her at McDonald's, no matter what.
Julie took a seat with a cup of coffee.
A few minutes later, a girl wearing a beanie and jacket shuffled in, taking a seat next to her.
"Hey. How'd it go?" Julie asked.
"The cops are on the scene now." She replied, taking Julie's coffee.
"And...you're covering your face."
"I'll show you later. I want to go home." Ellen said.
"Here." Julie pushed a burger to Ellen. "Take it."
Ellen grinned. "Thanks." She unwrapped it and took a bite.
Julie glimpsed a flash of red on Ellen's neck, but the hood of her jacket covered it up.
"You know, if I didn't know you any better, you look like a hooligan."
"A hooligan? Who even uses that word?"
"I'm a reporter, I HAVE to know words." Julie laughed. "So, are you going home, like, now?"
Ellen nodded tiredly. "I need to take a shower before work."
Julie shrugged. "You need a break."
"I have a very taxing hobby." Ellen said, handing the coffee back to Julie. "I'm going to go now."
As Ellen shuffled down the street, a flash of white caught her eye.
Someone hurried down the street, catapulting over the hedge and disappearing into an alley.
Julie shook Ellen awake.
"Hhrmph?" Ellen sat up quickly. "What?"
"I'm going out to do research, and I won't be back until tonight. If I'm not at the park, then check the sewers for my body."
"I'm just kidding, but I'll be around the park." Julie said.
Ellen nodded. "Now, may I get my six hours of sleep?"
"Six? Dude, it's noon."
Ellen sighed. "Call my cell phone in two hours to check if I'm awake."
Julie nodded. "I gotta go."
Ellen got up thirty minutes later.
Whatever the white thing was, she had better do some research.
Ellen opened up Julie's laptop and began her search.
Ellen squinted at the computer screen.
Known crime fighters in the area: Whiplash.
Ellen frowned. There had to be another.
The Horn should have some articles about that.
Ellen typed in crime fighter into the search bar.
"...due to the popularity of known crime fighter Whiplash, lesser-known fighters had sprung up around the city. Blizzard, for example, has followed in Whiplash's footsteps in the fight against gangs such as the Crays."
Ellen frowned. The picture was a blurred image of a white splash sprinting through the streets. Perhaps it was Blizzard, perhaps not.
Ellen checked her watch. It was seven o'clock, and Julie has not returned, yet.
Ellen pulled out the duffel bag from her closet.
Unzipping it slowly, Ellen pulled out her spray-painted knee pads.
Strapping them to her cargo pants, Ellen pulled on her red chest plate.
She secured it to the plate on her back, and tugged on her red elbow pads.
Ellen paused to tighten the strap on her gauntlets before pulling them on.
She paused and stared at the mask in her hand. It had suffered much damage, but still held together, thanks to the patchwork of Ellen. She pulled it over her face and went to the window.
Easing her way out, Ellen climbed down to the alley and sprinted for the park.
As she passed a store, the news anchor said, "August 22nd, and we have a..."
Ellen stopped at a park entrance.
It was dark, and Ellen took a breath.
No time to be scared, Ellen, Julie's counting on you.
Ellen pushed a patch of branches away and ducked under it.
Ellen pulled her hood up as a chill wind blew.
She glimpsed a flame pouring from a gas can, but resisted the urge to sprint for the light. Ellen saw the reflection of a light on some leaves.
She parted the foliage to find Julie's cell phone.
Leading from the phone were strands of her notebook.
Ellen followed the pieces to the road.
Holy- Julie." Ellen bent down next to Julie and felt her pulse. "Oh, man." Julie's breathing was shallow, and there were cuts all over Julie's body.
A scream shattered the night.
Ellen's nerves failed her and she grabbed her whip.
Something latched onto her back and sent a shock down her body.
Ellen gave a groan before crashing to the pavement.