Where Samantha Storm
Meets The Crimson Ghost
The old warehouse was burning, the fire rising higher every minutes. And while anyone in their right mind would have fled the scene, two women could still be seen climbing up on a facade of the building. Samantha Storm, elite operative of the mysterious Section Seven, was clambering on an old metal ladder, trying to keep up with the extraordinary speed of her opponent. “Goddamnit” she muttered under her breath. She had been running for a long time to get to this point and was now starting to feel the pace. She tried to ignore the sting in her chest, the hot metal bars in her hands, and started to climb faster. With a quick look around, she spotted her target on a nearby wall. The mysterious girl was jumping around from windows to cornices like she was a comic book character.
“She looks like a super-hero” said Angela in disbelief. The agent was Samantha’s partner and she was observing the situation through the lens of her high-tech camera drone. “How can she do that ? And why don’t we have someone like that at the agency ?”
“Not helping” replied the raven haired spy who was doing her best to keep up.
Finally she reached the roof and, without a rest, grabbed her gun: a few feet from her, a silhouette dressed in red. She was small but still a threat.
“Freeze !” yelled Samantha while taking a stance.
The other woman stood perfectly still but she was ignoring her as if she was unimportant. Her eyes were focused on the old compass that she had stolen, an artefact coveted by Dreamland and that the operative was supposed to acquire. “The Green-Eyed Monster” Plume Obscure called her, quoting Shakespeare. According to her pals from the Red Team, the young woman was knowned as The Crimson Ghost. Red Team was an elite unit she managed to elude without a scratch, vanishing after a well planned ambush. Thankfully no one was seriously injured during the fight, but that escape act was impressing, and a bit unnerving.
The spy slowly approached her target, watching and preparing for anything. But again, the other barely acknowledged her existence. From under that big poncho she was wearing, Samantha could only see a head and slim bare shoulders. She was dark haired just like her, but seemed younger. A cute face and beautiful eyes. Unusual eyes with the brightest shade of green she ever saw, almost glowing. Almost mesmerizing… A Green-Eyed monster indeed. An annoying buzz cleared the operative’s mind: the drone was flying by her like some kind of floating third eye. Helpful considering the big flames rising from all around, the heat and the smoke. Through the radio, Angela’s voice was shaking with fear.
“Careful, Samantha ! At this state the whole place will crumble in a few minutes !”
“Copy that.” Samantha sighed and raised her voice. “Hands up, you have nowhere to go.”
The young woman did not respond, apparently more amused by the drone. She raise a hand toward the flying device.
“Am I dreaming or did she juste WAVE at me ?” Angela croaked.
Her partner did her best to ignore the comment.
“The compass goes with me” she called out.
Finally those bright eyes looked at her and a very soft voice, without fear, pleasant even, responded.
“Did you friends from Dreamland told you what it is ?” she asked with a curious accent that Samantha could not identify.
Dreamland, also known as Groom Lake and most famously Aera 51. The place where the USA keeps the darkest secrets of the Earth. Not like in the movies however: there are no aliens, no Elvis. Just old books, archives from previous centuries and stone artefacts. Like a dusty museum inside a very high-tech facility. Recently Section Seven was commissioned by the governement to work with Dreamland on some sensitive assignements. Both Samantha and Angela were selected to do basic missions without really knowing what the big picture was, but there was nothing out of the extraordinary here. Collecting data, retrieving items, searching for intel. The only difference was that it was about ancient artefacts, antiques and arcane items. This was more Indiana Jones than James Bond.
“This is a precious relic containing a knowledge that should not end up in the wrongs hands.”
Samantha felt a bit dumb to say something like this to a kid. She looked so innocent. But in a world of spies and lies, you cannot trust anyone’s good look, and so she tried to not feel too bad about it. She saw the girl moving and jumping around – she was an athlete, an acrobat and a very good thief considering how she managed to easily grab that compass.
The Crimson Ghost was looking at her, imperturbable as the Sphynx… then she squeezed the old item so strongly that it broke in her hand. Destroyed ! Surprised, Samantha put her finger on the trigger, waiting for anything that could happen next. But the girl simply took a single golden gear from the wreckage – not unlike the part of an old watch, but much bigger.
“This is what they want. A piece from a jigsaw puzzle as old as this country.”
“Keep your hands where I can see them !” yelled the operative without effect as her target was once again focused on the device. “Those are non-lethal bullets but they WILL put you down !”
She thought about her taser-ammunition. Rubber bullets laced with a an electrifed copper ring.
“For the last time, give me that thing” she ordered.
“You really think you can hurt me with that ?” replied the Ghost with her cute voice.
The smirk on her face, however, was something that Samantha did not like. She was mocking her, challenging her. Part of her wanted to punch that pretty face, while the other was almost afraid to damage it. The spy took a deep breath and aimed at the centre mass. She fired once. Nothing happened. She knew she did not miss, but the green-eyed girl was still standing there. Something was off. Something was off with the cloak. The way it was moving did not make any sense. Parts of the fabric were floating but in contradictory direction, while the size of the cape itself seemed to be changing. Almost breathing. An optic illustion probably created by the heat. She shot a second bullet, aiming for a fleshy part. A naked shoulder. Again, nothing, but the fabric was now clearly covering it.
“Bulletproof ?” Samantha whispered.
She was talking to Angela, hoping that the drone’s scanner could help her in any way.
“I got nothing ! What is that ?!” cried the rookie.
She was in panic, probably lost by the fact that her technology was not working.
“Back ups is on the way. The fire spread to the whole block, it’s slowing them down. Try to buy time !”
Samantha did not have to do anything. She looked as the Crimson Ghost was taking off her poncho, letting it slide on the ground to reveal her body. The spy was speechless. The cape did not seemed to be not heavy or animated in anyway, dropping on the floor like any old cloth. The girl was not wearing any protection underneath. In fact she was almost wearing nothing at all since she was shirtless. She was dressed with a tactical pant. Leathery, tight, with belts and pouches and even holsters for guns. Except she had two snake-shaped swords instead of Colts. Metal knee pads and also veils and scarfs here and there. She was almost barefoot on the burning roof, only tiny sandals protecting her delicate feet. As for the upper body, there was only fishnet arm sleeves and a beautiful black bra decorated by silver pieces and old jewelery. She looked like a bellydancer from Conan the Barbarian ! No protection whatsoever, a lot of vulnerable flesh everywere. It was insane… Despite this, the spy could not take her eyes off her beautiful figure. She was young, but she was a woman. A slightly toned belly, a cute little navel, a nice chest… With the great flames behind her, shining on her skin, she was like a fire Djinn from the Arabian Nights. With drawn swords, ready to fight…
Samantha shot once more without thinking, it was pure instinct. The girl moved her arm at the exact same time, whipping up one of her blades. There was a spark when the bullet bounced. She deflected it without effort. The operative’s jaw dropped a bit.
“Who the hell are you ?”
Again, that damn smirk appeared.
“You’d need an army to beat me.”
And, to add insult to injury, the Crimson Ghost dropped her weapons before taking a martial art posture. She was cute but Samantha could recognize a true fighter’s stance, it was real. She was standing in the rooftop of a burning building in the middle of the night, challenged to a fight by a half-naked bellydancer who could apparently survive the attack of an elite black ops team. But then again, she was once captured by a crazy woman who dressed like a clown and tickle tortured her for an entire day… Fuck it. Why not ?
Samantha dropped her gun and adopted a stance herself. The two of them looked at each other, smiling like friendly rivals. The big explosion that happened next could have been the start of their fight, but the sound was so loud and the heatwave so strong that both women fell like dominoes. The floor cracked open while a wall of fire arose. The warehouse was collapsing… The two enemies stood up, a bit confused by what just happened yet the urgency of the situation was still secondary to them. The operative would not give up no matter what – failure was not an option. And the green-eyed one was not that bothered by the danger. They both waited to see if they should fight or flee, depending on the other’s reaction. But then a weak sound got their attention. It was a cry for help coming from the rift, from the flames beneath. Someone was trapped inside.
“Lone civilian detected” confirmed Angela. “Must be a worker who got trap inside !”
The two women acted as one. Both jumped into the hellish fire without thinking, because it was the right thing to do. For a moment here, Samantha felt almost sorry to not be topless like her adversary: the heat was so strong that she could not breathe under her tight leather suit. Sweat ran down her face, smoke got to her and it was very difficult to see anything. A hand on her shoulder made her jump and she raise a fist, ready to resume her fight. But the Ghost was not looking at her, pointing a finger in another direction. She was trying to show her something, a shape lost into the burning blaze.
“Are we really doing this together, now ?” Samantha asked.This was turning into a very strange night, even by her standards.
The younger girl barely replied as she was already running through the flames.
“No time. Truce.”
Through the radio, Angela was trying to talk to her but the reception was a mess. A few seconds later, the women found the poor employee who was cleary suffocating. To make things worse, the building was falling down again, parts of the roof raining down on her. There was no escape in sight. Samantha then spotted a big window, still intact, and grabbed the first big thing near her, something that was once a chair, throwing it at the glass with force. Thankfully it shattered, creating an opening, but the draft of air attracted the black smoke like a vacuum, creating some kind of dark tornado. It was impossible to see, to breathe and the poor guy was coughing his lungs out. The spy tried to get a hold of him but her throat and eyes were painful, preventing her to do what she wanted. She looked around for her “ally”, already thinking that she had abandonned them. But emerging from the black fog, here she was. Old motorcycle glasses were protecting her eyes, and the bottom part of her face was hidden behind some half-mask which acted like a breather device. It was black and there were white teeth painted on it, like the mouth of a demon. With the fire and everything, she did look like a vampire. Good to see that the kid was more prepared than the experienced and well-equiped super-spy.
Somehow, she felt like if a big towel was put on her shoulder. The big red poncho ! How did she managed to retrieve it ? At this point, Samantha stopped to even try to make sense of it. She was tired, in tears and was only thinking about getting out of here. The Ghost guided her and their companion in misfortune to the window and then pushed them. They both fell three stores down.
The experience kept getting weirder and weirder for the woman from Section Seven. While knowing she was doomed to a painful landing, it was like she was slowly floating through the air, dropping like a feather instead of a stone. She did not felt any impact and the only thing that come to her mind was a very old flashback from when she was a little kid. She remembered how she once fell out of her bed without hurt because she was all wrapped into a very big duvet cover. The big red thing, whatever it was, acted like a glider or a parachute. How come the Agency did not have something like that ?! Recovering, she immediatly checked on the guy beside her who still had trouble breathing. He seemed fine but needed medical attention. A quick look around showed her that this time the green-eyed girl would not be of any help as she landed hard on the floor among the remains of the broken window. There were bloody cuts all over her back and almost bared torso, and while she was still conscious, she had trouble standing up. This time she was down for good. Samantha felt no joy in that. She was almost happy to realize that she had lost her gun during the previous battle, when her hand reached for it. Everything about that mission was wrong, and to hold up the girl who just saved her life was not something she felt she could do. At least now she just had to wait for her back up to arrive. Speaking of, Angela’s drone came to them, having circled all around the warehouse. Maybe it was because she almost died, but it felt good to hear her friend’s voice and how worried she was about her. Angela always had her back. The experienced operative lost her professionnal attitude for a second and replied to her softly, to let her know that she was fine. She told her about the civilian: the poor guy was stumbling around but he managed to stand up and waited as they could hear the sirens of incoming vehicles. His voice was destroyed by the smoke so he could not talk, but Samantha saw in his eyes how grateful he was to her. That also helped her to feel better about that night. At least it was over.
The Crimson Ghost was not a threat anymore, but even then the operative could not believe that the young woman was a dangerous person. “She looks like a super-hero” said Angela earlier. The legendary spy sat down beside her “enemy”, looking at her groaning and trembling with pain. Still awfully cute. She felt really sorry for her.
“How old are you anyway ?” she asked in a soft voice.
The girl look back at her with confusion.
“… Twenty-one.” she replied before pausing. “Twenty-three ? Twenty-two.”
“My God… You don’t even know, do you ?”
“I… have been distracted…” she said, apparently struggling with the English language to find the right words.
She tried to rise up only to fall again, letting a little yelp escape from her lips. Samantha almost tried to catch her.
“You shouldn’t move. Help is on the way.”
The Ghost sighted and closed her beautiful emerald eyes.
“There will be no help.”
Silence fell between the two. The sound of the fire was almost relaxing. The wounded girl looked like she was asleep, so calm despite her injuries.
“Just tell me what this is all about”, whispered Samantha. “Why do you want those things so badly ? Who are you working for ?”
The green-eyed girl looked at the skies, the stars, thinking about it.
“Left pocket.” she said.
Samantha looked and frisked, not very sure about what she could find in such tight pants. But there was something solid alright, small. She dug up a weird item made of shiny brazen metal, an acoustic resonator for musical instruments. Maybe another one of those secret artefacts ? The Ghost raise a hand, waiting for her to give her the object. Samantha hesitated, thinking about a possible weapon.
“Come on, it’s just a tuning fork.” said the girl with a little smile.
Seconds later she hit the thing against the concrete floor, creating a sweet humming sound. Not unlike the ones produced by Plume Obscure and his terrifying devices. Samantha felt the vibrations to her bones, but unlike at Dreamland, this tune was pleasant. Soothing. The Ghost then dragged the resonator around, pointing it to the burning warehouse. And just like that half of the fire died off instantanantly, as if the reverberation put off the flames. Samantha’s cold blue eyes opened wide.
The a big part of the burning having died down, the spy catched something else from the corner of her eyes. Some kind of glow. She looked down only to gasp as the body of the wounded girl was now covered in a dim green light. The red deep cuts on her skin were smaller… healing ?
“What the… ?”
She could not finish her sentence. The bellydancer rose up and hit her quickly on the side of her neck with stiffened fingers. A precise pressure point strike, not to hard but enough to neutralize her. The spy hit the ground without much pain, but feeling dizzy and a bit lost about what just happened. No matter how she tried to recover, her head was spinning too much. Her enemy then simply walked off to get back to her poncho, covering herself.
“I am sorry” she said with a heavy accent, betraying some emotions. “I cannot let them have it.”
Samantha lay down, feeling cheated and defeated. Her vision was blurry but she could still see the Ghost’s green eyes starring at her.
“That was a good thing you did back there” she added with a softer tone before turning away.
Samantha could only gasped as she tried to grab the cape.
The young girl crouched near her, gently taking her by the shoulders to help her to lie down.
“Hush now. Help will come soon. Time to rest.”
“Who are… you… ?”
The Crimson Ghost smiled gently, and then she was gone. Samantha felt as if she had lost her mind and almost tried to fall asleep to shut down everything. Moments later however she was up, feeling better. The other was nowhere to be found: no traces of the cloak, the gilded gear, the tuning fork or any strange glow. Just the night and an inexplicably smaller fire.
Angela ran over to her. Behind her where several highly trained soldier dispatched as a rescue unit, as well as fire fighters and policemen. Orders were given to be careful and to watch for the enemy, but Samantha new they would not find anything except maybe two weird swords in the remains of the warehouse. At least Dreamland would have something to study, so the mission was not a complete failure. Minutes later a medic was checking on her. She had to look at a stupid light and breath some oxygen to expel the smoke she had breathed. Her partner was bombarding her with questions, clearly worried and a bit mad. Samantha did not hear half of it. Finally the beautiful redhead put a hand on her back, to remind her that she was at her sides.
“Samantha. What happened ?”
“We saved someone. Both of us. Then she saved me from the fire and the fall.”
“So you’re saying that she is not one of the bad guys ?”
“I am saying that she is not a monster.”
Green-eyed yes. Dangerous also. But she was… human. The operative stood up, walking away without waiting for the medic’s approval.
“Let’s return to base. Someone has a lot of explaining to do…”
TO BE CONTINUED…