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Volume 6 - Buttercup Goodlady

A pretty, middle-aged woman paused in her living room, staring at the tightly boarded up windows and thick blinds covering them. She crossed her arms across her ample chest and pursed her lips, glancing back at the room. It was a wreck, like it usually was when she came home. Clothes strewn across the couch, the coffee table flipped over, long gashes in the already tattered recliner. She sighed and shook her head, her long hair whipping out like tentacles and putting the coffee table back upright. She quickly gathered her daughter's clothes, most of them covered in cuts and tears, and dropped them on the couch.

She paused by the refrigerator, snatching a sheet from the shopping list notepad. She scribbled a quick message and left it on the counter. The woman paused to make sure the kitchen window was properly shut and covered. She nodded and snatched her purse, ready to head to work. She paused at the door and bit her lip, closing her eyes. She fought with herself for a moment, then wandered down the hall, knocking on the door at the end.

"Hon, you up yet?" she called. No response. Shaking her head, she popped the door open and slid inside, leaning against the door. The room was pitch black. The window had been boarded up entirely, so much so that no amount of light could pierce the darkness. Her hand slid to her mouth, gently pinching her nose. Her daughter hadn't cleaned herself off before going to bed, it seemed. The room was thick with the scent of blood and sweat.

"Buttercup?" she called again. This time, she heard a small grunt and the sound of covers rustling. She heard a young woman smacking her lips and groaning.

"What time is it?" a tired voice called back.

The woman glanced down at her wrist, frowning when she couldn't read her own watch.

"A bit after noon, I have to head to work. You do remember that Dick will be stopping by today, to check on your homework, right?" Her daughter groaned and fell back into her bed. The woman didn't let up, "You've been slipping, Buttercup, I expect you to at least have something for him to check. And try, please, try to listen to him. He's doing us a favor tutoring you."

Her daughter coughed a weak, forced laugh, "I didn't ask him to."

"If you want to just lay in here and mope until you run off again tonight, that's fine! I don't want to argue!" the woman snapped, turning and leaving the room, slamming the door a bit harder than she meant to. She paused outside the door, finally looking at her watch. "Shit, I'm late…" she muttered. With a sighed, she pushed the door open again. She could faintly make out her daughter, sitting up in bed.

"Buttercup, I'm sorry. Take as much time as you need," she quickly said before turning and leaving.

The teenager ran her hand through her stringy, greasy hair. She paused, pressing her hand against her eyes, listening until she heard the door to the apartment shut and lock. She dropped back in her bed, staring up at the dark ceiling. With a sigh, she closed her eyes and tried to fall back asleep.

XxXxX

The door to the dark bedroom cracked open and an exhausted Buttercup Goodlady shuffled out into the apartment. It was stuffy; her mom, Ima, had shut the air conditioning off before leaving. Buttercup coughed and pushed her hair out of her eyes, shuffling toward the bathroom. She couldn't blame her; they couldn't afford to keep it running all the time.

And, to be honest, the heat wasn't so bad. She'd felt worse.

Her train of thought derailed when she flipped the light on in the bathroom. She squinted, a hiss and a moan escaping her lips. She quickly shut the light off again and flipped on a tiny night light they left near the sink.

'Better...' she thought, cracking her eyes open. She pushed her bangs away and drew her finger across her newest face decoration. A scar across her cheek, maybe a couple inches long. It wasn't as impressive as the one on her stomach, thankfully. She spun the faucet and groaned when the water refused to pour out. With a growl, she held out her hand, a thick sheet of black covering her skin. Her hand lit up and with a little snarl, she tore the faucet off entirely. Water began to spray everywhere, and Buttercup's arm returned to normal.

She stared at the water, realization slowly dawning on her. Her lips pulled back and her teeth clenched. She screwed her eyes shut and dug her hands into her hair, muffling a scream as she slid to her knees. The teenager took a shaky breath and hit her fist against the ground. Now the water was starting to pool around her. Once she was on her feet, she stuck her face straight into the geyser, pulling away and shaking her head.

"That was stupid…" she muttered. Now she would have to ask Dick to fix it and...well he was already going to be pissed that she hadn't done her homework. Buttercup snatched the faucet and took a closer look at the damage she'd done. 'It can't hurt any worse...' she thought gloomily, placing the faucet back where it should go. With a growl, both hands turned black and lit up with green fire.

After fighting with the waterflow, it suddenly began to flow through the faucet like normal. Holding her breath, Buttercup turned the knob. The water stopped, "Fuck yes," she whispered, shedding her blood soaked, sweat-stained clothes and leaving them where they fell. She closed her eyes when the shower didn't start the second she cranked the knob, but breathed a sigh of relief when it began to gush out.

"Quick shower...then do something for Dick...maybe…" Buttercup muttered, climbing into the water. She shuddered and a whimper escaped her lips before she could hold it back. The water was like ice and her wounds from the previous night were still sensitive. Gritting her teeth and forcing her eyes open, she looked down at her chest. One, two, three, four new bullet scars. The last gang she'd busted had been a little looser with their shots. Most people gave up after the first shot or two did nothing.

She looked around for the soap, but her mom must have used the last of it. She spotted the shampoo, but simply stared at it. Her eyes widened and her lips pulled back. With a scream, she slammed the cheap bottle against the wall, crushing it and spraying it in her eyes. She stumbled back, rubbing her eyes furiously.

Buttercup turned the water off and threw the curtain open, storming back into the house, still rubbing her eyes and leaving a long trail of water in her wake. Dick was going to be by within the hour. Still cursing, she threw on the biggest sweater and first pair of pants she could find, throwing herself down on the pile of clothes on the couch. She rolled her head back and stared at the ceiling. Her green eyes were wide, framed red from the shampoo and barely holding up the dark bags beneath them. Her thick black hair was still dripping, falling over her face.

It was English day. She hated English. Worse than that, she hated math, which was the last lesson two days ago. Grunting, she sat up and pulled her math papers closer. The numbers flittered around the page, never staying still or speaking to her. She rubbed her eyes and narrowed them, trying to focus.

She heard a loud crash, saw a flash of light and smelled gunpowder. Her hands began to clench, her lips pulled back. The numbers were starting to flutter, but she kept them in place, smoothing her paper out and grabbing her pencil. She felt a pressure against her stomach, then felt her own skin heating up. Their screams filled the silence and she felt hot wetness splatter her face. Buttercup sat upright, snapping the pen in her hand. She threw it to the side and buried her face in her hands.

"C'mon, Buttercup, c'mon. It's just fucking numbers. Just numbers, just forget about last night and look at these stupid ass numbers," she insisted, opening her eyes and staring at the paper again. "So the square root is…" she heard tires squealing and shouting. Then, she felt a sharp pain in her chest. She could feel herself bleeding. She could hear a voice, begging, pleading for her to be let go. That voice stopped, and she saw a pair of eyes. He tipped his hat, before bringing a cane down on her face.

"FUCK YOU!" Buttercup screamed, throwing the coffee table across the room. It smashed into the wall, finally breaking as it fell to the ground. She snarled, panting and staring after it with a wild, heated look in her eyes. She whipped her head around, her panicked snarl falling on the man knocking at the door.

"Knock, knock, Goodlady! You're friendly neighborhood...oh, you're in a mood," The man, a tanned, tall man with slicked back blond hair sighed and looked at the destruction in the living room. His eyes fell on the snarling sixteen year old. "Feel better?"

"Not. Even. A bit." she snarled, bringing her hands to her face, she fell back on the couch, struggling to slow her breathing. Struggling to control the heat in the air, the unearthly green light building up inside of her. The man, Dick Hardley, her teacher, sighed and flopped down beside her, tussling her hair.

"Look, Buttercup, I understand. I really do. But, c'mon girl, you can't go breaking stuff your mom hasn't even paid off yet! How do you expect her to get out of debt when you keep pulling this crap?" he asked, trying to get her to look him in the eye. Buttercup just snarled and turned away, crossing her arms. Dick sighed and walked to the kitchen, rifling through the refrigerator and snatching her mom's last beer. He cracked it open, took a drink, and popped open his briefcase.

"So we have English today. I'm guessing this," he jerked his thumb at the smashed coffee table and took another drink, "is from the math assignment. So no dice?" Buttercup slowly shook her head and Dick nodded. "Right, no math...look, do you even wanna do this? I can just grab some grub and go, and you can go back to that dark, brooding thing you like to do."

Buttercup ground her teeth and narrowed her eyes. Her fingers began to dig into her face. Slowly, she sighed, "Yeah, sounds good, Dick."

Dick raised his can to her and began to go through the refrigerator again. Buttercup just fell back into her pile of dirty clothes and stared at the ceiling. Every so often, the corner of her mouth twitched and she clutched at her face.

XxXxX

Buttercup's eyes snapped open. She sat up, breathing heavily. Slowly, her head rolled back. Her eyes were heating up. Her skin was getting darker. She growled, clutching her left wrist as she stumbled to her feet. She could faintly feel it, hear it in the distance. The moon's beautiful beckoning. She could feel the darkness slipping inside of her. No, not slipping into her.

She grinned, her eyes lighting up into twin green lights. She could feel the darkness pouring out of her, freed from the sun's oppressive rays. Buttercup stumbled through the living room, into the kitchen. She clutched the sides of the stove, staring at the blinking timer on it. It was just after ten. Her mom would be home in an hour. If she was going, and she knew she was going, she should leave soon. Buttercup snickered, letting go of her wrist.

She held her hand up and slowly breathed out, a sigh of relief as the darkness within her took over, washing over her and brushing aside the pain, the hunger, the fatigue. Strength filled her up, her muscles bulged and grew. Darkness wrapped around her like a skintight blanket. She clenched her fists, now encased in spiked gloves. She took a step, her feet now clad in shin-high boots, also adorned in little spikes. With a grunt, she thrust her arms out, a billowing black cape erupting from behind her. She reached back, grabbing her hood and pulling it up over her head. Her eyes lit up bright, venomous green, and her fanged grin was quickly hidden behind a black mask, wrapping around her nose and mouth.

Breathing one last sigh of relief, the Mighty Mange looked down at her hands. She clenched her fists and green fire rose up from within her, lighting up the pitch dark room around her. "So much better," Mange rasped, storming toward the door. She paused, hearing footsteps approaching. With a growl, she slid into the shadows and slipped under the door. Moving like a thick liquid, she slipped along the tattered walls of their dingy apartment building, disappearing into the shadows and into the lobby below.

An angry old man, one who had called her mom a slut too many times, was picking through his mail and muttering to himself. Mange rose up out of the shadows behind him, clutching her clawed fist. Green light engulfed her and with a roar she threw her fist forward, just missing the old man and smashing the mailboxes open.

He screamed and tumbled to the ground, quickly grabbing his side.

"Wh-Wh...you...you're the one I heard about…" he moaned, a whimper filling his throat when she began to reach for him. Mange's eyes narrowed and her head jerked to the side. She growled, recognizing the humming voice approaching. She wouldn't let her see her this way.

"You got lucky, you rusty old fuck," she hissed, disappearing back into the shadows. Mange waited in the corner, watching as Ima stepped into the lobby, pulling her hair out of the bun it had been tucked into.

"Shh, relax, babies," she cooed, petting the writhing strands of hair, all too happy to be freed. She paused at their mailbox, pulling it open and flipping through what Mange assumed were numerous bills. She stopped at a strange black envelope. Her eyes narrowed.

"Mr. Hutchins, you really shouldn't sit in the middle of the floor," she spat, turning away from the injured old codger and making her way up the stairs. Mange snickered, watching the old man mumble and moan, trying to pick himself back up. With a growl, she disappeared through the door and into the shadows of the night.

It was a dark night, despite the waxing half moon in the sky above. Mange took a deep breath, standing atop the tallest building she could find. The green fire around her whipped up and flared. She felt stronger, definitely stronger than she had the night before.

"The moon," she murmured, staring at it in a trance. Her mom was right, it really was making her stronger. The bigger, the fuller it was, the more the darkfire poured through her veins. The thicker her skin became. Mange cocked her head, and turned, sniffing the air. She growled, narrowing her eyes. She recognized that scent. Her senses were stronger too.

She'd seen him around, usually lurking while the rest of his chump friends did the dirty work. That night, though? She could smell something else on him: her mom's perfume. With a flourish of her cape, Mange disappeared into the darkness.

XxXxX

"Oh they're good when they're hot! Shit, Jose, you know how to help a brother out," A shady man joked, taking a huge bite out of the cheap hot dog the gas station attendant had made for him. The attendant laughed, pausing by the door to make sure it was locked.

"Come off it, Sid. You know those ain't free. You gotta pay someday," Jose jerked on the door, satisfied that it wasn't opening, and propped himself up on the counter, taking a long drink from the big gulp he'd filled with strawberry slush.

Sid just snorted, "Oh yeah big man, put it on my tab," the two laughed. Sid offered Jose some of the overly cheesy nachos he'd made and the two went back to discussing nothing at all really. Their peaceful evening of petty theft and slacking, however, came to an abrupt end when the lights began to flicker. Jose sighed, hopping off the counter.

"Shit, this place is fallin' apart. Lemme go check it out," he shoved his hands in his pockets and headed into the back. Sid just shrugged and snatched his drink, taking a sip. He cringed, rubbing his head.

"Ah, brain freeze," he laughed to himself. He went to take another bite of his hot dog and froze. There, standing in front of him was a pitch black phantom, her eyes gleaming bright as the moon. He started to scream, but she was too fast. Her hand shot out, snatching him by the throat. With a snarl, she slammed his head against the counter, then threw him into a candy stand. Sid fumbled and coughed, one hand on his throat, the other searching his jacket for something.

"Looking for your knife? Go ahead, get it." Mange snarled, slowly advancing on him.

"Nah, man, I don't do that shit," Sid laughed, revealing his sidearm. He leveled it with her head, aiming right between her eyes.

Mange just snorted, narrowing her eyes, "What are you waiting for? Shoot,"

"Man, I don't want to. I know better than to fuck with you specials. Listen, why don't you tell me what you want, I tell you what you wanna know, and we go our own ways, huh?" Sid offered, shrugging and offering his hand in a friendly gesture. Mange just snarled and began to advance on him. Sid took a step back over the toppled rack and held his gun steady. "Woah, chill, man. I will put you down." he threatened.

"What the fuck were you doing with Ima Goodlady, huh?" Mange barked, hand shoot toward him. Sid pulled the trigger, shooting her right between the eyes. The phantom snatched his gun in one hand, and his collar in the other. With a roar, she lifted him off the ground and threw him back into the counter. He gasped, the air forced from his lungs as he crumpled to the ground.

"Wh-What? Man, I wasn't around no Goodlady," Sid insisted, looking around for his gun. He glanced up, watching as Mange's hand lit up in green fire and his gun slowly melted through her fingers. "Shit, man, you're a scary ass special."

"That perfume. It's hers, why is it on you?" Mange pulled him to his feet, pulling one fist back in warning. Sid held his hands up.

"The perfume? Oh shit, you mean Sedusa? Fuck, I think you got the wrong chick, man. I was just feelin' up this slut I know and-" Sid cried out as her fist hit his cheek. His eyes bulged and blood streamed from his mouth.

"She's not a slut!" Mange barked, backhanding him. She caught him before he fell and jerked him back up, "What the fuck were you doing around her?" she hissed.

"J-Just...sh-she's...man, it's personal, you know? Don't get s-so pissed!" Sid insisted. That was the hesitation Mange had been looking for. Her mask pulled back, revealing her wide jaw and her mouth full of razor sharp fangs.

"Wrong answer," she snarled. With a roar, she slammed her fist into his stomach. Before he could so much as cry out, she smashed his head against the cash register, knocking him and the register to the ground. Mange paused, glancing at the register, then at Sid. He called her by that name...that meant this loser was involved with that man.

Mange narrowed her eyes and growled, lifting the register up.

"Yo, Sid, I was...wh-what's going on?" Jose cried out, wandering back into the station proper. Mange turned to glare at him.

"You know this guy?" she asked. Jose slowly nodded.

"Get a head start," she growled, "You're next," Mange brought the register down on Sid with all of her strength. Hot blood sprayed against her, getting in her eyes. Beneath her mask, her snarl became a grin. She hit him again, and again, then dropped the register on him. She could hear Jose screaming, running for the back door.

Mange snorted and brushed her cape off, storming off into the back of the gas station. He was going to be so disappointed when he found out it was welded shut.
This is the last introductory chapter. From here on out, it's an ensemble story. There are 3 volumes/chapters left in "Arc 1: The Heroes of Townsville" and my goal is to have that finished soon before we really dive into the first real storyline. Let me know what you think and as always, thanks for reading.
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May 30, 2015
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