Author's Note: This is chapter 1 of a bigger story "My Weakness is You" which I've been working on, but I thought I'd share it now because it fulfills the 2021 SwanQueen Spring Break Week Day 1 prompt: sunrise/sunset.
Despite the lateness of the hour, not all the corridors of WPLT were empty. After all, news happened around the clock. Especially the criminal kind. So reporters worked too. At least that was Aricela Arribe's go-to line whenever anyone asked why she was still in the building. No one questioned the woman who had the highest number of awards in the news room. She had been the leader for six years running now. Just this past February, she'd won a coveted Pulitzer for breaking news reporting covering the tornado season. This had come after years of Goldsmiths for her investigative reporting bringing demands for change to how the city handled everything from education, to hunger, to homelessness, and even PTSD.
But drugs were still moving, and more and more it seemed every day. She slammed her hand on yet another text from an informant about an exchange he'd seen on the wharfs, "near the rotted dock." She knew the place from other stories. She scooped up her keys and purse, tucking a notepad inside the bag, and swept toward the elevators that would take her to the lobby from the eleventh floor.
On the way, she passed the darkened office with the sign "Director of News Operations." Bart Swain had long ago gone home to his wife and three kids. God, she wanted that. She strode faster for the elevators. Time to fly .
When the elevator doors opened a mere second later, the elevator's interior spread its light onto a dim, empty corridor.
The Golden Hammer tilted her head upward. Her green gaze searched the night sky for the source of the fluttering sound. A figure all in black finally resolved, slightly outlined by the faint sliver of moon's light.
"There you are," pale pink lips, graced by a smile, whispered. She stepped out from beneath the shadowed overhang where she had been concealed. Her appearance stopped the figure's rapid approach. Hovering, a cape fluttered around the back of the figure. Golden Hammer watched as the super-speed became an almost lazy drift toward the street surface nearby.
"You got the same call, hmm?" Black Wing mused, brown eyes shining from behind her own inky black mask.
"Yeah," Golden Hammer replied.
"But no one is around," Black Wing also surmised, turning her head slowly, taking in all of their immediate surroundings.
"The dock's actually over there." Golden Hammer pointed. Black Wing vanished between one blink and the next. "Damn speedster," she grumbled and set off in the same direction she had pointed.
A whoosh erupted beside her. Golden Hammer instinctively moved her arm to intercept a perceived threat. Her forearm stopped scant inches from Black Wing's chest. "Don't do that," Golden Hammer grumped, not the least because she did not actually want to damage the other woman. "One punch could kill you."
"I'm too fast," Black Wing replied. "Besides it's better if I do reconnaissance." Her voice, as always, was just above a husky whisper. Despite how many times they had worked together, Golden Hammer couldn't decide if there was an accent being masked by the whisper, or if dripping with sex appeal was just the brunette's normal tone of voice.
"Okay. Fine. Whatever. What'd you see?"
"A dinghy tied up to the base of the dock. The water's rough from the incoming storm, but I saw a submersible under the surface."
"Subs? He's now getting his drugs out using submarines?"
"A submersible is just a pod, just a vessel for a single person. A full-size submarine couldn't navigate the shallows this close to the docks."
"Yeah, fine. It's the principle, damn it." Golden Hammer pushed one fist into her other hand, imagining pulverizing something . "The Imp's shipping his drugs right under our noses."
"We'll shut this down, just like we did with his trucks and tunnels," Black Wing replied.
Golden Hammer studied the inky black water below the dinghy. There were issues to overcome here. "Can you swim?" she asked Black Wing.
"Yes, of course. But I can't lift the sub to the surface and swim," she added.
"I'll lift the sub," Golden Hammer said. "If you can propel me down there and then motor both of us back up." Black Wing looked at her in surprise. "Best I can think of." Golden Hammer shrugged. "We should only need to hold our breaths for a few seconds."
"I can't say my speed will be the same pushing all that weight."
"I'm not that heavy, just dense bone structure," Golden Hammer replied with annoyance.
"I actually was only referring to the sub," Black Wing replied and rolled her eyes.
Golden Hammer felt her cheeks warm because she'd allowed herself to be personally affected by the comment when she shouldn't. This was a job. Work. She and Black Wing were not partners and they definitely did not banter. "All right, so… how much prep time do you -?"
Golden Hammer abruptly found herself lifted off the dock. Then she was dropping rapidly toward the dark, rippling surface of the harbor waters. Her surprise made her inhale. She had enough presence of mind to pinch her lips together and hold that breath.
The water of Piloton Harbor was bone-chilling cold. Black Wing was grateful for the space age material Col. Haverton at Baker Base had pilfered to make her skintight and wind-resistant suit. At the speeds she moved, wind would have torn lesser fabrics from her body. She'd used contacts to meet Haverton, a military materials scientist, after hours at his lab five years ago. Since aiding her with her suit's design, Haverton had become her closest confidante.
She quickly adjusted to seeing underwater, and propelled Golden Hammer toward the submersible she could now see clearly floating about two fathoms beneath the surface. There didn't appear to be a scope on the submersible. Golden Hammer put her hands out.
All right, here we go! Black Wing moved her legs and feet faster than sight could see, and Golden Hammer's fists rammed into the side of the submersible. Using the holes as handles, Golden Hammer maintained a grip on it while Black Wing changed course and flew them straight up and out of the water with her super-speed. Out in the air, the entire load became increasingly heavy.
She had to jerk and pitch, but finally, she, Golden Hammer, and the submersible crashed onto the dock.
"Oof!" Golden Hammer grunted. Black Wing rolled onto her back, letting the blonde superhero go as the other woman extricated her hands and then pulled open a door that had been sealed shut. "All right, buddy, get yer ass out here." Golden Hammer leaned inside and emerged holding a man in a black wetsuit and goggles with one hand. In the other she held a waterproof pouch. The man had one diving flipper on and one flipper off. "You were going to make a break for it?" Golden Hammer punched him in the side of the head and he slumped in her grip. "Really?"
"We could have questioned him!" Black Wing said.
"Just a tap. I can control my strength," Golden Hammer huffed. "He'll wake up in a jail cell at lock up."
"Well, since he's out cold, I suppose I can watch him while you push that thing somewhere we can take a closer look inside."
"Why don't you look around?" Golden Hammer shrugged. "You can decipher the tech better than I can anyway."
Black Wing nodded. "Okay, fine."
She vanished and returned with a camera.
"Nice trick. Your hideout around here?" Golden Hammer asked. To Black Wing it sounded a lot like a personal question.
"I can cover the entire city in under ten minutes," Black Wing replied dryly.
"So it's closer than Mount Carmel," Golden Hammer murmured, referring to a posh neighborhood on the city's north side.
Black Wing ignored the woman's informational fishing expedition, in favor of getting into the submersible and taking pictures and studying readouts quickly and thoroughly. She slowed down only because camera shutter speeds didn't even begin to approach supersonic.
When she emerged she held another waterproof pouch. "Here's more," she said. But the dock area was empty. Golden Hammer had already vanished, apparently taking the submersible occupant with her. Nice doing business with you, Black Wing thought wryly. See you next time?
She knew she would see the enigmatic powerful blonde superhero again. It was only a matter of when. With a glance at the camera in her hand, she launched herself into the air and sped north.
Time to return to base.
Officer Barbara Brickell of the Piloton Police guided her blindfolded prisoner by the shoulder, minding the short chain between his cuffed hands behind his back. Removing her uniform cap, she fluffed her fingers through shoulder-length blonde hair, hoping it wasn't going to stick up. She stepped up to the desk of the night shift sergeant. "Found a drug runner," she said.
Yonkers looked up from his Fruit Ninjas game. "Hey, Brickell. Who've you got?"
"He didn't have any ID on him, but Golden Hammer said she fished him out of a submersible in the bay."
"A sub?" Yonkers had gotten to his feet and come out from behind the desk. He took the prisoner.
"Apparently just a one-man pod thing. He had this with him," Barbara replied. She held out a waterproof pouch taken from inside her uniform coat and passed it over the counter. "We'll need him booked and this entered into evidence."
"I don't remember the call going out."
"Ran into her coming out of my favorite bar," Barbara replied.
"You have all the luck, Brickell," Yonkers huffed. "How'd you get an in with a Super?"
"Just gotta know how to talk to 'em, I guess," Barbara replied. She replaced her uniform cap and dusted a salute toward him. "Catch you next shift."
Barbara walked toward the door, fist in her pocket cupped around one of the sealed and stoppered vials from the pouch. Next stop, the lab.