Finest Hour, Part Six: The Greater Good

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(October 29th)

In the heart of Ecchs' secondary base, Overkill looked around at his companions. “Danger Ace tricked us.” Skew said, in a tone that hovered between rage and admiration. “She used us to take out Ecchs' bolthole, so that he couldn't escape from her.”

“There's something else, though.” Technopath closed her eyes, and then snapped them open. “We need to leave. Now!”

Overkill didn't wait for Skew's order this time. He knew what happened when people tried to invade Rex Mundi and missed. He let fly his strongest blast, creating a long tunnel angling straight up towards the surface, and staggered as his power faltered for a moment. Skew closed his eyes, then opened them and swore. “Denial's still here!” He yelled. “Technopath, give me the angle for the base power!”

Technopath pointed down and at an angle. As she did, the tunnels filled with ninja foliage, swarming forwards with wooden knives and leafty shurikens. Beaumonde and Songline placed themselves along the long tunnel, holding back the hordes, while Skew, bereft of powers, settled for using his skills to back up Jouster as she leapt and slashed, her lance flashing in the room's dim light against an endless wave of opponents.

“Overkill, take out the power core!” Skew yelled. Overkill nodded, swaying on his feet. He raised his bazooka, seeing the cracks and marks that scored its surface, and grimaced. What if he failed? Skew would die down here. The Antiheroes would die in the woods, without knowing that they were holding off a threat for no purpose. He focused, and his bazooka twinkled, tendrils of light leaking out as a low, flickering wave of energy began to eat through the wall and floor.

“Any day now!” Skew yelled, kicking a ninja in the face. Overkill closed his eyes, took a deep breath. He looked back at Skew, at the others. Depending on him. And the power came.

Overkill's bazooka cracked and exploded under the strain, but he couldn't let himself stop. Orange light pulsed and blazed around him, smashing through the floor. His vision blurred, but he forced himself to hold steady. He felt his knees buckling, and let his arms fall to match them. In a final blast of power, he passed out.

“Overkill! Overkill!”

The words were muddy. Overkill blinked, tried to focus. Technopath and Beaumonde were standing over him. They were spinning. Not a good sign. “Wha aapened?” He managed after a moment.

“You did it, kid.” Skew said with a crooked smile. The teleporter was leaning heavily on Jouster's shoulder. The others were missing. “When the base's core went out, it took the teleport denials with it, and shorted out the self-destruct. Technopath figures we have six minutes. You okay to move?”

Overkill nodded shakily. Technopath reached out a hand, helping him to his feet, and he smiled gratitude at her. “Always.” He looked around. The forest was swarming with ninja, the sounds of battle exploding from a hundred points. “They're not pulling out.”

“Weltgeist's blocked communications.” Skew said with a grimace. “But we don't have time. There are a crazy number of signals coming out of Malefico. Looks like the big battle's started without us. I need to get you there.”

Overkill blinked, looked over at the others. Beaumonde looked grim, his features stern. Technopath was simply worried. “That's more than a thousand miles, sir. You don't have any machinery here to boost you, and you're hurt – you'll pass out.” He left unspoken the corollary – Skew, unconscious and at the edge of the woods, would not survive Weltgeist's anger.

“Not important any more.” Skew's eyes began to glow behind his shades. “Need to get you to the machine.”

“No.” Overkill stepped to one side, and laid a hand on his superior's shoulder. “I suggest another plan. Four quick ports, to each corner of the woods. We pull back those people we have left, we establish a perimeter, and we let Ecch's bomb blow these trees to pulp. Then we go home.”

There was a heartbeat's pause before Skew spoke. “What are you talking about, Overkill?”

“It's done, sir. Three of us aren't going to be able to change the war. All of us might be able to rebuild.” Overkill met Skew's eyes, unashamed. Around them, the woods began to rustle as more of Ash's drones discovered their existence. “Let's do what we came here to do. Fight evil.”

Skew hesitated, looked around. Sighed, and nodded. “You're right.” He finally muttered. “Get everyone who's still alive. Safe distance is 1 kilometer.”

As Skew's energies surrounded them, Overkill wasn't sure whether to smile or cry. Earlier today, it had seemed that the terrible setbacks that the Antiheroes had suffered were leading them to this moment. And maybe they were.

It just wasn't the moment that he had imagined.

But there would be time for recriminations and mourning later. There would be years to think about what had happened, and what might happen. The important thing was that Overkill had convinced Skew. The Antiheroes had been crippled, even more so than after the disaster in Patchwork City, but they would survive, and one day they would return. The world would always need them.

Skew's energy lanced out, and Overkill ported to another section of forest, to carry on the good fight.

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