The battle between Warzone and Dudeman raged across the sky, the two champions trading blows that could level buildings, breaking off only to slam into each other once again. Lightning flashed around them, and every impact was a peal of thunder that echoed across the city, drawing attention from onlookers on the ground and forcing the news helicopter to retreat half a mile in order to view the battle from a safe distance.
On the ground, Timebender raced over to where Handyman was pinned down. His grenades were failing to trigger, and a spoken spell from Scourge had sent him sprawling as his jetpack exploded on his back; he rolled to his feet in time to take a bullet in the shoulder, and collapsed again with a grunt. She pulled him out of the path of two more bullets before sprinting around Scourge to grab Lucky and pull him to the same safety. “You okay, Jhim?”
“Personal force field. Don't leave home without it.” Jhim forced a smile. “It's just about ready to overload, though, and his narrative field is still going strong. A few more shots and I'm out.”
“Not good.” Timebender raced out from the boulder again. Scourge, who had been about to charge forwards, nimbly leapt over her extended leg in the moment that she tried to trip him, cartwheeling back to land spryly on the rock. Timebender returned to Jhim. “Strategos, Stormfront, Zuki, and Blindsight are down. La Brea and Powerblock are trying to hold Malleus, and Bloodline and Mistral are engaging Clockwork. If you have a plan, now's the time for it.”
“I have nothing, except maybe hoping that Dudeman brought reinforcements.” Jhim poked his head out from cover and squeezed off several rounds of laser fire – in the split second that he was visible, a bullet slammed into his face, causing his force field to shudder into visibility as it tried valiently to compensate for the impact. “Scourge's magic means I can't overwhelm him the way I could against Lucky, and he's almost worn through my gear. Once that's gone, I'm out of the fight.”
“Damn it.” Timebender grumbled. “Alright, we're going for Plan Epsilon. It might work.” Racing out from her cover, she expertly dodged three bullets and tried to punch Scourge in the face – he ducked out of the way as she swung, before he could reasonably expect to know she was there. “What's in this for you, pal?” She slowed her mouth and ears as she spoke, so that he could hear her and vice versa – it made her throat buzz something fierce, but she was confused as hell. “The Oligarchs promise to send you home or something?”
“They assure me that is impossible.” Scourge pivoted, firing where he expected Timebender to be. One bullet grazed her as she reversed direction with impossible speed, landing a punch on his jaw – he took a step backwards from the impact, surprised that it didn't hurt more, before realising that even if she was moving faster, there wasn't any more force in her punches than usual. “But I don't need that world, not really. I just need to kill your Lucky Ladd, and take his place. This world can be everything my world was, and without nearly the same competition.” He gestured to the battlefield, firing point-blank at his foe – Timebender slipped aside again, but felt her body straining under the pressure of slowing time to that degree. “Look at how easily my allies defeat yours. Twelve against four, and we're still winning.”
Timebender glanced up at the sky, as another roll of thunder crashed over the park. “I don't know about winning.” She said dubiously. “And anyway, that's eleven. The S.E.A. has more than a hundred and fifty agents, and they will flatten your buddies over there.”
“That would be true… if this were everything we had here.” Scourge smiled again. “But I don't want to give away the endgame, not yet.” He popped his pistol's clip, going for another one, and Timebender moved in. Anticipating her action, he kicked out low, bringing a magical shield around his chest that she bounded off with a cry of pain. “Nice try, but…”
The laser blast scythed past his head, close enough to scorch hair. With a muffled curse, he yelled out a phrase that could not be pronounced by a normal human tongue, and darkness rippled across the park. In its wake, grass died as it gathered power to strike, slamming into Handyman's force field with terrible power. The field shorted out, sending him sprawling to the ground.
And in that instant, as his own protections faltered under the power needed for the counterattack, Timebender hit back hard. She landed four punches on the back of Scourge's head, and kicked his gun out of his hand and under a bush. Rolling away from her, Scourge returned his power to his shield. “Damn it!” He cursed loudly. “You'll pay for that, woman!”
“I doubt it.” Timebender smirked.
Across the park, Clockwork took a moment to watch the various battles unfolding with some concern. “There was only a 21% chance that Dudeman would think to come here himself…” He muttered under his breath, spinning to kick Mistral in the face as he sprinted towards Bloodline. “And not telling any of his agents, so that we couldn't judge a shift in their tactics… not bad. Where the devil is Dragonfly?” He triggered his comm, speaking sharply, as he delivering a punishing jab to Bloodline's throat, sending the hero collapsing to the ground, retching in agony. “Dragonfly! How long does it take to fire a damned missile into the side of a building?” There was no response, and he cursed again. “Emotion took over, I see. Not good.”
Lightly hopping away from Mistral as he swooped in, Clockwork switched his comm to general broadcast. “All units. Estimate 91% chance that Dragonfly is down. 31% chance that Nadia Tyler can make that suit work and come here.” His disgust was plain in his voice. “Jason. I want all zombies teleported into position, and Kaniessa deployed. The time for subtlety is over – crush everyone on the ground so that we can support Warzone, or Dudeman is going to beat him.”
The centre of the field lit up like a bluish-white bonfite, as the pilfered beacon from the Oligarch base, where the Witch Doctor had been silently observing the proceedings, flickered to life. Malleus Kaine began to retreat towards it, and Clockwork started to follow. Then he noticed something odd in the transmission pattern, and cursed under his breath. “Fall back! The beacon has been -”
“Captured?” The voice came from the beacon, as a flight of missiles fired from the figure that was teleporting in, slamming into Malleus Kaine's magical shields. Caught off-guard, Malleus spun like a top, sending arcane power slamming towards the newcomer. Green wings spread as a figure launched into the air out of the explosions. “Damn right it has.”
“All hands, this is the Mayfly!” Nadia's chipper voice echoed across the field. “Sorry I'm late. You would not believe the day I'm having.”