The Replacements, Part Four: Powerblock

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(December 1st)


“Parker residence.”

“Hey, Joe, it’s Lucky.” Lucky leaned back in his seat, balancing his cellphone on his shoulder.

“Lucky! Glad to hear from you!” Powerblock was as exuberant as ever, and Lucky moved the phone a half-inch away from his ear. “What’s up, my man?”

”Well, I got your application.” Lucky’s voice came out dubious, and he pressed ahead. “I’m a little worried about it, to be honest. What’s going on with the Victors?”

“Victors are toast, Lucky. There were… problems.” Powerblock’s answer was laconic, and Lucky blinked in surprise.

“Really? Things were going pretty well when I left. I mean, sure, you guys were still learning a few things, but you were handling it well. And last I heard, you’d gotten a stable villain and everything.”

“Yeah… uh… that was what, a month and a half ago?” Powerblock chuckled nervously. “A lot can happen in six weeks. You seriously didn’t hear?”

“I hate to say it, but the last few weeks have been total hell on us. Between Mayfly getting cracked, Handyman leaving, and all of this job stuff, I haven’t been paying attention to anything that wasn’t blaring on every channel.”

“Yeah, we probably don’t rate that.” Powerblock sighed. “Long story short, Malleus Kaine moved into town, and kicked our asses six ways to Sunday. Karen and Shion got into a bit of a tiff over one of our encounters, and the net result was that Shion got miffed and hung up her Candycane uniform for good.”

Lucky sat up abruptly. “What, seriously?”

“Yep. She’s going into medicine. Using her powers that way. No more superheroism for her, ever again.” There was another heavy sigh from the other end. “Then Mistral gets all pissy because he blames Karen, and starts threatening to form a rival team without her. She says bring it on. Now they both want me on their team, and they’re both acting like if I don’t join up, I’m not really their friend.” His voice turned hopeful. “But I figure, if I get into the Patchwork Champions, they’ll understand, right?”

“Joe…” Lucky bit his tongue on the reply that sprang to mind, and moderated his words. “They will not. They’ll just both blame you for bailing on them when they needed you.”

The line was silent for a long time. Finally, Joe spoke. “You think so?”

“Very, very much, yes.” Lucky sighed. “Listen, you really want to sort this out? Mistral and Strategos are friends, and they’ll get over this if they don’t burn their bridges too badly first. So what you’ve got to do is show them they’re being more than a little nuts about this.”

“Could you do it?”

“If I weren’t in the middle of insanity central over here, I could try. But you’ve been with them longer. Just… try to talk to them? I know you hate heart-to-hearts, but this seems like sort of a big deal.”

“Yeah… I guess you’re right.” Joe’s heavy sigh echoed across the line. “What if that doesn’t work?”

“Shame them. Join both teams.” Lucky shrugged.

“Lucky, that is… awesome! If I join both of the teams, and just don’t tell each of them I’m also working with the other one, then I’m supporting them both, and then I can wait for them to solve everything on their own!”

“Uh… I didn’t mean…” Lucky’s attempts to diplomatically back away from his suggestion were washed aside by Joe’s enthusiasm.

“You’re the greatest, man! And you’re totally right, I gotta do this. Sorry – I guess I can’t join the Champions after all.”

“I understand, but…”

“Man, I gotta go tell them I’m joining up. This is going to work, Lucky, I can feel it. Thanks a million, Lucky! Talk to you later!”

“Joe…” The line went dead. Lucky stared at the phone with trepidation.

“So, how’s Milwaukee?” Amber strolled in from the other room.

“It’s an impending trainwreck, I think. If things go as badly as I’m starting to think they will, it might even make the headlines.” Lucky was still staring at the phone. “I just can’t decide whether to jump in front of the train to try and slow it down.”

“Sounds like fun. So Powerblock’s off the list?”

“Ohh, yes.”

Amber nodded. “Then you’ll just love this. I spoke with Bloodline, and apparently he thought we were hiring Weltgeist, too. So he went with another offer.”

“Great. That’s lovely.” Lucky lay back on the couch. “Where?”

“Milwaukee.”

Lucky sat up again. “Sorry, did you just say…?” Amber nodded. Lucky chewed his lip worriedly. “Oh, good. I didn’t have enough to worry about.”

“Going to go down to check things out?”

“Maybe for a day or two.” Lucky looked at the phone, and then amended. “Or three.”


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