NYPD 13th Precinct Jail...
The sun peered through the dingy gray bars of the cell. Marionette moaned as the light hit her eyes, and tried
to roll over, but the key on her back prevented her from doing so. So she put the pillow of her cot over her face, just wanting
to sleep, anticipating her mother coming to get her up... and then she remembered that her mother was dead, killed by Shadow.
Using her body.
Tears in her eyes from that thought, Marionette sat up, trying to think of what to do next. She sat on her cot, her arms
around her legs, idly staring at the strings attached to her wrists and ankles which seemed to forever lead upwards to nowhere,
listening to the voices outside of the bars.
"...so you're saying that she cut off this woman's head, and then ripped open her chest?" said a female voice which Marionette
A voice she did recognize, the police chief, answered, "That's right. She used those strange strings on her body. We think
she may be some kind of monster."
There was a brief pause. Then the woman said something that chilled her.
"I want to see her."
"Miss Falcos, I can't allow you to..."
"I don't care. If she's as dangerous as you say then I want to see her, in case I have to fight her. And please, call me
"...All right. But I'm warning you. She's dangerous."
Marionette froze, then remembered the words of the old man from last night.
"You have the same power as Shadow, to move between the realms freely. Leave before they come to get you tommorrow, otherwise
you will never know freedom again."
That may have not been exactly what he said, Marionette thought, reaching up to the wall, trying to remember how
Shadow opens his portals, but it was close enough.
"Hey, what are you doing in there?!" bellowed the police chief. Marionette turned, and froze when she saw the cop and a
tall, athletic young woman in a red sweatsuit that she assumed was Alia Falcos. Marionette gripped the wall, and to her shock,
felt it give away underneath her. She looked at her hand, and saw that she had started to tear a rip into an all-too familiar
patch of forest.
"What am I doing? I'm not sure either. I can't explain what happened yesterday to you, because I doubt you'd believe me.
But the best thing I can tell you is that I am leaving."
Marionette pulled downward, and the rip became a tear in reality. She stepped through it before the shocked police chief
and street fighter could react.
"H-h-how?" the chief managed to stammer as the rip closed behind Marionette.
"I don't know," Alia said, staring intently at the place where Marionette was, "But I'm going to find her."
Marionette fell out of the rip onto familiar ground.
"This same forest. This same goddamn forest."
She looked around, studying the corpses of what used to be the werewolf clan that she encountered after being transformed.
She sighed, shaking her head, wondering what happened.
Marionette grunted, sitting down on a log. "One thing's for sure. I'm on my own now."
"Roight. Shadow said h'you might return 'ere." growled a low, vicious voice.
"Whu?" Marionette whirled, and blinked. "N-n-no. It can't be. I killed you! And Shadow ate your soul!" she stammered, stumbling
into the clearing.
Rip Rowdman stepped out into the clearing, his now dark, charcoal-black fur making it seem like he formed out of the shadows,
his eyes glowing bright red.
"Roight h'you h'are, luv. But me body was brought back without h'it. And now h'I been changin', changin' h'and growin'
strong. H'I'm workin' for Shadow now. And 'e's told me to kill you. Which will by my pleasure! RAAH!"
The werewolf lunged at Marionette. The frightened demoness ducked, and Rip sailed right over her head, landing on his back.
Rip got to his feet and roared. Marionette ripped another hole in reality and jumped though, landing in Central Park.
Marionette kneeled over, her hands on her legs, trying desperately to catch her breath, smiling slightly as the tear closed
behind her before Rip could get through.
"How *gasp* in the hell *gasp* did he survive *gasp* when I flash-fried him totally?"
"You'll never know."
WHAT? Marionette whirled, seeing a new tear being made by Rip's claws. The zombie werewolf laughed at her, bearing
his teeth, and stepping fully through the tear.
"We will settle this. I will keep coming back again and again until you are dead."
Holy moley I think he's serious, Marionette thought, Now what am I suppossed to do?!
Rip gave her an answer by running full tilt at her. Marionette held out her arms and caught Rip as he tackled her. He tried
to force his jaws around her face, but Marionette, showing suprising strength, held him back, her hands on both of his jaws.
Rip roared in her face, and then tried something different.
He licked her.
This shocked Marionette so much that she lost her grip. Rip howled his laughter and sank his fangs into Marionette's face.
Rip thrashed his head about, shaking Marionette's body like a rag doll. He threw her off to one side, and she fell down in
a clatter of limbs, bouncing off the wall of a nearby skyscraper. Civilians, just getting up for work and seeing the battle,
ran off to the nearest phone they could find to report it. Rip snarled, and charged in with his Quick Cutter, his claws catching
Marionette low in the stomach. The demon girl moaned in agony the burning pain of her guts being ripped open took over her
mind, and lashed out blindly. The strings on her wrists whipped out, catching Rip around the throat as he prepared to lunge
again. She leaned off to the side, using Rip's momentum to throw him almost a whole block. As Rip landed hard, far away from
herself, she collapsed, the pain making it impossible to stand. She looked down at her belly, expecting to see her intestines
laying in her lap. What she did see made her gasp.
"Sawdust? I'm leaking... sawdust?!"
The wound on her belly seemed like the tear on the cloth part of a doll. Instead of red viscera, sawdust was pouring out
of the five slashes. She reached up and touched her face, feeling under the skin where Rip's fangs had penetrated.
"Wood. Oh no..."
She reached a finger into one of the wounds, feeling her 'face' underneath her skin. It was made of carved, polished wood,
the only damage being dents from Rip biting into her. As she withdrew her finger and slowly got to her feet, the damage rapidly
began to repair itself. Marionette watched all of this with growing horror, realizing that she may be less human that she
"What in the world has happened to me?!?!"
Rip's roaring drew her attention away from her thoughts. As the werewolf charged her, she froze. Somewhere in the back
of her mind she felt something twisting in her back. Rip snarled, and when he was twelve feet away from her, he sprang into
the air. Marionette screamed and ducked, covering her head with her hands. She expected to feel Rip's teeth in her neck next,
but all that happened was a rush of wind, and Rip howling in rage and frustration. She looked up, and saw Rip falling into
a circular void. As the last of his tail passed through, it snapped shut. Marionette blinked, and felt around her back, trying
to figure out what happened.
My key... she thought suddenly, a smile coming to her face, My key must have opened some kind of wormhole.
She chuckled, standing up again. Maybe this won't be so bad after all. I may have no memory of myself, and I may be an
inhuman freak and a wanted murderer, but at least I can defend myself. She looked around and realized that she
was incredibly vulnerable out here on the street. I have to get out of here. She tried to remember everything
that Shadow did while in her body. She looked at the strings attached to her wrists and ankles, reaching back to feel the
one on her neck, studying them all, and wondering how they stayed always upright attached to nothing.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Let's see if I can fly without help. She gently tugged on the strings
at her wrists, and at the top of the set of five, a cross-beamed handle appeared, slowly raising her into the air.
Marionette grinned. Cool.
Marionette tugged on the strings at her wrists again, and flew off into the air. Now I just have to find a place to
Over in the shadows of a nearby building...
Alia Falcos had started for apartment almost immediately after leaving the police station, still marvelling
over what she had seen. She had heard the howling, and saw the escaped prisoner fighting what appeared to be a werewolf. Alia
had stepped back, shocked, content for now to simply watch the procedings. As they fought however, Alia realized that she
was in deeper trouble than she originally thought.
"Monsters. Crap." She turned her head slightly to one side. "You getting all this?"
A playful, perky, and decidedly feminine voice whispered in her ear, "Yeah I got it Boss. Monster girl dumps werewolf into
demonic wormhole. All set."
"Right." Alia stared after Marionette as she flew away. She thought about the battle with the werewolf, and what she did
to him. As she did, a foul realization came to her mind.
"She's too dangerous. We... we may have to finish her."
The voice whispered in her ear again, hesitant this time. "Boss... Boss, you know how I feel about that."
"I know. But you saw what she did to that woman. And just now, to the werewolf."
"Boss, it looked like the werewolf attacked her."
"You're too much of a softy. She may have been attacked, but for all we know, he may have been sent by someone wanting
revenge on her."
"And it could be that she's just a scared little girl who was attacked by someone that wanted to kill her."
Alia wished her comrade would manifest so she could yell at her directly. "'Scared little girl?!' She bled SAWDUST when
that werewolf gutted her!"
The voice, now mocking, whispered gently in Alia's ear, "Ah, but all we know about monsters we've learned from old television
movies and White Wolf stuff. Statistics say that those who don't do any research other than TV shows, when they finally encounter
the real thing, had best make sure their life insurance is paid up."
"Damn straight. And not just for my sake. I like you, but remember what I said when you were young: I die, you die too.
We don't know what all of her powers are. If you try to fight her, you may get killed. I may get killed too, and that is one
loss I find personally unacceptable. Also, I cannot help but think that we don't know the whole story here. It may be a case
of the wrong place at the wrong time."
"..." Crap. Cally's right. "All right. If it will make you feel better, we'll just knock her out and take her
to the cops for questioning."
"Good. Now. How do we go after her?"
"Take the shape of wings. It's the only thing I can think of."
The voice laughed wildly. Alia wondered briefly why Cally was so talkative. She had encountered one other Stand Weilder
in her life, and he had told her that Cally was unusual for a Stand. Then all of her musings were interrupted by the incredible
rush of her stand, Rainbow Excalibur, manifesting herself in one of her favorite forms. She did not quite understand what
her friend was, she just knew that she was useful. And whenever she took a form to help her fight, Alia felt an almost orgasmic
rush. Twin wings, literally made of all the colors of the rainbow, sprouted out of her back, giving her an impressive wingspan
of almost twenty feet. Onlookers watching her see nothing except the back of her shirt glowing slightly, and wind rising around
Alia resisted the urge to laugh wildly. "Let's go!" She flapped her wings once and took off into the air.
The skies over Manhattan...
Marionette drifted silently over the Manhattan skyline, trying to think of what to do next. She had had so
limited life experience, even before she was changed. (Of that, at least, she was certain.) As she drifted in silence, she
sighed. She had no clue what to do next.
Who am I kidding? I have no idea what I'm doing.
"Hey! Hey you, puppet-girl!" Marionette turned when she heard the voice and blinked, seeing a familiar, red sweatsuit-clad
figure flying (?!?!) up to her with rainbow-colored wings.
This just keeps getting better and better. "Alia Falcos, right? I'm Marionette." she shouted back down to her,
"What do you want? And when did you get wings?"
"You can see them?" Alia said, blinking, "No matter. You are an escaped suspect in the murder of Moira Murdock, Marionette.
Surrender now and I won't hurt you."
Now I know my last name. Marionette just laughed, hovering in mid-air. "You are not a policeman."
Alia grinned. "No. But I can take you to where there are some." Before Marionette could even react, Alia summoned her chi
to her hands and was firing a barrage of orange energy projectiles at her.
Marionette screamed and curled up into a fetal position as the attacks slammed into her, burning her badly. She whimpered,
searing pain crossing her body with each fireball, wanting this crazy fighter-woman to leave her alone.
Without her knowing, the two strings attached to her arms detached and began whipping at the projectiles, dissapating them
in an explosion with each hit.
Marionette looked up when she stopped feeling pain and saw her strings stopping the fireball barrage of the increasingly
frustrated Alia. She snarled and flapped her wings hard, powering towards her quickly. Marionette tried to get her strings
to attack her, but before they could, Alia's fist had made solid contact with her jaw. Marionette reeled, black flowers blooming
behind her eyes as she felt her jaw crack. It healed almost instantly, and her vision cleared quickly, but the pain from the
blow was still there. She put her head in her hands as Alia swooped overhead, considering her next move.
"Cally, I look ridiculous in this. Can you change me into my normal fighting outfit?"
"Right, Boss. Just call me Stand tailor to the stars."
Keeping the shape of the wings, the Stand wrapped herself around Alia. With a flash of light, she had exchanged what Alia
was wearing right then for her usual fighting outfit: black spandex bodysuit, sneakers, grey socks, and red vest. As a bonus,
Excalibur had even summoned Alia's shield from her apartment.
"Bravo, Cally. Let's do this."
She dove at Marionette again, who was still trying to get her bearings, and threw her shield. It bounced off of the key
on Marionette's back, right back to her hand. Marionette wailed from the blow and fell downwards towards the ground. Alia
caught her shield in mid-dive and landed on Marionette's back. She braced herself, setting one foot on Marionette's head and
the other on her tush, and pulled at the key.
"Time to take off the costume, girly," Alia said, pulling at the key, flaring her wings angrily. Marionette screamed in
pain, the strings and handle that kept her in the air wavering as her concentration faltered. Marionette screamed at Alia,
her voice coming in spurts as she tugged at the key, thinking it part of a costume.
"GET! *AAAH!* OFF! *AAAH!* OF! *AAAH!* ME!" Marionette threw her head back as Alia tugged hard. Alia never lost her balance,
shifting her foot to Marionette's neck. As Marionette threw her head back in agony, one of the bells on her hat let out a
small powder that settled on Alia's foot. It sank right through the shoe and sock, settling into her skin, which started to
smolder. Alia noticed it immediately.
"Ahh! Burns!" Alia staggered, her foot slipping off of Marionette's body. Angry now, Marionette spun her key, throwing
the startled Alia off of her. Alia spun towards the ground for a few moments as Marionette flew off, wanting nothing more
to do with her. But she righted herself quickly, flapping her wings gently and hovering in mid-air.
"Damn! She's tough! Any suggestions, Cally?"
"Don't grab the key. I think it's a part of her body."
"Brilliant, Einstein. Any *USEFUL* suggestions?"
Cally laughed breathily in Alia's ear. "See the puppet-handle, and the strings on her wrists, ankles, and neck? I don't
think they can be removed, but if you grab them, you might be able to interfere with her flying powers."
"Right. Gotcha. I'll grab onto them. Since she can see you, take your attack form to distract her, and knock her out with
a warhammer instead of your usual broadsword/shield combo. When we fall, first, aim us towards a building with a pool on the
roof, and then latch back onto me as the wings. When we land, I'll take her back to my apartment."
The Stand didn't like the plan, especially the part about letting her fall for a few moments. But this took the cake. "Take
her back to the apartment? What about the police?"
Alia flapped her wings hard and started after Marionette again just as she started to move out of her range of vision.
"You've seen what she can do. I don't think the police are equipped to handle her."
"And we are?!?"
"If this works, then yes, we are." Alia sighed, feeling something akin to admiration for the way this young demoness (for
that was the only word she could think of to describe her at the time) was holding her off. After taking a shortcut that put
her right in front of Marionette, she charged the shocked demoness, who was too suprised to act, and grabbed all of the strings,
bunching them together, and holding onto the handle. Marionette glared at her and prepared to shake her off, when Alia's wings
suddenly vanished. As Marionette tried to figure out what happened, someone appeared in a flash of rainbow-colored light,
grinning madly, hovering next to her. Marionette marveled at the newcomer. It was a woman in the full armor of a knight, but
both her armor and her skin were all the colors of the rainbow. As she stared, unsure of what to make of the newcomer, a massive
hammer appeared in the knight-woman's hands.
"It's a pleasure to meet you. I'm Rainbow Excalibur, warrior Stand and partner to the lovely miss Alia Falcos, who is currently
LITERALLY hanging by a thread. Five of them to be exact," she said, gesturing up to Alia, who was by this point hanging onto
Marionette's handle for dear life. Marionette turned to look, and Excalibur swung her hammer full force into the demoness's
face. Both Stand and human heard the distinct sound of a broken nose as Marionette started to fall. Excalibur absorbed the
hammer back into herself and quickly re-merged with Alia, becoming the wings again, taking her up high, causing the street
fighter to lose her grip on Marionette.
"Dammit Boss, don't do that again."
Alia blinked and looked down at Marionette as she started to fall towards the ground.
"Next time you want me to K.O. someone, wait until we're on the ground so I don't have to worry about you becoming street
"It's bad enough that you fight people who literally want to kill you..."
Alia closed her eyes and counted to a billion."CALLY!"
"Can we catch the puppet-girl before SHE becomes a street pizza?"
Alia was suddenly sure, as she felt herself swoop into a dive, that if Excalibur were in her attack form, she would have
been blushing. She power-dived at the falling form, her hands outstretched, reaching for the handle which floated above her
falling form. Miles passed far too quickly, and Marionette was almost to the ground.
"C'mon... c'mon..." Alia was close enough to the ground that she could see the signs from the convience stores. People,
having noticed Marionette falling, starting gathering around, morbid fascination overtaking them. Alia's vision had blurred
as her speed increased, and she was relying totally now on what she felt. Suddenly, her palms touched something wooden. Her
hands closed around it, and she realized it was Marionette's handle. "
"GOTCHA! CALLY, PULL UP!!" Alia pulled up just as Marionette's face brushed the pavement. Zooming with incredible speed,
Alia flew up out of the eyerange of the crowd, who wondered at the strange, rainbow-colored streak that had caught the falling
girl. Gasping for breath, she carried Marionette over the city.
"Geez, you're heavy. You okay back there, Cally?" Alia asked.
"Yeah, boss. But you're just about done. Let me get us home. You just hold on to the puppet-girl." Alia sighed in relief
and let Excalibur take control of the wings as they slowly flew back to her apartment. She looked down at her unconscious
cargo, considering, trying to figure out what she was.
I guess that's just one of the questions I'll have to ask you, puppet-girl, Alia thought, smirking at Marionette
slightly, You were a good opponent. And hopefully, you won't want to continue our little... disagreement when you wake
up. I have a feeling Cally may be right about you, but I'm not sure. You sleep for now. We'll talk when we get back to my
place and you wake up.
Elsewhere in the city...
Rip landed with a thud in an alleyway as the portal Marionette created to get rid of him dumped him unceremoniously on
his ass. The undead werewolf grunted angrily, wondering why things like this always happened to him.
"Hey, Dug. Whattaya think this guy is?"
Rip blinked and looked up. Some bald-headed human punk in orange was standing over him and cracking his knuckles. Next
to him was a slutty looking female in tight-fitting white shirt that exposed a tremendous amount of cleavage, with jeans shorts
that were cut up almost to the crotch. For some reason, she wore a policeman's hat on her head, which had a long mane of bright-blue
"I dunno Roxy. Mebbe he thinks it's Halloween or something."
The man, who Rip assumed was Dug, chuckled at him, and gestured. From the shadows came a bunch of other punks, all just
as ugly as Dug, some accompanied by women as slutty-looking as Roxy. One of them, a scrawny little thing wearing jeans, shades,
and little else giggled at him.
"Maybe we can get him to donate some money for Halloween candy," said the skinny punk, giggling shrilly.
It was the giggle that did it. Rip decided that the geek would die first. Rip stood up, his eyes glowing red. The gang
members backed up, losing some of their confidence. Rip looked them over thoughtfully.
H'I could h'use h'a bit h'of h'a nosh before H'I go look for that bitch, Marionette h'again. These punks should do
just nicely. H'And h'as for Mister Dug h'and Miss Roxy, well... Rip chuckled as he thought of the magic Shadow had given
him. H'It would be nice to 'ave some packmates h'again.