Disclaimer: Illyria belongs to Joss and Mutant Enemy and Fox. Anyone else claiming rights to her can fight it out with them, 'cause she isn't mine. The Tick, Arthur, and the City belong to New England Comics and Ben Edlund.
It was a rooftop.
The average person might have thought it was an ordinary rooftop. A little higher than most, but merely a rooftop. The Tick knew better. He was something of a connoisseur of rooftops, and he knew this one was special. For one thing, it was broad enough to provide an excellent bounding surface as the Tick made his nightly rounds. It also provided a clear, panoramic view of the City, perfect for scouting out evil-doers and ne'er-do-wells. Finally, this rooftop was the only one in the City with a pretty lady in body armor on it. Yes, this was one special rooftop.
The Tick smoothed a hand over his antennae and approached the spot where the lady stood, staring out over the twinkling lights of the evening Cityscape. "Greetings, citizen," he said in a hearty and welcoming voice.
She turned to face him and the Tick saw that she had blue streaks in her dark hair. They carried over across her forehead in a band of gradually fading azure. Her eyes were also unnaturally blue. The Tick smiled, approving her color choice. She didn't return the smile. "I am insulted that you would call me citizen. You mistake me for this shell I wear," she said in a cold voice.
The Tick furrowed his brow, trying to make sense of her comment. Then his forehead smoothed and he looked at the woman with new appreciation. She was a deep one. "Don't we all wear shells?" the Tick asked. "A hard candy coating of suspicion to protect the gooey nougat center that is our soul?"
"I am Illyria, Old One and king among demons. I have no soul." She drew herself up to her full height, which really wasn't very tall.
"No soul?" The Tick was appalled. Without a soul, where did she hang her morals, her sense of right and wrong, her love of rainbows and puppies?
Illyria stepped closer to the Tick, her voice low and threatening. "During my reign, I would have pulled your soul from you and made it watch as your body wrought horrors at my command. You would have walked among my nightmares while your soul wailed its despair for eons."
The Tick didn't care how nice this woman's hair was. No one made hypothetical threats toward his soul! "Now, see here. If you want to be all soulless and evil, you've come to the wrong place." The Tick took a step forward, looming over Illyria. He was reflecting smugly on the fact that his recent looming practice was coming in so handy when the armored woman took him by surprise with a hard right to the gut.
For such a small woman, she packed a heck of a punch. The Tick flew backwards and crashed down, his momentum carrying him several feet along the surface of the roof. He clambered to his feet and shook his head. With a valiant cry of, "Spoon!" he dove back at her. They fought and grappled, neither able to gain the upper hand. Perhaps if they had weapons, one of them might have been able to do some damage, but barehanded they were evenly matched.
They met in the middle of the roof for a blinding flurry of blows, then drew apart to circle on another. "You are strong," Illyria said, speaking for the first time since they'd begun fighting. "Have you been touched by a demon master, or imbued with power by a spell?" She sounded only mildly curious.
"I'm a superhero," he said, as though that explained everything. To the Tick, it really did. "I'm nigh invulnerable."
She cocked her head and looked at him reflectively. Her wide blue eyes were still staring at him when a noise behind him made the Tick tense and turn. He relaxed at the familiar winged figure silhouetted against the lights of the City.
"Are you alright, Tick?"
"I'm fine, Arthur. I was just battling the king of demons, here." He gestured toward Illyria with a careless wave of his hand. Arthur gaped.
"He is human," Illyria said, transferring her measuring gaze to the Tick's sidekick. "He attempts to hide it with his outlandish and unattractive garb, but this one is fragile and human. Why do you consort with him?"
The Tick was baffled. "He's Arthur," he answered slowly. "He's my lumpy little chum and right hand man. I wouldn't know what to do without Arthur." Below the mask and goggles, Arthur's face stretched into a proud grin at the Tick's words.
Illyria bowed her head a fraction to indicate her understanding. "Guard him well, then, superhero. Such companions are rare." On anyone else, the Tick might have thought that was an expression of grief. On Illyria, he assumed it was nostalgia for past atrocities. Or maybe it was indigestion. The Tick wasn't great at reading people. He opened his mouth to tell her that he always protected his little buddy, but she was gone. He rushed to the edge of the roof and saw the woman landing gracefully on the street fifty stories below. She rose for her landing crouch and sprinted away into the night.
"You meet the wierdest people, Tick," Arthur said, coming to stand next to his friend.
"That I do, old chum." He clapped a hand on Arthur's spandex-covered shoulder. "That I do."