Tear The World Apart, Part 10 - In Control

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(June 16th, 2008)

“Is this why you gave everyone the day off?” Nightshade turned a disbelieving eye towards Dr. Ecchs as she looked over the screens. The two of them, along with Phil and Dr. Byron, were currently standing in the Malefico building’s backup control room. Banks of control panels covered every wall, except for the one on which several screens showed the approach of twenty Antihero agents, five coming down towards the roof, five charging forwards along the street, and ten jetpacking their way towards the middle floors of the building. She didn’t recognize any of them immediately, but they weren’t wearing particular uniforms, and she’d never bothered studying individual Antiheroes. “I thought you were just finding a way to shut up the union.”

“Plots within plots, Nightshade. Everything should accomplish dual purposes. If I can pacify those griping employees and avoid costly medical insurance bills, you’d better believe that I will.” Dr Ecchs watched the advance serenely, and then suddenly grinned widely. “Hey, look! That’s Cataclysm! They think I rate Cataclysm!”

“Lovely.” Nightshade glowered at the offending figure – a tall, perfectly bald oriental man wearing a set of shimmering gray bracers and bandoliers across his black jumpsuit that vibrated and trembled as he stepped. All of the Antiheroes were advancing cautiously behind or above him, ready for anything. They were six hundred yards from the building now, and closing in.

”It is! Someone on the Antihero side is actually taking me seriously!” Ecchs was beaming widely as he looked towards his minions. “This really means a lot to me, Nightshade. I rate twenty Antiheroes, plus one of their leading lights. Cataclysm is, like, fourth-ranked in the Antiheroes since Lockdown bit it. And he’s stronger than anyone on their side but Judgment himself.”

“Great. So we get to die that much faster. Is there a reason you didn’t send us home?”

“Oh, please. Have a little faith.” As he spoke, Ecchs brought a finger down on a large red button. “This is the safest place in the city to be if you’re an actual supervillain. Watch and learn – Phase I begins now.”

Outside the building, space suddenly warped and twisted. Antiheroes took steps forwards only to find themselves facing the opposite direction. Above, two vigilantes nearly collided as their packs, both traveling forwards, were abruptly on a direct collision course. The entire area around Malefico looked like a funhouse mirror of rippled glass and reflections. Cataclysm, growling in frustration, raised one arm, and a massive pulse of sonic energy rippled through the air – only to pass through a reflection, nearly catch one of the rooftop attackers, narrowly miss Catacylsm himself, and impact harmlessly against the ground.

Inside the control room, everything was quiet except for the humming and beeping of the machinery. Finally, Phil spoke. “Woaa.”

Nightshade blinked at the screen for a few moments, then turned to Ecchs. “Okay, I’ll bite. How did you…”

“Refracted space and altered reality. Is this what you pulled apart all those reality engines to build?” Byron was stepping forwards, her glasses glinting in the light as she studied the diagnostics. “A massive interdimensional maze. You’ve outdone yourself, Spencer. But I can’t help but notice that the resource drain on this seems rather high.”

“Yeah, Phase I goes through Chronarium like water.” Ecchs shrugged easily. “But that’s okay, I’m not planning on using it after today. Stuff’s dangerous.”

“Not dangerous enough.” Nightshade grumbled the statement, looking at the screen. “They’re all still there.”

“Yeah, I figured. This is delaying tactics while Phases II and III deploy.” Ecchs grinned again. “I have a five-point plan and everything. We can’t take twenty supers, but we can slow them down until we get some backup, and flatten some of them along the way.”

“Yeh theem happah.” Phil made the observation laconically, from his place in the corner of the room.

“Of course I am. With the Champions, I always have to hold back. Play by the rules. Don’t push the envelope too far.” Ecchs leaned in with a wide smile. “This time, I get to go all-out. We may not survive this, but damned if they won’t know they were in a fight.”

Nightshade watched him sourly for a moment, then turned to look at the screen again. “Now he gives a damn.” She shook her head, then shrugged. “Well, at least it’ll be a hell of a ride.”

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