by Martin Maenza
“Hands off my partner, sister!” a male voice ordered. The red-and-white-garbed Hawk slammed into the woman with a tackle, causing the warrior to lose her grip on the stone block. It fell back to the ground with a loud thud.
Azure spun her feet around, braced them against Hawk’s body, and kicked out. “If you partner with the false idol, then you shall die with her!” The warrior woman sent the hero into the air, then sprang to her feet.
Hawk landed with a roll. “You’re strong, I’ll give you that,” he admitted. “But that just means I can cut loose without worrying!” He started to rise when Azure struck him with a bolt of energy. “Ughhh!”
Azure was on him quickly, moving with great speed. “I hope your blood is as crimson as your costume,” she said as a long knife appeared in her hand. “The sacrifice will only serve to make me stronger!”
The warrior woman had started to raise the blade when she was struck from behind. Dove had slammed into the woman’s back with her right shoulder, knocking the weapon away. “Hawk! Move!” the heroine said.
“You!” Azure exclaimed. “I will not tolerate your interference any longer!” She reached for a branch from the fallen tree, transforming it into a stone pillar. “I will spill your blood but not make use of it! Your spirit will die the final death!” She slammed the pillar down hard. “Now, false eagle, die!”
Dove barely moved aside to avoid the main blow, but one of the shattered fragments caught her shoulder. “Aaah!” she exclaimed as she tried to keep moving. “One on one strategy won’t work on her.”
“Then let’s double-team her!” Hawk said. Azure and Dove turned around just as the hero slammed the large stone block upon the warrior. The stone shattered about her, burying the threat in a pile of rubble. “There, that should keep her for the moment!”
“Hawk, was that necessary?” Dove asked.
“Hey, she would’ve done the same to us,” he said in his own defense. “Do unto others before they can do unto you.”
Dove nodded. Given Azure’s power level, perhaps an excessive amount of force was necessary. “At least no one was hurt,” she said. “Except Azure, of course.”
Sarah Charles approached along with Carmen. Within the rubble, Azure’s head and arm were visible, but she was not moving. “We’d better get a medical team here,” Sarah said as she reached for the warrior’s arm. She placed her hand under the golden bracelet and looked at her watch. “Pulse is pretty steady,” Sarah said. “Can’t tell if there are any broken bones, though.”
Suddenly, Azure bolted up from her stony resting place, grabbing Dr. Charles as she rose. “Make no more threatening moves, mortals!”
“I’ll show you threatening moves!” Hawk exclaimed.
“Hawk, no!” Dove warned. “She’s too powerful to attack directly, especially with Sarah in the middle. We have to find another way.”
“How lucky you are, dark one,” Azure said as she grabbed Sarah in a neck hold. “I will give you an honorable death by plucking your heart out myself.”
“No, no, no,” Carmen said. “You can’t do that.”
“You dare tell me what a goddess can and cannot do!” Azure snapped.
“It’s… uh… against tradition,” Carmen said. “The sun is already setting. See?” Indeed, the afternoon sun had dropped below the horizon. “Sunrise. A sun goddess should perform her sacrifices at sunrise. That is what all the legends said. The Aztecs used to offer human sacrifices, prisoners captured in the frequent wars, in order to secure rain, harvests, and success in war. You can’t make an offering to the Sun when it is away for the night.”
Azure furrowed her brow as she considered Carmen’s words. “It has been so long,” she admitted. “I had almost forgotten. Huitzilopochtli thanks you.” And with that, Azure tightened her grip around Sarah’s neck and launched into the air.
“Damn! She can fly!” Hawk said.
“We’ll find her,” Dove said. “We have to, for Sarah’s sake.” She turned to Carmen. “That was quick thinking, ma’am.”
“Just trying to buy you guys some time,” Carmen admitted.
“Speaking of time,” Hawk said as he started getting the beginnings of that telltale feeling, “Dove and I better get after her. C’mon, partner.” He gestured to Dove, and the duo departed.
After changing back and rejoining their friends, Hank and Dawn quickly ‘caught up’ on what had occurred. Dawn realized that with her mother visiting, she’d not be able to continue the hunt for Azure.
Hank and Karen, however, regrouped with Mal and Charley in order to formulate a plan. “We’ve got to find that woman before sunrise,” Karen said. “Sarah’s life counts on it.”
“From what you’ve told us, honey,” Mal said, “the woman is extremely strong, she can transform matter by touch, and she can fly. She also seems to think she can do more, becoming more powerful with each sacrifice she performs.”
“So she, like, kills folks to move up in her god status?” Charley said. “Talk about mega harsh.”
“It will be harsh if we don’t find her,” Karen said.
“The chick seems to be big on public spectacle,” Hank said. “She’d need some place to make her sacrifice all the more dramatic.”
“Yeah, and something highly visible to the dawning sun,” Mal said. “Something tall.”
“I got it!” Charley said. “I know, like, the perfect place!”
Sarah Charles tried to remain calm as she realized where she’d been taken. The blood rushed to her head as she hung upside down, bound by a golden rope from the center pillar of the Golden Gate Bridge. “Oh, boy,” she groaned softly. A moment like this could make her regret the move west.
Her golden-helmeted kidnapper appeared in her face, floating in the air before her. “The dark one wakes,” Azure said. “Good. She should witness this, her last sunrise. But your last will also mark the first sunrise for the azure goddess. Your death will be my rebirth!”
The clouds to the east began to take upon a crimson glow. “Ah, glorious world,” the warrior said. “Soon the sun will rise, and I will rule it all! Awake, my children, and–“
Suddenly, a golden-armored figure swooped up in front of her. “Like, no way, babe,” the Golden Eagle said. “I prefer to, like, sleep in ’til noon, you know.”
“What is this?!” Azure exclaimed. “What kind of figure are you?“
The surfer-hero recalled the plan they rehearsed. “You are, like, the fake here,” he said. “If, like, anyone were the vessel of the sun god, it’s yours truly.”
Anger welled up in Azure’s face. “Is this world now full of false idols? I will slay you for your impudence!” And with that, she launched off the bridge after the Eagle.
Hawk and the Herald appeared from the other side of the bridge. “Gotta hand it to Charley,” Hawk said. “He’s willing to lead that psycho away while we make with the rescue.”
“Agreed,” the Herald said as he approached Sarah. “Help me pull her up.”
“Mal, Hank!” Sarah said. “Am I glad to see you.” The guys quickly pulled her to safety and untied her.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” the Herald said. The Bumblebee appeared and approached. “Karen will get you to safety while we try to stop that crazed goddess.”
“C’mon, Sarah,” the Bumblebee said as she took Sarah in her arms to fly her down to safety.
“I’ve signaled Charley,” Hawk said. “He’ll lead the blue babe back here for our little welcoming party.” He looked to the sky and saw the figures approach, the Eagle barely in the lead. “Here they come!”
“Whoa!” Golden Eagle exclaimed as he dodged one blast after another. “Someone is, like, not so friendly.” He swooped in toward the main tower of the bridge.
“I shall kill all of you false bird idols,” Azure exclaimed. “That will please the gods greatly!”
“You couldn’t kill a fly!” Hawk shouted from the tower.
“You!” Azure exclaimed. She immediately cut back toward him. “I owe you for your effrontery earlier today!”
Hawk timed his punch as she approached. “Put it on my tab!” His crimson fist nailed her as flew past. While she took the shot head on, her momentum was enough to knock Hawk from the bridge.
The Bumblebee had landed on the ground with Sarah and was about to fly back up to help when she saw Hawk fall. “Oh, no!” she cried. “I don’t know if I can make it in time!”
The Golden Eagle saw his comrade fall as well and swooped in to rescue. “Like, you gotta watch your footing, dude,” he said with a smile as his hand grabbed Hawk’s.
“Just get us back up there, dude,” Hawk said with a mocking tone. “We still have to stop her!”
As they approached, they saw Azure screaming out in pain. “Aaah!” She clasped her hands to her ears, trying to block out the sonic sounds from the Herald’s weapon. “I cannot think straight!”
“That’s the idea!” Hawk said as he plunged from the Eagle’s grasp to nail her with a flying tackle. “When you attack one Titan, you attack all of us!” He started to pound on her relentlessly with his fists.
“You fool!” Azure said as she began to drop down. “I will kill you!”
“Get in line, sister!” Hawk said, refusing to let up. “Besides, you’re not going to have the strength to kill anyone! In case you haven’t noticed, the sun’s nearly up, and you’ve failed to kill anyone. By my reckoning, that means you’re almost out of power!” The surface of the water in the harbor was coming up on them fast. “In just a few moments, you’ll be a simple mortal like everyone else!”
“Nooo!” Azure exclaimed just before their bodies splooshed into the water of the bay.
Golden Eagle scooped up the Herald, and together they joined the Bumblebee and Sarah on the bridge. “Whoa, talk about some serious power-diving!” the Eagle said.
“I don’t see Hawk,” Sarah said.
“Give him a sec,” the Herald said. “He can take a licking and keep on ticking.”
Sure enough, Hawk’s face broke the surface. “Hey, a little help here, guys!”
The Golden Eagle launched out across the surface of the water and offered up his hand. “Where’s the psycho?”
As the Eagle towed Hawk out of the water, they all saw that their friend had Azure in tow. “The impact must have stunned her,” he said, “but we better not take any chances!” The quickly landed back up on the edge of the bridge, with Hawk tossing her body down hard for added measure.
“Ughhh,” Azure groaned.
“It’s over, sweetheart,” Hawk said as he lashed forward and grabbed the necklace that hung from the warrior’s neck. “Dove couldn’t be here to help, but she surmised that you’re getting all your power from this thing!” With one sold squeeze, Hawk shattered the piece of jewelry into thousands of pieces. “There, scratch one power source!”
“Nooo!” Azure exclaimed. “Now I am trapped on this world! I can never leave this body!” She lunged at Hawk but did not have the power to press her attack.
The Herald used his horn once more, blowing a special sonic tune to put her to sleep. He then pulled the instrument from his lips. “It’s probably better she’s out so we can get her to the proper authorities,” he said.
“Agreed,” said the Bumblebee. “She’s probably going to need some psychological help.” She turned to their friend. “Sorry your first couple days here included this craziness.”
Sarah Charles smiled. “Nothing that could be helped,” she said. “But next time you guys invite me to do something, I might have to pass.” She laughed a little, and the others did so, too.