An alarm rang throughout the clinical hallways of a large office building, echoing against its walls of glass and steel. An intruder had broken into District 3’s Government-Hired Heroes. station. Worse yet, it wasn’t any known, run-of-the-mill villain ; no, the portal-wielding, middle-aged, aloof looking man that appeared on the station’s surveillance footage was wholly unknown. Although, that hardly mattered. What mattered is that he had broken into the offices of the capital’s super-abilitied forces, and he needed to be stopped.
Fortunately, that shouldn’t prove too hard. To a criminal, this reinforced building and its dozens of employees, almost all of which had once been heroes, was like a maze filled with land mines. Reinforcements were on their way. Now all that was left to do was corner the mystery intruder, and hope he wouldn’t end up causing too much property damage.
That, however, did not account for the second surprise of the day ; Spatial Plumber, a B ranking hero from District 14 going by the civilian name of Neville Elire Schifozzo, was already there, and laying traps to deal with the intruder. Wait, what?
Neville had long been noted as a… difficult hero. He’d been hired rather late in life compared to most, having already years of experience in plumbing prior to working for the GHH. He also didn’t have much of the formal qualifications to be one ; but he had been hired for one reason, and one reason alone - his ability. And yet, despite the GHH’s nagging curiosity, he refused to speak up much about it. Thus, only Neville himself knew the limits of his ability - but what the GHH knew for sure was that he could reduce the space between an entity and another so long as no solid stood in between, and that the larger the space, the longer it took him - though distances below 3 meters were pretty much instant. Neville used his ability in tandem with his second quirk ; his affection for machines and gadgets.
One of the ways he liked to operate was planting his odd, homemade gizmos all around the battlefield, baiting his target into getting close enough for him to use his ability effectively : reducing the space between his opponent and the traps without leaving them any time to react. His superiors had tried time and time again to suggest him more optimal ways of using his ability - only for Neville to argue he wouldn’t be able to do that, and them to have to give up, given that they couldn’t prove otherwise.
Still, none of that explained why he was here. His station wasn’t the one they’d called for help - District 12’s was. A simple intrusion wouldn't have been a true issue to the GHH, but if Neville was going to intrude and play vigilantes, then it may become one. Neville's resourceful, unpredictable methods, coupled with his stubbornness, sounded like they'd be nothing but trouble. And to make matters worse, their mystery intruder of the day wasn’t looking any easier to deal with.
While security was waiting on the District 12 heroes to arrive, and trying to contact District 14 for explanations on the plump plumber’s antics, the few non-retired heroes already present had attempted to handle the situation on their own ; only to fail with theatrical flair. At the first hint of a colourful rainbow beam unlawfully aimed at his back, he’d already opened and hopped into a portal, some form of dimensional tube traced into the air by the enigmatic man. Just a second later, he jumped back out, into some other hall, further inside the building. He was heading for the central staircase.
At least, only he was inside the actual building ; Neville remained out in the open, unable to pass through walls so easily. Separated in that way, they’d be easier to deal with. The heads of security did some quick thinking ; they knew the Golden Trio was on their way from District 12. Melp wouldn’t be much use without a name, but Yar’s usual role in obstructing and distracting, coupled most importantly with Pop’s own portal-like abilities may prove crucial in handling the aloof, elusive intruder. He’d proven shifty and capable of dodging attacks with ease ; however, he himself seemed surprised when he did. He likely just had some slight esper intuition, easy to overwhelm in numbers. The three girls would do fine. That left only the Spatial Plumber to deal with. Luckily, being a GHH employee meant other members of the force had already gone to great lengths figuring out his every weaknesses and shortcomings. Neville had an easy counter ; flight. Any available hero that wasn’t tied to solid ground would fit the bill - that is, as long as Neville was still outside the building. They’d had every exit locked, but already the latex-clad fellow had outsmarted them. Though no opening in the skyscraper’s walls was large enough for he himself to pass through, just a half-lidded window was enough to transport his traps and tricks into the station by reducing the space between his gadgets and the building’s floors.
It was rare for D5’s station to be attacked. It was essentially the academic and business place-to-be of the capital - ergo, almost entirely devoid of housing. Since heroes were generally assigned to their birth or residing district’s station, the 5th had the fewest of any district, even with a few agents from other, over-populated districts being reassigned to work in District 5. Instead of having a large force, District 5 had a large administration ; essentially, it presided and coordinated every other station. It was often hijacked by groups that tried to disturb the GHH’s cooperation, but never on its own - an arrested and jailed villain originating from the district had even been asked about this trend, only to respond with “What would even be the point? To make a statement, by attacking the least dangerous of the stations? To steal encrypted data that’ll probably just get you tracked and arrested within the day?”.
The data theft theory seemed the most likely in the portal-wielder’s case. He wasn’t exactly armed, in fact he looked more as though he was headed to a date, if said date had occurred decades ago, with his ‘romantic gentleman’ moustache and beige-brown popped collar coat. It was odd, yes, but looked enough like other phantom thief types. Besides, his ability allowed for just that ; easy sneaking-ins and getting-outs.
As for Neville, it appeared his goal was to stop the aloof enigma. Unfortunately for him and thankfully for the GHH’s credibility, his methods were unfit to fight his current opponent. The older man simply zapped around through portals, narrowly avoiding everything and anything Neville could throw at him. Just as before, it didn’t even seem like he was very skilled at it. He was often surprised by a trap that the plumber had already used against him dozens of times, and would occasionally need to quickly replace a poorly placed portal with another. He always seemed distracted, airheaded and daft-looking, as if not even he knew what he was here for. Whenever he caught wind of a camera, however, he smiled.
Still, Neville had been smart here. If he couldn’t conveniently trap the portal wielder with just one trick, he’d overwhelm him and cut off all exits. Even by his own standards, the Spatial Plumber deployed an abhorrent amount of trinkets and machines. They ranged from things as simple as bear traps and barbed wire to nonsensical assortments of pipes that weren’t copied from any conventional, patented object, but rather originals of Neville’s creation - at least, supposedly. The GHH had an entire list of these machines and had come up with colourful names for each of them, recording their effects and hypothesised mechanisms, yet couldn’t determine with certainty who had actually built them - Neville, some friend of his, villains, stray mad scientists, children, aliens, any theory stood.
The thief continued jumping through walls, from portal to portal, triggering and just barely dodging a few nets and mud streams as he tried to get wherever he was headed. As soon as he found a tiny corner of room Neville had omitted to trap, he stopped, leaned against the wall, rubbed off sweat, and took in a deep breath.
By the time the Golden Trio arrived, the intruder had gone up three floors, and down one again. It consisted of three recent recruits ; the A-ranking Yar, the cartoonishly cute daughter of the humble but no less outstanding Trofeo family of heroes, the S-ranking Pop, some lunatic artistic type that had sprouted from the country’s outbacks, and the B-ranking Melp, that the GHH saw as the weak link - a judgement that wasn’t helped by the fact she’d failed to be hired at the same time as her associates; only making it in a year later. The three young adults all had unconventional abilities, yet had studied, trained and graduated together thanks to creative synergies ; they even shared a flat and had matching costumes. Cute, and enough to drive the fandom crazy, but not always ideal in high stakes situations. Their viability was assured by Pop’s ability : it had few counters and solved many issues with no other answers. The doll-like blonde could access some pocket dimension unique to only her, and throw in anyone and anything into it, like some infinite bag - or rather, infinite stomach, as anything that remained inside the dimension was gradually… ‘consumed’. However, setting up her trap took time - time provided by the other two.
Yar - or Bonnie, as was her name, could grow out her hair and nails in the blink of an eye, filling an entire doorway with her deep ebony curls in half a second. Unfortunately for her, she was only able to grow it instantly ; cutting was a different story. Being born as a Trofeo, she’d lived and been raised by resourceful people with a great understanding of abilities and hero work ; therefore, she’d learnt from a young age to cut her nails and hair almost as fast as she grew them. Her agility with scissors was terrifying at times. Melp’s ability was even more situational ; it required pre-planning and prior knowledge of what her mission and opponent would be, but when it was used to its full potential, was the core of the trio’s success. She could sew and craft ‘voodoo dolls’ (she used that term herself, because it was one people easily understood, but her ability had nothing to do with the occult or religion) of not only people, but even vehicles and buildings - though she rarely got an opportunity to do the latter. The one condition, past a good amount of detail and resemblance with the target, was to embroider into or paint onto the figure the name, license plate or address - the birth name, specifically. Against villains whose civilian identity was known, she did splendidly ; the rest of the time, she was good as non-abilitied.
The three girls had earpieces, enabling them to not only communicate with one another, but with security. Therefore, they now had direct intel on the intruder’s whereabouts, and could trap them. That is, if Neville’s traps didn’t get in their way. For a fellow hero, he’d been nothing but a pain. While his water-spewing trap may have allowed his target to trip and fall into Pop’s pocket dimension, it had made her trip in turn, accidentally releasing the Enigma once more. His intervention was beneficial to him and him alone, getting in the way of the Government-Hired Heroes’ own ways of dealing with intruders and thus making everything that much more inefficient and slow, as Pop was now left to clean off all his traps with her dimensional vacuum if she was to try and capture Zelly uninterrupted. And though Yar and Melp tried to distract the intruder to buy her time, this just didn’t work out, and neither the plumber nor the trio could stop him from disappearing from camera surveillance entirely. The girls split up, running through the halls, to no avail.
No flying hero had proved available, either. Time to improvise and take what they could get. Melp had been hurriedly asked by security to quickly craft up some Neville doll, knowing she always carried around her materials and some quick bases to speed up her work. Alas, it was no use. As traditional authorities had been called in and started circling around the Plumber, he’d distracted them with cliché smoke dispensers and evaporated, someway, somehow.
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