As the executive assistant to Kompera Lee, Buffy Winter had been trained since she was three years old to serve as an agent of Ryo-wo. She was also his only child. She operated under the name Arsenal, which was coined when she was fifteen years old by Mikron O’Jeneus. Arsenal was the perfect name for her, because she was normally armed with a wide and ever-changing assortment of devices copied from the various heroes and villains, not only from the surviving five parallel Earths, but also from the destroyed ones, though how Ryo-wo had gathered these devices remained a mystery.
But even without her special equipment, Arsenal was resourceful as always. That was why Buffy Winter was busy going through the inventory of projects listed in the shielded computer station at the Gotham City facility of Bishamon Research and Development. A frown was on her face as she rejected project after project as being useless in a fight. The name of the next project flashed across the computer screen and was almost rejected until Buffy caught the words prototype unit.
She swiftly expanded the menu, reading that data before heading to the lab where the project Knight Saber was located. Buffy overrode the security locks on the metal door before entering the lab of Shinji Aramaki.
Bypassing the mechanical pieces of equipment, she went directly to a small computer hooked up to what appeared to be a clear plastic booth. A few quick keystrokes were entered on the computer before Buffy stripped and entered the booth. She attached a breathing mask to her face and closed her eyes as the booth filled with a liquid.
She concentrated on forming a mental image as the booth filled all the way to the top. The liquid slowly began to change, shrinking inward as it became a hard metallic substance in various shades of blue. Buffy’s eyes opened as the armor finished forming around her. A gold A was the last to form on her belt and chest piece as the remaining liquid drained from the booth.
The now-armor-clad Buffy Winter exited from the booth, ready to fight the high-tech mercenaries who dared to attack Bishamon Research and Development as Arsenal. A ghostly voice seemed to echo inside her head as she left the lab.
Outside on the rooftop, Corona was starting to lose her fight, not because she wasn’t powerful or skilled enough, but because the duo she fought worked together as a perfect team. Already she had taken several hits from the various bits of metal that the sand-colored armored figure had sent her way. Any time she switched from playing defense to going on the offense, either a metal blade or an intense sonic blast immediately hit her. Even becoming invisible had failed, since somehow her two opponents knew her exact position.
“We don’t have time to keep on playing with this Corona chick,” Jack Sorason said to his sister as he reviewed his armor’s power supply. “Either we take her out now and wreck this place, or take off now and come back later.”
“If we follow the second course, there’s no telling who might be waiting for us on a return visit,” Jill Sorason replied as she checked her own armor’s power supply. “I do not relish the possibility of fighting that overly endowed Power Girl.”
Jack was interrupted from his little daydream about rolling around with Power Girl on the rooftop when Jill said, “Let’s switch tactics to Operation 59.”
The two armored figures took flight, coming in from opposite angles to Corona. A sudden wave of dizziness and vertigo overcame the heroine as she lost all sense of up and down. Then a wave of metal particles began to surround her protective field, blocking her sight as she struggled to stay aloft.
Corona quickly expanded her protective field into a large globe, but the metal particles continued to obscure her sight. Then a clapping noise distracted all three as they turned to look at a blue-armored woman looking on from the rooftop.
The woman stopped clapping to wave at the three. “Really quite an excellent team you two make, it seems. Ordinarily I love seeing heroes and heroines humiliated by defeat, but I really must ask what your intentions are toward this building after you defeat her.”
Jack smiled inside his helmet. “We intend to shake it to the ground after we take care of Beer Girl, not that it’s any of your business.”
“Oh? Then you leave me no choice but to play hero, since I intend to rob this place when they have something worth my time. I really can’t rob it if I let you destroy it, now can I?” Arsenal sprung into the air, aiming at the sand-colored armor.
Jack chuckled sadistically as he tried to catch the armored Arsenal within the grips of his magnetic manacles. “Damn it,” he cursed when the scans indicated that the armor was immune to his own powers. Some of the debris realigned into a metallic shield that diverted Arsenal to the side.
Jill auto-targeted both Arsenal and Corona with her sonic blasts as she scanned for weaknesses. Corona had time to catch her breath as the added element of a new unknown was mixed in. Arsenal used her increased speed and agility to avoid the sonic blasts and bits of metal that tried to destroy her.
“Jack, my scans indicate that it’s some sort of organic version of metal,” Jill said, relaying her findings to her brother as she tried to destroy the two annoying females.
“Well, duh. I had already figured that much out. We need to get out of here. My power levels are getting critically low.” Jack powered up a special subsystem that fired a series of small metal disks into the air.
“I hate to say it, brother dear, but you’re right about it being time to cut our losses and run.” Jill activated her own special subsystem.
The two synchronized their systems and activated them at the same time. A series of metallic needle bombs went off amidst an ultrasonic wail of sound. Arsenal and Corona were caught by surprise. Corona threw up a barrier, catching most of the shrapnel, while Arsenal dived in and smashed the sonic-producing devices. Sand and Rose used this opportunity to escape, disappearing off the side of the building and quickly going to ground.
Corona ran her hand through her blond hair as she created a large vacuum cleaner to suck up the metal debris. Arsenal pocketed the leftover bits of the sonic-producing device for later examination.
The two looked at each other and considered what to do. Arsenal was reluctant to take on Corona in something she hadn’t trained in, while Corona was feeling slightly weary from the earlier battle.
“I shouldn’t do this, but you did help me out, no matter what you might have said to those two.” Corona redirected her ring creation to spew all the metal up in one corner of the building as she watched the blue-armored Arsenal out of the corner of her eye.
“Don’t make me out to be some noble soul. I did what I did for entirely selfish reasons.” Arsenal was looking directly at Corona, ready to act if one of those ring creations was aimed in her direction.
“Far be it for me to make you over into a noble hero, then. I just wish I had some of those moves you used to dodge those blasts,” Corona said with some envy to her voice.
“Don’t sell yourself short, blondie. I saw the creative ways you used that ring to keep those two from crushing you. Even if I hadn’t interfered, you still might have won,” Arsenal conceded with reluctance. “So we go our separate ways, then, until next we meet. When we do, it will be on opposites sides.” Arsenal offered her armored hand to Corona.
Corona took it and shook it, smiling just a bit. “If we do, your fancy moves won’t be enough to keep you out of jail.”
Arsenal nodded before moving toward the side of the roof. “I never use the same move twice, Corona, so you had better get a whole lot better at your heroing before we fight.”
At that, Arsenal jumped off the roof and vanished from sight as Corona flew in the opposite direction. The sounds of police sirens could be heard coming toward the Bishamon building.
Alex DeWitt met the police near the front of the building, explaining that she was the one who called them. She led them inside the building, looking for Buffy Winter.
Buffy came out from her hiding place, and the two embraced quickly. Buffy explained to the police and Alex that she was in one of the auxiliary control rooms restarting the security system. A long night of answering questions, followed by clean-up operations at Bishamon Research and Development, didn’t allow any time for the two to talk until later the next night.
Over coffee, the two compared notes about what took place, their friendship firmly bonded into place by the shared danger.
“So after I called the police, I went looking for a nearby building to take pictures from, but everything was locked up tight,” Alex explained as she sipped her coffee.
“Well, it’s a good thing that I got that auxiliary security station operating, then.” Buffy pulled out an envelope containing pictures of most of the rooftop battle and handed it to Alex.
Alex looked surprised by the gift and gave her new friend a quick smile. “These ought to pay my rent for quite a while. So you are heading back to California on Monday?”
“I’m afraid so. Mr. Lee is still in Washington, but he wants me make certain everything is running smoothly there before I go anywhere else.” Buffy spooned some sugar into her coffee, stirring it in before sipping at it.
“At least we still have tonight and tomorrow for a real girls’ night out before we go our separate ways.” Alex raised her coffee cup in a toast.
“As long as it’s not as eventful as yesterday’s night out,” Buffy wryly said as she raised her own coffee cup.
Two cups clicked together as Alex DeWitt, the heroine known as Corona, and Buffy Winter, the villainess known as Arsenal, celebrated their friendship.
Elsewhere, the defeated Jill and Jack Sorason were making plans for revenge.
“Savage isn’t going to be very happy with our performance,” Jack said as he repacked the crate containing his armor.
“Fortunately, I made sure that the contract covered such an eventuality, so no blame can be directed our way.” Jill patted her brother on the back.
“I now see why so many of these American villains get sidetracked by heroes. I thought perhaps it was because of their own lack of professionalism, but…” Jack trailed off as he tried to put his own thoughts in order.
“It becomes a matter of pride to defeat them, is what you are trying to articulate, brother dear,” Jill said, summing up what her brother was trying to say.
“That’s it exactly.” Jack slammed the crate shut.
“Don’t worry. It may take a long while, but someday we will be back to make both of those interfering women pay for what they did.” Jill’s eyes smoldered with anger as she plotted a future rematch.