Screams rent the cold early morning air. The sun had yet to rise over the grim scene beginning to unfold in Tempest City. Daley was awoken from his bed by the droning wail of the city’s Civil Defense Emergency alarm and the sirens of passing emergency response vehicles. The lion let out a soft sigh, staring sleepily up at the ceiling, watching flashing red, blue, white, and amber lights play across it through his window as emergency vehicles rushed by his family’s home.
“Why did we have to live in an Anomaly-infested city like Tempest?” he wondered aloud. “Well, maybe they’ll destroy my college so I don’t have to go in today.”
Now, however, was not the time to lay in bed and ponder his living situation. This was, after all, an emergency.
Daley could tell from the sounds past his bedroom door that the rest of his family was already awake. With haste, he pushed himself out of bed and rushed into the living area. His father and mother were rushing to fill their emergency packs with non-perishable foods and bottles of water. Emergencies like this were impossible to predict. Various supplies were already in their packs; with food and water added to it, they would be prepared for as much as they possibly could be.
Daley’s younger brother, Derek, emerged from his room, already fully dressed and carrying his emergency pack on his back.
“Don’t just stand there, Daley! Go get ready! Give your pack to Dad so he can fill it!”
Daley shook the remnants of sleep from his head. “Right, right!” He turned quickly back into his room. As he dressed, he could hear an emergency broadcast blaring through the TV. His brother must have turned it on.
“—moving rapidly toward Tempest City. Their powers, identities, and intentions are yet unknown but they have been confirmed hostile. Seek shelter immediately in a sturdy building and as close to the ground as possible. Do not go outside for anything, and stay well away from windows. Evacuation is still possible for the areas listed on your screen; if you are in these areas, follow Evacuation Route 2. Hotels in surrounding areas are offering emergency lodging free of charge. If you are not in one of these areas or are unable to evacuate, lay low and await further instructions.
“We’ve just been notified that the Global Council of Transcendent Beings has been contacted and is sending Team NA two-seven to assist. Obey all instructions from this team without question, and do not interfere with them. For your own safety, stay as far away from them and from the hostile paranthros as possible. The government, Emergency Services, and the military will be in full cooperation with the Council and with Team NA two-seven in an effort to protect Tempest City and all who inhabit it.”
Daley’s eyes widened as, now fully-dressed, he ran a paw quickly through his short mane. Noms had caused mayhem in Tempest City before, but never had there been a full-scale evacuation and lockdown. This sounded serious. With new urgency, he tossed his backpack to his father. The big lion raised his voice above the sound of the television.
“This sounds like the real deal,” he said. “Looks like we can still evacuate. We’re almost done here. Honey, go shut off the breakers, except for the kitchen. Daley, Derek, go put these packs in the car. Get it ready. Yours too; bringing an extra vehicle along might be a good idea.”
“We need to be out of here as quickly as possible!” agreed Daley’s mother. “Traffic will be ridiculous.”
Minutes later, they had gathered a few necessities and valuables and were sitting in their vehicles, Daley and his brother in one, their parents in the other. Daley shifted into first gear and opened the garage door. The sight before them was one he could not immediately understand.
To the south, a few hundred yards to the right of their driveway and as far as the eye could see through the growing morning light, entire buildings were frozen solid, coated in a thick layer of ice. What had happened to their insides, none could truly tell. A chill rent the air; the temperature, unsurprisingly, had dropped dramatically. As he watched, ice rapidly continued to form, coating every inch of walls, roofs, ground in sight. Only a cryokinetic could do this. The hostile Anomalies were upon them.
Very quickly, Daley’s father piloted the SUV out of the driveway as like a living creature, the ice grew ever closer. Though normally very conscious of the use of precious fuel, he floored it out of the driveway and down the street, with Daley and Derek close behind in Daley’s sports sedan.
In awe of the otherworldly scene they were leaving behind, Derek turned his head to look back at the icy buildings glistening in the first pale glow of dawn. In the rush of drivers anxious to leave southern Tempest City, he thought nothing of the vehicle following very closely behind them.
With everything covered in ice, the breeze that blew through the deserted streets of the southern parts of Tempest City felt contrastingly warm. A white wolf walked quietly between tall buildings, his startling ice-blue eyes and blue-tipped ears alert for any signs of danger. He could see curious, fearful eyes peering at him through icy windows, observing his callous, stoic aura, the cold, unfeeling, piercing gaze of those icy pools that were his eyes. Some appeared more angry and hateful than fearful. Undoubtedly, this canine had to be one of the culprits. Others noticed the lack of fear in his handsome face, his confidence, the sense of purpose in his step, his simple outfit of white jeans and fitted navy blue T-shirt beneath a long, unbuttoned white trench coat, and seemed grateful and hopeful. Here must be a member of Team NA27 that they were told was coming to protect them. Regardless, all gazes were met with cold indifference. He pushed his paws into the pockets of his coat and continued on.
Ahead of him, the road split into two directions. City Hall stood before him, its ornate white pillars frozen and ghastly, its icy exterior reflecting the pale hues of the early morning sky. He walked straight onto its grounds, between pillars that supported an overhang high above his head, and up to the front door, running a blue-padded paw over the thick layer of ice that sealed it shut. The icework was crude, having been hastily cast upon the sleepy city, but as his paw ran over it, it became as smooth and clear as polished glass. Looking through the ice and the actual glass it clung to, the wolf could see that no one was there.
After a short, uneventful walk around, the wolf sighed sitting down on the cold steps. This was crazy. There was no doubt that the hostiles were here. Why hadn’t they caused any further havoc? Where were they right now?
All at once, his ear perked to a small sound. His hearing was already razor sharp, but with the streets deserted and everything covered in ice, sound travelled much better than usual. He sighed softly to himself, and his paws began to glow with a bright blue light. A slight twitch of his wrist and a wall of ice about three inches thick leapt from the frozen ground toward the sky, stopping just above the level of his head. A split second later, a loud bang echoed through the city, followed by a sharp crack as a 22-caliber bullet pierced it, spraying the frozen ground with shards of ice.
The wolf’s bright blue eyes focused on the bullet through the ice wall. It had been traveling directly at his head. He reached forward and pressed his fingers into the icy wall. It instantly melted at his touch, the warped bullet rolling harmlessly into his paw.
“Freakin’ Noms!” yelled an angry voice not far away. “How dare yew do this to our city! If yew didn’t have them fancy powers o’ yer’s I’d fill yer head so full o’ buckshot yew’d sneeze gunpowder!”
The voice came from an apartment building across the street. An older male with a grizzled beard had managed to create a jagged hole in the ice. The wolf didn’t have time to deal with this. He held out a paw, ignoring the old guy’s continued rage as he covered the hole with a very thin sheet of ice. The fur banged his fists against it, struck it with his fists, hit it with the butt of his rifle, but thin as it was, it neither cracked nor budged against his abuse.
“Thinks you’re one of the hostiles, eh Ice?” came a voice from just behind him. The white wolf sighed softly, recognizing the voice of one of his teammates. He held the bullet up for the cheetah to see.
“Yep,” he said. “I shut him up for now, but he’ll get crazy again as soon as he remembers he has other windows. You find anything?”
“No,” replied the cheetah, running a paw through his spiky silver hair. “Searched every street. I was goin’ pretty fast, and the craziest thing I came across was a guy who decided this would be a great time to go streaking. Got arrested too, the dunce.”
It was taught in schools that as far as ferals went, the cheetah was the fastest land mammal on the planet. For anthropomorphic cheetahs, Nico carried that torch way beyond land mammals. Nico was the fastest of any thing, any where. He was capable of doing just about anything, physical or mental, with intense precision and unfathomable speed. If Nico couldn’t find the hostile paranthros in the southern part of Tempest City, then they weren’t in the southern part of Tempest City.
“I didn’t see anything suspicious either,” sighed Ice. “I don’t understand what’s going on. It doesn’t make sense for them to just freeze everything and disappe—”
Suddenly, and long before Ice could react, Nico hit Ice hard in the chest with both paws. A normal fur might have been harmed by the force with which Nico shoved his teammate, but Ice was a paranthro. He allowed himself to be unbalanced, bending his body backwards so that his paws were flat on the ground, and flipping his lower half over his head until he was once again upright.
Ice’s first reaction was anger, but only for a split second. Nico was a teammate, a member of NA27, just like himself. The cheetah was loyal to a fault. Nico would never do anything maliciously to his teammate. A low growl rumbled from Ice’s throat, and he fixed Nico with his piercing stare as he waited for the cheetah’s explanation.
Nico stared back unwaveringly. Ice followed the gaze of the cheetah’s bright green eyes as they shifted to the glass door that Ice had been looking through moments before, and the layer of ice he himself had cleaned earlier. Long, jagged cracks were in it, extending from a shiny silver blade that appeared to be burning with a purple fire. As they watched, the fire went out, and the dagger glinted dangerously in the cold sunrise, protruding from the ice.
Ice looked back to say something to Nico, but the cheetah was gone, and a familiar sound behind him prompted the glow of his paws. He lifted a finger up as he heard the bang he was expecting, and the bullet rocketing toward him became covered with ice in midair. Ice used that to push the bullet off track; it whizzed past his head and buried itself in a tree nearby.
“Impressive.” The female voice was soft, yet strong and confident. Ice turned his head and looked over his shoulder at the woman. She was a silver fox with deep purple eyes and straight, equally purple, waist-length hair. She looked to be in her early 20s, like Ice was. Her clothing consisted of snug black pants with square sections cut out of the inner thigh of the right leg, showing off the soft fur underneath; a tight black tank top that covered her breasts, yet left most of her midsection bare; a black trench coat that she left unbuttoned, much like his own, except with a hood attached. Ice made a mental note to get a similar hood on his own coat. It looked pretty awesome. Ice could see that she also had two small handguns inside her coat, which fell very nicely over the curves of her hips, ending about midway down her thighs.
The most noticeable things on her, however, were not her clothes, but the two assault rifles she held, one in each arm, both barrels aimed at Ice. The white wolf turned his body the rest of the way to face her. She chuckled softly.
“Well aren’t you a handsome one?” she said with a semi-seductive smile. “That snow white hair with the ice-blue tips—adorable. And those eyes could pierce through a building. Makes me want to close them forever.”
“Who are you?” he asked her, ignoring her compliments completely. “And who is that?” He nodded over toward the top of a nearby building, where Nico had engaged in a fight with another silver fox, a male.
“Don’t you worry about him,” she said. With a quick motion of her arm, she clicked the safety of the unfired rifle off and aimed it back at Ice. “Worry about how many bullets will be piercing that pretty white fur.”
Ice reacted quickly as the assault rifles began to fire. Countless shots fired in seconds, shells tinkling to the ground in harmony with the bullets pelting the ice wall that the wolf had just conjured. Even at close range, even with ammo belonging to a paranthro, the ice refused to break. There was no time to play with these guys. He and Nico had two options: lead these guys back to Tomo and Ram, who were on combat duty, or dispose of them themselves.
Ice opened his paw, spreading out his fingers, his palm facing the wall of ice. He thrust his arm forward, his paw slamming into the wall. Instantly, it shattered, and sharp, pointy shards launched like rockets toward the fox. She waved a paw in the air, and a purple wave of light eviscerated some of the ice bullets, but she had to perform a neat sideways flip to avoid the rest. The second her footpaws touched the frozen ground, her guns were firing again.
Ice’s trench coat fluttered in the wind as he ran to the left, away from the building, avoiding her aim. He held out a paw, and with a series of bright blue flashes and barely a sound, shards of ice formed from his fingerpads and rocketed toward her with all the speed and force of fired bullets. His face remained unchanged, free of emotion or effort, his startling gaze fixed on her, reading her motions and responding to them.
He noticed a lack of surprise at his ability to fire ice bullets from his paws. On the contrary, she seemed ready for it. She ran to her left as well, toward City Hall. His bullets buried themselves in trees or buildings behind her. He continued to fire them, moving his paw futher right in an effort to shoot where she was going to be rather than where she was.
That was when she displayed her power and agility. With the grace of a swan, she ran straight toward one of the pillars. He caught the smirk on her face as she lifted her footpaw onto the icy surface and pushed up and back. Her body curved over Ice’s bullets as they passed beneath her, her long purple hair following the curve. It was as if Ice were watching an eagle taking off in slow motion. He stopped firing, though his paw remained outstretched as she landed gracefully on her footpaws, rifles aimed back at Ice. But this time, she wasn’t alone. There were two of her.
“A clone?” he thought. “Just like Tomo. What exactly is her power?”
Not far away, on a high rooftop, the another battle was taking place. Nico watched the three identical silver foxes in front of him. They had been one not too long ago, but Nico’s speed and agility had made him extremely hard to hit. Nico saw that Ice was fighting a female down below, and heard the firing of her rifles, but he knew Ice had dealt with far worse than a couple AK-47s. He had his own fox to deal with.
This one was male. He looked to be just slightly younger than Ice. He wore too wore snug black pants, but with several squares cut out of both inner thighs, each square separated by no more than a half-centimeter of fabric, displaying the strong thighs beneath. His tight black T-shirt showed off the definition in his chest and torso, and his hooded black trench coat ended just past his calves, like Ice’s. His short purple hair stuck out in a few natural spikes toward the front, and his bright purple eyes had an air of playfulness and enjoyment.
All at once, the fox and his clones moved. He was not nearly as quick as Nico, but he was indeed very fast, and very strong. All at once, as if out of nowhere, each clone produced several tiny silver blades and sent them hurtling straight toward Nico. They made barely a sound as they sliced through the morning air, glinting in the rising sun.
To Nico, it was as if they were in slow motion. In addition to his amazing speed, the cheetah was trained in several martial arts, and enjoyed parkour in his free time. There were over two-dozen blades approaching him very quickly, glowing with a purple fire, and he knew exactly how to deal with them.
His body was like the wind itself as it moved to counter the blades. In a split second, his paws found the flats of the blades, and as each one approached, he struck it with a knuckle or a pair of fingers, extinguishing its fire and sending it flying harmlessly over the edge of the building and down to the ground below. He saw the clones disappear, and the fox lunge forward behind them, just as fast as his flying blades, and he cleared a path through the daggers enough for him to sidestep the dagger that the fox swiped at him.
A second dagger was coming, powered again by the fox’s arm. Nico held up his arm and blocked the fox’s, but the fox followed through in a continuous motion, letting go of the dagger, catching it nimbly in his other paw. Now that paw held two daggers. Nico bent his body backward as from close range, the daggers jabbed at him, aimed straight for his chest. Nico’s body was extremely flexible, and he bent backward until his paws were on the ground. His right leg aimed a swift kick to the fox’s chest. He did not use his full power in the kick; doing so would undoubtedly end the fox’s life. Still, it was perhaps by luck alone that the fox barely managed to get an arm up to block the kick. Nico lowered his footpaw, aiming another kick at the fox’s footpaws, but with a neat backflip, the fox leapt out of the way.
All of this happened within several seconds.
The fox cloned himself into three once more, but there was an opening now. It was time for Nico to attack. In one fluid motion, the cheetah quickly righted himself and used that momentum to launch himself forward. He knew that all the fox would see would be a blur, but there was no doubt in his mind that his opponent was also trained in martial arts, and very well if he had been able to dodge Nico’s kick, even if it wasn’t at full speed.
Nico grabbed the head of the fox to the right and ran a step past him, stepping off the air conditioning unit just behind him and leaping into the air, using the fox as a pole to hang onto and allowing himself to twist to the side. In midair, his footpaw delivered another quick kick to the the skull of the fox on the far left. It felt solid, but as soon as the kick connected, the fox disappeared. He pushed downward on the head of the fox he was hanging onto, sending him crashing into the air conditioning unit. That clone disappeared too. Finally, he flew over the head of the fox in the middle, and as he descended, he aimed several quick strikes with his paws at the fox’s head and chest before landing nimbly on three paws, his stance wide, his right arm extended to the right and ready to counter any retaliation.
As quick as it was, the fox had somehow sensed the motion around his head, and managed to step back. That was probably all that saved him from serious injury; he collapsed backward, pain radiating from the places where he had been struck, his nerves tingling as he slipped into unconsciousness. Nico had won.
On the ground, Ice was also having little trouble dealing with the female fox. An ice wall shielded him from the four clones she had created. Gunfire hammered continuously against it, but failed to penetrate it. Unfortunately, his back was still vulnerable.
“Behind ya, sweetie,” came a voice from behind him. He ducked a few shots of gunfire and hammered his glowing fist into the ground. A pillar of ice launched upward under the clone’s footpaws, sending her rocketing into the sky with a shrill scream, where she vanished into nothing. This would need to end right now. He opened both paws wide. They glowed with bright blue light as he slammed them into the icy ground.
Immediately, the gunfire stopped. The ice on the ground in an entire hundred-yard radius had shattered into thousands upon thousands of razor sharp shards, which had risen and sat floating in the air, aimed at her. A flick of his wrist would spell her doom. There were far too many for her to dodge, no matter how many clones she made.
“Hm.” She chuckled to herself. Quickly, she latched both rifles back onto her back, the two weapons crossing each other in an X. “Alright, hun. I know when I’m outmatched.”
Another bright blue flash, and her paws were bound, frozen in ice as the floating shards clattered to the ground. She would be arrested by the Council as soon as they called this in.
Suddenly, there was a grunt and a clatter from just behind him. Carrying the unconscious male fox across his shoulders, Nico had jumped off the top of the high building. As flexible as the cat’s body was, it was also very durable. It had to be to handle the high speeds at which he often traveled.
Ice looked down at the spot Nico had landed on. One of the female’s clones had formed behind him once again, and had been a split second away from clubbing him in the back of the head with the butt of her rifle. He looked back up at Nico, who smiled as he lay the male on the ground and straightened himself up.
“Honestly, pay attention, why don’t ya?”
Ice looked upward at the place from which Nico had jumped, then down at the unconscious male. He shoved his paws into the pockets of his coat. “Hmph. At least you won too.”
Nico grinned and folded his paws behind his head. “Of course I did!” he said.
“Or so you think,” came the male fox’s voice.
He was rising to his footpaws. Nico smiled and got into a ready fighting stance. “Oh, good morning!” he said cheerfully.
The female was suddenly right next to him. Ice looked back at the place in front of the City Hall building where he had frozen her paws. She was not there. All evidence that they had been defeated in combat was gone from them. Furthermore, they looked very alike—fraternal twins, Ice noted.
“Surprised, sweetie?” said the female softly, a smile on her face. “It was fun playing with you today.”
The male crossed his arms and smiled. “Don’t worry. We’ll see you again.”
With that, they both vanished before their eyes.
Immediately, Nico began to communicate back to the rest of the team. “Zevie, we—”
“I know.” The voice of their unofficial leader rang directly inside their minds. “No one’s here. Good work, you two. Report back to the landing zone so we can begin cleaning all this up.”