(August 8th, 2008)
“Alright, so here's the plan. Lucky, you're pairing with Mayfly on this one. You guys take the straightaway and draw Crestlock's fire. Handyman, get behind the car, and I'll loop around behind and get the drop on him. Nothing to it.”
“Are you people done? Get out from behind that dumpster and fight me!” As if to punctuate the demand, the large metal bin that the four heroes were crouched behind shuddered under the force of a tremendous blast of force, and they all glanced over annoyedly. Timebender quickly scuffed out the dirt-drawn map, as Lucky yelled back over the bin.
“Keep your shirt on, Crestlock! We're just taking a quick break.” Stretching, he gestured faintly to Mayfly, who leapt into the air as he strolled around. “I mean, it's not like you have anywhere better to be.”
“Insolence!” The booming voice roared out, and the windows shook all down the street as Crestlock turned a new shade of purple, almost matching the ornate metallic armour that he wore from neck to toe. His black bandana strained as his jaw clenched, looking as though it might snap at any moment. “I am the great Crestlock! I have stolen the powers of a dozen gods, and I will turn them against you!” He raised his fists, which crackled with blue lightning, as Timebender dashed out from cover. “You think to mock me? I will show you the fury of the Sealed Gods!”
There was a sharp crack, followed by a meaty thunk. Lucky, ready to spring to one side, paused in confusion and followed the sound to see a baseball fall to the ground, bounce twice, and then roll into a gutter. His attention turned to Crestlock, as Mayfly paused in her swoop to stare in confusion and Handyman raised his head above the dumpster cautiously.
“Who did that?” Swaying slightly, Crestlock raised a threatening finger, still crackling with lightning. “You think you're funny? Try that again, and we'll just see -”
There was a second crack. Crestlock's finger spun and lightning lanced into the air, as he shouted in triumph. “Ah-haaaa….” His shout cut off abruptly with a second thunk as another baseball, air rippling around it, plunged from the sky and connected squarely with his nose. His eyes unfocused, he took three steps backwards, weaving back and forth like a drunk man. “Ah-kay, yer fast. I gotcha there. But… still standing…” Blue light began to take shape around him, as magical energies bled from his fingertips into the form of a dome of protective energy.
A moment later, there was a third cracking noise and the dome shattered spectacularly, sending energy fragments sailing in all directions. This time, when Crestlock swayed backwards, he did not recover. He collapsed heavily to the street, eyes closed, still mumbling faintly about the wrath of fallen nations. Lucky shared a confused look with Timebender, who shrugged and raised her hands helplessly.
“Three strikes, and you are out.” The smug voice came from a nearby rooftop, and Dr Ecchs stepped into view. “God, I always hated that guy. Took a few courses with him in college, you know.” He waved brightly. “Hey, champions, how have you been?”
“Um… fine…” Timebender frowned. “I think you just totally interrupted a schedule match.”
“Nah, I filed a notice of Competitive Villainy earlier this morning.” Ecchs smiled innocently. “Don't know if Crestlock checks his email, but hey – his loss.”
“That's a good throwing arm you've got, Doc.” Mayfly had landed next to Crestlock, and was checking his breathing carefully. “He's really out of it.”
“Oh, I can't take all the credit – can I, my love?”
“You'd better not” With a smile to match her lover's, Dr Byron stepped to the edge of the roof, turning her attention to the Champions. “We've decided that we're tired of these people taking the spotlight. It's our turn to run you through your paces.”
“Oh, good. Just what we always wanted.” Timebender sighed heavily. “Alright, what mechanical monstrosity have you uncorked today?”
“Not precisely mechanical, my dear nemesis.” Ecchs snapped his fingers. “Nightshade, Phil, bring him out!”
“Yeah, sure, whatever.” Yawning dramatically, Nightshade and Phil rounded the corner, strolling easily along as they sized up their opponents. Between them, dressed in a nondescript black-and-grey Malefico team jersey, was a massive zombie. His baseball cap was tucked down over his eyes, and he was swinging a six-foot baseball bat back and forth with enough force to catch the air and give off a faint whistling sound. His arms was made of complex dark robotics, as was his left eye, and he smiled evilly as he saw the four heroes opposing him.
“Hello, heroes. There's going to be no joy for you – Cold Casey's at the bat.” His left arm came up, and a hole deployed in his hand, launching a spinning baseball into the air. A moment later, his bat swung with enough force to drop an elephant, and with the same crack as before, it blasted towards the heroes. Timebender dove aside as it spun past, impacting with a mailbox and knocking it over. “Any questions?”
The others looked at each other, and then Timebender directed her attention to the top of the building. “Cold Casey? Casey wasn't even a real person.”
“So?” Ada smiled. “It's not like I actually used Mozart's corpse last time I unleashed a celebrity zombie against you.”
“Fair enough.” Timebender looked around at her friends, and then across at the three villains now approaching – Nightshade cracking her knuckles, Phil twisting his claws, and Casey swinging his bat. Despite herself, she felt a smile finding its way to her lips.
“Let's do this.”