Become a Titan
The street-level ARYAN groups continued their activities. Where they were not prevented from doing so, they marched and protested. Where they were harassed by police or normal citizens, they withdrew and went elsewhere. Where they were attacked, they defended themselves.
The 'bots did not need any special weaponry to be effective in close combat. They were sturdy, well-armored, and had fists that hit like jackhammers. Each one also had a target designator. This was easily discovered by tech-savvy observers, but not so obvious to the casual bystander-on-the-street. The designators picked out targets and made the small arms fire of the human officers much more accurate and effective. Not that it had helped the troop caught in the Black Rose gangsters' initial ambush.
Above the city, the armored ARYAN mecha-flyers jetted toward Weston where Hotwire had made her appearance. These were sleek, mecha-style units 5 meters tall operated by human pilots. Designed to look like humanoid constructs, they sported arms, legs, and a pair of jump-jet wings. There were several designs represented among the flight of mechs; each was distinctive in some way. They also sported the ARYAN colors--white, black, and red--along with identifying numbers and custom trim for a touch of personalization.
The first wing screamed into the airspace above the Weston intersection, ready to launch missiles and unleash energy beams at the command of their leader.
A Wing and a Prayer, A Strong, Strong Wind, All Forests are One - Venture City metahuman novels in the spirit of City of Heroes and other comic book superhero fiction. (http://bit.ly/sdpbooks)
The Bluetail drone watching that location reported the arrival of the flyers, and gained a bit of altitude to be out of the line of fire, but not so much as to be in danger from (or to) normal air traffic.
In the lab, the Duchess alerted Tinker Belle to the development. Tink had faded back as the last of the marchers near her passed by, and now she activated her cloaking device and flew at her best speed towards Weston. She arrived minutes later.
Atop the school, Old Soldier pulled out his "magic phone" (it was actually a fairly standard model he'd picked up at The Maul) as the marchers left, and began checking local newsfeeds. He scrolled across, stopping at a picture of an odd aircraft, almost looking like a flying robot, in red, black, and white. He clicked the link. Someone had just taken the picture moments before, and there were already links to other pictures popping up. "Hey, RL, watcha make of this?"
Foradain, Mage of Phoenix Rising.Foradain's Character Conclave
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Rotten Luck looks over at the image "Damn it means some hot-headed fool gone and pushed these moron's buttons. Going by the angle and buildings I think they are heading for the Weston area. The bad part of town gang turf Black Roses and Firebrands."
D-Day narrowed his eyes he seen many battles and thought he didn't know why he felt something was about to blow. He moved over to Tinkerbelle "If things get more heated mind if I can use that Teleportation trick from the last time? It has been too long I need a jump start if a fight brakes out." His voice was soft nearly a whisper last thing he needed was the knowledge his powers relied on that Kinetic boost.
As the group of rebuilt bots was doing the Chicken Dance on the streets of Weston Hotwire looked up her electrical eyes flash as information from a picture being posted entered her awareness. "Ladies and Gentlemen! Place your bets the game about to start! Seems the Aryans don't like my little show number and want to make me give them back the airtime!"
She made a pose and snaps her fingers all but six bots now stood and they were changing one was being combined by most of the others increasing in size and clearly gaining heavy weapons upgrades. Two others were also being changed into a somewhat crowd control arrangements. Where the last three were also being upgraded into more effective lightweight combat units. "Let's be real here folks no one likes boring parades! We want a show! Code Monkey how about you tell the viewing audience about our contestants!"
The broadcasts changes to a video of the incoming Mecks. "Well, Hotwire seems we have some Mech units. A few custom jobs so expect some skill in the fight! Judging by the size and design my best bet there are organic pilots in them. Either some fancy neuroscan tech or cybernetic connected. Not enough data to know what weapons they are using and I bet they are hardened against EMP and Electrical type attacks." on a private connection "Be careful sis."
Personal rules of good roleplay
1.) Nothing goes as planned.
2.) If it goes as planned it's not good RP
Seventeen years with a precog had given Tinker Belle a healthy respect for hunches, so she nodded as she revised her plan. "Duchess, D-Day and I need a 'port. Reference Blue Tail 15, north five meters, east two meters, up..." She smiled at D-Day, and muted her microphone. "How high, sir?"
"Flight Leader Elbliss, this is Control," the ARYAN commander informed the mech leader. "Purity One, show these criminals what real patriots can do!"
"Roger that, sir. Purity Flight, engage with beams and dampening fields. Attack pattern alpha."
"Purity Two, roger!" acknowledged the pilot of the stocky, wide-bodied mech. Two thick emitter pods extended a little way from the machine's sides and a deep thrum started to rattle the city block below as the sonics reached out. The mech looped 75 meters above the street in a long figure eight.
"Purity Three, roger!" the pilot of the sleekest, high-speed mech replied. Still in its approach dive, the beam lance attached to its left arm powered up and fired a high-powered sniping shot at Hotwire posing below. Then, immediately after the shot was away, the mech disappeared from view.
"Purity Four, roger!" The fourth mech sported the heaviest armor and the most fanciful embellishments to its paint job. As it landed in a thump on the street in a classic "hero crouch," it looked like a tattooed, mechanical MMF fighter, complete with a canopy shield that mimicked wrap-around sunglasses. The mech flexed its manipulators and charged toward the line of Hotwire's re-purposed creations.
The flight leader's mech, Purity One, was done up mostly in spotless, sparkling white with a metallic red canopy shield. As it slowed in its attack arc over the street, it ejected several disc-shaped drones from a module on its back. The drones dispersed in different directions, getting some distance. It remained to be seen what they would do. At the lowest point in its dive--just ten meters above the street--the mech unleashed a rapid-fire burst of energy beams, blanketing the targets below with a hail of fire for a couple of seconds before Purity Four crashed into the front line.
Hotwire looked on as the heavy mech landed. Tilting her head she smiled "So fellows where do I sign up." Then burst out laughing "Oh I can't even fake it! You guys did a Hero landing so want to paint yourselves as the good guys. Go ahead give your speech this whole area is being monitored and broadcasted. I get viewers and Profit. You get to yap like a dog it's a win-win." The two Riot crowd control bots shift poses as the AI registered an incoming attack. "So big guy is that a gun mounted on your frame or are you just happy to see me?" She dodged to avoid the fire but got hit a brief flash of light where the blast hit her arm but she shook her head "Really? Quick on the trigger just like a man shooting your load and not even a drink first."
On the private line, 'Code Monkey isolate these guys communication. I want to see if we can tap into their line and I can infiltrate their base.' Code monkey started working to isolate the signal 'Depends on what security they are using. You can bypass most encryption but if they divert signals you might end up bouncing around satellites and relay towers.'
Tilting her head she looked around both with normal eyes and those very cameras trying to spot where the sniper went to.
D-day looks at the bots "They look basic, good construction but not designed for heavy fights. Shock troops use on mass to overrun or multiple targets. So between 30 and 45 feet."
Tink keyed the mike again. "Make that minus six point five meters." A hole opened under them, dropping them from just under forty-five feet above the street a half block from Hotwire's position. Her flight pack kicked in, and she settled to the sidewalk just after D-Day's feet hit the double yellow line in the middle of the street. "And could you send a box of shield generators? We may be looking at some collateral, here. And please tell me Hotwire doesn't have any outstanding warrants. I may need an excuse to protect her if she needs protection." As the mechs opened fire up the street, she quickly drew her pistol, which looked like a ray gun from a 1930's space-opera serial.
Hotwire raised her arm and fired at Purity Four trying to capture him in an electrical tesla cage. "Get with the show at least tell the viewers your name? All this firepower at little old me just because I rebuilt the destroyed bots and hacked the airwaves? And I'm the dangerous one? HA! I even helped save the city when those Gods mind controlled people where were you?" The Riot Bots move to provide her cover using those blast shields. Canisters of smoke grenades fire creating a light smoke screen. Not enough to hide them completely but enough to dampen targeting equipment reducing accuracy.
The Heavy Assult bot turned and fired missiles at Purity Two. The three light combat bots ran forward extending blades heading for Purity Four registering that as the Alpha threat.
Code Monkey raises a brow "Getting a communication in your area, but it's not the Aryans. Sorce unconfirmed my guess is some hero is about to make an appearance. I continue to try to pinpoint the base."
D-day Landed and soaked up the Kinetic energy "Thanks for the lift Tinker Belle. What's the situation?" He heard the sounds of blasts going off.
"Looks like Hotwire did a number on some of the Aryan's robots, stole some airtime from the news networks covering the Aryans, and then they attacked her. I'm thinking, set up some damage containment, then ask everybody to stand down until the police get here." A large crate, labeled "LEVEL FOUR CONTAINMENT ARRAY", was dropped gently through a portal in front of them, the brilliant blue line of the portal revealing the box as the line rose above it. When the line passed above the top of the crate, the portal contracted closed above it.
"We are PURITY FLIGHT!" called out the leader racing past in the sky above the street. "Defending the human race from metahuman aggression and subversion!"
"And you're on our naughty list, lady," the deep mechanical voice of Purity Four growled. The mech started trashing robotic Riot Bots left and left as it moved toward Hotwire. The tesla cage enveloped it, but seemed to have no immediate effect. "But you're gonna have to try harder than that to stop me!" It began to work on the light combat bots blocking the path to Hotwire.
Above the street, the heavy bot's missiles slammed into Purity Two and rocked it off its pattern. The mech dipped and almost crashed into the corner of a building, but regained its balance and continued. A deeper, throbbing hum replaced the "broken lawnmower" whine it had made for a few seconds after the missiles' impact. The mech pilot activated a defense screen and Purity Two was surrounded by a thin white field of what looked like static. The sonic disruption would have been paralyzing to ordinary flesh and bone targets on the street, but Hotwire and the mechanicals remained entirely unaffected.
The invisible mech maneuvered for another good shot from far behind Hotwire, but as easily as it dispersed EM detection, its muffled engines were still audible. The Blue Tail drone easily pinpointed its location with sonic and thermal sensors. Code Monkey was able to pass the information almost as quickly to Hotwire.
Purity One's drones fanned out in an obvious seek-and-destroy pattern. The Blue Tail drone registered this, noted itself as a primary target with the newly arrived D-Day and Tinker Belle as likely secondaries, and requested instructions from its owner. Meanwhile, the ARYAN flight leader wheeled his mech back up and around for another pass at the targets on the street.
Tinker Belle had holstered her sidearm but barely gotten a handful of emitters out of the box when the warning about the drones came through. "Bravo Tango One Five; abort high," she spoke into her microphone. The drone immediately started going up, pitching up to take advantage of its streamlining. Within five seconds, it was accelerating straight up at 5m/s/s, climbing for the stratosphere. "Might not get a chance to place all of these but I'm gonna try." Pressing a button in the middle of the shaft caused three legs to pop out at a shallow angle; setting it on the ground and letting go caused an array of antennae to pop out of the top. "About, seven and a half to eight feet apart." The pause while she converted meters to feet was almost unnoticeable. She moved quickly to her left, setting up the next one without slowing, trusting her goggles to trigger her personal force field if one of the Aryans' drones attacked her.
Hotwire wasn't standing still she started dancing moving in a random pattern. "Defend Humanity against Metas? Funny who said I was a Meta I'm a Cyborg hooked up to life support and a supercomputer. Didn't you see the news? When I laid that Bank robbery trap for that hero Duchess I broadcasted how she tricked the Metalheads to attack me. Now my consciousness is disconnected from my body. I'm not a META human I'm a TEchnosapion a human uploaded into the Internet! You are FOOLS! I'm so making a lot of money on the bets people are placing."
The Riot Bots stagger back the left side one then charges with the shield for a Shield Bash. At the same time, two of the Lightweight bots extended blades from their arms and swung at Purity Four. Hotwire herself released a blast of electricity that a would paralyze a normal human. A Paralyzing Blast in fact.
"I got the Purity bastards frequency. Got some good encryption running it through the codebreaker now." Code Monkey said as he looks at his combat gear.
"Odd, Hotwire normally a nuisance not the aggressive type. I wonder why she's involved. I help place those Tinkerbelle." He some of the emitters and started placing them down going in the opposite direction of Tinkerbelle.
The Riot Bots and Light Combat Bots were barely scratching the paint of the heavyweight mech, Purity Four. Likewise, Hotwire's electrical attack had no appreciable effect on the machine or its pilot. With a grab-punch-rip combo as quick as a drumroll, Purity Four dispatched a Riot Bot, and then a blade-wielding combat bot. It ignored the others and stomped closer to Hotwire.
"Damn," muttered the ARYAN flight leader to himself, no longer using the loudspeakers to project his voice. He toggled the command channel. "Command, this is Purity One. Target is some kind of techno-projection. Suggestions?"
"Roger, Purity One. I caught that. Keep her engaged. I have Grand Wizard on the way."
"Excellent! Thanks, Command." Purity One pulled up into a high hover and discharged a main cannon bolt at Hotwire's heavy bot.
Purity Three flickered into visibility as its sniper cannon fired a plasma bolt at Hotwire's back.
The ARYAN drones registered the departure of something, and swapped to alternate targets as the Blue Tail drone left their range of concern. Those alternate targets were D-Day and Tinker Belle. They began a slow hover back toward the battle zone to get clear fields of fire.
Tinker Belle moved in an arc across the street. As each new emitter was placed, the antennae of the one before shifted to point at the new one. She left a gap of a meter between the emitters and the buildings, so that people (bystanders leaving buildings, police arriving, whoever) would be able to move past. She had five in place when the Blue Tail Drone, over four kilometers up,reported that the Aryans' drones had broken off, and she began watching for their return as she placed her last five emitters, arcing back around the battlefield to meet D-Day as he placed his.
Another message appeared in the hero organization inboxes throughout the city.
Be advised: The anti-meta superiority group, ARYAN, is moving into the second phase of its plan.
Three elite mech groups, called "flights," have left the ARYAN base locations. In the Titan City network itself, there remain only two similar ARYAN flights. One is at 75% strength and the other at 50% strength, due to maintenance issues. Two more flights are under construction with pilot training in progress. These cannot be fielded for another month, at least.
The three flights deployed now include:1. Purity Flight: A command and medium beam unit, a sonic protection and crowd control unit, a sniper unit, and a heavy assault unit.2. Heritage Flight: A command and control medium beam unit, a multi-function missile unit, a sniper unit, and a heavy assault unit.3. Freedom Flight: A command and control mixed-tech unit, a multi-function missile unit, and two heavy assault units.
In addition to the squads of "stormtrooper" robots and propaganda staff already observed, there are several magically-active individuals allied with ARYAN that will provide additional support against "unusual" metahuman threats. It is not known whether these allies will be protected by ARYAN forces, their own henchmen, or if they are considered powerful enough to stand toe-to-toe with metas like Hotwire, Anthem, D-Day, the Deadly Seven, and the like. ARYAN leaders consider these allies to be sufficient to deal with threats that simply can't be defeated by "normal" means. Beware.
Look for flight units to create the giant robot transform after taking any significant damage separately. Their intent remains to be an opportunity to spin public opinion further against metahumans. To this purpose, they will attempt to avoid collateral damage and will quickly blame any on the threatening metas.
--Charlie Kane, Investigative Reporter
"So for the crime of Hacking a broadcast you guys are going to take me down? You let the Black Roses and Firebrands destroy these bots and I repaired them, but I'm the one you go aft... AGH" She got hit her form flickered as she face planted.
The Heavy Assult shifted to focus on Purity Four and open fires the bots main cannon.
The remaining Riot bot turned and fired a pulse blast at Purity Three.
"SIS! Get up we got their signal. Time to play dirty." Code Monkey said as he started hacking into the Aryan base computers.
Hotwire lifted her head "Too late... in the words of a video game. All Your Base are belonging to the US!" Then she sprang up and leaped becoming that electric bolt for she uses to travel and headed to Purity One zeroing on the transmission and attempts to hack his unit. (This would act like confusion causing him to target allies.)
In her place were three electric gremlins joining the fight.
D-Day sets down the last of his emitters. "Hotwire out of her league in there. I hate when self-righteous bastards try to use our morals against us. Do they really think the public that stupid? Most of those morons would be executed by Hitlers Nazies for being an inferior breed. Once you give the word I'm going in swinging."
"She's done pretty good so far..." Tinker Belle double-checked the spacing by eye and by goggle before stepping inside the ring and keying in the command on her wrist com. An antennae popped up from the crate, and the cold fusion device in the bottom began pumping energy into the air as a standing RF waveform. The emitters started soaking up the majority of that energy, but the remainder left a soft violet glow in the air centered on the crate. The force field crackled into existence, the blue glow forming a wall three stories high. A few of the nearby buildings were taller, Tink hoped no one would miss too high.
She nodded to D-Day, and then used her own loudspeakers. "Attention combatants! Please try to keep this fight inside the circle. Purity Flight, do y'all have a plan for securing Hotwire and delivering her to the local police?" Tink almost hoped they did; but if not, Hotwire didn't have any capital crimes on her rap sheet, there would be no lynchings here...
Purity Three wobbled slightly and returned fire with its anti-personnel gun, turning the riot bot into a shattered wreck in a mere second. Its pilot charged the main gun and disappeared again before flying to a new position.
"Flight Leader, you got that one?" the Purity Four mech pilot asked. The hull was thudding from the heavy bot's main cannon. His HUD told him that the sonic dispersion barrier was absorbing a lot of the damage, but that could only last so long. He charged the bot and grappled it like a jiujitsu master, working to get a good hold and flip it to the ground where its weapons wouldn't be effective.
"Something... not sure. ECCM is working, but--" Purity One's communication cut out as Hotwire gained access to the primary systems of the mech. "Damn!" the flight leader swore. He reached over quickly to grab and twist the emergency reset handle. He tried to land the mech in the containment field below before the villain could throw it out of the sky.
Purity One's Pilot would hear "I wonder would your allies open fire on you or attempt to disable. Let's find out shall we?" With that Purity One weapons activated and fired on Purity three using its sensors to find the stealth sniper.
The Assult Bot used it's battering ram arm to smash into Purity Four.
The three electrical Gremlins then add their own electrical attacks at Purity Four trying to overwhelm him.
Code Monkey hacking went into overdrive downloading and copying files. Could always use the Aryan's designs for better equipment and sell to the black market. At the same time, he started disabling the anti-virus systems. "What do you think Hotwire? Think these guys computers are linked?"
D-Day looked at the battle "Still say it's a toss-up. She's resistant to their primary weapons but notice how she was flickering before she vanished. My bet her hold on the projection is weaker then it was. Those bots she reperpose are being taken out and none of the Aryans are down. Thought it does seem she got the upper hand for now."
"And they don't seem to have an answer yet for arresting her. Of course, they may be just a bit busy. But if they plan on killing her, or taking her somewhere else beside to the police, I might just have to rescue her."
The ARYAN flight leader cursed even more as he tried to get control back from the cyber-controller villain. It wasn't doing him any good. She had already managed to lock out the mechanical reboot interlink. The main cannon throbbed as its energy pulses traced across the hull of the sniper mech, chewing through armor and into the mech's control systems.
On the ground, Purity Four rocked from the battering ram, but the robot's leverage was poor and the mech's armor absorbed most of the damage. The mech pilot started twisting pieces off the bot and discarding them like he was opening the shell of a lobster. "Purity One, what's going on up there?" he called out. He ignored the trivial electrical gremlins Hotwire had left behind. Those weren't going to hurt him.
"Hotwire's got control of his mech!" the sniper pilot responded with a yelp. "He's firing on me!"
"Can you hang on? Reinforcements oughta be here soon, and the heroes are setting up a little boxing ring for us to contain the damage, it looks like."
"I've got him," the Purity Two pilot affirmed. He switched the focus of the sonic dispersal field and muted the effect of Purity One's weapons.
Meanwhile, Code Monkey was deep into the ARYAN computers. Their drives were frustratingly empty of anything immediately useful. Displays good for monitoring the battle, yes. Accounting details, yes. But real paydata? Not on file. As he completed his survey, he realized that he had just triggered a very powerful tar pit trap that exponentially slowed his ability to transfer data--including his telepresence--out of the system. His "senses" were freezing up fast.
On the plus side, the command staff had not yet noticed his infiltration. The ARYAN commander ordered, "Once Grand Wizard takes out that Hotwire thing, regroup at Checkpoint Hotel. The so-called 'heroes' aren't taking the bait. We'll have to try something else." He fumed to his staff, "They aren't as dumb as we thought. Bastards!"
Code Monkey swore as he cut the connection. "Damn nothing and triggered a trap." He waved a hand over his computer console then smiled. "But, I still have the communications link." typed a quick command then the data packet went across the ARYAN'S communications. In that data packet was a simple virus nothing really complex, just enough to get past most Virus Protections to shut down any remaining Aryan Bots and hopefully even the Mechs. (result would be a sleep effect).
Hotwire "Well seems your allies are smarter then I give you guys credit." She jumped from the Purity One armor and landed in her human form having taken the time in the armor to recover some from the attacks that hit her. She spun and blasted Purity Two with a heavy blast of electrical attacks focused to shut down the armor.
Her remaining bots and gremlins still focused on Four seeing the heavy armored as the linchpin of the threat.
"Sister seems the computers were a dead end. But seems they are bringing in some Grand Wizard fellow to handle you. Might be a magic type or some moron in a red robe and hood." Code Monkey informed her of the intel he overheard "Sending a nasty surprise over their communications. Let's see how they like a little data worm!"
D-Day stood there crossing his arms. "Okay, so she's holding her own. Guess I underestimated her. I bet she's pissing off those Aryans, worst kind of fight one a tad to even lasts way too long. My worry is what the result will be when they are pissed."
Across the city, the ARYAN stormtrooper bots suddenly stopped where they were. Confused human supremacist leaders and PR flunkies checked their controls, looked around, tried to get the bots to move, and then became flustered as police officers reminded them to move along smartly.
Electrical attacks seemed to be having a very minimal effect on the ARYAN mecha flyers. Purity Four continued to rip and shred bots, ignoring the gremlins. Then, as Purity One was released, he noticed Hotwire and threw a hunk of robot scrap her way.
The lead mech swayed on its gyros in the air above the battle zone. Then, it hovered slowly down to the street and began the reboot sequence Hotwire had interrupted while Purity Leader squawked and protested ineffectually in the cockpit. Purity Two refocused its defensive sonics on the other members of its flight, and Purity Three activated its stealth cloak again.
A crimson-robed figure with a matching pointy hood winked into existence on the street corner near Tinker Belle and D-Day. This was the supervillain, Grand Wizard, a known master of several kinds of dark magic. The villain tensed and dropped into a startled crouch on seeing the heroes. He began casting some sort of spell as arcane energies gathered around him.
"Now that costume's just askin' for trouble." Tinker Belle's accent was a bit more Georgia than usual. "But unless it's an official uniform worn by somebody who isn't what the uniform says, 'tain't no law against wearing the wrong clothes. Even if they yell out to the whole world, 'Ah'm a high ranking racist jackass!'"
She looked to see what Hotwire would do, and calmly pulled an eighty year old Zippo lighter out of one of her belt pockets. D-Day would almost certainly recognize the anodized brass emblem on one side, with an eagle, a globe, and a fouled anchor. If the Grand Wizard had any real arcane talent, he might notice the holy (if not exactly Christian) aura about it.
"Then again, Mister Wizard, if you're not just some clown in someone else's costume, you are seriously wanted. And I'm not gonna wait to see what that spell is you're castin'." She snapped the lighter open and alight, and along with the pale blue alcohol flame magic flared. Meanwhile her left hand reached behind her for her taser.
The bright flare of magic caught Grand Wizard by surprise. "Gaagh!" he sputtered, waving his hands in front of himself, interrupting his own spell. He stumbled back a few steps, then tripped on the edge of the sidewalk. Windmilling his arms, he fell back onto the concrete.
Hotwire had strong resistance to energy type weapons. A piece of metal flying at her, on the other hand, caused the energy her body seemed to be made of to short out a flash of light was seen as she fell to the ground. Resistant to blunt attacks was not in her powerset. "AHhhhh" She screamed as she fell but that didn't last long as she quickly got to her feet. "That's it time to overload!"
What resulted was her standing up and emitting a powerful surge of electrical charge or more to the point an EM Blast of energy anything that wasn't successfully hardened would be hit.
Back at what counts as Hotwire's base Code Monkey got up and started putting on that Nintendo style gear. "Hang on sis I'm coming."
D-day looked at the Grand Master "Casting a spell at a federal agent and civilian with out their consent is against the law." He cracks his knuckles "You have one chance to surrender before I let my frustration that's been building loose." Magic wasn't something he could handle well magic didn't pack Kinetic force like other types of attacks. He wasn't an easy target even without that charge the natural toughness a human tank has is still impressive.
"For one thing," the crimson-robed wizard sputtered as he scrambled to his feet, "that wasn't cast at you! That was supposed to be a personal spell. For another, I don't recognize your authority! I don't see no badge, and I haven't done anything, yet."
"Other than all those outstanding warrants!" a familiar feminine voice whispered in the heroes' ears, carried by a soft current of wind. "I'll hold him, if needed. You grab him!"
Gayle Force bobbed in the breeze a good thirty yards down the street in a cloud of mist, just close enough to have a good view of the villain.
Over the police and hero channels, a dispatcher warned, "Two other ARYAN mech groups are headed toward Hotwire's location. We need crowd and collateral damage control spread wider. There is an industrial parking lot two blocks north of Hotwire's current location. Can someone figure out how to move the party?"
As another voice on the radio was starting to reply, the containment field shorted out, blown by Hotwire's EM blast.
Tink left the taser in its holster and instead lunged forward to try grabbing The Wizard's right wrist, slipping the now-closed lighter back into its pouch before grabbing several Buckey-TiesTM from the next pocket forward. If she could get enough fingers from each of the wizard's hands strapped together, he'd likely have more diffficulty casting his spell. Then the forcefield fell in a shower of sparks.
Over at the high school, The Old Soldier bit off a curse - he supposed Misty counted as a lady - as the camera that had been feeding his phone an image of the fight died in the EM blast. "Whattaya think, RL? Can we get there, and if we can, can you move the party?"
Rotten Luck looked at the Old Soldier "Ah might never make those many portals at once before. If ah can ah be a bit drained and ah hate being drained. Lose my wits, got plenty of jerky in my pocket so why not." Misty turned and looked at the two "Oh we get to finally bash some of these jerks heads! I'm all for it!" With that Rotten turned and created a Portal aiming for a roof of one of the buildings he saw in the video. The portal is two feet above the rooftop due to his guessing.
D-Day glances down to his WWII modified uniform. Then back at the Grand Wizard "United States Army proud and true. I don't need a badge to be an Officer rank of General in fact and I recognize you. Got a number of arrest warrants with your name on it. Tinker Belle cover me." With that D-Day charged for the Wizard performing a Tackle grab maneuver. Secretly he was making sure his steps are strong and firm to at least get the force of feet against the ground.
Hotwire spun seeing that none of the Mechs were affected "What does it take to take you, morons, down!" She then shifted back into her lighting form and leaped from one bot to another starting the repairing of them. The first one that was getting repaired was the heavy assault and it fired missiles at Unit Four.
At the other end of the Alley were D-Day and Tinker Belle was Code Monkey beamed in. The beaming effect was much like the teleport of Zero in the Megaman games. "I think I have something for these guys Hotwire." With that, he lifted the gray and orange missile launcher like device (Nintendo superscope) and fired a blast of hot plasma at Unit One.
"Yeah, try it, darkie!" spat Grand Wizard as both the inventor and the war hero lunged for him at once. "At least I got--" As the heroes grabbed at him, he dissolved in a cloud of thick smoke, not even getting to finish his insult. The smoke whisked itself away toward the battlefield.
Plasma bolts stitched a line in Purity One's canopy. Not quite penetrating, yet, but definitely having more of a damaging effect than the electricity Code Monkey's sister had been throwing. The heavy mech, Purity Four, turned and stomped the regenerating heavy bot Hotwire was possessing, damaging it almost as fast as she could fix it.
The Old Soldier pulled out six small canisters from a hole in space, each one painted a different color. "Marking the targets oughta help. Can't hurt, anyway." He pulled pins and tossed one at the feet of each mech, another at the cluster of robots around Hotwire, and the last between the spot where the wizard had disappeared and where Code Monkey had launched his plasma bolt. The grenades landed in succession but went off almost in unison: each began spilling smoke from one end. It wasn't obscuring smoke, rather, it climbed skyward, drawing attention to the points on the ground near them. Red, green, blue, and purple smoke marked the mechs. Orange smoke came from Hotwire's position.
As Tinker Belle recovered from her quarry's smoke-puff disappearing act, she saw the grenade pouring a column of yellow smoke into the sky between her and Hotwire's partner. Sidekick? Something like that. She scanned the rooflines, stopping when she saw a familiar-looking figure: Next to a man in a WWII style fatigue uniform and a floating girl wearing very little, was what looked like a dead man in biker gear. Quickly putting the last thing that had been said on the radio together with the marker-grenades... "Portals coming up, D-Day!"
"Purity Flight, this is Command. Grand Wizard is at your location. Keep Hotwire busy. Heritage and Freedom Flights are also coming your way to engage. Got some meta action already, and more inbound. Stay alert and follow the plan."
The Purity Four pilot grunted to himself as he twisted aside from an inexplicable, created-from-nowhere AT missile the heavy bot grew and fired. "Screw the plan. It's gettin' messy out there!" He stomped the bot's launch arm back into scrap.
Purity Three, the sniper, swooped and retreated for distance. The pilot lined up a shot on Code Monkey and toggled the communicator. "Metas or something coming up on the roof, nearby, battlefield 7 o'clock. Smoke markers down. Watch the ground! Something's incoming!"
Purity One, the flight leader, was struggling to get his mech airborne again. The plasma gun fire was making it difficult. System warnings flared and popped and he cursed as he kept trying alternates. Standing there in the street like a big target wasn't going to do anyone any good. Then, the power plant warning sounded as Code Monkey penetrated the armor.
Finding the Grand Wizard literally went up in smoke D-Day grunts and shrugs his shoulders. Then hearing Tinker Belle. "Is the portal from a friendly?"
Code Monkey spun and took aim at the source of the communication of Purity Three. "My Headgear not just for decoration you stealthy bastard." Purity Three would see that plasma launcher Super Scope being aimed at him.
Hotwire could only repair one bot at a time given the amount of damage done. If it wasn't in the middle of a battle she could repair more but that would take more focus. Soon the repairs stopped as she forms eying Purity Four. "Brother send me the blueprints for that Plasma blaster!"
"A little busy here sis! Homing in on that sniper." Code Monkey said as he checked the power supply on his deflection shields.
Rotten Luck stepped forward. "Going to be a bitch. Sending these folks to open turf. Best place I can think of is Deer Park. Should be clear of non-combatants." He cracked his knuckles and then softly "Hel give me the strength to do this."
"Lasers and smoke! Almost a rave." Misty said as she looked down at the combatants below. "Once we at the park I start draining energy from those tin cans. Maybe even Hotwire. They might be hardened against electrical attacks but we are supernatural after all. I haven't met an energy source I couldn't tap."
Then all around those in the alleyway black portals start to form. Anyone standing on the ground would one moment be on the hard road. The next finding themselves falling through the portal to the grass field of the park miles away.
"Friendly!" Tinker Belle shouted as she fell to the grass. She tumbled to her feet and looked around. This was not the parking lot mentioned on the police/hero channel, but it would do... once the few civilians were warned off. Turning on her amplifier, she activated a recorded warning. For the next minute, her voice boomed out intermittently, "Danger! Clear the Area!" Meanwhile she readied her own heavy weapon, assembling it from parts pulled out of her belt pouches, starting with her blaster pistol being connected to a shoulder stock...
Sparks snapped and popped as smoke billowed from the grounded Purity One mech. The flight leader switched to his personal communicator as the portals opened. In a clipped voice, he reluctantly spat out, "Command, this is Purity One. I'm grounded with power plant damage. Need evac." And then, he and his crippled mech were landing with a thud somewhere else, in a park.
Above the street, the sonic defense mech, Purity Two, fired a directed sound pulse at Hotwire. The compression waves of focused sound struck the pavement where she had been just a second before. "Some kind of portals, Command!" the pilot reported. "Where'd they go?"
Purity Three had already lined up the shot on Code Monkey and he wasn't going to waste it. The big energy cannon roared. Then, the pilot jinked to his left hoping to get out of the line of the tech's plasma launcher.
"What is this?" Purity Four's pilot asked. He tried to roll his mech away from the portal, but he was too late. He fell through the portal with his mech.
The smoke form of Grand Wizard was close to the portal around Purity One, and he fell through, as well. Just as well for him, as Gayle Force spun up a tornado around him to capture the villain in the whirling winds.
"All units, this is Command," the ARYAN commander said. "New coordinates incoming. It looks like Deer Park. Get there and hit them! Hit them hard!" He turned his head to the maintenance officer. "Can you get Purity One out of there?"
"Not yet, sir. But I'm rerouting to lock on and grab him."
"Once you get a lock, do it," the commander ordered.
Code Monkey shields flickered as the blast hit it. Just as he returned fire with a blast of plasma. The two of the lights on his belt (six lights in total) went out. "Damn that blas...AHHHHH" Then he found himself rolling on the grass a third light went out as he got to his feet. "What the hell."
Hotwire missed being hit by the sound pulse as she fell through the portal, unlike her brother she landed with ease of a dancer. "Some kind of mass transport. Damn, we are in a park there's no real tech for me to hijack."
D-Day landed with the classic hero landing. Standing up he looked about. "I think there enough grounds to charge these Mech armored Aryans with disruption of the peace, associating with a wanted criminal. They aren't holding peaceful protests any longer. Are you using that tech of yours to record their actions?"
Rotten staggers and falls to one knee growling as if he was a wild animal and rips his jacket pocket open spilling a plastic bag of homemade jerky onto the rooftop. Then he started stuffing the meat into his mouth plastic bag and all.
Misty looked at Old Solder "Um.. he's kind of scary when he gets all feral like that. Hope he snaps out of it soon."
"Of course. The feed from the Blue Tail Drone before they sent those seeker missiles out. Each of the force field projectors has a fisheye camera, too. Any weapon I have out. And of course my goggles. Each to its own file, with backups elsewhere, all ready for review." By this time, the weapon looked more like a heavy rifle, and Tinker Belle flipped the safety switch three places before bringing it to her shoulder. "And now the sights on this one." She scanned the park, looking for both sets of villains as well as any civilians that hadn't left yet, and... "I don't see Rotten Luck, the portal-maker, though, or his companions."
The Old Soldier mentally reviewed the contents of his extra-dimensional pack, and found a lack of rations. He decided to fix that for next time. He looked around for restaurants or stores that might have food. "I'll get some more food." A gas station two blocks away looked like the closest, and he set off at a run along the edge of the roof.
"Dang," muttered Gayle, still hovering at the original battle site. "But at least we've still got these two!"
The green-clad heroine summoned her aerial army and shielded herself for protection. Then, she took control of the air around both of the remaining ARYAN mechs and started it spinning. It wouldn't take long before they were each caught in their own tornado-strength vortex.
"Where are we?" the Purity Four pilot demanded. His mech swivelled back and forth, scanning the park. Spotting Hotwire, he growled and leaped at her. The mech magnified his movements. "I've had about enough of you, Miss Sparky!"
The smoke form of the Grand Wizard was spread thin on the ground, but it still moved away from the grounded Purity One mech. After reaching what he must have considered to be a safe distance, he coalesced and returned to his own form with a sucking sort of sound. He immediately began casting a spell.
At the ARYAN command center, the tech was scrambling to get unfamiliar equipment to work, based on technology and principles he didn't understand. It was probably all based on some meta freak's delusions that unfairly, unrealistically became reality, and now he had to figure it out. Damn them! It just wasn't fair! He slammed his fist against the casing of the machine.
The control panel flickered and winked to life. It was ready to target the zeroed mech and yank it back to the base for repair.
The tech stared at it. Then, he muttered, "Figures. Damn metas."
The TCPD dispatcher announced, "Shots fired. ARYAN mechs have fired on heroes providing crowd control at 18th Street and John Watkins Drive. Ambulances dispatched. Remainder of ARYAN flyers are headed for Deer Park, ETA 30 seconds. Hero assistance requested for Deer Park.
Grand Wizard mumbled his way quickly through his spell, face still obscured behind the scarlet klansman's hood, fingers flying. Hotwire felt a jolt of pain, then of pleasure. She felt senses she hadn't used in a long time coming to life. Mostly by luck, she ducked to the side, dodging Purity Four's ground-shaking impact. That was when she realized that she was a solid, living being again.
The wizard was already casting another spell.
"Aaaaah!" Purity Two yelled as his stomach rebelled at the spinning, whirling treatment. "What the-"
"W-w-weather control powers!" stuttered the sniper mech's pilot. "Target and fire!"
They both tried to compensate for the wind. Purity Two's sonic field activated, projecting a wave of nausea-inducing subsonic noise throughout several city blocks as the hovering mech whirled.
Gayle growled. He was going to hit SO many bystanders! She added a tumble vector to the mech's containment vortex. A blast of energy cannon fire slammed into one of her phantom army constructs. Typically immune to damage, the aerial servant wavered. She was pushing too many things at once, but at least it had stopped the ARYAN mech's sniper shot. Fine. Change of plans. She put the tumble on Purity Three, instead, and dropped the hold on the other mech. She replaced it with something simple: A sound deadening bubble. Now, it's sonics wouldn't be able to affect anything more than a couple of meters from its hull.
The wind controller bobbed further up from the ground and looked around the street. "Aw, and they left me all alone, too! Good luck, boys and girls!"
"So, boss, do we do anything more about this ARYAN 'make-our-point-with-force' thing that's disrupting everybody's morning?" the hostile secretary asked in a cynical tone.
Kartanian thought about it carefully. Kisya had a valid question. "They still haven't gone to Stage 3 of their plan, with the giant robot."
"Yeah, and there are plenty of heroes--and villains--who are jumping in to help, as usual. The ARYAN clowns are out of tricks. It's just a straight-up fight from here, and what's her face--Tinker--got the venue changed safely. I'd say we leave it alone. They're the heroes. We're not getting paid for this. We gave 'em the tip. That was enough of a good deed for the week."
"And you don't need me to handle the hinting, either," the spy observed.
"Nope. You could take a quick look, and then get back your frozen elf chick."
Kartanian scowled at her, then shook his head. "Yeah. Fair enough."
"Talk about a thing for the undead!" she teased him further.
He sniffed and turned the tables with a grin. "Aw, Kisya! You're just jealous because she's getting my attention, instead of you!"
The administrative super-genius shrugged one shoulder. "Maybe. But there are plenty of living men here to choose from. I don't have to hop between dimensions to get my rocks off with some undead death knighty thing."
The alien rogue rolled his eyes. His tail lashed irritably. "You're still a villain at heart."
Kisya laughed. "Maybe!"
"Or just a mutant mean girl."
"Either way, you keep me busy, rich, and entertained, and I'll keep doing what you want!"
He grunted and checked the monitors one more time. "Feels weird to not have to be diving into this."
"Eh, more time to just sip the latte," she replied. "You go. I'll handle anything that needs doing."
"All right. Have fun watching the battle." He remembered something. "You have any bets with Hotwire?"
"Yeah. I've got a 'hero casualty' bet in."
The feline spy grinned slyly. "Put me in for as much as she will allow, up to one hundred K, and then manipulate things to our profit."
"Ooh, yes!" Kisya sat up and entered the bet. "You got it, boss!"
He chuckle-purred. "I'll check in later. Time to get frosty!"
She laughed as he strode down the hall to the teleporter pad.
Tinker Belle flipped the change lever to its second lowest position, and when she brought the crosshairs of her video sight onto the Wizard's back and pulled the trigger, the ultraviolet laser that fired was just powerful enough to ionized the air along a path to the target. The electrical charge that followed was that of a standard taser. She observed the effects through the sight, ready to make changes before firing again.
(sorry for not posting)
It wasn't so much as she dodged Purity Four. More along the lines that she staggered out of the way as sensations she hasn't felt for a while overwhelmed her "KEVEN!"
Code Monkey looked over at Hotwire. "Sis... What's wrong?"
"I... I can feel. They did something I can feel again." She dropped to her knees and started crying "MY GOD... I CAN FEEL!"
He ran over and took her in his arms "That's it we are getting out of here." He then tapped a command on his power glove and both him and Hotwire teleport out.
"ARYAN FORCES you are no longer holding a peaceful protest. I'm charging you with disturbing the peace and assault." With that D-Day went charging right for Purity Four.
"You wanted to fight a META well here is your chance!" He was taking a gamble his defense hasn't had the kinetic force to absorb. But what part of this life didn't rely on chance and risk. His non-charged defense score was quite high after all the first time his powers activated he was near the dead center of a shelling of Nazi fire.
"People like you lost World War two and ever since you been whining sore losers."
Misty looked at Gale Force "Not all alone! I keep the Sniper busy!" She then leaped off the building and flew to the Mech.
Typical Misty Spirit she stuck her face inside the mech so the Purity two pilot would see her face appear right in front of him. "BOO!"
Rotten rose to his feet "Mental note do not do multiple portals across miles!" Looking around "What did ah miss? Did ah hurt anyone?"
"Not yet, but I was about to drag you to that Stop-n-Rob down the street. Think it's still a good idea, 'cept without the dragging." The Old Soldier pulled his Harley out of the storage space.
"Whaaa?" grumbled the mech pilot. "Where'd she go? Dangit!" Then D-Day's charging attack connected and Purity Four's status monitors started popping all sorts of alerts. The visual monitor on that side was knocked out. He toggled the auto-repair. "Damn metas."
He tried rolling to the side so he could get a clear look at what was hitting him. Inside the mech, he flexed his muscles, and the machine mirrored his actions. "Oh, it's you," he spat as he saw the hero. "Grandstanding again with the commentary. Is that freakin' built into you people?"
Nearby, Grand Wizard quivered and trembled from Tink's ionized charge. He didn't even have time to curse his bad luck as he dissolved into smoke again.
"Oh, the ghost chick! Hiya!" Gayle laughed. She started to charge up a lightning bolt for a half-second, before remembering that the mechs had already splashed that off like rainwater. "Meh. I guess I do it the old-fashioned way, then."
She took the mech that Misty was not playing with and slammed it into the street. Downdraft from above and vacuum below. Sonic components crunched and sputtered. She may not have disabled the mech, but its main weapon was out of action.
Gayle glanced up at the tumbling sniper mech and wondered what Misty was doing.
Just like at the bar Misty's form has the effect of causing a cold spot. Some tech would benefit from being cooled like the CPU of a computer. Other techs, however, might find a sudden drop in temperature hazardous, glass for example. Not to mention she was a natural or supernatural power sink. She pulled away and rubble around the area lifted then compressed into a basketball size mass. "Ever played Dodgeball?" That ball of debris went flying for Purity two. "CATCH!"
Rotten looked at Gale Force "Kreep an eye on Misty for us Gale! We'll be back after ah restock. Her ectoplasm could go unstable if she takes to many direct hits." Then he hops on The Old Solder's bike "Let's make this fast. Ah, hate for people to think we guys let the girls have all the fun."
"They have classes at City Hall." D-Day went for a classic One, two punch combo. "What's the matter you only like hitting women?"
About the time that the sniper mech pilot was wishing for artificial gravity and intertial stabilizers, Misty's head popped through his viewscreen, spinning wildly and saying, "BOO!"
Of course, it wasn't Misty that was spinning, but the sniper mech and its pilot inside. Purity Three's mech pilot panicked. He hit the turbo boost control. The jump jets fired at their maximum setting, driving the ARYAN sniper mech downward and through the front wall of a row of three brownstone apartments. The pilot and the mech both lay there stunned for the time being.
The ball of debris could have been a lethal missile for a regular, unprotected human. It barely scratched the paint of the sonic mech as its pilot tried to regain his senses. With his compatriot blasting into the row houses and his electronics only beginning to unscramble themselves, Purity Two was feeling much less confident about this operation. "Damn metas," he grumbled in frustration. He was in the process of righting his mech when a blast of air rocked the machine back off its feet again.
"Damn metas!" he repeated. He called for support. "Command, this is Purity Two! Permission to bug out! I can't even see what I'm facing! My screens are wonky!"
"No problem, Rotten!" Gayle sang out. "Looks like she's doing just fine! Take your time!"
She giggled as the sniper mech pilot fired his jets and crashed into the brownstone. "Oops! That's gotta hurt!"
The wind controller watched the Purity Two sonic mech struggle toward its feet, and timed a hurricane pulse of air to knock it back down again. "Heya, Misty! Can you do any gremlin glitching? That's going to work a lot better than bonking it with stuff!"
"Classes? Feh. I half believe you, old fart." Purity Four's pilot winced as his mech showed big damage spikes with each of D-Day's punches. He shook his head and muttered to himself, "At least I only have to keep this fart busy for a little bit longer before the guys show up and put the hurt on him."
He fired an anti-personnel electrostatic charge, releasing a debilitating pulse of electricity in a big ball around him. Maybe that would mess with the old man's synapses a little. And, in true MMA form, he tried to grapple the hero and squash him beneath the heavily armored mech like a watermelon.
The engine of the Harley caught on the first stroke, and Jake accelerated along the roof before hopping over the parapet. The motorcycle fell in strict accordance with Newton's laws, until it suddenly started leveling off its dive about five feet up. It still hit the asphalt with bone-jarring force, but the tires and shocks held. They zipped down the street to the convenience store, and Jake parked next to the main door. He pulled out his wallet as he went in, presenting a black card, with a Visa logo and the names "Brisengamen Enterprises" and "The Old Soldier" to the cashier. Pointing at Ron, he said, "Put what he gets on this."
At the park, Tinker Belle watched the smoke, following its movements with her weapon. "That's right, Wizard. Ah'm your Huckleberry."
D-Day grunted as the electricity hit him, skin burnt as the volts affected him. Energy and Electricity are some of his weaker points. In his younger years, that blast might have been enough to put him out. Today he just grunts. "Electricity, cleaver of course after 73 years of taking down powered and crazy fools. I made sure my costume has some isolation against such attacks."
The Grapple was the worst attack Purity Four could do. All that mass in a tackle grapple equals a lot of Kinetic force that went right into repairing what damage the electricity caused and now D-Day's eyes and hands were glowing. "You son should have gone to those classes. One of the lessons is how to identify different types of fighters. Back in my day, we called my type a Brute. Basically the longer I fight the Stronger I become!" He doubled up those glowing fists and slams them on the top of the Mech.
"Gremlin, Do I look like a Mogwai? If I make contact with it I could drain energy and cause cold spots I guess." She then mimics the Ghosts from the Casper movie and dived into the mech of Purity Two.
"Ya know being an official group we do have company funds for use in Superhero matters." Ron didn't really bother with picking he grabbed a handful of Jerkies and dropped them on the counter. "Not to mention cleaning up waste sites does pay well."
Still, Ron lets him pay the bill. "Any idea what these Aryan morons are planning. There more to it then just protesting and starting fights."
"Dang! What the hell is he doing?" Purity Four's pilot cried out as the status monitors started to drop toward red. He toggled the comm channel. "All right you late-to-the-fight punks! Come and get this D-Day creep off my back!"
"Roger, Purity Four. We see you." The rest of the mecha-flyers swooped in from the sky and jumped into the fray. As Ron's sergeant would have said, once upon a time, it only created a "target-rich environment" for the heroes. First off were the precision beam weapons. They hoped to score more hits after getting the hero off the damaged mech, Purity Four. Then they could unleash the missiles and other special effects.
Purity Two's pilot gritted his teeth. "Ain't no lil' ghost gonna scare me off! I saw you pull that trick befo-" His snarky comment was cut short as Gayle knocked his mech over again.
The unmistakable sound of locked hydraulic cylinders came from the supine Purity Three, stuck under a mound of bricks and building material. The pilot tried to get up, but the leverage was wrong. He would have to find a different way to escape the wreckage of the building.
"Purity Two and Purity Three," crackled the voice of Command, "withdraw to Checkpoint Seven. If you can't get out with your mechs, blow them in place; preferably where you can take out a meta or three with them!"
"Guys? Guys?" muttered the Purity Flight leader, still stuck in his immobile mech. "Damn."
After verifying that he had lost all engine power, he decided to chance an escape. Switching over the backup batteries to charge up the anti-personnel field, he readied himself. He fired the electrical taser-ball of static around the mech, using up the last of its power. Then, he opened the hatch and climbed out.
Seven other ARYAN mechs roared overhead, firing at D-Day. This made him feel a lot better. Purity Four was still tangling with the old hero, it seemed. He wondered where they actually were. In some sort of park. Maybe, Deer Park? He didn't see anyone around his mech, tased or not. He closed the hatch behind him and locked it closed mechanically. It would keep out ordinaries, at least. Then, he picked a direction, dropped to the grass, and started running.
Grand Wizard floated away from the scene, gaining some distance between himself and the hero-mech danger zone. Something had zapped him, and was probably still in the area. He only hoped it would be distracted by the incoming ARYAN forces until he could find a good place to reform himself.
Back in the city proper, Purity Two stood his mech up yet again and tried to escape the wind storm while doing his best to ignore the ghost. They couldn't really hurt you if you were faithful and believed, right? He hoped that was true, because he really needed to get his flyer away from here.
Purity Three's pilot grumbled. "I'm stuck beneath something! Building rubble, I think. I'm not damaged enough to need to self-destruct, but I don't have leverage to get this thing out on my own. Please advise!"
"Purity Three, just hold tight. I'll see if we can afford someone else to pull you out," Command replied. The Commander watched his screens to see what effect the mechs were having on D-Day. He knew that other heroes were on their way, too. There just weren't enough metas clustered around, yet, to move to the next phase of the plan. This wasn't going as he had planned.
Tinker Belle followed the smoke, doing her best to keep it in sight and in range, without attracting the attention of the mech pilots, hoping she could catch him if he took human form again. But then she saw a figure running from the immobile mech. It might be booby trapped; it might be about to teleport out, or the pilot might have set scuttling charges. But that mech - or the computer it almost certainly had in it, at the very least a smartphone equivalent for navigation and communications - represented information that would be much more accessible than that in a stubborn Wizard's head. She turned toward the downed mech, tapping a code on her own computer's interface. The surface of her labcoat, tights, and cap became covered with odd shapes in greens, browns, and tans; a pattern the Duchess had dubbed "Parkland Camo." The command also dropped their surface temperature, making it harder to spot against the grass and trees with IR gear; hopefully the exposed areas left would not attract attention until she was under the mech and out of sight. But before she got halfway there, the surface temperature began slowly climbing again. When she saw the warning that the coolant was too warm, she muttered an expletive and sprinted the rest of the way.
"Hey when your being bankrolled by the Goddess of Prosperity, it'd be impolite not to pass it along. But their end game? Only thing I can think of is that they want to cause destruction and blame it on the supers. How they're planning on doing that with all these camera-phones and intertubes? No clue. Might be they've got some savvy PR guys - modern day Joe Goebbels - who have that part ready to go." The Old Soldier put three bags into his storage space and collected his card from the cashier, then turned to leave. "In which case we need to have our own Edward R's ready to counter their Big Lies. D'ya know any?"
Misty Spirit's head appeared before the Pilot's. "Oh but it's not you I'm affecting, is it? See ghost need energy most draw on heat producing cold spots or emotions like fear. We spirits can also drain batteries like the power supply in this mech! I'm just a cute little power drain!" Then she shows her maturity by sticking out her tongue.
"Well D-Day no slouch to the PR game. He is a national hero and a Vet from tha big one no one likes it when ya bad mouth one of the last of the Greatest Generation after all." He stuffed some jerky into his mouth then swallows. "For us undead type the PR a nightmare. I and Misty get negative press just by being well living impaired. Ya got the good looks of a touched by divine so ya don't get the looks. Kind of like the clerk giving me right now. Don't worry buddy I know I'm stunning." He adds to the Clerk.
"Guessing by how Hotwire got personal and believe me it's not easy getting her out of her digital fortress. She will be spin things against the Aryans herself. Then again the general public might not take tha word of a criminal, but then she would also be seen as an outside source of the HERO pro media."
"At the very least those Cape Chasers message boards would be a buss. Internet mostly negatives but people learned to ignore most of the insults and look for the true arguments."
After emptying three bags before leaving the building he stored the rest in his jacket. "Alright, that did it. Remind me to never do a mass teleport like that again. Just too many too far and too fast. Let's join the party." He created a new portal this time the standard vertical. "Ya first solder if I go the portal closes automatically. Be careful we don't know what's it like on the other side."
The lasers were a pain. Energy damage was one of his weaker points but that's why he made sure his suits were at least has some protection from such attacks. Thought what damage they did were negated by the physical damage. His own included now he focused on the left shoulder of Purity Four's mech trying to damage the arm joint.
Thought he was a tough old fighter even he had limits. Burns and bruises did begin to appear as his healing factor started to get overwhelmed. He just hoped reinforcements arrived in time.
He nodded, and sent his bike into its storage space before pulling out the M2. He stepped through the portal looking to the left, and immediately circled around the right edge, checking the situation out all the way around.
Purity Four's shoulder joint squealed in a way that metal and fibermesh weren't supposed to do. "Come on! Just a little bit longer and we've got him!" the pilot cursed. He tried to grab and throw the old hero away.
The reinforcements were concentrating fire on D-Day, trying to take out at least one metahuman. They continued to stab the hero with finely targeted beams as much as possible. As more heroes began to appear on the scene, ARYAN Command ordered, "Primary fire units, focus on one target at a time. Suppression units, fix incoming targets. Prepare for Phase Three! Camera crews and bystanders are in place now. We can take advantage of the media, on order."
The drained and immobilized mech sat like a discarded beer can at the side of the battle zone. The other combatants had not given any sign that they noticed Tinker Belle. In one corner of her vision, she could see the Grand Wizard drifting behind a cluster of small pine trees. He still seemed to be otherwise occupied with saving his own skin. The Purity Flight Leader had sprinted toward a baseball diamond beyond the next biking/walking path and decorative line of trees. Police car lights flashed on in the parking lot beyond the baseball diamond and Purity Leader began to reconsider his path.
Rotten Luck and the Old Soldier arrived at the vanguard of another dozen of the city's heroes. Presented with many targets to choose from, the ARYAN mech pilots let their threat identification computers spot the most dangerous targets. Three of the seven hovering mechs broke off from the attack on D-Day to activate sonic, cold, and force field crowd control effects as quickly as they could in an attempt to limit the heroic reinforcements' impact.
"Misty, stop playing with him and do your thing, whatever it is!" Gale sang out. With another nudge, she toppled the Purity Two mech just as it was about to get airborne. She wished she could do something about the crashed ARYAN mech invading the living rooms of the brownstone apartments, but she would need to be able to concentrate to get the thing out without further damaging the building. She started humming a tune, "Unbelievable," and tried to stay alert for an opportunity to shut these two mechs down for good.
Kisya D'Amico idly checked the odds on Hotwire's gambling site again. A hero victory was almost a foregone conclusion. Not much use betting against that. The only question there was how long the ARYANs would be able to stretch out the game. She looked for the biggest payoffs in the odds and calculated her chances.
Misty flew out of the Mech "I LIKE PLAYING WITH HIM! He's cute!" With a pout, she looked down at the mech.
"I'm more of the scout and distraction of the team Rotty and Soldier are the heavy hitters... Let's try if I can pull him apart now I juiced up!" With Telekinetic forces, she yanked one right arm of the mech one way and the left the other. "Make a wish! I'm going to try to break this thing wishbone!"
Rotten came through the portal after Old Soldier. "Crap they are really laying it hard on D-Day. Ah'm going to call in tha gouls for this one." With that, he spread his hands out and six portals appear on the ground before him. Soon after undead Zombies rose. Three standard zombies, two with black armor on, and one skeleton torso with arms and head a clear Lich.
"Soldier give some cover fire. Ah can siphon some life energy off tha buggers and gives D some backup." He looked around "ANY HEALER AMONG YA HEROES? Get Ya arse in gear tha Vet taking tha argo!"
Then Rotten ran heading for D-Day his hoard of undead going with him. As he ran he started generating an aura of shadowy mists that would make it harder to target him and any in the area of effect.
"HOT Wire here! Don't worry folks your digital Diva still online and active. Having some technical difficulties but the show still going on! The City's Heroes are now bunching up and we all know what that means! So cast your bets! D-Day the old timer from the Big One taking a real beating will the Aryans take him down? Make your bets now!"
The Old Soldier stepped clear of the reinforcements as he slung his carbine and pulled out the M9 (more or less) bazooka. "Clear the backblast!" He called out while slipping the HEAT rocket into the tube. He brought it to his shoulder, glanced back to make sure there wasn't anyone in the danger area, then laid the sights across the hip of one of the mecha. He launched the missile, which flew unnaturally straight towards the joint he'd aimed at. He tossed the launcher aside and readied his carbine again.
Meanwhile, Tinker Belle scanned the abandoned mecha. There seemed to be no power left, so she located the main hatch and looked for ways to bypass the lock.
"Wishboning! Cool! Let's give that a real whirl!" Gayle re-applied her air shield and sent her aerial army to pull opposite Misty's angle. She toppled the mech yet again as it tried to regain its balance. With any remaining sonics still isolated by the muffling field, she felt safe in sending her tanky servants in to add to the stress on the mechanical threat.
The metal was twisting with loud screeching protests, the hydraulics and myomuscular simulators overloading. "Damn it all, anyway!" the Purity Two pilot shouted at his redlining status board. He slammed his fists down on the unresponsive control panel. "That's it! I'm blowing the thing!" He activated the self-destruct and did a quick calculation of just when he could eject and get clear, based on the mutant knocking him down if he tried to get up again. He grunted vindictively and timed his exit.
Boom! The Purity Two pilot ejected as he stood the mech upright again, soaring a block away and making a barely-controlled landing on a first story shop rooftop.
"Watch out, Misty! He's probably set it too blow up!" Gayle shouted.
Old Soldier's rocket may have looked old, but that was just an appearance. The assault mech he fired at took a blast that knocked it back and tumbled it on its gyros. It wasn't out of the fight, but its ground mobility was severely hampered by the damage to its articulation. The pilot and his targeting computer had both spotted the AT flare. The mech pilot flicked a control and launched a anti-personnel cluster rocket to blast an area 30 meters across with an explosive blast of fragments.
Kisya logged her bet and grinned sardonically. With the way Hotwire's service worked, the House always won; the cyber-anarchist always got her cut. That meant that everyone and their mother was free to interfere with the results. She bubbled herself up with a shrill sonic barrier and teleported to the battlefield to assist the old fart.
The crowd control mech pilots were starting to lay it on thick, but to only limited effect against Rotten Luck and his undead minions. One mech had projected a wide area force field around D-Day and the mech working him over. The Hostile Secretary appeared inside that bubble and dumped a ton of healing energy into the veteran tank, and then wrapped him in a sonic protective barrier of his own. That done, she sniffed derisively and looked for a quick way to ruin the crowd control effects.
Nearby, Tinker Belle checked out the hatch lock. It was as simple to defeat as a car door lock; no trouble for her. In moments, she had access to the abandoned mech.
The Old Soldier dropped flat as the bomblets exploded around him. Fragments struck his uniform, but only a few penetrated the Alfar-woven cloth. From those tears a golden light could be seen as he looked up again once the volley was over. He brought up his carbine and from the prone position sent .30" caliber bullets, one at a time, aimed at the muzzle of the rocket launcher.
Tinker Belle popped the maintenance panel that hopefully hid the electronics. Anything that looked like it was non-volatile memory went into a static-proof bag. She also traced the cables, looking for the actual transmitter.
The police stopped the man with the guitar case, but he showed them the ID behind his busking license. They let him through, and he set up at the edge of the park. After a brief tuning, the Minstrel began to play. And then he sang...All the world over, so easy to see!
People everywhere, just wanna be free.
Listen, please listen! that's the way it should be
Peace in the valley, people got to be free.
Misty looked at Gail. "What would it do kill me?" Then thinking about it. "We can't leave it here let's toss it in the water! Get up a strong wind and I lift it into the air!"
With that she telekinetically lifts the mech up normally this would be a holding tactic but if Gail generates the thrust it would send the mech into the bay.
D-Day gives a salute to The Hostile Secretary Then he returned to focusing on Purity Four's arm joint. This time forcing his fingers into the metal and yanking the joint apart. "You are not going to win this. Surrender now!"
The shadowy cloak of magic around him gave Rotten some protection. He turned to look at one of the Crowd Controllers and suddenly a fearsome scream was heard as a cone wave of necromantic power went for the Mech. Any caught in the wave of magic would see their worst fears manifested. (Fearsome Stare).
The three basic Zombies went to join D-Day in the attempt to destroy Purity Four. The Two Grave Knights blast single shot attacks of necromantic power at some of the range units. The Lich focused its power to open a portal to Hel's domain and Tentacles shoot up grabbing for another mech.
The pilot of the Purity Four heavy assault mech winced and complained in protest, "Ow! Damn it, old man! You're breaking my mech!" He struggled to escape the hero's grasp, but the connectors tore free and his left arm went dead. The pilot considered abandoning his crippled mech, but grittted his teeth and slammed D-Day with his right arm. It was a bad angle, but he figured that every little bit helped, at this stage, and he wasn't a quitter.
Kisya put her back to the edge of the force field and found the projecting crowd control unit. She moaned at the hovering mech, using subsonics to weaken its structure. Another hero in blue and gold tights flew by and pounded it with a lightning punch. Cracks began to appear in the mech's armor plating.
Tinker Belle was finding all manner of interesting salvage. Piece after piece went into her bag. She traced the communication link to the transceiver array and the communication module itself. While there was no power left in the mech, the components themselves were intact.
Meanwhile, several other heroes and Rotten Luck's grave knights and lich were interfering with the reinforcements' attacks. The Minstrel's music was spreading across the park, heartening the heroes. Most of the ARYAN units were still hovering or flying, but a couple had been brought to the ground. One of Old Soldier's rifle shots broke the AP rocket rack of the hovering assault mech. With damage accumulating, ARYAN Command judged that it was time for Phase 3. The commander's voice crackled across the communicator channel through the EM interference that some hero had thrown up to mess with them, "All flights, go to Phase 3!"
"Finally!" Purity Four's pilot muttered.
Six of the mechs that were still mobile flew into a tight formation and began interlocking themselves. As the initial report had suggested, the separate mech units were forming a giant robot. Purity Four still grappled with D-Day, and the assault mech that Old Soldier had damaged continued to fight separately.
"That sounds great! One wind-powered volleyball smash serve coming right up!" Gayle laughed. She threw her arms wide, gathering the air and then brought them together quickly. With a heavy, thunderous THUMP of displacing air, she turned the anti-sonic bubble into a super-compressor. As Misty lifted the abandoned mech up higher, the singer let the air launch it with a BANG! far off into the nearby ocean. The mech almost reached the waves before its self-destruct sequence finished and it exploded into millions of fragments.
"Point, Girls' Team!" Gayle shouted.
Tinker Belle analyzed the transceiver array, noting what frequency ranges it could use, while she connected a microphone to cut the scrambler out of the loop. The part that selected the frequency was altered to cover the whole range at once, and filters to cut out transmissions on commonly used bands, like the police-hero bands and cell phone frequencies, went in between the transceiver and the antennae arrays, just in case. One of her larger battery packs supplied power. She spoke into the mike while pulling out an early science fair project, a basic white-noise generator. "My apologies, if'n anyone's using these frequencies for peaceful purposes." The WNG replaced the microphone, and the energy of the battery began feeding noise to supplement the jamming that someone else had started. Tinker Belle noted the current flow as she left the mecha; the battery would only last five minutes.
"Looks like they're combining." The Old Soldier slung his carbine again and pulled another rocket, this one with a bubblegum-pink nose, out of Storage Space. The M9 flew back into his hand and he loaded the rocket. "Clear the backblast!". This time, he aimed at the middle of the formation, and the warhead did not explode, so much as inflate. The sticky bubble popped, leaving a coating of insulating adhesive strands across the mecha as they tried to combine.
D-Day grips Purity Four's right arm and yanks him forward into a knee thrust to the Mech's gut area. "Coms open channel to Citywide network!" Once the communication changed to the city communications channel. "This is D-Day we have a Giant Monster Class level threat at Deer Park! Repeat a Giant Monster Class Threat. Clear the park of all noncombatants! All available fighters please respond to Deer Park!"
"Coms Local! This looks like what the Aryans wanted this is the end game folks. Those who can take damage focus on the big one, damage dealers take out the Aryan support and backup units. Any Crowd Control or area of effect powers target the big one as well. Healers and Support be ready to get the wounded out of here!"
He then returns to focus on Unity Four. "Sorry, fellow you just not a good enough dance partner. Thanks for being my power booster all you have done was made me stronger."
Rotten cursed under his breath. He had to go and expel his magic to summon the undead now he looked at the combined mechs. "Just what ah needed a freaking Voltron wannabe." He raised his hands and a mass of black tar-like ooze rose under the Super Mech's feet. The goo seemed to rise up and grip the feet.
A silent command to his minions and all six of the undead focused on the combiner. The three normal zombies seemed to have no problem in the tar as they bashed the metal. A faint black mist seemed to form around the first and this mist stuck to the metal causing slight corrupting damage. In effect the metal was starting to rust or decay under the attack still it was just surface damage.
This followed by the range blasts of necromantic magic from the Lich and Grave knights.
Misty was dancing "GIRL POWER!" That was when the call from D-Day came through.
She stopped and look at Gayle "Sounds like the boys got into trouble over at the park. Just like men need women's help and never admit it."
Rising up she starts flying to the park "Race you!"
"We get the giant robot, now? Cool! I haven't seen one of those in ages!" Gayle replied, chasing after the ghost.
The ARYAN mechs continued to assemble themselves, stretching out parts and expanding improbably into something much larger than the sum of the six mechs that made it up. Across its shiny white surface, ARYAN markings proclaimed it some kind of "Purity Protector." It wore a stylized Nazi officer's cap, but in white, instead of black, and had epaulet insignia that carried the red and black ARYAN command markings, but meant nothing to the common folk on the street. The chest logo was marred in one spot by a large smear of gummy, pink residue from Old Soldier's bubble-gum rocket. The pink smear made the words look like "Purity Projoctor," instead.
Heroes generally being no dummies, the assorted metahumans started working on the thing before it had even finished its long, drawn-out transformation sequence. As the theoretical theme music was winding down, the massive ARYAN battle unit had already suffered serious dings and scrapes. Still, it was clear that the combined Voltron-wannabe was tough.
Tinker Belle's white noise interference began affecting communications immediately. ARYAN Command tried to get a message through to the giant mech captain. "Protec... tin... foc... jambalaya dishwasher... monkey... meta Charlie!" was all that the mech captain could hear. After wasting a good ten seconds trying to figure out what the message was supposed to be, he announced, "Aw, screw it! We'll figure it out ourselves! Get them!"
With the battle strategy firmly set, the giant mech started stomping, swinging, shooting, throwing flames from its exhaust ports, and in general causing a great deal of noise and thunder across the park.
D-Day's knee thrust buckled the hull of the Purity Four mech. The ARYAN had no more strength or leverage to keep fighting. "Stronger, my shiny white butt! I held you long enough, old man! Now you have to deal with that!" grumbled the pilot.
Hostile Secretary added to the local comms chatter, "Hey, buff dudes! Face the main weapons out into the bay, if you can! I've got ground shielding and spot healing, but I'm not a flyer!"
The Old Soldier reloaded the bazooka, with HEAT again this time, and moved to put himself between the bay and the giant mech. He found a good spot, with nobody behind him, and launched at one of the joints between the component robots.
"It's about time," thought Tinker Belle as she saw the giant mech forming. She double checked her oversized rifle-construct, activated her force field and her flight pack, and soared twenty meters over the top of the "head" of the giant. As she reached the apex, she fired.
Within fifty milliseconds, a 4 cm diameter containment field projected from her weapon to the top of the giant, guiding a bolt of plasma that struck with the power of a 105mm howitzer shell. From her backpack, six drones launched, which began orbiting the giant, flashing bright lasers, masers, and other amplified EM sources at it in an attempt to blind it.
The last projectile, from a launcher on the underside of her rifle, would hopefully go unnoticed while it attached itself to the robot, where it would form a beacon for her teleportation system, just before itself and everything in a 25 cm radius (call it ten inches) would be cut off by the portal and dropped into a containment room in the lab....
For his next number, the Minstrel would have to improvise a bit. He went through the intro stanza without lyrics, but then spoken word didn't help his magic much. But by the time he started to sing the chorus, all of his clothes had turned black.
We'll wreck them One Piece at a Time
Cause their hate ain't worth our time
They'll be sorry they ever came to our town.
They tried to drive everybody wild,
But that hate just ain't our style.
So we'll make sure that they don't stick around!
Old Soldier's HEAT round flew straight and true, striking the join between the "abdomen" and "torso" components. The blast rocked the giant mech for a few seconds and cherry red hydraulic fluid began leaking down its pristine white surface.
The collected heroes and metahumans of Titan City acted, dodging the stomping, blasting mech as best they could, and doing as much damage to it as possible. Misty and Gayle arrived to add their contributions to the fight.
The giant construct wasn't going down without a fight. Anyone trying to strike its legs had to deal with flames from its lower exhaust ports. A single stomp could lay flat a half-dozen heroes on the ground. Flyers were targeted and hit with energy beams with amazing speed as the combined power of the mech used the power of weird science to great effect. Shields and enhancing effects helped, but the need for life-saving healing was real. Tinker Belle's gadgets helped, contributing to the overall pressure on the ARYAN monstrosity. So did the Minstrel's magical effects. There was little doubt that the city's heroes would eventually defeat the thing, but the cost of that victory was still unknown. And there was some concern that there might yet be a secret weapon built into the giant mech that ARYAN was counting on.
Shrugging off much of the damage the heroes threw at it, the giant mech continued to trash the park's metahuman defenders. An odd sort of ratcheting, machine-driven whine began from inside the thing's torso.
D-Day stepped back then lunged forward grabbing Unity Four's right arm and starts spinning applying that built up Kinetic energy into the move. Then he let go sending Unity Four at the giant mech. "Tell your friends I'm coming!"
"Rotten Luck I said for rangers to take out those support mechs!" He starts running at the Mega-Mech. Following Hostile Secretary idea of getting the mech to aim away from civilization.
Just as Rotten heard D-Day the Mech stomped on two of the three basic Zombies. "Ya try to control a horde of undead and see how easy it is!"
He moved back and fired a blast at one of the crowd controllers. The Lich adds it's own Fear inducing stare at the same Mech.
Then Rotten summoned one of the souls from the now squashed zombie. Adding another spell caster to his roster.
Misty looks to Gayle as they approached the battle. "Hey, Gayle do you think that big Mech thing has a similar self-destruct system as the normal size ones? Any idea how I could say trigger those self-destruct systems? Given I can go ghost and all but it's all just wires and circuit boards in there."
When the whine started, Duchess came alert in a manner that made her glad the twins were at school. "Tink, I think D-Day has a point; you can neutralize the little guys faster than you can take out the giant." She commanded the lab's remotes to start gathering some gear.
Tinker Belle noted a tone in her partner's voice, but didn't question. "Minion mop-up duty, got it!" She launched the last half-dozen sparklers back into the melee as she opened the range, then turned and fired the BFG at the first Aryan mech she found in her sights.
The Old Soldier was about to put another HEAT rocket into the big mech, when Purity Four blocked his shot. He shifted aim onto another mech, and launched the rocket at the left knee.
The Minstrel continued playing, describing the action as best he could fit it into the tune. Then he gave another chorus, and willed the heroes to strike hard and true, and the mechs to break down.
Another line of blue light announced the arrival of a piece of gear, well off to the right flank of the battle. It spread out bracing legs, and rotated what looked like a turret towards the melee. On the far side, another device 'ported in, unfolding what looked like some sort of sensor array made of force fields. The first device rocked slightly, as if from recoil, or thrust. And as neutrinos shone like a floodlamp (assuming you could detect neutrinos) through the combat zone, the sensor array noted how they were blocked or deflected, and sent the information back to the lab, where the Duchess started building pictures...
"Self destruct devices are part and parcel of the whole dangerous tech thing, Misty! Of course it will be rigged to blow up!" She flew within easy sight of the park and looped around the giant mech. "This is a nice big one!"
"But unless you really were a gremlin-powered poltergeist, I don't think you'd do anything major to its self-destruct. Sapping its power might help, but this kind of thing is just too big to take out with a single gimmick."
The ratcheting whine caught her attention. "Damn! That thing needs to be taken out and tuned!" She turned easily on her side in flight and confidentially told the ghost, "That's a bad thing, by the way." So saying, she refreshed her shield and put her aerial servants between her and the giant mech.
Between the collision with the giant mech and the rest of the battering, jolting, and other punishment the heroes dealt to it, Purity Four was now stomped into the ground and out of the fight. Heroes followed D-Day's instructions and devoted some part of their firepower to the remaining flying mech and it soon suffered Purity Four's fate. A phasing hero jumped in and pulled out the pilots for the police, but the machines were thoroughly trashed.
The giant mech kept losing little pieces of itself to various heroes' powers, but whatever weird science was powering it gave it incredible regenerative abilities, as well. The ratcheting noise gave it a sort of steampunk feel, despite its obvious anime rip-off styling. Finally, the mech captain turned on the loudspeakers and shouted, "Your time is over, you lousy metas! Come on and fight us and see how far you get against our secret weapon!"
Gayle face-palmed while orbiting the mech. "Where do they get these guys?"
Misty looked over "I was nineteen when I died and that was just seven years ago. I know what a tune-up is! I was kind of hoping I could do more. Like I said I'm kind of the spy and distraction of the team. Maybe I could yank some wires lose?" With that, she faded out becoming more intangible as she flew right through that intercom speaker and tried to yank some electronics lose with her poltergeist abilities.
D-day saw the last of the stray Mechs fall and he leaped at the chest of the large mech "You Want a META well here I am!" The glow of his fists was dimmer than earlier having transferred much of the built-up Kinetic energy into that Purity Four toss. Still, he hit right where he aimed Purity Four. "All Combatants let's bring this thing down! Support throw whatever aid or control abilities you have! Melee focus on the legs the larger they are the harder they fall! Range Try to take out any weapons systems you spot!"
Rotten Luck looked to Old Solder "Am Ah'm that annoying when giving orders? Not that Ah'm complaining just not used to someone else being in charge." Rotten then summoned two fresh (kind of) Zombies and sent them for the legs with the Death Knights. The Lich and Spirit started firing stun attacks.
Rotten himself then brought another patch of that oozing tar slime to limit the Mega Mech movements.
The Minstrel finished the Johnny Cash tune, and continued filking on the fly to make "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part One" a better fit the many heroes fighting a single composite mecha. The magic continued to flow through the park.
With the last of the supporting mecha down, Tinker Belle gained altitude to get high angle shots at the shoulder joints.
The Old Soldier shrugged as he reloaded the bazooka. "No, he's much more annoying than you. But don't worry; keep practicing, and you'll be able to give him a run for his money!" Not having a clear shot at the feet, he launched the rocket at what he thought was the lower end of the head mecha.
The Duchess increased the contrast on the image yet again, and the structure of the mecha became clear as the tiny fraction of the neutrinos that were scattered by the metals and other dense materials in that structure revealed it...Was that a flywheel there?
The neutrino scan came back, confirming The Duchess' guess. There was indeed a heavy flywheel spinning up inside the giant mech's chest cavity. Connected to some sort of device--copper and orichalcum, by the look of the emissions. Definitely steampunk magic. The controlling lever (there was ALWAYS a lever involved in these sorts of contraptions) had almost reached the end of its throw range. Though what would happen when it reached the end was anybody's guess.
The bazooka round shook the mech slightly, leaving another minor hole in the armor plating. A unicorn-riding elf lanced the weak spot Old Soldier created with a rainbow-beamed bolt of magic. The giant foe lurched to one side and then fired a salvo of missiles at the heroes on the ground. The tar patch and other restraints the metahuman defenders were applying were limiting its movements significantly. Gayle looked at the angles. She just might be able to topple it, if she hit it at the right time, and from the right direction. She flew around to the north side of the machine.
D-Day hit the mech with a booming thud. It shuddered and lurched further with its lower armor beginning to buckle.
"More power!" screamed the ARYAN mech captain. "I need more power! We're almost there!"
Tinker Belle Fired at the nearest shoulder joint. The hit strained a connecting line and more syrupy red hydraulic fluid leaked from the break. The arm started to lose mobility.
Meanwhile, Misty had found things to break. One panel of controls on the "bridge" flickered and went dark. "No! They're getting at us too fast! That's it, activate the device!"
"But, Captain! It's only at 90% charge!"
"If we don't fire it now, it's not going to be able to reach 100%! We'll just have to go with what we've got! Activate it!"
"Roger that, sir." The ARYAN officer boosted the power input on his control panel and the giant mech stopped attacking the heroes swarming it. The ratcheting whine increased in pitch as the device began to operate.
There was no good way - yet - for the Duchess to estimate the rotation rate of the flywheel, but the magic involved was actually stopping nearly one percent of the neutrinos, and the opacity was rising. An old story from her father's F&SF collection provided another clue... She switched to the general frequency. "Self destruct device! Steampunk variantion on a Warlock's Wheel. We need shields around that mech now, Pilgrims! Anyone think they can get the crew out, do it fast! But do not try to break the enchantments on that flywheel!" She might be wrong; the enchantment might have nothing to do with the structural integrity of the disk. But if she was right, breaking that enchantment would effectively set off the bomb early...
"Oh, powerloss! Anyone who can't withstand a nuke, get clear! Most of the blast should be horizontal, we want shields to deflect it up!" Tinker Belle gained another twenty meters of altitude, directly over the mech. After a few moments of tinkering with her BFG , she aimed it at the mechanic and squeezed the trigger...
The force field wasn't a narrow cylinder this time. Instead it spread out to almost twenty meters diameter, and then curved sharply in under the mech's feet. Behind her, it spread out like the nozzle of a rocket. She waited for others to do what they were going to do before kicking the field up to full power, watching the mech for signs that time was up...
The Minstrel recognised the Larry Niven reference, and switched to a song over a century old.
THE careful text-books measure
(Let all who build beware!)
The load, the shock, the pressure
Material can bear.
So, when the buckled girder
Lets down the grinding span,
'The blame of loss, or murder,
Is laid upon the man.
Not on the Stuff—the Man!
But in our daily dealing
With stone and steel, we find
The Gods have no such feeling
Of justice toward mankind.
To no set gauge they make us—
For no laid course prepare—
And presently o'ertake us
With loads we cannot bear:
Too merciless to bear.
He focused his magic on those who stay, reinforcing their shields, and hoping they would hold.
D-Day shook his head "Advance tech... who knows how much money spent... Crew training... all to lure fighters to a bomb. I sware villain groups get dumber every generation."
Seeing Gayle Force "Gayle Force! Can you create a whirlwind around this mech to channel the blast up? Rotten How large of a portal can you generate?"
Rotten banishes the Zombies not wanting them to get loose if he lost control. "Portal? Not large enough to send that big thin' anywhere."
D-Day nodded "That's fine. Just get some portals open to vent the blast elsewhere. High up in the air perhaps or over the ocean. Same with anyone else able to get a portal open! The more blast energy we can redirect or vent the less power it has here."
He then looked to Tinkerbelle "What kind of forces we can expect? Heat? Emergy? Or Kinetic Damage? If you have that kind of intel we could put up more specialized defenses."
Misty was looking around then she narrowed her eyes and flew right into where the Warlocks Wheel thing was located. She was a natural energy absorber perhaps she could drain it.
"MISTY DON'T!" Rotten yelled out as he saw the ghost girl enter the Mech's chest. "Crap what is that girl thinking. Magic could destabilize her ectoplasm far faster than anything else."
Rotten sighs and opens as large of a portal he could. Far out over the water, the exit appeared hopefully there weren't any ships near that area.
The thruster rocked back as the Duchess turned it off, there was no point in adding more energy to the imminent explosion.
"Fragmentation if we're lucky, molten copper like an anti-tank shell but in a circular blast is more likely, worst case it'll just be heat and blast. Magic, but probably no radiation."
"Containment vortex? Sure," the singer called out. Keeping the aerial servants between her and the mech, she reapplied her own shield and began churning a tornado around the mech to attenuate the blast. The force field that someone had thrown up, and the others that were now rippling against each other were going to make it messy and hard, but she would do what she could.
Misty touched the device to drain it, and that was coincidentally the moment that the firing command reached the mechanism.
First was the SNAP! noise of the spring connected to the flywheel breaking.
Second was the CLUNK! of all of the flywheel's momentum going... somewhere else.
Then, the plates around the giant mecha's torso flew open and a pulsing, rippling wave of minty green sparkling magical something washed out over everything. It was like the perfect wave that surfers all dream of. It started out as a torrent from each of the five compartment doors but merged into a non-Newtonian fluidic flow close in to the mech. From there it rolled out like molten toothpaste across everyone and everything within 500 meters. Technologically-based force fields had no effect on it at all. Shields made in part or whole of matter slowed its spread. Shields constructed purely of magic held as their owners expected them to.
Where the quasi-real energy field touched a metahuman, that person's powers ceased to exist. No matter the origin or the discipline, the "normal" limits of human characteristics were suddenly re-imposed. Superman was locked into Clark Kent. Tony Stark's genius turned ordinary and his inventions became incomprehensible. The Hulk turned into a guy in a tattered lab coat. Wolverine was just a tough guy with dangerous bones. The Flash could easily outrun the cloud. But Batman... remained the same.
Gayle's eyes grew big and she tried to escape the blast, but her servants and shields weren't enough. She made it out beyond the beach before her powers gave out and she tumbled into the ocean.
As the blast went past Rotten he squinted "Shit. That's magical!" Then he saw both Misty flying and crashing in one direction and Gayle heading out to sea.
"Soldier gets Gayle Force I check on Misty. This decrepit body doesn't handle salt water well." He rushed over to Misty seeing her form fade till there was nothing but an ectoplasm goo on the grass. "What the hell was that!"
D-Day fell to one knee as the energy passed over him. The glow effect on his body fading out. "I... Report! Who was affected by that energy wave? Any idea what it has done?"
Kisya teleported back to where she had been to take a good look. She remarked, "Looks like a devolution bomb or something. Turning off metahuman powers. We've still got speedsters and the quick reflexes types..." She smirked and bowed. "And a bunch of people protected by something or other. Magic, maybe?"
The mech was breaking up into its component flyers again. The heroes who could were battering them with everything they still had.
"And this is how we purify the city, the world of metahumans! With our mi-" shrieked the ARYAN leader. His loudspeakers cut off as a magician hero turned his mech into a stuffed plush toy and it fell harmlessly to the churned-up grass and dirt of the park.
Gayle groaned and recovered her balance. Hitting the water that fast HURT! And, it was cold. Wait... cold? She took a big breath of air and tried to think. What had just happened? Where was the constant noise and feel of the breeze? "Ohmygod! They turned my powers off!"
As the vents opened, Tinker Belle took up the last of the slack on the trigger. Helium plasma poured out the back of the BFG, much of it's energy diverted to the force field. As she noticed that the only effect it had was deflecting a tiny potion over the wave towards her, faster, on their private channel she heard Marianne say "Don't waste time looking, move!" But she had to look, to see where she could help... Was the Minstrel protecting himself? Time slowed. Another voice spoke. "No, acushla, he's not. Now quickly, range and elevation?" In over twenty years, Millie hadn't figured out if the voice she called Brigitte was internal or external. She preferred to believe she was external. Two hundred thirty meters, eleven degrees down. She dropped the BFG and programmed the thruster pack. "Don't forget to expand your personal force field. And that's all I can help you with for now." Millie watched the cloud rise up past her course, and as she flew into it there was a sense of having lost something, or someone. Behind her, the BFG broke as it hit the ground.
"Tink?" Called out the Duchess on the comm. "I'm OK," she replied. As she sped out beyond the cloud, traces of it were left behind, dragged by her personal shield. She came to a stop in front of the Minstrel, and expanded her shied around him as he played. Then the mist caught up, and broke upon the shield.
The Old Soldier splashed up to Gayle,and offered a hand. "Are you all right, Miss? That was quite a fall, even into water"
The Minstrel smiled at Tinker Belle as he continued playing through. Breaking Strain was not a happy song, but he'd need all the magic that it had if he was going to help those who the mist had affected.
We only of Creation
(0h, luckier bridge and rail)
Abide the twin damnation—
To fail and know we fail.
Yet we - by which sole token
We know we once were Gods—
Take shame in being broken
However great the odds—
The burden of the Odds.
He gathered the power the Liquid Light had granted him and prepared for the final verse....
"Oh... I, uh... nothing broken, I think. Hurts like... a lot," Gayle sputtered and groaned. She bobbed in the waves. "Lost my headband communicator, though."
"But, everything's so still... What happened? They took away people's powers?" She looked back at the fracas in the park. "Not everyone, I guess."
The Hostile Secretary wrapped D-Day in a sonic shield, and then looked for wounded to assist. One of the ARYAN flyers crash-landed only a dozen meters away. With a sneer, she screeched a blast at it, and then switched to a sub-sonic warble. The metal gave way and shattered. The mech fell apart and a speedy hero in a blue supersuit with lightning bolts rushed in and captured the dazed pilot.
"Hey, old guy!" she shot at D-Day. "How're you doing? Looks like you got hit. Anything broken or bruised?"
One by one, the individual mechs were falling to the remaining powered Titan City defenders while those affected by the magic wave-burst struggled to understand what had hit them. At this point, there were only two mechs left, and they were attempting to flee.
D-Day rose up and nodded to Hostile Secretary. "I... Nothing has broken just feel off." He looked around "We need a cleared area for recovery and assessment! Figure out who was affected and how!"
Then he stumbled and gasped that very thing alerted him to the fact he didn't have his powers. "That is not good."
Rotten rose up and runes appeared on his body black flames engulfed him as he leaped at one of the fleeing Mechs. "WHO DARES INTERFERE WITH MY AVATAR!" The flaming fist slams into the metal producing a rusting dent.
Live on Villain net!
"This is your Digital Diva! Your Cyber Sexy host Hotwire! The battle of Deer Park is over but it seems events have come with a cost. The blast of energy affected a number of the fighters how is still unknown. For those betting, we are counting depowering as defeat! Stay tuned for updates!"
The Hostile Secretary touched her commlink and muttered, "Good thing I bet specifically on 'killed.' Bitch. Always read the fine print."
"Anyway," she replied to D-Day, "Let's get that set up, shall we?"
She took a step or two to put herself behind the old hero, out of the eardrum-shattering blast area and screeched in her best brooks-no-nonsense schoolteacher voice, "EVERYONE! REPORT HERE! ON D-DAY!" Her voice could be heard clearly for miles.
Metas, both unpowered and those who had escaped the blast, began to congregate.
Gayle winced as she made it to the shore with the Old Soldier's help. "Jesus! We oughta get her tuned, too! Do you think the ARYANs are finished? The mechs are trashed, at least."
The flyer struck by the avatar's fist tumbled and hit the ground near the edge of the park. Without the super-science holding it together, it was just a cleverly-shaped VTOL aircraft. It left a long gouge in the turf and Hel could claim her due as the pilot died from injuries suffered in the crash.
The ARYAN command was ready. The leader ordered, "Send the press releases. Include the fake news sites, too. Now we let the faithful know that there IS a way to fight back against these tyrants!"
"We are in a fight for our freedom and our way of life, threatened by these unnatural freaks! We have shown them here today that they are not invincible, not invulnerable! We can make a difference!"
Cheers greeted his words deep in the ARYAN base.
D-Day smiled and lifted his head. "Tinkerbelle. Can you send a message with your tech to the news? These Aryans think they got us but this old army man learned a few things about the PR game." Looking about he motioned for some of the unaffected to come closer. "I want a representative of every type of origin we have in the city. The Aryans targeted Metas but we are more than just some folks with odd DNA a united image to overcome a viewed discrepancy."
"We can also get some of the suffering meta's those who couldn't live among normal people or were so far mutated they couldn't appear as human if they tried. Now that we have a cure for extream meta-conditions those people can now live a normal life. Raise families of their own. I'm sure the Aryans would go berserk hearing that. Anyone else can think of how we can spin this away from the fools ideas?"
The possessed Ron stood and reached out as the Pilot died to capture his soul at that critical moment. "You tried to alter the balance of life and death. Changing beings very nature shorting their life spans. All because of a fear, little mortal. Know what true fear is... Your Soul is corrupt and your death has no honor." With the Reaper flung the soul into the realm of Hel adding him to the mass of dishonorable dead.
"D-Day, this is Old Soldier, still rolling along. Gayle Force is depowered, but otherwise seems okay. We'll be there in a couple minutes."
"D-Day, this is Tinker Belle. I've lost some improv, but still a Freakin' Genius. And I think the Minstrel is still at a hundred percent." She turned her microphone to give D-Day a listen.
Oh, veiled and secret Powers
Whose paths we seek in vain,
Be with us in our hour
Of overthrow and pain;
That we - by which sure token
We know Thy ways are true—
In spite of being broken,
Because of being broken
May rise and build anew
Stand up and build anew.
A strain of music cut through Gayle's pain and preoccupied feeling of hollowness. Her head tilted up and she began whistling along with The Minstrel's song. Though she didn't know the words, the music was clear enough. As the unseen singer began a new verse, she added a lilting, wordless descant to accompany it. Even without her powers, she could project well enough to be heard clearly as she limped back to the gathering spot.
As everybody moved in on D-Day's position, while the Minstrel finished the last verse of hymn, he heard another voice in descant. That was what was needed: A group. A choir. A band, singing and playing in unison! A CONCERT! He veered towards the voice, and it grew familiar as he neared. A lot of talent, and well trained too, or at least practiced... OMG! It's Gayle Magnusson! He hoped he got the fanboy look off of his face before she noticed...
D-Day nodded to the appearing press. With the music going and the unaffected Heroes in clear view, the sight was not what one would expect from a bunch of people that lost their powers. "Greetings Ladies and Gentlemen of the press. I'm sure by now you all got reports or releases talking about how we fell into the Aryan's trap or some such thing. Look around you do you see people that appear defeated?"
"In truth, the Aryan device may be a blessing for us Meta's. I was lucky in getting the genetic lottery of my abilities, other Metas haven't. How many stories have you heard of a Meta who lives with rock or bone armor all the time? I personally know of a young girl who Meta powers drain life from everything she touches. How many others live in containment suits or rooms equipped with power dampening fields. Thanks to this device we will be able to give those unfortunate souls a normal life, fall in love, raise families."
"It is true some of us have been affected and seems our abilities are not functional at this time. Is that a defeat? Far from it, we have the best minds in the world both in science and magic. It wouldn't be the first time I been forced to take a vacation I'm sure my Doctor would make sure I do so. Something about my stress levels." He smiled and laughed a little.
"The last time I was on vacation was when a parasite lifeform tried to bond with me. Took a month before we found it's weakness. This is no different, the Heroes of Titan City are far more numerous and diverse that I doubt a small handful will be missed. The Paragons will still be patrolling the streets, the Cape Chasers will still be flooding the message boards with the latest hero sightings. Not a single Hero died here and if I never get my powers back I know of some very clever scientists and gadgeteer who can wrap me up a power armor. Heroes come and go but Heroism stands true and we are all still standing."
He ignored the tired feeling he was having it was a strange sensation when he hasn't felt it for well over a lifetime. "Now any questions?"
The power of Hel faded and Rotten fell to his knees seeing the wreckage. "Curse ya Hel... ya had to use me to kill."
He hated the feeling he rose both repulsed by the corpse and attracted to it. The scent of blood and fresh meat was tugging at his instincts. "We need a MEDIC! Ah think he's dead, Ah'm kind of sure of it. But we can't leave him in this tin can!"
At the Graveyard Shift base, Misty spirit started to reform in her coffin. "Mother Fu..." her curse ended in a scream as flashbacks of her former life and death take her. Sometimes there were worst fates than death, reliving it over and over is an example.
Kisya eased back to blend into the crowd. Not that she was exactly a known villain or anything, but the spotlight wasn't for her. She had already helped stabilize and heal the wounded, so her work here was done. She activated the stealth field device Kartanian had made for her and slipped off to where she could 'port herself out without attracting attention.
Gayle, on the other hand was curious about the musician. She was sure she had heard him before on the streets. When she spotted the Minstrel her face brightened and she waved to him. She sang along and straightened up as best she could for the cameras.
"Hah! Meta damage control goes into action!" the ARYAN commander snarked as he watched the news. "If they only believed what that old fart is telling them about freedom and justice, we'd all be better off!"
One of his lieutenants frowned. "Could we maybe make that device available to doctors, to treat metas? That would get rid of the dangerous ones a hell of a lot faster than just attacking them in the streets. We lost a whole lot of tech on this."
The leader considered. "Hmm... Let's start a series of clinics for treatment, yes. I'm sure we can get some of our backers--like those conservative 'think tanks' and white history groups--to cough up the money. There are a lot of people out there who believe in our cause, and many of them have deep pockets and keep their views silent. We proved we can do it, and the sheep who were on the fence can now see that there is a solution. More support for our side. This was expensive, but the fight goes on."
Sifting through the ARYAN data he had stolen one more time, Code Monkey realized that he had acquired something valuable--an ARYAN subscriber list! This presented an opportunity. But what would he do with it?