The ape brachiated back and forth from tree to tree. Growing bored of the motion, she deliberately chose a branch which was too small to support her weight, and screeched with laughter as she crashed to the ground. She enjoyed the brief moment of vertigo, and then sat with her back against the tree as she pondered whether she was hungry.
Surveying the options before her, she decided on a nearby rotted log, which she knew would contain a hive of termites. She smacked her lips as she tore off a section of it, revealing the infestation, and began plucking them out delicately with her fingers and popping them into her mouth.
She was almost satiated when she heard the intercom buzz. "Xina?"
She grinned broadly as she recognised the voice, and ran over to the door. She left the jungle room behind and passed into the lounge. Separated from the laboratory by a chain link fence (which she knew she could quite easily bend apart), it featured an easy chair, television, DVD player, and radio. She hand-signed in BSL as she saw her trainer enter. [[Good morning, Arthur.]]
The scientist smiled, tending to hand-sign as he spoke, "Good morning, Xina. How are you doing?"
Xina looked skittish. [[I need more books, please?]] she signed. [[Is today a day I have to have one of my shots?]]
Arthur nodded, "I'm sorry, I know you don't like them, Xina, but they keep you healthy." He withdrew a small vial from a refrigerator in the room, and inserted a needle into it, withdrawing the clear liquid. She was able to read the word writ large on the container, 'cortexin,' though it meant nothing to her. Trustingly, she allowed Arthur to enter the cage and inject the liquid into her vein. He smiled again, "I get off work in three hours, Xina, I will certainly have time to bring you some more books, and since you've been so good, maybe I will be able to spend some play time with you too."
She grinned broadly, and leaned in to tenderly hug the middle-aged scientist. [[Three hours, then!]] she signed, and watched as he closed and locked the cage and went to enter the date and time into a log book.
The explosion was like nothing she had ever experienced.
For a moment the structure of the room seemed to shift and change almost hallucinatorily as if it were being viewed from underwater, before the walls and supporting columns buckled. She howled in fear at the unaccustomed disruption, and again when she saw the ceiling collapse on top of her friend. She barely had time to respond when the buckling continued, with more plaster and concrete crashing down atop of her.
She lay in pain, and tried to drag herself forward towards her friend, but she was immobilised by the weight. She blinked, a man clad in an odd yellow and blue uniform was in the room. He form seemed to blur, and he moved about the laboratory like a bolt of lightning, ransacking the various refrigerators and storage facilities. Finally, he appeared before her, standing over her crippled form. "Poor dumb animal," he said, and kneeled down. "Never let it be said Streamline was cruel to animals." He reached into his bag and looked around. "They told me monoglycetic peptide enzyme was something of an hallucinogen, it ought to help you out of your pain." A needle appeared in his hand and he was too fast to avoid as he injected the additional substance into her bloodstream.
She felt an explosion in her brain that was almost equal to the one which had devastated the room. She had no idea how long she lay there before another pair of visitors entered. She was barely able to recognise that the two were apes, gorillas like her, though they were strangely garbed: an ancient silverback in long robes, and a young male in what seemed like tricolored armor and helmet.
The armored male strode over to her and with startling ease, lifted the wreckage off her lower body. He reached down and checked her pulse. "She is still alive, barely," he said, and she was startled to observe that he spoke the way Arthur did, and the other humans, vocalising rather than using sign language. "She must be very strong; her lower body was almost completely crushed. Will she ever walk again?"
"She will fly," said the silverback. He made a strange gesture with his hands, and then all she saw was gold.
She awoke inside a laboratory. It was immediately recognisable as such, though the equipment was far more advanced than anything she'd observed before. She attempted to move, and found she was unable to. Looking down, she saw that she was attached to some sort of complicated technological device. The armored male's words came back to her and she realised the devices were probably keeping her alive. As she watched their operations she found herself able to track and interpret their functions, until she was distracted by a polite cough. She looked up to see the silverback standing beside her.
[[Thank you for saving me]], she signed.
"The surgery which I did to keep you alive has also adjusted your tongue and larynx," he said. "You ought to find yourself capable of speaking verbally now. Try it."
She blinked at him in surprise, and thought back, able to remember Arthur's and the other scientists' oral machinations as they spoke. She attempted to imitate them. "Tengk oo," she said. Astounded, she continued. "Woo are oo? Warr am I?"
"I am called the Lawgiver," he said. "You are in my home, in the place known as Otherworld. It exists separated from the world you know by its unique vibrational frequency. The other ape you met, Joseph Cornelius ... he operates under the designation Anglo-Simian ... lives on yet another world, likewise separated."
"Tere urr ... uthas ligk me, ten," she said.
"Many others ... countless others," he replied. "Some from worlds resembling your own, some from worlds so different as to be almost unrecognisable. And all those worlds are under my protectorship."
"Szo I am ... not speshul. Why did oo resgue me?"
"The scientists who chose you to uplift did not realise that you had extraordinary genetics from inception," he said. "The additional combination of cortexin and monoglycetic peptide enzyme within your bloodstream has provided you with an intelligence beyond those of most human geniuses. You will need that intelligence in your new role as protector of the law in your world."
She looked down at what remained of her body, waving her hands in distress. "Whuy can I .. prrtect ligk tis?"
"Restoring your ruined lower body is beyond even my medicines," the Lawgiver replied sadly. "But I can modify the standard uniform of my Corps to include a mobile platform for vehicular transportation, which will act as a portable version of the machines currently sustaining you. It will not be the life you were used to ... but it will be ilife/i, Xina. Which is much better than the alternative."
The disengagement from physical pleasures will also lead her to further pursue the life of the mind, driving her to even greater intellectual advancement, he considered as he crafted his temptations. It would be some time before she noticed the minute adjustments he had made to the structure of her hands as well.
"Am I aldso to be ... Anglo-Simian? as pard of yourrr Corps?"
"I think not," he mused. "I will designate you ... Ape-X, as you will be one of the most brilliant minds in my Corps. It is under that name you will return to your world to defend the law."
To defend ... and to avenge, Xina thought to herself.
Ape-X couldn't resist an impulsive hoot of joy as she soared through the air. Despite all the training she had undergone in Otherworld, the freedom of movement her mobile platform gave her to compensate for her shattered legs, still thrilled her. She didn't allow the excitement to distract her from her purpose, however: to locate the fastest man alive.
She had researched Streamline, and discerned that the most logical mechanism for his super speed was some sort of force field, which he could manipulate to traverse the Earth's surface at the speed of thought. Since he had never been observed to fly, perhaps it was some sort of tactile telekinesis which required him to be in contact with the ground. It did not take long to adjust her helm to allow her already enhanced perceptions to attune to the range of vibrations that such a forcefield would be most likely to generate.
But she also knew how deadly a weapon super speed could be. If she wished to defend the law rather than resorting to murderous vigilantism, she would have to choose her battleground and be prepared.
Eventually she saw it ... the blur of yellow lightning arcing along the outskirts of Central City. She released the stealth missile and watched as he reacted as she'd thought he would, catching and dissembling it before it hit. He hadn't counted on the vapor packets she'd implanted in the guts of the device, labeled to convince him that she'd arranged for him to run through some kind of poisonous vapor. She didn't allow herself the luxury of watching him cough and stumble; he would recover quickly and assume that she might have an antidote, and every second of head start on him was vitally necessary.
"You will trouble me no more", she said through her voice amplifier. While his head still reeled, she soared back to the lighthouse which she had made her home on her return to her own Earth, and lay in waiting like a spider in a web.
Minutes later Streamline's maleficent body recovered. Once he'd been known as Keenan King, before the injection of the accelerator elixir which stimulated his nervous system and transformed him into the fastest fighter in the world. He saw the path left by Ape-X's platform, and snarled. "I don't know who you were or what you hoped to gain by that attack, but I'll beat an antidote out of you if I need to ... or take you down with me."
He tracked her vapor trail easily, arriving at the lighthouse soon after her. Ape-X's security systems were already in place, and as soon as he got within range of her detectors, a group of turrets let loose with stun beams. She'd known better than to trust even her own reflexes against his speed, and so each turret had a dozen stunners pointing in all directions so they don't have to spin around in order to aim at him, and the fields of fire were carefully calculated so no matter what he did, he was going to be hit by at least two beams.
But she hadn't accounted for the resistance of his force field. It protected him from the damage his body was subject to at his incredible speeds, and it was sufficient to blunt the edges of the stun beams. After the first blow which left him dazed and slowed, his reflexes allowed him to recoil, and he leapt backwards out of the range of fire. "Fool me twice, shame on me," he muttered, and raced across the landscape, gathering up handfuls of stones. He threw them at the turrets with unerring aim, at a rocketing speed which destroyed the armaments. Finally, the turrets were shut down, crumpled wrecks of machinery set in the outer wall of the lighthouse.
Streamline whirled around the lighthouse, crashing through the wooden front door at a speed which shattered it into splinters. He eyed the interior stairway dubiously for a moment, then shrugged and bolted upwards, shouting with alarm as an electrified force field sprung up before him. He attempted to back away, when a second field blocked the area behind him. "More cowardly tricks," he said, "from an assailant who refuses to face me." He folded his arms stubbornly. "So what are you going to do, keep me here indefinitely? Starve me to death?"
The response came in the form of a hissing from air vents, and he realised quickly that the air was being evacuated between the two fields. He hammered away at the vents, but couldn't close them completely. He snarled again, "Coward, cowardly tricks." Howling, he threw himself at the barrier, battering at it repeatedly at incredible speeds, his own forcefield starting to spark and crackle.
Finally, the pressure began to tell, and the generated barrier began to short, electricity arcing through the stairwell. Streamline, bruised and ferocious, sped upwards towards his hidden opponent.
Ape-X, watching the events on a series of monitors, turned to face the door of her laboratory as her nemesis entered. Her appearance brought him up short. "What the hell are you?" he demanded. "Is this some sort of joke?"
She removed her helmet. "You don't recognise me?"
"A talking gorilla ... now I've seen it all ... why would I ... wait a minute ... you're not from that lab I raided months ago? That poor dumb animal?"
"I never was dumb," she said as she redonned her helmet. "And I am even less so, now." Her mobile chair rose up into the air, and swept forward towards him.
"Attacking me wasn't the smartest move you ever made," he said, and stepped aside easily. He whirled into an attack, to find the force of his blows repelled by Ape-X's own force field. Stepping in to her reach turned out to be a mistake, as her powerful hands gripped him by the shoulders. He grunted in pain, but managed to kick himself free of her grip.
He glared at her for a moment. "I need to fix whatever you did to me with that vapor bomb, and I don't want to be distracted by you while I do so ... unless I need to torture its location out of you, which is not my first choice." He ran through her laboratory, picking up objects and, repeating the tactic he'd used against the lighthouse's turrets, sent them rocketing towards her mobile platform. She tried to evade the blows, but eventually the damage to the machine became too great, and she crashed to the ground with a groan.
Certain that she was immobilised, he turned and began moving through her laboratory again, examining her equipment closely to look for an antidote. Silently, she detached herself from her chair's life-support system. She never wished to become completely dependent on the floating chair, and he never noticed she had set up her headquarter so she could get out to swing around on bars using only her arms.
Pulling herself out and moving around with her arms only, she dropped on him, hammering into his skull and knocking him unconscious before he could react.
She sighed, looking down at him. "For what you did to my friend and me, I'm tempted to rip your head off, you know," she said. "But I promised the Lawgiver that I would defend the law, and because I owe him my life, I will do so."
She brachiacated over to her mobile platform, and began the process of re-hooking herself back in. "But if the forces of the law can't restrain you ... I'll manage something myself. Maybe something permanent. So stay out of the ape's way."