Tear The World Apart, Part 12: Change Of Plans

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(June 21st, 2008)

Sounds of explosions and energy fire began to rise from across the city as SEA agents came into contact with the attacking Antiheroes. Timebender stood in the front yard of her house, scanning the sky, and then nodded. “Alright, I think I see him coming, which means he’s definitely seen us. Now, we run. If we can outpace him for an hour or so, it’ll buy our teams the time they need.”

Beside her, Lucky started to nod – back in his old uniform, he was sporting a new bandana whose ends were flicking in the breeze behind him. Amber didn’t know where he found the things. However, he paused when Eric Smith shook his head abruptly.

“Sorry, kid. That’s not actually the plan. We need to run a little bit more slowly than he can chase.” Eric was wearing a loaned suit of SEA combat armour, but otherwise looked about normal – although Amber couldn’t help but think that he had carefully trimmed his beard to be less unruly than usual, while retaining its bear-like body. “He needs to catch us just fast enough that he thinks we were making a run for it.”

Amber blinked at him. Then, grabbing his hand with her left and Lucky’s with her right, she burst into movement, running full-tilt down the street. Time warped around the three, and Eric twisted his head to avoid a leaf that was suddenly hanging in the air, gradually angling downwards. As they ran, Timebender looked over at him. “Dad, that is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. And I have fought against Dr Ecchs for the last eight years, so I have a lot of things to compare it to. In what possible way is letting him catch us a good idea?”

“I need to confront him.”

“You don’t have any powers.” Lucky piped up helpfully from Timebender’s right, and Eric rolled his eyes.

“Not like that. I need to talk to him, and he’ll want to talk to me. But I don’t want him to think I’m waiting for him, so we run.” He smiled faintly. “Dudeman understands the plan.”

“Really? Because I don’t remember suicide being part of the plan.”

“Kid, I mean it.” Eric glanced over his shoulder. A faint golden speck in the distance was gaining, but at its present rate they would have plenty of time to find shelter and start the game of hide-and-seek that Timebender clearly still intended. “I know I haven’t always leveled with you, and I understand that you don’t know everything that’s going on. But you have to trust me to do this.”

“Dad, we’re superheroes. We’re supposed to protect people.”

“And I’m your father, and I’m supposed to protect you. Now, I have to do my job. Find some cover nearby, if you have to, but please don’t get involved yet. Trust me, you’ll know when it’s time.” Abruptly, Eric pulled his hand free of Timebender’s. She skidded to a halt, watching the slow-motion turn that was his pivot. For a frozen moment, she and Lucky stood there, watching.

It was Lucky who broke the silence. “Let’s get behind that dumpster. We’ll be close enough to intervene, but we can let him do his thing.”

”I…” Amber looked helplessly from her father to Lucky. “What if he’s wrong? What if Judgment just kills him, without pausing?”

“Then we’re pretty much screwed.” Lucky shrugged. “But your dad knows Judgment better than just about anyone. If he thinks he can talk him down…”

“Magister thought he could talk him down, and look where that got him.” But Amber let Lucky lead her to the dumpster, her powers flickering out. Behind her, time sped up, and as they settled in behind their cover it was back to normal speed. It wouldn’t help if Judgment actually started looking for them – but with any luck, he wouldn’t.

Across the street, inside a building that was supposed to be evacuated, another person was watching the impending conflict. A red glove shifted a blind a fraction of an inch, and blue eyes peered out at the street. A voice whispered. “This is a phenomenally dumb plan and we are all going to die.” A heartbeat’s pause. “Is that the real plan?”

“No.” Sitting further back in a simple wooden chair that he had commandeered, Psiborg did not bother looking over to where Hazard was watching the street, instead focusing on keeping his psychic shield reinforced enough to avoid Judgment’s attention. “Just pay attention, and let your narrative field handle the rest. Your presence, along with your alternate’s, should be all that we need for this plan to be a success.”

And on the street, Eric Smith watched as the golden blur took on shape and form, resolving into the rapidly approaching form of Judgment himself. One hand slipped into his coat pocket, clutching a small metal orb that glowed with faint green light, and he sighed to himself. One way or another, this was going to be the end. The final confrontation of the Justicars, and the end of their era.

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