Blinking as she came awake with a soft groan, Alaisiagae had to take a few moments to remember where she was. The sight of dilapidated brick walls rising up towards a star filled sky suddenly jolted her memory: going on patrol through the streets and alleys surrounding the college campus, being attacked by a woman wearing a bloodstained lab coat over top a grey jumpsuit, briefly spotting the Grinning Ghost appearing from the shadows before some foul smelling gas was released in front of her face...
Sitting up in a panic, the crimefighter scanned her immediate surroundings, but didn’t see any sign of either the bizarre scientist or Ghost. In fact, there was no sign of life anywhere. No music playing from nearby buildings, or the sound of cars going by - not even the occasional insect or rodent noise. Forcing herself to take a deep breath, Alais shuffled backwards, putting her back to a wall as she assessed herself for injuries.
Aside from a pounding headache, an ugly greenish-yellow stain on her chestplate, and the tell tale soreness on her back that indicated she’d have bruises in the morning, there didn’t appear to be anything amiss. With a sigh, the teen allowed her head to tip back and rest against the brick wall.
That was when she realized her helmet was gone.
Eyes widening, the teen’s hands flew upward, proving without a doubt that the piece of armor responsible for protecting both her skull and her identity had vanished. Instantly, Alaisiagae’s thoughts turned to Grinning Ghost, but everything she knew of the younger girl suggested that she wouldn’t be responsible for such a thing: it was too easy a prank, too unlike her.
So, that left the scientist woman as the likely suspect.
Attempting to get her brain in order to determine a next move, Alais nearly missed the hissing that began to spill from the shadows around her. She most definitely did not miss the lanky figure that shuffled into the meager light, visible only in the center strip of the alley.
“What the...?” The hooded head tilted to one side, revealing a grinning mouth full of jagged, pointy teeth, and Alaisiagae’s breath caught in her throat. Across from her, the creature’s hisses changed their pattern, sounding almost like... laughter?
Eyes glowing with a sinister red light began to appear in the shadows, more collections of toothy grins gleaming beneath every pair. Alaisiagae refused to allow herself to freak out, but as more of the raggedly dressed creatures shuffled out of the darkness, she had a hard time keeping her emotions under control.
Then the first of them leapt for her throat, and it was as though Hel’s gates had been opened.
Reacting on instinct, Alais swung her fist and knocked the creature away. As the others started to attack her as well, the youth reached for her club to have a longer reach in the fight.
It wasn’t there. First her helmet, now her weapon - as she was forced to resort to rely only on her feet and fists, Alaisiagae felt no remorse whatsoever as she began growling and yelling every English and Nordic curse she’d ever learned.
A weight landed heavily on her back, forcing the hero to stumble forward. One of the creatures had dropped onto her from above, digging its claws into her armor and unleashing a torrent of the hissing laughter directly in her ear. As irritating as the sound was, Alaisiagae had to at least be grateful the thing wasn’t trying to bite her - those teeth were huge, after all.
Taking her initial stumble into a charge, the youth bounded forward through the thickening barrier of monsters, turned, and slammed the creature still clinging to her into the wall. The hisses instantly became a gurgle as the thing’s grip loosened, allowing her to grasp and hurl the creature over her head. It went down in a tangle of limbs with two others, which helped, but there was still a veritable army of them preparing to rush her position.
Concentrating on all the anger and frustration she could muster, Alaisiagae gathered it all together in a tight ball within her gut. As the first of the second wave of monsters tensed to leap forward, the hero released a blood-curdling battle cry, a vibrant blue-green aura springing into life around her armored form. It didn’t deter the creatures from their attack, but it did heighten Alaisiagae’s reflexes as she knocked them away, and she found herself snapping limbs and smashing in faces just as easily as if she were sparring with the training dummies back home.
Some unseen signal must have passed among the monsters, because then they did start to bite. The moment Alais became aware of this was when a searing pain erupted from her right forearm, where one of the creatures had dug its teeth through the leather and kevlar mesh, straight into her flesh. Furious, she swung her arm, and the monster, into the brick wall, forcing it to let go. Her reprieve was brief, though, as more of the creatures began to employ the same tactic.
Most of them couldn’t get through her plated armor, but any and everywhere that was just under layers of heavy duty cloth was fair game. Soon enough, Alaisiagae had creatures hanging from her all four of her limbs, making movement to get them off nearly impossible. One last monster walked calmly up to her, the wide grin striking a chord of terror within the hero as its laughter filled the air. It reached forward, claws digging into either side of her neck as it prepared for the final blow-
“ALAIS! WAKE UP!”
The familiar voice was like a bucket of cold water to the face. Instantly, Alaisiagae’s eyes snapped open, registering the same rising walls and night sky as before. This time, though, the sounds of city life and a nearby battle were all too evidently present. Rising unsteadily to her feet, Alais released a shaky noise of relief as she checked and found that both her helmet and weapon were still in place.
Further down the alley, Grinning Ghost was leaping about, dodging the gas bombs and vials thrown by the scientist villain while launching back her own knives and bolos.
“Dude! Are you going to come give me a hand or do you want to go back to Dreamland?” The teen yelled at her in irritation.
Realizing that it had all been a gas-induced nightmare was all the rage Alaisiagae needed in order to activate her aura, charging forward with an inarticulate roar. The villain barely had time to gape in astonishment before a gauntleted fist plowed into her midsection, sending the woman flying several yards to crash heavily to the ground.
She didn’t get back up again.
“Ha! Bet she’s gonna regret throwing that hallucinogen at you come morning!” Ghost said cheerfully, sauntering up to Alaisiagae’s side. The hero reflected for a moment that the younger teen’s satisfied grin was not an expression she would ever be annoyed at again.
It was so much better that the horrific alternative presented by the monsters of her nightmare.