Author's note: I figure it was only a matter of time before her opponent in this chapter showed up. He'll be back. I've actually got big plans for him elsewhere, but you'll need to wait to find out what those are. For now, though, enjoy Aegis fighting. All feedback is appreciated. hotwing: It's true no one knows Aegis has a force field. But if Rika used her force field, people would know she's a superhuman. It wouldn't be much of a stretch for people to then wonder if she's Aegis.

April 30, 2013

Rika was eating lunch with her friends when her phone beeped. There was a message from Phoenix. "Sorry, people," she said. "I've gotta make a phone call. A private phone call."

She left the table and found somewhere relatively safe from eavesdroppers. She watched for anyone getting too close as she entered the speed-dial for Phoenix's phone. "Rika," he answered the phone. "Thanks for calling back so quickly."

"Do you need me to come in?" she asked, trying not to sound eager.

"No. Actually, I just wanted to give you a heads-up that the rest of us will be out of town for a couple days. There's a situation in Corinth. We're meeting some of the Defenders of Sparta to deal with it. You'll have to hold the fort yourself until we get back."

"Why don't I go with you?" she suggested.

"I'd rather keep someone here, in case of an emergency."

"And of course I'm the one who has to stay behind," she sulked.

"Which means you'll be on your own if anything happens," he pointed out. "That's a lot of responsibility, so don't sulk."

"I guess you're right," Rika said with a sigh.

"From the reports I'm hearing, you may be defending the city yourself permanently. There's a chance none of us will survive it. If things do go badly for us in Corinth, I want you to call in every superhero you can, from across Europe."

"I can call my old friends from the Champions," she offered.

"If you need to make those calls, I'll be dead, so I can't very well say no."

"That bad?" she asked with concern.

"Maybe. I won't be sure until I get down there. I'll try to give you an update if I get a chance."

"Be careful with whatever it is you're doing."

"Thanks. You be careful, too. If anything happens, mind your limits. Don't do anything foolish."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence," she rolled her eyes. "I'll do my best."

"And don't neglect your school work," Phoenix added sternly, then laughed before hanging up.

Rika returned to the table. "What was that all about?" Tasia asked.

"Private matter," Rika said.

"Come on, at least give us a hint!" Tasia pleaded.

"All right, all right. It was my brother. I'm not saying any more than that."

"Which brother?" Selene asked.

"I just said I wasn't saying any more," Rika said.

"Fine, be that way," Selene said.

After school, Rika went to Defenders HQ, changed into her Aegis costume, and grabbed one of the airbikes from the garage. She'd decided to go on a patrol, and wanted something better than her bicycle to get around the city. She was glad she'd gotten lessons from Renegade. Even so, she had to be careful, to avoid losing control of it.

Things seemed to be quiet. No robberies, no muggings, no riots – Aegis was disappointed. She felt like hitting someone, but couldn't find anyone worth hitting. After a couple hours, she paused for dinner at a small restaurant, and quickly drew the attention of everyone in the place, since she was still in costume. She let some pictures be taken, and was sure the restaurant's owners would have them online before she left. She didn't mind; it was a good place, so she was fine with giving it publicity.

Once she'd eaten, she resumed her patrol. Even if I don't find any criminals, I can't exactly say this was a waste. Riding this baby's worth it. But I'd still rather find a crime to break up.

Something down below caught her eye. A van, and three other cars, parked in front of a bank. She angled to get a look at the bank's doors, and saw lights on inside. It was a little late for the bank to be open. It may have been nothing, but she decided to check it out more closely. She landed the bike on the bank's roof, then jumped down to the street. She could see people inside. It looked like quite a few people. She was very suspicious.

She walked in. "Excuse me," she said loudly. "Maybe one of you can answer a question for me."

"It's Aegis!" one of the men shouted. "Kill her!"

"Well, that answers my question," she said. Many of the men pulled guns on her. Others pulled short swords. "Swords? Oh, God, you're with the Achaean League, aren't you?"

"Shoot her!" the apparent leader of the group said. The men with guns shot at her. She casually raised her shield, then prepared to charge forward.

"Wait!" came a powerful voice. "Leave her to me!"

She looked at the man who spoke. He was an incredibly handsome man, with long dark hair, olive skin, and perfect muscles. He wore armour similar to Aegis's, with a breastplate, helmet, greaves and a short skirt. But his equipment was engraved with ornate designs of battles. He carried a larger shield than she did, which also had far more elaborate designs, and held a 9' spear in his right hand, while a short sword hung at his waist.

"Are you . . . Achilles?" she asked. She'd seen pictures of him since his return.

"Yes," he confirmed. "I am Achilles. And I advise you to retreat. If you think I'll hesitate to fight you because you're a woman, you should know that I slayed the Amazon Queen, Penthesilea, and she was far more beautiful than you."

"OK, ouch. But I can't let you rob this place. I'm not going anywhere."

"Then I shall do the duty these men brought me for!" Achilles shouted. He hefted his spear, and threw it hard and fast. Aegis had no idea if his spear had any sort of magical qualities, so even as she held her shield up to stop it, she moved so it wouldn't hit her body if it went through her force field. Luckily, she didn't have to worry about it. Her force field stopped it without a problem.

"Your shield is as remarkable as I've been told," Achilles told her, drawing her sword. "Perhaps I'll take it for my own once I've defeated you."

"Don't get ahead of yourself, pretty boy," she replied. She blocked his sword chop, then punched his shield. It was steel painted bronze, more solid than her own shield. She could probably damage it in time, but the longer the fight lasted, the higher the odds of the League crooks escaping.

He chopped down at her again, but she side-stepped, ducked, and swept at his leg. He grunted when she hit him, but recovered immediately, and tried to chop her again. She blocked, spun out from under his sword, hit him in the ribs with her shield, then swung back to hit him in the head. He stumbled for a moment, but wasn't hurt. It looked like he was as invincible as she'd heard. She wished one of the other Defenders was around.

He attacked again, and she blocked again. He was hitting hard, but not so hard that it was causing her problems. She could withstand him for a while. Eventually, though, she would tire, and then he would kill her. And in the meantime, the League was still robbing the bank, casually grabbing the money and watching the fight. In fact, they were too calm. Aegis realized the cops should have been there already. This was an inside job. Someone working here turned off the alarms and let them in. I'm not getting any back-up. Time to try a different approach.

"Why are you even working for these goons?" she asked Achilles, while ducking under a swipe and hitting him in the gut.

"I could ask the same of you," he replied, stabbing at her. "Why do you battle against patriots trying to restore the country to greatness?"

"Because they're terrorists!" she tried to punch him in the face, but was blocked by his shield.

"I don't know what that means," he slammed his shield into hers, knocking her down.

She blocked his downward thrust and angled her shield to deflect the sword to her side, so she could roll to her feet and swing her shield at his head. He jumped away. "It means," she said, "they kill civilians. Women and children."

"So?" Achilles asked.

Oh, for . . . I forgot that the values of his period were so insane. "So, they're terrible people. They're breaking the law. And anyway, their cause is stupid. Immigrants aren't weakening the fabric of the country." She stood firm as he slammed his shield into hers again.

"They feel otherwise. I'm inclined to agree with them. I don't trust the barbarians, the non-Greeks." He tried to stab her around their locked shields, but she moved her shield to block it while moving her free arm around to brace his shield.

"Look, these people aren't patriots," she grunted as she strained against him. "They're psychotic killers, taking out their frustrations on people who've never hurt them, just because they're different. They're scared of change, scared of the future, and they're hoping to intimidate everyone else into moving backwards. They're not heroes. They're scum."

"You're naive," he said with a patient smile.

"Actually, I'd say you are. You're the man out of time. Things are different from your day. We have different values. One of the key values is not killing, especially not killing innocent people."

"What a silly era." He swept his shield and threw Aegis back. She quickly rolled back on her feet, and blocked his follow-up slash. Some of the crooks were starting to leave.

"Maybe. But how would you feel if it was Greek women and children these people were murdering?" Achilles paused in his attack. "Actually, it is Greeks they're killing. Their victims are mostly immigrants, yes, but they moved to Greece to become a part of Greek society. They're Greek citizens. Some of them were even born here. Plenty of them consider themselves Greeks."

Achilles considered her words, then sighed heavily and sheathed his sword. "I do not like this era of yours. It's too complicated. I don't know who my enemies are. I'll withdraw from this fight, and let you live."

"How generous," she mumbled. Most of the crooks were already gone. She turned towards the four still left. They exchanged glances, then threw down their weapons and put their hands up. "Smart boys," she said. "You'll go far."

"Perhaps you could join us," Achilles told her. "You could become my concubine."

"Uh, thanks, but no. I'm actually gay." He looked confused. "I'm only attracted to women."

"Ah. Nonsense. You've simply not found a man worthy of you. I assure you, none is more worthy than great Achilles."

"I'll pass, thank you." Though he certainly is pretty. If I ever do try men again, I could do worse.

"Well, your loss. If ever you change your mind, find me." He started walking away.

I should probably try to stop him. But I don't even know how. I think I'll just be satisfied with these four.