Chapter 1: A Woman Stands Alone
She stands alone, an endless expanse of sand and sky spilling out before her. Behind her sits the town, a crisscrossing network of homes and workplaces raised above the blistering heat of the sand atop four massive pillars. It’s not terribly notable, its industry centred around slow, laborious mining projects that appeal to no-one but the corporations who make small fortunes off of the rare minerals acquired beneath the planet's surface. Its scant population -comprising of a few thousand of the galaxies vulnerable and desperate- could vanish overnight and no-one would notice, and even if they did they wouldn’t care.
She refuses to allow that to happen.
Her breath mists the visor of the environment suit and she makes a conscious decision to slow her breathing. She has brought little with her beyond the suit; A handful of wrist-mounted tools that will aid her in the coming fight and, of course, the mask. She rarely removes it, its sleek surface as natural as any other part of her body, it says more about who she is and what she stands for than anything else she owns. Firming her footing in the soft, burning sand she begins to meditate, visualising the array of tattoos that cover her body. As she pictures each symbol the mask changes, the number at its centre steadily increasing with each vibrant new design. Behind her, the town will be beginning to rise, its people weary at the prospect of another day’s toil. If she doesn’t succeed, doesn’t stop what is about to happen, then they will all be dead before the morning is over. Her wrist device pings and she readies herself, here they come; Invaders from Another Time.
The ship arrives with little fanfare, a sleek, featureless thing that appears in the air as if it has always been there. Its sudden arrival would unsettle her if she hadn’t seen it before, now the only fear she possesses is the knowledge of what its crew will do to this world if she doesn’t stop them. It is already in motion, sliding towards the town with no visible sign of propulsion. By now they will have scanned the surrounding landscape for any signs of defence and finding nothing but her, will go to high-alert. A perfect circle forms in the side of the ship and a trio of guardsmen riding small disks ringed with controls descend towards her. The lead guardsman wields a lance-like device that throbs with energy, sending a jet of green-tinged plasma towards her. She dives to the side, dodging the attack and rising immediately, charging towards the lead disk, zigzagging as more blasts rain down around her. As the disk passes overhead, she squats and lunges towards it, visualising the symbol for hydrogen she soars through the air, wrist device pointed directly at its underside. The device emits a shrill noise and the disk’s smooth surface liquefies, its pilot toppling through it with a yelp of fear. She takes a moment to savour the man’s look of bewildered indignation as he slips past her and plunges towards the ground, snapping a mock salute as she glides through the liquid. Deactivating the device she lands on the disk, surface solidifying beneath her.
The controls are far in advance of anything she uses, however they betray an inherent simplicity that suggests a lot about the disk’s pilots. Turning it sharply, she watches as the remaining guardsmen swerve to avoid her, one toppling from his disk as it spirals madly through the sky. The other is more successful, turning his disk and coming up directly behind her. He fires his weapon, narrowly missing her. She leaps from the disk, crashing backwards into her pursuer with a satisfying thud. Stunned, the guard stumbles backwards attempting to draw his pistol, she slaps it from his hand and drives her knee into his abdomen sending him crashing over the edge of the disk with a resigned groan.
Seizing the disk’s controls she twists it towards the ship, the door that the guardsmen emerged from already closing. Pushing the disk to the limits she braces herself against the controls and launches across them, hurtling through the closing gap at the last moment. She lands with a roll, the faint noise of the disk crashing against the side of the ship barely audible behind her. The hangar is all but empty, a few technicians in form-fitting, grey coveralls watching her in stunned silence. She greets them with a brief ‘hola’ and dashes deeper into the ship.
Chapter 2: Señor 105 in the Lair of the Exterminating Angel
The Exterminating Angel drove a sharp, precise punch into Señor 105’s chest, it was the sort of punch that made him feel his age. The Angel, resplendent in a golden uniform and ornate, beetle-like mask emblazoned with a single unblinking eye at its centre, cackled and lunged at him, offering the Señor no respite from his opening attack.
Señor 105 had been pursuing this mysterious figure for months, following a trail of broken, near-dead wrestlers throughout Mexico. He believed he had finally caught up with the Angel at the villa of Professor Cristaldi, a former wrestler known as El Pugilista who had retired from the sport to teach history at the University of Nuevo León. Unfortunately, the Señor had instead found himself lured into a trap; The Angel having already killed Cristaldi and subjected the villa’s staff to a peculiar cybernetic lobotomy. With too many innocent lives at stake, he had allowed himself to be captured and taken to the caverns beneath the villa.
If...when he escaped this place he would ensure The Angel’s victims received the best possible treatment.
As the lobotomised staff led him through the caverns Señor 105 could hardly believe what he was seeing. They were in the midst of a strange transformation, a sleek metal-like substance covering entire passageways, the material seemingly used for both this and any furniture he saw. Hallways dotted with men dressed in form-fitting black uniforms and helmets that recalled the Angel’s own mask passed by as he was forced deeper underground. Clearly, the Angel had used the villa as a base of operation for some time, but this didn’t strike the Señor as the lair of a garden variety madman, something about the entire operation left him with a deep sense of unease. The journey climaxed in a vaulted chamber that held the oddest sight he could imagine, a wrestling ring shaped from the same material seen throughout the caverns, surrounded by spectator seats. The Exterminating Angel was waiting for him, pacing the centre of the ring like a caged wolf, he glanced at the procession drawing Señor 105 towards the ring and smiled.
“So, you finally came.” The Angel said, a shrill, mechanical edge to his voice presumably provided by a device in his mask. Señor 105 glanced up at his foe, remaining silent for the moment as he stepped into the ring. Offered a better look at the man, the Señor immediately recognised someone who did not truly understand lucha, the Angel’s ornamented mask clearly serving as a status symbol rather than a performance piece. This was a man who believed his own hype and was all the deadlier for it.
“I was offered little choice,” Señor 105 replied stripping his suit jacket and shirt, there was going to be a fight regardless of what he said to the man, and he would prefer to be ready. “What you’ve done here is monstrous.”
“My actions were necessary to bring you here.”
“You’ve killed many people, and scarred more trying to what? Lure me here for a fight, you could have simply contacted me via legal channels if that’s what you wanted.”
“I’m sending a message, correcting things. Putting you in your place!” There was hate visible behind his mask, a burning personal thing that the Angel clearly struggled to contain. The Señor had seen this anger in many of his long-term foes but he had never encountered the Angel as far as he knew.
“I imagine we have different notions of my ‘place’.”
“I’m going to show how weak you really are.” The Angel snarled, moving to his side of the ring. Around them the room began to fill with the uniformed figures he had seen on his journey down, silently taking up their role as spectators. Señor 105 noticed that many of them were haggard, their uniforms showing signs of wear and tear that had never been properly addressed. The Angel reached into his outfit, flinging two bloody organs onto the ring’s floor.
“The remains of Cristaldi.”
Before he could question the Exterminating Angel’s understanding of basic anatomy Señor 105 found himself under attack, his foe leaping at him with startling speed, precise punches coming at him from all directions. “What, no bell?” The Señor spat as he blocked the Angel’s next attack, he was clearly someone who understood the art of the fight and decided a long time ago that he did not care for the rules.
“Only funeral bells!” The Angel stepped back laughing at his own joke. Señor 105 rolled his eyes -making a mental note to donate the money he had been saving every time he had heard this line- and used the Angel’s brief respite to launch his own attack, leaping forward with a double kick that ended the Angel’s laughter with a sickening wheeze. His foe was stunned, stepping backwards in a daze, he jumped, wrapping his arms around his thick-neck in an attempt to bring him to the ground, the Angel held firm using the Señor’s momentum to send him crashing across the ring.
Señor 105 was certain a number of his ribs were broken, a painful stabbing already building in his chest, the gathered crowd watching the fight with a near-reverent silence as he attempted to stand. The Exterminating Angel stepped towards him slowly, savouring his pain with unhidden glee. “Strength means nothing when you don’t know how to use it.” Senor 105 felt the Angel wrap his arms around his neck, lifting him off the ground effortlessly, he hung painfully in the air fighting the urge to scream. The Angel swung violently, flinging the Senor across the ring and into the ropes at its far side.
“You seem to have a problem with me,” The Señor felt the tang of blood in his mouth as he stood, awkwardly doubled over trying to lessen his pain. “But I had no idea who you were until a few months ago.”
“We’ve never met, but I know you.”
“If you think I don’t know the importance of strength,” the Señor stepped forward raising his fists. “Then you don’t know me.”
“You ruined me!” The Exterminating Angel jabbed at him, the Señor ducked and drove a series of punches into his chest. “Your ideology is a mockery of strength, you do not command the respect of those weaker than you, you don’t give them a function in your society, they do not fear and love you.”
“That’s not strength.” Señor 105 felt his ire build and headbutted the ranting fool, the Angel snarled tearing at his mask revealing a bloodied, broken nose. The man’s skin was almost bronze, with close-cropped blonde hair and blue eyes that the Señor wouldn’t even pretend to be surprised by.
“You defend the undeserving,” The Angel shrieked, the now damaged mask adding a warped, inhuman edge to his voice. “Coddling their weaknesses, allowing them to refuse the natural order.” He couldn’t move fast enough and was forced back by the man’s attack, painfully slamming into the ropes. The Angel punched him in the face, lifting him overhead and slamming him into the ground. He took a moment to regard his fallen foe and then began to rain heavy kicks down on him, the Señor crawling away in an attempt to escape the onslaught.
“Worst of all, people follow you. They believe your ideology, believe that strength should be used only to defend, they follow your example and fight fights they never should. It spreads, and spreads and never stops, all because of you.” Senor 105’s body seethed with an agony he hadn’t felt since his fight with Mr. 105, his anglicised double from a sinister counter-world, but he had survived that and he knew he could survive this. The crowds were standing, chanting along with the Angel’s brutal assault, the Señor struggled to focus on what they were saying, all too aware of the injuries now covering his body, but eventually, the word became clear.
“I’ll change it, I’ll stop it from happening.” The Angel said stepping back, turning his attention to his followers. “I’ve beaten you here, I’ve stopped the idea before it can ever spread, you’ll become a lesson, just another fool that would let chaos reign rather than let those who should lead do so.” He kicked the Señor in the chest forcing him onto his back, a deathly silence falling across the audience. “You die here alone, broken, surrounded by the pageantry you define yourself by.” The Exterminating Angel raised his foot, ready to drive it into the Señor’s skull. “Your world view revealed for the lie that it is.”
“You friend,” Señor 105 said grabbing his leg with both hands, twisting it sharply sending the Angel crashing to the floor with an agonised shriek, “talk too much.” He stood, controlling the shaking pain that swept across his body via the mental recitation of a calming mantra. “Now get up, you believe you’re strong? Prove it.”
The Angel stood, looking around the ring with something approaching panic, his mask was all but gone and the face underneath was covered with blood. “You, you can’t do this to me again,” he said, his true voice a small, quiet thing, “I’ll still win.”
The Señor raised an eyebrow under his mask and readied himself. “How does the song go? Hit me with your best shot.” The Angel lunged forward, spittle foaming at his mouth in a manner that Señor 105 couldn’t help but compare to the strange, plant-like hounds that had patrolled the grounds of the vila when had first arrived. A few punches connected, hurting him more than he would like to admit. The Señor jumped backwards, ducking the Angel’s flailing punches, he returned the gesture and riddled his chest with a series of heavy jabs directed towards key pressure points throughout the man’s body. The crowd watched in stunned silence as the Exterminating Angel staggered backwards, a blank numbness spreading across his body, the Señor crouched, bracing himself against the floor. He leapt forward with a double kick that connected with the Angel’s chest and sent the man flying from the ring, crashing on the floor with a heavy, definitive thud that echoed around the now silent chamber.
He turned to the crowd, all staring blankly up at a man they never thought would win, and at a loss for anything better to say he regarded them with an extravagant bow and a single word that felt right given the present circumstances.
Chapter 3: Señorita 1207 in the 26th Century
Señorita 1207 is on a mission to save a world that no-one cares about, plunging through a ship from the future intent on strip-mining its resources for their own benefit. She knows that she doesn’t have long to stop them, to stop them from killing off the planet’s population simply to get them out of the way. The people doing this don’t care, the planet’s people are an after-thought to both them and the corporation that has cheerfully sold the world off to them. When she’s dealt with the immediate problem she’s going to ensure they face justice as well.
Her arrival on the ship has created the perfect opportunity for its slave population to rise up, and while she’s happy to help, this new complication has added yet another element to her already hectic schedule. She could have made a direct byline for the control room, destroyed the ship from there, but in doing that she would have doomed people who had no choice in the matter. Some would call them tragic, but ultimately acceptable losses. Señorita 1207 refuses to accept that, to even entertain the notion would betray everything she stands for.
Her mentor, the second woman to call herself Señorita 1207 had been the one to teach her the code, the idea they all lived by. It was a remarkably simple one. Stand up against injustice, take the hit for people who can’t, and be seen doing it. She’s been evacuating the slaves, evacuating anyone who is willing to stand against the people controlling them, leading groups through the ship to hangers filled with disks that will ferry them down to the planet below. She smiles as the last group, all of who had volunteered to help her, vanish through the wall.
Guards in black beetle masks pour into the room, five or six at a guess, she dives as blasts of energy sear into the wall behind her. She’s fast, faster than them, they go down easy and she’s out of the hanger before the last one falls to the ground. She plunges through an endless succession of identical corridors, she could have spent hours wandering them but a few brief conversations with people who have been forced to spend their lives in the ship has given her a clear idea of where to go.
She turns a corner, knocking-out the two guards stationed there as she passes. Another two guard the door at the corridors far end, they barely have time to unsling their weapons before she’s on them. The first doesn’t put up a fight, collapsing after a brief scuffle, the second fires two shots, one grazes her side and she uses the sharp burst of pain to push herself forward, colliding with the guard and forcing her way through the door.
She flings the guard over her shoulders and turns her attention on the men stationed in the room. They look at her in stunned silence, the commander in charge of the operation half-raised from his chair, unsure what is happening to what should have been a simple mission. The man who will one day become The Exterminating Angel is about to experience the defeat he will spend the rest of his life reliving.
Señorita 1207 grins, ready for the fight.