I wrote this tale for a different game system, 'translated' from CoH, but it could easily re-translate to CoT.
Name: Spiral Dance
Identity: Emerald Astor
Archetype: Enforcer (or possibly Stalwart) Melee/Defense
Primary: 'Kinetic' Melee (Prowess?)
Secondary: 'Kinetic' Defense (Invulnerability?)
Tertiary: Utility/Leadership/Defend-Heal Other
Emerald Astor has been practicing Aikido since she was a child. Other girls had ballet lessons, but Emerald learned and loved a different kind of dance. As she grew and her capabilities and needs changed she added Aikijutsu to her repertoire and finally she took up Kempo to see what it might teach her.
As a youth, teen, and adult, she was a champion in her various arts and in mixed-arts competitions, as well. She always arranged to teach, at every level, since she found that always helped her learn more. Yet she still found time to go to college, where she earned an accelerated MBA in Finance, and competed on the Martial Arts teams.
An interview from that time quotes her as saying, “After kicking some poor Joe's butt around the mat all day, I like to go home and mess around on the Stock Market.” Which is all true, as far as it goes, but the true source of her financial success is the family private corporation that she works for. They are not directly related to the famous Astors of New York, but come from the same root family of Swiss, Austrian, German, English, American businesspeople.
A hundred years ago, the Astors worked in construction, but shifted into property development, management, and ownership. Grandpa and Grandma Astor are the current top board members of the family LLC, and quite proud of their progeny’s abilities. Emerald, therefore, works with a lot more capital than another gifted dilettante might be expected to oversee and, since she’s successful at it, her stipend is quite comfortable. It gives her a pleasant living situation and plenty of time to devote to her martial arts career.
The trouble started when another MMA fighter became fascinated, even obsessed with her. He stalked her, successfully unnoticed, for some time. He acquired tapes of her competitions and arranged to be in the audience, he discovered where she lived and moved into an apartment in the same building. Her place was the penthouse, with a private meditation garden and dojo, on the roof of a six-story building owned by her family.
The trouble developed at a charity training event and tournament, in support of a series of ‘open dojos’ for disadvantaged children. Martial artists, teachers and trainers were there, to give young hopefuls some hands-on attention, before a series of demonstration encounters. Watching from the sidelines and the audience, were parents, families, guests, and dignitaries, who had made donations in support of the event.
The ‘secret suitor’ had gotten a place as a participant in the event, hoping for a chance to demonstrate his skills before his oblivious paramour. He dreamed he might even get to make that demonstration in an encounter with Miss Astor, herself. To prove his worth and his passion.
But first, he had to get past these stupid training sessions with know-nothing newbies. Eyes on the prize, he forgot himself and cut loose on his erstwhile pupils, culminating in a torrent of verbal and physical abuse, heaped on a poor student half his age and half his size. Which is how he came to the attention of his ‘beloved’, at last.
Several of the watching senseis and budoka (teachers and practitioners of the warrior arts), and also parents and guests, had observed the man’s behavior with mounting alarm, but it was Emerald who finally intervened. Deftly, she inserted herself between the more than casual punches and the valiant student who was trying to learn something from this battery. She caught and turned three powerful blows into useless flailing, then snatched him up and hurled him to the mat, with explosive power.
“You!” she exclaimed with cold disgust, pointing down at him, “You claim to be a warrior, but act like brute… a beast! You’re no better than a blue-bottomed baboon! You have no honor. You don’t belong here. Get Out!” and she turned her back on him, going to comfort his young victim, murmuring reassurance.
Staggering to his feet, he looked around, but every participant turned away, refusing to see him, refusing to acknowledge him, shunning him. Only a few civilians watched him, wide-eyed in horror, the children regarding him with fear and aversion. In nothing but his crisp white uniform and padded gloves, spattered with the blood of his victims, he fled that place.
Embarrassed and enraged, he walked. Screaming in his mind, protesting his innocence, he railed at the unfairness of life. He slammed into his apartment, went to the cupboard, grabbed a bottle of whiskey, and was already drinking before he fell on his couch. He sat and stewed… for two days.
Finally, he slept for a long time, then woke, ate, showered, went to the gym and worked out ferociously. His rage was cold. His lust for Miss Astor was also cold, though not at all diminished. He would show her!
That evening, he strolled out of his apartment and down the hall, where he disabled the alarm on the window and slipped through to the fire escape. Wearing dark clothing, he was not seen. Staying balanced and working slow and smooth, he climbed the fire escape without being heard. At the top landing he looked up; the rooftop balustrade was ten feet above his head.
He unwrapped several martial arts belts from his waist and carefully knotted them together, with a strong wooden baton tied to the end. Carefully, quietly, he tossed the baton like a javelin, through the opening between the balustrade supports. Then he cautiously pulled on the trailing line of belts, slowly twitching and tugging until the wooden rod was braced evenly between the uprights. Finally, he slowly put his weight on the line, to make sure his makeshift climbing rig would hold, then started his ascent.
Getting over the top was the hardest part, but he was agile, working arms and legs to brace, got one foot on the edge of the roof, and then a dangerous lizard-scramble up and over the heavy concrete railing. He slumped on the rooftop, breathing heavily, but as quietly as he could, while he took in his surroundings.
It was almost a jungle, with long troughs of bamboo, large pots with cypress topiary, deep trays of flowers, roses, fitted stone walkways, tinkly water features, and spaces of sand, gravel, and even grass. At the far end of the garden was a neat, modern house, with a semi-attached dojo. All was dark, in the garden and the house.
Suddenly, there was light inside, as the front door opened and Emerald stepped in from the the small elevator-lobby. The foyer lights came on, as she turned to close and lock the front door, then dropped her small purse on a table. Additional lights came on, following her progress through the living room and down the hall towards her bedroom.
Out in the dark garden, the beastly stalker rose to pad towards the house and follow her. Emerald went through to her bathing/dressing room and the timers shut off the lights in the rest of the house. The dark-clad man-shape crept up to the glass doors between the living room and the garden, finding them closed and locked.
He reached into his pocket and drew out a clasp-knife, flicked it open and went to work on the door’s locking mechanism. Shortly, he pried the latch open slid the door back, glanced about the darkened room, pocketed his tool, and entered. Cautiously, quietly, he slipped past the furniture, and followed down the hallway after Emerald.
As he approached the door to her bedroom, Emerald stepped into view, tying the cloth belt of her exercise gi, on the way to her dojo. With a big grin of anticipation, the stalker rushed forward and shoved her into the bed - right where he wanted her. However, even completely surprised, Emerald controlled her fall, spun on the bed, and flung herself to her feet on the far side.
“Intruder!” she cried, as she backed to the garden-door and flung it open. Focused on his ‘prey’, the beastly man had leapt forward onto the bed, intending to pin the lady and have his way with her, but she was gone. He did not notice that every light in the house and garden had come on at full brightness, as he scrambled out of the bed, in pursuit of the fleeing woman.
Out the door, across the wooden deck, and into her dojo, Emerald flew, but there, she stopped and turned at bay, assuming a relaxed stance. Seeing her waiting to confront him, the dark-clad fighter controlled his eagerness and strode proudly onto the mats. This was better, he thought. First he’d beat her and when she surrendered, then he’d carry her back to the giant bed and… Yes, and then she’d love him, and respect him, and call him ‘Master’.
“So, it’s the beastly brute from the training event a few days ago,” she said, loud and clear. “I don’t know how, but he has broken into my house and planned to rape me in my own bed. I have nowhere to run to, so I must defend myself.”
“Why are you telling Me that, Princess? I already know,” he sneered, mocking her, and stepped forward to attack. He started casually, playfully, meaning to ruffle her up a bit, before getting serious. Somehow, she was never where his fists struck, moving like a cloud of smoke, simply brushing his strikes aside. Surprised, he stepped back for a moment, to reassess, this was not going to be a simple game of slap and tickle.
“You really are just a beastly brute, aren’t you, monkey-boy,” she said. “No honor, no skill, just lust and rage and violence. It’s no wonder you can’t get a date. Go back to the zoo, perhaps one of the other baboons will have you.” Her voice was calm, almost without any inflection at all, but her words were like a slap in the face.
He ground his teeth, but controlled his rage, “I’ll show you, who’s the monkey, Princess,” he spat and lunged with real intent, striking her in the… nothing. Again, she just slipped away from the blow, as if it were meaningless, as if it wasn’t even real. Her palm-strike to his short-ribs was real enough, though, a hard and bruising reminder that this woman was a champion.
Emerald spun away from her opponent, saying, “You really are offensive. Did you expect I would let you touch me? You smell like monkey-butt.” Fiercely, her opponent charged in to grapple, to bind and choke and control her. However, again she slipped aside easily, save for the slight motions that tripped him into stumbling and falling to his knees.
Expecting a crushing blow, in this moment of weakness, he desperately rolled aside and sprung upright. Only, Emerald was nowhere near him, but standing in relaxed readiness near the center of the training floor. “You know,” she commented, “I was on my way out here to do some meditation and training. I didn’t expect to be training a clumsy fool like you.”
Abruptly, Emerald chuckled and said, “Ah, yes. The classics say it best. To quote Master Chiun, ‘He's very slow. His reflexes are pitiful; poorly coordinated. He's in wretched physical condition, impetuous, and clumsy. He moves like a baboon with two club feet!’”
“Chiun said Remo had promise!” exclaimed the man, in surprise.
Emerald smiled at his response and nodded approvingly, “Yes, but Remo was the hero in the story, the plot required that he have promise,” she replied. “You have not demonstrated any promise, so I doubt that you are the hero of this story. Probably just one more idiot monkey-faced goon.” The dark-clad man snarled and attacked again, only to have all of his strikes deflected and another hard blow slam into his ribs.
For a while, there was little sound, save for the man’s grunts of effort, the slap and thump of countered blows and stamping feet, and heavy breathing. Through it all, Emerald was cool, calm, collected, and quietly contemptuous, until she finally took him by the arm and shoulder-threw him to the mat with a crash. “Let’s face it, monkey-boy, you have no class and no clue, and no chance of laying a finger on me,” said Emerald. Then she turned away and smoothly walked out into the nighttime garden.
Momentarily stunned, the dark man pulled himself together again. His arm hurt, his shoulder and his neck hurt. His back hurt, as did every place she had struck him. Worse, his pride hurt, that she had turned her back on him Again!
It enraged him. Such humiliation and anger, and hate, that he completely ignored how she had handled him. He ignored how, every time he had attacked her, she had hurt him again, more painfully.
His anger was no longer cold, nor was his lust - he wanted to bite chunks out of her, he wanted to hurt her and reduce her to garbage. He wanted to (**graphic imagery redacted**). So he ignored his injuries and charged after her.
She hadn’t gone far, just out to the center of her garden, and he stopped and stared, to see her there. Her pure white clothing and her hair seemed to glow from within, lit by the silver light of a full moon. But he only paused a moment, before his red rage filled him.
“You Will RESPECT Me!” he bellowed.
Her answering peal of outright laughter was shocking. “Respect you?” she asked, “How can anyone respect you when you keep acting like an idiot? You are mad, mad, Mad, monkey-boy. You keep doing the same thing, over and over, and you keep expecting a different result. That’s the very definition of insanity.
“Now you’re standing on a rooftop, screaming demands at the Universe. Well, it’s good to have an affirmation, but the Universe rewards action. Right-action yields positive rewards, wrong-action yields negative rewards, but, unfortunately, most actions yield nothing. ‘Nothing’ just means you haven’t found the correct action. I hate to break it to you, lad, but the Universe doesn’t care about you, only your actions.
“Respect you?” she repeated, “I can barely stand to look at you. I’d have been happy to spend the rest of my life just ignoring your existence. Now all I see is a dumb brute, a savage beast, a blue-bottomed baboon, shrieking uselessly, until his face is as red and blue as his ass, and just as stinky.”
She paused a moment, then quietly said, “Go home, monkey-boy. Try to think about this. Maybe it will make sense, in the end, and you’ll find a different path. The one you’re on leads nowhere.”
The dark man had stood there, in the shadow of the moon, intently focused on Emerald, listening to her voice, but he did not hear her words of wisdom. All he heard was insult after insult after Insult and he denied all of her words, denied ALL words. He uttered a great roar of pain, of denial, of fear and all consuming rage, and it all seemed to explode within him, as it exploded out of him.
Emerald stood in the moonlight, without fear, calm, relaxed, yet ready. She never took her awareness away from her opponent, her eyes sweeping her surroundings, but always studying the man that confronted her. She could see his struggle with her words, she saw something break in him, saw some nameless power awakening as he voiced his feelings. She Saw him change.
Despite her practiced warrior’s calm and clarity, on some level she was surprised, shocked by what she was seeing. It was like some enormous pressure was released within the man’s body, beyond the ability of flesh and blood to contain it, an eruption of dark fire. The man’s clothing utterly failed to contain it, ragged tatters falling away, and his body doubled, tripled, quadrupled in mass. Thick fur exploded through his skin and the man roared in pain as his very bones and muscles drastically changed shape within him.
What had been a medium-tall, well muscled, athletic man was transformed into a large, ape-like beast, with long, powerful arms. The man’s face was contorted by a short snout and powerful jaws, with long fangs exposed by the creature’s continued howl. It looked utterly unearthly, yet strangely familiar. Then it dropped forward onto hands and feet and charged towards her, clearly meaning to grab and claw and trample and bite.
Emerald had no idea of what she was seeing, but something in her recognized it, on an instinctual level. This was death coming at her and, despite all of her skill, it had the sheer power to overcome her. One thing was clear - She did not want to die. So she reacted.
In an instant, golden-green fire seemed to consume her, bones, muscles, nerves, skin, and flying hair. Everything changed, but she was still herself and, as the man-ape-beast charged and reached for her, she rode the force of his movements. She slipped away from the grasping claws, up his arm and over his shoulder, until she was riding his back.
This all happened in a single flowing moment, perhaps a few seconds, the beast man changed and charged, and Emerald felt her own change. However, not understanding his new power, the giant ape-beast charged right out of the rooftop garden and over the edge, with Emerald clinging to his back. It was nearly a hundred feet down, to the street below.
As she felt herself, and the beastly man, flying over the the balustrade, Emerald had only one wish - that she could have absorbed or redirected his momentum. She wished with all her heart that she could have stopped his rush, that she could control their current flight, and that she could control and roll with their inevitable impact on the pavement far below. She wished that they were not about to die... messily. That wish pushed her over the threshold completing her Breakthrough.
Glancing around, she grappled and pinned the beast’s arms, then, riding his back like a kneeboard, she absorbed the momentum and kinetic energy in their falling bodies. Her erstwhile assailant soiled himself and blacked out, before the remarkably gentle impact of their landing in the decorative lawn in front of the building. Emerald tumbled free and rolled to her feet, in front of the six gawking police officers, who had just arrived.
Breathing deeply, she shakily forced herself to be calm, “Please... take this animal away, officers. Assault, battery, attempted rape, and probably more charges, once we figure everything out. I… I need to sit down,” she muttered, and collapsed to a seat on an ornamental wall. Just then, another car screeched to a stop beyond the police cars and two agents from her security company charged through to support and protect her. “Ma’am, ma’am, are you alright!? Are you hurt? Do you need an ambulance?” they exclaimed.
Taking another deep, shivering breath, Emerald swiveled and tipped her head back, gazing up the towering wall of the building, to the brightly illuminated trees of her rooftop garden. The collected officers all looked with her, as she examined the lofty roof edge, then traced her eyes down to the dent in the the lawn, where the falling bodies had landed. “I don’t know,” she sighed.
Looking up, she saw the closest uniform and said, “Officer…” then noted the chevrons and amended, “Sergeant, my security and I will give the police all of the support and information we can, in this investigation. At the moment, I think I’m okay, though I wouldn’t object to a medic to make sure, but I don’t think we need an ambulance for me. That man… I guess we have to call him ‘the suspect’ now, we traded a number of martial arts exchanges, before we… fell,” again she glanced up at the roofline. “Just before we fell, he transformed into an ape-man… I’m not sure… I don’t want to think… what that means. I… can’t tell you what damage he may have taken, but I did my best to stop him, and not just kill him.”
Drawn by the flashing police lights, a few of the building’s tenants, as well as the superintendent had come to crowd the lobby and look out the front door. Spotting him, Emerald beckoned, and when he came near, she said, “The Super, he can show you my apartment, Sergeant. Also, one of my Security agents will accompany your investigators, to see to the alarms. He and the Super can supply information about the building and security systems, and coordinate getting any appropriate recordings from those systems to the police, please.”
All of the listeners, nodded and said ‘Yes, ma’am’, impressed by the calm, collected, command of the young lady. Meanwhile, a female junior officer hurried up with an emergency blanket from her car, and gently wrapped it around that delicately trembling young lady. She solicitously saw to Emerald’s comfort, while the other officers and agents went into action.
The Sergeant gathered the group together and, glancing up at the roof, he murmured extra instructions. “This is probably a Breakthrough situation, people, so let’s be quick and quiet, then get the lady under cover before the Cape Hunters descend like rabid vultures, right?” There was a collective rumble of agreement, then they went to work.
Emerald Astor took the hero-name ‘Spiral Dance’. Her assailant also had a Breakthrough as a result of this incident, he has been dubbed ‘The Mandrill’.