Kallisti Sable peered over the top of her mirror shades, sitting at a table in a slightly run-down diner in Old Sough in the region of Paragon City which shared her name, Kallisti Wharf. Dressed in tight black leather trousers and a biker jacket over her low-cut bustier, she was trying to be inconspicuous, but it was not a natural thing for her, having grown up as a show-off and showman. She picked idly at the overly sugared danish pastry before her and grimaced as she sipped from the mug of ‘tea’ the diner had reluctantly brewed for her. The tea was a pale milky brown that felt like it should be chewed more than drunk. She was not used to full-fat milk in her tea any more but calling this stuff ‘tea’ was probably an offence against trade descriptions!
The dinner front door opened with a bang and in strode a tall, fierce-looking blonde woman wearing a full body skin tight metallic jumpsuit in purple with gold ‘spider’ flashes and matching ridiculously tall-heeled boots. Sable smiled “Bloody hell girl you know how to make an inconspicuous entrance don’tcha?”
“Huh?” Kallisti Purple sat down at the table across from her. The waitress came over carrying a menu, looking between the two very similar looking women curiously. “You! You haven’t seen either of us have you?” Purple scowled at the waitress.
“Whatever you say ma’am” she replied with a tone of resignation – it was going to be one of THOSE days! “What can I get you?”
“Is that tea?” Purple gestured dismissively at Sable’s mug. “Bring me a pot of BOILING water, a clean mug and some cold semi-skimmed milk and one of those pastries too.” she demanded brusquely. The waitress shrugged, recognising the English accent and accepting the weird demands. In this part of town you didn’t ask questions or show too much curiosity.
“Always got to be the villain huh?” Sable chortled.
“Its part of the act” replied Purple, relaxing her overbearing demeanour and smiling. “Being a Night Widow has certain responsibilities and one of those is intimidating the splods and basically being a right cow. Its great fun but does sometimes get tiring. So wassup with you? Bored of slicing and dicing?” Purple nodded to the Katana poking up behind Sable’s head.
“Took me ages to wash the bloody Rikti goo out of my outfit after the last Mothership Raid. Do they never tire of trying to take that fucking thing down – the Rikti seem to have an inexhaustible supply of morons who will jump in the bowl with a large crowd of heroes only to get slaughtered in seconds. They just need to drop a nuke on the damn thing and be done with it… preferably while the heroes are raiding it!”
“Fuckwits the lot of them!” snorted Purple. “Speaking of which, hows the ‘Kallistiverse’ holding out for you? Jeeze I can’t believe they came up with a name for it, fuck me!”
The waitress returned with a tray with Purple’s order. Purple opened the pot of ‘boiling’ water and sniffed dismissively “If thats boiling then I’ve turned into a brain-dead energy blaster!” From a pocket in the side of her jumpsuit she fished out a teabag, dropped it into the mug and poured the hot water over it.
“Is that a Tetley teabag?” Sable leaned forward.
“Yup, got them sent over from England, there is an ex-pats website where you can order all sorts of proper English stuff, they even smuggle in PROPER bacon!”
“Send me the address then, I don’t want to rely on Gold’s parents never know what they might blab!”
“Nah they’re okay, went to see them a few months back – Platinum told me they were very non-judgemental with her and you KNOW how mental she is!” Purple twirled her finger next to her temple. “They also don’t blab to the airhead.”
“Ha, you’ve seen Red then?” Kallisti Red was the originator of the airhead description.
“Yeah we had a few drinks a couple weeks back, damn she can put that stuff away! Brilliant bar fight after but they objected to me stabbing people… whatever! ‘Scuse me, Night Widow, evil an all that?”
“Fuckwits!” It was Sable’s turn to say it this time. “So word is Bronze is making progress with trying to backtrack the rifts. Every time one opens she gets a bit more info and is building up a model of the rift structure or some such… Oh…” Sable looked up at the newest arrival in the diner. Taller than both of them, but with bronze-coloured skin and distinctive curved horns sprouting from the sides of her temples, Kallisti Bronze was unmistakable.
“Yeah I invited her along as well, she’s cool and not a blabbermouth.”
“Well no not when you are my major funding source for the ongoing research.” Bronze sat down beside Sable who slid across the bench seat to make room. Casually Bronze gripped the pot of hot water in both hands and within seconds it was boiling. Sable dumped her mug of ‘tea’ into a nearby plant pot, Bronze waved to the waitress for another mug and Purple fished out two extra teabags. Once they all had mugs of properly brewed tea, Bronze continued.
“At first I though that this was multiple rifts in spacetime that kept bringing us here, but actually its just one rift that keeps coming back. What I’m concerned about is what happens to it in the intervening periods? Does it go away or does it work continuously but elsewhere? I can now detect when it opens in this timeline and its focus is Paragon City because this is where it was triggered, but what if it also works in other Paragon Cities – I mean if it take other Kallistis out of their home timelines and doesn’t always bring them here but dumps them in other Paragon Cities?”
The other two Kallistis frowned, not understanding the problem. Bronze rolled her eyes.
“Some of those Paragon Cities are radioactive wastelands, some have been overrun with Rikti, some don’t even exist, just rubble-strewn outer space where the planet Earth used to be!”
“Okay so thats not our problem though right?” Purple shrugged “I mean we can’t go looking in these other dimension thingys can we?”
Bronze stirred her tea with her finger. “Not without the resources of something like Portal Corp, and even then its hard to control where the other end of the portal ends up.”
“But what’s this to do with opening a rift to send us back to our own timelines?” Sable was bored with the conversation so far.
“Well in order to do that I need to build up a theoretical model of how the bloody thing works in the first place before I can hope to control it. Only then can I begfin to work out how to trace a path back to your home timelines and be able to open a portal.”
“So what else do you need?” Another familiar female voice joined it, overlaid with a trace of old English accent. The three Kallistis looked around at the newcomer. Kallisti the Friar sat at a table the other side of the diner, wearing a hooded overcoat, unnoticed by them all before now.
“How did she…” Sable started.
“Sweetie I’ve been tracking demons my whole life, following you was trivial.” Friar walked over to their table and shrugged. “I knew you were up to something Sable, you are always up to something!” Sable opened her mouth to speak – Friar held up her hand. “I don’t really care about your shenanigans, been there done that, came back, so I’m not one to judge.” She gestured to the waitress for a fourth mug and Purple duly obliged with another teabag.
“With the arrival of Monk, I now know I HAVE to get back to my timeline. The Arcanium have betrayed my people and I have to stop them. As much as I love being here – ” the other girls tried to cover their grins, “I know that I cannot stay here while my people are being hunted and murdered for a lie. I have to get back there and put a stop to it!”
“Spoken like a true hero!” sneered Purple.
“There is a time and a place for heroes, this world has it easy where there are rules and arrangements and there is a place for heroes to be nice. We all know that is not how it really works out there in the wild. Out there you do what must be done and morality is a fine luxury to think about after you’ve done what must.”
“Damn and I thought you were a sweet little goody goody!” Sable shook her head.
“I am when it suits, but I grew up and lived in a horror story, it makes you hard inside and no matter how much I love Gold and all the others, I’ve seen the real evil in this world as well as my own.” She glanced at Purple. “You’re not real evil my dear, you are the acceptable face of evil. The real evil is the inequality, abuse of power and brutality that we see every day here. The privileged taking whatever and whoever they want, answerable to nobody, untouchable and unaccountable.” She glared at the mug in her hand so fiercely that Bronze reached out to touch her hand gently. Friar looked up at her and smiled, the moment of rage gone.
“So what more do you need to continue the research?”
“I’ve got some ideas of what would help, but it might mean getting Portal Corp involved – or at least some of their gear.”
“I’m in for relieving them of some resources” said Purple. Sable nodded “Me too, you in Friar?”
Kallisti the Friar smiled sweetly, “Fuck yeah!”