Tear The World Apart, Part 9: Final Countdown

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(June 13th, 2008)


“It’s your turn.”

“No.”

“Oh, come on!”

“I spy with my little eye, someone who is delinquent in his duties.”

Epsilon shot his partner an annoyed look, drifting higher to peer over a cloud. The hero, dressed in his trademark blue-and-white jumpsuit, cape and all, was flying several thousand feet above the streets of Patchwork City. “My duties are to look at things. I am looking at things.”

“You’re looking at the wrong things.” Nexus was nearly the polar opposite of her companions; she eschewed the traditional bright colours of the SEA’s agents in favour of a simple grey three-piece suit, which had the effect of looking supremely out of place hanging motionless in the air. Her voice carried perfectly despite the wind; she was not actually flying, so much as simply selectively ignoring the effects of the world around her. “Watch for trouble.”

“It’s called multitasking. Look it up.” Epsilon let his senses range free again, studying every car roaring along the highways for signs of any Antiheroes that he would recognize. “But if you’re so singleminded that you can’t handle a little conversation, I can stop.”

“I doubt that very much.” With that dry statement, Nexus resumed scanning the sky. Her eyes were flint-grey. “This is a deadly serious business, and you really aren’t helping.”

“Says you.”

That managed to net Epsilon a pained look. “You need to work on your comebacks.”

“Yeah? Well, at least I don’t… hang on. Control, I’ve got something. There’s a blind spot moving in on Highway 92.” Epsilon keyed his mic automatically, eyes fixed on the freeway in the distance. “Unless you believe that people are going to leave a two-car gap like they’re supposed to, we’ve got a car masked from aerial surveillance. Probably a cloak of some sort.”

“Speaking of cloaks…” Nexus grabbed Epsilon urgently, and he spun in the air to see the sky rippling ahead of them. The clouds were fragmenting, pushed aside by a massive but invisible force that was settling over the harbour.

“Aw, hell. Control, it’s zero hour. I’m gonna have to call you…” Epsilon broke off, launcing into a controlled spiral as a barrage of energy beams roared out of the space. In a crackle of electricity, a massive mechanical fortress began to take shape. Twelve dots launched from it, rapidly increasing in size as they approached.

“Well, we’re screwed.” Epsilon grinned halfheartedly. “Alright, here we go.”

Aboard the Relentless, the until-now secret of the Antihero fleet, Fathom turned to her companions – ordinary humans who believed wholeheartedly in the Antihero goal. “Begin Operation Liberty.”

Across the city, in critical locations, space screamed and tore, as pillaged Atlantean psy-beacons deposited ten teams of five Antihero agents. On the highways, cars suddenly spun, shifted direction, and crossed lanes of traffic as six teams deployed to cut off anyone attempting to leave the city. Cars screeched to a halt, crashed into each other as the highways were systematically blasted into rubble, outside the area that waiting SEA teams had been holding. Those teams, their initial mission accomplished, began pushing forwards, ready for war. Three teams dropped into the harbour from the Relentless, jetpacks screaming as they carried those who could not fly to their goal, and five more teams roared towards the gleaming grey monolith of Malefico, standing a dozen stories above the rest of the skyscape.

A voice rang out, enhanced far beyond human capabilities, echoing off every surface and heard clearly throughout Patchwork City. “Citizens, rejoice! Your liberation is at hand! Today, we strike a blow against all that is corrupt and evil in this world. Malefico will fall. City Hall will fall. The Superhuman Enforcement Agency, tool of the villains to enforce their agendas, will be laid to ruin. This I promise you. Today, the evil of the world will face Judgment!”

Aboard the Relentless, Fathom allowed herself a small smile as she studied the layouts. “Judgment, all teams are moving at optimum speed. I estimate confrontation will begin in thirty-two seconds. You may commence your personal mission.”

“Thank you, Fathom.” Judgment’s rich voice resonated from the ship’s speakers. “You have command until I return.”

Fathom nodded to herself as the comm clicked off. Twenty-one seconds. Soon, they would see if the SEA was prepared for the enormity of this attack. She kept one eye on the skies; she thought it likely that Rex Mundi would not commit anything to this fight, doomed as it was, but caution was her watchword. Eighteen seconds. The teams at Malefico and the harbour would likely be the first to see battle, and once again her caution had led her to enhance them far past what she thought would likely be necessary; if Ecchs actually managed to muster serious defenses, she did not want to be caught unprepared.

Nine seconds. As she watched the signs of SEA response flickering to life across her monitors, she nodded slowly. Sixty-two response agents, and the telltale flickers of more teleporting in – but too late, already too late to stop the plan. Six seconds. By the time the new arrivals reached Malefico, it would be a smoking ruin; the few agents stationed around it were primed against a ground invasion. Four seconds. A suspicious miscalculation, it smacked of a trap. But she could not afford to leave the building standing. Three seconds. Her troops were informed and prepared. They would succeed. One second.

Contact.


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