Sacrifice sat at the mold-ridden desk, feasting on stolen food while figiting with one of her new projects. The outskirts of Oklahoma City had become a den for drug addicts, the homeless and other unsavory denizens with the sheer volume of derelict buildings and the cripplingly small police force, making it perfect to hide in. Their only issue was not being reported on by civilian, supervillain or even superhero. Most problems could be solved easily enough, with heavy hitters like Glutton, Jawbreaker and Kumo on the team, but sometimes she needed the oomph only she herself could provide.
She prodded the dissected brain with another electrode. A spark flew out and struck a ruined chair nearby, leaving a singe on the exposed stuffing poking out.
“Not good, I missed the correct spot,” she muttered to herself, picking up a pen and taking more notes. ‘Another failure, this time caused because of human error’ she wrote down, before taking a moment to think and rewrote her note. ‘Human error, and unsatisfactory working conditions.’
The door knocked, and Taker entered the room. He was one of the few un-costumed members of the Hunting Party, along with Trauma and Kumo. He had long, greasy hair and a pair of thin glasses he always wore on his face. His clothing was stolen from wherever he could find it. It wasn’t like he could go and buy from stores with his reputation.
“Sacrifice,” he began. “Apologies for my intrusion.”
“It’s fine,” she said, tossing the brain across the room and out a broken window. It audibly landed in a bush. “I can’t work with this stuff here anyway.”
“Yes. The electrodes are too thick and rusty, my hand is too shaky and this area of town is filthy. I hate this.”
Taker rubbed his hands and pressed his glasses to his face. “Maybe Texas will have a solution in there, after yo-”
Before he could finish, Sacrifice was inches away from his face, almost touching him.
“I don’t like it when you do that, you scheming liar.” she snarled.
Taker smiled, unmoving. “I have no idea what you mean,” he said confidently.
“Your powers, for a start. I know the truth.”
Taker took a step back, turning towards the door.
“Then you know who would win, right?”
He closed the door quietly, as to not disturb any of the other members of the Hunting Party as they slept.
A young man walked down the streets of New Austin, Texas. He walked along the centre of the road, and all the residents gave way, stepping to the sides of the road onto the pavement as he passed, mostly out of respect. There were no cars in Texas, only four trains that looped from town to town in different directions. The roads were merely ceremonial at best, made for the men and women of the army of Texas to march during parades. Vine looked up at the castle before him as he strode; the castle where the King of Texas prepared for war.
The throne room had a massive, circular table. The king sat on his throne, and seven others sat on benches, robed and hooded. Vine pulled his hood over his head and sat down, looking at the small scale replica of Texas that covered the table.
“Late again, Vine,” said one voice. A girl.
“Phoenix, I had an appointment.”
“So you are saying the King is less to you than yourself?”
The king shifted to the side in his throne. He loved this. He loved watching his eight generals bicker and argue, and he rarely stepped in.
“No, the king is above any man and all gods. You know this. You also know how important I am to the war effort.”
Phoenix shut up, growling under her breath. The king smiled and began to speak.
“This is our second last meeting before he war. I expect all eight of you generals to fight with the vigor and strength that I expect from my eight personal guards,” he stated proudly.
“Phoenix, you will guard the far north in Dumas. Vine, cover Fort Wichita. Aim, go to Sabine City. Kelpie will watch the coast. Brownsville will be covered by Ester. Our armies will invade the south led by me, so you five are our defensive forces during the war.”
Phoenix, Vine, and three other hooded figures bowed in agreement.
“You may leave,” said the King. They got up and left.
Vine picked up his pace significantly, He didn’t like any of the other seven generals, let alone the Kings personal guard. He reached the front door and was pulled back instantly, falling over.
“Don’t fucking disrespect out king!” shrieked Phoenix. Her robe was cast aside and her flaming body, ensnared in chains floated off the ground. Kelpie, Ester and Aim backed away.
“I have no time for this!” shouted Vine. He smacked his hand on the ground below Phoenix and she darted away, as a small, intricate building rose from the ground, patterned like the mosaic on the floor.
“You are this weak and you still insult the king! How dare you!”
A bell tower formed at the tip of the dollhouse sized tower, wrapping around the chain she held that bound Vine. Phoenix cocked her head to the side.
Ester interfered. He walked up to Phoenix and pulled on the chain wrapped around Vine, pulling her into and through the tower.
“You shouldn’t say that, when you both attack another in the beautiful King’s castle and even bring your weapon to a meeting,” he said sternly. “The royal guards should kill you for this.”
He turned to Vine, who was picking himself up as phoenix released the chain, which no longer burned. His robe was singed. “You too are disgusting. Do not disrespect our King again.”
“My apologies,” said Vine. “It was my mistake.” He quickly bowed, and left the castle.
Phoenix picked herself up. She patted away the dust and rubble on her body, before picking up her robes.
Kelpie looked away, walking to the door.
“What about you, Kelpie? Why so silent?”
Kelpie turned her head around, opening the door.
“He’s not my type.” she said, letting the doors close behind her.
Aim sighed, following behind her. “I hate violence,” he muttered to himself.