Aftermath, Part One: Taking Stock

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The streets were deserted, the usual midnight revellers fled. Occasionally, shadows flickered without sources, but they vanished in moments as the night wore on. The emergency crews had come and gone, with no apparant victims left to rescue, little debris to sort through. Where the headquarters of the Superhuman Enforcement Agency had once stood, there was nothing left but a perfectly spherical crater mostly buried under the ground. Fortunately for the people of Washington, foresight and experience had combined to give the headquarters a full four blocks of terrain, with the sprawling complex that had until a few hours before housed the world's premiere superhuman police in its center; as a result, nothing was destroyed by the brilliant flash of blue light and crashing sound except for SEA territory, and no one had been injured aside from those at the epicenter. There was nothing that the response teams could do but shake their head, spend an hour vaguely sorting through the fragments of rubble that had been the top levels of the building, and conclude that there were no bodies left to find.

Standing a block away, Katy Lee, the superhero commonly known as the Danger Ace, pulled her long coat tighter around herself, feeling a chill that had nothing to do with the weather. She considered moving closer, noticed a shadow flicker where it shouldn't, and nodded to herself. She glanced at her watch, and then took a few steps back into the alley.

“Director.” The voice was soft, and Katy spun and shifted into a combat stance for a moment before straightening with a smile. Three people pulled themselves out of the shadows, looking battered but not beaten.

“Eclipse.” She said with relief, looking at the man who had spoken. He was wearing his black jumpsuit, but the gold highlights were stained with ash and his hair was much more ragged than usual. Looking past him, she nodded to the others. “Augur. And… Styx?” She hazarded.

“charon.” The big man mumbled sadly, his voice rumbling in the alley. “stixdidn'tmakeit.”

“I'm sorry.” Katy stepped over, and reached up to pat him on the shoulder. She turned her attention back to Eclipse. “What happened?”

“Mundi took over our teleporter. We didn't stand a chance.” He shook his head slowly. “Dudeman ordered a scatter, but the beacons leave psychic residue. We got ported back into the deployment chamber right before the psicrystal blew. I grabbed Charon and ghosted. I tried for Styx, but there wasn't enough time…”

Augur quickly took up the thread, speaking in a quick, clipped voice. “Freezeframe tapped me on the shoulder, froze me out of time. I woke up in midair about ten minutes ago. Almost got fried by those damned ninja bushes, but I saw them coming and found my way to Eclipse, who was looking for survivors.”

“Good.” Danger Ace nodded firmly. “Any other survivors? Dudeman?”

There was an uncomfortable pause. “No.” Eclipse finally said. “He was right next to the machine after the port. He's gone.”

Danger Ace hesitated. “He… are you sure?”

“Yes.” Augur stepped in.

“God.” Taking a half-step back, Danger Ace put one hand to her forehead. “He wasn't going to… he… okay.” Swallowing once, she forced her emotions down. “Seth?”

Eclipse shook his head. “I saw Intrepid trying to port him and a few others. They were caught in the backblast of the explosion – didn't make it.”

“Right. That means… oh god, I'm in charge.” Danger Ace looked back at the building. “Were there any other survivors?”

“I saw Jack Silver grab Oleander and step into the reflection of a machine. Psychic blasts don't reflect, so they should be okay.” Augur offered. “Aside from them, though… I don't think anyone else made it out.”

“And they'll have to find another reflection to get back.” Danger Ace supplied. “Alright. It's a start. We're pulling out before the trees get here. Chances are, Ecchs doesn't know this is our rendevous point, or he'd be here already, but it's only a matter of time before he finds out.” She shook her head. “Half the agency is still on Sayleen. If we can get in touch with Highbrow, tell him what happened, he might be able to start getting people home. Until then…” She looked around at the others. “Six agents, against everything that Rex Mundi has. Could be worse.”

“Eight agents.” Eclipse and Augur were already starting to react as Blastwave spoke. She dropped down into the alley in front of the group with a sad smile. “And we've got a few more allies.”

“You and Moonbeam made it?” Eclipse started to smile, but stopped when Blastwave shook her head brusquely.

“Not Moonbeam. Hazard.” She clarified.

“Hazard?!” Augur almost exploded. “He's not an agent, he's one of Mundi's bastard…” She broke off when Danger Ace held up her hand.

“He's on our side.” She said. When everyone turned to look at her, she smiled. “Nate had him working undercover. That's how he knew Mundi was moving.”

“Oh.” Augur said slowly. “Didn't work out very well.” She muttered.

“You're still here.” Blastwave pointed out. “If Dudeman hadn't been on the ball, none of you would have made it.”

“Enough.” Danger Ace said curtly. “Listen. We're all on edge, and with good reason. But we are not going to bicker with each other, got it?” Everyone nodded, and she turned her attention to Blastwave. “Your allies. Are they nearby?”

“Yep. Hazard hijacked Mundi's teleporter, got us to the outskirts. He didn't know that HQ was gone.” Blastwave shrugged. “They're laying low a few blocks from here.”

“Good.” Danger Ace nodded. “Let's go, then. We've lost this one, but we're not out of the game entirely.”


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