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July 11, 2018

4:17 PM


The ambulance didn't bother with its sirens as it rode deeper into the West End. It wasn't as though the laws of the road were being enforced just then and drawing attention would have only made it a better target. The missing passenger side door and twisted remnants of a front bumper testified that the blocky vehicle - and its operators - were lucky to still be in reasonably working order. The way it screeched around two abandoned cars wrapped around each other in the middle of an intersection, lifting up onto two wheels briefly, said that those close calls hadn't made them any more timid.


It wasn't a hospital where it came to a stop but the Summerhill Street Farmer's Market of all places. Stands normally stocked with ears of corn and handmade candles had been repurposed into temporary shelters and soup lines, tarps and truck beds and trash bins call called into whatever use was most immediately needed in the chaos of the previous day. People forced to flee their homes or unable to return to them, people too injured or old or simply unwilling to attempt to flee with city entirely had gathered in the convenient open space, stocked with food and running water.


The rear doors of the ambulance opened and a muscular man with sleeve tattoos and a blood caked concert tee that barely fit vaulted out. "I got a broken leg and a couple kids that got separated from their folks!" Hernandez called to the able bodies already jogging over to meet him. "Somebody grab me something to use for a splint, I'm using shitty ass rebar over here!"

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Kline Household, Tuesday, July 10, 2018 9:17am


Janaina's voice rang up the stairs, "Chris!  C'mere!  Quick!"  He barely heard her over the shower, he quickly toweled off, ignoring his younger sister and proceeded to his room where he began getting dressed.  His father had arranged an interview for his summer internship at a Brande Management's  subsidiary, so when he finally wandered down to see what Jan wanted he was wearing a pair of tan slacks, and was doing up white dress shirt, but when he noted his sister's face he fingers were suddenly numb, the screen showed Captain Thunder and the Alpha Omegadrone, plunging together into the base of the Sentry Statue and sending it tumbling to the Earth amid belching smoke and flame, it would remain one of the most infamous images of events in the days to come.


His sister's mouth was agape, her eyes glistening with tears borne of fear, "Ch-Chris?  What's going to happen, there's so many fires."  The news reel was now panning the destruction, reports coming in, hundreds dead, entire neighborhoods razed to the ground, smoke, fire, destruction.  His sister again jabbed at the screen, "All tho- ," Click!


Therese walked into the dining room, even though she worked from home she was dressed in pressed slacks, a conservative blouse and blazer as well as some simple adornment, earrings, a simple gold chain, and her wedding ring sitting atop the engagement band.  Like his mother, simple, elegant, composed.  "That's enough of that."  Her voice was stern, but there was something else behind it, worry, fear?  "Janaina, your sister is getting ready to take you to the community center for your swimming lessons, and you," she turned to look at Christian, "Da-aymn, how'd Isaac and I manage to raise such a fine looking gentleman."  Christian blushed, his foster mother had a way of defusing a situation.  She watched as her son and daughter run upstairs to get ready for the day's activities, calling after them, "Normally I'd make your butts walk or take the bus, but momma's gonna spend the day with her family, you hear?  So you better hustle, car's leaving in 10."  


As she listened to bed room doors slamming shut, and drawers opening and closing, she turned on the TV, volume down, and as she listened she fingered the ever present cross at her neck.


St James Cathedral, Tuesday July 10, 10:37am  


"Christian,"  Father Gordon's hand clasped the young man's shoulder as he sat in the pews, they were crowded for early week, the undercurrent of fear that ran through the parish was explanation enough, considering what they'd all witnessed over the News, "I thought today was the first day of your internship, Brande Management wasn't it?"  Christian looked up, guilt writ clear on his youthful expression, his foster mother had dropped him off for 9:30, but St James was just three blocks north east from the firm, and given the days events he felt he needed some guidance.  Gordon continued, "It's alright to be afraid Christian," he was able to pierce to the heart of the matter, his insights into the young man unfailingly accurate.  "We're all afraid, but that doesn't mean we can shirk our duties, or our commitments."


"But what am I supposed to do?"


Gordon lowered his head, "That's for you to decide son," his hand, which had never left the young man's shoulder, squeezed reassuringly, "you ask."  He looked poignantly at the cross suspended over the altar, "He'll answer," a pause, "you just need to listen."  Father Gordon took a deep breath, his calm blue eyes holding the scared young man's gaze, "I've always felt that God is like this vast, glorious dawn, and you, me," he looked to his parishioners, "everyone, are simply points of light within that divine brilliance.  Days like today, the loss of life, the tragedy, it diminishes that glory, and it's up to us, those who remain, to ensure that it's spark never fades."


Something changed in the young man's face, perhaps his posture, the look in his eyes, "Hope, Father,"  Gordon looked at him questioningly, "that spark is Hope."  He stood up, squeezing Gordon's hand as it slide from his shoulder, "Thank you, but I have to go.  I'll return when I can."


Summerhill Street Market, Wednesday July 11, 2018 4:17pm


He landed in the clearing behind the Ambulance, even as the large man, most likely an off duty paramedic, began to call for assistance with his casualties.  Pinnacle hovered just above the ground, a tall figure, broad shouldered and well defined, however there was a furrow between his brows, his eyes narrowed, his mouth tight, lacking his near ever present smile.  He carried a paramedic's backboard, and strapped across it two large duffel bags, he turned to Hernandez, "Just in from the Emerald Cities, salvaged this from Trinity, antibiotics, antiseptics, bandages, slings and splints."  He turned towards the gathering crowd, assisting as he could, "I'm Pinnacle," he thought of Father Gordon, "and I want you to know that you are not alone."

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Dreadnought was a powerful metahuman, he knew it and even the most staunch of his enemies would never deny it, his great size, strength and weight had afforded him numerous wondersous capabilities, power enough to crush carbon into diamonds and such incredible resilience he would survive the few things he couldn't shrug off.


Naturally when news of the terminus's attack had reached him he'd not dragged his feet, consulting both the ministry of powers and Mr Murk on the situation he'd made his way to the epicentre of the conflict and weighed in where he could against the tide of omegadrones and nihilist cults that had seemingly exploded from the wood works.


now he found himself in the gardens, mostly reassuring children that had been seperated from their parents during the chaos and acting as a defensive bulwark for the park against possible attacks, having learned to harness his momentum more effectively had indeed make him able to move faster than most cars but he remained a 9 foot tall mountain of muscle with unusually loud and heavy footsteps from his great weight, hardly suitable for the stealthy scavenging missions that were needed to keep the camp stocked and supplied.


Honestly it frustrated him a little but he had it on good authority that it was here he could prevent the most harm.


it broke his heart that some of these poor, distraught tykes may indeed be orphans now so he did his best for them, ensuring that they weren't being overlooked or pushed around by other, older, stronger and panic striken survivors and hanging around the cretche as a sort of security blanket.


Giving a nod of acknowledgement to the scavenger and the reccently arrived flying man as he thudded up from the camp with one of the exhausted volunteers from the creche it was important that he made himself visable and reassuring after all.


Dropping down onto his haunches he smiled and waves a large meaty hand at the children "'Ello, m'names dreadnought and these are my friends here, we'd like to look after you whilst you're here if thats ok with you, please let me or anyone else know if theres anything you need ok?"

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"THRUST!"  The Atlantean princess known to the world at large as the Glamazon shouted at the top of her lungs.  The twenty children lined up in front of her moving their wooden sticks in unison.  Atlantean battle drills weren't quite as traditional a means of entertaining children as Hide and Seek.  But, the kids were apparently enjoying the turn of events. Her eyes glanced over to towards the Ambulance downhill.  Thaelia made it a habit to examine every vehicle.  Thaelia couldn't see through metal, but her otherworldly sight could still see through many a matter of deception.  If a vehicle were to hide an assaulting force she would be ready.  In her opinion, security was the only thing she could contribute to the citizens.


Thaelia was reckless, boastful, and overconfident.  But, she was not a fool.  The Freedom League Auxiliary member knew where her strength lied.  And they were not in the realm of medicine, so she made no immediate attempts to near the ambulance. Such self-assurance left her not realizing the boon caused by her attempts to rile the spirits of the displaced.  Which admittedly, aside from the children, the fact that Atlanteans were the last large invading force in the city had done her no favors in this endeavor.


From the moment hell figuratively ripped open and those mechanical abominations flew through the skies Thaelia had dived ride into the thick of things.  She had actually swum from Greenland without a second's hesitation.  Without so much of a consideration of shutting her eyes and going to sleep.  Whether the wooden sticks fashioned into pretend swords or trucks no longer in condition to drive up the hill.  Not a moment had gone by that Thaelia wasn't carrying something the past day.


"More explosiveness little ones!  If your thrusts are too shallow the wound will not be mortal!"

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"Best news I've had all day," Hernandez told Pinnacle, letting out a long breath that almost seemed to deflate his broad frame for a moment. Even for someone used to long hours and high stress the paramedic had obviously been pushing his limits. With an audible crack of his neck he squared up again, running largely on pure stubbornness. He helped a skinny young woman with a side shave out of the ambulance, acting as a crutch and indicating with his chin for the caped man to follow. "Got a tent set up over here. Is Emerald safe? We're getting all kinds of mixed messages from outside the city."


The oldest of the three children was about eleven by Dreadnought's best guess, the other two not likely older than six or seven. The shortest, with an unfortunate looking bowl cut and a Blades jersey that was too big gave the hulking metahuman a wary look while perched in the rear compartment's doorway. "You talk funny," he accused sullenly.


"Liam! He's helping, be nice," the older child chided, a heavyset brunette girl with a pair of backpacks slung haphazardly over her shoulders. She kept a hand protectively on the shoulder of the third, a quiet girl in a dress printed with cartoon cats, who had the watery, trembling look of a child who desperately needed a nap.


The ambulance's driver stepped out of the vehicle and took a moment to adjust the bandages wrapped around her left forearm. Braugher's frizzy black hair was pulled back more tightly than usual, exposing worry lines between her brows. She watched Hernandez walk off then looked back to the battered ambulance, doing mental calculations on how many trips they had in them. Shaking her head she headed up the hill toward the 'practicing' children. She gave Glamazon a wave as she approached. "How we looking, princess?"

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A chord of guilt ran through him at the weary paramedics words, he'd left his family, his friends to fly to the other side of the nation.  He mentally chided himself, not guilt, concern, fear, for his family, for his loved ones; guilt would mean he was doing something he was ashamed of, looking around the camp we knew that he was needed here.  He shook his head in response, "It's a beach head; they're using Freedom as a staging point,"  He paused, "we let that stand and nowhere will be safe."  Dark thoughts, but honest, "Emerald's clear of the invaders," not entirely true, "or at least it was when I left."  He pushed the thoughts from his mind, "Let's concentrate on the here and now."


He looked over towards the tent, then back towards Trinity Hospital.  He didn't think he'd been followed, he was sure he would have seen any drones that had decided to follow him, still they needed to remain vigilant.  He assisted Hernandez in organizing the supplies at the make shift triage center, "We're going to need to start to work in shifts," he placed a solid hand on the man's shoulder, "you and your partner," he looked to where the stern faced woman was walking up the hill towards a group of children were playing with wooden swords, "look like you need rest."  He paused, "You're not going to do any of these people any good if you collapse from exhaustion."  He looked out scanning the sky, "I'm going to make sure I wasn't followed, organize a patrol.  We'll make sure you aren't interrupted."


Dreadnought wasn't hard to pick out of the camp, Christian recalled some small facts about the towering man, a member of the Vanguard, Britain's premier super human response team.  He idly wondered if the rest of the team were in the vicinity or if the man, like himself, had arrived of his own volition.  Though as he watched the giant try to calm the children, Christian saw all that he needed to see, "Hello there!"  He smiled at the children, pushing his concerns from his face, "My name's Pinnacle," he extended his hand towards Dreadnought's massive frame, "managed to scrounge some supplies from Mercy Hospital."  He poignantly lowered his voice, tugging slightly on the larger, and presumably stronger super's hand, encouraging him to take a step or two from the children.  "I want to ensure that I wasn't followed, set up a patrol."  He nodded towards the perimeter of the Market, "Care to stretch those legs?"



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"Our lines of defense grow most favorably.  The children wish to be called the Rangers of Power.  The name is nonsense yet it pleases them."   The look on the children's faces made no secret of the fact that she had somewhat mangled the name they wished to go by.  Causing a mixture of giggles in response to her very particular choice of diction.  "You, on the other hand, do not look well."


Thaelia glanced at Braugher's injured arm.  As possibly the last person in the area with a scale of how grievous an injury was Thaelia was not sure of the level of concern she should have for the sight in front of her.  So she asked, "How do you fare?  Your iron steed appears to have seen better days, I worry you pursue a fate most calamitous with an injured sword-arm."  


In her Claremont Attending youth, it would often be Mali who drove the group around in their free time.  With a somewhat comfortable pocketbook, the experience certainly colored how the Atlantean viewed what a car in good condition was.  And that ambulance was far from pristine.  Not helped by the fact that Glamazon usually treated vehicles as makeshift weapons.  Leaving the service vehicle looking much like the aftermath of what happened when she got a hold of one.

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"Pleasure to meetcha pinacle." Dreadnought began before noticing the pull on his arm and shuffling a little bit to stand between the children and the caped meta a bit.


He listened intently and smiled a little bit, he was feeling pent up it was true and the offer was tempting to just take a stroll and crush a few omegadrones to recycling scraps.


"Oh they know where we are mate, they got heat vision and all kindsa tech." He whispered under his breath with a soft smile "scavanging is sneaky so they don't get swarmed by patrols...we're here to help ward off an attack once they've revved up for one...so dont worry just...be ready yeah?"


Turning to face the children he gave a gentle pat on the back to pinnacle as he addressed the children


"come with me and ill show you and the kids around our camp. Get you all situated first and introduce you to some folks." He said plainly as he turned to look over the camp picking out points of interest


The caped guy reminded him of himself when he started out, picking his decisions to pieces and second guessin everything.


"Anyone want a ride on m' shoulders? Plenty of room up here and the views pretty good, save yer legs." He offered


After securing any passangers who presented themselves on his shoulders he began to trundle through the camp


"That there is where you line up to get soup...glamazon does some activites for ya if you're feeling bored, nice lady really, talks funnier than me." He noted with a friendly wave as he thudded over "make sure to tell one of the volunteers if you need any special medicines ok?" Pointing meaty fingers at each of these as he listed them off and closed on glamazon


"Hey drill master, got a new batch of recruits for ya here." Gesturing to the children "and some reinforcements from the west coast." Gesturing to pinnacle.

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He looked at Dreadnought, as children crawled his massive shoulders, he struggled to contain his frustration, the complacency seemed almost criminal.  "Do you understand what we've been given?"  He asked the larger man, "We've been entrusted with these children, and we need to prepare them, shelter them, protect them."  He nodded towards Frenandez's partner, determined, weary, "Our people will work themselves until they collapse, do you know how many people there are in this camp?"  He paused, his gaze taking in the rag tag stalls and tents the dotted the normally bohemian style open air Market.  


"How many first aiders do we have?  Mechanics, to keep our vehicles running?  Electricians to repair equipment, keep the generators going?  Gardeners, cooks, to ration the food, the water?  Fit and able people to patrol, observe and record enemy movements?"  He pointed towards the columns of smoke and fire that dotted the horizon, his eyes softened, he spoke louder, so the children could hear.


"Their parents, their families are out there.  Somewhere.  Mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters," he remembered the grief he felt when his mother passed.  "And if they are to continue fighting, surviving, they need to know.  Need to KNOW, that their children are safe, it gives them strength, it gives them courage ... it gives them hope."  He looked to his ally, and the woman to whom he spoke with respect, an Atlantean princess.  "We've been entrusted with Freedom City's greatest treasure, it's future generation, and we need to protect them."  He smiled broadly for the children, pushing his own doubts, his own fears aside, "Faith can see us through, faith in one another, in ourselves, in a higher power.  But there's a saying in my family, 'God helps those who help themselves.'"  He shrugged, "So, we've got some work to do."

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Thaelia's gods weren't quite so hands on.  They were probably looking on somewhat bemused by the whole affair.  Not that her mortal family had sprung to action either.  Granted, the Atlantean military didn't quite move as fast as the self-proclaimed Daughter of the Seas.  But, a day was more than enough time to mount aid.  Had they heard of the situation.  Truth be told her role as an ambassador often left her isolated from communication with her family as Atlantis would be wary to keep an open line of communication that could be hijacked.


"I am acting as the Praetor.  Master at arms not drills."  Glamazon corrected Dreadnought in the military title she had given herself for the child fighting force.  Before spreading her arms wide open.  "Welcome small ones.  Steady your heart, for today your hearts will be tempered into steel sharper than any blade."  Ignoring the fact that the makeshift sticks weren't even sharpened or shaped like swords Thaelia was clearly into her role.  It was one she wasn't unfamiliar with having undergone the same drills underwater herself.


Still, it was a production.  Glamazon wasn't what one would call deceitful.  In fact, asking her to tell a lie was akin to asking the ocean to be dry.  But,  she had no intention of sieging a fighting force with children or the like either.   But all good Atlantean children knew tag just wasn't as fun as military drills.  And up until know the Surfacer children had not diverted from that mentality either.

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"Bit literally minded huh kid?" dreadnought commented evenly upon seeing the reaction it was honestly a little bit comical to him but now wasn't the time or place to go making comments or the like, not that he had much time or desire too normally.


turning his attention back to glamazon "Ah right, sorry praetor, i keep gettin that confused cause of them space guys who call themselves that." he explained, slapping the back of his helmet gently a few times, a loud dull clang ringing out from the impacts.


"tell ya what, whats say when ya done me and you get the new guy up to speed on whats going on around these parts? I gotta go make a few more rounds, move some of the heavier shrapnel and sure up some of the barricades myself." turning to the assembled children with a big smile and a friendly wave "See ya at dinner time kiddos!"


"you can come with me if you like pinny, or you can hang out here and I'm sure someone will find you something to do." as he began the slow trudge to his various tasks

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As Dreadnaught turned to walk away a resounding impact sounded in the distance, like a wreaking ball crashing into a building. The entire camp went silent, collectively holding a breath and turning toward the sound. Over the tops of the surrounding buildings a plume of smoke and dislodged debris rose into the air, the angle from the ground making it difficult to tell how far away it was. The pregnant pause stretched out for another moment before the ragged group began to calm their jangled nerves... then another great crash rattled the ground, unmistakably closer than the first.




The second plume was easier to make out, joining the first to begin a trail heading straight toward them.

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The fact that he'd failed to apprehend Electron on his first outing in the Emerald Cities came back with such clarity it almost hurt.  Terminus forces were invading, people's lives were at stake, not some jewelers livelihood, or someone's financial well being, people were dying, and these few, here, at Summerhill Farmer's Market, were relying on him, to stand firm, to protect them.  He took a deep breath, the moment of doubt passing, as with this new threat he was filled with a sense of purpose, of conviction.


"Let's clear the path, Dreadnought, Praetor, take point, I'll get us an aerial view and ensure that no collateral damage spills over to our survivors!"  With that he leapt to the sky, moving out in a radial circuit, assessing the state of the camp, the location of those most vulnerable to attack and of critical equipment, supplies, and provisions.  But first he gained altitude to ascertain the nature of the incoming threat.

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It didn't take Pinnacle long to find the source of the destruction. He could best think of it terms of a tank with a half dozen spiked treads on each side and heavy armour plating. The scale of the thing balked against the analogy however, wide as city street and half a block long, crimson energy dotted with black spots pouring from portholes along its length. The front of the thing was sculpted into the likeness of a broad reptilian skull with great curving horns and as the airborne hero watched it abruptly shot forward, the tip of a battering ram the size of a fire engine. The two-story building it struck was instantly pulverized, reduced to loose brick and dust.




With the sound of some great mechanism resetting the battering ram retracted back into the body of the tank, the war machine never slowing in its progress toward the camp. 


The horrifying thing was enough to take in that Pinnacle almost failed to notice the four pike wielding Omegadrones accompanying it. They on the other hand had no trouble noticing him and were already accelerating through the skies to intercept!

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"What a handful" he grumbled as much to glamazon as himself fly up into the sky circle around briefly and freeze in awe of something.


Well thats not good. Dreadnought thought to himself as he survey'd the camp, it was time to step up and weigh in it seemed, first however it behooved him to touch base with glamazon "Well it looks like battle is upon us eh praetor, Ill go on ahead and find out whats going on with the smoke, you do you, i think i can hold on by myself for a while so if the kids in trouble see to him first yeah? that said, don't keep me waiting, bravado aside i dunno what im up against, someone once said prudence isn't cowardice i think!" giving a nod of his head in acknowledgement he then took to his secondary duty in this scenario, Loudspeaker/Foghorn 




and with that he was off, thundering towards whatever it was that had made those terrible noises and had causes pinnacle to freeze momentarily, once clear of the camp and its barricades he felt less inclined to avert his path and opted to crash through whatever might be between him and his goal, a couple of tons of angry blood, bones and sinew hurtling along through debris and ruins, batting aside obstacles too large to be trampled at 50 miles per hour.

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Pinnacle watched the monolithic engine of destruction approach the refugee's makeshift camp, transforming buildings, storefronts, homes, any structure in it's path to so much rubble and twisted steel.  He tried to push the thoughts of survivors huddled in the familiar corners of their homes or apartments, only to be ground to powder beneath the massive weight of the engine's tracks.  Anger flared in his chest, his breath came in tight, controlled measures, his hands flexed, and then the Omega drones took to the skies.


Their sight was enough to remind him of the situation he now found himself in, Dreadnought his blunt, boisterous attitude hid a professionalism and experience that Christian could only hope to attain, in time.  The Praetor, casually discussing the methodology of butchery amidst children who had too recently been torn from their loved ones, and here he was, novice, green, a memory tugged at his thoughts.  Images from the television witnessed only yesterday, streams of drones, enough to blacken the sky, and here, only four.  Surely it had to be a trap, the mechanical monstrosity beneath him likely housed hundreds more, but he thought of those dirty, grime encrusted faces at the camp, and if he faltered here, if he faltered now, how long would it be until an engine like the one approaching them now rolled on Emerald City, crushing his home, his family.


"No," he was unaware that he was speaking aloud, "Not today."  And with that he dove towards the approaching drones, flying in a tight formation enabling them to provide cover fire to one another in the event of hostilities, of resistance.  It had worked well enough to restrain Electron when he first confronted her in Emerald City, and he'd been practicing since then.  He swooped down, using his momentum to bring him on level with the lead Omegadrone, wrapping one broad arm under it's arm, constricting like an iron band across it's chest, while his right arm came under the drone's right arm, his hand gripping it's neck and attempting to crank it to the right, holding the drone like a shield to provide cover from his allies.

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The other heroes rushed into the thick of things.  Five years ago, Glamazon would've been right there with them.  But the Claremont Alum had picked up a few things from her private education and more level-headed friends.  And among those things was the importance of crowd control.  So she went along with Dreadnought's plan and did indeed do her.


"Warriors!  Now is the time to temper your hearts.  Come, let us entrench in the encampments so that you may protect your parents.  Once that is done, the Daughter of the Seas will present these fiends with the grandest gift.  The fortune of combat!"  Thaelia bellowed out to the children.  Openly noting that the moment they were safe, she was going to join Pinnacle and Dreadnought.  Placing her faith in the others, but partly hoping they would save some of the fun for her.


When she moved to Freedom City it was being attacked by alien robots.  Last year alien robots.  And while she wasn't quite sure about the interdimensional particulars of the Terminus outside of the stories told in mage circles, she still felt it all came down to one thing.  Alien robots really seemed to hate New Jersey.


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The city being in ruins was a heartbreaking sight, buildings thst once gleamed in the sunlight now lying battered and broken like the hafts of ruined spears that once were vaulted towards the heavens.


It was not however without its advantages however he didn't have to worry about collaterol damage at this point so hurtling head long into battle with the titanic warmachine he wound up for the biggest punch he could throw, far too wide and unbalanced a swing to be practical for most but in part due to the size and somewhat immobile nature of his target and his own great resilience to harm he could afford to swing for the fences with all his might.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dreadnaught's punch crashed into the sculpted head of the ram with the same resounding volume the war machine had made while demolishing buildings. Improbably, impossibly the tremendous thing was forced to pause, its treads push back a tooth on whatever massive gears whirred inside its metal hide. Settling back down on the crushed rubble beneath it the ram's mechanisms began working once again and standing before it Dreadnought could feel a scorching heat beginning to rise from behind it's 'mouth'.


The quartet of Omegadrones descended in pairs upon the heroes who had made their presences know, two of them sending beams of screaming power at Dreadnought from the tips of their pikes while the others rocketed toward Pinnacle. The climactic champion avoided the first thrusting pike but the second raked across his side, burning with entropic rot. Their spiked faceplates looked back at him emotionlessly as the drones flanked and prepared to attack again from each side.

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