The Replacements, Part Three: Cycloblaze

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(November 28th)

“So, I gave Powerblock a call. He wasn't answering, so I tried the official team number. Hopefully we'll find out what's up with those guys.” Lucky sighed, sitting back into the dining room chair.

“Is Powerblock a good choice? I mean, assuming no dark secrets.” Timebender was tapping one of the folders absently as she spoke.

“We-ell…” Lucky trailed off uncomfortably. “He has the talent, and he has the test results. He was a little rough around the edges when I was working with him, though. Not exactly a champion planner. Or listener. Or tactician. Or really anything remotely connected to those things.” He shrugged. “He's a cool guy, but I don't know if I'd put him at the top of our list.”

“Fair enough. I can't seem to find any actual information on MacGuffin, aside from that he exists. Does he have any background information other than these powers?” Amber glanced over to Nadia.

“Not really. All of his references were really good, and again, great test scores. But I couldn't find any real information on the guy.” Nadia smiled. “On the other hand, no bad publicity either.”

“Well, if we can ever find the guy, it'll be worth a shot.” Amber sighed heavily. “In the meantime, I'm thinking we should give Bloodline a call and see whether he's willing to go for the trial period. If that doesn't work out, we'll try Blindsight, and then Stormfront.”

“Sounds like a plan to me.” Lucky grinned. “Leaving Powerblock for last?”

“No offense to him, but I wasn't that impressed by the success record coming out of Milwaukee – even when you were there.”

Lucky winced. “Ouch. But fair enough.”

“Great. I'll give Bloodline a call, and see if he can…” Nadia broke off, glancing to the window. “Isn't it a little bright outside for nighttime?”

“Oh, son of a…” Muttering under her breath, Amber walked over to the window. Opening the blinds, she found herself face-to-face with a crimson mask, only the mouth of the man wearing it showing, a man covered in a deep blue bodysuit that was rippling with flames. She blinked in surprise, glanced down at the street below to assure herself that the man outside her window was flying, and not simply standing on something, and then frowned in confusion. “You're not Dr Ecchs.”

“No, I am not! I am an altogether higher class of villain from a maker of paltry scientific tricks!” The stranger puffed out his chest with pride, flame spewing upwards from his fingers. “Cower, Champions, for you face the mighty Cycloblaze!”

There was a long pause. The man hesitated. “You aren't cowering.”

“I remember that voice.” Amber frowned thoughtfully, as sparks rained down on the street below. Then, snapping her fingers, she smiled. “Firenado. You were by a few months ago.”

“Uh…” Cycloblaze glanced back and forth between the three in the building. “I was. Yes.”

“Why'd you trade in your old suit? And name?”

“Upon reflection, I decided that you were correct that my moniker did not accurately reflect my immense talent and prestige. As such, I chose a revised alias.”

“And you went with Cycloblaze?” Lucky raised his eyebrows. Cycloblaze frowned.

“What is it with you people and making fun of perfectly acceptable portemanteaus?”

“You consider that an acceptable – you know what, I don't even care.” Amber shook her head. “What are you doing outside our window? And stop throwing sparks around, you'll light a tree on fire or something.”

“Indeed I may, for it is only in such a defense that I can assure myself of protection from your arboreal assasin.” Cycloblaze smiled triumphantly. “I have come to do battle with the Patchwork Champions, as I promised those months ago! When I heard through the grapevine that you had recruited Weltgeist, I knew that I absolutely had to be the first villain to face your newly-reassembled team! And so I am calling you out, Champions! Face your….”

“Weltgeist's gone.”

“You…yu…y…” Cycloblaze stuttered to a halt. “What do you mean, gone?”

Amber shrugged. “She wasn't a citizen, so she couldn't join the team. Sorry.” She frowned. “How do you even know about that?”

“I know a guy who knows a guy whose cousin works in the mayor's office.” Cycloblaze's fires winked out, and he ground his teeth. “Gone. That's just… that's lovely. So you're still understaffed?”

“Fraid so. You want to fight us anyway?” Lucky shrugged. “We could be outside in two minutes.”

“No, it just wouldn't be the same. I'll wait until you're at full strength.” Sighing under his breath, Cycloblaze turned and started to fly away. A moment later, he turned back. “It's not that bad a name, is it?”

“Uh… it's better than Firenado.”

“Right. Lovely. Thank you.” Muttering under his breath, Cycloblaze accelerated into the distance. The others watched him go, and then Amber shrugged and closed the window.

“This job just gets weirder every year.”

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