Finest Hour, Part Five: Meeting Of Minds

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(October 25th)

Team Beta raced through the Malefico’s undocumented halls, enemies hot in pursuit. Eclipse spun, diving through the shadow cast by a flickering fluorescent light and rising behind several enemies, casting out tendrils of darkness that wrapped around the tentacles of two opponents and slammed them into each other.

“What the hell are these things?” He asked, sliding back into position with the group.

“Squiddibears.” The Witch Doctor raised his staff and pointed it at the lead monster, sending off a blast of electricity. The creature, a multi-tendriled monster with soggy fur, a beaked-bearlike head, and large clawed paws on the ends of its four arm tentacles, roar-squawked in protest and fell back. “One of Spencer’s more… frankly bizarre inventions.”

“Hazard, I swear that you had better have a good idea where we’re going.” Danger Ace snapped from the lead. As several of the halls’ doors opened, laser weapons folding out from the handles to draw beads on the group, she flipped through the air, kicking one door sharply. The handle swung widly as the door closed, its laser picking off two more, before her kick caught it again on the way down and snapped it from the door. “Everyone still here?”
“Oleander’s down.” Auger said bluntly. “Eclipse got her to safety.”
“Lovely.” Danger Ace spun, tearing another handle from its door and throwing it into the beak of a squiddibear, which squawked wildly as it choked on the metal. “So we’re down to six. Hazard?”
“Right this way.” Hazard fired a volley of small missiles from his power armor, obliterating the nearest wall. “We’re just about there.”
“Good!” Danger Ace led the way through the ruins of the wall, as the six heroes charged forwards. Charon, bringing up the rear, spun and grabbed both sides of the hole, pulling with all his might. The entire wall collapsed, bringing down support beams and a large part of the floor above. “gotit.” He mumbled, turning to rejoin the others. “whichway?”

“Down that corridor, and…” Hazard frowned for a moment. “Left, I think. I can feel the pull.”

“We have a problem.” Auger interrupted. She brushed the silving lining of her dark suit, then pointed down a side corridor. “Oligarchs. Four. Coming quick. Going to fight us.”

“Crap.” Danger Ace muttered. “We’re not equipped for this. Hazard, take Eclipse and get moving. We’ll hold them off.”

“But…” Hazard started, then stopped at Danger Ace’s expression. “Right.” He said quickly. “This way.” Turning, he launched into motion. Eclipse hesitated a moment, and tapped Danger Ace on the shoulder. “Be careful.” He warned, then pulled the shadows around himself and faded after Hazard. Danger Ace looked over at the Witch Doctor.

“Think you might convince any of them to give up on whatever they’re doing?”

“I doubt it greatly.” The Witch Doctor shook his head. “I rather burned my bridges with them when I left.”

“Thought that might be true. Alright, folks, combat positions.”

A moment later, the Oligarchs came around the corner. Warzone, in the lead, skidded to a stop at Clockwork’s signal. The gold-clad supervillain stepped forwards, smiling faintly, as Kaniessa and Dragonfly took up protective positions on either side. “You might as well come out, Danger Ace.” He called smugly.

Danger Ace stepped around the corner, smiling back. “Clockwork. I’d ask how you guessed I was here, but…”

“It was fairly obvious. I assume you have at least two others with you.” Clockwork looked around, and shook his head. “Scratch that. One with you, two more behind us.”
“Which two?” Danger Ace answered blandly.

“Eclipse at the least.” Clockwork answered. “As for the other… that terribly large bruiser you spend time with, perhaps? Or perhaps the Witch Doctor, if he found the courage to fight here. It really doesn’t matter.”

“The narrative engine has to be destroyed, Clockwork. Go fight Ecchs’ people, and I won’t have to bring you in.” Danger Ace said.

“I really don’t think so.” Clockwork shook his head. “You’ve sent Hazard ahead. I do hope you gave him enough muscle to deal with Lord Mayhem, because there’s a 94% chance that he’s guarding the engine.”

“Stop showing off.” Danger Ace said, shaking her head. “You’re not in as much control as you seem to think you are.”

“Control is… rapidly becoming an illusion.” Clockwork answered. “Ecchs has activated some final measure, I expect. I am having to adapt my predictions significantly. Case in point – the chances of us hitting this corridor so close to one another . Narrative is in play, my dear woman.” He flicked his wrist, and a golden baton telescoped out from it. “I must confess, I don’t mind. I’ve always enjoyed my games with the SEA, and this battle had to happen eventually.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that.” Danger Ace answered. She looked over to Warzone. “You feel the same?”

“Oh, yes.” Warzone answered. “I’m eager to see if you measure up to Dudeman’s example, Danger Ace.”

“Alright, people, you heard them. Choose your partners.” Danger Ace said. As she did, she launched forwards, throwing a kick at Warzone’s head. In the same moment, the wall next to Dragonfly caved inwards, and Charon crashed through, grabbing the supervillain by the leg and slamming him into the floor. Behind him, Auger stepped quickly and surely over the falling rubble, her spinning kick intersecting with Clockwork’s baton in the same instant that the Witch Doctor stepped out from behind Danger Ace and fired off a trio of shots at his former vice-president, sending Kaniessa scrambling for cover.

“You were wrong, incidentally.” Danger Ace said. “Eclipse isn’t here.”

“Well, everyone makes mistakes.” Clockwork replied. “After all, you decided to fight us.”

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