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Hermit

The Adventures of "Fish Guy" (Superhero fiction)

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Thanks for the well wishes folks. As always, this is a rough draft fresh from the typing, English Teachers, Librarians, Newspaper editors, and other lovers of the  written word may wish to shield their eyes as they read.

 

Hermit, I have here a cease and desist letter from The English Language.

 

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Kidding, don't you dare stop. I'll just continue twitching  as I read  icon_lol.gif

 

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I was going to post almost exactly this. Right down to "sudden but inevitable". Really nice work Hermit.

 

thank you!

 

I should've known Valorous would turn out to be a bastard. Well, at least we get to look forward to Eel kicking his ass until it comes out his ears.

 

(BTW, belated best Birthday wishes and many more.)

 

That's an interesting visual :)

 

I'd assumed Valorous was working with someone, though I didn't particularly expect it to be the Gov't (and I should have, since I've been in some of your games).

 

I'd like to have a long talk with Mayo (both in character and not).

 

Can't tell if that means you like him or that means you think he's got it all wrong or both *G*

 

Too bad Agent L didn't have an entangle.

 

 

 

He could have held the Mayo!

 

 

 

I share myself and you do these things to me. :weep:

 

This sort of thing is why I wish you were EIC at Marvel Comics, Hermit.  Nicely done, and you do a great job of covering each scene without either overdoing or underdoing any of them. 

 

Now, the question becomes... who will Fish Guy bring back?  I'm betting...

 

 

 

Most of the plot is set now either way. What's left that is.

Hermit, I have here a cease and desist letter from The English Language.

 

BGBB4K_2527270b.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kidding, don't you dare stop. I'll just continue twitching  as I read  icon_lol.gif

 

 

Ever hear the song "it's me again, Margret?" it fits my relationship with English :)

Happy Belated, Hermit!

Thank ye.

 

Next part will be up tomorrow folks

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I suppose, especially in this day and age of understandable mistrust, it's easy to portray the government as 'the bad guy' , it's a tried and true staple of comic books since the 60s. I think my biggest concern is someone will read this and go "What, is he trying to channel Ayn Rand here?". Hardly. Superheroing isn't a business, and it's the opposite of someone screaming 'I'm getting mine'. it's more like a social movement with frightening power when I think about it. It's like 'what if charity organizations couldn't be touched and had power that could save or level cities? How long would they stay charitable? I don't know, and there is legitimate room for debate on how power of any sort should have some checks and balances- but this is about heroes. They're not better than us, that sends the wrong message, rather they're the best OF us. This is escapist fantasy that merely plays with real world concerns, but please, if you're reading: don't ever assume I know what the bleep I'm talking about. Mostly I want to see the good guy win and bad guys (In whatever form they take) get their lights punched out.

 

Doctor Salem hadn't been exaggerating when she said the door would only be open for a moment. No sooner had I tumbled through than I heard it slam behind me as it ceased to exist again. Somewhere, Doctor Salem was still in the Balance. She said providing me a way out early was going to cost her. I hoped not too much, but frankly, I'm not sure there was an alternative. Not unless we wanted everything to be lost.

 

It took me only a moment to get my bearings, and I was very glad of the tours and my earlier wanderings of the place. Whether it was by subconscious or deliberate design, or even dumb luck, I had landed not too far where I needed to be first. The place where life was the most endangered.

 

I was close to the pool. I began to run checking the communication in my ear.  I just hoped a certain ally was still up and going.

 

"Mabel, can you hear me?" I pleaded.

 

"Eel! Oh baby, if I had lips I'd kiss you right now!" She exclaimed, sounding as relieved to hear me as I was to hear her, "I thought you were still in the Balance! Valorous has broken in with help. My drones and bots… they had localized EMP projectors, and they've put something outside the base to jam my communications to the others! Is Doctor Salem with you? Maybe a mystic message could get out where…."

 

"Doctor Salem is still in the Balance," I answered, "It was all she could do to get me here," I slid into the pool area, and slammed the button on the top side that would open the tennis court floor to reveal the pool again. The one below was broken, but this one, while working, seemed unbelievably slow, "And Mabel, I'm a bit worried this link is being spied on, but I only just now thought of that."

 

"I don't think it is, they've got their own coms, and there is the moment of disorientation… this has been a pretty rapid assault. I think, with my coms down and my security devices circumvented, they consider me a non-factor," Mabel's tone was indeed that of a woman scorned, "I'd like to show them better."

 

"I'll give them one for you," I promised, "Sec…" I informed her as the pool continued to expand.

 

The figure of Agent L came into view before Mayo did. The man did not look good as he hung there suspended in the water. I leapt in and swam through the still narrow but expanding chasm to grab him and take him to the surface. Speed was important, so I wasn't exactly gentle as I shot through the surface and then threw him onto the other side.

 

One of the first things any aquatic superhero I ever heard of learns is some basic life saving techniques.  A little ABC check (Airway, Breathing, and Circulation) is required. Water was spilling out of his mouth. I cocked my head and listened for the sound of breathing. Agent's L's lungs were as still as the grave. Hastily I moved onto check for circulation. Ten vital seconds when by while I waited for signs of a pulse.

 

Nada!

 

I had used CPR before, both in class and out in the sea under real conditions. Making sure not to press the ribs, I put my hand in the center of his chest, and then began chest compressions. One hundred pulses per minute. Thirty compressions, a kiss of life, and ...

More water spewed out of Agent L's mouth, this time from his coughing! I spat out the pool water that had gotten into my mouth, and then called out, "Mayo, buddy, please tell me you're alive?"

 

"I…hurt," Mayo croaked surface side, "Caleb? I thought, I thought you were gone."

 

As Agent L recovered, I turned back to the water. My instinct was to haul him out of that to safety, but he was a water breather entirely. What good would it do?  I dived in get a closer look.

 

Mayo was wounded. He wasn't that much tougher than a non-powered surface male, after all , and diffused or not those blasts had burned and bruised him all over, "I'm sorry, I was in another place, another realm. I hate mysticism," I grumbled.

 

"Just another slice of the universe, Caleb," He said, refusing to look at me instead his white eyes darting about, "Just another fathom. We shouldn't fear it just because we don't understand it."

 

"Well, I don't…" I growled realizing what he was doing, "You're going all guru on me in order to keep me from chewing you out about nearly killing a guy! Darn it, Mayo. I thought the last thing you wanted to do was kill."

 

"You are right all around, Caleb," He said with a sigh, "But I am not like you. I am not a hero. I am, whether I wish it or not…"

 

"A soldier, yeah yeah yeah," I cut him off, "I overheard the conversation from the Balance including the part where you as much admitted I'd give you 'seal pup eyes'."

 

"Oh," He said after a second, "Well, now I am not too fond of mysticism myself."

 

"Yeah," I said again testily, "You'll be getting that lecture later, though I admit I don't know how else you could have taken him, but right now I've got to help the others. So… if you honestly hold on, I've got to leave you. Stop avoiding my gaze, I won't give you the seal pup eyes already."

 

"I," Mayo inhaled more of the water, "I'm sorry, Caleb. I'm not avoiding your gaze. I just can't see it. I appear to be," His eyes drifted about searching for my face and going right past it, "quite blind." And I realized his once dark eyes were now pale and white. Agent L's blasts and burst had blinded him! Perhaps forever.

 

"Christ on a Crutch," I felt like an ass for not realizing it earlier, "Mayo, I'm sorry."

 

"As am I, but neither of us can or could do much about it," Mayo said, "Go. I am done with soldiering today. You are not done being a hero. You saved the other one? He lives?"

 

"Yes," I said, "But I don't think he'll be getting up anytime soon," I told him, "I'll tie him up, I think I've figured out something about these guys anyway."

 

"He lives," Mayo said, sounding torn, "Go, Caleb. Your team and your new home need you," He put out a hand and felt about, then found and clasped my shoulder, "And do not worry about me. I like the dark."

 

I put a hand back on him, and nodded, "I'll be back for you. Maybe Lady Obsidian and Mabel can fix this so you won't be stuck in the dark fore…" A thought sunk into me, "I'll be back."

 

Rising out of the water, I called out, "Mabel! I know your security measures are spent, but …can you turn out the lights? Section by section? I may want them back on, but can you do that?"

 

"That's one of the few things left I can do," Mabel answered, "Name the place and area…"

 

"Let's start…"I said reaching down and stripping the uniform off Agent L, when the belt came loose, I looked it over. The bulkiness of it was tangible, and there was incredibly intricate wiring on the underside. It confirmed something for me, "With the Med Bay and nearby areas."

 

I am very at home in the dark.

 

Not because I am brave, or because of a goth like "I am a childe (with E at the end) of the night" but because it's not really dark for me. It's a power as common to me as seeing the color purple is to most people; something taken for granted.

 

It was going to serve me once again. Thanks, minor but sometimes crucial power.

 

I hadn't heard the female Agent's name. Normally I'd say lady, not female, but you don't invade my home away from home, stomp on my friends, and try to steal stuff and get to still be called a lady. So 'female agent' it was. I decided, given what I'd seen, to call her Sticky.

 

Like the others, she had gear, and she was using it.  I'll give Sticky this much, she was dragging Ambush on a sled she had constructed of that goo rather than leaving him behind. In her left hand was some kind of thumb drive. No doubt medical data about us.

 

In the other, she held a flash light and she was talking on her comm, "The lights aren't out in your area? Yes, we may have a problem, Valorous, they are down in mine. I'm on my way with the rest of Unit B. Agent L isn't receiving. You have the girl, so who is left? It's got to be the Fish Guy. Does, does he see in the dark?" She asked.

 

"Yes," I answered behind her, "Yes I do."

 

That was foolish of me, but to be fair, I'm not a ninja. And while I could sneak past a few gang members in the water, if Sticky had the training I suspected, she would have heard me the next step anyway. So she spun and shot out with her strands attempting to bury me and bury me fast in that odd entangling energy of hers.

 

Too bad for her I was using her friend Ambush like a shield. Her powers seemed, at least as a default, non-lethal, so I had no guilt lifting him to face her, his backside in her direction, and using him to catch the initial spray.

It was good thing for Agent Ambush I had his back and not his front to her. She might cut off his air with the full burst she had fired. Indeed, I suspect she had just given her very best shot.

And her eyes widened as she realized she'd just wasted it.

 

I dropped the highly gooped Ambush and punched her. I have never enjoyed hitting women, even when they aren't ladies. Maybe that's why I pulled my punch. She was a trained combatant, and her uniform provided some protection. What would have ended a fight with any normal merely sent her sprawling. The flashlight scattered from her hand and spread a golden beam across the floor, like a child's array of dirty laundry meant to keep the monster at bay.

 

Which, would make me the monster.

 

"Boo," I said, and charged forward. If she had time, she might have set up some of those strands to help locate me, to get a feel for me like a spider in her web. I didn't give it to her. Instead I pressed fast and forced her to spray wildly. Some caught on my shoulder, some hit my legs. But it didn't have time to really gain rigidity. I tore through it easier than most grown men could tear through cardboard.

"Stand Down, we are with a federal agency! This is a highly sensitive mission, and you are way out of your depth!" She said scrambling backwards.

 

"Where's the warrant?" I said ripping through, "Where is the knock at the door? And why.'. the theft? No, don't give me that. If this was legit, you'd have more squads out there for back up. You may be working for some agency, but this is black ops, it's illegal, and …frankly," I seized the next strand she sent and looped it around her then yanked her forward, "It's pissing me off. You're a partial aren't' you? All of you, that's how they hooked you. They found a way to reverse suppression tech, amplifiers I guess. I wonder how long they've had it? The superhero community didn't. You'd always be considered second best with us, rightly or wrongly. But you sold yourselves for a leg up, to get on equal footing, so you too could be superheroes. How's that working out for you? Save any kittens from trees yet? Or are you breaking and entering and stealing stuff?"

 

"Don't you judge me!" She hissed, "How dare you judge any of us? Lady Obsidian, your entire damn team acting like they're above the law, like the rules don't apply to them, and you have the nerve to lecture me about us cutting corners for the sake of national security?"

 

I tore the belt off her, and the strands about her withered to half their size, to nearly nothing. What was stronger than steel was now more like good solid rope.

 

"By their fruits you shall know them," I quoted.

 

"What?" She blinked.

 

"Bible verse," I answered, "A southern translation would be 'you're spewing crap but nothing's growing'. There are five teams trying to save the world out there from a threat to all of us. Valorous knows, and probably told you. What's the response? Extra security on the shores? Warning in the news to stay away from the beaches for twenty four hours?   No, some higher up gets it into his or her head this is the ideal time to slip in and finally get their hands on the goodies we've got while everyone else is rising their lives. If you gave a tinker's damn about national security, you'd be fighting side by side Lady Obsidian as she tried to save this nation and every other one. National security my ass," And I put her in a sleeper hold.

 

I suppose I could have just slapped her, but I don't like hitting women. This was a cheat, but it came easier.

 

She tried to slip out once or twice, then her eyes rolled back, and she went out.

 

I plucked up the com unit she had been wearing. It wasn't like Valorous didn't know I was here by now.

 

I heard, "B Unit, are you there? B- Unit. I've gained access, but I need some assistance here."

 

"I'm about to assist you into a wall," I informed him angrily.

 

"Fish Guy?" he said startled, not that I was up, but that I was on this channel.

 

"That's Eel to you, Vainglorious," I informed him, "You have someone. You threatened to break her hand into a hundred pieces.  I know, I saw, I heard. If anything happens to her, I'm going to forget what little good you have done in your ruse and con, and be very, very cross with you. You hear me?"

 

There was a sputter. He didn't know I'd heard everything he'd done in the Balance. How could he? It threw him off, but he rallied. I didn't hold still during this. I had taken both agents here to the med bay and injected them with knock out juice not unlike what they'd done to Tornado. A taste of their own medicine, as it were.

 

Finally, he answered, "I'll do what I have to do, Fish Guy. There are at least three WMDs in here, there's faster than light technology. There's world changing things here, and she's hoarding it like a miser. It's too important to be her call. No more pampered superpowered prima-donnas deciding they know what's best for anyone."

 

I chuckled at something, "You do know Lady O has even less power than you? Right? She's not a partial, she's just a genius. I guess I can't fuss. I tend to think of her as exceptional too. But , Valnglorious, your envy is showing on your sleeve there. I'd buy some of your complaints as being worthy of consideration, but as I told another Sunday school drop out, your ends don't justify your means."

 

"You think you're better than me," Valorous' voice growled, "You think your advantages give you the right to hold all the power forever? To keep the rest of us down waiting and begging for crumbs? I'm the one looking out to raise the common man. I'm the hero here."

 

"Says the man holding a woman hostage, breaking into things, and not thinking twice about the danger he might be bringing to a city by messing with dangerous tools he doesn't begin to understand," I snorted, "And don't give me that 'common man' crap. Hashtagblessed I may be, but I've been one of the 'common', still consider myself one where it counts, and I've got loads of 'common' friends and family. You know what? None of them would do what you're doing if they had your advantages. No, Valodorous, you could have been the hero, you've chosen to be the villain. And I? I'm going to treat you like one… practice twirling your mustache. I'm coming to rip it off your lying face."

 

And I broke the communication device I had borrowed for emphasis. Time to go and beat the holy hell out of Valorous. I am, if nothing else, a man of my word.

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Great stuff.  Looking back, I like how you had Tornado and Mayo take out two of the invaders themselves, rather than just being secondary to the main character.  Nicely done.  It made this installment run nice and quick. 

 

Also quite happy that both Mabel and Mayo are doing okay (for a given value of "okay") and not permanently deactivated / dead. 

Sorry to say, I'm not sure I'd have been as truly heroic as Eel and pulled Agent L out of the water first and given CPR.

 

"Vainglorious" is a good alternate name.  Though I'm glad that "Valodorous" made its way in as well.  :D  

 

Maybe after all is said and done, Arctic Fox can see whether focus groups like "Moray" over "Eel."  Personally, I think it has more bite.  :winkgrin:

 

I need to make sure I have my popcorn ready for the big beat-down. 

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I can't wait to see Eel and company give Zap-Brannigan-In-Spandex his just desserts. Maybe when Arctic Fox finds out he used her, she'll be pissed enough to freeze a sensitive region of his anatomy and hit it with a sledgehammer?

 

And that just leaves dealing whichever James Clapper wannabe(s) Vain-Gloryhound and his mooks work for...

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More great stuff, Mr. H. I see Bolo's point about maybe not helping Agent L; but seeing how most of my PCs are Boy/Girl Scouts I understand why Eel did what he did.

 

Oh, and I also vote for a name change. Moray just sounds bad-ass.

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Sorry for the delay this week. Among other things, I seem to have a little bit of a stomach bug

You too??

 

I would say I'm glad I'm not the only one, but honestly, I wish I were the only one. I wouldn't wish this on anyone else.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The palindromedary says seriously, Lucius has pretty sick.

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The final battle! Only the epilogue remains

 

After grabbing a backpack to throw the enhancers I'd collected in, I moved as quickly as I could through the dark of the mall. I doubted it would do me any good. Valorous had as much as mentioned he'd gotten into the secure area already and that would be beyond Mabel's control, even over the lighting. If I was very lucky, and I doubt I would be, Ariana would be safely on the other side of that entry way and not in danger. As soon as I considered it, I realized how unlikely that scenario was. Valorous hadn't denied my accusations of taking a hostage, and if Ariana wasn't down, she was fighting.

 

Why am I attracted to the stubborn ones?

 

You never appreciate just how big a mall is until you must run the course of it. I leaped over furniture and barriers, and weaved around columns in a full tilt run. Fortunately, the location of the entrance wasn't at the other end, so it wasn't like I had to go a full football field here.

 

The good news? The Entry way was still open. I could get in. The bad news? It was open, clearly Valorous was indeed already in. Worse news? He'd taken Ariana with him. That meant she was likely hurt, bound, and/or pissed.

 

Barring the private residence suites of some of my team mates, this would be the only room I hadn't had time to explore. That was a pain, no home field advantage here.  I moved through the open double sealed doors. Looks like he hadn't had to pry them open, but then he'd likely gotten everything he needed from Arctic Fox.  Copy of her eye's retina from a high-tech scanner disguised as a smart phone. Her voice, easily from all the calls. I didn't want to ask how he got her password, but no doubt he had more than one shot at it and all the time in the world to analyze it.

 

Thank god, he hadn't closed it behind him. I'm not sure I was authorized yet. I guess worry for Ariana and outrage made me sloppy. I just barreled in instead of trying stealth. Then again, it wasn't like he didn't know I was coming.

 

But either way, as soon as I came into view the son of a biscuit eater shot me with an obscenely huge energy rifle.  The green energy hit me in the side in a particle stream that had the whammy of a wrecking ball on steroids. I don't budge easy, but that one staggered me onto the ground.

 

Then I heard a second sound, a fizzle spark and curse.

"Only enough charge for one shot?" I said and rose. There was Valorous threw the chrome hued weapon to the side. My gaze fell nearby where Ariana was pulling hard down on her forearm. The line clear through the arm between wrist and elbow told it all. He might not have shattered her hand into a hundred pieces, but he, quite literally, broken her arm in two. Only constant pressure kept it as one.

 

"Are you…" I was going to say okay, which would have been a very stupid thing to say.

 

Ariana beat me to it, "I'll be fine, focus on the fight… and kick his ass!"

 

I smiled at her spirit and turned to Valorous. It was good she had refocused me, because he was already streaking towards me fist ready to hook me hard. I decided to hold my ground and trade blows. He hit me square in the jaw rocking my head back but not taking me off my feet, I brought an uppercut in his stomach and knocked him into the ceiling.

 

I'd like to imagine his grunt of pain was louder than mine.

 

The blow had been tremendous. It wasn't to the level of Mr. Brute, but it certainly was comparable to my own.  Add to that and his edge In maneuverability, and this could be a long hard slog. My eyes drifted to that bulky belt of his. If I could tear it off during the right, he'd lose his enhancement, and I'd win this easily.

 

Of course, the jackass just had to come with contingencies of his own. Reaching into the side pocket of his belt, he flung something down hard at me that looked like an oversized gumball. With the toss powered by his superstrength, it moved as quickly as a bullet as he said, "Hey, Fish Guy! Catch!"

 

You know, there was a time when I might have agreed to play by the rules of someone who was trying to kick my ass, when I'd let him set what was or wasn't manly even if it gave him an edge. But then I got of middle school and decided I'd really like to win one and go by my own rules.

 

There's an element of pragmatism tempering idealism in your growth into an adult.

 

Or as papa used to say, "If they tell you hitting them in the balls makes you gay, what they really mean is I don't want to sing soprano."

 

Suffice to say, I did not catch. I rolled to the side, barely escaping it striking me. It exploded into a five foot radius ball of fire and still caught me in its wake. The indirect heat still burned along my left side some. If it had hit me square on, I would have been in serious trouble.

 

"You think I didn't prepare for you?" He announced, "The only fully powered and healthy hero who might be here?" Valorous floated a good twenty feet over me, "I know you're vulnerable to fire. I know you don't have much in the way of range."

 

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Ariana focusing, glistening, and I realized what she was doing. She was reversing her density, growing softer, more malleable, trying to force her arm back in piece by going softer rather than harder. Whatever held her together when she went spongey, I prayed it kept her from spilling out. She'd need time to line things up and fuse.

 

I needed to move the fight away from her. If she got caught in one of those fireball blasts I…then a thought occurred to me. I reached into the backpack behind me and pulled out one of the enhancer belts, "You know, for someone who talked trash about Lady Obsidian, you sure use a lot of tools. At least she made her own. You rely on this, don’t' you?"

 

His eyes narrowed, and he rolled another fire globe in his hand, "Why don't you put it on, maybe you'll actually have a chance."

 

"I already know it won't work for me," I answered, "Mabel, you assumed with her security and comms down, she wasn't much threat to you. Did you know there are rooms where she can detect your pulse rate? Now the medbay, that's a marvel. And she has two of your agents and one of my buddies there to compare, along with one of the enhancers. She warned me, even after she hacked them, that if I tried one the best it would do hurt some, the worst? Might lock up. Instead of enhancing my power it would trap me in it as if muscle bound. That's why the government uses partials…" I threw it to the side, where it slid across the floor keeping my eyes on Valorous, "instead of A-listers. Because it adds an extra inch to the puny, but it will never let you get better than average man length. Explains a lot about your attitude, tiny."

 

Okay, maybe there is a part of me that never got out of Middle school after all, but I needed his attention on me, and I needed to piss him off badly. Very badly.

 

"You smug mother@@@@er!" He lobbed the fire globe at me, harder, but sloppier than before!

 

Well mission accomplished.

 

Frankly this whole idea was dangerous for multiple reasons.  Chief among them, I am a water sign so fire bad. But also in a chamber full of devices arcane and scientific that were considered too dangerous for mankind! Some of it was labeled, but those labels brought little comfort. When you see a large hollow oval marked "Timegate: Paradox Buffer down do not use" you know, even if you didn't finish your bachelors, that it's probably a bad idea to set off explosives near it. Add to that a kill bot from some genetic purity organization that was shut down years ago, a pulsing hovering spindle in a glass container, and severed dead man's hand that appeared to be in a frozen state of decay on an altar with a warning in Latin, and I would rather have been fighting in a field of land mines.

 

 I dove behind the kill bot, figuring it, at least, could take the hit without exploding. Good choice, the flames washed over it like it was nothing and I barely felt a thing.

 

"Valorous," I tut-tutted, "Did you lose both your balls?"

 

Well, that did it, he flew around the kill bot with, I'll give him credit, amazing speed and hammered me with blows to my body that sounded almost thunderous! His rage seemed to give him extra strength, but the lack of precision meant he neither took the wind out of me, nor did it break anything.

 

Pain? Pain I can take.

 

And he was in arm's reach now.  I hit him with a hook shot right in the jaw, his face slammed into the backside of the killbot, and he wobbled for a moment, eyes glazed, and blood coming out of his mouth. I'm not a fan of blood, but damn if giving him a bloody lip wasn't gratifying.

 

"No more games," I said, "No more taunts," I promised, "I'm just going to take away what makes you special."  I latched onto the belt and got ready to pull.

 

I forgot a cardinal rule of fighting. Don't call your shots or announce your plans unless they really can't stop you.

 

"No!" He said, rising up to kick me in the face before my grip was solid. Even limited flight meant he could get a height advantage on me. What's more, he realized he'd been baited. That rush of panic at almost losing his belt cut through that foolish anger like a knife and brought him a moment of clarity.

 

And damn it, maybe even a bit of cleverness.

 

He turned to the kill bot and his eyes lit up, "Huh, the Mark XI Purifier! I read about these, go after whoever has the most genetic deviation." And he flipped a switch near its neck, "Betting that's you!"

 

The killbot in question was roughly nine feet tall, twice as wide as I was, and looked like the love child of Gort and Robbie the Robot… on steroids.

 

"Genetic deviations detected!" It announced, its eye slit glowing and then carving a wound in my leg with a laser that would sheared it off if I hadn't moved, "Purification protocols underway."

 

"Beautiful," Valorous smirked, "I had hoped to kick your ass myself, but you know, this will buy me the time I needed to retrieve my target," he turned to head towards the glass case with the prism.

 

Before he could really move, the robot's torso spun in a three sixty allowing it's arm to whip around and strike him with all the force of a runaway eighteen wheeler and knock him for quite a loop.

 

"Congratulations," I told him, "You just woke up a Eugenics bot on the hopes it might ignore you… never mind that if it kills me and you're gone, it's going to go on a rampage in the city after this with you as still on its kill list. You're not just a villain, you're a stupid one."

 

I had wanted to kick his ass myself, but obviously, ego had to give way to pragmatism.

 

I reached into my own belt and hurled something Valorous' way. It landed behind him with a shattering sound.

 

"And you think my aim is bad?" He snorted, "Enjoy your killbot, punk. I've got things to do."

 

"Like playing good women for chumps just so you can use them?" I sneered, and then weaved to the side as another laser beam from the Purifier robot fired, "Arctic Fox trusted you!"

 

"That was her mistake!" He said seeming to enjoy my troubles with the robot despite the shot it had given him, "Frankly, carnal benefits aside, she was in the end, just a means to get in here. It was professional, not personal."

 

I rolled between the killbot's legs, forcing it to punch down instead of firing. The floor was made of some damn durable stuff and it still showed a nasty crack where that thing's fist came down.

 

"Yeah? You do know I heard your rant earlier. How you were doing her a favor, how she'd be wiser after this…" I reminded.

 

"Well, we can't all be sentimental romantics, I leave that to dumb hicks like you and poor little ice princesses who just want to be loved," He snorted and started to fly towards his prize.

 

Only to have a burst of baseball sized hail come at him sideways like the fire from a heavy caliber machine gun. I guess he hadn't realized that the vial I'd thrown had materialized its target to bring me the team mate Dr. Salem had promised me.

 

I had considered bringing in Lady Obsidian, undeniably the most powerful of the team to my thinking, but hell hath no fury …. and besides, Arctic Fox had a right to this.

 

She had every damned right.

 

He looked up from the pile of ice debris he was half buried in, "Foxy?"

 

"Don't Foxy me!" the air around Arctic Fox's body was cracking with cold. The large chamber had dropped at least ten degrees all over despite the size of it, "You miserable, traitorous, son of …."

 

"It's a job!" He made another attempt to explain, even as he turned something on his belt, "And an important one. Help me out here, and you can join my team. You can help humanity."

 

"What would you know of humanity?" Arctic Fox seethed, "Besides, aren't I a little too sentimental for your line of work? Now that I can talk to Mabel again, she's playing me all your greatest hits. The speech you gave then wasn't any more flattering than what I just heard you tell Eel. Help humanity? Wouldn't you have to be capable of being humane to do that?"  Her emphasis on the question was accompanied by another ice blast.

 

While the two no longer lovebirds were talking, I had problems of my own. That problem being the Purifier XI. I spat into my gloves and dived for it, only to get shot along the shoulder before I could close with its face. I tried not to scream as it carved a chunk out of said shoulder.

 

It reared up another blast, only to have its head twisted to the side by two diamond dense hands that jerked it hard to the right! The blast carved a groove in the wall instead of me.

 

Ariana had just saved my ass.

 

"I see the belt works for you," I tried to sound nonchalant, but I'm pretty my relief at not having my head sheared off was evident.

 

"Yeah, thanks for throwing one my way" She announced, "it’s a fashion disaster, but you know what? I'll take it."

 

"Look out!" I warned her as it spun on her just like it had Valorous earlier! There was a glow about her and its metallic arm went clean through her leaving her utterly untouched.

 

"Damn!" I was impressed, "You're a quick learner!" though it occurred to me that fast shifting may not have been new to her. She'd still practiced with her power, she just had more oomph in her powers now. Kind of like how a light weight boxer still knows how to throw a punch even if a heavyweight has the edge in arm strength.  I shifted tactics, "Think you could spit in its eye for me?"

 

"Seriously?" She said surprised, but then spat once on its eyes area where the blaster would exit from as she solidified, "Why did I just do that?"

 

"Get back!" I told her and punched it to get attention, hard as I could. I was gratified that I dented the metal monster.

 

She did back up some then scowled, "You didn't answer my…"

 

The purifier's laser lit up and… well, the lens was coated in saliva and the weapon blew up inside of it's head!

 

"Mom used to have a crush on Val Kilmer," I said, "One thing I learned from an eighty's movie with him - Keep your optics clean."

 

Despite missing part of its head, the purifier fought on! It must have had other sensors, because it still had a general idea where we were.

 

"Okay, that's clever… you know, you might have a mind for science," She started to say.

 

"Oh god, not another back to college speech," I told her and caught the incoming arm of the Purifier XI

 

"Fine, it bothers me a bit yes, and Lady Obsidian said…"  Ariana wasn't just talking, she'd gone super dense again and begun to shred at the already exposed wires at the head level, tearing chunks out of it.

 

"I can imagine," I told her, "Why don't you go help Arctic Fox with Valodorous?"

 

She twisted her gaze and looked were Fox and Valorous were continuing their own fight, "Nu uh. She's got dibs."

 

"She say that?" I inquired.

 

Ariana scoffed as if men were the dumbest creatures on the planet, "She doesn't really have to. If some guy broke my heart on purpose like that, I'd make his life a living hell for years. I wouldn't let my uncle or any other guy in my family handle him because that would be too quick… too painless."

 

"Uh…" my eyes widened, and for one brief moment the robot was the second scariest thing in this kerfuffle.

 

Ariana saw my expression and dimpled, "Second date still on after this?"

 

"Yes, ma'am," I said very politely, and bent the robot's arm backwards warping it.

 

Meanwhile, I had some reason to worry for Arctic Fox. Valorous' raw power meant she couldn't contain him in ice, he just broke through the bonds, but there was more.

 

"You know sweetheart, I didn't' expect to fight you today, but I did have contingencies for that too," He said moving forward steadily, walking because if he flew the force of her cold and ice might yet blow him back, "My suit's lined with micro heaters. The material protects me from extreme cold. Now sit down, let me get my target before I have to hurt you."

 

Much of the ice encrusting his outfit was indeed melting in rivulets, like a defroster might clear your car window in winter. He had come prepared. The robot was almost done for, dibs or not, I got ready to jump in to help my team mate.

 

I shouldn't have bothered.

 

"Jerry," She said, her eyes narrowing, "You seem to be under the mistaken impression that no one I've ever fought before prepared for cold weather. You have thermal undies, oh no…whatever will I do?" She reached out and spread her hands. What I saw at first didn't look particularly impressive, a burst of mist, tiny snowflakes and crystals in a wide cloud about him? "Maybe, Jerry, I'll drop the air around you to Antarctic levels, or lower…. How's your breathing Jerry?"

 

Valorous aka Jerry, couldn't answer. His lungs had filled with air that, well, I don't know how cold it was but he couldn't breathe it safely. He clutched at his throat for a moment and tried to escape the cloud of cold but instead of flying fell to his knees.

 

Arctic Fox strode towards him and reached down, "Don't worry Jerry," her finger tips popped and cracked with sub-zero temperature, "I'm a hero. I don't kill. I'm just going to remove something you value." Her hands went to his waist.

 

"Uhm, Arctic Fox?" I said eyes wide.

 

"Relax, Rookie," She told me, and froze the belt solid until it was as brittle as glass, and then she punched it. It broke apart easily, "I've got this."

 

Another gesture with her freehand and the cold around his him faded allowing him to breathe again, though really, he coughed and kept coughing so I wasn't sure there might not be some real damage there.

 

She buried him up to his neck in ice, the defrosters or not, it was too much for his reduced strength to allow him to break out of anytime soon.

Then Arctic Fox slapped him hard across his already bloody mouth, "If you ever try this on another woman and I hear about it I'll take more than your toy belt."  She must have put some cold in her touch because the palm strike on his jaw looked border line frost bit.

 

"Eel," She said turning from him, "You got everything covered?"

 

The robot was broken in three different parts and had finally gone out, "Yeah," I said to her. I moved closer, "Are you …"

 

Ariana shook her head at me, and I shut up.

 

"Please, Rookie," Arctic Fox shook her hair like she was cleaning something out of it, but there was a little catch to her voice, "I'm a superheroine. I deal with petty little villains every day. It's …just another day. But you are the rookie, so I'm going to leave the clean up to you while I get word out to the rest of the team what's gone down. Got a complaint, tell Lady O." She strode off like a queen.

 

I mimed tipping my hat

 

"I'll talk to her later when it's right," Ariana assured me. She was rubbing at the arm that had been broken. It looked good to me, but I guess, molecular density powers or not, it was at the very least sore.

 

I gave her a grateful look, then glanced over to the still half encased half powered Valorous, "We need to make sure he's not going to cause trouble so…"

 

"Got it," She strode over and punched him across the jaw with her density amped up, knocking him out cold! I guess sore or not, her arm could handle that last duty.

 

"I was going to say 'We should inject him with a sedative from the medbay'," I held out my hands in a 'hey' gesture.

 

"Whoops," She said, "My bad."  She fluttered her lashes.

 

"Uh huh," I told her and moved towards her.

 

She dimpled, and I couldn't help it. I kissed her. At first it was like kissing a statue, but then she turned her power off and her lips because soft and warm and she was kissing back.

 

"Hey!" She pulled back a bit, "I was saving that for the third date."

 

"Superhero time" I told her, "We could die any day, so we've got to live while we can." A bit of a smile ended up on my face, "Besides, I like to end an adventure on at least one high note."

 

"You're pulling the gather ye rose buds while we may and 'I love happy endings' bit just to get me to make out with you?" She ran fingers along my chest and looked up at me with those gorgeous chocolate eyes.

 

"Yeah," I nodded honestly.

 

"Works," She tilted up her head and laid one helluva kiss on me.

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