“Well, that's that.” Doctor Ecchs collapsed onto the edge of the sidewalk, wiping his brow. “Did anyone see where Cataclysm got to? I sort of lost track of him after I took out his kidney.”
“He'll heal.” Ada Byron lowered herself down next to Ecchs, laying a hand across his back, and leaned into him. Her clothing was surprisingly immaculate, in constrast to the dust, dirt, and dried blood that covered her face and hands. “I wouldn't be surprised to see him surface again in a year or two.”
Across the way, Nightshade was yelling up a lampost. “No, just climb down. It'll be fine.”
“Ah can't. Ah'm taid ta da lains.” Phil's tendrils were thoroughly tangled in the power lines leading off from the pole. His claws scrabbled vaguely at the air. “Iss naice and peathfall heah.”
“I don't care how peaceful it is.” Nightshade glared up at Phil, who shrugged spiky shoulders and clutched at the concrete pole with his claws. “Get down here.”
Nightshade sighed. “I can't take you anywhere.” She turned to Mundi's assistant, who was busy rounding up machina and having them gather the fragments of the bulk of the robotic beings, which had been shattered in the fights with the Antihero attackers. “Don't suppose you could fly up there and…”
“Busy!” The woman waved vaguely. Nightshade frowned, looking at her again. The mystery girl had been 'busy' since the fight ended. Finally, she shrugged, turning back to gaze up at Phil.
“You have two seconds to get down here. Two.” Reaching out, she grabbed the pole and pulled. There was a tearing sound, and wires snapped and flew in all directions. The girl yelped, diving to one side and narrowly avoiding being struck, as Phil's wailing form arced downwards on an impact course with the ground.
Dr. Ecchs looked up from where he was curled up with Ada. “You kids play nice, you hear?”
“We're good.” Nightshade gave a thumbs-up as she stalked over to Phil, grabbing the dazed monster and untangling him forcefully, ignoring the wires. The woman in armour yelled over.
“Hey, watch it. You could have fried me!” She raised a fist and shook it at Nightshade, who shrugged.
“Ehn, you're fine. That armour took hits from real Antiheroes. A few half-dead wires aren't going to hurt you.” She frowned again. “Look, do we know each other? You seem familiar from somewhere.”
“Nope. I've just got one of those faces. I look like all sorts of people.” The woman smiled vaguely, stepping into the circle of machina. “Catch you later, Doctor.”
“My regards to Mundi.” Ecchs smiled broadly, looking around, as the machina and the woman flickered out of existance with the pale blue energy flashes of a psi beacon transfer. He turned his attention to his henchmen. “And well done, everyone. I didn't expect us all to still be alive after that.”
“I didn't expect any of us to be alive. Rex Mundi really came through.” Nightshade grinned, hauling Phil to his lower tendrils, and turned to Ecchs. “How do you know him, anyway?”
“We were in college together.”
“No, not really!” Ecchs threw up his hands. “I mean, maybe. He's probably the right age, give or take twenty years. How would I even know who he is? He just contacted me, around the time he recruited Hazard.”
“Uh… right. Sorry.” Nightshade shrugged unconvincingly, then blinked. “Wait. Hazard? Lucky's crazy clone?”
“Yeah, that's the one. He wanted some info on him, since I sort of made him.” Ecchs shrugged again. “Anyway, take the rest of the day off. I'll see you two Monday morning.” He and Ada stood together, and he grinned. “We're going to go celebrate being alive, I think.”
“Righto.” Nightshade saluted. “See you guys in a few days.” She turned to Phil. “Come on, let's go get some drinks. See if there are any bars opening around the edges of town yet.”
Ecchs and Ada watched them go, and Ecchs grinned again. “Man, they're good kids.” He raised his free hand. “Come on, let's get going.”