The Replacements, Part Six: Mistral

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“Joe, you knuckle-dragging simpering waste of muscle, I am going to tear your arm off and beat you with it! What kind of a blinking stupid idea was it for you to join Mistral's team on the sly? You actually thought that no one would notice you running around in green tights tossing Skulldozer through buildings? No, of course you didn't, because I misspoke! You don't think! You've just got one atrophied nerve hiding in their directing motor functions on automatic, while you…”

As Strategos unleashed her rage against Powerblock, who was currently dressed in a Robin Hood-style costume and low hood, Lucky sidled out of the car and strolled over to where the other Crew were watching in bemusement. “Afternoon, Mistral. Good to see you. You going to step in?”

“What's the point?” Mistral shrugged easily. The battle done, his feathery white wings had folded and coiled around him like a cloak, and he was in the process of taking off his helmet to wipe sweat off his brow. “Besides, Joe told me that he wasn't sticking with the Victors, so I'm a little peeved with him too.”

“So you and Karen do still have things in common.”

Mistral shrugged. “Sure. We both still need air to live.” He glanced over at Strategos.

“… can't just grab a second alias out of the scum-lined barrel that you call a brain and think that no one's going to realize they're both you, especially when identities are a matter of public record, but nooo, Joe hates conflict, Joe can't make decisions to save his life even if it means [i]humiliating[/i] his friends by pulling some asinine stunt…”

“At least, we might.” With a wry smile, he walked over and shook Lucky's hand. “It's good to see you, Lucky, but this really isn't any of your business. Karen's a good strategist, but a lousy leader, and she needs to learn that if she wants to succeed in this business. Have you met my other teammates?” As he asked, the two walked over, apparantly no longer interested in the spectacle of Stragetos chewing Powerblock out. Blindsight was dressed in a traditional grey-and-black jumpsuit, wearing a black blindfold that turned into a bandana in the back, and failed to tame his ragged brown hair. He smiled thinly, waving in Lucky's rough direction. He was slender enough that La Brea almost seemed buff by comparison, despite her own slim build; her elaborate brown-and-black uniform, with its camoflage patterns and metal bracers, was almost ornate when matched with jet-black hair and deep grey eyes.

Lucky nodded to the two, and then grinned suddenly. “I know Blindsight by reputation. And La Brea – how are you?”

“Hey, Lucky. Didn't know you were a part of this… interesting… situation.” La Brea grinned, glancing over to Mistral. “I went up against Lucky back in the days when he still thought villainy was a valid career path. Even then, it was pretty obvious it wasn't going to take – he was way too soft on a pretty face.”

Lucky grimaced. “Don't remind me.”

“Master Ladd.” Blindsight bowed respectfully. “I am sorry to not be able to follow up on my initial application for your own team, but Mistral's offer intrigued me.”

“Not a problem.” Lucky grinned, but his smile faded as he turned to Mistral. “Seriously though, man, there is no way that this can end well. Can't you and Strategos find a way to work things out?”

“Not likely.” Mistral crossed his arms. “I'm tired of listening to her boss us around, as if she's some goddess just stepped off the heavenly field, and I'm not taking her orders anymore. I think we proved today that we do just fine without her – and the sooner Joe realizes that, the sooner he'll give up on this two teams nonsense.” He shook his head. “I can't imagine who suggested it to him, though – he's way too direct to think it up himself.”

“Um.” Lucky smiled sickly. “Yeah, it's pretty crazy.”

Mistral didn't notice his expression, continuing on blithely. “Stop by our place, later. We'll give you the grand tour.” Raising his voice, he called out, “Hey, Joe, we're heading out for debriefing. Let Strategos bluster at you some other time.”

“Bluster?! I'll show you bluster, you lice-ridden piece of…!” Karen broke off as Mistral took wing. “Mistral, you get the hell back down here!” She glanced back to see Joe legging it down the street. “Damn it!”

Lucky shrugged, walking over and patting her on the shoulder. “Maybe next time, Strategos. But to be honest, I think you started to repeat yourself somewhere around when you told Joe that he had the brainpower of a common leek.”

“Did I? I must be getting tired.” Sighing heavily, Karen started back to the car. “Come on, I've still got to get you to your hotel.”

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