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EternalPhoenix

Like A Wagon Train Out Of Hell (Terminus Invasion 2018) IC

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July 10. 7 PM. Freedom City. Southside.

 

The city was a battleground. Omegadrones in the sky. Heroes everywhere. Broken glass and shattered buildings. Bodies in the streets. Doom had come to Freedom. Naturally, the civilians needed to get out of town. Equally naturally, there was zero chance they’d make it without a heroic escort. The convoy was big. Several buses and a multitude of private vehicles. Obviously, it wasn’t the only convoy, with Freedom being a city of literally millions. Heroes were spread desperately thin by the invasion of the Terminus, leaving only Prism and Mannequin to protect this particular convoy. Things had been relatively quiet. They had been noticed by Omegadrones, but other heroes had taken them on allowing the convoy to get across the river. It kept happening, too. But for now, everything was quiet as the vehicles rumbled down into the Southside to the trainyard. Planes were a no go, as Omegadrones could blast them out of the sky with little effort. And the highway had been jammed since 2. So, trains. Just had to get to the depot.

Edited by EternalPhoenix

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Rethinking the last few hours Mannequin was drained. He had been pulling his 3rd all nighter when this whole mess started. No time to prepare, no time to think things over, only enough to just...do. He wasn't going to be the one fighting the big fights and hopefully ending this whole thing, just wasn't in that caliber. No, instead he'd been trying to avoid direct fighting if possible to go on further without maintenance. Some would say that's cowardly but how useful could he be broken? Besides with his ability to use Radar, immense strength, and his flight, he was perfect for search and rescue.

 

Mannequin didn't know much about Prism, heck, he didn't even know what their power was. Regardless he kinda wished he never finds out since finding out means they needed to use their powers in the first place which only means more bad new.

 

Looking around Mannequin didn't pick up anymore Omegadrones and hasn't for some time. Should be good news but he knew better than to expect it to last. 

 

Never the people person Mannequin felt the need to at least try to see how his partner was doing.

 

"You alright? Its been a good few hours and we all know how hard its been...I'm built to last but we are in this together."

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Prism nodded. She too, was somewhat drained. However, she was prepared to help. Stress proved heroes, and Prism, aka Hannah Cooper, was ready. Her powers made her uniquely suited to helping with evacuation, as she could help lift and move people from place to place. She hoped she wouldn't have to fight, but she was prepared to. Versatility was the name of her game, and she could fight if pushed.

 

Social situations terrified her, but fighting steeled her resolve. Go figure.

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Unfortunately, the two heroes’ break was destined to be relatively short. A squad of no less than 12 Omegadrones came, engines screaming, at the convoy from the northwest. Before either hero had the chance to react, silvery gray energy cut fully half from the sky. Only Prism was able to notice the source of the attack, the ring slinging chef Queenie, who began to fly away after her big blast. Half the remainder split off to pursue their attacker, leaving three to assault the convoy of vehicles.

Edited by EternalPhoenix

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GM

 

Like hideous bird-calls, the power-pikes of the Omegadrones hissed and screamed as they unleashed a devastating barrage of consuming energy, tendrils of black with red cores lashing among the leading cars.

 

Before the horrified eyes of both the convoy's protectors and the refugees, the tendrils carved through fiberglass and steel alike as if through water, slicing chunks from the vehicles that flew out like shrapnel.

 

But the haste and uncontrollable power coursing through the power pikes proved a blessing in disguise. Despite the swerves and screams, and the inhuman howling of the wretched creatures in the blood-and-bone armor of the Terminus, the attack didn't hit anything vital and totally missed anyone inside the cars.  People stared up at the drones, glancing between them and the two heroes, steeling themselves for the next attack.

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GM

 

The next few moments were a blur, the lanky, inhuman figure of Mannequin running and leaping between cars as he sent out lashing claws skyward, raking and scything  at the wavering, birdlike shapes of the Omegadrines high overhead. 

 

Intent on the cars beneath them, the 'drones ignored the barrages to their loss. One was caught in a constricting glob of goo that shorted out its howling jetpack, sending it hurtling the ground just in time to catch a searing blast from the light-wielding Prism, its wail of pain cut short as another crackling claw silenced them forever.

 

Seemingly blind and deaf to their own peril, the 'drones continued to fire on the convoy, one screaming whip of destruction slicing and sizzling through a car's corner, a wheel flying off and crashing through an abandoned house. The people inside screamed, but they didn't dare to stop even as their car rocked and scraped on.

 

Another rain of light, another claw of storms, and another 'drone fell crashing down, its jetpack sputtering and whining pitifully before the wretched thing fell into the bed of a pickup truck, crashing straight through onto the road, luggage and what few personal things the family driving it could grab falling out with it.

 

One of the passengers jumped out, trying to grab for whatever he could. Catching Mannequin's eye, the old man waved the hero over. "Hey! We need some help!" 

 

Glancing at the remaining 'drones, then at Prism, Mannequin dashed off to help get the couple's cargo onto another vehicle.

 

Aloof and aloft, the remaining flying 'drone's arcing whip tore up asphalt, a bliding spray of grit and oily rock clatterin at the windshields of the convoy's lead. 

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As the spray of grit and assault of asphalt settled, a chunk of the lead car's now ruined bumper started to wiggle slightly before flying off the ground and towards the Omegadrone, missing as it sidestepped, or as close to a sidestep as one can do while flying.  Charging downward from the sky a young woman in a white, cowl-necked cape blew past her improvised projectile, two baseball sized chunks of metal erupting from under the cloak, one cracking her previous target directly in the faceplate while the other struck the remaining enemy in the shoulder.

 

"One chance, drop your weapons and fly back home.  Ignore this warning and I will leave you as a pile of broken and twisted scrap on the ground," she snarled, her cape whipping in the breeze, showing the tears and blood stains from previous encounters with Terminus forces that day.

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Prism shifted her stance slightly. These were Omegadromes, the stuff of literal nightmares. She'd heard horror stories, read newspaper articles. She was afraid, but she was a superhero. A cloud of energy formed around her right hand as long practice and reflex took over. Manifest the energy, throw it, shape it. She clenched her fist and swung her arm over and underhand like a softball pitch. 

 

It flew from her hand, purple and red clouds changing into jagged, almost crystalline bolts. It slammed into an Omegadrone, and she readied herself for another blast. No hesitation, no time to let herself think about what these things were, where they came from, or what they wanted. The safety of the planet depended on it. 

 

"These are monsters from a place of monsters." She said, "I don't think they understand mercy, even the idea of it."

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GM

 

Whoever they had been before, the 'drones were now deaf to other voices. Though the two supers couldn't hear it, the VOICE drowned out all else. Even without Omega to personally extend his will into their churning circuits, the mechanisms that made the 'drones what they were could do a passable facsimile of the searing, overpowering authority that directed them like a puppeteer's strings.

 

Lumbering to its feet, the downed 'drone ignored the convoy, the vehicles and people on foot desperately trying to get away from the armored monster. Under other circumstances the 'drone would have had rocks, clubs and guns brought to bear on it. In any other time the humans, faced with an isolated figure of the horror sweeping through their home, would have happily attacked.

 

But if they stopped they might get caught by the swarm, and nobody wanted to be the one left behind to the mercy of the Terminus. So as it sighted down its power pike, letting fly with a coursing stream of destruction's essence, its failure to hit was entire its own.

 

That was one question many had asked over the years: how could the footsoldiers of the Terminus possibly miss? Some suggested it was a remnant of the person within, fighting against what had been made of them. Others would have it that an army that used technology fueled by utter molecular dissipation was going to face constant technical problems. Or perhaps it was sheer blind luck.

 

Whatever the reason, it didn't affect the next few slicing lashes as they swept through the car with eerie lack of resistance, taking another of the wheels out from under it, hacking a corner off of the car and grinding it to a screeching halt for a perilous few seconds.

 

However, a very bright red, white and black suit of armor wasn't much camoflague. An instant later, as the 'drone on the ground started to make its way closer to the screaming passengers, Gauss's barrage smashed its smoking, crackling body apart in a spray of meat and metal.

 

As the rest of the lane behind it began to back up, honks and frantic shouts began to fill the air as a distant thrumming grew rapidly closer...

Edited by Ari

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She was going to move the car, get it out of the way, get the people out, and move the convoy. She kept her head on the mission, she needed to. She couldn't let herself think of things, dwell on things. Get people saved, help people, that was what was important. She'd curl into a ball and cry her eyes out tonight. Now, she was a superhero. Whether she wanted to be or not. 

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GM

 

A stray pike shot had slammed into Gauss, driving her into the asphalt with punishing force that left the world a shaky, hazy din just outside the grip of fully-rational thought. But that was the end of the violence for the moment, and the convoy obligingly kept a wide berth besides a few who left their cars to try and help the disoriented hero.

 

With the wrecked vehicle cleared, shoved into an alley big enough to contain it, and the shaky couple and their belongings beginning to be redistributed, the convoy began to crawl ahead. Pushed by the furious honking behind them and the sight of the distant horrors at the City Center, the front line of cars rolled briskly into gear as they rumbled for train station.

 

Then the storm hit.

 

Before Prism's eyes, a cyclonic wall of air howled to life and grew into a solid, shaking grey shell around the packed vehicles. Its power swept stray debris, trash, pieces of Omegadrone and anyone unfortunate enough to be out of their cars into the sky, hovering and buffeted by the air pressure coursing from below!

 

Following them in short order, the cars, trucks and otherwise of the convoy began to leisurely levitate, carrying their screaming occupants dozens of feet into the air. With little apparent hurry, the wall began to usher them along...down the wrong road, the one leading right to the City Center where the black fort of the Terminus rose.

 

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This wasn't really how Baxter had envisioned coming home; a city turned upside-down, flooded with chaos and nightmarish things from beyond space-time - the Terminus Invasion all over again. Things weren't great, to say the least. Even encased in a metal exoskeleton, the Bee-Keeper felt horribly exposed, the eerie sky an ill-omen that crept under his skin. If he was being honest, from the moment he set foot back in Freedom City, forced to blast his way through Omegadrones and other horrors to protect the innocent who'd been caught in the crossfire, there was an overwhelming sense of dread that pervaded the young collegiate. Things were bad - worse, even, than his last little foray beyond the stars. What Baxter wouldn't have traded to have that happen again instead of the Terminus' return.

 

But now wasn't the time for fear, but action. Sure, he'd been through the wringer for hours since getting home, blasted and bruised more than he'd cared to admit in pursuit of doing his part for Freedom City, but the Bee-Keeper still had more to give. That's why he'd followed the screams and the sounds of conflict through Southside, tracking it down to quite the sight as he stood outside the whirling vortex suspending the convoy of cars overhead, its buffeting gusts so dense he could just make out the shapes and silhouettes within through armor's visor. The cries of the trapped pedestrians inside their vehicles was all the motivation he needed to spur him on; now all he had to do was put a stop to the massive wall of air. More specifically, he needed to put a stop to the rapid-paced fiend generating it - because as if Omegadrones weren't enough, now there were Terminus speedsters running amok!

 

"I'm really not in the mood for thizz, buddy," griped the striped apiary avenger, his modulated voice filled with vivid determination and his suit scored with pike marks. Leveling the honey-cannon gauntlet of the suit towards the whirring mass, the Bee-Keeper needed to slow down this breakneck brute. Zeroing in the Bee-Keeper took aim, letting loose a concussive glob of thick, synthetic honey right into the oncoming path of the would-be speed demon!

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Gauss shook her head, the buzzing in the back of her head leftover from Redshift's attack slowly clearing.  As her left eye began to glow with a deep purple light, she raised hands glowing the same shade.  All around them, hundreds of pounds of scrap metal and even a few street lights began to swirl around her for a brief moment before swinging over to the caravan of vehicles to form a long bar along one side.  "Creo que necesitamos un bache de velocidad para usted..."* she muttered.

 

*I think we need a speed bump for you

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GM

 

The dimly-flickering figure evidently responsible for the cyclone also evidently wasn't expecting much in the way of retaliation. An iridescent lance from Prism shocked them out of their lightning-fast run, the coruscating beam of energy barely slowing as it hit some kind of diffraction field generated from the would-be convoy-snatcher. They were shaken enough out of their groove that Bee-Keeper's shot hit dead-center, knocking the wind out the runner and sending them stumbling at super-speed straight into the makeshift barricade thrown together by Gauss, colliding with a BANG and a visible dent as they were flung a little slower than the speed of sound into the hurdle.

 

Naturally, without them to sustain the cyclone, it collapsed. With understandable screams and shouts from the escapees, the convoy crashed back down to earth with enough force that the lighter vehicles barely escaped breakdown on impact. As the shrieks of metal, thuds of rubber,  hollow reports of fiberglass and crinkling glass echoed up and down, the street, the foremost vehicles raised smoke as the drivers began a mad dash for safety, sparking what might soon become an uncontrollable stampede!

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The Bee-Keeper III

 

Oh, no, No, no, no. This was bad -- real bad. it was great they'd stopped the speedster from whirling the people and their cars down the ravine and towards that Terminus stronghold, but with their freedom came a wave of desperate panic. If everyone sped off, they'd be too scattered to protect from the drones all over the city!

 

"Pleazze! You can't try and ezzcape on your own!" pleaded the Bee-Keeper over the loudspeaker in his helmet, his modulated voice an odd mix of robotized buzzing shouts and heartfelt concern. "If you try to drive off, you'll get picked off by the Terminuzz! We know you're zzcared; we are, too. But we can protect you. We will protect you," urged the weary bee-themed avenger. He was tired. He was sore. But most importantly, he didn't want to lose anyone else to this nightmare. Not one. More. Person. "You juzzt have to beelieve in uzz."

 

"You juzzt have to beelieve," he repeated softly, his tone now hushed almost to the point of silence as he waited, the anticipation literally draining him as he looked on towards the fleeing flock of vehicles and the people within. All he could hope was that his message reached them, and there was still a measure of faith left in the city's defenders during Freedom City's darkest hour.

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Prism stepped forward. While the guy in the bee outfit tried to stop an outright rout, she started slinging blasts at the speedster. She swung her hands towards the servant of entropy, sending jagged spikes of scintillating energy at her target. Most of them missed, but a few struck home. 

 

She just wanted to be back in her room, back home, back somewhere else, but she couldn't be. This was what it meant to be a hero. It meant helping, it meant protecting, it meant putting your life on the line. If she got through this day, though, she'd take a long, long bath.

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GM

 

And the people did. The ones who had been racing ahead slowed to let the others catch up, others cutting short their own intended flight to help strangers in the convoy move or throw away 

 

Whether it was the Terminus-allied speedster being pummeled into oblivion, recalling how handily the heroes had dealt with the Omegadrone menace, the fact that without the supers there was no protection on the road ahead, whatever the reason the race ended as quickly as it began. 

 

Settling into a steadier pace, the convoy began making its way to the railyard, passing through the rest of Southside without incident. Some of the Freedonians who hadn't been able to catch rides of their own found places in the vehicles, the hinder sections of the cavalcade resembling an old-fashioned wagon train, with trailers hitched to larger trucks.

 

A small celebration went around the convoy, people on bicycles and scooters bringing drinks from what had once been a freight truck full of wine. A few sections even began to carry songs, but the relief was tempered by the shadow across the river. And the bridge they would have to cross.

 

Mona-Glenn Bridge was notably older than its northern cousin, the Mangold, and its very familiarity lent its new menace an extra edge of horror. Many of the people in the convoy had used it to get to work or just into downtown Freedom for most of their lives, and they felt a sharp turn in their gut when they thought of what might happen if the convoy was trapped on the bridge. 

 

Or worse yet, if it was destroyed outright. The buzzing swarms of Omegadrones flitting about Federal Plaza and Freedom Hall could spot them in a moment, and although they were being kept busy the sheer numbers meant plenty could be spared for another, far deadlier attack.

 

But for now, they would have to get there, leaving an uncomfortable gulf of silence as the cars and trucks rumbled and belched their slow way to escape.  

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Gauss floated along beside the convoy, a couple manhole covers circling her as she scanned for any more trouble from Omegadrones.  Her heart lifted as the bridge came into view before immediately sinking again as she took in the swarms of invaders around the area.  "This feels like, frankly, the perfect spot for an ambush," she muttered after beckoning the other heroes over.  "How do we want to play this?  Go at idle speeds and hope not to be noticed or just floor it and hope to either kill or outrun anything that comes too close?"

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GM

 

This was not the kind of day where silence would last. The feared ambush did not arrive, however. There were only the screams in the distance. Power discharges. Explosions. Freedom City fought for the very existence of its universe, and there likely wasn’t a person still alive inside the city limits who didn’t know it on some level. The convoy had begun to reach the far side of the bridge (with the tail end just past the center) when the calm was shattered by an explosion shattering the bridge’s center. Scant seconds earlier, and the blast would have taken out vehicles. The structure of the bridge held, but the roadway back was now completely inaccessible. Panic once again set in, and the convoy almost bolted. But a strong voice rang out from the front. “Please, keep calm!” The speaker was a woman with a fit look about her. She was on top of one of the buses at the front with a battery powered megaphone. "We're not under attack again, and we weren't going back today anyway!" Against all odds, her words were effective at quelling the potential panic. Progress once again resumed, but slowly. The road was becoming more and more choked with debris, required a deft hand on the wheel to get around. Some roads were blocked entirely, forcing the convoy into alternate routes. Still, as stated, progress was being made. A block at a time.

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