Finest Hour, Part Four: Battle Is Joined

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“I thought that you said this would be simple!” Kaniessa snarled, leaping forwards and tearing through the metallic exterior of one of Doctor Ecchs’ mantidrones. The robot skipped backwards on a dozen tiny legs, slashing its long whip-tail at her, and she contemptuously grabbed it, whirling it over her head and slamming it down into another drone, crushing them both.

“Compartively simple.” Clockwork replied with a faint smile, sidestepping another drone’s whip in such a way that it slammed through the body of a fourth. “This is the barest fraction of Ecchs’ forces. But we are going more slowly than I would like.” He frowned. “We need to disable Mundi’s psiportal before someone uses it to move the narrative engine. It’ll have to be quick…”

“Simplicity itself.” Malleus Kaine cracked his neck, raising his hands to send two bolts of purple energy in opposite directions, punching holes through the chassis of two drones. “I will disable the portal and meet you at the engine.”

“Perfect.” Clockwork nodded. “Be careful. I expect that the area will be crawling with Sayleen, and they are not liable to be friendly. And if the Resistance makes it forwards, they will be there as well.”

“Color me unconcerned.” Malleus smirked, and drew his cloak around himself, fading into a ghostly shell of himself. Quickly, he flew into the air, passing through the ceiling, as the others continued to force their way forwards.

In the upstairs men’s washroom, figures in the mirror rippled and pulsed. A moment later, Jack Silver was climbing out of the mirror, reaching behind him to pull Timebender and Nightshade through. As he went back for the next set of heroes, Timebender raced out of the washroom, returning as Jack pulled out Lucky and Chad. “Alright, we’re clear for a couple halls.”

Blastwave looked over the seven members of Team Alpha. “ Ecchs is going to see us as soon as we start moving, so we need to motor. Any questions?”

“A little late for them if there are.” Nightshade said. “Let’s just get moving.”

“Right.” As Timebender led the way out the door, Blastwave hung back, listening intently. “Sounds like someone’s already started fighting.” She muttered.

The seven moved forwards. At each crossing, Timebender rushed down, reversed direction, and met them to say that the path was clear. Three halls in, however, the pattern changed. Instead of returning smoothly, Timebender raced back around a hail of bright red energy fire, and the team fell into defensive positions as she leapt around the corner. “He’s found us?” Blastwave asked.

Timebender shook her head, looking shell-shocked. “Sayleen.” She managed, breathing heavily.

Handyman paused, his laser already prepared. “What?” He said softly.

“Sayleen soldiers.” She repeated. “And that’s not all. That crazy man – the one who was at the meeting when we got dropped in, Kyall. I saw him.”

“That’s impossible.” Jhim muttered.

“And yet…” Timebender said. “It looks like they have the portal locked down.”

“Crap.” Blastwave snuck a peek around the corner. Instantly, a barrage of energy fire went off, and she let off a few blasts of her own before pulling back. “Okay, this could be worse. If they have the portal, Ecchs doesn’t.”

“If they get it working fully, they can steal the narrative engine.” Nightshade countered.

“I know that.” Blastwave said tersely. “But we have some time. Jack, if the psiportal is active, the crystals will be reflective. Take Lucky, get around the machine, and shut it down. We’re going to serve a distraction so that the two of you can disable the psiportal completely.”

“Sounds like good times. Give us five minutes.” Jack nodded to Lucky. “Come on, we need to double back to the washroom.”

“Right.” Lucky saluted, then looked over to Handyman. “Jhim, don’t get carried away.”

“Right.” Jhim smiled faintly. “I’m not going to do anything stupid.”

Jack and Lucky rushed down the hallway. Chad reached out an arm, sending a blasted of superheated air down the corridor. A flurry of shouts and curses announced the Sayleen troops pulling back again. “Five minutes, huh?” He smiled wryly. “Don’t think we’re going to be waiting that long.”

“We just need to hold them.” Blastwave pointed out. “Nightshade and Timebender are on the front lines. Charge through them, hit any vanguards you can see. Chad and I are on support. Pick off any psychics we can find, disrupt their formations. Handyman…”

“I’m going after Kyall Varrn.” Jhim said bluntly.

“Right.” Blastwave said after a moment. “That would certainly make things easier.”

As the five prepared, Lucky and Jack Silver raced through the mirror-halls of Malefico. The world was hazy and dim, sharp only where a reflection cast a proper image into Jack’s world. Jack pointed ahead, and Lucky nodded. The mirror-world was silent, but he knew what his companion meant.

Time to go. He could feel something building, and swallowed nervously.

The two spent a moment looking at the fractured Sayleen reflections that surrounded them, and then Jack gave Lucky a boost, sending him catapulting out from the shade of a blue crystal and into the room. Twenty soldiers yelled in surprise as Lucky appeared in their midst, and scrambled for weapons. In a flash, Jack Silver was leaping across the room, dashing from reflection to reflection, pulling soldiers off-balance, grabbing guns, or landing blows as he vanished into the glass again. The room filled with energy blasts and confusion as the battle was joined.

Lucky, for his part, kept low, watching for moments that he could quickly interact with the Sayleen. He lashed out quickly, quietly, taking advantage of moments of narrative flow when a soldier was about to hit Jack to take him out. It wasn’t flashy, and if the soldiers hadn’t been so distracted by Jack it would have been over quickly, but it worked.
And then Lucky’s bad feeling went sharp. “Jack, out!” He yelled abruptly, without pausing to think about it.

Jack Silver didn’t pause either, leaping for the psicrystal’s reflection. A blaze of purple light filled the room, arcing between Sayleen soldiers and equipment, and the crystals flickered and went dim as Jack passed through them. Lucky, standing directly behind a console, managed to take cover as purple light washed over him.
A moment later, it was over. Lucky rose from cover to see the Sayleen unconscious, the room dim and dark. Standing across from him, Malleus Kaine was breathing heavily, sweating from the exertion of the spell he had cast. Slowly, he looked up, and began to smile.

“Lucky.” He said.

“Max.” Lucky answered. “I had a feeling you were going to be here.”

“One last loose end for me to tie up.” Malleus said. “This is going to be fun.”

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