The elevator rang as it arrived on Floor 12. Lesion had their two lackeys go on ahead of them, shoot a few warning shots, then slid out of the elevator and onto the scene, cocking their head mischievously at the cameras. They didn’t wear any sort of mask ; They’d always lived under a fake name, or rather, had no legal documents to speak of. Administratively, Alistair Nozhnitsy was a ghost. Even if they were recognised, so long as they weren’t tied back to Nozhnitsy, it wouldn’t compromise their affairs - which meant that they were free to show off as they pleased.
Their long, red hair flew behind them like a cape as they hopped over to some random desk, advancing confidently as though they knew their way around the place. This floor was an open space; they leaned their arm onto one of the partitions, starring down to the employee sitting at the desk. Lesion smiled their usual gleeful, shut-eyes smile, stretching across their smooth porcelain cheeks. Nonchalantly, they pulled out a scrap of newspaper from their pocket, twirling it quickly to unfold it. Barely moving their face and keeping their eyes shut all throughout, they pointed to the author of the article they’d cut out from the most recent edition of the Grey Menteur tabloid. They’d learnt from Floor 9 that he worked on the 12th, but hadn’t gathered further details. ‘Lead me to this person, will you?’ The skinny, ginger intern sat before Alistair was shaking for his life, to such an extent their stool looked like it was about to give out. He reached for a piece of paper and a pen, scribbling down some directions, then handed them over to Alistair, who quickly scaled over one of their henchmen to take it and localise the office in question. Lesion then cracked their knuckles, took a step back, and opened their golden-green eyes wide.
Turning their head around the partition, clawing onto it with their slender hands, they cocked their head horizontally, starring at the intern with childlike excitement. They pulled his office chair with a swift kick : it rolled away from the desk and into the open. The poor fool couldn’t do anything. It was too late : Lesion hadn’t been able to show off on the previous floor, and they weren’t leaving this one with the same frustration.
The intern’s shrill screams filled the rooms. His ankles suddenly twisted unnaturally on each side, as if pulled open by invisible hands. He pushed against the seat, trying to drag himself off the chair despite his wrenched feet, only for his elbows to crack and fold inside out, his spine giving out as he folded forward onto himself like a mousetrap, his chin hitting the chair seat then the floor as he slid along the floor like a wet rag, leaving a trail of blood from his open chin. His neck had turned fully around twice, audibly cracking as it did. His body creaked for a few elongated seconds as it slowly came to a stop. Eyes wide open, mouth hanging, dead cold - their skeleton shattered from the inside by Lesion’s ability.
The henchman who’d been given the directions waved in Alistair’s direction; the young chief gleefully glided over to a door in the corner of the open space, which led into a thin hallway, connecting small individual offices. Each door had a metal nameplate, including a job description. Leaving yet another one of their bodyguards behind, Lesion and their last companion stepped into the office of the reporter they were looking for.
Neville easily snuck into the building, using his ability to ‘teleport’ around until he reached the 9th floor : the first of the ones the Grey Menteur occupied, and the first one being kept hostage. He easily removed the henchmen keeping guard with gadgets of his - small ones even by his standards, since he didn’t have the freedom of installing larger ones ahead of time - which emitted sleeping gas from many tiny pipes. As he kneeled to ask one of the hostages who was behind this and where they’d gone, he heard a swarm of footsteps echoing from the stairs. No time, he couldn’t let the GHH see him. He rushed off to search every floor manually, trying his best not to waste time, all while picking up pieces of the computers and desks, mouses and keyboards, wires and whatever else, anything that came loose just from the pressure of his space-bending. He only carried a few scrap tools and micro-machines, so he needed the extra materials to set up tripwires and other practical traps. He had no other offence - none that he fancied using, anyway. He figured that, one day, he’d have to resort to brandishing his screwdriver and hammer in a last resort, but for now, he prefered to keep them to their intended use.
Rushing through the floors all while barely moving at all, letting air stretch and extend for him, Neville thought, in an attempt to figure out the details of this attack. 12535, January 25th - an intrusion in the Lighthouse, seemingly in the Grey Menteur’s offices. Who, and why - perhaps an article published recently had upset some underground eel. He ran a mental press review. Updates on Alexander’s mystery, political gossip regarding presidential candidates, and - gossip regarding Nozhnitsy Technologies and Innovations’ potential involvement in the criminal world. Neville almost stopped.
Neville looked around the room. It felt like hadn’t read the Menteur in years - but he knew who wrote that article. Joachim Cortez, who worked on Floor 12 - and had Lesion coming for his throat. And once they were done with the reporter, it was unlikely they’d stop there. Neville knew Lesion had a habit of wanting to one-up Alexander. Neville knew Alexander would show up today. Neville knew Alexander would blow up and hospital today. And Lesion would soon know too.
Neville hurried to the elevator and reduced the space between the elevator and Floor 12 with his ability, reaching it near instantly.
“Uh?” Joachim raised an eyebrow. Oh geez, an intrusion. And he’d been having such a nice nap, too. He blinked, slowly. Was that Lesion? He gulped, feeling his drowsiness leak out and soak his pants as he felt fear replace it. He didn’t want to die with his skeleton melted : he instinctively raised his hands. The murderous redhead eyed the odd reporter with a slight scowl. Coward. Instructing their henchman to keep him at gunpoint, they once again pulled out the newspaper scrap, slowly walked up to the desk, slamming a hand down and waving the newspaper cut-out below Joachim's nose, looking down at him. "You wrote this, did you?
- Y-Yes, I did.” In big, bold letters, the article’s title stretched across the glossy scrap - ‘Nozhnitsy Trumpery & Insincerity : Controversy UNVEILED’. Just his usual kind of article. Some big, pretentious claims about this or that relevant company based on fraudulent research. He hadn’t been hired to actually investigate or report - he had been hired because his ability allowed him to skip all that time-expensive riff-raff and get to the juicy redaction. Joachim had ‘visions’ : random, spontaneous images and revelations that taught him all sorts of things. Sometimes, he managed to weave marketable stories from those hazardous images, which had landed him a job in the haven of yellow journalism that was the Grey Menteur. Although, there had been one thing he’d lied - no, not lied, but kept… conveniently quiet about : his ability’s consistency. Whether his visions were accurate or false was kind of up in the air, and he himself couldn’t quite tell. It was reliable enough to pass off as infallible - since it gave him intel on things no one else could even know enough about to disprove - but deep down, he knew he was usually spouting lies. Ah well. This was the best job he could get. What else was a failed esper going to do? It at least offered him some amount of stability and safety… er, well, not right now, clearly. Joachim sighed internally. Of any of his dozens of articles to turn out true, it had to be this one. Of course it did. Ah geez… Lesion was a damn creep. Still, despite the imminent danger of death, Joachim derived some sense of pride from his throwaway ‘cryptic dream’ ability accurately revealing the largest tech company out there for the crime syndicate cover-up it was. A shame it would be shrugged off as made-up given its publisher - granted, he hadn’t exactly done any actually investigating, and a more trustworthy paper likely wouldn’t hire him, and even if it did, he enjoyed being able to slack off, watching chess tournaments on his office computer while waiting for inspiration to strike him - but still, he felt he deserved at least some-
“Hey. I asked you a question. Who’s your source?” He blinked out of his reverie to find himself still held at gunpoint, still faced with the red-haired devil, whose face and tone now showed clear annoyance. He stayed dumbfounded for a moment, unsure how to respond, then opted to just say the truth, because he couldn’t make up a convincing lie under pressure. “I don’t have a… source. I have ‘visions’, I guess. They’re like. Dreams. I see scenes unfolding, like a hazy movie. Sometimes they’re interesting enough that I can piece them together and make up the rest. That’s how I do my, uh, job.” Even as he spoke, all of his hopes of living long enough to change out of his pants resting on the gamble that his deep and captivating voice - others’ words, not his - would give his true but unlikely story some credibility.
Lesion didn’t buy it. Likely, they’d heard such an excuse a billion times. But they weren’t going to bend and snap this twink’s spine thirty-seven fold until he’d spat out his snitch’s identity. And if he was stubborn enough that Alistair got bored, that would be their excuse to look through his phone and kill anyone they suspected of being said snitch. The underground district was getting stale these days anyway, a clean-up was well overdue. Alistair went to open their mouth again - stopping as they heard an unexpected noise. They hesitated. “Knock him out and snatch him. I want him in my office by half past 8.” And then they headed back into the hallway.
Neville reached Floor 12 and secured it remarkably fast ; a quick smoke pellet propelled by his space manipulation served to distract Lesion’s guard while he snuck behind them and broke a computer monitor over their face, knocking them out... if not worse. Neville then hurried into the hallway, leaving the hostages behind to figure their way out. He needed to get Lesion out of the building, before -
There they were. He’d been too loud and alerted them. Making himself as discreet as possible, Neville used his ability to position a very simple trap: a tripwire made from cables he picked up along the way. Anything more advanced would have been pointless against Lesion. While the general public and the GHH believed their ability was limited to reducing skeleton to shapeless mush - which was terrifying enough, but the reality was even more chilling. Alistair’s power extended to any and all types of internal structure. If it was inside of something else, and its integral support, Alistair could destroy it any which way they pleased - melting it, exploding it, stretching it, whatever gorey fantasy they fancied that day. In other words, any complex machines, be they animals or gadgets, could be brought to their knees by Alistair. Neville usually avoided Lesion for that very reason. Unfortunately, he hadn’t that sort of luxury today.
“Who the hell are you?” Lesion stared, dumbfounded, at the plump, middle-aged man in latex standing before them. Before they could start to figure it out, the clown had vanished in a puff of smoke. No matter, he couldn’t run far now. Alistair’s remaining subordinates had already left the building, so all that was left was themselves and the unconscious goon on the floor his forehead bleeding from glass cuts, which they opted to leave behind - no time to waste. He was just a blackmailed mercenary anyway, no one loyal or worthwhile. Wrecking the elevator’s mechanism with their ability, and hearing it crash 12 floors below, Alistair climbed down the shaft, using the cables as a ropeway which they gripped with their gloveless hands, paying no mind to the rope burn. Once they reached the cabin, they bashed through the trapdoor with a swift kick, exiting the elevator on the ground floor. As they snuck out of the building, which many people had evacuated out of by now thanks to the GHH’s intervention, they took in a deep breath. Now the fun part began.
The Lighthouse was an immense skyscraper, kept standing by its foundations - and steel-reinforced concrete. Focusing intensely, Alistair pictured themselves crushing its metal structure, each individual pole like twigs, and gradually, from the bottom upward, the building began to shake as its inside structure collapsed inward, broken by sheer psychic force and brought to the tipping point, stable as a castle of cards in an earthquake. The tower fell apart in a grandiose display of Lesion’s ambition : panels of glass tumbling like dominos as they fell out of their frame and dived straight for the ground, mirrors to the setting sun which reflected all around, while the innards of the building slid out from the open gaps as each floor fell onto and into its predecessor like matryoshka dolls. The collapse took a few minutes - much longer than Alistair usually had to keep concentrating for. As they dragged themselves away from the rubble, they were panting, barely keeping themselves from breaking down out of fatigue - but though many spotted them leave, they relied on the mayhem and the smoke to distract anyone from pursuing them, keeping a hand to their mouth to avoid breathing in debris. Their henchmen held their shoulders up, help they were too exhausted to refuse.
The single-handed destruction of one of the capital’s most iconic buildings, and the dozens of casualties ensued. This was Lesion’s proudest work yet. Hah! Did Alexander have anything that prestigious under their belt? Of course not. This would ensure their victory over the silver-haired snob, surely. The thought of their guaranteed success in their race to glory comforted the teenaged redhead as they pathetically dragged themselves back to the underground district.
Neville felt just as pathetic. Well, that was that… the hospital incident was no good either.
Another day. Another attempt.