Tear The World Apart, Part 4 - Battle Plans

(May 30th, 2008)
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Moonbeam’s office was, if anything, even more spartan than the mayor’s had been. She had a small desk in one corner, with a computer sitting on it, and two chairs against one wall; aside from that, it was completely bare. Amber raised an eyebrow as she looked around, then returned her attention to the office’s owner. “Don’t spend a lot of time in here, do you?”

Danielle Sanderson, also known as Agent Moonbeam of the SEA, shrugged. “Not really, no. But it’s secure against eavesdropping.” She leaned in. “Sorry I don’t have enough chairs.”

“Not a problem, I can stand.” Jim leaned against the wall, glancing around and settling into his usual quiet. Lucky grabbed a seat and, after a moment’s pause, so did Nadia. Amber remained standing, looking sour.

“So – is this it?”

Danielle didn’t ask what she meant. “Yes. All of our intelligence is saying the same thing – Judgment has finished his preparations and is moving to attack. Three days from now, he intends to have every Antihero in the country converge on Patchwork City. He’ll overwhelm the city, take out any resistance, and announce the foundation of a ‘proper world’ ruled according to his plans. He’s not being very secretive, either – he knows we won’t let it slide, and he wants to take out the SEA at the same time.”

Amber nodded slowly. When the four heroes had discussed the mayor’s information, they had agreed that this seemed like the only answer. When they’d discovered the message from Moonbeam on their answering machine saying that she wanted to meet with them today, it had only confirmed her fears. “How many people are we looking at here?”

“At least a hundred superhumans on the Antihero side. We’ve got our sixty agents in town, plus another thirty on teleporter-standby, and Rex Mundi is promising whatever help he can dredge up.” Moonbeam’s expression left it clear what she thought of that. “I wanted to discuss whether you’ll be deploying.”

“Of course!” Nadia almost stood from her chair, pausing self-consciously as everyone turned to look at her. “I mean… it’s our job, protecting the city. We have to.”

“Not in this case. This is going to be an Omega-level incursion. It’s well beyond your job descriptions as local heroes. If you want to stay and fight, we’ll take you, but it’s not a requirement.”

“Well, I’m staying anyway!” Nadia brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes, looking unusually serious. “This is what I’m supposed to be doing, and I’m not backing out now.”

“Count me in.” Jim raised his hand, pushing off the wall. “I’m not letting those Antiheroes walk over us.”

Lucky grinned wryly. “It’s the whole reason I came back; seems silly to leave now.”

“Well, there you go.” Amber smiled, looking around at her team, and then back to Moonbeam. “It looks like you’ve got all of us. Where are we going to be deployed?”

Moonbeam smiled, reaching into a folder and pulling out a small stack of papers. “Dudeman thought that you’d be onside for this. Here you go.” She passed the papers to Lucky, who handed off copies to the others. “Mayfly, Handyman, you’ll be on standard defense. You’re going to be assigned to harbour patrol; controlling the entrances and exits to the city will be a top Antihero priority, so we’ve got ten heroes down there. Your team leader is Eclipse; you can get to know him after this meeting.”

“Okay… what about Lucky and Amber?” Nadia glanced over her papers, looking confused.

“We have a critical mission for Timebender and Lucky Lad, but it doesn’t benefit from large groups. The two of you are being assigned to protect a VIP. We believe that Judgment will focus all of his energy on killing him – if you can keep him moving and safe, you’ll effectively remove Judgment from the fight. If you can do that, we have a shot at beating the other Antiheroes and coming to help you.” Moonbeam grimaced. “It’s a dangerous job, but Dudeman thinks that your powers are best suited for this.”

“Who would be…” Amber trailed off, comprehension dawning. “Dad.”

Moonbeam nodded. “Yes. Judgment has personal issues to settle with Mr. Smith. Quite frankly, having you present will only exacerbate them. Think you can keep him safe?”

“Oh, hell, yes.” Timebender nodded grimly. “You can count on us.”

“I hope so, because this is going to get bad. We’re looking at a superhuman brawl larger than anything since the Solstice Offensive. We’ve got to get it right.” Moonbeam sat back in her chair with a sigh. “Any questions?”

“Will there be team-building excercises? Because I… hate…” Nadia trailed off in the face of four level stares. “Joke! It was a joke! Geez, haven’t you people heard that humour is good in stressful situations?”

“Not this one.” Moonbeam turned back to her computer. “Take some time to review your missions. If you have any questions, you know where I am.”

“Right.” Amber turned to the others; Lucky and Nadia stood. “See you soon.”

“I hope so.” Managing a half-smile, Moonbeam nodded to them as they filed out. Outside, Nadia sighed heavily.

“Now I know it’s bad. Not even a chuckle.”

“Well, it wasn’t a very good joke.” Lucky fought to conceal his own grin. A moment later, he didn’t have to. “Ow! Amber, she hit me!”

“You deserved it.” Amber couldn’t quite suppress her own chuckle. “Come on, guys. We’ve got a lot of studying to do.”

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