“Damn it.” Ducking low, Scourge slipped into an alleyway, running for the dumpster where he had very carefully concealed a change of clothing before setting off for the Oligarchs' supposed sure bet attack. He shook his head with frustration. Everything had been going perfectly, and then… shaking his head, he reached into the dumpster, coming out with a small, green, very well-wrapped plastic bag. A disguise was one thing, but smelling like garbage wasn't something he was willing to do even to escape the law.
“Good try, Scourge.” He glanced up abruptly, one hand dropping to his waist before he remembered that his gun had been lost in the chaos at the park. At one end of the alleyway, an ebon flight suit had touched down silently, wings furling as a young woman stepped forwards. Scourge considered her carefully – if not for the feminine features and the ponytail, it could have been like looking into a mirror. “But you never had a chance. The Oligarchs misplanned from Day 1. This was pretty much inevitable.”
Scourge sighed heavily, considering the woman. “And you would be?”
“Call me Lucy.” She shrugged, with a smile. “I'm here representing Rex Mundi.”
“I see.” Tearing open the package, Scourge pulled out a windbreaker. Through it, he let a familiar weight fall into his hands, and smiled inwardly to see that his extra revolver was right where he had left it. “And I suppose you are here to make me an offer as well.”
“Hm?” Lucy raised an eyebrow. “Oh, you mean like working for Rex Mundi, working to rule the world, that sort of thing?” She made a show of considering, then shrugged. “I don't know. You're a bit of a loose cannon. I mean, you'd have to be pretty desperate to want to consider… sorry, I'm insulting your former employers.”
Scourge didn't smile. “That's fine by me. This little incident has doubled my determination not to be a part of someone else's plans.”
“Ah. Well.” Lucy nodded thoughtfully. “That could actually be a problem.”
Scourge dropped the windbreaker, bringing the revolver up smoothly, runes along its length flaring to give him the edge that he expected he would need. Instantly, a searing pain spread through his chest, and he felt his hand shudder convulsively. The revolver fell to the ground with a clatter, and he followed it, vision dimming. As he collapsed, he heard Lucy say, “Ooh, harsh. Better luck next time… oh, right. Never mind.”
“Really.” Stepping into the alleyway, Bloodline shook his head slowly. “You shouldn't make light of the dead.”
“It's my thing.” Lucy shrugged, stepping forwards to prod at Scourge cautiously with one booted foot. “Anyway, he was a total creep. I mean, way past anything in your sordid past.”
“Right.” Bloodline turned away. “You tell Mundi that it's done. He tries to blackmail me again, I'll assume he's going to keep it up forever. Jail would be better than doing this again.”
“Sure thing, skipper.” Lucy saluted cheerfully. “But hey, look on the bright side. You just had to kill someone that no one will miss, and who deserved to die. Practically a public service.” There was a brief pause. “And don't tell anyone about me, of course. Otherwise, well… all bets are off.”
“Don't threaten me.” Bloodline said softly. One hand came up, and Lucy took a half-step backwards as a minor wave of dizziness swept over her.
“Not a threat, man!” She said a little bit too quickly. “Just a reminder. Mundi doesn't do threats.”
“Oh, he does a lot of things besides extortion.” With a small laugh, and another half-step away, Lucy let her wings fold outwards, energy flickering to life along their length as they gained power. “You should think about your position, Bloodline. There'd be a place in the organization for a guy like you.”
“No.” Bloodline's reply was final, and Lucy shrugged.
“Alright, then. Thank you for dealing with a public menance. Probably won't be seeing you.” With a wave, she took another step back, and blue light swirled around her as a psibeacon teleported her away. Bloodline waited a few more moments, then triggered his comm.
“This is Bloodline. I'm in the alley behind 17th Street – I've spotted Scourge. Of course, observation only…. he's spotted me.” He let the comm drop dead, staggered two steps backwards, and let himself collapse.
Back in the park, Dudeman took the comm, and then turned to the others with a look that mixed sourness with relief. “Scourge is dead. Bloodline took it on himself to join the search party, ran into him, and defended himself a bit too strongly when the villain drew his gun. Team's telling me it's probably just as well – the thing was a real killer.”
“Damn.” Lucky, sitting up with only minor injuries, shook his head and winced. “Poor Bloodline. It sucks to kill someone, even in self-defense.”
“Yeah.” For a moment, Dudeman looked distracted, then he returned his attention to the group. “Malleus has been captured, and so have Warzone and Kaniessa. Clockwork's vanished, and our team at the Oligarch base had to choose between catching the Witch Doctor and keeping the psibeacon intact, but they did round up nearly all of Warzone's minions. So there are two Oligarchs still on the loose, but they're not the fighters, so I think we can call this one a win.” He turned his attention to the others. “Sorry that I couldn't tell you about my being here. We were keeping it as quiet as possible, and there's a good chance that if you'd even suspected, Clockwork would have realized as much from your responses and scuttled the plan. We needed to cut this thing off while we still could, and that meant plugging every leak I could. Didn't think they'd get Scourge, though.” He shook his head. “I can't imagine what made them work with that psychopath. Maybe we'll get more information out of the others.” Abruptly remembering that he wasn't actually talking to SEA members, he became businesslike. “Alright, get your butts to the ambulence. All of you. Especially you, Ladd, you've probably got another concussion. And as for you…” He turned towards Mayfly with a glower.
“Yes, sir?” Mayfly said hesitantly.
“That was a dangerous, reckless thing you did back there, triggering a power suit you knew almost nothing about.” Dudeman sighed. “But you did the right thing in calling the SEA in to the base, instead of charging after the Witch Doctor directly, and we might not have gotten ahold of the Sayleen beacon without you – he was ready to port the Oligarchs across to Sayleen and close the connection. So on balance, I'm forced to conclude that you did good.”
Mayfly stared at Dudeman, then grinned widely and saluted proudly. “Thank you, sir!”
Dudeman saluted her back, then shook his head. “I might have known, really. Only Ladd could pick a competant hero-to-be entirely at random from a criminal lineup.”
“I'll take that as a compliment.” Lucky said as he stood up.
“Take it as whatever you want. I've got work to do.” Dudeman hopped onto his board, which had slid up through the air behind him. “Now get to the ambulences before I knock you all there myself.”
“Yes, sir!” The Champions saluted gratefully, then moved off for the medical area. Dudeman watched them go, shaking his head.
“Kids these days.” He muttered.